Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Max the Brave Review

by Ed Vere

The cover of Max the Brave worked like a magnet, pulling me in. And then I opened the book and learned that sweet-looking Max doesn't like bows, and I was totally hooked.

This fearless kitten chases mice, but since he's never seen the rodent, Max is on a quest to find one. He asks every critter he encounters --from a fly to an elephant-- if they are a mouse. Each time Max is told no, but that a mouse just passed by. So Max continues on his quest, always seemingly one step behind his prey.

There are some twists and turns in this cute and fearlessly brave story where sometimes mice are monsters.

#MaxTheBrave #EdVere #BookReviews #KidLit #PictureBooks

Saturday, June 18, 2016

2016 Highlights Foundation Workshop: Picture Books & All That Jazz (PB&J)

Leslie Helakoski, Darcy Pattison, Kelly Bennett
DarcyPattison & Leslie Helakoski


JAZZED. That would be me after attending the PB&J Workshop.

Our group of about twenty writers toured Highlights Magazine which is celebrating its 70th year! We learned how to make submissions, and were encouraged to do so. Then we walked across the parking lot to Boyds Mills Press. There, Cherie Matthews, Assistant Editor, gave us priceless information about their inner workings.

I became teary-eyed grateful for this opportunity as we weaved through the Pennsylvania countryside towards the Highlights Foundation’s campus. When we pulled into the driveway, I felt as though this was where I was meant to be.

The Barn.
Darcy and Leslie made us feel welcomed. We ate dinner. And then we dove right into writing lessons. A mere two hours later, I sat down in my comfy, cozy room, took out my manuscripts and eww, eww, ewwed all the way through. Which did not feel so comfy and cozy, but made me realize that this was exactly where I needed to be.

Over the next few days we learned how to generate valid story ideas. We learned how to harvest words and place them properly into stories. To create pitches for agents or editors, and keep our focus while writing. We learned about structure, voice, rhythm, and editing. And so much more.

My brain operated at full speed. Learning and writing was all I wanted to do. I hardly slept. And I LOVE my sleep. One morning I awoke with a jolt at 4:17 with an idea bred from a newly learned technique. I grabbed paper and pen, and feverishly wrote.

I treasured being immersed in writing, elbow to elbow with peers sharing the same passion. We celebrated accomplishments. We supported each other through the joys and pains of becoming better writers.

Back at home, I missed that camaraderie. But not for long. Lindsey, one of the other attendees, started a private Facebook group where we continue to share in one another’s journey.

Jazzed Jeanne
Thanks to PB&J, I am equipped with valuable knowledge, an even stronger desire to write, and have a support group. JAZZED. My only regret is not taking this workshop sooner!


·         FOUR priceless critiques!

·        Getting to know our intelligent, patient, and kind instructors.

·        Meeting and listening to Kelly Bennett, Kelsey Murphy, and Tim Gillner.

·         Distractions were at a minimum.

·         The gracious and generous staff.

·        And oh, the food! I’m still savoring the apple chutney pork chops and that wild rice dish, and the specially made gluten-free peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies! Mmmm . . .

WHO SHOULD ATTEND? Everyone interested in writing picture books. All levels.
HOW TO PREPARE? Read, read, read classics and newly published picture books.
WHAT TO BRING? A laptop, one or two of your favorite picture books, imagination, and your passion for writing. Of course clothing and toiletries are helpful, too.


#Workshop #Highlights #PictureBooks #WritersLife #Author #GetBrave #LiveLife

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Little BIG

by Jonathan Bentley

So glad I ignored my first assumptions about this book. The title Little BIG made me think that the pages inside would be filled with dull comparisons of littles versus BIGS. BUT . . .

Little BIG is really a heart-warming story about a younger sibling who longs to be big like his older brother. And yet he realizes the privileges of littlehood. It's that lifelong pull of wanting to grow up, and yet longing to be forever young.

Love the way the story weaves back and forth between little and big, and ties itself up with the perfectly little ending.

And have I mentioned yet that the illustrations are wonderfully adorable? They're part of the magic that brings me back to turn the pages again and again.

The only thing I'd change about the book is its title. How does If I was BIG Like a Monster sound?

#JonathanBentley #KidLit #PictureBooks #Books #LitteBIG #BookReview #Review