Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Holiday Spirit

     Fridays are usually Perfect Picture Book Friday posts--but Susanna's Holiday story contest continues! Here's a second story to close out the week. I'll be heading to read the other stories soon with a cup of cocoa which should put me in the right mood to write some holiday cards.

THE HOLIDAY SPIRIT              by Wendy Greenley                 (285 words)

Sheltering among the crabapple trees in the little home’s side yard, the animals’ stomachs grumbled.

“Is this the right place? You said there would be food,” said Squirrel.

“It’s here! Smell the holiday spirit,” said Deer.

“Smells like pine. But there are no pine trees,” said Rabbit.

“That’s the decorations,” said Deer.

“Where’s the food?” Squirrel danced nervously overhead.

“The holidays are about sharing. See the holiday spirit?” asked Deer.

“Holiday spirit flashes on and off?” asked Rabbit.

“Sometimes it flashes, sometimes it glows. Sometimes holiday spirit shimmers by moonlight,” said Deer. 

Image courtesy of
“I’m hungry!” said Squirrel.

“Be patient.” Deer pawed the ground.

The animals waited.

“Do you see any more petunias?” Squirrel whispered.

“Nope. We nibbled them to the ground last week,” said Deer.

“Any more hosta leaves? They’re my favorite,” Rabbit said.

“Nope. Last night’s frost turned them to mush,” said Deer.

“So, if you’re wrong—there’s nothing to eat!” Squirrel and Rabbit moaned together.

“Have faith!” said Deer. “I think I hear the holiday spirit.”

“Footsteps?” asked Squirrel.

“Run!” said Rabbit.

The animals did their best to blend in with the shadows.

“Here you go,” a voice said. “Before we built our home, this was your land. Thank you for sharing it. Happy holidays.”

The footsteps headed back to the house.

“How did you know the holiday spirit would bring us food?” Squirrel and Rabbit asked again.

“I didn’t,” admitted Deer. “But the holiday spirit is about hope, too. And I felt it.”

Squirrel took a big bite from the corn on the cob. “Holiday spirit tastes delicious.”

“Dibs on the carrot!” said Rabbit.

“We’re supposed to share.” Deer crunched an apple. “Never mind.”

The holiday spirit, and all its gifts, were delicious.

                                  --THE END--

Wishing everyone a happy holiday season filled with delicious moments. :)

Monday, December 7, 2015

Cookin' Up the Holiday Kid-style for Susanna Leonard Hill's Holiday contest!

     Susanna Leonard Hill is an amazing author. And not just for the books she writes, although those are great!
     She hosts a Friday picture book review where bloggers link their recommendations on her website. By participating in this I have become a critical picture book reader, and by reading all of the other blog posts, learned about a lot of great titles I might otherwise have missed.
     She hosts fun contests throughout the year. Writing to her prompts always puts a smile on my face.
     She teaches a FANTASTIC online course--Making Picture Book Magic--with interactive lessons.
     To make a long story short--she builds a community. So, a huge year-end thank you, Susanna.
     Sure, this time of year is busy. But I found myself writing story after story from this year's prompt. Perhaps blame it on Tara Lazar's piboidmo idea generation frenzy? Whatever. It's been a fun month. I may post more for you to enjoy.
For this one, I encourage you to sing along!

Cookin’ Up the Holiday Kid-style (apologies to Johnny Marks & Brenda Lee)
120 words (woot!) 
From our house to you!

Gatherin’ up ingredients
on a well-worn countertop.
Mom and Dad sick, no cookies made
for when Santa makes his stop.

Gatherin’ up ingredients,
clouds of flour fill the air.
Rolling pins race
to smooth the dough
and sprinkles spill everywhere.

Santa better have an iron stomach, if he hears voice’s yelling
“Wipe that booger! Cripes, we forgot to add sugar!”

Gatherin’ up ingredients
someone asks “do you smell smoke?”
Sticky fingers grab oven mitts,
everyone tries not to choke.

Santa better have an iron stomach, if he hears voice’s yelling
“Wipe that booger! Cripes, we forgot to add sugar!”

Gatherin’ up ingredients
Rush to beat the bed time call.
Santa’s note reads, “perhaps reindeer feed?”
Merry Christmas one and all!

    I won't be reading the other entries until after I decide whether to post any of my others, but I look forward to enjoying all of them eventually!
Thanks for stopping by to read. Hope it put a holiday smile on your face. :)

Friday, December 4, 2015

OUT of the WOODS - A true Story of an Unforgettable Event

    First of all, I hope everyone had a relaxing Thanksgiving holiday. It used to be my favorite holiday, but now that family is scattered across the country and we can't always be together for this long weekend, I have to give the nod to Christmas when with end of the year vacations saved up we are able to spend time together. 
     My book recommendation today isn't a Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Kwanzaa or Christmas title. But it stopped me with a sense of awe and magic which is a wonderful thing to share at any holiday. And the generational story-telling aspect took me home.                                  
Author/Illustrator: Rebecca Bond
Publisher: FS&G, Margaret Ferguson Books, 2015

Intended age: 5-9 
Themes: Animals, Memoir

First lines: "Antonio Willie Giroux lived in Ontario, Canada, in the town of Gowganda, on the edge of Gowganda Lake, in a hotel his mother ran. It was not a fancy place in 1914, but it was big--three stories tall."

Synopsis: A young boy who hopes for more than half glimpses of the forest creatures gets his wish when a fire tears through the surrounding forest and the animals and the people of a small town, prey and predators, have to find safety. NOTE: Spoiler alert: The and description/summary of this book as well as Kirkus and many of the Goodreads reviews give the story away.

Why I like this Book: This book appeals to the rule breaker in me!
     The book tells a story, but it feels more like a mood piece (rule broken!). The fairly wordy text (rule broken!) is used for extensive description rather than action (rule broken!) And it works beautifully with muted, almost monochromatic illustrations. Based on a story passed down by the author's grandfather, the book's dreamy mysterious feel was compelling. Despite the author's note, and the subtitle that the story is true, the book is shelved in fiction leaving the reader to wonder--did this really happen? It is lovely to think that it did. Not a quick read, it's a story that begs for pages to be poured over thoughtfully. There are three spreads in the height of the action that took my breath away. A reminder that we share this world with many and we're all in this together.

      I didn't want to give the story climax away--which made it hard to suggest activities!
  • The Fire Protection Association has advice to create a fire plan for your home.
  • Organize a family story night. Go around the table and let everyone re-tell their favorite story about a real event that happened to them. Include several generations, if possible!
  • Draw pictures of favorite/memorable family moments
  • Think about an animal's Thanksgiving. How would it compare to your own?
  • Review the illustrations and compare life in the early 1900's to your own.
Let me know if this is on your reading list! I love to read your comments.

This review is part of PPBF (perfect picture book Friday) where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's site. Along with tons of writing wisdom, she keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture Books. #PPBF