Free Family Pass to Children’s Museum

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I received a Family Pass to the Eric Carle Museum for making a donation. I will not be able to use it before the expiration date (6/30/2015) so would like to give it to someone who can. It’s good for one-time admission for 2 adults and up to 4 children (sorry 19 Kids and Counting!).

The Eric Carle Museum is a wonderful museum of picture book art. I presented there last year and was so thrilled to see original art from books I love. Such a treat! Plus there’s an art room where kids can create their own art.

The museum is located at 125 West Bay Road in Amherst, MA. For more information www.carlemuseum.org.

I will mail the pass to the first person who lives in New England who names the title of the book that the picture above is from.

Autumn Haiku

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Hello my New England friends! Are the fall colors out? I sure miss my home state of Connecticut this time of year.

Here’s a Haiku I wrote to celebrate my favorite season.

Fall in New England

Fall in New England

 Autumn

Fall leaves glow like embers

Crackling yellow, red, orange

Warming Mother Earth.

Q&A with Dori

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I used to live in Humboldt County, California where a ghost named Ralph is reported to haunt the Carnegie Library in Eureka, down in the basement. Apparently he likes to throw books off shelves. I don’t know what it is about books and ghosts, but it seems like ghosts like to mess with them.

Today I’m reviewing the first two books in a series about ghosts in a library that I’m sure any ghost will want to read rather than throw. And so will you!

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About The Haunted Library A brand-new young chapter book series from Edgar Award winner Dori Hillestad Butler! When ghost boy Kaz’s haunt is torn down and he is separated from his ghost family, he meets a “solid” girl named Claire, who lives above the town library with her parents and her grandmother. Claire has a special ability to see ghosts when other humans cannot and she and Kaz quickly form a friendship. The two join forces to solve the mystery of the ghost that’s haunting the library. Could it be one of Kaz’s lost family members?

You say you’ve never seen a ghost. What’s your interest in them? I’ve always loved ghost stories. Funny ghost stories, serious ghost stories, scary ghost stories…you name it, if it has a ghost in it, I’m probably a fan. I don’t think you have to believe in ghosts to enjoy a good ghost story.

Do you like scary movies? I do! I don’t like scary/gory…but I love scary/suspense. I always have. When we were teenagers, my best friend and I used to watch scary movies together and then we’d walk each other half way home. At night. When it was dark. I remember one time the movie had scared us so much that when we got to the halfway point between our houses, neither of us wanted to walk the rest of the way alone. So we scurried back to my house and she called her mom for a ride. When her mom came, she just shook her head and said, “I don’t know why you two watch those movies!”

If you knew a hotel was haunted, would you want to stay there? Sure! I’ve stayed at bed and breakfasts in Wisconsin and Michigan that were rumored to be haunted. If there were any ghosts, they didn’t come out while I was there.

What’s your concept of a ghost in this series because I noticed that they don’t seem to have any carry over of having been a human such as Kaz not knowing what a pencil is. Are your ghosts a separate “life” form or a transformed human? It’s true…the ghosts in my series are not your traditional ghosts. They’re not dead people. They’re more like transparent people with super powers. But even in my world, some ghosts are familiar with pencils. Kaz isn’t because he’s simply never come in contact with one before.

I like Kaz’s ability to shrink and become flat. But he is leery about going through solid material such as walls. Was it your intention to “humanize” Kaz by giving him a fault and something he can hope to overcome? Yes, the intent there was definitely to “humanize” Kaz. I hadn’t really thought about it as “giving him a fault” before, but I can’t say that’s wrong. I want kids to relate to his struggles. Every other ghost can glow and wail and pass through solid objects. Kaz wants very much to master these skills, too, but it’s so hard. Any kid who’s ever struggled with anything (and what kid hasn’t?) can relate to that, can’t they? I also want readers to cheer when Kaz masters one of these skills. I want them to realize that if Kaz can learn to pass through a wall, for example, then they can overcome whatever difficulty they might be struggling with, too.

Kaz

Who is the inspiration for Claire? Claire is a completely fictional character. She is a compilation of a lot of girls/women I’ve known over the years, but no one person inspired her. I just needed a strong female character to balance the more cautious Kaz.

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Is Cosmo the family dog based on any dogs you know and how?

This is the real life Cosmo:

Cosmo

I know…he doesn’t really look like the Cosmo in the books, but I never described Cosmo in the books. I left it up to the illustrator to decide to draw Kaz’s dog. (Natasha’s note: He reminds me of Scooby Doo!)

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The real life Cosmo belongs to one of my closest friends. When I met Cosmo, I assumed my friend named him after Cosmo Topper from the old Topper movies (I LOVED those movies!), but she says he was named after a character on the Fairly Odd Parents. While Cosmo Topper wasn’t a dog, he was a ghost. And now I knew a dog named Cosmo. So I knew right from the start Kaz’s ghost dog’s name was Cosmo. I knew that even before I knew Kaz’s name.

Why did you pick a library to haunt versus an old house, say? Because I’m not just someone who likes the library, I LOVE libraries. I love them so much that I did an entire blog post on this subject for my agent’s blog on Sept 9, 2014. I also wrote about my appreciation for libraries on my own blog in February 2011 after one of my other books was publicly challenged.

What’s your favorite part about writing a series? Least favorite? The best part is being able to stay with the same characters and watch them grow beyond one book. Kaz has grown quite a bit over the five books I’ve written so far. My least favorite part of writing a series is I am limited by everything I’ve already written. Sometimes I get a great idea in book 2 or 3 or 4, but I can’t use it because it contradicts something I’ve established in a previous book.

Did you start off writing this as a series or was that something that grew out of your first story? No, my intent was to write a series right from the start. A series about a ghost boy and a “solid” girl who team up and solve mysteries together. I can keep going as long as there are readers and as long as my publisher is interested in continuing the series.

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About Dori Hillestad Butler – Dori Hillestad Butler is the author of more than 40 books for children. Her books have appeared on children’s choice award lists in 18 different states. Trading Places with Tank Talbott won the Maryland Children’s Choice Award in 2007. And The Buddy Files: Case of the Lost Boy won the 2011 Edgar Award for Best Juvenile Mystery.  In 2013 she chaired the Juvenile Edgar Award committee. Dori has also been a ghostwriter (not to be confused with a real ghost who writes!) for the Sweet Valley Twins, Unicorn Club, and Boxcar Children series, and a children’s book reviewer for several publications. She’s published numerous short stories, plays, and educational materials, and has served as the Iowa Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators’ Regional Advisor. She grew up in southern Minnesota, spent the last 19 years in Iowa, and has just recently moved to the Seattle area. She is on a quest to do an author visit in all 50 states (14 down, 36 to go!).

The review copies of The Haunted Library (Book 1) and The Haunted Library: The Ghost in the Attic (Book 2) were appropriately donated to the Old Town library in Fort Collins, Colorado.

 

Birthday Bash Gift Set Release!

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Birthday Gift Set

The Night Before My Birthday Gift Set

September 4 was the birthdate of a special Night Before – The Night Before My Birthday gift set! It not only contains my book which is illustrated with happy pictures by Amy Wummer, but it also comes with a banner, a birthday crown, a cake decoration and stickers! What a fun way to get ready for a child’s birthday! And Amy cleverly made the main character gender non-specific so it appeals to both boys and girls. Can someone please drop the confetti? Let’s party!

Back-to-School Favourites

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Back-to-School Favourites

Natasha Wing:

Honored to be on this list of back-to-school favorites.

Originally posted on Words On A Limb:

GravatarHere it is – a collection of my favourite Back-to-School literature. Some are new, others are older classics. Please feel free to share your discovered gems in the Reply box below. I will continue to update this list, so please come back and check again (because we can never have too many).


The Day My Mom Came to Kindergarten
Maureen Fergus
Kids Can Press

A kindergartener invites her mom to class and discovers there are some things kids are better at than parents. This book makes a perfect gift for readers who are about to start or have recently started school.


Llama Llama Misses Mama (Llama Llama)
Anna Dewdney
Viking Juvenile

Strange new teacher.
Strange new toys.
Lots of kids and lots of noise!

What would Llama like to do?

Llama Llama feels so new . . .

It’s Llama Llama’s first day of preschool! And Llama Llama’s mama makes…

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Author shares love for Girl Scouts founder

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Natasha Wing:

Happy to share my Girl Scout experience.

Originally posted on Girl Scouts of Colorado Blog:

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Submitted by Natasha Wing 

When I was a young girl growing up in Connecticut, I was a Girl Scout. In fact, when I was in 5th grade, I recorded the times I went to Girl Scout meetings in my diary. I even still have my sash with the badges I had earned!

When I grew up and became a children’s book author, I came across an article about Juliette Daisy Low and started doing more research on her. What an interesting character! I loved that she was kooky and determined at the same time, and that her driving force was to empower girls.

I wanted other people to know how much she poured herself into starting an organization for girls in America. So as a tribute to the lady who founded an organization I loved as a girl, I wrote an article for Highlights magazine and it was accepted! Now…

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Highlights Article on Girl Scouts

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Juliette "Daisy" Low

Juliette “Daisy” Low

I’m excited to announce that my hard research paid off!

A few years back I researched a children’s picture book biography on Juliette Low, the founder of the Girl Scouts. The book was to come out in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts in America. After writing and rewriting, my editor was ready to bring the story to the acquisitions meeting and then a sucky thing happened. The publisher found out that another picture book biography on Daisy Low was just contracted with Scholastic, so my project was tossed out the window with a shrug and a sorry. Yes, that’s the truth about the children’s book industry and competition in general. May the best writer win – or at least may the fastest one to submit get the contract! 

Needless to say, I was upset. All that time devoted to this project seemed like a waste! And Daisy was such a fun character that I really wanted girls to know more about her.

So I rewrote the story to a magazine article format and submitted it to Highlights and they accepted it! And I’m happy to say that the article appears in their August issue. I’m proud of how it came out, and honored to be published in Highlights. With a circulation of nearly 2 million, even more children will now read about Crazy Daisy Low than will ever read about her in a book. And that’s the ultimate reward.

See page 32 of the issue: Daisy Low Grows the Girl Scouts

Blueberry Pie in July

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Freshly picked blueberries at Becca's farm in Cape Cod.

Freshly picked blueberries at Becca’s farm in Cape Cod.

This is the time of year when the berries ripen and I can think of nothing else but pie! 

I remember when I lived in Humboldt County and used to go to the U-pick blueberry farms and bake fresh blueberry pie that very night using the berries that had just been picked. Yum!

I wrote a book ten years ago about my quest for the perfect crust and in it I included a few recipes for blueberry pie. Here’s a recipe from A Slice of Humboldt Pie, which has now been re-released in a 10th Anniversary edition:

Morningstar’s Blueberry Pie
One 8 or 9” single pie crust, baked
3/4 c. sugar
3 T. corn starch 1/8 tsp. salt
4 c. blueberries 1/4 c. water
1 T. butter
1 T. lemon juice
Bake pie crust. Combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt in medium saucepan. Add 2 cups berries and water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture boils and thickens. Remove and stir in butter and lemon juice. Cool. Place 2 cups fresh berries into pie shell. Pour sauce over berries. Chill and serve cold.
Note: If you like a little more zip, add another teaspoon of lemon juice.

More pie recipes inside!

More pie recipes inside!

 

5 Stars for All Four Stars

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Middle-grade novel about 11-year-old restaurant critic Gladys Gatsby. Published by Putnam/Penguin on July 10, 2014.

Middle-grade novel about 11-year-old restaurant critic Gladys Gatsby. Published by Putnam/Penguin on July 10, 2014.

 

I had met Tara Dairman through a mutual author friend, Laura Resau. We were celebrating Jean Mobley’s new book, Katerina’s Wish, at Laura’s house  with nibbles and champagne before heading over to Old Firehouse Books for Jean’s author reading and signing. Tara lives in Boulder, Colorado yet has traveled all over the world. I found her fascinating with a good sense of humor, and was excited for her that she, too, was coming out with a new book soon. When she told the group what the premise was, I immediately filed it in my brain as a future Must Read. All Four Stars doesn’t come out until July 10, but I was lucky to have Tara send me an advanced copy and I read it in 2 days!

Author Tara Dairman

Author Tara Dairman

I am, admittedly, a very slow reader. Which kinda stinks for a writer who has to read lots of books for her job. But Tara’s story was such a fun romp and filled with delicious food metaphors that I ate it up! Here’s an example of how cleverly she sprinkles in food references in her writing. “He’d stuck to his decision like caramel sauce.”  Tara’s story is a delightful mixture of obstacles and humor that kids will gobble up.

Here’s what the book’s about. Gladys Gatsby loves to cook. But her parents are terrible cooks, and therefore bring home lots of gross take-out and microwavable foods. When Gladys sets the kitchen curtains on fire making creme brûlée she is grounded from cooking and her allowance is cut off until she can pay back her parents. She tries to keep her passion for food a secret, but an essay contest for a New York newspaper reveals her talent for writing and cooking. Her essay is mistaken for a job application for restaurant reviewer, and when she gets an assignment to review a dessert cafe in New York City, Gladys must concoct a plan to get to the City and write her review. All the while she has to keep her identity a secret. This is a recipe for disaster! But like a reality show chef, Gladys pulls through under pressure. 5 stars!

If you’re interested in trying a carrot dessert called Gajar Ka Halwa that was mentioned in the book, go to Tara’s blog and there’s a recipe and photos of the preparation steps.

 

Pie Book Giveaway

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Win this book!

Win this book!

With the smells of summer in the air, pie baking season is upon us! To celebrate, I’m giving away 5 signed copies of A Slice of Humboldt Pie: 10th Anniversary Edition. Contest opens today and runs through June 30. So click on over to Goodreads and enter. Then bedazzle your friends and family with a home-baked pie for the 4th of July!

One of the recipes from the book. Look at that beautiful golden brown crust.

One of the recipes from the book. Look at that beautiful golden brown crust.