Archive for the ‘ Children’s Books ’ Category

YA Friday: Mom Jennifer Moses Publishes Her First Book–About Fashion!

Friday, April 4th, 2014

Jennifer Anne Moses made her dream come true: She just published her first teen novel, Tales from My Closet, with Scholastic. She’s psyched! It got her back into work mode after spending some time at home with her kids. It also got her back into her favorite passion: fashion!

Check out how this mom feels about her new writing life and making this dream come true:

“When my first child, Sam, was born, I quit my job as a magazine editor in order to stay home with him. Or at least that’s what I told people. After all, what better reason to leave what appeared to be a fast-track and even glamorous job than a newborn? But the truth was that I’d never wanted to be a magazine editor, or any kind of editor, or even have a regular career. Thus Sam became just the excuse I needed to stay home to do what I’d really wanted to do the entire time—write.

It wasn’t easy, of course, and I missed going to the office, and not just because staying home with one, and then three, children is a hell of a lot harder than meeting deadlines or sitting in on sometimes-fractious meetings. I missed workaday camaraderie, too–is there anything more isolating than being the exhausted mother of a colicky infant or tantruming toddler?—but mainly, I missed dressing up to go to work.

I’ve always loved clothes, and fashion, so while the freedom of wearing a daily uniform of jeans and a sweatshirt (in winter) and shorts and a t-shirt (in summer) had its upside, I found myself daydreaming about the day when I might resume the kind of life that would give me an opportunity to strut my stuff again.

It was terribly frustrating, trying to carve a little time out for my work while caring for little ones, but as they grew, the time I had to write grew too. And in between, and pretty much every day, all hell broke loose: dirty dishes, tummy aches, endless diapers, groceries, bills. In other words, the normal messiness of family life. I stayed on top of it as best I could and, in the meantime, comforted myself with the sure knowledge that a crew from House Beautiful wouldn’t be dropping over any time soon for a surprise shoot.

So when my young adult novel, Tales From My Closet, was born, I felt that I’d come full circle. It had been years since my very first job, at a fashion magazine in New York, where the first requirement for being hired was that you looked, well, fashionable, but now I’d created a cast of characters whose individuality revolves around their own, unique sense of style. These five teenagers took up residence in my brain and began to tell me all about themselves, their hopes and dreams, their fears and failures, and most of all, about what they loved to wear!  Sometimes I think that it’s a good thing they’ll never meet me, because surely the first thing they’d do was haul me off to the mall for a complete wardrobe makeover. In the meantime, I’m gratified that real-live teenage girls are eating the book up–and that my own daughter, Rose, says that there’s hope for me in the fashion department after all.”

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Kit Chase’s New Book, Her Etsy Shop and Free Printable Paper Dolls!

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

Kit Chase! One of the sweetest Etsy artists ever writes about her new children’s book that Publisher’s Weekly loves and also about her awesome Etsy shop. She even created exclusive paper dolls for all of us to print at home at the end of this post. (See a special offer as well.)

“My husband, Adam, and I own and operate the Etsy shop, Trafalgar’s Square, where we sell my hand-painted designs as prints, wall decals, and, soon-to-be-released greeting cards. Adam does all the operating (printing, packaging, shipping and communication), and I get the fun job of coming up with new designs and illustrations. My work on Etsy caught the attention of both my agent and editor—both of whom reached out to me separately through the site—and ultimately led to my first picture book contract.

Oliver’s Tree is my first picture book (it will be in stores March 20 of this year!). When I first started work on the story idea, we had two little girls with a third baby girl getting ready to join the party. We had just moved from a teeny, cramped apartment into a little house with an enormous yard and a tree. What a tree! With gnarled, low-hanging branches and big, shady leaves, that tree became the children’s favorite friend. As I watched my girls trying to climb it “all by themselfs,” it reminded me of my own childhood of thwarted tree-climbing attempts. Standing on tip-toe at the foot of the tree, hugging the trunk, and waiting expectantly for something magical to happen that would send me high up into the branches.  Or just waiting there with arms stretched, looking expectantly up. And waiting. Or, the inevitable, actual tree-climbing attempt, that ended with me sliding down the rough bark on scraping hands and knees. That tree brought it all back to me. So, when it came time to write a children’s story, it of course had to be about three friends, and what better play-thing for them to have than a tree?

With three little girls all under 7 (and as I write this, yet another baby girl on the way—maybe we should start a water polo team?), and writing and illustrating books, all on top of dreaming up new illustrations for the shop, things have a tendency to range on the side of um…shall we say crazy-fun? Most of the time, it feels like we’re running something like Alice in Wonderland’s Mad Tea Party in Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle’s upside down house. The wee hours of the morning are my greatest ally. Laundry is my nemesis. I do a lot of brainstorming for my books and illustrations while watching my children play and interact with one another, and I do most of my sketching in the car when we go on family outings. Not exactly a traditional lifestyle, but it’s definitely stimulating. And jolly.     
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the past few years, it’s: Save the spotless-house-look for Pinterest and photo shoots. As a parent, you’re in the middle of the biggest creative process of your life, creating and shaping a real, live person and helping them reach their potential. Real life is pretty messy, and as any artist will tell you, creating a work of art is never a pretty sight. But the end result of creating art or children makes the creative chaos so worth it. Besides, you can always tidy up once your little art project is asleep.” readers get an exclusive discount code for 15 percent off entire purchase from   Enter coupon code PARENTS at checkout to receive the discount.  The code expires April 21, 2014.
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Ned Vizzini, Author of ‘It’s Kind of a Funny Story,’ Dead at 32

Friday, December 20th, 2013

My morning Facebook check made me shaky and teary today. My friends in the young adult novel writing community were mourning the unconfirmed death of the talented author Ned Vizzini. He was the prodigy who wrote the bestselling YA novel It’s Kind of a Funny Story that also became a movie. His other teen books include Be More Chill, The Other Normals, Teen Angst… Nah and House of Secrets. I looked forward to his humorous essays in the New York Times, and I was happy to hear he had a seemingly great career writing for TV.

The rumor is now confirmed. Ned Vizzini is dead at 32 of an apparent suicide after jumping off the roof of his parents’ Brooklyn home. He was 32 and survived by his brother, wife and son.

I didn’t know him personally, but our paths crossed at young adult panels back when I was a hyperactive Scholastic author. I thought he was wicked funny, and honestly, I was totally jealous of him. He was a super talented overnight success. He was totally deserving. I just wish I had a little more of what he had.

Today I feel sad. I have dealt with depression and anxiety for years. I understand its depths and suffering. But I have never been so far down that dark hole that I attempted suicide. I just wish Ned–and others–could find peace in another way. I hope today his suffering has ended. I hope others do not judge him. My thoughts are with him and his family.

Here’s a haunting quote from the touching book, It’s Kind of a Funny Story:

“Its so hard to talk when you want to kill yourself. That’s above and beyond everything else, and it’s not a mental complaint-it’s a physical thing, like it’s physically hard to open your mouth and make the words come out. They don’t come out smooth and in conjunction with your brain the way normal people’s words do; they come out in chunks as if from a crushed-ice dispenser; you stumble on them as they gather behind your lower lip. So you just keep quiet.”

and one more to leave you with:

“Things to do today:
1) Breathe in.
2) Breathe out.”

Rest in sweet peace, Ned Vizzinni.

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Kids Book Pick: Aspiring Little Dancers Need ‘Ballet for Beginners’ by Prima Princessa

Friday, December 13th, 2013

Two hardworking, kick-booty moms who live in my town of Montclair, New Jersey, created top-selling ballerina DVDs for little girls called Prima PrincessaTheir version of The Nutcracker breaks down the story and features little girls and professionals performing it. It’s no less than spectacular–my two girls and even my boy twirled around to it when they were preschoolers. You might have caught the programs when they aired on public television stations around the world in recent years. They also produced Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake.

This year, Stephanie and Mary Kate have added a beautiful hardback book called Ballet for Beginners to their line of dance-inspiring products. In Ballet for Beginners, they break down the beautiful moves in photos and descriptions. It’s great for little girls just starting all the way up to teenage girls who would like to have references.

I got in touch with Stephanie and Mary Kate to see what they’ve been up to. Check out their answers below and find out why ballet is good for our kids, how to get little girls started and more!

KK: What ages does your new book, Ballet for Beginners, target?
Stephanie Troeller and Mary Kate Mellow (see left): Our book is designed for preschool children up to teenagers as well as parents looking for an overview of the world of ballet training. Little kids love the book because it is full of fun photos of preschool kids dancing and cartoons of Prima Princessa, our ballerina fairy. Children just starting out in ballet class as well as more serious student get to see great photos of some of the best ballet students in the world demonstrating most of the major steps and positions in ballet.

KK: What tips do you have for moms with small children who would like their kids to love ballet?
ST and MKM: Well we would have to say take your children to see a real ballet or you can have them watch one of our 3 Prima Princessa DVDs: Prima Princessa Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty or Swan Lake. Each of these shows features a real ballet on stage performed by top ballet companies. The ballets have been edited in a child-friendly fashion, and they feature narration by our animated ballerina fairy Prima Princessa so children can follow the plot. Interspersed throughout the show are mini-dance breaks where children get to practice the ballet steps the they saw on stage with students from the School of American Ballet, official academy of the New York City Ballet.

We have tons of parents writing to us all the time about how their children love to dress up in their tutus and dance along to Prima Princessa shows. We specifically designed these shows to inspire children to dance.

KK: Is ballet just for little girls?
ST and MKM: Ballet is for everyone! Our shows and book are designed to inspire both future ballet dancers as well as ballet lovers right now! Are shows and book are something families will enjoy watching and reading together.

KK: How is ballet good for our kids?
ST and MKM: Ballet is not only great exercise, but it teaches children how hard work and discipline can pay off. Whether your children sticks with ballet or not, exposing them to ballet at an early age will develop in them an appreciation of the performing arts. In this age of instant gratification with downloadable games, apps, texting and snap chat the experience of watching a ballet performance is completely different. It really gets a child’s brain working in a more in depth fashion where they take the time to absorb and enjoy a classic fairy tale story like The Nutcracker as it unfolds through breathtaking dancing set to Tchaikovsky’s music.

KK: What’s a fun ballet move we can learn right now?
ST and MKM: Well our guess is your kids have probably been doing a bunch of ballet moves without even knowing it. Jumps, Spins, kicks and standing on ones tippy toes are all ballet movements. While our book shows precise ballet steps executed perfectly by the best students in the world, our shows feature preschooler, ballet students, professional ballerina as well as animals and toys doing ballet moves! We are not only showing ballet moves, but the spirit behind each ballet movement. On our website on our Be a Ballerina Page you can watch a video and learn how to do a Bouree.

Click to the Prima Princessa site for holiday games, tutus, DVDs and even this printable magic wand.

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Eighth Grader Ravina Thakkar Writes a Novel Thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Sourcebooks

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

Ravina Thakkar, an eighth-grader in Plainfield, IL, has cystic fibrosis, a life-threatening medical condition that affects her lungs and digestive system. She doesn’t define herself that way, though. She thinks of herself as a writer–and a girl who loves to dance and listen to music.

When she became eligible, her social worker helped make her dreams come true through the Make-A-Wish® Illinois foundation.

Ravina wanted to write a book for middle graders, and she did just that yesterday when Sourcebooks released her new title. The publisher gave Ravina the entire author experience–from working with editors and designers to revising the manuscript and weighing in on the cover art.

Ravina’s book is called Adventure of a Lifetime and was written when she was 8-years-old. It’s about a 9-year-old girl named Betty who battles alongside a character from her favorite fiction series as they race from one danger to the next.Adventure of a Lifetime It was released on her 14th birthday. Ravina’s doing a marketing and publicity campaign that includes this Q&A with me: nts and bravery.

KK: How old were you when you wanted to become a writer? What age should we parents start encouraging our little ones who seem interested in it?
RT: (At left.) I was 6 when I decided I wanted to be a writer, I think…or at least, that was when the idea first got in my head. If children show interest in writing, then I would definitely suggest encouraging them early on! My parents’ support is one of the reasons I’m here today.

KK: How does your illness tie into your deep desire to write? How do your experiences affect your writing?
RT: Well, in my case, Cystic Fibrosis affects my lungs more than anything else. I take medication and do three treatments a day to stay healthy, and since those treatments take up much time in my day, they’re usually the time when I sit down to write. However, I don’t think Cystic Fibrosis has really affected my actual writing in anyway though…I’ve never really written about it.

KK: Kids your age are really busy. How did you communicate your passion to your parents, and make sure you had enough time to write, while juggling school, friends and after-school activities?
RT: The time I had during treatments helped a lot. I’m not in many extra-curricular activities anyway, but as school gets harder and harder, there’s less time to write. I’ve been juggling ideas around in my head and jotting them down for a later date, so I can write them out once everything gets less hectic.

KK: What advice do you have for other parents whose kids are interested in writing?
RT: Support them! If they want to, let your children tell you about their stories. Readers make the best writers, so encourage that. However, some kids just like writing as a hobby and that’s fine–never make it into a chore of sorts for them.

KK: If you could meet any writer, who would it be?
RT: Oh, this is funny, considering my first ‘wish’ with the foundation was to meet J.K. Rowling. Sadly, she’s not a participant in the Make A Wish foundation, but I’d still love to meet her! Either her or John Green, most definitely.

KK: If you could write another book, what would it be about?
RT: I’m not quite sure yet…I’ve kind of gravitated towards realistic fiction instead of adventure fiction, so if I did write something else, it would probably be that genre.

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