Monday, December 12, 2016

FIRST SNOW by Bomi Park: Classroom Activity and Review

Dear Kim,


Let it snow!
Let it snow!
Let it snow!

We had fun with Bomi Park's gorgeous FIRST SNOW last week. We used the book as a mentor text to explore personal narratives and poetry.  We also explored watercolor resist techniques. (We also made a mess-- which is kind of my modus operandi during writing workshop. Sorry, Kelley!)

I used the sentence starter from the jacket copy:
Look up. One flake falls, then another. And just like that—it's __ __ __ __ __ __ __ .

The kids worked cooperatively at their table groups to discuss what word might fill in the blank. I love hearing them chat. 
"Well it is a snowflake because 'one flake'." 
Followed by: "No. It has seven letters, snowflake has nine." 
And: "It is an action. A-- what's that called-- a verb because it is something falling." 
Eventually we filled in the blank by using spelling clues to check our thinking, which might not sound like a whole lot of fun, but spelling is awesome and totally fun. Promise.


And just like that—it's snowing.
To our white paper we used white crayons to draw some snow. Lots of tapping. Loads of white lines. And many iterations of "I can't see anything" later, we left our white on white paper behind and came to the reading corner ready to listen to FIRST SNOW.




In the story, a child wakes to the sound of snow tapping against her window. The first snow of winter draws her from her bed. She puts on her boots, coat, hat, and scarf, then sneaks off into the winter night. She pat-pat-pats together a small snowball then roll-roll-rolls it. The ball grows bigger and bigger. Joined in a field by other children an entire snowman village comes together formed by the first snow.  

Then, with a perfectly timed page-turn, we see the same child catch a snowflake on her tongue and she’s brought back to her own yard. A single snowman stands near the door. Had she imagined the field of snowmen? Or is that all part of the magic of first snow?


Bomi Park, the author and illustrator, released FIRST SNOW in South Korea in 2012. New to Chronicle Books this year, this book, with simple text and subtle illustrations, is not to be missed. 

Look carefully at this spread from the middle of the book. So many animals to find.
Meanwhile, back in the reading corner...

Once the story was over we spent time discussing the author's use of language. We reread sections of repeated words and considered how she built movement in the story with limited words. The kids knew that we would use this as a mentor text and we discussed which pieces of the text we would use to build our own first snow narratives.

We agreed on:
Interjections!
Repeated words.
Simple phrases.
A surprise element.
And a setting in the snow.

The narrative had to tell of a time that each student built something in the snow. Some topics they came up with included snow forts, snow angels, snowballs, snowball fights, snowmen, and snowshoe trails.

Then the writing began. 

Once we worked through our rough drafts, we conferenced on spelling and grammar. Students moved to their final copies by adding the "surprise element" into their illustrations, rewriting their poems at the base, and then using watercolors to uncover the falling snow.

Student sample,
"Look up! It's snowing.
Quickly.
Mittens, hat, scarf, snow boots.
Let's go!
FALL, FALL, FALL
SWISH, SWISH, SWISH
Look it's a snow angel."
FIRST SNOW made a perfect mentor text. 
Check it out and let me know what you think.

Snow on!
Much Love,
Alison

Monday, December 5, 2016

Cover Reveal: The Perfect Trip by Stacy Barnett Mozer

Dear Alison,

Thank you for my letter on Friday. I was teaching and didn't get to read it until late Friday night, but oh the memories of our time at the Writing Barn...so wonderful, so peaceful, so inspiring. The retreat was a much needed break from the insane fall I've had, and though we worked our butts off, it was a different kind of work, a good kind of work, my favorite kind of work, and sharing that work with you and Donna? Yeah, that was awesome. I, too, was really able to dig into my WIP and find Gigi's voice. She's so different from Starr and with so much prep work on Starr Lost (Book Two) and Starr Gone (Book Three), I had a hard time recapturing Gigi's voice, but Texas changed all that. Her 'in your face' style sets the tone for the entire young adult urban fantasy series, and I can't get her defiant nature out of my head. (People, you've been warned.)

Alison, you and I get to share the writing love every Monday and Thursday. Today, I get to share my friend Stacy Barnett Mozer's cover for her second book, THE PERFECT TRIP, releasing March 24, 2017 from Spellbound River Press. Before we get to the cover, here's a little about the book and the author:

About the book: Sam Barrette’s life is finally going in the right direction. She’s made the boys travel baseball team, her friendship with Mike is turning into something more, and she’s even connected
with her stepmother. But a family camping trip filled with secrets and surprises challenges everything she thought she knew about what the future will hold. To save her dreams, Sam must find a way to fix her perfect trip.

About the author: Stacy Barnett Mozer is a middle grade author, a book blogger, and an elementary school teacher. Stacy started writing novels when one of her third grade classes told her there was no way a real author who wrote real books could possibly revise as much as she asked them to revise. She’s been revising her own novels every since. Stacy is an active SCBWI (Society of Children's Books Writers and Illustrators) member and is an Assistant Regional Advisor for New England SCBWI, coordinating the region's critique groups. She is also the founder of Sporty Girl Books, a blog for anyone who loves to watch, play, read, and write about women and girls in sports.
THE PERFECT TRIP is the companion novel to THE SWEET SPOT, which released from Spellbound River in March 2016.

About THE SWEET SPOT: When thirteen-year-old Sam Barrette’s baseball coach tells her that her attitude’s holding her back, she wants to hit him in the head with a line drive. Why shouldn’t she have an attitude? As the only girl playing in the 13U league, she’s had to listen to boys and people in the stands screaming things like “Go play softball,” all season, just because she’s a girl. Her coach barely lets her play, even though she’s one of the best hitters on the team.

Finally, here is the cover of THE PERFECT TRIP, illustrated by Lois Bradley:



Like the cover? You can win an ARC of The Perfect Trip by signing in here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And what's also exciting is that Spellbound River Press will be holding a Stocking Stuffer Event on Thursday night. Here's the link: https://m.facebook.com/events/209728089471701

So don't miss out on this fun, and congratulations to Stacy on The Perfect Trip  Cover Reveal!

Sharing the writer love one letter at a time,
Kim
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Friday, December 2, 2016

Our Writing ReTREAT at The Writing Barn

Dear Kim,

THE WRITING BARN


Do you still feel it? I do.
The restorative effects of Bethany's Writing Barn will take me far into the New Year.

For our readers who don't know, The Writing Barn is a retreat center established by author Bethany Hegedus and her family located on her homestead, just outside the city of Austin, Texas. The grounds are a writer’s paradise; tranquil, wood-lined paths lead you from The Book House to The Cabin to the grand meeting space found in the property’s original horse barn. Bethany’s motto: Retreat, Create, and Celebrate.

We did all three.

Bethany shows us the latest book in her Grandfather Gandhi series, BE THE CHANGE.

Donna's writing den. I thought I snapped a picture of her inside.
I guess I was too busy writing.
I think we all found what we needed at The Writing Barn. You found Gigi's voice. Donna found a new mystery for Hound Dog to solve (and inspiration for her own writing den, see above). I found a way to get Addi out of the corner I'd written her into.

Addi, my fifteen year old protagonist, needed some elbow room and I guess I did too. Working long days at The Writing Barn was easy. Maybe it was the setting? Maybe it was the fact that all my other responsibilities were 1,500 miles away? Maybe it was the company? My Ink Sisters tend to center me. 

More likely it was everything combined into one perfect gift. I want to thank Bethany for her generosity. She's open-hearted in many ways. And for this specific trip to come together, Bethany opened her doors not only to me, but to you and Donna. For that I will be forever grateful.

I know The Writing Barn is a place I will visit again and again (when I have the funds) and am in need of re-setting my churning mind. To bring a little of The Writing Barn into my real life I printed out the image below and hung it on my office wall. 

Breathe in.
Breathe out.


Much love,
Alison

P.S. How could I forget to write about our big night out in Austin in this post? Special thanks to Carmen, Varian, Cynthia, Akiko, Carolyn, Meghan, and Bethany for making our last night in Austin so memorable!

From left to right: Kim Briggs (Hey! That's you!), Akiko White, Donna Boock, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Bethany Hegedus, Varian Johnson, Carmen Oliver, Alison Green Myers, Carolyn Flores, and Meghan Daniels.



Cover Reveal: Ever in the After: 13 Fantasy Tales Proceeds go to Lift 4 Autism

Dear Alison,

A little Friday treat for you.


cover-reveal

 Hi everyone! Today, I'm excited to share the wonderful cover for Ever in the After: 13 Fantasy Tales. This anthology of fantasy/SFF short stories has been put together in aid of Lift 4 Autism, and releases April 1st, 2017. 100% of the proceeds will go to Lift 4 Autism. So, let's take a look at the gorgeous

cover! ever-in-the-after_cover_amazon

 Isn't it beautiful? The cover was designed and created by Stephanie Keyes (my Writer Buddy), and it fits the stories in the anthology perfectly. About the anthology... 
In Ever in the After, 13 authors come together to explore fantastical realms full of supernatural creatures, dark intrigue, and spells that may--or may not--be curses. ever-in-the-after_cover_3dThis anthology features work by:
  • Melle Amade
  • Miracle Austin
  • J. A. Culican
  • Madeline Dyer
  • Jessica Hawke
  • Alaina Hebert
  • Elizabetta Holcomb
  • Stephanie Keyes
  • Christopher D. Morgan
  • Mandy Peterson
  • Alice Rachel
  • Cadence Rae
  • Jaqueline E. Smith
A must-have fantasy collection full of surprises, secrets, and strong teenagers who know what they need to do to succeed in these mystical realities.
Add Ever in the After: 13 Fantasy Tales on Goodreads now! Buy your copy of Ever in the After: 13 Fantasy Tales on April 1st, 2017!

Sharing the writer love one letter at a time,
Kim
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