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Coming soon in honor of World Oceans Day!

On May 28th to be exact, I will be running a rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win one of three signed copies of my book Oliver’s Otter Phase.  All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on this blog post (once the giveaway starts) about what animal you’d try to be for a day.  Stop back on May 28th to enter to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

World Oceans Day is June 8, 2018.  Check out their site for more information.

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Margaret Hamilton Saved the Day and So Much More

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Margaret and the Moon: How Margaret Hamilton Saved the First Lunar Landing by Dean Robbins and illustrated by Lucy Knisley (Alfred A. Knopf, 2017) is a book sure to empower your young dreamer to follow his or her passions and dreams. It can give young girls the nudge they need to go against the (unfortunately still) social norms as well as show young boys that the best outcomes occur when we work as teams utilizing everyone’s abilities regardless of gender.

The text and illustrations are well paced, and vibrant yet simple enough to be accessible even to preschoolers. The best for me is how this book gives a wholehearted nod to the practice of wonderment about our world…and how that practice leads to questions and to real-life solutions if we only believe in our abilities.

Margaret and the Moon is a must read for showing young children the achievements of women in history. I bet it will inspire a new generation of wonderers.

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This Book is Hungry

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And, it just ate my dog! Richard Byrne’s book This book just ate my dog! (Henry Holt and Company, LLC, 2014) is a story that will have you rushing to read it to as many young readers as you can find. As the characters keep disappearing into the book’s gutter, the main character asks the reader to help and pure silliness ensues.

There is not much more I can say without giving it away. Be prepared to giggle and laugh and want to share this fun and creative book.

 

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Swimming in Numbers

 

BookOfTheMonth_CoverIt has been one month since Oliver was sent out into the world, a month I diligently prepared for, lining up school and library events, planning a party and writing lessons and presentations, as well as learning as much about otters as I could.

It has been fun, exciting and just a tad overwhelming. It’s not the same as realizing after I gave birth that not one of the ‘already done that’ mothers I talked to adequately prepared me for the experience. But it might be close. I will say that there’s still a lot I need to learn about publication and promotion and especially, how to keep working on old and new manuscripts while in the midst of active promotion. I will also say, there is definitely truth in the importance of neat, readable schedules and diligent record keeping.

I have never been good at holding numbers in my head. Words are what float in my head and pour out of my fingers. Yet this month I find myself plagued by numbers. They are consuming me, blocking new words from forming. This unexpected experience is similar to the first few months of each school year when I taught – every waking moment my brain was filled with what lesson was which day for which class and which student had this need versus that need and which day that week was upset due to an event and who needed work sent home because of illness or lice or unspecified…and oh, what am I teaching tomorrow?

Numbers are not negative, but I find these numbers in my way. Writing is a good way to purge negative thoughts, so I decided to try an enumeration exercise of sorts as a way to move forward.

21 Number Facts about Oliver’s Otter Phase in its first Month

Number of …

big celebrations: 1*

starfish cookies I made: 150

pounds of bologna bought for the party: 2

bologna sandwiches given to my dog: at least 17

bologna sandwiches my daughter thinks she ate: 8

starfish cookies personally eaten: 12?

starfish cookies still in my freezer: 30

library visits: 3

school visits: 5

museum visits: 2

times read book aloud: 26

number of kelp forests made: 2

otter ‘bellies’ painted: 80

otter body parts cut out: 480

reviews on Amazon: 1

reviews on Arbordale’s website: 3

interviews done: 2

events I forgot about: 1 **

minutes late to a meeting with my illustrator: 30

days late to pay my business license: 9

queries sent out to schedule a book event: 53

replies, which led to events scheduled for Oliver’s Otter Phase: 17

books sold at opening party: 25

books sold at library and school events: 0-6

books sold in the big beyond: unknown

comments from friends: inestimable and invaluable

Number that really matters: how many kids laughed, smiled, learned something or went off to write a story of their own.

Now what? If this purging helped, I shall now have some brain space to write. I’ll let you know!

 

* I was so touched and grateful for the friends who came.

**This is so embarrassing to admit. Luckily the venue graciously rescheduled.

kelp

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Pup and Bear Warms my Heart

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Pup and Bear by Kate Banks and illustrated by Naoko Stoop (schwartz & wade books, 2017) had me sighing and smiling with its sweetness, and crying before the end. The book has beautiful, lyrical language to pull us through the days of a wolf pup growing up and through his first year of life that he spends with a polar bear. My scientist side wanted to bristle at the unlikely relationship of a wolf and polar bear, but I threw such limiting thoughts away as soon as I began reading and fell under the spell of Banks’ words.

The illustrations are both calming and breathtaking, and complement the text perfectly. Throughout the book the polar bear tells the wolf cub, “I am not your mother, but I can…keep you warm, show you where to catch a fish, play with you, etc.” This book is a must read for any parent wanting to promote kindness in their children. I am not the same as you, but I can be kind is its underlying message, told in a sweet, child-relatable manner. Pup and Bear is a wonderful idea, beautifully executed. I hope you’ll check it out.

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You Otter Love “Oliver’s Otter Phase”

I would be appreciative of anyone who bought a book writing a review on Amazon or Goodreads. Thanks so much.

Arbordale Publishing's Blog

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Have you ever thought…what if I spent the day as an animal? Well, in Lisa Connor’s debut picture book, Oliver’s Otter Phase, one little boy spends the day as his favorite animal from the aquarium!

How did Lisa dream up this idea? It was after a trip to the Vancouver Aquarium, but don’t take it from us. Here is Lisa’s interview!

Were there any funny, special or unusual circumstances or incidents in the conception/writing of this book?

LisaConnorsI knew I wanted to write a story about sea otters after I attended a program on otters at the Vancouver Aquarium. I learned facts about sea otter behavior that I did not know, and I wanted to share this information with kids. I attempted to write a nonfiction book, but kept getting stuck, feeling it was too dry. Then I had a memory of sticking bologna on my tummy as a child…

View original post 171 more words

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When Cloud 9 is Overshadowed by the News

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Oliver’s Otter Phase is two weeks old already! It has been a busy week between planning a big release party, visiting schools, libraries and the Virginia Discovery Museum. Am I floating on Cloud 9? Not really. In the wake of yet another terrible mass shooting in Florida and the political aftermath, it has been hard to feel excited about my new book. By hard I mean, is it ok to be happy about something when the world seems so messed up?

I do believe we have to live and embrace life no matter what, as best we can. I do believe there is hope for positive change and I believe in the young people in our country – their voices need to be, will be and are being heard. I am proud of the students marching to protest gun violence and the need for safe, gun-free schools.

What I am really feeling in the midst of these competing feelings – angst and anger with the state of our government juxtaposed with joy and excitement at sharing my book with children and their families – is the need to hunker down and keep writing. I am writing for children, yes, but I am also writing for the future.

Two things I read this past week have helped me realize it is ok to want to write, that books can have a powerful influence as guideposts for readers of all ages. As we learn more and more about animal intelligence and are methodically bumped from our self-directed pedestal, reading and the ability to create fiction may be the main characteristics that make us human. So perhaps reading can save humanity.

An article by Niko Maragus, The Children’s Book that Made me Realize it’s Okay to Be Alone, is well-written, and worth your time. It focuses on Maragus’ realization that one can be happy and find love besides (beyond) the romantic love that we are led to believe by society is the only way to find happiness. However, for me, it also strengthened my sword-arm* and validated my desire to instill wonder about our world in children. It is my way of spreading hope and instigating change as much as someone else needs to march in protest or run for office.

I’m also reading The Trees in My Forest by Bernd Heinrich. Books about nature and natural history have always been my favorite. Might I reach adult readers as well as children with my picture books? I have had positive feedback from adults too, as they tell me they learned something new. I believe such learning can increase our ability to feel compassion for not just our home planet and the other species we share Earth with, but also for fellow humans. While a lot of this compassion does exist – it’s just hard to tell from the news – clearly we need more.

In the beginning of a chapter on acorns, Heinrich includes a quote from Mikhail Gorbachev:

“The ecologization of politics requires us to acknowledge priority of human values and make ecology part of education at an early age, molding a new, modern approach to nature and, at the same time, giving back to man a sense of being part of nature. No moral improvement of society is possible without that.”

If only we’d instituted a ‘Leave No Child Inside’ kind of structure to our educational system decades ago. How might we have slowed climate change, better-protected endangered species, and stopped pollution events from harming us? It is easy to slip into hopelessness when I ponder the what-ifs. But instead I can try to reach out and show and share the marvel of life on earth.

Heinrich writes, “If we envision ourselves as participants in the same grand, complex web of interactions as the forest, then planting acorns is like planting part of ourselves. The morality that comes from such a vision of ecosystem-as-life is a common thread that, if taught and encouraged, could unite all of mankind.”

I couldn’t agree more.

kelp  Waddell4

 

 

*Phrase adapted from title of Brenda Ueland’s book Strength to Your Sword Arm.