Post Tagged with: "celebrities"

Bored reading to your child? Here’s one you’ll both love

A Brush Full Of ColourThe best way to “get kids reading” is to read to them. Sit them on your lap with a good book—as often as possible. But sometimes that can get a bit tedious, especially when what the child wants to read isn’t particularly interesting to you.

Here’s a book that will be as interesting for you as it will be for your child.

A Brush Full of Colour is a vibrant, fact-based picture book about Canadian artist Ted Harrison.

While the book takes you (the parent) through the life of a great painter, it will also take your child on a journey of a different kind—of beauty and exploration. The paintings in the book are colourful and magnificent. You don’t even have to be able to read to enjoy looking at the gorgeous images.

A few tips for parents reading this book to their child:

  • Don’t read it word-for-word. You can skim the text and pick out some relevant points to tell the child as you flip the pages. “When he was little, Ted Harrison painted the inside walls of his outhouse!”
  • Don’t read it to the child at all. Sometimes the best way to experience a book is to look at the pictures and talk about them. For younger children you can say, “Point to something wintry.” For older children you can say, “What do you think was happening when he painted this?”
  • The book includes “prompt questions” under each photo caption. For instance, “What features are missing from the faces of the people?”
  • The book also asks the reader to compare different paintings. Flipping back and forth through a book is a great way to enjoy it. You don’t have to read all books from front to back!
    Brush full of colour inside

A Brush Full of Colour: The World of Ted Harrison was written by Margriet Ruurs and Katherine Gibson and features many paintings by Ted Harrison, who also wrote the foreword for the book. It was published by Pajama Press and is available Sept. 19; $22.95.

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Getting kids writing – a book that worked for me

Just Write: Here's how by Walter Dean MyersDo you have a budding writer on your hands?

Here’s a terrific, fast-reading book that aims to get young people writing.

Walter Dean Myers has written more than 100 books, including the best-selling Monster.

He is currently the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature in New York.

His books tend to be about the young, urban black experience in America. And he knows whereof he writes.

Being able to write lifted Myers out of his sometimes difficult home life. It gave him possibilities. It saved him.

He wants young people to be able to make the journey that was so important for him.

Just Write: Here’s How! is a book I picked up at the library because I was stuck. Having a been a journalist for more than 25 years–and writing nearly every day that I can remember–I was stuck. I had several looming book-related deadlines and I needed something to help me get unstuck, and fast. I’m delighted to say that Myers’s book has done just that.

I didn’t have time for boring, introduction-heavy tomes that were written from atop some author’s high horse. And kids don’t either.

Just Write doesn’t beat around the bush. It tells you how to start, how to plan, how to plot and how to revise. It’s practical and specific. “Here are the tools; it’s not easy, but you can do it.”

For instance, Myers plans his novels using a “six-box model.”WalterDeanMyersPhoto
The boxes are:
1) Character and problem
2) Obvious solutions
3) Insight and inner conflict
4) Growth and change
5) Taking action
6) Resolution

The writer fills in each box to create a plan. Later, each box is fleshed out to create an outline.

Myers also advises writers to pin photographs of their characters on a wall near where they’re writing. It’s a good idea.

Although it was great for me, Just Write is aimed at young people. Myers recounts his collaboration with a young writer who happened to send him an email. (I’m not sure how he got Myers’s email address, by the way, because I’ve been scouring the Internet for it and can’t find it anywhere–so right off the bat, this must have been an exceptional kid.)

The two–experienced writer and absolute beginner–began planning their book and then writing it, a chapter at a time, until they had something that could be published. Their book, Kick, was published by Harperteen (Harper Collins) last year.

Myers does a lot of work with kids in correctional institutions. He figures that without writing, that’s likely where he’d have wound up. He knows that there are kids in there who have something to say; he wants to help them get a chance to say it.

I love that although I’m not black, I’m not male, I’m not young, I’m not in crisis, I’m not a new writer and (I hope) I’m not headed for jail… this book helped me to write. If you know a kid who is even one of those things, I’m sure it will help them, too.

This is a book that will help kids get–and keep on–writing.

Related links
A collection of Myers’s books with descriptions.
Myers’s website.

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Advice from a young author: Dare to suck

Do you have a kid you’re trying to encourage to write more?

Is your kid discouraged because she’s worried that her writing isn’t good enough?

Here’s some great advice from a young author, Maureen Johnson, who is currently working on her 10th novel for teens.

She will tell your kid (in her own inimitable way) that in order to write well, first you need to suck. (3:56 but it goes fast.)

Here’s a link to Maureen’s website.

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“Got caught reading, I did!”

Yoda gets caught readingIf you’re trying to encourage your child to read more, surround her with good examples. Read, yourself, especially when she’s around to see you setting a good example.

And here’s another good thing to do. Go to Get Caught Reading and print off one of their celebrity posters. You can download it for free and print it on your colour printer. Or, I just email my colour printing to a quick-printer and pick it up later. Costs about a buck or so to have them print something in colour on larger-sized paper.

Then you’ve got a great poster for your kid’s room.

When your child’s hero is seen reading, your child will get the message that reading is a worthwhile activity.

Get Caught Reading has sports heros like NBA players Jerryd Bayless and Grant Hill; fictional characters like Dora the Explorer, Clifford and The Rugrats; singers like Alicia Keys and Gloria Estefan; and celebrities like Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen.

Frankly, I don’t know half of them – but your kid will. (What is “Friday Night Lights,” anyway? No idea.)

And you’re not going to find the ones you really want – Justin Bieber or Hannah Montana. But it’s a collection that grows, so you can check back with them and maybe even post a note asking for your favourite celebrity to be included.

Postering your child’s wall with a celebrity reading. “Mmm! A good idea it is!” Yoda out.

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Give Me Back My Dad! is classic Munsch

Give Me Back My Dad! new book by Robert MunschI can’t get the smile off my face – the new Robert Munsch book arrived in the mail this week.

This isn’t just any Robert Munsch book.
It’s the result of 170,000 kids voting on the best plot.

Remember the contest we told you about? Where kids got to choose which plot they liked best, and Robert Munsch would write his next book about it?

The kids have spoken! And the result is probably the awesomest Munsch book yet, Give Me Back My Dad!

It’s set in Rigolet, Labrador. Munsch visited the town 20 years ago, and never forgot Cheryl, a young girl he met there, who inspired this wonderful, cheeky story.

I’m not even going to tell you what it’s about. I’ll just say that it’s 28 pages of awesomeness. Twenty-eight pages of classic Robert Munsch at his finest. Hooray, hooray, smile, smile, smile!

Related Link
Illustrator Michael Martchenko takes you through the process of illustrating Give Me Back My Dad! here. There are also some wonderful sketches and the story about Munsch visiting Rigolet.

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Wacky Seuss facts that your kids will love! (Oh, and he’s got new book coming out)

Cat in the Hat hatYou can read them in a box,
You can read them with a fox!

They discovered seven new Seuss stories you see,
Filled with crafty rhymes for you to read.

But don’t go to the store yet, please remember…
They won’t be published until September!

Yes, you’ve got it right—seven new Dr. Seuss stories have been discovered, and they will be published in a new book called The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories by Dr. Seuss.

The stories were published in the 1950s in magazines, but they have never been put into book form before. They are being published by Random House.

Charles D. Cohen discovered the stories. He is a dentist by trade but a serious Dr. Seuss scholar on the side. He has the largest private collection of Seuss memorabilia in the world.

The new book will have seven stories in it, including Steak for Supper, about fantastic creatures who follow a boy home hoping for a steak dinner; The Bippolo Seed, in which a scheming feline leads an innocent duck to make a bad decision, and The Strange Shirt Spot, which was the inspiration for the bathtub-ring scene in The Cat in the Hat Comes Back.

Random House says the stories in this book are a departure from his rhyming approach to kid-lit.

Share these outrageous Seuss facts with your kids (you may have to censor some of them)

* His real name was Theodor (Ted) Geisel.

* His car license plate was GRINCH.

* He wrote 44 books for children.

* Some of his most popular books are: And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street (his first book, published in 1937), The Cat in the Hat (1957), Green Eggs and Ham (1960), One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish (1960), Oh, the Places You’ll Go! (1990) and Hop on Pop (1963).

* He won a Pulitzer Prize for Literature, an Academy Award, three Emmy Awards and a Grammy. (A Grammy!)

* Why did he change his name from Geisel to Seuss? He got in trouble in college (drinking in his dorm room, yes that’s what I said) and the Dean said he could no longer be editor of the school magazine where he published his cartoons. Instead of stopping, he just published his cartoons under different names: L. Pasteur, D. G. Rossetti, T. Seuss and Seuss. He used “Dr.” to jokingly make his name sound more important. (Dr. Rebel, if you ask me.)

* He nearly became a scholar but his girlfriend, Helen Palmer, (who he married in 1927) pointed out that he was more of a draw-er than a scholar.

* His first job out of college was drawing ads, including an ad for a bug spray called Flit. Everyone knew his ad’s catchphrase, “Quick, Henry – the Flit!”Dr. Seuss's Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories

* He started writing for children because his contract with the ad agency precluded him from writing for adults.

* Seuss never had any children with his first wife, Helen Palmer. However, they “made up” lots of pretend children: Chrysantemum-Pearl, Norval, Wally, Wickersham, Miggles, Boo-Boo and Thnud. They would invite neighbourhood children over to pose with them for their annual Christmas card and tell everyone, “these are our children.”

* More than two dozen publishers rejected his first book, And To Think That I Saw it On Mulberry Street. Seuss was walking down Madison Avenue, about to throw his manuscript away, when he met up with an old school chum, Mike McClintock. McClintock was an editor with Vanguard Press, and immediately gave Seuss his first book contract. Seuss later would say that if he’d been walking on the other side of the street he might have ended up a dry cleaner.

* Several of his books (Yertle the Turtle, The Sneetches, Horton Hears a Who!) were written as metaphors against racism. The famous phrase from Horton, “A person’s a person, no matter how small,” offers “a rhymed lesson in protection of minorities and their rights,” the Des Moines Register wrote in a book review.

* He wrote Cat in the Hat because he was frustrated by reports about low literacy rates among children. He felt that kids needed more interesting beginner-reader books than Dick and Jane.

* He wrote Green Eggs and Ham after someone bet him he couldn’t write a book using less than 50 words.

Related Links

The publisher of the new book is Random House.

Random House’s Dr. Seuss website.

See how many Dr. Seuss books you recognize.

There are (not surprisingly – did you read those facts?!) a number of biographies about Dr. Seuss. We got our facts from the Random House site and there’s plenty more where they came from. Read more about Dr. Seuss’s fascinating life.

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Brain game: Connections

Will SmithHere’s a fun game we were playing at the dinner table recently. It’s called “Connections,” and it’s great to help with creativity and get the blood flowing to the ol’ brain cells – not just for your kids but for you, too.

You start. You name two objects that seemingly have no connection to each other. Your child has to somehow connect the two objects in a logical way.

Here’s an example:

You: An electric oven and a tree.

Your child: The electric oven is based on the wood-burning stove. Wood comes from trees.

Then, it’s your child’s turn:

Your child: Snow and Florida.

You: That’s a hard one. Um, there’s no snow in Florida?

Your childAaaaaaang! (Buzzer sound). No way – try again!

You: In Florida, they have a hockey team called the Panthers. If one of the players stops really hard on the ice, his skate blades will create some… snow!

Your child (giggling hysterically at your ineptitude at this game): Oh man, mom–you were really reaching on that one! OK, I’ll accept that answer even though it’s awful. Your turn.

And on it goes.

The great thing is that there are no rules. Together you decide what’s acceptable and what isn’t.

And the other great thing is that often it’s harder to be the person coming up with the two objects than it is to be the person connecting them.

And the other great thing is that it’s all using your brain and having a good time doing it.

And then all of you can go and rent that Will Smith movie “Six Degrees of Separation.” No, wait – don’t do that. Highly inappropriate for kids. But you can watch it again when your kid’s asleep. Great flick. And, an excuse to have Will Smith’s picture on this post. Sigh.

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Munsch’s next book

Robert Munsch

Photos courtesy of Scholastic Canada.

Remember the Scholastic poll we told you about awhile ago?

The one where kids could vote for one of three plots–in effect, choosing what Robert Munsch’s next book will be?
Well, more than 170,000 kids voted and their verdict is in!

Munsch’s next book will be set in Rigolet, Labrador. It will be about Cheryl, who fishes with her dad. Except the fish keep trying to catch Cheryl. And the pair come back with something pretty special (and it’s not a fish).

You can keep checking the Scholastic website here for updates on how the book is coming, as well as some behind-the-scenes stuff on the making of the book. There’s also a picture of Robert Munsch in Rigolet with his son and the girl on whom the book is based. Fun!

Thanks to Nikole at Scholastic who helped me out with this shot of RM.
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Newest Twilight book – free

the short second life of bree tanner – by Stephenie Meyer

It’s hot off the press and today until July 5 it’s available free online here.

The book is a novella, only 178 pages, and its protagonist is one of the minor characters from Meyer’s earlier novel, Eclipse.

Bree Tanner is a “newborn vampire,” whose life is dangerous and ultimately tragic. The book is told through her voice, giving Twilight fans a chance to look at Eclipse in a completely different light.

As a parent, you should know that your girl will definitely want this book. That Chapters/Indigo is selling it for $9.99 when you purchase another teen book. And that it’s available online for free until July 5, 2010.

Even if you’re not planning on reading this book, check out the free online version – the technology is pretty interesting. You can increase the size of the print, view it as a one-page or two-page spread, and choose individual pages to read or just go through it all page by page.

If you’ve got a reluctant reader, this may be just the ticket. It’s a short book, full of action, easy to read and it’s online. Until July 5.

I bought the book yesterday and it only took me – I tend to be a very slow reader – an hour or so to get halfway through it. It’s interesting and it clips right along. And I like that Stephenie Meyer lets her readers into her thought process (in the Introduction) in terms of the way she thinks about her characters. She may get kids writing as well.

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Theodore Boone by John Grisham

Does your child want to be a lawyer?

Does he negotiate bedtime like Alan Dershowitz? Does he want to put the bad guys behind bars?

If this is your kid, then you need to buy John Grisham’s new book for young adults, Theodore Boone, Kid Lawyer.

Grisham has written 22 books for adults, mostly about the small-town lawyer up against the baddies. His books are legal thrillers, packed with the real-world details that only an author who used to be a lawyer can provide. They’re quick reads with lots of action.

This book is Grisham’s first attempt at a young adult novel, and it’s kind of like his other books – only a lite version.

In trying to write for a younger audience Grisham faces some challenges. There’s a lot of legal stuff he has to explain, which comes off either sounding like a lecture or being condescending. And any exciting tension he builds up between the bad guy and our hero fizzles out because his normal fight/chase scene would be too scary for this audience, so he has to pull all of those punches. It ultimately becomes confusing for the reader, who wonders what all the fuss was about. Also, the main character isn’t very well-rounded; he’s a likeable enough kid but too two-dimensional and perfect to believe.

Having said all that, however, there is a fair bit of action in the book, it’s well-paced and it centres on a good moral: that people are innocent until proven guilty.

I’m not going to review the book here, because Kate at Book Aunt has written everything that I would have said about it – the good and the bad. So do read her review.

If you’ve got a child who is interested in the law, or becoming a lawyer, then definitely get this book.

If your kid wants to be a baseball player or a ballerina (or anything else), take a pass on this book and wait for the sequel that is sure to come – there’s an enormous cliffhanger at the end of the book, so presumably there will be a second one. And I’m hoping it will be more firmly edited and more appropriate for its audience.

Overview of Theodore Boone, Kid Lawyer
Theo, 13, is a straight-A student whose parents are both lawyers. He loves everything about the law; he’s got a dog named Judge. Kids at school come to him with their troubles (parents getting divorced, pets in the animal pound, etc.) and he hacks into the Lexis-Nexis system at his parents’ office to give his friends legal advice.

One day a murder is being tried in his small town. Theo gets mixed up in it and must decide when to bring in the adults, as what he knows about the case gradually becomes pivotal to the prosecution.

The website for the book,, has a few things for educators and parents including a teaching guide and a three-minute video of Grisham talking about the book.

Is it a good book? I’m not sure. I did enjoy reading it, but so much of it went “klunk” that it was hard to decide if it’s a worthwhile read. Certainly for kids who are struggling with reading (unless they love the law) I’d give it a miss. I’m going to keep my eye out for the second Theodore Boone book and I’ll keep an open mind. And fingers crossed.

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