Monday, January 27, 2014

The Magic of "The Magic Poof"

 Wow! It's January 27th aka Multicultural Children’s Book Day: Celebrating Diversity in Children's Literature!  Are you jumping up and down, shaking all around, doing the Taylor Swift head bang?  You should be!  The co-creators of this unique event are Mia Wenjen from Pragmatic Mom and Valarie Budayr from Jump Into a Book/Audrey Press. You can find a bio for Mia here and Valarie here.

Our main sponsors for this event is Wisdom Tales PressLee & Low Books Chronicle Books, and Susan Daniel Fayad: Author of  My Grandfather’s Masbaha.   These inspiring ladies and sponsors have organized a wonderful book event with the goal of making readers more aware of some amazing books to add to your collection. 

Despite census data that shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, only 10% of children’s books published have diversity content. Using the Multicultural Children’s Book Day, Mia and Valarie are on a mission to change all of that. Their mission is to not only raise awareness for the kid’s books that celebrate diversity, but to get more of these types of books into classrooms and libraries. Another goal of this exciting event is create a compilation of books and favorite reads that will provide not only a new reading list for the winter, but also a way to expose brilliant books to families, teachers, and libraries.

art courtesy of

I am so excited to share The Magic Poof (author: Stephen Hodges; illustrator: T. Kyle Gentry) with you!  There are two wonderful characters front and center here: Ange-Marie "pronounced AAHHNGE-Marie" and the Poof.  You and your children will immediately love them both!  The Poof is not only Ange-Marie's hair, but her best friend.  He is inquisitive, happy, nutty and FLUFFY and wants nothing more than to be front and center for school picture day.  Ange-Marie loves her hairy friend dearly but wants to keep his "wild personality" a secret.  What happens next will warm your heart!

All children can relate to dealings with hair that "won't listen." This unlikely tale of friendship is a great teacher of individuality and diversity.  It will have children embracing their own features and characteristics as well as viewing everyone's differences as unique and awesomely one-of-a-kind…just like the Poof!

Click here to visit The Magic Poof!

Share pictures of your Magic Poof with us here, on Google+, Facebook and Twitter.  

And read these other amazing posts for Multicultural Children’s Book Day: Celebrating Diversity in Children's Literature

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ABOUT BETH:Beth Panageotou is the creator of the Mission Read campaign, an organic grassroots literacy campaign stressing the “need to read!” She is also co-founder of Page’s Corner, and the Editor of the Library at Bonbon Break. She is an information junkie with an obsession with seashells from the Jersey shore, secretly wishes to be JB Fletcher and loves the constant chaos of life with her two daughters. Bucket list item: to be on Sesame Street.
Follow Beth on Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest |Google+ | Instagram | LinkedIn

Full Disclosure: Xlibris provided a copy of The Magic Poof to review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

It's Award Season!

The Grammy's…nope.  The Oscar's…nope.  The American Library Association's Youth Media Awards--YOU KNOW IT!

Are you ready? Monday's the big day and here's the link for the American Library Association's Youth Media Awards. 

click here to view webcast

Fans of children's literature will be following closely to see if their favorites make the cut!  Does yours?  Looking forward to discussing tomorrow!

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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

I'll Be The Dragon by Laurel Snyder

When I think about Storytelling, I think about my best friend Susan, and the imaginary games we used to play, in an overgrown patch of tangled trees, behind Loyola College, in Baltimore, MD.  We were eight or nine.  We’d walk there from my house after school, slip back into this mess of vines and weeds, and lose ourselves completely. 

Beginning the game was the hard part.  Because we had to make the leap  from our “real” world into the story. We had to shed our tube socks and band-aids and patched jeans, and lopsided braids, and don glittering wings or bejeweled crowns or mermaid tails. 

We had to say the actual words that would make this transformation possible.  Something like, “You be the queen and I’ll be the fairy,” or “You be the witch, and I’ll be the lost girl.”  We had to establish the rules, set the scene, assign roles. 

Then we had to plunge into the story. We had to trust each other, and be willing to plunge.

But once we were there, on the other side, it was easy!  I was the fairy. I was the little girl.  Because children’s are natural storytellers.  They haven’t been ruined yet. They have this amazing gift, this ability to follow the wildest narratives. Their willing suspension of disbelief is vast.   They are more flexible than we adults can even fathom.

Susan and I would play for hours, acting out a meandering story that didn’t follow the rules of what I now call “narrative structure.”  “Flat” characters would come and go, “illogical” worlds would be built as needed, and then melt away.  Nothing was premeditated. Tragedy was allowed.   It was an amazing, wild, unsupervised story.

Now, looking back at that memory as an author, I wish I could still play that way.  My Storytelling skills feel cramped by comparison, stale.  I’ve learned too many rules to be so wild.  I’ve learned “what works” and “what doesn’t work.”  I have an audience now, and that changes things. 

I’m a mother now too, and I watch my boys do the same sort of playing.  I work hard to keep myself from ever intervening. Even as I watch them in the yard, “flying” off the jungle gym, or hitting each other with sticks in some thrilling “battle”.  The grownup in me wants to run out there, keep them from danger, from mess, from pain.  But the part of me that can remember, just a little, stays inside, hides behind the curtain.  I don’t want them to know they have an audience.

“You be the dragon,” Mose will say to Lew, in the next room, on a rainy day, “and I’ll be the knight.”  I know this is going to end in someone bleeding.  But I stand there on the other side of the door, and smile to myself. I don’t stop them. I envy them.

Sometimes, when I go on author visits in schools, I talk about this memory with the kids I meet.  I ask them if they play imaginary games.    Some of them nod, with secret smiles, happy to know that we share this magic. 

Some of them laugh.  They’re too old for baby games like that.  Or they prefer their adventures to be pixelated.  They like to act out stories, they tell me, but in video game form. 

“Okay,” I say.  “That’s fine too.” I’m not there to judge.

But honestly, it makes me a little bit sad, to think that some of these kids have so many digital characters to choose from that they’ll never make up their own. Or rather, to realize that they think making up their own character is about choosing which color costume to assign to their avatar.  They are used to “creative” games. But they don’t know the joys of limitless invention.  Their game is finite.  There are walls to their world.

In the game I played with Susan, there was no avatar to look at. There were no rules. We could go absolutely anywhere in our world. We could leave our world, and jump into another one.    We could slip out of one character and into another.

Storytelling is, for me, the part that comes before writing, before structure, before there are rules or pictures. Storytelling is the wildest forest, the most unbelievable land.  It gets harder as we get older.  Some people stop doing it altogether.

And I’m beginning to think some people never get to do it.

So I guess this little essay has turned into a plea. As adults, I think we owe it to our kids to let them get bored enough, disconnected enough, alone enough, to truly invent a world, a character, all their own.    It isn’t enough to let them “select” a character.  If we rob them of the chance to create, to truly invent, to run wild as thinkers… we are teaching them that the world is finite.

And if we watch them play, if we hover, they will always have an audience.  Which is just another sort of wall.

In my dream world, I want every kid say the magic words, “You be the dragon, and I’ll be the knight…” I want them to say the words alone, to each other, in a tangle of vines somewhere, or a fort made of pillows, a world made of stories.

ABOUT LAUREL: Laurel Snyder is the author of five novels for kids, including Bigger than a Bread Box and its forthcoming companion, Seven Stories Up. She also writes picture books, poems, and occasional essays, when she isn't chasing after her two small boys.

Find Laurel on Twitter @laurelsnyder or at her site:

Originally published 5/6/13; This piece was written by Laurel Snyder exclusively for Mission Read.

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Sunday, January 5, 2014

Newbery Winners by Grade Appropriateness! by Pragmatic Mom

I remember when I handed my daughter The Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo when she was in third grade. We had just enjoyed Because of Winn Dixietogether by the same author and The Tiger Rising seemed perfect from the quick cover once over. The chapter book was short, with biggish text inside.
A few days later, my daughter asks if she can please stop reading.
“Why?” I asked her.
“It’s too sad,” she replied.
I took the book from her and read the first few chapters. I was horrified to find out that this was a Grapes of Wrath level of sad kind of story. Not that this book isn’t wonderful or beautifully written but it was just too sad for an 8-year-old to bear.
After that I started reading ahead to screen all her books for her. And then I started this blog. I guess if I had this list, I wouldn’t be blogging!

"I have added one asterisk to the books that I’ve read and liked it and two asterisks for books I read and loved.  I also think that you can go up a grade or even two for these books but I would not necessarily go down."

And thank you Pragmatic Mom for sharing this post with Mission Read! 
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