Love, Laughter, and Life

Adventures With a Book Lover


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Tea with Me, And Then Monday Happened

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It feels like ages since I’ve just chatted and shared life over a cup of tea (Irish breakfast with a dab of honey) with you, my friends. How is life treating you?

Christmas came and went so quickly! I can’t believe we are back to counting how many days there are until next Christmas. One of the favorite gifts this year among the grands was a whoopie cushion. Can you tell what age group we are?

And Happy New Year! A new year, a new decade, and new numbers to train ourselves to write.

I’m off and running, er, writing my way through Julie Hedlund’s 12 x 12 Writing Challenge.  I was overjoyed to learn that I had won a scholarship to join this challenge. SO many resources available for writers. I just cannot believe the wonderful support and encouragement to be found in the kidlit writing community. Thank you, writer friends, and thank you, Julie Hedlund!

I’m enjoying the challenge of a new editing opportunity. I alternate between extreme joy and mental work and moments of terror and concern over what I feel I need to change. And will somebody please read this after me to see if I did it correctly? What a great adventure that stretches me in new ways. I hope you have something like this in your new year to grow you and make your heart sing.

Alas. My Seahawks finished the year yesterday after they lost to Green Bay. Probably not many of you are football fans, but I have really enjoyed watching my team. It’s fascinating to learn their little tricks and figure out what the announcers are talking about. I still don’t know what a nickel back is or a slot play, but I hear those words over and over. Next year, Go Hawks! Be healthy and come back strong!

And this is the part when Monday happened.

All the grands were at school, though two had minor health complaints.

During preschooler pickup time, I received a phone call informing me about the oldest, Hayden, being in the office in tears with significant eye pain. He had something in his eye, or as the nurse was guessing, pink eye. And he needed to see a doctor.

Before leaving the parking lot, I called and secured an appointment. Pick-up Hayden.

Waiting time until appointment. Rearrange who picks up where and when.

We left for appointment and just as I merged on the highway, received a phone call from Aucutt Mama that second child, Khloe, was in office in severe ear pain and tears. Papa was MIA for phone contact, so Mama left work to drive to the opposite side of town to get Khloe.

While I was at the doctor’s appointment (with Hayden and two preschoolers, which was another fun story all together, because both of them were feeling NO pain and great JOY, which they shared loudly with all), Aucutt Mama and I arranged a second appointment for Khloe to have her ear checked. And I called Quantrell Mama to meet me at doctor and divide the preschooler frivolities by dividing the number in half. She took Autumn, leaving me with Gage and Hayden.

Shortly after they left (we were still in exam room), Aucutt Mama arrived, just in time to find we needed to extend our adventure by heading immediately to the eye doctor. We met in the waiting room, I handed off an extremely talkative Gage, and Hayden and I drove post haste to the eye doctor (yet another valley and opposite end of town). Aucutt Mama stayed for the Khloe appointment.

To wrap up our afternoon of operation organization (OH, I forgot to add Papa and I played phone tag to secure a ride home from school for Donavyn, the only child not involved in the traveling circus of medical events):

~ Hayden ended up having a seed pod stuck beneath his eyelid. This caused extreme pain AND corneal abrasions. Such a tiny thing making such a mess! Eye drops and healing in order.

~Khloe had temp and severe ear infection. Antibiotics, pain meds, and rest in order. Plus, return visit to doctor if ear drum bursts. Which it did, overnight.

~Donavyn made it home just fine.

~Autumn missed us at the doctor visit and left her bunny in my car. Not a happy camper upon that realization.

~Gage continued to talk nonstop to his mama, quite gleeful to have her ear.

~Aucutt Mama met me at eye doctor to fill in forms, then went back across town to grab prescriptions. Not much sleep in that household last night.

~Nana and Papa collapsed after using their super-speed powers to make and consume dinner.

Short story. It’s only Tuesday, but we survived!

How about you? Thanks for sticking through the story to the end. How was your Monday?


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Haiku Moment: second breakfast bath

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second breakfast bath;

after canned dish, free range mouse,

and dry food chaser

 

second breakfast bath by Angie Quantrell

 

That’s our girl, Monet. First breakfast is half a can of Fancy Feast. After, she heads out to roam the pasture for a second breakfast on the hoof, er, paw. Next she takes a quick bath and chomps a few crunchy bits of dry food (to wash it all down?) and she is good for the morning.

Pardon the irreverent pose. She IS taking a bath . . .


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Book Report: JELLY by Jo Cotterill #BookBirthday

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Jelly

Written by Jo Cotterill

Yellow Jacket (an imprint of Little Bee Books); January 7, 2020

 

Happy Book Birthday, Jelly!

I LOVE Jelly! This is a great story about a large girl who figures out how to cope with rude comments about her size. Humor and excellent impressions of others keeps everyone laughing, but deep in her heart, she hides her true feelings. This is also a coming of age story. I loved the writing, the setting, the poetry (!!!), and the music. Not everyone has to fit in the same package or do the same things to belong. Honesty with family and friends is worth the risk. I love the way school, friendship, and home life is all tied up in one exciting bunch. Excellent read!

Thank you, Yellow Jacket, for the Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of Jelly to review.

As an adult who struggled with being the chubby kid at school, Jelly resonated with both my younger and more mature self.

 

Why I LOVE This Book:

~ The personality of Jelly is fantastic. This is someone I would love to meet in real life. Her story rings true.

~ The struggle with being overweight and how Jelly is treated by others is sadly life-like. Bullies are everywhere and Jelly learns how to deal with mean comments by reacting with humor. But beneath it all, she is hurt and is hiding her true self.

~ The courage and honesty of Jelly as she changes how she interacts with others and shares her real feelings is refreshing.

~ I love that Jelly writes in her journal to process life. I love the way she expresses herself through poetry.

~ Fantastic friendship, family, and school dynamics

~ The story!

~ I really enjoyed Jelly. Readers will see themselves in the many characters and hopefully learn to treat others kindly, no matter what size.

Happy Book Birthday, Jelly!

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Amazon Blurb:

Twelve-year-old Jelly hides her true self behind her humor and keeps her true thoughts and feelings locked away in a notebook. Can she find the courage to share who she really is?

Angelica (Jelly for short) is the queen of comedy at school. She has a personality as big as she is, and everyone loves her impressions. But Jelly isn’t as confident as she pretends to be. No one knows her deepest thoughts and feelings. She keeps those hidden away in a secret notebook.

Then her mom’s new boyfriend, Lennon, arrives. He’s kind and perceptive, and he is the first person to realize that Jelly is playing a part. Jelly shares her poetry with him and he convinces her to perform one of her poems as a song at the school talent show. Can Jelly risk letting people see the real her? What if it all goes wrong?

  • Age Range: 10 – 14 years
  • Grade Level: 4 – 9

 


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Book Report: Happy Book Birthday to SKY DRAGON by James Blackburn

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SKY DRAGON

Written by James Blackburn

Illustrated by Stephanie Fliss Dumas

Mascot Books; January 7, 2020

 

Thank you, Mascot Books, for this review copy of SKY DRAGON. I am delighted to read it and share it with you, friends. I love this story written in rhyme, the colorful illustrations, and the message to keep trying to do what you want (or need) to do in spite of the challenges you face.

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Why I Like This Book:

~ Dragons! Drake is adorable. He’s young and must get out and play like any other human or animal youngster.

~ Fun telling of the story through rhyme

~ Age-appropriate actions by Drake. This book is geared towards 5-6 year-old readers, but I imagine younger and perhaps older readers will enjoy reading about Drake.

~ Colorful illustrations

~ Doing things a young dragon would normally do accidentally puts Drake in a challenging situation.

~ Despite being handicapped with a clipped wing, Drake enjoys his dragon life doing dragon things.

~ This book shows how perseverance and hard work will help you get what you need done or get where you need to go. It also builds empathy for others who are not the same as we are.

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Amazon Blurb:

Drake the Dragon, born with a lame wing,

seeks to see what this new day will bring.

Through hapless adventure, where he dare not go,

Drake mistakenly tumbles into the world below.

How will he make it back to his home above?

Well, of course: through courage and bravery, and with lots of love.

 

Happy book birthday, SKY DRAGON!


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Gratitude for this Fantastic Way to Kick Off the New Year: 12 x 12 Challenge Scholarship Winner!

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Happy New Year to me and my fellow winners of the diversity and financial need scholarships for the 2020 12 x 12 Writing Challenge. Yay! Follow the link below to read more about the scholarship and the thankful recipients.

12 x 12 2020 Scholarship Winners

I’ve been steadily working on picture book manuscripts, but sometimes feel like I’m spinning wheels. The 12 x 12 Writing Challenge is the perfect way to jump start my new year of writing and help me focus on writing, editing, and polishing picture book manuscripts.

The main goal of 12 x 12 is that participants complete the year with at 12 picture book manuscripts/drafts. This is accomplished through videos, expert advice, writing exercises, inspiration, and online critiques by 12 x 12 members-a comprehensive endeavor by kidlit writers. At least, that’s what I believe to be true about 12 x 12, since this will be my first year to join. In reality, I know my experience will be much, much more.

Much thanks and gratitude for this awesome opportunity goes to Julie Hedlund and the entire 12 x 12 community who generously donated to give scholarships to other writers. THAT is what the kidlit community is all about-supporting and helping other writers. I love it!

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Cheesy happy grin from a writer who is very grateful and excited!


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Writing Successes for 2019

Children’s author Julie Hedlund, challenged participants of her 12 Days of Christmas for Writers series to post SUCCESSES (rather than resolutions) on our blogs this year. She believes the way New Year’s resolutions are traditionally made come from a place of negativity – what DIDN’T get done or achieved in the previous year.  Instead, she suggests we set goals for the New Year that BUILD on our achievements from the previous one. I decided to participate in this Anti-Resolution Revolution!

Sometimes I feel like I am spinning my writing wheels but going nowhere. Here is my list of SUCCESSES in my writing related-activities for 2019.

Angie’s Anti-Resolution Revolution:

1. I met my contracted deadlines and celebrated over 26 years of writing work-for-hire with an organization I adore.

2. I was awarded a writing residency at Holly House through Hypatia-in-the-Woods. I enjoyed a fabulous week to work on a picture book and Haiku.

3. I had a heart during #kidpit at the end of 2018. I received a rejection this year, but still…I tried!

4. Our critique group has increased to 4 active members and we’ve been really working hard.

5. I’ve been blogging more and supporting writers.

6. I had my first author interview and my first author/illustrator interview on my blog.

7. I read tons of picture books, chapter books, and YA books.

8. I participated in Storystorm and have a great list of picture book ideas.

9. I participated in ReFoReMo and studied great picture books.

10. I participated in 12 Days of Christmas last year. Thanks, Julie, for this year and last year!

11. I wrote 4 new picture book manuscripts.

12. I edited 12 different picture book manuscripts.

13. I participated in Multicultural Children’s Book Day for the first time.

14. I wrote and edited more this year.

15. I have editing opportunities to explore in 2020.

16. I connected more with other writers in the wonderful kidlit community.

 

How about you? What SUCCESSES did you have in 2019?

 


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Book Report: The Memory Keeper by Jennifer Camiccia

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The Memory Keeper

Written by Jennifer Camiccia

Aladdin, An imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division; 2019

 

I received a copy of The Memory Keeper through Natalie Aguirre’s blog Literary Rambles. Thank you, Natalie and Jennifer!

I enjoyed reading The Memory Keeper. The cover is very attractive and captured my attention while also giving me a place of setting. The characters are really fun and engaging. I learned SOOOO much about brains in this book. Do not be turned off by that statement. This is a far cry from medical descriptions of brain information. Jennifer expertly wove brain facts into the story. Each chapter begins with a new bit of information relevant to that chapter, and then off we go!

The story of Lulu, a young girl with HSAM (Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory) and her grandmother, who might be beginning to suffer from dementia OR memory-related stress incidents, is a great read.

Why I Loved This Book:

~ The characters are fantastic.

~ I learned so much about brain science (in a fun, non-textbook sort of way).

~ Mystery, danger, intrigue!

~ I liked the friendship factor.

~ Dysfunctional family. Who doesn’t have one of those?

~ I enjoyed the history and inter-generational relationships.

~ The problem-solving and hidden secrets really upped the story intrigue.

~ Excellent writing and story telling.

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Amazon Blurb:

Fish in a Tree meets The Thing About Jellyfish in this heartfelt middle grade debut about long-buried secrets, the power of memory, and the bond between a girl and her gram.

All Lulu Carter wants is to be seen. But her parents are lost in their own worlds, and Lulu has learned the hard way that having something as rare as HSAM—the ability to remember almost every single moment in her life—won’t make you popular in school.

At least Lulu has Gram, who knows the truth about Lulu’s memory and loves her all the more for it. But Gram has started becoming absentminded, and the more lost she gets, the more she depends on Lulu…until Lulu realizes her memory holds the very key to fixing Gram’s forgetfulness. Once Lulu learns that trauma can cause amnesia, all she needs to do to cure Gram is hunt down that one painful moment in Gram’s life.

With her friends Olivia and Max, Lulu digs into Gram’s mysterious past. But they soon realize some secrets should stay buried, and Lulu wonders if she ever knew Gram at all. It’s up to Lulu to uncover the truth before the only person who truly sees her slips away.

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I hope you enjoy The Memory Keeper. Great read!

 

 

 


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Merry Christmas!

Joyeux Noël!

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Donavyn, Taylor, Jamie, Autumn, and Ginger (the 4-legged one)

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Hayden, Gage (shortest), Chelsie (tallest), and Khloe

From our family to yours,

Peace and joy!

Kevin and Angie

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“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

~ Luke 2:11-12

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Book Report: Odd Dog Out by Rob Biddulph

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The REAL front cover is a sunshiny yellow, but I cannot make my photo true to color. Please use your imagination to view ODD DOG OUT in brilliant yellow. My apologies!

THIS is closer to the true color. 🙂

Odd Dog Out

Written and illustrated by Rob Biddulph

Harper Collins Children’s Books, 2019

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Oh, doggy lovers, this one is just too cute! Odd Dog Out will bring joy to your young readers and encourage them to be confident as they go through life marching to their own beat.

I received a copy of Odd Dog Out from Abigail at Wunderkind in exchange for a review.

What I love about Odd Dog Out:

~ The adorableness of the illustrations! You need to check out this book. There is only one type of dog-weiner dogs-and they are so cute. The bright colors on each page appeal to me as well. The odd dog out stands out from the crowd and is easy to identify.

~ The simple rhyming text perfectly tells the story and matches the illustrations.

~ The message of being comfortable in your own skin, marching to your own drum, and feeling confident in yourself rings through loud and clear.

~ The variety of doggies at the end, all uniquely expressing themselves, is a great ending (SORRY, spoiler alert!)

~ The appropriateness for young readers (4-8 years old, Preschool-3rd grade).

~ The clever wordplay.

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This is one of my favorite spreads in ODD DOG OUT.

Amazon Blurb:

A heartwarming and poignant story from award-winning creator Rob Biddulph about the power of embracing your true colors. Perfect for fans of Peter Brown’s Tiger Goes Wild.

It’s a dog’s life in the big, busy city, but there’s one lonely pup who doesn’t quite fit in. She behaves differently from the rest, sports rainbow in a sea of gray, and marches to the beat of her own drum.

She’s one Odd Dog.

Join Odd Dog as she journeys to the other side of the world to find her place in it, only for her to discover that maybe she’s meant to be right where she started.

And check out Rob Biddulph’s other books for children, including:

Blown Away

The Grizzly Bear Who Lost His GRRRRR!

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Thanks so much, Sally, for sharing my review of Winter Cats by Janet Lawler. We all appreciate your willingness to find and share great information!

Head on over to Sally’s blog to read her blog lineup. Happy reading!

via Smorgasbord Blogger Daily – Thursday December 12th 2019 – #Storycontest Stevie Turner, #FlashFiction Charli Mills Carrot Ranch, #Bookreview Angie Quantrell.

You can meet Sally here.