Friday, February 22, 2013

PPBF - Please Say Please!

Today I am posting about a book on manners.
It is a book with cute illustrations and a penguin hostess in a bow tie.

Please Say Please!
by Margery Cuyler
Illustrated by Will Hillenbrand
Scholastic 2004

Preschool - Grade 2
Theme: Manners

This would be a great read  aloud book.

First Lines: When friends are invited to Penguin's house for dinner, they should barge right in without knocking. LET'S EAT! Is that right?

synopsis: Learning Good Manners Can be Fun! Penguin's Guide to Manners. Hippo, chimpanzee, rhino, giraffe, parrot, pig, lion, elephant and bear come to eat at Penguin's house. They do everything wrong and the text asks, Is that right? On the next page, the text tells them, No, that's wrong, and tells them what they should do.

Why I like this book: This book shows a fun and un-preachy  way of teaching kids good manners.

Here is a site listing 25 manners kids should know by age 9.
Here is a site listing many manner activities and games.

When my children were little there was a local cartoon show. At the end he would always ask what the three magic words were. The answer shouted back by the kids were: "Please, Thank You and You're welcome!"

Every Friday, bloggers post a favorite picture book.  To see what other people posted, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books. 

Posted by Janet F. Smart on Creative Writing in the Blackberry Patch.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

What I've Been Up To

I have been busy reading, writing and putting things together - finishing projects.

One project I finally finished is putting together my family history.

I have been working on this for what seems like all my life, but of course that is not true. It is still a work in progress. It is filled with facts - early marriage records, early military records, early occupations, old appraisals and wills, short biographies and family photos. But it also has recipes,  poems, stories about family superstitions, family names, wishin' it  was  the good ol' days and food customs and traditions. And it has pages of recollections from family members about times of a long time ago - even a few ghost stories. I am so glad I finally got this bound in book form!

I am also putting together a booklet on writing about things from A to Z! It is almost finished.

I checked out a few Newberry winner books. I couldn't get into a couple of them, so I dropped them back off at the library today. The other one I am reading is From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E.Frankweiler. After a slow, uninteresting first part of chapter one, it picked up and I started liking it.

And tomorrow - I start my online Writing for Children 6 week course that WVU Continuing Education is offering! I am anxious to start the class and I hope it helps me in my writing.

What have you been doing lately?

Posted by Janet F. Smart on Creative Writing in the Blackberry Patch.

Monday, February 11, 2013

MMGM-The Whipping Boy

I checked out three Newbery Books from the library. I started reading all three at the same time, to see which one caught my attention. This is the one I finished first.

The Whipping Boy
Scholastic 1987
By Sid Fleischman


This is what it says on the back cover:  Jemmy, once a poor boy living on the streets, now lives in a castle. As the whipping boy, he bears the punishment when Prince Brat misbehaves, for it is forbidden to spank, thrash, or whack the heir to the throne. The two boys have nothing in common and even less reason to like one another.  But when they find themselves taken hostage after running away, they are left with no choice but to trust each other.

From looking at the cover, I wasn't sure if I would like this book. But, I did! It was a fun read of only 13,280 words. I know it seems like the trend for MG books is to be longer, but I tend to like the shorter ones. I say it's not the quantity of the pages but the quality of the pages.

This is a fun book with fun characters. There is hope for everyone. It takes a while, but Prince Brat turns out to be a good friend in the end.

Give this one a try, I think you will like it.

For more middle grade fun, check the links on

Posted by Janet F. Smart on Creative Writing in the Blackberry Patch.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

What's Your Favorite Newbery Book?

The Newbery's were just announced.

I haven't ready any of the winners yet, but I have read Newbery winners from other years.

 It has to be a book published in America and when deciding on the book's degree of excellence, the committee takes into consideration the interpretation of the theme or concept, the handling of characters and setting, how the plot is developed, overall presentation and organization and style.

In other words, what are you trying to get kids to think about? Make sure the characters are distinct and have reasons they do what they do and make your setting shine. Have a good plot and make sure your story is accurate, easy to understand and organized. And tell the story in the way a kid would understand it and want to read it.

I have been to the library checking out past winners. I told the librarian today that I wished they put the Newbery winners in a separate section so they would be easier to find. She said they did that before but the children wouldn't check them out, so they mixed them in with the other books.

I also read a review on Amazon of a winner and the reviewer said their child didn't want to read a Newbery winner because they were boring. One of my neighbors, who is a teacher, said she didn't particularly like the winners either.

So what does all this mean?

The last one I read, Dead End in Norvelt, I didn't like either. I felt it started out very slow, went into too much detail in a lot of places and I didn't like the way it ended . . . it was too abrupt of an ending. I also didn't like the father in the book, he seemed to care only about himself and wasn't a very good role model for his son.

Some of my favorite winners are Sarah,  Plain and  Tall, Because of Winn-Dixie, A Year Down Yonder, Holes and A Long Way from  Chicago.

You can click here to see a list of winners from past years.

What do you think of Newbery winners?

What are your favorite ones?

Posted by Janet F. Smart on Creative Writing in the Blackberry Patch.