And the winner is…

By using a super handy online tool, I entered all the names of the commenters and then the program randomly selected a name.

And the winner is…

Congratulations Kathleen!

I hope you enjoy your copy of Schnitzel: A Cautionary Tale for Lazy Louts.

Thank you to everyone who stopped by my blog and for those who participated by commenting. I love hosting giveaways and plan to host another one before the end of the year so keep your eyes open 🙂

I also have a slew of books to review for the holidays. Get excited 🙂

But Halloween isn’t over yet! I hope you all have a fun holiday filled with more treats than tricks and maybe a spooky book or two.

And Susanna is holding her annual Halloween writing contest so if you are the creative type, and feel like writing a Halloween tale, check it out! It’s lots of fun and the stories are always super creative.

Halloweensie Writing Contest

Happy Halloween!

 

 

Halloweensie Contest Entry!

Writing Contest Time!

I’m so excited to participate in this year’s Halloweensie Writing Contest hosted by Susanna Hill!

If you’ve not been by her blog, I highly recommend checking it out. It’s a great resource for aspiring writers, and she runs awesome contests throughout the year!

This is my first time participating in the Halloween contest, and I have had so much fun reading some of the entries so far. Check out all the entries or write your own! Either way, you’re sure to have fun.

I had snippets of ideas bouncing around my head, but nothing that came together in 100 words or in any words at all haha. Finally, I had a bit of creativity hit me and this is the result.

It’s good to make my brain work, and I think that is the best part of these contests. I write things I wouldn’t normally think of writing or with restrictions I wouldn’t normally place on myself.

See the full rules at the link above, but here is a quick summary: Write a 100 word (or less) Halloween story suitable for children and including the words GHOST, MOON and SPIDER.

Here is my 100 word entry 🙂


Beneath Halloween Moon

On Halloween Night,

The moon sings a song.

I’ll tell you the words,

And we’ll all sing along.

“Whisper and whistle,

Witch, Ghoul, and Ghost.

Come Spider, come Specter,

More scary than most.

Come Beastlies, come boy,

Come Gremlin, come girl.

Dance for the moon,

Tap, twist and twirl.

Frantic and frightful,

A magical tune.

Dance Halloween beasts!

Beneath Halloween moon.”

On Halloween Night,

The moon sings a song.

All the beasts gather,

All the beasts sing along.

Whisper and whistle,

Boy beast and Girl beast.

We all sing along,

To the magical tune.

Dance Halloween beast!

Beneath Halloween moon.

Blog Tour! The Storybook Knight: Interview and Giveaway

Blog Tour: The Storybook Knight

Welcome to another fun blog tour!

Today I’m sharing my review of The Storybook Knight and some fun bonus book content. Plus, I had a chance to interview the author/illustrator team behind this fun book!

storybook knight

The Storybook Knight (2016, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, Picture Book)

Leo is a knight, but he doesn’t like to fight. He would rather read than seek out danger. His parents have a different view of how a knight should behave so they send Leo away on a quest to fight a dragon. Leo embarks upon his quest with his faithful horse, saddlebags full of books, and a story in his heart.

The Storybook Knight, written and illustrated by Helen and Thomas Docherty, is a tale of following one’s heart and believing in oneself. Children will love the clever rhyme and adorable illustrations as they root for Leo and his books. The concept of Leo knowing his heart, but being forced to try something different by his parents will resonate with young readers. Leo carries his love of books with him on his quest and it serves him well. He goes on a great adventure as his parents wished, but he always stays true to himself. A beautiful and subtle lesson of trying new things, but maintaining one’s integrity at all costs. Especially relevant in this age of social networking when children are bombarded with messages from all sides and face more peer pressure than ever.

Wonderful read! A book for children to carry in their hearts, or saddlebags, when facing life’s obstacles.


Interview With Helen and Thomas Docherty

Thomas_Helen_01.jpg

Thomas and Helen Docherty are the husband and wife team behind The Storybook Knight. They were kind enough to answer a few questions about their newest book, the creative process, and working together as a team.

Where did you get your inspiration for THE STORYBOOK KNIGHT?

HD:  It was Tom who came up with the idea of a knight who didn’t want to fight, but he wasn’t sure how to develop the story, so he passed it on to me.  I decided to give our knight a passion for reading and some pushy parents who send him off on a quest to ‘prove’ himself… but of course, he ends up proving that the word is mightier than the sword. I think that’s an important message for us all!

How many books have you published together? 

HD:  Four, so far: The Snatchabook, Abracazebra, The Storybook Knight and an earlier book which we co-wrote (and Tom illustrated), Ruby Nettleship and the Ice Lolly Adventure.

What is the creative process like working as a team? Do you develop the story together or does one part develop more fully before the other (writing before illustrations or vice versa)?

HD:  When we work together on a book, the writing always comes first, as a story has to be commissioned by a publisher before Tom can start work on the illustrations. In some cases, as with the Storybook Knight, we work on the initial story idea together before I start writing.

TD:  By the time I come to illustrating Helen’s stories, I’ve had a long time to watch Helen develop the text, so I often have quite a few ideas in my head of how the characters and scenes might look. And as the illustrations progress I’m always showing the rough drafts to Helen and getting her feedback and advice – I really appreciate her input.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? 

HD:  An author! I spent most of my childhood writing stories and making them into little books, which I also illustrated. But I put that ambition aside for a long time; I was a language teacher (French, Spanish and English) for many years before I finally started writing again and became a published author.

TD:  I honestly didn’t know what I wanted to do when I grew up. I think I was too busy climbing trees and playing ball with my brothers to give it much thought. Having said that, I always liked drawing and as I got older it became clear that I was going to end up doing something creative. But it wasn’t until after I had graduated from Art College (where I studied sculpture) that I thought back to all the amazing illustrated books I had enjoyed as a child and begun to think that I might like to do something like that myself.

As a child, what was your favorite book? 

HD:  I had so many favorites! But some of the books that I loved and re-read the most were Marianne Dreams by Catherine Storr, Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce and a series of books about a girl called Aurora by the Norwegian author Anne-Cath. Vestly.

TD:  I am dyslexic and really struggled with my reading when I was young, so picture books and comics were very important to me because I could ‘read’ the pictures, instead of the words. My favorite books were the Asterix comics, and I spent hours looking at and often copying the pictures. It was Asterix books that eventually got me reading, and I’ve never looked back since!

Which part of the writing or illustrating process do you enjoy the most? 

HD:  The part I enjoy most is when I’ve got a really exciting, complete story idea and have worked out the rhyme scheme I’m going to use. Usually I’ll start with a sentence – not necessarily the first one – which establishes the rhythm of the story in my head. Then I’m ready to start writing… the fun bit!

TD:  I love the start of a project when I’m doing lots of quick sketches and you can see the characters and the world around them grow. I also love thinking about the colors that I will use to add drama and atmosphere to the story.

What struggles have you faced as a writer or illustrator? 

HD:  The hardest part is coming up with a watertight idea for a story. The best stories have their own internal logic; you may not see the end coming when you’re reading the story, but when it does, it all makes complete sense. But of course, those brilliant ideas don’t come every day. The other challenging aspect of being an author is that not every story you write ends up being commissioned – I’ve had plenty turned down by my publishers. You have to learn to get over the disappointment and keep going!

TD:  I have good and bad days, just like everyone else. I still do most of my work by hand, using paper and inks and watercolor. A large page can take me a couple of days to paint, and sometimes I mess up and have to start all over again. This can be quite stressful!

Anything else you’d like to add about your work or THE STORYBOOK KNIGHT?

HD:  A little known fact is that the original storybook knight was called Gareth, after my dad (and also after one of the Knights of the Round Table). However, our UK publishers wanted a more universal name, so I chose Leo instead – which is our nephew’s name, and works well in lots of languages. The Storybook Knight has been translated into Danish, Dutch, Finnish, German, Italian and Slovenian so far.

TD:  My favorite character in the story is Ned, Leo’s faithful horse. He doesn’t say anything, so I had lots of fun giving him a personality of his own: loyal, brave, and always on the lookout for a tasty snack.


Bonus Book Content and Giveaway

Storybook Knight landing page

Join Leo’s Storybook Knights, plus pledge your allegiance and receive a certificate of membership!

Download an educator or activity kit

Are you sharing The Storybook Knight in your classroom or looking for more ways to engage your child? Download an educator or activity kit for even more adventures with Leo and Ned.

Rafflecopter: Enter for a chance to win an original sketch of Leo and Ned by illustrator Thomas Docherty! Comment on this blog post plus tweet about the giveaway for two chances to win!

Click on the link below to go to the rafflecopter entry page.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you have trouble entering or have any questions please comment below or contact me.

Learn more about the author and illustrator by visiting their pages or following them on Twitter!

Thomas Docherty on Twitter: @TDIllustration

Helen Docherty on Twitter: @docherty_helen


Thank you to Thomas and Helen Docherty for taking the time to answer all my questions and to Sourcebooks Jabberwocky for letting me be a part of the blog tour and providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Happy Reading!

Blog Tour & Giveaway: Max At Night

Max at Night by Ed Vere

It’s Blog Tour (and Giveaway) day!

I’m so excited to share Max at Night with you all.

Following Ed Vere’s Max the Brave and Max and Bird, comes an all new Max the cat story in Max at Night.

max at night

Max at Night (2016, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, Picture Book)

Max is sleepy. He has drunk his milk, brushed his teeth, washed his ears, Now he needs to say good night to everything before he can go to bed. But where is the moon? Max can’t go to bed without saying good night to the moon. So begins Max’s midnight journey to bid the moon good night.

Max at Night written and illustrated by Ed Vere follows the nighttime routine of a little black cat named Max. The book starts off with simple sentences and a gentle, poetic, sleepy feel as Max prepares for bed and bids things good night. Then Max goes on a bit of an adventure as he tries to find the moon and the tempo picks up taking away from the sleepy feel. The sentences become longer and more complex and the book might make kids wake up a bit as opposed to making them ready to fall asleep. Wonderful illustrations and a cute story that will be enjoyed by many children, but maybe not the most sleep inducing bedtime book. This book would be great when paired with another quiet bedtime book such as Goodnight Moon. 

Max is an endearing and brave character, perfect for bedtime or anytime. Children will love to read about Max and his sweet determination in Max at Night.

Four bright shiny stars for Max to hang in the night sky.


Blog Tour Bonus Time!

Check out these links for bonus book content.

Max at Night landing page: A whole page for Max! See page excerpts, order the book or request a free storytime activity kit (while supplies last)

Download the activity kit: Great for teachers or parents, download this activity kit full of printable activity pages.

Rafflecopter: Enter for a chance to win an original sketch by author and illustrator Ed Vere and a copy of Max at Night! Usually a fancy rafflecopter box would appear here, but WordPress doesn’t allow such things 😦 So just click the link below and follow the rafflecopter instructions.

Enter a Rafflecopter giveaway!

If you are new to Rafflecopter giveaways or have any questions about how to enter, please email me or leave a comment below.

For more information about Author/Illustrator Ed Vere, check out his website, or follow him on Twitter (@ed_vere) and Instagram


Thanks for stopping by and I would love to hear your thoughts!

Thanks to Sourcebooks Jabberwocky for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review and for letting Three Show Saturday participate in this great blog tour!

Happy Reading! ❤

 

Interview with Aaron Becker

I have returned from my journey to Uganda, and have many stories to share in future posts, but today is all about your “Journey” dear readers 🙂

I hope you enjoyed the Journey Trilogy blog posts while I was away and I would love to hear your thoughts on the books.

This is the final post on the trilogy and I will be sharing a short interview with author/illustrator Aaron Becker, but first I am excited to announce the winner of the two book giveaway.

Congratulations to Amanda Kincaid! You have won the first two books in the Journey Trilogy 🙂 A huge thank you to everyone who read the blog posts and commented!

Author Interview

aaron becker

Aaron Becker is the brilliant mind behind the Journey Trilogy. He is an author and an illustrator, so while the trilogy does not have words, he did create the story which is told through his fantastic illustrations.

Mr. Becker was kind enough to answer a few questions from me about life as an author and illustrator, and his Journey trilogy. I am excited to share this interview with you and I hope you all will find his books at your local bookstore or library.

Where do you find inspiration for your work?

It’s mostly an internal search – looking into events and places in my life that have moved me and settled into a feeling that’s worth exploring through art. Whether it’s a walk around town or a trip to a foreign country, I always try and stay open to what might move me.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Like most boys born in the wake of the apollo missions, I wanted to be an astronaut. That soon made way to dreams of being an architect. But with both careers, I realized that the day to day work was something that I didn’t have a passion for. Instead, what interested me were the big ideas behind them, and with illustration, I can travel through space or build buildings whenever I want!

What struggles have you faced on your way to becoming an author and illustrator?

Whenever you’re putting yourself out there with your own creation, you always run the risk of your work falling short of your vision – or – your vision not resonating with the audience you hope to find. I think it is this fear of failure that drives me to do the best I can whenever I’m working – and I have to struggle to keep it in check every day I show up at my drawing table.

What do you hope is the greatest takeaway for children after they read the JOURNEY Trilogy?

My hope is that they can find value in their imagination as a tool worth investing in. All too often, kids learn that the only things of value are those things that they can consume, rather than what they can create. My hope is that children (and adults alike) find something inside of themselves while navigating these wordless adventures.

If you’re not quite ready for this journey to be over, check out these links for more information and activities.

Journey Trilogy Activity Kit

Video Interview with Aaron Becker

 

Thank you to Aaron Becker and Candlewick Press for the opportunity to promote this fantastic trilogy and offer a giveaway to my fantastic readers.

 

Return to a World of Wonder…

Our journey nears its end, both in the world of imagination, and my journey in Uganda.

In Return, our heroes, and we as readers, are allowed to enter the enchanted realm one last time. In an end most fitting to this incredible journey, Return brings in elements of the first two books, while still creating a new and thrilling adventure.

“…a suspenseful and moving finale…”

I’m a bit sad that this is the final book. These have absolutely been my favorite picture books I’ve received to review.

There are many reasons these books stand out. The artwork for one. But I think the reason they keep pulling me back in, is because they make me feel like a kid again. I feel that same sense of wonder I felt reading Chronicles of Narnia or Harry Potter, or watching my first Disney movie. I want to be part of this world, and I feel like I’m part of this world as soon as I turn the first page.

What books do you remember with a sense of wonder?

Which world have you been most sad to leave when the book was over?

Join the discussion and comment below for a chance to win a copy of Journey and Quest! I will randomly select a winner from those who comment on any (or all) of the review posts for the Journey Trilogy. The winner will be announced when I return from Uganda!

return

Return

Ignored once again by her father, our heroine escapes to the world she’s grown to love. Armed with her magical red marker, and surrounded by friends, she has no plans of returning to the world she left behind. But soon, her reverie is shattered by an old enemy. Wielding a new and powerful object, they threaten everything the young heroes have worked so hard to save. Now it will take a great and powerful force to overcome the enemy and bring our heroes home.

Return, by Aaron Becker, is a powerful ending to a wondrous adventure. Bringing together elements from his first two books, this is a fitting and fantastical grand finale. The author is once again able to convey so much emotion through his storytelling style, where words would distract from the powerful images. Children and adults will be sad to see this trilogy end, but the story will continue to grow in young imaginations. This is one journey you don’t want to miss.

Thank you to Candlewick Press for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

The Journey Begins…

As my journey to Uganda begins, I invite you all to journey into the incredible world created by Aaron Becker.

Welcome to the first in my three part series of reviews about The Journey Trilogy! I’ve managed to plan ahead, and scheduled each review to publish to the blog while I’m away. The second post will be a week from today and then the last post will go up in two weeks on August 4th. That’s the plan anyway 🙂 Hopefully I’ll have internet to check in on things, but if not, I trust it will all go smoothly.

Details about the giveaway are below, but I will select a winner when I return from Uganda!

“With supple line, luminous color, and nimble flights of fancy, author-illustrator Aaron Becker launches an ordinary child on an extraordinary journey toward her greatest and most exciting adventure of all…”

Journey was published by Candlewick Press in 2013, and received the Caldecott Honor. Journey is the first completely wordless book, in this magnificent trilogy which continues in Quest (2014) and culminates in Return (2016).

With incredible scenery and breathtaking panoramas, these books truly take the reader on a fantastical and magical journey.

Have you read any books from this trilogy?

What is your favorite wordless picture book?

Comment below for you chance to win copies of Journey and Quest. Comment on any of the trilogy review posts by Saturday August 6th for a chance to win. A winner will be randomly selected from all comments on each of the Journey trilogy review posts!

The winning copies will be mailed directly from Candlewick Press to the randomly selected winner.

journey.jpg

Journey

When a young girl feels bored and ignored, she finds entertainment in drawing with her red marker. Little does she know her red marker will take her on a fantastical adventure. Her journey is filled with castles, magic, danger, and excitement as she follows the path not knowing where it leads. Then, the daring and courage of a new friend might just lead her to an even bigger adventure.

Journey by Aaron Becker is breathtakingly beautiful. A true picture book, the story unfolds entirely through the artwork, without the aid of any text. The story is made more powerful by this fact, as the reader is fully immersed in the girl’s adventure. Lovingly illustrated, the reader will be amazed at the suspense and excitement felt with the turning of each magnificent page. This is an incredible book for children and adults of all ages, begging to be “read” again and again. A fantastic book to enjoy this summer, and spark the imagination of young minds.

Thank you to Candlewick Press for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

First Giveaway!

It’s time for the first giveaway ever here at Three Show Saturday!

Who doesn’t love free stuff?

Check out my review of South of Sunshine by Dana Elmendorf and then enter to win your very own copy of the book!

It’s free! Just show the blog some love by commenting, sharing this post, telling your aunt about the book, etc. 🙂 Contest opens today and closes at Midnight May 1, 2016.

Check out the Rafflecopter after the review for more info on how to enter. Earn up to three entries by completing each step. One winner will be selected from all the entries and the winner will receive one copy of South of Sunshine.

This is my first time using Rafflecopter so if you have any issues let me know.

Happy Reading and Good Luck!

south of sunshine

South of Sunshine

Written by Dana Elmendorf

For Kaycee Jean McCoy, there are few things in Sunshine, Tennessee that she gets excited about, and boys certainly aren’t one of them. Her life consists of Friday night football, working at her Mom’s cosmetic salon, and hanging out with her best friends. Her life is predictable, boring, safe…until the new girl arrives. Bren is tall, beautiful, confident, and Kaycee finds herself drawn to her in a way that is both exciting and frightening. In a town where gossip abounds, church comes first, and anything outside the norm is forbidden, Kaycee might risk everything to discover her true self and find first love.

South of Sunshine written by Dana Elmendorf brings together many topics that will resonate strongly with teenagers. Themes of love, finding oneself, fitting in, and small town life are woven together beautifully by Kaycee’s entertaining and touching narration. Many teens know what it’s like to live in a small town and will understand all too well the adversity Kaycee faces by following her heart. While all teens will relate to the drama which abounds in high school. This book delivers a wonderful message of both accepting oneself and accepting others. The topic of teenage sexuality is handled with care by the author, resulting in a thought-provoking narration. Appropriate for teens due to some scenes of romance.

Thank you to Albert Whitman & Company for an advanced reading copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Follow this link to enter the giveaway (click the words “a Rafflcopter giveaway” not the web address below it):

a Rafflecopter giveaway
https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

Unfortunately I’m having trouble with the java script so the cute little Rafflecopter icon won’t show up here 😦  But follow the link and you should be able to enter.

 

Contest Time!

Hello readers of UNDER THE BIG TOP TALES AND TWISTERS,

As you may have seen in this week’s paper, a new writing contest has started!

This contest is only open to residents in the Cabool, Missouri area/subscribers to The Cabool Enterprise. The contest will also be open to subscribers of any other newspaper my column appears in, but for the moment in only appears in The Cabool Enterprise.

Below you will find the complete rules and information to enter the contest as was printed in the paper.

The contest is free to enter but remember the deadline for entries is April 15th by 5:00pm 

Please read the rules carefully and email me or comment below if you have any questions.

I look forward to many wonderful, creative, exciting, hilarious, sweet, sad, heart-warming, frightening, fantastical, works of prose from children of all ages.

Good luck and Happy Writing!

Contest Rules and Submission Process

Write a response to the following prompt.

If I had three wishes…

To Enter: This contest is open to children in the following age categories:

  • Under 8 years old
  • 9-12 years old
  • 13-18 years old

Please include the following information with your entry:

  • Name
  • Age
  • Hometown
  • Phone Number/Email Address.

Submit Entries: Attach entry in Word or PDF format, or type into the body of the email, and email to threeshowsaturday@gmail.com

Please put “Contest Entry” in subject line. Entries may also be submitted in person at The Cabool Enterprise or Missouri Gun Co LLC, both located in Cabool, Mo.

Rules: Entries must be previously unpublished. Entries must be 500 words or less and must be the original work of the submitter. Entrants must fall within one of the age categories to be eligible to enter. Entries must be received on or before the deadline. By entering, you agree to allow your work to be published in the newspaper and online.

Prizes will be awarded to the top three places in each age category. First place stories will be published in the newspaper, all other winning stories will appear online.

Writing contest and prizes proudly sponsored by these local businesses:

Missouri Gun Co. LLC of Cabool, Missouri

The Cabool Enterprise of Cabool, Missouri

A team of three judges will determine the winners in each category.

 

Block That Bug!

Yesterday I told you my personal pep talk which I use to fend off writer’s block. Today I want to share a couple exercises I use to get my writing back on track. Or to just get back to writing anything 🙂

Free Writing

I’m sure most are familiar with free writing but for those of you who are not, free writing is simply sitting down and writing (or typing) whatever pops into your head. The rules are that you must keep writing for a set amount of time and you must write the first thing that pops into your head. With free writing there is no editing as you go or changing anything once it’s written. Ideally you would write as fast as you could to prevent any errant thoughts from creeping in and disrupting the flow. And flow is what you’re aiming for.

The idea behind free writing is that it gets you out of a self-conscious state and into your writing groove where the thoughts can flow naturally and without filter.

I like free writing, but I’ve found that a bit more direction helps my free writing sessions become more productive. Free writing in its purest form often produces an abundance of incoherent ramblings with a hidden gem or two. Here are two methods I use to make my free writing session more productive and fun.

  1. Get into character.

    This exercise is free writing in its purest form except you get into your character’s head instead of your own. First visualize your character, how they talk, walk, smile, frown, etc. Think about all their physical and emotional characteristic. Now let your character talk. Maybe you imagine your character walking down the street, what do they see? How do they interact with the world around them? I like this exercise because it accomplishes two things, it gets me writing and I get to know my character.

  2. Pick a scene.

    Sometimes I have a great idea for a story but I just can’t get the beginning right. I hate every first sentence I create so I end up not typing anything. But I will have a great idea for some other scene in the story. If you find yourself stuck in the beginning of the story (or the middle or even the end) start writing any scene that pops into your head. Don’t worry about where it will fit in the story just focus on getting those words on paper. Maybe the scene you write will never make it into your final story or maybe it will. Maybe it will reveal something about your character you didn’t know or reveal an underlying theme you hadn’t considered.

Writing Contests

Sometimes when I’m feeling especially uninspired, I search for writing contests. For the purpose of beating writer’s block I search for flash fiction contests. I find writing contests help me beat writer’s block in a few ways.

  1. Changes up the writing routine.

    Contests often have specific word counts, themes, etc. By adhering to these specific guidelines and having to meet a deadline it changes the way I approach the project.

  2. Sets an attainable and specific goal.

    Completing a piece specifically for a contest achieves a goal. Even if you don’t submit the piece or don’t win, you finished a project! There’s nothing more satisfying than finishing a piece.

  3. Less pressure.

    For me, contests are fun. All writing is supposed to be fun…right? But sometimes I put too much pressure on the projects that mean the most to me and are closest to my heart. A contest piece however, can be viewed as an exercise in writing. I tend to put less pressure on myself and so the words come easily. Maybe the contest piece turns out great, maybe it doesn’t, but it gives your brain a writing workout.

Writing contests, like writing prompts, add a little fun and motivation when your existing projects might feel overwhelming.

I have started compiling a List of Free Writing Contests and I would invite you to check it out. There might just be something that spurs an idea or sounds like a lot of fun.

Happy (free) writing!