Your eyes are not deceiving you. This is an actual blog post. I know, I can hardly believe it, either. I read a book this week that I wanted to share with you, and here we are. (Note, which you’ve likely figured out by now: the image is not the cover ...
Your eyes are not deceiving you. This is an actual blog post. I know, I can hardly believe it, either. I read a book this week that I wanted to share with you, and here we are.
(Note, which you’ve likely figured out by now: the image is not the cover image from the book. It’s an image from Pexels.com, taken by Jonathan Petersson, that makes me think of summer camp. To see the book cover, click on one of the links below.)
Title: The Firefly Summer
Author: Morgan Matson
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 2023
What the book is about: Eleven-year-old Ryanna has never known much about her mom or her mom’s family. Her mom died when she was three, and her dad has nothing to do with her mom’s family. To Ryanna’s surprise and her dad’s consternation, an invitation arrives from Ryanna’s grandparents inviting her to spend part of the summer with them at their home, which turns out to be a former summer camp populated with aunts, uncles and cousins Ryanna never knew existed.
While getting to know more about her mom, Ryanna also learns to negotiate life in the midst of a whole pack of kids (not always an easy task for an only child – take it from me, also an only); she delves into a mystery; and is galvanized into action along with the others when she learns that the old camp will soon be destroyed. She is determined not to let this happen. Through all this, she learns more about herself than she would have believed possible.
Through Ryanna’s learnings about her mom, the reader gets a peek into what the life of a pre-teen in the 1990s was like, and the “artifacts” from her mom’s life will bring smiles of recognition from anyone who either grew up during that time, or was aware of what kids were into during that time. (I was particularly delighted to find mention of the Saddle Club books!)
Why I liked this book: Beyond the main things – it’s well-written, it draws the reader into the life and experience of the main character and the rest of the family, the mystery is well done, and the entire book feels “real” – it touched a chord in me from my own pre-teen years.
When I was growing up, I loved to read books about kids at summer camp, or slightly older kids who were camp counselors. Although I never went to camp myself, I lived the camp life vicariously through those characters. This book, while totally a book of now, evoked the same sense of joy in the outdoors, in the community of camp, in the many personalities encountered in camp, and the fun experiences that are iconic summer camp experiences. (Campfire and s’mores with fireflies dancing around, anyone?)
If you’re looking for a book that will get you in the mood for summer, while also tackling some of the problems kids today are dealing with, pick up this book. Maybe have some s’mores while you read.
Don’t just take my word for it. Take a look at the Kirkus review, linked here.
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 comes 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! Here is my list for 2022.
Joined a critique group. (Thanks, Courage to Create!)
Recent feedback from them and from a dear writer friend is sending me deeper into my work-in-progress and helping me make some great changes as I revise.
Writing-adjacent: I expanded my freelance editing services, and have had a few new clients as a result.
Dusts off hands, polishes corners, looks around in satisfaction…
The website redo is DONE! Bet you thought it would take longer. I certainly did. I may still tweak some things — I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t. But for the most part it’s done.
The banners were created using Canva. Have you tried it? It’s great fun, and very useful. Check it out here, if you’re interested.
Most of the contents of my website are the same, but they’re more findable now, I think. And the BIG improvement is that my blog is now readable on phones and tablets. Making that possible is what started this venture.
I’ve been reading some excellent books lately, and have discovered some wonderful resources, so I hope you’ll come back in the next weeks to learn about all those and more.
In case you hear banging and crashing, hammering and sawing, and a whole lot of muttering from my direction, I’m about to embark on another fun round of “Beth remodels her website.”
A friend let me know that my blog wasn’t displaying properly on her phone. Other friends corroborated the problem. My editing website blog displays just fine. Ergo, one is set up to be fully responsive, and one (this one) isn’t.
Of course, going in and fixing one thing is never that straightforward. At least not for me. I realized there were several things that need tweaking/redoing, and I might as well get it all done properly, so it reflects me as I am now, my writing as it is now, and my website the way I want it to be.
So put in your earplugs to guard against the noise (and the muttering) and be aware that there may be disruptions in the availability of my site in the next few weeks, although I’ll try to keep those to a minimum.
If you give a Beth a website, she’s going to want to overhaul it. It’s one of the truths of life.
I’ll let you know when things are back to relative calm in here. (Bang, crash, mutter, mutter.)
Susanna Leonard Hill’s new ALPHABEDTIME! has frolicked onto bookstore shelves all over, and we’re celebrating here, there, and everywhere. Today I have an extra-special Perfect Picture Book Friday, to celebrate the newest book-baby of our very own PPBF Founder, Susanna!
Author: Susanna Leonard Hill (yes, THE Susanna Leonard Hill)
Illustrator: Betsy Snyder
Publisher: New York: Nancy Paulsen Books, October 25, 2022 (THREE days ago!)
Genre: Picture book
Audience Age: 3 to 6
Themes/Topics: Alphabet, Bedtime, Family fun
Suppertime’s over. Everyone’s fed.
Alpha Mom says, TIME FOR BED!
This is a delightful bedtime romp through the alphabet, with situations kids will readily identify with: spilled milk on the table, waiting to brush teeth, getting tucked in with a special lovey, lights out, and then… … … PILLOW FIGHT!
Betsy Snyder’s illustrations are marvellous, and perfectly compliment Susanna’s rollicking text. This is not a quiet, lull-you-to-sleep, bedtime book. The characters dance on the pages and frolic through their pre-bedtime activities. Don’t take my word for it – Susanna has kindly allowed me to post a spread from the book for your reading and viewing pleasure.
If you keep reading, you’ll find an interview I held with the letter D, trying to find out who started the pillow fight. It’s a deep, dark mystery that only Detective D can decipher.
The best activity for ALPHABEDTIME is to go slowly through the book, looking carefully at the illustrations. Have the kids try to name all the loveys and toys that each Alphababy has, and what letters they start with.
Speaking of loveys and toys, ask kids if they can find loveys and toys and pets and people around the house and the family to match with every letter of the alphabet. If they can’t find something for every letter, look through old magazines, and see if there are any pictures of X-rays or Xylophones or Zebras, etc.
Alphabedtime snacks like letter-shaped pancakes or letter-shaped cereal treats would be fun to make and fun to eat.
If your kids don’t already know the Alphabet song, now’s a good time to learn it! (And for extra fun, there’s always my favorite rendition of it, with Kermit the Frog and Joey … or is it Julie?). )
Availability: Readily available in hardcover at independent bookstores such as Merritt Bookstore in Millbrook, NY, and elsewhere.
Every Friday, bloggers join together to share picture book reviews and resources thanks to author Susanna Leonard Hill’s brainchild, “Perfect Picture Book Fridays.” Susanna then adds the books (and links to the reviews) to a comprehensive listing by subject on her website. Find the entire listing there.
Don’t go away! There’s more! Much more!
Stay tuned for a special interview, an interview like no other, an interview that covers the gamut from A to Z! Read on to see Beth Babbler, famous news reporter, interview Detective D who’s determined to discover who dinged the first dome in the pillow fight…
This is Beth Babbler reporting to you live from the Alpha House where an investigation is ongoing into the cause of this evening’s high jinks and shenanigans. I’m here with. . . what did you say your name was?
D: D. I’m the Detective digging into the dastardly deeds that occurred here tonight.
BB: Dastardly deeds? (Gasp) What perplexing puzzle are you parsing?
D: I’m determined to discover who plotted the pillow fight!
BB: That’s quite a question. Have you quizzed the suspects?
D: As I said, the investigation is ongoing. I’m not at liberty to divulge details just yet. Where were YOU at the moment in question?
BB: (Gasp) Me? I had nothing to do with this debacle!
D: That’s what they all say. Do you have an alibi?
BB: I don’t even know when it happened! How can I have an alibi?
D: (surreptitiously scribbling on his notepad) I see. . . Seriously suspicious!
BB: Could we get back to the actual interview, please? What went down? (Besides the pillows, which are filled with down. But I digress.)
D: It was bedtime at the Alpha House. You know the drill. Brushing, bathing, bathrobes and bedroom slippers, books, bed. But somewhere along the way, hoopla was hatched! Let’s look at the clues.
It certainly started with C, hanging by her knees from the chandelier, swinging like a chimpanzee.
C: I heard that! And I didn’t cause the chaos. Who dumped the milk on the dinner table? That was the start!
D: Irrelevant! (D dismisses this and continues his discourse, smoothly sidestepping the matter of who dumped the milk that dribbled and dripped during dinner.) H was definitely part of the plot, high-tailing it through the house on his horse.
BB: Aha! A horse! A horse in a house has to wreak havoc.
H: Don’t bring Hee-Haw into this! He was just hankering for his hay!
D: (not missing a drumbeat) Then there’s lively little L, laughing and lassoing everything in sight, leaving a litter of lightning sparks behind her.
L: Leave me out of this! I want a lawyer.
D: (droning on as if she hadn’t spoken) And S, that skateboarding shark, is always speeding and spinning and sliding sideways, a regular situation stirrer!
S: Hey, dude. Don’t diss the board.
D: I’m not “dissing the board”! I’m saying you’re squirrely! And sneaky! And a schemer!
BB: (Baffled and bewildered) How did a squirrelly shark sneak into the scene? It’s scandalous!
S: I’m spectacular, dude. T is trouble. I is an instigator. N is naughty. R is a ringleader. How come you don’t blame them?
D: Because using my powers of deduction, I have discovered who is behind this! The Master of Mischief herself, with her Magic Wand, and her Mysterious tricks.
D: Yes, you!
M: Couldn’t be. If you look on page 26, you’ll see I’m merely managing to miss being pummeled by pillows.
D: Ah! But your bunnies! The bunnies you brought into being with your magic! Those bunnies are everywhere! THEY started the Big Bolster Battle. So, you, as maker of those boisterous, bouncy, bothersome bunnies are responsible for the mayhem!
BB: Mystery solved!
D: NO! Mystery not solved! M is responsible for the bunnies, but who is responsible for M? Look again at the clues: S, the schemer. L, the livewire. H, the high-tailing horse enthusiast. Who plotted the pillow fight?
BB: I thought you deduced that it was M.
D: No! Not M! S. L. H. The writer herself! The plotter of these Shenanigans! The Scribe of these Literary High-jinks!
BB: Your discernment dazzles me! What powers of deduction!
BB: There you have it folks, the mystery has been solved, and the pillow pummelers have settled down to a nice bowl of AlphaBedtime LetterPerfect Cereal. I think I’ll join them. This is Beth Babbler, signing off from Alpha House. Back to you at the studio. … … (Pours cereal) … … Hey! Who took all the milk?
B (not BB. Me.): Thank you SO much to Susanna and her friends the Alphababies who participated so wholeheartedly (and whole-pillowedly) in this interview.
SLH: Thank you so much for having me on your blog, Beth!
Susanna L. Hill is the author of three New York Times bestsellers, including Moon’s First Friends: One Giant Leap for Friendship, and the award-winning author of over twenty-five more books for children, including Punxsutawney Phyllis, Can’t Sleep Without Sheep, and the popular When Your Lion Needs a Bath series. Her books have been translated into French, Dutch, German, Japanese, Chinese, and Thai. She does frequent school and library visits, teaches picture book writing, and has a popular picture book blog. Susanna lives in New York’s Mid-Hudson Valley where she practices the alphabet with her children and two rescue dogs.
Don’t miss any of the other stops on this ALPHABEDTIME blog tour! Watch for this logo and follow this link to the Linktree for all the posts. (There are giveaways on many of them. You won’t want to miss out!)