Rejections – Recycled Sundays

A fellow writer was asked which magazine ran her articles and stories.

“Oh, I write mostly for rejections,” she joked.

The inquirer responded seriously, “I don’t think I’ve read that one.”

None of us have. That’s the problem. With the increase of multimedia entertainment, and the spiraling cost of books, publishers are far less likely to gamble with new writers. The buzzword is “marketability.”

To be fair, there seems to be more new writers than ever, many victims of unemployment. A popular or prestigious magazine may only have space to publish one out of hundreds of submissions. The competition for books may be even worse.

Take a look at what’s available in children’s books today. There are still incredible works of art and charm, like Something from Nothing by Phoebe Gilman, but they are competing fiercely against the “market-driven” fluff generated by Saturday, and daily, cartoons. Not only does every superhero, cutesy puppy, and valiant pony cartoon generate lunchboxes, stuffed toys, action figures, and clothing, but books as well. Many of these books have as much art, depth and originality as a cereal box.

Sadly the scene is not much different for adults. The public’s voracious appetite for talk shows has spilled over into writing. By the way, you’ll know they’ve run dry when they feature talk show host’s interviewing talk show hosts. Magazines run more sensational pieces than they used to as in “women who cheat on their husbands… And don’t feel guilty,” followed up by, “husband’s who know their wives cheat… And don’t feel angry.”

Spill your guts novels are rampant as in The Life Story of The Girl Door: Alcoholic, Sexual Compulsive, Self-mutilater and Collector of Hood Ornaments. Many of these are written with the same/and report style as a talk show.

Still there are editors and publishers who’ve managed to keep their standards intact. Swamped by submissions, they do not have time to personally critique a writer’s work. You may find it strange that and “emerging” writer will be happy to receive a private comment on a rejection form. The personal connection can be enough to spur a three-month rewrite. There are those, though, who find it painful because they still don’t know where to head.

For example, Lisa Powell’s fictional biography of Elizabeth Tutor has received the following rejections:

“This is indeed an outstanding historical and lives up to all the fine things you said about it… As I admired it, I didn’t feel we could do the right job with it in the current market.”

And another, “… There’s so much to admire here that it is with great regret that I’m returning the manuscript.”

And again, “this is a beautifully written and exquisitely researched historical on the Virgin Queen… It would probably be a high risk project in today’s market.”

“You should not be at all discouraged by the fact that we will not be making an offer for the book because this is an extremely publishable novel and a more commercial publisher, I’m certain, will positively leap at the chance to publish it.”

Lisa’s waiting for that leap, net in hand. Should any publisher give the smallest hop in her direction, she’s ready.

Some editors try to soften the blow with humour here’s one I received:

“Congratulations! You have been chosen to receive this beautiful hand-lettered rejection slip! We know you will be proud to add this attractive notice to your personal collection. For additional copies send your contributions to:… Note: in the event that your next contributions accepted for publication we cannot send you another card, and you will just have to be satisfied with money… Sorry – the editor.”

Satisfy me, already. I can take it.

Chronicle-Journal/Times-News, May 30, 1993

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

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Children’s Choice Book Awards – Are They Worth It?

There are numerous American versions and Canadian versions  of this award. There are also provincial/state versions so you need to individually research.

CANADIAN VERSIONS

CONTEST FEATURES

Children and teens vote for their favorite books.

There are different awards for each province, the one I know best is the Forest of Reading/ Silver Birch Awards in Ontario. 

SUBMITTING

It is run by the Ontario Library Association. It has expanded into four English and three French categories for grades JK to grade 12 books, fiction and nonfiction. There are also two adult categories. Specific categories must be published within specific dates. “The author must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.  The book must be commercially available in Canada. Unfortunately, self-published and print-on-demand books are not eligible.  Small press books with print of at least 450 are eligible.
PROMOTION

The winners are listed on Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes and Noble, Owl Kids, and numerous other sites. The Silver Birch Awards, and others, have celebratory events and books are well-publicized.

TROPHIES, CERTIFICATES, PRIZE MONEY, SEALS, ETC.

10,000 children participate and many more are exposed to the books. An official seal is available for winners. Winners may appear on stage at the Forest Festival.

SALES

Librarians looks to these lists for purchases. Some school and public libraries buy the entire list of finalists to encourage voting.

AMERICAN VERSION

CONTEST FEATURES

Administered by THE CHILDREN’S BOOK COUNCIL http://www.cbcbooks.org/about/

Voted on by 12,500 children

Books must be for children in kindergarten to sixth grade

Must be published in the United States

Many similar regional awards 

SUBMITTING

$300 entry for non-members. Competition is broken into five geographic locations.

PROMOTION

The winners are listed on Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes and Noble, publisher’s Weekly, Owl Kids, and numerous other sites. Previous year’s winners are left on the site http://www.cbcbooks.org/childrens-choices/

Announced at a gala charity event

TROPHIES, CERTIFICATES, PRIZE MONEY, SEALS, ETC.

Stickers must be purchased.

SALES

Winners felt there was a small increase in sales.

If you have entered this contest, please leave a comment about your experience.

MY OPINION

If you can fit the criteria for these awards, it is a great way to get your books into the hands of  children. These awards are held in high regard and winners are promoted for years.

PREVIOUS POSTS

Mom’s Choice Award

Reader’s Favorite Award

Kindle Book Awards

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Kindle Book Awards – Are They Worth It?

Site – https://www.thekindlebookreview.net/2017-kindle-book-awards/

Deadline – February to May each year

For Independent and small press authors

CONTEST FEATURES

There are seven categories:

  1. Mystery/Thriller
  2. Romance
  3. Y/A
  4. Sci-fi/Fantasy
  5. Literary Fiction
  6. Horror/Suspense
  7. Non-Fiction

Each category winner receives $345 and publicity packages.

SUBMITTING

Submit online.

Entry fee is $29.00.

Books must be 25,000 words.

PROMOTION

Winner’s lists from previous years are kept on the website.

Goodreads and Library Thing both feature a list of winners.

$200 in Free Promotion from The Kindle Book Review.

$200 Giveaway compliments of The Kindle Book Review

$120 in Free Promotion from Digital Book Today

$85 Free Promotion from AuthorXP.com

TROPHIES, CERTIFICATES, PRIZE MONEY, SEALS, ETC.

All Semi-finalsts (a maximum of 20 per category), Top-5 Finalists, and 7 Winners receive a Contest Badge. According to a winner, this was a jpg to display on the book. Stickers must be purchased.

Correction: “Badges have never been for sale, and are always given FREE of charge to all Semi-finalists, Finalists, and Winners. It’s a png, high quality image. If someone wants to pay a 3rd party to create a “Sticker” for their print books, we are more than happy to allow that (as far as trade mark is concerned) but we do not sell them–never have. That’s just an author preference. We are The Kindle Book Review. We only review, and judge “Kindle” books, so providing physical stickers doesn’t fit what we do.”

SALES

One winner who responded to my survey said it did not help increase sales.

If you have entered this contest, please leave a comment about your experience.

MY OPINION

Unfortunately there are no children or poetry categories.

It is recommended by the Self Publishing Advise Center https://selfpublishingadvice.org/allis-self-publishing-service-directory/award-and-contest-ratings-reviews/  (which is rare)

The entry fee is so inexpensive and the prize money is decent, so I think this would be worth entering.

*******************

The Award blog articles are based on Survey Monkey responses, emails, and comments I received on social media as well as research and some personal experience.

If you have entered any of the contests I have/will blog about and would like to share your experience, please either:

  • write to me at b.ferrante@tbaytel.net. Be sure to say if you wish to be anonymous.
  • or
  • make a comment the day the blog post is published.

Mom’s Choice Award

Reader’s Favorite Award

The next  award covered will be:

  • October 25 – Children’s Choice Book Awards

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Mom’s Choice Award – Is It Worth It?

The Mom’s Choice Awards are not just for books. The site reads:

The Mom’s Choice Awards® (MCA) evaluates products and services created for children, families and educators. The program is globally recognized for establishing the benchmark of excellence in family-friendly media, products and services. The organization is based in the United States and has reviewed thousands of items from more than 55 countries.

SUBMITTING

There are two prices to enter, $500 US to $1500 US both of which are on the very high range compared to other awards. The book has to be mailed to the United States.

PROMOTION

Winners receive promotion for a short time. The product is left on the site for longer. Recipients varied widely in their opinion of the amount of promotion with “a little” being the most common.

Winners may feel there are too many winners at once making it difficult for their book to stand out.

Winners are inundated with ongoing requests for more money for more publicity.

TROPHIES, CERTIFICATES, PRIZE MONEY, SEALS, ETC.

There is no trophy.

There is no prize money.

Winners who pay $500 may use the Mom’s Choice Awards seal “for marketing and promotional purposes” BUT must pay the $1500 fee to actually put the seal on the books. Unless you purchase the stick on seals, 100 for $50.00.

Applicants are told winners receive “100 Award Seal Stickers” but when they win they find they must pay shipping. To Canada

$46.55 — USPS Priority Mail International

$120.90 — FedEx International Economy

To the US

$9.44 — USPS Priority Mail

$23.94 — FedEx Ground Home Delivery

The “free” certificate is a picture file the winner must print out.

SALES

Most winners said sales showed no increase at all with one saying it increased a little.

MY OPINION

Although my book was a silver place winner, I don’t feel it was worth the cost and will not be entering again.

The Award blog articles are based on Survey Monkey responses, emails, and comments I received on social media as well as research and some personal experience.

If you have entered any of the contests listed below and would like to share your experience, please either:

  • write to me at b.ferrante@tbaytel.net. Be sure to say if you wish to be anonymous.
  • or
  • make a comment the day the blog post is published.

The awards covered  in October will be:

  • October 18 – Kindle book awards
  • October 25 – Children’s Choice Book Awards

Reader’s Favorite Award

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

 

Reader’s Favorite Award – Is It Worth It?

https://readersfavorite.com/annual-book-award-contest.htm

Deadline April 1, 2018.

The Readers’ Favorite Award site says:

Contest Features

  • Chance to win one of $50,000 in free prizes just for entering.
  • Chance to have your book made into a movie or TV show.
  • Chance to be published by an award winning traditional publisher.
  • Chance to be represented by a leading author marketing and PR firm.
  • Chance to attend one of the country’s largest book award ceremonies.
  • 20 more features including medals, stickers, certificates and publicity.”

and

“We receive thousands of entries from all over the world. Because of these large submission numbers, we are able to break down our contest into 140+ genres, and each genre is judged separately, ensuring you only compete against books of your specific genre for a fairer and more accurate competition. We receive submissions from independent authors, small publishers, and publishing giants such as Random House, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster, with contestants that range from the first-time, self-published author to New York Times bestsellers like J.A. Jance, James Rollins, and #1 best-selling author Daniel Silva, as well as celebrity authors like Jim Carrey (Bruce Almighty), Henry Winkler (Happy Days), and Eriq La Salle (E.R., Coming to America).”

SUBMITTING

They accept manuscripts, published and unpublished books in English.

“The contest entry fee to enter your book in one genre category by the April 1st Early Bird Registration deadline is $89, by the May 1st Regular Registration deadline is $99.00, and by the June 1st Final Registration deadline is $109. ” US$

Books are submitted online. (No shipping cost.)

PROMOTION

Winners felt they received quite a bit of publicity.

There was a Gala dinner in Miami with press present.

Winners’ books were displayed at Miami Book Fair.

The win was widely broadcast over the internet & more.

Winners received PR photos.

Winners are listed permanently on the website.

“If you do not already have a Readers’ Favorite review for your book, we will provide you with one as part of your contest entry. Your review will be posted on our site, Barnes & Noble, Google Books, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and Pinterest. You can also post our review in your Amazon Editorial Reviews section…

All 5-star reviews receive a FREE “Five Stars” digital seal for your website and a high-resolution version for your book cover. Our seal can be seen on book covers from indie authors to iconic publishers like Simon & Schuster. All reviews come with a Readers’ Favorite Review Page and a host of free features to help you promote your book and your new review.”

“We announce our contest results to 115,000 libraries, 85,000 bookstores and 300,000 schools (elementary through high school) nationwide. We use a white-listed email company that professionally maintains these lists to ensure they are current and accurate. ”

and more.

TROPHIES, CERTIFICATES, PRIZE MONEY, SEALS, ETC.

There is a maximum of five possible level winners in each category. Although there are numerous categories, you book has a good chance of being noticed.

EXTRA BONUS PRIZE MONEY: “All authors are automatically entered to win one of more than 200 prizes worth a combined total of $50,000 just by entering the Readers’ Favorite International Book Award Contest. Prizes are generously donated by industry experts who support our contest and our authors. Winners are picked at random, and it does not matter how many categories you entered or whether you won an award or not.”

SEALS: “Gold, Silver, Bronze and Illustration Award winners will receive a free roll of 250 1.5 inch high quality, embossed award stickers ($50 value) to affix to copies of their book.” Winners outside of US had to pay shipping costs. As well, winners received a digital seal to place on their books.

Winners received a certificate.

SALES

Winners said sales increased a little.

COMMENT FROM ENTRANT

“I recently entered the Readers Favorite book award contest, and won a bronze medal in the humor category for my book “You Know I Love You Because You’re Still Alive”  It boosted sales slightly — and I got a lot of attention for it.  What I really liked about it, though, was the review.  It’s good to have a relatively credible review on a third party site.  And it my book cover looks much better with bling on it (in the form of a sticker.)  What was annoying was that I had to look up myself to see if I won.  Is a form letter email that hard?”

  • Lori B. Duff http://www.loriduffwrites.com
  • Ghostwriter (boo), Legal Writing Expert, Blogger, Humorist, and all around Fun to Be Around
  • Amazon Bestselling Author of “Mismatched Shoes and Upside Down Pizza,”  “The Armadillo, the Pickaxe, and the Laundry Basket,” and “You Know I Love You Because You’re Still Alive”

If you have entered this contest, please leave a comment about your experience.

MY OPINION

This looks like a lot of bang for your buck. I would probably enter this contest. However, Self Publishing Advice recommends caution.

*******************

The Award blog articles are based on Survey Monkey responses, emails, and comments I received on social media as well as research and some personal experience.

If you have entered any of the contests listed below and would like to share your experience, please either:

  • write to me at b.ferrante@tbaytel.net. Be sure to say if you wish to be anonymous.
  • or
  • make a comment the day the blog post is published.

The awards covered  in October will be:

  • October 11 – Mom’s Choice Award
  • October 18 – Kindle book awards
  • October 25 – Children’s Choice Book Awards

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Writers’ Awards – Are They Worth It?

Every Wednesday, beginning October 4, I wish be discussing Writers’ Awards. I won’t be discussing the tried and true like the Caldecott. There has been an explosion of available awards since the arrival of indie publishing.  These are the topics:

  1. Are they worth the time and money to enter?
  2. Do they result in increased exposure, recognition, and sales?
  3. Are they valid or are they a spin-off of vanity publishing?
  4. Are some more reputable than others?

If you have entered any of the contests listed below and would like to share your experience, please either:

  • write to me at b.ferrante@tbaytel.net. Be sure to say if you wish to be anonymous.
  • or
  • make a comment the day the blog post is published.

The awards covered  in October will be:

  • October 4 – Reader’s Favorite
  • October 11 – Mom’s Choice Award
  • October 18 – Kindle book awards
  • October 25 – Children’s Choice Book Awards

Depending on the response, I may continue into November. If you feel strongly about an award being included, let me know.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Damned If I Do and Damned If I Don’t

I understand why so many bloggers are refusing to review indie books. You get tired of this kind of stuff. I think I’ll be taking a break soon. It’s hard to be energetic and positive when I get this kind of hate. I’m not sure where she’s reviewed me but I think revenge reviewers should be outted. (I didn’t even review her for cripes sake.) This is what happened. I see why bloggers burn out.

From: Alma Hammond (I won’t post her email)
Sent: September 10, 2017 8:45 AM
To: b.ferrante@tbaytel.net
Subject: New Picture Book to Review

Hi Bonnie,

I popped by your website on a google search and was impressed by your blog of picture books.  I published a picture book a couple months ago that I would love to have you review on your site.  The book, in .pdf form is attached, along with a marketing piece I use to sell the books to stores (currently carried in 8 stores in the USA).

Let me know if you could be interested.

Best,

Alma R. Hammond

RATHER THAN GIVE HER A THREE STAR REVIEW, I SENT THIS MAIL:

On Sun, Sep 10, 2017 at 6:52 PM, B.Ferrante <b.ferrante@tbaytel.net> wrote:

Hi Alma,

There is a lot I liked about the book but I felt the ending was a bit of a let-down. It was a little too passive. I’ll pass on this book but keep me in mind for the next.

Ciao,

Bonnie

TO WHICH SHE REPLIED

Thanks B.  I left a review of Amida as well.  After reading it ( I bought it) I thought, what makes you an expert?  You have no talent in writing children’s books, so unoriginal and stupid frankly.

Author Jessica Boyd – Three Random Questions Interview

Bear Hockey is Jessica Boyd’s first published book. She worked as a senior creative writer/creative lead for Webkinz World (webkinzworld.com) for eight years. She was inspired by reading to her two and four-year-old daughters to begin her own publishing company, Buttertart Books.

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Bonnie Ferrante: Welcome, Jessica. Why did you choose hockey as the subject of your first picture book?

Jessica Boyd: The title came first – I loved the sound of ‘Bear Hockey.’ The story told itself! It’s all about having a good time. It doesn’t matter if you happen to be a bear who excels at sports or, like me, happen to be a bear that just likes hanging out with their friends on skates.

Ferrante: How did you decide to use bears and hibernation as the central subject of Bear Hockey? It’s a clever and unusual idea to choose an animal that hibernates throughout the winter.

Boyd: I liked the idea of hibernation being the ending. The whole book reads like an actual hockey game – it’s fun, fast-paced and exciting. Until the last pinecone is scored, that is. At that point, the bears quiet down. They get cleaned up and ready for bed. The final two pages show the bears sleeping, which is the perfect ending to a bedtime story.

Ferrante: Do you feel children today get enough opportunity to play unstructured sports?

Boyd: I think unstructured play in general is something kids don’t get enough of. When I was younger (I was a child of the eighties), I’d roam the neighbourhood with my friends and just kind of meet up with other kids. Games were generally loose and made up of whoever happened to be around at the time. Kids need that freedom and time to use their imagination.  

Ferrante: You didn’t just write a book, you also started a publishing company. I see you used Kickstarter to finance your first enterprise. How has that gone?

Boyd: Kickstarter was a terrific learning experience! The most important thing I discovered was that it’s crucial to tell as many friends/loved ones/acquaintances/well-wishers about your plans ahead of time. People generally want to support your dreams – they just need to know in advance. (This seems obvious, but when you’re in the throes of getting a book written/published, it’s easy to forget the marketing part.)

Ferrante: You have two small girls at home. Do you have a structured time for writing?

Boyd: Not really! My writing time (and the time I use to work on marketing/running Buttertart Books) is when my girls go to bed. Occasionally I get an hour or two on the weekends, but most of my writing is done by the light of my computer screen in my dark office.

Ferrante: I have four adorable hockey cards representing four bears on the team. How can readers obtain these? Are there more?

Boyd: The hockey cards were an add-on we did for Kickstarter. People really liked them! If anyone orders a book through Amazon, I will send along two random hockey cards with it.

Ferrante: Maurizio Curto did a stellar job with the illustrations. How did you connect with this artist?

Boyd: Maurizio and I worked together in Webkinz World. He’s still there, actually! We worked on another book, Forgetful Eddie, a number of years ago. The book turned out really well (and will be one of the next books Buttertart Books publishes), so I knew who to turn to when Bear Hockey needed illustrating! Maurizio has a terrific style and his illustrations worked perfectly with the story.

Ferrante: You have a second book in the works, Duck Fort. Would you like to tell us a little about that?

Boyd: Duck Fort is about a clever duck building a fort to relax in…and then having all her friends drop by and ask for forts of their very own. It’s really funny, but there’s a little bit of a lesson at the end about appreciating our friends and thanking people for their hard work.

Ferrante: Is there any advice you can give to beginning picture book writers?

Boyd: Read, read, read. The more you read picture books, the more you’ll understand what makes them so special. I absolutely LOVE Phoebe Gilman (“Something from Nothing” and any of the Jillian Jiggs series are read quite often around here), Mo Willems (anything he writes is wonderful) and Jeff Kinney (I’m a total Diary of a Wimpy Kid fan). I have a gigantic picture book collection and I love perusing the children’s book section at my local bookstore to see what’s new (one of my youngest daughter’s newest favourites is “No, No Kitten!” by Shelley Moore Thomas).

three random questions

Ferrante: As a child, what was your favourite treat?

Boyd: Anything chocolate. Actually, anything with sugar in it. I have a huge sweet tooth.

Ferrante: What character flaw would you like to get rid of?

Boyd: My dentist would say the huge sweet tooth. I would say my inability to keep my office neat and tidy/my apparent need to work in a chaotic (but creative!) environment.

Ferrante: If you had limitless courage, what would you do in the next few days?

Boyd: Limitless courage? I’d go dancing, probably. Or speak in public! Or go skydiving. Or maybe all three. If my courage is limitless, let’s go big!

Ferrante: Thank you, Jessica, for sharing your writing experience with us. Good luck with Duck Fort.

Bear Hockey will be reviewed Friday, September 8.

https://buttertartbooks.com/

https://www.facebook.com/ButtertartBooks/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/jessica-boyd-3b7a042/

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

 

Guest Post by Dr. Bob Rich: What Makes a Children’s Book Stand Out?

Bob is a professional grandfather. Any human under 25 years of age may take advantage of the offer of becoming his grandbaby. Therefore, everything he does, including his writing, is aimed at making this planet a better place for its young people. He wants a survivable future, and one worth surviving in. Our global culture is rushing the other way, toward planetary suicide, because it encourages and rewards the worst in human nature: greed, aggression, hate and therefore fear of those slightly different from us. So, Bob is working for culture change: we need to reward and encourage the best in human nature: compassion, generosity, cooperation.

At the time of writing, Bob is the author of 16.5 published books, five of them award-winners. If you want to know how you can have a half-published book, go to http://bobswriting.com/hitandrun.html where you can request a free advance review copy of a story that shows how kids, even those guilty of multiple murder, can be led to decency.

His latest published book is Guardian Angel [link to http://bobswriting.com/guardian.html ], which is the story of a little Australian Aboriginal girl born in 1850: “child of the land, fruit of an evil deed, instrument of love.” One person who leaves a comment here will win a free copy of this book, which has the 5 star reviews pouring in.

What makes a children’s book stand out?

Most children’s books are merely a temporary answer to the question, “Oh, what’ll I buy as a present for little Jimmy?” A book is better than a plastic toy or some battery-operated piece of tomorrow’s trash, but it’s often a “read and forget” exercise. They blend into the crowd of other books of the same kind: fairies or dinosaurs or inanimate objects pretending to be human.

Some books stand out. Something about them makes them remembered, and recommended, and loved. Why?

I’m cursed with a scientific training, so need to make any such question measurable. Here are three measures for your consideration:

Added value

I think the best thing to ever come out of America is the collection of books from Dr. Seuss. My favorite is The Lorax. It is the first-ever bit of greenie propaganda aimed at children, and does it delightfully. Having chanted it with kids so often, I can recite it, word for word. I was once a volunteer at a community school, where the first task the teacher gave was to ask a new person to read The Lorax to some kids. Those who read with verve and enthusiasm were allowed to continue as helpers.

All the other Seuss books have educational value beyond enjoyment. Green Eggs and Ham is about “try it for yourself.” You might want to look at the other ones and see how they each are designed to benefit kids in some way.

The same is true for Roald Dahl’s writing, and for many others that have graced childhoods for generations.

The added value can be humor, education, ethical lessons, empathy, or preferably all of these. I think you’ll find that all the books you remember from your childhood have identifiable qualities beyond entertainment.

I started with oldies, because they have maintained their freshness over the years. I’ve encountered a few new books that should become keepers (if people notice them in today’s avalanche of publications).

A series of illustrated children’s books by Jennifer Poulter qualify. I came across them because she submitted one, Getting Home, [link to https://www.etsy.com/au/listing/484346065/getting-home-a-childrens-picture-book ] for the LiFE Award: Literature for Environment [link to http://bobswriting.com/life.html ], which I administer. This is a story about baby polar bear being separated from mom, who eventually rescues him. The added value is that, while the words of the story are age-appropriate for preschoolers, there are also adult-language notes for the person reading, with facts little kids will find interesting, and which will lead them to environmental consciousness.

Also, keep an eye out for the work of Claudia Marie Lenart **[link to http://claudiamariefelt.com ]. I know about her because I edit books for her publisher, Loving Healing Press [link to http://www.lovinghealing.com ]. The added value in her little books is the beauty of the illustrations. She makes intricate pictures with needle felt, and photographs them. My eight-year-old granddaughter loves the pictures, and therefore enjoys reading the stories to her little brother.

Hidden meaning

The best children’s books are full of content meant for an adult. Such gems apparently skid over the kid’s head without being understood or even noted, but they are seeds of wisdom for the future.

Fifty years ago, when I got married, I found out that my new wife had never heard of Winnie the Pooh. So, each evening, I read her a chapter. This was blessedly before Walt Disney had replaced the delightful original drawings. We both enjoyed the experience: the subtle, understated humor, the hidden little barbs about human nature, the way these make-believe characters provided guidance in morality without preaching.

  1. S. Lewis’s Narnia books are also ostensibly for children, but they are full of meaning and allegory few kids would pick up.

I think this criterion applies to all literature. In fact, it is what distinguishes literature from read-once-and-forget.

Customer obsession

When my little great-grandson Caleb was given I Need a New Bum by Dawn McMillan [link to https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16092697-i-need-a-new-bum ], he loved it so much that his mother was required to read it to him, over and over and over, until she was sick of the sight of it. By then, he could recite every word, and did so with relish.

The Harry Potter books belong here. Blessed if I know why, but people of all ages from about 10 to 110 seem to be obsessed with them. I am glad, because they have led so many youngsters to a love of reading, but personally they do nothing for me. I haven’t managed to finish any of them.

In many other cases, the reason for a book’s success also escapes me, but I am happy to trust the reaction of the target audience: the child. Nothing beats observation for evidence. This is why, when I edit kids’ books, I usually advise my client to try out the draft on real children. Make a powerpoint presentation of the illustrations (if any), go to a nearby school, and read the story to the right age group. Their reaction will tell you everything you need to know.

**I have not read any of Dr. Bob’s books but I am familiar with Claudia Marie Lenart’s work.

Review of Prince Primee which she illustrated.

Author Illustrator Claudia Marie Lenart Three Random Questions Interview

Review of Seasons of Joy: Every Day is For Outdoor Play written and illustrated by Claudia Marie Lenart.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

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The Power of Three – A Numerically Themed Month

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When my littlest granddaughter turned three, I shared numerous books with her about the number three, amazed at how often it appears in literature and culture.

Three is significant in religious stories. Christianity has the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Three Magi bring gifts to the baby Jesus. Jesus prays three times in the Garden of Gethsemane and rises from the dead on the third day. Peter denies Christ three times.

In Taoism, the number three stands for heaven, earth, and human. The Hindus have Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. Many Mahayana Sects end their chants with three calls to Amida Buddha. Buddhism has the three gems, The Buddha, The Dharma, and The Sangha.

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The number three is featured in numerous nursery rhymes and songs. The Three Little Kittens lose their mittens. Three Blind Mice lose their tails. The black sheep provides three bags of wool. Sing a Song of Sixpence talks about the King, the Queen, and the maid. Wynken, Blnken, and Nod sing you to sleep. There are three proposed solutions to stop London Bridge from falling down. Little boys and little girls are each made of three things, either frogs and snails and puppy dogs tails or sugar and spice and everything nice.

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Three characters or three events are common in fairytales and folktales. The Queen has three chances to guess Rumpelstiltskin’s name. The woman searching for her husband, in East of the, West of the Moon, gets three gifts. It is on the third cry for help that The Boy Who Cried Wolf is ignored. Jack takes three trips up the beanstalk. The Shoemaker leaves clothes for the elves on the third night. A genie will grant three wishes. Goldilocks invades the home of the three bears. Three Billy Goats Gruff cross the troll’s bridge.

Protagonists often have to answer three riddles correctly. Heroes have to undergo three trials. It is usually the third son who succeeds in the quest. Wikipedia lists twenty fairytales that begin with the words “The Three”.

Stories have a beginning, middle, and end. Even time itself is divided into three parts, the past, the present, and the future.

For the rest of this month, I will be exploring the number three in children’s stories. I have used this myself. The Dawn’s End New Adult books are a trilogy: Nightfall, Poisoned, and Outworld Apocalypse. In the early young adult novella Terror at White Otter Castle, three friends form the triangle of power.

I have also used this in picture books. Rayne Shines uses three complainers, the father, the mother, and Rayne. In No More Red, three negative things happen to Amy before she decides to wish red away. The pattern of three is also used in Too Quiet, Too Noisy.

There’s something satisfying about the number three. Have less and it feels unfinished. Have more and it feels like too much. Three is perfection.

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Here’s a parenting hack about the number three. If your preschooler is unable to hold down her baby finger with her thumb in order to show three straight fingers, teach her to do this way. You can even say, “being three is okay.”

Read all the books on a rainy day? Get active and play bean toss with painter’s tape on three triangles, rectangles, or squares (not recommended for carpets. Don’t leave it on for more than two days.

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Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages