Friday, September 30, 2011

Sue Nespeca & BOOKS!!!!

Canfield. Children's Literature Conference. Afternoon. Long time readers will remember how I occasionally can point to the very people who have connected-the-dots for me, taken me places, shared my name, suggested me to a committee, even created a whole event where I get to be on the stage and in the bright spotlight.............. I'd like you to meet Sue Nespeca. One of those quantum leapers in my professional life. I think at one time or another over the past fourteen years she's probably done each and every one of those things on my behalf.

Sue is brilliant on so many levels. She is ALWAYS on top of the newest picture books, but her real gift to the world of book-lovers is the way that she brings them to LIFE!!! From her portable music stand of ideas she's singin', she's drummin', she's rappin' and sharin' all of her variety of props to support bringing those books to life. Reach every reader.

She's rounded up an entire posse of her peeps for Gruffalo reader's theatre.

I've always been Denise Fleming's biggest fan. Her work is seriously amazing. EVERY time!!! Then I got to have dinner with her years back before the Pittsburgh Children's Literature Conference and we ended up spending hours laughing over all things books. So it was especially fun to see her latest enlarged on the BIG screen, being brought to life by Sue's supreme energy!! These two could do impersonations of one another. Talk about SHOUT!!! Talk about energy!!!

Sue + niece + Pete the Cat = WINNING TEAM!!!

The Skippy Jon Jones series is beyond fun. It's a favorite for my wonder-kids (grand children for new readers) who are lovers of books and lovers of four legged creatures. My daughter thinks perhaps I have contributed to the lyrical text in book series. Be certain to check-out Kid Lit Plus to find out all the latest from my favorite Early Literacy & Children's Literature Specialist.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Monsters. Fears. Thing's that scare us. October's Eve.
Pat yourselves on the back teachers & parents, you've nearly made it through the challenges of September!! Oh happy day! Blink your eyes and before you know it the wild roller-coaster toward the holidays + year's end is at hand. Blink and it's October..... October and all things filled with fright!!!

Welcome to a round-up of all sorts of creativity devoted to the creepy crawly, heebie-jeebies that can be found in October. Monsters. Creatures. Costumes. Fear-filled-fun. Read-a-louds. Art project possibilities. You're come to the right spot!! WELCOME!

What traditions do you have in your family for scary stories? Campfire tales? Spooky nonsense? What traditions do you have in your classroom? Does your center/school participate in Ye Ol' Halloween adventures? How so? How have your observances and events changed over time? How do you include the child whose family does not 'observe' Halloween? Curious minds want to know!! Here's your chance to share!!

I'm on stage at last weekend's Children's Literature Conference sharing my original children's song, "Monster Spray" with the EC (Early Childhood) community and children's librarians alike. We're learning the sign language together. The picture below is the 'big ending.' I'm real big on big endings, as the brain research indicates that we're most alert at the beginnings & the endings of songs, of presentations--we want to go out with something memorable. With a bang! Anchor the experience! For all times sake!! TA-DA!!!! In this case, colored water in a neatly labeled spray bottle provides for the anticipated special effects. This is the point where the eyes of those 4 to 7 just about pop out of their heads!

MONSTER SPRAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I wrote this little dittie on my drive home from my performance at the Bryan Library eons ago. I had just purchased some bulletin board type 'happy monsters' at the teacher's educational supply store on their town square. As I drove those several hours to home, I remembered my early mommy-days, and my early mommy-sleep-deprived-nights.

There was a phase when my youngest daughter woke EVERY SINGLE SOLITARY NIGHT with fears of monsters-in-her-room. (As I put this together in my memory I think she was probably about three years old.) Every night I would tuck her back in with the assurance that there was no such thing as a monster. My assurances did absolutely nothing to stop her Creepy Monsters from awakening her + MOI. Then one night I used some innate learned-it-at MommySchool reverse psychology. At 2:17 a.m. I asked her in my sleep-stupor, to tell me where the monsters were. She trembled and pointed up to the high shelves above the window, the ones lined with stuffed animals. 

I instinctively pulled out my invisible container of monster spray and sprayed that high shelf: psssssssst!!! Take that!! Where else? Under the bed? Take that: psssssssssst!!! In the closet? Take that: Pssssssssssssttttttt!!!!  Honest-to-goodness!!!! She crawled back into bed and slept through the rest of the night. BINGO!!!!! I'm no dummy. The next night we took our invisible container of monster spray & sprayed all of the corners of her room BEFORE bed time and guess what? She slept through the night!!!! AND SO DID MOMMY!!! Blissful sleep. Fears conquered. An invisible tool & creativity.

"Once upon a time in my dark, dark room there were monsters -- CREEPY MONSTERS: big tall hairy ones, invisible scary ones, irrational airy ones, airy ones, airy ones......... Monsters in my room!"
"When the sun goes down, that's when monsters go to town, all the monsters -- CREEPY MONSTERS: big tall hairy ones, invisible scary ones, irrational airy ones, airy ones, airy ones...... Monsters in my room!"
"Each and every night, I am filled with so much fright, from the monsters -- CREEPY MONSTERS: big tall hairy ones, invisible scary ones, irrational airy ones, airy ones, airy ones..... Monsters in my room!" 
 "It is hard to sleep, what with monsters stacked so deep, all the monsters -- CREEPY MONSTERS: big tall hairy ones, invisible scary ones, irrational airy ones, airy ones, airy ones.... Monsters in my room!"
"Monsters, monsters, better run away! My mom bought me: Monster Spray!"
"Take that: psssssssst! Take that: psssssssssssst! Take that: pssssssssssssst!"
"Now it's safe to play, I am armed with Monster Spray: NO more monsters, NO more monsters!!! No more hairy ones, no more scary ones, no more airy ones!!!!! MONSTERS ARE ALL GONE!!!!!!
******** This is such a fun song to share during family events. I always have the daddies in the audience use their deep, low voices to be my 'echo' on the phrase: CREEPY MONSTERS. Then I assign the mommies the eerie phrase: airy ones, airy ones and we all practice our 'sound effect' voices making those words as high & as squeaky as possible. A true crowd-pleaser!!

******** [Here's the visual reference that I will pin to my Pinterest board entitled: Monster Spray. It is a collage of the two pictures above that I joined together easily in Picasa. Once the collage is saved then I could super-impose the words to the song using Picasa's Picnik setting. Voila. A visual reference that could bring a new teacher here on a monster scavenger hunt! Welcome!! My monster pinboard collection currently has 219 cyber-pins for your further inspiration. Click here for all of that nonsense inspiration.] 

Children ALWAYS ask me what the ingredients are in Monster Spray. Being a 'master teacher' (thank you Mimi Chenfeld) I always respond to their questions with a question. In this case, "What do you think?" I typically get their wheels turning by suggesting that I think monsters are probably afraid of vegetables. They will then start calling out their most feared vegetable and we start air-chopping up broccoli, cauliflower, lima beans, carrots et. al. and putting it all into a pretend bowl.

My two favorite ingredients that children have suggested for Monster Spray are SUNSHINE, "you know monsters are afraid of sunshine"...... and my all time favorite? LISTERINE!!! I kid you not -- a preschool child told me that one!!! So our pretend Listerine makes our spray liquid-like. 

[I could ramble on for pages about monsters and things that frighten us. We grow by our staring down our individual fear, by picking ourselves up and by putting one foot in front of the other. As a two-time early Breast Cancer survivor, the month of Pink-tober & fear mean something all together different to me.... but today we're talking about Monster Spray. Enough on that subject for now. Let us prepare our children to face their fears -- however large, however small -- let's give them meaningful tools for the journey ahead, whatever they encounter.] 


Back to the Children's Literature Conference. As we were packing up for the day, our Early Childhood teacher in attendance, in charge of the training classes at the joint-vocational for high school students there at MCCTC-ECE, one of my long standing supporters, went running down the hall........................................... 

She returned with this amazing project created last year by her then JUNIOR in HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT(!!!!!) Lisa Barcley, in response to the picture book, "There was an Old Monster" by three generations of the Emberley family. [Click on this link to the Scholastic site telling sharing details, giving the book's lyrics and a song download. People the recording is an awesome rhythmic rap of sorts, fun percussion.... you'll LUV it if you haven't heard it before.] 

Spoiler alert: the lion gives a ROAR, swallows the monster and he is no more. 

(Notice how Lisa has made the monster's tummy see-through for the creatures swallowed.
Her lion also as a see-through feature, to 'see' the monster once it is swallowed.)

Golly gee-whiz. If Scholastic is giving away their song as a download, I feel compelled to offer my "Monster Spray" as well...... only I'm going to make you work for it!! I have just learned that I can easily email my songs out & about across the countryside. [Click here to read my blogging buddy in IDAHO's post at SharpenedPencil. Janae was the very first person to prompt me to email one of my songs. Her first graders are singing and signing my "Red, White and Blue" in their recent observation of 9-11. She tells all about it in her post, complete with a YouTube video.]

To earn your emailed copy of Monster Spray you can do any of the following in my comment box: 
  1. Follow me on FB Networked blogs..... over there in the left side-bar.
  2. Follow me thru the big Google world of blog followers also left side-bar. 
  3. Follow me at Twitter as: Kweezlequeen. 
  4. Follow my new FB fanpage: RainbowsWithinReach
  5. Follow me over at Pinterest!
  6. If you've already done all of those, leave a comment with something that creeps you out.
BE SURE TO LEAVE YOUR EMAIL with your comment!!! 
The whole point of blogging is the sharing. The easy manner that we share is to link-up. I welcome any of your earlier posts on this subject, or what you anticipate doing in October!!!
Tell your blogging friends..... let's share the ideas that have worked successfully!

This opportunity to receive a free Mp3 has been added to a linky at Cornerstone of all types of free resources for teachers. Click right here to see the other supportive freebies.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

What's in YOUR Bag?

LINKIE PARTY!! LINKIE PARTY!!! You know how I am learning the value of the linkie party?? Much of my increased traffic and newer 'visibility' is coming as a result of my grasping the value & the 'how-to' of the linkie party. Tonight I give my gratitude to Abby over at The Inspired Apple, who is hosting a 'back-to-school' link-up where teachers are sharing "what's in their bag" and in the process sharing plenty of teacher tips and theory in the process of introducing themselves....not to mention a whole fashion show about teacher bags and the organizational tips that are unique to each bag! Welcome, if this is your first visit!!

Thanks Abby for the new friends. I'm a music-lady, author/illustrator, keynote speaker.

I happened upon the party just as we are genuinely unloading our car from our latest cross-country vagabond, which included the proverbial 1000 mile round-trip, road trip PLUS a flight back & forth in the midst of all that driving to go across the country and back. So here's how I travel and a peek at my 'bag'. It's ironic that this would be the subject of the hop, because the big over-sized polka-dot bag is one that I 'confiscated' a year ago from our dear daughter-in-law out in Denver, where we just were last week to meet grand-child #7. The bag was hanging on the hook by their back door and I was given permission to claim it as my Christmas present. THANK YOU MEGAN!!!!

Once you take my 'tulip' purse off the top of the bag, you can see the ingrediants inside -- the bare necessities for a successful author/illustrator visit: my laptop, an LCD projector and 4 copies of each of my three picture books. Feel free to go back to this earlier post to see my sewing of the purse itself. These are the fabrics that I used to create my purse.

BTW: I make the illustrations for my books from fabric, as small quilts. My professional ensembles and travel appearance are to 'co-ordinate' with the quilted illustrations from my first book -- which includes an abundance of polka-dots, as you may have guessed!!! I LUV patterns and colors and shapes and black-n-white, and graphics and design and FABRIC!!!! AND POLKA-DOTS!!!!

 I see that I have my brochures stashed inside the laptop case.

With my laptop AND the LCD projector, I can carry in one dozen books -- 4 of each title!!!
My newest: "Red, White and Blue" winner of the national INDIE Award of Excellence
My second book, created with my sister Rebecca: "Tall Giraffe" with photos taken by my niece, Kelly
And my very first picture book, the instant classic: "You're Wonderful"

Yup, you heard me correctly!!!! My dream came true!!!!! 
I won a national award this summer!!!!!!
My polka-dot bag which is intended for a laptop holds yet more flyers and my polka-dot business card case.

Voila!!!! All you need to schedule an author/illustrator visit to your school: my email & phone number. 
I'm VERY VERY VERY eager to schedule school visits in FL for the months of Jan. & Feb.

I am so grateful for the opportunity to share my work with a wider world. 

Heads up: I am hosting my second linkie-party, here at my rainbow beginning tomorrow. The topic is all things "Monster-like" in order to help everyone get excited about October. Creepy costumes, monsters, scary stuff, frightening read-a-louds, Wild Things -- they're all welcome!!

We're coming to the end of September and that means my current promo code to save 20% off the list price of my picture book, "Red, White and Blue" is just about set to expire. Order the book in the month of September from my website and use the PromoCode: RWB911 to receive your savings. Order now and you'll have the book in time to prepare your class for Veteran's Day.

Monday, September 26, 2011


This is all of us back together again (early childhood folks & children's librarians) after the brunch break.....I LUV having a 150 minute keynote slot!!!! Here we have lots of air guitarists showing their air riffs for my AC/DC-esque Dinosaur romp, which is a rap-style, no tune to follow, keep the beat extravaganza. I picked up the dinosaur hat the evening before at the Dollar Tree on the way to dinner. (Must stop at every Dollar Tree available -- amazing possibilities abound! Never know what you'll uncover.)

This is the group time "Higgeldy Biggeldy" multi-cultural dance number (if you stretch that concept just a bit.) Every fun phrase was one I heard while on my 'first' European tour years back with my dear friend Renee. We made presentations at our Air Force base in England on that trip, but went on to spend two weeks romping about France and Scotland while we were at it!

This is from the rousing conclusion of my contribution to the day. These are the children's librarians, or many of them -- those who were seated toward the front of the auditorium & could join me quickly. We are performing, "Going to the Library" in sign language..... with gusto.

That's one great big: "Oh, YEAH!!!!!!!!!!" for the final verse of, "librarians find the answer speedy as can be. I like going to the library............ oh, yeah!"

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Sunday, September 25, 2011


Canfield, OH. Children's Literature Conference. This is the type of event I'd like to create in every single corner of every state -- across our entire country and then expand to every country round the globe. The space is incredible: stage, projected power-point onto two screens, comfortable seating for participants, adjustable lighting, sufficient electrical outlets, a tech-man on hand AND a dear friend willing to run around and take pictures! ((((((Thank you, Carol!!))))))

The physical space was awesome but that magic combination of the room packed to the brim with early childhood educators AND professional children's librarians from the surrounding area? Awesome!! This is my day, yesterday, a Saturday training coordinated between the local AEYC and the regional library system in the perfect setting:

In many ways, this was the final bookend on our 12 day road trip classified 'reunions & old-home week'. This amazing space contains several of my long-time supporters, smiling & willing to jump up and be cheer leaders, LITERALLY.  I get the day launched with a couple of my Debbie's Ditties, songs that I've developed for children, these to encourage a healthy lifestyle. The first? "Eating Healthy." Here's my Pinterest board dedicated to eating healthy.

[If you haven't heard, Pinterest is my latest addiction, obsession, CONTRIBUTION. It's a visual bulletin board of ideas from across the web. I have over 4,600 'pins' in under 6 weeks. Neatly categorized into buttetin boards devoted to my picture books and song titles to give you all sorts of art project, snack, bulletin board ideas. See ya on the pin-side: mwwwhaaaahaaaahaaaaa..... you may never be the same!]

Get up, get moving, shake those pom-poms. Fill your body & brain with oxygen, the fuel to run the amazing machinery of your mind. Every dollar store across the country has a set of pom-poms available to bring this upbeat, marching, oxygen-filled, tribute-to-the-glory-of-vegetables fully to life. Get those knees up!!! Smile!!!! Crunch + munch on all the colors of the rainbow spectrum. "Eating healthy, being healthy, that's the choice for me!"

                           Gen-u-ine cheerleader leading the throng!!

From considering how to upgrade our snack-times to include better choices for the children & ourselves, we made a quick sashay to my dittie "Ride my Bike." The audience age diversity spans the spectrum from that of a group of high school students receiving their early childhood training in this very building to those well beyond the age of retirement -- with a career's worth of experience in hand. For "Ride my Bike" (click for bike pin-board) I call on the vitality of our youth to join me on stage, to demonstrate ye ol' bicycle move pre-Wii. They enthusiastically start pumping to demonstrate proper form.

No kidding folks, when performed at full tilt, this little dittie of mine is a genuine ab workout worthy the sub-title of Preschool Pilates or Kindergarten Krunches...... after all 'some hills go up, some hills go down' (which requires a sit up with each musical phrase after all that leg pumping.)

As you can see, I have fantastic participation from the crowd!!!

Crossing the mid-line fun.

Here's a new shot of me. LOL. (((((((((Carol))))))))) has captured me demonstrating how to perform 'Spider Man spray-hands' a maneuver familiar to many children. When those same finger positions are then maneuvered to the up-right position they are perfectly placed to create the sign language short hand for the phrase 'I love you.' This is a pivitol phrase for my 911-inspired lyrics for my newest picture book, "Red, White and Blue."

I've added the star spangled head band available from The Great Pretend-Ears.
My promise? 
Put 'something' on your head & you have more eye contact from the children!!

Sign language: I love you!!

The crowd is signing 'march for our country' -- the second verse of "Red, White and Blue."

There's 30 seconds of a musical instrumental interlude that concludes my "Red, White and Blue" dittie -- which is just the perfect amount of time to create some human fireworks. Here we are working on our people-pyrotechnics.

I just received an email from a music teacher in Georgia who is working with the children to present "Red, White and Blue" to their families in a concert setting for the observation of Veteran's Day. She is going to have the children put their hands on their hearts and recite the Pledge of Allegiance during that concluding wistful violin solo. How brilliant is that option?

Moving right along with our morning: freezing frozen.
Verse 2 of the "Jumpin' Jiminy Jamboree!

I LUV seeing these pictures a day later!! 
I believe that we had fun -- while learning.

A cordless microphone has all sorts of potential..... I got to leave the stage & meander to the back of the room, imitating the best of talk-show hosts. I'm asking those in attendance how my jumpin' dittie fits into our Ohio Early Learning Standards. (Professionals need to be ready to answer the concerns of the wolf-knocking at the door concerned about why the children are engaged in such nonsense.) We came up with all sorts of explanations for the wolf. 
  1. Following directions, group dynamics, working together, social skills
  2. Language acquisition, alliteration, phonemic awareness, rhyme, word play
  3. Kinesthetic presentation for the concept of opposites
  4. Science/physics: the concept of freezing & thawing, weather
  5. Gross motor development & skill development
  6. Proprioceptive skill possibilities thru balance opportunity
  7. Oxygen flooding the brain & body for optimal operation

Everybody, all together now, everybody, shake it down!
Time for brunch!!!!

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Thanks for your support! I am so appreciative of your pins!

Thanks for your support! I am so appreciative of your pins!
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