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AN OCTOPUS IS BORN

The Benefits of Being an OctopusWe Emus are fluffing our feathers in proud excitement to announce that Ann Braden’s MG novel The Benefits of Being An Octopus will celebrate its book birthday tomorrow, September 4th.  If only we had tentacles to wave in joy as well!

Read on to learn more about the book’s amazing author and her axe-shaped necklace, about how teachers can’t wait to use it to help students expand their empathy, and how librarians can advise patrons on its appeal factors. We’ll also have a whole ‘nother post about the benefits of being an actual octopus!

 

An Interview with Ann Braden

by Anna Redding

Anna: This book is written in first person. To do that, you really have to know your character.  Zoey’s voice comes through crystal clear, illuminating her world

and way of thinking right out of the gate. It’s so well done, I have to ask, was that something yVersion 3ou focused on crafting or did Zoey’s voice come to you with this kind of clarity?

Ann: Zoey’s voice came to me like that. It’s hard to describe, but in my heart I was Zoey when I was writing the book, so I just wrote down what I knew she would say or think.  For me, it wasn’t about craft, it was just about listening.

Anna: When we first step into this incredible story, we step into a Zoey’s fascination with Octopuses (which we learn from her, doesn’t have to pronounced octopi, thank you very much). What is so brilliant, is that you suck us right into her irresistible curiosity, her enthusiasm, her lovable personality. The connection between reader and Zoey is immediate and as deep as when you bump into a new true best friend. Which is important, because this makes it possible for us to really go “there.” And, in this case,you are illuminating a story that often goes untold in America. Tell me about your decisions in crafting this aspect of the book.

Ann: When I was in the very early stages of conceptualizing the book, I read The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery, and I was utterly captivated. I loved that octopuses were so much like us –they form relationships,have different personalities, and are super intelligent – yet they had evolved in such a different way. I think there are parallels of that amongst people, too: we all have different experiences growing up (some vastly different), but at the end we’re all trying to do the best we can. And the more I explored the connection between octopuses and Zoey, the more she became just as obsessed with octopuses as I was. 

Anna: At the same time, this story will be familiar to many readers who see themselves and their families in these pages… and yet their lives and experiences are often not on the subject of books. Have you heard from readers or teachers about what an important story this if for readers to be truly ‘seen’?

Ann – Yes. For kids growing up outside of the white, middle class culture, books that also take place in that culture can be an extra reminder that they don’t belong. (And of course, on the flip side of this, kids who are growing up in that culture can too easily ignore the range of other experiences if that’s all they see.) When I was teacher myself, I taught in several different schools, and I knew that there were kids like Zoey in every single one of them. My gut told me this had to be true on a broader scale, and the feedback I’ve been getting from teachers has confirmed that. And too often those kids have become so good at making themselves invisible that they fall through the cracks. But when we have books that discuss the issues that are central to their lives (but are rarely talked about in school) we are creating an opportunity for those students to see themselves as valued and to potentially connect in a way they hadn’t before. And EVERY SINGLE STUDENT deserves to feel valued and connected. 

Anna: I loved what School Library Journal had to say about THE BENEFITS OF BEING AN OCTOPUS in their starred review: “Heartbreaking, beautifully written…Braden’s story raises many thought-provoking and timely questions about the difficulty of escaping poverty and the prevalence of fun violence.” That is such a powerful summary of a powerful book. What do you hope readers will take away from the pages of your book?

Ann: I hope that they come away recognizing their own strength (even if it’s not something that can be seen by others)and realize that how much money someone has has nothing to do with how hard they are working. And that no matter how powerless you feel, you always have the power of your voice.yelling emu

Anna: This is a ‘must-read’ for schools and classes. How can teachers tie this into curriculum and for students, who are inspired to take action in their own communities, what ideas do you suggest or resources can you point them to?

Ann: I’m really excited about the conversations this book has already started. And since the book brings up topics that aren’t often discussed, it can be good to have supports in place. Here is an Educator’s Guide that I put together in partnership with Equity Solutions, a non-profit focused on leading powerful conversations about economic class with people from all kinds of class backgrounds. Besides discussion questions, it includes extension activities, such as analyzing a budget of someone who only gets paid minimum wage and working to find the common ground of a controversial topic in the community. I also created a Flipgrid where educators can reflect on key questions in the books and discuss. Plus, the introductory video on the Flipgrid highlights a few key ways to make sure that discussions of the book are empowering for kids. 

Anna – Lastly, sometimes in life, in the most difficult of circumstances, you can see a lifeline emerge from the fog. For Zoey, it’s joining the debate club. What would you say toreaders about paying attention to those unexpected lifelines?

Ann – We never know where a choice will lead us, and it’s amazing what can happen when we say “Yes” to things. Even a small step forward can shift the ground beneath us in the best of ways. Still, sometimes if your head is down and you’reworking as hard as you can, no matter how many steps forward you try to take it seems like nothing will ever change. That’s when we need to be able to rely on allies who are ready to listen and those who are ready to team up and work to change the  underlying systems that make it so hard for some to make end meet. We all have to look for the opportunity to be lifelines for each other. Because when you’re in that fog, it’s often not possible to do it on your own. We have to remember that we’re all in this together.

Anna – Okay, one more question. For all readers (of all ages), there is a message about taking hold of your own potential, which is why this book is hopeful. What would you say to us about this idea of claiming your own power as your hope?

 Ann – Our own power is the tool that is ALWAYS with us, whether we can see it or not, and it’s up to us whether we wield it. When I was about two years into leading a movement in support of common ground gun laws in Vermont, something that I had never thought I would do and something that taught me I was far stronger than I had thought, I was catching my breath in the midst of months of 60-hour weeks. And in that quiet moment I was reminded that way back in middle school I had also discovered that I was stronger than I thought because that was when I first got into chopping wood. In that moment, I splurged on a small axe charm and I hung it around my neck because I knew there were many more steps I needed to take to help get gun laws passed, and I wanted to make sure I always remembered my own strength – and most importantly, remembered to wield it.Silver-Axe-Accessory

 I kept that necklace around my neck in am-packed statehouse committee rooms and when I was the target of online bullying. And those people who were trying to intimidate me into silence weren’t able to. Because at the end of the day, my eyes were focused on the kind of civil discourse I believed the issue deserved and I had faith in myself that I could help make that happen. That’s why I had hope, and, ultimately, landmark legislation was able to get passed. Zoey’s situation is similar. She had hope because she had memories of what her mom used to be like, and she found a way to keep her eyes focused on what she loved. And when that hope was combined with her courage to use her voice, it shifted the ground beneath her. Maybe all kids get that same chance to find their voice and use it.

 


The Realities Students Face: A Discussion with Teachers

by Kat Shepherd

Ann Braden’s long-awaited debut, The Benefits of Being an Octopus, is a powerful read that is sure to be a staple for schools and libraries for years to come. It received a starred review from School Library Journal, and it’s gone into a second printing before it’s even been released. Following the story of seventh-grader Zoey, it is a deftly-told tale that is both heartbreaking and hopeful. Octopus highlights struggles faced by students living in poverty, and takes an honest and compassionate look at how those struggles play out both inside and outside the classroom. Zoey’s teacher, Ms. Rochambeau, plays an important role in Zoey’s life, so I decided to invite some educators to share their thoughts on this beautifully-written novel.Octopus123

Q: When I read Zoey’s story I so wanted her to have that fairytale ending where everything works out perfectly, but the ending of this book, while hopeful, isn’t that perfect fairytale. Why is it important for kids to have books that don’t always have the perfect happy endings we want for characters?

Erin Varley: There are so many books out there that already have the fairy tale endings, so it’s just as important to have a lot of books that don’t have that ending. Life isn’t fairy tale perfect and kids figure that out really fast. In fact, for kids like Zoey, they figure it out too fast. For a kid to see that life, while not perfect, can still offer hope, well that’s just as important. Kids know when they are being lied to, and sometimes fairy tales can seem like that. They don’t buy the lies. Books like Octopus offer an alternate path that still is positive, but also realistic.

Kristin Crouch: I love the ending and agree that it not being perfectly wrapped up is a strength of the novel. In my school, I have so many fifth graders in transition. I’ve taught children in shelters, children who’ve moved several times through a year, children who move in with friends (resulting in 14 people in one two bedroom apartment), children in houses that have been condemned, children living in hotels until a new apartment is found (and those are just housing transitions!). Ending the book with Zoe in transition shows my students that transition is not, in and of itself, an ending… It proves what the teacher tries to convey to Zoe~ that she is not the product of her circumstance. She can, and will, make more of her experiences, but that doing so is not a quick, easy fix. It will take years of working hard to overcome her challenges.

Jennifer Druffel: I loved that it was not a fairytale ending! Kids need realistic books that mirror their own lives and see characters that can be strong despite their circumstances. Also, for kids who have never experienced such hardships, it helps them put themselves in someone else’s shoes and be less judgmental about their peers’ circumstances.

Cassie Thomas: Real life is not perfect, in any way. It’s so important for kids to be able to relate to stories, and if every student just reads books where everything turns out good in the end then in their life they may feel defeated and unsure. Every year I read Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson out loud to kids and the ending is not happy, it’s not perfect, but it’s real, and it leaves my students with jaws dropped and questions. Then they realize that in life they don’t get happy endings for every single thing. It’s a great message to have discussions over.

Q: Many adults have concerns that books dealing with issues like poverty and domestic violence are “too adult” for children to be exposed to. As a teacher, how do you respond to those concerns?

EV: Well, first I like to make sure each parent is heard. To be honest, I defer to the parent. If a parent tells me they don’t want a certain title being read by their child, I respect their wishes. However, I don’t remove the book from my library. Just because the book isn’t right for one certain child, doesn’t mean the same thing for every child. There might be another child in that same class that finds that book to be a lifeline, as I know Octopus might be.

KC: While I’m on the bandwagon that yes, these topics and concepts are too tough for kids, the fact is the kids who are exposed to it must know they are not alone. They are not invisible, they should not be hiding, and they will get through it.

JD: I would never force a student to read such a book. And if a parent is concerned, I’d ask them to read it first before they let their child read it so they can be the judge for their own child, but NOT for other people’s children!

CT: I teach 5th grade, and this comment irks me in a lot of ways. These students are SO mature and they truly know so much already. If they don’t, they are so eager to learn. When discussing social justice last year I had some outside people say this exact same thing, and my response was Do you know what your child is watching on TV? On their iPad? What the lyrics in their music actually say/mean?  Because they do, they totally know. They are smart and they want to be treated like an adult, especially at this age. I make sure I choose my words wisely, but we do have discussions. The reality is that some kids in class ARE experiencing that life, who are we to act that it doesn’t happen when it is reality for some.

(Name Withheld): When I read Octopus I immediately said… “THIS is what my kids deal with.” Honestly… this book is exactly what some of my kids go through on a daily basis. The trailer park, watching their younger siblings, new boyfriends/girlfriends all the time. Not that this makes any of the parents bad people or bad parents, and I know that everyone is doing the best they can, but I know that some of my students deal with a lot and have a lot of responsibility that I never had as a kid. Which makes this book even more important to include in my library!! It is the first book I’ve read that I really felt MY student’s struggles come through.

Q: When you read this book how did you envision it as a teaching tool in your own classrooms?

EV: I’m not sure I plan to read this book as a read aloud, but def as one to include and book talk in my classroom. I thought perhaps an excerpt would work as a discussion tool. Many tough topics are written with grace and hope, and kids need to see that tough times are not the end of the world, that things can get better, and that sometimes people need help or are doing the best they can in that moment.

KC: I was hoping to use this book to spark a discussion about verbal abuse. What it is, what it can sound like, and how it can affect your own thoughts about yourself and your abilities. From there, I was hoping to discuss negative and positive self talk as well. Even the character of the boyfriend’s father who lived in the house added to the stress. While he was less insulting toward the kids, they were living in a home in which people didn’t adore them~ they barely tolerated them. This affects the psyche, and I want my students to be able to recognize it so they can try to protect themselves any way they need to.

JD: I would book talk this book to my classes and then students can choose to read it if they wish!!

CT: As an educator I can’t even begin to explain to you the quiet importance that Ms. Rochambeau plays in this story. This will be a book that will not only be a very vital window for students to look in, but also a mirror to know they aren’t alone. Ann has touched on topics that I know for a fact students experience, or something similar, on a day in, day out basis, but are not quick to speak up. I feel as though all middle grade students and teachers need to read this book, and soon… One of our school wide behavior expectations is empathy and this book provides the opportunity to teach and understand empathy in Zoey’s life.

Q: I love that Ann views books as means of bridging the divides between people, as is evidenced in her excellent podcast with Saadia Faruqi. One thing I loved about Octopus is that it delves into the the complexity of issues that are often painted as simple black-or-white answers in the cultural narrative. What can educators do to help students find the complexity in these hot-button issues?

JD: It would be awesome to have a book club of students discuss this and their opinions on those issues!

CT: A way that I foresee us bringing up the complexity is giving multiple experiences and then having discussions, constantly. Everyone’s story isn’t the same in real life and Zoey’s story is one that some may relate to in SOME ways but not all ways, or the entire way. Another way is that I love for students to start figuring out solutions. What could we do as a community to help make these situations better.

Q: My husband, who grew up poor, talks often about how profoundly his life was impacted by a teacher who encouraged him to apply to a free Jesuit high school in Manhattan. He is still moved when he talks about what it meant for him to have an adult see him and believe that he had something great to offer the world. Jarrett Krosoczka still remembers being in school and having an author visit from Jack Gantos. Jack complimented Jarrett’s drawing of a cat, and it’s part of what encouraged him to become an author/illustrator. Zoey has Ms. Rochambeau. Who were those adults in your lives that encouraged you, and how do you see your role as teachers in helping kids reach their potential?

Octopus123 EV: I think about coaches first, actually. I was so involved with swimming and my coaches were the ones who stick out in my mind. They believed in me and saw potential in me that I didn’t always see. Encouraging kids and helping them see their good and their successes are what I try to do as a teacher. Always staying positive and helping develop a growth mindset are also things I try to encourage.

JD: I strive to let EVERY child I teach know they are valued for who they are. I notice strengths in each child and point them out often. I listen to let them know their voice is important. I can only hope that this will make a difference!!

CT: One of the educators who played the biggest role in my life was my middle grade creative writing teacher. I was going through a lot. Bullying was unbearable (to the point where we moved my 8th grade year), but Mrs. Ward helped me learn to write, how to escape that reality that I was dealing with and get thoughts out on paper through poetry. I was published. I was proud. I was finally happy. I knew that at that moment I wanted to be that light for students. There were a lot of teachers who weren’t there for me because they were friends with the parents of the students who were being ugly, so they just brushed my stresses aside. I knew then what I did NOT want to be as an educator. I feel that it has helped me significantly in building relationships and also with helping place that heart print book in the hands of a child who needs it. I don’t ever look at myself as a “savior” but an extra mom so to speak. I have told them I wear many hats as a teacher and I want nothing more than our classroom to be a safe place for them. So far it has proven to be just that.

Many thanks exceptional educators like Erin, Kristin, Jennifer, Cassie, and others for taking the time to chat with me and celebrate the debut of The Benefits of Being an Octopus. We are so excited to help welcome this wonderful book into the world!  For teachers who want to join this discussion, please visit Ann’s Octopus Flipgrid.


The Appeal Factors of Being An Octopus

by Christina Uss

Let’s not forget how librarians are going to get this tender, tough, many-tentacled story into the hands of readers. I was lucky enough to get some training as a library assistant last year and learned about successfully matching a reader with their next read as a reader’s advisor.  One of the keys to advising wisely is ferreting out a book’s APPEAL FACTORS, which turns out to be way cooler than solely recommending titles by t

200px-Easy_cheese2

he same author or the pushing the newest thing in the same genre. Thanks to the metadata librarians at NoveList, we’ve got a whole list of potential appeal factors, and I consider it an honor to be the first to point out to all librarians how they might describe The Appeal Factors of Being An Octopus:

  • Character – the main character is believable, relatable, courageous, likeable, spirited, strong, and well-developed. Kids are going to wish Zoey was their big sister, especially those who already know all about the eight-armed juggling that comes with taking on caregiving tasks for siblings (and sometimes parents) at a young age.
  • Writing Style – candid, compelling, engaging, with well-crafted dialogue. The book satisfyingly fills our minds’ eyes with rich details that make Zoey and her friends and family come alive (and our minds’ mouths with the comforting scrunch of Easy Cheese and crackers.)
  • Pace – intensifying. Will everything work out for Zoey and her family? How??
  • Storyline – both plot- and character-driven, mixing uncertainty in plot with Zoey’s determination
  • Tone -often intense with an emotional edge, moving from heartwarming to heart-wrenching, hopeful, sobering, eye-opening, thought-provoking, with a strong sense of place.

I can’t wait until Tuesday when my library system will load in its first copies of this fabulous and I can start advising readers to check it out!


Ann Braden writes about kids struggling to find their voice despite the realities of life, and about cultural divides and possibilities for bridges across.  She writes because even when life is throwing the entire kitchen at you…there is HOPE.  Come chat with her on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.


Ann's schedule

 

 

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Filed under Book Launch, Interviews, Launch, middle grade, Persistance, Reaching Readers, Uncategorized

Sweet Treats to Celebrate JASMINE TOGUCHI—Plus A Giveaway!

To celebrate the arrival of the first two volumes of Debbi Michiko Florence’s JASMINE TOGUCHI chapter book series, I asked the EMUs to tell me about their earliest kitchen experiences. From batter-covered beaters to Easy Bake ovens, it was a sweet trip down memory lane.

Sarvinder Naberhaus recalls, “I did learn to bake as a child, motivated by (and still motivated by) the objective —  to eat the sweet treats! Cooking was a chore but baking was fun! And who wouldn’t want to use Betty Crocker’s New Cookbook for Boys and Girls with all their fun presentations of food? 

Although I’m torn between sharing our Betty Crocker recipe for Carrot Cake and the cookie dough recipe from childhood, I think I’ll stick with my mentor, Betty.

BETTY CROCKER’S (AND SARVINDER’S) CARROT CAKE

Grease and flour a 9×13 cake pan. Preheat oven to 350. 

Ingredients:
4 eggs, beaten
2 c flour
2 c sugar
1 1/4 Crisco oil or a bit less
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
1 c chopped nuts, if desired
2 c grated raw carrots

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, & salt to combine. In a medium bowl, blend together sugar and oil, then add beaten eggs. Stir dry and wet mixtures together gently. Fold in nuts and carrots last.
Bake 350 for 1/2 hour or so until the middle bounces to touch. When cool, adorn with:

Frosting:
1 stick butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 c powdered sugar
Beat all ingredients together thoroughly until whitish and fluffy. Frost cake and serve.

“I started learning how to bake at my mom’s elbow when I was four,” recalls recent EMU Fledgling Andrea Y. Wang. Mom was a nurse-midwife and worked a lot, so baking was my special time with her. My favorite thing to bake was chocolate chip cookies, because…CHOCOLATE, but I also loved making banana bread. It was so easy and mashing up the bananas was really fun—and way easier than pounding mochi rice! I still have the Betty Crocker cookbook that we used when I was little, and you can see all the stains on the banana bread page.
I even wrote the smaller amount of milk needed (only 3/4 cup) right on the recipe, because the mashed bananas added the extra liquid. Now that my mom is gone, using her cookbook and her mixing bowls keeps her close to me.

Katie Slivensky enjoyed annual baking bonanzas as a kid. “My childhood baking was cookie-related. Classic chocolate chip cookies throughout the year, or ALL THE COOKIES
at Christmas-time. My mom would have my sister and I help out with the mixing and measuring (and in the case of Christmas—decorating!) I mostly liked to help because that meant I’d get to eat the extra batter off the beaters. I also took decorating the frosted cookies for the holidays VERY seriously.

Here’s my mom’s Frosted Cookie recipe:

KATIE’S MOM’S CREAM CHEESE COOKIES

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Mix together:

1 cup shortening
3 ounces of cream cheese, softened
1 cup granulated sugar

Then add:
1 beaten egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour

Roll dough out will lots of additional flour. Dip cookie cutters into flour before cutting so dough won’t stick.
Bake cookies 9-12 minutes or until edges start to get light brown.

Cool completely before decorating with:

Frosting (3 batches of frosting to 2 batches of cookies)
1 1/2 confectioners sugar
2 TBL butter (margarine) softened
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 TBL warm water

Blend ingredients until smooth. Divide frosting into smaller glass bowls and use food coloring to tint. Have fun! After decorating, allow cookies to rest overnight so frosting sets up.

Jason Gallaher says, “My mom is a marvelous baker, and I remember sitting with her in the kitchen while she made a whole slew of goodies. Turtle brownies, chocolate chip banana bread, and oatmeal butterscotch cookies were my absolute fave. I wish I had a recipe to share with you, but I can’t recall any of the *actual* steps in how to make these treats, because the only steps I ever participated in were Dipping Fingers Inside the Batter, and Licking Serving Spoons Clean. But those are steps that I highly recommend in any recipe!”

POM BROKAW THINKS JASON IS SUPER SWEET! >>>>>>>>>>>

Judging from this adorable picture, Terry Pierce was a baking prodigy. Her fondest early childhood memory was baking cupcakes with her mom. “I loved to help pour, mix and my favorite part, licking the leftover batter. My brother and I had to alternate so that one of us got the bowl and the other got the beaters. When I was around five, I got my first Easy Bake oven. I found it fascinating that a light bulb could bake those small cakes! I loved the coveted chocolate cake mix. The vanilla tasted like cardboard!

I still love to bake. In fact, just this morning, I made a chocolate- cream-filled-ganache birthday cake for my family. Yum!

Christina Uss remembers, “Early baking experiences were all about my mom and me and cookies. Her Nestlé Toll House chocolate chip cookies were, in my opinion, far superior to all others. My best friend Karen and I started asking to cook them on our own when we were eleven, and to make sure we got the perfect results, we followed everything my mom did exactly, down to using the same mixing bowls and measuring spoons. It worked! Why? I figured my mom passed on some sort of cooking magic to us. It took meeting my husband who loves to bake but uses his grandma’s old Sunbeam electric mixer for every recipe to realize the real secret to my mom’s awesome cookies wasn’t specific mixing bowls, measuring spoons, or magic, but creaming the butter and sugar by hand with a wooden spoon. It’s hard work (especially if you forget to leave the butter out to soften until you start mixing everything else, which I always did), but gives the cookies this satisfyingly chewy texture that can’t be beat. So here’s my recipe – with two caveats.

 

My thanks to the EMUs for these scrumptious stories. I think I’ll go bake some cookies now and tuck in with my copy of JASMINE TOGUCHI.


I write for young people and live to make kids laugh. My picture book BABYMOON celebrates the birth of a new family and is coming from Candlewick Press. It will be illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal. WHAT MISS MITCHELL SAW, a narrative nonfiction picture book, is coming from Simon & Schuster/Beach Lane Books and will be illustrated by Diana Sudyka. I’m represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette.

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Filed under Book Giveaway, Book Launch, Celebrations, Dreams Come True, Families, Happiness, Launch, middle grade, Middle Grade, series, Uncategorized

The Things We Carry

23395689This week we are thrilled to celebrate the launch of Tamara Ellis Smith’s incredible novel, ANOTHER KIND OF HURRICANE:

“A hurricane, a tragic death, two boys, one marble. How they intertwine is at the heart of this beautiful, poignant book. When ten-year-old Zavion loses his home in Hurricane Katrina, he and his father are forced to flee to Baton Rouge. And when Henry, a ten-year-old boy in northern Vermont, tragically loses his best friend, Wayne, he flees to ravaged New Orleans to help with hurricane relief efforts—and to search for a marble that was in the pocket of a pair of jeans donated to the Red Cross.

“Rich with imagery and crackling with hope, this is the unforgettable story of how lives connect in unexpected, even magical, ways.”

Central to Tamara’s story is one small marble, an object with strong emotional ties for Henry. Several of the authors here at EMU’s Debuts have objects that are dear to their hearts, and were willing to share their stories.

Janet Fox: “I wear a bracelet that my mother-in-law wore constantly; since she gave it up, it hasn’t been off my wrist. It reminds me of her (she passed away two years ago), and when I first put it on it was a talisman for my son’s success, too. I actually have such a superstition about it that it never comes off. Especially since things have been looking up from the moment I put it on.”

Shark Tooth

Elaine’s beautiful and fierce pendant

Elaine Vickers: “I have a necklace with a shark tooth pendant my grandmother gave me before she passed away. I still miss her every day and try to follow her example of kindness–but she could also be tough when she needed to be! Whenever I’m facing a situation that scares me a little, I wear the shark tooth necklace to help me be fierce and fearless.”

Maria Gianferrari: “I have two objects that hold special meaning, and they’re both from my paternal grandmother, my Nonna, who was born in Italy . The first is her pasta maker. I haven’t used it in such a long time, but I have fond memories of cranking the handle, and as it clicked and clicked, watching the dough ooze through the molds in wide-shaped noodles. She also used to roll the dough flat in it, and let me cut it into rows with her pasta wheel, then squares for making tortellini. The second one goes with it—it’s her cheese grater, with its wooden bottom for catching the shavings of delicious parmigiano-reggiano cheese!”

Megan Morrison:I really had to think about this. I have more objects than I need, but when I tried to think of one that has genuine emotional significance, I was stumped. FinRingsally, I realized that the only object I would grieve if it were lost is the one I have on my person at all times: my wedding ring. My mother gave me the engagement ring as a 25th-birthday gift, and my husband knew it was the only one I wanted to wear forever, so he put a diamond in it and proposed. My sister’s godfather, a jeweler, crafted a thin wedding band to fit around the square setting, and soldered them together. It’s special to me not only because it represents my marriage, but because so much love and care went into it.”

Christine Hayes: “My mom’s parents divorced when she was about five years old. She was never close with her dad, Mom Baby Shoesespecially after she and my grandmother moved across the country from New York, eventually settling in California. I met my Grandpa Max only once, when I was 19. He was a mystery to me, very formal, and not much of a people person. He just didn’t know how to be a grandpa–or a dad, I guess. But I’m glad I got to meet him, because it helped me to understand my mom better, to see her in a new light. Max took us to see an old family cemetery in upstate New York, hidden away in a grove of trees. It was beautiful. I hope to go back someday, if I can ever find it again. When my mom passed away in 2010, she didn’t have many possessions–certainly nothing of great monetary value. But her grandmother had bronzed a pair of Mom’s baby shoes and mounted them on a plaque with a photo of Mom with her father. I keep it in a place of honor in my office. It reminds me that family is precious, and to never, ever take it for granted.”

phonographPenny Parker Klostermann: “[This is an] Edison phonograph with cylinder records. My dad helped a neighbor restore it. My dad was in 2nd grade. The neighbor gave him the phonograph with 52 cylinder records so it’s been in our family for a while.”

Rose Rock

Mylisa’s rose rock is the stuff of legends

Mylisa Larsen: “I have a big, old rock that I still move from house to house because it reminds me of my grandpa. He lived out on a ranch and when I was about ten, my cousins and I hiked out to this dry reservoir bed that all the grownups had talked about but that sort of had a tinge of legend about it—did it really exist? We walked and walked and walked and decided that they’d made it up but then went over one more hill and there it was.  We were mucking about turning over rocks and found a red rock that had a swirl of white rock in it that looked like a rose. We took turns lugging the thing all the way back to our grandparents house. When we got there, all sweaty and hot but excited about our momentous excursion and carrying the proof that we had really been there, my grandpa treated us like adventurers and admired our rock with proper awe and put it in a special place in his flowerbed so we could see it whenever we visited. The rest of the adults were kind of like, ‘Ho hum, a rock, that’s nice dear.’ But Grandpa got it. So I keep the rock but it’s not really about the rock, it’s about how my grandpa make me feel.”

What objects hold special meaning for you? Leave a comment for your chance to win a signed copy of ANOTHER KIND OF HURRICANE, plus a lucky marble keepsake!

 

Purchase a copy of Tamara’s book through Indiebound, Powell’sBarnes & Noble, or Amazon.

 

We’re also excited to announce the winners from last week’s celebration of Maria Gianferrari’s PENNY & JELLY! Our book winner is Carrie Charley Brown, and our swag winner is PJ McIlvaine. Congrats!!!

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“My Dog is the Best!” Illustrator Interview with Paul Schmid

covermydog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Laurie Thompson’s book, “My Dog is the Best!” is an adorably funny and sweet picture book with equally adorable art! I was lucky enough to interview the illustrator , Paul Schmid
(illustrator/author extradonaire of our household favorite, “Petunia’s Pet” among others)  And, he sent sketches! (As an illustrator myself, I love seeing the sketches!)

Thanks so much for your great answers, Paul!

 

1. Your style changes a bit from book to book. Were there any particular things that influenced the soft & cuddly style of “My Dog is the Best!”? Did you use any new tools or processes? 

Paul: Laurie’s book is so sweet and endearing, and I wanted the design of the characters to provide clues to who they are. The dog in the book just wants to nap, so I imagined an old, tolerant, comfortable Basset Hound of established habits. The boy is much more active, but young and naive. He is also sweet and loving, so I felt the boy needed a kind, gullible, gentle look that was at the same time visually sympathetic to his dog, in order to form an emotional connection between the two for the reader. Therefore they both ended up round and gentle looking.
early dog  dog sketch   boy sketch

 

2. Did the style or look change through the creation process or did you know how you wanted it to look in the beginning?

 

Paul: I developed the look for the characters fairly quickly, but the overall design of the book took several stages. We went from simple, to busy, then back to simple again. I really wanted the art to visually be in harmony with the story, which is so full of warmth and gentle humor.

Early  design:

 

 early design early cover
Final cover sketch:
cover design

3. Laurie said you have been friends for years but that the book was offered to you without a name, did you feel more pressure or less once you found out that Laurie was the author?

Paul: I fell in love with Laurie’s manuscript right away. It came in an email from my agent, who asked if I was interested in illustrating this story. Before I had even finished reading it I was sketching. By the time I did finish reading it, I had the book all laid out in my mind. Here are some excerpts from my emails with my agent:

“Initial impression: I love it. Laughed out loud even without knowing the dog was sleeping. Need time to digest tho. –PLENTY you can do visually with a sleeping dog!! Plenty. Really, it could be hilarious.”
Six minutes later I wrote again:
“Hell, there is nothing to think about. I’ll take it. I can’t wait to get started.”
When, a few days later I get an email from Laurie, informing me the manuscript was hers, I was even more delighted!

 

4. The difference between the words and the pictures is brilliant. Did you realize the joke as soon as you read the story or did that come later in the process?

Paul: It came in the editor’s notes that the author had envisioned it that way, but as inferred above, I started in on the manuscript before reading the notes. If I remember right, about halfway in I thought it could be screamingly funny to have the dog sleeping. Great minds think alike.

Pairing the active, enthusiastic boy with a sedentary dog just trying to get a nap in is rich in visual irony, and, as I’m sure Laurie knew, a juicy gift to the illustrator.
 
dog poses

 

Thanks again, Paul. You’re the best for answering my questions!

Remember, just comment on any post this week and you will have a chance to win a signed copy of Laurie’s book!

Or order your copy right now. You can find it at University Book Store  as well as:

Amazon

Powell’s

Indiebound

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The Name of the Game

Jennifer Bertman’s thrilling debut novel, BOOK SCAVENGER, centers around an intriguing game of clues, hidden books, and a mysterious prize. People play games for all sorts of reasons:  fun, relaxation, family time, or even just a little healthy competition.

Book-Scavenger-coverWe asked the EMUs to pick their favorite games of all time, and they were happy to share! For many of us it was impossible to narrow it down to just one. Choices ranged from classic board games to outdoor games to RPGs (role-playing games, for the uninitiated).

For starters, we have several hard-core Parcheesi enthusiasts. Who knew?

Janet Fox: “Parcheesi!! I loved it. We used to play it as a family every Sunday afternoon – it was a ritual. Even my mom and dad joined in. Just looking at the box gives me the warm fuzzies.”

Susan Vaught: “I adored Parcheesi as well, played it endlessly. It became a bloodsport with my friends, sending people back to start/home! Bwaahahaha! I was always yellow, and I had NO MERCY.”

Luke Reynolds: “I was a Parcheesi wild man! My grandpa and I played every time he came over to babysit and I absolutely loved it.”

Then we have the miscellaneous board game fans, including one unrepentant cheater:

Courtney Pippin-Mathur: “Trouble board game. The one with the bubble in the middle that held the dice. So, every turn was like popping a giant piece of bubble wrap.”

Trouble GameDonna Bowman Bratton: “As a kid, my family would sometimes gather for game night. I remember playing Clue, Tripoli, and PayDay. I especially loved PayDay, an alternative to Monopoly, because unlike Monopoly, it could be played without investing a humongous chunk of my life.”

Christine Hayes: “Growing up, my sister and I had a closet full of board games, and we played them all: Monopoly, Stratego, Mastermind, Bonkers, Battleship, Trouble, Mousetrap, Hungry, Hungry Hippos, Lay an Egg, The Muppet Show Game, Clue, Life, Sorry, Operation…and I know I’m forgetting a bunch more. I’m surprised those games had any pieces left by the time we were done wearing them out. But my absolute, all-time favorite game, even now, is Scrabble. I usually have to bribe people to play it with me.”

Elaine Braithwaite Vickers: “We had an awesome friend in high school who would host Monopoly tournaments and I would ALWAYS cheat. And therefore, I would almost always win. I justified it by announcing that I was going to cheat beforehand, and letting my friend’s vigilant older sister specifically watch me. But extra money still found its way to my pile.”

Next, the classics, jacks and jump rope:

Rebecca Van Slyke: “When I was in 5th and 6th grade the ‘in’ thing was playing jacks at recess. We had endless variations that we played. I can still feel the tiny rocks on the asphalt digging into my knees as we worked our way from ‘One-sies’ to ‘Ten-sies.'”

Carole Gerber: “Double dutch jump rope.”

JacksTamara Smith: “One of my favorite games as a kid was Chinese jump rope. Remember that one? With the stretchy circular rope? You’d put it around two people’s ankles and the third person would jump in this particular pattern (In, Out, Side, Side, On, In, Out. I remember it, wow!!!) and then once you successfully executed it you’d raise the rope and do it again. I usually played it with one friend and so we had to use a chair too. We’d play for HOURS.”

And our self-professed video game addict:

Megan Morrison: “My favorite games of all time are BioWare’s amazing, fully absorbing and addictive RPGs (role-playing video games, for those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about). But I would never have found those games–would never have given them a chance–if it weren’t for the fact that as a 7th-grader, I spent a few months in the grip of a video-game fever that left me changed. That was the year I became obsessed with Super Mario Bros. I had to save the princess. HAD TO SAVE HER. This was back in the days when video games were punishing; you couldn’t save your progress. If you ran out of lives, you had to start All. The way. Over. You essentially had to memorize every single move in the entire game and repeat your memorized moves perfectly in order to achieve victory. Oh sure, if you really knew what you were doing, if you were dedicated, you could warp. You could even get tons of extra lives. (I did both.) But kids today, with their fancy “Load Last Save Game” options, just don’t know the devastation, the perspiration, the unchecked thrill of beating a game that wants to make you sob and throw the controller so hard that you break the Nintendo console. Wait. No. None of those things happened. It was all very above board. Plus, the console wasn’t even mine – I went to my best friend’s house after school every day and played for hours on her little brother’s console. That’s how hooked I was. Super Mario Bros. should have just been labeled ‘Crack’. That would have been more honest.”

Of course, we have a few EMUs who love EVERYTHING:

Penny Parker Klostermann: “Picking a favorite game is hard for me because  I like games of all sorts. As a kid I loved Hide-n-Seek and Sardines. I, also, liked playing Monopoly, Go Fish, and Liver Pool Rummy with my family. As an adult, I love tennis…especially doubles because I like the strategy involved. And I keep several games of Words With Friends going and enjoy playing all sorts of Solitaire.”

Laurie Ann Thompson: “As a kid, I loved playing Risk, Scrabble, and the card game we called Bull$hit. As a teen, I loved playing Dungeons & Dragons. I spent my 20s playing Sid Meier’s Civilization, Alpha Centauri, and Age of Empires. Now, our family plays a lot of board games like Dominion, Settlers of Cataan, and Splendor. And I hate to admit it, but I have a weakness for iOS games including Candy Crush, Ticket to Ride online, and–my latest guilty pleasure–Bonza.”

candy crushAnd last but not least, our epic outdoorsman and women:

Maria Gianferrari: “When we were kids, we played mostly imaginative outdoor games: when we ran through the culvert, we were playing ‘journey to the center of the earth.’ We squished in the muddy river and dug clay and played ‘Coney Island’ (don’t know why—but that was where we were)! We also used to play Little House on the Prairie in our elderly neighbor’s old barn. Other favorites: kick the can and many a game of hide-and-seek in the adjacent cornfield, lots of Frisbee and kick soccer (which some people call kick baseball). Our current favorite family game is Dominion, a deck-building card game. We often host game nights here and play with friends.”

Adam Shaughnessy: “I will always have a soft spot for Capture the Flag. This is probably because of one glorious day in the summer of 1982. My camp had an all-camp extravaganza match. The word epic was created so that we would have a term to describe that particular game. It culminated when my friend Max stole his twin brother Leo’s spare set of clothes from his swim locker and–masquerading as his brother–strolled across enemy territory, orchestrated a save-the-game jailbreak, and managed to get the other team’s flag in a maneuver that (in my opinion) still represents the pinnacle of covert operations.”

Mylisa Larsen: “My favorite game as a kid happened on summer nights when the grownups had kind of given up on a reasonable bedtime and no one was really paying too much attention to what we were doing. We lived behind our grandma’s house and her front lawn ran along a road. We’d play this game where we’d stand on the the edge of her lawn and wait until a car came over the rise. When the beam from the headlights hit the mailbox down the road, you’d start running like a maniac across the lawn and parallel to the road. The object of the game was to run fast enough that you stayed ahead of the headlights and then, just a split second before the lights picked you up, you’d dive into this empty ditch on the far side of the lawn. No, our mother did not know about this game. And, looking back, I wonder If we were as invisible to the drivers as we thought we were or if they were driving along on a beautiful summer night and then there were three crazed children tumbling into a ditch and they were ‘What the heck?'”

Whew! Are you in the mood to go out and play? Better yet, grab a copy of BOOK SCAVENGER at one of the following links:

Amazon.com

Powell’s

Books a Million

Indiebound

Barnes & Noble

For more info about BOOK SCAVENGER, including details about how to join in the book hiding and seeking fun, visit the official web site: Book Scavenger.

PLUS, don’t forget to comment for your chance to win a signed copy of BOOK SCAVENGER!!!

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Pin the Quote on the EMU & Win A Mystery Prize! It’s time to celebrate Jennifer Chambliss Bertman’s Book Scavenger!!

Do you love treasure hunts, puzzles and books? Then you’re going to love Jennifer Chambliss Bertman’s Book Scavenger!!

Book-Scavenger-cover

 

It’s an homage to The Westing Game, westing

 

Edgar Allen Poe,

poe

and the art of ciphering.

To celebrate Jenn’s book, we’re going to play a game of pin the quote on the Emu! Each Emu listed below picked a game that s/he would like to see come to life.  See if you can match the quote to the Emu’s listed below. Whoever accumulates the most points wins a signed copy of Book Scavenger plus a mystery prize! Each correct answer is worth one point.

Here are the quoted Emu’s in alphabetical order: Adam, Calista, Christine, Elaine, Janet, Jenn, Laurie, Luke,  Maria, Megan, Mylisa, Penny, Rebecca, Susan & Tam.

 

Ready? Set? Go!

Pin the quote on the Emu!

 

1).        I’d like to bring a Star Wars game to life. Space travel? The Force? Lightsabers? Yes, please. I’d either want to summon into existence a tabletop RPG campaign (like the amazing ones that my friend Lisa writes) or else I’d want to live in the 2003 Game of the Year: Knights of the Old Republic, the video game that made me love video games. Just thinking about that game makes me want to put on my Jedi robe (yes, I have one) and do katas while listening to John Williams. A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

 

starwars

 

2).        My vote goes to “Ticket to Ride,” the European edition. Who wouldn’t want to see a train-riding adventure come to life? One game I wouldn’t want to come to life: Ouija!!

 

ticket to ride

 

3).        Oh, BALDERDASH! I haven’t got a CLUE how to pick just UNO. At first I thought this question was a MASTERPIECE, but with all this AGGRAVATION it’s causing my CRANIUM, I think it’s a real brain TWISTER. I’m SORRY. It BOGGLEs my mind. I don’t want to RISK my reputation on such a TRIVIAL PURSUIT, but I have so much TROUBLE with my MEMORY. I could just SCRABBLE around for an answer that is absolute PERFECTION, but I’m no MASTERMIND. Well, I don’t want to have a MONOPLY on this whole OPERATION, so YAHTZEE what I can come up with.

 

4).        Two Emu’s would like to see the game Hungry Hungy Hippos come to life. Who are they? Worth two points!       hippos_

 

5).        It would be amazing to see a real-life game of Quidditch. quidditch  I’ve also been a longtime fan of Clue, but that wouldn’t be a great choice since it would involve, you know, murder.  clue_

Chutes and Ladders would probably be a lot of fun as a real-life game!    chutes

6).        I’d love to see Parchesi come to life. I played it with my Grandpa whenever he babysat me when I was little, and wouldn’t it be just incredible, to imagine that the four “pawns” from the game are really four children on a dangerous, remarkable mission? And they have to make it through 68 obstacles (spaces, in the game) in order to get back “home.”

 

parchesi

 

7).        I would like to see Candy Land come to life with real candy/sweets at each stop. I would choose to be Gramma Nutt since she lives in a peanut brittle house on the corner of Candyland. I don’t think there would be much left of Gramma Nutt’s house by the end of the game. I’m sure I’d get hot playing this game, so I’d want to spend extra time at the bubbly Ice Cream Sea where Queen Frostine resides. My sweet tooth should be very happy by the end of the game.        candyland_

8).        I’d love to have a game like Jumanji come to life. The idea of falling into an “alternate world” and then have it pop into this one – especially with all those animals – I love it!

 

jumanji

9).        So one of the favorite games in our house is WHO WHAT WHERE…you probably know it?  You pick a card from the WHO (famous person or creature), WHAT (activity), and WHERE (location) piles and then have to draw a scene that incorporates all three.  So, for example, you might have to draw Big Bird ice skating on the moon.  It is so much fun for every single person in the family…fun and often funny! I would love to see WHO WHAT WHERE come to life.  Can you imagine it?  You pull the cards and then the scene magically comes to life…life sized too!  You could watch it for a moment and jump in and ice skate with Big Bird!

 

whowhatwhere

 

10).      Minecraft! Not for myself, but for my kids. I actually think it’s a great game (in moderation!) for problem solving and design and spatial skills. If you could combine that with physical activity and a separatedimension for all the endless and tedious Minecraft conversations, that would be a huge win!

 

minecraft

 

11).     I played a lot of Dungeons & Dragons when I was a teenager. My favorite character was Crafty Christina. She was a high-level thief, but chaotic good alignment, so she only liked stealing from rich, evil people and monsters. She was a gnome, and she rode a giant German Shepherd, who also helped her in battle. Camping and adventuring with a band of trusted friends… what could be better?

  Then and Now

12).      I’m a big gamer, so I’ll go with my current love, Lord of the Rings Online. When it comes to life, I will be a hobbit minstrel upon a white horse, healing everything in my path with my harp. Unless it makes me mad. If it makes me mad, I’ll put down my harp and shriek at it until it explodes.  lord13).      There’s a TV commercial where a man gets dropped into a life-sized version of Pac-Man, and my kids all think it’s just the coolest.

 

 

pacman

 

It got me thinking about my favorite video game as a kid: Q-bert. How fun would it be to jump around turning all the squares around you different colors? Actually, the more I think about it, the more I think it would be fun to watch someone ELSE jump around and I could offer encouragement from the sidelines. Life-sized Frogger would be amazing too, but only if the players don’t end up flattened when they make a mistake!

 

frogger

 

14).      I had a deck of “Old Maid” cards when I was a kid, and they had the most captivating (to me) illustrations. Half the time I ended up just using that deck to tell stories about the characters in the pictures. It would be riot, now, to see what those characters would say to each other if they could.

 

oldmaid

 

BONUS QUESTION WORTH 5 POINTS:

 

CAN YOU IDENTIFY THE GAME ASSOCIATED WITH THIS PHOTO?   

 

  parrish-shoes

 

Thanks again for helping us celebrate the launch for Book Scavenger! A general winner as well as a winner for this post will be announced on June 8th!

 

Want to hide or find a book, or see the latest activity, visit Book Scavenger’s website!

 

You can buy your very own copy of Book Scavenger at these locations:

 

Amazon.com

Powell’s

Books a Million

Indiebound

Barnes & Noble

 

Good luck!!

 

 

 

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Oh Ye, Oh Ye, Oh Ye, We Have a Winner!

grounded_cover (1)

On this 4th day of May, 2015, we welcome with humble duty, the WINNER of Megan Morrison’s awesome Grounded giveaway.

The lucky commenter to receive this most excellent treasure is none other than DARSHANA.

May Darshana be long-lived, happy, and glorious, and one day be able read every book that ever captures her interest!

(It’s been an awesome week for princesses, yes? Congratulations to Britain and the royal couple, too!)

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A Mom Photo Gallery

It’s a book birthday for Rebecca Van Slyke’s MOM SCHOOL! Congratulations, Rebecca!!! We’re so excited to celebrate with you.

MOM SCHOOL is a charming love letter to moms everywhere, celebrating all the wonderful things they do for us. So we thought it would be a fitting tribute to post photos of our moms today.

By the way, you can find MOM SCHOOL at these retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Indiebound.

And don’t forget to leave a comment for your chance to win a signed copy of MOM SCHOOL!!!

 

Rebecca and LaVonneHere’s darling Rebecca, pictured with her mother, LaVonne. Rececca writes, “I think we took the ferry from Seattle over to Butchart Gardens near Victoria, B.C. She loves flowers (you should see their backyard), and walking through beautiful gardens is still a favorite activity for her.”

 

 

 

Christine and Sandee

This is Christine at around age six or so, sporting an unfortunate Dorothy Hamill haircut. Her mom, Sandra, always went out of her way to make birthdays special.

Tam and Kathy

Like mother, like daughter. Aren’t they gorgeous? This is Tamara with her mom, Kathy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adam and Marilyn

Adam, is that you? Awwww! He’s pictured here with his beautiful mom, Marilyn.

Susan and Sandra

This is Susan at age 2. LOVE the stylish red pajamas, ladies! Susan tells us she still has that book about baby animals. She treasures the time spent reading with her mother.

 

 

 

Penny and Naomi

Here is the lovely Penny, her lovely mother, Naomi, and some other lovely members of her family. We know for a fact that they are all awesome and supportive, because Penny herself is about as awesome and supportive as anyone could possibly be!

Megan and Gerry

There’s something so timeless and joyful about this photo of Megan and her mother, Gerry.

maria & Roberta

Maria and her mother, Roberta. Another beautiful portrait and a priceless moment in time (Maria’s christening).

 

 

Jennifer and Dianne

Jennifer’s mom, Dianne, is probably contemplating how amazing her daughter already is. Furthermore, she’s most likely marveling that when Jennifer grows up she will undoubtedly be EVEN MORE AMAZING.

Carole's Mom Ruth

Carole’s mother, Ruth. What a perfect photo to round out our little gallery! Carole tells us her mom taught her to live by the “Big 10” (commandments, that is). Thanks to moms everywhere for their wisdom, love, and quiet strength.

 

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Southern Expressions

 

 

 

Y'all, this book is gooder'n grits!

Y’all, this book is gooder’n grits!

I just finished reading Susan Vaught’s Footer Davis Might Be Probably is Crazy, and I think it’s gooder’n grits.
Even though I live about as far away from the Mississippi as I can get and still be in the continental United States, I have connections to the South and all its charm… and expressions.
Footer knows that when people in Bugtussle, Mississippi, tell her, “Well, bless your heart,” for all the kind-sounding words, the meaning is not good:
People who don’t live in Mississippi think ‘bless your heart’ means something nice, but it really means they think you’re too stupid to bother trying to explain things to you, or that you’re too crazy to help.”
So to celebrate the release of Footer Davis Might Be Probably is Crazy, here is a list of Southern sayings that I’m just crazy about.
First, some definitions:
Y’all- you
(Y’all knew that already, didn’t you?)
All y’all- more than a few of you
All y’all should read this book!
Catawampus- crooked
Straighten out that picture frame. It’s all catawampus.
Forty ‘leven- a lot
She must have forty ‘leven young’uns running around that house.
Knee-baby- the second to the youngest child
Jesse is the baby of the family, and Jake is the knee-baby.
Blivit- A blivit is when you have ten pounds of manure in a five pound sack.

We got ourselves a blivit here.

We got ourselves a blivit here.

Southerners have some great expressions. Some are about hunger:
I’m so hungry my stomach done thinks my throat’s been cut.
I’m so hungry I could eat the north bound end of a south bound polecat.
Or, if you’re no longer hungry, you could say, “I’m as full as a tick.”

Weather is a common topic.
If it’s raining hard, it’s a frog-strangler.

Enough already!

Enough already!

Or if it’s not, you could say, “It’s so dry the trees are bribing the dogs.”

There are expressions for surprise…
Well, butter my buns and call me a biscuit!
… and for trouble:
Come here! R-A-T rat NOW!
I’ma gonna tan your britches.
I’m gonna tack your hide to the woodshed.
I’ll knock you so hard you’ll see tomorrow.

Southerners have great ways to describe all kinds of people.
Proud people:
They’re too poor to paint and too proud to whitewash.
Nervous people:
He’s as jumpy as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.
Happy people:

Looks pretty happy to me!

Looks pretty happy to me!

He’s grinnin’ like a possum eatin’ sweet taters.
He’s happier’n a dead pig in the sunshine.
I’m as fine as frog’s hair, split four ways.
He’s just as happy as if he had good sense.
Angry people:
Madder’n a wet hen in a tote sack.
Complainers:
Some folks’d grumble if you hung ‘em with a new rope.
Lazy people:
He ain’t afraid of hard work. He’d crawl right up next to it and go to sleep.
Busy people:
I’m so busy I don’t know if I found a rope or lost my horse.
(Okay, that one might be more Texas than Mississippi.)
Tired people:
I feel like I’d been chewed up and spit out.
Those of *ahem* lesser intelligence:
He’s as dumb as a bucket of rocks.
He’s as dumb as a box of hair.
He’s dumber’n a bag of hammers.

Apparently, intelligence can be measured by the container.

Apparently, intelligence can be measured by the container.

And, bless his heart, if he’s not attractive, Southerners aren’t shy about saying so:
He looks like he’d been beat by the ugly stick.
Looks like he fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down.
He looks like ten miles of bad road.
He looks like he’s been rode hard and put away wet.
His face’d knock a buzzard off a gut wagon.

Ewww... Now I've completely lost my appetite.

Ewww… Now I’ve completely lost my appetite.

Finally, some Southern advice:
Be sure to try your best, because can’t never could.
But, if you can’t run with the big dogs, stay on the porch.

This dog can't even.

This dog can’t even.

What are some of your favorite Southern expressions? Comment below, and you may win a copy of Footer Davis Might Be Probably Is Crazy!
Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise.

 

Don’t forget, to enter the drawing for a free copy of FOOTER DAVIS MIGHT BE PROBABLY IS CRAZY, please comment on any post this week! 

You can also buy your own copy of Footer Davis at The Flying Pig BookstoreIndie BoundBarnes & Noble, or Amazon!

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BUNNIES!!! And We Have Winners!!!

BUNNIES coverYou know there’s one thing that’s almost as exciting as Kevan Atteberry’s new book BUNNIES!!!

…and that is WINNERS!!!

Random.org chose two lucky winners who commented on one of the posts this week. Both will receive a signed copy of BUNNIES!!!

Before the WINNERS!!! are revealed, we want to thank all of you that came by the blog and helped us celebrate with Kevan. You made the week extra special.

Just in case you don’t win, order your copy of BUNNIES!!! from any of the following links!

And

the 

WINNERS!!!

are

. . .

Meg Miller

and

Lyndi Jones

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