WHAT IF…? THEN WE… Rebecca Kai Doltich + Fred Koehler picture book giveaway

Looking for Poetry Friday? This is but one blip bit of it. Visit poet pal Robyn at her lovely  Life on the Deckle Edge. She is this week’s host, until next Friday, when we will meet at Teacher Dance with poet pal Linda

This moment at Bookseedstudio, we enter a double-decker day called  Friday Finds. One find  is Try this one, it’s good”  a book to herald. The 2nd find is words from the wild . First up, the words.

Friday Finds 1 – words from the wild 

singed     kettle      minnow      incantation
tilt        pyjamas      paraffin

Most writers I’ve sipped a cuppa with collect words. Culled from hand-written menus, the subway wall, in listening to a busker at the plaza, maybe talk overheard in the Post Office line, or ___________________, where? You tell us.

My heart sparked as I read kettle at a travel website, reminding me of a Revere Ware copper-bottomed tea kettle. It  squatted on our kitchen stove in my child days. Haven’t listened to a tea kettle whistle in eons; I heat water for tea in a trendy, safe-glass, all-glass, sort-of tea kettle I do love. With no built-in music maker. I am partial to all the words above I hadn’t read or heard for too long. Minnow is now added to a notebook of the current writing project – minnow, I see possibilities for you. Another time here I expect to have words from the wild that I wouldn’t have thunk, because I never knew them until . . .found ’em in the wild.

Friday Finds 2 – TRY THIS ONE, IT’S GOOD. In which I share a good good book.

WHAT IF…? THEN WE . . .Creators: Rebecca Kai Dotlich, author, Fred Koehler, illustrator.
Boyds Mills Press fresh-published this picture book, subtitled Short, Very Short, Shorter than-Ever Possibilities.

Two polar bears who walk upright, like kids, enjoy adventures. Events are altered by the idea that everything could fall apart. WHAT IF…? is finishing up a BIG blog tour.** 

It rides the waves as sequel to this creative team’s ONE DAY, THE END, the short, very short tales that understandably won Golden Kite & Boston Globe Horn Book honor awards.

I love both these impish books for their pixie quality. And since they go together like spooled
typewriter ribbon & a manual Olivetti, I’m offering my personally bought copy of ONE DAY, to accompany a brand new, publisher-given WHAT IF…?, for your exploration.

This new partner book, WHAT IF…? will be sought for lap-readers,
school floor readers, bedtime readers, worrywart readers, park blanket readers, beach
hut readers, hill top readers, bus readers, high flown readers & their kin.

Why? Events bubble out of characters’ very own imaginations, which spins
the story wide to activate a young reader’s quick mind. As Rebecca says, she wrote
this book for those who “fish for dreams.”

Page after page pull my eyeballs to Fred’s big images of creativity – paintbrush, pencil, coloring tool, looking glass, origami, a map, musical notes & the like. Fred is generous in unfolding ambitious situations where the bear pals, (unnamed, better for the reader to provide them) might want to call upon these tools.

Quick pick: This tumbling-along story entices our youngest ones, offering a high-five that imagination is wonderful. The take-away is that it is good to be bold and experimental.

[Appropos of nothing but a smile, I want to share that one typeface name for text is Rather Loud (bold.)]

Fred’s website +
Fred’s TED-like talk on p.b. creation (in which you can learn to pronounce his last name, among other things)

I have written about Fred, (who we in Florida are lucky to claim as one of our own) in the launch of another picture book.

Rebecca’s blog + You can meet Rebecca – Highlights Foundation workshop

Highlights Foundation offers this great interview with Rebecca by my Poetry Friday pal,
Matt Forrest Esenwine, author of FLASHLIGHT NIGHT, Matt’s & Fred-Koehler’s irresistible picture book,)

**Don’t take my word for it!  Please visit other WHAT IF?…THEN WE... sites invited on the tour:

Monday, 2/11                       Simply 7 Interview    

Tuesday, 2/12                      Storymamas

Wednesday, 2/13                Librarian in Cute Shoes

Thursday, 2/14                    Mrs. Knott’s Book Nook

Friday, 2/15                          Miss Marple’s Musings

Monday, 2/18                      Bridget and the Books     

Tuesday, 2/19                      Radio, Rhythm and Rhyme

Thursday, 2/21                    KidLit Frenzy

Friday, 2/22                         Unleashing Readers

                                             Book Seed Studio       (you are here!)

COMMENT here at Bookseedstudio to win a chance for the two pal books & you could also win the new one, it’s own self. Try, try, try.

Comment with a collected word or two from your lists, mention a connection with author Rebecca or artist Fred (or with Highlights/Boyds Mills Press/WordSong) or maybe, just let us know who will enjoy this team’s clever ONE DAY &/or also the new book, WHAT IF…? You know you want a chance to win. Make sure to leave your name/contact info so I can ask your United States postal address. (You may also comment & mention that you don’t want to win.)

Leave a response by NOON next Thursday so I can announce winners on Poetry Friday March 1 hosted by Teacher Dance.

So many appreciations for your visit today. (And if we haven’t met yet at a Highlights Foundation writing workshop, then someday, I sure hope we do.)

Remember to visit poet Robyn Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge, for her blog & her wrangling of this week’s Poetry Friday collection of Kidlitosphere blogs.

c.2019 Fred Koehler from inside the expanding universe of WHAT IF?…THEN WE… by Rebecca Kai Dotlich & Fred Koehler, from Boyds Mills Press

UPCOMING – I travel to Group Blog on Wed. March 6, 2019 with another new Boyds Mills Press book. See you there?


[I recommend that you b l o g  AT WORDPRESS.COM.]

Reading by firefly light

Reading by firefly light

The lights of my childhood summers were sunset light, full moon light,

shore cottage porch light and then after we moved to Florida, phosphorescent


You may remember the glow of other summer lights- campfire light,

lantern light…

Because we are enjoying recurring deluges of rain this summer – welcome by

Paolo & me as we reap extra time & dimes, not watering our basil & such – I do miss

seeing the flicker of fire flies. So I mind-conjure fire fly light as a reading lumens.

My titles listed here, all done or recently begun, are all recommended.

Two beautiful picture books in a series, by teacher & writer Kate Messner, with under the sea artwork from Andy Rash, Sea Monster and the Bossy Fish, and,

Sea Monster’s First Day.

A non-fiction photo-illustrated historical look at Florida in  tough times, Florida

in the Great Depression, by Nick Wynne and Joeseph Kentsch.

J.K. Rowling’s secret not kept: The Cuckoo’s Calling, which I’ve just begun & am

page-turning, page-turning.

Summer of the Dragon, a non-fiction story and guide to a little-known Florida garden and how it grew big, by Don Goodman. And another Florida non-fiction guide by prolific author, Doug Alderson, The Great Florida Seminole Trail.

Heart of Palm evokes an undeveloped northeast Florida intracoastal zone, which I last loved reading about in Connie May Fowler’s first novel, River of Hidden Dreams, which meanders into an unspoiled jungle, after beginning in South Florida. The new newcomer, by first-time novelist Laura Lee Smith, is heart-wrenching & bound to launch her literary light. I would enjoy seeing Fowler interview Smith.

Artifact by Gigi Pandian, which, like the Rowling novel, is a mystery I’ve just begun. I find that my fingers, in cooperation with my avid eyes, are page-turning, page-turning

Diane Ackerman’s The Zookeeper’s Wife, a non-fiction visit with the extraordinary Zabinski Family. They worked with animals by profession and saved at least 300 people in Warsaw through their compassionate cunning, during the torture and attempt to annihilate Jews at the time of The Holocaust.

A Stopover in Venice, an art-intrigue novel by Kathryn Walker, which exquisitely extended to me the bright atmosphere of a stopover with Paolo in the history-whispering, water-dunked, jigsaw puzzle jewel box city. (I thank my college student daughter for introducing me to these last two titles.)

The Key West food critic series placed, appetizingly on my summer menu, Topped Chef, by Lucy Burdette, who provides a savory who-done-it, with recipes, too.

And Volume 4 of the story collection, knowonder! for families, drew me in with the hamster cover & kept me reading for the tale I know best, which follows a frequent flier, Lucinda, in  “The Tooth Fairy and The Sandman,” a fun read from Debra Katz.

Without women

Last nite my hubby & I attended a school program to cap Black History Month.

The 5th graders who opened the evening’s commemoration had a take on things that was new to me.

Their potent question to the audience was:

What if there were no black people?  They they took us through a day. How would we manage without traffic lights,  medicines & a host of items from everyday to  exceptional, that were created by black people.

Today I borrow that concept of those bright children, to ask, where would be be without girls & women?

I do this because March 1 launches  Women’s History Month.

So as a published non-fiction writer of a picture book biography about a woman who deserves more attention from this world, I’m happy to share the KidLit Celebrates Women’s History Month  link to resources on women

On March 6, I’ll be part of  the KidLit Celebrates Women’s History Month online community of writers who each day of this wonderful month, provide insight into a book for young readers about women’s history or about an individual woman of notable achievement.

I am keen on reading the posts of my colleagues in this effort.

This collection of essay/blogs is a gift to families, schools, young readers, librarians & to us all from THE FOURTH MUSKETEER and SHELF-EMPLOYED.

Maybe this month will be the 31 days you delve more into the story of that intriguing woman in your family tree.

I hope so!

Books for the Boo!

We keep creepy Halloween in a box 11 months out of the year.

Come October, the ghosties & ghoulies, black cats & bats

are let out of the box.

We hammer tombstones into the yard dirt & place home-made pumpkins

of paper around the living room.

My daughter puts read-aloud Halloween books on a low  table.

And she & her father stuff & dress a scarecrow who guards our yard. We will all

carve the pumpkin closer to the big evening.

What are your favorite Halloween titles? Once you read some of ours, these may become a grand part of

your Halloween bookshelf:

SIX CREEPY SHEEP by Judith Ross Enderle & Stephanie Gordon Tessler, with illustrations from John O’Brien

BAT JAMBOREE by Kathi Appelt, with illustrations by Melissa Sweet

THE LITTLE SCARECROW BOY by Margaret Wise Brown (yes, MWB herself, without a bunny in sight) and brought to a delightful modern art interpretation by David Diaz.

Trick or Treat (I want it to be Treat) to You & Yours



I am enjoying  The Signmaker’s Assistant, which carries with it a whimsical, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs (Cloudy is soon to be in a theater near you) sensiblilty that I like.  More on Signmaker in a second.

This story sends me into my library, to look up at a message high on the wall above the window. The message is in black paint, on wood. It’s a sign.

I grew up with this sign &  I think you can guess that I love it.

Among the houses of pals & family folks I visited in childhood, ours was the only house with a sign in it.

It was given to me by my father, who had been a drill sgt. in the U.S. Army. This sign was made for him by a solider. Dad was good at making the guys write their letters home, in the Writing Room.  I love the uneven sides sawed for the sign and the big block letters. I can imagine him walking through the room where it hung at Fort Dix, N.J., making sure the boys had paper and pencils. The sign later hung over a family desk during my childhood. When it became clear I liked writing, my Dad promised it to me.  I can write when I’m not near it. But I have also looked up at it when stuck & found something in it that helped me forge on.

c. 2009 Jan Godown Annino Writing Room

These days, I find  something stuck above it at the top, red words on white paper  – a Florida sign in the form of a bumper sticker.  Every so often here in the Sunshine State some of us think perhaps a fella named Skink should enliven election coverage by campaigning for Governor of Florida.

Skink is the nickname of  a character  Carl Hiaasen created, a rascal who is a book-toting, wilderness-camping, former Florida governor, living out of a station wagon in the cypress swamps of South Florida. The paper sign says “Re-elect SKINK for Governor.”

Both signs are totems in my writing world.


Nathan is the young character in The Signmaker’s Assistant by Tedd Arnold who discovers the power of words when he goes beyond his little job cleaning paint brushes for the town signmaker. Nathan posts a few signs around the village that any child would applaud. But are these the kinds of signs that will help the town run smoothly?

I lucked into this book – signed by the talented illustrator-author – in a small art gallery gift shop in North Florida when my husband & I visited it on a recent weekend. Tedd Arnold is the 2006 Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Book Winner for Hi! Fly Guy. He also won the 2007 Edgar for RAT LIFE, a Young Adult novel & it was his very 1st novel, after publishing more than 50 successful picture books, which keep on dancing out of his studio in New York State.  The p.b. title in his line up that intrigues me most from the title, is Catalina Magdalena Hoopensteiner Wallendiner Hogan Logan Bogan Was Her Name. Makes me think of Double Trouble in Walla Walla from Andrew Clements with pictures by Salvatore Murdocca.

For more on Tedd Arnold,  sign-maker, book-maker, word-slinger:


In the Library of Congress

To visit the Children’s Literature Center online, in the Library of Congress :
For an online visit to the Library’s Rare Book and Special Collections
Cozy in the Children's Literature Center

Cozy in the Children's Literature Center

for your school bookshelves

Do you know the work of these  writers?  Take a peek.

Laura Purdie Salas     She has a new poetry book for kids with the word stampede! in the title.


Fiona Bayrock           She has a new science book with the phrase “bubble homes” in the title.


Check them out at your library soon.

You have landed @ the blog of  Jan Godown Annino, a children’s writer tapping away

in her own Bookseedstudio in Florida. Please look around.

~ jga 4.4.2009