Sunday, December 8, 2013

Dear Santasaurus by Stacy McAnulty

One of the 5Family's Christmas traditions is getting out our Christmas Library. 

It started when the Bud was born. Every year we have added books to this special collection we enjoy together each year.

Dear Santasauraus by Stacy McAnulty is a perfect title to add to the 5Family Christmas Library!

What it's about in one sentence: Young Ernest the dinosaur writes to Santasaurus first as a thank you for his Christmas gift, but then continues writing letters throughout the year all the way to the next Christmas.

I love that Ernest reminds me of a few little dinosaurs I know!

Stacy finished 5 of my sentences. I wrote the words in purple.

Ernest is… not earnest at all. He’s a mischievous little spinosaurus, who loves to have fun but often makes mistakes. (Side note: The name Ernest fits so well, but it wasn’t originally chosen because of his personality. Ernest is named for Ernst Stromer; the paleontologist who discovered the first spinosaurus.)

Writing to Santa…is something I wish I still did. Sure, I did it as a kid, asking for presents and politely inquiring about Rudolph’s and Mrs. Claus’ well-being. But I think it would be really fun (and funny) if I had continued it through my life. What did 16-year-old me wish for? What did 22-year-old me do that might have put me on the naughty list? I think I’ll write Santa a letter this year and just tuck it away in a drawer. It’ll be fun in 10 years to see what 2013 me wanted.

The most unique Christmas tradition…is our Christmas Eve book gift. My husband and I only give our children one present each year (Santa does the rest). And it’s the same thing every year. A book! We pick the perfect hardcover book for each child and then we write the date and a special message inside. We hope they will always have these books and can share them with their own families some day. The books range from picture books to classics like Heidi to cook books.

The best thing about making picture transforming a fun idea into something that makes kids smile. My favorite sound is a child laughing, and that’s my goal when I’m creating picture books. Kids love to laugh but they’re still a tough audience. (I’ve read stories to a class where I don’t even get a chuckle. That’s heart crushing.) When I’m in the rewriting stage of manuscript I really focus on having a laugh per page. This can be in the text or left to the illustrator. Obviously, it works best when the words and art tell the jokes together.

I would also like to tell you about…some of the little-known fun facts about the book.
1. I met the editor who acquired the book on my birthday.
2. It took 3 years from when the editor bought the book to when it hit bookstores.
3. Ernest’s name changed three times. He was John, then Ernest, then Finn, then Ernest again.
4. Ernest’s kid sister, Amber, had a name change too.

5. Six of the dates on Ernest’s letters to Santasaurus coincide with family birthdays.

Stacy is celebrating by sharing a different cookie recipe each day of the Dear Santasaurus blog tour.

Visit her blog at for the recipe and more information about other stops on the Dear Santasaurus Blog Tour.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Cybils Superlative: Minnesot-iest

I love that I live in an area where there is an amazing community of book lovers and book creators,

So today, I give you the most Minnesotan (or the Minnesot-iest) of the Cybils Fiction Picture Book nominees.

Cookie the Walker
by Chris Monroe

Cookie the dog gets extra special attention after deciding to life life walking on two legs.

Minnesota author, illustrator and syndicated cartoonist, Chris Monroe, is also the mastermind behind the Monkey with a Tool Belt picture book series.

Click the image and scroll down to watch the video.

Alan and his Perfectly Pointy Impossibly Perpendicular Pinky
by Justice Page and his daughter Kamie Page
illustrated David Geister

This book should have a home in every Minnesota elementary school library.

A Day at the Lake
by Stephanie Wallingford & Dawn Rynders 
Illustrated by Erica Pelton Villnave

This book totally captures the feeling of summer lake life in Minnesota.
Right about now with cold weather advisories and icy roads it's good to be reminded of warmer times.

Check out this interview with authors Stephanie Wallingford & Dawn Rynders on Colby Sharp's Blog.

One Frozen Lake
by Deborah Jo Larson
illustrations by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher

This book is seasonally appropriate for Minnesota right now. The lakes are freezing and are soon to experience a population boom for ice fishing. For those who live in an area where it would seem completely impossible to drive across the top of a lake in a pick up truck, One Frozen Lake is a window into another world.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Cybils Superlative: Snowiest

In honor of yesterday afternoon's gigantic flakes (here in Minnesota), I give you the snowiest books of the Cybils Fiction Picture Book nominees.

Big Snow
by Jonathan Bean

The Iciest, Diciest, Scariest Sled Ride Ever!
Written by Rebecca Rule
Illustrated by Jennifer Thermes

Once Upon a Northern Night
Written by Jean E. Pendziwol
illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault

Monday, December 2, 2013

It is Monday… December 2

Visit Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers to find out more about It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? and link to other participating blogs.

I have been reading a ton of picture books lately for Cybils fiction picture books round 1. It's probably more like a few hundred pounds, but what's a little clich├ęd hyperbole among friends?
I will be sharing about a few of those titles on other posts.

My other reading lately has mostly been with the 5sters.

The Bud and I just finished the audio of Sister's Grimm Book #1 while driving back and forth to school.
I'm sure this won't be the last listen of ours with this series.

We are about to finish Floors as a read-together book. The Bud got this one for his birthday, and we have been loving the creative fun of all the different themed rooms of the Whippet hotel.

After reading this during the summer, I knew this would be one to share with the Bud. We just started the audio version yesterday in the car while running some errands. So far I'm impressed... especially with how it deals with the opening comic sequence.