Monday, December 26, 2016

Interview with Cheryl C. Malandrinos & #giveaway

By Susan J. Berger
 Meet Cheryl Malandrinos whose book Macaroni and Cheese for Thanksgiving. Delightful, well-written story of a little girl who figures out how to save the day when the turkey meets an untimely end. I've given the Goodreads link, but if you would like to acquire it for your eReader, the 5.00 PDF is available here.
Cheryl has a lovely blog called the Children and Teen Book Connection. She's giving away a copy of the book at the end of this post.

Please tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a wife and mother of three who is also a licensed real estate agent. Our son is married, but our two girls are still at home. We also have three cats and two hamsters. In my spare time, I like to garden and cook.
I love firsts, so tell me about the moment when a publisher told you they wanted to publish your first book.
This was so exciting because I had read many books by Guardian Angel Publishing (GAP) prior to submitting Little Shepherd to them. GAP believes “we can change the world by investing in children, one child at a time.” This is a powerful mission that I wholeheartedly support. As soon as Lynda sent me the contract, I started texting, emailing, and calling everyone I knew.                             

Please tell us about Macaroni and Cheese for Thanksgiving.
Macaroni and Cheese for Thanksgiving finds Macy employing quick thinking and ingenuity to help save dinner when the dog swipes the turkey off the table.


What inspired you to write it?
In 2010, I participated in Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo) for the first time. This annual event challenges writers to create 30 picture book ideas in 30 days. Believe me, it’s not as easy as it sounds. This was idea number 24.

I really wanted a book that wasn’t simply about being thankful. There are plenty of kid’s books about Thanksgiving with that message. This review captured the essence of the book well, “The author has written a story about a family, much like yours or mine, perhaps, that works together when life doesn’t turn out the way they want it to. They take a situation and make the best of it… And in working together, they also discover that being with family is more important than what they eat.”

What do you want kids to get out of this book?
Be creative. Don’t be afraid to try something new. Just because something has always been done a certain way doesn’t mean you can’t do it differently.

Since we are in the Holiday season, what is your favorite Christmas/Kwanza/Hannukah Tradition?
I am a huge Christmas fanatic. If it weren’t for the cats, the tree would stay up all year long. Spending time together at Christmas has always been important to us. It’s fun to see the traditions carry on from generation to generation.

Are you working on anything else right now?
I’m gearing up to participate in PiBoIdMo this coming January (it used to be in November). My sincere hope is that I can finish the middle grade historical I’ve been working on and get it ready for submission. I also have several picture books that are looking for homes.  

 And finally, where can we find you?
My friends say I am all over the internet. Here are the best places to find me:
Website Address:
Blog Address:
Twitter Address: @ccmalandrinos
Facebook Address:
Goodreads Address:

Thank you for being here, Cheryl.
If you would like to win a copy of Macaroni and Cheese for Thanksgiving, please leave your email in a comment so I can get in touch with you. What's the most unusual dish you ate/served for Thanksgiving or Christmas?  Happy Reading and a wonderful last few days of 2016. We'll see you in 2017.




Monday, December 19, 2016

 Twas The Night for Readers


                                                  by Susan J Berger
Merry ChrisKwanzakkuh.
I am visiting friends in Oregon till Tuesday and Bailey, their dog, showed an interest in my book. So I thought I would use him as one of the illustrations for my Christmas poem.

 Twas The Night.


Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house,

Each creature was reading. Yes, even the mouse.

In a nest made of cotton that used to line pills,

he read Mouseman Saves Christmas and shivered with thrills.

 Miss Padpaws turned pages of  Elf off A Shelf 

And purred as she read it aloud to herself.

Bad Dog, on the hearth, was devouring a book.

He'd chewed up five chapters and turned them to gook.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,

reading books, with the covers pulled over their heads.

Mamá was engrossed in her latest romance.

I nodded o'er Dickens and fell into trance.

Not one of us heard jingle bells on the roof.

No prancing and pawing of each tiny hoof.

Santa slid down the chimney and only Bad Dog, 

looked up and woofed softly at the man on the log.


"Good Bad Dog," said Santa, and opened his pack.

He pulled out a bushel of books from his sack.

Picture books, YA, some Midgrades for Simon,

Thrillers, romances and even Neil Gaiman.

Geronimo Stilton, he gave to the mouse.

A copy of Archie, he left for the louse

Miss Padpaws got Pout Pout Fish wearing a cap.

For Bad Dog, a book with a cake book on the flap.

 He filled every stocking with poems and prose.

Then ate all the cookies; brushed crumbs from his clothes.


On Prancer! On Dancer!"  Sleigh bells jingled bright.

"Happy Reading to All and to All a Good Night".

Monday, December 5, 2016

Dispatch #59: Who's to Blame?

by Lupe Fernandez

Bile boils my stomach. My heart beats faster than a hummingbird’s wings. I can’t catch my breath. Saliva tastes like asphalt fear.

Who’s to say what will happen next?

Who’s to say the worst is yet to come?

Well, because he thought it was good sport. Because some men aren't looking for anything logical, like money. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned, or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.
- Michael Caine as Alfred Pennyworth, The Dark Knight

Who’s to say the best is yet to come?

Who’s to blame?

The entertainment media complex, rotten eggs, sunspots, reality shows, ratings, global warming, left handers, cable, hot vinyl, the Oscars, ants, volatile organic compounds, bottled water, super-delegates, the Spanish Inquisition, quantum physics, social media, Lyndon Johnson, salt-licks, KKK, gerunds, coconut oil, adverbs, depression, repression, suppression, German Shepherds, the glass ceiling, marble tile, agent rejection notices…

You get the idea.
As those slaves have died, so will your rabble... if they falter one instant in loyalty to the new order of affairs. Arrests are in progress. The prisons began to fill. In every city and province, lists of the disloyal have been compiled. Tomorrow, they will learn the cost of their terrible folly... their treason.
- Laurence Olivier as Marcus Licinius Crassus, Spartacus (1960)

Once upon a time, racial segregation was the law of the land.
Once upon a time, women didn’t have the right to vote.
Once upon a time, The Republic of Mexico owned California, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and Texas.
Once upon a time, twelve men walked on the Moon.
Once upon a time…I don’t have any more stories, no more quips, jabs, jokes, puns or ad-libs.

The one time I thought the world was really, really going to change was in the early nineties. The dreaded Berlin Wall fell, marking the end of the USSR. We’re free, I thought. The Cold War is over. The threat of nuclear annihilation is gone. We’re free. This country, the world can devote itself to greater things.

I was wrong.

I’m naïve.

“It’s morning again in America…”
- Republican Political TV Ad, 1984 Election

Is this the day to cast blame?

Monday, November 21, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving


 by Susan J Berger

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.

I wish you a day of remembering the good things in your life. A day free from worrying about all the things that may be making you fearful about your future. About our future.
I plan to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, go see Fantastic Beasts and maybe top off the evening with pumpkin pie and Miracle on 34th Street.
I will not be watching the news.
There are so many thanksgiving books for children to choose from, Here are a few. You will note I've decided to emphasize turkeys. That word has been coming up a lot in my head.

I am grateful for so many things. My children and grandchildren, the rain currently falling outside my warm and safe house, the turkey reposing in my refrigerator, the current book I'm reading and the pile of books waiting for me to read. And for the books I will be adding to my TBR pile, some of them not yet published.
I am grateful for family and friends and laughter. For the wonderful acting jobs I've had this year and the ones yet to come.
I could go on for a long time.
I am truly grateful for indoor plumbing and warm blankets and a comfy armchair. For the glass of wine I plan to have when I finish this post. And for the washing machine in which I am about to immerse my laundry.
I am grateful for the times I manage to sit down at the computer and get words on paper. I am REALLY grateful for my computer. If I had to hand-write this stuff, it would never see the light of day. And I am so grateful for my critique groups.
I emailed Hilde and Lupe and asked for three things they were grateful for. I didn't want t o overwhelm them. Hilde replied. My health. My husband. My kids.

And my dog, Buddy.
Lupe replied My wife. My step-daughters. My cats.
Right at this moment, what are you grateful for?
PS if you have a favorite Thanksgiving book, please mention that in comments too. I have grandchildren to collect for.


Monday, November 14, 2016

I am repeating an old post


 I grabbed some favorites from my first line posts and I divided them between prose and rhyming Picture Books. The titles are linked to the books. I have fiddled with the spacing and font and today is one of those times Blogger hates me. So I apologize for the non-uniform look of the titles and links and fonts/. Think of it as Blogger's creativity shining through.
Please tell me your favorite. Want to share your best first line from your own work? Comments welcomed. For those of you doing Nano, good luck to you. Happy reading and writing.

Prose first lines

1. Everything was just dandy till that Emily Post book showed up.
Thanks a LOT, Emily Post! by Jennifer Larue Huget, Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger (First book)

Tuesday written and illustrated by David Weisner

3.  In the biggest, brownest muddiest river in all Africa, two crocodiles lay with their heads just above the water. One of the crocodiles was enormous. The other was not so big.
The Enormous Crocodile. Roald Dahl Illustrated by Quentin Blake.

4.  In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines lived twelve little girls in two straight lines 
Madeline  written and illustrated by Ludwig Bemelmans

 5.  Out in the hottest, dustiest part of town is an orphanage run by a female person nasty enough to scare night into day.
Saving Sweetness by Diane Stanley Illustrated by G. Brian Karas 

6.  Five little puppies dug a hole under the fence and went for a walk in the wide, wide world. 

The Poky Little Puppy by Janette Sebring Lowrey - Illustrated by Gustaf Tenggren

 7.  My friend Lincoln says you have two dads. That’s right poppa and daddy.

A Tale of Two Daddies by Vanita Oelschlager Iluustated by Kristin Blackwood and Mike Blane

9.  Mama love to sing. Her singing was always a happy part of everyday life. But everything changed the day after my seventh birthday.

Floating on Mama’s Song by Laura Lacamara, Illustrated by Yuyi Morales(First book)

 10. I took the moon for a walk last night.
I took the Moon for a walk by Carolyn Curtis, illustrated by Allison Jay.(First book)

11.  Once upon a time Chicken Licken was standing around when a piece of something fell on her head.
The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka, Iluustrated by Lane Smith. (As best as I can determine, this was his first book. Wow!)
On a cold afternoon, in a cold little town, where everywhere you looked was either the white of snow or the black of soot from chimneys, Annabelle found a box filled with yarn of every color.

ExtraYarn by Mac Barnette. Illustrated by Jon Klassen Extra Yarn is a also Caldecott Honors Book for 2012

12. Everyone was perfectly fine with the way things were. Everyone but Mr. Tiger.

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild written and illustrated by Peter Brown  2014 Cybil winner.

13.  Whenever the wind lifted off the river, and sent the trees to dancing, I itched to fly a kite.
I’d race to the great Niagara, plumes of mist rising from plunging waters, wind licking at my face.
 A boy like me knew, just knew which day would be perfect for flying kites.
The Kite That Bridged Two Nations by Alexis O'Neil, Illustrated by Terry Widener 2014 Crystal Kite Winner

14.  The Lion is known throughout the animal kingdom as the “King of Beasts.” 
The Great White Shark is the most feared predator in the ocean. 
And the Timberwolf’s howl strikes terror into the hearts of fuzzy woodland creatures everywhere. 
But even SAVAGE CARNIVORES get their feelings hurt.
Carnivores by Aaron Reynolds, Illustrated by Dan Santat  

15.  Peter snuggled into Uncle's lap as the carriage clattered through the valleys of Switzerland. Baby Annette slept in Mother's arms, a small pink blossom against a wall of black.
The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus, illustrated by Melissa Sweet, written by Jen Bryant. 2015 Caldcott Honor Book

16.  He was born on an island far away where imaginary friends were created."

The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend, Written and Illustrated by Dan Santat


 Picture Books that Rhyme

1.  Not last night but the night before, three black cats came knocking at the door.

Not Last Night But The Night Before by Colin McNaughton, Illus by Emma Chichester Clark

2.  One morning at the breakfast table, when I read the juice box label, (thinking it was tightly closed), my daddy’s pants got orange-hosed. 
I Always ALWAYS Get My Way by Thad Kranesky, Illus by David Parkins (Thad is a first time picture book author. It was published in 2009) 

When I grow up, I'll live in a tree.
Just my cats, Quentin, Quigley and me.
Growing Up Dreams by Susan J. Berger, Illus by Samantha Bell

4.   Beep Beep. Sheep in a jeep on a hill that’s steep

Sheep in a Jeep by Nancy Shaw, Illustrated by Margaret Apple (First Book)


5.  In a House on a hill there’s a wild little child not ready to close her eyes.
She burrows in blankets and talks to her toys and listens to lullabies.
Hillside Lullaby by Hope Vestergaard Illustrated by Margie Moore
6.  Many places make a home – a heap of twigs, a honeycomb.
A castle with a tower or two, an aerie with a birds-eye view.
 Castles Caves and Honeycombs by Linda Ashman Illustrated by Lauren Stringer
7.  See the piggy, see the puddle, see the piggy in the middle of the muddy little puddle.
See her dwaddle, see Her diddle, in the muddy muddy middle.
See her waddle, plump and little, in the very merry middle.
The Piggy in the Puddle by Charlotte Pomerantz Illustrated by James Marshall
 8.  In a wee little house in a wee little hole, lived a wee little mouse and a wee little mole.
One Dark Night by Lisa Wheeler Illustrated by Ivan Bated.(This was Lisa Wheeler’s first book. She has written many wonderful books. I wanted to blog the first line of the first one.)

9. Dusk creeps in and day is done.
The last few rays of stubborn sun
Cling to the hilltop, tree and town.
We wish that we could push it down.

 Bats at the Ballgame Written and illustrated by Brian Lies