No Ice, A Holiday Tale

Hey all, it’s time for another awesome writing contest by the inspiring Susanna Hill: The 8th Annual Holiday Contest!

This time, writers are to tell a story of a holiday hero in 250 words or less. The target audience is children ages 12 and under, but I hope this tale will be enjoyable for all!


by Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez

Every winter, the pond was the place to be. People came from all over to ice skate.

But this winter, the pond didn’t freeze, so no one came.

Annie stood on her tippy toes and peered out the kitchen window: still, no ice. She sighed and reached to turn off the TV, but what she heard stopped her.

Could it be?

She remembered the town hall meeting when the mayor said, “Global warming isn’t true. I won’t believe it, neither should you.”

Annie looked at her pond. I have to show them!

The newscaster explained a machine that can undo air pollution.

She asked her dad to help. Soon, their machine was filtering air and condensing the pollution into a solid, coal-like substance.

Annie fashioned a fake snowman, put on the pollution buttons, and carried it to the town hall meeting.

“Our pond didn’t freeze because pollution like this is warming the earth.”

The townspeople said, “Global warming is true? Oh no, Annie, what can we do?”

They made plans to recycle, plant trees, carpool, and more.

That night, Annie wrote a letter.

“Dear Santa,
Can you cool the earth so our pond will freeze? That’s the only present I really need.”

On Christmas Eve, Santa appeared and magically froze the pond!

“Annie, you’ve been good this year.
Enjoy this little Christmas cheer!”

The townspeople quickly strapped on their skates, knowing it would not last.

But Annie and her Christmas miracle showed them they were on the right track.

I hope you enjoyed this little tale. If you’re curious about Annie’s machine, it was inspired by a TED Talk I saw last year. Here are some links about the machine:

Smog jewelry and the TED Talk

Into the ground

And of course, math is definitely everywhere here: the amount of pollution we can eliminate from the air, the number of lives that cleaning up our air can save, the number of jewelry pieces that can be produced, not to mention, the math calculations that go into creating the machines. Even if you can’t create an air purifying tower, small steps like carpooling and recycling can really make an impact in our world.

Happy holidays and if you want to read more holiday hero stories, hop over to Susanna Hill’s contest page.



I love the way my ponytail swishes across my back,

the place between my shoulder blades tingling and itching for more.

My breathing intensifies as my smile widens.

I take another step.

The movement exerts my muscles but frees my mind:

I’m running.

This was me on Saturday, when I finally got on my elliptical for the first time in a while. Not that I hadn’t done any running since, but it was the first time in a while I was running, well, “ellipticallying” on my own. Exercise is one of those amazing things that just makes me happy, whether it’s the profound all-on-my-own freedom of the elliptical, or the exciting and intense teamwork of playing soccer (our team won the championship last season in our adult coed rec league) or the loving play and romping about my husband and I do with our daughter.

Soccer champs
Soccer champs 2018! (I’m number 2😊)

Especially this time of year, it’s important to remember to take care of your body and soul. Enjoy the comfort food, but make sure to get in some exercise and lots of laughter, too.

I know, I know, you’re thinking where’s the math? Well…it’s everywhere, of course: the number of endorphins produced that give that wonderful feeling of happiness when you work out, the calculations of work, force, effort, and calories burned, and of course, the pattern of increased smiles as your body gets what it needs😊

Picture Book Review of 100 Bugs! and Interview with Author Kate Narita and GIVEAWAY!

Two chances to win a signed copy of 100 Bugs! by Kate Narita, illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman:

1. Follow this blog and comment below.

2. Retweet this post and follow Kate @KateNarita and me @KaitlynLeann17.

Enter by 11-23-18 at 11:59pm West Coast time! (US addresses only)

Haven’t heard about 100 Bugs! yet? Here’s a little synopsis and review by yours truly:

100 Bugs! book cover

100 Bugs! is one of those amazing picture books that is WAY more than meets the eye. Do we find 100 bugs? Definitely. But, there is so, so much more than that!

When we open the book, we are instantly transported to another place where a gorgeous sun is rising over a lovely little farm. Then we meet the beautifully illustrated characters who we joyously follow as we find different bugs and plants throughout the farm.

Page from 100 Bugs! with children searching for bugs in a field

The most amazing thing for me was that I had never heard of some of the plant or bug names before. Luckily, the phenomenal illustrations by Suzanne Kaufman made everything clear. I was overjoyed because one, I got to learn something new, and two, my daughter would already know these names when she went out to explore the world!

By the end of the story, the sun has set, and everyone has learned all about bugs, plants, and things on a farm, but wait!—BONUS—we also did some math! What?! I know, it didn’t feel like it because we were having so much fun with everything else, but we counted, we grouped numbers, and we even composed the numbers to make the number ten every time.

100 Bugs! is a beautifully illustrated, intelligently written way to learn and have fun. As a math teacher, I highly recommend it!

Here is my Interview with Kate Narita:

Author photo of Kate Narita

I’m so lucky to have the brilliant writer Kate Narita here today on the Math is Everywhere blog!

First up, in your bio on your website, you share so many beautiful things about your life, including how much you enjoy the outdoors. Was this how you got your inspiration for 100 Bugs!? And, do you know what attracted you to the outdoors in the first place?

It’s funny the inspiration for 100 Bugs! did not come while I was outside. It came while I was inside my school sitting on an interview committee for a math specialist. My friend and colleague, Teresa Zuckerman, said that in order for kids to be successful in math, they have to understand the combinations of ten. I wondered how come no one had ever written a book about the ten combinations of ten? Surely, someone has done that I thought. But, I checked out a bunch of books about the number 100 and none of them featured the combinations of ten. So, I wrote one.

I don’t know what attracted me to the outdoors in the first place. For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved it. There’s a nature preserve near where I grew up called Isaac Walton. I played softball games there. Exploring the woods after the games was such a treat. When I first had children, we lived in a small city in central Massachusetts. I thought I liked it. Then, we started driving to a farm to get our vegetables. As we would drive back into the city, I would feel more and more tense. That’s when I realized I had to live in the country. It took me by surprise. Up until that point, I had thought I was a city person. Now, I know that is absolutely not the case at all. Give me a day in the woods over a day in the city anytime.

As a math teacher, I’ve got to know, how did you get the idea to relate bugs and plants to counting?

This part of the 100 Bugs! story is much more magical than the initial idea arriving during an interview at school. The same day as the interview, I attended my writing group at night. I mentioned the idea to a fellow member who was also writing a math book. She said, “I don’t want to write that book, you write it.”

On the way home in the car, the first verse came to me, “Dragonflies, dragonflies, zipping all about. One by the weathervane, nine by the bugbane. How many dragonflies out and about? (This is no longer the first verse by the way.)” There was absolutely no planning involved. In Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert talks about the American poet, Ruth Stone. Stone, who was born in 1915, said she’d be out working in the fields and a poem would come rushing toward her. She’d race inside to grab a pencil and try to grab the poem by its tail, sometimes writing the poems down word-for-word backwards. That’s similar to what happened to me. The book came to me word-for-word while I was driving.

Why insects and plants? I think that’s a two-part answer. I have always loved dragonflies. I grew up in a suburb of Chicago, Homewood. I played softball for eight years and spent hours on the practice field. The practice field was near a nature preserve and large dragonflies would often flit overhead while I caught pop flies. Now, I live on a small mountain in Central Massachusetts surrounded by a state park. During the summer months, I’m surrounded by dragonflies and I absolutely love it. The original version of the manuscript mentioned five dragonfly species and five damselfly species. I never intended to write about insects–it just happened!

As for the plants, my mom is a gardener. When my kids were younger and we visited my parents, I would sometimes spend a little extra time in the bathroom because no one could bother me in there. Behind the closed door, I would read my mother’s gardening magazines. I think that’s how the plant names were able to pop into my consciousness. I’d unwittingly lodged them into my subconscious while taking a break from the demands of raising young children.

Why do you think the groupings you’ve provided in 100 Bugs! are so important for young readers?

As my colleague said, “In order for kids to be successful in math, they have to understand the combinations of ten.” It doesn’t seem like such a simple concept is the keystone to mathematical success, but it is. For example, fourth grade students learn how to multiply and divide two multi-digit numbers. But if they can’t add and subtract fluently, they will not calculate the correct answer. Plus, if students have to work to add and subtract numbers, they’re spending their mental energy on addition and subtraction instead of focusing on the conceptual understanding of multiplying and dividing.

Kate Narita and a former student

Kate Narita and a former student

You have such a touching story of how your dad inspired your joy for literature, can you share it here, and also tell us, have you ever asked your dad why he chose Shakespeare to read to you?

On my website, I mention that I couldn’t wait to go to bed because I knew my dad would read me a book. Reading with a parent is such a magical experience. It’s as if the two of you get to explore an unknown world that nobody else knows about. Of course, that’s not true, but that’s how it seems. The rest of the world falls away, and suddenly it’s just you and a person you love inside the pages of a book. I felt the same way reading with my own sons. We read as much as we could day and night for years. My most coveted memory of raising my own kids isn’t their first step or their first words, it’s all the hours we spent reading together.

Kate Narita's boys all grown up

Kate Narita’s boys all grown up

I’m so grateful you asked this question about my dad because I had to call him to get an answer. My dad studied English at college and taught middle school English for years. He read an article that claimed if you wanted your kid to be successful in linguistics and language, you should read them texts published before the eighteenth century. I have no idea whether or not that claim is true–keep in mind the paper was written in the 70’s. But whether or not the statement is true, I’m grateful to whoever wrote it because it meant I was able to spend more time with my dad.

Where is the most interesting place you have written or gotten inspiration to write?

I’ve been writing seriously for almost fifteen years. Eleven years ago, we lived in Japan for a semester while my husband worked at Osaka University. Every morning I woke up before the kids, turned on the warm kotatsu, and wrote. A kotatsu is a table that’s low to the ground. So, you sit on the floor and stick your legs under the table. A blanket is sandwiched between the tabletop and the table legs. The blanket falls over your legs like a tablecloth. Meanwhile, there’s a heater on the underside of the table. So, for five months my legs delighted in their daily, solitary trip to the leg sauna while my mind delighted in escaping into imaginary worlds.

As a writer, what is your process for writing picture books?

An idea pops into my head, and I try to write a first draft. If I force it, the draft will most likely feel, you guessed it, forced! But sometimes, that’s how I start–with a forced first draft. If I’m really struggling, there will be way more than one forced draft! Then, I’ll be walking in the woods or driving in my car or waking up in bed, and a line will come to me that’s not forced. That means it’s time to get busy. As soon as I can, I write that line down and craft a new version. Next, I’ll take the spontaneous version to my writing group and revise based on their feedback. This present and revise step could occur for many drafts. Then, when I feel as though there’s no possible way to make the manuscript stronger, I submit it. Of course the editor has many ideas on how to make a manuscript better. So, the revision process starts all over again once a manuscript has found a home.

What’s your goal for 100 Bugs!? How do you hope it changes the world?

I have a couple of different goals for 100 Bugs! First and foremost, I hope kids and their caretakers have fun while reading the book. Suzanne Kaufman’s gorgeous look-and-find visual storytelling makes 100 Bugs! an easy book to enjoy. Shared reading is such a pleasure especially when the person you’re sharing the story with is a loved one.

On that same note of child and caregiver, I hope readers will be inspired to stay outside for a whole day. Nature presents gifts for us to marvel at every day. But, if we don’t spend extended periods of time outside, we miss them.

Finally, I hope this book brings joy to the classroom. Every kindergarten and first grade teacher has to cover the combinations of ten in their math curriculum. Why not introduce or reinforce the concept with a fun read aloud? It’s a great way to engage kids who otherwise might not gravitate toward math.

Your agent is the talented Stacey Glick from Dystel, how did you find each other?

Yes, I’m very lucky to work with Stacey. We found one another at Rutgers One-On-One-Plus Conference. I can’t say enough positive things about this conference! It’s a fantastic place to meet industry professionals and get detailed feedback on your work. In October of 2015, I attended for the fifth time. Stacey volunteers on the conference board. That day she spoke on a panel and mentioned she had sold a counting book called Tap the Magic Tree by Christie Matheson. I wondered if Stacey would be interested in my counting manuscript. Spoiler alert-she was!

Meanwhile, I knew my forty-five minute one-on-one critique would be helpful, but I also knew the editor wouldn’t be interested in that particular manuscript because her company didn’t publish early readers. By this time, I’d been writing for thirteen years and I had many manuscripts. So, I didn’t give up hope. I learned what I could from the editor and turned my attention to the rest of the conference. During the five-on-five block, that’s a forty-five minute round table discussion with your mentor and four other mentor/mentee pairs, I met the editor who originally acquired 100 Bugs! She said she loved publishing books by teachers and librarians because other teachers and librarians wanted to buy their books.

For thirteen years I had been unsuccessful working with an editor or an agent, and within a few weeks of the conference ending, I was working with both!

Last but not least, if you got to spend an afternoon with your favorite author, would you rather: go outside and fly a kite or sit by the fire and have tea?

I’m cheating a bit here… I’d like to take a walk in the woods and then sit by the fire and have tea. In fact, that’s how I’d spend most of my days if I could!

Hahaha, I love the mix of the two. Wow, Kate, thank you so much for allowing me to interview you. These amazing answers will definitely stick with me and inspire many.

If you want to get in contact with Kate Narita, here’s her website:
And to purchase 100 Bugs! go here

100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Don’t forget to follow this blog and comment for a chance to win a signed copy of 100 Bugs!

THE DIAMOND & THE BOY: Thirteen Different Openings

For my writing friends, inspiration. For my friends who have supported my writing for the past year and a half, here’s some insight on why publishing picture books is such a long undertaking

Writer and Dreamer at work

I’m so proud to introduce the author of The Diamond and The Boy, Hannah Holt. A dear friend and critique buddy for the past seven years I have come to know Hannah never does things by halves. Many of you in the children’s writing world will know how dedicated she is to her writing, her resilience and perseverance, and attention to detail, much like the character in her debut picture book. But then I guess that should come as no surprise when THE BOY is her Grandfather – H Tracy Hall. Her first draft for this story was written in 2012 and the story is only just published this year. Hannah endured the parting of ways with two different agents before this book sold. During that time Hannah worked on about six picture books at a time. She wrote a dozen stories before starting this one and has worked on…

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The Picture

Here’s my last Halloween story for Susanna Hill’s Halloweensie competition.

If you didn’t get to the first post, the rules are: Create a Halloween story for kids twelve and under that is less than 100 words AND must include the words: howl, cauldron, and shiver (any form of the word will do).


By Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez

Every year the pizza parlor puts on a Halloween Cup. The winning soccer team gets their picture on the wall!

I HAVE to have my picture on that wall! But, our team usually chases butterflies during the game. We’re never gonna win…

I know!

I pull out the cauldron that came with my costume.

A sharp wind howls when I sprinkle the potion onto my teammates. They shiver.

As the photographer takes the other team’s picture, I kick the grass.

I guess it takes more than a potion to win…Maybe our team should start—Hey look! A butterfly! Gotta go!


My second submission to the amazing Susanna Hill’s Halloweensie competition.

If you didn’t get to the first post, the rules are: Create a Halloween story for kids twelve and under that is less than 100 words AND must include the words: howl, cauldron, and shiver (any form of the word will do).


By Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez

One Halloween night, Lonely Umbrella blew through the streets.

I hope someone picks me up, Umbrella thinks.

The twirling princess?

Nope. Spun away.

The fairy dog?

No…ran away howling.

The superhero reaching down?

Guess not…just tying his shoe.

If only it were raining, someone would need me.

“Oh dear,” Little Witch mumbled, scooping up Umbrella. “Where do you belong?”

With you…I hope… Umbrella shivered with excitement.

“My naughty cauldron is always spewing potions. Come, darling, I could use your cover.”

And from that night on, Umbrella was never lonely again.

Magic Endures

I’m so excited to share my first kidlit Halloween story, inspired by the 8th Annual Halloweensie Writing Contest

A big thank you to the remarkable Susanna Hill for hosting this Halloween writing contest that really got my writer juices flowing and my creativity moving in a totally unexpected direction.

The rules: Create a Halloween story for kids twelve and under that is less than 100 words AND must include the words: howl, cauldron, and shiver (any form of the word will do).

Here’s my first (drum roll, please…)!

Magic Endures

The last orange leaf clung to the tree.

A witch sat below, crying into her cauldron, “I’ve tried everything!” Still, the last of the fire trees would soon be extinct.

That night, the witch wailed as howling winds assaulted the tree.

The shivering leaf held fast, until…snap!

It landed softly in the cauldron below.

A bolt of lightning struck the potion. Bubbling oranges, reds, and yellows erupted from the cauldron, covering the ground with liquid fire. Full-grown trees burst from the ground.

The witch lifted her gaze upon her forest reborn.

The magic of All Hallows’ Eve endured.

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Love Is Kind with a GIVEAWAY!

Such amazing books to check out!

Susanna Leonard Hill

Today is a special day!

Not only is it Perfect Picture Book Friday, it’s the day author Laura Sassi is stopping at my little blog on her blog tour!  (Thanks so much for joining us, Laura, and including us in the launch of this wonderful book!)

As a result, we have a great book to share as well as FANTASTIC activities from the author herself!

Let’s get right to it, shall we? 🙂

thumbnail_loveiskindcoverTitle: Love Is Kind

WrittenBy: Laura Sassi

Illustrated By: Lison Chaperon

Zonderkidz, August 2018, fiction

Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: love, kindness, doing the right thing

Opening: “Little Owl jingled the coins in his pocket.  It was Grammy’s birthday.  And, finally, he had enough money to buy her something special – a heart-shaped box of chocolates.
He took out the coins – so shiny and new – and ready to spend…

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The Breakfast Club Is Back – with Mission Defrostable

Josh Funk Books

Hey, friends! Last week Mission Defrostable was released!

That’s right, Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast are back and bready for their next adventure! Can they save the fridge before all the food is iced?

Available wherever books are sold!


Hey, librarians & booksellers! If you want one of these Always Stay Hungry for Books Posters for your library or bookshopjust fill out THIS google form and I’ll send one your way!

While supplies last.

US only.

To celebrate the release, in the past few weeks Mission Defrostable was named to the Indie Kids’ Next List, I traveled to Texas and met my cardboard-self, encountered a giant lighted sign with my head on it at a conference in Florida, signed all the books in the Concord Bookshop, and also visited the NYPL to celebrate the…

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Happy Book Birthday to THE DIAMOND AND THE BOY plus PB Manuscript Critique Giveaway

VIVIAN KIRKFIELD - Writer for Children


I’m definitely singing at the top of my lungs because THE DIAMOND AND THE BOY: The Creation of Diamonds & the Life of H. Tracy Hall launches today! And this is the debut picture book of one of my critique buddies from the VERY FIRST CRITIQUE GROUP I EVER JOINED! (and we are all still going strong!) I saw this story as a rough draft and watched as it grew more and more polished…until it became a shining gem of a book.

CONGRATULATIONS, dear Hannah Holt!

book coverMake sure you come back on Friday for a Perfect Picture Book Friday review and craft ideas for kids. PLUS, on Saturday, Hannah will be stopping by to chat and share some of her writing journey with us. And don’t forget to leave a comment here and on the other THE DIAMOND AND THE BOY posts…BECAUSE…Hannah…

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