Nature

I’ve heard wonderful things about the Highlights retreats for writers. I haven’t gone yet, but I hope to someday. This is the transformation I imagine happens😊😉

She breathes in.

Freshness.

Purity.

Rain.

The pitter patter is the only sound, no others around.

She can feel the pink of the budding flower as she turns away from her computer. She steps through the open glass door into another world.

It’s like a jungle, this forest. Shaded yet bright.

She wanders and wonders, briefly frightened.

There’s no one…are there beasts? Is this disconnection loneliness?

No—it’s beautiful, full of connection.

A bird hops on a branch and stares right at her, cocking its head, curious.

The bird is beautiful, precision in color and feathers. Not perfect, some colors bleed into others. But perfectly smooth and well-groomed, every feather in its place, exactly where it should be.

She looks at herself, disheveled, hair gone awry. She pulls her shirt and smooths her pants, then laughs at her ridiculous drive to fix herself in such a place.

The stream up ahead flows crystal clear. She peers at a tadpole, hopping, swimming, moving about, and breaths in again…

The end

As always, we ask, where’s the math?

The most obvious is the time we take for ourselves, to be with nature, and to get away—a small amount for most of us!

Of course, math is all about patterns too. Here’s an interesting article about how bird feather patterns can CHANGE!

Here’s some fun bird math: Bedtime Math

And of course, the time it takes for a tadpole to become a full grown frog, between 2.5 and 3 months.

Also, if you haven’t popped by to read the interview with Vivian Kirkfield about her upcoming counting picture book, click here, leave a comment, and get entered to win a SIGNED copy when the book releases in April!

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A Little Rain

Happy Valentine’s Day from the Mathiseverywhere blog!

Here’s another fun, little story for your enjoyment. My second entry for Ms. Susanna Hill’s Valentiny contest (Get it? A tiny Valentine’s story?😁)

The rules: create a Valentine’s story where someone feels guilty. It must be geared to kids 12 and under and be 214 words or less.

A Little Rain

Cloud looked down below. Kids bounced about in their heart-shaped costumes, laughing and playing.

Cloud smiled.

Drip, drop.

“I don’t want to rain on their parade,” Cloud thought.

So she squeezed—ERG! and squished—EEP! Then, KRR-ACK! Thunder and lighting.

The kids screamed and ran, huddling around their teacher.

“Oh no!Cloud thought. “I’ve got to get out of here!”

“Wind,” Cloud called out. “Please blow me away.”

Wind grinned and winked, “My favorite thing to do.”

He gathered up speed. He WHOOSHED! and he WHIRLED! Then WOOOO! he blew Cloud away.

The kids huddled closer to their teacher as the wind whipped at their clothes, their hair, their festive hats.

“Uhh ooh,” Wind howled as he started spinning out of control.

“It’s a whirlwind!” the kids screamed.

“Get inside!* their teacher yelled.

Cloud heard their cries and turned to see. “Oh my,” she thought. “This is all my fault.”

She zoomed back to where she began. She didn’t try to hold anything back or move out of the way.

It started to drizzle. The vortex disappeared.

The class stopped, looked up, and shouted “HOORAY!”

Sometimes it’s okay to have a little rain on your parade.

The end

As always, we think, where’s the math? Everywhere, of course!

The likelihood of rain on Valentine’s Day can be calculated by weather forecasters, the amount of Valentine’s Day parties in elementary schools in America can be counted, and of course, we can count the number of times we do something to help and it ends up going awry instead.

For more math:

Here’s a fun blog post about timing storms Thunderstorms! It’s just math…

And here’s some fun statistics for you really awesome math people: Rain Probability.

Finally, here’s the science I used to get the thunder and lightning in the story: The Science of Lightning

Also, if you haven’t popped by to enter ti win Vivian Kirkfield’s Four Otters Toboggan, coming out in April here’s the link: https://mathiseverywhere439319476.wordpress.com/2019/02/09/interview-and-picture-book-giveaway-with-vivian-kirkfield/

Morty’s Valentine’s Day: a fun, little tale to brighten your day

Here’s a little story I cooked up for Ms. Susanna Hill’s Valentiny contest (Get it? A tiny Valentine’s story?😁)

Here’s the rules: it needs to be geared to kids 12 and under, be about Valentine’s day, and have someone who feels guilty. Oh yeah! AND it must be 214 words or less😉

This story was inspired by a picture that Facebook recommended I use for a response to a post. This little guy, pictured below, would normally just be a cute penguin, but after participating in Storystorm, I had a whole new perspective, and this story was born.

Without further ado, here’s Morty’s Valentine’s day story in 214 words:

Morty’s Valentine’s Day

Morty’s a penguin with all the moves, and he’s ready to use them this Valentine’s Day.

As Zelda glides by, Morty lifts a kissing plant above his head and winks.

Zelda rolls her eyes and struts away.

Morty straightens his tie and slicks back his feathers as Trisha waddles over.

“Hey, Trisha, wanna dance?”

He takes a step, and…

SLIP—he slides right into her!

They luge down a path—AHH!—straight into the water: SPLASH!

“Nice day for a swim?” Morty ventures.

Trisha shakes her feathers and huffs away.

“I’ll never find ‘The One,'” Morty thinks as he plops down.

He pokes at the snow, slowly making his strokes bigger and bigger until…

Wow!” Karissa whispers. “Did you do that?”

“Oh, this?” Morty shuffles shyly. “It’s just scribbles…”

“Can you draw me?” Karissa asks.

“Uh…um…erm…you? I don’t know…”

“Oh…I understand.” She turns away.

“NO! Wait!”

“Wait? For what? For you to say I’m not pretty?”

“No, not at all. It’s just…you’re—”

“Not good enough to draw?”

“No! You’re the prettiest penguin I’ve ever seen! I could never make anything as beautiful as you.”

Oh, Morty!” Karissa throws her flippers around him. “That’s the nicest thing anyone has very said to me.”

MWAH!

Best Valentine’s day ever!

The end.

Now, as always, we wonder, where’s the math? Everywhere!

The velocity at which the comical luge happened, the likelihood of any of Morty’s ideas working, the number of times poor Morty struck out, and the infinite love he and Karissa now share😊

Happy almost Valentine’s day. I hope you enjoyed!

And as a special treat. Come back to the Mathiseverywhere blog for an interview and book giveaway with debut author Vivian Kirkfield! Just posted yesterday here, so you still have time to enter the giveaway!

Interview and Picture Book Giveaway with Vivian Kirkfield

If you’d like to be entered in the drawing for a SIGNED copy of FOUR OTTERS TOBOGGAN: AN ANIMAL COUNTING BOOK coming out in April, make sure to comment on this blog post and for extra entries, retweet the following tweet: https://twitter.com/KaitlynLeann17/status/1095291780772155401?s=09

Here’s a bit about Vivian:

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Vivian in her world
Writer for children—reader forever…that’s Vivian Kirkfield in five words. Her bucket list contains many more than five words – but she’s already checked off skydiving, parasailing and banana-boat riding. When she isn’t looking for ways to fall from the sky or sink under the water, she can be found writing picture books in the quaint village of Amherst, NH where the old stone library is her favorite hangout and her young grandson is her favorite board game partner. A retired kindergarten teacher with a masters in Early Childhood Education, Vivian inspires budding writers during classroom visits and shares insights with aspiring authors at conferences and on her blog, Picture Books Help Kids Soar. She is the author of Pippa’s Passover Plate (Holiday House); Four Otters Toboggan: An Animal Counting Book (Pomegranate); Sweet Dreams, Sarah (Creston Books); Making Their Voices Heard: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe (Little Bee Books); and From Here to There: Inventions That Changed the Way the World Moves (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). You can connect with her on her website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Linkedin, or just about any place people with picture books are found

Vivian, thank you so much for stopping by the MathIsEverywhere blog today. Ready to dive in?

Totally ready, Kaitlyn. Thank you so much for having me here!

I adore your first book Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking (Positive Parental Participation). What was the first (or your favorite) recipe or art project that you created to match up with a picture book?

show me how cover

Show Me How!

That’s easy! One of my all-time favorite picture books, probably out of print at this point, is Gift Bear for the King by Carl Memling, illustrated by Lillian Hoban. It’s a charming story of a little bear who belongs to an old lady and an old man, but, when the King’s messenger announces that it is the King’s birthday, they decide to give the bear as a gift. There is a wonderful refrain, a tale of obstacles to overcome, and a happy ending. The book was published in 1966 and I started teaching kindergarten in 1967…it was one of the first books I purchased for my class library. And when my own children were born, I read it to them. The craft activity is ultra-easy…make a king or queen for a day crown using a sheet of construction paper, pair of scissors, stapler or glue, and crayons/markers for the child to decorate. And because the story is all about a journey, the cooking activity was to prepare homemade trail mix from healthful ingredients.

You are one of the most genuinely kind people I have ever met, do you attribute this quality to a specific person or event in your life? If so, who?

People used to ask me what I was ‘on’ because I was smiling and upbeat all of the time. I’d tell them I was high on life. But seriously, I can’t even take credit for being sweet or kind or helpful (thank you very much – it’s always lovely to hear that other people think well of you) because it is part of my nature…part of my DNA. My older sister used to call me Pollyanna because the character in that book faced life with positivity and saw something to be glad about in every situation. And I think she was right on the money…I am just like that. Which, honestly, is probably annoying if you have to be with someone like that for 24 hours a day.

EPSON MFP image

Vivian and her sister in 1950!

My mother was a very kind woman. And my grandmother, who we lived with from the time I was ten, was incredible–ever generous with her time and always ready to listen, EVEN to a young child.

Your husband was an author too, was he the one who inspired you to write your own books?

Stuart was very supportive of my writing and it was he who encouraged me to write the parenting book after I had retired and our kids were grown with children of their own. But my inspiration to become a picture book author came from the kid lit community itself. Although I’d always had a love affair with picture books, it wasn’t until I saw those writers dreaming of becoming published picture book authors that I realized I wanted that, too!

In 2019, you have THREE picture books coming out, CONGRATS! They are all very unique, from lyrical counting to hearty adventure to inspiring nonfiction. Is there a secret to being so varied in your writing?

I have to give thanks to several factors. First, as I mentioned, I’ve loved picture books…actually, all books, since I was old enough to turn pages. As a child, I loved nonfiction…would actually read the Encyclopedia Britannica – you are probably too young to remember when many families owned a set of those books. I also adored folk tales and fairy tales. And I wrote little poems when I was a kid. So, being exposed to lots of different genres probably is one factor. The second influence, more on the number of stories I’ve written as opposed to how varied they are, has been the 12×12 Picture Book Writing Challenge. The stars were in alignment when I decided to start writing picture books in 2012 because that was the year that Julie Hedlund decided to start her challenge. I was determined to participate fully – and I have written twelve manuscript in twelve months every year so far…although many of the manuscripts never went past the VERY rough draft stage.

Your math oriented picture book, FOUR OTTERS TOBOGGAN: AN ANIMAL COUNTING BOOK comes out in April of this year. The title is so intriguing, can you tell us how it was chosen?

four otters cover amazon

Four Otters Toboggan

Titles are a funny thing. We stress out about them, right? And brainstorm and make lists of dozens of possibilities. I came up with VISITORS TO DEEP POOL…my critique buddies loved it. And my agent never had a problem with it. But when the editor at Pomegranate bought it, he asked for a different title! He felt it sounded a bit like a science fiction novel! And maybe he was right. Mirka Hokkanen, the illustrator, and I made lists and lists of possibilities. We felt An Animal Counting Book needed to be part of the title…and the editor agreed…and I think it was when Mirka drew what became the cover that the Four Otters Toboggan was added by the editor.

Why do you think the counting component was so important for this book?

otters spread
Originally, the book did not have a counting component. It was just a lyrical piece about endangered animals that came to visit this pristine mountain river where the character of the water changed as quickly as a child’s moods. But several years ago, I won a critique from Mira Reisberg, founder of the Children’s Book Academy. She felt the story needed another layer and she suggested making it a counting book might work. It was an easy fix…and I think the counting aspect gives the story a bit of page -turning drama. It will be fun for kids to count the animals on each page…plus, Mirka has hidden animals on several of the pages and in the back of the book, she has icons and we invite kids to go back to the beginning of the book and search for them on each page.

What’s your goal for FOUR OTTERS TOBOGGAN? How do you hope it changes the world?

turtle spread.jpg
It might be odd to hope that a simple counting book will change the world…but yes, I hope that this story encourages young people to cherish the planet, practice conservation, embrace environment protection, and help preserve animal habitats. There is a fine balance in nature, but modern civilization often forgets that protecting the environment for wildlife will benefit all of us. That’s why we included a rich STEM back matter with fun facts about the animals and serious information about conservation.

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

The inspiration for OTTERS came while I was taking a break from fly-fishing with my husband in a remote wilderness area in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. Sitting still on a boulder in the middle of a quiet pool at the edge of a rippling stream (I was wearing chest-high waders so I was nice and dry), I watched the water…dragonflies danced, fish leaped, otters paddled by, and overhead, Peregrine falcons circled. It was so beautiful, like poetry in real life, and I wanted to capture it with my words.

I’m so excited to participate in your #50PreciousWords contest this year, can you explain what it is and where you got your inspiration?

The #50PreciousWords Writing Contest was born on a whim. I’d just read an article about Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss) and how his editor challenged him to write a story for kids with only 50 words. Green Eggs with Ham has over 700 words, but only 50 unique words. And I thought, what a great writing exercise that would be…to try to write a story…but with ONLY 50 words…50 words total. So, I put up the challenge in a blog post on March 2, which is Dr. Seuss’ birthday. And I assumed that maybe a few of my good writer friends would take pity on me and send in a story. Five days later, there were 120 stories on my blog and over 2000 comments. WOW! The winner of the first year–she signed with her dream agent as a direct result of the contest and she now has a bunch of books debuting THIS YEAR…and one of them is the story that won the contest. I couldn’t be happier and I’ll be getting to hug her in person this spring when I am travelling abroad.
I’ve always been a fan of writing challenges because I think they encourage writers to get their work out there and interact with the kid-lit community. This is such a difficult business with so much rejection and disappointment. It’s really important to stay connected with others who are in the same boat because they can understand what you are going through. And every year the contest grows…in 2018 we had 298 amazing stories! This year, I’ll be in Auckland during the contest, but that won’t stop me – I can’t wait to read everyone’s precious words. And I’ll have the wonderful assistance of Maria Marshall, Julie Abery, and Diane Tulloch.

Finally, if you got the chance 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?

Although I’ve enjoyed many kite-flying experiences, I have to say that hands down, I’d be sitting by the fire and having tea with my favorite author and any of you and any of your readers, Kaitlyn. Hopefully, there will be some delicious pastry that contains chocolate or raspberry.

white ceramic teacup with saucer near two books above gray floral textile

Photo by Thought Catalog on Pexels.com

Oh, yes! At my tea parties, chocolate is always on the list!
Thank you so much for sharing, for writing such beautiful, educational books, and for being so helpful to writers, especially new writers like me!

Kaitlyn, it has been my pleasure to spend this time with you. I love sharing my experiences and whatever expertise I may have. If I can help even one person to follow their dream and built it into a reality,…to paraphrase the great Robert Frost: that will make all the difference.

Remember if you want to connect with Vivian: You can connect with her on her website,Facebook,Twitter,Pinterest,Instagram,Linkedin, or just about any place people with picture books are found.

pippa cover

Sweet Dreams Cover Template Revised.jpg

Here’s Vivian’s other picture books. Pippa comes out TODAY! and Sweet Dreams in May!
If you want to be entered into the drawing, comment and retweet! (If you want to share on Facebook, simply add to your comment with the link to your facebook post for another chance to win).

Quick-write story

Hey all,

I’m participating in a reflective writing program called 12 Days of Christmas for Writers by the generous Julie Foster Hedlund. Yesterday’s prompt was to write a story based on some very cool ideas. I chose the random sentence generator (which I had no idea existed, did you?!)

Before you read the story, if you haven’t read my previous post—Interview with Ruth Spiro—make sure to comment on it to get into the drawing for a signed copy of Baby Loves Quarks! The winner will be selected tomorrow 😊

Without further ado. Here is the story inspired by the randomly generated sentence: “She was too short to see over the fence.”

Story

She was too short to see over the fence. But that never stopped Wendy.

Erg! Ugh!

Huff! Puff!

Her makeshift steps were complete.

She smiled as she rubbed her hands together and began to climb.

Oh! Uh!

AAH! CRASH!

What now? she thought. The show is starting. I have to see it!

A Firefly buzzed over Wendy’s head. Then another. And another.

Oh no! I’m going to miss it!

She ran up and down the fence, Maybe there’s a peek hole!

Eee! Whoa!

Thud! Clunk!

She tripped over a shovel and began tearing at the earth.

Scrape! Scratch!

Plop! Plunk!

Finally, light glowed through Wendy’s tunnel under the fence. It was exactly her size. As she bent down…

the light faded and disappeared. The hole was engulfed in darkness.

Drip…drop…

Sniff…sniff

She missed the show.

Again.

“Wendy, it’s darker than yer granddaddy’s coffee,” her mom called. “Come inside darlin'”

Wendy wiped her tears and trudged to the door.

In her room, she pulled out her paints and brushes.

Glop! Gloop!

Swish! Swoop!

She stepped away from her wall just as her mom walked in and gasped. “Darlin’, what IS that?”

“The most beautiful thing that I didn’t get to see.”

If ya didn’t see it, darlin’, how in the world didya paint it?”

“It’s what I imagined it would be.”

The end.

As always, we wonder, where is the math? Well, I wasn’t actually thinking about math here, just went where the story took me, but using a little analysis and reflection we can always connect with math.

There are many countable things here. Wendy’s attempts at achieving her goal, the number of fireflies that flew over, the amount of onomatopoeia used in the story. But the biggest thing I like about this is the reminder that there is so much math in art.

Some people have a natural ability to paint or draw where the angles and lines just come without thought, but that just means their math ability to understand proportion and calculate angles is also natural because math is inextricably a part of art.

Here’s a few links if you’re interested in art and math:

American Mathematical Society

Teaching Math through comics

The Mathematics of Art

Author Interview with Ruth Spiro and GIVEAWAY!

Bio: Ruth Spiro is a freelance writer and author of the Baby Loves Science collection, which now includes 8 powerful board books that take complex STEM ideas and makes them baby-friendly.

For the giveaway, make sure to comment below and follow this blog for your chance to win a signed copy of QUARKS! the first in the Baby Loves series!

Hi Ruth, thank you so much for coming by the MathisEverywhere blog today!

You work so diligently to research subjects that are important for kids. How do you think you got so hardworking?

When you enjoy what you do, it doesn’t feel like work! I’ve always liked to do research and learn new things, so writing each book feels like a mini-challenge to me. I want to make sure each book is informative and accurate, but the most important goal is that they’re fun to read too.

How do you go about researching your books? Can you give an example of how you researched for BABY LOVES CODING?

I always start with a visit to the library to see if there are any other children’s books on the topic, then I move into the adult section. I also do a lot of research online to find the most current information, and I prefer to use websites or articles written by well-respected, reputable sources. If I need more detail or further explanation I may contact a scientist or other expert and ask questions directly.

For BABY LOVES CODING I considered the aspects of coding that are developmentally appropriate, and because these books are for very little ones I wanted to focus on the concept being screen-free. Interestingly, I learned that the foundational skills required to begin coding are also essential pre-reading skills—reading left-to-right, sequencing, recognizing patterns, etc.

You have such a powerful following of people who love your books, especially your BABY LOVES books. As a writer, how did you build up a following?

I’ve been on social media for a long time, and have built up my networks by sharing in genuine interaction. I try not to self-promote too much and connect with people who seem interesting to me. I like to participate in Twitter chats and other opportunities to share ideas and resources. I can be found on Twitter and Instagram @ruthspiro and would love to hear from your readers!

In your latest book MADE BY MAXINE, the main character wants her pet fish to march in the pet parade. I have to know, what inspired this comical premise!

It’s actually a very long story that evolved as my story did, but I wanted Maxine’s “making” to be purposeful–there had to be a reason why she was motivated to make her ultimate contraption. I came up with the idea that she was driven by love for a pet, and I really liked the idea of the contrast between the simplicity of a goldfish and the complexity of her final creation.

When you’re writing a series, does it get tough to keep the originality as well as consisentcy for your audience? If so, how do you overcome this?

This is an interesting question, because I have two very different series. Baby Loves Science is a series, but each book is different—the topic, the main character, and the story. So for this series the challenge is to come up with topics that fall under the STEM umbrella, that can also be related to familiar real-world experience. For each book, I begin with a new Baby and unique storyline.

Made by Maxine is also a series, but jn a very different way. The first story is an introduction to the character, so readers can get to know her and fall in love with her. The second boo will continue with Maxine and Milton (her goldfish), but we also introduce a new character and a new story problem to solve. So, the books in this series are more closely related in terms of the characters and the type of story. The second book is written and is currently being illustrated, and I know there will be at least one more book in Maxine’s series, but I haven’t written that one yet.

As you know, BABY LOVES QUARKS! has been one of my daughter’s favorite books since before she was one (she’s now two-and-a-half), how did you figure out that kids would adore the blocks analogy you use in the book?

This analogy was actually very simple! Atoms and molecules are frequently describee as “the building block of nature” so this seemed like a natural comparison that would help illustrate the concept. I’m happy to hear it’s your daughter’s favorite. Interestingly, there’s something about that book that seems to make it appealing to even the very littlest scientists!

Looking back on your writing career, can you comoare and/or contrast to now (ie. your approach to writing, the ease or lack thereof, etc.)?

Wow, this could make for a very long answer! I think the most important takeaway here is that I never imagined I’d be a writer, let alone a children’s book author. My entire career evolved out of a willingness to try new things and stretch my creativity. I’ve always believed that it’s important to be open to new experiences and continue learning every day. Things have a way of connecting in very surprising ways, and can even become the “building blocks” of your next great opportunity.

Just for fun, can share two random things about yourself?

I “thing” for flamingos and wriggle my ears! (How’s that for random?!)

In BABY LOVES STRUCTURAL ENGINEERING, I love how you include arch as one of the shapes. This is not a typical shape taught to young kids, how did you decide this should be included?

This decision was based on my research of structural engineering. The arch was one of the basic shapes mentioned in everything I read, so I thought it was important to include. I know it’s a visually familiar shape, though not often discussed, so it made sense to include it.

You must get tons of fan mail from parents teachers, other writers, etc. because your books are so amazing and inspiring, but every time I have written to you, you have always replied back quickly. How do you find the time?

Honestly, I feel this is the one area in which I often fall short. If someone sends me a quick email I try to respond within a day or so; otherwise the email gets pushed further down in my inbox and I may forget about it. Same with social media—if someone tags me in a post I try to comment that same day. But when a more substantive reply is required, such as for an interview or speaking request, it can take me longer to respond than I’d like. This has a lot to do with the publication process for my books and their deadlines. There’s a lot of back-and-forth between me, my agent, editors, and expert reviewers, and we’re often on a very tight schedule. I’m sure it goes without saying that I have to prioritize, and these tasks must come first. Then, if I’m out of my office at a school visit, bookstore signing or other event, I’m not available to respond to correspondence at all. I just try to do the best I can and hope everyone understands!


Finally, if you got the chance to spend the afternoon with your favorite author, would you rather: go outside and fly a kite or sit by the fire and have tea?

Lucky me, I’ve already had the opportunity to to sit in a cozy farmhouse during a snowstorm, drinking tea and chatting with Jane Yolen… Perhaps next time I’ll suggest we try flying a kite!

Ruth, thank you so much for these fun answers and wonderful insights. I had blast this interview and learning so much!

If you haven’t connected with Ruth on social media yet, make sure to do so, and if you haven’t checked out her amazing books, you should definitely do that too! Here is her website, and of course, don’t forget to follow this blog and comment for a chance to win a signed copy of QUARKS!

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!

NO ICE

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.

Running

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😊

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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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.