Category Archives: DISPATCH FROM DANIELLE
I’m taking a minute to let readers of This Picture Book Life know that I have a new endeavor, a companion to this blog and all the stuff I’m putting out into the world. Introducing: This Writer’s Life.
I’d like to tell you about it, and then I’ll go back to regular programming here with a picture book craft post tomorrow!
I’m super excited about this project because it combines two things I’m passionate about: writing and teaching writing to kids!
This Writer’s Life is an educational video series for 8 to 12-year-olds and their classrooms—a resource library if you will—that peeks into the writing process. That means tools, writing activities, guidance, and encouragement for young writers to help develop their unique voices and imaginations.
My goal is to show kids what writing looks like, from the inside, with honesty and tips and cheering-on in order to inspire them in their own writer’s lives. And my dream is for educators to find it of use in their classrooms. I’ve got eleven episodes up so far and lots more planned. They cover “show don’t tell,” first lines, what I learned about writing from watching Project Runway, how to get ideas, revising with punchy verbs, crafting a character, and lots more. Many of them have free, printable corresponding PDFs in the show notes as well!
And my favorite part is that each episode features someone I know and admire with advice from their own creative life! I want kid viewers to see a diverse scope of creatives from a wide variety of fields represented to inspire them.
Since you follow this blog, you might want to start with Episode 8: “Picture Book Inspiration.” I talk up loads of picture books that are either about creativity in some way or else about a famous artist or writer. They’re a big help to me as a writer when I’m looking for motivation to keep dreaming and making stuff and I hope they will be to kids—or anyone of any age!
Would you like the best way to stay up to date with This Writer’s Life?
By subscribing to my author newsletter, you’ll get each new episode delivered to your inbox as well as a free, printable PDF if there is one that goes with that topic.
You can also subscribe to the YouTube Channel or like This Writer’s Life facebook page as I’ll post each video there as well if you prefer it. Subscriptions to the channel and video likes really help me out to show I’ve got an audience tuning in.
Thanks for reading! Please follow along and reach out if you’d like to collaborate in some way.
You know how I like book crafts, right? Well, since now I have a book(!), I thought it would be fun to have a craft for it. So I enlisted my friend, the very talented teacher and illustrator, Kait Walsh, to create a Zinnia and the Bees inspired craft.
Since my middle grade novel’s main character, Zinnia, is a knitter and yarn bomber, Kait opted for pom poms. They’re a super simple yarn craft that don’t take a lot of time or materials to make.
You can make one pom pom. You can make a bunch of pom poms. Or you can make pom poms with others, like say a group of kids, and then yarn bomb something together (no knitting skills required). Pom pom tree! Pom pom chair! Pom pom bulletin board! Pom poms are fun.
Here’s how to make a pom pom with just yarn, scissors, and some cardboard, in Kait’s wonderful hand drawn tutorial:
And here’s a printable PDF of the instructions!
Here’s a photo of the finished pom pom yarn bomb!
First we made pom poms.
The kids showed me how it’s done.
Then we set off to the park.
And a few of us talked about the book while having lunch.
We made more pom poms.
We yarn bombed!
Big thanks to Kait for the instructions and wonderful craft idea (as well as Chloe, the other art camp teacher)! And for spearheading the yarn bomb! It was such a special time. (Some of these images were taken by her as well.)
Kait Walsh is a Kindergarten teacher turned full-time artist. You can find her creating illustrations in her Silver Lake studio, teaching kid art classes at Makers Mess, or letting loose at her local dance studio. Follow her daily creations and discoveries on Instagram and feel free to contact her if you want to make something together or just say hi. @sealedwithakait
p.s. I’m coming to Green Bean Books in Portland August 13th and we’ll be making pom poms at the event!
I’m interrupting regularly scheduled programming because my debut middle grade novel, Zinnia and the Bees, has a book trailer, and I’m so excited to share it with you!
Enormous thanks to the following wonderful people who made this happen:
Emily Arrow, dear dear friend and gifted songwriter, for the original “Zinnia and the Bees” song that perfectly captures Zinnia’s journey.
Meiko Takechi Arquillos, brilliant photographer, for giving her time and talents to the project.
Stevie Nemazee, animator and puppeteer extraordinaire, for generously lending her skills.
And Todd Davis, my honey, for dreaming this up and making Zinnia and those bees come to life with paper and buttons and imagination.
Look for Zinnia and the Bees August 1st from Capstone. And it’s available for pre-order now! In fact, if you pre-order a copy, I’ll send you some snail mail goodies to thank you! All the details here.
It’s here! The cover of my debut middle grade novel, Zinnia and the Bees, is really here! I’m thrilled to share it with you (and promise to go back to regular blog programming tomorrow).
Vibrant and quirky, I couldn’t be more pleased! (Not to mention that it matches this blog perfectly.)
One of my favorite parts is that Zinnia is upside down—like her world is turned at the very start of the story. Right when she was expecting things to be the best ever, her yarn bomb flops. Next, her older brother—aka her best friend and yarn-bombing accomplice—leaves with no explanation. And then, to massively top off a whopper of a last day of seventh grade, a colony of honeybees lands in her hair!
The cover also captures the magical realism quality of the book as well as the important role the bees play: they actually collectively (and comically) narrate their own side of the story!
If you’d like to add the book on goodreads, you can find it here. Look for the Zinnia and those bees August 1st.
This Picture Book Life is three years old this month. Woo hoo!
The Importance of Being Three by Lindsay Ward (2016) is a joyfully good book to celebrate threes. And while a perfect toddler birthday gift, I think it works pretty well for a picture book blog third birthday too.
“Three bears, three pigs. Three kittens, too!
Three primary colors—red, yellow, and blue…
I’ve learned so much since I was two.”
To thank you for reading along here, I’m giving away a copy of The Importance of Being Three. Just leave a comment below for a chance to win.
(Open to N. America only; ends Saturday, July 23 at midnight PST.)
And cheers to the next year of picture books brought to life! I hope you’ll join me.