Teens Kids About Rachel Fun Stuff Blog Buy a Book


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Writing Advice from an Unlikely Source

My little tortoise, Lightning, has been working on getting through the space between the chair and the speaker for the past ten minutes.

No whining, no cursing. Just working on a problem he came up with for himself, utterly unnecessary in the larger scheme of things to solve, but clearly vital to him in the moment.

I relate.

That's how the writing is going these days for me. That's the stage of book I'm at: stuck, in a tight space of my own creation, plodding away with no discernible progress.

But then, as I was writing this, thinking well, this is kind of a depressing little note, isn't it? Lightning turned himself around and went the other direction. No self-criticism at least as far as I can tell, just a decision to try a different route.

For somebody with a brain the size of a pignoli nut and no published work to his name, he has some pretty sharp insights to share about the writing process. Okay, Lightning. I get it. Fine. I'll try that.

OTOH, if he is so brilliant, why is he now trying to get through the wall behind my desk?

Friday, April 27, 2012

learning lessons

Feeling stuck yesterday, I tried doing the lessons I taught other writers, this past weekend in Seattle.

Happily, THEY WORKED. So now I am not only flying (or at least plodding) forward in my current book -- I also don't feel like a fraudulent jerk, trying to pass off loser time-waters on unsuspecting innocents.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Catching Up

I've hardly been home at all these past few weeks -- some book travels, some college visits, and just returned from SCBWI in Seattle (I adore the SCBWI Western Washington crew!!!)

Got to travel a bit with each of my sons, which was honestly really fun. They are such great guys, and they keep me laughing way too much. I keep expecting to freak out a bit about Baby Z looking at colleges, moving on, moving away... but I keep not, so far anyway. Maybe I am just having too much fun with him, or maybe he has been so independent and yet connected for so long that I'm not worried about whether our bonds will fray when he spreads his wings and takes to the sky? Or maybe it's denial? I know I will miss him terribly when I don't see him every day. I do like hanging with that guy.

Tomorrow is my first full day back at the desk, and I am looking forward to the writing. Hope I remember how to do it.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Quick! Easter is coming!

love this new review

Piggy Bunny By Rachel Vail April 4, 2012

Filed under: Picture Books — sommerreading @ 12:28 pm
Not too late for the Easter Basket on Sunday….Piggy Bunny by Rachel Vail is sweet and funny and really cute. This story has been told before, but don’t let that stop you from adding it to your Easter read-aloud list. Liam, who is a piglet, wants to be an Easter Bunny. He tries to get all of the Easter Bunny-like characteristics down. “He tried to practice hopping. He tried to enjoy salad. And he tried to deliver eggs.” Liam is an all-round awesome little guy – piglet or bunny!
After some well-meaning, but discouraging, words from his family and friends, Liam is sad. In the book’s most heart-wrenching scene, Liam says “This is the the kind of problem that is called heartbreaking.”  But…Liam gets some help from his grandma who, like any good 21st century grandparent, knows how to find an Easter bunny suit online. You can guess how the books ends – happily of course.
I love Piggy Bunny. The message of being true to yourself is always a good one to hear and this book takes a fresh and fun approach. It would be even sweeter if you read it while enjoying a chocolate bunny!

Get Ready for Easter Fun with Piggy Bunny by Rachel Vail!

Vail, Rachel. Piggy Bunny. Illustrations by Jeremy Tankard. New York: Feiwel and Friends, 2012. Ages 2 and up.

Just in time for Easter comes Rachel Vail's funny and whimsical Piggy Bunny!

I have to admit it: In my pre-reading, I found the premise of this book a little silly. Liam the piglet didn't want to be a pig when he grew up. Instead, he wanted to be the Easter Bunny. The Easter Bunny?! But what an adult will find silly and hard to believe, a preschooler will find raucously funny, as evidenced in my five year-old, who started to bounce and laugh uncontrollably. Liam is one of those characters that we readers of picture books adore: he's a little out-of-sorts. He wants to do his own thing in a world where everybody pressures him to conform. He's the one who marches to the tune of his own music. And that is something with which some children not only resonate, but need to hear more about. 
Liam wants to be the Easter Bunny so bad that he practices hopping, enjoying salad (not easy for a pig!), and delivering eggs. He falls down, finds salad unappealing, and drops his eggs. To their credit,Liam's parents say the right things: "You are perfect just exactly the way you are," but their actions tell him: be just like everybody else. Pigs can't be Easter Bunnies. When Liam, heartbroken, wonders: what if they were right?" and begins to lose faith, his parents step in and order a bunny suit off the internet. (That last detail was rather shocking. Sure, we live in a world where we order costumes ready-made, but I suppose in the world of picture books, one still expects a kindly granny to sew one up in a jiffy.) Once the costume arrives, Liam puts it on, and looks in the mirror: "looking back at him, was Liam, the Easter Bunny."

I have to say that the illustrations where Liam imagines himself to be the Easter Bunny are the funniest. Not only that, they show us the power of a young person's imagination to believe fully that they can be anything. By the end of the book, Liam is a happy Easter Bunny, and "everybody believed in him." It's a great message to send to parents and children about just being yourself. When children have parents and adults to believe, they really can do anything. 

Monday, April 2, 2012


Just found this:

By Bianca Schulze, The Children’s Book Review
Published: March 31, 2012
Piggy Bunny
By Rachel Vail; Illustrated by Jeremy Tankard
Ever had aspirations to be someone or something other than who or what you are? The piggy in this book, Liam, wants to be a bunny—the Easter bunny, to be exact. He’s willing to put in the hard work, even if it means eating salad. Nobody in his family, except for his grandma, believes he can become the Easter bunny, but Liam remains focused and with his can-do-attitude and support from grandma he makes his dream come true. Jeremy Tankard’s ink and digital media artwork are the icing on the cake (or the foil wrapper on the Easter egg, if I may) adding emotion to the story through little piggy faces and bodies. Liam is adorable and so is this story. (Ages 4-6. Publisher: Feiwel and Friends)

And this:
my tortoise, Lightning, admiring himself in the mirror

And also the three pounds I'd managed to lose. I am NOT blaming my friend Lauren and the ridiculously delicious bread, muffins, and blondies she foisted upon me this weekend. Well, maybe a little. Or maybe my scale is broken.
Also I brought in my car to be fixed. It has almost $300 worth of a broken wire, which is why there's no heat or AC. Oh, well. At least it's fixable. Too bad Mr. Mandarano didn't let me take auto mechanics as an elective in high school. Why didn't he? "Because you are a GIRL," he said.
Times have changed, though, right? RIGHT? 
Well, I hope so. Now, on to writing. How's your Monday going?