I’ve always loved Halloween, not only for the obvious reasons of spooky fun and abundance of candy, but for the costumes, parties, and Halloween themed parks. I’m a sucker for a good scare. Over the past five years, I’ve brought the Halloween spirit into our house with my window monster tradition, adding a new paper cut-out ghoul or beast each year. (Check out my Instagram for this year’s edition). Although my love for Halloween just about spans my lifetime, I’ve only recently begun discovering spooky Halloween picture books.
Several creepy classics come to mind, but my current favorite is Monster & Son by David LaRochelle, illustrated by Joey Chou. If you’re ever in the Eagle Rock area of L.A., stop by Leanna Lin’s Wonderland, an art and gift shop where I find my gifts and unique picture books like this one. Local artists like illustrator, Joey Chou, contribute to the art shows from time to time, so it’s a pretty fun place to check out.
Back to Monster and Son- this book is a recent addition to my collection, not only because I’m a big fan of Chou’s, but it’s a more light-hearted take on the monster book, making it perfect for younger kids. Monster and Son shows the heart-warming relationship between a monster and its son, written in fun and minimal rhyme by LaRochelle, making it a delightful bedtime story as well.
Art and the Fun Stuff
Chou’s variety of monsters, from King Kong to skeletons and swamp monsters are just the right amount of scary and adorable. The artwork was created digitally, and Chou uses this medium to his advantage, working with different textures and color palettes to create each monster world. Chou’s signature style is a refreshing take on picture book illustration, with added patterns and angular shapes to really draw your eye in. The appearance of tiny human beings in the monster world is especially fun to look for too.
Kids will love it because…
…it’s such a fun and colorful monster book. Monster and Son is the perfect Halloween book for those looking for an entertaining monster book without the big scare factor. These friendly creatures might even inspire a drawing-fest for your little monsters. I know I’ll be looking here for inspiration for next year’s window monster friends.
You can find out more about David LaRochelle and Joey Chou in the links below:
Beautiful Hands, Incredible Colors and Creativity
Autumn is officially here! It’s time for sweaters and scarves, pumpkin spice everything, and back to school for the little kiddos and students. I love this time of year, not only because I’m ready to say good-bye to the summer heat of L.A., but for autumn’s cooler, calmer energy: a time right in between all the outdoor fun of the summer and the bustling gatherings of the holidays. I love the thought of all the hands-on projects and creativity for the little ones experiencing a classroom for the first time. This book, Beautiful Hands by Kathryn Otoshi and Bret Baumgarten exactly captures the spirit of new art projects and creativity.
What’s the book?
The cover for Beautiful Hands, with its rainbow hand in hand print and textural script, brought images of people laughing as they playfully painted with their hands to my mind, and I was immediately drawn to it. This book exudes delightful energy, inviting readers not only to read the story inside, but will inspire them to imagine, create and reach for their dreams. It’s a concept book with a small word count, but I found myself drawn to every page, wanting to touch every finger and hand print.
Art and the fun stuff!
There are hands and fingerprints and swirls and even a paw print full of color and fun all over this book. It’s clear to see how much fun the artists had creating the images in this wonderfully imaginative book. The best part is learning how collaborative the effort was in making the artwork. Over a hundred family members, both Otoshi’s and Baumgarten’s, took part in the truly unique creation of the images. What a charming and inspiring way to bring people together to spread the message to dream, explore and reach for more.
Kids will love it because…
the thought of dipping your hands into gobs of paint and creating rainbows of images on a blank, white sheet of paper is oh-so satisfying and delightful. Be ready for numerous requests for fingerpaint sessions. There is nothing more beautiful than the simple expression of creativity made from the handprints of all the people you love, and Beautiful Hands captures this exact sense of wonder for all readers to enjoy.
Sarah Momo Romero is a Japanese Peruvian American artist, a graphic designer by day and children's book author and illustrator by night. She’s loved drawing and painting since she was a chiquita and now crafts stories of adventure and wondrous creatures. Sarah is an active SCBWI member who draws inspiration from her life in sunny Los Angeles with her husband/creative partner and dog/infamous escape artist, Peanut. Look out for her first picture book coming out in
You can find more of Sarah's musings and drawings here:
Facebook: Sarah Momo Romero + Instagram: @sarahmomoromero + Twitter: @sarahmomoromero
Recently I watched a Ted talk by Matthew Dicks. He’s a masterful storyteller and his Homework for Life changed my perspective on writing and storytelling. His advice for finding stories is powerful and simple. He challenges us to take five minutes at the end of each night to really think about the day and write down the most story worthy moment: “When you start to look for stories in your life, you suddenly have stories well up”. He suggests that we ask ourselves:
Taking the time to really contemplate my day and find something story worthy has made me pay more attention to each moment. My Life’s Homework document contains thoughts like:
Don’t hesitate. Listen to Matthew Dicks Ted Talk and and take 5 minutes a day to contemplate your life and find the stories.
What helps you discover stories in your life?
Kirsti Call is a homeschooling mom of five. Her debut picture book, The Raindrop Who Couldn't Fall, came out in 2013 with Character Publishing. Her family band, Calling Out, plays songs written by her children. She contributes to Writer's Rumpus and co-coordinates Reading for Research Month, a challenge for picture book writers who use mentor texts to improve their writing skills. If you visit her house, you’ll likely find her reading or writing. You can find out more about her at www.kirsticall.com.
We love ping pong at our house. In fact we love ping pong so much, that we threw convention to the wind and moved our ping pong table into our front room. Why, you say? Since I’ve started homeschooling, I’ve become more utilitarian in my approach. We never used that room. It may not be pretty, but now we’re playing ping pong. My son even set up a tournament schedule. So far, my kids haven’t beaten me yet, but I have a feeling that I won’t be undefeated for long. Practice, competition and flexibility improve our ping pong and writing skills.
Practice: There’s nothing more satisfying than a good volley when you’re playing ping pong. And the more you play, the better you get. Just like writing...the more you write, the better your work will be.
Competition: Lately I’ve been learning how to return curve balls in my ping pong game. I know that if I don’t, I’ll start losing. Competition, even with yourself, helps in your writing life too. If it weren’t for the12x12 challenge, PiBoIdMo, ReViMo,and ReFoReMo, I wouldn’t have many of my stories written.
Flexibility: Sometimes someone surprises you by hitting a ping pong ball on the very edge of the table. Sometimes you have to move in ways you never thought possible in order to return the ball to the other side of the table. Flexibility is key for writing too. We have to be willing to let a story evolve and to revise over and over and over again. It’s flexibility that makes an incredible story possible.
What helps you improve your writing skills?
Kirsti Call is a homeschooling mom of five. Her debut picture book, The Raindrop Who Couldn't Fall, came out December 2013 with Character Publishing. Her family band, Calling Out, plays songs written by her children. She contributes to Writer's Rumpus, and Kids are Writers. If you visit her house, you’ll likely find her reading or writing. You can find out more about her at www.kirsticall.com
One of the best things about homeschooling is that I get to teach my kids how to write! But I have a hard time understanding my reluctant writers. How can they stare at a blank page for SO long without filling it with wonderful words? But we’ve all been there. Sometimes it’s hard to get the words on the page. Here are 3 strategies that I use for my kids and myself when we’re struggling to write.
2. Write Stream of Consciousness. Sometimes when we write what we are thinking, and let go of worrying about the perfect word combination, we come up with the most wonderful combination of words....or not. I give my kids permission to write: “I don’t know what to write” over and over again if they want to and somehow, that’s never happened. Even if that does happen, there are words on the page.
And if all else fails, watch this chicken video. It's a well known fact at our house that chickens inspire ideas. What helps you overcome writer’s block?
Kirsti Call is a homeschooling mom of five. Her debut picture book, The Raindrop Who Couldn't Fall, came out December 2013 with Character Publishing. Her family band, Calling Out, plays songs written by her children. She contributes to Writer's Rumpus, and Kids are Writers. If you visit her house, you’ll likely find her watching her backyard chickens or writing, of course. You can find out more about her at www.kirsticall.com.
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