children's books, children's writing, creativity, David Gordon, early chapter books, eifrig publishing, interactive story ideas, Jen Ball, Olivia Van Ledtje, picture book author, picture book illustrators, pre-school classroom

Doing What We Can . . .

“Although the world is full of suffering it is also full of the overcoming of it.” Helen Keller

Olivia Van Ledtje is a young girl who is a great example of what we should be doing to overcome the difficulty we’re all dealing with since our schools have closed. Olivia came up with the great idea of putting together a listing of authors and illustrators, and all sorts of creative people including astronauts, for kids to tune into via a variety of platforms, so that they can stay connected with books, and art, music and science. She calls her project Let’s Keep Reading! Keep Thinking with Interactive Read Alouds! You can find her @thelivbits and her list . . .

So I was happy to add my name to the list and began a read aloud that will happen every weekday at 4:00 on Instagram @janmilusich. I started it off last Friday March 20th by reading my picture book, Off Go Their Engines, Off Go Their Lights and will follow it up on Monday with a chapter a day from my early chapter book Cleo’s Big Ideas: One Thing Leads to Another.

After a few technical difficulties, quite a few . . .

One of them being an out of date phone, followed by my having the camera the wrong way ’round and then not finding the button to save the video so I could post it to my website, for later viewing. But eventually I made it through my first Instagram live event. Phew! Thank goodness my son, for whom my picture book was dedicated, was in the next room with the latest model iPhone. He came to my repeated rescue. Three times in fact.

But it was so much fun to hear that one of my students was tuned in and listening as well as friends from Stony Brook’s Children’s Fellowship and my daughter who’s now living in Ireland. Thank you for your positivity! And I want to thank my student’s mom for reaching out and letting me know how much he enjoyed it. I’m looking forward to virtually seeing him again and hopefully having less technical difficulties and more connections.

In the end, if we can learn anything from all of this is that we all need each other more than we realize.

Stay well, keep your creativity and your connections going, Jan

amwriting, books, children's writing, early chapter books, eifrig publishing, interactive story ideas, picture book author, picture book illustrators, teacher

An Owlish Point of View

I’m working on the final edits to the early chapter book sequel to Cleo’s Big Ideas: One Thing Leads to Another. The sequel is titled Cleo’s Big Ideas: Onward and Upward. I’m hoping to reveal the book’s cover soon.

The main character, Cleopatra W. Darby, is focused on the 3 R’s (Recycling, Renewing, and Reusing) just as she was in the first book. And, like in the first book, the sequel has instructions for STEM activities that readers can try out. Below is the Solar Oven in which Cleo made scrumptious Solar S’mores and the Gripper-Grabber she used to rescue the owlets.

Gripper-Grabber from
Cleo’s Big Ideas: One Thing Leads to Another
Cleo’s Solar Oven from
Cleo’s Big Ideas: One Thing Leads to Another

In Cleo’s first book she and her class were studying owls that had nested in a nearby pine tree. And in the second book Cleo’s school hopes to build an owl blind to observe the developing nestlings. The activity that follows that chapter is a project that lets readers explore how an owl sees.

Unlike humans owls can’t move their eyes. They have to move their heads to get a good look around. This week I was working on re-writing the steps on how to make owl specs, so kids can try them out and gain an understanding of the world around them from an owls point of view. Here are some pictures of the process.

Tomorrow I’m bringing the owl specs and Martin Waddell’s, OWL BABIES with me to my pre-school in order to share them with my students. One little guy in particular needs to work on his visual scanning skills, and I think the owl specs will be just the thing to encourage him to move his head from left to right to search his surroundings. I’m sure they’re going to be a hit with his friends too. So after reading OWL BABIES, he and his peers will have fun pretending they’re mommy owl in search of Percy, Sarah, and Bill. Should be fun for all!

Here’s to having an owl point of view!