When I set up this blog awhile ago was not available. I don’t know why that was the case. Maybe I wanted, which is not available. Either way, I just discovered it’s available. For that reason, I’ll be transitioning this site to during the next couple weeks, after that you’ll find me over there exclusively. Of course you could always stop at the parent site, Anything I write will be there.


A Mosquito and Goldie Hawn

“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”*

Then again, happy Goldie Hawn, Laugh Infamilies are all alike only because they’re always giggling. If they’d stop with the giggling, just for a second, they’d see they actually fit into that unhappy category. All families are unhappy at some time or another, unless they never stop giggling. It’s the damn giggling that drives me crazy.

I used to start giggling for no reason at all. Pretty soon I’d be laughing and all my brothers and sisters would be giggling or laughing, too. Eventually, someone would turn the TV on and that would end that unless, of course LaughIn or Mork and Mindy was on. Then we’d be giggling again.

That Goldie Hawn, she sure loved to giggle. Made us all a really happy family. If we’d have been able to record her and keep playing her back, over and over and over we’d there would never have been a sad moment for any of us, at least not while we were in the house. Head out the door for the school bus… Now, don’t get me started. I’m the one who had a teacher who taught her brother how to pitch and he was a relief pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals.English: Female Culicine mosquito (cf. Culex sp.)


I giggle every time I think of that because there was the time she hauled off and threw an eraser at me. Would have hit me smack dab diddle in the middle of my face if a mosquito hadn’t bit me the

night before and the bite chose that moment to start itching. For the kid behind me it was like when you’re driving behind somebody and they suddenly change lanes, leaving you hitting your brakes because the guy who is now in front of you is loaded with chalk, if you know what I mean. Kinda funny, isn’t it?

*Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina


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giggling, Goldie Hawn, Mork and Mindy, Mosqitoes, Zumbling

First Lines

I have many favorite children’s books. It’s easy to recognize them just by their first lines. I’ve collected 15 of them. See if you can match the beginning with the book.

BeginnigsAn interesting thing about these. In most cases I can tell the older books (published more than a dozen years ago) from the newer books. The reason is that picture books have become extremely condensed. For that reason newer books tend to follow three rules:

  1. The story should begin at an interesting place (usually where the action begins).
  2. The first sentence should get your attention.
  3. The main character will usually be introduced within the first few sentences.

Anyway, see how well you can do. These are all classics and/or best sellers. The first sentences are at the top. The authors and titles at the bottom.

1) Everybody knows the story of the Three Little Pigs. Or at least they think they do.

2) On Christmas Eve, many years ago, I lay quietly on my bed
I did not rustle the sheets. I breathed slowly. I was listening for a sound — a sound a friend had told me I’d never hear — the ringing of Santa’s Sleigh.

3)  The night Max wore his wolf suit and made mischief of one kind and another his mother called him, “WILD THING!”

4) Many, many years ago in Sorrento there lived a small boy named Giovanni who had no mother and father. He dressed in rags and begged his bread and slept in doorways.
But he was happy, and he could do something wonderful.

5) In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines lived twelve little girls in two straight lines.

6) Mr. and Mrs. Mallard were looking for a place to live. But every time Mr. Mallard saw what looked like a nice place, Mrs. Mallard said it was no good.

7) A mother bird sat on her egg. The egg jumped. “I must get something for my baby bird to eat!” she said. So away she went.

8) “A told B and B told C, I’ll meet you at the top of the coconut tree.”

9) In the great green room there was a telephone and a red balloon and a picture of the cow jumping over the moon.

10) Lazlo was afraid of the dark

11) We were all sitting around the big kitchen table. it was Saturday morning, Pancake morning. Mom was squeezing oranges for juice. Henry and I were betting on how many pancakes we each could eat.

12) Not so long ago, before she could even speak words, Trixie went on an errand with her daddy….

13) Now remember, Mother said, “your father and I are bringing some guests by after the opera, so please keep the house neat.”
“Quite so,” added Father, tucking his scarf inside his coat.

14) A mother held her new baby and very slowly rocked him back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.

15) I went to sleep with gum in my mouth and now there’s gum in my hair and when I got out of bed this morning I tripped on the skateboard and by mistake dropped my sweater in the sink while the water was running….cover - Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

Okay, match ‘em up

___ a) Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Bill Martin Jr.
___b) Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg
___c)The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
___d) The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka
___e) Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
___f) The Dark, Lemony Snicket
___g) Madeline, Ludwig Bemelmans
___h) Goodnight Moon, Margaret Wise Brown
___i) Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
___j) Knuffle Bunny, Mo Willems
___k) Are You My Mother?. P.D. Eastman
___l) Make Way for Ducklings, Robert McCloskey
___m) Love You Forever by Robert N. Munsch
___n) The Clown of God, Tomie dePaola) Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Judy Barret, Ronald Barret

Actually, not too difficult, right? The real question is: Which ones do you want to read most?

Just in case you’re not sure about one or two of your answers. Here’s the answer key.

1 = d; 2 = c; 3 = i; 4 = n; 5 = g; 6 = l; 7 = k; 8 = a; 9 = h; 10 = f; 11 = o; 12 = j; 13 = b; 14 = m; 15 = e


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beginnings, Picture Books, writing

A Note to Myself

A note to myselfA couple mornings ago I awoke and found this note on the nightstand.

Obviously I had an idea for something, probably a story. I didn’t remember having written this.

Beyond that it doesn’t make any sense to me. It’s undecipherable. Sometimes it doesn’t even look like my handwriting. It’s as if an alien landed nearby, had to make a note for himself, found my pen and pad of paper, but forgot to take his note.

I checked the cabinets. The peanut butter is still there. I’ve heard aliens love peanut butter.

handwriting, notes, peanut butter

How to Identify Conflict

Here’s a little writing tip I just learned.

the word butWrite a synopsis of your story. You know, tell what happens ( Dorothy is suddenly caught in a tornado that carries her to a faraway land called Oz). If at anytime you insert the word ‘but’ in your synopsis, you have conflict. If, however, you cannot insert the word ‘but’ anywhere, then you have no conflict and you have no story.

Dorothy, a farm girl,  finds herself transported to a faraway land called Oz.  BUT an evil witch wants to Dorothy. Before she can return to Kansas Dorothy has to deal with the witch and a wizard.

inspiration, pitch, plot, writing tip

Quotation: Trenton Lee Stewart

Quotation: Trenton Lee StewartWe writers of literature for children like to think of children as good, kind and sweet. For the most part they are, or can be. That’s the way we tend to portray them. However, they often usually lack inhibitions. So they are known to do what they want to do, say what they want to say.

A number of years ago a woman who lived above me sent one of her children down to borrow my curry powder. I was boiling some cabbage at the time.

Before the boy asked about the spice he said, “Wow, it really stinks in here.” I think I’d like to write a story about him

childhood, rudeness, Trenton Lee Stewart, writing

Children as Young as Nine Can Experience Peer Pressure

I was surprised one day when my daughter didn’t want to eat a vegetable she had always enjoyedpeer pressure before. The reason she no longer liked this vegetable was because one of her third grade classmates told her it was ‘yucky.’ My daughter at the vegetable after we pointed out that maybe her friend didn’t like it because it wasn’t cooked the same way we cooked it.

A University of Maryland-led study has found that the seeds of peer pressure are sewn when a child is about nine years old. At that time the child is still able to deal with peer pressure, but it doesn’t take long before the effects of peer pressure can be too difficult to deal with, especially when it means acceptance or rejection.

Peer pressure can be a form of bullying that leads to some form of injustice. Children usually want to be fair, but they also want to be liked. Don’t make the mistake of thinking your nine or ten-year old is just imagining things or that there might not be a problem if he or she is uncomfortable with something. A parent who makes it a point to communicate with the child will often recognize the effects of peer-pressure and can help the child realize that the vegetables might not have been cooked differently.

Peer Pressure Starts in Childhood, Not with Teens.