Soccer Beat by Sandra Brug newly released in Paperback!

Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2012

My book is back!

Soccer Beat by Sandra Gilbert Brug, illustrated by Elisabeth Moseng, published by Margaret K. McElderry Books (Simon & Schuster).

Newly Released in Paperback!  (September 2012)

Good news for young soccer fans–my picture book Soccer Beat is now available in paperback. It can be purchased as a print-on- demand book only from online booksellers.

Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2012

Soccer players nimble feet/hustle at the soccer meet … The Rockets and Cheetahs, two spunky multi-animal teams, square off in this high energy, fast-paced game of soccer! For ages 2-6.

See my pages “Soccer Beat” for reviews.

ISBN: 0-689-84580-4


What is print on demand? Print on demand (POD) is a printing technology in which new copies of a book are not printed until an order is received. This means that books can be printed one at a time. At this point, is delivering copies of Soccer Beat to customers in 3-4 weeks.

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Janet Fox’s Young Adult Novel, SIRENS, is celebrated in Montana

PARTY!  Janet Fox’s young adult novel, SIRENS, hits the markets on November 8, 2012 simultaneously in paperback and e-book. She is planning a release event on that date at Bozeman’s independent bookseller, Country Bookshelf. The event is geared to 12 and up readers and will include twenties-themed giveaways and treats. Attendees are encouraged to wear appropriate twenties-style costumes.

Other scheduled Montana events include Saturday, October 27, 1-4 pm at Barnes & Noble in Bozeman, a multi-author party; and a reading & signing on Wednesday, November 14, 7-9 pm at Pine Creek Lodge, sponsored by Elk River Books in Livingston.

SIRENS front cover

“I’m calling SIRENS a ‘noire romance’,” says Fox. “The novel is set in New York City in 1925 and features a pair of girls, a gangster, and a ghost.”

SIRENS takes place in the “Roaring Twenties”, the age of flappers and bootleggers. Josephine Winter, seventeen, is sent to live with relatives in New York City after her bootlegging father receives a threat, but bookish Jo harbors her own secrets. She finds friendship with lively Louise O’Keefe and romance with sweet jazz musician Charlie. Haunted by the spirit of her missing brother, Jo uncovers a nest of family lies that threaten everyone she loves, and Lou, in the thrall of the dangerous, seductive gangster Daniel Connor, is both Jo’s best friend and potential enemy. As Jo unlocks dark mysteries and Lou’s eyes are opened, the girls’ treacherous paths intertwine. Jo and Lou together will have to stand up to Connor in order to find their hearts and hang onto their souls in the “decade of decadence.”
The book is appropriate for ages 12 and up.

SIRENS is Fox’s third young adult novel, following FAITHFUL, a 2011 Best Fiction for Young Adults nominee and 2011 Amelia Bloomer List pick, and FORGIVEN, a 2012 Junior Library Guild selection and finalist for the 2012 Children’s and Young Adult WILLA Award.

Interested readers can find more information at

Read more:

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5th Annual Children’s Festival of the Book 2012

Ready, set, GO!  The Bozeman Public Library presents its 5th Annual Children’s Festival of the Book!

Where? At the Bozeman Public Library at 626 E. Main Street, Bozeman Montana.

When?  Saturday November 3, 2012 from 9 am-5 pm. It’s free and open to ALL.

Why? The goal of the Bozeman Children’s Festival of the Book is to celebrate children’s literature, inspire children of all ages, and instill a life-long love of reading.

Who? Our 2012 event features New York Times Best-selling author Jeanne DuPrau, author/illustrator Edward Hemingway, and Caldecott Medalist Paul O. Zelinsky.

We are very excited to welcome Juvenile author Jeanne DuPrau, who will captivate our audiences with her tales of the futuristic world of the City of Ember. This exciting, mysterious series will “enlighten” readers young and old! DuPrau has a new book available – the graphic novel version of the first book in the series City of Ember.

Joining DuPrau will be author-illustrators Paul O. Zelinsky and Edward Hemingway.     “We are thrilled to once again welcome these talented and prolific authors and illustrators,” says Paula K. Beswick director of the Bozeman Library Foundation, host of the Festival. “Paul Zelinsky and Eddie Hemingway were here for the first Festival in 2008, and we’re looking forward to having them both of them back with new books out to celebrate the fifth.”

Caldecott Medal winner Paul O. Zelinsky has amazed us with his illustrations for many years, with books like, Wheels on the BusRupunzel, and Toys Go Out just to name a few. Zelinsky’s new picture book, Z is for Moose is winning rave reviews.

Edward Hemingway is one of Bozeman’s favorite home-town illustrators. His newly published A Bad Apple is a poignant picture book about an unlikely friendship between an apple and a worm. He has also published Bump in the Night and is working on a sequel to A Bad Apple.

“By bringing in these two illustrators, we recognize the importance of picture books in a young person’s learning path,” says Beswick.

More? yes–presentations, book sales and signings, children’s activities and story times.

So COME! … for some fun in Bozeman, Montana.

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Help A Child Get Ready To Read

Are you a parent, relative, or caregiver of a baby, a toddler, or a preschool-aged child? You can help that child–right now–get ready to read with simple activities every day.

Learning to read begins well before children start school. From the time they are infants, children learn language and other important pre-reading skills. Developing these early literacy skills makes it easier for children to read once they do begin school.

At the Bozeman Public Library, we encourage patrons to follow these simple, research-based practices from the Every Child Ready to Read @ your library program developed by the Public Library Association (PLA) and Association for Library Services to Children (ALSC).


TALKING:  Children learn language and other early literacy skills by listening to their parents and others talk. Talk to your infant about what you are doing and seeing during the day. As children become verbal, talking together is one of the best ways to help them develop language and learn what words mean, as well as gain new information about the world. Conversations help children express thoughts. You can talk with your child anywhere–during daily routines, meals, in the car, doing chores, at the store, bath time or on a walk. Listen to what your child says, answer questions and add new information.

SINGING: Singing songs is a natural and appealing way for a child to learn about language. Children hear distinct sounds that make up words, an important early literacy skill. Sing to your child and sing together! songs from your childhood, nursery rhymes. Don’t worry about having a perfect voice–kids don’t care. You can also check out music CD’s from the library or find children’s music online (www.freesongs for

READING: Reading out loud to your child is the single most important way to help children get ready to read. Shared reading helps children develop an interest in reading; it helps them learn how print looks and how books work. As you read, talk about what the words and pictures mean. Ask questions and listen to what your child says. Children who enjoy the experience of being read to are more likely to want to learn to read themselves.

PLAYING: Playing helps children put thoughts into words. As they play, they learn that spoken words stand for real objects and experiences. Give children time to spend in free, child-directed play–time when they can use their imaginations and create stories about what they’re doing.

WRITING: Children learn pre-reading skills through writing activities. Give a child paper and pencils or crayons for pretend writing. Scribbling and writing help children learn that written words stand for spoken language. Children can pretend to “sign” their name to drawings, which helps them understand that print represents words. With practice they can begin writing the letters in their names.

The seeds of later success with reading are planted very, very early.  So if there’s a child under 5 in your life, try these suggestions on a regular basis. You’ll be helping that child get ready to read.

Learn more about the national program  Every Child Ready to Read @ your library at or go to learn more @ your library.

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Read Books to your Baby

It’s never too early to read aloud to your infant!

Babies are prepared at birth to listen to language. You can help a child’s language and communication skills from the get-go, by reading books and talking to your baby about what you find there.

Listening is essential to a child’s development of language, and that means listening to “live” language such as talking or reading aloud, not watching videos or TV. Picture books and board books provide a platform for children to hear spoken words and associate those words with the things they represent. Books also offer a wide variety of words and sounds we don’t use in our everyday speaking.

Babies love the sounds, rhythms and songs found in early children’s books (don’t forget nursery rhymes!) and these language experiences are important for baby’s healthy brain development. Did you know that children who are read to 3X per week or more do much better in later development than children who are read to less than 3X per week?

Ellen Galinsky, in her book Mind In The Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs, reports that parent-look–shifting our focus to what we want children to look at–helps children learn words. “When babies follow our gaze, we are actually telling them with our eyes what we think is important.”  Experiments done with babies reveal that we’re helping children learn language with our hands as well, by gesturing or pointing to what we want children to focus on and naming it. She calls this parent-gesture. Children themselves begin to point around eight months or later. It appears that pointing and other gestures are the first steps that all children take into language.

Here are a few suggestions for sharing books with infants. (From Raising Readers: A Guide to Sharing Literature with Young Children, by Lamme & NCTE).

+ Share a book with your baby every day. Find a “routine” time to read, a time when you and your baby are calm and feeling good–after a nap? before bed? Don’t try to read to a fussy baby. Give a squirmy child a small toy to play with while you read.

+Hold your child on your lap. Show your baby the book, pointing to the pictures and talking about what you see in the book in a calm voice. Point to the pictures and name things. Touch and love your baby while you’re reading.

+Start by interacting with a book for a short time –even a minute or two for infants. Respond to your child’s interest and stop when he/she loses interest. Keep this time together fun and positive, warm and cozy.

+Choose books that you enjoy; don’t waste time with books you don’t like. It’s important that you enjoy this experience, too.

+It’s okay for a baby to play with the book if she wants to (board books are for tasting too).

+Repeat familiar books. Children love repetition and learn from hearing the same words over and over again.

Children’s librarians are always happy to help you choose appropriate books for infants. I know–I’m a children’s librarian! And many libraries offer “Books & Baby”-type programs for stimulating the development of language and communication skills in infants.

“When you read aloud to infants, they discover that books have words and pictures, stories have a sequence, language is made up of different sounds, and words and pictures have meaning. It all starts so early!” (Cindy Christin, Bozeman Public Library).

And by the way, making “book time” a part of every day may become one of the most satisfying things you and your child do together!

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Children’s Festival of the Book remembered

A day to savor … a time to remember at the Bozeman Public Library.

Lilz Garton Scanlon in green

We thank our distinguished guests–David Shannon, Liz Garton Scanlon and Marla Frazee, who gave their all at the Festival of the Book in Bozeman, Montana.

Thanks to funding from the Bozeman Library Foundation, over  1300 children, parents, teachers and librarians filled our halls on Saturday, November 5, to get acquainted with three wonderful people who are among the best children’s writers and artists creating today.

David Shannon and his admirers

David Shannon, author and illustrator of the favorite No David! books, Duck on a Bike,  and dozens of other picture books that kids love, shared hilarious “stories behind the stories.” Festival-goers split their sides, shed tears of glee as they glimpsed a bit of the man behind the stories.

Liz Garton Scanlon and Marla Frazee, the team who created All The World, a picture book that won a Caldecott Honor last year, honored us with a fascinating, detail-rich tour of their collaborative process.

Marla Frazee and kitty

Marla shared her writing and illustrating journey for her popular Boss Baby and Two Boys Have the Best Summer Ever. Liz presented an engaging, interactive storytime for children and adults with her stories A Sock is a Pocket for Your Toes and Noodle and Lou.

Our three distinguished guests graced us with their generosity and authenticity.

Author story times, book signings, lunch with the authors, face painting, bookmaking, a first-ever children’s writing contest–Our Fourth Annual Festival of the Book was truly an event to savor, a celebration to remember.

Festival planning committee with David, Marla and Liz

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PlaySpace at the Library!

Construction Zone at the Bozeman Public Library!

AT the BPL Children’s Room, literacy (especially emergent literacy) is our business. And we have recently expanded our juvenile offerings to include a PlaySpace, where children ages 0-8 can play with materials that develop literacy.

 Guess what our newest offering is? Three hundred and eighteen wooden building blocks from LakeShore (

Unit blocks were developed by educator Caroline Pratt in the early 1900s, and have been found in homes, preschools and day cares ever since. Now libraries which serve the youngest populations are catching on. Our PlaySpace is primarily a creative construction zone with a huge array of modular blocks designed for children and adults to manipulate together. Research shows that parents can promote their children’s learning through play, and building together offers premium learning opportunities.

 Why play in libraries? Why not? Play, the primary platform for children’s learning, can happen anywhere and libraries are places where learning is free and open to all. Through play, children develop language, thinking skills, physical skills,  social and emotional abilities—all important proficiencies to help them succeed in school and in life.

Why blocks? Blocks encourage purposeful play and promote school readiness. Wooden blocks, especially those with a wide variety of shapes and proportional sizes, offer many quality learning opportunities for children. As children build structures and manipulate these blocks, they learn about math skills such as proportion, fractions, balance, geometry, classification, seriation and patterning. “Children practice science inquiry skills as they make observations, test their predictions, and draw conclusions based on evidence,” says Cindy Christin, project developer. “New vocabulary emerges with every building session. And children cultivate social skills as they plan and execute building projects together.” Cleaning up involves math too: sorting dissimilar and identical shapes, and organizing by size.    

 Our new PlaySpace is funded by our fabulous Friends of the Library, and modeled after Baltimore County Public Library’s Early Learning program (see Storyville at: Children’s staff and others working on this project hope to make PlaySpace possible in libraries throughout Montana.  Block building at the library


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What’s so good about a writer’s critique group?

A writer’s critique group meets on a regular basis to share information about the writer’s craft and the writing business. Members share resources, marketing information, sales and rejections, editor, agent, and business info, as well as their precious manuscripts.

At its best, a critique group “feeds” its writers. A writer’s group offers support and encouragement. In a critique group, writers listen to each other’s manuscripts with respect and consideration, making sure all members get a chance to share. Some groups read manuscripts aloud during the meetings, offering immediate feedback; others read manuscripts ahead and share written critiques at the meeting.

Writers present thoughtful evaluations of each manuscript, giving helpful, kind and honest feedback without being overwhelming; offering suggestions for improvement without trying to rewrite the manuscript. What might an evaluation include?: A report on places where one wants to know more; feelings that occur inside as the manuscript is read; images and phrases that stick.

I have been a member of a children’s writer’s group for over 10 years. Members of my group write picture books, children’s poetry, middle grade fiction and nonfiction, YA fiction and nonfiction. Consistently, our group is generous with its idea-sharing and support. Everyone offers heartfelt suggestions and everyone wishes success for all members.  Because each member has a unique perspective to offer and a special area of interest/expertise, my writing has become stronger. I have learned to trust and evaluate the feedback—when to use it and when not.

On our way to the cabin!

Sharing our writing means we have also shared some of the deepest places of our inner lives. We have forged a special bond. Magically, my writer’s critique group recently spent five days together on a “writer’s retreat”, clicking computer keys from dawn till dusk (see previous post “Writer’s Group Retreat”).

Tragically, one of our members suffered a massive brain stem stroke two weeks following our retreat. She is now on life support with a slim chance of recovery. We are grieving the loss of our group-mate and friend—Elaine Marie Alphin, writer and “critiquer” extraordinaire.

Elaine Marie Alphin

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Writer’s Group Retreat

I am sitting on the front porch of a rustic log house (a rental “cabin”) at the top of a mountain in Big Sky, Montana. The altitude is 8400 feet. The sun beams, the breeze stirs the trees and mountain bluebirds flit across the meadow. The bluebird call and the soft gurgle of a creek are the only sounds I hear. My mind is clear. Which is a good thing for a writer.  An uncluttered mind invites the subconscious to open its valves and share its priceless contents.

Can you guess? I’m on a writer’s group retreat.

My five fellow writer’s group members (all children’s writers) are deep into their novels inside the cabin–laptops spread across tables and benches, keyboards softly thunking. Most of us have day jobs. We don’t have the luxury of an 8-10 hour writing day. So this annual getaway devoted to writing and critiquing manuscripts is  productive, creative, and a bonding time for our group. We write–morn till night.

And writing isn’t the only creative activity we share. Everyone brings a cooler stuffed with ingredients for the common good–Let me tell you about the food! Oh, yeah.

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What’s so good about a poem?

What’s so good about a poem?

A poem is something fun to hear. It delights the ear.

It delights the eye, with its use of space, its arrangement of words and lines on the page.

A poem is felt—it touches our emotions, catches our hearts. A poem can express and provoke our most important thoughts and feelings.

A poem is a condensed form of writing. Words do more than one job at the same time–think imagery, symbolism. A poem is enchanting, as it often takes the reader awhile to unpack everything.

A poem surprises us, with its vocabulary, its images, its shape, or the very idea it expresses.

Poems can tell what its like to be alive! They often speak to the unanswerable questions, the essential mysterious aspects of life: Who am I? Why am I here? What makes a good life! If you read a lot of poetry, it’s hard to feel alone in the world.

I love this statement by Annie Dillard: “The way to a reader’s emotions is through the senses. Give hardback fiction and poetry as gifts to everyone you know. No shirt or sweater ever changed a life.”

 What else do poems do?  Ask X. J. and Dorothy Kennedy. In their book, Knock at a Star: a child’s introduction to poetry, they show how poems can …“Make You Smile, Tell Stories, Send Messages, Share Feelings, Help You Understand People, and Start You Wondering.”

This book is worth the read—especially for its choice of delectable poems! Included is this “Send a Message” poem by Sarah N. Cleghorn, printed in 1917, before laws prevented children from working in factories.


The golf links lie so near the mill

That almost every day

The laboring children can look out

And see the men at play.

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