Tag Archives: kids

Listen to Your Mother – video release!!!

14 Jul

So while I’m frantically revising picture book manuscripts to take to Highlights Summer Camp


Fake picture of me….



The Real Me

 Listen To Your Mother released the 2016 videos from shows in 41 cities. As promised, here’s my piece in the San Francisco Show! It was a privilege and an honor to be on stage with such amazing women. Cheers!

Appalachian Trail Hikers on NPR

15 Jun

A couple of weeks ago, I told you about my husband’s cousins who are hiking the Appalachian Trail with their two children. The children were reciting from Moby Dick and Frost’s “The Road Less Traveled.” NPR caught wind of the family’s adventure and interviewed them on the trail.

While there was no recitation during the interview, everyone got a chance to have their say, including Cartwheel who told about the time they ran into some bears…

Continue reading

Moby Dick, Robert Frost, and Einstein on the Appalachian Trail

2 Jun

I’d like to introduce you to the Kallin family,

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my husband’s cousins who live in rural Maine. The father (trail name: All In) is an environmental lawyer and their mother (trail name: Mama Bear) is a biologist and farmer extraordinaire. They pulled their two kids, ages 7 (trail name: Cartwheel) and 9 (trail name: Robin Hood) out of school at the end of March to hike the Appalachian Trail from the southern tip in Georgia to the northernmost point in Maine, approximately 2,185 miles, the longest continuously marked footpath in the world. It should take them six months.

Along the way, they’ve been “trail schooling,” a more exciting version of home schooling. An example? One day they were observing cloud formations, noting the difference between cirrus, stratus, stratocumulous, cumulonimbus, and—

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Ominous. Yes, their education contains a certain amount of humor, including an observation from their father in a recent post:

Over these first two months of watching the kids draft behind other hikers, I’ve been working out my special theory of relativity. This is what I have so far:
E = m * (1 – 2c) ^ 2
Where ‘E’ is the kids’ energy level; ‘m’ is the miles per hour of the hiker in front of them; and ‘c’ is the degree of genetic relatedness they have with the hiker in front of them.

Thus, as c approaches zero, the kids have the energy to keep up with any hiker, but as c approaches 1/2 (the genetic relatedness between a parent and their child who always has half their genes), the kids’ energy level approaches zero. This special theory of relativity is still a work in progress, but in practice!while they might declare that they are too tired to hike when it is just the family, you will never hear such a complaint when they are drafting behind a non-parent.

One recent fine morning, the kids got up at the crack of dawn to hike with a fellow traveler (trail name: Wired, note that c=0) on a big mileage day. Along the way, she recorded Cartwheel reciting the opening page to Moby Dick and Robin Hood reciting Frost’s “A Road Less Traveled”—while walking uphill at a brisk pace. The sound of these young voices makes my heart sing! 





Open Mic Fright

4 May

And so my eight-year-old son, the voracious reader but painfully reluctant writer, has progressed from writing about building a treehouse in Maine with his dad, to a nonfiction report on the Iguanodon with its fearsome thumb spikes, to creating a fictional story about the adventures of Frog the Kitten and Sid the Skunk.

Now the focus is poetry. In class, they’ve read many examples of what poems can look and sound like. My son’s favorite collection is the latest Shel Silverstein, Everything On It. But enjoying poetry is not the problem—apparently. Continue reading

Reality Check

1 Apr

An article in today’s Sunday NYT (April 1, 2012) highlights very young writers who are publishing their work through a variety of self-publishing imprints (what used to be known as vanity presses), thanks to their benefactors—their parents. Parents insist that having a published book in hand raises their children’s self-esteem and tangibly recognizes their achievement.

I was thrilled with Tom Robbins’ response: Continue reading

Sobering Thought

29 Mar

So I was teaching my library class this morning to a group of second and third graders, and I asked them to tell me how they select books. Some of the obvious answers: “my friends are reading them”; “I look at the front and back covers” (exceedingly important for kids’ books!); and “I read the first page.” Some actually would hang in there for a bit longer than a page to see if the book is going to be interesting.

Nothing unusual there. We’re all told how important that first page is, that the jacket should be eye-catching, and that the copy should have a hook.

But then they started talking about “taking a book walk.” This means that they thumb through the pages and read a sentence or paragraph here and there. If they like what they read, they’ll want to read more. So, I should strive to make every single page, every single sentence, and every single word nothing short of stellar, because I never know where a random walk will take a reader. And with tens of thousands of books published each year along with magazines, the Internet, newspapers, etc., I have a microscopic minute to grab readers and get their buy in. No pressure.

I think I’ll go have a drink.

Writing as Calculus

16 Mar

Thinking about writing—and my son. In a recent parent-teacher conference, one of his teachers suggested that my son is a perfectionist, and that’s why he’s so reticent to put words on the page. She told me how she sat down with him one day to brainstorm ideas. As they came up with idea after idea, she would occasionally say, “That’s a really good idea. Why don’t you write a story about that?” Each time, my son would say, “No, I don’t want to…” And his voice with trail off and fall into a sort of despondent monotone. It was like no idea was worthy enough, not inspiring enough for him to go through the effort of thinking about the words he would need to write his story. Continue reading

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