Aileen Stewart's Blog

June 29, 2015

This past weekend, actually even as you read this on Monday, my family and I are on a special camping trip. Every year around this time my mother rents three cabins and my ten remaining family members spend three days together. It is a time I cherish, and I often think of something my father used to say when he was alive, "Make memories while you can because you never know what tomorrow will bring."

And he was right. Every time we take this trip both children and adults make memories. I capture my memories with my camera and my heart and I hope that one day my own daughter will take the pictures I leave her and will cherish them as well because they help provide something with which to remember our loved ones.

Like the fact that cousins all need matching mustaches when camping.


That trips to the store with two aunts and an uncle means the ability to buy fun finger flashlights.

That Daddy in a rain slicker looks like he isn't wearing any pants.


And that Grandma is generous, loving, and kind.


The book I read for this week's review, Something to Remember Me By, is all about that love and legacy. It is a story of a girl and her grandmother. A story where the grandmother gives her small things to remember her by and promises that one day the cedar chest will be hers to fill with those items. At first the girl doesn't understand, but as she grows, she realizes that what her grandmother had been doing was creating memories that would sustain her when they were no longer able to be together. Because as the grandmother says, "Everyone wants to be remembered."


The cedar chest given to the granddaughter particularly hit home with me as I recently refinished a cedar chest given to me by my mother-in-law. I have plans to pass it on to my daughter as something to remember her MaMaw by.  I'd really love to hear what you all are doing to make memories to remember your loved ones by, so feel free to share in the comment section!

Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. And feel free to drop by my personal website, Fun With Aileen, any day of the week for even more on reading, writing, my very own early grade chapter book, Fern Valley, the sequel, Return To Fern Valley, the soon to be released Cooking In Fern Valley (fall 2015) and my very first picture book, Quack and Daisy! I'm also on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.
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Published on June 29, 2015 00:00

June 22, 2015

This year the summer reading program has the hero theme which can encompass anything from comic book super heroes to every day people in our lives. This past week, Emily, her friend Savannah, and I attended one of the special events, hosted by our public library. The guest speaker was cartoonist Jeff Nicholas, a talented local Ohio cartoonist.


He showed the children how to draw a cartoon Dalmatian and asked them what kind of hero dogs they could name. The answers were varied and included seeing-eye dogs, rescue dogs, guard dogs, and police dogs. It was an interesting presentation reminding us that heroes do indeed come in every shape and size including animals.

Emily loves to draw and always practices whatever character Jeff has shown. She even included her version of the Dalmatian putting out a fire in the Father's Day card she made for her dad.


I was therefore compelled to include a book about a super hero of a different kind in this week's book review. What did I select? Why Noodle Man of course. Noodle Man is an extremely funny fictional story of Al Dente and the Dente family. The Dente family business is going down the tubes because everyone in town is ordering pizza to be delivered. Al creates a fresh pasta machine in hopes that it will save his family business, but instead, he ends up foiling a robbery attempt, rescuing two children from a burning building, and saving a damsel in distress. This book is a deliciously humorous tale that also introduces children to many different types and shapes of pasta.


The second book I read wasn't a traditionally heroic type of tale, but it did have a friend who went out of h is way to give his bestie a most extraordinary birthday. It was Toot and Puddle - A Present for Toot by the authoress and illustrator Holly Hobbie. And yes, she is the very same person who is the creator of the famous character bearing her name.


Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. And feel free to drop by my personal website, Fun With Aileen, any day of the week for even more on reading, writing, my very own early grade chapter book, Fern Valley, the sequel, Return To Fern Valley, the soon to be released Cooking In Fern Valley (fall 2015) and my very first picture book, Quack and Daisy! I'm also on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.



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Published on June 22, 2015 00:00 • 2 views

June 15, 2015





One question that will face an new author is whether or not to buy swag. When my first book released, I must admit I went a bit swag crazy. If I could put my book cover on something, I did.  I had canvas bags, mugs, pens, notebooks, business cards, banners, yard signs, magnets, posters, book marks, buttons, mouse pads, post cards, and t-shirts. But after the initial overwhelming excitement wore off, I realized that swag can be expensive.
Mostly, I wanted swag to hand out to children at events as well as informative materials for the adults, so it wasn't long before I realized I didn't need coffee mugs. After all, most parents don't care about drinking coffee from a cup with a beautiful chicken in a pink dress, and most kids are not drinking coffee at all. At least, I hope not.

So after a bit of thinking on my part about what swag would be useful in accomplishing my above mentioned goals, I narrowed it down to four items I use regularly.

Business Cards: Business cards are one of the first things adults grab from my table. Sometimes because they aren't purchasing a book immediately and want to remember what I had to  offer, and sometimes to pass on to someone else they think might be interested. Either way, business cards are my go to ancillary items. They are also great to offer people when you are away from home and don't have books with you for sale. I always keep a few in my purse.


Book Marks: Book Marks go with books. When I sign a book for someone I always place a book mark inside before handing it back to the purchaser. I also make sure I have plenty on hand at book events where children will be attending. There is nothing sadder to me then children leaving a book fair empty handed because they didn't have any money. This is why I often sign the markers before handing them out. A child's smile is definitely reimbursement enough for this type of swag.


Magnets: Besides business cards, I also like to buy magnets. Not only are they great items for the children to snatch of off the table, they are also less likely to be thrown out then a business card. And as they hold a child's latest and greatest art work tightly to the fridge, they are a constant reminder of my books. I would like to think that when friends and relatives visit and see my magnet prominently displayed on their loved ones fridge, they say, "Isn't that cute," which of course leads to dialogue about my books.



And last but not least,

Buttons: Not the kind that fall off of your favorite shirt, but the kind you pin on your favorite hoodie, shirt, or fishing cap. Kids love most free items, but they really seem to love buttons. I actually had a grandmother call me at my home once to say that a character button I had given her granddaughter had caused her to go from a reluctant reader to a confident reader. Apparently the young girl wanted to know more about the character on her button, so she read my first book in it's entirely, something she had never done before. She then went to school and showed the button to her classmates, told them about  the book, and shared how she met me, the author. And that my friends, is what makes being a children's author worthwhile!

Aileen Stewart is the author of the Fern Valley Series which are chapter style books consisting of twelve short stories each as well as the up and coming picture book series, Quack and Daisy. She is a member of the SCBWI, a children's book reviewer at, Aileen's Thoughts, and a host of writing workshops for children in first to sixth grade.
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Published on June 15, 2015 04:51 • 3 views


Our library is running two events for summer reading this year. They are having the normal summer reading program, and in addition, they are having a biography read with an essay. I'm sure this is to encourage children to delve into non fiction as well as fiction, and so I was excited when Emily said she would like to do both programs.
 
This past week she started working on reading the ten biographies required, and I must say I am surprised that she has already read five. The biographies she chose were varied. She read about Alexander Graham Bell, Amelia Earhart, John Adams, Louisa May Alcott, and Annie Oakley. Several times she told me that the story of Annie Oakley was her favorite, so I definitely wanted to share the particular version she read.
 
It was called, Shooting For The Moon - The Amazing Life and Times of Annie Oakley. She enjoyed it so much in fact, that she practically told me about the story word for word while I was cooking dinner that evening. I enjoyed her retelling of the story which really was quite amazing. Her early life was most difficult and when her father died, she was left to help support her mother and six brothers and sisters. The hardships she endured never dulled her spirit and she did indeed live a most amazing life.

 
Purely coincidentally, I chose a fictional picture book about a cowgirl called Rodeo Red. Rodeo Red is the story of a little cowgirl whose life is turned topsy-turvey by the arrival of a new baby brother who ends up swiping her beloved hound dog. Told with all the cliché cowboy/cowgirl terms one could possibly fit into a book, this story had me giggling from beginning to end. It truly was slicker then a greased pig on the Fourth of July. 


Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. And feel free to drop by my personal website, Fun With Aileen, any day of the week for even more on reading, writing, my very own early grade chapter book, Fern Valley, the sequel, Return To Fern Valley, the soon to be released Cooking In Fern Valley (fall 2015) and my very first picture book, Quack and Daisy! I'm also on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.

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Published on June 15, 2015 00:00 • 5 views

June 8, 2015

This past week I didn't do all that much except host a garage sale on Friday. The garage sale went fairly well, but it did cause me to rearrange my schedule a bit and I ended up doing the weekly marketing on Saturday. While not all that interesting, what happened while I was at Kroger's was a extra special spot in an ordinary week.

As I was leaving the store, a mom and her son who appeared to be about four or five, came out of the rest room. The boy walked a bit faster then his mother, so he ended up walking beside me. I asked him how he was and he looked at me and replied, "You're beautiful." I thanked him and he proceeded to tell a check out girl she was beautiful.

 
I really needed a haircut, and I wasn't feeling particularly beautiful at the time, so this really made my day. That small boy just walking along and spreading joy as he went. I try to compliment people I meet wherever I go on their hair, clothes, smile, friendliness, etc... People hear negative things all the time, so I figure it would be nice if they hear pleasantries once in a while. I guess that little boy did too.
And there is the link between my week and the books I read; they are both beautiful. Two beautifully written books by Doug Snelson who I recently met at the Hudson Children's Book Festival. Doug was one of the authors I shared a radio interview with and when he saw that I was a book blogger, he asked if he could send me copies of his latest literary offerings. I happily agreed and I wasn't disappointed when they arrived.


The first book, The Fable of the Snake Named Slim, has won both the Pinnacle Book Achievement Award and the Mom's Choice Award, and is the story of a snake that is different then the others. He was a slow wobbler while all the other snakes were fast wigglers. Because of his differences, the other snakes often exclude him from their fun and games. That is until__ there was a terrible earth shake that caused boulders to fall on all the snakes but Slim. Slim's unusual wobbling allows him to rescue the other snakes who soon realize that differences might not be such a bad thing after all.


The first book was a great book with a wonderful message and two awards, but the second book, Who's Got the Face, was actually my favorite. It's a simple story about a dog named Face told in rhyme. It shares with the reader all the things that happen in Face's day like racing through the house, catching raindrops, and playing hide-and-seek. It is uncomplicated but not boring in the least. I also loved the preface where a very large list of dogs who Doug's Family has known are shared.


Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. And feel free to drop by my personal website, Fun With Aileen, any day of the week for even more on reading, writing, my very own early grade chapter book, Fern Valley, the sequel, Return To Fern Valley, the soon to be released Cooking In Fern Valley (fall 2015) and my very first picture book, Quack and Daisy! I'm also on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.
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Published on June 08, 2015 00:00 • 5 views

June 1, 2015


This past week found me baking several batches of cookies to serve at the local farm market meeting. As the new farm market manager, I wanted to touch base with the vendors one last time before we officially begin on June twentieth. With the market drawing nearer, I find myself getting more and more excited. I am also beginning to plan out many of the summer day trips I hope my family and I will be going on. There is the creation wax museum, a pioneer village, picnics at a local nature center, a pool party, and so much more.


Which brings me to the first book I read this week, titled Sea, Sand, Me. It reminded me of all the delicious things we have to look forward to this summer. It is a simple rhyming book that tells the story of a little girls trip to the ocean and the great joy she finds in each and every moment. This book would be perfect for children three to six.


The second book I read, titled Friendship Quilt, wasn't particularly summery in theme, but it was an excellent book none-the-less.  Raddie is sad because she has lost her grandmother, and nothing her best friend Hank does seems to cheer her up. That is until Hank convinces several other friends to work with him on a friendship quilt for Raddie. Each one adds a patch that has a warm memory for them and they hope it will help Raddie think on all the warm memories she has of her grandmother.


This book is a beautiful way to show children that it is okay to grieve, but it is also okay to cloak yourself in warm memories and move on with life. This book would be really great for children who are reading picture books on their own.

Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. And feel free to drop by my personal website, Fun With Aileen, any day of the week for even more on reading, writing, my very own early grade chapter book, Fern Valley, the sequel, Return To Fern Valley, the soon to be released Cooking In Fern Valley (fall 2015) and my very first picture book, Quack and Daisy! I'm also on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.
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Published on June 01, 2015 00:00 • 4 views

May 25, 2015

I know summer doesn't officially begin until June 21st, but at the Stewart home, summer started this past weekend. Our celebrations began on Friday which was our Independent Studies Award and Field Day. Emily won a ribbon for a writing contest she entered, but the best part of her day was playing around with her friends in survivor style games like twister, pizza box stacking, and the chicken maze. And she rounded the day out by attending a birthday party at the local YMCA.


 

Saturday found her attending another birthday party, this one at a skating rink. That was followed by an overnight with another friend. While the child was away, the parents did play. Okay, we didn't really play. Bobby spent the day building me upright raspberry gardens and I spent the day weeding the horribly overgrown flower bed.





Sunday afternoon found us grilling for my side of the family. There were plenty of hamburgers, chicken burgers, and hot dogs to go around as well as corn on the cob, watermelon, other assorted fresh fruits, and my mom's potato salad. After lunch, a little t-ball with my three year old nephew made for some entertaining moments.

And wouldn't you know that the two books I chose this week just happened to include hotdogs and baseball.

Home Run by Robert Burleigh and Mike Wimmer is the story of Babe Ruth. Robert told Babe's amazing story in a non rhyming poetic manner as if he were describing a single baseball game. In addition, every other page included facts on vintage style baseball cards. Mike added dimension to the story with some of the most fantastic illustrations I have seen in a while. Illustrations, which I might add, that looked like they were oil paintings.



While this is a picture book, I think it would be best suited to children in third or fourth grade who would be old enough to enjoy the depth of art, baseball stats, and history in this story. And of course, any adult they might like to share with.

Hot Dog - Elenor Roosevelt Throws a Picnic was an equally wonderful book about real people and a real event. It is the story of a picnic thrown by Mrs. Roosevelt in honor of the visiting King and Queen of England. People from all over sent her letters telling how they thought hot dogs were not fit to serve royalty, but Mrs. Roosevelt loved hot dogs and thought there was no better all American picnic food then hot dogs. And I must confess that I thoroughly agree.




Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. And feel free to drop by my personal website, Fun With Aileen, any day of the week for even more on reading, writing, my very own early grade chapter book, Fern Valley, the sequel, Return To Fern Valley, and the soon to be released Cooking In Fern Valley (fall 2015)! I'm also on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.
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Published on May 25, 2015 00:00 • 8 views

May 18, 2015

This past weekend was the twentieth anniversary of the company my husband works for, so we sent Emily to her Grandmother's for an overnight and we gussied ourselves up to attend the gala event. Before we left we had Emily take our picture since Bobby and I don't really have many pictures of just the two of us.


It was a lively affair with a wonderful catered lunch, delicious desserts, fun photo booths, door prizes, dancing, and mingling. We were surprised to win one of the larger door prizes, a cannon rebel and all of the extras like a tripod, lens filters, a bag, and so much more. And although we already have a fabulous Nikon and don't really need another camera, we appreciated the gift and the party given in  honor of dedicated employees.



The book I read for this week's review also made me stop and think about how important it is to appreciate the little things, especially when life is difficult. When I Was Eight is based on the true life experiences of Margaret Pokiak-Fenton, a small girl born in the arctic, whose only dream was to learn to read Alice In Wonderland like her older sister.


When she finally talks her father into letting her attend a catholic school in the town where they trade, she finds school daunting. One of the nuns cuts of her hair, changes her name, demands hours of tiring chores from her, and demeans her at every turn, but Margaret is determined to learn to read no matter what. Against the odds, Margaret teaches herself to read and gains an ember of self confidence that even the cruel nun can not douse.

Although a very serious book with some dark moments, I think children are bright enough to take away the same messages I took away. Don't let anyone crush your dreams. Don't let difficult circumstances keep you from achieving. And, stand up for yourself!

Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. And feel free to drop by my personal website, Fun With Aileen, any day of the week for even more on reading, writing, my very own early grade chapter book, Fern Valley, the sequel, Return To Fern Valley, and the soon to be released Cooking In Fern Valley (fall 2015)! I'm also on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.

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Published on May 18, 2015 00:00 • 4 views

May 11, 2015

This past week was super busy with taking Emily to American Heritage Girls, children's church, home school lessons, trips to the post office, and Friday classes at school, not to mention Sunday was my birthday and Mother's Day. It was busy but good. And one of the best parts was receiving the cover, for my very first picture book, from my publisher.

So a drum roll if you please..........




Quack, the duckling, and Daisy, the kitten, meet in the meadow and become instant best friends. But, members of their families soon have the two wondering if they can be friends at all. Will Daisy survive a dunk in the pond? Will Quack prevail at catching a mouse? And most important of all, will the two stay friends or go their separate ways?

Currently this book is in layout design, but I should have pre-release copies this summer and it should officially release sometime early fall. Therefore, if you find this book even the slightest bit interest grabbing, I have some additional good  news. I recently signed a contract for the second book in this series called, Quack and Daisy - Beyond the Meadow. So look for them both in the very near future.

Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. And feel free to drop by my personal website, Fun With Aileen, any day of the week for even more on reading, writing, my very own early grade chapter book, Fern Valley, the sequel, Return To Fern Valley, and the soon to be released Cooking In Fern Valley (fall 2015)! I'm also on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.
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Published on May 11, 2015 00:00 • 6 views

May 4, 2015

This past weekend was the last of my spring trips, and I must say that attending the Hudson Children's Book Festival was a great way to wrap up those travels! I was seated next to one of my besties, Miss Debbie Dadey, who has been writing for many years and has two popular series: The Bailey School Kids and The Mermaid Tales.


My daughter, Emily, began reading the Baily School Kids series just this past month and really likes them, so you know they come highly recommended. And, I was able to get a first hand glance at Debbie's newest Mermaid Tale which won't even be available for a few more weeks.

http://amzn.to/1PgkZVW  Debbie Dadey
I participated in an interview with Artie Bennett and Doug Snelson which was most exciting. Artie almost made poop sound fun with his lyrical sharing of his book Poopendous, and Doug's book, Who's Got The Face sound pretty intriguing as well.

   I had fun hanging out with Miss Tara Lazar who was there signing her book, The Monstore, which really is for both boys and girls, I promise!




I could go on and on, but I need to get this article finished up, and I need to get the dishes done. I know, the glamorous life we authors lead.

 Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. And feel free to drop by my personal website, Fun With Aileen, any day of the week for even more on reading, writing, my very own early grade chapter book, Fern Valley, the sequel, Return To Fern Valley, and the soon to be released Cooking In Fern Valley (fall 2015)! I'm also on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.
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Published on May 04, 2015 00:00 • 9 views