Age Old Debate—Which is Better, the Book or the Movie?

I have to be honest, I’m a little afraid to see the movie, Wonder. Like so many people, I adored the book. It’s still one of my all-time favorites. But, I’m afraid I will sit in the theatre and be completely annoyed by the theatrical interpretation and not be able to enjoy the movie.

Most people I’ve talked to are excited to see it, but my bookish/writer friends are not. We think the casting is questionable and based on the previews, Auggie’s surgeries were far more successful at improving his facial abnormalities than in the book. The reactions to Auggie might not be as authentic.

At the same time, I’m happy the book was made into a movie so more people can benefit from seeing this heartfelt story. I’m still not sure if I will see the movie or not. I think I’ll wait for the reviews. If you’ve already seen it, tell me what you think. At least we don’t have to worry about spoilers.

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The Old Forgotten Words

The English language changes organically from generation to generation. Some of the classics such as Frankenstein are hardly comprehensible, yet they’re written in English. I would think the authors of those novels would have difficulty understanding the language of today. After all, it is possible the English language has been dumbed down beyond recognition.

I’m not referring to bringing back formal language like . . . “she is quite loquacious” vs. “she talks too much.” Our language is missing the pizzazz of the past. Below is a list of words I wish would be used more often.

Humdinger – remarkable

Discombobulated – confusion

Bamboozled – fooled

Subterfuge – deceit

Diabolical – evil

Hijinx – trickery

Flibbertigibbet – talkative

Haberdashery – men’s wear

Gibberish – nonsense

Hullabaloo – commotion

Lickety-split – fast

Gobbledygook – meaningless language


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What Do Children Want to Read? Humor

It’s no surprise the number one feature kids look for in books is humor. When picking out a book for themselves, they want a book that makes them laugh!

In the fall of 2014, Scholastic surveyed a sample of children ages 6-17 along with a group of parents. They asked them about their reading habits. The full survey can be found at  2014 Scholastic Study.

There are many interesting findings in the study. One question asked children, “What do you look for when reading a book?” (please select all that apply.) Here are the results:

Make me laugh – 70%

Let me use my imagination- 54%

Tell a made up story – 48%

Have characters I wish to be like because they are smart, strong and brave – 43%

Teach me something new – 43%

Have a mystery or problem to solve – 41%

Tell a true story (nonfiction)- 31%

Are a little scary – 30%

Let me forget about real life for a while – 26%

Are about things I experience in my life – 25%

Have characters that look like me – 17%

Have characters that are in love – 17%








Due to the collective stress we adults are feeling due to the tumultuous political environment, let’s not lose our sense of humor. While we want to educate kids so they make good decisions, let’s not forget to make them laugh along the way.

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Turning Yucky Peas into Picture Book Magic. An Interview with Danny Schnitzlein.

I recently spoke with talented children’s author, Danny Schnitzlein, about his successful picture book as well as the craft of writing in verse.

What inspired you to write The Monster Who Ate My Peas?753118

My older siblings hated peas, so I also groaned and threw a fit when my mom served them. I’m not sure if I really hated them, or if I was just following my brother and sister’s lead. But over time, I truly did believe I hated them. My parents wouldn’t let us leave the table until we’d cleaned our plates, so many nights at 8:30 or 9:00 I’d be
sitting there staring at my plate through tears and wishing the peas would disappear. Fast forward, two decades later, someone brought a green soup to a party I attended. I had two bowls of it. Then I discovered it was split pea soup. After that, I really had to re-think my hatred of peas and examine the cause of my fear. Since the book came out, other pea haters (usually adults) come up to me and confess all the devious ways they would get rid of peas when they were kids. So I guess I’ve become a sort of pope of pea confession. You are forgiven! Anyhow, I have examined my fear and I don’t like canned peas. I like them okay if they are fresh or frozen, or especially in Indian food. But not canned. I’m sure that’s way more than you wanted to know.

During school visits, what are some of the more interesting/funny responses you’ve received from students?

I always talk about the importance of re-writing, and how that’s where the magic happens. All the good bits of my stories have happened in the re-writing stage.
When it came time for questions at one school, a boy raised his hand and asked, “Why don’t you just write it right the first time?” If only I could.

I understand a theatrical play was developed from your story. Can you tell us a little about this?

ArtsPower is a really great organization based in New Jersey. They adapt children’s books into plays and perform them at small theaters and schools across the U.S..
I was honored when they approached me about adapting The Monster Who Ate My Peas. Many years ago, I wrote a musical play based on the book and it was performed a few places, but ArtsPower did a much better job than I did. Greg Gunning’s script is fantastic. The acting, staging, and choreography are so much fun. When I saw the play performed in North Carolina, it was very surreal, especially since they named the main character “Danny.” (In the book, the boy is never named.) The play has toured the country several times and it will finally come to my home city next May. I’m very excited!

Your story is written in verse. How difficult was this to accomplish?

My mom read lots of rhyming poems to me when I was young, Also, I was raised on Dr. Seuss books, and I’ve always loved the music of his language. Seuss made writing verse look so easy that people are still trying to copy him many years later. I guess I’m one of those copycats. I’m also a musician and I think that helps when writing verse, because it’s all about the rhythm of the meter, the music of the words. Unfortunately, I think many big publishers have developed a snobby attitude toward picture books written in verse. They don’t want to see those manuscripts. It’s probably because they read so many poorly written manuscripts in verse. The snobby attitude toward books in verse is a trend, but I hope it doesn’t continue. Kids like verse. Adults like reading verse to kids. Verse gives a book a lot of re-play value. We like to hear our favorite songs over and over, and it’s the same with books written in verse, because they are so much like music. Writing in verse is not so hard for me, but it takes a lot longer than writing in prose. The most difficult part about writing in verse, is avoiding the urge to let the verse steer the story. What I mean by this is that you know the first line, but then you have to think up a rhyme for the end of the second line. It’s very easy to just think of a word that rhymes and then use it, and then let the rhyming word tell you where the story is going. But you can’t do that. You have to be in charge of the story. You can’t let the verse make story decisions for you. It’s best to know your story before you begin. Otherwise the story comes out looking very amateur. I only know this from years of experience doing it the wrong way! 🙂

For more information about Danny, visit his website at


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Electronic readers versus paper books: Should we fight the future?

Dr. Roy Benaroch offers some thoughts and advice about reading on e-readers.

Anne with an E

The Pediatric Insider

The Pediatric Insider

© 2016 Roy Benaroch, MD

Holly wrote in:

What is your opinion on e-readers vs paper books for kids? My kids have begun to associate reading with something that ‘has to be done for school’ instead of something to be enjoyed, and I’m wondering if letting them read on their tablets would spark new interest. It seems that schools are turning more and more to electronic devices for teaching, so how do e-readers factor into the ‘screen time’ equation? Can reading on a tablet at a young age affect eyesight?

It’s been a long time since reading technology has changed as much as it’s changing now. 2000 years ago moms were admonishing their children to read their baked clay instead of that new-fangled papyrus. Around 1440 Ms. Guterberg gave her one of the first mechanically printed books while her neighbors edged away. 200 years later, Ms. Lincoln…

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Do Books Need Taglines?

As consumers, we’re used to seeing “taglines” for commercials and movies, but do books need pitch lines too? In today’s competitive environment, anything that grabs a reader and gets them to look deeper into your book is worth having. Look at some of these great movie taglines.

Alien – “In space, no one can hear you scream.”1320661
Erin Brockovich – “She brought a small town to it’s feet and a big corporation to it’s knees.”

Finding Nemo – “There are 3.7 trillion fish in the ocean. They’re looking for one.”

Apollo 13 – “Houston . . . we have a problem.”

Armageddon – “Earth. It was fun while it lasted.”

The Social Network – “You don’t get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies.”

Platoon – “The first casualty of war is innocence.”

Shawshank Redemption – “Fear can hold you prisoner. Hope can set you free.”

Get Shorty – “The mob is tough, but it’s nothing like show business.”

These taglines add intrigue to the story and makes you want to read more. As writers we can deliver on the tagline when, most of the time, the publisher delivers on the title. It not only grabs an editor, it grabs the reader. We need to embrace the idea of tagline/pitch lines for children’s books. It’s a competitive world of scrolling through options and the pitch could set us apart.

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Confessions of a Re-Reader — Pub(lishing) Crawl

My name is Kelly and I’m a re-reader. I read the same books over and over again–some books I read once every year–and I love it. My husband doesn’t understand this. He is always reading something new. Sometimes he sees me re-reading a book and rolls his eyes a bit. He has so many questions and…

via Confessions of a Re-Reader — Pub(lishing) Crawl

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