How Do you write a children’s book?

Author, Author!  My friend Sarah Maizes stopped by Rex’s bedroom so that I could interview her about her new book. You might remember her from her great turn as the parent of your kid’s friend you don’t like in my Cafe Mom series last year.

When I first met her in a comedy class years ago she said she had previously been a children’s book agent.  We were all interested in that field, she seemed less so.  But, now she has written, and even better gotten published, two children’s books.  They are good and easy to read for the parent who wants to turn out the lights.

Sarah says most children’s book authors don’t make much money.  Unless they get a good series going (Captain Underpants, anyone?)  She had tried to sell Olivia and that darn pig got a pass form 26 publishers.  Perseverance pays off because eventually the author struck gold with that. I think she has buddy series herself.

Beat Poet: Sheep in a Jeep

When you read a book enough times you can move past boredom to appreciation.  I am clearly not alone as I found another grown woman online with her own version. I found reading the rhythmic “Sheep in a Jeep” to Vivien and now Rex to be pleasant and quick.  It was a book that never overstayed its welcome and it is pretty clever.  I heard a different sound in it.  In another time and coffeehouse maybe it could have been presented as a beat poem.

It’s not Howl, but please come into my scene and dig it.

Children’s Book Review

The good thing about having more than one child — besides producing a human who can affirm for your first born that “Yes, our parents are nuts!” — is that all that stuff you haven’t thrown away will be used again. The highchair, some clothes, the crib, the stroller… This amortization makes additional children seem like a worthy investment (skip the part about paying for private school or college; just let that go for now).

One of my favorite early Cool Mom vids was this one about how parents get bored reading certain children’s books.  As Vivien got older, I found that I was less bored.  We read different things, and some even have pretty good little stories.  But now that Rex can say “book” and “sit here” while gesturing to me – well, really commanding me – to sit next to him on Vivien’s bed (that’s our reading place), I am remembering why reading to the toddler-to-three set can be a challenge.  They interrupt, thrusting different books in your face, saying, “this, this,” and then want the same book read over and over about 43 times.

Most of our favorite books were gifts, but not all of them smell like spring roses.  That’s a metaphor.

The New Yorker

There is a lot in pop culture about how it’s really better no to fit in. From “Mr Smith Goes to Washington” to “Revenge of the Nerds” we are sold that though it may hurt it’s really better to be the iconoclast. And granted I have comforted myself with this at times… even recently.Some moms on the playground had a bee in their bonnet about an altercation with another mom.  And I said, “Hey, I’ll confront her, ’cause I don’t care if people like me anymore; I feel cranky.” Which only half true. I do feel cranky, but we all want to be liked and fit in.

Also, one wants to stand out for positive attributes. In junior high there was one small clique of girls who always had perfect hair. Cute french braids that held up the sides of their hair. Perfectly places barrettes. I looked like a mess as did my close friends. I use to jam a hair clip in my hair in the hopes of it looking swell; it always sagged, and by second period I had shoved it into the outside pocket of my back pack. Sad thing is, I’m still lousy at styling my hair! Oh, God… (sigh).

Anyway, sometimes you try to fit it, but in your heart, you don’t.

Books That Change Your Life

Wow, did momma need some powder in this one or what? Well, apart from my shine, I’m trying to go the extra mile in this vid. Getting real fancy with editing.

The concept for this one came from a recent that I took part in. Maggie wanted to talk about books that changed our lives. We all spoke about our favorite books and how great they were. But my question is, were they?

Stacked Up: School Library

It’s a rite of passage of parenthood: volunteering at your kid’s school. I signed up for the school library, thinking that I can label and stack and organize.  Deciding on categories is tough, though.  We aren’t dealing with the Dewy Decimal system.  Ours is more like, “There’s a bear family in this book; oh, right, I’ll put the animal sticker on it.”

Those tasks can always be more tedious than one imagines.  Now that I can barely bend over, I might have to retire my library hat for while.  But the last time I was in the library, it looked fine.  Not my fault if people don’t put books back in the right places!  Here are other ramblings of a library volunteer.

Sunday Styles

My husband has learned that there will be a wifely wrath if he dumps the New York Times Sunday Styles section before I have read it. I usually have to wait until bedtime to savor this tasty morsel. In the Vows section…all the engagements and weddings, I’m always curious about the ages of people. Do I think they are getting married to young, is it a May September thing? It’s funny I note that more than where they are from or their profession. Although, the happy couples profession and where they are originally from, does hold some interest.

Every week what is the thing you look forward to reading that you would throw a tantrum over if someone through out?

I just wanted to let you know, we will be taking a day off Monday for Labor Day. Don’t worry, we will be back up and running with new vlogs on Tuesday. Have a great weekend.

Guilty Pleasure: Super Nanny

Lately Vivien has started to call herself Super Vivien. By extension I am Super Mommy, which I love. Mark is Super Dad. It is empowering for everyone involved. She has gotten this moniker because one of the books I read her is SuperCat. A great story, about a SuperCat who helps little animal people (you know they are animals, but they have human qualities like in all children’s books and cartoons) find their blankies or… I don’t want to give away the ending.

If you are Super like Vivien or Super Nanny, I think it means you are powerful, self-assured and can fix any situation. I’m glad Vivien feels like that. I must not, or why else would I like Super Nanny?

Reading I Can’t Get To

Every mom has that pile of books and magazines that you can never seem to get around to actually reading. I just cracked two pages of the New York Times Magazine cover story from 6 weeks ago. I’m hoping if I leave it in my bathroom, I might finally finish it. I always read Star Magazine, but mostly because I am in it every week as a regular contributer to “Worst of the Week.

What reads do you leave lying around hoping you will get to? And what do you really read?

Beautiful Mommy

Remember “The Three Little Bears”? Well, these days Goldilocks would be rejecting noses, not porridge. Check out this new children’s book, My Beautiful Mommy, which explains mom’s plastic surgery to kids.

It reminds me of a story my mom told me years ago. When older sister Carole was little, there was a family on our block, the “Smythes.” Well, Mrs. Smythe was always very made up and had chic little outfits and done-up blonde hair. And she drank cocktails with her husband and friends in their second-floor bar, which was so cool. But she was harsh to her kids and yelled and whacked them. My mom was pretty, but more in a 1970s way. Long straight hair, big sunglasses, tanned with little make up. So, one day after playing with the put upon Smythe kids, Carole said to our mom, “Mean mommies are pretty. You are a nice mommy.”

There’s a compliment in there somewhere.