April 2021 Issue #6
April 3, 2021
April 2021 Issue #6
Welcome to the sixth issue of The Simpsonian Muse. I am your scribe, Martha Seif Simpson, Author and Children's Librarian. As the header says, this monthly newsletter will feature:
- News – Mine as well as other interesting tidbits
- Views – A few photos from my world travels
- Stuff You Can Use – A mish-mash of activities, crafts, recipes, or whatever I am excited about sharing
If you missed the previous newsletters, you can click the button on the left sidebar on my website to catch up or click here: Simpsonian Muse
Thanks for joining me on this adventure. I hope you will find something to inform and entertain you.
~ NEWS ~
Spring is finally here! I'm looking forward to seeing the buds on the trees and flowers sprouting from the unfrozen soil. Not summer yet, but we're getting there!
Soon it will be Mother's Day. I know that's in May, not April, but I'm going to use this opportunity to remind you that I have a picture book, What NOT to Give Your Mom on Mother's Day. My inspiration to write this story came when I was looking for a holiday book to read at my library for preschool storytime. Every book we had in our collection had the exact same plot – a child or animal was worried about finding or making the perfect Mother's Day present. It was so redundant to see the same thread in every book!
So I decided to write the opposite – what NOT to get your mom. Which led me to think about some presents I certainly wouldn't want… but maybe another type of mother would. I came up with a long list of animals and what they might like. Only nine animals made it into the book, but I thought of at least a dozen more.
Here are a few that didn't make the cut.
Do NOT give her an Egyptian plover… unless she is a crocodile.
"Thanks for cleaning my teeth, little plover!"
Do NOT give her a dirt shower… unless she is an elephant.
"This dirt is a great way to get rid of pesky insects!"
Do NOT give her a sea anemone… unless she is a hermit crab.
"Glad to have your stinging tentacles along for protection!"
Do NOT give her a forest of seaweed… unless she is an otter.
"This kelp is perfect for keeping me anchored when I nap!"
Do NOT give her some highway road kill… unless she is a vulture.
"Yummy, I love to eat road kill!"
Do NOT give her a glacier… unless she is an ice worm.
"Oh, a wonderful new home!"
And my favorite –
Do NOT give her a pile of animal droppings… unless she is a dung beetle!
"Great – I can roll this into round balls to eat later!"
I guess you can see why my editor rejected these ideas! It was extremely unlikely that a human child would find these things in the back yard, and some were kind of gross. But I had fun looking up interesting animal facts. Maybe someday I'll figure out a way to include them in a book.
Meanwhile, I hope you get a copy of What NOT to Give Your Mom on Mother's Day to read to your favorite kiddies.
But wait, there's more!
What NOT to Give Your Mom on Mother's Day appears on the latest SCBWI Reading List highlighting books that celebrate the earth. Click the link to find my book (near the bottom of the list because it's in alphabetical order by title) and many more.
This month I want to share two picture books that I love because of their fun wordplay. They are written by Raj Haldar (also known as the rapper Lushlife) and Chris Carpenter, illustrated by Bryce Gladfeter, and published by Sourcebooks Explore.
P Is for Pterodactyl: The Worst Alphabet Book Ever
This pun-tastic book explores an alphabet of words that don't look the way they are pronounced. For example, C is for Czar, G is for Gnocchi, and K is for Knot, but Y is not for Why and U is not for You. The cartoony drawings add to the fun. This book is an entertaining way for kids to learn how to spell those difficult words that are exceptions to the regular rules of spelling.
No Reading Allowed: The worst Read-Aloud Book Ever
Following in the madcap format of the previous book, this one takes pairs of sentences that sound alike when read aloud, but have completely different meanings when homonyms are substituted. Hilarious illustrations accompany each set of sentences. For example, "We see the queen's burrow thanks to our ant hill" has a picture of children looking at a glass case containing an ant farm. The opposite page has, "We see the Queensboro thanks to our Aunt Hill" which shows kids sitting in a car driven by a woman as they approach New York's Queensboro Bridge.
These clever books amuse me as a writer, and could spark some interesting activities for writing lessons, too.
Did you know April is International Guitar Month and National Humor Month?
According to the Every Day's a Holiday Calendar, other noteworthy dates in April include:
- April 1 – Sweet potato Day
- April 5 – National Read a Road Map Day
- April 9 – National Cherish an Antique Day
- April 16 – National Wear Your Pajamas to Work Day
- April 17 – Blah, Blah, Blah Day
- April 18 – Velociraptor Awareness Day
- April 20 – National Lima Bean Respect Day
- April 21 – Bulldogs Are Beautiful Day
- April 28 – National Superhero Day
- April 30 – National Mr. Potato Head Day
~ VIEWS ~
Have you ever been to the Panama Canal? That was an item on my husband's bucket list. We fulfilled that dream on a Holland America cruise in November 2014. It takes a loooooooong time to get through the locks. I took lots of photos, and selected a few to show you how the process works.
We gathered on the deck very early on an overcast morning as we approached the opening to the canal. Keep your eye on the vessel in the center of the screen. We'll catch up to it later on.
Notice the two buildings on the left and the gap in the trees on the right.
We're past the buildings and the gap and getting closer to the vessel, which is beginning to enter the locks at the left. Tugboats are standing by in case help is needed.
Now you can clearly see the vessel in the left locks. Our ship will go through the locks at the right. It will be a tight squeeze!
Doesn't look like we'll fit, right? Notice the vessel on the left is starting to rise.
Here we go! The vessel on the left has risen so it is level with the middle platform.
Our ship is in the first lock. Notice the white concrete gate ahead of us.
We've caught up to the other ship, and the water is rising in our lock. Check the concrete gate ahead to gauge how high we have risen.
Our ship is almost level with the platform. The vessel to the left is moving ahead into the second lock.
We are past the first lock and heading toward the next gate.
And the process starts again. Note the white building in the center of the strip.
Here is the building as the water in the second lock rises and the other vessel moves on. Notice the vehicle on the tracks at the right.
Two people are walking across the top of the gate just as we are about to cross over to the next lock!
You can see that there is a lake beyond. That's where our cruise ship docked so we could get off and tour Panama. The ship didn't continue through to the Pacific, but turned around and went back to the Atlantic.
We met up with it later where it was docked in the harbor. This is a view from our cabin as we left the country.
Do you want to see where we went while we were in Panama?
Find out in the May Simpsonian Muse!
~ STUFF YOU CAN USE ~
I created a matching activity sheet to go along with What NOT to Give Your Mom on Mother's Day. It's on my website along with a Mother's Day card you can print out and color.
The card has two sides. You can print them separately or as a double-sided page. Color the pictures and fold it in half to make a card.
That will do it for this month.
Until next time, don't refuse your muse!