May 2021 Issue #7
May 1, 2021
Welcome to the seventh 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:
Thanks for joining me on this adventure. I hope you will find something to inform and entertain you.
~ NEWS ~
On May 5th, I am presenting a Zoom program about my book, What NOT to Give Your Mom on Mother's Day, as part of the spring family events for the Ozuna Library at Palo Alto College in San Antonio, TX. Thanks to Linda Plevak, Access Services Faculty Librarian, for inviting me!
You can check my website to find activities to go along with the book.
My agent, Lynnette Novak of the Seymour Agency, has been submitting my books to publishers. We've gotten a few encouraging comments from some editors. Here's hoping we have good news to report soon!
This month, I want to talk about four middle grade books that were submitted for the 2021 Sydney Taylor Book Award. Although they didn't win, I enjoyed reading them and highly recommend them.
Get a Grip, Vivy Cohen! by Sarah Kapit
Vivy Cohen wants to be a knuckleball pitcher, like her favorite pro baseball player, V.J. Capello, although it doesn't seem likely she will succeed since she is autistic. But the coach of an all-boys team sees her play and invites her to be a back-up pitcher. Vivy writes to V.J. in a series of letters in which she talks about the challenges she faces, and eventually, V.J. writes back. The black knuckleball specialist has had a difficult start to his season, and the two become friends who support each other, even if they don't always agree. This is a great book for sports fans, and readers will root for this spunky girl to succeed.
The Runaway by Yehuda Cahn
This book takes place in New York's Lower East side during 1925. Joey and Jake Bergson are newsies, selling papers to help the family since their father is having a hard time finding work. They meet Danny Gold, a mysterious boy with big plans who knows some sleight-of-hand magic tricks but doesn't seem to have a place to live. Is Danny a swindler, or a good kid? The answer is a wonderful surprise.
Noah Green Saves the World by Laura Toffler-Corrie
Noah wants to go to film camp for the summer. Instead, his parents send him to Camp Challah, hoping that he will make friends there. Noah is surprised when his grandfather shows up. Pops has always claimed that he was a secret agent in Word War II and the family never believed him. Pops asks Noah and his bunkmates to help him with a special mission at camp - and the fate of the world is at stake! Is Pops telling the truth, and if so, how can Noah possibly save the world?
Going Rogue (at Hebrew School) by Casey Breton
Avery Green has always hated going to Hebrew School, which has nothing to do with his three most favorite things in the world – Star Wars, science, and football. But everything changes when he begins to suspect that the new rabbi may be a Jedi master. This book has an outrageous cast of characters and a humorous plot that will keep readers engaged.
Did you know May is National Asparagus Month?
According to the Every Day's a Holiday Calendar, other noteworthy dates in May include:
- May 6 – International Bubble Blowing Day
- May 8 – No Socks Day
- May 9 – National Lost Sock Memorial Day
- May 14 – National Dance Like a Chicken Day
- May 18 – National No Dirty Dishes Day
- May 20 – Be a Millionaire Day
- May 24 – National Scavenger Hunt Day
- May 25 – National Geek Pride Day
- May 26 – National Blueberry Cheesecake Day
- May 27 – National Cellophane Tape Day
- May 29 – Learn About Composting Day
~ VIEWS ~
Last month, I shared some photos from my Holland America cruise to the Panama Canal in November 2014. This time, I want to show you where my husband and I went while we were in Panama.
Our ship traveled through two locks and stopped at a dock in Gatun Lake at the center of the canal. We disembarked and got on a bus that brought us to a river for our next adventure.
We were met by men who gave us life vests and placed us in narrow boats. It wasn't easy for someone with bad knees (like me) to get down that low. And even harder for my husband and me to squeeze together in one small seat!
Here's a photo I took of another boat so you can get an idea of its size. One man sat in front and another in the back, with 14 overweight tourists scrunched in between.
The boat zipped through the water, making huge waves. I think everyone expected we would capsize at any minute, but the guides knew what they were doing and kept us safe. The trip took about half an hour.
Getting out of the boat was just as difficult as getting in, since our legs were so cramped. And did I mention that the boats were really narrow?
Once we got on land, we climbed up a hill and found ourselves in a small village, with grass huts and families with children of all ages.
We were brought to this building…
Which looked like this inside. There were craft booths all around the perimeter where we could buy items that the people had made. We sat in chairs that were set up around a big open space at the center.
We were served served a lunch of fried fish and plantains on large, green leaves. We ate with our fingers. Later, the people took all the remains to compost – no waste to throw away!
Dessert was fresh pineapple and papaya. Notice the paint on this woman. Almost everyone had similar body paint. The black paint is actually sap from nearby trees that is a very effective bug-repellent.
After lunch, the people entertained us with music and dancing.
The dancers asked some of us tourists to march in the circle with them. My guide was willing to pose for a photo. I like to tell people that this vacation let me check off my bucket list item of dancing with a guy who is wearing a loincloth!
Here are some other village scenes.
John is standing in front of one of the dwellings where people live.
Here is a closer look.
Some of the children we met.
Everyone gathered to see us off as we left.
This tree marks the location of the stairs that go down to the water. You can see a boat on the shore.
We climbed down the stairs to get to the boats.
And once again, we were on our way.
Some scenes from our boat.
We arrived back where we left the tour bus.
The bus drove us to the port where the cruise ship was docked.
We had a wonderful time. This was an experience we will never forget!
~ STUFF YOU CAN USE ~
In honor of Mother's Day (May 9th) and National Asparagus Month, I want to do something a bit different and sponsor a contest with a prize drawing.
There are a few ways you can get chances to win. In every case, please send me an email via the Contact Page on my website telling me what you did to qualify for the drawing. You can get points for any and all of the actions below. The more points you get, the more chances you have to win.
- Read What NOT to Give Your Mom on Mother's Day and write a review on Goodreads or Amazon.com. You will get 1 point for leaving one review, and 2 points if you leave reviews on both sites.
- Tweet about the book on Twitter, using this hashtag. You can tweet more than once, and get a point each time: #whatnototgiveyourmomonmothersday
- Post a photo on Instagram of the book with this hashtag. You can post more than once to get more points. #whatnototgiveyourmomonmothersday
- Subscribe to this newsletter. If you have already subscribed, send me a note via the comment box telling me what you think of it. I like feedback!
- Get someone else to subscribe to The Simpsonian Muse. The more people you get to subscribe, the more chances you will get to win. Please send me a note in via the comment box with the names of the new subscribers so I will know who to thank!
On May 30, I will draw 3 winners. If you win, I will contact you by email to get your mailing address. And if you give me permission, I will also announce your name in the June newsletter.
So, what are the prizes? And what does this have to do with National Asparagus Month?
I happen to collect asparagus things – ceramics, plaques, magnets, miniature tea sets, etc. They are literally all over my house! Most items, including the ones I will give away, are displayed in a china cabinet and were never used. Winners will get a chance to choose from a selection of asparagus-themed coffee mugs. (That's the "Something you can use" part.)
Please help me grow my newsletter and promote my book. Remember to send me a note via the comment box on my website so I can email you if you win.
That will do it for this month.
Until next time, enjoy some asparagus and enthuse your muse!