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Read Some Books and Celebrate National Dog Day!


Today is National Dog Day! I didn’t have a dog when I was growing up, but we did have two dogs (at different times) after my husband and I got married.

We got our first dog, Skipper, because our son had been begging for a dog when I found out we were having another baby. So we ended up with a new puppy and a new baby at the same time.

Skipper was more of an outside dog. We had him in a large fenced yard, but that didn’t hold him back. He would jump over the fence and visit the neighbors around the block. Once when we were walking him, an older lady sitting on her porch said to us, “Oh, I see you have my dog!” That’s when I found out that Skipper led a double life.

Skipper was the main character in a true story that I wrote for Guideposts magazine in 2007. It involved building a stable for our new outdoor Christmas nativity scene and our ‘lost’ dog. It ended finding Skipper snuggled up next to the Baby Jesus in the stable in our front yard.

Our second dog, Snickers, was the inspiration for my picture book NAME THAT DOG! Puppy Poems from A to Z. Snickers was more of an indoor dog, though she loved being outside. We got her when our youngest daughter was in high school, so I had more time to get attached to this dog. She’s in many of the poems in my book.

Pets are a great inspiration in many ways. Here are some of my favorite books about dogs, including some classics from the past.

A PET FOR MISS WRIGHT, by Judy Young, illustrated by Andrea Wesson, Sleeping Bear Press 2011
Miss Wright is a writer, and writing is a lonely job. She decides that she needs a pet to keep her company, but finding the perfect pet for a writer is not easy. Find out what makes a dog the perfect pet in this book.

PINKERTON, BEHAVE! by author/illustrator Steven Kellogg, Dial Books for Young Readers 1979
Pinkerton is a loveable puppy, but he just won’t behave. He sets a bad example for the other dogs and flunks out of obedience school. But when a burglar comes into their home, it takes a little girl to know just the right commands. Anyone who has had a new puppy will relate to Pinkerton and his family in this book.

THE HALLO-WIENER, by author/illustrator Dav Pilkey, The Blue Sky Press and Scholastic 1995
The other dogs tease Oscar because he is short and long. But sometimes using what makes you a little bit different can save the day.

PRETZEL, by Margret Rey, illustrated by H.A. Rey, Harper and Row and Scholastic 1944
Pretzel started out just like his brothers and sisters, but by the time he was grown he was the longest dachshund in the world. Read about the different ways that Pretzel uses his special size, and how he wins the heart of Greta in this story.

BARK, GEORGE, by author/illustrator Jules Feiffer, HarperCollins 1999
When George's mother tells her son to bark, he meows. She tries again and he quacks, oinks and moos. George is a dog and something’s definitely not right. So his mother takes him to the vet, who finds some interesting things when he reaches down George’s throat.

The BISCUIT books by Alyssa Satin Capucilli, illustrated by Pat Schories, HarperCollins I Can Read series of books about a puppy and his adventures.
http://alyssacapucilli.com/books-category/world-of-biscuit/

The HENRY AND MUDGE books by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Sucie Stevenson, Simon & Schuster/Aladdin Ready to Read series of books about Henry and his big dog, Mudge.

Books about HARRY by Gene Zion, illustrated by Margaret Bloy Graham, and the books about BENJY by Margaret Bloy Graham, Harper & Row and Weekly Reader Books.

A couple of middle grade books about dogs that I like are:

LOVE THAT DOG by Sharon Creech, HarperCollins 2001
This novel in verse is told from the viewpoint of Jack, the main character, as he learns to enjoy writing poetry when he writes about his dog. A great introduction to novels in verse, this one is hard to put down once you begin.

ADVENTURES OF PACHELOT, books one, two and three, by Wendy Caszatt-Allen, Mackinac Island Press 2007
Travel back in time with fur traders, sailors and Native Americans as Pachelot, an Australian Shepherd, tells his story of life in the wilderness with the early explorers in the seventh century.  Read More 
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Scholastic Book Signings



A big Thank You goes out to Scholastic Book Fair coordinators Lisa Clouse, Holly Phillips and Jessica Kunderman for inviting me to autograph copies of NAME THAT DOG! at their Scholastic Book Fair sales in Fenton, St. Charles, and Columbia in Missouri this month! I loved meeting and talking to all those who came in to browse and purchase books. Thank you for all the planning and for showcasing my picture book, NAME THAT DOG! NAME THAT DOG! is originally published by Dial Books for Young Readers, and is also sold by Scholastic Book Clubs and Book Fairs.  Read More 
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Poetry Month—and Book Giveaways!

It’s April 1st and the official start of Poetry Month!

National Poetry Month was established in the United States in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets as a way to increase awareness and appreciation of poetry.

Here on my blog during the next four weeks I’ll be posting interviews with four terrific children’s poets. Check back this Wednesday to hear from my first guest, Heidi Bee Roemer, children’s author and poet, teacher, and editor!

I’ll be sharing some favorite websites featuring children’s poetry, and links to other ways to celebrate poetry.

I’ll also be giving away copies of my picture books, NAME THAT DOG! and FROM DAWN TO DREAMS, to two lucky blog readers in a drawing at the end of April. No fooling! To be entered in the drawing just leave your comment on any of my blog posts this month. Official rules are posted on the left on my blog page.

Here are some poetry books for children that I’ve recently read and recommend—

OUT ON THE PRAIRIE by Donna M. Bateman, illustrated by Susan Swan; Charlesbridge 2012, picture book/poetry/non-fiction

OUT OF THIS WORLD, Poems and Facts About Space, by Amy E Sklansky, illustrated by Stacey Schuett; Alfred A. Knopp, 2012, picture book/poetry/non-fiction

SERENDIPITY and ME by Judith L. Roth, Viking 2013, middle grade novel in verse

AND THE CROWD GOES WILD!, a Global Gathering of Sports Poems, compiled by Carol-Ann Hoyte and Heidi Bee Roemer, illustrated by Kevin Sylvester, Friesen Press 2012, middle grade anthology/poetry

THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN by Katherine Applegate, Harper 2012, middle grade novel in verse, 2013 Newberry Medal winner

Two other places that are giving away books during poetry month are:

To win an autographed copy of AND THE CROWD GOES WILD!, A Global Gathering of Sports Poems, on Story Patch go to Story Patch.

The Academy of American Poets: The Academy will edit and distribute 30,000 free copies of a special anthology of poetry for children ages 10 to 14, HOW TO EAT A POEM: a Smorgasbord of Tasty and Delicious Poems for Young Readers. With a foreword by U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser, the anthology includes 70 poems by well-known poets such as W.S. Merwin, Rita Dove, Billy Collins, Kenneth Koch, Marianne Moore, Langston Hughes, and Thom Gunn. Find out more at The Academy of American Poets website.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you here during April!  Read More 
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Storytime and Book Signing for NAME THAT DOG!

"...Jump into the alphabet and pick a puppy name!"

Yesterday I visited the Barnes & Noble Bookstore in St. Peters, Missouri where I read from my book, NAME THAT DOG, for storytime. I met some great kids and parents, and enjoyed talking with them. The kids got cookies afterwards, and I got two beautiful coloring pictures and a hug.

I love getting questions, and talking about how I chose the names for the dogs in this alphabet book of dogs' names. Always, there is someone who knows just exactly what I'm talking about, even thought the inspiration for my poems came from my own dog, Snickers.

Thanks to Shelley for organizing my visit there, and to Ginger for her help. It was extra special because my daughter from Minnesotta was there, too.

In two weeks, on November 5th, I'll be attending the SCBWI Missouri conference at St. Charles Community College in St. Charles. Speakers include Heather Alexander, Editor at Dial Books for Young Readers, and Quinlan Lee, Literary Agent for Adams Literary Agency. For more information about the conference and to register, go to the SCBWI Missouri website at: http://moscbwi.org/Events.html.
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Dissecting a Poem

Melody, from NAME THAT DOG!
Between new babies and other family matters, my blog has taken a back seat this month. I decided to get in a late contribution to poetry month by going through how I wrote, and re-wrote, one of the poems from my picture book, NAME THAT DOG!

My inspiration for Melody was my friend’s dog, Mellie. Every time I would go to Karen’s house, Mellie barked like crazy, even before I got the front door! I told Karen, “You don’t need a doorbell. You have Mellie!”

My first idea was to write about a dog who loved to ‘sing,’ and with his barking he would get all of the dogs in the neighborhood to join in. I called him Maestro, like the leader of an orchestra. Here’s the first draft:

Maestro
He sings along
When I play the piano
He hits the high notes
In perfect soprano.
He can hold it long
He can sing it low
Dogs follow the lead
Of my dog, Maestro.

Ok, I wasn't really happy with this poem--yet. Here are some reasons why.

Rhythm: This poem didn’t just roll off your tongue with that easy rhythm.

The stress fell on different syllables in the lines. I try to have each line stress the same syllable, either the first or the second usually, to make it easy to read. It doesn’t always work out that way, but at least it feels right when you read it out loud. The stress here falls on the second or third syllable, and doesn’t line up in order. The last line puts the stress on the word ‘my,’ which doesn’t feel natural. In addition, the lines don’t have the same number of syllables. It doesn’t always have to be exactly the same, but I felt that it was too far off.

Imagery: I didn’t feel that the end result put any special pictures or images in the reader’s mind. Ok, maybe a piano, maybe an orchestra conductor. Boring!

Language: Word choice, or language, is what creates the images that the readers see when they read a poem. It’s also what makes the reader feel something when they read a poem. I definitely thought I could do better here.

So I started to make my lists. I made a list of words of ways that a dog makes noise: bark, howl, yap, etc. I made a list of words that were synonyms for ‘sing:’ croon, tra-la-la, chant, hum, wail, moan…. I made a list of types of music: country, opera, pop, rock, rap…. I made a list of musical instruments: piano, saxophone, flute, violin….

I decided to re-name my dog Melody, after Mellie, who barked whenever someone came up the walk, and made her a girl like the real Mellie. I looked at my lists, and tried to relate the different words to a dog, in particular to a dog who liked to ‘sing.’ Here’s what I ended up with.

Melody
She sings when I play the piano.
She croons to the saxophone blues.
She wails to that sad country music
And moans to the nine o’clock news.
She boldly increases her volume,
enjoying the voice that she’s found,
And sings a duet with the doorbell—
That howling, melodious hound.

Poems are meant to be read out loud! I ended up with a much better rhythm, and a poem that was fun to read. The language was fun, too. And the images are there in every line for the reader to enjoy. I hope that you enjoy these poems, as well.  Read More 
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Reach Out and Read--ROAR!

It's always nice to be a visiting author. I had a great time reading and talking about my books at Citizens Financial Bank a couple of weeks ago. Donut holes and a cold drink, a goodie bag filled with activity pages, and a story to go with the start of fall, just the right time for a book about pilgrims and a turkey hunt. There were toddlers just the right age for young poems. And there are always kids, and grown-ups, too, who like poems about dogs that they can relate to with their own dogs.

Last Friday I was one of the featured authors at the Reach Out and Read (ROAR) fundraiser, An Evening of Authors, in Indianapolis. ROAR provides thousands of books each year to Indiana children age birth to five years. Books are given out by local health care providers, and are often the first book the child owns and the first introduction to the world of literacy. You can find out more about Reach Out and Read at https://www.reachoutandread.org.

It was a great evening, with lots of nice people, a buffet dinner, story time and children's crafts and prizes. There were wonderful baskets for the silent auction. And of course, authors there to autograph their books which were for sale at the event.

I remember how, as a young child, I loved having books read to me, and my favorite books, Nurse Nancy and Little Red Riding Hood. I remember when I first learned to read stories about Dick and Jane in school, and how my aunt, who was babysitting, let me stay up past my bedtime to read beyond the pages that we were assigned to read at home. I hope that this school year children of all ages will feel that excitement of holding a book in their hands, and be motivated by stories, reading and exploring new worlds through books.  Read More 
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Welcome to my children's author blog!

Welcome!

My name is Peggy Archer and I am a children's author. My newest picture book, NAME THAT DOG!, will be out from Dial Books for Young Readers in April 2010! To see more about me and my books, please visit my website at www.peggyarcher.com.

My author website has been around for awhile, but until now I have resisted 'The Blog.' My plan is to add something of interest to children's writers and anyone interested in children's books weekly on Wednesdays. So please check back.

The ALA (American Library Association) convention was  Read More 
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