Crystal Kite voting is open! #SCBWI

SCBWI members it’s that time :)

Just click the pic and follow directions.

Crystal-Kite-logo1-1024x393.jpg

And if you have an entry…

May the odds be ever in your favor!

Pomegranate Waltz

Every time I pick up my guitar, I play. I don’t just copy and repeat music that somebody else thinks is good. I play what’s inside me. That’s what I mean by thrumming. When the vibrations of the music make your soul vibrate, you feel the thrum.

The above quote is from an adorable book I read last week about two teens who connect to themselves and each other through music.

Guitar Notes by Mary Amato is a well crafted story perfect for tweens and teens who are serious about becoming musicians, or who just want to understand the process of getting drawn into playing and songwriting. I’m not going to review the book here, I’ll just say that there’s a touch of tragedy, but basically the book is a celebration of the power of music.

The book includes lyrics and chords for the songs that the two main characters write. Pomegranate Waltz is the first song that the young musicians write together.

I like the sound of your name in my ear 
I like to hear what you have to say 
I’d like to pay attention to you— instead of doing what I have to do. Oh…  

Now something inside me is ready 
Something inside me is ready 
Something in me’s ready—oh—here I go… 

I like the way that our time intertwines 
I want to design each day so we can meet 
Each word a seed that’s hoping to grow—no need to hurry. Let’s take it slow. Oh…  

I like the shape of the thoughts in your mind 
You’ve got the kind of edge that I seem to need 
And if you feel the world doesn’t care— I’ll send a message. You’ll know I’m here. Oh…

Mary Amato lives in Silver Springs, Maryland. She’s is an author, a musician, and a teacher, and I wish I’d had someone like her in my life when I was a kid. My own artistic journey was not nearly as tidy as the trip that Amato’s characters are on (one of whom is actually named Tripp) and maybe that’s why I loved the book so much. If only I’d had a copy of it when I started dreaming of becoming a musician . . .

Guitar Notes includes actual notes that the characters produce during their songwriting sessions. The notes show how the songwriting process might work through brainstorming, trial and error, etc. This is an excellent way to show the critical thinking process that goes on when writing a song and a very clever way to show children how they might go about this process. (There are no mistakes when you’re writing on the back of a napkin, I always say.)

Go to Mary Amato’s website for info on the workshops she offers, and songwriting tips.

Oh, and give Guitar Notes to every kid you know who plays an instrument.

 

The Best Teachers are Sirens

Meet Mrs. McGee . . .

A total Siren, right?

Mrs. McGee is the teacher featured in What Do You Want to Be? a new picture book written by Beth Carter and illustrated by Leo Silva.

I ‘met’ Beth on author David Harrison‘s wonderful blog about two years ago. At that time, I was going to his blog almost every day for inspiration. David has written over eighty children’s books and runs a Word of the Month poetry contest on his site that’s great fun. If you need inspiration, I suggest you try it, the word prompt will get your pen moving. For me, the experience was more about community than contest, and I felt like my poems had a home on David’s site even though they were all really works in progress.

When she found out that What Do You Want to Be? was going to be published, Beth, who lives in Missouri, asked me if I would write a song to go along with her book. I said yes, and last weekend I went up to Woodstock with #MySonIs5 to record the track that What Do You Want to Be? inspired. Hope you enjoy it!

Here are a few pics of #MySonIs5 recording his part at Kevin Salem‘s studio in Woodstock.

After a while, what starts out as fun in the studio becomes work, and even #MySonIs5 begins to feel the pressure . . .

Finally he finishes, and takes a bow. #MySonIs5 has stamina in the studio and—what? What did you just ask me? Did I actually make him listen to old Grateful Dead on the drive home from Woodstock? Um.

Click on the pic of Mrs. McGee to get a copy of Beth Carter‘s book for your kids. If they like the song, tell Beth and she’ll probably send you a copy, or come back and listen any time here on Sirenstories.

To learn more about Beth Carter, visit her blog, Banter with Beth

What Do You Want To Be?  Song lyrics

What do you want to be?

Asked Mrs. McGee

Raise you hands high and share your dreams with me

What do you want to be?

What do you want to be?

Raise you hands high and share your dreams with me

When I arrived at school today

My teacher smiled and said let’s play

Join me in a circle on the floor

She asked us all what we held dear

The people we loved to be near

And what we thought the future held in store

She gave us crayons & pens & pads

She said, no answer’s wrong or bad

Just think my friends then think a little more

Use pictures, words; free thoughts like birds

Express yourself and you’ll be heard

You’ll learn in part what you are all here for

What do you want to be?

Asked Mrs. McGee

Raise you hands high and share your dreams with me

What do you want to be?

What do you want to be?

Raise you hands high and share your dreams with me (I don’t know!)

A baker or a builder,                          

Or a swimmer in the sea

A mommy having babies (Maybe!)

Or a maybe a daddy

A dentist, doctor, artist, author                              

Teacher, Forest ranger, or you might like to sing . . . (I’d like that!)

You can do anything!  (Definitely.)

What do you want to be?

Asked Mrs. McGee

Raise you hands high and share your dreams with me

What do you want to be?

What do you want to be?

Raise you hands high and share your dreams with me

An astronaut, a lawyer

Or a farmer growing trees (Next stop outer space!)

The president, a fireman

A keeper keeping bees

A dancer, banker, preacher, painter

Help save things are endangered (Yeah, like pandas!) maybe you’ll sew . . .

You can give it a go!  (I think I might want to think about this . . .)

What do you want to be?

Asked Mrs. McGee (A baseball player!)

Raise you hands high and share your dreams with me

What do you want to be?

What do you want to be?  (A candy maker!)

Raise you hands high and share your dreams with me

(A cow!)

(I just want to be me.)


Back to Book Trailers, The Accidental Adventures of India McAllister

My favorite things: music, books, movies. The order varies, but the list explains why I love book trailers.

The trailer for Charlotte Agell‘s middle grade novel The Accidental Adventures of India McAllister is one the best I’ve seen.

One of the things that’s so wonderful about this trailer is how true to the book it is. The trailer captures the essence of The Accidental Adventures of India McAllister. In this case, I read the book first then saw the trailer. My review of the book is below.

India is one of my favorite characters in Middle Grade fiction today. She’s even got her own blog, which is adorable and much more organized than mine. Of course India’s creativity might have something to do with her multitalented creator Charlotte Agell who probably gives India a hand once in a while. Click on India’s pic to visit to her blog.

The Siren behind the music for India’s book trailer is Charlotte’s son, Jon Simmons. The music is perfect; it expresses both India’s sweetness and her quirkiness.

Jon is also part of a pop/rock band based in Boston called The Crosswalk Kings. Look for a post about his music soon on Sirenstories

 

I finished reading The Accidental Adventures of India McAllister on the beach. The pages have a little sand in between them now, and I think that would make India happy.

India loves the outdoors, and author Charlotte Agell has included some beautiful descriptions of inland Maine in this entertaining and moving story about a sweet-natured nine and a half-year old girl who takes her fairly complicated life pretty much in stride. In a world full of little drama queens, I found India’s attitude refreshing.

Besides being an excellent and economical writer, Charlotte Agell is a gifted painter. An adorable watercolor portrait of India and the family pet bird, Beatrice Strawberry graces the cover of the book. I’d like to see Ms. Agell put out a version of India with full-blown watercolors of all the characters and their homes. I want to see paintings of things like “the lilac bush hidden in the fog” that India sees when she can’t sleep early one morning and steps outside to sit on her front porch swing.

Wolfgang, Maine, where the book takes place, is a front porch kind of town and by the time I’d finished the book I wanted to go there. Although there are no watercolors other than the front and back cover and jacket flaps–they feature more great pictures of India with the bird and her dog Tofu, the jacket designers obviously knew a good thing when they saw it–the book is full of sketches: clever drawings of India and things she likes, plus–just as important–things she doesn’t like. The sketches are accompanied by comments that made me laugh out loud.

India has a unique voice. Her backstory is rich. The settings are beautifully rendered. The book is colorful in every sense of the word, as is India’s slightly wacky artist mother.

India was adopted, and we learn she has questions and issues around that, but the book isn’t a big drama. Instead, The Accidental Adventures of India McAllister is a story, told by showing us small wondrous details in what seems like a very real little girl’s life.

I found myself wondering what will happen in India’s future, especially as far as she and her best friend, a boy named Colby, are concerned. Snowstorms in June, whale songs, yearning, and insightful comments fill this book that begs to be part of a series. A sequel won’t enough for those of us who have fallen in love with India McAllister.

I checked out this book as a possible gift for my niece who is India’s age. Unlike India, she’s not an avid reader. I’m pretty sure this perfect book of adventures will change that. I couldn’t put it down myself. It’s sweet and funny, and the way India’s small but complicated family comes together in the end left me with a lump in my throat and a smile on my face.

Confession: I’m a huge fan of Charlotte Agell‘s work. Her picture books are among my favorites, and my son, who is five, feels the same. The paintings that illustrate her books are so beautiful, I’ve been tempted to tear out certain pages and frame them.

My son and I love Charlotte’s book To The Island so much, that I used the text, with only a few alterations, as the lyrics for a song. Below is the super rough version I recorded on my laptop, at home, with my son.

I hope to go into the studio one day and do a better recording, but for now, I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I enjoyed singing it. The words are so simple, but to me, they’re a metaphor for some of life’s more profound passages.

The Littlest Siren

Here’s #MySonIs5 recording his part for The Crankamacallit Song yesterday at Kevin Salem’s studio in Woodstock, NY.


We’re going to be using the song for the demo video we’re making later today with Polymash for The Crankamacallit iPad app which is available now on iTunes. Kevin helped me write the song and sings on it as well.

After years of admiring Kevin’s songs and being in love with his voice and his guitar playing, my dream of writing and singing something with him has finally come true . . . sort of. Kevin has produced a bunch of my songs over the years and I find it pretty hilarious that we’ve finally written something together called The Crankamacallit.

This blog isn’t really about my music, but I couldn’t resist sharing :)

I’ll make sure to post some of Kevin’s music soon as well. Until then, if you’d like to check out the app, click on the title page below.

 

The Crankamacallit Is Here!

To read about Sirenstories or share your songs, please see my previous posts or click on the waterwings in the right hand column to submit, thanks!

If you’re not looking for Sirenstories, you must be stopping by to help me celebrate the fact that THE CRANKAMACALLIT IS UP AND FLYING!

That’s right, The Crankamacallit ipad app is now available in the itunes store! Yay! Champagne, confetti, and cake!

If you want to read more about The Crankamacallit, please click on the title page below and visit Polymash, where there’s an incredible gallery and storyline teaser for The Crankamacallit. Go now, they’re passing glasses of bubbly!

Thank you Polymash, you’re brilliant!

The Crankamacallit ipad app is nearly complete!

Here are a few words from Polymash about our project The Crankamacallit, an interactive children’s storybook for the picture book crowd. The Crankamacallit will be out this spring, I hope you enjoy these preliminary sketches.

PS The pictures don’t  begin to show the interactivity of the app—or its SURPRISES!


We are working on an illustrated, animated and interactive children’s book by singer, songwriter and author Mimi Cross. The project is called “The Crankamacallit” and will go live in Q2 of 2011. It utilizes cutting edge 3D illustration techniques, and we are creating a hand crafted quality look and feel inspired by the winning and record sales generating iPad app called “The Pedlar Lady”.

Even though we are under construction with this, I’m posting a few 3D illustrations.

Here is a scene being created in 3D, and then rendered, illustrated and animated for the app. With processes like these, we are really trying to push the limits of the Adobe Digital Magazine Publishing suite, our core our app publishing platform.  It was really intended for interactive magazines, but we are extending its functionality by incorporating innovative design techniques including video, 3D animation, HTML5 and Javascript.