Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Little Illinois: You Put Me In A Happy State!

Please help me welcome my newest book, the board book Little Illinois.
The book’s lively illustrations are courtesy of wildlife artist Michael Glenn Monroe.
It’s the latest entry in Sleeping Bear Press’ Little State series.
Each Little book in the series shares 10 rhyming riddles that introduce the very youngest of readers to a particular state’s symbols and identifying features. Brightly-painted clues frame each riddle.

I’ve been smiling-smiling-smiling since Sleeping Bear Press invited me to write the Illinois entry for this series.
Forgive the pun, but little did my publisher and editor know: I’ve been preparing for this moment since I was 9 years old!

My state, when my fifth grade teacher Miss Smiley (I swear that was her name!) at Overbrook Elementary School in West Philadelphia assigned each of us a U.S. state, oh, so long ago, Alaska and Hawaii were relatively new? Illinois, the Land of Lincoln!
I used my very best penmanship to write my perfectly formatted business letter to The State of Illinois, Springfield, Illinois, requesting materials to share with my class.
I can still remember waiting at the top of my Philadelphia home’s steps, hoping my mailman's worn brown leather bag held my package.
Once my Illinois-postmarked manila envelope arrived, I read the colorful pamphlets, memorized the state symbols, the state capital, the largest city, the crops and famous Presidents, then shared my information with my classmates.
Miss Smiley awarded me an A for my presentation. :)

Miss Smiley and that treasured package traveled my mind as I drove west, college diploma in hand, through Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana, to Illinois, to “the city by the lake that stands sky-high.” I was off to teach fifth grade (!), serenaded by the “purdy-purdy-purdy” of Illinois’ very own red-feathered state bird. Several Augusts in a row I drove south to the state capital to that “summer party with show cows and pigs.” Along the way, I passed Illinois’ “golden-petal-ed “Hi!”-waving prairie flowers and farmers’ fields ripe with tall, kernel-ed stalks.

O, the joy I had writing Little Illinois.
(The state’s last syllable made for a celebratory intro and conclusion.)
My most difficult challenge? Illinois is the Land of Lincoln. How could I introduce Abraham Lincoln to 3 and 4 yr. olds?

The penny connection had me smiling again.

                         I’m small and round,
                        Worth but a cent.
                        Turn me over.
                        See a president!

Who knows? Maybe William Penn and cheese-steaks and the Liberty Bell would have had me smiling too, had Sleeping Bear Press invited me to write Little Pennsylvania.

                       Ten little riddles!
                       Oh, the joy!
                       Clap and shout,
                       “Hurray for (Little) Illinois!”

Enjoy! Enjoy!
Esther Hershenhorn

The Chicago Public Library is this book’s designated give-away recipient!

Don't forget our Second Blogiversary Critique Give-away!

Don't forget our give-away of Mary Ann Rodman's newest book, Camp K-9!
The deadline is 11 pm Wednesday, today!

 Writing Workout - How to Write a Riddle!

 According to Merriam-Webster, a riddle is “a mystifying, 
 misleading, or puzzling question posed as a problem to be
 solved or guessed.”

Try your hand presenting a subject – Your School, Your Classroom, Your City, Mother Goose rhymes, Fairy Tales, The American Revolution, Geometry, Story elements - via riddles, even rhyming riddles.

Brainstorm your subject's essential components and/or identifying features.
Next choose your top five or top ten components/features.
Create at least 3 clues that make answering each riddle easy/possible.
Compose the riddle in narrative first, then try rhyme.

ReadWriteThink offers the following instructional links:
Write Your Own Riddle
What Am I? Writing Riddle Poems

1 comment:

Carmela Martino said...

Congratulations, Esther. LITTLE ILLINOIS sounds like a terrific little book. :-)