Monthly Archives: August 2011

Back-to-School According to Kids

By Cameron Crane



Last month, our interview with children about the Universe was so entertaining, we decided that it would be the perfect way to wrap up each monthly theme. We have spent this August discussing transitions, and more particularly, the transition of going back-to-school after summer vacation. Here is what kids had to say about their experiences going back to school, and why they go in the first place:



So you are back in school. How is that?

Mark (8 years old): “All my friends are there in my class. I saw a lot of them over the summer, but not all. And I sit at a table with Matty. That’s good because he’s my friend. My one friend doesn’t sit with any of his friends, so I’m glad that’s not me.”

Isabella (6 years old): “I really like it.”

Jacquelyn (6 years old): “I’m going to school again now. I didn’t go all summer long. We went to Montana, and rode bikes.”

Katie (8 years old): “Well…it’s not great.”



Do you like your teacher?

Mark: “I guess I like her. She is the teacher.”

Jacquelyn: “She’s really nice. She has a new baby, so she told us all about her baby.”

Katie: “I really like my teacher. I think she’s my favorite and she looks just like a teacher from a movie. She really likes me too.”

What’s your favorite part of school so far?

Mark: “My favorite part is lunch, because I get hot lunch this year. It’s my first time getting it. They give you pizza. And I like the bus. A lot of kids don’t like it, but I do.”

Isabella: “Circle time.”

Jacquelyn: “I don’t really have a favorite. I like it all, really.”

Katie: “I liked making name-tags for our boxes. We got to used stickers and what ever we wanted. And we wrote three things about ourselves. I wrote my name in cursive, and I was the only one who wrote my name in cursive.”

Why do you go to school anyway?

Mark: “I go to school because I want to get a job. When you’re grown up you don’t get to go to school because you have work. But you have to go to school to get a job, so I go now. Because nobody wants to be in school when they are old!”

Isabella: “That’s just where kids go! Don’t you know that?!”

Jacquelyn: “I go to school because I like to learn. Most people who go to school get to be smart. And I want to be smart when I grow up, so that’s the way. Actually, I want to be a singer when I grow up, but I want to be smart too.”

Katie: “I want to go to college. So it goes school, high school, college. Right now, I am in school school. My friends are there too, so everybody goes.”

Back-to-School According to Kids

By Cameron Crane



Last month, our interview with children about the Universe was so entertaining, we decided that it would be the perfect way to wrap up each monthly theme. We have spent this August discussing transitions, and more particularly, the transition of going back-to-school after summer vacation. Here is what kids had to say about their experiences going back to school, and why they go in the first place:



So you are back in school. How is that?

Mark (8 years old): “All my friends are there in my class. I saw a lot of them over the summer, but not all. And I sit at a table with Matty. That’s good because he’s my friend. My one friend doesn’t sit with any of his friends, so I’m glad that’s not me.”

Isabella (6 years old): “I really like it.”

Jacquelyn (6 years old): “I’m going to school again now. I didn’t go all summer long. We went to Montana, and rode bikes.”

Katie (8 years old): “Well…it’s not great.”



Do you like your teacher?

Mark: “I guess I like her. She is the teacher.”

Jacquelyn: “She’s really nice. She has a new baby, so she told us all about her baby.”

Katie: “I really like my teacher. I think she’s my favorite and she looks just like a teacher from a movie. She really likes me too.”

What’s your favorite part of school so far?

Mark: “My favorite part is lunch, because I get hot lunch this year. It’s my first time getting it. They give you pizza. And I like the bus. A lot of kids don’t like it, but I do.”

Isabella: “Circle time.”

Jacquelyn: “I don’t really have a favorite. I like it all, really.”

Katie: “I liked making name-tags for our boxes. We got to used stickers and what ever we wanted. And we wrote three things about ourselves. I wrote my name in cursive, and I was the only one who wrote my name in cursive.”

Why do you go to school anyway?

Mark: “I go to school because I want to get a job. When you’re grown up you don’t get to go to school because you have work. But you have to go to school to get a job, so I go now. Because nobody wants to be in school when they are old!”

Isabella: “That’s just where kids go! Don’t you know that?!”

Jacquelyn: “I go to school because I like to learn. Most people who go to school get to be smart. And I want to be smart when I grow up, so that’s the way. Actually, I want to be a singer when I grow up, but I want to be smart too.”

Katie: “I want to go to college. So it goes school, high school, college. Right now, I am in school school. My friends are there too, so everybody goes.”

So Many School Supplies

We sell Dabbawalla backpacks!
Yesterday, we talked about back-to-school traditions and touched on the common ground of shopping for clothes and supplies to kick off the academic year. Buying for school has become almost a holiday, with stores freeing up whole aisles to display notebooks, folders, files, lunch boxes, and backpacks just to name a few. It’s all about merchandising for maximum sales, with prepackaged multiples, and lots of loss-leaders to encourage buying, well… lots!

This makes me stew a little especially about two issues:
  • How do families, especially single parents with more than one child, afford all these supplies?
  • Are all these cheap goods environmentally produced – is the cheap paper from old-growth forests, for example?

Recently, in a discussion about just these issues, Sherry Wachter, a single mom who owns Magic Dog Press, shared this comment:

Just the basic supplies for Patrick ran us almost $200. We could have economized folders, but I went with the zipping ones because it makes paper management easier. But for everything else we pretty much went the economy route. And this year wasn’t as bad as other years have been–these days parents are expected to purchase all of the supplies their child will use throughout the year. In the early years they took all the stuff and pooled it and it became the classroom supplies (saved the school the cost of purchasing anything). These days that’s what gets schlepped in the backpack. What nobody’s talking about is the amount of waste involved in this system–notebook paper that gets wrinkled and marked up, pencils that get stolen or dropped so the leads break, glue sticks and markers that dry out, and so forth. I would say, because of packaging, we usually end up buying about three times what Patrick actually uses, simply because that’s how the stuff is sold. And while I can buy glue stick throughout the year the markers and colored pencils are a different issue–once the first few colors run out or the leads break up the entire set has to be replaced, which means a glut of colors like ochre, salmon, and periwinkle, which no one ever uses.

I think the idea to pool the supplies by paying the teacher for supplies is a good one. There are plenty of bulk-buying opportunities and $50 per student would probably cover the cost of basic classroom supplies. It would also take the burden from teachers, who have been known to dip into their own pockets to help children and families in need.

How do things work at your school? Are you required to fill a proscribed list of supplies mandated by your school board (as is the case with my single sister and her two teens) or do you have other options? Do you know of any charities formed to help buy school supplies? What about the ever-increasing size of backpacks for even the youngest children to schlep all those goods? If we get enough comments about that, we’ll probably write a separate post about that particular trend! In the meantime, here are some tips on buying a backpack for you child from Web MD, and the link to Dabbawalla backpacks which Little Pickle Press is pleased to offer for sale here.

So Many School Supplies

We sell Dabbawalla backpacks!
Yesterday, we talked about back-to-school traditions and touched on the common ground of shopping for clothes and supplies to kick off the academic year. Buying for school has become almost a holiday, with stores freeing up whole aisles to display notebooks, folders, files, lunch boxes, and backpacks just to name a few. It’s all about merchandising for maximum sales, with prepackaged multiples, and lots of loss-leaders to encourage buying, well… lots!

This makes me stew a little especially about two issues:
  • How do families, especially single parents with more than one child, afford all these supplies?
  • Are all these cheap goods environmentally produced – is the cheap paper from old-growth forests, for example?

Recently, in a discussion about just these issues, Sherry Wachter, a single mom who owns Magic Dog Press, shared this comment:

Just the basic supplies for Patrick ran us almost $200. We could have economized folders, but I went with the zipping ones because it makes paper management easier. But for everything else we pretty much went the economy route. And this year wasn’t as bad as other years have been–these days parents are expected to purchase all of the supplies their child will use throughout the year. In the early years they took all the stuff and pooled it and it became the classroom supplies (saved the school the cost of purchasing anything). These days that’s what gets schlepped in the backpack. What nobody’s talking about is the amount of waste involved in this system–notebook paper that gets wrinkled and marked up, pencils that get stolen or dropped so the leads break, glue sticks and markers that dry out, and so forth. I would say, because of packaging, we usually end up buying about three times what Patrick actually uses, simply because that’s how the stuff is sold. And while I can buy glue stick throughout the year the markers and colored pencils are a different issue–once the first few colors run out or the leads break up the entire set has to be replaced, which means a glut of colors like ochre, salmon, and periwinkle, which no one ever uses.

I think the idea to pool the supplies by paying the teacher for supplies is a good one. There are plenty of bulk-buying opportunities and $50 per student would probably cover the cost of basic classroom supplies. It would also take the burden from teachers, who have been known to dip into their own pockets to help children and families in need.

How do things work at your school? Are you required to fill a proscribed list of supplies mandated by your school board (as is the case with my single sister and her two teens) or do you have other options? Do you know of any charities formed to help buy school supplies? What about the ever-increasing size of backpacks for even the youngest children to schlep all those goods? If we get enough comments about that, we’ll probably write a separate post about that particular trend! In the meantime, here are some tips on buying a backpack for you child from Web MD, and the link to Dabbawalla backpacks which Little Pickle Press is pleased to offer for sale here.

Back-to-School Traditions

“I’d say all over the world children are excited about the first day of school but a little fearful, too,” says Ellen Jackson in her book, It’s Back to School We Go! First Day Stories From Around the World (Millbrook Press, 32 pages, $15.95). So to ease transitions, families create their own traditions to make the change more fun, or follow a tradition common in their country.

In my family and in Germany, children entering first grade are given large Schultüten, or candy cones, which are filled with all sorts of small items from candy and small toys, to school items like erasers and pencils. Everyone gets one of these cones, which are sold in various sizes in stores everywhere during late summer, and as important as the treat itself, is the requisite photograph of the child holding the cone. Photographs are taken at home, and some teachers even take a class picture with each child and cone. In later years, photographs of the children become a nostalgic marker of how big the children have grown. The tradition is loads of fun, and can easily be adopted anywhere, as the cones are relatively simple to make with colorful thin cardboard, and tissue paper for the top. Fill with lots of little goodies, of course! Here’s a simple how-to compliments of Crayola.

Other cultures have traditions around food – maybe a special lunch for back-to-school for good learning or good luck. In Japan, make sure the rice with seaweed sauce and quail eggs are packed neatly in the lunchbox! Some families create their own meal traditions including a unique dinner for just that special day, which allows lots of time for conversations about the school experiences.

To be sure, most cultures include one (or more) shopping days to prepare for the big day. Certainly, school supplies are an important consideration, but more often than not, a new backpack and a pair of shoes are part of the planning. In America, shopping takes on more importance than in many other countries, and some families buy new clothes down to the undies before school starts anew. Other families just add a new outfit or a new coat. It depends entirely on budget or how much the child has grown over the summer.

What about in your family? Do you have special cultural traditions for back-to-school? What kind of new clothes did you buy? Please share some old and new traditions with us in the comments, and also feel free to comment about how traditions have changed.

Back-to-School Traditions

“I’d say all over the world children are excited about the first day of school but a little fearful, too,” says Ellen Jackson in her book, It’s Back to School We Go! First Day Stories From Around the World (Millbrook Press, 32 pages, $15.95). So to ease transitions, families create their own traditions to make the change more fun, or follow a tradition common in their country.

In my family and in Germany, children entering first grade are given large Schultüten, or candy cones, which are filled with all sorts of small items from candy and small toys, to school items like erasers and pencils. Everyone gets one of these cones, which are sold in various sizes in stores everywhere during late summer, and as important as the treat itself, is the requisite photograph of the child holding the cone. Photographs are taken at home, and some teachers even take a class picture with each child and cone. In later years, photographs of the children become a nostalgic marker of how big the children have grown. The tradition is loads of fun, and can easily be adopted anywhere, as the cones are relatively simple to make with colorful thin cardboard, and tissue paper for the top. Fill with lots of little goodies, of course! Here’s a simple how-to compliments of Crayola.

Other cultures have traditions around food – maybe a special lunch for back-to-school for good learning or good luck. In Japan, make sure the rice with seaweed sauce and quail eggs are packed neatly in the lunchbox! Some families create their own meal traditions including a unique dinner for just that special day, which allows lots of time for conversations about the school experiences.

To be sure, most cultures include one (or more) shopping days to prepare for the big day. Certainly, school supplies are an important consideration, but more often than not, a new backpack and a pair of shoes are part of the planning. In America, shopping takes on more importance than in many other countries, and some families buy new clothes down to the undies before school starts anew. Other families just add a new outfit or a new coat. It depends entirely on budget or how much the child has grown over the summer.

What about in your family? Do you have special cultural traditions for back-to-school? What kind of new clothes did you buy? Please share some old and new traditions with us in the comments, and also feel free to comment about how traditions have changed.

Making the Transition from Parents to Co-Parents

By Rana DiOrio, Founder with Little Pickle Press


I am no longer married to the father of my two girls. Despite our very best efforts, our marriage didn’t work. When we separated, our oldest daughter was 14 months old, and I was 7 months pregnant with our youngest daughter. I’m sure you can imagine the heartbreak and anguish we both experienced as we dissolved our marriage.

I can remember agonizing over the decision about whether or not to invite the girls’ father to be present for the birth of our youngest daughter. While our relationship was obviously very strained at that point, I truly wanted him to feel connected to his daughter and to experience her birth. Ultimately, the decision was made for me as I ended up having Alex in the back of the Subaru of my doula.

Our unspoken pact. Immediately following the birth, I was euphoric. Her birth was seamless, and when I collected her into my arms for the very first time she was breathing and cooing. I knew that she was just fine. In the first few seconds of her life outside the womb, I asked my doula to hand me her phone. I called my daughter’s father and woke him from a sound sleep. I explained to him what had just happened and invited him to meet me at the hospital to cut the umbilical cord. Not surprisingly, I had to repeat myself as he was (understandably) in shock.

He met me at the hospital and separated our daughter from me. With this symbolic gesture the two of us forged our co-parenting relationship. In that moment we made an unspoken pact to love our children, to do whatever is in their best interests, and to work together to achieve that end.

It was not easy at first. We both needed to heal and to get beyond the issues in our marriage that precluded us from communicating well. But soon, we both realized that it was possible to transcend our differences and focus on our common interests—our girls. We started as dysfunctional parents and emerged as strong co-parents.


What does it mean to be strong co-parents? It means:

  • Referring to one another as Daddy or Mommy to your children or as “the father/mother of my children” to others;
  • Speaking respectfully about not only the other co-parent but also their new partners;
  • Making material decisions together (e.g., about schools, how to respond to behavior challenges, enrichment activities, etc.);
  • Celebrating the birthdays of your children together;
  • If possible, celebrating Father’s Day and Mother’s Day together;
  • Going Trick-or-Treating together;
  • Providing your children as much access to the other co-parent as practicable;
  • Keeping the co-parent appraised of your children’s changing schedules and needs;
  • Saving them a seat at the school assembly;
  • Attending parent-teacher conferences together;
  • Being dynamic and flexible about your co-parenting schedule and being receptive to changing it either to meet the needs of the children or one of the parents (e.g., to accommodate a vacation or business trip); and
  • Maintaining a relationship with your co-parent’s parents; in most cases they are powerful allies who also love and want what’s best for your children.

This is a significant subset of all the ways you can work together as co-parents to serve the best interests of your children.

Remain focused on what’s best for your children. Not all divorces turn out this well as I know from divorcing the father of my son. For those of you who have experienced the torment of an acrimonious divorce, I completely empathize with you. The only advice I can offer is that to the extent possible: (i) try to remain focused on what is in the best interest of your children and not on what your former spouse is doing to complicate the issues; (ii) check your ego (because that’s the only one over which you really have control); and (iii) find resolve in the knowledge that it isn’t about you, it is about your children and what they need from you. You brought your children into the world, and now it is your responsibility to do your best for them.

The transition from being parents to co-parents is challenging not only for the grown-ups but also, of course, for the children. Be attentive to that. Listen to your children. Acknowledge their sadness, anger, and/or frustration. Recognize that when they act out, this difficult transition may be the underlying cause. Spend one-on-one time with them to dispel their fears and anxieties and to let them know how much they are loved.

What do you think? As always, we welcome your comments and suggestions on making the transition from parents to co-parents. We are especially interested in advice or anecdotes about positive transitions. Please share your thoughts with us.

Making the Transition from Parents to Co-Parents

By Rana DiOrio, Founder with Little Pickle Press


I am no longer married to the father of my two girls. Despite our very best efforts, our marriage didn’t work. When we separated, our oldest daughter was 14 months old, and I was 7 months pregnant with our youngest daughter. I’m sure you can imagine the heartbreak and anguish we both experienced as we dissolved our marriage.

I can remember agonizing over the decision about whether or not to invite the girls’ father to be present for the birth of our youngest daughter. While our relationship was obviously very strained at that point, I truly wanted him to feel connected to his daughter and to experience her birth. Ultimately, the decision was made for me as I ended up having Alex in the back of the Subaru of my doula.

Our unspoken pact. Immediately following the birth, I was euphoric. Her birth was seamless, and when I collected her into my arms for the very first time she was breathing and cooing. I knew that she was just fine. In the first few seconds of her life outside the womb, I asked my doula to hand me her phone. I called my daughter’s father and woke him from a sound sleep. I explained to him what had just happened and invited him to meet me at the hospital to cut the umbilical cord. Not surprisingly, I had to repeat myself as he was (understandably) in shock.

He met me at the hospital and separated our daughter from me. With this symbolic gesture the two of us forged our co-parenting relationship. In that moment we made an unspoken pact to love our children, to do whatever is in their best interests, and to work together to achieve that end.

It was not easy at first. We both needed to heal and to get beyond the issues in our marriage that precluded us from communicating well. But soon, we both realized that it was possible to transcend our differences and focus on our common interests—our girls. We started as dysfunctional parents and emerged as strong co-parents.


What does it mean to be strong co-parents? It means:

  • Referring to one another as Daddy or Mommy to your children or as “the father/mother of my children” to others;
  • Speaking respectfully about not only the other co-parent but also their new partners;
  • Making material decisions together (e.g., about schools, how to respond to behavior challenges, enrichment activities, etc.);
  • Celebrating the birthdays of your children together;
  • If possible, celebrating Father’s Day and Mother’s Day together;
  • Going Trick-or-Treating together;
  • Providing your children as much access to the other co-parent as practicable;
  • Keeping the co-parent appraised of your children’s changing schedules and needs;
  • Saving them a seat at the school assembly;
  • Attending parent-teacher conferences together;
  • Being dynamic and flexible about your co-parenting schedule and being receptive to changing it either to meet the needs of the children or one of the parents (e.g., to accommodate a vacation or business trip); and
  • Maintaining a relationship with your co-parent’s parents; in most cases they are powerful allies who also love and want what’s best for your children.

This is a significant subset of all the ways you can work together as co-parents to serve the best interests of your children.

Remain focused on what’s best for your children. Not all divorces turn out this well as I know from divorcing the father of my son. For those of you who have experienced the torment of an acrimonious divorce, I completely empathize with you. The only advice I can offer is that to the extent possible: (i) try to remain focused on what is in the best interest of your children and not on what your former spouse is doing to complicate the issues; (ii) check your ego (because that’s the only one over which you really have control); and (iii) find resolve in the knowledge that it isn’t about you, it is about your children and what they need from you. You brought your children into the world, and now it is your responsibility to do your best for them.

The transition from being parents to co-parents is challenging not only for the grown-ups but also, of course, for the children. Be attentive to that. Listen to your children. Acknowledge their sadness, anger, and/or frustration. Recognize that when they act out, this difficult transition may be the underlying cause. Spend one-on-one time with them to dispel their fears and anxieties and to let them know how much they are loved.

What do you think? As always, we welcome your comments and suggestions on making the transition from parents to co-parents. We are especially interested in advice or anecdotes about positive transitions. Please share your thoughts with us.

Life After a Death

By Cameron Crane



The interesting thing about monumental transitions is that sometimes they happen instantly, and sometimes you don’t even realize they have happened until years later when you reflect on how things have changed over time. The latter typically happens with events that are difficult to process through emotionally or understand, such as divorce or the death of a loved one. These are the hardest transitions because you are never completely prepared for them.

It has been a decade since my half-sister’s father passed, and I can still remember exactly how I felt on that day. I was thirteen years old. My mother was crying in her bedroom, and although she was clearly emotional, the news was delivered to me so matter-of-factly it took me a moment to realize what had actually been said.

“Your sister’s dad died. She’s in her room. You should probably go comfort her.”

My sister was 16 at the time, and I remember the fear that possessed me as I walked down the hallway to her room. I had no idea what to say to her. I had never really gotten to know her father, had never experienced death before, and although I felt sad, deep down I knew it wasn’t really my loss. As much as I tried to will myself to feel that it was, or to at least cry, I simply couldn’t. When I opened the door to her room, she was lying on her bed staring at the ceiling. “I’m really sorry,” I said, and I gave her a big hug. I had never heard those words sound so insignificant.

I don’t remember the next few weeks, but I do know that things went back to normal relatively quickly, at least for me. I don’t recall a single conversation with my sister about her father passing from that point on. She continued to be successful, and hold her head high. She never fell into a deep depression, and so I never really comforted her. If she had a grieving process, it was kept very secret.

There were times, though, when reality would sneak up on us. When my sister won the title of Miss Marin and walked the stage of the Miss California pageant, she was the only one of the thirty-plus girls on stage escorted by a younger brother rather than her father. Whenever there was a special father-daughter moment in a movie we were watching, or she would recognize a trait in herself that reminded her of her father, her eyes would fill with tears. And whenever my brother and I would go out with our dad for Father’s Day, she seemed to disappear into her bedroom.

Still, I didn’t truly recognize what the transition must have been like for her until about two weeks ago, when I was flipping through a family album and a 16th birthday card fell out. I will never forget the experience of opening that card and seeing my sister’s father’s writing. It was so full of love and personality, and was the last thing he wrote to her before he died four months later.

For the first time, his death was real to me, and I understood the tremendous pain and transition she was forced to deal with at such a young age. I truly admire her strength throughout the process, the compassion she must have felt for my brother and I to have never held it against us for still having a father, and how proud he would be of her today for all she has accomplished. Almost exactly ten years from his death, I shed my first tear.

Death is one of those few transitions that have no clear ending. Losing a loved one changes your life so deeply, and yet the process can be so internal that things seem to happen almost subtly. We can be grateful for those little moments of recognition that life does go on, and even though our loved ones can’t always be there physically, they do not cease to impact us and who we become.

Life After a Death

By Cameron Crane



The interesting thing about monumental transitions is that sometimes they happen instantly, and sometimes you don’t even realize they have happened until years later when you reflect on how things have changed over time. The latter typically happens with events that are difficult to process through emotionally or understand, such as divorce or the death of a loved one. These are the hardest transitions because you are never completely prepared for them.

It has been a decade since my half-sister’s father passed, and I can still remember exactly how I felt on that day. I was thirteen years old. My mother was crying in her bedroom, and although she was clearly emotional, the news was delivered to me so matter-of-factly it took me a moment to realize what had actually been said.

“Your sister’s dad died. She’s in her room. You should probably go comfort her.”

My sister was 16 at the time, and I remember the fear that possessed me as I walked down the hallway to her room. I had no idea what to say to her. I had never really gotten to know her father, had never experienced death before, and although I felt sad, deep down I knew it wasn’t really my loss. As much as I tried to will myself to feel that it was, or to at least cry, I simply couldn’t. When I opened the door to her room, she was lying on her bed staring at the ceiling. “I’m really sorry,” I said, and I gave her a big hug. I had never heard those words sound so insignificant.

I don’t remember the next few weeks, but I do know that things went back to normal relatively quickly, at least for me. I don’t recall a single conversation with my sister about her father passing from that point on. She continued to be successful, and hold her head high. She never fell into a deep depression, and so I never really comforted her. If she had a grieving process, it was kept very secret.

There were times, though, when reality would sneak up on us. When my sister won the title of Miss Marin and walked the stage of the Miss California pageant, she was the only one of the thirty-plus girls on stage escorted by a younger brother rather than her father. Whenever there was a special father-daughter moment in a movie we were watching, or she would recognize a trait in herself that reminded her of her father, her eyes would fill with tears. And whenever my brother and I would go out with our dad for Father’s Day, she seemed to disappear into her bedroom.

Still, I didn’t truly recognize what the transition must have been like for her until about two weeks ago, when I was flipping through a family album and a 16th birthday card fell out. I will never forget the experience of opening that card and seeing my sister’s father’s writing. It was so full of love and personality, and was the last thing he wrote to her before he died four months later.

For the first time, his death was real to me, and I understood the tremendous pain and transition she was forced to deal with at such a young age. I truly admire her strength throughout the process, the compassion she must have felt for my brother and I to have never held it against us for still having a father, and how proud he would be of her today for all she has accomplished. Almost exactly ten years from his death, I shed my first tear.

Death is one of those few transitions that have no clear ending. Losing a loved one changes your life so deeply, and yet the process can be so internal that things seem to happen almost subtly. We can be grateful for those little moments of recognition that life does go on, and even though our loved ones can’t always be there physically, they do not cease to impact us and who we become.

What Little Pickle Press is Seeking in a Manuscript Submission

By Rana DiOrio, Founder of Little Pickle Press

Keith Anthony press checking What Does It Mean To Be Safe?

“What are you looking for?”

I get asked this question at least twice a week. My response historically has been, “I’ll know it when I read it.” That is hardly a satisfactory response, however. So, at the urging of many, I am committing to writing what it is I am seeking as the curator of the award-winning Little Pickle Press collection.

The Common Denominators. All of the manuscripts that we select send meaningful messages to children. They catalyze conversations between parents and children, teachers and students, about the topics that matter most to the generation of children we are shaping today. We welcome fiction and nonfiction written for ages 4–8 or 9–12. The manuscripts are well-written, thought-provoking, progressive, fresh, distinctive, and lend themselves well to not only illustration, but also to extrapolation into other mediums, such as interactive e-books and applications.

No distractions or interruptions, please. I am loath to admit this, but I must convey to you the truth. Manuscripts that are not submitted as Word documents (in .doc format vs. .docx), double-spaced in Times New Roman font 12-pt and without illustrations are distracting in a way you would not want them to be. So, to position yourself for the possibility of success, please submit your manuscripts in the following manner:

  • As a Word document (in .doc format)
  • Double-spaced
  • With Times New Roman font 12-pt
  • With your suggested title and name at the top as well as a word count
  • With pages numbered
  • Without illustrations

Accompany your manuscript with a brief cover note/email that tells me why you think your manuscript is a good fit for Little Pickle Press. Also attach the signed and dated copy of our Manuscript Submission Policy & Agreement, which you may download from our website by clicking here.

Send your cover letter/email with manuscript and executed Manuscript Submission Policy & Agreement as two attachments to me via email to [email protected](dot)com.

If you are not yet online, you may also mail manuscripts to:

Acquisitions Editor
Little Pickle Press
Box 983
Belvedere, CA 94920

In so doing, you eliminate all distractions and allow me, our Senior Reader, and our team to focus on your all-important written words.

The heart of the matter. Specifically, what subject matters are most interesting to us at this point? I’ll tell you (in no particular order):

  • Altruism (and other anti-narcissism themes)
  • Creativity: the importance of it, fostering it, etc.
  • Forgiveness
  • Gratitude
  • Tolerance/Acceptance
  • What is a conscience? How do we foster it? Use it?
  • Leadership and/or Entrepreneurship
  • Divergent (vs. Convergent) Thinking
  • Systems Thinking
  • Healthy and sustainable eating

Our selection process. Once I receive your complete submission, I will forward your manuscript to our Senior Reader. She will read it and send me her preliminary thoughts. If she has a favorable opinion of the manuscript, then I will read it. If the manuscript resonates with me, then I send it to one of our Editors and our Art Director. If they like it, too, then we schedule a call or meeting to discuss its merits. If at any point during our process, a team member thinks that the work does not fit for us, then I will let the author know. If you indicate that you would like specific feedback, I will do my best to include that in my note back to you.

Thanks for your interest. Thanks for your interest in Little Pickle Press. Thanks for reading this post. And if you elect to send us a submission, thanks also for considering us as your publisher. I know from experience all that you have gone through to get to this point, and I respect and honor you for it.

What Little Pickle Press is Seeking in a Manuscript Submission

By Rana DiOrio, Founder of Little Pickle Press

Keith Anthony press checking What Does It Mean To Be Safe?

“What are you looking for?”

I get asked this question at least twice a week. My response historically has been, “I’ll know it when I read it.” That is hardly a satisfactory response, however. So, at the urging of many, I am committing to writing what it is I am seeking as the curator of the award-winning Little Pickle Press collection.

The Common Denominators. All of the manuscripts that we select send meaningful messages to children. They catalyze conversations between parents and children, teachers and students, about the topics that matter most to the generation of children we are shaping today. We welcome fiction and nonfiction written for ages 4–8 or 9–12. The manuscripts are well-written, thought-provoking, progressive, fresh, distinctive, and lend themselves well to not only illustration, but also to extrapolation into other mediums, such as interactive e-books and applications.

No distractions or interruptions, please. I am loath to admit this, but I must convey to you the truth. Manuscripts that are not submitted as Word documents (in .doc format vs. .docx), double-spaced in Times New Roman font 12-pt and without illustrations are distracting in a way you would not want them to be. So, to position yourself for the possibility of success, please submit your manuscripts in the following manner:

  • As a Word document (in .doc format)
  • Double-spaced
  • With Times New Roman font 12-pt
  • With your suggested title and name at the top as well as a word count
  • With pages numbered
  • Without illustrations

Accompany your manuscript with a brief cover note/email that tells me why you think your manuscript is a good fit for Little Pickle Press. Also attach the signed and dated copy of our Manuscript Submission Policy & Agreement, which you may download from our website by clicking here.

Send your cover letter/email with manuscript and executed Manuscript Submission Policy & Agreement as two attachments to me via email to [email protected](dot)com.

If you are not yet online, you may also mail manuscripts to:

Acquisitions Editor
Little Pickle Press
Box 983
Belvedere, CA 94920

In so doing, you eliminate all distractions and allow me, our Senior Reader, and our team to focus on your all-important written words.

The heart of the matter. Specifically, what subject matters are most interesting to us at this point? I’ll tell you (in no particular order):

  • Altruism (and other anti-narcissism themes)
  • Creativity: the importance of it, fostering it, etc.
  • Forgiveness
  • Gratitude
  • Tolerance/Acceptance
  • What is a conscience? How do we foster it? Use it?
  • Leadership and/or Entrepreneurship
  • Divergent (vs. Convergent) Thinking
  • Systems Thinking
  • Healthy and sustainable eating

Our selection process. Once I receive your complete submission, I will forward your manuscript to our Senior Reader. She will read it and send me her preliminary thoughts. If she has a favorable opinion of the manuscript, then I will read it. If the manuscript resonates with me, then I send it to one of our Editors and our Art Director. If they like it, too, then we schedule a call or meeting to discuss its merits. If at any point during our process, a team member thinks that the work does not fit for us, then I will let the author know. If you indicate that you would like specific feedback, I will do my best to include that in my note back to you.

Thanks for your interest. Thanks for your interest in Little Pickle Press. Thanks for reading this post. And if you elect to send us a submission, thanks also for considering us as your publisher. I know from experience all that you have gone through to get to this point, and I respect and honor you for it.

Featured Customer of the Month: Craftworks Gallery

By Cameron Crane


This month, Little Pickle Press is happy to be featuring a very special customer of ours, Craftworks Gallery, located in Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard. We thought that this would be the perfect time to honor Craftworks, not just because they are celebrating their 20th year in business, but because August happens to be a very exciting month for Craftworks and for the island itself. With a presidential visit and the annual Fireworks Cruise, Martha’s Vineyard is definitely the place to be, and Little Pickle Press and Craftworks are on the frontline of the action!

There are many things that make Craftworks Gallery an exciting place to house our books. Its beautiful selection of American craftworks (unique jewelry, pottery, glasswork, etc.) from talented artists all over the country speaks for itself. But what makes Craftworks truly special is the passion and dedication of its owners Paula Cantanese and Ron DiOrio, who just happen to be the parents of Chief Executive Pickle Rana DiOrio. Here is what they had to say:


You are celebrating 20 years in business this year. How does that feel?

Ron and Paula: It is amazing to look back and reflect on the changes that have taken place in the gallery and in ourselves over the last twenty years. It gives us a feeling of great satisfaction.

What makes the gallery special?

Ron and Paula: We have stayed committed to our mission of promoting Contemporary American Crafts, and our following of loyal customers who continue to support the gallery and return often to see “what’s new”.

What is the most challenging part of owning and running Craftworks?

Ron and Paula: Making sure that the thousands of details in tracking both inventory and sales is always accurate, and displaying the artwork in a fashion that takes full advantage of its intrinsic beauty.

What is your favorite part of owning and running Craftworks?

Ron and Paula: When customers return and say, “This is our favorite Shop on the Vineyard,” and it happens oftentimes, each and every day.

What is it like for you to sell the award-winning books produced by your daughter’s publishing company?

Ron and Paula: We take great pride in her achievements and success both in business and as a mother. We love telling customers that our daughter is an author and publisher of the books we sell in our gallery.

Since we’re discussing transitions on the blog during the month of August: What is it like to manage a business that fluctuates with the s
easons?

Ron and Paula: Each season has its own flow. It is much busier in the summer and shoulder seasons and can be lively during the holidays. We enjoy the change of pace the seasons bring.

Which season is your favorite and why?

Ron and Paula: Spring is the best time because we have made changes to the gallery over the winter; we have bought our inventory, and we have great expectations for the summer season.

How can your ardent following stay connected to you and your wonderful selection of artisan works during the fall and winter?

Ron and Paula: Customers call all the time and in this great age of technology, they tell us what they are looking for, and we photograph our inventory and email them the images. We also email our house list of customers to announce changes or sales, and we stay connected to our fans on our Facebook page.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
In the Martha’s Vineyard Area? Check this out!


Fireworks Cruise: A Benefit for Habitat of Humanity of MV
Tonight, Friday, August 19th

Little Pickle Press is very excited to be sponsoring this year’s Oak Bluffs Fireworks Spectacular, on board the SeaStreak catamaran. The SeaStreak will depart from the OB Steamship Authority Dock tonight at 8:00 p.m.. Tickets are $50 for adults, and $35 for children. To purchase tickets, visit Craftworks Gallery or habitatmv.org. Tickets will also be sold at the dock.

Side note: Keep your eyes peeled for President Obama and his family, who are currently vacationing on the island!

Featured Customer of the Month: Craftworks Gallery

By Cameron Crane


This month, Little Pickle Press is happy to be featuring a very special customer of ours, Craftworks Gallery, located in Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard. We thought that this would be the perfect time to honor Craftworks, not just because they are celebrating their 20th year in business, but because August happens to be a very exciting month for Craftworks and for the island itself. With a presidential visit and the annual Fireworks Cruise, Martha’s Vineyard is definitely the place to be, and Little Pickle Press and Craftworks are on the frontline of the action!

There are many things that make Craftworks Gallery an exciting place to house our books. Its beautiful selection of American craftworks (unique jewelry, pottery, glasswork, etc.) from talented artists all over the country speaks for itself. But what makes Craftworks truly special is the passion and dedication of its owners Paula Cantanese and Ron DiOrio, who just happen to be the parents of Chief Executive Pickle Rana DiOrio. Here is what they had to say:


You are celebrating 20 years in business this year. How does that feel?

Ron and Paula: It is amazing to look back and reflect on the changes that have taken place in the gallery and in ourselves over the last twenty years. It gives us a feeling of great satisfaction.

What makes the gallery special?

Ron and Paula: We have stayed committed to our mission of promoting Contemporary American Crafts, and our following of loyal customers who continue to support the gallery and return often to see “what’s new”.

What is the most challenging part of owning and running Craftworks?

Ron and Paula: Making sure that the thousands of details in tracking both inventory and sales is always accurate, and displaying the artwork in a fashion that takes full advantage of its intrinsic beauty.

What is your favorite part of owning and running Craftworks?

Ron and Paula: When customers return and say, “This is our favorite Shop on the Vineyard,” and it happens oftentimes, each and every day.

What is it like for you to sell the award-winning books produced by your daughter’s publishing company?

Ron and Paula: We take great pride in her achievements and success both in business and as a mother. We love telling customers that our daughter is an author and publisher of the books we sell in our gallery.

Since we’re discussing transitions on the blog during the month of August: What is it like to manage a business that fluctuates with the s
easons?

Ron and Paula: Each season has its own flow. It is much busier in the summer and shoulder seasons and can be lively during the holidays. We enjoy the change of pace the seasons bring.

Which season is your favorite and why?

Ron and Paula: Spring is the best time because we have made changes to the gallery over the winter; we have bought our inventory, and we have great expectations for the summer season.

How can your ardent following stay connected to you and your wonderful selection of artisan works during the fall and winter?

Ron and Paula: Customers call all the time and in this great age of technology, they tell us what they are looking for, and we photograph our inventory and email them the images. We also email our house list of customers to announce changes or sales, and we stay connected to our fans on our Facebook page.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
In the Martha’s Vineyard Area? Check this out!


Fireworks Cruise: A Benefit for Habitat of Humanity of MV
Tonight, Friday, August 19th

Little Pickle Press is very excited to be sponsoring this year’s Oak Bluffs Fireworks Spectacular, on board the SeaStreak catamaran. The SeaStreak will depart from the OB Steamship Authority Dock tonight at 8:00 p.m.. Tickets are $50 for adults, and $35 for children. To purchase tickets, visit Craftworks Gallery or habitatmv.org. Tickets will also be sold at the dock.

Side note: Keep your eyes peeled for President Obama and his family, who are currently vacationing on the island!

Building a Relationship with HubSpot

By Cameron Crane

“Where are we NOW [in the children’s picture book market]? Oh, well, that moment’s gone!”
~Laurent Linn, Art Director at Simon & Schuster

This is a quote that Rana DiOrio, Founder of Little Pickle Press, picked up at the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SBCWI) conference, and it couldn’t be more true. As a children’s media publishing company, Little Pickle Press is always transitioning to adjust to new trends in the market and in technology. Because the majority of our work and customer interaction takes place online, it is essential that we learn to optimize our relationships in the online marketplace. Fortunately, we were lucky to find a company that is going to help us do just that. We are very excited to be beginning our relationship with HubSpot.

HubSpot is an internet marketing company that was founded in June of 2006. In just five years, it has grown substantially and is helping to shape the industry for small businesses like us. HubSpot’s goal is to help small companies stay fresh and present in the market. In order to do so, they offer amazing resources to teach companies about the specific ways the Internet is changing the way small businesses operate. By learning to adjust to the transitioning market, small companies can learn to make the most of their online opportunities, optimize their presence, and to keep customers returning, happy, and interested. HubSpot emphasizes the importance of the fact that a small company has just as much opportunity as any other company to make a BIG impact online.

In addition to their success, one of the things that make HubSpot wonderful is their culture. They believe that there are three main things that define their company:

  • “We are constantly changing. Change is opportunity, and because we love to experiment, we do better with change.”
  • “We think about scale. As we make decisions, we think about how these decisions could help us grow into the company we want to become.”
  • “We like to hire superstars. Smart, passionate, inquisitive people are likely to fit the bill.”

It is hard to argue with any of these statements, but the last is one of our favorites because it perfectly describes the HubSpot superstar we have personally been working with – Sam Mallikarjunan. If you need any convincing, check out HireMeHubSpot.com, a website that he created in order to be recognized-and hired-by HubSpot. Tell us that’s not thinking outside of the box!

We look forward to working with the wonderful resources and people that are being provided to us by HubSpot, and to continuing to learn and grow as a company.

Building a Relationship with HubSpot

By Cameron Crane

“Where are we NOW [in the children’s picture book market]? Oh, well, that moment’s gone!”
~Laurent Linn, Art Director at Simon & Schuster

This is a quote that Rana DiOrio, Founder of Little Pickle Press, picked up at the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SBCWI) conference, and it couldn’t be more true. As a children’s media publishing company, Little Pickle Press is always transitioning to adjust to new trends in the market and in technology. Because the majority of our work and customer interaction takes place online, it is essential that we learn to optimize our relationships in the online marketplace. Fortunately, we were lucky to find a company that is going to help us do just that. We are very excited to be beginning our relationship with HubSpot.

HubSpot is an internet marketing company that was founded in June of 2006. In just five years, it has grown substantially and is helping to shape the industry for small businesses like us. HubSpot’s goal is to help small companies stay fresh and present in the market. In order to do so, they offer amazing resources to teach companies about the specific ways the Internet is changing the way small businesses operate. By learning to adjust to the transitioning market, small companies can learn to make the most of their online opportunities, optimize their presence, and to keep customers returning, happy, and interested. HubSpot emphasizes the importance of the fact that a small company has just as much opportunity as any other company to make a BIG impact online.

In addition to their success, one of the things that make HubSpot wonderful is their culture. They believe that there are three main things that define their company:

  • “We are constantly changing. Change is opportunity, and because we love to experiment, we do better with change.”
  • “We think about scale. As we make decisions, we think about how these decisions could help us grow into the company we want to become.”
  • “We like to hire superstars. Smart, passionate, inquisitive people are likely to fit the bill.”

It is hard to argue with any of these statements, but the last is one of our favorites because it perfectly describes the HubSpot superstar we have personally been working with – Sam Mallikarjunan. If you need any convincing, check out HireMeHubSpot.com, a website that he created in order to be recognized-and hired-by HubSpot. Tell us that’s not thinking outside of the box!

We look forward to working with the wonderful resources and people that are being provided to us by HubSpot, and to continuing to learn and grow as a company.

The Gypsy Life

By Dani Greer
I belong to a global sub-culture. Yes, it’s true. I was intrigued to recently discover that military brats now are classified this way, based on a list of criteria that makes their lifestyles different from civilian childhoods. To say our lives are filled with transitions is an understatement. Even the most obvious – moving to new homes and schools every few years – creates a set of emotional, psychological, and social skills vastly different from those most civilian children learn. I didn’t realize to what extent the differences until I was well into my thirties.
The public’s view of military life is perhaps colored by the movie, The Great Santini, from the book by New York Times best-selling author, Pat Conroy. There were some parallels to my upbringing in the film, but for the most part, the story was much more harsh than anything I or my immediate friends experienced. Later, Mary Edwards Wertsch wrote her seminal book, Military Brats, which explored many of the cultural differences of children who grow up in a nomadic military world and often lived many years of their youth in foreign lands. A subsequent documentary, Brats:Our Journey Home by Donna Musil further explores the dynamics of a life in perpetual transition.
I don’t necessarily agree with the somewhat negative observations within the above research, which paints the results of this upbringing as perhaps more damaging than it was to many brats, and overlooks all the wonderful benefits of the gypsy life. I’ll focus on a few of the benefits next.
Military brats can often adapt to any environment quickly and gracefully. They fit in very easily no matter where they land. They are quick to explore and find the good things about their new locations, and they have a great appreciation for foreign cultures. Often, they identify strongly with their host nations, and even feel homesickness upon leaving them. The result is an ability to appreciate others who are different, and to question their own beliefs and how they stack up against other belief systems. It’s a skill they appreciate and respect in themselves and their peers. This cultural savvy also makes them good employees, who adapt easily to new companies and changes within the corporate culture.
Brats often have a deep connection with family and home as well. Because they are the main constants in a traveling life, the family members offer core stability, and the homes of military families are re-created from one location to the next. Interior spaces – the same furniture, arranged the same way, with the same familiar decorations – offer a solid anchor, when everything out the door is new and strange. Theye know where home is, and take it with them wherever they go.
In the past, it has been the mother in the family who has created this familiar home port for her loved ones. Today, the military landscape is greatly changed. Even as opportunities for women have increased, so too have the stressors on families, because often two military parents are deployed. Who is at home with the children? Where is home? Today there are no pat answers.
I worry about the children in today’s military worlds. My father was never sent to the same war zone more than once. It was almost unheard of for a soldier to serve more than two tours in Vietnam. Today, four war tours are not unusual in a compressed period of years, and the situation becomes increasingly dire for children with two parents deployed. My sister has raised her four-year-old grandchild for several of his brief four years, while her daughter is deployed to war zones. This child is fortunate – he has family who adores him and is willing to take responsibility for his care – but many military children don’t. These are the types of transitions that likely will create difficult recoveries and problems for our society in future years.
What do you think? Were you raised in the military? How did you handle transitions? How can we help military children today with their many challenges? If you don’t have a military background, did you have similar experiences and changes in your life, perhaps because your parents had jobs that required relocations, and how did you manage them? Please leave us your thoughts and advice in the comments.

The Gypsy Life

By Dani Greer
I belong to a global sub-culture. Yes, it’s true. I was intrigued to recently discover that military brats now are classified this way, based on a list of criteria that makes their lifestyles different from civilian childhoods. To say our lives are filled with transitions is an understatement. Even the most obvious – moving to new homes and schools every few years – creates a set of emotional, psychological, and social skills vastly different from those most civilian children learn. I didn’t realize to what extent the differences until I was well into my thirties.
The public’s view of military life is perhaps colored by the movie, The Great Santini, from the book by New York Times best-selling author, Pat Conroy. There were some parallels to my upbringing in the film, but for the most part, the story was much more harsh than anything I or my immediate friends experienced. Later, Mary Edwards Wertsch wrote her seminal book, Military Brats, which explored many of the cultural differences of children who grow up in a nomadic military world and often lived many years of their youth in foreign lands. A subsequent documentary, Brats:Our Journey Home by Donna Musil further explores the dynamics of a life in perpetual transition.
I don’t necessarily agree with the somewhat negative observations within the above research, which paints the results of this upbringing as perhaps more damaging than it was to many brats, and overlooks all the wonderful benefits of the gypsy life. I’ll focus on a few of the benefits next.
Military brats can often adapt to any environment quickly and gracefully. They fit in very easily no matter where they land. They are quick to explore and find the good things about their new locations, and they have a great appreciation for foreign cultures. Often, they identify strongly with their host nations, and even feel homesickness upon leaving them. The result is an ability to appreciate others who are different, and to question their own beliefs and how they stack up against other belief systems. It’s a skill they appreciate and respect in themselves and their peers. This cultural savvy also makes them good employees, who adapt easily to new companies and changes within the corporate culture.
Brats often have a deep connection with family and home as well. Because they are the main constants in a traveling life, the family members offer core stability, and the homes of military families are re-created from one location to the next. Interior spaces – the same furniture, arranged the same way, with the same familiar decorations – offer a solid anchor, when everything out the door is new and strange. Theye know where home is, and take it with them wherever they go.
In the past, it has been the mother in the family who has created this familiar home port for her loved ones. Today, the military landscape is greatly changed. Even as opportunities for women have increased, so too have the stressors on families, because often two military parents are deployed. Who is at home with the children? Where is home? Today there are no pat answers.
I worry about the children in today’s military worlds. My father was never sent to the same war zone more than once. It was almost unheard of for a soldier to serve more than two tours in Vietnam. Today, four war tours are not unusual in a compressed period of years, and the situation becomes increasingly dire for children with two parents deployed. My sister has raised her four-year-old grandchild for several of his brief four years, while her daughter is deployed to war zones. This child is fortunate – he has family who adores him and is willing to take responsibility for his care – but many military children don’t. These are the types of transitions that likely will create difficult recoveries and problems for our society in future years.
What do you think? Were you raised in the military? How did you handle transitions? How can we help military children today with their many challenges? If you don’t have a military background, did you have similar experiences and changes in your life, perhaps because your parents had jobs that required relocations, and how did you manage them? Please leave us your thoughts and advice in the comments.

How My Dreams Take Me Through Change

By Marion Lepert

Every time someone asks me what my favorite activity is, I answer windsurfing, and every time I get blank stares. “What’s that?” is the question that most commonly follows. This is no surprise because windsurfing is not very popular in the United States. In fact, I have only met a couple dozen American junior windsurfers. But this has not stopped me from loving the sport. I have been windsurfing for eight years, and racing for five. During the summer, I race with an amazing group of San Francisco windsurfers, who have taught me everything I know about racing. In four years, they have helped me go from struggling just to finish a course to being able to race internationally.

This past July, I competed in two world championships for windsurfing. My first event was in Puerto Rico and was the world championships for formula windsurfing, using the board that I regularly race with in the San Francisco bay. Racing at this level is a lot more stressful than the small races that I am used to doing in the bay. It switches me into a different mindset where every race counts. This was definitely the case for this event, because the results came down to the last two races. I narrowly won 1st place, but only after a long battle with the girl who finished 2nd. Winning a world championship was very rewarding, but it does not stop me from wanting to go further. The men were still far ahead of the women, and I want to see how much closer I can get to them.


A week later, I competed in the Techno 293 Worlds which were conveniently located in the bay area. Because the T293 board is very popular in Europe and is sailed by hundreds of youth, there was a class designated for Under 17 girls. Sailing on this board is much more difficult for me, because there are no races in the bay that use this board, so I can only practice on my own. During the first days of racing, I clung on to first place, but on the last day, I had two bad races, and I lost the world title, finishing second. Losing everything so close to the end made me sad and frustrated, but at the same time it made me take a look back and see how far I had come. It made me feel grateful to all of those who have taken the time to help me, and it only made dream bigger and want to achieve more.

As exciting as racing internationally was, it feels good to be back free sailing in the bay area. I get a month to relax before I start school again, and I want to get as much time as I can on the water before then to just have fun. To me, this is the best way to relax after a competition, and it gives me some time to transition before I need to start thinking about what I want to do next. I am now too old to sail on the Techno 293 board, so I will be moving up to the Olympic board. It will be another change to get used to, but I plan on following my dreams and seeing where the winds will take me.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Marion Lepert is a fifteen year old girl who was born in France, but is now living in the San Francisco bay area with her parents and two sisters. Her father taught her how to windsurf when she was eight years old, and since then she has raced competitively across the United States and Europe. Aside from windsurfing, Marion has a passion for green solutions and is an avid participant in her high school’s green team, where she will be starting her junior year next year. For more information about Marion, visit her website at www.marionusa143.com.

How My Dreams Take Me Through Change

By Marion Lepert

Every time someone asks me what my favorite activity is, I answer windsurfing, and every time I get blank stares. “What’s that?” is the question that most commonly follows. This is no surprise because windsurfing is not very popular in the United States. In fact, I have only met a couple dozen American junior windsurfers. But this has not stopped me from loving the sport. I have been windsurfing for eight years, and racing for five. During the summer, I race with an amazing group of San Francisco windsurfers, who have taught me everything I know about racing. In four years, they have helped me go from struggling just to finish a course to being able to race internationally.

This past July, I competed in two world championships for windsurfing. My first event was in Puerto Rico and was the world championships for formula windsurfing, using the board that I regularly race with in the San Francisco bay. Racing at this level is a lot more stressful than the small races that I am used to doing in the bay. It switches me into a different mindset where every race counts. This was definitely the case for this event, because the results came down to the last two races. I narrowly won 1st place, but only after a long battle with the girl who finished 2nd. Winning a world championship was very rewarding, but it does not stop me from wanting to go further. The men were still far ahead of the women, and I want to see how much closer I can get to them.


A week later, I competed in the Techno 293 Worlds which were conveniently located in the bay area. Because the T293 board is very popular in Europe and is sailed by hundreds of youth, there was a class designated for Under 17 girls. Sailing on this board is much more difficult for me, because there are no races in the bay that use this board, so I can only practice on my own. During the first days of racing, I clung on to first place, but on the last day, I had two bad races, and I lost the world title, finishing second. Losing everything so close to the end made me sad and frustrated, but at the same time it made me take a look back and see how far I had come. It made me feel grateful to all of those who have taken the time to help me, and it only made dream bigger and want to achieve more.

As exciting as racing internationally was, it feels good to be back free sailing in the bay area. I get a month to relax before I start school again, and I want to get as much time as I can on the water before then to just have fun. To me, this is the best way to relax after a competition, and it gives me some time to transition before I need to start thinking about what I want to do next. I am now too old to sail on the Techno 293 board, so I will be moving up to the Olympic board. It will be another change to get used to, but I plan on following my dreams and seeing where the winds will take me.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Marion Lepert is a fifteen year old girl who was born in France, but is now living in the San Francisco bay area with her parents and two sisters. Her father taught her how to windsurf when she was eight years old, and since then she has raced competitively across the United States and Europe. Aside from windsurfing, Marion has a passion for green solutions and is an avid participant in her high school’s green team, where she will be starting her junior year next year. For more information about Marion, visit her website at www.marionusa143.com.

Inspiring Words from the SCBWI Summer Conference 2011

Jon Scieszka

Yesterday, our chief executive pickle, Rana DiOrio, shared her views of the recent Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) Conference in Los Angeles. I followed the conference on Twitter and was amazed at the brilliant insights from guest presenters! They were simply too good to keep to ourselves.

Dani: What were your favorite quotations that came out of the presentations, Rana? Share some with us here!
Rana: Some of these were my tweets on Twitter, but others were too long for that venue:
“Here is the sacred truth all creative writing teachers need to know–a story is always about something that didn’t happen to the author. We write from research, not recollection. Every book begins in the library, where it hopes to live one day.” ~ Richard Peck
“Unless you find yourself on the page early in life, you’ll spend all your life looking for yourself.” ~ Richard Peck
“We who write for the young are always held to a higher standard.” ~ Richard Peck
“How do you know how to write books if you don’t read books?” Write the kind of books you like to read. ~ Judy Blume
On self-censorship: “If it’s there because it’s important to the story or the character, include it.” ~ Judy Blume
On forging into the unknown: “I started writing not knowing what I was doing. That’s good!” ~ Judy Blume
Judy Blume wants her tombstone to read: “Are You There God? It’s Me, Judy.”
“Television is intellectual carbon monoxide. Kill your TV. Start reading again.” ~ Gary Paulsen
“Creating stories is our journey and our joy. Go forth laughing and disturb the universe.” ~ Laurie Halse Anderson
“Discipline provides the canvas. Inspiration is the paint. You create the art.” ~ Laurie Halse Anderson
Readers, did you go to the SCBWI conference? Did you follow along on Twitter? What are some of your favorite sayings from the many well-known authors who were on panels and in workshops? Please leave us a message.