Monthly Archives: January 2013

Let’s Eat Healthy, Together

By Cameron Crane

Does anybody have a good app for interacting with each other at the dinner table?

When this status showed up on my Facebook newsfeed, I couldn’t help but laugh. The truth is, these days, when you invite a friend to dinner, you are also typically inviting their iPhone—and all the wonderful distractions that come with it. I can’t tell you how many times I have been sitting at dinner table with four or five people in complete silence, as we all attempt to stay connected to our social networks, only slightly cognizant of the fact that we are missing the opportunity to connect with one another.

I think the majority of us understand that being on the phone at the dinner table is rude. We have all felt that tinge of frustration when we are sitting with a friend or family member telling a story as they text away, only to have them look up from the screen and say, “sorry, can you say that again? I was distracted.” They might as well have looked up and said, “sorry, I have more important things to do than listen to you.” Yet, how many of us can honestly say we are not offenders (if not chronic offenders) of this?
Beyond manners, there is the need to recognize that what we are really doing is missing out on the opportunity to be present. To put pressing matters that are weighing on us aside, and give ourselves the opportunity to just enjoy good company and good food. To truly connect with the people and places around us. Some of the most interesting and enjoyable conversations I have ever had have been at the dinner table. Who can say the same for text messaging?

It is this concept that inspired Thomas P. Farley, more popularly known as Mister Manners, to launch Thanksgiving Unplugged this past November. The campaign was designed to reclaim Thanksgiving from digital distractions, asking children to take a pledge to unplug at the dinner table. It was founded on the belief that “freed from the increasingly inescapable distraction of cell phones, laptops, tablets, hand-held games, music players, social media and the web, families [would] once again reconnect with the true spirit of the holiday.” The campaign was wildly successful.

The truth is, many of us have a desire to be present and to unplug. It’s healthy. If the only time you walk away from your phone is when you are taking a shower or crawling in to bed, how much time are you actually giving yourself to be in the moment?

I’m betting that this year you made a resolution to eat healthier. I sure did. I know we are a few weeks in to January, but why not amend our definition of “eating healthy” to include not only the food we eat, but the way we eat it? Let’s have a year of healthy, present, connected meals. Chances are, we will walk away wanting a lifetime of them.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Not sure how to talk to your children about being present and living in the moment? Try What Does It Mean To Be Present?, the award-winning picture book by Rana DiOrio and illustrated by Eliza Wheeler.

Let’s Eat Healthy, Together

By Cameron Crane

Does anybody have a good app for interacting with each other at the dinner table?

When this status showed up on my Facebook newsfeed, I couldn’t help but laugh. The truth is, these days, when you invite a friend to dinner, you are also typically inviting their iPhone—and all the wonderful distractions that come with it. I can’t tell you how many times I have been sitting at dinner table with four or five people in complete silence, as we all attempt to stay connected to our social networks, only slightly cognizant of the fact that we are missing the opportunity to connect with one another.

I think the majority of us understand that being on the phone at the dinner table is rude. We have all felt that tinge of frustration when we are sitting with a friend or family member telling a story as they text away, only to have them look up from the screen and say, “sorry, can you say that again? I was distracted.” They might as well have looked up and said, “sorry, I have more important things to do than listen to you.” Yet, how many of us can honestly say we are not offenders (if not chronic offenders) of this?
Beyond manners, there is the need to recognize that what we are really doing is missing out on the opportunity to be present. To put pressing matters that are weighing on us aside, and give ourselves the opportunity to just enjoy good company and good food. To truly connect with the people and places around us. Some of the most interesting and enjoyable conversations I have ever had have been at the dinner table. Who can say the same for text messaging?

It is this concept that inspired Thomas P. Farley, more popularly known as Mister Manners, to launch Thanksgiving Unplugged this past November. The campaign was designed to reclaim Thanksgiving from digital distractions, asking children to take a pledge to unplug at the dinner table. It was founded on the belief that “freed from the increasingly inescapable distraction of cell phones, laptops, tablets, hand-held games, music players, social media and the web, families [would] once again reconnect with the true spirit of the holiday.” The campaign was wildly successful.

The truth is, many of us have a desire to be present and to unplug. It’s healthy. If the only time you walk away from your phone is when you are taking a shower or crawling in to bed, how much time are you actually giving yourself to be in the moment?

I’m betting that this year you made a resolution to eat healthier. I sure did. I know we are a few weeks in to January, but why not amend our definition of “eating healthy” to include not only the food we eat, but the way we eat it? Let’s have a year of healthy, present, connected meals. Chances are, we will walk away wanting a lifetime of them.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Not sure how to talk to your children about being present and living in the moment? Try What Does It Mean To Be Present?, the award-winning picture book by Rana DiOrio and illustrated by Eliza Wheeler.

Pinterest: A Resource for Healthy Eating

By Cameron Crane
Photo courtesy of http://thegardengrazer.com
When my friend invited me over for a dinner party this past Friday, I was expecting pasta. She had never given me the slightest indication that this was the case, nor do either of us have a particular love for it, but I fully expected to walk in the kitchen and see her cooking whole-wheat shells and tomato sauce. Why? We are twenty-somethings. Pasta is one of five of our go-tos for dinner guests because it is almost impossible to mess up.
So you can imagine my surprise when I opened the front door and was immediately greeted by the scent of something that smelled beyond delicious.

“What is that?” I asked, “Am I at the right place?”

“I’m cooking homemade enchiladas,” my friend replied, as if it were the most natural thing in the world.

Now, I am not typically one to underestimate my friends, but when someone who has never expressed any interest in cooking nor boasted of their skills in the kitchen puts a plate in front of you, you can’t help but be a little bit nervous—no matter how good it smells. Fortunately, bite one went down okay. By bite three I was hooked. This was by far the best enchilada I had had in my life. The best part? It was cooked using whole-wheat tortillas, fresh organic spinach, white corn, onions, sour cream, delicious homemade sauce…in other words, it was healthy.

When my plate was clear, I was extraordinarily satisfied. I was also suspicious. Had my friends been taking cooking classes without me? Usually we consulted about these type of things. The bar for our dinner parties was set higher now—I was now required to step my game up.

“Joslyn, I’m impressed. I had no idea you were such a chef,” I said, determined to get to the bottom of this.

“I’m not,” she laughed humbly, “I saw the recipe on Pinterest last night.”

Mystery solved. The second I got home I went to Joslyn’s Pinterest page, and sure enough, the secret recipe to her magical enchiladas was sitting right on her food board.



I have a Pinterest account, but I confess that until recently, I most often used it to build my imaginary closet. I had dismissed it as a resource for recipes mostly because it seems to be bombarded with things I haven’t been able to eat since high school—chocolate molten lava cake, no-bake peanut butter cake, and the like. Now that my curiosity was piqued, I did some sleuthing in the Food & Drink category. By simply searching “healthy dinners” in the search box, I was able to find fifteen recipes for meals that were not only delicious and healthy, but also easy to make and full of ingredients that were already on my usual shopping list.
The truth is that Pinterest, hate it or love it, is an amazing resource for finding recipes and inspiration for healthy eating. If you’re as keen to making excuses as to why you can’t cook as I am, Pinterest will shatter them in about 5 minutes. That “I only have ten minutes, and 5 items in my refrigerator” recipe is there waiting for you, guaranteed. If you’re willing to try them out, the possibilities are endless.

Have you used Pinterest as a resource in the kitchen? What are your favorite Pinterest recipes? Follow Little Pickle Press on Pinterest here

Pinterest: A Resource for Healthy Eating

By Cameron Crane
Photo courtesy of http://thegardengrazer.com
When my friend invited me over for a dinner party this past Friday, I was expecting pasta. She had never given me the slightest indication that this was the case, nor do either of us have a particular love for it, but I fully expected to walk in the kitchen and see her cooking whole-wheat shells and tomato sauce. Why? We are twenty-somethings. Pasta is one of five of our go-tos for dinner guests because it is almost impossible to mess up.
So you can imagine my surprise when I opened the front door and was immediately greeted by the scent of something that smelled beyond delicious.

“What is that?” I asked, “Am I at the right place?”

“I’m cooking homemade enchiladas,” my friend replied, as if it were the most natural thing in the world.

Now, I am not typically one to underestimate my friends, but when someone who has never expressed any interest in cooking nor boasted of their skills in the kitchen puts a plate in front of you, you can’t help but be a little bit nervous—no matter how good it smells. Fortunately, bite one went down okay. By bite three I was hooked. This was by far the best enchilada I had had in my life. The best part? It was cooked using whole-wheat tortillas, fresh organic spinach, white corn, onions, sour cream, delicious homemade sauce…in other words, it was healthy.

When my plate was clear, I was extraordinarily satisfied. I was also suspicious. Had my friends been taking cooking classes without me? Usually we consulted about these type of things. The bar for our dinner parties was set higher now—I was now required to step my game up.

“Joslyn, I’m impressed. I had no idea you were such a chef,” I said, determined to get to the bottom of this.

“I’m not,” she laughed humbly, “I saw the recipe on Pinterest last night.”

Mystery solved. The second I got home I went to Joslyn’s Pinterest page, and sure enough, the secret recipe to her magical enchiladas was sitting right on her food board.



I have a Pinterest account, but I confess that until recently, I most often used it to build my imaginary closet. I had dismissed it as a resource for recipes mostly because it seems to be bombarded with things I haven’t been able to eat since high school—chocolate molten lava cake, no-bake peanut butter cake, and the like. Now that my curiosity was piqued, I did some sleuthing in the Food & Drink category. By simply searching “healthy dinners” in the search box, I was able to find fifteen recipes for meals that were not only delicious and healthy, but also easy to make and full of ingredients that were already on my usual shopping list.
The truth is that Pinterest, hate it or love it, is an amazing resource for finding recipes and inspiration for healthy eating. If you’re as keen to making excuses as to why you can’t cook as I am, Pinterest will shatter them in about 5 minutes. That “I only have ten minutes, and 5 items in my refrigerator” recipe is there waiting for you, guaranteed. If you’re willing to try them out, the possibilities are endless.

Have you used Pinterest as a resource in the kitchen? What are your favorite Pinterest recipes? Follow Little Pickle Press on Pinterest here

Happy Hearts in February

by Kelly Wickham

It seems appropriate that I reflect on the end of one month and look forward to the next, as Little Pickle Press is wrapping up our theme for January– focusing on healthy eating. February, luckily, is a time in which the CDC suggests we celebrate American Heart Month. Makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? At the first of the year, we focused on what we eat to fuel our bodies and keep them healthy and then go right into the next month deciding that our hearts are worth looking into as well.

My family takes eating healthy very seriously. A few years ago we just decided that we wanted more family time around the table and, naturally, that meant we put more thought into the foods we bought and the meals we planned. Our plates are colorful and, because of that one commitment, we started feeling better.

After that, we added more activities together like tennis, bike riding, and a bi-weekly open gym volleyball game at our local gym. Good eating plus physical activities made our whole family better. I’d like to think that we put into motion something that put us on the path to healthier lives. But, really, we just started protecting our hearts, didn’t we?

In his book Outliers, author Malcolm Gladwell writes about those things that lie outside of our normal experiences. The first chapter of that book is about a section of eastern Pennsylvania where a transplanted culture called the Rosetans came from southern Italy. The people there were outliers because they rarely died from heart disease. In the U.S. cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death, but somehow the Rosetans escaped it and were studied by many physicians and social workers and researchers. None of this made sense considering the fact that they had fatty diets (they used lots of lard and salt), smoked, and rarely exercised. In fact, Gladwell went on to write that the doctors who discovered this worked at convincing the medical community that they had to go back to the drawing board to discover how heart attacks worked. He writes:

They had to get them to realize that you couldn’t understand why someone was healthy if all you did was think about their individual choices or actions in isolation.”

The conclusion, then, was that they looked at how they lived their lives. What Gladwell learned from the researchers was that the Rosetan community was highly social and visited one another regularly, they valued their extended families, and the town was wholly committed to caring for one another. In a way, these people were living a sort of magical existence that I haven’t been privileged to experience in my lifetime, but it’s something to be desired, wouldn’t you say?

It’s not just the healthy eating, family time, or exercise that’s a worthy goal, but that every choice we make adds up to a healthier person overall. I can’t imagine that I can recreate everything the Rosetans did and live past 55 without ever having cardiovascular trouble, but I can consciously making the kind of decisions that make my heart happy. After all, it’s the only one I’ve got to love with so I’d better take care of it.

photo credit: Caro Wallis via photopin cc

Happy Hearts in February

by Kelly Wickham

It seems appropriate that I reflect on the end of one month and look forward to the next, as Little Pickle Press is wrapping up our theme for January– focusing on healthy eating. February, luckily, is a time in which the CDC suggests we celebrate American Heart Month. Makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? At the first of the year, we focused on what we eat to fuel our bodies and keep them healthy and then go right into the next month deciding that our hearts are worth looking into as well.

My family takes eating healthy very seriously. A few years ago we just decided that we wanted more family time around the table and, naturally, that meant we put more thought into the foods we bought and the meals we planned. Our plates are colorful and, because of that one commitment, we started feeling better.

After that, we added more activities together like tennis, bike riding, and a bi-weekly open gym volleyball game at our local gym. Good eating plus physical activities made our whole family better. I’d like to think that we put into motion something that put us on the path to healthier lives. But, really, we just started protecting our hearts, didn’t we?

In his book Outliers, author Malcolm Gladwell writes about those things that lie outside of our normal experiences. The first chapter of that book is about a section of eastern Pennsylvania where a transplanted culture called the Rosetans came from southern Italy. The people there were outliers because they rarely died from heart disease. In the U.S. cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death, but somehow the Rosetans escaped it and were studied by many physicians and social workers and researchers. None of this made sense considering the fact that they had fatty diets (they used lots of lard and salt), smoked, and rarely exercised. In fact, Gladwell went on to write that the doctors who discovered this worked at convincing the medical community that they had to go back to the drawing board to discover how heart attacks worked. He writes:

They had to get them to realize that you couldn’t understand why someone was healthy if all you did was think about their individual choices or actions in isolation.”

The conclusion, then, was that they looked at how they lived their lives. What Gladwell learned from the researchers was that the Rosetan community was highly social and visited one another regularly, they valued their extended families, and the town was wholly committed to caring for one another. In a way, these people were living a sort of magical existence that I haven’t been privileged to experience in my lifetime, but it’s something to be desired, wouldn’t you say?

It’s not just the healthy eating, family time, or exercise that’s a worthy goal, but that every choice we make adds up to a healthier person overall. I can’t imagine that I can recreate everything the Rosetans did and live past 55 without ever having cardiovascular trouble, but I can consciously making the kind of decisions that make my heart happy. After all, it’s the only one I’ve got to love with so I’d better take care of it.

photo credit: Caro Wallis via photopin cc

Farm Gate to Dinner Plate: Connections for Healthy Eating Habits

By Diana Prichard

 

What?! That stuff is disgusting!” Already taller than me — though I suppose it doesn’t take much — red-haired, and freckled, he couldn’t have been more than fourteen.
I never expected visits from our customers to be among my favorite farm activities. I got into this for a love of the livestock, a passion for the growing. I stick with it when the going gets tough for the pride in producing food — that, and the adorable piglets. But the people are a definite bonus, and the kids are often the most fun of all.  
This boy had come to the farm with his mentors through Big Brothers and Big Sisters; he was wildly unabashed, and completely without inhibitions. Usually it’s the younger kids who ask the most probing questions, but this kid has gone down in farm history, not for his outburst, but for the presumptions that led up to it and his willingness to express them. 

 

“Yeah, but you guys have great breakfasts, I bet. You’re farmers; you get eggs and bacon and…”  he trailed off.  
“Actually, we’re pretty rushed in the mornings.” I said, “We usually eat Kashi cereal.” 
His mouth twisted, his brow furrowed, and he told me exactly what he thought of our morning fare: disgusting. 
Absolutely disgusting. 
He counted off a list of his favorite cereals on his fingers. What we call “sugar cereals”, every single one; he was even more outraged when I winked and told him that my kids couldn’t feel like they were missing out on those because they’d never tasted them to begin with. “I’m a mean Mom, aren’t I?” I added jokingly. 
“Yes.” he agreed, not nearly as amused. 

 

When kids come to the farm I have three objectives: 
  • Connect Them to the Source of Their Food
  • Send Them Home with a Greater Appreciation of Their Own Lives and Parents
  • Open Their Minds to Trying New Foods
It’s a balancing act; allowing them to be as hands on as it takes to plant the seeds of a memory that will last a lifetime, while being mindful of safety both for the visitors and our stock; answering questions in ways that give them enough information, but not too much; and tailoring those answers to the attention span of the child who’s asking each time. But it’s also not as hard as it might seem.  

 

Often, getting the kids in the driveway is the hardest part of all. Families are busy. Farm visits are special occasions that must be squeezed in between Saturday soccer games and weekend homework, but once here, most are eager to dive in. Their young minds are like sponges that soak up everything around.  
It’s incredible watching the light in their eyes as they make the connection between chicken and egg and finally the scrambled dish they enjoy in the mornings; between pig and bacon, cow and milk, tomato and ketchup. As a farmer there’s nothing more rewarding than watching that boy — like so many who have come before and after — leave with an armful of eggs and a determination to have a better farm breakfast than the farmers do.  As we continue to shape the way eaters and farmers interact in this modern food system I can’t wait to see both more kids on the farm and more messages from farmers coming straight to kids in their homes, schools, and extracurricular activities. Because if I had to pick just one lesson I wanted to share with the world, it’s that farm to fork relationships are key in developing healthy eating habits.
Images provided by Diana Prichard

Diana Prichard is a farmer and author who writes from the intersection of farm, fork, and family life. She blogs at RighteousBacon and can be found on Twitter.

Farm Gate to Dinner Plate: Connections for Healthy Eating Habits

By Diana Prichard

 

What?! That stuff is disgusting!” Already taller than me — though I suppose it doesn’t take much — red-haired, and freckled, he couldn’t have been more than fourteen.
I never expected visits from our customers to be among my favorite farm activities. I got into this for a love of the livestock, a passion for the growing. I stick with it when the going gets tough for the pride in producing food — that, and the adorable piglets. But the people are a definite bonus, and the kids are often the most fun of all.  
This boy had come to the farm with his mentors through Big Brothers and Big Sisters; he was wildly unabashed, and completely without inhibitions. Usually it’s the younger kids who ask the most probing questions, but this kid has gone down in farm history, not for his outburst, but for the presumptions that led up to it and his willingness to express them. 

 

“Yeah, but you guys have great breakfasts, I bet. You’re farmers; you get eggs and bacon and…”  he trailed off.  
“Actually, we’re pretty rushed in the mornings.” I said, “We usually eat Kashi cereal.” 
His mouth twisted, his brow furrowed, and he told me exactly what he thought of our morning fare: disgusting. 
Absolutely disgusting. 
He counted off a list of his favorite cereals on his fingers. What we call “sugar cereals”, every single one; he was even more outraged when I winked and told him that my kids couldn’t feel like they were missing out on those because they’d never tasted them to begin with. “I’m a mean Mom, aren’t I?” I added jokingly. 
“Yes.” he agreed, not nearly as amused. 

 

When kids come to the farm I have three objectives: 
  • Connect Them to the Source of Their Food
  • Send Them Home with a Greater Appreciation of Their Own Lives and Parents
  • Open Their Minds to Trying New Foods
It’s a balancing act; allowing them to be as hands on as it takes to plant the seeds of a memory that will last a lifetime, while being mindful of safety both for the visitors and our stock; answering questions in ways that give them enough information, but not too much; and tailoring those answers to the attention span of the child who’s asking each time. But it’s also not as hard as it might seem.  

 

Often, getting the kids in the driveway is the hardest part of all. Families are busy. Farm visits are special occasions that must be squeezed in between Saturday soccer games and weekend homework, but once here, most are eager to dive in. Their young minds are like sponges that soak up everything around.  
It’s incredible watching the light in their eyes as they make the connection between chicken and egg and finally the scrambled dish they enjoy in the mornings; between pig and bacon, cow and milk, tomato and ketchup. As a farmer there’s nothing more rewarding than watching that boy — like so many who have come before and after — leave with an armful of eggs and a determination to have a better farm breakfast than the farmers do.  As we continue to shape the way eaters and farmers interact in this modern food system I can’t wait to see both more kids on the farm and more messages from farmers coming straight to kids in their homes, schools, and extracurricular activities. Because if I had to pick just one lesson I wanted to share with the world, it’s that farm to fork relationships are key in developing healthy eating habits.
Images provided by Diana Prichard

Diana Prichard is a farmer and author who writes from the intersection of farm, fork, and family life. She blogs at RighteousBacon and can be found on Twitter.

The Top 10 Take-Away Messages From Digital Book World 2013: Part 2

By Rana DiOrio, Founder of Little Pickle Press
Yesterday, I shared with you five take-away messages I gleaned from Digital Book World 2013 and Children’s Publishing Goes Digital 2013. You can read my post here. Today, I’ll share my next five insights, which are as follows . . .

Image courtesy of 123rf.com.

 

#5       The Random House-Penguin merger portends other industry consolidation and leaves room for innovation and growth through emerging entrants into the marketplace.
As a former M&A banker, I was especially intrigued, although not surprised, by Brian Napack’s  observations about investing in the publishing industry. Mr. Napack is a principal at Providence Equity Partners, which manages $27 billion in assets. His take on the Random House-Penguin merger is that “scale matters tremendously”. With a clean balance sheet and a strong profit and loss statement, the newly combined entity can afford to pay a lot more for assets. He said that, “The clock has started ticking,” and we’re becoming an industry led by “The Big 4 and possibly the Big 3.” Michael Shatzkin, Digital Book World Conference Chair, alluded to industry rumors that Simon & Schuster is in merger discussions with HarperCollins. Mr. Napack concluded his remarks by saying that despite the merges, “we will have innovation and growth happening from underneath,” meaning that the consolidation will create opportunity for new and emerging players to thrive.
#4       Amazon is more powerful than ever.
Amazon accounts for 25% of all book sales and 30% of all money spent on books. All I can say about that is—wow. It should come as no surprise then that according to Bowker, which tracks 6,000 book buyers on a monthly basis, 35% of parents of 7 to 12 year olds recently reported that they buy more books on Amazon than in a bookstore and 26% of parents of 0 to 6 year olds buy more books on Amazon than in a bookstore. James McQuivey, Ph.D., VP, Principal Analyst at Forrester and author of the soon-to-be-released title, Digital Disruption (from Amazon Publishing, of course), reported that NOOK sales are slowing down while Kindle sales are speeding up. Of the 53 executives, representing 2/3rds of the U.S. trade publishing revenue, polled in Forrester’s most recent study, 55% said that given the recent Justice Department action and settlement with several publishers, they believed that Amazon will exit the year more powerful than they are now.

Image credit to http://dpm.blogspot.com/2011/05/what-does-librarian-do.html.

#3       Libraries represent an under-served market opportunity for publishers.
Barbara Genko, Manager, Special Projects, Library Journal, moderated a panel exploring the opportunity libraries offer to publishers and provided data from a myriad of sources. Here are some of the highlights . . .
By the Numbers: U.S. Public Library Market
  • 9,046 US public libraries
  • 16,698 public library buildings
  • 169M public library users (69% of the US population!)
  • 2011 book expenditures = $983M
  • 89% offer eBooks
  • 2012 projected eBook expenditures $90M
  • 2012 projected eBook expenditures by school (K-12) libraries $89M
She joked that “the library channel is the Jan Brady of distribution—it is often overlooked,” and she reminded us that libraries don’t return the books they purchase.
#2       Confidence in book apps continues to wane.
Publishers remain cautious and not optimistic about the ability to generate an ROI from book apps. Some use them for marketing. Others use them to create stickiness for a title. The app developers, however, are still creating them in earnest. Kate Wilson, the Managing Director of Nosy Crow, a company founded in 2010 that has produced numerous award-winning apps for children, remains perhaps the most bullish about the medium. Rick Richter, CEO of Ruckus Media, another high-profile children’s app developer, candidly opined that not all environments in which apps are currently consumed (e.g., Brain Hive, myON, Reading Rainbow, Storia, etc.) will survive, nevertheless, publishers need to choose their platform and get behind it. Mr. Richter also remarked that, “A stand-alone app is a very lonely thing indeed . . . It is not a business.”
#1       The children’s publishing industry remains the best leading indicator for the industry as a whole.
Kristen McLean, CEO of Bookigee, summed this point up best by noting, “The children’s market is the best crystal ball we have to predict where we’ll be in other markets in the future.” It was also clear that the digital adoption and opportunity in children’s publishing industry is in its infancy. Publisher’s Weekly wrote a whole article on this topic, which you can read here. As a small indication of this, Barnes & Noble has the most children’s picture books in its digital collection and represents 60-70% market share. Currently, they have 5,000 picture books in the NOOK ecosystem, and there are 75,000+ picture books in print!
Now that you’ve read some of my thoughts, I’d like to hear yours. What do you think the future holds for the publishing industry? 

The Top 10 Take-Away Messages From Digital Book World 2013: Part 2

By Rana DiOrio, Founder of Little Pickle Press
Yesterday, I shared with you five take-away messages I gleaned from Digital Book World 2013 and Children’s Publishing Goes Digital 2013. You can read my post here. Today, I’ll share my next five insights, which are as follows . . .

Image courtesy of 123rf.com.

 

#5       The Random House-Penguin merger portends other industry consolidation and leaves room for innovation and growth through emerging entrants into the marketplace.
As a former M&A banker, I was especially intrigued, although not surprised, by Brian Napack’s  observations about investing in the publishing industry. Mr. Napack is a principal at Providence Equity Partners, which manages $27 billion in assets. His take on the Random House-Penguin merger is that “scale matters tremendously”. With a clean balance sheet and a strong profit and loss statement, the newly combined entity can afford to pay a lot more for assets. He said that, “The clock has started ticking,” and we’re becoming an industry led by “The Big 4 and possibly the Big 3.” Michael Shatzkin, Digital Book World Conference Chair, alluded to industry rumors that Simon & Schuster is in merger discussions with HarperCollins. Mr. Napack concluded his remarks by saying that despite the merges, “we will have innovation and growth happening from underneath,” meaning that the consolidation will create opportunity for new and emerging players to thrive.
#4       Amazon is more powerful than ever.
Amazon accounts for 25% of all book sales and 30% of all money spent on books. All I can say about that is—wow. It should come as no surprise then that according to Bowker, which tracks 6,000 book buyers on a monthly basis, 35% of parents of 7 to 12 year olds recently reported that they buy more books on Amazon than in a bookstore and 26% of parents of 0 to 6 year olds buy more books on Amazon than in a bookstore. James McQuivey, Ph.D., VP, Principal Analyst at Forrester and author of the soon-to-be-released title, Digital Disruption (from Amazon Publishing, of course), reported that NOOK sales are slowing down while Kindle sales are speeding up. Of the 53 executives, representing 2/3rds of the U.S. trade publishing revenue, polled in Forrester’s most recent study, 55% said that given the recent Justice Department action and settlement with several publishers, they believed that Amazon will exit the year more powerful than they are now.

Image credit to http://dpm.blogspot.com/2011/05/what-does-librarian-do.html.

#3       Libraries represent an under-served market opportunity for publishers.
Barbara Genko, Manager, Special Projects, Library Journal, moderated a panel exploring the opportunity libraries offer to publishers and provided data from a myriad of sources. Here are some of the highlights . . .
By the Numbers: U.S. Public Library Market
  • 9,046 US public libraries
  • 16,698 public library buildings
  • 169M public library users (69% of the US population!)
  • 2011 book expenditures = $983M
  • 89% offer eBooks
  • 2012 projected eBook expenditures $90M
  • 2012 projected eBook expenditures by school (K-12) libraries $89M
She joked that “the library channel is the Jan Brady of distribution—it is often overlooked,” and she reminded us that libraries don’t return the books they purchase.
#2       Confidence in book apps continues to wane.
Publishers remain cautious and not optimistic about the ability to generate an ROI from book apps. Some use them for marketing. Others use them to create stickiness for a title. The app developers, however, are still creating them in earnest. Kate Wilson, the Managing Director of Nosy Crow, a company founded in 2010 that has produced numerous award-winning apps for children, remains perhaps the most bullish about the medium. Rick Richter, CEO of Ruckus Media, another high-profile children’s app developer, candidly opined that not all environments in which apps are currently consumed (e.g., Brain Hive, myON, Reading Rainbow, Storia, etc.) will survive, nevertheless, publishers need to choose their platform and get behind it. Mr. Richter also remarked that, “A stand-alone app is a very lonely thing indeed . . . It is not a business.”
#1       The children’s publishing industry remains the best leading indicator for the industry as a whole.
Kristen McLean, CEO of Bookigee, summed this point up best by noting, “The children’s market is the best crystal ball we have to predict where we’ll be in other markets in the future.” It was also clear that the digital adoption and opportunity in children’s publishing industry is in its infancy. Publisher’s Weekly wrote a whole article on this topic, which you can read here. As a small indication of this, Barnes & Noble has the most children’s picture books in its digital collection and represents 60-70% market share. Currently, they have 5,000 picture books in the NOOK ecosystem, and there are 75,000+ picture books in print!
Now that you’ve read some of my thoughts, I’d like to hear yours. What do you think the future holds for the publishing industry? 

The Top 10 Take-Away Messages From Digital Book World 2013: Part 1

By Rana DiOrio, Founder of Little Pickle Press
I spent last week in New York attending Digital Book World 2013and one of its adjunct conferences, Children’s Publishing Goes Digital 2013. I attended both of these conferences last year, and this year’s programing at each was superior. In a two-part series of blog posts, I thought I’d share with you the top ten messages I took away from the conferences that will impact the decisions we make at Little Pickle Press during the year ahead.

Image courtesy of canstockphoto.com.

 #10     eBook pricing continues to decline.
The sustained shift from $10 to $3.00 – $7.99 that occurred during the holiday season is just starting to reverse in the second week of January 2013, but prices are lower on average than this time last year. Sharon Lubrano, General Manager & VP of Bowker, shared recent data and concluded that prices paid for eBooks have not fared well. To succeed, publishers need to experiment with different prices and pricing strategies.
#9       Publishers who own all of the rights to a work have greater flexibility to monetize its value.
Corinne Helman, Vice President, Digital Publishing and Business Development at HarperCollins Children’s Books summed this up best when she said, “It is easier when you own everything and you can make your own choices.” In an environment where the big players are consolidating and developing vertical proficiency, digital is enjoying increased adoption but at lower price points than the industry had hoped, discoverability remains a challenge, etc., it is really important that publishers remain flexible and explore multiple ways to drive revenue from a property. They are not able to do this if they don’t own the rights.

Image courtesy of FinnStyle.com.

 #8       Discovery + Conversion + Availability = New Book Sale
Discovery, conversion, and availability are the three pillars of new book sales. As with a three-legged stool, if any one of these is missing, then new book sales don’t happen. One of the most important factors for discovery is robust and accurate metadata for each title.
#7       Build a community to support a title, and the community will sell the work for you.
This was a recurring theme throughout the three days. Random Buzzers is a start-up focused on driving word of mouth recommendations in the YA community and has enjoyed extraordinary early success. Teddy Goff, Digital Director for the Obama Team, leveraged what he called the “friend-of-a-friend effect”. President Obama has 34 million Facebook fans. They are friends with 98% of the Facebook population who are voters in the U.S. If fans reach their friends, well, you see the point. Self-published phenom Hugh Howey said that he achieved $50,000/month in revenue from his Woolnovellas before enlisting the help of his agent through word of mouth marketing among his fan base and unsolicited reviews on non-book sites, such as Boing Boingand Wired

Image courtesy of http://www.hughhowey.com/wool/.


Moreover, Pamela Spengler-Jaffee, Senior Director of Publicity of Avon Books & Harper Voyager, said that the key to her Direct-To-Consumer sales strategy is their Avon Addicts program. Each “semester”, they send 25 Avon Addicts galleys and loot for them to become “brand evangelists” on Avon’s behalf. The alumni are very active as well, so as this group of marketers grows, the publisher enjoys great benefit as evidenced by increased sales. Furthermore, Michael Shatzkin, Digital Book World’s Conference Chair, foreshadowed that publishers are migrating away from title-centric marketing and embracing audience-centric marketing. In addition, publishers are increasingly signing authors who already have an ardent following. Finally, study after study revealed that friends and family are increasingly important influencers of book buyer purchasing decisions, and there was a marked decline in the influence of bookstores and libraries.

#6       The first phase of the digital revolution in publishing is over, and we can expect stabilization and maturity in the market.
Simon Lipskar, President of Writer’s House, and Chantal Restivo-Alessi, the CDO at Harper-Collins, concurred that while the change in the industry is far from over, the first phase, or as Simon characterized it, the “first act”, certainly is. As the dust settles, industry participants can make more informed decisions based on emerging data from the first phase. Karen Lotz, President and Publisher of Candlewick Press, admitted that her press waited to move into digital believing that, “The second mouse gets the cheese.” Now that the iPad has demonstrated a leadership position in the market, Candlewick will develop for that platform in earnest.
We welcome your thoughts, so please share them with us. Please come back tomorrow to read the remainder of the take-away messages.

The Top 10 Take-Away Messages From Digital Book World 2013: Part 1

By Rana DiOrio, Founder of Little Pickle Press
I spent last week in New York attending Digital Book World 2013and one of its adjunct conferences, Children’s Publishing Goes Digital 2013. I attended both of these conferences last year, and this year’s programing at each was superior. In a two-part series of blog posts, I thought I’d share with you the top ten messages I took away from the conferences that will impact the decisions we make at Little Pickle Press during the year ahead.

Image courtesy of canstockphoto.com.

 #10     eBook pricing continues to decline.
The sustained shift from $10 to $3.00 – $7.99 that occurred during the holiday season is just starting to reverse in the second week of January 2013, but prices are lower on average than this time last year. Sharon Lubrano, General Manager & VP of Bowker, shared recent data and concluded that prices paid for eBooks have not fared well. To succeed, publishers need to experiment with different prices and pricing strategies.
#9       Publishers who own all of the rights to a work have greater flexibility to monetize its value.
Corinne Helman, Vice President, Digital Publishing and Business Development at HarperCollins Children’s Books summed this up best when she said, “It is easier when you own everything and you can make your own choices.” In an environment where the big players are consolidating and developing vertical proficiency, digital is enjoying increased adoption but at lower price points than the industry had hoped, discoverability remains a challenge, etc., it is really important that publishers remain flexible and explore multiple ways to drive revenue from a property. They are not able to do this if they don’t own the rights.

Image courtesy of FinnStyle.com.

 #8       Discovery + Conversion + Availability = New Book Sale
Discovery, conversion, and availability are the three pillars of new book sales. As with a three-legged stool, if any one of these is missing, then new book sales don’t happen. One of the most important factors for discovery is robust and accurate metadata for each title.
#7       Build a community to support a title, and the community will sell the work for you.
This was a recurring theme throughout the three days. Random Buzzers is a start-up focused on driving word of mouth recommendations in the YA community and has enjoyed extraordinary early success. Teddy Goff, Digital Director for the Obama Team, leveraged what he called the “friend-of-a-friend effect”. President Obama has 34 million Facebook fans. They are friends with 98% of the Facebook population who are voters in the U.S. If fans reach their friends, well, you see the point. Self-published phenom Hugh Howey said that he achieved $50,000/month in revenue from his Woolnovellas before enlisting the help of his agent through word of mouth marketing among his fan base and unsolicited reviews on non-book sites, such as Boing Boingand Wired

Image courtesy of http://www.hughhowey.com/wool/.


Moreover, Pamela Spengler-Jaffee, Senior Director of Publicity of Avon Books & Harper Voyager, said that the key to her Direct-To-Consumer sales strategy is their Avon Addicts program. Each “semester”, they send 25 Avon Addicts galleys and loot for them to become “brand evangelists” on Avon’s behalf. The alumni are very active as well, so as this group of marketers grows, the publisher enjoys great benefit as evidenced by increased sales. Furthermore, Michael Shatzkin, Digital Book World’s Conference Chair, foreshadowed that publishers are migrating away from title-centric marketing and embracing audience-centric marketing. In addition, publishers are increasingly signing authors who already have an ardent following. Finally, study after study revealed that friends and family are increasingly important influencers of book buyer purchasing decisions, and there was a marked decline in the influence of bookstores and libraries.

#6       The first phase of the digital revolution in publishing is over, and we can expect stabilization and maturity in the market.
Simon Lipskar, President of Writer’s House, and Chantal Restivo-Alessi, the CDO at Harper-Collins, concurred that while the change in the industry is far from over, the first phase, or as Simon characterized it, the “first act”, certainly is. As the dust settles, industry participants can make more informed decisions based on emerging data from the first phase. Karen Lotz, President and Publisher of Candlewick Press, admitted that her press waited to move into digital believing that, “The second mouse gets the cheese.” Now that the iPad has demonstrated a leadership position in the market, Candlewick will develop for that platform in earnest.
We welcome your thoughts, so please share them with us. Please come back tomorrow to read the remainder of the take-away messages.

New Year, New Customers

By Cameron Crane


Sofia’s Dream on the shelves of AMNH
Around this time last year, I traveled to New York City for the first time to represent Little Pickle Press at the 2012 Annual SCBWI Winter Conference. I quickly fell in love with the city, and like most travelers there, I felt an uncontrollable urge to make it through my entire (extensive) list of places to see. 
It is no surprise that the American Museum of Natural History was on that list, and as I pulled up to the grand building on Central Park West in a yellow cab, I was overcome with excitement. This excitement was magnified the world over when, at the end of my visit, I walked in to the Museum Gift Shop and saw Sofia’s Dream displayed proudly on the store’s shelves.

It was not just the recognition of something beloved and familiar that excited me. In fact, seeing one of Little Pickle Press’ books on those shelves reminded me of just how unique they are, for appealing to such a wide variety of audiences, and for serving as educational tools to enhance a child’s understanding and perspective of the world around them (much like the museum itself).

That’s why this month, as we welcome our newest customers, we are excited to see that among them are amazing zoos, aquariums, and museums.

537 Sackett Street

Brooklyn, NY 11217

9990 Riverside Drive

Box 400

Powell, OH 43065

431 East Main Street

Riverhead, NY 11901

2201 North Field Street

Dallas, TX 75202

From one-of-a-kind independent bookstores to majestic aquarium gift shops, we appreciate all of our customers and their support of Little Pickle Press.

Thank you for all that you do. We look forward to a successful year ahead for all of us.

New Year, New Customers

By Cameron Crane


Sofia’s Dream on the shelves of AMNH
Around this time last year, I traveled to New York City for the first time to represent Little Pickle Press at the 2012 Annual SCBWI Winter Conference. I quickly fell in love with the city, and like most travelers there, I felt an uncontrollable urge to make it through my entire (extensive) list of places to see. 
It is no surprise that the American Museum of Natural History was on that list, and as I pulled up to the grand building on Central Park West in a yellow cab, I was overcome with excitement. This excitement was magnified the world over when, at the end of my visit, I walked in to the Museum Gift Shop and saw Sofia’s Dream displayed proudly on the store’s shelves.

It was not just the recognition of something beloved and familiar that excited me. In fact, seeing one of Little Pickle Press’ books on those shelves reminded me of just how unique they are, for appealing to such a wide variety of audiences, and for serving as educational tools to enhance a child’s understanding and perspective of the world around them (much like the museum itself).

That’s why this month, as we welcome our newest customers, we are excited to see that among them are amazing zoos, aquariums, and museums.

537 Sackett Street

Brooklyn, NY 11217

9990 Riverside Drive

Box 400

Powell, OH 43065

431 East Main Street

Riverhead, NY 11901

2201 North Field Street

Dallas, TX 75202

From one-of-a-kind independent bookstores to majestic aquarium gift shops, we appreciate all of our customers and their support of Little Pickle Press.

Thank you for all that you do. We look forward to a successful year ahead for all of us.

Kid Cuisine, Snack-Style

by Audrey Lintner

It’s three in the afternoon, and you’re four years old. Lunch is long over and done with, and dinner lurks in the shadowy realm of “later.” What do you do when your tummy growls?
“Mama, I wanna candy, please!”
Alas, Mama has other plans for your hungry tummy. You’re not getting candy. Wait, what did she just say?
“Sorry, Sweet Pea. No candy, but you can have an apple.”
“Wanna apple!”
Okay, so such redirection isn’t always that easy, but when the options are no or have this instead, the good-for-you snack is more likely to win out. In our house, as long as it’s yummy and comes in countable pieces, it’s readily accepted.
With the typical busy schedule, it’s hard to rustle up healthy snacks. The convenience of pre-packaging gives sweet or salty treats a leg up. But wait! There’s a better way! Let’s go back to that apple.
Junior loves apples, so we keep them on hand. To make things easier on him, we do our own bit of pre-packaging. Slice three or four apples and toss them with a little lemon juice. Divvy the slices into reusable containers and pop them in the fridge. 
The same can be done with other bulk items. Blocks of cheese can be sliced or cubed, whole grain cereals or crackers can be portioned into small bags or boxes, and fruit juice can be frozen into ice pops. Do your kids love those little cups of yogurt? Buy a big tub of plain yogurt, stir in a little vanilla extract, and let your kids have fun adding their own stir-ins like granola or diced fruit.
Get creative and have fun. See who can guess the right number of sections in an orange. Make plate pictures of sailboats with cheese triangles and apple wedges. Share your best theories about why strawberry seeds are on the outside. It may look like just a snack, but it’s actually a mini bonding break.
Remember the cookbook giveaway from a few days ago? Well, here’s your second chance to win a copy of Alice Currah’s Sweet Savory Life: 100 Simply Delicious Meals for Every Family Occasion.Leave a comment describing your family’s favorite or most unusual snack. Our esteemed panel of culinary experts (me, again) will choose a winner from the pool, and the poster will win the cookbook and bragging rights.
What’s on your plate?

Photos courtesy of stock.xchng

Kid Cuisine, Snack-Style

by Audrey Lintner

It’s three in the afternoon, and you’re four years old. Lunch is long over and done with, and dinner lurks in the shadowy realm of “later.” What do you do when your tummy growls?
“Mama, I wanna candy, please!”
Alas, Mama has other plans for your hungry tummy. You’re not getting candy. Wait, what did she just say?
“Sorry, Sweet Pea. No candy, but you can have an apple.”
“Wanna apple!”
Okay, so such redirection isn’t always that easy, but when the options are no or have this instead, the good-for-you snack is more likely to win out. In our house, as long as it’s yummy and comes in countable pieces, it’s readily accepted.
With the typical busy schedule, it’s hard to rustle up healthy snacks. The convenience of pre-packaging gives sweet or salty treats a leg up. But wait! There’s a better way! Let’s go back to that apple.
Junior loves apples, so we keep them on hand. To make things easier on him, we do our own bit of pre-packaging. Slice three or four apples and toss them with a little lemon juice. Divvy the slices into reusable containers and pop them in the fridge. 
The same can be done with other bulk items. Blocks of cheese can be sliced or cubed, whole grain cereals or crackers can be portioned into small bags or boxes, and fruit juice can be frozen into ice pops. Do your kids love those little cups of yogurt? Buy a big tub of plain yogurt, stir in a little vanilla extract, and let your kids have fun adding their own stir-ins like granola or diced fruit.
Get creative and have fun. See who can guess the right number of sections in an orange. Make plate pictures of sailboats with cheese triangles and apple wedges. Share your best theories about why strawberry seeds are on the outside. It may look like just a snack, but it’s actually a mini bonding break.
Remember the cookbook giveaway from a few days ago? Well, here’s your second chance to win a copy of Alice Currah’s Sweet Savory Life: 100 Simply Delicious Meals for Every Family Occasion.Leave a comment describing your family’s favorite or most unusual snack. Our esteemed panel of culinary experts (me, again) will choose a winner from the pool, and the poster will win the cookbook and bragging rights.
What’s on your plate?

Photos courtesy of stock.xchng

Mama, What IS This?

By Khadijah Lacina

chocolatechiptrips.blogspot.com

Eggplant. Okra. Wheat kernels. Powdered milk. A small bag of goat cheese.


I looked at the selection of items arrayed before me, the product of my husband’s first foray into the markets of Sana’a, Yemen, and had absolutely no idea what to do with any of them.


I grew up in Wisconsin’s Kickapoo Valley, the youngest child of a securely middle class family. We ate cereal for breakfast, soup and sandwiches for lunch, and a supper of meat, potatoes, one of three vegetables (peas, green beans or corn), and a salad of iceberg lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers. That’s it. As a teenage single mom out on my own, I experimented a bit with food after deciding to go vegetarian. I winged it, making whatever I could from what I could pick up from the food co-op I worked at as each day closed. I prided myself on breaking away from the “normal”eating plan of my childhood, and on being adventurous and daring with trying new things.


I admit, I almost met my match in okra and eggplant.


Since adulthood, I have always lived below the poverty line, and this was true in Yemen as well. The fancy supermarkets that catered to the Westerners were not for us. This was especially true once we moved to the village, where all that was available was locally grown produce and staples like rice and powdered milk. If I didn’t want my family to starve, I had to buckle down and learn how to cook in a whole new way.


I made it a point to get to know people from all sorts of backgrounds — Yemeni, Somali, Moroccan, and more. I tried whatever was given to me, and asked lots of questions. I became proficient at cooking common, everyday dishes from all over the Middle East and Africa. I was excited. But the same could not be said for all of the children. I had to find ways to gain their enthusiasm for the new foods that were becoming staples in our house, first, due to simple necessity, and then due to their good taste and high nutritional value. Here are a few things I have found that worked beautifully with my children.
  • Introduce new foods one or two at a time, keeping the meals simple. Somali maraq, or vegetable stew, for example, with Yemeni flat bread. This keeps them from getting overwhelmed, and also assures that they don’t fill themselves up on something familiar instead of trying what is new.
  • Tell them stories about the people who taught me the dishes, or look up the countries together in books or on the internet to learn more about them, so they see the food in its original context. The best thing of all is when a sister comes over and shows us how to prepare dishes, providing lots of laughter and love, and a direct connection to where the food comes from.
  •  Get them involved directly, from bargaining with the guy at the vegetable stand to chopping carrots and kneading bread. Children love to feel as though they are a part of something, and are contributing to the family well-being. Plus, it’s just plain fun!
  • Try the food of the common people, rather than the elite of a place or country. It is unfailingly more economical, more local, more nourishing and, to be honest, more delicious. The story of a people told in food is a beautiful thing, and can build bridges of understanding and common ground.
  • Make sure that they understand the importance of food, and the blessing that it truly is, when so many are going without.  It is hard to understand true poverty, or true hunger, when one has not experienced it, or at least seen it and looked it in the eye and realized that that little girl, or that old man, is not so far from us, and that we are united in our humanity.
  • Grow some of the ingredients if you are able.Have a few herbs, like cilantro and basil, that are popular in many different cuisines, growing in pots in a nice sunny window. Nothing beats the taste of fresh food, and children get an appreciation of and connection to where their food comes from

These are just a few of the things that have worked for us. My children all love trying new things, and have very adventurous palates. We freely mix and match dishes from all over the world, depending on what is in season and affordable.

Is it foolproof? Will they always love what you come up with? Well, no. But they are always willing to give it a try. And if all else fails, their father will eat it!

Even the okra. Ew.

Mama, What IS This?

By Khadijah Lacina

chocolatechiptrips.blogspot.com

Eggplant. Okra. Wheat kernels. Powdered milk. A small bag of goat cheese.


I looked at the selection of items arrayed before me, the product of my husband’s first foray into the markets of Sana’a, Yemen, and had absolutely no idea what to do with any of them.


I grew up in Wisconsin’s Kickapoo Valley, the youngest child of a securely middle class family. We ate cereal for breakfast, soup and sandwiches for lunch, and a supper of meat, potatoes, one of three vegetables (peas, green beans or corn), and a salad of iceberg lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers. That’s it. As a teenage single mom out on my own, I experimented a bit with food after deciding to go vegetarian. I winged it, making whatever I could from what I could pick up from the food co-op I worked at as each day closed. I prided myself on breaking away from the “normal”eating plan of my childhood, and on being adventurous and daring with trying new things.


I admit, I almost met my match in okra and eggplant.


Since adulthood, I have always lived below the poverty line, and this was true in Yemen as well. The fancy supermarkets that catered to the Westerners were not for us. This was especially true once we moved to the village, where all that was available was locally grown produce and staples like rice and powdered milk. If I didn’t want my family to starve, I had to buckle down and learn how to cook in a whole new way.


I made it a point to get to know people from all sorts of backgrounds — Yemeni, Somali, Moroccan, and more. I tried whatever was given to me, and asked lots of questions. I became proficient at cooking common, everyday dishes from all over the Middle East and Africa. I was excited. But the same could not be said for all of the children. I had to find ways to gain their enthusiasm for the new foods that were becoming staples in our house, first, due to simple necessity, and then due to their good taste and high nutritional value. Here are a few things I have found that worked beautifully with my children.
  • Introduce new foods one or two at a time, keeping the meals simple. Somali maraq, or vegetable stew, for example, with Yemeni flat bread. This keeps them from getting overwhelmed, and also assures that they don’t fill themselves up on something familiar instead of trying what is new.
  • Tell them stories about the people who taught me the dishes, or look up the countries together in books or on the internet to learn more about them, so they see the food in its original context. The best thing of all is when a sister comes over and shows us how to prepare dishes, providing lots of laughter and love, and a direct connection to where the food comes from.
  •  Get them involved directly, from bargaining with the guy at the vegetable stand to chopping carrots and kneading bread. Children love to feel as though they are a part of something, and are contributing to the family well-being. Plus, it’s just plain fun!
  • Try the food of the common people, rather than the elite of a place or country. It is unfailingly more economical, more local, more nourishing and, to be honest, more delicious. The story of a people told in food is a beautiful thing, and can build bridges of understanding and common ground.
  • Make sure that they understand the importance of food, and the blessing that it truly is, when so many are going without.  It is hard to understand true poverty, or true hunger, when one has not experienced it, or at least seen it and looked it in the eye and realized that that little girl, or that old man, is not so far from us, and that we are united in our humanity.
  • Grow some of the ingredients if you are able.Have a few herbs, like cilantro and basil, that are popular in many different cuisines, growing in pots in a nice sunny window. Nothing beats the taste of fresh food, and children get an appreciation of and connection to where their food comes from

These are just a few of the things that have worked for us. My children all love trying new things, and have very adventurous palates. We freely mix and match dishes from all over the world, depending on what is in season and affordable.

Is it foolproof? Will they always love what you come up with? Well, no. But they are always willing to give it a try. And if all else fails, their father will eat it!

Even the okra. Ew.

Spaghetti Blog Book Tour

By Khadijah Lacina




Little Pickle Press is founded and built upon the idea of making a difference. Of looking at the world in a way that does not emphasize the “me” so much as the “we.” Of acknowledging problems such as intolerance and environmental degradation and setting out to deal with them in a positive, proactive manner. Of the power of one person, or one company, to help to affect a change for the better by setting an example for others to follow. This month’s blog book tour for Spaghetti is NOT a Finger Food and Other Life Lessons is a perfect example of this.


Traditionally authors had to spend a lot of time on the road promoting their books, driving or flying from city to city, event to event. While this certainly is one way to go about it, we decided to try something a little bit different. Something that allows the author to stay in the comfort of her own home, avoiding the time, money and fossil fuels that go into that way of doing things. For the past three years we have celebrated the advent of a new title from our company with a virtual tour that involves stopping at various blogs during a certain time period and letting the blog hosts share their comments about and experiences with the book with their readers.  Blog book tours have been becoming increasingly popular, and we are at the forefront of this movement.


This week’s tour began with Flannery at Living on the Spectrum: The Connor Chronicles. This was a case of universal synchronicity, as the main character of Jodi Carmichael’s Spaghetti is NOT a Finger Food is named, amazingly enough, Connor; and both Connors have been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. Flannery wrote a great review of the book, and Jodi stopped in regularly throughout the day to answer questions and discuss issues with the blog’s readers.


On day two we had two stops. One was with Maryann Miller, who stressed that the book was both entertaining and a great educational tool. Bodie Parkhurst over at Magic Dog Press shared her experiences with a friend’s child who had Asperger’s and praised the celebration of difference that is one of the main messages of Spaghetti.  The lively discussion in the comment section was as enjoyable as the post itself.


Wednesday brought us to Mom-ology, where Jen lauded both the book and LPP’s environmental policies with her wonderful review of the book. “We all need to learn and understand that it is OK to be different and that we need to be accepting of all individuals regardless of whether or not they are differently-abled.”


On Thursday Karen at Confessions of an Asperger’s Mom shared her insights and experiences with us. Interestingly, just two days before she wrote about dealing with “an Asperger’s Meltdown,” and it reflected exactly what Jodi portrays in Spaghetti.


Dani at the Blood Red Pencil made Friday a highlight of the tour with her interview with the funny and indomitable author of the book, Jodi Carmichael. It was an awesome opportunity to peek into the writing process itself, while getting to know Jodi a little bit better.


Today and tomorrow will undoubtedly bring more interesting posts and lively conversation as the tour heads for its last two stops, at Leslea Tash’s blog, The Fabulousness, and Inner Aspie. Why not take a minute in the next two days to stop by and have a virtual cup of tea with Jodi and her tour hosts. And if you missed any of this week’s stops, you might want to check them out as well! 

Spaghetti Blog Book Tour

By Khadijah Lacina




Little Pickle Press is founded and built upon the idea of making a difference. Of looking at the world in a way that does not emphasize the “me” so much as the “we.” Of acknowledging problems such as intolerance and environmental degradation and setting out to deal with them in a positive, proactive manner. Of the power of one person, or one company, to help to affect a change for the better by setting an example for others to follow. This month’s blog book tour for Spaghetti is NOT a Finger Food and Other Life Lessons is a perfect example of this.


Traditionally authors had to spend a lot of time on the road promoting their books, driving or flying from city to city, event to event. While this certainly is one way to go about it, we decided to try something a little bit different. Something that allows the author to stay in the comfort of her own home, avoiding the time, money and fossil fuels that go into that way of doing things. For the past three years we have celebrated the advent of a new title from our company with a virtual tour that involves stopping at various blogs during a certain time period and letting the blog hosts share their comments about and experiences with the book with their readers.  Blog book tours have been becoming increasingly popular, and we are at the forefront of this movement.


This week’s tour began with Flannery at Living on the Spectrum: The Connor Chronicles. This was a case of universal synchronicity, as the main character of Jodi Carmichael’s Spaghetti is NOT a Finger Food is named, amazingly enough, Connor; and both Connors have been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. Flannery wrote a great review of the book, and Jodi stopped in regularly throughout the day to answer questions and discuss issues with the blog’s readers.


On day two we had two stops. One was with Maryann Miller, who stressed that the book was both entertaining and a great educational tool. Bodie Parkhurst over at Magic Dog Press shared her experiences with a friend’s child who had Asperger’s and praised the celebration of difference that is one of the main messages of Spaghetti.  The lively discussion in the comment section was as enjoyable as the post itself.


Wednesday brought us to Mom-ology, where Jen lauded both the book and LPP’s environmental policies with her wonderful review of the book. “We all need to learn and understand that it is OK to be different and that we need to be accepting of all individuals regardless of whether or not they are differently-abled.”


On Thursday Karen at Confessions of an Asperger’s Mom shared her insights and experiences with us. Interestingly, just two days before she wrote about dealing with “an Asperger’s Meltdown,” and it reflected exactly what Jodi portrays in Spaghetti.


Dani at the Blood Red Pencil made Friday a highlight of the tour with her interview with the funny and indomitable author of the book, Jodi Carmichael. It was an awesome opportunity to peek into the writing process itself, while getting to know Jodi a little bit better.


Today and tomorrow will undoubtedly bring more interesting posts and lively conversation as the tour heads for its last two stops, at Leslea Tash’s blog, The Fabulousness, and Inner Aspie. Why not take a minute in the next two days to stop by and have a virtual cup of tea with Jodi and her tour hosts. And if you missed any of this week’s stops, you might want to check them out as well! 

Making Family Dinner User-Friendly

by Audrey Lintner

I’ve started this post about three times now. The interruptions to my creative flow are small, but mighty.

“Mama, I want a cwackoo, please!”<