Enjoy this interview from the West Virginia Authors Show during which I talk with host Cat Pleska about my background, my books, and inspiration for writing. Published on the Library Television Network on November 5, 2018 and sponsored by Mountain State Press.
One of the tastiest holidays is today - National Pretzel Day. I've compiled some older blog posts that are about pretzels and about my pretzel book Brother Giovanni's Little Reward: How the Pretzel Was Born. I hope you get to enjoy some pretzels on this day, along with my story of how the pretzel came to be.
Recipe for soft pretzels from the book
How I came up with the idea for Brother Giovanni's Little Reward
Video of gals from Eerdmans making my pretzel recipe (good for kids)
Illustrator Amanda Hall's process for illustrating Brother Gio
This time of year my book Golden Delicious: A Cinderella Apple Story is always popular for teachers to read to their students. In addition to the wonderful pictures from Kathleen Kemly, the tale about the discovery of the Golden Delicious apple in West Virginia is a true story! I've run across some great ideas for classroom activities to accompany reading my book and I'd love to share!
Fun Apple Activities
Probably most appropriate for older grade school students, this was my children's (Mary and Ben) favorite activity when they were little. See how to make a "shrunken apple head" here.
Did you know that there's a star inside an apple? Use this cute idea from The Very Busy Kindergarten Classroom as a fun way for children to learn more about an apple's interior. Students can stamp the apple half and make a print onto a card.
Who knew the apple could be a great tool to teach kids about math? This activity from Mamas Like Me shows how to use construction paper and pom-poms to make apple trees into a fun re-usable math lesson.
Here's a way to help children grow an apple tree from the seeds of an apple.
Do you have any fun ideas for activities to accompany my book? Please share in the comments and see below for a video from Read Aloud West Virginia of me reading from Golden Delicious: A Cinderella Apple Story.
My newest book, Brother Giovanni's Little Reward: How the Pretzel Was Born, has become a popular pretzel book for children, but I wanted to give some kudos to other authors and their books about this delicious salty snack in honor of #nationalpretzelday
My book is included in the top 10 results if you Google "pretzel books for children", and so are these!
Pretzel by Margret + H.A. Rey (perhaps most famous for Curious George) about the adventures of the longest dachshund in the world, who is able to twist himself into a pretzel and saves the day for a friend.
Walter the Baker by Eric Carle - another origin story of the pretzel where a baker must use water instead of milk in his famous rolls one day. The Duke is disgusted and threatens to banish the baker unless he can take the same dough and make a good-tasting roll that "the rising sun can shine through three times," which becomes the pretzel. This charming story was told to Eric as a boy by his grandmother.
The Magic Pretzel, a chapter book by Daniel Pinkwater is for grades 2-4 and is about a group of 4th graders who search for the magic pretzel of Alexander the Great, the only thing known to truly cure werewolves!
There are other pretzel books, but My Daddy is a Pretzel rounds out this list for today. It's a cute book about yoga poses that you can see here.
Ever since I started researching pretzel origins and pretzel recipes for my book Brother Giovanni's Little Reward: How the Pretzel Was Born, National Pretzel Day has been a holiday I always celebrate! After testing recipes with my grandsons, I found a great soft pretzel recipe, which is included in my book. You can also see the pretzel recipe here.
To celebrate this year's Pretzel Day, April 26th 2016, here's a link to deals on pretzels including some free pretzels from Auntie Anne's, Ben's Soft Pretzels, Philly Pretzel Factory, Pretzelmaker, and SuperPretzel. For more info on Bro Giovanni, you can click the image below or go here. Enjoy!
Hello, friends! The good people at SCBWI offered their members an opportunity to showcase a book in a "book party" that started on 12/1/15. I put together a page about my "pretzel book" Brother Giovanni's Little Reward. You can get more information about the book and about me here.
Enjoy! (and don't forget to sign my guest book :) )
Hmmmmmm - we thought it was 4/26? One of my daughter's friends just posted on Facebook that today (10/26) is Pretzel Day.
Scroll down for their conversation, but what do you think? Is it "just" Pretzel Day vs "National" Pretzel Day? A quick Google search says October is National Pretzel Month.
At any rate, whatever you think, pretzels are always a tasty treat. See one of the best kids recipes for soft pretzels here and don't forget, my book Brother Giovanni's Little Reward: How the Pretzel Was Born is now available!
Today, I found this article from the Morgan Messenger (Berkeley Springs' newspaper) from this time 9 years ago! It's about the time I visited Warm Springs Intermediate School to do a fun essay writing workshop with fourth graders. Here are some highlights from the article that can give you some insights about my history and my own writing process.
Inspired by meeting an author
Smucker was first inspired to write children's books after meeting children's author Cynthia Rylant, who wrote When I Was Young in the Mountains. She was working as a children's librarian at the time and realized that there were no books that reflected her growing up in a steel town (Weirton).
"So many mills were closing. People had to move away to find work. I wanted to remember everything I could," said Smucker. As her father's memory of those days was failing and that way of life was vanishing. Smucker captured a steel town from a young girl's eyes in her book - from the eerie night glow of the mill's smokestacks to the mountainous slag hill they played on.
Smucker's award winning children's book No Star Nights is about her memories of growing up in the steel town of Weirton during the 1950s. The books has won the International Reading Association's Children's Book Award, the ALA's Notable Book Award, and the WV Library Association Literary Merit Award. It also received the Junior Library Guild Section Award in the field of social studies.
Smucker authored A History of West Virginia, which was originally written for beginning adult readers. It was republished in 2004 in a new edition for ages 10 through adult. She also wrote a children's bedtime story, Outside the Window, and has a new historical fiction novel for children called To Keep the South Manitou Light that is set on a Lake Michigan island, which just received an award from the Michigan Historical Society.
If you can't view the image below, click through to this link to see how I worked with the class and about my advice to young and beginning writers. Enjoy!
The publisher of my most recent book, Eerdman's, featured a super article on Amanda Hall - the incredible illustrator of Brother Giovanni's Little Reward: How the Pretzel Was Born.
Here's a taste from the article:
"For example, Brother Giovanni’s Little Reward: How the Pretzel Was Born -- my new book for Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, written by Anna Egan Smucker — takes place in medieval Europe, most likely in Italy (I thought — with a name like Giovanni!). I already had a wonderful store of memories from visiting Italy as a child. These impressions added to my imaginative mix: fabulous old churches, clanking bells, the smell of warm Cyprus trees, wonderful food, a particular memory of having the top of my six-year-old head kissed by a kind adult, just because I was a ‘bambina.’
I started to hunt out art from medieval Italy. I have always loved pre-Renaissance Italian paintings, with their early sense of perspective, decorative plants, and buildings with the front walls opened up like dolls’ houses so that you can see right in. Having enjoyed playing with scale when I worked on The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau, I responded to the fantastical sizes of things in these early Italian paintings too. I was particularly drawn to the paintings of Fra Angelico for many reasons — their clarity and detail and their joyful coloration as well as the architectural structures the artist conjured. The scenes Angelico painted were often intimate in scale, even when he was dealing with epic subject matter. Like other painters of that era, he also worked on illuminated manuscripts. I thought I could have fun using those kinds of visual devices for Brother Giovanni."
Check out the whole article here.
This Saturday, September 26th, I'll be attending and presenting at the Huntington Museum of Art in WV to the regional chapter of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. We'll be exploring my newest book Brother Giovanni’s Little Reward: How the Pretzel Was Born (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, August 3, 2015). You can learn more about the event here.
Also, attendees will read first page from works-in-progress to receive feedback from the group, and network with other attendees during light refreshments.
I was interviewed by Susan Mannix for the group's blog, As The Eraser Burns, with some questions about my own favorite books, food, and coffeehouse drinks. You can see that blog post here. Thanks to everyone for your support and I look forward to meeting this group and reconnecting with some of you on Saturday.
My blog used to live at blogspot, but I've integrated it into my new site. I am an author and presenter. Thanks for visiting!