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The Secret Lives of Letters

A unique series of 26 picture books, each of which delves into the secret life of a letter. I start the series with Z and move backward through the alphabet to A.

The first four working titles are:

  • Z Speaks Out
  • Why Y Why
  • X Marks the Spot
  • Wild Wooly W

 

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Brave New Leaf

Snap! You’re five again.  Your best friend has moved away. You want to make new friends, but you’re scared. Your mom comes in and is angry because you’ve left your jacket on the floor. You know you did it to see if you could get away with it. You’re concerned that you’re going to make your dad angry because you got model airplane glue on your desk.

Seeking to escape, you pick up BRAVE NEW LEAF by Alan H. Jordan for the hundredth time and read about Buddy the Leaf, who is scared of opening before the killer frosts disappear. Buddy figures out the right time to unfurl and wins the First Leaf of Spring award. You resolve to be more like Buddy—to think things through before you do them. You feel better. This is going to be a wonderful day, maybe you’ll even do something so right that you’ll win an award.

I think of Brave New Leaf as a unique meld of the qualities of Tap the Magic Tree (cycles of life), Brave Squish Rabbit (conquering one’s fears) and Beekle (building friendships and willingness to take a chance.)

This story takes place in the Spring (on Earth Day) and is the first of four manuscripts that were inspired by Tap the Magic TreeHere are the planned titles.

  • Spring – Brave New Leaf
  • Summer – Pumping it Out – Explores how Buddy the Leaf feels as he contributes to the well-being of his tree and the forest it is in, by “pumping out” energy.
  • Fall – Feeling Brown – Buddy the Leaf’s is afraid of dying until he realizes a fact of nature.
  • Winter – Full Cycle – Buddy the leaf transcends death as he becomes part of the soil, and shares the secrets that he’s learned with tree buds through haiku.

Request the manuscript.

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Warm Inside

When I was a child, I used to walk with my father through wild fields. We would stop, and my dad would show me a Sassafras tree and let me taste the bark, which tastes similar to licorice or root beer. Later that field gave way to a long shopping center. Our walks are a treasured memory, and I’m wondering if it is worth trying to transfer them to a picture book.

Here’s the first draft of a beginning and ending.  Please use my contact form to let me know if you feel Warm Inside is worth writing.

Beginning:
“One more story, Pop-pop, please.”

“I’ve already read you two books, Shanna.”

“One more story, Pop-pop, please.”

“It’s time to close your eyes and drift off to sleep.”

“Please, tell me about the Sassafras tree and how it helps you fall fast asleep by making you feel all warm inside.”

Usually, I fall asleep quickly because there’s an itty-bitty warm spot in me that spreads and makes me feel good all over. But sometimes something in me feels cold, and I have trouble drifting into dreamland. That’s when I think about the Sassafras tree.”

Middle: We go for a walk through open fields that now have given way to shopping centers, and my father and I pick sarsaparilla bark. Eventually, we wind up at a deli and have homemade chicken noodle soup. Q&A show that the area has changed dramatically. We discover that change has its benefits.

..
A concept for the ending:
“I feel warmer already, Pop-Pop.”
And when Sasha fell asleep Pop-Pop kissed her a special good night kiss and said, “Sleep tight,” Pop-Pop felt warm inside.

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Racecar Dreams

Racecar Dreams by Sharon Chriscoe is serving as a model text for Alan Jordan's forthcoming book with the working title of either Safari Sam or Turbo Tim.A quick read through of Racecar Dreams by Sharon Chriscoe with illustrations by Dave Mottram reveals an exciting day for a racecar who is intensely focused on his goals.

He’s so focused that he falls asleep dreaming about winning the big race.  If you have children who play any form of sports, that might sound familiar. Most children and kids who are into sports will love this book because it validates their passion.

What’s not so obvious is the absence of a traditional arc in the story.  Most stories resolve children’s problems. Racecar doesn’t have a an issue. That makes it hard to get a publisher. Racecar Dreams is not a “kid solves problem” book like Brave Squish Rabbit or a super-quiet bedtime book like The Quiet Book.  Ms. Chriscoe convinced a major publisher to invest in the book by revealing Racecar’s  vision.

Further, Racecar Dreams works because Sharon Chriscoe employs the skilled use of poetic meter in the story.  Also, many children like the idea of a little noise (e.g. “vroom”) at bedtime.  When Chriscoe’s story, which parallels many of the things that children do as they get ready to go to bed, is combined with the playful and colorful illustrations of Dave Mottram a book that’s a joy to read at bedtime results.  Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble or Amazon.com.

I read Racecar Dreams, and I am Jazz on the same day, and I asked myself, “What can I write that will have the beauty and energy of Racecar Dreams combined with a social statement that helps children who are “different” to feel good about themselves.  The answer came back quickly–a book about wheelchairs that zip and zoom around to help children enjoy life.  I’ve been working on that book for a year now.  I’m not sure if it will wind up with the name of Safari Sam, Turbo Tim, or Wheelchair Fantasies.  

My focus for the last year has been making having a wheelchair that wants to do zoo tours, but I’m thinking of expanding the scope of the story.

Two things that I do know is that I will eventually finish it and that it will help special needs children feel proud of their accomplishments.

I’m not sure if the book will be in rhyme or prose. I keep going back and forth between the two, so I’d appreciate your giving me your opinion.

Please use my contact form to let me know which title you prefer and any opinions you have about rhyme, meter or content. Thanks. 😃

 

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The Quiet Book

The Quiet Book, written by Deborah Underwood inspired Alan Jordan to write a number of soothing forthcoming books like Many Kinds of Love.The next time that you want to put your children to bed, pull out The Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood and illustrator Renata Liwska and read it with them.

It’s a soothing story that helps a child to relax and think about the world in a slightly different way because it helps them to revisit different times of the day when they naturally want to be or appreciate, quiet.

Wanting to be quiet is important to children. Kids hate to be told to be quiet. It doesn’t seem fair to them, besides they don’t think of themselves as being noisy. There’s no moral in this story that says be quiet. A strange thing happened when my daughter (who is all grown up with a kid of her own) reflected upon the quiet moments that happened during her day–she unwound and was both relaxed and serene

Renata Liwska’s illustrations are as close as you can come to holding a teddy bear when all you have is a book. The artwork tells it’s own story, which usually is the case with well-illustrated books. I can only hope that she will one day illustrate some of my work.

When I read this book, I immediately took out a stack of sticky notes and started writing my own, completely different story, about different types of love.  I thought it would be easy. Guess what? I’m still working on the manuscript for Many Kinds of Love.  The amount of time that has passed, over six months, shows me how challenging the task of writing The Quiet Book probably was for Deborah Underwood.

Well, why not.  The easiest to read books are often the most complex to write.  In children’s picture books, every word counts. You won’t find an extra word in The Quiet Book. And, I did not notice any extraneous strokes in the illustrations. (I want Renata Liwska to illustrate one of my forthcoming books.)

Perhaps the perfect simplicity of The Quiet Book why it’s won so many awards.

By the way, the Kindle edition of The Quiet Book is inexpensive, so you can buy a copy for your phone and always have it handy when you’re traveling, and need something to quiet the kids down after a long day on the road or adventure.

 

 

The Case of the Missing Cherries

The letters in the alphabet decide to do more than just make words when they start the ABC Detective Agency and get “Complete answers from A to Z,” for their clients. Awesome.

Their first adventure starts when mom returns home with lots of food, but Mom can’t find the cherries she needs for the special dessert she needs for dinner guests.  The letters of the alphabet collaborate to solve The Case of the Missing Cherries.

About this Revision

My initial goal was to list all of the letters of the alphabet and use alliteration.  The first draft was ho-hum. I put it on hold.  I’m rewriting, filling the book with the type of action that I love so much in Josh Funk’s Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast.  The race is on to find the missing cherries, and it’s every letter for him or herself.  (Not really.  There’s some teamwork, too.)

I’m no longer featuring each letter of the alphabet equally, and I’m using high-vocabulary-level words like “Loquacious.” (The character of “L” doesn’t stop talking unless forced to do so.

A Collaborative Opportunity for Students

I’m particularly interested in using virtual classroom visits to workshop this manuscript. Teachers, tell your kids that they can be part of the success of a book that’s that will, as “C” would put it,  “catapult to the top” of best-seller lists.

Please use my contact page to request a plain text or “rich text” manuscript.

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My Little Polar Bear

Serenity is well established after reading this beautiful book at bedtime.

My Little Polar Bear by Colombian picture book author/illustrator Claudia Rueda is one of those rare fiction books that’s quiet, calming and filled with interesting facts. As a mama polar bear and her cub journey through the Arctic readers develop an affinity and appreciation for polar bears.

The beautiful, minimal artwork is captivating. Best yet, when story time is over, readers (children and adults alike) are usually serene. Children are ready to go to drift off to sweet dreams.

Twenty percent of the way through reading this book I asked myself, “What unique work can I write to provide this same sort of serenity for children at bedtime? I also visualized my book helping them feel closer to nature.  “Ask, and you shall receive.” I’m currently polishing the text of my forthcoming book. I visualize it helping children worldwide learn more about panda bears

Have you ever heard the expression “Ask and you shall receive?” Inspiration flowed, and six months later I’m polishing the text of my forthcoming book, My Sweet Panda Bear.  

Authors rarely get an opportunity to select their illustrator, but I hope that one day Claudia Rueda will accept an offer to illustrate my book.  Click this link to travel to Amazon.com, and look inside the My Little Polar Bear.

 

 

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All Through My Town

A delightful book for pre-schoolers.

Joy effervesces as readers discover treasures when touring a fictional small town in All Through My Town by Jean Reidy

A combination of vibrant, dynamic artwork by Leo Timmers and superb writing makes each page jump out.

It’s hard to create a rhyming rhythm that makes a book easy to read and remember. It’s difficult to cram action that children enjoy into each line. All Through My Town makes it look easy. Here’s the book beginning:

 

 

Rising, waking
Bread is baking

School bus honks its horn

This book is available in a variety of different formats, including an affordably priced Kindle edition. ($5.99.)  https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00DM5KF00

I’d recommend buying both a paperback or hardback edition plus the Kindle edition. You can read this on a smartphone.  It’s likely that your children or grandchildren will quickly come to love the story.  Then, while you are out and about town, you can always whip out your phone and relate the place your visiting to a similar place in the book.  Also, if you kids happen to be in a noisy mood, let them read this story.

Alan

Blaze loves playing with balls as much as she loves going for walks.

P.S. This book inspired my forthcoming book Walk, Walk, Walk, I began this book after asking myself, “What could I do that is unique but imparts the zest of Jean Reidy’s All Through My Town?”  The answer came to me when I was taking a walk with my daughter, granddaughter and their Border Collie, Blaze.  My goal was to capture the spirit of Blaze taking a walk as well as Jean Reidy captures the spirit of a walk around a town.

Authors rarely get to select the illustrator for one of their manuscripts, but wouldn’t it be interesting if the publisher commissioned Leo Timmers to do the artwork for Walk, Walk, Walk by Blaze the Border Collie (as told to Alan H. Jordan.)

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Tap the Magic Tree

When I finished my first reading of Tap the Magic Tree by author-illustrator Christie Matheson, I knew that I wanted to write a book about the cycles of life. But, I didn’t want to duplicate Tap the Magic Tree. It’s perfect. I love the multiple ways that it gets and maintains children’s interest.

Tap the Magic Tree begins to weave its literary spell with the first three sentences:

There’s magic in this bare brown tree.

Tap it once.

Turn the page to see.

Each page draws me more deeply into the story.

It’s more than just a great story. It also helps children build counting skills, and absorb knowledge about nature.

Every page captivates me, including the ending which features a drawing of a barren tree. It presents a challenge with the words “Close your eyes and count to ten.”

Next, we see a drawing of a tree with a nest and egg in it and these words:

Magic!

It begins again.

I also want to convey this message, but in an entirely different way.

For years, I have told my daughter something like, “It takes courage to be the first leaf to open. I wonder if leaves are afraid of a killer frost? I can’t see why they wouldn’t be.”

I decided to create my book called Brave New Leafthen I realized that one book was not enough for me to communicate the concept of, “Magic! It begins again.”  I’ve planned four books, one for each season

  • Spring – Brave New Leaf
  • Summer – Pumping it Out – Explores how Buddy the Leaf feels as he contributes to the well-being of his tree and the forest it is in, by “pumping out” energy.
  • Fall – Feeling Brown – Buddy the Leaf’s is afraid of dying until he realizes a fact of nature.
  • Winter – Full Cycle – Buddy the leaf transcends death as he becomes part of the soil, and shares the secrets that he’s learned with tree buds through haiku.

Tap the Magic Tree is one book that you have to see, to feel, to touch to get the full benefit. There’s no way that I can give you the full sensory experience in this blog post, but I can encourage you to peek inside by providing this link so you can use Amazon’s Look Inside feature to see some of the artwork.  Check it out, and if you like what you see, buy the book. You’ll be delighted that you did.

 

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Socks and Shoes are Fun

Socks and Shoes are Fun captures the joy that children feel as they explore their socks and shoes. Universal in its appeal, it reveals a child’s sense of wonder as she or he discovers the secrets of right and left.

Please use my contact page to request a manuscript.