The Wash Rag, Summer 2006

Well, ‘technically’ it is still summer … Just when you think you’ve got technology under control, Tropical Storm Ernesto takes out your electricity and the ISP, too. Go figure!

REMINDER: If you have a web site that has links to Reading Tub™ profiles created before July 2006, you will want to find your book and update the hyperlink. Our old style (title+.html) is gone. Now you need to know your book’s ID number. Click here to get started. If you need help with retrieving the link, just send us an email.

ADVERTISEMENT: Join the Grannie Annie Project. Kids ages 9 to 14 (fourth through eigth grade) are invited to write a story about their family and have it published in Grannie Annie, Volume II. The goal is to have children interview family members, learn about their family’s history, and then preserve the information for future generations in a story. Go to for complete details.

Things here have been pretty hectic in the Tub these past three months. The good news is that we are continuing to grow and opportunities continue to come our way. We like that … a lot! But keeping up with growth and balancing it with the rest of what life sends our way; well, that’s a different story! On to the newsletter …

This quarter we have two fabulous women in our Author Showcase: Sabrina Hofkin and Clare Ham Grosgebauer. Both authors began writing as young girls, and have drawn from their own personal experiences to create their exciting stories. Both offer positive lessons in perseverence, confidence, and friendship for their respective target audiences. Clare writes for younger, elementary-aged children. Sabrina speaks to pre-teen/teenage girls.

For Clare Ham Grosgebauer, publishing the Snickerdoodle series is a chance to recreate the stories her grandfather created in the early 20th Century. Snickerdoodle is a celebration of the story-telling genre that many (well, some) of us remember from listening to our grandparents, or even early after-school television. Click here to meet Clare Ham Grosgebauer.

Sabrina Hofkin’s writing career began the day her Mom gave her a journal. She’s been writing one for years, so when she decided to write a novel, those journals provided some great background material. As you’ll see in our interview, Sabrina, like her protagonist Magnolia Holden, is an individual with high-flying passion. Click here to meet Sabrina Hofkin.

I don’t often add my two cents, but I’m going to pause a minute here. When I read the interviews, what really struck me is that despite very different books and two totally separate audiences, these women share one thing in common: they started writing at an early age. They didn’t know they would grow up to be published authors, they were just writing. Interestingly enough, I started my first journal the summer of my fourth-grade year. My Mom gave me a spiral notebook to write about our cross-country trip that summer … and I’m still writing.

I guess my amateur conclusion is this: if you want to get your kids interested in reading and learning, give them a notebook and a pen. Maybe they’ll start by drawing pictures or finding things to write about. It’s a start; they’ll be looking at the world to make a memory, and they will use their imaginations. Who knows, maybe they’ll become a world-famous author some day!

In the Fall edition of The Wash Rag we will have interviews with these three authors:

Daryl Burkhard, author of Riddle in the Mountain. (Nomad Press, 1995)

Stacey Kannenberg, author of Let’s Get Ready for Kindergarten! and Let’s Get Ready for First Grade! (Cedar Valley Publishing, 2005, 2006)

Hope Irvin Marston, author of the My Little Book of [Woodland Animals] picture book series. Her titles include stories about Burrowing Owls, Painted Turtles, River Otters, Timber Wolves, Whitetails, Wood Ducks. (Windward Publishing, and Imprint of Finney Company, 2003)

Stay tuned to these pages … better yet, set up your RSS feed to get the alert. We are just about ready to present our brand identity (to use the jargon du jour). Within the next few weeks (if not days) we will be unveiling our new logo, courtesy of Logoworks. Needless to say, we’re pretty excited to take yet another leap in our evolution as the family resource for literacy.

With this issue, we are adding a new feature in The Soap Dish. As we’ve explained in the past, we get LOTS and LOTS of books, almost every day. Last week we had a dozen. Our reviews take a little bit longer because we don’t take a first-come-first served approach, and our critics include children, so we need their opinion, too. We place a book with a family where the target audience and plot lines mesh. That said, we get titles that just look so cool, are unique, or sound so interesting/topical we want to let the world know about them even though we haven’t had a chance to post a profile. [After all, this is the section of the newsletter for stuff that we’re just bubbly about!]

So from now on, we’re going to let you know about some of our new arrivals. Bookmark these titles and you can keep up with our progress yourself, or check them out on your own.

Cranium FunFolio, Family Edition. (All Ages)

Flowers for Grandpa Dan; A Gentle Story to Help Children Understand Alzheimer’s Disease by Connie McIntyre. (Ages 4 to 8)

Here is the African Jungle by Phyl Manning. (Ages 4 to 8)

The Many Adventures of Pengey Penguin by John Burns. (Ages 5 to 13)

One Incredible Dog! Kizzy by Chris Williams. (Ages 3 and up)

If you click on the links, you will get our first-look description of the book and the ability to click through to a site where you can purchase the title or look for it in your local library.

As summer closes its doors, we’re getting ready for a very busy fall ahead. Having the kids back to school seems to simplify some things and complicate others. Instead of a house of individuals with their own summer routines, now there are master routines that guide each individual.

Still, we hope you find a chance to stop the merry-go-round once in a while and enjoy some time with your kids. We’d love it if you read a book together … or better yet, get out some paper and create some stories all your own!