Mims House Audiobooks
Listen to samples tracks. Click on the titles to order on Audible.
Listen to samples tracks. Click on the titles to order on Audible.
We are excited to announce that Darcy Pattison is now available for a live, interactive video conference for your classroom.
In cooperation with Field Trip Zoom, Darcy will bring her expertise to your class to help your students write opinion essays based on her kid’s books.
Teachers, how many times have you read a disappointing opinion essay that starts like this: “I want a hound dog because they are nice.”
Students struggle to formulate and write opinions because they need to be lead through a series of criteria that give them logical reasons for their opinion. In this live, interactive session, Darcy Pattison, an award-winning author and writing teacher, will guide your students through easy steps that will equip them to write effective opinion essays. Using her kid’s books as mentor texts, I WANT A DOG: My Opinion Essay and I WANT A CAT: My Opinion Essay, Pattison will lead your students through a series of criteria that give them logical reasons backed by solid facts and details to form their opinion. By the end of the session, your students will be ready to write a well-reasoned and well-supported opinion essay.
Click HERE to Book the “In My Opinion” Writer’s Workshop. It’s a simple process to reserve the session.
As an independent author, it’s often hard to provide books in the formats that customers want. It’s easy to provide ebook sales from my site. But paper? I’ve searched for alternatives without luck for several years. Mostly because I want to write! I don’t want to fill orders and take them to the post office every day. And you want me to write, so I can bring you more titles. Don’t you?
So, it’s exciting to announce that through our partnership with Aer.io, you can now buy paperback and hardcover children’s books direct. We’re rolling it out slowly, testing and making sure the service works smoothly with our system so there’s no problems on your end.
In time for Christmas shopping, though, you can now buy a small selection of Mims House titles this way. Let us know of any glitches! We hope this move will help you get the books you want in the formats you want. (As always, you can still buy the ebook directly on our site.)
November has been a fun month so far. Our company’s office is in the historic Quapaw District of Little Rock, AR. The houses here are named after the family who lived in there in 1890. The Mims family lived here, which means our house is the Mims House — which gave us the name for our publishing house.
The Cornbread Festival takes place each fall just a few blocks from our office in the SOMA (South on Main – Arts District) area of Little Rock. We decided to attend this year and support the neighborhood.
One of the great things about our office is that it came with beautiful landscaping. Pictured here are the sasanqua camellia bushes that bloom each November. They are a beautiful addition to the fall landscape here.
An international literacy movement has declared that November is Picture Book Month. Their blog includes a daily post by a picture book champion explaining why he/she thinks picture books are important. Here’s why I think picture books are important.
Then, one of my three daughters said, “Look at that cloud! The big, black cloud, all heavy with rain, that shadowed the ground on Kapiti Plain.” (Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain)
It sparked over an hour of conversation among my four kids about their favorite children’s picture books. Often, they quoted a line or two.
The list went on and on.
In other words, the picture books we had shared as they grew up had become warp and woof of our shared family life. That’s what literature does: stories, words, concepts, emotions–they burrow into our lives and enrich us in numerous ways. The more I thought about it, the more I was amazed at this simple truth: A deep and wide knowledge of literature – children’s literature specifically – carries through to adult life.
I had spent hours and hours going to the library to check out yet another stack of books, and then read and read for hours to the kids as they grew. Those were hours invested in a lives that I hoped would become thoughtful, sensitive, intelligent people.
My son is currently in gunsmithing school, learning to make and repair guns. He recently sent me a tirade of emails that shocked me. “Did you know,” he asked, “that no one here has ever heard of Aesop’s fables?”
He was outraged, that’s what shocked me – happily! He wanted to use the verbal shorthand that comes from quoting or referring to an Aesop’s fable. He might have said, “I may be a turtle on this project, but in the end, I’ll beat you rabbits.”
By that, he would mean that he’s working slowly, but steadily. By implication, he’s diligently doing the work with excellence; by contrast, the rabbits were speeding along, but maybe not doing the job with excellence.
Do you remember the story of A Bargain for Frances by Russell Hoban. In this gem, I learned diplomacy. Frances and her friend, Thelma, make a bargain for a tea set. When Frances realizes she’s been tricked, she tricks Thelma in return. At the end, Frances asks, “Do you want to be careful, or do you want to be friends?”
Indeed! Such wisdom from an unexpected source. Many times, I’ve been faced with someone whom I suspect of underhanded dealings, and I shake my head and whisper to myself, “Do you want to be careful, or do you want to be friends?”
What is a picture book? A simple 32-page story. A shared life. A shorthand for explaining a situation. A source of wisdom. They may be short, but they aren’t simple.
Wildlife illustrator Kitty Harvill, who lives in Brazil half the year, has been busy talking to students, teachers, and wildlife conservationists about her Brazil picture book, ABAYOMI, THE BRAZILIAN PUMA, which was released in Portuguese/Brazil earlier this year.
Along with her husband Cristoph Hrdina, a well-known conservationist in Brazil, she attended the Brazilian Congress of Conservation Units (CBUC), Latin America’s biggest international meeting on protected areas and nature conservation. As part of the conference, on September 23, Harvill painted live while the crowd watched. Other events pictured here include a school visit to the International School of Curitiba for their Green Day Celebration.
Click on the photos to see them full size – you’ll want to see Kitty’s painting full size for sure!
Are you ready to learn how to write during the month of November?
November is the National Novel Writing Month, a challenge for writers to produce 50,000 words toward a novel in a single month. If you write 50,000, you’re a winner! The challenge says nothing about the quality of the work, of course, but it’s a motivational tool to get you writing and writing a lot.
If you’re a writer, then this is your month to write! To make it easier, we’re offering a 10% discount on how-to-write books.
Does Halloween week put you in the mood for dark and creepy stories?
Personally, I don’t like horror stories and find few appropriate for kids. But sometimes a story pulls me in with its dark and disturbing plot. For just those moments when you want to something deliciously creepy, we suggest The Girl, the Gypsy and the Gargoyle.
But what if an unscrupulous sculptor could trap someone inside a block of stone, just so he could carve them? And can miracles come from tragedy? Threatened with the loss of the only home she’s known, Laurel listens to a proposal from Master Gimpel, a deformed stone carver. He intrigues Laurel and Jassy, her gypsy friend, when he offers a path to untold riches. Master Gimpel explains that his Troll’s Eye, a red jewel, is a doorway into the stone world where a treasure cave awaits. From the moment Laurel looks through the Troll’s Eye, she and her gypsy companion enter a dangerous race for their lives.
This is a rich, surprising and sometimes disturbing tale of gargoyles and those who carve the creatures from solid stone. There’s plenty of darkness in this cautionary tale that nevertheless pulls off not one, but two miracles—and in a surprising twist, brings Laurel home to stay.
As a member of the Children’s Book Council, Mims House participates in many of their special events and discussions of children’s books. This fall, the CBC is highlighting books that address the theme of good v. evil. They say,”Good and evil come in all forms, from superheroes to villains to bullies at school.” The list includes novels and chapter books.
We’re please to have a Featured Book on this list: Read more about Kell, the Alien, Book 1, The Alien’s, Inc. Series.
Besides the Featured Books, the CBC includes a longer list of chapter books and novels recommended for this theme. Read them here.
We woke up this morning to fall weather, with temperatures in the mid-50s. So I’m heading to the store this weekend to shop for fall clothing. Just like people need a regular change of clothes, books need updated covers. Our middle grade novel, the American fantasy, VAGABONDS, gets a new cover here.
For decades, the southern states have witnessed the relentless migration of vagabonds from Mexico. They are now found as far north as the Ozarks of southern Missouri. No one knows why they keep traveling north, ever northward. Until now.
In the tradition of classic middle grade novels, Charlotte’s Web or The Underneath comes the middle grade novel, the American fantasy, VAGABONDS, the saga of El Garro’s armadillo colony, the scouts and pioneers who have always been at the forefront of the migration. Rumors from their original homeland, the jungles far to the south, indicate that El Garro’s colony may be nearing the fabled Faralone Falls, where they will find the answer to why they have traveled northward for decades. Galen must leave the comfort of his den and lead the search party. Accompanying him are Victor, a representative of the southern clans, Corrie, who is El Garro’s daughter, and Blaze, the barn owl. Galen’s quest for answers plays out against the background of the armadillo colony who has never before challenged their nomadic way of life.
With luminous watercolor by Greta James, the cover firmly places this story in the Ozark mountains, at the heartland of the United States. This is a compelling read.
As ebooks has evolved over the last few years, they’ve started to move into the classroom. eBook pricing for school libraries has also evolved. School Library Journal explains the slow rise in this article. You can also read the SLJ 2015 eBook Usage Report here.
Most educational distributors now offer several options which are set individually by different publishers.
For this pricing, a school pays for each ebook and it’s licensed to be displayed on one and only one device at at time. This mimics the model for paper books–hardcover or paperback–where each copy is paid for separately, and treated as an individual object.
Another pricing model, however, recognizes that you only need to deliver the ebook once. However, if the ebook is displayed on multiple devices at at time, the publisher loses revenue. They’d rather sell 10 paper books than one ebook. This model is a compromise that allows school libraries some benefit, while also giving the publisher their due for publishing the book. Usually, this model says that a school library may purchase an ebook for a multi-book price, and then display it on unlimited devices at one time.
The industry is still in flux about how much to charge for the 1-to-unlimited model! Some Unlimited eBook licenses are double the price of the single ebook; some are 15 times as much. However, the industry seems to be settling somewhere around 6-8 times the single book price. The reasoning behind this is that a reading group at school is about 5 or 6 students, plus a teacher. That gives the publisher a reasonable chance of earning income for multiple reads at a time, while keeping the pricing reasonable for a school.
Of course, a Newbery award winning book, for example, may be in demand across multiple grades at the same time. In that case, publisher may choose a higher pricing, or may ask schools to pay for individual pricing.
Some publisher are also asking schools to pay for licensing their entire catalog of ebooks for a year. Arbordale Publishing, for example, has a proprietary app that allows access to their entire catalog, including the Spanish translations. Schools who opt in pay one price for comprehensive access, or you may pay for access for one classroom.
Mims House books has both 1-to-1 and 1-to-unlimited pricing available through our distributors: Follett School Solutions, Permabound, and Mackin. Download our catalog for full ordering info, and then check your preferred distribuor to order our ebooks.
When people move into a previously unpopulated area, one crucial question is where to build roads. Transportation, moving humans from one spot to another, is one of the basic functions needed for development. But often the human’s roads interrupt transportation for animals. Witness the phenomenon of road kill, which is only about 100 years old, entering the landscape with the advent of the automobile. In my area of the country, there are the jumping armadillos whose fright instinct is to jump straight up–where they hit the oncoming car and die.
Scientists have learned that one of the best ways to deal with a species need to travel through an urbanized area is to develop a wildlife corridor. Like a hallway from one wild place to another, the wildlife corridor tries to follow the species’ natural route and make it safe.
Some corridors provide ways for animals to travel under a major road, such as these tunnels.
Other corridors provide a green space for wildlife.
This large marsh in the San Berdnardino National Wildlife Refuge serves as a migratory corridor for wildlife between the mountain ranges of Mexico to the Rocky Mountains of Arizona and New Mexico.
Do you need writing prompts and writing inspiration for your students? And for yourself?
One of the hardest things about a writing assignment is deciding what to write about. Topic selection is a prewriting task that can involve writing prompts or just writing inspiration. Children’s book author, Darcy Pattison, provides professional materials for teachers aimed at prewriting activities; and her Read and Write Series provides inspiration for kids who must write an opinion or persuasive essay.
Writing for the Common Core is a teacher resource book with prewriting activities for narrative essays, persuasive essays, descriptive essay, fiction and much more. Oral storytelling is used as a way to sharpen the story before committing words to the page. For narratives–real or imagined–prewriting activities help identify the right details to include. Choosing appropriate vocabulary develops reading and writing skills.
The Read and Write series delights kids with a topic that inspires great writing. I Want a Dog: My Opinion Essay and I Want a Cat: My Opinion Essay focus on ten criteria for forming an opinion. My Crazy Dog: My Narrative Essay shows ways to determine the best details to include in a narrative essay.
All include an essay written by Dennis or Mellie that can be used as a mentor text–a text that models how an essay should be written.
When the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) came out, I studied them closely. (Hey, it’s all about close reading, right?) One thing stood out to me: in the CCSS, kids are never encouraged to read for pleasure.
That makes me sad. Reading is my favorite activity. Books are my friends. Within the pages of a book, I travel to far away places, become an adventurer, become a giant or an armadillo or a princess. Books—life without a book is sad.
And yet, I understand that the CCSS is about educating and teaching. I get it. Still, does it have to be a bitter pill all the time?
I thought back to the stories that I loved the best. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkein. As I read those stories, I learned vocabulary, how to deal with strangers, how to deal with evil, and so much more. Lessons don’t have to come as a bitter pill. Instead, they can be sugar-coated.
In a popular commercial for Life cereal, two boys discuss the cereal and decide that since it’s “good for you,” it must taste bad. Instead, they pass the cereal bowl to Mikey, who “hates everything.” Mikey LOVES the cereal.
“He likes it! Hey, Mikey!”
If you can’t see this video, click here.
As a writer, I aim to give kids a book they will read for pleasure. The Aliens, Inc. Series is written for kids to enjoy. In this easy chapter book series, Kell, Bree and the gang have great fun at birthday parties!
But I also try to make the book useful for teachers. Kell is constantly trying to figure out a problem by writing the W questions: who, what, where, when, why. Vocabulary is stretched but context provides a clue to word meaning. Each book focuses on a different subject matter, so kids are learning fact–and a song. Oh, and there’s an art project in each book. At the end, there’s a searching game that encourages kids to go back through the book and look for certain illustrations. Oh, there’s lots of learning in The Aliens, Inc. series. But most important for me, as the author, the books are fun.
Hey, Mikey! They like to read these books!
Yet, teachers will find lots to love here, too. In fact, the teacher’s guide for The Alien’s Inc. Series addresses all the CCSS standards that apply, especially for language arts lesson plans for 1st grade, 2nd grade, 3rd grade and 4th grade.
Have you always dreamed of writing a novel? Then today is the day to start!
I’ve taught novel revision since 1999, when I started a Novel Revision Retreat. (Email me for information on hosting a retreat in your area.) To attend the retreat, writers must have a completed novel; we spend the weekend talking about how to improve the novel. Many writers have had break throughs and gotten their first novel published.
A retreat for intermediate writers is fun. But I also wanted to do something for beginning writers.
After years of reading and critiquing manuscripts from beginners, I started to see some areas where I could help. First and most important, is to focus your idea. Often storytellers just begin writing and the story wanders hither and thither. Drifting around a story is a sure way to get lost.
I know–some of you are panicking because you think I’m going to ask you to outline. Well, sorta. You don’t have to have a full-blown outline (though it really helps beginners); but you do need something to focus the story. You need a plumb line that say, “No, that doesn’t belong in THIS story.”
Let’s take Cinderella as an example. Will the story focus on Cinderella’s poverty, her status as an orphan, the step-daughter/step-mother relationship or her relationship with her sisters?
Poverty: This is the story of how a young woman struggles to rise above her circumstances.
Orphan: A young woman struggles with an overwhelming grief and finds a measure of peace in her work, until a party invitation pulls her back to life.
Step-mother: A young woman longs for the mother she never had and allows an abusive relationship in the hope of someday earning love.
Step-sister: A young woman fights with her cruel step-sisters until she’s forced to abandon her childhood home in search of a better life.
If you take the time to think through a story, your first draft will be more focused–and more compelling. Any of these would make for an interesting retelling of the Cinderella story with a modern twist. Planning the story before you start to write will save you hours–and many tears!
Learn five more steps toward a great novel by reading this book.
Today is Video Day at Mims House. Did you know that many of our books have book trailers? If you want to use these in your classroom, but your school blocks YouTube, simply email me and I’ll give you a link to a DropBox version that you can download and show.
Ideas for a story come from many places. When I read Michelangelo’s quote, I wondered how something–or SOMEONE–would get into that stone. What if. . .
Stories are made from a series of “what if” questions.
What if there was something of value inside that block of stone?
What if there was a doorway into and out of that block of stone?
What if an unscrupulous sculptor could trap someone inside a block of stone, just so he could carve them?
Master Gimpel, a deformed stone carver, intrigues Laurel and Jassy, her gypsy friend, when he offers a path to untold riches. Master Gimpel explains that his Troll’s Eye, a red jewel, is a doorway into the stone world where a treasure cave awaits. From the moment Laurel looks through the Troll’s Eye, she and her gypsy companion enter a dangerous race for their lives. Two go in, two must come out.
Read an outtake! This prologue, which explains the back story of the Gargoyle Man , didn’t make it into the final story. It’s offered here as an extra to the novel.
Listen to narrator Paula Bodin’s lovely voice.
One of the most common questions about children’s books is about finding books for a certain topic. perhaps, you’re studying frogs with second graders, and you need a list of books for that lesson. Or you need books about stars and astronomy for first graders. Where do you find the right books?
I’ve been collecting these types of themed reading lists on a Pinterest board and I hope it will become a great resource for you.
You’ll find a collection of books here on all sorts of topics: stars, pirates, endangered animals, farms, fall, fractions and much more. If you have a topical list you’d like to see, please leave a comment and I’ll try to put together a list for you and pin to the board. If you know of other lists that have a great image, I’ll be glad to pin it.
Our other Pinterest boards that might be helpful:
Please send me ideas for Pins!
Elizabeth Bird of the Fuse8 Blog on the School Library Journal website, said this about animal biographies in general, and my book, Wisdom the Midway Albatross, in particular:
If I had a better knowledge of my nonfiction children’s history then I might be able to tell you the exact moment that biographies of individual animals took off. Technically we’ve seen them for years, in books like the Newbery Honor winning Rascal (which is considered nonfiction in spite of some creative liberties) from 1963. The picture book animal biography feels comparatively new to me. I think they may have existed in spurts here and there but in the last ten years there’s been a veritable explosion of them on the scene. This is a very good thing. When done well a good animal bio can provide insight into an otherwise unapproachable species, foster concern beyond our own human lives, and give a glimpse into the wider natural world. True to life incredible journeys of wild animals are difficult to tell, though. If the animal is truly wild then how do you extrapolate its life without relying on fantasy and conjecture? Wisdom: The Midway Albatross offers at least one solution to that question. Add history to facts to the glorious innovation of banding wild animals and you have yourself a bird bio that’s easy to distinguish from the flock.
Bird is right: animal biographies are capturing the imagination of folks more than ever before. When The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate won the 2013 Newbery, the most prestigious award in children’s literature, it highlighted the interest in animal biographies. She followed the fictionalized version of Ivan’s life with a nonfiction version, Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla. Applegate had originally wanted to write the nonfiction story, but took the leap into fiction. And we’re glad she finally managed both.
Mims House has two animal biographies available, and a third coming out in Fall, 2016.
You see a children’s picture book online that you think you’ll like. But it’s hard to justify spending money until you examine it closer. Mims House has just made that easier than ever with a Pinterest Preview book. We’ve put an ENTIRE book on a Pinterest board for you to preview.
Follow Darcy Pattison – Children’s Book Author’s board I WANT A DOG on Pinterest.
If you can’t see the preview of the board, click here.
For over twenty years, I’ve taught professional development classes on the topic of teaching kids to write. I constantly look for children’s books that teach writing in fun and exciting ways, that I believe will actually be useful. Fun, exciting and useful? It’s a hard combination!
Finally, I decided to write the book I’d been looking for. And it’s turned into a series, THE READ AND WRITE SERIES.
The biggest problem kids have in writing opinion essays is basing their opinions on solid facts or reasons. In I WANT A DOG and I WANT A CAT, cousins Dennis and Mellie discuss what kind of dog or cat to get. They use nine criteria to evaluate different breeds of dogs or cats. For dogs, they look at:
For cats, they discuss:
To these criteria, a classroom teacher or parent might add even more criteria: family tradition of breeds, cost, allergy concerns, adaptability to local weather, male or female, availability in your area, and specific needs such as a cat to show or a dog trained as a duck hunter.
Dog and cat experts praise these books:
“. . .remarkable children’s book. . .” Fred Kampo, President of the Labrador Retriever Club
“. . .absolutely delightful. . .” Joan Miller, Cat Fancier’s Association
“. . .as informative a cat book as any text out there. . .” Alexis Mitchell, Maine Coon Cat Breeders of CFA
“I would highly recommend this book to young writers.” Julie Keyer, CFA Breed Council Secretary, Oriental Cats
But you don’t have to take their word for it.
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MIMS HOUSE: Featuring books by author Darcy Pattison