Happy Holidays! I’m sure many of you are ready to usher in a brighter new year. But before you turn the page on 2021, please join me in shining a light on a sample of the wonderful posts that were offered this past year by our incredibly talented group of contributors. I’ve been humbled and honored to undertake the challenge of choosing one post per author since writing my first annual review way back in 2017. Without further ado, let the 2021 Writers’ Rumpus Review begin!
WRITING WITH INANIMATE OBJECTS
This post will have you wishing you were one of Ms. Potoma’s lucky middle school drama students. Happily, Alison is willing to share her creative exercise with all of us in this immensely enjoyable March 19, 2021 post.
Carrie Charley Brown
THE IMPACT OF AUTHOR VISITS
As an elementary school librarian, Carrie has already brought 11 virtual author visits to her students. This April 27, 2021 post highlights two especially impactful visits: the first from Kirsti Call and Carrie Rosen Schwarz; the second from Keila V. Dawson and Janette Bradley.
INTERVIEW WITH JANIE REINART
Cathy’s September 7, 2021 interview with the multi-talented Janie Reinart is uplifting, inspirational, and heartwarming, the antidote when you find yourself feeling a bit blue. I was completely blown away that the publisher is donating proceeds from When Water Makes Mud to Unicef!
Carol Gordon Ekster
MEET LORI SNYDER, #KIDLIT WRITER AND YOGI
In this August 10, 2021 post, Carol introduces us to the amazing Lori Snyder, author of this fascinating novel, yogi, and founder of the Writers’ Happiness Movement, which she started to help spread happiness, kindness, equity, and art into the world.
STARFISH, by LISA FIPPS
In this beautifully written August 6, 2021 post, Hilary introduces readers to a middle grade novel written in verse that begins with this compelling introduction: “To every kid who’s ever been told, “You’d be so pretty or handsome, if…” You ARE beautiful. Now. Just as you are. You deserve to be seen, to be heard, to take up room, to be noticed. So when the world tries to make you feel small, starfish!” I was inspired to read this novel after reading Hilary’s post, and trust me when I say, everyone should read it.
Joyce Audy Zarins
ABOUT THE HOOK
This October 22, 2021 post grabbed me hook, line, and sinker! Joyce starts off by posing this question: What lures a teen to read a multi-hundred-page book? Whether the hook is the cover blurb, the title itself, or the first few lines, the novels Joyce selects to prove the power of the hook are guaranteed to end up on your bookshelf.
THE DESIGN OF AN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL LIBRARY
(October 8, 2021) In Part 1 of a two part series, Keri provides the inside scoop on how teacher’s prepare their in-classroom libraries before students arrive. Having worked in the field of elementary education for 21 years, Keri’s insights are invaluable, so I urge to read on! Part 2, Readability: What it Means in an Elementary Classroom, posted on December 10th.
INTERVIEW WITH DEBUT AUTHOR, MELANIE ELLSWORTH
Kim’s May 14, 2021 interview with debut author Melanie Ellsworth is pure delight from start to finish. Hip Hip Beret sets gorgeous pictures to variations on hip, hip hooray. Clarinet & Trumpet is an absolute hoot that my whole family enjoyed: if you’re a musician, this needs to live on your bookshelf!
3 WAYS TO INFUSE MOOOOSIC INTO YOUR STORY PLUS GIVEAWAY!!!
The giveaway may be over, but in this March 16, 2021 post, rhymer extraordinaire Kirsti offers timeless advice on how to infuse mooosic (music) into your picture books. In this adorably helpful post, readers can actually listen to the wonderful song that Kirsti’s daughter wrote for the Cow Says Meow launch! Here’s my advice: read (and watch) this post and then get (or give) this absolutely adorable book.
Laura Fineberg Cooper
FLASHBACKS: A TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE
It always feels odd to talk about my own posts, but this one, which aired way back on February 23, 2021, seems most appropriate to include as I flash back to a diverse sampling of posts from 2021. Flashbacks are a wonderful writer’s tool to include your personal arsenal if used properly. Find out how in this post.
THERE GOES PATTI MCGEE! INTERVIEW WITH TOOTIE NIENOW, DEBUT AUTHOR, AND ERIKA MEDINA, ILLUSTRATOR
A 4th grade teacher, Lexi knows how much her students love a good picture book biography. I have no doubt that There Goes Patti McGee! Story of the First Women’s Skateboarding Champion has been a huge hit. After reading Lexi’s February 26, 2021 interview (of both the author and illustrator) and book review, you might be inspired to write a picture book biography yourself.
LET’S KEEP THE CONVERSATION GOING PART TWO…
This April 6, 2021 post is so powerfully thought provoking, I had to include it in this year’s review. Here’s a quote from Marti: I never really understood systemic racism, but I see it now as the hateful, judgmental, fear- and greed-inspired, ignorant reality that it is. I need to learn more so that I can be part of the change that must happen. Marti shares a treasure trove of novels that help readers to open their hearts and minds toward acceptance for all, and invites us to add to this critical conversation.
NEW PICTURE BOOKS!
In this March 9, 2021 post, Marcia shares a lovely quartet of picture books that express the themes of kindness, friendships, imagination, and understanding, perfect for the holidays, whenever you need a lift, or any time you want to let someone know you care. In this insightful and informative post, Marcia delves beyond the standard plot summaries and into the illustrations, book dimensions, and more.
DECEMBER PICTURE BOOK OPPORTUNITIES
Marianne, our fearless leader, offers a HUGE service to picture book writers and illustrators by rounding up a plethora of opportunities, some free and some with a fee, every single month! If you failed to take advantage of December’s opportunities, which aired on November 30, 2021, it’s not too late to give this one more look, because Marianne includes a few January events that allow advance registration. If you’re looking for middle grade and young adult opportunities, don’t despair: Lexi Donahue and Marti Johnson have that covered in their monthly posts!
HUSTLE CULTURE, OVEREXTENSION, AND WRITER BURNOUT
Rebecca wrote this post on June 18, 2021, but her message resonates any time you’re feeling overextended and completely overwhelmed. While most posts extoll the virtue of critique groups and building an author’s platform, Rebecca explains that there is such a thing as spreading yourself too thin. Give yourself permission to read this post and heed its advice: you’ll be so glad you did.
That’s a wrap! I wish one and all a safe, healthy, joyous 2022.
I so enjoy these year-end wrap-ups, especially if I’m able to rediscover a forgotten post or even moreso if I realize I’ve missed one!
Great recap, Laura! These were some of my favorites, too.
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Thank you, Hilary! I always feel like a kid in a candy factory when choosing which of the amazing posts to include in my annual review.