Happy Birthday Susanna Leonard Hill - April 14
Iza Trapani). In many interviews including one with Miss Marple's Musings Susanna talks about being a mom and a writer, "My routine for writing is as follows: Write whenever I have time! Even though writing is my career, my first duty is to my family." Despite this commitment to her family, she has managed to publish ten books for children including the very popular April Fool, Phyllis! that just went on a World Tour. In addition to the books she has a very successful website and blog that helps teachers with lesson ideas, parents with book recommendations, and aspiring writer's with advice.
12 x 12 in 2012 Picture Book Writing Challenge. With so many great books to choose from I wasn't surprised that a birthday celebration activity came easily. My two boys loved her book No Sword Fighting in the House. It is a story about two brothers, their gardening-award-seeking-mother, a couple of cows, and ruined daffodils. From an interview with Just Children's Books, "When my son was 3, he was very interested in knights. My husband thought it would be a great idea to make the kids little wooden swords (they were 5, 3, and 1 mind you!) Then, as an after-thought, he made them cardboard helmets (something backwards there.) Predictably, the kids loved them. They ran around the house and jumped all over the furniture swinging their swords and yelling, and I did have to say, "No sword fighting in the house!"
My thoughts were in sync with Susanna's husband. However, instead of wooden swords and cardboard helmets I had the idea to make swords (or light sabers) out of a common swimming pool accessory.
|We measured our swimming "noodle" and marked it at the middle.|
|We cut the noodle in half using a kitchen knife.|
|We covered one end with duct tape to make the grip handle. My son chose to use the shiny tape.|
|We used regular duct tape for my younger son's sword. I wrapped enough tape around to cover the "noodle" completely to make a nice grip.|
|We used Sharpie markers to add buttons and controls to our sword! My son said that one of this buttons made his sword go "super fast"!|
|The little man was really serious about his sword decorating.|
|The seriousness didn't last long when it came time to fight! And yes, we were sword fighting in the house!|
|For on this afternoon my children inspired me to be the best dad I could be. I was able to walk away from the computer and chores to spend time playing swords with my dudes!|
The most obvious birthday memory is that my dad always made birthday hunts for us. I have two brothers and a sister, and from the time we were 3 (when my dad would read the clues to us) until we were about 13 (except for my older brother who got a hunt until he was 16), every year we would wake up the morning of our birthday to find a piece of paper taped to the headboard of the bed. "Good Morning! Happy Birthday!" followed by a clue! The clues were riddles, codes, mirror writing, crosswords, symbols, anagrams -- you name it, my dad did it. The older we got, the harder the clues got. Each clue would lead us to a present, with the next clue taped on it. We would collect all the presents one at a time as we solved the clues and found them, depositing them on my parents' bed. Only when we'd found them all would we start opening. It was totally fun. And we all helped each other :) The clues were challenging enough anyway, but on a school morning there was also a time limit :) It was these hunts that gave me the treasure hunt idea for April Fool, Phyllis! (And one of the reasons the book is dedicated to my sibs!) It was such a part of my childhood that I continued the tradition with my own children.
I also remember my 6th birthday party. We lived in New York City, across the street from Central Park. For my 6th birthday, we took my friends, a picnic, and birthday cake to the meadow where we climbed on the rocks and flew a kite (not at the same time:)) It was very breezy that day -- perfect for the kite, but a challenge for my mom to light the candles on the cake.
My 8th birthday was my first slumber party. I had desperately wanted one, and agonized over who to invite, because my mom said no more than 6 friends. We borrowed a book of scary stories from the school library and read it in the dark by flashlight -- very spooky! I still remember one about a vampire who had to be stopped by pressing a silver cross into his forehead! But what my mom remembers is that I was sound asleep by 10pm, while the rest of my friends were up well into the wee hours to my parents' considerable lack of amusement!
Happy Birthday Susanna! My family had so much fun reading the Phyllis books, Can't Sleep Without Sheep, and No Sword Fighting in the House! We hope you have a wonderful birthday and we want to thank you for sharing so many of your birthday memories!
1. Susanna Leonard Hill's Website + Blog + ACTIVITY IDEAS!
2. Susanna Leonard Hill - Facebook, YouTube,
3. Interviews - The Reading Tub, Just Children's Books, Clarbojahn's Blog + part 2, Iza Trapani's In and Out of My Studio, Miss Marple's Musings
4. Perfect Picture Book Friday Catalog
5. Phyllis's World Tour