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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Happy Birthday, Aaron Reynolds - June 4

Happy Birthday, Aaron Reynolds - June 4

I apologize for our hiatus during the month of May. Our family became obsessed with gardening. We were busy planning, tilling, hauling, sowing, and planting to create two new gardens; a plot of veggies at our city's community garden and a flower garden dedicated to attracting butterflies in our backyard. All the hard work made us TIRED! We still read books every night before bed beginning with my children asking, "What author's birthday is today?" and ending with them falling asleep before I finished reading all the books. After I carried them to bed, I couldn't muster the energy or the brain power to write a blog post.

Thankfully, our gardens are in! The heavy lifting is done and I no longer worry about what to do next or if there is going to be a frost to damage our tender tomato plants. Now our time will be spent pulling weeds, watering, and hoping our gardens grow! This week we got back into the swing of things by celebrating Aaron Reynolds' birthday with prank that we hope brings smiles to the faces of our gardening friends!

Aaron Reynolds is the author of over 25 books for children including Back of the Bus, Snowbots, and Creepy Carrots. He had two teachers that made a huge impact on his life and helped him find a love of books. In fifth grade, Mr. Hunter read to Aaron's class every day and inspired him to "love books." (Mazza Museum Keynote 2014). The books he loved were written by Beverly Cleary, Roald Dahl, and E.L. Konigsburg (MacMillan and Aaron-Reynolds.com). In ninth grade, Mrs. Simpson allowed him to perform his end of the year project and he went on to graduate from Illinois Wesleyan University with a degree in Music Theatre.

Aaron began his career as actor, but then attended culinary school and became a chef. (Writing Teazurs). Later, he returned to the acting world, but this time as a writer and soon began to dabble with writing for children. "I was 28 years old, was working full-time writing scripts and plays and sometimes curriculum for kids. I loved kids books and decided I would try to write one. My first efforts were terrible. I made all the classic first-timer blunders and the rejection letters gushed forth!" (KidsBook Friends). In an interview with Unity Jr. High (embedded below) he said there were 390 rejections!  Eventually after "5 years of really hard trying" he published his first picture book Chicks and Salsa in 2004.

Aaron followed up Chicks and Salsa with Buffalo Wings (his culinary background was shining through in his first two books!), then came two graphic novels series, Tiger Moth, Insect Ninja and Joey Fly, Private Eye and numerous other picture books, including Metal Man and Superhero School.

In 2012, Aaron hit it big with Creepy Carrots, illustrated by Peter Brown, which was awarded a Caldecott Honor in 2013. Fellow-author, Tara Lazar asked Aaron about how he felt when Creepy Carrots made the New York Times Best Seller List, "Woozy. I literally almost fainted. In the back of your head you dream that something like this might someday happen, but don't really expect it to." (Writing for Kids [While Raising Them]). His latest books are Carnivores and Here Comes Destructo-Saurus! Be on the look out for his next book Nerdy Birdy coming September 2015, it might just be Aaron's next New York Times Bestseller! Oh...remember those acting skills he acquired in high school and college, Aaron puts those good use when he visits school across the country! He is amazing on stage!

Aaron Reynolds, author of Creepy Carrots

I am sure that you are probably not surprised to hear that our gardening family really, REALLY loves Creepy Carrots.

Jasper Rabbit loves carrots too, but not the creepy kind. His favorite place to snack on carrots is at Crackenhopper Field, but one day Jasper feels that someone or something is watching him. He even hears a strange noise....tunktunktunk. Jasper thinks, it must be the carrots. He starts seeing carrots everywhere and is completely creeped out! His mom and dad try to help him over his fear, but Jasper takes matters into his own hands to make sure no creepy carrots ever get out of Crackenhopper Field again.

This week, we were watching over a friend's garden while they were on vacation. Their garden is off to a great start and our job was to water the garden to keep the tomatoes, cucumbers, peas, and carrots growing. Did I say carrots? YES! And we had an idea that would hopefully bring a surprise when they returned home.
Activity idea for Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds, Peter Brown via www.happybirthdayauthor.com
I told my youngest two children that we were going to make some CREEPY CARROTS to put in our friend's garden for them to find when they came home from vacation. We read Creepy Carrots and my son planned out how he was going to make carrots just like the ones from the book.
Activity idea for Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds, Peter Brown via www.happybirthdayauthor.com
We found a few pieces of scrap wood and drew a carrot shape with a pencil. 
Activity idea for Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds, Peter Brown via www.happybirthdayauthor.com
I used the saw to cut out the carrot shapes and my little helpers sanded the edges.
Activity idea for Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds, Peter Brown via www.happybirthdayauthor.com
Next, they painted the carrots orange.
Activity idea for Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds, Peter Brown via www.happybirthdayauthor.com
He has learned that paint dries more quickly if you spread the paint evenly.
Activity idea for Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds, Peter Brown via www.happybirthdayauthor.com
He painted craft sticks brown. These would be used to stick the carrots into the ground. We thought the brown paint would blend into the color of the soil.
Activity idea for Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds, Peter Brown via www.happybirthdayauthor.com
We used wood glue to attach the craft sticks to the back of the carrots.
Activity idea for Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds, Peter Brown via www.happybirthdayauthor.com
We used green craft sticks and pipe cleaners to make the carrot leaves.
Activity idea for Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds, Peter Brown via www.happybirthdayauthor.com
They worked as a team to glue the pipe cleaners to the craft sticks. I also added a staple to make sure the pipe cleaner was secure.
Activity idea for Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds, Peter Brown via www.happybirthdayauthor.com
Wood glue was used to attached the green craft sticks to the carrots.
Activity idea for Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds, Peter Brown via www.happybirthdayauthor.com
It was time to make our carrots CREEPY! We used googily eyes to match the illustrations in the book.
Activity idea for Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds, Peter Brown via www.happybirthdayauthor.com
They worked together again to attach the eyes.
Activity idea for Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds, Peter Brown via www.happybirthdayauthor.com
Sharpie markers were used to add mean eyebrows and mouths!
Activity idea for Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds, Peter Brown via www.happybirthdayauthor.com
So creepy!!
Activity idea for Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds, Peter Brown via www.happybirthdayauthor.com
He said, "I made this one look just like the one in the book."
Activity idea for Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds, Peter Brown via www.happybirthdayauthor.com
Well...maybe this one was more cute than creepy!
Activity idea for Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds, Peter Brown via www.happybirthdayauthor.com
On the back of each carrot I wrote a message.
Activity idea for Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds, Peter Brown via www.happybirthdayauthor.com
Do you follow Happy Birthday Author on Pinterest? Please pin this picture!
Activity idea for Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds, Peter Brown via www.happybirthdayauthor.com
We picked three of our CREEPY CARROTS and took them to our friend's house.
Activity idea for Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds, Peter Brown via www.happybirthdayauthor.com
They placed them in their garden right by the carrots sprouts!
Activity idea for Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds, Peter Brown via www.happybirthdayauthor.com
I think they are going to be surprised to see that creepy carrots grew while they were on vacation!
Activity idea for Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds, Peter Brown via www.happybirthdayauthor.com
Our prankster-fun didn't stop there. We went to our community garden where we have our vegetable garden. Our friends have a plot right next to us. Last week, they planted carrot seeds. Amazingly, they are going to find out that they already have full grown CREEPY CARROTS!
Activity idea for Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds, Peter Brown via www.happybirthdayauthor.com
We think every gardener needs to read this book!
Activity idea for Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds, Peter Brown via www.happybirthdayauthor.com
Here is our garden plot! No creepy carrots here. Only SCARY SQUASH and TERRIFYING TOMATOES!
Aaron! We hope you have a wonderful birthday! It was so awesome to meet you at the Mazza Museum last summer. Thanks for sharing your birthday with us.


Pre-order Aaron Reynolds' next book, NERDY BIRDY! It will be released on September 22, 2015!



Links:
1. Aaron Reynolds' Website
2. Follow Aaron Reynolds on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr
3. Interviews - Writing Teazurs, Author Turf, KidsBookFriends, BookieWoogie, Jama's Alphabet Soup, Tara Lazar, Macmillan
4. Let's Get Busy Podcast Interview - Click Here
5. Carnivores Teacher's Guide from Chronicle Books - Click Here
6. Why Picture Books Are Important by Aaron Reynolds - Picture Book Month

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