Thursday, June 20, 2013

Happy Birthday Tara Lazar - June 21

Happy Birthday Tara Lazar - June 21

There have been occasions the timing has been almost perfect for discovering a new author birthday.  Then other times I had to wait many months to celebrate with my family. There have been occasions life was just too busy to celebrate. Then other times we were fortunate to celebrate more than one birthday in the same week.

I have intentions of celebrating all the birthdays I jot down in my planner.  I don't know if I will get to them all.  But the feeling I get from celebrating an author that I have been wanting to celebrate for a long time really keeps me moving forward.

It was well over a year ago when Tara Lazar told me her birthday. I added her birthday to my planner despite her saying that it would be quite some time until her picture books would be published.  Last year on June 21, we exchanged a quick Twitter conversation:

Fast forward to this year....Tara Lazar's debut picture book, The Monstore, was available for pre-order from Amazon and was delivered to our home on June 8! Sometimes the timing IS absolutely perfect for celebrating an author birthday.

Tara Lazar had a passion for writing for children well before publishing The Monstore. In grade school, she wrote a picture book with a friend and convinced her great-grandparents it was really published. (Kimmie Poppins) In junior high, she wrote many popular stories that were "photocopied and read for a buck in the bathroom." (Heather Ayris Burnell). More recently in 2008, she created PiBoIdMo, a challenge held every year to inspire children's picture book writers to come up with 30 picture book ideas in 30 days. Tara's future as a children's author is bright. She is following up The Monstore with two more picture books, I Thought This Was a Bear Book (2014) and Little Red Gliding Hood (2015).

I asked Tara if she would be willing to share a birthday memory or tradition. She came up with two childhood birthday memories you will really enjoy:

I remember my fifth birthday party when my mother bought me a hula outfit. I loved it immediately and put it on in the bathroom, where no one could see me. But then she begged me to come out and show the family. Well, there was my handsome teenage cousin there! I couldn't let him see me in a bikini and grass skirt! I would not come out of the bathroom. My mother begged and pleaded with me, but I would not budge. Then she said, "Oh your cousin Robert went home." So I opened the door a crack and peeked through. I didn't see him. So I hula'ed on out. My mother led me to the patio where the entire family was assembled, downing burgers and potato salad. And there was Robert! AHHHHHH! I screamed, ran back into the bathroom and slammed the door. I was so embarrassed I didn't come out for a good half hour, after I stuffed the hula outfit in the shower and put regular clothes back on!

My father has a very dry sense of humor. For my eighth birthday, we had a bowling party. My father told the kids we were "bowling for dinner" (like the old game show "Bowling for Dollars"). One girl took him seriously. "Is it true we can't have a burger unless we bowl a strike?" Poor girl, I had to explain my father's warped sense of humor. Which, by the way is where I get mine from!

Thank you Tara for sharing your birthday memories! I want to congratulate you once again on your first published picture book! Our family really enjoyed it!

The Monstore "sells only the most useful monsters, just right for doing tricky things around the house".  Zack purchases a monster to help him with his bothersome little sister. He quickly becomes an unsatisfied Monstore-customer and tries to return the "broken" monster only to learn that there are "NO RETURNS. NO EXCHANGES."  Zack tries other monsters that specialize in handling annoying-little sister-behavior, but with each purchase his situation gets more and more awful.  In the end, Zack finds out that maybe the monsters weren't broken after all and that they did help ease some of the tension in his relationship with his sister.

The monsters in the book, illustrated by James Burks, are really awesome!  My favorite was the  "Glow-in-the-Dark" monster, a one-eyed monster that provides light for a child while they read under the covers.  I couldn't help thinking about my own children who all love reading in their beds with flashlights and head lamps.  This illustration sparked an idea for a project that I knew they were going to love.
I wanted to make something, for quite some time, that incorporated the solar light component of the inexpensive, popular walkway lights that are available at just about every store right now. After reading The Monstore, we brainstormed a way of taking the top of the walkway light and making the "Glow-in-the-Dark" monster.
It didn't take long and my children began creating their monsters with plastic containers and colored tape.
My oldest son chose to use craft feathers too! 
My kids were really into this project! Here is how you can create your own:
We started with a plastic container. We used 32 oz. yogurt containers, large cottage cheese containers and large Coffee-mate coffee cream bottles.
We covered the container with colored tape.
We cut a metal coat hanger to size, drilled a small hole in the center of the container, pushed the coat hanger through the hole and then secured it with tape.
Then, we used two clear yogurt container lids (the kind of yogurt that come with the granola on top) to make what would be the eye of the "Glow-in-the-Dark" monster.
First, I cut a hole in the back lid so the solar panel would be visible. Then, I taped the back lid to the front lid so the solar light component was secure.  
The monster eye was then taped to the coat hanger.  I bent the coat hanger until it was balanced and could stand on its own without tipping over.
A mouth, tooth, and legs were added to complete this useful monster.
I told you he was excited about his project!
A MONSTORE face from my youngest son!
My oldest daughter made a multi-colored-rainbow-peace-sign-Glow-in-the-Dark monster! Check out the Monster Care Instructions sheet she designed below!  Free to download!
We won't be returning or exchanging this monster to The Monstore.  He works just fine!
Please pin this picture!


1. Tara Lazar's website
2. Follow Tara Lazar on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest
3. Why Picture Books are Important by Tara Lazar - Picture Book Month
4. Interviews - Mr. Schu Reads, InkyGirl, Heather Ayris Burnell's Blog, Luke Reynold's Blog, Literary Friendships, Kimmie Poppin's Blog, Design of the Picture Book, HeyLOOKaWRITERfellow
5. THE MONSTORE activity sheets - SimonKids
Click here to download!

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