Saturday, July 6, 2013

Happy Birthday Marsha Diane Arnold - July 7

Happy Birthday Marsha Diane Arnold - July 7

In the past three years I have asked over one hundred authors and illustrators to share their birthdays. Experience has taught me that it sounds a lot less creepy if I explain Happy Birthday Author before asking the sometimes awkward question, "When is your birthday?" Almost every author and illustrator has happily shared their birthday, but often it has been followed up with, "But, don't share the year I was born." This is something I have honored every time, because I know age can bring a wide range of emotions.

Joshua Summerhayes, the main character in The Pumpkin Runner by Marsha Diane Arnold, was described as "getting up in the years." Sure, those words are appropriate for a children's book because, in the eyes of a child, he is old. However, I didn't feel comfortable writing those words in my summary, especially after spending the day with my father.  He is of the same age as Joshua Summerhayes, and is successfully reinventing himself with a new business venture.  He is busier then ever, but he loves the excitement of having a new project, a new challenge, no matter what his age.

When I think about my dad and the authors and illustrators I have featured on this blog, age is immaterial. I think instead about the accomplishments, the passions, the stories, and the energy of the individuals. This is what I celebrate.

Marsha Diane Arnold is the author of eleven books for children including Roar of a Snore and Prancing, Dancing Lily. The first ten years of her career were spent writing a syndicated column, homegrown treasures, that reflected upon her experiences raising her two children. After writing the award-winning column and many stories for children's magazines she published her first picture book. "My first book, Heart of a Tiger, was rejected 13 times before I found the editor who loved it as much as I did. It's my top award winner now." (Banana Peelin'). More award winning books have followed, along with numerous school visits all over the world.  (I would usually finish this paragraph with the author's latest news, but I don't want to spoil what Marsha has to share!)

I contacted Marsha to ask if she would be willing to share a birthday memory or story. I received this wonderful response that is filled with memories and news to celebrate!

From ten years old through high school, my birthdays always seemed to revolve around a slumber party. My mother made my birthday cake using Great Aunt Beryl's chocolate cake recipe. My father made homemade ice cream the old-fashioned way, with ice and rock salt and taking turns at the cranking, until our arms grew tired.

Luckily, I have a picture of my very first birthday. It's of myself with a yummy-looking cake in a little red wagon, my first birthday gift. The dress I wore is special; I kept it over 30 years and dressed my daughter in it for her first birthday party. My daughter and I hope my new granddaughter, just born on May 21st, will wear it next year for her first birthday.

Even more fun than celebrating my birthday is celebrating the birthday of someone I love. Planning birthday parties for my children was always a delight. When they were young they'd sit on a high "Birthday Chair" as they opened their gifts. Sometimes I made flower wreaths for my daughter's hair. And I often made Great Aunt Beryl's chocolate cake and my father's homemade ice cream, just as my parents did for me.

This birthday, my 65th, is extra special because is celebrating my books and me. What a delightful surprise! This is also a special birthday because I've just sold a new manuscript to the fabulous Neal Porter at Neal Porter Books, Roaring Brook Press and I get to meet him in New York City next week. I'd love to celebrate my birthday with again after Lost.Found. is launched.

Birthdays! The celebration of our first day on earth. May they always be filled with delightful surprises...for all of us.

(Congratulations, Marsha! What a fabulous birthday present!)

I picked Marsha's book, The Pumpkin Runner, as the featured book for our birthday celebration activity.  In this story, Joshua Summerhayes, a sheep rancher spent most of his life running all over his ranch to check on his sheep herds. He never used a jeep or a truck or a tractor. How did he have the energy to just run and run and run? The pumpkins from his pumpkin patch kept his belly full. His running companion, Yellow Dog helped too. You'll find out at the end of the book that his energy really came from the fact that he just liked to run. Marsha Diane Arnold described more about this book with California Readers, "My book The Pumpkin Runner was inspired by a real man, an Australian farmer named Cliff Young. He was 61 years old when he entered a 500 mile race from Melbourne to Sydney. People laughed because they thought he was too old to run in an ultra-marathon. But Cliff won the race and ran it two days faster than anyone else ever ran that race."

Joshua Summerhayes ate lots of pumpkins during the ultra-marathon.  Sometimes he ate them by the slice. Other times he ate pumpkin stew and pumpkin seed pudding.  I thought it would be fun for my children to come up with a few pumpkin recipes of their own to help Joshua Summerhayes win the Koala-K Race.

I gathered up all the ingredients that we had in the kitchen to make No-Bake Pumpkin Energy Bites and placed them on our kitchen table.
My children examined the ingredients and compiled a list of what they thought would make a tasty energy bite. There was only one rule -- their recipe had to include pumpkin!
My oldest son used the packages to help spell the words for his list.
After we discussed the ingredients we decided it would be best to make two batches. My daughter and my youngest son worked together on the first batch. She prepared ingredients and he added them to the mixing bowl.
Her recipe called for 1/4 cup of peanut butter.
My youngest son is always excited when he gets to turn on the mixer.
I think this looks like a good reason to get excited! Yum!
After mixing, brother and sister worked together to roll their pumpkin energy bites into bite size balls.
Meanwhile, my oldest son started on his recipe!
Are you hungry yet?
Here are the recipes created by my children:

Recipe #1:

1 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup crushed/ground cereal (we used Total Whole Grain flakes)
1/2 cup coconut
1/4 cup ground flax seed meal
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup Nestle Dark Chocolate Morsels
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Add all the ingredients to your mixer. Mix on low until combined. Roll into balls and enjoy! Makes about two dozen energy bites.

Recipe #2:

1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 cup of crushed/ground cereal (we used Total Whole Grain flakes)
1/2 cup Nestle Dark Chocolate Morsels
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup honey
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. vanilla

Add all the ingredients to your mixer. Mix on low until combined. Roll into balls and enjoy! Makes about two dozen energy bites.
No Bake Pumpkin Energy Bites
Yum! Both recipes were delicious and would certainly give an energy boost to any runner! 
(Or blogger -- I ate quite a few while writing this post!)
We didn't use the whole can of pumpkin puree, so my wife and I told the kids to go into the living room while we made another treat. Of course, there was some peeking!
We whipped up a batch of pumpkin energy smoothies that were a hit!
The energy bites and smoothies were filling enough that we didn't have to make lunch!
Here is the recipe for the Pumpkin Smoothies:

3 frozen bananas
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
1/4 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup honey
3 cups milk

Add all the ingredients to the blender. Blend until smooth. Makes three tall smoothies. Don't forget  the whipped cream and orange sprinkles!

Thank you again Marsha, for sharing your birthday memories and photos.  I appreciate that you took the time to share all the stories on such short notice!  We hope you have a wonderful birthday and we are so happy that you will be publishing another book soon!

Read Marsha Diane Arnold's books today! Download at the App Store:

Prancing Dancing Lily is also available for Android. Click Here!

1. Marsha Diane Arnold's website + great activities
2. Follow Marsha on Facebook and Twitter
3. Marsha Diane Arnold's Blogs - Story Magician Blog and Earth's Voices
4. Marsha Diane Arnold talks about the end of her 7 year drought - Picture Book Academy
5. Want to do more with The Pumpkin Runner? Check out what one elementary school did - StoryMagician
6. Interviews - Banana Peelin', Writer Jenn, California Readers, Clement Creations, Start at the Beginning Blog
7. Writing Wonderful Character Driven Picture Books with Marsha Diane Arnold - Picture Book Academy
8.  Audio/Video Interview about Prancing Dancing Lily - Progressive Dairyman

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