Miss A Columnist

Melissa Wenzel is a freelance writer and public relations consultant. After graduating from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Telecommunications at Arizona State University, Melissa went to work for a boutique public relations/public affairs agency where she cut her teeth in the business by working on some of the state’s most polarizing elections and controversial public figures. Two years later, in need of a little soul cleansing, Melissa took a job with the American Red Cross where she worked media and crisis communications in the wake of local and national disasters, including Hurricane Katrina.
After her twins, Jonathan and James were born in 2007, Melissa returned to work part-time before starting her own consulting and freelance writing business in 2009.

When she and her husband are not chasing, or being chased by their four year old boys, Melissa can be found elbow-deep in cake batter or pouring over a new book. She’s currently trying to muster the courage to learn to scuba dive. Read Melissa’s musings on life with her light saber wielding twins at Musings of a Twin Mama. To learn more about her work, visit www.melissawenzel.com. If you have something for moms, children or families that you would like covered on Miss A, please email Melissa at melissa@melissawenzel.com.

New Children’s Books Awarded In This Year’s Top Prizes

When I look at my sons’ bookshelf, packed full of books, I sometimes wonder how some of the stuff ever gets published. While the majority of what’s published in children’s literature is fantastic, I feel there are some that slip through the cracks. For example, one my five year old twins’ favorites is an alphabet book that uses “toots” to describe the letter “t.” Certain books are simply geared toward boys (and their sense of humor) to get them to read.  I get it. And if an illustrated truck that calls another truck a “pottyhead” will get them reading, I’m in – just not enthusiastically.

There are, however, certain books that guarantee a great read – the Newbery and Caldecott Award winners. So, if you are looking for quality books to get your kids, check out the 2012 Newberry and Caldecott Award winners.

There’s not a potty joke in sight.

Photo Credit: www.ala.org


2012 Newbery Award Winner

Author Jack Gantos’ colorful writing weaves a tale full of adventure, humor and history in, Dead End in Norvelt. Set in the early 1960’s, 12 year old Jack Gantos suddenly finds himself in quite a predicament when he is “grounded for life” for disobeying his parents. His mother lends him to a spirited old neighbor who tasks him with writing the obituaries of the deceased citizens of Norvelt for the local paper. The information Jack uncovers leads him down an interesting path as he discovers interesting facts about the founders of the town and begins to suspect a curse has been placed on the town of Norvelt.

Reading Level – Ages 10 and up.

Editorial Reviews

“This is a brilliant book, full of history, mystery, and laughs. It reminded me of my small-town childhood, although my small town was never as delightfully weird as Norvelt.” —Dave Barry

“Gantos, as always, delivers bushels of food for thought and plenty of outright guffaws.” —Booklist


Photo Credit: www.ala.org


2012 Caldecott Award Winner

This year’s Caldecott winter is A Ball for Daisy, written and illustrated by Chris Raschka. This wordless book has enormous kid-appeal for his colorful illustrations that describe one of life’s toughest lessons. A Ball for Daisy is a tale of an irresistible dog whose most prized possession is accidentally destroyed. Daisy’s devastation is short-lived, however, as Raschka brilliantly balances Daisy’s experience with a sense of loss and later, recovery and friendship.

Reading  Level – Ages 3 and up.

Editorial  Reviews

“Raschka’s genius lies in capturing the essence of situations that are deeply felt by children.” – School Library Journal

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