CONGRATULATIONS to . . . .Steena Hernandez!!! You are the lucky winner of Ellen Leventhal's prize!!! Your choice of:
A Zoom visit (AMA or a classroom visit) OR
A copy of DEBBIE'S SONG
Thanks, Ellen, for your generosity, and thank you, Steena, for your support of PBJamz and our visiting authors!
A FUN CONVERSATION WITH ALLIAH AGOSTINI
Grab a Ting and pull up a chair! Alliah and I had a great conversation that ranged from BIG TUNE, her inspiration, her family, her writing process, the role of music in her life and in the book, teaching and education and their role in her life as well as her family's life, and all the upcoming things. Come laugh along with us as we talk culture, childhood, and books.
BIG TUNE: RISE OF THE DANCEHALL PRINCE
From end paper to end paper (both covered with cassette tape images), this book is full of music, fun, dancing, and more. It follows shy Shane, who secretly wants to dance, but isn't quite ready to bust a move in public. Family gatherings, Jamerican style, complete with delicious Jamaican food and drink center and ground the book, with "Soul Food Sunday"-esque vibes. When Shane is alone, though, the moves and song burst forth. He becomes the hero of his own story, but to see if he gets brave enough to share his love of music and dance, you'll have to read the book. Beautiful paper collage illustrations crown this fun music-centered, food-loving, culture-sharing book. The bright, bold color scheme is perfect for telling this colorful tale! Oh, and consider yourself warned: Check your spice cabinet or have Uber-Eats on speed dial, because you're definitely going to want some Jerk something after reading! I've had jerk chicken, jerk pork chops, Jamaican peas and rice, Jamaican cabbage, fried plantains, and tropical salsa since reading . . . . oh, it's a vibe you're going to want to give in to . . . As a matter of fact, here's the link to my Caribbean foods Pinterest board (you know, just. in. case. ;-)
A Little Jam. . .(The Music Kind)
If you want to try your hand at some of the Jamaican dancehall moves, here's a quick run-through of a bunch. This video was made to go along with another book about Jamaican dance: “Back to Basics: A-Z of Dancehall” by Latoya Wakefield. It would be an excellent accompaniment book to BIG TUNE! So learn to bust a move -- or 26! Share them with your children, your students, etc. and get your groove on together. You can be your own dancehall king, queen, prince, or princess!
For more dancehall music, singing, dancing, etc., be sure to check out the links section below for the YouTube playlist!
Teacher Tips, Tricks and Topics
This book has some very natural multidisciplinary segues into a classroom.
Tips and Topics for Music Teachers
Writing Prompts from Tonnye
Writing Tips from Alliah L. Agostini
Have no inspiration? Are you sure? You may have all the inspiration you need inside.
Perhaps you think you're the most uninteresting, most typical person in the world. With the most typical childhood experiences. WRONG. What is typical? Nothing.
Your story and your experiences are unique to you, but they may be fascinating to somebody else. Besides, you may never know who may find your experiences or interests relatable or comforting.
Start digging into that memory bank when you need inspiration. There's a reason people say 'write what you know'.
Write in rhyme if you feel it's appropriate. But if you want it acquired, you better make it excellent.
We always hear 'don't write in rhyme, editors don't like it.' That's not true. While all editors don't acquire rhyme, editors don't like bad rhyme. Reading some of my old rhyming work triggers a serious cringefest. No wonder it's nowhere but my computer right now.
If you find yourself:
-rhyming for rhyme's sake
-using odd sentence construction for the sake of rhyme
-letting the rhyme lead the story rather than the story leading the rhyme
-writing in uneven meter...
Then stop. Take a beat. Consider if you need to continue down this path, and if you do, keep working. Good rhyme takes time (that was a total coincidence, by the way). If not- consider another way to tell your story.
-Bottom Line: Write the stories you want to read.
I don't know how many times I've heard and said 'Be the change you want to see.' I believe it. You feel like there's a story you really want to read? Don't be passive - do it yourself. It's easy to feel like you need to write to fit a trend, but trends change quickly and publishing is slow. By the time you've completed, let alone published that trendy manuscript, that ship may have sailed.
Links, More Fun, Extensions for Families and Everyone!
YouTube playlist with lots of teachable content mentioned in the teaching section above
Pinterest board with teaching ideas about Jamaica, food, money, and dancehall music and more.
Spotify instrumental school-safe playlist created by Alliah!
PBJamz Snack-Peanut Butter 'n Jamaican Honey on Hardo Bread
I love to connect my PBJamz snack to the episode when I can, so I asked Alliah about Jamaican versions of PBJ. She said her kids really enjoy peanut butter with Jamaican ("decadent smoky, floral flavor)" honey on Jamaican hard dough (hardo) bread. She called this a Jamerican recipe. I'm linking up the recipe for the Hardo bread, and trusting you to put whatever you want on it. :-). It's a slight departure from the PBJ, but it sounds delicious! As for myself, I ordered up some Jamaican honey. It's supposed to be from a farm in Jamaica. We'll see. I might have to bake up some hardo too to finish out my Jamaican feasting. I may not have traveled to Jamaica over Spring Break, but between reading Alliah's book, listening to the music and eating the food, I've had a Jamaican staycation for sure! (photo credit and recipe from Winsome Murphy at Jamaicans.com
Guest Links and Giveaways
Meet Alliah -- on her website
To order a copy of BIG TUNE from Amazon
To find Alliah on Twitter
Alliah on Instagram
Link to her books page on her website
And, Alliah is offering a copy of BIG TUNE to one lucky winner during this episode! To be eligible, simply leave a comment below and you'll be entered into a drawing!
This page is the official space for PBJamz -- multimedia Jamorama celebrating all things PB (picture books) and Jamz (music), although we'll indulge in the other PBJ snacks where appropriate :-). Join us each Thursday for new content connecting picture books and music!