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coloring page tuesdays, news and events, blog book tours, reviews, illustration and promotion, and general weirdness from a children's book author/illustrator.
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1. Moonbeam Gold Medal - literally!

I am not even believing what arrived in the mail Monday! An actual MEDAL - my Gold Moonbeam Children's Book Award MEDAL. It was forwarded to me along with a lovely free-trade bracelet, stickers to put on my books, and a note from fellow pickle, Audrey Litner – the one who came up with the great tag line for A BIRD ON WATER STREET: "When the birds return to Water Street, will anyone be left to hear them sing?"
     Never at a loss for words, she also included the lovely quote:

"La reconnaissance set la memoirs du coeur." by Jean Baptiste Massieu
     I think it translates into "Recognition is the heart of memories" or some such. Does anybody have a clearer translation? Audrey?
Answer! Marcy says it means "Gratitude is the memory of the heart!
     At any rate, as if I wasn't feeing special enough!
     Having never won a medal before, I had to wear it around the house. Let me tell you, that sucker is heavy and it kept hitting my tummy. ("Heavy medal" - Ha!) I don't know how the important people do it!! It certainly won't let you forget it's there. Wowsa - what a hoot!
     THANK YOU to my fellow pickles at Little Pickle Press!!!

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2. Coloring Page Tuesday - Stocking Elf

     Elf in a stocking - is he stuffing it full of treats? I hope so!
     CLICK HERE for more Christmas coloring pages! I have Hanukkah images too - CLICK HERE. And be sure to share your creations in my gallery so I can put them in my upcoming newsletters! (Cards, kids art, and crafts are welcome!)
     Sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Please check out my books! Especially...

THE 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS IN GEORGIA! Makes a GREAT teacher gift! Click the cover to learn more!
     Don't live in Georgia? Check with your local bookseller - Sterling has a version for each state.

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3. I'm featured on the Cybil's Blog!!!

I recently answered some questions as "Featured Blogger" for the Cybils - Children's and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Awards site. I was so honored to be nominated for this, and so appreciate the interest! CLICK HERE to go have a read!! I hope you enjoy!

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4. Madison LOVES books!

Wouldn't it be lovely if everybody loved books as much as Madison does? What an inspiration she is! (Click the image to read the article on Vox, "If everyone loved reading as much as this 8-year-old does, the world would be better," and see the video.)

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5. MIX IT UP by Hervé Tullet - GIVEAWAY!

Well, I wasn't able to get Hervé Tullet on, but his new book is getting a ton of praise and deserves every drop of it! MIX IT UP! is absolutely BRILLIANT! And it's not just for kids - it's a great introduction to color and color mixing. Heck, I want to use it in my Design class at Hollins University next summer. It's that good. It's also interactive...
Remember PRESS HERE? (also by Hervé) - watch THIS VIDEO:

MIX IT UP! also has you interacting with the book in ways you never would have thought of (in France, it's called "Couleurs"):

CLICK HERE if the embedded video gives you any issues.
Truly, this is such a fresh approach to what a book can be, and presented in such a pure form - simple color! I think the man might be a genius. CLICK HERE if the video doesn't work for you.

Despite not getting an interview, Chronicle has agreed to give away a free copy of MIX IT UP! to one of my lucky followers. Must live in the US or Canada to win. Enter below:

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6. Friday Linky List - December 12, 2014

From PW: Download their FREE 2014 PW Children's Starred Reviews Annual

From The Telegraph, via PW: Michael Bond: I could have papered my flat with rejection letters before Paddington

At Vanity Fair: James Patterson - The Henry Ford of Books (What an interesting article!)

From 100 Scope Notes: Lone Wolves: Caldecott Medal Winning Books Created Solo (the majority)

At PW: What Kids Want to Read: An Infographic (Books that make me laugh!)

At PW: A Roundup of 2014's Best Book Lists for Kids and Teens

At The Guardian (via PW): David Almond: each story comes with its own kind of fizz, gurgle and energy

At the Pacific Standard: The Answer to Implicit Racism Might Be in Children's Literature

From Arizona State University via Cynsations: A Dozen Things That Debut Authors Have Taught Me by Erin Murphy of the Erin Murphy Literary Agency (my agency)

At the Nerdy Book Club: Strange Birds by Kelly Barnhill (author of THE WITCH'S BOY - which I adored)

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7. Eric Kimmel's HERSHEL AND THE HANUKKAH GOBLINS - Guest Post and Giveaway!

Some books become classics and need to be shared again and again. Such is the case with HERSHEL AND THE HANUKKAH GOBLINS written by Eric Kimmel and illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman. Trina is no longer with us, but I’m thrilled to have Mr. Kimmel here today to talk about the book…

Q. Mr. Kimmel, Hershel of Ostropol is so clever he even tricks the King of the Goblins. Tricksters fare strongly in so many classic tales (and in many of your books). Did you shape him after any in particular?A. I didn't have to do much shaping with Hershel. He comes fully formed. Hershel of Ostropol or Hershele Ostropolier is a traditional Jewish trickster character. He's based on a person who actually lived during the early 19th century. His character contains a number of subtle nuances. He's not just a poor guy trying to earn a living. He's a Jewish man living in Czar Nicholas I's Russia. All of Russia's czars were Jew-haters. Nicholas was one of the worst because he saw himself as a "reformer." Among his "reforms" was a program for drafting Jews into his army. Drafted soldiers served 25 years. They were as good as dead. Most never saw their homes or families again. Nicholas added an additional 6 years of service for Jewish recruits. He stuck this number at the beginning so they would go into the army at age 12. Even worse, Jewish community leaders were responsible for providing a certain number of recruits. They automatically sent off orphans and the children of the poor. If there weren't enough 12 year olds, they sent even younger children. They weren't above hiring kidnappers to fill their quotas. The Russian writer Alexander Herzen writes of encountering a convoy of 8, 9, and 10 year olds on a march down a road in winter. Even the hard-bitten sergeant was moved by their plight. He confessed to Herzen that these children were useless to the army. They should be with their mothers. Nearly all would get sick and die. What was the point?
      The point was sheer oppression. Hershel lived in a world where everything was stacked against him. If he survived, it would be through his own wits. That's exactly how he gets through those eight nights with the goblins.

Q. You have been writing children’s books for 40 years! How many books have you created in total, do you know?A. I recently was asked to do a count, which I hadn't done in years. I was surprised by the number. It's 106 separate titles. But they're short. And they have pictures.

Q. What drives your passion for children’s books?A. I was a voracious reader as a child. I still am. I was hopeless at sports. Books were my friends. I could lose myself in the world of books for hours. A great deal of that passion comes from the joy and adventure that books gave me. I want to share that with children. Secondly, I despise the way reading is taught today. We don't learn to read so we can pass tests. We learn to read so we can read books. Explain to me how you can have a reading program without a well-equipped library and a trained librarian. Most schools today think they can do it. I think they're fantasizing. It's not enough to hand a child a book. You have to hand the right book to the right child at the right time. That's what makes a reader. That's why we need teachers, librarians, and parents who know and love books themselves. Don't worry if you weren't a reader as a child. You can start now. As I used to tell my children's literature classes at Portland State, "Don't worry about doing all the reading in this class. Your problem will be doing the reading for your other classes because you'll find these books so interesting and wonderful that you won't want to read anything else." That's how I feel today.

Q. The text for HERSHEL AND THE HANUKKAH GOBLINS was copyrighted in 1985. What was the industry like back then and how has it changed?A. It was another world. The industry has vastly changed…and not for the good. The industry was much more stable. An editor could expect to spend her entire career working for one publisher. She could develop authors who might be with her for decades. Not every book had to be a best seller. Editors had the freedom to publish a book because of the quality of the manuscript; because it filled a need; because they saw promise in the author. Margery Cuyler was my editor for Hershel and Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock when she was at Holiday House. I wrote some of my best books with her. I followed her to four different publishers over 25 years. She was my editor at Amazon when she retired last year. I miss her terribly.
      I don't think that kind of relationship is possible these days, although there are a few exceptions. Holiday House is one. Editors acquire manuscripts. They rely on agents to do most of the editing. Their jobs hinge on acquiring books that make money. A couple of losers and they're gone. So is the author. The flip side of that is if a book is successful, the agent may offer the next manuscript to other publishers and go with the one who offers the most money. There's no loyalty and nothing long-term. The publishing industry has become like the movie industry. You're as good as your last film.
      Margery made an interesting comment when I saw her in February. I had come to New York to accept the National Jewish Book Award for Hanukkah Bear and we had a chance to get together. Margery said: "In retrospect, I don't think Harry Potter was such a blessing. We had this tiny little industry that was off in a corner. Nobody knew we were here and no one bothered us. Harry Potter proved there were vast amounts of money to be made in children's books. The people who run media companies like to make vast amounts of money. Children's books suddenly began to catch their attention. That's when our world began to change."
      I think she's right.

Q. Trina Schart Hyman illustrated this book. Did you know each other? Were you blown away by her illustrations?A. We knew each other in passing. We had been introduced at a reception hosted by Cricket Magazine. She was wearing a pair of antennae on her head. We became close friends after having dinner together one night at a conference. She was one of the most remarkable, wonderful people I've ever known in my life. A true artist; totally dedicated to bringing all her talent and skill to whatever project she undertook. Trina wanted to illustrate the story from the start. She grabbed it when she was art editor of Cricket Magazine. The story first appeared in Cricket in December, 1985. As Trina told me later, she was getting so tired of drawing knights and princesses. Hershel was a bit of a rogue, a welcome change, and the goblins were pure fun. She confessed that she fell a little bit in love with Hershel as she drew him.
      Was I blown away by the illustrations? Who wouldn't be? And to have Trina write to me, saying that she felt this was the best work she had done in years! That was one of the high points of my career. I seriously don't think anything else ever equalled it.
      What would Trina think of developments in publishing today if she were still alive? I can tell you: not much. She would easily have a profitable career drawing covers and interior art for endless fantasy series if she wanted to do it. She had no equal at that. She owned the brand. But Trina was not about brands. She was about art, integrity, creativity. She despised computers, digital art, and illustrators who had not mastered their craft and were cruising along on hype. Toward the end of her life she spent a lot of time painting with artist friends. They would sit in a studio and just paint. I don't know where those paintings are. I imagine Trina's daughter Katrin has them. I've seen some of them. They're scary, disturbing; not at all what you'd expect. That was her real art and what she took the most pride in.
      I could go on and on. Let's just say I was honored to have known her and to have her consider me a friend. (Although I think she liked my wife Doris better.)

Q. Are there any subjects for a book that you haven’t covered yet and feel the need to?A. I have a lot of stories I want to write. Unfortunately, I can't find much of a market for folk tales and story picture books for older children. Editors have told me to keep the text young and short. Aim for a reader between 3 and 6. No stories about children in foreign countries. No folk tales. That pretty much leaves me out. Margery is convinced that market will come back. I'm not so sure, but I'm willing to wait and see. Meanwhile, I'm working with smaller presses. A small book is better than no book at all.
      No matter what happens in the future, I'm fortunate in that I've had a great career and that I've written books that have given children lots of pleasure. A few, like Hershel and the Anansi stories, are finding a second and even third generation of readers. It's not how many books you write. What matters is how good they are. As I often tell children when I visit schools, Harper Lee only wrote one book in her entire life. As long as that book is To Kill A Mockingbird, you don't have to write anything else.
      I like to think I've written a couple that might almost be that good.

Thank you so much for being so candid, Mr. Kimmel. It's been an honor to have you drop by.

Holiday House has kindly offered to send a free copy of HERSHEL AND THE HANUKKAH GOBLINS to one of my lucky followers. Must live in the US to win - enter below.

Illustrations © 1989 by Trina Schart Hyman Used by permission of Holiday House.

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8. A Bird on Water Street is an Academics' Choice Award Winner!

Lovely things keep happening to A BIRD ON WATER STREET! I just heard that ABOWS is an Academics' Choice Award Winner! I'm so flattered! This is a review highlight:

"This thoughtful book would be perfect for my 6th grade class. I'm just about done with it and don't want it to end. Dulemba has made her characters believable, real, and enjoyable. Coppertown is a symbol for all things industry. I'd use this book to help my students learn about the pros and cons of industry as it relates to nature and family life. It could also be read during 19th century American studies as it relates well and brings the human stories into play when talking about the effects of industry on nature, family and the economy. I highly recommend this well written book!"
YAY!!!! THANK YOU!!!!!

     If you're a teacher and you'd like to use A BIRD ON WATER STREET in your classroom, there is a free teacher's guide with talking points available - CLICK HERE or the image to get to it on the Little Pickle Press website.

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9. Coloring Page Tuesday - Sleeping Mouse

     All the holiday hub-bub can just wear a little mouse right out! How are you getting in the holiday spirit?
     CLICK HERE for more Thanksgiving coloring pages! And be sure to share your creations in my gallery so I can put them in my upcoming newsletters! (Cards, kids art, and crafts are welcome!)
     Sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Please check out my books! Especially...

THE 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS IN GEORGIA! Makes a GREAT teacher gift! Click the cover to learn more!
     Don't live in Georgia? Check with your local bookseller - Sterling has a version for each state.

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10. John C Campbell Wrap-up

My last time to teach "Creating Children's Picture Books" at the John C. Campbell Folk School (because we're moving to Scotland) could not have gone better!
     On the way up on Wednesday, I had lunch with Doris Abernathy and Dale McKay Wagner (A BIRD ON WATER STREET is dedicated to Doris), and some of their friends in Blue Ridge. We were celebrating their birthdays - Doris' 87th! Gads, I love her!
     Then, on to the folk school... I had an especially inspired group of five students - the perfect size for the classroom. This was our view:

     Truly, all my students were engaged, inquisitive and highly participatory, taking my advice, and offering great advice to their fellow writers too. Their manuscripts were promising and they made fantastic progress during class. It was an absolute treat for me!
     Add to that, Thursday night was wreath-making night. An enormous amount of greens and berries from all over the grounds was collected and piled up in the community room, where we were all given straw wreath rounds and pins to assemble unique creations. By the end, our hands were covered with sap, lemon and lime juice and cedar. They served hot chocolate and played Christmas music. What a way to get in the Christmas spirit!
     All the creations were gorgeous, and they use them to decorate the school. Here I am with one of my students and the two wreaths we created hanging above us, and then me with three of my students and more wreaths:

     Even nicer, Harold Underdown donated a copy of his latest, 2015 Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market, to become part of the permanent collection in the writing studio at John C., "Orchard House." Wasn't that generous of him? I hope to have him on soon to talk more about this great resource.
     The reason John C needed decorations was for the Fireside sale which was Sunday. Sadly, I missed that part as I needed to get home for Stan's work Christmas party Saturday night (way fun!). But I really wanted to pick up some Alpaca socks from a local vendor. So I arranged to meet him at his farm after the closing ceremony. What a gorgeous place it was, with all those fuzzy adorable alpacas everywhere! Have you discovered alpaca socks? They are like pockets of joy for my feet. SO COZY!
     Then I headed to lunch with some life-long friends in Murphy (from when we lived up in the mountains)... Hi Toni, Lisa, Deb and Lynne - love you guys! We ate at Doyle's, a restaurant with a great view of the Murphy Christmas parade - in the pouring down rain! It was still fabulous.
     All said, good-byes are hard, but I'm so grateful to have such great friends and experiences to miss!

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11. The Art of Richard Thompson

The Art of Richard Thompson.
Richard Thompson has been called a “cartoonists’ cartoonist.” Find out why in this warm and moving portrait.
Click the image to watch the video on Vimeo. Worth your time!

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12. Post PiBoIdMo Guest Post

This week I head over to the Picture Book Idea Month for a post-PiBo guest blog post called "Track Ideas and Let Them Simmer." It's a quick summary of how I keep track of ideas and keep them working for me. A peek into my process.
     Other authors and illustrators will be talking all week - you may want to read them too. They are:
     December 1st – Vanessa Newton
     Dec ember 2nd – Timothy Young
     December 3rd – Michele Wells
     December 4th – AJ Smith
     December 5th - Laura Gehl
     December 6th – Carol Gordon Ekster
     December 7th – Elizabeth O. Dulemba
     December 8th – Laura Zarrin
     So go to the Picture Book Idea Month blog and git reading!

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13. Jennifer K. Mann's TWO SPECKLED EGGS - interview and giveaway!

I am thrilled to share TWO SPECKLED EGGS by debut author and illustrator (on the same book), Jennifer K. Mann. I adore this book. Who hasn’t had a Lyla Browning in their life (or been a Lyla Browning) - that girl who was a little too smart, a little too geeky, perhaps a little too creative? I know many writers and illustrators who can relate to that! Jennifer is visiting today to answer some questions about her new book…

Q. First, Jennifer, CONGRATULATIONS! This is your first book as author/illustrator and only your second picture book (the first you illustrated - Turkey Tot by George Shannon). How’s it feel?
It feels amazing! I’ve dreamed about being published for a long time, and now to see my dreams and my effort in the form of a book, in bookstores, in kids’ and grown ups’ hands---I think every author/illustrator knows the feeling of that first book. The excitement that comes with each step toward publication is so much fun, like being a kid again!

Q. Your path into children’s books certainly hasn’t been direct. How did this passion take hold of you?
I’ve always loved to draw, and that is why I became an architect. But something was missing for me in that kind of drawing, and I didn’t realize it until I had kids and started reading beautiful picture books with them. I knew then that I wanted to make that kind of art!

Q. The story of TWO SPECKLED EGGS feels so familiar. Is it based on true experiences?
Yes! I have two photos of my own 7th birthday party. I am all dressed up, and so are my friends. In one photo we are all squealing with delight at someone’s performance during a party game, but I can also remember feeling unhappy with that part of that party—girls out of control! In another, we are all seated on the sofa. There is a girl I don’t recognize—who is she? Had I invited her? How did she fit in with the rest of the girls? I remember too that I sometimes felt alone at my own birthday parties. It seems that birthday parties rarely go just the way the birthday girl, or boy, wants them to.

Q. How long have you been creating art and illustrating?
I have been an artist my whole life, but more of a dabbler than anything. I have been a printmaker since college, and I also love to paint in miniature (mostly birds---not sure why) on little collaged scraps of paper. (You can have a look at my tiny collage bird paintings on my website). Even while I worked as an architect, I took art classes on the side, and secretly wished I had gone to art school instead of architecture school. When I recognized my desire to make books for children, I shifted gears and really focused on learning how to make narrative art that would delight kids and adults.

Q. Your journey will inspire so many of my readers. How did you break into the children’s book market?
The short response is: desire, diligence, grit, patience, and a little bit of luck! I think it helped that I developed a thick skin as an architect!
      The long response is: I happened to mention my early interest in picture books to just the right person in about 2004, and he gave me the best advice ever: join SCBWI! So I did. And I enrolled in a terrific UW extension course in illustrating for children taught by the wonderful and talented Brenda Guiberson. I had some early ideas, worked on them lot, sent them out to editors, and received many kind but firm rejections. (but most were personal rejections, which I learned was code for “Keep Trying!”) I also took advantage of every SCBWI workshop and critique and portfolio show that I could, while studying very closely stacks and stacks of picture books. I analyzed my favorites, and tried to figure out just how those masters did what they did. Finally, after a lot of hard work, I had a dummy that felt like a book! That dummy helped me win the Grand Prize in the SCBWI Western Washington Portfolio Show, and then the SCBWI Don Freeman Award. I took that dummy to the portfolio display at the SCBWI New York conference, where it got some nice attention. Soon after, I signed with my wonderful agent—Holly McGee at Pippin Properties. My story and dummy went down a bit of a winding path and remained unpublished for a few years. But in the meantime I illustrated TURKEY TOT by beloved author George Shannon, published by Holiday House, and I wrote and illustrated TWO SPECKLED EGGS! And now, I am so pleased to say that that dummy, the first one that felt like a book, will be published this spring--my second picture book as author and illustrator. It is called I WILL NEVER GET A STAR ON MRS BENSON’S BLACKBOARD, and will be published June, 2015, by Candlewick Press.

Q. What is your illustration method?
For these first three books, I developed a technique that allowed me to achieve the look of collage, without the permanence of glue and paper—because I don’t like commitment, I guess!
      So, here’s roughly how I do it: I don’t necessarily start with thumbnails, but I tend to go back and forth between thumbnails and full size sketches—I have to switch scales depending on the problem I am solving. Once I have worked out sketches of all of my spreads, I draw the individual elements of a spread in ink or pencil smaller than full scale so that I am forced to stay nice and loose. I scan them, enlarge them to full size, and print them on watercolor paper. Then I paint each little bit, and scan it all back into Photoshop. This is when I pretend I am using scissors and glue, but I use Photoshop to cut out each element in a spread, and collage it all back together, moving elements around, changing scale and composition until it feels right. Sometimes I incorporate photographs, or textures that I have scanned or created in Photoshop. Ultimately I delivered digital files for my final art. However—I am working on a new project with Candlewick that demands a somewhat lighter hand and more tender style, and it just may be traditional pencil and paint—we’ll see!

Q. How are you celebrating the release of TWO SPECKLED EGGS?
I’ve had not one but two terrific book launch parties—one here on Bainbridge Island at Eagle Harbor Book Company, and the other in Seattle at Secret Garden Books. Suzanne at Secret Garden made the most delicious Silver and Gold Cake (Ginger’s favorite) and my friends gladly put on their party hats and pecked at the cake for me, just like Ginger and Lyla. I made a Silver and Gold Cake for the Eagle Harbor Books party, but it wasn’t nearly as scrumptious as Suzanne’s. And of course I made sure that all kids who came to my book parties took home some malted milk eggs—not as ubiquitous these days as they were when I was a child!

      Right now, Two Speckled Eggs is being celebrated in an exhibit of children’s book artists at the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art. My work is hanging alongside that of Julie Paschkis, Nikki McClure, and Woodleigh Marx Hubbard. What an honor to be featured alongside those amazing artists in this beautiful new museum!
     By the way, I thought I had invented the Silver and Gold Cake, but if you look it up, it exists outside of my kitchen! But the recipes I found had no coconut or pineapple—a travesty. So if you want to try to make Ginger’s favorite Silver and Gold Cake, find a great recipe for a light and fluffy pineapple layer cake, and then make Seven Minute Icing (my childhood favorite) with coconut in it, and Voila! (This is Jennifer's good luck mug.)

Q. I wish you much continued success and look forward to seeing more from you! What's next?
I WILL NEVER GET A STAR ON MRS BENSON’S BLACKBOARD, will publish this June. This is the story of Rose, who’s a little dreamy and rather messy. She’s also an artist, and she finds it a little tough to get on her teacher’s right side.
      And, I am currently working on a new book with Candlewick, tentatively titled SAM AND JUMP. It is due out early spring, 2016. It’s a sweet and tender story of a little boy who leaves his beloved stuffed bunny behind on the beach one day. I’m excited to take a new approach to the illustrations for this book, much less Photoshop, more pencil and paint, I hope!

Candlewick has kindly agreed to send a free copy of TWO SPECKLED EGGS to one of my lucky followers. Must live in the US to win. Enter below:

TWO SPECKLED EGGS. Copyright © 2014 by Jennifer Mann. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

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14. Friday Linky List - December 5, 2014

At Brain Pickings: The 13 Best Children's, Illustrated, and Picture Books of 2013

At PW's ShelfTalker, Elizabeth Bluemle shares "Hatbox Holiday"

At The Atlantic: 'Voice' Isn't the Point of Writing

From the Decatur Patch: Helen Ruffin, Creator of Georgia Reading Bowl, Dies. Celebrate the life of one who instilled a passion for reading in our state's children!

From PWs ShelfTalker, Josie Leavitt writes Should Adults Read YA? (The answer is YES!)

LOVE these shoes! (From Modcloth)

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15. Mike Wohnoutka's LITTLE PUPPY AND THE BIG GREEN MONSTER - Interview and Giveaway!

Mike Wohnoutka has a new book out and I’m thrilled to have him on dulemba.com today. His latest is called LITTLE PUPPY AND THE BIG GREEN MONSTER and it will melt your heart as surely as the little puppy melts the monster’s heart. I’ve always loved Mike’s artwork anyhow - especially in JACK’S HOUSE, MAMA’S LITTLE DUCKLING, and THE 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS IN MINNESOTA (I did the Georgia one). Let’s get a peek at his process...

Q. Mike, I love to study your work. I think I see you working with under paintings in scarlet or other colors. Am I seeing right? What is your method?
Yes, I always start my paintings with an orange/sepia tone under painting. This helps me figure out the lighting situation. It’s much easier to do this by using all the values of just one color. This technique also adds continuity and warmth to the overall painting.

Q. Your use of light is always so warm and friendly - how do approach that?
Thank you. I’ve always struggled with color. I was told once by a fellow artist to approach painting thinking about values rather than colors. This approach has helped immensely and has made me a more confident painter. It keeps me thinking about what’s being hit by light and what’s not. This gives the painting a lot of volume and I think it gives a warm and friendly feeling too.

Q. I also admire how you switch up the viewers point of view. Again, how do you approach that?
I took a film history class in college. I loved learning about Alfred Hitchcock’s process of creating films. He was one of the first directors to change the point of view of the camera to add tension and create suspense. When I work on the sketches for a book I like to think of myself holding a camera moving around the scene looking for the best angle and view to show each scene in the story. I’m also thinking about zooming in and out.

Q. LITTLE PUPPY AND THE BIG GREEN MONSTER is such a sweet story - what inspired it?
After illustrating 20 books by other authors this is my first book as both illustrator and author. It’s hard to say exactly where the idea for this book came from, because it evolved through many, many different versions over five years. But there is no doubt that watching my two young kids navigate their way through the maze of making new friends has influenced the story. Also, I’ve realized since finishing it, that it may have been somewhat inspired by my inattentive father!

Q. I have to tell you, the puppy reminds me a little bit of my dog, Bernie - an overgrown beagle or short foxhound - we’re not sure. But with the same markings. Is Little Puppy a real dog in your world?
My first roommate out of college had a dog named Ryder. She was a very small basset hound. Everyone thought she was a beagle mix. The look of the puppy was inspired by her, but definitely not her personality. She was a very mellow dog. She definitely didn’t have the energy the Puppy in the book has.

Q. You’ve got quite the bibliography of books at this point. Do you work with a particular publishing house?
I do not work with one particular publishing house. I’ve been working consistently with four different houses. I would be happy to stick with just one publisher, but when I’m asked to illustrate a book, my decision to take on the project has more to do with the story rather than the house.

Q. How do you advertise yourself (or do you need to)?
I have a website (www.mikewohnoutka.com). When I was first starting out I would bombard publishers with samples of my work. I would also go to every SCBWI conference. I don’t do those things nearly as much any more. One thing I do, which I feel is extremely helpful, is I try to go to New York as often as I can. Meeting with publishers and putting a face to your work, making those personal connections, is a wonderful way to promote yourself. My first trip to New York in 2006, to show my portfolio, was one of the best things I ever did for my career.

I had a launch party at the Red Balloon Bookshop in St. Paul, MN. I also, painted a 10 foot tall monster on their window. (Click the image to see a larger version in a new window.) It was a roaring good time.

Q. What’s next in the pipeline for you?
I recently finished the illustrations for the second book that I am the author of. It’s a story that was inspired by my son, Franklin, starting school and how difficult it was, not so much for him, but for me! It’s titled DAD’S FIRST DAY and is scheduled to be published Fall 2015 by Bloomsbury. Also, the MOO! board book is also coming out on November 4th!

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Holiday House has kindly agreed to give one free copy of LITTLE PUPPY AND THE BIG GREEN MONSTER to one of my lucky followers. Must live in the US to win - enter below:

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16. Teaching Your Kids to Give

To prepare for our upcoming move to Scotland, Stan and I are getting rid of most of our possessions. It's changing my mindset from an uber-consumer to a responsible steward. So when Jennifer Jacobson and Gretchen Barry approached me about posting their article on sharing - I jumped at the chance to share it with YOU. And what better time of year than this Christmas season...

Teaching Your Kids To Give
Establishing the mentality of life-long giving
By Jennifer L. Jacobson and Gretchen Barry

      While raising kids has never been easy, it can be one of the most rewarding things that some people do–especially when children grow up to be productive, contributing members to society, and that includes knowing how to give back and enrich the communities in which they live.
      When should children start participating in the giving process? As early as possible. Even if they’re still toddlers; observing charitable acts that happen regularly and eventually understanding them, will leave a big impression. Learning how to give and developing that skillset is a lifelong journey.
      Giving is more than a task; it’s a mindset. A way of life, a way of looking at the world and asking, how can I help? How can I make connections between needs and time and resources? How can I bring awareness to specific needs and evoke action?

      1. Ask Your Kids How They Would Like to Help.
      If giving to a cause is new to your household, involve your kids as early as possible; tell them that your family has the chance to give back. Then, engage them in a conversation about the types of causes they may feel strongly about and ways they think they can help.
      This could involve helping families, working to save open spaces, caring for nature or a community garden, helping to save an endangered species, or helping those in need.
      Once you’ve identified key topics that your family is interested in, (make a list, as this helps visualize everything), start researching specific local organizations (add them to the list).
      Food kitchens
     Pet shelters and animal rescues
     Nature conservation efforts
     Fundraising for various activities for low-income kids, like camp
     Zoos, museums, and aquariums
     Schools and local libraries (these days, even they need as much help as they can get)
     Visitation of patients in hospitals
     Visitation of the elderly in nursing homes

      2. Make a Game Plan.
      Get creative about how your family can help the organization(s) you choose. Bake sales are traditional, but there are other ways to help. Talk it through with your family, map it out, and post the results somewhere in the home that is highly visible.
      Gamify it to some degree with tasks that turn into goals that turn into accomplishment, that result in stickers.

      3. Quick Tasks and Ideas That Can Make a Big Difference
      • Clear the clutter. Every 6 to 12 months, have a household closet cleaning day (that includes the toy chest, and maybe even the garage). Get everyone in the family to help.
      • Make a donate box. Put it out where your kids can add to it. Donate often, even if it’s small.
      • Make Detours to Giving. When shopping, make a trip down the canned foods isle. Ask your kids to pick a can of food to put in your donate box at home.
      • Find ways to raise money for donations. Hold a yard sale and give all or a portion of it to a selected charity. Do the same with a bake sale, an art sale, etc. Involve our kids at all stages.
      • Associate getting with giving. For birthdays and holidays, aside from their other gifts, give your kids a hand-written gift “certificate of giving” with a specified amount of money that they can gift to their favorite charity. Take your child to the charity to donate that money in person if you can. For non-local organizations, write a check, and have your child include a letter.
      • Volunteer time in your local community. From public gardens that need weeding, to historic buildings that need painting, or food banks that need help, find something age-appropriate that can engage your family.

      4. Growing the Mindset
      • Tell stories. There are lots of real-life stories about kids or groups of kids who have found creative ways to give back. Encourage empathy. Share appropriate stories of struggle. Ask kids; what would you do in this situation? How would you want people to help you?
      • Walk them through the cycle. If your kids are very young, say, "We're going to give this can of food/winter coat/gift to ______. (Then explain the results.) “It will give them something to eat/keep them warm this winter/help them __________."
      • Explain why you are doing it and what you’re looking for. “We don't need to store all this stuff, when someone else could really use it.” Or, “I bet there is a kid out there who would really enjoy playing with that toy. I know you used to love it but how about if you pass it along to someone else, so they can enjoy it as much as you have?” Keep the focus on the people in need and your child’s ability to share an experience through an item. Establishing an impermanent relationship to “things” can help kids better understand the important of relationships over acquiring goods.
      • Develop a language of giving in your household. Find creative opportunities to incorporate it into regular conversation. Nothing is permanent. We are stewards of the planet, and the things we think we own. Everything is in change, and it is our duty to help those in need when we have abundance. If ever there is a time when we are without, we hope that others will think of us and help us.

      Teaching children about the struggles of others not only develops a lifelong giving mindset, it also helps children understand how their words and actions impact those around them–a lesson that bears repeating.

About the Authors:
      Jennifer L. Jacobson is the founder of Jacobson Communication and an advocate for organizations looking to make a positive difference in the world. She currently serves on the board of several influential nonprofits and organizations focused on conservation, education, and community. For more, visit www.jacobsoncommunication.com

      Gretchen Barry is the Director of marketing and Communications for NonProfitEasy; the all-in-one data management software, created by nonprofits for nonprofits. From CRM and database management, to events, donor engagement, fundraising, and more, NonProfitEasy offers a one-stop, affordable, integrated software solution that is changing the status quo for the greater good. For more, visit www.nonprofiteasy.com

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17. Coloring Page Tuesday - Elf Paints

     Did you know that elves make books? Oh, how I wish it were that easy!
     CLICK HERE for more Christmas coloring pages!! And be sure to share your creations in my gallery so I can put them in my upcoming newsletters! (Cards, kids art, and crafts are welcome!)
     Sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Please check out my books! Especially...

my debut novel, A BIRD ON WATER STREET, coming out next week! Click the cover to learn more!
     When the birds return to Water Street, will anyone be left to hear them sing? A miner's strike allows green and growing things to return to the Red Hills, but that same strike may force residents to seek new homes and livelihoods elsewhere. Follow the story of Jack Hicks as he struggles to hold onto everything he loves most.
**A SIBA OKRA Pick!**
**A GOLD Mom's Choice Award Winner!**
**The 2014 National Book Festival Featured Title for Georgia!**
**eLit 2014 Gold Medal Winner in the Environmental/Ecology/Nature Category**

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18. Apalachicola for Thanksgiving

Hubbie and I went to Apalachicola, Florida for Thanksgiving. Even though it was in sunny Florida, it rained for several days, which turned out fine for me. I made massive progress on my work-in-progress mid-grade novel, putting National Novel Writing Month's goal of 50,000 words well within reach.
     And best of all, we brought our pooch, Bernie with us to see how he would adapt to a new environment, including elevators. He's a rescue and doesn't like change, so I'd been nervous about how he'd adapt to Edingurgh, Scotland in the fall. Happily, he did GREAT! The elevators had him quite puzzled - he'd look at the door and the floor with his ears perked up, wondering why the world changed on the other side when the door opened. But within three days, we'd already established new patterns and he was fine. I think he'll be fine in Scotland! Here he is on his very first beach experience:

     Meanwhile, we had a lovely and scenic Thanksgiving. Here are some photos:
Gotta do Boss Oyster when in Apalach:

We had raw, oysters with roe, and I had grilled oysters too. I got my fill! Stan was happy too:

Although we couldn't catch the image, two dolphins were playing in the marina and swam straight towards us like torpedoes before coming up to make their happy cackle sound and swim on. Can you see the fin? Wow.

I loved this one that Stan got. I think it would make a great screen saver too. Click the image to open a larger version:

This is an oysterer going out for the day's catch. What a different life, what a relaxed pose of ability, skill, and knowledge. I love this photo:

I thought this one would make a good screen saver too - seagrasses. Click the image to get to a larger version:

And finally, the view from our mini apartment:

And being Apalachicola, they didn't have a Christmas tree - they were putting up the Christmas net with all the crab trap buoys for decorations. All I can say is... Happy Yule, Y'all!

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19. Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope you have a lovely day full of gratitude and good food. But if the kiddies get antsy - remember I have Thanksgiving-themed coloring pages. CLICK HERE or the image to download them for free!

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20. Molly Idle's FLORA AND THE PENGUIN - interview and giveaway!

I've been a Molly Idle fan since I saw her first pieces through my Picture Book Artists Association message board. It took the rest of the world a short time to find her too, and award her a Caldecott Honor for FLORA AND THE FLAMINGO - which I interviewed her for HERE. Well, Molly and Flora are back, and this time it's winter with FLORA AND THE PENGUIN!

Q. So I heard a story that the idea for this story was almost serendipitous - it began with a light conversation between you and your editor?
I would say it was entirely serendipitous! We were talking about how I was drawing the reflections in the water in Flora and the Flamingo, and Amy, my art director, said they reminded her of a reflected sheen on a sheet of ice. And I said something like, "Oh, if it were ice she'd be dancing with a penguin... " And then there was this prolonged pause... And then we both started talking at once: "The penguin would come up through a hole in the ice!" "The book could be all blue!" "They'd be ice skating!" Then we calmed down a bit and Amy said, "But first, let's finish THIS book."

Q. This is such a different color palette. How did working with an entirely different set of colored pencils affect your general mood?
The colors of a book don't affect my mood nearly as much as the characters' expressions do. My mood tends to shift along with theirs. If Flora is smiling, I'm smiling while I draw her... If the penguin is completely grumpy, so am I. Brow furrowed, mouth turned down... Yesterday afternoon I was drawing yawning bunnies- I could barely keep my eyes open!

Q. Was it difficult to work with such a cool color palette after the warm one in FLORA AND THE FLAMINGO?
Only at first. At first I would look at a finished piece and think, ridiculously, "It's not pink." I mean, of course it wasn't pink! But it took a while for me to warm up to the new palette [e: Ha! Warm up - no pun intended!] and feel like the pieces looked right in their cool blue hues.

Q. Flora seems to get in a bit of a bad mood in this book. Where did that come from?
Well, don’t we all from time to time? And I thought if was important for Flora to be a really real little person. I mean, it would have been easy peasy to write a story where she's this idyllic child who's always cheery and never cross... But have you ever met anyone who is actually like that? I haven't. Even the best people loose it from time to time. We make poor choices. Do unkind things... We're human. But then, if given the chance, a good person will do their best to make right their wrongs. I think that’s the best part of our humanity.

Q. Obviously she gets over it and makes a lovely new friend. Was it difficult to work out this story?
Yep. Though we had all these wonderful ideas that set the making of the book in motion, working out the source of Flora and the Penguin's conflict and resolution took me a while...

Q. It’s such a perfect winter book. How are you going to celebrate it?
With the perfect winter treat- hot chocolate and marshmallows! Although, if you're a penguin, you'll probably prefer celebrating it with mackerel..

Q. I hope FLORA AND THE PENGUIN does as well or better than FLORA AND THE FLAMINGO - not a bad goal considering the Caldecott honor. What was it like to get the call?
Oh wow... That was an awesome thing. Actually made me a bit weak in the knees... I remember holding onto the kitchen counter after I hung up the phone. Positively faint with happiness!

CONGRATULATIONS AGAIN! Check out this adorable book trailer for FLORA AND THE PENGUIN:

Candlewick has generously offered to send one free copy of FLORA AND THE PENGUIN to one of my lucky followers. Must live in the US or Canada to win - enter below.

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21. Friday Linky List - November 28, 2014

The Top 10 Words Invented by Writers from The Guardian via PW

From Janet Reid, Literary Agent: Query Question: Now that I have an agent, what mistakes can I avoid? Good!

At The Abundant Artist: 5 Art Pricing Lessons I Learned the Hard Way (EVERY artist/illustrator should read this!!!!)

For those doing NaNoWriMo, a great reminder on plotting from the creators of South Park, Matt Stone and Trey Parker. Click the image to go listen to their trick of using "but" and "therefore."

This is a lovely poem at poets.org: Gate A-4

From Kirkus: Best Children's Books of 2014 (Great list, although I think they're missing on of course.)

At BoingBoing: Richard Scarry's Busy Town in the 21st Century - OMG!

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22. Candy Fleming's THE FAMILY ROMANOV - Guest Post and Giveaway!

I am thrilled, thrilled, thrilled to have Candy Fleming here today to talk about her amazing new book, THE FAMILY ROMANOV. It's non-fiction at its best and deserves every bit of Newbery buzz that it's receiving. So, take it away Candy!

      Thanks so much for asking me to stop by, Elizabeth. I’m so excited to talk about my new book, The Family Romanov. Today I want to share a little bit about my research. It was a journey that took four paths. The first, of course, was primary research. After all, the heart of research is the firsthand accounts and eyewitness testimonies of those who lived through an historical event. And so I read reminiscences written by the children’s’ tutors, and Alexandra’s ladies-in-waiting and Nicholas’ courtiers. I delved into the royal family’s letters and diaries and other personal papers. I read Yakov Yurovsky’s chilling account of the murders; statements from the guards; depositions from the priests and cleaning women who visited the Romanovs in their last hours. All of it was so personal, so intimate. If you think about it, it really is the height of nosiness… and probably the reason I love this sort of research so much. I get to be part detective, piecing together testimony from all that conflicting testimony, and part gossip, reporting on all the juicy details I uncover.
      My second path? Secondary source material. There are hundreds of books about the Romanovs and the Russian Revolution (although almost none for young readers). Dozens of scholars have made the rigorous examination of Russia’s past their life’s work. They’ve written insightful, enlightening histories. And I read dozens of them. For months every night I curled up with books with titles like The Russian Revolution of February 1917 or The Fall of the Romanovs. There’s no denying that my book stands on the shoulders of these works.
      My third research path led to experts – scholars, historians, and other writers. They are, I’ve learned, incredibly generous. All my nonfiction titles have been immeasurably improved by their time and effort. But no one was more helpful than Dr. Mark Steinberg, professor of Russian, East European and Eurasian studies at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. While doing research, I came to rely on Dr. Steinberg’s work – his accessible histories of Russia, his impeccable translations of documents recently released from the Russian archives, his re-examination of Nicholas’ leadership abilities, his new and brilliant scholarship on Lenin, his admiration for Maxim Gorky. Can you tell I am a fan? So as the first draft of the book neared completion I approached him tentatively. More than anything, I wanted him to read what I’d written. I wanted his opinion, his knowledge. I wrote him, explaining my purpose and my readership. Then I crossed my fingers and hoped he’d answer. He did… enthusiastically. Over the course of the next six months, he read my draft, made suggestions, pointed out errors, suggested more appropriate source material and forced me to look at the evidence in different ways. He sent along books and articles he believed would help in my work. He re-read portions of the book I’d reworked based on his comments, and patiently answered what must have felt like a tireless stream of questions throughout the entire publication process. That’s generosity!
      Last, but certainly not least, my fourth research path took me traveling. I think it’s imperative to visit the places where the story happened. Landscapes speak and houses hold memories and secrets. This was especially true when writing The Family Romanov. In August 2012 I traveled to Russia where I followed in the Romanov’s footsteps, wandering the shady paths of Tsarskoe Selo and traipsing through the hallways of the Alexander Palace; visiting Rasputin’s apartment; exploring worker’s neighborhoods, Lenin’s headquarters and the dark, dank jail cells of the Peter and Paul Fortress. Just walking the streets and feeling the air brought my biographical subjects closer. And because of those travels, I made a surprising and important discovery – one that changed the scope of the book. It happened while I was visiting the Alexander Palace. In none of my sources had anyone mentioned how close the palace sat to the front gate. I’d assumed it was somewhere in the middle of the park, away from prying eyes. Not so. The tall, main gate with its golden, double headed eagle opens directly onto the palace’s circular driveway. Every day the family could look through its iron grillwork to the town of Tsarskoe Selo just on the other side. It gave me pause. The family was so close to it’s people. They were just on the other side of the gate. The Romanovs could look out their windows and see them. They could hear the voices of their people from the palace balcony. They could smell their cooking. They really weren’t as physically removed as sources had led me to believe. So why, I wondered, didn’t the Romanovs feel more attachment to their subjects? I mean, they were right there. The question led me down entirely new paths of thought. And it eventually led to the book’s inclusion of first hand worker and peasant accounts under the title, “Beyond the Palace Gates.”

Random House has kindly agreed to send a free copy of THE FAMILY ROMANOV to one of my lucky followers. Must live in the US to win - enter below.

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23. Small Business Saturday!

Come visit me at The Book Exchange in Marietta, Georgia today. I'll be sharing THE 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS IN GEORGIA at 10:30am, then A BIRD ON WATER STREET after that! Show your kids the importance of supporting small, neighborhood businesses and tweet at #SmallBizSat.

Click the cover to learn about my picture book THE 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS IN GEORGIA! Makes a GREAT teacher gift!
     Don't live in Georgia? Check with your local bookseller - Sterling has a version for each state.

Click the cover to learn about my debut novel, A BIRD ON WATER STREET, winner of six prestigious literary awards!
     When the birds return to Water Street, will anyone be left to hear them sing? A miner's strike allows green and growing things to return to the Red Hills, but that same strike may force residents to seek new homes and livelihoods elsewhere. Follow the story of Jack Hicks as he struggles to hold onto everything he loves most.

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24. 365 Avatars in 365 Days!

Patrick Girouard just completed a year-long project of creating an new Facebook avatar every day for a year. And they're positively brilliant. You gotta see (click the image to watch the collection video on YouTube):

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25. NaNoWriMo - I did it!!!!

I got to 50,000 words on my work-in-progress novel in one month for National Novel Writing Month! Wahooooo! Here is my badge:

And here is the link to the awesome YOU DID IT video on the NaNo website. (I wonder if you can only see it if you've won? Don't go look at it if you're still in that final writing stretch - it will be worth the wait.)

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