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(tagged with 'Picture Books')
Lisa on Poetry Friday: Brother Sun, Sister Moon, 11/11/2011 12:50:00 PM
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Cathy Mealey on PiBoIdMo Day 14: Julian Hector Combines Two Things That He Loves (plus an exclusive giveaway!), 11/14/2011 6:16:00 AM
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When I sat down to read Phyllis Root’s latest picture book, Scrawny Cat (Candlewick Press, 2011), to a class of second graders, they were all excited.
They had lots of stories to share about their pet cats, cats that belonged to friends and neighbors, and cats looking for homes.
So, they were very interested to hear the story of a lonely, little, lost cat looking for a home. They were sad when people told the cat to “get out of here.” They were worried when a mean dog chased him. And they were scared when the dinghy the cat hid in floated out to sea in a storm.
But just when it seemed all was lost, the dinghy landed on an island and Scrawny Cat met Emma who was just as lonely as he was.
And when I finished the book at the kids saw Scrawny Cat happy, safe and loved with Emma, they all said, “Awwww …”
Now, let’s hear from today’s guest reviewer, Aria, one of the students in the class. She’s never had a cat, because her sister is allergic to them, but she says that someday she’d like to have one.
Today’s reviewer: Aria.
Things I like to do: Climb trees, color and paint.
This book was about: A cat named Skipper who was a stray. His owners must have lost him. And he hides on a boat to get away from a mean dog and the boat sails away to a girl named Emma.
The best part was when: Skipper got his home and family — a new owner.
I smiled when: Skipper met Emma and she scratched his ears.
I was worried when: The boat drifted away in the big storm. And when the cat was being chased by the big dog.
I was surprised when:The girl picked him up and took him home and the cat was so worried that she would toss him out the door.
This book taught me: If a friend doesn’t want to be your friend anymore, that’s OK. Because you can find another friend who will like you, too.
Three words that best describe this book are: “Kindness.” “Nice.” “Friendly.”
My favorite line or phrase in the book: “Now, everyone called him Get Out of Here. But the scrawny cat knew his name was not Get Out of Here.
Other kids reading this book should watch for: “The big, growly dog.”
You should read this book because: It’s nice. People who have cats might like this book, too.
Thanks, Aria! You did a marvelous job.
This book’s author, Phyllis Root, has written more than 30 children’s books. If you’d like to learn more about her, you can visit this website, or read this question-and-answer interview.
If you’d like to learn more about illustrator Alison Friend, who made scrawny cat look so pathetic and scared I just wanted to pick him up and give him a hug, you can visit her website.
You've probably heard that November is Picture Book Month. For many of us, our earliest reading memories involved a favorite story read by a parent, grandparent, or school librarian. Books that became favorites were requested over and over, until the grown-ups in our lives finally memorized the words.
A few of the fiction staff members shared their favorite childhood picture books with me recently:
For me, it was definitely Lon Po Po by Ed Young. My mom said it scared me every time she read it, yet I kept asking her to read it to me again and again and again. It’s kind of fun to think back on, because to this day I love wolves and comics (and this book was one of the few picture books to have sequential art in the form of panels). Second place has to be The Story of Ferdinand. I’ll never forget the way Ferdinand looked back at me with his sad, timid face. For whatever reason, it captivated me as a kid.
Sean Tulien, Editor
by Jodi Moore
It’s okay to write a 2,000+ word picture book.
*braces self for screams of disbelief, coffee cups dropped, any chance of securing another book deal/agent/critique opening vanish, my own editors paling in shock, possible angry mobs at my doorstep and Tara questioning why-oh-why did she ever ask me to guest blog for PiBoIdMo?*
Now, hold up. I didn’t say it would be publishable. I just said it’s OKAY to write one. In fact, sometimes it may be necessary.
As picture book writers, we are challenged to deliver big ideas in as few words as possible. We are expected to fully develop our story, our characters, our plotline; captivate our audience; fashion a fabulous first sentence and create a satisfying end.
All while leaving room—and extending faith—for the illustrations.
It’s no easy task. So I ask…why would you limit yourself in the beginning with a word count?
Perhaps it may help to look at this in a different way. Let’s say I want to build a perfect sandcastle. If I only look at a finished product, say, one of my husband’s illustrious creations, and size up the amount of sand comprising the castle itself, I may decide I only need a few large buckets of sand to complete the task.
But that’s not what he starts with. Larry begins with an entire sandy beach. Using a large shovel, he piles on tons of sand. He sifts through bucket after bucket of the grainy particles. He packs it high as a mountain, scraping up more sand than he could possibly need.
That proud hill is his main idea. It’s the structure. The mass from which he will carve out his masterpiece. It’s his 2000+ words.
And then, he sculpts. He edits. He revises until he can see the more subtle nuances of the castle. Sometimes, a wall will cave or a doorway will be in the wrong place. But that’s okay, because he still has plenty of sand left. He can add. He can rebuild. My husband hasn’t limited himself to a few buckets of sand.
Why should you?
From your comments and posts on both this forum and Facebook, I know that you’re all busy creating your own pile of ideas. Embrace them…and write what’s in your heart. Use every word that’s necessary and a few that – you may find out later – are not. Restricting your words too early on may constrict your idea, choking the very life out of it. Let it breathe; let it swell. Let those words FLOW.
There will be plenty of time to revise—and reshape!—later.
Writing picture books can be a DAY at the beach. Shed those limitations and dig in!
Jodi Moore is the author of WHEN A DRAGON MOVES IN (May 2011, Flashlight Press) and the soon-to-be-published GOOD NEWS NELSON (Story Pie Press). She writes both picture books and young adult novels, hoping to challenge, nourish and inspire her readers by opening up brand new worlds and encouraging unique ways of thinking. You can visit he
The end-of-the-year lists have started cropping up. Just this past month The New York Times announced The 2011 Best Illustrated Children’s Books and Publisher's Weekly compiled the PW Best Books 2011: Children's Books. I like to keep a close eye on these early lists. It's possible the next Caldecott winner is among the titles mentioned. Don't believe me? Just look at a few of the lists from past few years and you'll see a connection.
Lane Smith's new picture book, Grandpa Green, made it onto both lists. His book gracefully tackles the subject of aging and intergenerational relationships. With unusually lush, green illustrations, it's simply a beautiful book.
Grandpa Green by Lane Smith. Roaring Book Press (August 2011); ISBN 9781596436077; 32 pages
Review Book Source: Copy from our local library
Grandpa Green captures important life moments in his garden, a horticultural memoir of sorts showing events and people from his past preserved in topiary. His great-grandson explores the lush trip down memory lane, stopping by all the carefully shaped trees and bushes and picking up the tools his great-grandfather has dropped along the way. A crying baby trimmed from a bush symbolizes Grandpa Green's birth, a carrot shaped topiary reminds everyone of his farming background, and a cannon and parachuters made out of plants represent his wartime experiences. "He used to remember everything. Now he's pretty old." Grandpa Green shapes his story plant by plant with his clippers, his most significant memories living on, flourishing and serving as a reminder, while new ones crop up along the way as he is assisted by his great-grandchild. Grandpa Green's legacy stands, ready to be passed down generation after generation.
Grandpa Green is the kind of book that affects people, young and old, in different ways. It's a poignant and interesting exploration of a life, and though Lane describes it as a fictional story, it seems deeply personal. Those with an elderly friend or family member or one diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease will find it particularly touching. And even though the book tackles serious topics, there are plenty of touches of humor and playfulness that you'd expect from Smith like bunnies eating a topiary carrot and a reference to the Wizard of Oz. Both my daughter and son love to discuss all the detailed images found in the ink line drawings and painted foliage.
When my daughter was young, she was convinced that "nasty things" lived in her closet, and we had to make sure that the doors of her closet were shut tight before she would let us turn off her light at bedtime. Many children are persecuted by the monsters, bears, wolves, dragons and other creatures that inhabit the dark places in their homes, and it is hard to reassure them that these creatures are not out to get them.
In today's picture book Joanna Harrison tells the story of a little girl who has a problem with a bear, and we see how her fear changes over time into something altogether different.
For ages 4 to 7
Lerner, 2006, 0-87614-965-4
Most of the time, Katie is a happy girl who likes having tea parties, hanging upside down on the bars, playing dress up, and playing with her friends at school. Most of the time Katie does not think about the bear who lives under the stairs, but at night, when she is in bed, she finds it hard not think about him. Katie knows that the bear is there and that he is “just waiting to jump out and grab her.” Katie tells her parents about the bear, and her mother suggests that Katie should write to the bear and tell him to “go away.”
Katie follows her mother’s advice, and to her amazement, the bear writes her a letter telling her that he has decided to go away, as per her request. Apparently, the bear needs a vacation. A few days later, Katie finds a package in front of the closet door. Inside the package is a snow globe. The bear has brought Katie a gift.
Naturally, Katie sends the bear a thank you letter, but when she does not hear anything from the bear for several days she starts to worry. Is the bear ill? Is something terribly wrong with him?
Many children are afraid of the bears, dragons, and monsters that inhabit closets, basements, and other dark and creepy places. When they are in bed, they are afraid to put their feet down on the floor in case something grabs them by the ankles.
In this picture book, Joanna Harrison tackles this very delicate issue with sensitivity and gentle humor. Children will come to see that perhaps the creature they fear is not all that bad. Perhaps it is even lonely.
Being able to see both sides of a story is a useful tool to have, and this book helps children to see that when they are afraid or unsure, they should try to look at their problem from a different angle. They may be surprised by what they see when they do.
By: Aline Pereira
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, Picture Books
, children's book authors
, children's book illustrators
, Dianne de Las Casas
, Elizabeth O. Dulemba
, Katie Davis
, Picture Book Month
, picture books for children
, Picture Books No Longer A Staple for Children
, Tara Lazar
, Wendy MArtin
, Add a tag
Picture Book Month is an international initiative to designate November as Picture Book Month, encouraging everyone to celebrate literacy with picture books. Founder, Dianne de Las Casas (author & storyteller) and Co-Founders, Katie Davis (author/illustrator), Elizabeth O. Dulemba (author/illustrator), Tara Lazar (author), and Wendy Martin (author/illustrator), are putting together their worldwide connections to make this happen.
In October 2010 The New York Times published an article, “Picture Books No Longer A Staple for Children.” The controversial article incited a barrage of responses from the children’s book industry, many in defense of the venerable picture book. In addition, the digital age has ushered in an unprecedented amount of ebooks and, with devices like the iPad, the color Nook, and the Kindle Fire, picture books are being converted to the digital format. In this digital age where people are predicting the coming death of print books, picture books (the print kind) need love. And the world needs picture books. There’s nothing like the physical page turn of a beautifully crafted picture book.
Each day during November picture book authors have contributed a short essay on Why Picture Books Are So Important. The Picture Book Month website also features links to picture book resources, authors, illustrators, and kidlit book bloggers. So stop by and check out the essays, and all the rest of the material (including calendars and celebration ideas and much more) for Picture Book Month at www(dot)picturebookmonth(dot)com. Join the celebration and party with a picture book!
by Courtney Pippin-Mathur
For PiBoIdMo, I’m giving you a very special gift.
Your very own Inspiration Fairy!
This Fairy will grant new ideas and make your kidlit dreams come true!
All you have to do is the following:
- click on her for the full size image
- attach her somewhere close to your work space.
Next, (and this is the only way to make fairy magic happen:) You have to believe.
And in order to believe, you have to work. You have to write or draw something as often as you can. And never give up! (for more than a few minutes or days at least)
The things you create can be things that are wonderful, horrible, short, long, happy, funny, sad and even things that will probably be better off in the recycling bin.
But, you have to do it.
You have to work for it.
And you have to believe.
I speak from experience. It took five years to get my first book published. It was the first book I wrote and the first publisher I sent it to. But, it took five years for the planets to align, my skills to improve and to get the yes. During these years, I hoped, despaired, submitted and almost quit a million times.
I give you this fairy to remind you that the kidlit adventure is dangerous, slow and might even bring you to tears occasionally.
But, hang in there, keep at it, work it and most of all, believe.
Courtney Pippin-Mathur is an illustrator and writer. Her first picture book as a writer and illustrator, MAYA WAS GRUMPY, is coming out Fall of 2012 with Flashlight Press. She juggles paint, paper, keyboard and three kids. She wouldn’t wouldn’t have it any other way.
Courtney is giving away an original watercolor painting of the Inspiration Fairy to a lucky commenter. A winner will be selected one week from today! Good luck!
15 Comments on PiBoIdMo Day 17: Courtney Pippin-Mathur Has a Gift For You (plus a giveaway!), last added: 11/16/2011
By: Kerry Aradhya
Blog: Picture Books & Pirouettes
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, American Friends of the Kigali Public Library
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, Picture Books
, Chronicle Books
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For the second year in a row, I'm taking part in a fantastic "haul-iday" giveaway from Chronicle Books
. This eclectic independent publisher is giving away up to $500 worth of books to one lucky blogger, one reader of that blog, and the winning blogger's favorite charity. The winning reader will get the same haul of books as the winning blogger, and the winning charity will get to pick its own books. What a generous giveaway!
My charity of choice is the American Friends of the Kigali Public Library (AFKPL)
. The AFKPL is a nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC, that has been working with local and international partners to raise money, collect books, and offer additional support for the construction and long-term sustainability of the first public library in Rwanda.
Located in the capital of Rwanda, the Kigali Public Library
will help introduce a culture of reading into this small African country, which has a complex history of violence and isolation that it is working hard to overcome. The library will also have a special focus on children's literacy, including many books in English, which is now the official language of Rwanda.
Please consider leaving a comment on this post to show your support for the AFKPL and to enter to win the picture books listed below (if my blog is chosen as the winner of the giveaway). In the spirit of my blog and of the AFKPL, all of the books on my list have artistic or multicultural themes.
If you want to read more about the giveaway or enter it as a blogger yourself, you can find the full instructions here
. You can also find a list of participating blogs here
The giveaway closes on December 2, 2011. Good luck to all!Dance, Art & Music A Magical Day with MatisseA Nutty Nutcracker ChristmasA Picnic with MonetDancing with DegasDreaming with RousseauFrank Was a Monster Who Wanted to DanceIn the Garden with Van GoghMatisse: Dance for JoyMonet's ImpressionsOn an Islan
Since finding out I was pregnant back in May, I've been constantly on the lookout for great books to add to my new little one's enormous bookcase. I have some favorites of course, but I wanted a collection of stories that not only had nice illustrations, but also contained specific stories I knew and loved as a child. I want to use the book as a connector between my child and myself and finding the right story collection just wasn't happening.
When this one came in my mailbox a few weeks ago, I was instantly taken by the cover. It looked old. Not old as in "dated and ugly," but old as in "from my childhood." Definitely a good thing! No bright, splashy colors, just a cool design depicting Jack from "Jack and the Beanstalk."
I was THRILLED to find a listing of some of my favorite stories, including "The Three Billy Goats Gruff," "The Story of Chicken-Licken," and "The Ugly Duckling." The stories are pretty much as I remember them, though some changes may have been made...it's been quite awhile since I've actually read a lot of them, but for the most part they were just as I wanted.
Just a quick side note. One of my favorite childhood memories is of my mom reading me "The Story of Chicken-Licken." Not sure when the silly name...which I love...turned into "Chicken Little," but I was really excited to see the original name.
The illustrations are excellent! Not too modern and fitting of some of the darker stories. I mean...the troll in "The Three Billy Goats Gruff" is supposed to be scary...not cute, as is the wolf from "The Three Little Pigs." Yes, they might be a might evil looking for sensitive children, but I think they fit in with the stories perfectly.
I can see myself giving this book as a baby shower gift, birthday gift, Baptism gift, etc. It's a book to grow with a child and be shared within a family. I'm so excited to have one in time for Baby Snow to arrive and I know his daddy and I will love reading him the stories as he gets older. Buy from IndieBoundBuy from Powells
Michael Hague's Treasured ClassicsMichael Hague133 pagesPicture Book Collection9780911949043October 2011Review copy provided by publisherI am an affiliate of both IndieBound and Powells and will receive a small percentage of the purchase price.
I’ve never understood the prevalence of farm books for youngsters. Most kids today don’t have daily encounters with cows and pigs. Why then do we ignore the animals of the city? Your squirrels, mice, and pigeons. (Okay, one
Pigeon isn’t ignored, and in fact has his own app which you can win for free because it’s really cool, but that’s another post
that you should go to. Really
.) Besides featuring the farm, picture books are drawn to the countryside setting. Pastures, forests, trees, all sorts of nature everywhere.
Well, it is high time for the city to rise to take its place in children’s literature. With three quarters of the population living in urban/suburban areas, kids can relate to street noises as much as cricket songs. They get cars and trucks and things that go. Here’s another thing: They don’t require a moral tale of how busy/loud/scary the city can be compared to the calm serenity of the countryside. (I’m looking at you, Town Mouse
You won’t get that in my featured book for the One Shot of Book City
, by John Rocco, is both a tribute to the city and
a nod to serenity. The story takes place in New York during the famous 2003 blackout. A family is dispersed throughout the house enjoying their God-given right to electricity, when BAM!
Power’s out. Everywhere. They head to the roof to escape the summer heat and find the stars filling the night sky and neighbors socializing and it’s all simply fun. When the lights come back, they’ve remembered that sometimes they can have fun without electricity — even when they aren’t forced to do so. The city and the family can return to normal, but keep a little of that special time alive. Let me just interject how much I love the family here. A realistic group with mom busy on the computer and older sister on the cell phone, they also have a look of unspecified racial diversity.
The book is laid out in a modified graphic novel style, though with narrated text as opposed to dialogue. As such, the expressions of the people are needed to help tell the story. The surprise on the family’s faces as they look out on a darkened city. The boredom as they sit around the table expecting the electricity to come back. The stunned wonder as they come out to the roof and see stars — no small thing for city folk to see. Within the dark tones of the illustration, the stories of what becomes a sort of magical night is captured beautifully. Stories like these:
A book not to be missed, Blackout
is on the
People often like to talk about how they were not able to become a dancer, singer, or stand-up comedian because things simply did not work out in their favor. Often this is true, the pieces of the puzzle did not come together at the right time. Sometimes though, these people's dreams did not come true because they doubted themselves. They did not believe that they could pull it off, so they did not put all their resources into the effort.
Today's picture book is about a little mouse who doubts herself, but who does not give up.
For ages 5 to 7
NorthSouth, 2010, 978-0-7358-2322-8
Mimi the Mouse wants to be a performer. She wants to sing, to dance, and to act on a stage. Unfortunately, Mimi does not think that she is “talented and beautiful” and everyone knows that performers have to talented and beautiful.
Mimi goes and talks to Albert the Mole about her problem. He recommends that Mimi can learn how to sing and dance, so Mimi goes to dance lessons with Misha the Frog, and to singing lessons with Bubbles the Blackbird. Both of her teachers recommend that Mimi should not worry about any mistakes she makes. She should be herself and keep going.
Next Mimi goes to see Calvin the Tailor and he makes Mimi a lovely dress that makes Mimi feel pretty. Calvin tells her that no matter what happens “you look like a star.”
When Mimi learns that there is going to be an audition for the Mouse Ballet, she is ecstatic. Now at last she can show off what she has learned. This is “her big chance” to see her dream come true. Or is it?
Many of us have dreams of becoming a great performer, scientist, or artist, but we doubt ourselves. We dare not believe that we can reach such heights.
In this meaningful and heartwarming story, readers will meet a little mouse who has determination, and who is willing to work hard to make her dream come true. As they follow her story, readers will see that there is one more thing Mimi needs to have - confidence in herself and in her ability to follow through.
With a meaningful message and a likeable main character, this is a book that offers support and encouragement to any child who has big dreams.
by Cynthia Levinson
I was so heartened to read Carol Hampton Rasco’s opening blog post on PiBoIdMo because she made two comments that really resonate with me. Well, she said one, and then she quoted a savvy but jaded six-year-old.
First, she noted that the top picture-book choice of teachers, reading specialists, and Reading is Fundamental volunteers is NONFICTION. That buoyed me because that’s what I write. In fact, my agent, Erin Murphy, has two of my nonfiction picture books under submission right now. The six-year-old, however, quickly brought me down to earth. As he peered at a terrific looking book, he said, “it doesn’t look like a true fact book, they’re usually boring.” That’s good news for the book he was enjoying but “aargh” for the others.
We can all cite other terrific NF PBs. Some of my favorites include MIND YOUR MANNERS, ALICE ROOSEVELT! by Leslie Kimmelman; 14 COWS FOR AMERICA by Carmen Agra Deedy, which is available in both English and Spanish (which is perfect, since Rasco also said that bilingual books rank among the top-three most-wanted); and YOURS FOR JUSTICE, IDA B. WELLS by Philip Dray. Citing counter-examples to the six-year-old’s complaint, however, is beside the point. It’s his experience and his impression that count. So, what can we, as NfPiBoWr (that’s nonfiction picture-book writers) do to alter his conclusion that “true fact” books are boring?
Language and illustrations, of course, contribute hugely to enlivening books that happen to be accurate. Rasco also commented that what adults want for the children they read and give books to are books that are “eye and mind catching.” Great illustrations catch the eye; lilting, lively, lyrical text captures the mind. Neither of these is quite sufficient, however, if the topic—and we are dealing with ideas during PiBoIdMo here—is lackluster.
As a nonfiction writer, my ideas come from a number of places—the news, teacher-friends who lament the lack of good books about X, expert-friends who share fascinating stories about their research, and sheer curiosity. But, the biggest source of my ideas is Carus.
Carus is the family of magazines that is sometimes abbreviated to “COBBLESTONE.” These include, for various age groups, not only this magazine about American History but also DIG on archeology, APPLESEEDS and FACES on culture, CALLIOPE on history, ODYSSEY on science, and others. It’s not that I steal ideas from other writers; I steal ideas from myself. Here’s what I mean.
Most of these magazines are theme-based, and a couple of times a year, I check their Writer’s Guides to see what intrigues me. What I see now in ASK, a science magazine for six- to nine-year-olds, for instance, are calls for proposals for nonfiction articles on dreams and dreaming, “all
Deborah Freedman at home –
(How I wish we were eating an actual breakfast at her beautiful, colorful house)
(Click to enlarge)
Really devoted 7-Imp readers will note that Alfred, pictured left, is joining me earlier than usual for today’s post. Alfred, who sprung from the mind and paintbrush of Matt Phelan, now lives at 7-Imp and always introduces Bernard Pivot’s famous Pivot Questionnaire, which is how I consistently close my interviews. (As noted elsewhere at the blog, Alfred makes good, strong coffee and tells wicked funny knock-knock jokes in a low voice. I like him.)
He’s at the top of today’s post, because my guest this morning, author/illustrator Deborah Freedman, illustrated her responses to the Pivot Questionnaire, which makes me happy. Yes, illustrated! (There is always Chris Raschka’s set of Pivot responses, answered in photographs, which I also loved, but these illustrated responses are a first for 7-Imp.) Since I blew up Deborah’s Pivot image at the close of this interview to be as large as possible in the blog’s template, Alfred didn’t quite fit down there, so he’s up top with me now to introduce Deborah. Don’t worry. He’s not as surly as he looks.
There aren’t a whole lot of author/illustrators who can say that their second published book got a good deal of Caldecott buzz. But Deborah can. Those who pay attention to picture-book chatter know that her newest title, Blue Chicken, released by Viking in September (and sparked by William Carlos Williams’s “The Red Wheelbarrow,” as Deborah notes here), has been mentioned by many in the same sentence as that prestigious award (all in the name of ALA awards-predictions, which get hot and heavy this time of year). The book tells the story of a painted chicken who lets loose on an artist’s canvas. She just wants to help, yet spills blue paint everywhere. Then, things get very 3-d, as other animals in the painting emerge from the canvas onto the meta-landscape to watch while the chicken tries to “undo the blue” by toppling over the artist’s glass of water.
“But wait. Does one of the chickens want to help?”
(Click to enlarge)
by Liz Garton Scanlon
I have to be honest with you.
I think the word “idea” is a little grand.
And by grand, I mean daunting.
An idea is a huge thing, right?
It requires freshness and originality, it encompasses possibility, it is—not to get all god-like here, but—the beginning of everything!
Meanwhile, we’re always being told, “There are no new ideas!”
Poet Audre Lord said, “There are no new ideas. There are only new ways of making them felt.” And there are all those books and lectures that tell us there are only about seven plots available on the whole entire planet. And you guys. There is even a web site called “no new ideas” and it is just a blank page!
So. Phew. That’s out of the way.
No new ideas.
We can’t find what isn’t there.
But, this puts us PiBoIdMo folks in a bit of bind, doesn’t it?
What are we supposed to do for the rest of the month?
Well, personally, I think we should try for something smaller.
Not a whole new idea everyday—just a new perspective.
(And, guess what? The Greek origin of the word idea is idein, which means “to see”! Which means I’ve got support from ancient sages here, so let’s go with it.)
What if all we need is a new way of looking at things?
And what if that way is a child-like way?
A child, said author Olive Schreiner, “sees everything, looks straight at it, examines it, without any preconceived idea.”
Have you ever noticed what kids want to do when they’re riding a down escalator? They want to run up it!
Kids don’t look at things as if they’re static or rule-based or already defined. Surprise and experimentation are everyday affairs. Freshness and originality and possibility—all those things I found so daunting above? Ha. Child’s play.
And children, you’ll remember, are our audience.
So, what if we look straight at life today and examine it?
What if we let our preconceptions slip away and see things as children see things?
What if we imagine that socks are pockets (A Sock is a Pocket for Your Toes) or that the whole wide world could fit in a book (All the World) or that a worm and a bird could be best friends (Noodle & Lou)?
What if look around, each of us, at the animals in our houses and yards, the food on our tables, the books on our bedside tables, and we just plain see them in a new way? That’s all I’m going to do today, and you should join me. We’ll leave the grand and daunting to someone else…
(And now for the party favors!)
These really great photos that are all about accessing a child’s perspective.
This one is my favorite:
And then this fine bit of musing by a
Picture books. What a fun world they offer. Here are some recommendations from my reading of the past few weeks.
E-mergency! An alphabet book with a hilarious twist: E is injured and out of commission for a while. O must fill in, leading to newspaper headlines like "Man Bitos Dog!" and "Football Toam Wins Big Gamo." By Tom Lichtenheld and Ezra Fields-Meyer. (Chronicle, 2011)
Blue Chicken. An unfinished picture + a curious chicken + a full bottle of paint = watch out! Artist Deborah Freedman plays with perspective, telling most of the story through the adorable illustrations. (Viking, 2011)
Samantha on a Roll. Channeling the spirit of Curious George, Samantha must try out her roller skates, even though her mother is busy. A steep hill? No problem, if you know how to stop. How do you stop, by the way? A rhyming book written by Linda Ashman and illustrated by Christine Davenier. (Margaret Ferguson Books/Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011)
Scrawny Cat. A lonely stray cat hiding on a boat accidentally sets sail. Will he find love and acceptance at the island in the distance? (Of course!) Written by Phyllis Root and illustrated by Alison Friend. (Candlewick, 2011)
Poindexter Makes a Friend. A gently humorous story with some practical advice, this book begins and ends with the theme of connection. I plan to read Poindexter, which stars a shy pig, to the second-grade class where I volunteer. Written and illustrated by Mike Twohy. (Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster, 2011)
I Want My Hat Back. A bear, a fast-talking rabbit, a missing hat. Hmm. Grownups' favorite picture book of the year is making a number of the Best of 2011 lists so far. By Jon Klassen. (Candlewick, 2011)
Baby Says “Moo!” A rhyming cumulative story, this one ought to tickle 2 and 3 year olds who know their animal sounds. Silly baby, cats don't say "Moo!" Written by JoAnn Early Macken and illustrated by David Walker. (Disney/Hyperion, 2011)
The Runaway Tortilla. Eric A. Kimmel's Southwestern spin on "The Gingerbread Man" was a big hit with the second graders, who want more of this kind of story. Illustrated by Randy Cecil. (Winslow Press, 2000)
Book: Tia Isa Wants A Car
Author: Meg Medina
Illustrator: Claudio Munoz
Age Range: 4-8
Tia Isa Wants A Car by Meg Medina is about separated immigrant families and working hard to achieve goals. The unnamed narrator lives in an apartment with her aunt and uncle (a brother and sister), while her Mami, Papi, and Abuelo remain on some far off island. Most of the money that Tia Isa and Tio Andres earn is sent "back home--along with notes and pictures so Mami can see how I've grown."
Despite money being tight, Tia Isa decides that she wants to save up to buy a car, so that she can drive to the beach. Tio Andres thinks that this is "Rrrridiculo". But Isa and her niece work hard to raise money, and in support of the dream of buying a car.
Although this book certainly conveys messages about working hard, and believing that you can achieve what you set out to do, Tia Isa Wants A Car doesn't feel message-y. It feels more like a true story about an immigrant family. Part of Isa's determination involves showing up her doubting brother. And the first thing that Isa and her niece do once they get their car is tape up a picture of the whole family. It's a family story (and a note at the end suggests that this book is loosely based on the author's own childhood experience).
One thing I like about this book is the casual sprinkling of Spanish words throughout the text, not enough to need a glossary, or to be confusing, but enough to lend a Latina flavor to the book. I also quite like Claudio Munoz's pencil, watercolor, and ink illustrations. They are warm and colorful, particularly the ones that show the beach. There's a slight blurring of the images of the family back home, just enough to make it clear that they are separate from the book's day-to-day reality.
And the pictures absolutely help with the characterization in the story. Isa's pride and determination are clear in the set of her shoulders and the lift of her head, while Andres' questioning hand gestures look authentic. The apartment that Isa and Andres live in with their niece is lovingly detailed. And the pictures that accompany the niece's projects around her neighborhood show a nice cross-section of people and backgrounds.
Tia Isa Wants A Car celebrates family and hard work, and the bridging of old and new cultures. It would make a nice read-aloud for school or library storytime, particularly in schools with a significant Latino immigrant population. I like it!
Publisher: Candlewick (@Candlewick)
Publication Date: June 4, 2011
Source of Book: Library copy
Nominated for 2011 Cybils in Fiction Picture Books by: Danielle Smith
© 2011 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).
by Julian Hector
Creatively, I’m very slow.
I like to be delicate with my ideas and usually spend three years developing a picture book.
Because of this, I have to look for ideas that hit my proverbial sweet spot and keep me enthused for the long haul.
For the picture book that I’m working on now, titled THE TRICYCLE MOUSE, my initial idea was to combine two of my favorite things: vehicles and animals.
Thus the characters in the book are hybridized animal-vehicles.
I started working on this over a year and a half ago, it still has a long way to go, but my excitement for the project has only grown.
Julian Hector is generously giving away an original signed painting he made exlcusively for PiBoIdMo, with characters from his picture book THE GENTLEMAN BUG! It’s unbelievably adorable! Lucky you!
Leave a comment to enter and a winner will be randomly chosen one week from today.
We praise you that in this world of hatred and war,Brother Sun, Sister Moon: Saint Francis of Assisi’s Canticle of the Creatures
You still give us courageous brothers and sisters
who offer their lives to the making of peace.
They are indeed your beloved children.
- from Brother Sun, Sister Moon
written by Katherine Paterson, illustrated by Pamela Dalton
Chronicle 2011, review copy from publisher
The Canticle of the Creatures is elegantly reworked in accessible phrasing with detailed cut-paper illustrations. One word review: Gorgeous. Two word review: Gorgeous gratitude. The levels of beauty continue to surprise me, but I'll admit that the book requires a patient reader. That seems like a hard sell for a picture book, and yet I see the need
for this book. First in a religious context, where too often the quality of the work is lacking in favor of the message. Here we have both, with the text invoking God with sublime poetry and imagery. Fire is praised for the warmth it gives "and in whose resplendent dancing light we glimpse your playfulness." At the same time the stunning illustrations take us through a story where wood is chopped to build fires for warmth and to bake bread. And in the artwork lies the second need for the book: an invitation to slow down. There's a sensibility to the delicate cut-paper work where willow branches bend to the force of the wind or bow in a border echoing the downward flow of the water that begs for deliberation. In stopping to appreciate the scenes, the reader has the opportunity to absorb the words of gratitude. In a picture book age of broad strokes and quick page turns, Brother Sun, Sister Moon
makes an appeal for an unhurried approach, a mindfulness within its pages that extends to the natural world beyond. Exquisite.
Poetry Friday is hosted today at Teaching Authors
Links to material on Amazon.com contained within this post may be affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which this site may receive a referral fee.
Every so often, when I am driving around running errands, I see a dog trotting down the sidewalk, and it is looking thin, filthy, and desperate. Whenever I can, I will pick the dog up and take it to the animal shelter, hoping that it has simply lost its way and that its family will soon come to pick it up. All too often the dog goes unclaimed. For some reason, the dog's family does not care about it anymore.
In today's picture book you will meet a dog who is abandoned, but who never gives up trying to find a new home and a new person to love her.
For ages 5 to 7
Houghton Mifflin, 2008, 978-0-618-71714-9
One day Tupelo
’s owners drop her off on the side of the road and drive off. All Tupelo has is her toy, Mr. Bones, but she does not give up. “Everyone belongs somewhere” she resolutely says, and she goes off to find out where her place is.
finds lots of wonderful places, but none of them have room for “a scrappy dog.” Then her nose leads her to a place where a group of dogs, the BONEHEADS (the Benevolent Order of Nature’s Exalted Hounds Ernest and Doggedly Sublime) are gathering for a special ceremony. The dogs explain that they are going to make a wish on Sirius, the Dog Star, and in return they will bury a bone as an “offering.” The other dogs all offer up their wishes to Sirius, but Tupelo has no bone to bury, so she cannot make a wish. Not knowing what else to do, Tupelo decides to follow the pack.
The dogs are fed by a hobo called Garbage Pail Tex, and then all of them, including Tupelo, get onto a train. When they get to Hoboken, Tex
and his hobo pals set about finding homes for all the dogs. Many are just lost, and their owners are delighted to see them again. Others truly are homeless, but there are people who are happy to invite the dogs into their homes and lives.
is the only dog left, and no one seems to want her. She is all alone again without the BONEHEADS, and without Tex.
In this delightful picture book, readers will meet a dog whose owners abandon her. They will also meet a charming pack of dogs and learn about several of the world’s most famous dog characters including the fictional Toto and the real life Balto. We can tell how Tupelo feels as she tries to find a home of her own, and we can appreciate the fact that Tupelo, like all dogs, needs someone to love and care for her.
Throughout the book, the charming text is perfectly paired with Melissa Sweet’s unique multimedia illustrations.
By: Aline Pereira
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Ed Young, author-illustrator, text as told to Libby Koponen,
The House Baba Built: An Artist’s Childhood in China
Little, Brown and Company, 2011.
Age 4-8 and up
Born in 1931 the fourth of five siblings, Ed Young spent the years of the great depression, Japanese occupation, and World War II in a magnificent environment thanks to his father’s building skills and negotiating acumen. The esteemed Young, a senior talent in the world of children’s literature, celebrates his baba’s loving care and his extended family’s safe passage through terrible times in this collage-illustrated memoir.
In exchange for building the house on a Shanghai property he couldn’t afford to buy (a safe suburb of embassy housing), Baba secured use of the home for 20 years. He designed a substantial two-story edifice with many outdoor spaces and even a swimming pool. (Empty most of the time, the pool was used for riding bikes.) Young’s large-format book with several fold-out pages incorporates many old family photographs, sketches of siblings and relatives, and detailed diagrams of the house that Baba built. At the close of the story, double foldout pages display a layout sketch of both floors of the house, with tiny images of people pasted in the various rooms. Thirteen rooms are depicted, plus outdoor decks and a rooftop playground.
Koponen shapes Young’s words into a lyrical account of family life, repeating the phrase “the house that Baba built” to poetic effect. Text is interspersed scrapbook-style amongst cutouts of Young’s sketches–household members on a see-saw, roller-skating on the rooftop, dancing in the large ground floor living room. Baba, who had received a graduate degree from the University of Michigan in 1917, was cultured and somewhat westernized, but like everyone in Shanghai, the family suffered food shortages and overcrowded conditions for many years. Bombs fell nearby towards the end, but the house withstood the attacks, thanks to Baba’s sturdy construction.
Back matter includes the location of the house on a contemporary map of Shanghai, a family time line from 1915-1947, and an author’s note describing his 1990 visit to the house and how this book came into being. A fascinating window into Shanghai history, Young’s heartfelt tribute to his baba will endear children yet again to his stunning visual imagery and, this time, to his personal story as well.
If you haven't had the privilege of having in a cat in your life, you have no idea how much mess and chaos a cat can create in a very short period of time. Cats get into places that seem safe, and before you know it a precious vase is smashed, a stack of books in tipped over, and a cake (inside a cabinet) has holes nibbled in it.
Today's picture book is about a cat who gets into a house, goes exploring, and leaves a trail of destruction in his wake.
Illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully
For ages 4 to 6
Clarion, 2007, 978-0-618-61488-2
It is a warm summer day, and someone has left the kitchen window open. Cat jumps in through the window and begins to explore the kitchen. He walks across the rolled out pie dough and drinks some cream. Somewhere in that kitchen there is something fishy and Cat tries to find it. Finally, after much searching, he finds the source of the smell in the garbage can. Someone comes into the kitchen and she sees the mess. She sees Cat, who streaks out of the kitchen and hides in a closet.
In the closet, Cat finds warm coats to rub himself against, and he plays with a scarf that has a tantalizing fringe. Then cat sees a hat on a shelf, and the feathers decorating the hat are just too hard to resist. Cat jumps up…and the shelf comes tumbling down with a loud cracking noise. The lady comes to see what is going o,n and she sees the cat. “Cat? Out!” she says.
Young readers are sure to enjoy seeing how the cat in this story leaves a trail of chaos behind him. Everywhere he goes, his curiosity gets the better of him and he does something that he shouldn’t. With a text that is punctuated by shouts and sound words like “Woosh!” and “Thwump,” this is a picture book that children will enjoy. After all, children know all about getting into trouble…and getting out of it.
by Melissa Conroy
After my first picture book Poppy’s Pants was published, I received a call from my dad. He said, “I’ve discovered after years of writing that coming up with new ideas can get hard, so I’m going to help you out.”
I was anxious to receive this bit of collegial wisdom from my dad. Even though I am more than 40 years old, I relish a grown-up conversation, from one artist to another with my Dad. He said, “Here’s my idea, Poppy’s Car.” Imagine stepping outside of your air conditioned South Carolina home to drive your Buick LeSabre into town. Being a writer, you only need to use your car to run the occasional errand. It has been weeks since the last time you started the car up and an unusual amount of debris has collected between the windshield wipers. You turn the wipers on to clear the debris when to your surprise, an angry bird squawks at you. There, between your windshield wipers sits a bird’s nest complete with four eggs. This truly happened. Dad had no choice but to relinquish control of his car until the baby birds learned to fly. I worked on a story inspired by this phone conversation for a while. It remains one of many stories filed away in my Apple computer. At some point, it became too difficult to resolve and so it waits. Perhaps it will resurface some day.
I’ve found that ideas can be easy to come by, but not always easy to turn into a working story. Once you start looking for them, you’ll find them in casual conversation, observations and sometimes they will appear while day dreaming. When an idea presents itself, I test it out by writing or sketching, If my brain becomes crowded with potential then that new idea just might work. A good solid idea should be roomy enough to house many more ideas. Ideas that are connected to the core of the original. Have you noticed that ideas tend to come with their own tiny spark to get you started? Coming up with 30 ideas in 30 days has the nice side benefit of giving the participant a little thrill each day, like a spoonful of mental fuel. Ideas are far better than the most delicious latte to get a person going. Although, I like to combine the two. Usually, that little thrill you get from a new idea is enough to label it as a “good” one, worthy of developing into a good picture book. But, the only way to find out if it will make a good picture book is by working through it.
I have a theory about good ideas. I think they need time, maybe even years to form. They start as shy notions that need time to swim around in the muddy soil of your unconscious before planting some roots. When those ideas surface, it’s like meeting an exciting stranger you swear you’ve met before. I hope to enjoy meeting someone new each day this month.
Melissa Conroy, Pat Conroy’s second daughter, never intended to follow in the family business, instead choosing a career as an artist and creator of the Wooberry Dolls, huggable hand-crafted dolls bearing her childhood nickname of Woo. It was a chance meeting with Blue Apple Books publisher Harriet Ziefert that began her new career as an author. Melissa Conroy’s latest book,
10 Comments on PiBoIdMo Day 13: Meet Exciting Strangers Like Melissa Conroy, last added: 11/13/2011
It's here! And it's big! And packed full of great reviews!!! The New York Times Book Review annual holiday feature on Children's Books is really worth perusing this year. Besides featuring many books I have reviewed or am in the process or reading for review right now, there is the Best Illustrated Books of 2011 feature which, though I already mentioned it last week, is worth following the link
By: Susan E. Goodman
Blog: I.N.K.: Interesting Non fiction for Kids
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There’s a new holiday in town. November is now Picture Book Month. Several picture book authors got together to create this event—and, good for them. As they said on their web site, Picture Book Month: A Celebration!, “We are doing this because in this digital age where people are predicting the coming death of print books, picture books (the print kind) need love. And the world needs picture books. There’s nothing like the physical page turn of a beautifully crafted picture book.”
I have written on this subject myself, a rebuttal to the attitude reported in The New York Times, of parents wanting children to leap past picture books to read chapter books in the quest to get them on the road to...what?
Each day on this site, another picture book author writes an entry titled, “Why Picture Books are Important.” Here are some excerpts from the entries so far:
I believe our first stories become part of our DNA forever. -Samantha Berger
Picture books are important because they are with us for life…No matter how many books we’ve read since, they will always have a place in our hearts…and a relationship that, whether we realize it or not, has shaped our lives. -Dan Yaccarino
When my now 11 year old girl, Eliana, was a preschooler, we bought the book, In My World, by Lois Ehlert. The illustrations are simple. The text is sparse. And yet, there is a magic about this book that completely captured her. It could have been the exquisite die cuts or the bright colors… It could have been. But it wasn't. It was the wondrous way the words and the pictures were married. One could not work without the other. Every night, Eliana read that book to me, putting her little hand, which fit perfectly, inside the die cut hand of the book. And every night I would tear up knowing that I was experiencing a magical moment in my daughter's life… -Diane de las Casas
Picture books have a special kind of magic in the hands of children. They open windows of opportunity — glimpses of new worlds — in the safest of places: in the library, in the classroom, or in their very own rooms. Kids can sound out one word at a time, breeze through full sentences or skip the words altogether to build stories of their own based on warm, vivid illustrations. Anything is possible… -Kelly Milner Halls
I have a sixteen-year-old niece, Sarah. A year ago my sister-in-law, her mom, died suddenly. A friend of the family gave my brother a picture book called Tear Soup to help with Sarah’s mourning.
One night, he walked into her room with the book under his arm. She took one look at him, rolled her eyes, and said, “Yeah, right. You’re going to read THAT to ME?”
“Yes,” he said. “Move over.”
She argued – what teen girl wouldn’t? – but grudgingly made room. They cuddled up and read the book. A couple of days later, Sarah asked, “Dad, whatever happened to all my picture books from when I was little?” My brother pulled a box out of storage and the next night came in with Caps for Sale.
A new tradition was born. For months, every night, he’d read a picture book to her from her childhood.
Picture books heal. No matter your age. -Katie Davis
I have looked up some of the other created holidays for November—International Drum Month, Peanut Butter Lovers Month, Aviation History Month. In my book, this one beats them hands down.
Spread the word.