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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Picture Books, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1,326 - 1,350 of 7,605
1326. Renée Treml Reveals Answers About Her Picture Book, ‘The Great Garden Mystery’

Renée Treml is a talented artist and author, originally from the States, now residing in Melbourne. She creates her stunning illustrations primarily using the scratchboard technique, setting her work apart with its unique qualities. Her artwork can also be seen at design markets and art exhibits through a range of gorgeous products. Renée has three […]

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1327. Visiting grandparents: three picture books to share (ages 3-8)

As the holidays approach, many children are excited about visiting grandparents. I wanted to share three different picture books that show different small moments as children spend time with their grandparents.

Hot Hot Roti for Dada-Ji
by F. Zia
illustrated by Ken Min
Lee and Low, 2011
Your local library
Amazon
ages 5-8
Young Aneel’s grandfather Dada-ji has great fun telling how he got “the power of a tiger” when he was a boy by eating the best roti in town. Aneel is so excited that he races to the kitchen to make this Indian flatbread.

Kids love the way that Dad-ji exaggerates the story from his childhood. Zia's writes with verve and gusto. She is "a writer and an elementary school teacher who grew up in Hyderabad, India." As Aneel starts gathering ingredients to make his roti, the fun really begins. Kids can relate to how food brings people together and will love the way Aneel takes charge.
Max and the Tag-Along Moon
by Floyd Cooper
Philomel / Penguin, 2013
Your local library
Amazon
ages 4-7
Saying goodbye can be particularly hard for young kids. When young Max must say goodbye to his grandpa, the young boy points to the full moon shining above. Grandpa promises him that “that ol’ moon will always shine for you...on and on!”

As Max drives home, he keeps watch of that same moon and is reassured by its presence. This quiet warm book glows softly with the love between African American grandfather and grandson. It's a wonderful read-aloud that helps talk about how the people we love stay with us in our hearts long after we have to say goodbye.
Nana in the City
by Lauren Castillo
Clarion / Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014
Your local library
Amazon
ages 3-6
What do we do when our children are afraid? You'd never know it by looking at the cover, but this young boy is scared by all the noises and commotion in the bustling city. He's excited to see his Nana and her new apartment, but oh how the city noises are just too much.

I love how this wonderful Nana listens, understands and helps the young boy overcome his fears. She never dismisses his fears, but she shows him how he can be brave and she'll be right there with him. I also love how Castillo shows a grandmother who lives in the city and loves exploring. Below you can see how the little boy slowly changes his mind, with his Nana right by his side:
"But Nana was right. The city was not filled with scary things..."
Do you have a favorite book that reminds your children of times they spend with their grandparents? Or maybe after the holidays, you and your child could write a story together about a day they spent with their grandparents.

The review copies were kindly sent by the publishers, Lee & Low, Penguin and Clarion. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2014 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

0 Comments on Visiting grandparents: three picture books to share (ages 3-8) as of 11/20/2014 12:06:00 AM
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1328. Way Back Wednesday Essential Classic

Millions of Cats

By Wanda Gag

 

One of the reasons I started The Snuggery and the Way Back Wednesday portion of it was the belief that there ARE “essential classics” in the realm of the picture book world that should be part of a canon of literature for kids. And, more than that, these “essentials” had, for a variety of reasons, fallen off the radar for parents, grandparents and anyone interested in introducing great picture books to children.

So, as the year winds down and the weather grows colder and we move many of our activities indoors, it’s a perfect time to highlight the “essentials” with your young readers.

In case you’ve forgotten THIS title, Way Back Wednesday today features the oldest American picture book in print, “Millions of Cats” by Wanda Gag.

One of the very few picture books to win a Newbery Honor book designation, it was given in 1929. Wanda also pioneered the double page spread as Anita Silvey, prominent reviewer points out in her book, “100 Best Books for Children,” “She used both pages to move the story forward, putting them together with art that sweeps the entire page spread…..”

And its popularity stemmed from the hand lettered text that Wanda’s brother contributed to the book, its black and white folk art style, and, of course the repetitive phrase that has stayed alive and been repeated by young readers since its printing:

 

 

                                           “ Cats here, cats there,

                                        Cats and kittens everywhere,

                                             Hundreds of cats,

                                             Thousands of cats,

                                   Millions and billions and trillions of cats.”

 

 

A sweet, but lonely peasant couple living in the country are looking for a cat to keep and love. So, off the husband goes in search of one. But trouble ensues when, after finding a cat, he is tempted by additional ones that make final decision making quite a task. Instead of just one, he opts for a coterie of cats, a cacophony of cats and a conglomeration of cats that drain ponds as they each take one sip, de-blade a hillside of grass as each takes a munch on the trip home and, ultimately get into the biggest “cat fight” in history!!

Prompted by a final cat selection question from the couple somewhat akin to the queen in “Snow White” asking the mirror, “Who’s the fairest of us all?”, a cat calamity begins with a row of epic proportions among all but one of the cats.

Can you guess who is picked as the prettiest?

Read and remember right along with your young reader, this cat tail er tale that is still essential some 85 years after its printing!! It’s a “cat astrophically” essential picture book classic.

 

 

 

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1329. PiBoIdMo Day 19: Kelly Light Wants to be the Hardest Working WO-Man in Show Business (plus prizes!)

dinerkellyby Kelly Light

“I want to be The Hardest Working WO-Man in Show Business”

But I’m tired. Are you?

It’s been an insane few months in my life. My book, Louise Loves Art, came out September 9th! Then I went on a 27-day book tour.

When I sit down to work and I have A LOT of work…sometimes, I got ‘nuthin.

Sometimes we feel like we just can’t go on.

We can’t do no more.

But you can. You can get back up. Like James.

You can find it in yourself. You have come this far.

You can still dance and spin.

You’ve got more ideas inside of you, dig. Dig deep.

Throw off that cape! Pull yourself up.

Let’s channel a little James this year.

Watch this:

James Brown.
The hardest working Man in show business.
Even he just has to fall on his knees and ask… Please.!?!?
Please, please, please, please.
Let’s grab the mic, Wacom pen, pencil or hairbrush … and sing with……PAIN.
(back up singers in parenthesis) (PiBoIdMo peeps – that’s you)

Spoken like James:
This year I gotta dig a little deeper.
Ya see ‘cause I am tired.
I’ve been working so hard.
(So hard. )
So hard.
(So hard.)

Start singing:

30 ideas in 30 days.
(Who came up with this idea?)
11 more to go, you’re in a daze
(I need a shot of tequila)
Pencil in hand, butt in chair.
(I gotta find a new idea)
Ideas, I can’t find you anywhere
(need to get my head in gear)

Yeah, oh yeah, ideas, I need you so..
(Please, please ideas don’t go)
Please, please, please, please….
(Please, please don’t go)
Please, please, please….
(Please, please ideas don’t go)

Can you hep me?
Somebody hep me!

Please, please, please, please….
(Please, please don’t go)
Please, please, please….
(Please, please ideas don’t go)

Imagination is all gone
(all dried up, ideas are gone)
Why did you leave and do me wrong?
(you are fried, you can’t hold on)

Please, please, please, please….
(Please, please don’t go)
Please, please, please….
(Please, please ideas don’t go)

I wrote so many ideas down
(So you wrote some good ideas)
I used some adjectives and some nouns
(these sound like bad ideas)

Doesn’t matter, I got 30 ideas out
(ideas on the page it’s a start)
Makes me wanna scream and shout!
(Keep on going, you’ve got heart!)

I’ll come back to these ideas one day
(Don’t leave them up on a shelf)

Soon You’ll see me signing at BEA!

(don’t get ahead of yourself, do 12 X 12)

Please, please, please, please….
(Please, please don’t go)
Please, please, please….
(Please, please ideas don’t go)

Danny! I can’t do no more…

WAIT! C’mon….

Now JUMP BACK! You’re super bad! You gotta kiss yourself!

Listen to this:

guestbloggerbio2014

Kelly Light is working hard out on the road with LOUISE LOVES ART while working on the second Louise book and the first Louise reader. Look for those next year from Balzer and Bray. Also out next year is JUST ADD GLITTER by Angela DiTerlizzi from Beach Lane Books. She’s got soul. She’s tired and she’s super bad.

prizedetails2014

louiselovesart

You can win a signed LOUISE LOVES ART book and a “Holiday Louise” print by Kelly!

These prizes will be given away at the conclusion of PiBoIdMo. You are eligible for these prizes if:

  1. You have registered for PiBoIdMo.
  2. You have commented ONCE ONLY on today’s post.
  3. You have completed the PiBoIdMo challenge. (You will have to sign the PiBoIdMo Pledge at the end of the event.)

Good luck, everyone!


10 Comments on PiBoIdMo Day 19: Kelly Light Wants to be the Hardest Working WO-Man in Show Business (plus prizes!), last added: 11/19/2014
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1330. Belches, Burps, and Farts - Oh My! by Artie Bennett, illustrated by Pranas T. Naujokaitis

Belches, Burps, and Farts - Oh My! by Artie Bennett and illustrated by Pranas T. Naujokaitis is a fantastic way to get kids interested in science and biology and nonfiction in general. Both the subject matter and the illustrations in Belches, Burps, and Farts - Oh My! are funny and fun, with Bennett's rhyming couplets adding to this seriously silly look at something we all do everyday.

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1331. November 2014 Picture Book Month Passes the Halfway Mark



“When we reached the top, there were over a hundred children gathered on the hillside, some of whom had walked miles to hear a story.” – Sophie Blackall from her Picture Book Month Essay

“If a picture book and an iPad got into a fight, a picture book would totally kick an iPad's butt.” – Aaron Reynolds from his Picture Book Month Essay

Picture Book Month has just passed the halfway mark. Around the world, schools, libraries, booksellers, and book lovers are coming together to celebrate the print picture book during the month of November. Now in its fourth year, the initiative is a viral phenomenon.

The website, PictureBookMonth.com, features essays from thought leaders in the children’s literature community. Each day in November, a new essay is posted. This year’s Picture Book Month Champions are: Chris Barton, Aaron Becker, Kelly Bingham , Sophie Blackall, Arree Chung, Anna Dewdney, Johnette Downing, Ame Dyckman, Jill Esbaum, Carolyn Flores, Lupe Ruiz-Flores, Robin Preiss Glasser, Deborah Heiligman, Marla Frazee, Stefan Jolet, Kathleen Krull, Rene Colato Lainez, Loreen Leedy, Betsy Lewin, Ted Lewin, Brian Lies, Kelly J. Light, Debbie Ridpath Ohi, Alexis O'Neill, Sandra Markle, Ann Whitford Paul, Aaron Reynolds, Judy Schachner, Linda Joy Singleton, and David Schwartz.

New features this year include “Curriculum Connections” by Education Consultant, Marcie Colleen. Every day, a new activity and curriculum connection is posted based on the Author/Illustrator’s book. In addition, the multi-page Picture Book Month Educator’s Guide, correlating picture books across the curriculum, is available as a free download for educators and teacher librarians.

We are pleased to also announce that Reading Rainbow has recently joined as a Picture Book Month partner. Support for the initiative continues with partners such as the American Booksellers Association, the American Association of School Librarians, the Children’s Book Council, Reading is Fundamental, and SCBWI as well as industry trade journals such as Hornbook, School Library Journal, and Publishers Weekly. New 2014 partners also include The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art and Friends of Tennessee Libraries.

A downloadable promotional kit is available as well as certificates, posters, and bookmarks created by Joyce Wan. Katie Davis’ Brain Burps About Books Podcast, the #1 kidlit podcast on iTunes, is dedicating the entire month of November to Picture Book Month with new episodes airing every Friday. The PBM calendar created by Elizabeth Dulemba lists all the Picture Book Month Champions as well as the daily theme. The daily themes are used to plan story times, book displays, and blog posts.

Founder Dianne de Las Casas says, “People are joining the celebration from countries such as Ireland, Jamaica, and Singapore, as well as across the entire United States. We love that school libraries are reporting virtually empty picture book shelves. It’s not too late to join the celebration!” Follow Picture Book Month on Twitter, @PictureBkMonth, and Facebook, and use the hashtag #PictureBookMonth. Visit www.picturebookmonth.com.

“A picture book is a simile that shivers. A metaphor that melts. A not-a-poem, yet Every. Word. Counts. Picture books excite the eye, the ear, the heart.” – Alexis O’Neill from her Picture Book Month Essay


0 Comments on November 2014 Picture Book Month Passes the Halfway Mark as of 11/19/2014 4:30:00 AM
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1332.

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Today, Publishers Weekly’s Children’s Bookshelf  had two articles  article discussing places to get a MFA in writing for young people, here, and here. These articles highlight three universities but here is a list of thirteen universities offering MFAs in writing for young people.

As we get into the holiday season, there will be fewer author/illustrator events, and today I only have one to share with you.

Meanwhile, the late winter/early spring conference info is rolling in. So if you are looking for an agent, take a peek at what’s lined up for spring so far in Conferences: Agents, or if you’re interested in meeting editors, hop over to Conferences: Editors. Most of the new entries on  Conferences: Indies/SP are save-the-date, but the details should be coming soon. Organizations are quickly adding their information now, so I will be updating all of these pages daily, along with the Conferences: Illustrators page and the Workshops/Retreats page. Check back often!

This week:

November 24, Monday, 4:00 – 6:00 PM BIZZ & BUZZ MAKE HONEY BUNS by Dee Leone
River Oaks Barnes & Noble
Dee Leone, PB Author

Picture Book Author Dee Leone will be signing her book BIZZ & BUZZ MAKE HONEY BUNS (Penguin Young Readers Group) during the Wharton Dual Language Academy book fair. Dee will be there from 4:00 to 6:00, but the book fair lasts all day, and the schools will get credit for books bought that day that are turned in with a slip.

Bizz and Buzz are two bees who want to make honey buns. So, they ask their friend Bear for his recipe. Although the directions seem simple, Bizz and Buzz make mistake after mistake, like finding a little flower instead of adding a little flour. What will bee-come of the honey buns?

 

 

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1333. Sci Fi Before Breakfast: A Visit with Tony DiTerlizziand Some Bonus Art from Ralph McQuarrie


An early sketch of Otto from DiTerlizzi’s WondLa trilogy
(Click to enlarge)


 


Ralph McQuarrie’s art from
Star Wars: The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight by Tony DiTerlizzi


 

Caldecott Honor illustrator and author Tony DiTerlizzi is visiting 7-Imp this morning for an in-his-own-words type of piece, meaning I’m going to hand the site over to him to share some art and talk about his new books. I asked him about wrapping up his WondLa trilogy, which he just completed; Book III,

The Battle for WondLa, was released in May. In this third and final installment of the illustrated science fiction fantasy trilogy, Eva Nine is on the run — yet is the only one capable of bringing peace to the humans and aliens of Orbona.

I also asked Tony what it was like to be asked to adapt the original Star Wars trilogy into a picture book for children, which is precisely what Lucasfilm asked him to do. The book, Star Wars: The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight, features the existing artwork of concept artist Ralph McQuarrie, who was the artist behind the original Star Wars trilogy, and was released by Disney Lucasfilm Press in October.

Tony shares some process sketches and final art from WondLa, as well as some spreads from the Star Wars picture book adaptation. Here’s Tony in his own words, and I thank him for visiting.



 

* * * On WondLa * * *



 

The WondLa trilogy was a tale I’d had in my mind for over a decade. It came to me in the late 1990s as I was developing The Spiderwick Chronicles backstory. In Spiderwick, I was fascinated by the idea of a story from the past coming forward in time to the present. As I pondered this notion, I explored in the other direction and asked myself, “Could I also pull a story from the future back to the present?”

 





Characters in development: Eva Nine, Rovender Kitt, Muthr, Besteel
(Click each to enlarge)


 

Over the years, as I mulled over the plot and characters, several momentous events happened in my life: I tasted success, turned 40, and my daughter was born. WondLa soon became more than just a futuristic fairy tale –- it became a window to my thoughts, joys, and concerns as a parent. Consequently, the story asks a lot of questions: Are we the best caretakers for the planet? Are we alone in the universe? What happens when we die? In the end, the story offers no answers. For me, those are the stories that stick with you long after you read the last page.

 


“By dusk, a heavy fog had fallen upon the land, concealing it as far as Eva could see. From her vantage point atop Otto, she thought the mist below looked like a dark treacherous sea, and her mount was her faithful ship, The Mighty Otto.
Even in the dense murk she could still see Muthr, for the pale light of the Omnipod illuminated the robot’s form as she rolled alongside them.”
– From Book I,
The Search for WondLa
(Click to enlarge)


 


“With great force Rovender Kitt pushed the time-forgotten door open. A dank, musty smell greeted the explorers as they peered into the pitch-black room. Rovender nodded, then went in. Eva followed and found herself in an expansive round room.”
– From Book I,
The Search for WondLa
(Click to enlarge)


 

I thought I knew what WondLa was going to be about when I set out to pen the first book, but throughout the six years it took me to write and illustrate the trilogy, experiences in my life shaped the story. I am thankful for that. It may be skinned in a slick science-fiction veneer, but underneath the theme of WondLa is very tangible: Where is home and what defines family?

 


“…It was like looking into a warped mirror. Aside from the shorter hair, Eva Eight looked like an older version of Eva, complete with perfect porcelain features.”
– Sketch from Book II,
A Hero for WondLa
(Click to enlarge)


 


“A gawky alien in a flight suit stood on four thin rubbery legs
watching Eva’s every move.”
– From Book II,
A Hero for WondLa
(Click to enlarge)


 


“The rider entered the campsite, a young Caerulean seated in the munt-runner’s saddle. His mount’s wild scarlet eyes dilated as they neared the firelight.”
– Sketch from Book II,
A Hero for WondLa
(Click to enlarge)


 


“‘Before you go, I want to give you something.’ Rovender pulled off the frayed cord from around his waist. ‘Your cord from the council?’”
– From Book II,
A Hero for WondLa
(Click to enlarge)


 

Classics such as Peter Pan & Wendy, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz inspired me. Like those fairy tales, WondLa centers on a female protagonist, Eva Nine, who leaves home and ventures into a wonderworld of strange characters. The story also draws inspiration from the fantastic science fiction genre seen in films, such as Star Wars, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind.

 


Cover art from Book III, The Battle for WondLa
(Click to enlarge)


 



“‘Will he be okay?’ Eva ran her hands over the scorched claws of the fallen guard.”
– Sketch and final art from Book III,
The Battle for WondLa
(Click each to enlarge)


 


 


“‘You are a mother with eggs, aren’t you?’”
– Sketch from Book III,
The Battle for WondLa
(Click to enlarge)


 

Because it is an imaginary setting, I relied heavily on my talents as an artist to illustrate Eva’s adventures. The intense world-building I had created in character and plot now continued on a visual level. From the design of the main characters and the places they visit to the artifacts they use, everything in Eva’s universe help convey the concepts and themes of the story. This is where my background in working on the Dungeons & Dragons game paid off. For D&D, I was required to do all sorts of world design, while I illustrated the various adventure modules and monster manuals. I had no idea then how invaluable that experience would be for me as an aspiring author and illustrator for children’s literature.




[Tony talks in the above video about the WondLa books,
if you'd like to see even more art from the trilogy]


 

* * * On Star Wars * * *



 

Last year, I was contacted by Lucasfilm to adapt the original Star Wars trilogy into a picture book format for young readers, using the existing artwork of concept artist, Ralph McQuarrie. Of course, I jumped at the opportunity (after I picked myself up from the floor).

As I mentioned, WondLa—as well as other stories I’ve created, including Spiderwick—were inspired by the films of George Lucas. To be asked to retell the tale of my childhood hero, Luke Skywalker, was an incredible honor for me. It validated me as an established storyteller for children.

 


“The Imperial fighters blew apart as the Millennium Falcon
fired on them from overhead. …”

(Click to enlarge)


 

I approached the project as a parent who grew up on these films and as a kid who may be enjoying them for the first time. Of the film’s many themes, I had to find one that would work best for a picture book. Like WondLa, I focused on the importance of family.

As it is with many classic protagonists, Luke Skywalker starts out an orphan. Through his intergalactic journey, he transforms from farm boy to Jedi knight, but he also reunites with his sister and saves his father. That is powerful stuff when you stop and think about it. I believe Luke accomplishes this by remaining optimistic throughout his adventure. And not just in his own situation but also in how he views others: he’d rather try to turn his father, Darth Vader, to the good side of the Force than strike him down. That’s a story I want to share with young readers.

 


“…Unclipping himself from the harpoon, Luke dropped down to the soft snow below. The walker continued on its mechanical march.”
(Click to enlarge)


 

I wrote the first draft of the book from memory, while looking at Ralph’s incredible images. I remembered that, as a kid of the 1970s, Star Wars didn’t establish its hold on me through repeated viewings of the film. In fact, it wasn’t released on VHS tape until the mid-1980s. Instead, it captured my imagination through play. Whether I was dressed up as Luke Skywalker or having an adventure with my Kenner action figures, the Star Wars universe was a place I frequented many times.

 


“…The next morning, Luke arrived at the palace. With weapons drawn,
Jabba’s gang surrounded him. …”

(Click to enlarge)


 

I tapped into that childhood memory while writing the text for this book. By highlighting favorite lines from the film and through the use of onomatopoeia, I tried to recapture the excitement felt when I first traveled to a galaxy far, far away. I hope readers, young and old, feel the same way.

 



 

* * * * * * *

All artwork above is reproduced by permission of Tony DiTerlizzi and Disney Lucasfilm Press.

1 Comments on Sci Fi Before Breakfast: A Visit with Tony DiTerlizziand Some Bonus Art from Ralph McQuarrie, last added: 11/19/2014
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1334. PiBoIdMo Day 18: Dev Petty Writes…Wait for it…LESS (plus a prize!)

devheadshotby Dev Petty

I know, I know…You’ve probably read or been told you should write every day. Twenty minutes? Thirty minutes? Some number of minutes that gets you off your behind and typing away.

But I’m here to suggest a different approach, something especially useful for picture book writers.

STOP Writing.

blankstop

Yes, you heard it here first. Stop. At least for a while.

Work with me here…

When I was first writing picture books and I found a story idea, I’d race home and get to writing it. Words streamed off my finger tips into my story, clickety-clack, clickety-clack and BOOM! I’d be done and I’d congratulate myself for finishing. Then I’d edit and revise and tinker and make little changes. I wrote a lot of stories this way, but they were often a bit one note. They were linear, a super straight shot at my story idea. Moving so fast from an idea to writing, I got mired in language and word choices, small stuff, instead of thinking about the idea itself. It’s one of those forest for the trees kinda things.

Somewhere along the way, I put the brakes on that process. What did I do? I started thinking.

Here’s what I’ve found. When I take some time, in some cases LOTS of time, to think about my idea and how to get that idea onto the page, I come up with a richer, more original story. I lie on my deck, I think in the shower, I think on a walk, I think on a rock, I think as I’m going to and coming out of sleep. Sometimes, if it’s a really juicy idea, I think for MONTHS about how that idea could turn into a story. Fair warning, thinking is hard. Our brains are filled with lunch making and appointments and things to do- it takes time to learn to think.

writingonthedeck

So, while I’m lying on the deck “writing” (Imagine my husband making an air quote gesture here), what am I thinking about? Well, I think about structure and about voice. I try my story in my head in different ways: Traditional, present tense, past tense, third person, sparse, only in dialogue, repetitive, wordless. When I’ve done this long enough something really strange happens. I start to hear it, I start to hear my story. Then, and only then, do I write down the words.

I also try to think about my story from many angles, to turn it around in my head. Can my idea be expressed as a metaphor or in a way that’s deeper? Is a story about a kid with head lice more interesting if it’s about a monkey with fleas? These are the deep questions I ask…”Monkey or no monkey?” Monkeys aside, a wonderful bi-product of thinking instead of writing is that you find new ideas. Ideas breed ideas, so it’s like you’re making tiny little baby stories while you’re bringing the first one into the world.

Finally, before I ever write a word, I force myself to ask myself this most basic question. WHAT IS THIS STORY ABOUT? (Hint: the answer does not have your main character’s name in it) If I can’t answer that, I’m not ready to write the story. Period.

When I finally do write words, it goes pretty fast and requires less tinkering, it comes out of the oven a little more baked. Still, in those first few moments of writing the story I’ve formed in my head, I will try the opening in a bunch of different ways to see what sticks. That opening forms the framework for the whole book and I’m always prepared to write the opening, read it back, throw it away and try again if it isn’t right before continuing.

It’s a good bet this method isn’t for everyone, but for me it has fundamentally changed my experience of writing picture books. My stories are now more ME. They have MY voice. They come out as I imagined. Also, I get to spend a lot of time in the sun just thinking. About monkeys.

guestbloggerbio2014

Dev Petty’s debut picture book, I Don’t Want to be a Frog (Random House/Doubleday) will be released on February 24th.  Told in hilarious dialogue, this book is about a frog who wants to be anything but a slimy, wet frog. Before writing children’s books, Dev worked as a senior visual effects artist in film on The Matrix films and dozens of others.  She lives in Albany with her husband, two daughters and critters. Connect with her at www.devpetty.com.

prizedetails2014

Dev is giving away a picture book critique!

This prize will be given away at the conclusion of PiBoIdMo. You are eligible for this prize if:

  1. You have registered for PiBoIdMo.
  2. You have commented ONCE ONLY on today’s post.
  3. You have completed the PiBoIdMo challenge. (You will have to sign the PiBoIdMo Pledge at the end of the event.)

Good luck, everyone!

 


10 Comments on PiBoIdMo Day 18: Dev Petty Writes…Wait for it…LESS (plus a prize!), last added: 11/18/2014
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1335. My Writing and Reading Life: Natasha Wing, Author of The Night Before Hanukkah

Some of Natasha Wing's books have even ended up on bestseller lists, including the wildly popular The Night Before series.

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1336. Little Pickle Press

In 2009 Rana DiOrio founded San Francisco-based Little Pickle Press, a 21st century publisher of high quality, high impact media for children.

Most of you know how I love reading journey stories, so when I noticed Emma Dryen’s great interview today with Rana on her blog, I thought you might like to read it too. It also made me want to check out Little Pickle Press. The first thing that impressed me was the quality of their website and books, so if they were to publish your book, you would not have to worry about placing your baby in their hands. I knew they were a small press publisher, but I thought they were only interested in picture books. I was wrong. They are open to receiving manuscripts all the way up to YA. And they are open to non-agented writers.

I am so glad I took the time to read Emma’s interview and visit Little Pickle Press because I would not be able to share the Submission Guidelines below and the opportunity to find a good home for your books.

little pickle press

If you’re going to aim high, you need the right launch pad. Does your goal involve writing the next great children’s book or YA novel? Little Pickle Press wants to know about it, and we’re working with Submittable to make it even easier to share your best ideas with us.

Step 1: Write!
We can’t read your mind, so get those fabulous ideas written down. Bear in mind that while there are scores of topics to choose from, the mission statement of Little Pickle Press is your best guide to the sort of manuscripts that we’re seeking. These include (in no particular order and not exclusively):

Inspiration

  • Altruism (and other anti-narcissism, anti-entitlement themes)
  • Dare To Be Different
  • Tolerance/Acceptance
  • Non-traditional family structures
  • Choices: It’s Not All Black And White; Most of Life is Gray
  • Anti-Princess Themes
  • Strong, female protagonists
  • Creativity—the importance of it, fostering it, etc.
  • Divergent (vs. Convergent) Thinking
  • Systems Thinking
  • Self-Sufficiency/Taking Care of Yourself and Your Community/Planting the Seeds of Being a Locavore
  • Water as a precious, global resource
  • Creativity: the importance of it, fostering it, etc.
  • Forgiveness
  • Gratitude
  • What is a conscience? How do we foster it? Use it?
  • Leadership and/or Entrepreneurship

We’re growing with our readers, so don’t think you have to create a picture book if you have a novel rattling around in your brain. We’re seeking picture books for 5 to 8 year olds, chapter books for 9 to 12 year olds, and middle grade novels for 10 to 14 year olds. In addition, we’re now accepting manuscripts in the young adult novel category for readers ages 15 and up. We are open to the literary vehicle employed to convey the story—fiction, historical fiction, fantasy, science fiction, creative nonfiction, etc.

Step 2: Get it ready!
Okay, so you’ve written your book. You’ve shared it with friends, family, and that neighbor down the street who’s known for disliking pretty much everything. They all agree that your book is the best thing since sliced bread. Now what?
Now you or your agent can send it to us! We’ve got a few uniformity guidelines to keep all submissions easy to read, and here they are:

  • As an MS Word document
  • Double-spaced
  • With Times New Roman font 12-pt
  • With your suggested title and name at the top as well as a word count
  • With pages numbered
  • Without illustrations

Relatively painless, wouldn’t you say? That’s because we’ve been saving the hard part for last. Everybody has a creative spark, and following instructions is a snap. Now for the really tough step.

fireflies2

Step 3: Send it in!
Sending your carefully-wrought manuscript off to a real, live publishing company is one of the most exciting and stressful things that you can do. But don’t worry. We don’t bite. Follow the submissions link, take a deep breath, and click!

Step 4: Sit back, but don’t relax just yet.
We have lots of manuscripts to consider, so it will take up to 8  weeks before we get back to you. While you’re waiting, why not see what other great story ideas you’ve got? Children need and deserve books. Whether it’s an imaginative tale that encourages creativity, or an engaging story that fosters responsibility and social awareness, Little Pickle Press seeks to offer the very best in children’s literature. Will you help us?

Hope this information helps push you closer to finding a home for your book.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Middle Grade Novels, opportunity, picture books, Places to Submit, publishers, Young Adult Novel Tagged: Emma D Dryden, Little Pickle Press, Rana DiOrio, submission guidelines

7 Comments on Little Pickle Press, last added: 11/19/2014
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1337. Picture Book Monday with a review of Where's Mommy?

Children love to have secrets and in the book Mary and the Mouse, the Mouse and Mary  we meet a little girl and a little mouse who have a secret. They become friends and knowing full well that their families would not approve of their friendship, they keep their times together a secret. In today's book you will meet Mouse Mouse and Mary again, and this time you will see that they are not the only ones in their house who have secrets.

Where's Mommy?Where’s Mommy?
Beverly Donofrio
Illustrated by Barbara McClintock
Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Random House, 2014, 9780-375-84423-2
Mary is a little girl who lives in a lovely house, and Mouse Mouse is little mouse girl who lives beneath the floorboards of this house. Mary knows all about Mouse Mouse because she and the little mouse are friends. The girls know better than to tell their families about their friendship. The human parents would get a cat, and the mouse parents would “flee to a hole in the ground.” The two girls therefore keep their relationship a secret.
   One night Mary gets ready for bed by putting on her jammies, brushing her teeth and hair, and getting into bed. In her home under the boards Mouse Mouse is doing the same thing. Both girls call out for their mothers. Nothing happens. The mothers don’t make an appearance, so the two girls go looking for them, calling out “Mom” and “Mommy” as they go.
   Mary searches the house and asks her father and brother if they know where Mom is. Mouse Mouse searches her home and asks her father and little sister if they know where Mommy is. The girls are starting to get worried.
   In this delightful story, which began in the book Mary and the Mouse, the Mouse and Mary, we get to go on a simple and yet very surprising adventure with Mary and her friend, Mouse Mouse. Barbara McClintock’s lovely illustrations capture the worlds that the friends live in in great detail, and children will particularly enjoy seeing the illustrations where the human house and the hidden mouse house are shown on the same spread. 

0 Comments on Picture Book Monday with a review of Where's Mommy? as of 11/17/2014 8:35:00 AM
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1338. PiBoIdMo Day 17: Here Comes Deborah Underwood (plus prizes!)

Bella and me - David Peattie version!by Deborah Underwood

Congratulations, PiBoIdMo-ers! You’re more than halfway home! (56.6666% home, but who’s counting?)

At this point in the game, you may be a little stuck. Believe me, I know the feeling. When I’m devoid of ideas, sometimes remembering the origins of an existing manuscript yields clues about how I might forge ahead.

So, in hopes that it might help you, let me share the genesis of Here Comes the Easter Cat, illustrated by Claudia Rueda. The book resulted from three things that happened in June of 2011:

1) I was floundering around looking for inspiration, so I wrote to a friend, the founder of an animal museum. I asked if there was a kids’ book she saw a need for, something that might be helpful to her in her work. She mentioned that a woman she knew had trouble finding suitable Easter books for her vegan book review site. I didn’t find the idea of writing an Easter book particularly compelling, so I thanked her and promptly forgot about her suggestion. (Or so I thought!)

2) A few weeks later, I had a weirdly illustrator-centric week. I had coffee with one visiting illustrator, coffee another day with two others, and lunch with a local illustrator friend.

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3) Several days after that, I was sitting on my bed, still trying to come up with a viable idea. My cat Bella was sprawled in front of me, so I idly doodled a cat. The cat looked grumpy. I asked why, and, to my surprise, the cat held up a sign with the Easter Bunny on it. Intrigued, I continued to ask the cat questions, and Here Comes the Easter Cat took shape.

 

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Why did I decide to draw? I’m not sure, but I’ll bet it was because I’d just talked with all those illustrators.

And why did the Easter Bunny show up on Cat’s sign? Undoubtedly because my friend had mentioned that Easter book a few weeks earlier.

So the book idea came about because:

  • I actively sought input from someone outside my usual circle.
  • I took off my pajamas—horrors!—and got out into the world, and in doing so, learned more about how illustrators work.
  • I gave myself the space to think (sitting on my bed, trying to be receptive) and to play (doodling).

So I was active, and I was passive. I soaked up information from others, and I experimented with something outside my area of expertise. If any of those elements hadn’t been present, I suspect there would be no Cat.

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TwoCats

In particular, the drawing component was critical. So I encourage you to play around with doodling or sketching, even if you think you’re not an artist. Here Comes Easter Cat came out earlier this year, Here Comes Santa Cat was just released, and two more Cat books are in the queue. I’m very, very glad I did that first Cat sketch.

One more thing: when I began Easter Cat, I was not thinking of the market. I was definitely not saying, “What the world really needs is an 80-page picture book!” or “I’ll bet my editor is dying to see a stack of sketches by someone who can’t draw!”

Rather, I was having a conversation with Cat for the best of reasons: it amused me. It made me laugh. And what I loved turned out to be what my agent and my editor loved, too.

I am embarrassed to say that I need to remind myself of this over and over. It’s so easy to get caught up in questions like “What do editors want?” and “What can I sell?”

When really, the critical question is, “What do I love?”

So write with your heart. And draw! And if one of your sketches starts talking to you? You should probably pay attention. Best of luck!

guestbloggerbio2014

Deborah Underwood grew up in Walla Walla, Washington. When she was little, she wanted to be an astronomer. Then she wanted to be a singer. Then she wanted to be a writer. Today her jobs are writing and singing. Two out of three’s not bad! (Okay, she also wanted to work in a piano factory and paste the labels on new pianos, but let’s just ignore that one.)

She’s the author of THE QUIET BOOK, THE LOUD BOOK, PART-TIME PRINCESS, the SUGAR PLUM BALLERINAS series (with Whoopi Goldberg), and, of course THE CAT books, among others.

When she’s not writing, you might find her singing in a chamber choir, playing a ukulele (very badly), walking around in Golden Gate Park, baking vegan cookies, or petting any dogs, cats, pigs, or turkeys that happen to be nearby.

You can connect with her at DeborahUnderwoodBooks.com or on Twitter @underwoodwriter.

prizedetails2014

Deborah is giving away one copy of EASTER CAT and one copy of SANTA CAT!

eastercat  Santa Cat

These prizes will be given away at the conclusion of PiBoIdMo. You are eligible for these prizes if:

  1. You have registered for PiBoIdMo.
  2. You have commented ONCE ONLY on today’s post.
  3. You have completed the PiBoIdMo challenge. (You will have to sign the PiBoIdMo Pledge at the end of the event.)

Good luck, everyone!


10 Comments on PiBoIdMo Day 17: Here Comes Deborah Underwood (plus prizes!), last added: 11/17/2014
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1339. The Schoolies Series | Book Reviews

Two excellent installments from the Schoolies series, combining vibrant drawings and lessons on navigating school life.

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1340. Kim Fleming Draws on Her Experience as Illustrator of ‘Mummy, You’re Special To Me’

Kim Fleming knows how to tell a great story. She tells stories through pictures. Kim’s art creates a sense of affection, warmth and joy. Born in Canada, this now Melbournite has found her calling in illustrating children’s books. She has previously illustrated such picture books as the gorgeous True Blue Santa written by Anne Mangan, […]

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1341. PiBoIdMo Day 16: Shelley Moore Thomas Speaks from the PiBoIdMo Trenches (plus a prize!)

shelley b and wby Shelley Moore Thomas

Okay, so last year I did PiBoIdMo. At the same time, I was also trying to get 1,000 words a day finished on a middle grade novel. If you do the math, you can see that I’d have had 30,000 words on a novel and 30 ideas finished by the end of the month, were I to have been successful.

That would have been an AMAZING amount of writing.

But I was not successful. Not completely, anyway.

I logged about half of that amount of words on my novel—but that is still 15,000 more words than I would have had otherwise. So I felt pretty good about that.

But my picture book ideas. Ugh. I ended the month with 22 of them. Most were pretty crummy. I mean, I was trying to do the best that I could, but man, some of my ideas were really dumb/hideous/terrible/lame. What? You want an example? Okay, I’ll cut and paste some entries from my PiBoIdMo Journal, 2013:

November 3: (Came up with this one in my sleep) Baby Kangaroo Won’t Get Out of the Pouch  I kind of see lots and lots of animals getting invited over to Joey’s pouch, but he is too scared to come out. Not sure what is going to get him to come out.

kangaroojoey

Really? I read that idea now and all I can think is POOR MAMA KANGAROO!! And also yuck. I think yuck.

Hungry for another?

November 13: Dream Dinos (Little dinos that live in your head and help you sleep….hahaha)

This whole idea just gives me the heebie-jeebies. And nightmares. Ick.

The list continues on in a similarly awful manner. 18 completely un-writable ideas.

Notice I said 18, not 22. That is because 4 of the ideas I recorded last November were pretty darn good.  Actually, they were incredible. I am working on two of them right now, and will tackle the other two a time permits. (I wish I could tell you about them, but I can’t talk about picture book ideas when they are in progress. Ruins the magic of it.)

The truth of it is that I never would have come up with the 4 ideas that I really like if I hadn’t been willing to take a chance and just try and come up with one idea each day. (And each day, I did feel pretty satisfied with what my muse had given me. It was only upon later reading that I thought BLECH. But that is okay. From mounds of fertilizer sprout beautiful blossoms, right?)

So make your PiBoIdMo list. Let it sleep (or ferment, as the case may be) for a month, then see which ideas still smell sweet.

guestbloggerbio2014

Shelley Moore Thomas is the author of the nine picture books (including the much heralded GOOD KNIGHT series) and one middle grade novel, THE SEVEN TALES OF TRINKET. Her upcoming tenth picture book, NO, NO, KITTEN! (Boyds Mills Press) hits shelves on March 3, 2015. In addition to being a writer, Shelley is also an elementary school teacher. So, no, she doesn’t really ever get to sleep.

www.ShelleyMooreThomas.blogspot.com

blog: www.storyqueenscastle.blogspot.com

twitter: @story_queen

prizedetails2014

Shelley is giving away a pre-order of her upcoming picture book with Lori Nichols, NO, NO, KITTEN!

no, no, kitten b and n

This prize will be given away at the conclusion of PiBoIdMo. You are eligible for this prize if:

  1. You have registered for PiBoIdMo.
  2. You have commented ONCE ONLY on today’s post.
  3. You have completed the PiBoIdMo challenge. (You will have to sign the PiBoIdMo Pledge at the end of the event.)

Good luck, everyone!


10 Comments on PiBoIdMo Day 16: Shelley Moore Thomas Speaks from the PiBoIdMo Trenches (plus a prize!), last added: 11/16/2014
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1342. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #406: Featuring Alex Barrow


“This tale begins with Samuel Drew, wherever he goes, his dog goes too.
The day is fine, the sky is bright, as Sam and dog stroll into sight.
Look there he is, the little boy with dog-on-wheels, his favourite toy.
Let’s watch and find out where they go … But hurry up — we can’t be slow!”

(Click to enlarge)


 

This week over at BookPage, I have a review of Gabby Dawnay’s A Possum’s Tail, illustrated by Alex Barrow. The two have worked together on stories and poems for the UK’s OKIDO magazine, and this is their first picture book together. It was published this month from Tate Publishing in London but is distributed by Abrams here in the States.

The review is here, so you can head over there if you want more information. This morning, I share two spreads so that we can all get a sneak peek inside the book. One more is below.


“…London Zoo! They pass the cheeky chimpanzees and noisy parrots in the trees.
Past hippos snoozing in the sun and sliding penguins having fun.
Past sleeping snakes and tigers snoring, tall giraffes and lions roaring …
Sam looks around, he knows his mind, he knows exactly where to find …”

(Click to enlarge)


 



 

A POSSUM’S TAIL. Copyright © 2014 by Gabby Dawnay. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Alex Barrow. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Tate Publishing/Abrams.

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1) I spoke in Knoxville this week about Wild Things—at a bookstore and at the University—and that went well.

2) I got to see old friends, while there.

3) I read B. J. Novak’s The Book With No Pictures at story time at Parnassus Books just yesterday, and one little girl, a regular whom I always enjoy seeing, laughed so hard that her whole body shook.

4) Since we got a galley of the fourth Penderwicks book, the girls and I are re-reading books 1 to 3 (mostly to refresh our memories). And they are having so. much. fun. Even more fun than the first time. I am enjoying the re-reads but am super eager to get to the new one.

5) We are also reading the Joey Pigza books, which I may have already said recently, but it’s truly a kick to read Gantos’ writing outloud. Also, I’ve decided Grandma is one of children’s literature’s best characters ever. (Books 1 to 4 are re-reads for me, but they’re all new to the girls, who now love Joey. When we’re done with the fourth, the brand-new one awaits, the one I haven’t read yet. I’m eager to get to that, too.)

6) The score in the TV show The Leftovers. I also really like the show itself thus far, though it’s often deeply sad and though the title makes me giggle every time. It makes me think of things like meatloaf. In fact, I’ve just been referring to it as Meatloaf, though really and truly, the episodes I’ve seen so far have been good.

7) Nashville’s Kidlit Drink Night. So good to see folks there. AND to have the Local Latte, because honey, cinnamon, milk, coffee … YUM.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

10 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #406: Featuring Alex Barrow, last added: 11/17/2014
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1343. PiBoIdMo Day 15: Floyd Cooper Walks Outside at Midnight

Floyd-Cooper-headshotby Floyd Cooper

I find inspiration in the oddest of places, at the oddest of times. Looking back after having illustrated about 100 picture books, of which only five I have also written, I find that I have been most inspired by things visual. Early in my developing years my mom told me stories or read to me and I would visualize her words. Picturing the tales as she spoke was easy and second nature. It would not change for me, the visualizing, as I began to read myself. I would also digest and consume visual media such as magazines like the Saturday Evening Post, Life, and Ebony. Comic books didn’t escape my attention, in particular Mad Magazine, DC Comics and Marvel.

Movies and television also provided visual stimuli to my budding imagination and I consumed everything within my orbit. There were periods in my youth when my household had no TV or the money for a movie or a new book. My imagination was forced to fly solo, on automatic pilot as it were. Seeking ways to keep the entertainment going, I would look at my surroundings in unusual ways like hanging my head over the edge of the sofa upside down and imagine walking through the house as if it were turned topsy- turvy.

I would zoom in real close to a clump of grass and dirt and visualize moving through this landscape as a tiny scout until a lazy beetle or hasty ant would come by and chase me from my daydream.

And I would draw and paint!

coopergrandparentshouse

I would construct scenarios in my head about my siblings and gain revenge for perceived misdeeds and come out the hero in the end. My imagination didn’t skip a beat! These exercises helped develop the ability to easily and without much effort, create a narrative from nothing. To keep my imaginative acuity stretchy and fluid. But with all of this early cognitive stimulus, my career as an illustrator and the field in which I now work and make my life, making picture books, presents such pressure on the imagination, taxing the ability to produce day in, day out, book to book, original fresh ideas and visions on demand that eventually it became more and more difficult to stay inspired.

It began to take longer and longer for the muse to come.

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Deadlines, editorial demands and even the trim size and gutters of the book became limits and hindrances to the creative process. The pressure of producing art in a stifling environment became the norm and began to take a toll. One day I sat down at my table and could not move forward. I had reached the point of burn-out! My instincts told me to get away. This is how I discovered the powers of walking outside at midnight. A midnight walk outside in any given season you’ll find the mind takes a rest from the pressures of production and allows the doors of the brain to fling wide open with the breezes of inspiration! It matters not whether country or town, noisy or quiet, as long as you can see the sky in it’s velvet caress. You may even catch a glimpse of the Muse’s own shadow, flitting about on the peripheral. Try it! Think hard about what you want to produce be it picture or prose. Then get up! Walk out into the night giving it not a single thought more. You will find upon your return, the sprouts of fresh ideas ready to grow and…

I can be inspired sometimes with a single image that will be so full of emotion as to lead to several more paintings and even the entire book.

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I can be inspired by a visit to a museum or gallery with masterworks on display.

I can be inspired with rejection of my idea.

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The image above was to be cut from the book when my sketch was unclear and the editors thought the ballet master’s hands belonged to the little girl. I poured a little more into the art after that!

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girlflowers

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The one thing that inspires me most, more than midnight walks, more than a museum, even more than rejection is……

A text that sings, that embraces my imagination and injects it with energy. Good story inspires great art!

fatherdaughter

guestbloggerbio2014

Floyd Cooper has illustrated more than 100 children’s books and has been honored with the Coretta Scott King award for his work. He recently released MAX AND THE TAG-ALONG MOON, one of only five books he both wrote and illustrated.

max-and-the-tag-along-moon

On being a children’s author Floyd says, “Giving kids a positive alternative to counteract the negative impact of what is conveyed in today’s media is a huge opportunity.” Floyd lives in Pennsylvania with his wife (and agent) Velma and two sons.

You can view the full scope of his work at FloydCooper.com.


10 Comments on PiBoIdMo Day 15: Floyd Cooper Walks Outside at Midnight, last added: 11/15/2014
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1344. Cartoon-Me Interviews Red Panda and Hippo …


As you can see, I’m doing something totally different today.

That’s the cartoonized version of me up there, interviewing the two main characters of an upcoming graphic novel for children, called Hippopotamister. Springing from the mind of comics creator John Green (pictured right), who lives in Brooklyn and is best known for Teen Boat, his collaboration with Dave Roman, Hippopotamister is Green’s solo debut. It’s a comic geared at younger children and tells the story of Hippo and his friend, Red Panda (who are pictured above). They live in the city zoo but head out to get jobs in the bustling world of humans. (Hippo becomes the titular Hippopotamister — just to survive out in the big city.) Red Panda finds the occupational world challenging, and even though Hippo excels at each job he secures, Red Panda manages to get them fired. The book is scheduled for an early-2016 release from First Second.

You can read a great process essay from John here at School Library Journal, as well as this interview at The Beat. (P.S. Mr. Schu got cartoonized, too.)

I thank John for visiting. This makes the second time I’ve interviewed wise-talkin’ animals. (Punk Farm was my first.)

* * * * * * *

Art is copyright © 2014 by John Green and used by his permission.

Photo of John Green taken by Ellen B. Wright.

3 Comments on Cartoon-Me Interviews Red Panda and Hippo …, last added: 11/17/2014
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1345. Illustration Inspiration: Hervé Tullet

Hervé Tullet is known for his prodigious versatility, from directing ad campaigns to designing fabric for Hermès. But his real love is working with children, for whom he has published dozens of books, including Press Here.

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1346. Cats Are Cats – Perfect Picture book Friday

Title: Cats Are Cats Written and illustrated by: Valeri Gorbachev Published By: Holiday House, 2014. Themes/Topics: cats, pets, tigers, fish Suitable for ages: 3-5 Opening:                                     … Continue reading

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1347. PiBoIdMo Day 14: Barbara Krasner Goes for Truth (plus a prize!)

barbarakrasnerby Barbara Krasner

In a million years I’d never have thought my first children’s book would be a picture book. While I was working mostly on YA historical novels during my MFA program at the Vermont College of Fine Arts, a friend teased and said picture books would be my future.

I write picture book biographies. Well, no, that’s not quite right. I write picture book historical fiction, because I invent dialogue based on real-life stories. And I did the unthinkable in my picture book, Goldie Takes a Stand! Golda Meir’s First Crusade—I wrote it in first person. The version I submitted to publisher Kar-Ben, the Jewish imprint of Lerner Publishing, was 1400 words (don’t worry, it got slashed).

There was no other way to write about Golda than in first person, because her voice was so strong. I had many other picture book drafts, but I knew I had something special with Golda. It all began when I was attending two weeks of retreat at the Highlights Foundation. Between the two weeks I had to attend an event at the Touro Synagogue in Rhode Island. I perused the shelves at the Highlights farmhouse and saw Golda’s autobiography, My Life (which I learned recently she didn’t write). Over the weekend, I read it and found a snippet about how as a child, Golda staged a fundraising event in Milwaukee, where she and her family had settled as immigrants from Russia, to buy schoolbooks for classmates. She mentioned a newspaper article had appeared about the event. Back home, I contacted the Jewish Historical Society of Milwaukee and the archivist knew exactly which article I was talking about. He sent it to me.

I wrote the draft on a Saturday night. Initially, I wrote it in third person, but that didn’t seem quite right. When I changed to first, the voice and story fell into place. I interpreted a true event but had to fill in the gaps to present the problem Golda and her friends faced. I invented dialogue. But the event itself was true and documented.

Goldie Takes a Stand (2)

I drafted the story in October 2011. I took it to workshops. I submitted the manuscript to Kar-Ben the following April and received an offer in June 2012. The book was published in August 2014.

I had been researching the story of the MS St. Louis since 2010, when I interviewed eight survivors of the ill-fated voyage. In 1939, this ship of nearly 1,000 German-Jewish refugees left Germany for safe haven from Nazism in Cuba. But when it arrived there, the passengers weren’t allowed to disembark. Denied refuge, the ship roamed the Atlantic until a philanthropic organization negotiated landing in Antwerp and distribution of the passengers to England, France, the Netherlands, and Belgium.

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One of the women I interviewed, Liesl Joseph Loeb, was the daughter of the head of the passenger committee. I wrote a middle-grade narrative, but the story was difficult to tell, because so much happened that children on board wouldn’t have known about. Then it dawned on me to focus on Liesl in a picture book. That became Liesl’s Ocean Rescue, coming out very soon from Gihon River Press, a specialized Holocaust publisher. Again, I took dramatic license with Liesl’s story, but it is based on her interview and true events.

 What I learned is absolutely true:

  1. Go with your gut. If something doesn’t feel quite right, change it.
  2. Make a weakness a strength. Some publishers rejected my manuscript, because it was in first person. I decided to make that my story’s strength.
  3. Keep trying. I graduated from VCFA in 2006. Eight years later my first children’s book appeared. I still have those YA historical novels under the bed. Maybe they’ll make it out some day, but for right now, my focus is on picture book biographies.
  4. Get your manuscript vetted. Even though my picture books are fictionalized, they are based on true events. I needed to find subject matter experts who could vet the manuscripts.
  5. Write a biography only if the subject wrote an autobiography. Since these two picture books, I’ve drafted a few biographies, now with my agent. But these stories are true—and are in first person.

guestbloggerbio2014

Barbara Krasner holds an M.B.A. in Marketing from Rutgers University and an M.F.A. in Writing for Children & Young Adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts (VCFA). She is currently an adjunct professor in the English department at William Paterson University, teaching introductory and advanced creative writing, fiction writing, and children’s literature. GOLDIE TAKES A STAND: GOLDA MEIR’S FIRST CRUSADE, released in 2014 with Kar-Ben Publishers, is her debut picture book. LIESEL’S OCEAN RESCUE is due from Gihon River Press this December.

You can connect with her at BarbaraKrasner.com and follow her on Twitter @BarbaraKrasner.

prizedetails2014

Barbara is giving away a copy of GOLDIE TAKES A STAND!

This prize will be given away at the conclusion of PiBoIdMo. You are eligible for this prize if:

  1. You have registered for PiBoIdMo.
  2. You have commented ONCE ONLY on today’s post.
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10 Comments on PiBoIdMo Day 14: Barbara Krasner Goes for Truth (plus a prize!), last added: 11/14/2014
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1348. Picture Book Month: Hooray for Hat by Brian Won

Hooray for Hat! by Brian Won

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About the Book: Elephant wakes up feeling grumpy. Until a delivery arrives at his door and a new hat cheers him up. Elephant wants to share his hat and along the way cheers up his friends.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: I'm a sucker for retro-style illustrations. There's just something about them that make me feel happy. Hooray for Hat! features what could be called some retro-style illustrations and it fits the book perfectly.

Elephant is grumpy but his hat cheers him up. He visits his friends throughout the day and cheering them up with a hat of their own. The text is simple and the illustrations are bright and simple and not distracting making this a great storytime book. There's also a nice repetitive refrain of "Hooray for Hat" that kids can cheer along as the animals become happy.

This is a great story of how a simple act of kindness can make someone's day. This would be a great book to talk to kids about being kind, helping others, and paying it forward.

I've used this one in storytime a few times this year and each time I've read it it's been a bit hit. The kids catch on quickly to saying "hooray for hat" excitedly with each animal. And the joy the animals experience in sharing their gifts expands to the kids. The illustrations catch the expressions of the animals perfectly and the kids can see that and they get just as happy as each animal gets a new hat.

A fun picture book debut that is a great storytime addition.

Full Disclosure: Reviewed from final copy borrowed from library

0 Comments on Picture Book Month: Hooray for Hat by Brian Won as of 11/14/2014 9:13:00 AM
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1349. What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Floyd Cooper


“… With every bend, I hope. / With every plié, / every turn, /
every grand jeté, I hope. …”

(Click to enlarge spread and see rest of text)


 

This morning over at Kirkus, I write about
Russell Hoban’s Jim’s Lion. It’s been re-imagined as a graphic novel with the illustrations of Alexis Deacon. That link is here.

* * *

Last week, I wrote here about Kristy Dempsey’s A Dance Like Starlight: One Ballerina’s Dream, illustrated by Floyd Cooper. Today, I’ve got some spreads from the book.

Enjoy.


“Stars hardly shine in the New York City sky, / with the factories spilling out / pillars of smoke / and streetlights spreading / bright halos round their pin-top faces. …”
(Click to enlarge spread and see rest of text)


 


“Mama says wishing on stars is a waste anyhow, / says you don’t need
stars in the sky / to make your dreams come true. / Hope can pick your dream up,
she says, / off the floor of your heart, / when you think it can’t happen, / no how,
no way, / though unlike wishing / Mama says / hoping / is hard work. …”

(Click to enlarge spread and see rest of text)


 


“In my heart I’m the one leaping / across that stage, / raising myself high on those shoulders, / then falling / slowly / slowly / slowly / to the arms below. …”
(Click to enlarge spread and see rest of text)


 



 

* * * * * * *

A DANCE LIKE STARLIGHT: ONE BALLERINA’S DREAM. Copyright © 2014 by Kristy Dempsey. Illustrations © 2014 by Floyd Cooper. Published by Philomel, New York. Illustrations used by permission of the publisher.

1 Comments on What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Floyd Cooper, last added: 11/15/2014
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1350. Illustrator Saturday – Maja Sereda

majaMaja Sereda has illustrated number of picture books published in English, Afrikaans and other African languages. She has received 3 ATKV awards for best illustration (category ages 3–6) in 2008, 2009, 2011. And her book A kite’s flight written by W. Gumede won the Crystal Kite member’s choice award for the Africa region, 2011. Her latest book La Grande Fleur, written by Yves Pinguilly, was published in France (2013).

Maja tackles each project with great passion and enthusiasm, which she best communicates through her fun and quirky illustrations. Maja works in soft pastels as well as digital media. She loves drawing all creatures great and small, including little children!

Here is Maja explaining her process:

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I create a sketch for my illustration using a colour pencil on 60gsm paper.
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The sketch is scanned and rough colour dropped in.

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I trace image onto final pastel paper and start pasteling.

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I always work from left to right or from the center outwards in order not to smudge the pastel. It is a very delicate medium.

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To create details I use pastel pencils, whereas for the fine outlines I once again bring in a colour pencil. Most often a brown.

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Background is drawn last.

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Final Illustration

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Below: Snow Games written by Joanna Marple (www.utales.com) 2012

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LA GRANDE FLEUR COVER

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La Grande Fleur was published in France by Oscar Editeur in 2013.

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The book was part of the French/South African season.

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La Grande Fleur interior art.

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How long have you been illustrating?

I’ve been illustrating books since 2007.

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What made your family move from Poland to South Africa when you were young?

My dad received a work contract and decided to take it. It was supposed to be a temporary move, but I fell in love with South Africa and persuaded my family to stay.

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Have you ever gone back to Poland?

I like to visit from time to time. I still have family and primary school friends living in Poland.

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What University did you attend and what did you study?

I studied BA (Information Design) aka graphic design at University of Pretoria.

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What was the first painting or illustration that you did where someone paid you for your artwork?

I did a number of illustration jobs while working in the design/advertising industry, such as story boarding or product drawings. I believe the very first paid illustration job was my first book.

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What type of job did you do right after you graduated?

I moved to Dublin, Ireland for a year where I worked for a marketing company as a junior art director.

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When did you decide you wanted to illustrate for children?

It was in my final year of studies. I realized that I’ve chosen the wrong field. Design was simply not for me. It took me a few years before I could start freelancing and working as a full time illustrator.

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How many picture books have you illustrated?

Approximately 17 picture books, however I’m not counting illustration work done for educational books.

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Were any of them published by a US Publisher?

Unfortunately not, however I’m hoping it will happen one day soon. I’m always dreaming and wishing.

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What was the first picture book that you illustrated? And how did that contract come your way?

My sister put me in touch with a client who wanted to illustrate a story that her father wrote. It was small private project. Out of that book, an illustration of mine title ‘catching rabbits’ was born, which I sent to a local South African publisher. They replied immediately and asked me to pitch for a book. I had my first real book contract within in a week. I was over the moon.

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How do you connect with art directors and editors and find illustration work?

So far I’ve been very lucky. Work finds me. Nevertheless, from time to time I do like to contact a publisher via email and send them my updated portfolio.

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Are you represented by artist agency? If so, who? If not would you like to find one?

I’m not represented by anyone at the moment and I am currently looking for US representation. In South Africa, the market is very small and a freelance illustrator can easily approach publishers directly.

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It looks like you have illustrated books in many different languages. How do publishers help you work with a book that is written in another language?

Even though my Afrikaans isn’t very good, I do understand it and therefore am able to read a manuscript without translation. Many of the other African languages are sent to me with the English translation. I’m currently studying French. One of my latest books LA GRANDE FLEUR written by Yves Pinguilly, was also translated for me into English.

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Have you done any illustrating for children’s magazines?

I do regular work for a local magazine Hoezit! It is also an Afrikaans publication.

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Have you done any work for educational publishers?

I work for educational publishers on a regular basis. This work however doesn’t inspire me and therefore doesn’t feature in my portfolio. I prefer to work on picture books for young children.

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What is your favorite medium to use to do your illustrations?

At the moment, it’s soft pastels. I simply love the medium – the intensity and variety of colour is incredible. Most of my recent work has been done in pastels. In the past, I’ve worked with gouache, acrylic, ink, oil and Photoshop.

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Has that changed over time?

I have grown a lot as an illustrator, I don’t think one ever stops growing and learning. When I started illustrating my focus was simply on creating sweet, quirky illustrations, but now I’m leaning more and more towards fantasy and also more personal work.

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What do you consider is your first big success?

My first book received an award for best illustration, it definitely inspired me to keep going.

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Do you ever want to write and illustrate a picture book?

Yes, mostly definitely. I write and sketch ideas often – my big aim is to set aside some time and only focus on doing my own book. Perhaps this coming year! Recent trip to Reunion Island was very inspiring and I would like to use some of the incredible imagery in my book.

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Would you be open to working with an author who wants to self-publish a picture book?

Yes, and I have in the past although these projects are often tricky. There is the issue of budget, quality of the writing, etc.

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Do you take pictures or do any types of research before you start a project?

I take photographs, I search the web, look through books. Research is vital for any project.

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Do you think your Polish roots or the South African culture is reflected in your art?

Little bit of both, however I do feel a stronger connection with my polish roots.

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What is the one thing in your studio that you could not live without?

I have so many things, it’s difficult to choose! Pastels of course, but also colouring pencils. I find them fantastic to sketch with, much better than the graphite pencil.

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Do you try to spend a specific amount of time working on your craft?

As much as I can, but I don’t have a specific number of hours in mind. I also believe it’s good to take breaks from drawing and creating. I love spending time behind the camera lens as well, especially photographing birds and insects.

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Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

Absolutely. Hasn’t it for everyone? It is incredible how we are all connected, we share our work and meet fantastic people online.

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Do you use Photoshop or Corel Painter with your illustrations?

I use Photoshop for my digital artwork. I also use to help me plan layouts.

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Do you own or have you used a Graphic Drawing Tablet in your illustrating?

Yes, I use a Wacom tablet.

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Do you have any career dreams that you want to fulfill?

I have many dreams, it’s hard to summarize them all here. Ideally I want to have the freedom to write and illustrate my own books. Also create a product line using my art.

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What are you working on now?

I have one or two potential books to create. I’m still deciding which one to take on.

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Do you have any material type tips you can share with us? Example: Paint or paper that you love – the best place to buy – a new product that you’ve tried – A how to tip, etc.

I love using 60gsm layout paper for sketching because it’s slightly transparent. I can always overlay my sketches and work over them.

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Any words of wisdom on how to become a successful writer or illustrator?

Work hard, believe in your dream, make sure that the work you produce is of high quality and then be brave. Not everyone is going to be a fan of your work, but sometimes you simply have to look for the right audience.

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Thank you Maja for sharing your journey and process with us. Please let us know all your future successes. We’d love to hear about them and cheer you on. You can see more of Maja’s work on www.childrensillustrators.com/majasereda and see more of  her portfolio on:  http://www.facebook.com/MajaSeredaIllustration

If you have a moment I am sure Maja would like to read your comments. I enjoy reading them, too, even if I don’t always have time to reply. Thanks!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: authors and illustrators, illustrating, Illustrator's Saturday, inspiration, Interview, picture books, Process Tagged: Illustrator Journey, Maja Sereda, University of Pretoria

6 Comments on Illustrator Saturday – Maja Sereda, last added: 11/16/2014
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