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1326. The Big Blue Thing on the Hill by Yuval Zommer

The Big Blue Thing on the Hill is by Yuval Zommer, who comes to the world of picture books after many years as a creative director at some of the world's top advertising agencies. His debut is wonderful, and the story reminds me of a bit of the picture books of the environmentally conscious, animal friendly Bill Peet. Zommer's illustrations are full of energy and a little bit kooky,

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1327. Seven Questions Over Shots with Nick Bruel


Author-illustrator Nick Bruel is serious about breakfast. When I ask him what pretend-breakfast-of choice we’ll pretend-have over pretend-coffee this morning, his answer is detailed (right after my own breakfast-lovin’ heart):

Choice? Well, the finest breakfast dish I ever had was an oatmeal crème brulee from a hotel somewhere in Miami. It was dessert; it was breakfast; it was oatmeal; it was sugary; it was delicious, and I’ve never had anything like it since. But my typical breakfast of choice is some nice, fresh, untoasted sourdough bread and a quality olive oil for dipping. I especially like a mushroom-roasted garlic oil that comes from a shop in Tarrytown, NY.

Years ago when I traveled in China, my favorite breakfast dish was what Westerners here call congee, which is a hot rice porridge accompanied by at least half a dozen small dishes filled with assorted items, like egg or pickle or vegetables. You scoop out some of the hot rice mush into your bowl and add whatever you feel like from the smaller dishes. If you do it right, it can be delightful.

I have a lot to say about breakfast. I like breakfast.

Nick’s Bad Kitty, one of children’s literature’s most refreshingly naughty characters, appeared ten years ago—”Bruel’s little black star is perhaps the hammiest, most expressive feline ever captured in watercolors,” wrote Kirkus at the character’s debut—and it’s safe to say things haven’t been the same for Bruel since. Bad Kitty’s adventures began with a picture book, which then turned into a bestselling chapter book series.

But Nick started out with picture books and returns to them, in part, this year with the release this month of A Wonderful Year (our purple friend above comes from this story), already the recipient of a handful of positive reviews, some starred.

Nick talks about that new book, and much more below, and I thank him for visiting. As you’ll read, we may have a few shots with our coffee. (What? I’m up for just about anything.)

* * * * * * *

Jules: Are you an illustrator or author/illustrator?

Nick: Both. So there.

Jules: Can you list your books-to-date? (If there are too many books to list here, please list your five most recent illustrated titles or the ones that are most prominent in your mind, for whatever reason.)

Nick: Bad Kitty – blah, blah, blah. But I will give particular shout out to Bad Kitty: Drawn To Trouble and the upcoming Bad Kitty: Puppy’s Big Day.

Who Is Melvin Bubble?

Bob and Otto, written by my father, Robert O. Bruel.

Little Red Bird.

The upcoming A Wonderful Year –- possibly my best book.



Jules: What is your usual medium?

Nick: Pencil, ink, watercolor, gouache, and stress.

Jules: If you have illustrated for various age ranges (such as, both picture books and early reader books OR, say, picture books and chapter books), can you briefly discuss the differences, if any, in illustrating for one age group to another?

[Pictured left: The first-ever painting of Bad Kitty.]

Nick: The different challenges between making books for these particular age ranges have less to do with the illustrations and more with the writing. When writing picture books, I have to pace my story to fit into those exact 32 or 40 page measurements. When writing the chapter books, I can just go hog wild and keep writing the story until I think it’s done.

As for the art — interestingly, the picture books and the chapter books both take me an equal amount of time to illustrate. The picture books are much shorter but are painted in color. The Bad Kitty chapter books may all be illustrated monochromatically, but some of those beasts are as much as 160 pages long, almost all of them fully illustrated.

Jules: Where are your stompin’ grounds?

Nick (pictured right in first grade): Until recently, we lived in bucolic Tarrytown, NY. Now we live in equally bucolic Briarcliff Manor, NY. And if that name sounds at all familiar, then, yes, the name of the insane asylum where all the mayhem takes place in the second season of American Horror Story is “Briarcliff Manor.”

Jules: Can you tell me about your road to publication?

Nick: I worked at a children’s bookstore in NYC called Books Of Wonder for over seven years. The store’s still there. During my evenings, I spent all my time creating and selling cartoons to various magazines and trade journals. About halfway through my tenure at BOW, I began to combine my interests and create my own kid book manuscripts. A regular customer named Jennie Dunham was curious about my work and eventually became my agent. A former store manager named Schuyler Hooke recommended me to a friend of his, who happened to be the great Neal Porter, who had just started the then fledgling Roaring Brook. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Nick’s first book, published in 2004

Jules: Can you please point readers to your web site and/or blog?

Nick: www.nickbruel.com. But Bad Kitty herself has a wonderful site my publisher Macmillan created at www.badkittybooks.com.

Jules: If you do school visits, tell me what they’re like.

Nick: Because my books target a pretty wide age range, I get to talk to lots of different age groups. For the most part, I like to conduct an exercise on how to come up with story ideas, which I cater to each grade level. For 5th graders, I like to conduct what I call a “cartooning symposium” that’s really an exercise on overcoming writer’s block. When the rare opportunity arises for me to speak to middle schoolers, I like to give a talk on criticism and censorship.

Jules: Any new titles/projects you might be working on now that you can tell me about?

Nick: I will have five brand new titles that I’ve both written and illustrated coming out in 2015. Crazy, right? In January, the newest Bad Kitty chapter books comes out, which will be Bad Kitty: Puppy’s Big Day, the first chapter book to feature Puppy.

In May will be some new Bad Kitty stuff. First, a picture/chapter/activity book titled Bad Kitty Makes Comics, my instruction manual on how kids can make their own comics with Bad Kitty and Strange Kitty as their guides.

At the same time will come the first Bad Kitty early readers, Bad Kitty Does Not Like Dogs and Bad Kitty Does Not Like Candy. These two books may represent the opening salvo of what may become the next Bad Kitty series.

Lastly, on the same day as the release of Puppy’s Big Day will come my first non-Bad Kitty book in many years, A Wonderful Year. [Some spreads are pictured below.] This concept behind this book came to me when I woke up one morning contemplating what I might have done if I was asked to do my own Nutshell Library. The book will be four short stories in one picture book, each story set in one of the seasons of the year. Each story will be independent of each other, but none of them could really exist without the other three. When kids ask me what my favorite book may be, I always tell them that I don’t have a favorite. And I don’t. But having said that, A Wonderful Year may indeed be my best book.


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)


(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)

Mmm. Coffee.Okay, we’ve got more coffee, and it’s time to get a bit more detailed with seven questions over breakfast. I thank Nick again for visiting 7-Imp.

1. Jules: What exactly is your process when you are illustrating a book? You can start wherever you’d like when answering: getting initial ideas, starting to illustrate, or even what it’s like under deadline, etc. Do you outline a great deal of the book before you illustrate or just let your muse lead you on and see where you end up?


: My process is pretty similar for all of my books, but I’ll describe it specific to how I make the chapter books.

First I take a shower. Seriously. Some of my best ideas come to me while hot water is pouring onto my head. The shower is just a great place for me to focus my thoughts.

Once inspiration has hit me and I’ve dried off, I like to put all of my early thoughts on paper. These really will be random thoughts, and they may not even take a linear shape in the form of a story.

Rough drawing: Creating a page for the upcoming Bad Kitty Goes To The Vet,
to be released in January 2016

(Click to enlarge)

Once I do have a story in mind, I will go to the computer and type out a detailed outline. The typical Bad Kitty chapter book outline is around 5-6 pages, single spaced. I like to describe outlines as being like maps for the story itself. Every now and then, you like to get into a car knowing exactly where you’re going and how to get there — point A to point B to point C … and so on. But every now and then you get sidetracked or lost or just feel like going off-road for a bit. That’s okay. Most maps delineate multiple routes.

Next, I go back to pen and paper. I have to. Because my books are so heavily illustrated and because I firmly believe that illustrations tell a story just as much as words do, I start writing and sketching at the same time. This 160-page mess of hand-drawn and hand-written pages doesn’t even represent the manuscript because …

Kitty, penciled and inked
(Click to enlarge)

Next I take all of those loose sketches and make clean, penciled illustrations on hot pressed Arches watercolor pages. I use the hot pressed stuff after Jerry Pinkney suggested it to me, because the smooth texture works will with pen and ink. (This will not be the first big name I drop. Everyone can drink their first shot now.)

Once everything has been penciled, I scan all of the pages individually. Once scanned, I create a computer design file where I combine all of my words and pictures for submission, because THIS file will be the manuscript, the book dummy.

It all sounds like a complex process, but I have it so streamlined now that it all goes pretty smoothly.

Final art
(Click to enlarge)

Once my editor has give me the green light to finish the artwork, I outline all of my penciled pages with good ol’ fashioned crow quill pen (a Gilliott 1290, to be specific) and ink. After the ink’s dried, I paint everything except for Kitty in watercolor paints. Kitty, I paint with gouache. That’s because gouache is solid and opaque. I could never get that deep, even [the] black in Kitty, by painting her with watercolors. Also, painting her with a different medium helps her to stand out from her background.

Dummy of cover for first Bad Kitty book

2. Jules: Describe your studio or usual work space.


: If you’ve ever seen the last scene of Blair Witch Project, then you’ve seen my studio office. I gave up a long time ago trying to be tidy with my workspace. It’s just a filthy mess of papers and loose paint tubes and pens and cat hair. All I need is one can of spilled motor oil, and I think I could apply to the government to label my office as a superfund site.

3. Jules: As a book-lover, it interests me: What books or authors and/or illustrators influenced you as an early reader?


: One guy that few people remember, but everyone should, is Jack Kent. He was one of the rare breed of children’s book creators who also had his own syndicated comic strip in the newspapers for years.

I remember his work well from when I was a kid and admire him greatly to this day, even though almost none of his books remain in print. There’s No Such Thing as a Dragon I believe is still in print. But everyone should look in their libraries for Joey and Silly Goose and Socks For Supper to see what smart, simply-executed pictures look like. I would love to see his work re-discovered.

I’m also a great admirer of my good friend Jules Feiffer. (Take another shot.) His multi-faceted career in cartooning and children’s books and theatre and novels is the kind of career I would most like to emulate.

I honestly think that Bark, George is the closest thing we have to a perfect picture book in this generation.

4. Jules: If you could have three (living) authors or illustrators—whom you have not yet met—over for coffee or a glass of rich, red wine, whom would you choose? (Some people cheat and list deceased authors/illustrators. I won’t tell.)

Nick: This is a bit of a problem for me, because I’ve met a lot of my heroes already — not because of what I do now, but because of what I used to do. Working as a bookseller, like I did, gave me the opportunity to meet tons of great talent. I had several discussions with Shel Silverstein, who was a regular customer. (Take a shot.) I spoke at great length once with Maurice Sendak (shot). Lane Smith lived, literally, next door to the store. I’ve already met pretty much everyone. (You know what to do.) But a few more people do come to mind.

I’m a huge fan of Cynthia Rylant. I think her Mr. Putter and Tabby series is the finest “I Can Read” series out there for kids. I’ve met the illustrator, Arthur Howard, several times and told him as much. I think she really has the knack for writing for children, as evidenced by all of her marvelous books and series. I would love to sit and have lunch with her someday.

I owe a great deal to Lois Ehlert. When I was first writing Bad Kitty, I was stumped as to what to use for “x” in alphabet of vegetables that’s in that book. My last resort was to “borrow” what Ehlert did for her sublime Eating The Alphabet, which was to use “xigua.” I could not have completed that first Bad Kitty book without that filling in that one letter. I’ve often said that if I ever get the opportunity to meet Lois Ehlert, I owe her a nice box of chocolates.


Lastly, I’m going to cheat and invoke a deceased artist: Dick King-Smith. I was given the lovely opportunity to illustrate five of his shorter novels a few years ago. I leaped on this opportunity, because I really wanted to share cover credits with him. And I very much wanted these books to be an opportunity to meet him. But, alas, he died shortly after the final book, Clever Duck, came out. I do regret not having made more of an effort to contact him, if only by mail.

5. Jules: What is currently in rotation on your iPod or loaded in your CD player? Do you listen to music while you create books?

Nick: When I’m writing, I can’t listen to ANYTHING. When writing, I need to be inside something as close to a sensory deprivation tank as I can get. Even the smallest distraction can really throw me off my game.

But when I’m illustrating, anything goes. My recent habit, oddly enough, has been to watch—but, really, listen to—Netflix. I love British mysteries, because they’re paced slowly, and you can listen to them like you would a radio drama and not feel like you’re missing anything. Poirot has been great. My most recent obsession has been Midsomer Murders. Good stuff!

6. Jules: What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you?

Nick: Even people who know me personally don’t necessarily know that I am half Chinese. My father is Belgian (hence, “Bruel”), but my mother was born in Shanghai. I don’t think my Chinese upbringing comes through in my work much. But it’s certainly a part of my personal life.

7. Jules: Is there something you wish interviewers would ask you — but never do? Feel free to ask and respond here.

Nick: “What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you?”

Oh, wait. Never mind.

* * * The Pivot Questionnaire * * *

Jules: What is your favorite word?

Nick: “Roofer,” as in someone who builds and repairs roofs. There is just no elegant way to say that word out loud.

Jules: What is your least favorite word?

Nick: “Republican.”

Did I just get myself into trouble?

Jules: What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

Nick: Solitude. I love my little family. But I also really love being alone.

Jules: What turns you off?

Nick: Interruptions.

Jules: What is your favorite curse word? (optional)

Nick: “#@%&*!” I’ve used this word-that’s-not-really-a-word in several of my books. You’d be amazed by how many angry emails, judgmental blog posts, and outraged Amazon reviews I’ve received because of this “word.” They only encourage me to use it again and again. And I have.

Jules: What sound or noise do you love?

Nick: My daughter’s laughter.

Jules: What sound or noise do you hate?

Nick: My daughter’s complaints.

Jules: What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Nick: My wife Carina always says I could have been an actor. That might have been fun.

Jules: What profession would you not like to do?

Nick: I’ve never been a waiter. I honestly don’t think it’s a job I could physically sustain. I feel the same way about cab drivers.

Jules: If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

Nick: “Hi, Nick. Feel like another go around?”


All images are used by permission of Nick Bruel.

The spiffy and slightly sinister gentleman introducing the Pivot Questionnaire is Alfred, copyright © 2009 Matt Phelan.

3 Comments on Seven Questions Over Shots with Nick Bruel, last added: 1/13/2015
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1328. Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah by Laurie Ann Thompson and Sean Qualls (ages 5-9)

Children are drawn to books in part to see themselves reflected, but also to look into the lives of other people far away. I think truly wonderful books can help us do both. Emmanuel's Dream tells the inspiring story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, who was born in Ghana with one deformed leg. He faced life with courage and fortitude, and his story helps readers think about how we face life's challenges.
Emmanuel's Dream
The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah
by Laurie Ann Thompson
illustrated by Sean Qualls
Schwartz & Wade / Random House, p2015
Your local library
ages 5-9
*best new book*
From an early age, Emmanuel's mother encouraged him to go after what he wanted. Even though one of his legs was deformed, he hopped more than two miles each way, learned to play soccer, and even learned to ride a bike with his friends. In 2001, Emmanuel rode his bicycle four hundred miles across Ghana to spread his powerful message: disability is not inability.
"As Emmanuel grew, Mama Comfort told him he could have anything,
but he would have to get it for himself."
Laurie Ann Thompson
Today, I have the honor of starting off a blog tour celebrating the publication of Emmanuel's Dream with an interview with Laurie Ann Thompson.

Mary Ann: How did you first find out about this story?
Laurie: I first learned about Emmanuel’s inspiring story when he appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show in 2005 at the launch of Emmanuel’s Gift, a documentary about his life narrated by Oprah herself. On her show, Oprah said, “I think every parent should go take their children to see this movie because it will change the way your children think about what they can do and can be.” I agreed, but as a children’s book author I thought it would be even better if every parent could share Emmanuel’s story with their child through a book!

Mary Ann: Then how did you go about learning more about Emmanuel?
Laurie: First, I bought the movie and watched it over and over again. Then, I did research online and through library databases to find newspaper and magazine articles about Emmanuel and his activities. Finally, in 2010, I had the honor of meeting Emmanuel and interviewing him in person. After that meeting, I had 18 pages of typed, single-spaced notes to add to my research file! Since then, Emmanuel and I have kept in touch by email and phone, so he was able to answer all of my follow-up questions directly.
Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah and Laurie Ann Thompson in San Diego
Mary Ann: What was really interesting or surprising to you?
Laurie: What I love most about Emmanuel’s story is how thoughtful he was about what he was trying to accomplish. He’s an incredible athlete, yes, but he’s also very intelligent and observant, and his ride was more than just a physical pursuit. He specifically chose a sport, cycling, that most people think would require two legs. He hired a photographer to document his journey along the way. And he intentionally arranged meetings with key government officials and religious leaders all along his route so that his story would be featured in newspapers and magazines and on radio and television. This careful cultivation of the right kinds of media attention was a huge factor in his success.

Mary Ann: When you read this story with children, what do you find they really connect to in Emmanuel's story? What inspires you about children's reactions?
Laurie: Since it just came out, I actually haven’t had a chance to read it with very many children yet, but what attracted me to the story was the fact that Emmanuel was such an underdog. He wasn’t expected to do anything important with his life—he was expected to become a beggar. First, he ignored that expectation, and then he completely turned it on its head! The setting will certainly be unfamiliar to most readers in the United States, and many children won’t be able to relate to being disabled and but I think all of us, especially children, can relate to that feeling of being underappreciated, of someone else’s expectations for us coming in disappointingly, frustratingly low. I hope that after reading the book children will give themselves permission to follow their own dreams and live up to their own potentials, regardless of what others may tell them is possible or not. I think that’s the real power behind Emmanuel’s story, and what I most wanted to convey.

Thank you so much, Laurie, for taking the time to share your thoughts on this beautiful story. I absolutely agree -- I think that this story helps children look inside themselves to see how they can be courageous, how they can live up to their potentials no matter what others tell them.

I look forward to following all the stops on Laurie's blog tour.
Mon, Jan 12: Great Kid Books
Tues, Jan 13: 5 Minutes for Books
Wed, Jan 14: Unleashing Readers
Thurs, Jan 15: Sharpread
Fri, Jan 16: Cracking the Cover
Sat, Jan 17: Booking Mama
Mon, Jan 19: Once Upon a Story
Tues, Jan 20: Proseandkahn
Wed, Jan 21: Geo Librarian
Thurs, Jan 22: Nonfiction Detectives
Fri, Jan 23: The Fourth Musketeer
Mon, Jan 26: NC Teacher Stuff
Tues, Jan 27: Teach Mentor Texts
Laurie Ann Thompson is the author of Be a Changemaker: How to Start Something That Matters, a how-to guide for teens who want to change the world. An advocate for social justice, Laurie is dedicated to inspiring and empowering young readers. Emmanuel's Dream is her picture-book debut. Visit her at lauriethompson.com.

Illustration © 2015 by Sean Qualls from EMMANUEL'S DREAM: THE TRUE STORY OF EMMANUEL OFOSU YEBOAH by Laurie Ann Thompson; published by Schwartz & Wade Books, an imprint of Random House Children's Books, a division of Random House LLC, a Penguin Random House Company

The review copy was kindly sent by the publisher Random House Books. 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.

©2015 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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1329. Picture Book Monday with a review of Mr. Squirrel and the Moon

Today's picture book is one of the funniest books I have read in a while. I literally laughed out loud as the story unfolded. The characters in the story are so delightful, and readers will find it impossible not to feel sorry for them AND laugh at them at the same time.

Mr. Squirrel and the MoonMr. Squirrel and the Moon
Sebastian Meschenmoser
Picture Book
For ages 4 to 6
North South, 2015, 978-0-7358-4156-7
One day a man who is transporting some big yellow cheeses in a cart stops to take a rest. While he is having a picnic meal with his little boy one of the cheeses rolls out of the cart and rolls down the hill. The little boy chases the cheese, but it is going so fast that he can’t catch it. Then the cheese flies off a cliff and is gone.
   Down in the valley Mr. Squirrel is woken up when the moon (the wayward cheese) lands on the branch right outside his front door. Mr. Squirrel has no idea why the moon has left its place in the sky. Perhaps someone stole it and then lost it. Perhaps people will think he stole it, and then he will “be arrested and thrown into prison.” The idea is too terrible to contemplate. There is only one thing Mr. Squirrel can do. He has to get rid of the moon as quickly as possible. Using every ounce of strength he has, Mr. Squirrel pushes the moon off the branch ... and it lands on Mrs. Hedgehog, where it gets very very stuck. Now both Mr. Squirrel and Mrs. Hedgehog are both going to get arrested for stealing the moon. This is a disaster!
   Readers of all ages are going to love this deliciously funny picture book. One cannot help sympathizing with Mr. Squirrel, but at the same time it is hard not to laugh at the mess he and his animal friends get into.  As the story unfolds the situation gets worse and worse, and funnier and funnier. It is hard to be know how things are going to turn out.

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1330. Millions of Cats (1928)

Millions of Cats. Wanda Gag. 1928. Penguin. 40 pages. [Source: Library]

Once upon a time there was a very old man and a very old woman. They lived in a nice clean house which had flowers all around it, except where the door was. But they couldn't be happy because they were so very lonely. 
"If we only had a cat!" sighed the very old woman. "A cat?" asked the very old man. "Yes, a sweet little fluffy cat," said the very old woman. "I will get you a cat, my dear," said the very old man.
And he set out over the hills to look for one. 

Millions of Cats is a Newbery Honor book from 1929.

Premise/Plot: A very old man and a very old woman long for a cat. The husband goes on a quest to bring back a "sweet little fluffy cat" to please them both. Is his quest successful? Yes. A little too successful. For in fact he finds
Cats here, cats there,
Cats and kittens everywhere,
Hundreds of cats,
Thousands of cats,
Millions and billions and trillions of cats.
How is he ever to choose just ONE cat from so many?! Especially since as he picks up or pets each one he sees, he finds it to be the prettiest cat. He can't bring himself to leave any of the cats behind. But it isn't practical to bring home hundreds, thousands, millions, billions, and trillions of cats. You can probably guess what his wife's response will be! Surely, they can't keep them all. For better or worse, he lets the cats decide amongst themselves. One scrawny cat remains, but, it may be the best one of all.

My thoughts: I loved this one growing up. I loved the repetition. I thought it was a fun story. I didn't--at the time--take the man's conclusion that the trillions of cats ate each other up literally. Is the book violent? Perhaps. Perhaps not. See for yourself.  "They bit and scratched and clawed each other and made such a great noise that the very old man and the very old woman ran into the house as fast as they could. They did not like such quarreling." This one might pair well with Eugene Field's "The Duel." (The gingham dog and the calico cat).

Have you read Millions of Cats? Did you like it? love it? hate it?

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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1331. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #414: Featuring April Pulley Sayre

“Raindrops reflect.”
(Click to enlarge slightly)

I’m having a very BookPage week here at 7-Imp. (There was this post and then this post.)

One more today! I reviewed April Pulley Sayre’s newest picture book, Raindrops Roll. That review is here, and today I’ve got some spreads from this beautiful book.



“Rain is coming. You can feel it in the air.”
(Click to enlarge)

“Rain waters … and washes … and weighs down.”
(Click to enlarge)


RAINDROPS ROLL. Copyright © 2015 by April Pulley Sayre. Published by Beach Lane Books, New York. All images here are reproduced by permission of April Pulley Sayre.

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) A really thoughtful surprise for my girls from a friend.

2) An anniversary.

3) Birdman.

4) Finishing a writing assignment. Here’s hoping it’s well-received!

5) Spiked shakes.

6) Mailbox letters from friends.

7) Good stationery.


What are YOUR kicks this week?

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1332. Seuss on Saturday #2

The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins. 1938/1965. Random House. 56 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence:
 In the beginning, Bartholomew Cubbins didn't have five hundred hats. He had only one hat. It was an old one that had belonged to his father and his father's father before him. It was probably the oldest and the plainest hat in the whole Kingdom of Didd, where Bartholomew Cubbins lived.
Premise/plot. Bartholomew Cubbins gets into big, big trouble when he "refuses" to remove his hat in the presence of the king. The king gets more and more flustered as he sees the "insolence" of Bartholomew. To Bartholomew's credit, he is trying very hard to remove his hat. But every time he removes a hat, another appears on his head. What is going on?! What will the king do?!

My thoughts: I have only read this one twice. It definitely has more text than And To Think That I Saw it On Mulberry Street. And it also is written in prose. It does not rhyme. The story is just as over-the-top as And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street, but it definitely has a different feel to it. According to Wikipedia, it was received well by reviewers. What did I think? Well, it was silly. I think the key to enjoying it is in focusing on the king and his reaction to the "problem." Seeing the king and those close to him try to solve the problem. For example, at one point he calls in seven black-gowned magicians:
Low and slow, they were chanting words that were strange...
"Dig a hole five furlongs deep,
Down to where the night snakes creep,
Mix and mold the mystic mud,
Malber, Balber, Tidder, Tudd."
In came seven black-gowned magicians, and beside each one stalked a lean black cat. They circled around Bartholomew Cubbins muttering deep and mysterious sounds.
It's never fun to be frustrated yourself. But the king's frustration proves comical. There are no real questions answered in this one.  But the ending proves satisfying enough.

Have you read The 500 Hats of Barthomew Cubbins? Did you like it? love it? hate it? What age do you think it works best for?

If you'd like to join me in reading or rereading Dr. Seuss' picture books (chronologically) I'd love to have you join me! The next book I'll be reviewing is The King's Stilts.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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1333. Glamourpuss (2015)

Glamourpuss. Sarah Weeks. Illustrated by David Small. 2015. [January 2015] Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Once upon a pillow sat a glamorous cat named Glamourpuss. Glamourpuss lived with Mr. and Mrs. Highhorsen in a giant amnion on the top of a hill where they were waited on hand and foot by a pair of devoted servants named Gustav and Rosalie.

I enjoyed reading Sarah Weeks' Glamourpuss. I thought it was a charming picture book about a fabulous cat who was sometimes selfish and sometimes sweet. Glamourpuss, the star of the book, does not like it when Eugenia and Bluebelle come to visit Mr. and Mrs. Highhorsen, her owners. She finds Bluebelle and her many costumes ridiculous. But to her surprise, all the adults seem to find Bluebelle precious and wonderful and even glamorous. Shocking! Can't they tell the difference between tacky and refined?! When Glamourpuss realizes that Bluebelle actually HATES wearing clothes and performing tricks, the two bond. Glamourpuss gives her real lessons on how to behave, how to take her bow-wow to WOW, just as Glamourpuss has taken her meow to ME.

I found the story cute and charming. But I think it was the illustrations that really persuaded me that this story was wonderful. I loved the many expressions of Glamourpuss. I did. David Small did a great job of capturing this cat's magnificent personality. I think some of my favorite illustrations were when she is teaching Bluebelle how to be more refined.

Definitely recommended for cat lovers!

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Total: 9 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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1334. Book Review: The Boy Who Couldn't Cry Wolf, by Caldric Blackwell

Title: The Boy Who Couldn’t Cry Wolf
Author: Caldric Blackwell
Publisher: Icasm Press
Pages: 32
Genre: Children’s Picture Book
Format: Paperback/Kindle

Purchase at AMAZON

Six-year-old Byron Woodward is a werewolf who can’t howl. Determined not to embarrass himself after being chosen to lead a full-moon ceremony, he embarks on a mission to learn how to howl. He learns a lot about howling during his journey, but more importantly, he learns a valuable lesson about believing in himself.

My thoughts...

I love werewolves and I love picture books--but a picture book about werewolves? That's kind of an unusual combination. So I was curious. Well, The Boy Who Couldn’t Cry Wolf turned out to be a pleasant surprise! I read the story with keen interest throughout, and there's was even a bit of suspense as I wondered what was going to happen. The ending was sweet and satisfying. I bet young readers will have the same reaction and will be glued to the pages, though adults might have to explain to the little ones what werewolves are. I love that the author tells an enjoyable story that also touches on important values and ideas, such as the love for nature and, more importantly, the need to believe in oneself. I hope to see more picture books from talented author Caldric Blackwell!

About the Author

Caldric Blackwell realized he loved reading when he read about a bunch of people (with single-syllable names) and their pets (also with single-syllable names) in kindergarten.

Exposure to a host of great authors while studying at the University of California, Santa Barbarainspired him to begin writing fiction. Although he began writing short stories for adults, he eventually migrated to writing children's books. His debut work is an early chapter book titled The Enchanted River Race. His second release is a picture book titled The Boy Who Couldn't Cry Wolf.

Outside of writing, Caldric enjoys hiking and playing the mandolin, banjo, and guitar. Caldric currently resides in California.

For More Information

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    1335. Environmental Book Club

    The picture book Winston of Churchill: One Bear's Battle Against Global Warming by Jean Davies Okimoto with illustrations by Jeremiah Trammell teeters between being preachy and instructive and clever and witty.

    Winston is a polar bear near a town named Churchill in Manitoba, Canada. He wears glasses and is always holding a lit cigar, much like another Winston named Churchill. Bear Winston is in a position of polar bear leadership, much like British Prime Minster Winston was in a position of human leadership. The polar bears are facing the melting of ice in Hudson Bay due to human pollution, much like the Brits were facing invasion by the Na...No, that's kind of a stretch. But when Bear Winston rallies his bears, he does sound a lot like British PM Winston rallying his people.  '"We will for fight ice," boomed Winston. "We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches. We shall fight on the landing grounds. We shall fight in the fields and in the streets. We shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender."'

    That's what makes this book clever and witty, the whole whole bear-doing-Churchill thing. Because a polar bear isn't Winston Churchill, and the incongruity is funny.

    But then you get to the lesson stuff. '"Ice is melting because it's getting too warm around here and people are doing it with their cars and smoke stacks. And cutting down trees."' I'm not saying that's not true, but instruction is awkward, to say the very least, in fiction. Winston of Churchill even includes a page from a book Winston of Churchill wrote on global warming to make sure to get the educational stuff across. Though I'm going to take a wild guess that I'm not the only person who skipped it.

    But here's the clever and witty thing about that book written by Winston of Churchill--Winston Churchill wrote books, too!

    The illustrations in this book are marvelous and very engaging, and I think kids will be attracted to the bears and some of the humor. Some will be left recalling that human actions are wrecking ice for those neat bears. It will probably be adults with some knowledge of a World War II historical figure who will enjoy this book the most.

    Winston of Churchill won the Green Earth Book Award for Children's Fiction in 2008.

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    1336. Star Bright Title Makes Headlines

    A local newspaper based out of Manchester, Indiana has written an article profiling Neil Wollman and Abigail Fuller, the co-authors of the recently published What Animal Needs a Wig?! The article (which can be expanded above) highlights both the lives of the co-authors, as well as the background on their hilarious new book.

    In contrast to the research-based academic reports and activism publications that both Neil Wollman, a former psychology professor, and wife Abigail fuller, a current sociology professor, are accustomed to working on, What Animal Needs a Wig? came about much more casually. During long trips to visit Fuller's family in Massachusetts, Wollman would make jokes and puns with his family regarding animals. Curious to see if anything could come of it, Wollman decided to team  up with Fuller and her sister, illustrator Frances Baldwin, to construct a compilation of well-researched, interesting, and funny factoids and puns about nature.

    Everyone at Star Bright Books would like to extend congratulate Neil Wollman and Abigail Fuller for writing such an amazing book, and our warmest thanks to writer Eric Seaman for writing this article. For more information regarding What Animal Needs a Wig?, please visit our website, starbrightbooks.com

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    1337. A Chat with H. Chuku Lee and Pat Cummings …


    These two. If I were only half as cool as they are …

    Go see for yourself. That’s H. Chuku Lee (left) and Pat Cummings (right). We talk at Kirkus today about their 2014 picture book collaboration, Beauty and the Beast, which Chuku wrote and Pat illustrated. They’re a husband-and-wife team, and here’s hoping Chuku ends up writing more; this was his children’s book debut, though he has had a long and distinguished career in journalism. (Actually, he told me, though there wasn’t room for it in the Q&A over there, that he is developing several ideas for other stories, so that’s good news.)

    Pat, as you’ll read over there, has illustrated over 30 books in her career and also teaches illustration at Pratt Institute. I’ve wanted to interview her for years now, and I really enjoyed this Q&A. Next week here at 7-Imp, she’ll share some art from the book.

    The Q&A is here.

    * * * * * * *

    Photos of H. Chuku Lee and Pat Cummings used with their permission.

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    1338. Is Your Idea a Picture Book, Chapter Book or Middle Grade Novel?

    by Hillary Homzie and Mira Reisberg

    You have an idea for a book! Yahoo! It’s one of those ideas that hits you so deep in your gut that you immediately scribble it into a little notebook. Your stomach bubbles, not in an indigestion sort of way, but in a nervous-happy–giving-birth-to-a-germ-of-an-idea way. So how do you know if the idea is really picture book idea? What if it’s actually a chapter book or a middle grade novel, how do you know?

    Well, you don’t. Not right away.

    Of course, there are the obvious tip-offs that your idea is not a picture book. Take your idea through this list and see how it stacks up.

    1. Age of the protagonist.

    These days picture books are generally geared for ages 2-7, although there are still picture books geared towards older elementary school, especially in nonfiction. Still, there’s no question that picture books are skewing younger with shorter word counts. If your primary character is in first through third grade (or ages 6-9), and is longer than 700 words, chances are you have a chapter book. And if your character is a fourth or fifth grader, chances are you have a younger middle grade novel (for ages 9-10). Now sometimes, often, older chapter books overlap with middle grade. Is Stuart Little an illustrated chapter book or an early middle grade? There is no hard and fast answer here, especially since the term chapter book has often been used in a general way to indicate a book for elementary school children that has chapters. However, often in publishing when we say chapter book, we often mean an early chapter book. Think Magic Tree House, Junie B. Jones or Geronimo Stilton. Of course, exceptions apply in everything (and really, would it be any fun if there weren’t?). But read on to help you determine where your idea fits best.


    1. Interest of the main character.

    Is your main character interested in something that will be appealing to younger children? E.g. If you’re story is about a child who’s excited about writing cursive, this means the main character is probably eight, and chances are it’s a chapter book story. If you’re an author/illustrator who has created lots of charming or edgy black and white illustrations to go with the story, chances are it’s a chapter book. Early middle grade books are also starting to feature illustrations more. This is great news for illustrators.

    Page from "Notebook of Doom" chapter book series by Troy Cummings

    Page from “Notebook of Doom” chapter book series by Troy Cummings

    1. Period of time.

    Does your story occur over a year? Six months? You may have a chapter book or young middle grade on your hands. Now there are exceptions, picture books such as Diary of a Worm, which chronicles a character over a large period of time, or nonfiction picture books that occur over a long time like biographies. The majority of contemporary picture books take place over a brief period of time, while chapter or middle grade books usually have the luxury of taking their time with a story.


    1. Type of protagonist.

    Are your main characters animals or personified objects? Chances are it’s either a picture book or an early chapter book. Older kids generally want to look more sophisticated with “grown-up” books, but of course there are always exceptions, like the fresh middle grade graphic novel Low Riders in Space, which features a dog, an octopus, and a mosquito as main characters.


    Generally, if you like writing really short manuscripts with simple plots, often with animal characters on topics of interest for very young kids, you’re a picture book person. If you like the luxury of time and space for writing slightly longer books (from 1500 to 15,000 words) that still have pictures for slightly older kids ages 6-9, with or without animal characters, then you’re a chapter book writer (or maybe even an early reader person, but that’s a post for another day). And if you like much more complex plot lines, much longer storytelling, stories for early middle school kids, then you have an older middle grade idea.

    So…what kind of ideas do you have?

    Bonus info: Mira and Hillary will be co-teaching an outrageously fabulous interactive e-Course, the Chapter Book Alchemist, starting January 12th. Together and with the help of Mandy Yates, they make it ridiculously easy to write a chapter book or early middle grade during the 5 fun-filled weeks. The course features optional critique groups, weekly live webinar critiques, lots of lessons and exercises, the option for critiques with Mira or Hillary (with a free Scrivener course) and Golden Ticket opportunities to submit directly to agents and editors. Click here to find out more about this once-in-a-lifetime adventure with potential life and career changing benefits! Click here to find out more

    Hillary Homzie photo by Suzanne Bronk

    Hillary Homzie photo by Suzanne Bronk

    Hillary Homzie is the author of the chapter book series, Alien Clones From Outer Space as well as the middle grade novels, Things Are Gonna Get Ugly, The Hot List, and Karma Cooper Unplugged (forthcoming). Some of her books are currently being made into an animated television series. Hillary teaches in the graduate M.F.A. program in children’s writing at Hollins University as well as for the Children’s Book Academy. She is also a former stand up comedienne. Visit her at HillaryHomzie.com.

    mirareisbergMira Reisberg is an award-winning children’s book creative, a former kidlit university professor and a former literary agent. She is also the Director of the Children’s Book Academy and has taught many now highly successful authors and illustrators. Visit her at childrensbookacademy.com.



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    1339. Find Your Perfect Star

    Hopper and Wilson Fetch a Star

    By Maria van Lieshout


    Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket

    Never let it fade away.


    Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket

    Save it for a rainy day.



    The lyrics to this 1957 song, sung by the inimitable Perry Como, slipped into my head as I read the picture book, “Hopper and Wilson Fetch a Star.” What’s the difference between fetching and catching, anyway? They both seem to involve a task that is taken up with a fair amount of some sort of energy and even adventure in the air.

    And it IS a second adventure for the two fast friends of Maria van Lieshouts’ “Hopper and Wilson.”

    Hopper, a stitched up the front, pale blue cuddly elephant and his best friend, a small yellow mouse named Wilson are in search of a star. So odd that I am writing this blog on the Christian feast of the Epiphany when magi from from the east sought a star too! I just love synchronicity, when events tumble together in life that just seem to align all by themselves!

    I guess I just feel a certain connection with this simple picture book and these two fast friends on a mission aboard the slimmest of neatly folded paper airplanes to find the PERFECT star; a star all their own. What is it about the kid gene in Hopper and Wilson that can conceive and dream such plans, as it urges them on, and with sometimes needed courage, sees it through to its completion? When did we, as adults, lose the kid gene? Guess that’a a blog for another day.

    The dock from which they first gaze out at the starry night sky and concoct the plan looks like our dock. The only thing missing is the lonely cactus in a pot that sits beside the duo. Zooming into space aboard their paper ship, these two are VERY picky about their choice in stars. Brightness, pointiness,and sparkliness are all non negotiables that factor into the ONE!

    Wouldn’t you know their search takes one of them, solo, to the dark side of the moon! With one phrase of “He leapt into the darkness,” Ms van Lieshouts‘ picture book opens the door to all children’s longing for, and sometimes fear of, the new, the changeable, and the unfamiliar. Wilson feels lost and alone on the dark side of the moon.

    But Ms. van Lieshouts‘ reasoning is very true in her deceptively simple tale. Nature IS healing and the more we align ourselves with it, it can, like it did with Wilson, light the way for the oneness we seek with each other and the world we live in.

    I must remember to, as Wilson does, say a “Thank you” to all the twinkling stars and the firmament that lies below it.

    Best friends Wilson and Hopper seem to get it, and so will your young readers, in this amazing picture book of seeking, losing and finding ourselves in nature and each other!

    Maybe this book will make you and your kids feel like singing along with Perry to “Catch a Falling Star.” Great song to sing along to with Hopper and Wilson!











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    1340. Picture Book Publisher – Flashlight Press

    FlashLight Press is celebrating their 10 year in the publishing business. They are a small publisher and only publish a few books each year, but they specialize in picture books. Check out their awards pages. I was impressed with what they have accomplished. You may even recognize some of the artwork on their covers, since many of their illustrators have been featured on Illustrator Saturday. Click on the illustration that shows off some of the character in their books to look over their book catalog.



    If you have a story you want FLASHLIGHT PRESS to consider:

    First, make sure your manuscript fits the following criteria:

    • is a fiction picture book (NOT a concept book, non-
      fiction, an early reader, a chapter book, or a YA novel)
    • has a universal theme (but no holiday themes, and no
      talking inanimate objects)
    • deals with family or social situations
    • targets 4-8 year olds
    • is between 500-1,000 words
    • feels like a Flashlight book (Please read about our
      books to determine whether your story really feels like a

    If your manuscript meets their criteria:

    • send a query email describing your story (plot, word
      count, target audience, what makes this story unique) and
      a bit about yourself, to Shari Dash Greenspan at
    • do not send snail mail queries. We disregard and
      recycle all snail mail submissions.
    • do not send attachments (instead, type your query
      into the body of the email.)
    • do not send your full manuscript (neither attached nor
      pasted into the email).


    • you will receive an automated reply within a week or so
      that we received your email query.
    • if we wish to see your full manuscript, we’ll let you know
      by email within a month or so. If you do not receive an
      email requesting your full manuscript, please realize that
      your story was not considered a fit for our line.

    Manuscripts, when requested, will be evaluated within three to
    four months.

    Important tip: unless you are also an artist, do not include
    illustrations with a requested manuscript.

    If you create artwork that you want them to consider:

    • Explore our site to be sure that your style could be a fit.
    • Please do not send any samples by snail mail – we are going
      paperless and will recycle all paper samples we receive.
    • Do not send attachments. Instead, please paste a few sample
      jpegs into an email. Then we don’t have to open any files and
      can easily view your artwork.
    • Do include links to your online portfolio in your email.
    • Send the email to artsubmissions@FlashlightPress.com.
    • We‘ll keep your information on file for future reference, and will
      be in touch if we have any projects to offer.

    Make this the year you revise and submit. Gook Luck!

    Talk tomorrow,


    Filed under: authors and illustrators, inspiration, need to know, opportunity, picture books, Places to Submit, publishers Tagged: Flashlight Press, Picture book publisher, submission guidelines

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    1341. Author Dean Kootz Interviews His Dog Anna, Star of Ask Anna

    Anna Koontz is Dean’s remarkable dog, who is poised to follow in her dad’s footsteps with her first advice book for canines. She will soon become the advice columnist for the canine world!

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    1342. Review of Star Stuff

    sisson_star stuff star2Star Stuff: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos
    by Stephanie Roth Sisson; illus. by the author
    Primary   Roaring Brook   32 pp.
    10/14   978-1-59643-960-3   $17.99

    Beginning with the first page, Sisson showcases the magnitude of the universe, visually presenting the Milky Way and our sun’s place in it. Turn the page, and readers move from our sun “in a neighborhood of stars,” to our planet, to one place: Brooklyn, New York. There readers meet young Carl, curious about the world around him. As he grows, that general inquisitiveness settles into a passion and an adult craving to know more about stars and solar systems. “It gave Carl goose bumps to think about what he learned about the stars, planets, and the beginnings of life”; that “the Earth and every living thing are made of star stuff.” His repeated, geeky boyhood interjection of “Wowie!” exuberantly captures that continuing wonder and passion. Illustrations with shifting perspectives portray Carl standing on a sidewalk that mimics the Earth’s curvature or lying on the floor surrounded by space creatures from his imagination. A vertical foldout initially depicts Carl studying in a library; as the page opens (and Carl’s knowledge increases), the universe above him expands. Sisson takes her time introducing Sagan, but as he learns more and more and his questions increase in complexity, the pace of the narrative accelerates as readers accompany him on his intellectual journey. An author’s note, clarification and source notes, and a bibliography complete this out-of-this-world picture-book biography.

    From the January/February 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.


    The post Review of Star Stuff appeared first on The Horn Book.

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    1343. Bear and the 3 Goldilocks Has Been Released!

    Hi All,

    Sorry about the long absence.  I just wanted to send out a quick post to share some great news.  I am thrilled to announce that my latest picture book, Bear and the 3 Goldilocks, has been released! This fractured fairy-tale was a lot of fun to write and Robert Lee Beers really did an amazing job with the illustrations. It is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or ask your local bookstore. Autographed copies are also available through my website at www.kevinmcnamee.com if you are interested.

    Happy writing!


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    1344. Picture Book Monday with a review of No Ordinary Family

    These days many children grow up in in blended families. Often, in the beginning, many of the adults and children find the new situation confusing or complicated. In today's picture book we meet a blended family that it very unusual indeed and we see how the children in the families concerned figure out how to solve their problems.

    No Ordinary Family
    No Ordinary FamilyUte Krause
    Picture Book
    For ages 5 to 7
    North South, 2013, 978-0-7358-4149-9
    Before all the trouble started they were an ordinary bandit family. The many children (seven in number) played and roughhoused, Dad read the paper, and Mom counted their loot. Then, for some reason, Mom and Dad began to argue. Pots and pans flew through the air, voices were raised, and the children looked on with wide eyes.  Dad moved out and the children missed him because now their “life was only half the fun.” The children decided that something needed to be done, so they packed up some bags and went to visit their father. From that day onwards the children moved back and forth between the houses of their parents.
       Then one day they got to Dad’s house only to discover that a princess and her children were in residence. The interlopers were “prim and prissy” and none of the bandit children like them. There was nothing they could do about the situation though because the princess was there to stay. Now the bandit children had two families to live with. Having two Christmases and two birthdays was great, but they did not like the fact that they never had their father to themselves. Sometimes Mom was unhappy, or Dad was unhappy, or the princess was unhappy. The little bandits decided that the only thing to do was to get rid of the princess and her offspring. They thought that that doing this would solve all their problems, but it didn’t.
       Families come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, and when families blend there is often a settling-in period that no one enjoys. No one knows quite what to expect, tempers gets frayed, feelings get hurt, and often many of the family members wish they could turn back the clock. Figuring out how to make things work takes time, creativity, and lots of patience.
       This sweetly funny picture book explores how several families come to terms with change, and how the young members of these families learn that love is limitless. There is always plenty to go around.


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    1345. Garbage Trucks by Cari Meister

    Garbage TrucksBullfrog Books Machines at Work is an easy non-fiction series for the youngest transportation lovers. Titles include Airplanes, Fire Trucks, Garbage Trucks, Helicopters, Ships, Tractors, and Trains. Currently, Garbage Trucks is the favorite in our house, but there is something to appeal to everyone in this series. The books include real photos and short text. In Garbage Trucks, children are introduced to front loaders, rear loaders and side loaders and how they work. In the back of each book, there is a page that highlights different part of the vehicle and a picture glossary. It’s a great way to introduce some new vocabulary.

    Posted by: Liz

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    1346. Congrats to others on The Bulletin Of The Centre For Children's Books 2014 Blue Ribbon list!

    Totally thrilled that NAKED! is a 2014 BCCB Blue Ribbon winner! Congrats to the others on the BCCB's Blue Ribbon list, including others in the picture book category (shown above). Here are BCCB's Blue Ribbon picture book picks of the year:

    Black, Michael Ian. Naked!; illus. by Debbie Ridpath Ohi. Simon. 4-7 yrs (July/August)

    Campbell, Scott. Hug Machine; written and illus. by Scott Campbell. Atheneum. 4-7 yrs (September)

    Dolan, Elys. Weasels; written and illus. by Elys Dolan. Candlewick. Gr. 1-4 (February)

    Dubuc, Marianne. The Lion and the Bird; written and illus. by Marianne Dubuc; tr. from the French by Claudia Z. Bedrick. Enchanted Lion. 5-7 yrs (July/August)

    Frazee, Marla. The Farmer and the Clown; written and illus. by Marla Frazee. Beach Lane/Simon. 4-6 yrs (November)

    Haughton, Chris. Shh! We Have a Plan; written and illus. by Chris Haughton. Candlewick. 4-7 yrs (November)

    Nolan, Dennis. Hunters of the Great Forest; written and illus. by Dennis Nolan. Porter/Roaring Brook. 4-7 yrs (December)

    Ruth, Greg. Coming Home; written and illus. by Greg Ruth. Feiwel. 4-7 yrs (January 2015)

    Shea, Bob. Kid Sheriff and the Terrible Toads; illus. by Lane Smith. Roaring Brook. 5-8 yrs (December)

    Tan, Shaun. Rules of Summer; written and illus. by Shaun Tan. Levine/Scholastic. Gr. 3-5 (July/August)

    I posted about the BCCB on my NAKED! blog, but for those who missed it:

    The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (BCCB) is one of the leading children's book review journals for school and public libraries. You can see the full list of the other 2014 BCCB Blue Ribbon winners on the BCCB website.

    "Blue Ribbons are chosen annually by the Bulletin staff and represent what we believe to be the best of the previous year's literature for youth." You can see the Blue Ribbon Archive for other lists from 1990 through to the present. You can also download a PDF version of the list.

    You can browse BCCB Blue Ribbon book covers from past years in theLibraryThing Book Awards archives.

    Curious about how books are reviewed at The Bulletin Of The Center For Children's Books? Check out the video above, which shows a book's journey through the CCB and how it becomes part of the  CCB's research collection.

    The Bulletin Of The Center For Children's Books is devoted entirely to the review of current books for young people. It provides concise summaries and critical evaluations to help its readers find the books they need. Each review gives info about the book's content, reading level, strengths and weaknesses, quality of format and suggestions for curricular use.

    From the website of The Center For Children's Books: "The Center for Children’s Books (CCB) at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS) is a crossroads for critical inquiry, professional training, and educational outreach related to youth-focused resources, literature and librarianship. The Center’s mission is to facilitate the creation and dissemination of exemplary and progressive research and scholarship related to all aspects of children’s and young adult literature; media and resources for young (age 0-18) audiences; and youth services librarianship.

    In partnership with The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books—an authoritative analytic review journal—the Center aims to inspire and inform adults who connect young people with resources in person, in print, and online. The Center sponsors activities and hosts interdisciplinary research projects involving both theory and practice. In its dual role as research collection and educational community, the Center has national impact on the future of reading and readers."

    I encourage you to check out The Bulletin's website, a rich resource of children's book recommendations and information, and The Center For Children's Books.

    And again, THANK YOU so much to The Bulletin of The Center For Children's Books for the Blue Ribbon honor!

    0 Comments on Congrats to others on The Bulletin Of The Centre For Children's Books 2014 Blue Ribbon list! as of 1/9/2015 8:37:00 AM
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    1347. New Literary Division at Capital Talent Agency

    Capital Talent Agency located in Washington, DC has added a new literary division to their agency services. They say they want to provide a wonderful home for authors who are looking for a supportive and hands-on agency. “We want nothing more than to see our authors achieve their dreams, and we do everything we can to make that happen.”

    CapitolTalentAgency Screen-ShotAgent Cynthia Kane has been involved in the publishing industry for more than ten years. She has seen over 100 titles to market and has edited for UN Women (The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women). She has worked with Michael Gross, New York Times best-selling author, on “740 Park: The Story of the World’s Richest Apartment Building” and “Rogues Gallery: The Secret History of the Moguls and the Money That Made the Metropolitan Museum.” Cynthia has also written for national and international publications and has served as a writing instructor at the Writopia Lab in Washington, DC, and has run several writing workshops. Cynthia received her B.A. in Literature from Bard College and her M.F.A. in Creative Nonfiction from Sarah Lawrence College.

    She is looking for: young adult, children’s, nonfiction, memoir, commercial fiction (but no science fiction or fantasy).

    How to contact: “Submissions should be sent to literary.submissions [at] capitaltalentagency.com. We accept submissions only by e-mail. We do not accept queries via postal mail or fax. For fiction and nonfiction submissions, send a query letter in the body of your e-mail. Attachments will not be opened. Please note that while we consider each query seriously, we are unable to respond to all of them. We endeavor to respond within six weeks to projects that interest us.”

    Talk tomorrow,


    Filed under: Agent, authors and illustrators, children writing, Editor & Agent Info, Middle Grade Novels, opportunity, picture books, Places to Submit, Young Adult Novel Tagged: Capital Talent Agency, Cynthia Kane

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    1348. Telephone, by Mac Barnett | Book Trailer

    It's time to fly home for dinner! In this witty picture book from award-winning and bestselling author Mac Barnett, a mother bird gives the bird next to her a message for little Peter.

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    1349. The Book With No Pictures by B. J. Novak

    A longtime fan of The Office (both versions), I was very excited when I discovered that B. J. Novak, writer, actor and executive producer of the show, wrote a book of short stories, One More Thing. And I bought it and it is very good, just as I anticipated. I was very surprised when I learned that B.J. Novak had written a picture book. I am prepared to gape in awe and wonder when someone  

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    1350. How Many Pages in a Children’s Picture Book? Printing Methods Determine the Answer

    PB&J: Picture Books and All That Jazz: A Highlights Foundation Workshop

    Join Leslie Helakoski and Darcy Pattison in Honesdale PA for a spring workshop, April 23-26, 2015. Full info here.
    • "This conference was great! A perfect mix of learning and practicing our craft."Peggy Campbell-Rush, 2014 attendee, Washington, NJ
    • "Darcy and Leslie were extremely accessible for advice, critique and casual conversation."Perri Hogan, 2014 attendee, Syracuse,NY

    I recently watch Miss Potter, the movie based on the life of children’s book author and illustrator Beatrix Potter. It’s a fascinating look at the life of one of the all-time best selling authors of children’s books. When my children were small, I read The Tale of Peter Rabbit to them so many times that I’ve memorized it.

    One line in the movie caught my interest, though. When the publishing company was first discussing her book, Beatrix had definite opinions on how it should be published: black and white illustrations so that the price could be kept low. However, the publisher had another idea on how to keep the price low. If the book’s interior pages could all be printed on a single sheet of paper, it would be economical and the price could be kept at an attractive low price.

    That decision–to design the book for an economical printing model–was genius and partly responsible for its huge popularity. That model is so popular that today, children’s picture books that are offset printed are still designed for printing the whole book on one sheet of paper. That means 32-pages.

    Standard offset printing places a children’s 32-page picture book on a single sheet. 32 page books are the standard in the industry, not because it’s the best length for a story, but because the printing was economical.

    However, because that length became a standard, there’s now, more or less, a standard type story told in children’s picture books.

    RedCover250x400-72If you have a title page, half-title page, copyright page and dedication page, that takes up 3-5 pages of “front matter,” leaving 27-29 pages for the story itself. Stories usually start on page 5 (though it could be page 3 or 4). Then illustrations are laid out in double-page spreads. That gives you about 14 double-page spreads (give or take). When I write a children’s picture book, I divide my story into 14 sections. Each section must 1) advance the story, 2) make the reader want to turn the page, and 3) give visual possibilities to the illustrator. For more on writing a children’s book, see How to Write a Children’s Picture Book.

    Many conventions have grown up around the 32-page picture book: the page 32 twist, the character opening, the use of double-page spreads, and so on. All that is good. Writers and illustrators took the restricted format and made it into a thing of beauty.

    Print on Demand and eBooks: How Many Pages in a Children’s Book?

    But the question for today is this: what is the most economical way to produce a children’s illustrated story today? That answer varies because of print-on-demand and eBook technologies.

    Print-on-demand (POD) means that your book is stored on a printing company’s computers. When a book is ordered, the book is printed, bound and delivered. This eliminates the need for warehousing, and has the advantage of bundling the fulfillment (mailing the book) with the printing. Instead of buying 1000 copies of a book, publishers/authors/self-publishers can set up a book with a POD company with very little up-front investment. It’s perfect for the self-publisher or small publisher who don’t want to invest a lot in stock.

    However, POD’s biggest disadvantage is price. Because you print one book at a time, the until cost is often two or three times that of offset printing. This is usually fine, because selling online eliminates the extra cost of wholesaling to a bookstore.

    POD also means that the 32-page picture book is no longer mandatory! For example, Createspace.com requires a minimum of 24-pages, but after that you can add as many or as few pages as you like. 26 pages? That’s fine for a POD printer.

    Likewise, digital books can be any length you want. 2 pages? Well, most of us wouldn’t all that a BOOK! But if can make the case for it, it is possible.

    The 32-page illustrated picture book made sense for years because the offset printing presses could accommodate huge sheets of paper that would hold 32 pages EXACTLY. The process made sense economically.

    The options are open.
    Offset printing: Much lower unit cost are possible if you stick to the 32-page standard book.

    POD printing: You accept higher per-unit costs because you don’t have to warehouse. The length is up to you.

    eBook: You accept that this is only delivered and read digitally. Page length is variable.

    I still design my books for 32-pages because I do both print and eBooks and because I’ve learned to write to that length. But also, it leave me open to short-run offset printing for special orders where it makes sense to go for a smaller per unit cost. By sticking with the industry standards, I have even more options.

    Picture Books by Darcy Pattison

    Here are some of my picture books.

    2015 NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book.

    2015 NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book.

    The story of the oldest known wild bird in the world.

    The story of the oldest known wild bird in the world.

    Coming February 17



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