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Blog: Sylvan Dell Publishing's Blog
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What do The Most Dangerous and news reports of West Nile virus have in common, the mosquito. When Terri Fields wrote the story of a ferocious animal contest, she had no idea how topical the book would become at the release date.
With more than 1,000 cases reported in 38 states this outbreak is the largest in U.S. history according to the Center for Disease Control. Not all mosquitoes carry the West Nile virus and not everyone will show symptoms of the disease if bitten. However, it is important to protect yourself from mosquito bites, as they are proven to transmit several different diseases to humans and animals all over the world.
Even if a non West Nile mosquito bites you, they leave behind an itchy and uncomfortable bump. The best way to protect yourself from a bite is use bug spray with Deet, wear long sleeves and long pants when you are outside and eliminate any standing water in your yard.
In The Most Dangerous, children will be excited by the parade of scary animals, but they will be surprised when the tiny mosquito shows up to the contest. Although the disease is not mentioned in the book, it is a great way to kick off a conversation about West Nile and mosquitoes with kids.
Learn more about The Most Dangerous!
Dangerous animals from all over the world gather for the Most Dangerous Animal of All Contest. Snakes, spiders, sharks . . . who will the winner be? Deadly poison, huge teeth, razor -sharp horns, and fearsome feet are just a few of the ways that animals kill. Predators mean to kill. Prey simply defend themselves. And yet, the unexpected most deadly animal doesn’t mean to harm at all!
Terri Fields (Burro’s Tortillas, The Most Dangerous) has written nineteen books which have garnered a number of awards including the Maud Hart Lovelace Award for Middle Grades Fiction, the Georgia Children’s Choice Award, being named to the Recommended Reading List for Chicago Public Schools, the TAYSHAS (Texas) Reading List, the Southwest Books of the Year List, and as one of the 100 Top Kid Picks in Children’s Books in Arizona. A long time desert-dweller, Ms Fields has enjoyed sharing her books with children all over the world. In addition to writing, Ms. Fields is also a educator who has been named Arizona Teacher of the Year, ING Education Innovator for Arizona, and been selected as one of the twenty teachers on the All-USA Teacher Team of the nation’s top educators. Terri Fields has worked with students in first through twelfth grades. Ms. Fields sees the world around her in terms of the wonderful stories it reveals. Visit Terri’s website http://www.terrifields.com/.
Award-winning illustrator Laura Jacques is passionate about illustrating children’s books that focus on natural history, wildlife, and environmental awareness for children. In addition to illustrating The Most Dangerous, Baby Owl’s Rescue and Whistling Wings for Sylvan Dell, she has also illustrated For the Birds: The Life of Roger Tory Peterson, Squirrel Assist, At Home in the Rain Forest, and Wildlife Refuge: A Classroom Adventure. Her books have won several honors and awards, including “NSTA-CBC Outstanding Science Trade Books for Children” sponsored by the Children’s Book Council and the “KIND Children’s Book Award” sponsored by the Association for Humane and Environmental Education, a division of the Humane Society of the United States. For more information, visit Laura’s website: http://www.laurajacques.com.
September’s Book of the Month read The Most Dangerous here http://www.sylvandellpublishing.com/index.php!
So....who watched Saturday's new Doctor Who episode? I did. And I immediately thought of every one's favorite Time Lord when this arrived in Monday's new book order:
You can't go wrong with dinosaurs in a public library. Dinosaur books come second only to Captain Underpants replacement copies in my book order hierarchy. I personally am not big on dinosaurs. But I have a few favorites. In no
I am thrilled to have my critique partner from the MiGs, Debbie Ridpath Ohi, chatting with us here at Chocolate for Inspiration. I've known Debbie for a number of years and I've had the chance to read her middle grade and picture books. She is incredibly talented and I can't wait to see all of other projects come out to the light of day over the next few years.
Now for the interview!
Me: There is so much fun and humor in your illustrations. What springboards you to come up with these creative ideas?
Debbie: Thanks, Christy! I draw a lot, just for the fun of it, and I think that helps a great deal. If I only drew for work-related projects, I suspect my illustrations would tighten up and lose much of the energy that people seem to like. So I try to sketch and doodle digitally and on paper as much as I can.
I admit it was an adjustment at first. Once I started working on I'M BORED, my doodling went way down at first because I figured I needed to put the time into workstuff instead…but then I found this had a negative influence on my workstuff. Once I started drawing for fun again on the side, things got better again.
Now I'm thinking I should starting doing more of the same for my writing as well. I used to keep a private daily journal, just for random thoughts, and I think I'll start it up again.
Me: How do you look at a story from an illustrator's perspective? Debbie: That's an interesting question, mainly because I've always looked at stories visually when I'm reading. However, working on I'M BORED as well as my new picture book project for Simon & Schuster BFYR has certainly started me thinking a lot more about the picture book reader experience. There are so many aspiring picture book writers and illustrators out there who think that it's just a matter of writing the story and then adding pictures.
It's so much more, however. Writing picture books is HARD. Or rather, writing a good picture book that stands out in the marketplace and is appealing to young people (rather than grown-ups who are used to the classic type of picture books from the past) is hard.
Those who illustrate as well as write have a definite advantage when it comes to creating picture books because/we can't help but think of how the text and illustrations can function as one unit AS we write the story. I'm always asking myself, "How can I show this in the illustrations instead of in the text? What can I add in the illustrations that will enhance the story?" It's a challenging but ultimately immensely satisfying process. Me: And the most important question, what's your favorite chocolate? Debbie: Good quality dark chocolate.
A fellow chocolate lover! Yay! Thank you so much Debbie for hanging out with us!Stalk Debbie at:Twitter: @inkyelbows
Blog: DebbieOhi.comFacebook: http://www.facebook.com/#!/inkygirlDebbie and Simon and Schuster have also offered to give away a copy of I'M BORED! Just comment in the section below. Get an extra entry for tweeting, blogging or mentioning this interview on Facebook. Just let me know in the comments section!
Contest open internationally until Sept. 19th.
I’m happy to be having late-night coffee with author/illustrator Jane Breskin Zalben, who has created in her career more than fifty books for children. Most of those are picture books, but she’s also written YA novels, chapter books, and even cookbooks. She has also worked as an art director, as you can read below.
Jane’s latest book, released in August by Neal Porter/Roaring Brook, is called Mousterpiece and centers around a young mouse, named Janson. She lives in a museum and loves exploring it each night after dark. When she finally explores the famous paintings hanging in the museum, giving readers a glimpse of the world of contemporary art, “her little world opened.” She emulates the iconic paintings she sees, meeting some acclaim of her own — but eventually comes to understand that the artwork that expresses her own style, her own voice, is her favorite. Booklist calls this a “charming introduction to modern art and an inspiring starting point for young art students.”
“The book,” Jane tells me, “is dedicated to my mom. She was a children’s book librarian in Manhattan in a private school for children with learning disabilities and put together their first library. Years and years ago!”
I thank Jane for visiting today. I enjoyed the opportunity to ask her not only about this book, but also—given her lengthy career in this field—about children’s literature today and how it’s changed over the years, as well as what’s next for her. (more…)
When I teach a picture book writing class or speak to new writers, I tell them I don’t subscribe to the “write every day” philosophy. That just doesn’t work for me as a picture book author. Sorry, wise writing sages.
However, I do give out this suggestion: “stare every day”.
Yes, I spend the bulk of my time staring (a.k.a. thinking) when writing a picture book. In fact, it’s about 50% of my time. And thanks to my friend Carter Higgins from Design of the Picture Book, I can now share this secret with you in a nifty chart.
Can I get you a slice?
(Please note: “Writing” is the cherry on top!)
Reading Mo Willem's latest picture book, I had flashbacks to when I was a kid watching the hilarious Fractured Fairytales from the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. A vivid memory is my father laughing even harder than me or my sisters. Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs
will likewise appeal to grown-ups as much as their offspring, which is a good thing as parents will probably be reading it aloud a lot.
Willems tweaks the familiar storyline so that Goldilocks is the victim and not the callous housebreaker of the Grimm version. The dinosaurs lure "a poorly supervised little girl named Goldilocks" to their home by preparing chocolate pudding and leaving the front door unlocked. What will keep kids chuckling is that the dinosaurs' nefarious plans are never directly stated. In fact, Willems goes out of this way to assure young readers that the dinosaurs "were definitely not
hiding in the woods waiting for an unsuspecting kid to come by." The heavy-handed irony is consistent throughout the book and provides much of the humor. The more Willems insists the dinosaurs mean no harm, the more obvious it becomes that they do.
The illustrations give some of the best laughs. There's the door mat with the words "Tee-Hee" in parentheses under "Welcome" that Goldilocks blithely skips over. Or the telephone with an extremely long receiver designed to fit the dinosaurs' huge heads. Even the endpapers continue the fun. Willems has filled them with alternative ideas for titles, such as "Goldilocks and the Three Prairie Dogs," "Goldilocks and the Three Naked Mole Rats," or my favorite, "Goldilocks and the Three Wall Street Types." Now there's a scary fairy tale!
Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs
by Mo Willems
Balzer + Bray, 40 pages
Published: September 2012
Sometimes, often with the best of intentions, we push people into being what we want them to be without once considering that perhaps they might like to follow a different path. We assume that we know what is best for them, and don't take the trouble to listen to what they have to say.
In this delightful picture book you are going to a meet a poodle whose owner assumes that she knows what is best for her pet. Unfortunately this is not the case.
Candlewick Press, 2009, 978-0-7636-4610-3
Trixie Twinkle Toes Trot-a-Lot Delight is a poodle who lives in a posh apartment with her owner, Verity Brulee. Trixie is pampered and primped, waited on and indulged, but she is not in the least bit happy. The truth of it is that Trixie is not a poodly sort of dog, even though she is a toy poodle. She wants to be able to run on the grass, paddle in puddles, and chase “nothing in particular” like other dogs, but she is not allowed to.
Finally, despondent about her poodly existence, complete with pompoms and pink velvet ribbons, Trixie begins to howl. She howls and howls. Then she decides to take her life in her own paws, and she tries to figure out who she truly is on the inside.
Not being able to communicate with humans must be a very frustrating thing for dogs, and in this picture book we meet a poodle whose owner just doesn’t get it. She doesn’t understand what Trixie wants at all.
Sometimes people don’t understand other people, just as Verity does not understand Trixie. For this reason this book will resonate with everyone who feels misunderstood and unheard. Readers will be reassured by Trixie’s story, and they will surely love Lauren Child’s quirky and distinctive multimedia art.
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My sweet friend LAURA RENEGAR tagged me! So now I get to chat about the manuscript I’m querying and tag other writers that I think might answer the questions, too. I haven’t done one of these things in a LOOOONG time. Sounds like fun! 1. What is the working title of your book? Just Desserts 2. Where did the [...]
Blog: The Children's Book Review
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By Deborah Hopkinson, for The Children’s Book Review
Published: September 9, 2012
Recently I had the opportunity at my day job (I’m vice president for advancement at Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, Oregon) to take the popular “Strengths Finder” test. My top strength turned out to be “Learner.”
I’d have to say that’s a fairly accurate description. It also explains much about how I choose the subjects I write about in my nonfiction and historical fiction for young readers. I have wide-ranging reading interests (I like to read with my story antennas up). When I’m learning something new, I’m engaged, enthuse, and happy. And then there are those magical moments when I come across something extraordinary that makes me sit up and say, “Wow! How come I never knew that before?” Whenever this happens, there’s a good chance I want to write about it.
That’s certainly true with my new nonfiction picture book, Annie and Helen, illustrated by Raul Colon. Like most people I knew the general outlines of Helen Keller’s life, and I was familiar with the iconic moment at the water pump. But I knew very little of Annie Sullivan, or the details of her actual teaching methods. What I found was astonishing – so astonishing I wanted to share it with young readers.
When I first began researching this book, I actually focused more on Annie Sullivan, whose early life was fraught with hardship. After her mother’s death, she and her little brother were put in an almshouse in Tewksbury, Massachusetts, where her brother later died. Annie, who’d become almost blind herself from trachoma, was able to go to the Perkins School for the Blind when she was 14. Operations partially restored her sight and she graduated in 1886 at the top of her class. The next spring, not quite 21, she set off alone from New England by train to take her first job: teaching a young deaf and blind child in Alabama named Helen Keller.
Annie Sullivan invented her own teaching methods, and that’s what I ultimately decided to write about in Annie and Helen. The book includes excerpts from Annie’s letters to her friend and former house mother, Mrs. Sophia Hopkins. The letters chronicle Helen’s progress and show how inventive and resourceful Annie was as she helped Helen make sense of the world through language. That spring must have been exhilarating for both teacher and student: by July, Helen had mastered enough skills to write a simple letter.
Illustration © 2012 by Raul Colon
Annie and Helen is not a “cradle to grave biography.” Instead, it covers the period of March-July 1887, when teacher and pupil forged their incredible relationship. While I have written traditional biographies for very young readers on John Adams and Susan B. Anthony, and on Charles Darwin for slightly older readers, I often prefer to focus on a specific incident or a time period in order to illuminate someone’s life. Keep On! focuses on Matthew Henson’s early life and Arctic explorations, A Band of Angels is about Ella Sheppard’s experiences as a Jubilee Singer, and A Boy Called Dickens shows Dickens at age 12, when he was working in a blacking factory.
My books also include both nonfiction and historical fiction. My 2012 title, Titanic: Voices from the Disaster is nonfiction. But rather than write a biography of Dr. John Snow, the pioneering epidemiologist who proved that cholera was spread by water, I chose to fictionalize the story in my forthcoming middle grade novel, The Great Trouble, A Mystery of London, the Blue Death, and a Boy Called Eel. Hopefully readers will enjoy the story, and also there’s a long author’s note included if they want to know more.
I hope I will also be a reader who wants to know more. And perhaps that’s also a reason for choosing to write about Helen Keller. What better inspiration for the love of learning could there be?
To find out more about Deborah Hopkinson’s books, visit: www.deborahhopkinson.com
You can also discover more by following along on the Annie and Helen Blog Tour
September 1st: Watch. Connect. Read
September 1st: SharpRead
September 2nd: Nerdy Book Club
September 3rd: Bakers and Astronauts
September 4th: Two Writing Teachers
September 5th: Cracking the Cover
September 6th: Teach Mentor Texts
September 7th: Nonfiction Detectives
September 8th: Booking Mama
September 9th: Children’s Book Review
September 10th: Random Acts of Reading
September 11th: 7 Impossible Things Before Breakfast
Original article: Why Helen Keller? Selecting Subjects for Biographies
©2012 The Childrens Book Review. All Rights Reserved.
Above: Artwork from Mary Uhles
One of Susan Eaddy’s portfolio pieces, Bad Bunny
(Click to enlarge)
Do you know something I enjoy doing yet haven’t done as often as I’d like here at
Pass out snacks? Why, yes. If I could pass out actual snacks, I would. But another thing is to feature local talent. Local, as in local to me, of course. Meaning, middle Tennessee. The Nashville area.
And I’m here to do that today.
Yup, it’s 7-Imp Local Talent Sunday. (more…)
Shakespeare's Seasons. Miriam Weiner. Illustrated by Shannon Whitt. 2012. Downtown Bookworks. 32 pages. Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?Thou art more lovely and more temperate:Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,And summer's lease hath all too short a date.
Though I'm not a big fan of poetry--usually--I am a fan of Shakespeare. Though my appreciation for Shakespeare has only continued to grow as I grow older. (I'm not so sure I *loved* Shakespeare as a teen having to read Romeo and Juliet, Juliet Caesar, MacBeth, etc.) While I'm sure most of his sonnets and a good many of his plays were required reading in college, I haven't always stayed in touch with his work. (Though I've continued to read and reread and reread my favorite plays: Much Ado About Nothing and A Midsummer Night's Dream) So I was excited to see this picture book! Now, did I love each and every page, each and every spread? Did I love every single quote they used? I wouldn't go that far in my praise. But did I like it? Did I appreciate it? Did I like spending time reading and rereading certain pages of it? Did I like the artwork, the illustrations? Yes. Some of the spreads were just lovely. And they highlight, in my opinion, the timeless nature of poetry, of Shakespeare. Of how relevant he remains to each and every generation.
At Christmas I no more desire a rose
Than wish a snow in May's new-fangled shows,
But like of each thing that in season grows. (Love's Labour's Lost)
The purest spring is not so free from mud. (Henry VI, Part 2)
The illustrations are very interesting! Perhaps just as interesting as Shakespeare's quotes!
Read Shakespeare's Seasons
- If you're looking for a poetry-rich picture book to share with children
- If you're looking for a picture book to 'prove' your case that Shakespeare is timeless and continues to be relevant
© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews
By Nicki Richesin, The Children’s Book Review
Published: September 7, 2012
Mac Barnett strikes us as kind of a mad genius. He’s published many bestselling books, founded the Echo Park Time Travel Mart, and is on the board of directors for 826 LA. While wearing these many top hats, he’s infused his delightfully offbeat sense of humor back into the land of children’s literature. It’s a pleasure to share his thoughts on some of his favorite books, time travel, his picture book manifesto, his undisputed rivalry with Adam Rex, and that remarkable sleuth Harriet the Spy with our readers.
Nicki Richesin: You got your start in children’s book publishing with the help of Jon Scieszka as your mentor. Did he offer you any words of wisdom or professional advice when you began writing?
Mac Barnett: I would never have written for kids if it weren’t for Jon’s books. They’re crowd-pleasing and smart, with intellectually rigorous underpinning that never gets in the way of belly-laughs. His and Lane Smith’s The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales is the most important children’s book of the last 30 years. I still send Jon all my work right after I finish it, and he’s given me a ton of guidance. As for words of wisdom, he’s always telling me to upgrade to United Economy Plus on tour, but I’m not sure my publishers will let me get away with that.
NR: Last year in The Horn Book, you issued (along with other authors and illustrators who co-signed) a proclamation in the form of “A Picture Book Manifesto” about the current state of children’s book publishing. What pushed you over the edge to write this manifesto and do you believe it has had the impact you intended? Had you hoped to inspire a sort of revolution?
MB: For a few years there’s been a lot of hand-wringing over the future of the picture book. The New York Times famously published a front-page article forecasting the form’s doom, and I’d heard similarly pessimistic prognoses from people inside the business. But the response to these Cassandras was too often Pollyannaish: variations on “The picture book will surely survive because the picture book is magic.” But picture books aren’t magic. Good picture books are magic. The proclamation represents a point of view I was hearing in my conversations with friends and colleagues but wasn’t seeing represented in either side of this Manichean conversation. I hope that it will continue to spark thoughtful discussion about the state of the art and its place in our culture, and also inspire people who want to make good picture books.
NR: You are on the board of directors of 826LA. Working with children in this way must be a great testing ground to try out new book ideas on your audience. Have you ever gotten any ideas from your students/fans you’d like to pursue writing one day?
MB: I’ve been working with kids ever since I wasn’t one anymore, and that’s had a giant impact on my writing. Picture books are a popular art and so it’s always been important for me to know my audience. But I don’t usually get ideas for books from kids’ suggestions. Mostly they just want me to write SpongeBob fan fiction. I give a presentation that shows students how a book is made—it’s filled with mainly useless information. After doing it for a year, a kid told me I should turn it into a book. He was right—Adam Rex is probably busy not illustrating it right now.
NR: You founded the Echo Park Time Travel Mart as a shopping destination for 826 products and accoutrements with the slogan, “whenever you are, we’re already then.” Could you tell us a bit about the genesis of the store? If you met at EPTTM and time-travelled to the Pirate store at 826 Valencia in San Francisco, would you be able to return or would you be forever marooned there?
MB: The Echo Park Time Travel Mart is the leading retailer of time travel supplies: dinosaur eggs, dodo chow, robot toupees—anything you’d need for a trip through the fifth dimension. The store fronts 826LA’s writing lab on the east side of L.A., and all the proceeds go toward the free tutoring we offer students in the neighborhood. The Mart has an online store, and we ship to destinations in the future, from a few days to many months after you’ve ordered, depending on the efficiency of the U.S. Postal Service. As for your question about getting marooned in San Francisco, you should be able to get back to LA as long as your time machine is functioning. We don’t really work on time machines at the Mart—we’re more like a 7-11: a bad place to get your car fixed, a good place to buy woolly mammoth chili.
NR: Your first book with Adam Rex Guess Again was very unpredictable and amusing. I believe you’ve collaborated on six books together now (including your forthcoming Brixton Brothers installment). How do you find collaborating with Mr. Rex? Chloe and the Lion, the first story idea you had in college, is about a girl caught in the middle of a good-natured battle over artistic direction by the author (you) and illustrator (Adam Rex). After seeing your video for Chloe and the Lion, I was left wondering if Mr. Rex’s prima donna ways will prevent you from working together in the future.
MB: We’ve actually done seven—our first collaboration was my very first picture book, Billy Twitters and His Blue Whale Problem. And I’ll tell you, working with him is a lot of work. I’m glad that you were able to see what a prima donna he is from that video—I was worried that a lot of his most outlandish behavior happened off-camera. Did you know that he made Disney provide a craft services table for what turned out to be a 15-minute shoot? And he requested four X-Boxes for his trailer. Adam doesn’t even play video games—they were just so he could sit on them and look taller.
NR: You edited “The Goods,” a McSweeney’s compendium of kids’ games, puzzles, comics and stories created by artists and writers for newspapers across the country. What do you see as your ultimate mission when delivering “The Goods”?
MB: The Goods, sadly, is now dead, or at least sleeping very deeply. But while it lasted, The Goods invited writers and artists to reimagine the kinds of activities you find (and used to find more) in the “Kids Pages” of newspapers. We featured pieces that were smart and beautifully illustrated, taking inspiration from the lavish stuff you find in the old Hearst and Pulitzer papers. Our timing was probably pretty bad: it turns out the newspaper business is going through a tough spot. But that’s all right. I’m working on my next business venture: going door-to-door selling dial-up modems.
NR: Which authors made the greatest impact on you when you were a young boy growing up in rural California?
MB: Well I was born in very rural California, but moved when I was still an infant to Castro Valley, which is in the Bay Area but weirdly maintains a rural vibe. I went to school in Oakland and so had zero friends in my hometown. I read a lot. James Marshall probably made my favorite books—I loved the Stupids. Let’s see, what else? The Monster at the End of this Book was very important to me, and also But No Elephants by Jerry Smath. My mom bought most of my books at garage sales, so I read a lot of literature from one or two generations before mine, and I feel very lucky for that.
NR: I especially loved your book Extra Yarn as it told the story of a girl who didn’t really care what others thought and even went so far as to defy the dastardly, self-important duke. Were you inspired to write this book by a knitting feminist?
MB: Thank you! I was actually inspired by a drawing the book’s illustrator, Jon Klassen, had done of a girl and a dog wearing matching sweaters, walking through the snow. The story grew from that piece, (and in fact that moment actually shows up pretty early in the book, before all the bullies and archdukes arrive.)
Illustration © 2012 by Jon Klassen
NR: If you could be reincarnated as your favorite character from children’s literature, who would it be and why?
MB: My favorite character is probably Harriet M. Welsch—she’s perfectly, honestly drawn: funny and strong and flawed. Harriet has a pretty tough time, which is probably not preferable in the next life but is maybe karmically appropriate.
NR: Which projects are you currently working on and are there any stories you’re dying to tell?
MB: I just finished a strange new picture book I’m excited about and now I have to get into a novel that takes place in the desert.
Nicki Richesin is the editor of four anthologies The May Queen, Because I Love Her, What I Would Tell Her, and Crush. She is a regular contributor to Huffington Post, Daily Candy, 7×7, Red Tricycle, and San Francisco Book Review. Nicki has been reading to her daughter every day since she was born. For more information, visit: www.nickirichesin.com.
Original article: Interview with a Legend in his own Time Mac Barnett
©2012 The Childrens Book Review. All Rights Reserved.
By: Tara Lazar
Blog: Tara Lazar
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, PiBoIdMo 2012
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The Picture Book Idea Month success stories just keep pouring in!
The latest news is from lucky Penny Klostermann who was named runner-up for the 2012 SCBWI Barbara Karlin grant! This makes THREE YEARS IN A ROW that a PiBoIdMo story either snatched the grant or was named next in line.
Without further ado, I’ll let Penny tell you all about it!
In the fall of 2011, my wonderful critique group, Picture Bookies, made me aware of Tara’s brilliant concept, PiBoIdMo—30 picture book ideas in 30 days! My very first PiBoIdMo idea was to do a rewrite of THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS. I know….holiday stories are hard to sell. I know….rhyme done right is hard to write! But, it was November…and Christmas was just around the corner…and I love the original. By the end of November, I had three different ideas for rewriting THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS.
From the time I wrote the first line for my 25th idea, MARS NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS, I knew it was my favorite.
Then, in December, Susanna Leonard Hill hosted a competition on her blog for a rewrite of THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS. This brought my idea to the forefront, and I decided to work on it right away. I read every version of the story I could get my hands on. I researched Mars and Space! I got excited as words and phrases from my research enhanced my manuscript.
February 26, 2012, I emailed my manuscript to my critique group. As usual, their comments were incredible. I revised and revised and revised some more. Then on March 12, 2012, I mailed my manuscript to the Barbara Karlin committee…and waited.
I got the call/voicemail at 6:36 p.m. Friday, August 3rd. (Of course I took a picture of my call log!) I didn’t listen to the voicemail until 10:30 p.m. The caller said she was with the Barbara Karlin Grant, and could I give her a call. COULD I GIVE HER A CALL?????? I live in Texas. She was in California. It wasn’t too late! When she told me I was runner up I just couldn’t believe it. Uncontained happiness!!!
I have to say, Tara, that PiBoIdMo is out-of-this-world awesome. As I look through my list of ideas for the next manuscript to tackle, I am amazed. Your organization of the event with inspiring posts and interaction among so many picture book writers took my mind to places it wouldn’t go sitting alone in front of my computer. Thank you.
I just have to brag on my critique group, Picture Bookies. Rebecca Colby was the winner of the 2011 Barbara Karlin Grant. Also, in 2011, Mona Pease received a Letter of Merit. The other members are just as incredible. I am lucky to be a part of this group.
Congratulations, Penny, and thanks so much for sharing your success story! You can visit Penny online at her blog: “A Penny and Her Jots“.
Now folks, you know the old rhyme: “Find a Penny, pick it up, all day long you’ll have good luck!” So let Penny’s story sprinkle some good fortune on you.
PiBoIdMo guest bloggers and badges will be revealed on October 1st, with registration to begin on October 24th right here on this blog. Subscribe via email (← see left column) to make sure you don’t miss PiBoIdMo updates!
If you have suggestions about who you’d like to see guest blogging this year, please leave a name (or two or three) in the comments!
By: Hazel Mitchell,
Blog: Hazel Mitchell
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, why am I here? Matthew kelly
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I think it's a lot of fun when you see your book in another language. Here's 'Why am I Here?' that I illustrated a couple of years back for Matthew Kelly.
I like that they took time to use a fun Korean typeface. It's great to show at school visits!
Next time - what I got up to at Highlight's Foundation Advanced Illustrator's Workshop, in Boyd's Mill, PA.
September is a month of changes. Children have grown over the summer, learned new skills and made new friends. Now they are meeting new teachers, learning new routines and getting ready for the new challenges ahead. It’s a perfect time to share a favorite author, Rosemary Wells, who has written more than 150 books for youngsters and captures the world of young children in the midst of these big changes, starting school and making friends.
Emily’s First 100 Days of School
by Rosemary Wells
NY: Disney Hyperion, 2000
available from your local library and on Amazon
This is one of my favorite books to share at this time of year. Emily is an eager, enthusiastic bunny.
“On the first day of school, leave my mama’s arms. I am too excited to cry. I have my own desk and my own notebook and my own teacher, Miss Cribbage.”
Miss Cribbage tells her new students they will “make a new number friend” every day for the next hundred days, at the end of which they will have a big party.
Rosemary Wells shows different aspects of Emily’s life in school and at home, introducing one number at a time, expanding this beyond a simple counting book. Young listeners will relate to Emily’s excitement picking a dozen roses for her mother, reading 17 words in a story and collecting 25 beetles from the school garden. Soon, Emily writes a letter to her parents celebrating the 100th day of school and all the things she has learned, sealed with 100 kisses.
Check out this sweet book trailer for Emily's First 100 Days of School
: Emily's First 100 Days of School
from Rosemary Wells
This is the perfect book for starting the new school year, celebrating the joy in discovering new strengths and wonders.
For more of favorite Rosemary Wells picture books, check out my monthly bookshelf column over at Parents Press
The review copy came from our school library. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you!). Thank you for your support.
Review ©2012 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books
Book: Return of the Library Dragon
Author: Carmen Agra Deedy
Illustrator: Michael P. White
Age Range: 4-8
Return of the Library Dragon is the sequel to Carmen Agra Deedy and Michael P. White's The Library Dragon. I somehow missed the first book, but I enjoyed this second one. The premise is that Miss Lotty, long-time librarian of Sunrise Elementary, is part dragon. Most of the time she looks pretty normal (except for a green tail that sticks out the back of her dress). But when she gets riled up ... watch out! Return of the Library Dragon begins as Miss Lotty has decided to retire. But when the school immediately makes plans to replace all of the books in the library with technology, the fire-breathing dragon returns.
Return of the Library Dragon is an homage to librarians from start to finish. The book opens with an article from School Library Times about the retiring Miss Lotty. Here's a snippet:
"Students had hoped that she would shelve plans for retirement, but Miss Lotty says her departure is long overdue... When asked to recall her fondest memory as a librarian, she replied, Dewey-eyed..."
When the story itself begins, we find Miss Lotty in bed, "counting children's books instead of sheep." Miss Lotty's nemesis in the book, the man who takes all of the books out of the library as soon as her back is turned, is named Mike Krochip. C'mon, you want to laugh. I know you do.
Return of the Library Dragon is a staunch and unabashed defense of books. Real, printed books. When Mike Krochip suggests than an all-digital library with 10,000 books would be better than their library of books that "stain and tear and take up room", the children offer up a variety of reasons why they prefer real books. But when the children's heads are turned by the coolness of Krochip's technology, the Library Dragon takes a stand.
I love the end pages of this book, which are papered with quotes about books, reading, and librarians. Like "To me, nothing can be more important than giving children books" -- Fran Lebowitz. I almost didn't want to turn past the end pages to even read the book. But I'm glad that I did.
Return of the Library Dragon is a picture book for early school age kids, with plenty of text on each page, and a fairly advanced vocabulary ("stampeding", "wisp", "gloat"). The text is mainly dialog, with short, declarative sentences, and an endless array of puns.
White's illustrations are airbrush on cotton watercolor paper. They aren't strictly realistic (there being a dragon and all). The characters have oddly elongated faces and wavy, wrinkled outlines. But something in White's use of color and shadow makes the characters step, three-dimensional, from the page. The humor continues in the titles of the books shown throughout the text, from "Where the Wild Pigs Are" to "Furious George".
While Return of the Library Dragon certainly has a message to convey, Deedy's story transcends the message, and offers a fun-filled romp for young readers. White's lively illustrations add to the entertainment, and make Return of the Library Dragon a keeper (and a must for school library purchase). This would probably also make a good read-aloud for a first or second grade classroom. (Has anyone tried it?) Recommended.
Publisher: Peachtree (@PeachtreePub)
Publication Date: September 1, 2012
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
© 2012 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).
Charise Mericle Harper is the author of many popular children’s books including the Just Grace series, the Fashion Kitty series, and the picture book Cupcake. I was a bit surprised to see Harper depart from stories that center around girls and take on boys. This picture book examines what many items that preschoolers find in their regular routine would be like if they were like boys. “If waffles were like boys… breakfast would be a battlefield!”, and “[i]f socks were like boys…laundry baskets would be pirate ships!”, and so on, moving through objects young children encounter throughout the day until “[i]f stars were like boys…night skies would be fireworks!” Harper not only has moved away from her girl-centric stories, but chosen to examine the most energetic side of boyhood. Paired with humorous cartoon-like illustrations from Scott Magoon, this story will not miss with preschool aged boys and girls in search of a bedtime story. Just make sure this is the first bedtime book of the night because it is a bit to boisterous to be the last. Posted by: Kelly
Yes, I’m chatting with Sarah Stewart and David Small today about their latest picture book, The Quiet Place.
But we’re chatting with coffee mugs in hand over at Kirkus, instead of at the 7-Imp table. Good thing, ’cause I didn’t clean the table up after last night’s heavy partying. (That is so totally just a lame joke. There will be no partying in my future until I get my manuscript edits done. Giving me the ‘ol skunk eye, that manuscript is.)
Here is the Q&A.
David and Sarah discuss the new book; how they collaborate (or, rather, don’t collaborate) together; what spawned this beautiful story; and more.
Next week, I’ll have some spreads from the book, as well as some early sketches from the book from David.
I’m looking forward to that post. Even David’s sketches blow me away.
Until tomorrow …
p.s. I composed this post before my own coffee intake today, and the post title was originally “Sarah Stewart and David Small for Breakfast.” I’m glad I caught that mistake. I think we all need them to stick around—no seven impossible acts of cannibalism before breakfast, please—so that we can experience more of their future books.
Baby Bookworm (at nearly 2 1/2) has four categories of books:
- Books she is not interested in at all (refuses them completely when offered);
- Books we have read once that she didn't like. When offered them again, even weeks or months later, she'll say "Already read that one";
- Books she says yes to pretty much every time they are offered (subject to the occasional mood for something else); and
- Books that she actually requests.
The fourth is the smallest category (see some examples on my Pinterest board "Baby Bookworm's Favorites"), and tends to be temporary (she'll have a passion for a particular book for a week or a month, and then it will fade).
Two books that have remainded in category 4 for probably a year now are Knuffle Bunny and Knuffle Bunny Too, by Mo Willems. These books were a baby gift from my friend MotherReader (who is quite possibly Mo's #1 fan), and remain a huge hit with all of us. (And yes, we have Knuffle Bunny Free, but Baby Bookworm doesn't totally understand that one yet, and so doesn't tend to request it).
So now, after a long-winded introduction, I come to today's story. Knuffle Bunny (referred to as "Launrdymat book" in Baby Bookworm speak) was lost for several weeks. Until this morning, we were always too busy when the request came in to do a thorough search. But today, being a long weekend, after yet another request for "Trixie Laundrymat book", we did some exhaustive searching.
And oh, I wish you all could have seen Baby Bookworm jump for joy when Knuffle Bunny was discovered (unharmed) underneath the couch. Her joy was akin to Trixie's joy in the book when the lost Knuffle Bunny is discovered at the laundromat. We immediately sat down to read Knuffle Bunny, and then Knuffle Bunny Too. And life was good again.
Pretty neat, I thought, life imitating art like that. I also love that Baby Bookworm already has particular books that she loves, and seeks out, and misses when they aren't there.
Parents, if you do not have the Knuffle Bunny books in your home, well, this is the highest endorsement that I can think of. They are kid- and parent-friendly, funny yet touching, and don't lose their charm even after hundreds of reads. Trixie ages throughout the series, so if you have kids anywhere from 1 to 8, at least one of the books will probably be a hit.
I suspect we'll be reading Knuffle Bunny quite a lot over the next few days. I couldn't be happier.
This post © 2012 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.
Three is a magic number. Not because it’s the age when tiny toy parts no longer pose a choking hazard to your toddler, but because the universe is full of threebies.
Three square meals a day.
Three strikes and you’re out.
Three ring circus. And three ring government. (Excellent analogy, Schoolhouse Rock.)
Then there’s the “rule of thirds” design principle for composing visual images with tension and interest.
Ever heard of the FOUR LITTLE PIGS? Of course not. There’s just three, like THREE BLIND MICE and THREE BILLY GOATS GRUFF. Heck, there’s even THREE STOOGES.
In picture books, you’ll often find the protagonist struggling to solve their problem three times before finally succeeding. This technique encourages the reader to become invested in the hero’s journey. If the character were to try once and triumph, what fun is that? There’s no time to root for her!
Likewise, you’ll often see groups of three drawings on one picture book page. Three offers a nice balance because two is too few and four is too many. Like Goldilocks and the THREE Bears know, three is “just right”.
So today I’m going to extend “The Rule of Three” to you, the aspiring author. How so? I encourage you to have THREE polished manuscripts ready before submitting to an agent or editor.
Three manuscripts means that you’ve been writing for a while. Not a month or two, but most likely a year or two…or yes, even three. You’ve taken the time to hone your craft. Three manuscripts also means you’ve got a body of work an agent can review. If they don’t like your first story, but they see potential, they will ask for some more. Wouldn’t it be a missed opportunity if you didn’t have more?
In fact, even if they LOVE your first story, they will ask to see more. Picture books are a difficult sell, so if the first manuscript doesn’t find a home, they’ll want something else to submit. Three stories lets the agent know that your body of work, your style, resonates with them. On the flip side, they may LOVE your first book but not see a market for your other stories, or personally dislike them. Their lack of enthusiasm means they are not the right agent for you. You want to know this BEFORE you sign with someone, not AFTER….’cause breaking up? It’s hard to do.
And listen, if you have three manuscripts ready, I’m going to go a bit further and suggest you get FIVE ready. Because five is shiny, like “five golden rings” or “The Jackson Five”.
Yeah, it’s easy as A B C, 1 2 THREE.
If you are, or ever have been, an aspiring children’s book author, then like me, you’ve had times when you’ve either been closed out of great conferences, had to travel great distances to hear from experts in the field, or spent a lot of money on fees and travel. I was a frustrated, but very motivated, aspiring children’s book author, who decided to do something about it. Having been an aspiring children’s book author for a very long time (on and off for 12 years) and having made the decision to finally devote my free time and career to doing what I really loved (writing for children), I needed education and training from the best, experienced children’s book authors available. So in an effort to help other aspiring, frustrated, and motivated aspiring children’s book authors (and myself), I began Writing for Children Live. Writing for Children Live is a website where you can learn from the best experts in the field of writing childrens' books, from the comfort of your own home, through FREE, LIVE teleconference calls and webinars. No fees, no travel. You can listen in on your phone or via your computer. If for some reason you can't make the call or webinar at the time and date it is scheduled for, there is no need to worry. A replay of the call/webinar will be made available for your convenience FREE for 24 hours following the live call. So no getting closed out, either.
If you miss the replay of your favorite, author, agent or publisher, or if you heard the call, but wish you could hear it again, and again, for all of the great information and tips, all calls will be made available to purchase on an MP3 download (after the 24 hour free replay). All webinars will also be available to purchase, so that you can watch it as many times as you want to.
My favorite quote from the movie Field of Dreamsis “If you build it, they will come.” So when I decided to start Writing for Children Live, I thought that if this website was meant to be, the speakers will come. You can imagine the THRILL I had when the first author to submit a proposal to speak on Writing for Children Live was the one and only, Newbery Honor Award Winner, Marion Dane Bauer! I can’t wait to host Marion Dane Bauer’s teleconference call and webinar in September and am so tremendously excited about hosting all of the other great authors that are coming this fall: Angela Morrison, Susan Shaw, John Micklos, Jr. and K. M. Walton. Even more great authors are coming this Winter and Spring (you won’t want to miss my interview on writing coming this spring with Ella Enchanted’s author Gail Carson Levine!!!) Thank you so very much to Mayra Calvani for allowing me to be a guest blogger this week on her blog and giving me the opportunity to share the information about this great opportunity with all of you!!!
In this day in 1939, the Allies declared war on Germany. Germany had invaded Poland on September 1st, and the Allies were forced to respond to this act of aggression. Following the declaration, not much happened for a time, but then Germany launched its Blitzkrieg, or lightening war, which left many countries in Europe reeling.
One of Hitler's allies was Bennito Mussolini, the leader of Italy, who was happy to adopt Germany's methods and policies. Today's picture book is about how one Italian family was affected by these changes.
Historical Fiction Picture Book
Random House, 2011, 978-0-375-86695-1
When Nonna was a little girl, she lived in an apartment building in Rome, Italy, with her parents and her brother Roberto. In the afternoons, Mamma used to take Nonna and Roberto to the park, and every evening their Papa would play the piano for them before they went to bed.
Then war broke out in Europe and life for Nonna and her family began to change. New laws were created that targeted Jews like Nonna. There were many things that Jews were no longer allowed to do, and then Papa was told that he had to leave his family and go to live in a village in the mountains.
For a while, Nonna, Mama, and Roberto went to the village every weekend to spend time with Papa, but then Papa learned that the Germans were coming to the village. He knew that the Germans were sending all the Jews that they found to concentrations camps, so he decided that he would go into hiding. He told his family that he would leave a note for them in an old beech tree in the village so that tgey would know that he was well.
When the local officials found out that Papa was gone, they got very angry and announced that they would take Mama in his place and hand her over to the Germans.
This story is based on the real life experiences of the author’s mother, who fled to Italy from Germany in the early 1930’s, and who had some extraordinary adventures during World War II. The narrative describes very difficult times, but it also shows children how hard times can bring out the best in people. Thanks to some very brave Italians, the author’s mother and her two children (like many other Jews in Italy) were hidden and survived the war.
This powerful and informative book serves as a fitting tribute to the people who found ways to survive Nazi and Fascist aggression both before and during World War II. It is also a tribute to those who risked everything to help others during this difficult time.
This one is arriving on shelves tomorrow from our friends at Feiwel and Friends. So keep your eyes peeled, mateys! Are you brave enough—and bold enough—for the adventure of your life?
The award-winning author and illustrator team of Eric A. Kimmel
and Andrew Glass
introduce a new generation of readers to a magnificent and memorable retelling of Herman Melville’s masterpiece, Moby Dick.Buy the book at Oblong, Powells, Amazon, BandN or wherever fine books are sold.
"...this rollicking yarn with its splendid art will serve as a stand-alone introduction.”--School Library Journal
"Kimmel make[s] this classic accessible to young readers.”--Publishers Weekly
A big happy book birthday to I'M BORED written by Michael Ian Black and illustrated by my critique partner from the MiGs, Debbie Ridpath Ohi! I'm just so excited for Debbie. She is incredibly talented and has great things in store for her in the future, including two more picture books that she will write/and or illustrate through Simon and Schuster!Over at the MiGs we are celebrating the book birthday of I'M BORED all week long. Each day we're chatting about being bored or something related to the book. For every comment made, you can enter to win you very own copy of I'M BORED!Check it all out here.Also, check out I'M BORED in the wild. You can submit pics too!
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As I’ve mentioned previously here at 7-Imp, Candlewick Press is celebrating picture books for one entire year, given their 20th anniversary, and they’re celebrating with a series of videos. Authors, illustrators, bloggers, and other book-lovers have made video tributes to picture books, and Candlewick will be sharing them at this site. (If you missed this video from my co-author, the entertaining Betsy Bird, and the one and only Travis Jonker, then drop everything now and watch it, ’cause it’s fun. They pretty much did it up as right as right can be.)
My video is up today. Here’s the link, or you can watch it above. If you’re going to watch it, you might want to grab a cup of coffee or a pillow, since I may or may not ramble a tiny bit.
Hey, ask a girl to talk about picture books, and that just happens.
EDITED TO ADD: Just found their thus-far video archives. Good stuff. Here it is.