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1. Swooning Over Swag (or Christmas in July)

I count myself lucky to know some really terrific people. And one such person is my colleague and friend Brian Abbott. Brian is the coworker who went to the ALA (American Library Association) Midwinter Conference back in January and brought me back several ARCs. (Read more about that by clicking Here.) A few weeks ago, he attended the ALA Annual Conference in Las Vegas and he came back bearing swag, and lots of it! From posters, to prints, to magnets, and even CDs, they were giving it all away at ALA. And Brian gave a bunch to me! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But his generosity didn’t end there. He waited in line and managed to grab me a signed copy, yes, a signed copy of Caldecott Medal winner Brian Floca’s book Locomotive! (Read my review of Locomotive Here.) 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Okay, that’s definitely sweet, but the most unique item Brian brought back was a seven-page, full-color booklet that was given out to attendees of the Newbery Caldecott Awards Banquet. Brian was invited to attend! (Okay, push down the author envy.) The booklet is so cool; it even has a pop-up in it! Swoon.   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks Brian, you’re awesome! To learn more about adult mystery novelist Brian Abbott, check out his site, The Poisoned Martini, and look for his debut novel Death On Stoneridge, coming soon.


2 Comments on Swooning Over Swag (or Christmas in July), last added: 7/25/2014
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2. The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art

I’ve been wanting to visit the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art for quite some time. I finally got the chance to go this past weekend. So, with my sister Linda acting as navigator, I drove over 200 miles and 3 1/2 hours along the New York State Thruway to Amherst, Massachusetts. It was a beautiful day Sunday, perfect for a road trip. And though we were on a highway, we passed through some very scenic areas with rolling tree-covered hills and picturesque valleys. We even crossed the Hudson River. 

After many miles, two rest stops, and two toll booths, we finally reached the museum with no trouble. Although, I almost drove right past it until I spotted this gorgeous sign marking the entrance.

The building and grounds are beautiful. But you really have to go inside to experience the wonder of the museum. They have three lovely galleries exhibiting artwork from several picture book artists. For our visit, they showcased the art of Simms Taback, Harriet the Spy (the book turns 50 this year), and What’s Your Favorite Animal (a book featuring art from many well-known illustrators, including Eric Carle himself). 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No photography was allowed inside the galleries, of course, but the museum offered other opportunities for picture-taking.

 

The museum also has a wonderful library filled with picture books (they also do story times there), an auditorium (for films, lectures, plays, author/illustrator visits), an art studio (where all ages can be creative and crafty), and a bookshop/gift shop (I was like a kid in a candy store). All that was missing was a full-service cafe, though they do have a vending machine and plenty of places to sit and eat inside and outside (in a lovely orchard) if you choose to bring a picnic lunch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My sister and I had such a good time. I hope to visit again sometime in the near future. If you are a picture book lover, I highly recommend it. And while you’re there, don’t forget to use the restroom; you won’t regret it!

Yes, this is a bathroom stall!


4 Comments on The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, last added: 7/1/2014
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3. Why I Self-Published & What Works by Tabitha Grace Smith

If you are curious about self publishing, then you will find author Tabitha Grace Smith’s article fascinating. She has some excellent advice for authors who are considering self publishing. She also explains why she chose the self-publishing path over traditional publishing, what’s involved, and how she makes it work.

Why I Self-Published & What Works
by Tabitha Grace Smith

I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was 9 years old. I chose my college, my career (I work in social media marketing), and my hobbies because of this passion for writing. Mostly I had a desire to write adult novels, but when my first niece was born I desperately wanted to write kid’s books. Books had a huge impact on me and I wanted to share that with my nieces (who are now 6 and 7). The idea for my first book came from my cats, who seemed to love sitting on the edge of my bathtub, but never wanted to go in. I wrote Jack the Kitten is Very Brave, a book about a cat who loved being a pirate, but was afraid of water.

I read a lot about the book publishing industry. From my research I knew that picture books are incredibly hard to break into as a first-time writer. I didn’t want to spend a lot of time trying to get published and miss the years where my book would be perfect for my nieces. That sense of a deadline was a huge deciding factor in self-publishing.

Self-publishing has become less of a stigma in the past couple years, but there still is a stigma and anyone who wants to self-publish needs to understand that. I had a lot of questions when I first went about publishing Jack the Kitten is Very Brave and several people immediately assumed that it wouldn’t be a good book if I did it myself.

When it came to choosing how to self-publish I did a lot of research. I wanted a POD (Print on Demand) service so I didn’t get stuck with boxes and boxes of books. I also have a lot of friends who live all over the world so I wanted a service where they could order without paying a TON of money. CreateSpace (which is part of Amazon) wound up being the perfect solution. Just a note here: you shouldn’t need to shell out thousands of dollars to a self-print book service. Beware, there are a lot of scams out there. You’ll never make that money back.

There are four HUGE skills you need to self-publish:
1. Design Skills
2. Art Skills
3. Editing Skills
4. Marketing Skills

Design Skills. Thankfully, I have some design skills. My first job was doing graphics and layout. A big part of doing a book yourself is understanding how to format and set up a layout. You’ll need to understand things like pixels, dpi, how to create a multi-page PDF, page bleeds, etc. If you don’t know these things there are a ton of free classes online to get the skills. Another option is to hire someone. Please make sure to pay for the service. Formatting and layout for a book is a lot of work and it takes a good amount of time.

Art Skills. I have zero art skills. I can draw some pretty awesome stick figures, but that is not good enough for most picture books (Okay, one of my books I drew myself, but it’s pretty doodle-y). For the artwork I had a dear friend, Mindy Lou Hagan, who I had seen a ton of art from. I loved her style and we worked together on the layout and images. I have to be completely honest here, a lot of the unsuccessful self-published children’s books I’ve seen have terrible artwork. Do yourself a favor and search for a good artist. If you have no artistic talent yourself or you have no artistic friends, search sites like Deviantart.com. Again, pay your artist. It’s a huge pet peeve of mine when artists don’t get paid. Artwork is at least 50% of the selling point of a children’s book. Mindy and I agreed on payment before we started the project. Have that all in writing.

Editing Skills. Picture books need as much (if not more) editing as a novel. Have as many people as you can read your book before you publish it. I found out early on that people will catch different things, so multiple editors really helps. Also, try and have at least a couple friends who will be 100% honest with you (i.e. don’t just have your mom read it). Have the editors edit the text, have them edit the text placement, and have them edit the story. Read the story out loud to kids and check their enthusiasm level (if you have no kids, ask a local school librarian if you can come in and read your book). Edit. Edit. Edit. A lot of first-time writers are way too attached to their writing. As a result, they’re not open to edits and changes. Don’t be that person. Listen to what your editors say and take it to heart if they’re right.

Marketing Skills. So you have a book. It’s uploaded. Fantastic! No one is going to buy it. This is the huge con for self-publishing. There are no sales without your marketing. Absolutely none. There are thousands of books out there that someone can buy for their child. If they don’t know about your book, they will not buy it. You’re going to need to sharpen your marketing skills. Learn how to use social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) effectively, learn how to publicize without being spammy (check the authors that you love and see how they do it), offer a print copy of your book to some bloggers (check to see how much interaction they have on their blog), pitch yourself to local schools and offer a free author visit, ask folks for help to get the word out, and find places you can sell your book (local fairs, garage sales, charity events, etc.). Cross-promotion with other blogs and authors is your big friend here. I think 90% of the time people usually buy self-published books because they love the author.

There are a couple other things you need to learn like self-employment taxes, keeping track of expenses, etc. Find a tax accountant who can help you with that if you start making some good money off your book.

{From Tabitha Grace Smith’s book Machu the Cat is Very Hungry}

Another option for publishing and getting the funds you need to publish is crowdfunding. My latest book, Jack the Kitten is Very Sleepy, I am funding through Kickstarter. This is a great way to get fans in on helping make the book and pay for the artwork. If you’d like to check it out, it’s here: bit.ly/SleepyJack. If you like pirates and cats, it may be the perfect book for you!

Kickstarter is a huge commitment; I often tell people it’s like a full-time job. So if you’re thinking about crowdfunding, I really suggest backing a couple projects first to see what works and what doesn’t.

I’ve been very happy with how well my books have done so far. I’m no Stephen King of picture books, but I’ve sold a good amount. Copies of my books are all over the world. I get awesome letters from kids who have read my books. Best of all, my nieces love my books and I get to read them to them whenever I visit. School visits are probably my favorite. Once, I was walking the hall of one school as the kids were going home, one of the little first graders got all excited when she saw me and waved like mad and said, “Hi, Author!”. It was a really fun feeling.

My big take away from the whole experience is that self-publishing and doing it well is a lot of work, but it’s a ton of fun too. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and give help to others whenever you can. Another thing that really helped me was giving my book away. A lot. Ultimately, I wanted kids to read it, not to become rich. One time I was at a car wash fundraiser and I saw a very sad little boy. I happened to have copies of my book in my bag and I gave him one. His face lit up like it was Christmas. That was well worth buying the book myself and giving it away. After all, what good is a book if no one reads it?

Well said, Tabitha!

Tabitha Grace Smith is a professional geek, blogger, writer, web designer, podcaster, social media expert, and strategist. She holds a B.A. in Communications from Moody Bible Institute and an M.A. and M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Wilkes University. She’s written five children’s books including, Jack the Kitten is Very Brave and Machu the Cat is Very Hungry, which were based on her real life cats. You can find them on Amazon or over at MachuandJack.com. She also wrote a book for reluctant readers called Mary Lou Wants to Be A Big Star and a book about dealing with bullies called Everyone’s Mean, Except When They’re Not. Both are available on Amazon. Her latest book, Jack the Kitten is Very Sleepy is currently being funded through a Kickstarter campaign.

Find her on Goodreads or online at tabithagracesmith.com.

{The real Jack and Machu with their books}

{Tabitha Grace Smith's latest picture book}

{Tabitha Grace Smith’s latest picture book}


4 Comments on Why I Self-Published & What Works by Tabitha Grace Smith, last added: 6/27/2014
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4. When You Are Blue (A Squishy Blueberry Tale)

 


Sharing information about great causes is something I love to do here on Frog on a Blog, particularly if the cause is related to picture books and helping children. So, I am thrilled to introduce Squishy Blueberry, a charming character created by author and illustrator Amanda I. Greene, who is also the founder of D’inkling Publishing. Amanda’s goal, through her Squishy Blueberry book series, is to encourage children to look within in order to discover a wealth of confidence, self-awareness, and emotional intelligence, qualities that we all possess but might need a bit of help bringing to the surface.

Amanda’s first book, Reflections of a Blueberry, is already available and is beaming with beautiful, whimsical, brightly colored illustrations and lyrical, rhyming text. To bring her second book to life, When You Are Blue, Amanda is seeking our help through a PUBSLUSH campaign. Please click on the cover image above to learn more about Amanda’s worthwhile project. You can watch a video, read about Amanda’s vision, make a contribution (and earn some great perks), or simply spread the word. You can also go to the Squishy Blueberry site: http://www.squishyblueberry.com/ for more information and oodles of “squishy blueberry” fun. 

I think a little bit of Amanda herself can be found in the character of Squishy Blueberry who follows his heart and his dreams, notable endeavors indeed. Good luck, Amanda!

{Image from the When You Are Blue PUBSLUSH campaign page}

 


0 Comments on When You Are Blue (A Squishy Blueberry Tale) as of 1/1/1900
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5. The Change Your Name Store

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Title: The Change Your Name Store

Author: Leanne Shirtliffe

Illustrator: Tina Kugler

Publisher/Year: Sky Pony Press/2014

Summary: Wilma Lee Wu doesn’t like her name anymore, so she decides to try on some new names at the Change Your Name Store and is transported all over the world to new cultures.

The Change Your Name Store is a fantastic first introduction to new cultures for the youngest armchair travelers. It’s super fun to read aloud, which is good because you may be reading it over and over again. Its rhyming text not only rolls off the tongue, but also presents some rather unusual names  from around the world that kids will find fascinating. 

The energetic illustrations perfectly depict a precocious little girl, Wilma Lee Wu, as she imagines herself with a new name and experiences life in new cultures. I especially like how her dog accompanies her to all the new places and even becomes a poodle when they arrive in Paris. I also like the wraparound cover with the beautifully detailed buildings. There’s a library on the back!

I can relate a bit to Wilma. When I was growing up, I didn’t like my name either. I even approached my mother once about changing it to Lorraine or Lorena (I know, they’re not that much different from my name, silly me.). It was, of course, a phase I was going through, and it didn’t take long for me to appreciate and embrace my name, just as Wilma does.


4 Comments on The Change Your Name Store, last added: 6/20/2014
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6. Woot Woot! I’m Getting Published!

I want to share good news with all of my Frog on a Blog fans. I’ve signed with the awesome Ripple Grove Press to publish my first picture book! It’s called The Peddler’s Bed and it’s due out in the spring of 2015. 

I actually signed the contract back last October, but I wanted to wait until we got a little closer to publication before making my announcement. 

I am eager to see a few sketches from the incredibly talented Bong Redila, the illustrator who will be working on The Peddler’s Bed. Hopefully that will happen soon, but in the meantime, I’m trying very hard to focus on writing and revising new stories. I love writing picture book stories, and I knew from an early age that I wanted to be a writer. (I’ll share more about that in an upcoming post.) I think I forgot about it for a while, up until about 9 years ago. That’s when I took a “Writing Stories for Children” class and started getting words down on paper. Then, I put my writing on hold again in 2009 in order to go back to school and get my degree in Library and Information Services. Happily, I finished my education this past winter and am now diving head first into writing children’s picture books. 

To prove to myself that I am a real writer, and with my wonderful husband’s support, we went shopping for a new desk. I got a chair too! We rearranged some furniture. My husband put the desk together (Did I mention how wonderful he is?). I assembled the chair (Yay, me!). And the result: I now have my own little office space. 

It may be small, but it’s all mine! Well, I do have to share it with my assistant.

He keeps a close eye on me to make sure I’m working hard. If he thinks I need a break, he’ll often go for a walk with me. He’s really helpful.

I get ideas and inspiration from our walks, but also from my book collection. Here are some of my picture books…

…and my pop-up books (upper shelf)…

…and my writing books.

Thank you for taking this tour with me and for being a fan of Frog on a Blog. If you haven’t already, please consider entering your e-mail in the box to the right to become an official follower. And be on the look out for The Peddler’s Bed next spring! Woot Woot!!!


7 Comments on Woot Woot! I’m Getting Published!, last added: 6/15/2014
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7. Aviator Owl Books: Enlightening Children, Raising Awareness, Supporting Great Causes

Today’s interview is with a young entrepreneur and college student who has become a huge inspiration to me. S.A. Porcher is one of the creative minds behind Aviator Owl Books Inc., a company devoted to sparking imagination in children while also raising awareness of and contributing to charitable causes. S.A. Porcher and her partner, Chris Bill, have pledged to donate a portion of the proceeds of the sales of their picture books, eBooks, and other products to causes such as First Book and The Make-A-Wish Foundation. They are also dedicated to creating quality books for children that entertain and educate. I’m excited about Aviator Owl Books. I’m convinced it’s a rising star and I’m happy to share its story with you. Read on to learn more about S.A. Porcher and AO Books.

Q. Can you tell me a bit about yourself and what inspired you to start Aviator Owl Books? 

S.P. Sure! I’m 24 years old, I love being outside and I love to learn new things. I was raised on a steady diet of imagination, curiosity and science, which is probably why it is rare for me to find a subject that I don’t enjoy (and also why I was always into trouble as a child – sorry Mom). I have always had ideas for stories randomly bubbling up in my head, but it wasn’t until college that I started to act on them. The original designs for Aviator Owl were born the summer before I left for Purdue University, and I never thought it would go further than digital images that I sold on a site called Zazzle. The five owls were created specifically to be sold on that site, and I had never really considered it more than a fun summer project. 

Meet the five owls.

Only later was it recommended to me that I write a children’s book, and The Aviator Owls Learn Their ABCs was born in the fall of 2010. At the same time I was working on a side project called Write for the Cause – which was (then) completely separate from Aviator Owl. The first book was My Dragon Humphrey, which I wrote specifically with HALO Animal Rescue in mind. I got pretty serious about Write for the Cause, and had all but given up on Aviator Owl to focus on it. 

As luck would have it, I met Chris Bill in the fall of 2012, and after a lot of discussing and planning, we officially went into business together in October 2013. He loved the idea of writing books to promote causes, and with his background in Computer Graphics Technology, we Frankensteined all of our talents into one entity that we could both get behind. We decided to merge the Aviator Owl characters with the idea of writing books for causes. Through research we discovered that children today enjoy books in print and online, which ties into Chris’s background of CGT quite nicely. We also found that kids hate learning unless it’s done in a way where they have fun. Put simply: they like games. All of these put together and we came up with Aviator Owl Books Inc. So your question “What inspired me to start AO Books?” is tricky to answer. I wanted to help children learn, but both Chris and I also wanted to do something we love. I think what we came up with fits both.

Q. What is the goal or mission of Aviator Owl Books? 

S.P. AO Books seeks to inspire and educate children through print books, eBooks, online games, and apps. (Or at least that is what we are hoping for in the future. Right now we only have print books and eBooks.) We want to help cultivate children’s imaginations, and also raise awareness of important causes. Right now we support HALO Animal Rescue, First Book, and the Make-A-Wish America, but we hope to show our support for many more in the future.

Q. Who writes, illustrates, and publishes the books you sell? 

S.P. I do. I was born to make up stories, and I’ve been writing them down since I knew how. (Although when I was younger I also included illustrations that make no sense to anyone anymore.) I fell in love with drawing when I was in high school and taught myself Adobe Illustrator the summer before college. I love having the ability to come up with a story, write it, and illustrate it on my own because it gives me a freedom that I know a lot of other writers and illustrators are forced to give up. That being said, I do have story ideas that demand a certain type of illustrative style, and I’m not talented enough to fulfill exactly what I want. I am trying to teach myself, and I practice almost every day, but if the time comes to begin serious work on those stories and I don’t feel prepared to complete adequate illustrations, then I have no problem hiring a freelancer to help us out. 

S.A. Porcher's drawing process.

S.A. Porcher’s drawing process.

As for the publisher: AO Books goes through Amazon’s CreateSpace. We purchase our own ISBNs and barcodes and put them on the covers and then upload all of our files onto our CreateSpace platform. Eventually we would love to publish our own books in-house, but that’s something that we’ll have to address as we grow.

Q. How do you decide what charities to contribute to? 

S.P. All three of the charities we support now have come to us differently. We did research to find an organization that made sense for our ABC book, and First Book was a perfect fit. HALO Animal Rescue was chosen because Ellen DeGeneres mentions it on her show occasionally, and she’s a huge inspiration to me. The most recent charity we chose was the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and we chose that to go along with the book called The Boy Who Played With Stars (which was just launched). I came up with the idea for that book in a (dreadfully boring) English course. I was doodling stars and thinking that everyone should be able to do what they want to do in life, even if it seems crazy. A boy who literally goes into the sky to play with the stars is a bit far-fetched, but the idiom is very common. Shoot for the stars, and dream big. Chris and I have both known people who participate in Make-A-Wish, so it seemed like a no-brainer for that book. Of course, we also accept suggestions!

Q. What books are currently available and how can they be purchased? 

S.P. All three books can be purchased at Amazon.com.

Links:

The Aviator Owls Learn Their ABCs: http://www.amazon.com/Aviator-Owls-Learn-Their-ABCs/dp/0988636824/ref=sr_1_13?ie=UTF8&qid=1401761201&sr=8-13&keywords=s.+a.+porcher

The Boy Who Played With Stars: http://www.amazon.com/The-Boy-Who-Played-Stars/dp/0988636832/ref=sr_1_10?ie=UTF8&qid=1401761181&sr=8-10&keywords=s.+a.+porcher

My Dragon Humphrey: http://www.amazon.com/My-Dragon-Humphrey-S-Porcher/dp/0988636808/ref=sr_1_12?ie=UTF8&qid=1401761201&sr=8-12&keywords=s.+a.+porcher

Q. Do you have other items available for purchase as well? 

S.P. We currently offer free printable activities, which we upload to our website two times a week (Mondays and Thursdays). Those can be accessed here: http://blog.aviatorowl.com/activities/all/. 

We also have a very small Zazzle storefront. It used to be much larger but after our trademark was approved, we took everything down and slowly we are uploading new designs with the trademark. There you can purchase clothing, posters, iPhone cases, etc. Eventually we’d love to expand to stuffed animals and educational toys, but for now we’re more focused on the books and expanding those into interactive online pages, even if they are just seasonal. For example, this past Christmas we set up a site where kids could write a letter to Santa.

A Christmas project at AO Books.

Q. As a full-time student, how do you juggle your academic life and the responsibilities involved in running Aviator Owl Books? 

S.P. Very carefully, and sometimes not well! (There are a lot of sleepless nights involved.) My three majors are Industrial Design (aka Product Design), English, and Creative Writing, and my two minors are Entrepreneurship and Psychology. Every day at school I take classes that are directly applicable to AO Books, so that helps keep me motivated to learn new things, which in turn helps keep my grades up. On the flip side, AO Books benefits from what I learn. Of course, there is the occasional class that bores me to death and those are the classes in which you can find me at the very back doodling, drafting, editing, or anything else AO Books needs done. 

I often have people tell me that I’ve “bitten off more than I can chew”, or whatnot, but I think part of keeping everything from spinning into chaos is keeping the right perspective. I keep in mind that I’m very lucky to be in school, which is something some students take for granted. I know a lot of college students are notorious for procrastinating, but my version of procrastinating is working on Aviator Owl because that’s what I love. I love coming home to sketch and think about otherwise impossible things (like a boy who plays in the night sky). I know exactly what I want to do and really college is just teaching me how to do it.

Q. Where can people go to find more information about Aviator Owl Books? 

S.P. Our main website can be found at blog.aviatorowl.com. At http://www.zazzle.com/aviatorowl we have some products (and we upload new designs as we create them). And of course people are free to email me at saporcher050@gmail.com, or the company at aviatorowl@gmail.com!


2 Comments on Aviator Owl Books: Enlightening Children, Raising Awareness, Supporting Great Causes, last added: 6/8/2014
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8. The Sunshine Award

I was surprised and pleased to be nominated for the Sunshine Award by Lauri Meyers over at Lauri’s Stories. She is so sweet to think of me and I’m so glad that Frog on a Blog has brought some sunshine into her life. Incidentally, Sunshine was the name of my most favorite stuffed toy growing up. He’s a dog in overalls with a matching denim cap and he has bright orange eyes. I still have him!

As I understand it, in order to earn the Sunshine Award, I have to share ten interesting things about myself and then nominate some other deserving bloggers. I’m happy to share, but I’ll let you be the judge as to how interesting my little blurbs are. So here goes-

  1. When I was a kid, I couldn’t say aquamarine, so I called the color aquadarium.
  2. Also when I was a kid, I waited until everyone left the dinner table and then I stuck my peas down the heating vent. My mother didn’t find out until years later. I still hate yucky peas!
  3. I’m probably the oldest female fan of the Japanese anime series Naruto. Believe it!
  4. I worked as a stable hand and groom on a horse farm when I was in my mid-twenties.
  5. My grandmother, Harriet Whipple, was an awesome poet and was published many times in Ideals Magazine. They still occasionally print her poems.
  6. I was on a bowling team for ten years. Please don’t ask me if I was any good.
  7. I have a fraternal twin sister named Linda. She somehow managed to grow four inches taller than me.
  8. I run outside when I see sun and rain at the same time. There could be a rainbow!
  9. When I’m irritated, my word of choice is “meep”. My husband got me a t-shirt with “meep” on the front.
  10. Again when I was a kid, I used to snoop for Christmas presents in my parent’s bedroom closet. I was a good kid though, really.

Whoa, that was a lot of information! Okay, now it’s my turn to nominate some bloggers. To those of you I’ve nominated, if this isn’t your thing (or if you’ve already been nominated), no worries, I still want to recognize your excellent blogs here on the Frog:

Robin Newman at Robin Newman Books

Vicky Lorencen at Frog on a Dime

Sarah Harroff at An Awfully Big Adventure

Christie Wright Wild at Write Wild

Fiona Campbell at Book Bake Blog


7 Comments on The Sunshine Award, last added: 6/2/2014
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9. Parodies: The Power of Picture Books

32929  If someday someone writes a parody of your book, then you know that your book has power, staying power. It’s so well-known and so popular, that another author has decided to “borrow” and capitalize on your recognizable style, story, or theme to generate interest in his or her own book. 

There are many, many parodies of beloved and classic children’s books. Most are NOT for children. Often they poke fun at popular culture, mainstream America,  or some social issue that’s dominating the media. Sometimes they’re just for fun. Sometimes they’re a bit risqué. Sometimes they’re a tad offensive. And usually, they are not authorized. 

Pop Quiz: Which of the following are for children?

 

Answer: With the exception of Goodnight Goon, which is a “monstrously” clever picture book crawling with creepy creatures, none of the above are for children.

The 1947 classic, Goodnight Moon, is probably one of the most parodied picture books. Here are a few more “Goodnight” books: Goodnight Putter, Goodnight Keith Moon, and Goodnight Husband Goodnight Wife.

Other popular children’s picture books that have been parodied include Curious George, The Runaway Bunny, The Giving Tree, Pat the Bunny, and Where the Wild Things Are. Here’s just a sampling:

Furious Husband Mummy Tree

Whether you love them or hate them, parodies are proof-Picture Books Have Power!


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10. Arthur and the Elephant

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Title: Arthur and the Elephant

Author: Fiona Campbell

Illustrator: Laura Vann

Publisher/Year: Purple Poodle Press/2014

I am a big fan of elephant stories. Elephants are amazing creatures. With their huge size, large ears, long trunks, and wrinkly skin, it’s no wonder that kids are fascinated by them. So it just makes sense that kids would like stories about elephants too. And I know they will love Arthur and the Elephant. 

Author Fiona Campbell tells us the amusing story of a boy named Arthur who discovers an elephant sitting on his bed. His mother has rented out his room. She doesn’t know that Mr. Grey is an elephant, but Arthur does. He just needs to prove it. The rest of the story follows Arthur as he tries everything he can think of to expose the elephant beneath the bowler hat and funny glasses. 

I like artist Laura Vann’s large, full-page illustrations. They are both sweet and humorous and pair nicely with the text. I’m especially fond of the background images and textures she’s used to depict the walls in Arthur’s house. Very nice!  

Overall, Arthur and the Elephant is a fun, clever, endearing story with lovely illustrations and a satisfying ending. Share a copy of this book with your kids today!


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11. Check Out Alan Sitomer’s Photo Contest!

I’m happy to share an exciting and super-fun new contest offered by the amazing, successful, award-winning teacher and author, Alan Sitomer! Alan created his fabulous photo contest to celebrate his brand new picture book, Daddy’s Zigzagging Bedtime Story, which was recently praised in USA Today as a perfect pick for Father’s Day. It sounds like it’s following in the footsteps of his other wonderful “Daddy” book, Daddies Do It Different. Both books are illustrated by the talented Abby Carter. 

Contest participants must submit a photo of what bedtime reading looks like in their home. You can enter to win a library of books from the Disney Book Group or a copy of one of Alan’s books.  Click Here To Enter. Good luck!


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12. Interview Alert: Lori Nichols

I am incredibly pleased to present this awesome interview with the author and illustrator of Maple, Lori Nichols. After I requested the interview, and she accepted, I was super eager to read her responses to my questions. She did not disappoint! Lori’s answers are detailed, personal, and interesting, with a sprinkling of humor mixed in. You are going to love this interview!

Q. Can you tell us a little about your process from start to finish when you created Maple?

L.N. The process of creating Maple was organic. To start, I’d have to go back about 45 years. I have always loved trees. We had a beautiful Maple tree in our yard growing up, and I played under it all the time. This is one of my favorite, and earliest, memories from my childhood. I remember the moss on the trunk, digging for worms, big black ants that I’d let crawl on my arms and legs, the knobby feel of the bark. Most importantly though, I remember the canopy of the tree. It truly was magic for me to sit under my tree and look up at the sky between the leaves.

When I had my own daughters, my husband and I planted a tree for each one. They were actually oak tree saplings (my husband’s favorite tree) from the yard where he grew up in West Virginia. We watched our children and their trees grow together. So began the story for what is now Maple. But in a strange way I didn’t set out to write this story. It came organically from a sketch here, a drawing there, and from watching my children play outside.

One day in 2010 my daughter Zoe was eating grapes. She came into my studio and held up the bare grape stem and said “Look Mom, a tree.” The grape stem did look like a tree, so Zoe and I scanned the grape stem into the computer and scanned some Japanese Maple leaves from the tree in our yard and began doing fun things in Photoshop. I then plopped a small pencil drawing of a little girl in with our tree creations and wrote “Maple loved her name.” This was another “growth ring” in Maple’s story.Grapes2

I showed the drawing to my agent and she encouraged me to work it into a story. This process started in July and took a few months. Then in November we were ready to pitch it, and Nancy Paulsen Books picked it up. Nancy Paulsen, Cecilia Yung and Marikka Tamura directed me over the next year on changes that would help the story. It then took another year for the book to be printed and  marketed. The rest is history!

 

 

 

 

 

Q. What are the pros and cons when it comes to illustrating your own book?

L.N. Pros: It’s completely driven by my imagination.
Cons: It’s completely driven by my imagination.

Q. What was your experience like working with the editors at Nancy Paulsen Books?

L.N. Nancy Paulsen is lovely and incredibly gentle in her approach with me. She understands and respects the creative process and seems to know just the right amount of direction to give. Not giving me too much or too little direction allows me to still take ownership of the book. I feel incredibly lucky that this was my debut picture book and that I had such a wonderful mentor. I also have a sticky note on my computer that says “Listen to your voice, I trust it.” Cecilia Yung, one of my art directors on Maple, said this to me and I try to take this advice when I start doubting myself.

Q. Can you tell aspiring children’s book authors and illustrators what it’s like to work with a literary agent?

L.N. My literary agent rocks! I think she’s an alien from another planet though, because I have no idea when (if ever) she sleeps. Her name is Joanna Volpe of New Leaf Literary, and we started working together about four years ago when she saw my portfolio at a NY SCBWI conference. She contacted me after the conference asking if I needed representation. Joanna has reminded me of my own voice and vision, and has encouraged me in so many ways. She gives me great feedback on my manuscripts and always provides me with the direction I need to elevate my work to the next level. I came to the picture book business by way of illustration and page design so I felt vulnerable when it came to telling my stories with words. She believed in me. Plus, there’s no question that’s too mundane or insignificant for her. She approaches all my questions with respect and even though she’s extremely busy she’ll get back with me at the drop of a hat. Yep, she’s an alien from another planet.

Q. What authors or illustrators have been inspirations to you?

L.N. OK, this is a question that might take a lot of time to answer. I’ll try to narrow it down. Here is the short list: Tomie dePaola, Roger Duvoisin, Mary Blair, Kevin Henkes, Olof and Lena Landstrom (my all-time favorite illustrator/writer team EVER!), William Steig, Barbara Cooney (love!), Maurice Sendak, Sandra Boynton, David Ezra Stein, and my three girls.

Q. Why do you believe picture books are important?

L.N. I love this question because it’s something I feel very passionate about. As a new mother, I began reading to my daughter when she was very, very young. Days home from the hospital we would snuggle up to one another and I would read to her for as long as she’d let me. She seemed to crave my voice and even though she was too little to focus on the pages, she loved this time (and so did I). It became a long love of reading for her, and then for my other two daughters. But first, it was a safe, warm, soft, happy place to hear their mother’s (or father’s voice). For me it was a beautiful bonding experience. I also think picture books are journeys for children, journeys where a child can explore a world in a safe environment…on the lap of a caregiver.

Q. What exciting projects are you working on right now?

L.N. I’m currently working on some companion books to Maple that I’m really excited about (see next question). Also, I’ve just finished illustrating the wonderfully hilarious book This Orq. (He Cave Boy.) by the talented author David Elliott (Boyds Mills Press, September 2014).

Q. What does the future hold for Maple and her little sister Willow?

L.N. I have a companion book to Maple titled Maple and Willow Together coming out November 2014. I am also working on a third companion book with a tentative publish date of September 2015.

Q. Where can fans go to learn more about you and your work?

L.N. http://www.lorinichols.com, Lori Nichols on Facebook, Maple on Facebook, lorinicholsbook on Instagram, @lorinicholsbook on Twitter

Q. Any closing thoughts for fans?

L.N. Thanks for taking the time to read this and for loving Maple (and Willow) as much as I do.


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13. Children’s Classics on DVD

Not too long ago, while at the library, I came across the DVD Guess How Much I Love You (The Adventures of Little Nutbrown Hare): Friendship Adventures (2011).

I instantly thought that I should watch it and see how it compares to the classic book written by Sam McBratney and illustrated by Anita Jeram.

So I checked out the DVD along with the book Guess How Much I Love You (1994) and another, more recent title, The Adventures of Little Nutbrown Hare (2012). I needed to refamiliarize myself with the story and the characters.

The DVD does a nice job bringing the beloved Little Nutbrown Hare, his father Big Nutbrown Hare, and his animal friends to life, in seven short chapters. It’s skillfully animated and beaming with beautiful color. I love the flowers that are all over the meadow and the sweetness of the characters.

The stories are about friendship, sharing, caring, honesty, feelings, promises, forgiveness, and doing what’s right. It’s perfect for the littlest viewers, just like the books are perfect for the youngest readers. Recently, I discovered that there are other books and other DVDs starring Little Nutbrown Hare and his friends. So if you are looking for a good, sweet series for your young child, I highly recommend this one!

This comparison got me thinking about other classic children’s stories that have appeared on DVD, or have been made into movies or TV series. I’m sure there are quite a few. If you know of any, especially those of you who have kids, please share!

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14. Pelican Bill – A Sickeningly Good Yarn!

Kids love stories about pirates. Kids also love to laugh. What’s funnier than a pirate who gets seasick? Wouldn’t your child want to read a story like that? That is exactly what children’s author Fran Sivers and illustrator Leilani Coughlan have created in their book Pelican Bill. But they need our help. They’ve begun a KickStarter campaign in order to raise the necessary funds they need to bring Pelican Bill and his pirate crew to life in a children’s picture book. Please go to their KickStarter page, https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1163027881/pelican-bill-a-sickeningly-good-yarn, watch the short video clip, read about the project (you can even read the entire rollicking, rhyming, jolly good story), and consider supporting their campaign. If you cannot help financially, at least spread the word about this really great cause. I’m sure Fran and Leilani will appreciate any assistance you can give.


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15. Incredible Covers: Peek-A-Boo Bunny by Holly Surplice

Bow WOW! That's an INCREDIBLE COVER!

Bow WOW! That’s an INCREDIBLE COVER!

We’ve all heard the old adage “don’t judge a book by its cover”, and that’s good advice, but there’s no denying that it is often the cover that grabs our attention first. That’s why it’s important to have a great cover and nowhere in the publishing industry is this more true than in the realm of picture books. The cover represents the book and it needs to say, “Hey, look at me.” The cover makes a promise to the reader: Inside you will find something magical.

 

 

Peek a Boo Bunny


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16. Here Comes the Easter Cat

Here Comes the Easter Cat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Title: Here Comes the Easter Cat

Author: Deborah Underwood

Illustrator: Claudia Rueda

Publisher/Year: Dial Books/2014

Summary: When Cat tries to replace the Easter Bunny, he soon learns that the job is much harder than he expected-and does not allow time for naps.

 

I am getting my review of Here Comes the Easter Cat in just in time, since Easter is right around the corner. If you’re looking for an Easter picture book that’s clever, unique, and elicits smiles with every new page, then this is the book for you.

Author Deborah Underwood manages, in her delightful story, to create an interactivity between the reader and the starring character Cat, all without buttons to push, or moving parts, or batteries. Of course, all books should trigger this kind of connection for the reader, but Deborah takes this concept one step further.

Cat and Reader speak directly to one another. The first line reads, “What’s wrong, Cat? You look grumpy.” In response, Cat holds up a picture of the Easter Bunny. Then the reader says, “The Easter Bunny? What about him?” Then Cat holds up a picture of hearts and makes an “I don’t get why everyone loves him so much” kind of face. So we get a back and forth between Cat and Reader, a conversation really. The best parts are the expressions on Cat’s face, a new one on every page. Illustrator Claudia Rueda does an excellent job portraying Cat’s thoughts, emotions, and moods through his expressions. Kids will love it!

The book is also unusual in that the cover is smaller than the typical picture book and there are more pages than in the typical 32-page picture book. Here Comes the Easter Cat would make a great gift for a child.  It would fit perfectly into an Easter basket. Aha!

 


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17. Friendly Day

Title: Friendly Day

Author: Mij Kelly

Illustrator: Charles Fuge

Publisher/Year: Barron’s/2013

Love it! That was my first thought after reading Friendly Day, a colorful, rhyming picture book that will make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I really like books that are happy and make me smile. Friendly Day is all about friendliness…and kindness. I’ve discovered that kindness is a theme I often incorporate into my own writing. I believe children can never read enough books about treating others with kindness, respect, and, of course, friendliness. Still, as all the experts say, you don’t want to preach in a picture book, you want to teach kids in a way that doesn’t feel like teaching, but rather entertains. And Friendly Day does just that with its joyous, frolicking rhyme that rolls off the tongue, and bold, bright, super-fun illustrations of animals interacting with one another. I’ve just got to share the wonderful opening verse:

When Cat caught Mouse, outside his house,

courageous Mouse cried, “Hey!

Put down that plate and see the date.

It’s Friendly Day today

-a day for sharing, a day for caring,

when everyone is nice,

when Frog reads Snail a fairy tale

and cats do NOT eat mice.”

 

This book makes me wish there really was a Friendly Day!

But maybe every day can be Friendly Day…that’s even better. :)


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18. Incredible Covers: Nest by Jorey Hurley

Bow WOW! That's an INCREDIBLE COVER!

Bow WOW! That’s an INCREDIBLE COVER!

[Brand New Feature: Incredible Covers] We’ve all heard the old adage “don’t judge a book by its cover”, and that’s good advice, but there’s no denying that it is often the cover that grabs our attention first. That’s why it’s important to have a great cover and nowhere in the publishing industry is this more true than in the realm of picture books. The cover represents the book and it needs to say, “Hey, look at me.” The cover makes a promise to the reader: Inside you will find something magical.

So, what is it about a cover that grabs your attention? Is it the illustration? Is it the use of color? Is it the overall design? Maybe it’s all of those elements and more.

I’m not an illustrator, but I know what I like, and I’ll do my best to explain why I feel a cover is worthy of being featured in the Incredible Covers spotlight. Feel free to leave a comment telling me why you think this cover is incredible.


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19. PB 14:14 Day Thirteen/Big Bad Bunny and Day Twelve/Randy Riley’s Really Big Hit

  

Title: Big Bad Bunny

Author: Franny Billingsley

Illustrator: G. Brian Karas

Publisher: Atheneum Books

Year: 2008

Word Count: Approx. 400

Summary: When Baby Boo-Boo, a mouse dressed in a bunny suit, becomes lost in the forest, her mother follows the sound of her cries to locate her.

First, let me apologize for not getting a PB 14:14 blog challenge post completed for yesterday, day twelve. I was suffering from a migraine and needed to rest. I’m going to try to make up for it today, day thirteen, by posting two picture book analyses.

I’m going to start with Big Bad Bunny and the picture book element Pacing. I like how this book goes back and forth between Big Bad Bunny (aka Baby Boo-Boo) and Mama Mouse.

The story begins, “Big Bad Bunny has long sharp claws.” (page turn)

Scritch! Scritch! Scritch! (some onomatopoeia, then a page turn)

Then the focus shifts from Big Bad Bunny to Mama Mouse.

“But over in the Mouse House, everything is quiet. It’s naptime, and Mama Mouse tucks her babies into bed.” (page turn)

Then we shift back to Big Bad Bunny. On the left side of the two-page spread:

“Big Bad Bunny has pointy yellow teeth.”

Chomp! Chomp! Chomp! (more onomatopoeia)

On the right side of the spread, back to Mama Mouse:

“Mama Mouse kisses Little Tippy.”

We turn the page and it’s back to Big Bad Bunny on the left side of the spread, and then back to Mama Mouse on the right side of the spread. And so it continues through two more page turns, until Mama Mouse realizes that Baby Boo-Boo is missing and sets off to find her.

Then, Mama Mouse appears on the left side of the spread and Big Bad Bunny appears on the right. That pace continues through three page turns until Mama Mouse finds her Baby Boo-Boo who just happens to be Big Bad Bunny. Then the two characters appear together through the ten remaining pages as they retrace their steps back to the Mouse House.

It is difficult to explain Pacing through a blog post, so I hope what I wrote makes sense. Big Bad Bunny is a very good example of Pacing in a picture book, so I definitely recommend picking up a copy to study. The book is also filled with onomatopoeia:

Scritch

Chomp

Ka-splosh

Splat

Eek

Crash

And several more.

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Title: Randy Riley’s Really Big Hit

Author/Illustrator: Chris Van Dusen

Publisher: Candlewick Press

Year: 2012

Word Count: Approx. 700

Summary: Randy Riley, a science genius who loves baseball but is not very good at it, needs to use both his interests to save his town from a giant fireball that is heading their way.

Is there room for another example of spectacular Rhyme? I hope so because Chris Van Dusen is a master rhymer. He was able to write a 700-word picture book entirely in Rhyme. And it’s so good! It’s a real pleasure to read. Check out these stanzas from the beginning, middle, and end of the book:

(Near the beginning)

He studied all the planets.

He memorized their tilt.

He researched how the thrusters

on the rocket ships were built.

He knew the constellations

and the light-years to the stars.

And wouldn’t it be great, he thought,

to ride a bike on Mars?

(In the middle)

The robot needed power,

and Randy knew precisely

that ninety-seven batteries

would energize it nicely.

(Near the end)

Randy’s eye was on the ball.

No room for error now.

Three-two-one and FLIP THE SWITCH!

A SWOOSH and then…

KA-POW!!

Here are some of the rhyming pairs:

mound/pound

throw/go

by/sigh

ball/all

face/space

room/gloom

bed/instead

sky/eye

clear/near

path/math

frown/town

dad/bad

red/bed

through/do

resolution/solution

fun/done

said/red

moon/noon

grew/do

reveal/steel

complete/street

town/down

mill/hill

be/three

stance/trance

done/run

began/man

grin/in

day/play

ball/all

I’d love to give you more stanzas, but I really want you to read this book for yourself. You won’t be disappointed!


6 Comments on PB 14:14 Day Thirteen/Big Bad Bunny and Day Twelve/Randy Riley’s Really Big Hit, last added: 2/28/2014
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20. PB 14:14 Day Fourteen/Joone

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Title: Joone

Author/Illustrator: Emily Kate Moon

Publisher: Dial Books

Year: 2013

Word Count: Approx. 325

Summary: Five-year-old Joone, who likes ice cream sandwiches and the colors orange and purple, lives in a yurt with her grandfather and pet turtle, Dr. Chin.

The book Joone is all about Character. So that’s the picture book element I’m going to discuss on the fourteenth and final day of Christie Wright Wild’s PB 14:14 blog challenge. It’s been a lot of fun reading, studying, and sharing fourteen picture books in fourteen days, and I sincerely hope Christie offers the challenge to us again next year.

Now on to the analysis of Joone. Right away, we get to know our title character Joone, who is telling us her story. Look at page one above. It reads, “My name is Joone. Some people spell it with a U. I spell it with a smiley face.” Through the text, we can already tell that Joone has a “happy”, and perhaps precocious, personality. Also, look at the turtle on her head. It’s another clue to her personality. This proves that Character can be shown through illustrations.

Throughout the story, Joone tells us about her life with her grandfather and her pet turtle, Dr. Chin. Her personality is constantly shown through her words and actions.

“Grandpa says it’s important to do things for other people. So, today, I’m organizing his books in rainbow order…”

I love that line and this one:

“Dr. Chin is my turtle. I got him last year when I was little.”

The interaction between Joone and her grandfather is both sweet and humorous:

She taught him how to make a daisy crown to wear on his head.

Sometimes she helps him fix the house. Sometimes she doesn’t.

She’s always busy doing something, to which Grandpa says, “Joone, I don’t know where you find the energy.”

To which Joone replies, “Grandpa, I don’t know either!”

Joone says that if she is good, she gets dessert. And if Grandpa is good, she reads him two bedtime stories.

Character really shines through in this story about a happy little girl and her loving grandfather.


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21. PB 14:14 Day Eleven/I Hate Picture Books

  

Title: I Hate Picture Books!

Author/Illustrator: Timothy Young

Publisher: Schiffer Publishing

Year: 2013

Word Count: Approx. 420

This is day eleven out of fourteen in Christie Wright Wild’s PB 14:14 blog challenge. I’m having a ball reading, studying, and sharing all of these wonderful picture books with PB 14:14 participants and Frog on a Blog followers.

When I first came across this book online, I knew I had to read it. I  mean, come on, look at that title: I Hate Picture Books! As a picture book lover, I needed to satisfy my curiosity about a book with such a, well, with such an extreme title. I couldn’t fathom how anyone could hate picture books. Well, my library didn’t own a copy, so I asked Miss Jenny, the children’s librarian, if she would please purchase a copy, and she did. Now that I’ve read it (and love it, by the way), I want to share it.

I’ve chosen the picture book element Conflict to share today.

Right away, one page one, the story opens with Conflict. Max, the young star of the book says, “I hate picture books!” He goes on to say that he is throwing them all away because, “All they do is get me in trouble.”

After his mother read him a book about a kid with a purple crayon, he got in trouble for drawing on the wall.

When he was sent to his room without dinner, he wished a forest would grow and a boat would come take him away, but he was disappointed when NOTHING happened.

Things got worse when he found some green ham in the refrigerator and he ate it, and then he threw up. “I’d like to see them put that in a picture book!” (I love that line!)

Then he tells us about a book that has a baby bird in it that can’t find its mother. It made him cry so, “It was the first one I threw away.”

Here we come to the turning point in the story where Max hesitates, “Wait…I do love that book.”

Then he rushes to find it in the box full of picture books that he was going to throw away. And of course, he pulls out one book after another. He can’t throw any of them away. He loves them all.

The story ends with Max lying on the floor reading, and he’s surrounded by all of his glorious picture books.

I love, love, love, this book! It has humor. It has tons of references to beloved picture books. It has illustrations of many, many well-known picture book covers. And best of all, it has Picture Book Love. Yay!

You’ve gotta read this book!


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22. PB 14:14 Day Ten/Cub’s Big World

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Title: Cub’s Big World

Author: Sarah Thomson

Illustrator: Joe Cepeda

Publisher: Harcourt Children’s Books

Year: 2013

Word Count: Approx. 330

For day ten of Christie Wright Wild’s PB 14:14 blog challenge, I will examine the element Theme. The themes presented in Cub’s Big World are curiosity, courage, and the comfort of home.

The story starts out telling us that Cub knew all about the world.

It was smooth and white and cool. Inside the world were Mom and Cub. And that was all.

Cub was happy inside this world that she knew. She felt safe and comfortable in the den with her mother, but things were about to get interesting.

Mom left the den and Cub “scrambled outside after her”. Cub had never seen the blue sky before or felt the cold wind. She was very curious, so she set off to explore.

Cub found a hill. Step by step by step, she went up and up and up. At the top she stopped and stared. The world was big, big, big!

Cub played in the snow for a while until she realized that Mom was nowhere to be seen. So after startling a raven, an ermine (short-tailed weasel), and a seal, because she thought they were Mom, she mustered up some courage and climbed another hill.

Cub was brave. She found another hill. Step by step by step, she went up and up and up. From here, she thought, I will see Mom.

Finally, Cub does find Mom. Or did Mom find Cub?

“Dear Cub,” said Mom. “The world is big. I’ll be close by till you’re big, too.”

And finally, on the last page, we come around full-circle to the comfort of home.

Mom’s fur was soft. Her voice was sweet. Her heart beat thump, thump, thump. “Home,” whispered Cub.

The illustrations in Cub’s Big World (done in oils and acrylics), are superb and complement the text perfectly. I especially like the picture of Cub rolling down the hill. This book is worth a look!


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23. PB 14:14 Day Nine/Moonlight

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Title: Moonlight

Author: Helen Griffith

Illustrator: Laura Dronzek

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Year: 2012

Word Count: Approx. 100

Summary: One cloudy night, after Rabbit goes into his burrow to sleep, the moon comes out, covering the countryside like butter and awakening Rabbit to come out and dance.

Moonlight is a beautiful rhyming picture book, but today I want to focus on the element of Word Play for my PB 14:14 blog challenge post. Moonlight is the perfect bedtime book with its dreamy illustrations and sweet, lyrical text. Here’s the opening line:

Rabbit hides in shadow

under cloudy skies

waiting for the moonlight

blinking sleepy eyes…

Isn’t that lovely?

Word Play is incorporated into the book through the use of Simile and Personification. Check out this exquisite line (my favorite in the whole book), in which the moonlight is compared to butter (Simile):

Moonlight slides like butter

skims through outer space

skids past stars and comets

leaves a butter trace…

We also get descriptive words that describe the moonlight’s actions as it makes its way to Rabbits burrow. These words make it seem like the moonlight is another character in the story (Personification):

slides (like butter)

skims (through outer space)

skids (past star and comets)

skips (along the mountainside)

sucks (at twigs and branches)

butters

skitters

slips

seeps

spatters

shakes

Moonlight is a stunning book and I highly recommend picking up a copy for yourself. Maybe you will find other elements of Word Play that I missed.


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24. PB 14:14 Day Eight/Love Monster

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Title: Love Monster

Author/Illustrator: Rachel Bright

Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux

Year: 2012

Word Count: 235

All this talk of monster stories has motivated me to choose a monster book for day eight of Christie Wright Wild’s PB 14:14 blog challenge, in which participants read, study, and share 14 picture books in 14 days.

The focus of this post will be on the important picture book element Plot. I wasn’t sure how to break down the plot of Love Monster, so I mozied on over to Christie’s blog, Write Wild, to see how she does it. Christie reminds us that there are five main parts to Plot: exposition, rising action (and conflict), climax, falling action, and resolution. And that Plot, Character, and Conflict all work together. So here’s my Plot analysis of Love Monster.

Exposition: Monster is funny-looking. He lives in a world of cute, fluffy things that everyone loves. No one loves Monster. Monster sets off to look for love.

Rising Action (and Conflict): Monster wanted to be loved, but no one loved him because he wasn’t cute and fluffy, so he set off to find someone who would love him just the way he is. “He looked high. He looked low. He looked middle-ish.” (I love that last line!) Then he thought he found what he was looking for, but he was wrong.

Climax: Things get worse. Monster gets caught in the rain. Then it gets dark outside, and scary.

Falling Action: Monster has lost all of his “oomph” and decides to give up and go home. So he waits at the bus stop for the bus.

Resolution: Monster meets a monster who is just like him. It’s the bus driver. And it’s love at first sight. “You see, sometimes, when you least expect it…love finds you.”

Even though Monster is described as “funny-looking” and “a-bit-googly-eyed”, I think he is absolutely adorable and definitely lovable. He has personality that shows, not only in the fantastic illustrations, but also through his actions. The reader might feel sorry for him because nobody loves him, but Monster is not the “moping-around sort”. Therefore, he set off in search of love.

Here are a few more interesting bits about Love Monster:

1. The author uses “direct address”, that is, the author speaks directly to the reader. On at least three separate occasions, the author used some form of the word “you” to address the reader:

  • “I think you’ll agree,…”
  • “You know, cute, fluffy things.”
  • “You see,…”

2. There are hearts scattered throughout the book, even inside letters. Nice touch!

3. The illustrations were created in a very unique way. Here’s what it says on the back jacket flap: “Love Monster was illustrated with a technique called solar etching, which uses ultraviolet light to create printing plates. So the monster in this book is , quite literally, made of sunshine.” Love it!

 


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25. PB 14:14 Day Seven/Maya Was Grumpy

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Title: Maya Was Grumpy

Author/Illustrator: Courtney Pippin-Mathur

Publisher: Flashlight Press

Year: 2013

Word Count: Approx. 300

Character is the picture book element of the day for Christie Wright Wild’s PB 14:14 blog challenge. Maya, the star of Maya Was Grumpy, radiates character! The author, Courtney Pippin-Mathur, did an excellent  job bringing this little girl to life through text and illustrations.

The first line simply reads, “Maya was grumpy.” The accompanying illustration shows a young girl with big, wild hair and a scowl on her face. So already, on page one, we get a strong sense of Character.

The text on page two strengthens Character even more through the use of descriptive words:

She didn’t know why she was grumpy.

She was just in a crispy, cranky, grumpy, grouchy mood.

The words I put in bold type above were printed in bold in the book, along with several other descriptive words used in the story, such as:

grouch

bad mood

grumped

snarled

glumped

clumped

grumbled

thumped

growled

grumpy

scowled

grouched

rolled (her eyes)

When her very patient grandmother manages to change Maya’s mood and begins to literally turn her frown upside-down about 2/3 of the way through the book, we see a change also in the descriptive words:

tingle

tickled

wiggle

giggle

hug

The story is awesome! I would tell you more details, but I really want you to read it. One thing I will tell you about though, because it is my absolute favorite part of the book, and probably what I would consider the strongest aspect of the book to show Character, is Maya’s hair. Her hair gives her character because her hair changes with her mood. It almost has a life of its own. It starts off big and wild, but as her mood gets worse, it gets even bigger and wilder.  Then later, as her mood improves, it begins to shrink and by the end of the story, we see a sweet, happy little girl with two curly ponytails.

We definitely get to know Maya and her personality through the wonderful text and super-colorful, super-amazing, full-page illustrations in Maya Was Grumpy!


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