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One thing that has become abundantly clear to me during our months of living out of suitcases is how amazingly adaptable we are. After all, people need the same things - a place to eat, sleep, poop and bathe. That's it. How those needs are accomplished is where things get different. But I've discovered that when you stop worrying about what your silverware looks like, you realize that if you have a fork, a spoon and a decently sharp knife, you're good. Most beds are perfectly comfortable when you're exhausted. (And you don't notice most nighttime noises or lights for the same reason.)
Here's an example... Stan is the cook in our family. Not only does he enjoy it, he's downright good at it. But the kitchens since we left Atlanta have been challenging. In Roanoke, we had a dorm-room-style kitchen. In France, we had a kitchen the size of a large closet with steep ceilings and a laundry drying rack in the center (laundry will be its own post). Here in our short-term flat, we have a nice, but small, galley kitchen.
Add to that, grocery shopping in Europe is downright different. There are grocery stores everywhere, but they're small set-ups where you buy the basics (amazingly, many have plenty of gluten free options). They proudly display their produce outside as enticements to draw you in.
Inside, you're most likely to find what you need, but there won't be many choices. You know that overwhelming aisle of various toilet paper brands you're used to? I used to have melt-downs trying to decide if I need soft or two-ply or recycled or, or... Well, not here. They offer one kind, that's it. In France, it happened to be pink. And it was fine.
I've actually been thinking about that a lot. Pardon the toilet paper analogy, but it works. In America, we have the wonderful option of choices. So many choices!
But maybe that's not always such a great thing. I have wasted so much brain time on what type of toilet paper to buy. I just don't care! And yet, the American commercial engine used commercials, ads, billboards, packaging, etc. to force me to care about the silliest minutia - which brand, style, 2-ply, 3-ply. After all, when several yards of grocery store floor space and shelves upon shelves are dedicated to the various papers you use for the most base purpose, it must be important - right? Hm.
Anyhow, you get the picture. Not having all those choices over mundane products has freed my brain to think about the choices I do
care about. Like, which wine or cheese to buy.
Gruyere from an Italian vendor in Grassmarket - displayed proudly in our little short-term let kitchen, which also has a steep ceiling.
If you want specialty items, you have to remember which stores carry what. And while there are some amazing produce stands and specialty stores like the boulangerie, fish monger, butcher, etc., the most fun shopping options are the weekend farmers markets. Here was the market in Blois:
With bubbles from the adjacent toy store!
It's where people gather, catch up with friends, and enjoy a festival atmosphere for a day. Edinburgh has them too (more pictures soon). Between Saturday and Sunday you can find farmer's markets at Castle Terrace (the foot of the castle where J.K. Rowling's husband reportedly shops), the Grassmarket, and Broughton. On Sunday, you can find them in Stockbridge and other areas. Stockbridge and Broughton will be our closest ones.
So rather than climb into a hot car, fight traffic, and load up with everything you might need for the apocalypse, here, you walk to a nearby specialty shop, farmers market, or small grocery store (with your own bags - they charge for them here), and you see what looks good for the next day or two.
Last weekend, we headed to a few of the Saturday farmers markets and purchased amazingly fresh produce. Most had been grown, butchered, fermented, or aged nearby. Stan made an amazing soup with all of it in this tiny kitchen. More proof that he can create miracles in any
kitchen. But truly, it's all he needed.
Here's a little draw tip for you:
When you are keeping an art journal, you don't need to fill each page with a perfect drawing. You may not have time to fill a whole page in one go. And hey, telling yourself that the completely blank page should be filled with a fantastic piece of art seems high pitched and isn't very motivating if you just feel like putting pen on paper.
So that's what you do: let the ink flow and enjoy your pen lines on the paper. Choose to draw details of your day. If you do a few of them throughout the day or the week, your double page will be filled in the end.
By: Lisa Firke,
I’m adding my favorite posts from my blog archives. For tech-nerdy reasons this has to be done...
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A hat tip to the fictitious island of St. Honoré (because I just finished reading A Caribbean Mystery
Alessandra Balzer and Donna Bray formed their imprint in 2008 after working together for twelve years at Hyperion Books for Children. During that time, they found that they really relied on each other as sounding boards for everything from manuscripts to marketing materials. When the time came for them to make a change, they figured, why not make their partnership official and create an imprint? B+B is a continuation of their collaborative way of working that has been going on for…well, a pretty long time, if you do the math! (Fun fact: It’s their second round at HarperCollins—they both worked there before Hyperion.)
How has the publishing industry changed since you formed B+B?
The children’s industry has definitely become more frontlist-focused, more like the adult industry. Children’s books also have a higher profile than they did years ago, which means a lot more money all around—more revenue, higher advances, bigger stakes. But with that comes more pressure on authors and publishers—and sometimes less patience for a book to build an audience over time.
That said, many things remain true: indie booksellers and librarians are still key tastemakers who can make a book happen; backlist is still incredibly important to our bottom line; and a small book can hit big. And most importantly: Authors and illustrators are the backbone of the business.
Your imprint is unique in that your list is made up of picture books, middle grade, and young adult. How did that evolve?
Every imprint is defined by its editors’ tastes and interests, and we have always edited in these categories, so it seemed natural that we continue to do so in the imprint. It keeps our jobs interesting to be able to work on such varied books on a day-to-day basis.
What reels you in when you read a manuscript that makes you say "This has to be a B+B book"?
We try to be very rigorous about what we acquire at B+B. Generally, though, we are drawn in by an original and arresting narrative voice, as well as a compelling story that really seems to be adding to the conversation. It’s a very personal, subjective process!
What’s your editorial process once you acquire a manuscript?
Our editorial process begins even before we acquire a manuscript, at the most important meeting of our week: the B+B team meeting. This is where the incubation process of a manuscript starts. We circulate among our group of six any project we’re seriously considering, and ideally we read all or most of each one. At the meeting, we discuss very frankly our thoughts on the manuscripts. It’s a place to give and get great nuts-and-bolts editorial comments, thoughts on comps in the market and positioning, advice on advance level, packaging, illustrators…This meeting is where the blueprint of the book is sketched out.
As for the editorial process with the author: although each editor on our team has a slightly different process, our goal is always the same: to help the author realize his or her vision. We ask a lot of questions and make suggestions that we hope will launch a collaborative discussion, a dialogue that keeps going right through the galley stage.
What are you seeing as trends in publishing?
One recent trend we’re happy about is diversity in children’s publishing. While there’s always been an awareness of the need for diversity in our industry, with the advent of social media and the founding of We Need Diverse Books, it seems that awareness is turning into more support for diverse authors and books, as well as a broadened definition of diversity.
On the picture book side, there seems to be more of an openness in the market to what would have once been considered quirky, sophisticated picture books. These are now turning into some of the biggest commercial successes, when for many years the bestseller lists were dominated by character-driven series.
Do you have a tip or two for anyone submitting to B+B?
Take the time to research the kinds of books we publish and to get a sense of our taste. We do have a handy Facebook page which is a good place to start. Feel free to mention a recent title or two that you feel is in the same vein or has a similar sensibility as your manuscript.
*While B+B doesn’t normally accept unsolicited submissions, they are making an exception for SCBWI members for the next three months until December 1, 2015. You can send the queries to email@example.com and put “Balzer + Bray/SCBWI submissions” in the subject line.
By: Jerry Beck,
Blog: Cartoon Brew
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, Brit Cruise
, Ed Catmull
, Elyse Klaidman
, Khan Academy
, Pixar in a Box
, Sal Khan
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Launched yesterday with the non-profit education platform Khan Academy, Pixar in a Box is the most in-depth look ever offered at the studio's creative process.
|Lulu preferred the company of Gus and his merry band to people.|
There is a wall that runs behind my house. Critter Highway. Squirrels, stray cats, and raccoons often saunter across the wall. This summer, we watched three baby raccoons grow up on that wall. It looked like they were orphaned, because there was never a mommy raccoon to be seen. In the evenings, we'd see the three baby raccoons huddled together on the wall. They were so cute. And so sad looking. I haven't seen them in a little while, but I hope they are okay. I had to include them in a drawing so that I can imagine them happy and well.
So I asked the little girl, "What happens when you close your eyes?" She said, " In my dreams I am a princess trying to escape my palace room where they make me stay all day and all night. I can only get away when I close my eyes and fly. I fly right out of the window in the dark blue night. Fluffy clouds swirl around me and bright blue stars light up the nights sky. The air is light and I am even lighter. My long braids fly in the soft wind like wings taking me higher and higher. I feel God and the angels. They whisper sweet healing words to me. I feel better. I feel like I don't want to ever go back, but then He says,"You have a purpose and I have a plan. Run to your destiny for you are safe in my hand. Safe in my hand." When I wake I am back in my room safe and sound. I have a good feeling inside my tummy. I know that everything is going to be alright cause I have a purpose and He has a plan. I will run to my destiny cause I am safe in His hand. I am safe in His hand.
Title: Sweetness and Lightning (Amaama to Inazuma) Genre: Slice of Life, Food Publisher: Kodansha (JP), Crunchyroll (US) Artist/Writer: Gido Amagakure Serialized in: good! Afternoon Original Release Date: July 15, 2015 Crunchyroll is on a roll lately with their manga releases; this series came out in the same wave that gave us The Morose Mononokean (Kiri Wazawa) and Princess Jellyfish (Akiko Higashimura) so ... Read more
The post Sweetness and Lightning Review appeared first on Organization Anti-Social Geniuses.
This week we honor another Spanish artist, the emerging star on the all-new Spider-Woman, Javier Rodriguez! Now, Javier has been around for a while, but he’d been working mainly as a colorist here in the U.S. until recently. He worked closely with fellow Spanish artist Marcos Martin on titles like Batgirl: Year One, Captain America 65th Anniversary Special, Amazing Spider-Man, and the earlier issues of Mark Waid’s Daredevil run, which he would stay on after Martin left. I was already a huge fan of the artists on that series, including Martin, Paolo & Joe Rivera, Chris Samnee, and now I’m adding Javier Rodriguez to that list; sort of sad that I don’t pay closer attention to the colorist until they branch out into penciling/inking, but I know I’m not alone in that deficiency!
Javier had a few assignments as penciller for Marvel before getting a chance to fully showcase his talents in the mini-series AXIS: Hobgoblin, which earned him his chance to be part of “relaunching” the new redesigned Spider-Woman AKA Jessica Drew character. Looking at his work on Spider-Woman, I’m super impressed with the way he choreographs his panels; it’s truly inventive, fluid, and “Eisner-esque”!
If you’re interested in checking out more of Javier Rodriguez’ work, you can follow him on twitter here, and you can check out his work on the recent issues of Spider-Woman #5-10, and the upcoming new #1 this November.
For more comics related art, you can follow me on my website comicstavern.com – Andy Yates
By Avery Udagawa
SCBWI welcomes translators, and many authors and illustrators hope to see their books translated.
So how do translations happen? How can we get more books translated? Here are some FAQs with answers.
1. Who makes a translation happen?
A translation happens when the original publisher of a book sells foreign language rights to another publisher, who issues the book in a new language and market. The publisher who buys rights will choose the translator and make all decisions about how to present the book in its new form. The foreign rights deal may begin at an event like the Bologna Children’s Book Fair or Frankfurt Book Fair. Foreign rights agents may mediate, or the publishers may negotiate directly. Stakeholders can converse year-round via the Internet or meetings.
Factors that drive a deal may include the fit of a text to a publisher’s list, its availability on other platforms (like TV or film) and its genre, author, illustrations, prior sales, and awards. Finally, culture matters: publishers in one market may bring different tastes than publishers elsewhere.
2. How does a translator get involved?
A translator of children’s books gets involved when a publisher who bought foreign rights to a title commissions the translation. The publisher might find the translator through recommendations, prior publications, the translator’s website, or a group like SCBWI. Some publishers ask several translators to submit samples before awarding a commission.
3. How can a translator network and develop skills?
A translator can build a network by seeking work relevant to children’s literature—for example, with publishers who commission sample translations for book fairs, or publishers who seek reader’s reports on overseas titles. Children’s literature conferences offer opportunities to meet publishers and network. Sometimes translators develop connections and skills in graduate programs, but as with writing and illustration no educational track “knights” a translator of children’s books. The professional translator offers degrees or extensive experience in her languages and cultures combined with writing skills. A translated book must engage readers as deftly as all of the other books they read. In this sense, literary translation differs as much from spoken interpretation—as in The Interpreter—as writing books differs from talking.
4. What helps a book’s chances of being translated?
A foreign rights pitch stands a better chance if the original publisher (or its rights agent) maintains a broad international network, and can provide a high-quality sample translation and promotional materials. It also helps if a government agency or other group can offer a grant to support the translation. Predictably, publishers and organizations in wealthy countries marshal more resources to market translations. This affects the representation of cultures and language groups on readers’ bookshelves.
5. How can translators, authors, and others encourage translations?
To encourage more translations, some translators propose texts they love directly to publishers for whom they seem a fit. This brings risk as publishers can always commission other translators, but it may raise awareness of under-marketed books. Authors who hope to see their books translated can network with SCBWI’s translators and international members, to study new markets—keeping in mind that one’s publisher must seal any foreign rights deal. Finally, groups who value translation can create grants for translated children’s literature. Grants spotlight deserving titles and help translators develop their skills.
6. What’s the big picture?
Everyone interested in translation should know about the imbalance between books written in English and books written in all other languages. A New York Times op-ed published July 7, 2015, notes that English as a global language “is turning literature into a one-way street,” with English-language books traveling widely and making authors in other languages struggle to compete, even at home. Often, fine overseas authors are not translated into English. This holds true in children’s literature. Translations count for just 3 percent of books published in the US. “So many books are translated from English, but not so many go the other way, which is a real shame, as readers are missing out on great stories,” translator Laura Watkinson tells Publishers Weekly in an August 6, 2015 article. Watkinson founded SCBWI Netherlands and has translated three of the past four winners of the Batchelder Award, conferred with the Newbery and Caldecott. SCBWI supports world literature, and many members enjoy foreign sales. For all, a question to ask alongside “How can I get translated?” is “What’s the last children’s book in translation I’ve read?”
Here are places to read on.
Acclaimed translations for children
Batchelder Award winners: www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/bookmedia/batchelderaward/batchelderpast
Marsh Award winners: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marsh_Award_for_Children%27s_Literature_in_Translation
Andersen Award winners: www.ibby.org/308.0.html?&L=2%2F%2F%2F%27
On translation and children’s books
Go Global: We Are the World at CBC Diversity blog: www.cbcdiversity.com/post/121270943783/go-global-we-are-the-world
YA in Translation at Stacked blog: www.stackedbooks.org/2014/11/get-genrefied-ya-in-translation.html
We Need More International Picture Books, Kid Lit Experts Say at School Library Journal, April 22, 2015: www.slj.com/2015/04/books-media/we-need-more-international-picture-books-kid-lit-experts-say/#_
Found In Translation, op-ed in the New York Times, July 7, 2015: www.nytimes.com/2015/07/08/opinion/found-in-translation.html?_r=0
Translator commentaries and interviews
A World for Children by Daniel Hahn: www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04hyyr0
Eight Ways to Say You: The Challenges of Translation by Cathy Hirano: archive.hbook.com/magazine/articles/1999/jan99_hirano.asp
SCBWI Summer Conference 2015: An Interview with Nanette McGuinness: www.scbwi.blogspot.com/2015/06/translation-at-la15scbwi-avery-udagawa.html
An Interview with Laura Watkinson: www.ihatov.wordpress.com/2013/05/30/an-interview-with-laura-watkinson/ and Laura Watkinson featured in Publishers Weekly, August 6, 2015: www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/childrens/childrens-book-news/article/67732-fickling-to-publish-dutch-classic.html
Avery Fischer Udagawa www.averyfischerudagawa.com translated the middle grade novel J-Boys: Kazuo’s World, Tokyo, 1965 by Shogo Oketani and the story “House of Trust” by Sachiko Kashiwaba in Tomo: Friendship Through Fiction: An Anthology of Japan Teen Stories. Her latest translation is “Swing” by Mogami Ippei, illustrated by Saburo Takada, in Kyoto Journal 82. She coordinates the SCBWI Japan Translation Group www.ihatov.wordpress.com and serves as SCBWI International Translator Coordinator.
Over the last few years there has been a dramatic increase in the number of online writing contests and so-called professional writing and internet gallery showcases.
Why? Because with more than a billion websites out there many creatively challenged webmasters are scrambling for content in order to maximize and monetize their likes and eyeballs. And that is, unfortunately, where the creative work of children’s book writers and illustrators comes into the picture. Those trolling the Internet for content range from mom and pop start-ups hosting questionable "Let’s Learn to Read!" sites to mega giants like Google, assembling searchable databases of everything ever written, drawn or photographed from cave paintings to yesterday’s viral videos.
Of course, posting anything online opens you up to outright theft, but in general these occurrences are rare, and that just may be the price of having an active online presence. Standard copyright is a form of protection for any piece of work in a fixed form, such as a manuscript, recording or piece of art and does provide some limited recourse if you discover someone has stolen your work. However, the ability to sue for infringement does require formal copyright.
SCBWI has a blanket policy of not endorsing any contest that requires an entry fee. The prizes offered vary from cash to a publishing contract and neither is ever worth the possibility that the fine print may award those offering the award the right to keep your work whether you win the prize or not. And even if they don’t take your work, they have taken your money and the prize, if they do give it at all, is just a fraction of the cash they took in. They are not unlike the carnival flimflammers who promise a prize every time, then deliver for a dollar a try a plastic toy worth twenty-five cents.
Contests such as Lee and Low’s New Voices Award, of course, are not what we are discussing here. Besides not charging a fee, they award a legitimate publishing contract and often help launch a new talent.
And while a few of the larger showcases do attract some industry eyeballs, many of the others get few views while potentially keeping your work off the wider market from a few months till eternity.
It is flattering, of course, to have someone want your work. Just do a little homework before letting it go, especially if you suspect the fast-talking sales person on the other end may care more about his or her own interests than yours.
Here are some sites to help you navigate those pirate-infested waters.
Chilling Effects Clearinghouse: Information on copyright issues regarding fan fiction.
Preditors and Editors: The go to place for researching publishing scams. Click on "CONTESTS" on their homepage. By the way, they also advise against entry fees.
Writerbeware.com: This excellent site hosted by Science Fiction Writers of America has a comprehensive overview of contest and award scams.
Lee and Low New Voices Award: For information on this significant and legitimate award with a September 30 deadline visit:
By: Jerry Beck,
Blog: Cartoon Brew
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, Aaron Simpson
, Bonnie Lemon
, Disney Television Animation
, Eric Coleman
, Gary Marsh
, Jonathan Schneider
, Shane Prigmore
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Eric Coleman will continue to lead Disney TV Animation in his new role of senior v-p of original programming.
By: Randy York,
Blog: John Random York
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Here's the second video, (well, sort of) that compiles some King Bronty adventures set to the heroic music of Shipley Douglas' Mephistopheles performed by The Illinois Brass Band.
Back in February this year, I travelled to Lincoln to do a couple of days of lectures and workshops for Bishops Grosseteste University. I was a little nervous, as it was a bit different to what I normally do, since I was working with trainee teachers. I have worked with teachers and librarians before, but not for a while. It turned out to be a smashing job though, as everyone was so lovely and everything went down well.
As an little added extra, I did an interview with a couple of 2nd year students for the university's magazine Hullabaloo! I then forgot all about it until a copy arrived through my postbox. It is a really nice article, in a special English Literature edition.
I am hopefully enjoying my well-earned week off at the moment, having a relaxing time, drawing and painting in the wonderful Lake District landscape. I do hope it's not been raining too much!
Anyway, I thought that I would post the Hullabaloo article to give you something to look at while I am away (hope it's clear enough to read when enlarged).
From The Guardian (via PW): From Harry Potter Latin to Hunger Games Rome: the classical jokes hiding in your favorite children's books
From Brightly (via PW): 26 Picture Books You Won't Want to Miss This Fall
At Picture Book Builders - Lisbeth's Colors (Lisbeth Zwerger - LOVE her work!)
At School Library Journal, Travis Jonker's 100 Scope Notes: It Ain't Easy (Books on waiting)
From The Picture Book Den (via SCBWI British Isles): What's in it for the Adults? (on Picture Books)
At Michelle4Laughs - It's In The Details (via SCBWI Belgium) Editing Tip: Compound Adjectives
At H20 (via Bookshelf: Roundup) An interesting architectural remodel for book lovers in Paris
From Justine Musk's Tribal Writer: You are the power you don't give away
From PW: Hobbies & Crafts 2015: Adult Coloring Books
By: James Gurney,
Blog: Gurney Journey
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For the GJ Book Club, let's consider the concluding chapter in Harold Speed's 1917 classic The Practice and Science of Drawing, and reflect back on the book as a whole.
|Lady Diana Bridgeman, Harold Speed (British, 1852-1957).|
Speed begins this final chapter talking about the camera, and the merits and dangers of mechanical accuracy. This is an issue that hasn't gone away, and that people in our community still discuss today.
I'll put Speed's quotes in boldface, followed by my thoughts.
1. There may be times when the camera can be of use to artists, but only to those who are thoroughly competent to do without it.
Speed suggests that truth achieved by mechanical accuracy may be a valuable stepping stone toward true art, but we should use a standard other than accuracy alone to measure our response to art. Art is not merely a collection of objective facts, but rather "records of a living individual consciousness." Whether one traces a photo or some other procedure to achieve mechanical accuracy, one must not lose sight of the driving emotion that guides the choice and placement of elements, and that shapes the rhythms of the artistic statement.2. The training of his eye and hand to the most painstaking accuracy of observation and record must be the student's aim for many years.
Despite his caution to see beyond mechanical accuracy, Speed argues that accurate drawing is an absolute prerequisite to the kind of evolved subjective vision he advocates. Students must strive for unflinching honesty or sincerity. Seeking originality for its own sake is a trap, leaving the young artist chasing the fashions of the moment, or contenting himself or herself with an easy substitute for the fine craftsmanship that is more difficult to attain.3. Individual style will come to you naturally as you become more conscious of what it is you wish to express.
Speed argues that young artists should be wary of adopting readymade techniques or design conventions borrowed from other artists. More often than not, those outward stylistic gimmicks don't fit the subject you're painting nor the mood you're trying to evoke. Everything must begin with an artist's idea, and style is simply the most direct means to communicate that idea.4. Appendix: Phi Proportions
I wish an editor had suggested that Speed delete this appendix—or save it for another book, because I think it contradicts Speed's entire argument leading up to it. After decrying readymade compositional formulas, he proceeds to introduce a readymade mathematical formula for design. It strikes me as an afterthought alien to the rest of Speed's argument. Longtime blog readers know where I stand about via the Golden Ratio (also known as "phi"). You can read my thoughts in my blog series "Mythbusting the Golden Mean
" or, if you like, another website called "The Myth of the Golden Ratio
Looking back on the book as a whole, I'm struck with how much this book is about aesthetics. When I first encountered the book as an art student, I was primarily interested in materials, methods, and techniques but what I take away from the book at this stage in my life is the importance that Speed rightly places on the thinking, feeling, and intention behind the technique.
I have newly marked up my print copy with pencil notations in the margins, and I have been inspired by the many fresh perspectives that you as blog readers have brought to each chapter to deepen my appreciation of Speed's book. For those who discover this book club weeks or months later, please feel free to add your comments. I'll be able to review it and publish your comments any time, and keep this book club constantly in session.
The next book for the GJ book club will be Speed's book on painting, the sequel to this one on drawing. In its original edition, it's called "The Science and Practice of Oil Painting
." Unfortunately it's not available in a free edition that I know of, but there's an inexpensive print edition that Dover publishes under a different title "Oil Painting Techniques and Materials
." We'll start up with that book in three weeks, on September 18, which gives you time to pick up a copy.
It's back to school time!
September promises to be filled with fun theater, exhibitions, and mo'!
SERIOUSLY SILLY: THE ART & WHIMSY OF MO WILLEMS is on view at the HIGH MUSEUM in Atlanta, GA!
exhibit is based on the 2013 solo show at the Eric Carle Museum, with
added original work and cool interactive stuff. Don't miss it!
I'm very excited about the
Lauren Rille is an Associate Art Director at Simon & Schuster, where she works with the Beach Lane, Atheneum, and McElderry imprints. Before joining S&S, Lauren was a designer at Sterling and Harcourt Children’s Books. Some books she’s designed include Are You There God, it’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume; Baby Bear Sees Blue by Ashley Wolff; Scraps by Lois Ehlert; One Big Pair of Underwear by Laura Gehl, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld; and the New York Times best-selling Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jane Chapman. Lauren loves the collaborative process of working with editors and illustrators, and she’s always on the lookout for new talent.
What do you look for in a portfolio?
In a broad sense, I look for a consistent level of quality throughout. Are all the pieces at the same level of finish? Does the style carry through from beginning to end? I look at technical things, too: Are the drawing and the perspective sound? Is there a good sense of composition and good use of value structures? Sometimes I scan for hands; hands can be tricky to draw, and if I see none, or if I see them hidden throughout, I worry it’s a red flag! But within those technical parts, and just as much as those technical parts, I’m looking for a point of view, a sense of humor. I want to see your personality! We hire you for your technical skill, of course, but also for your interpretation of the world and the way you bring words to life.
Where do you find artists? Any tips for how artists can promote themselves?
I look for artists everywhere! I’ve found them anywhere from agents’ websites to Pinterest to Etsy to Tumblr to Instagram—you name it. I am not concerned with the context of the art, just the work itself. There’s no magic to how you present it—I don’t mind if you have a simple blog or the fanciest website in town. Good work shows through. Sometimes I’ll start at an artist’s personal site and then click through the links of other artists that follow them, and so on and so on, just to see where it takes me and what I might discover. So I think having a social media presence is smart—even a basic blog or Tumblr in lieu of a website (I’ve never been a big fan of websites–templated blogs and the like are so easy to use and update!)—anything to get the work out there. I’m mixed on postcards—I sometimes think a more-targeted mailing of something slightly more special than a postcard (read: harder to discard) to a handful of specific ADs or editors whose work you’ve researched and really like is perhaps a better use of time and resources.
How do you pair artists with manuscripts?
It varies! Sometimes it’s as simple as matching the age range and feel of the text with art that complements it—for example a young and sweet text will call for an illustrator with a similar vibe. With quirky or unusual texts, we can reach for something unexpected and different. Sometimes an author will offer a suggestion that really works. Sometimes we’ll decide to pair a big-name artist with a first-time author to help launch them, or we’ll pair two heavy hitters to create a book with a lot of buzz behind it. Mostly though, it starts with a conversation between me and the editor about his or her vision for the book. We’ll discuss what they saw in it that made them want to acquire it and what shape they imagine the illustrations taking. Then I’ll do the research to find some artists that match that vision as well as one or two others that could push it in a slightly different direction. Occasionally a text will come to me already paired with an illustrator—that can be part of the initial proposal from the agent or it may be that the editor has found an illustrator.
What happens if an author/illustrator submits but you only want to acquire their text and not their illustrations?
I get this question a lot, and my answer is always the same: Throw a party! You got a book deal! If you have aims to illustrate, keep working on your art and use the contacts you establish through your manuscript deal to try to get more feedback and perhaps an opportunity to show other people in-house your work. Conversely, if you are so tied to your text that you can’t fathom anyone else illustrating it, then perhaps you’re too close to your work for the commercial market. Making a children’s book is a huge collaboration, and there are a lot of cooks in the kitchen, so you’ve got to be ready to hear feedback from any number of people, which means not being too precious with your work. IF you’re open to it, all those voices help push you to be an even better writer, illustrator, and ARTIST than you already are!
Ann Levine and Andy Laties of Bank Street Books in New York tell us what's on the shelves.
What trends do you notice in children’s book sales? What are the current hot reads?
Graphic novels are a growing segment of book publishing, and many are designed specifically for young readers. A good example is Cece Bell's El Deafo, a 2015 Newbery Honor book that appeals to a range of ages because it tells the author's own childhood story in words and pictures.
How do you choose what books to order? Do you use a publishing rep?
New books are promoted by publishers and often ordered through reps who know the children's market as well as talented authors and illustrators. We attend trade shows that keep us apprised of upcoming titles, and we read trade magazines, blogs, reviews, and newsletters.
What would you like to see more of from authors/illustrators in terms of community involvement?
Authors and illustrators are usually generous with their time, especially when they are promoting their books, meeting with families, talking to children, visiting classrooms, and appearing at literacy events. Many writers and artists attended our recent grand opening when we moved our store location. At the Brooklyn Book Fair there are always many writers and artists who appear in person at programs designed for the public.
How do you handle author/illustrator visits? Can authors/illustrators contact you directly?
We publicize special events on our store website and in our store newsletter. Authors and illustrators are welcome to contact us, but we make final decisions about scheduling dates and times.
What is your favorite part of being a bookseller/manager/librarian?
Getting books in the hands of young children is an important part of learning and understanding, and it is very gratifying to know we have helped them discover that every book is a new adventure.
Personal book recommendation?
Recommendations from our staff: Princess and the Pony by Kate Beaton; Nana in the City by Lauren Castillo; Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee; Curious World of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly; Young Hee and the Pullocho by Mark James Russell; Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick; and You Nest Here with Me by Jane Yolen and Heidi Stemple.
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