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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Trailers, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 84
1. Book Trailers

Essential tips for creating your own book trailer.


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2. Beyond the Pond + an interview with Joseph Kuefler


by Joseph Kuefler (Balzer + Bray, 2015)

Settle in for snippets of story so goosebumpy you’ll think the pages just paper-sliced your soul in two. It is an honor to introduce you to Joseph Kuefler and his gorgeous debut, Beyond the Pond. I love every single word he’s spilled out to us here.


Can you talk about where this book came from? 


My dearest childhood friend lived across the street from a picturesque pond — one of those charming bodies of water with just the right mix of long grass, cattails and critters. Early mornings almost always found its surface blanketed in a magical fog. In winter months, we would skate on its surface. That pond filled me with such wonder as a boy.

So many years later, the wonder of ponds came back to me when I found myself telling my son, Jonah, stories each morning as I drove him to school. Our route took us past a smaller but no-less-magical pond, sandwiched between a row of houses, almost as if it was forced there, like it didn’t belong. We both imagined what fantastical creatures lived beneath its surface. And so, an idea for a picture book was born.

In hindsight, I absolutely see the connection between these moments of inspiration in my life.

And what was your process like for creating it? How did you turn an idea for a story into a completed picture book?

One advantage of being an author/illustrator is that my words and images can reveal themselves together. I begin with a loose story skeleton and single completed illustration that captures the atmosphere of the book. Small thumbnails get created as I’m improving and iterating on the story. Sometimes a posture or scene in my thumbnails will inspire a change to the text, sometimes it’s the other way around. Once the story is tight, I return to my thumbnails and create much tighter pencils, focusing more on composition and type placement.

Joseph-Kuefler-Cover-Sketch Joseph-Kuefler-Panel-SketchJoseph-Kuefler-ThumbnailsWhen it comes to final art, I work digitally, more out of necessity than choice. At the moment, picture books aren’t my day job, so I need to work from anywhere and everywhere. I was traveling a lot for work in the early stages of illustrating POND. Much of the book was illustrated from airplane seats and hotel rooms, cramped rides on bus benches and stolen moments in the office.

As someone formally trained at art school, I long for the day I can rely solely on traditional materials. In some ways I still feel like I need to apologize for using a computer, which is silly, I suppose, because digital doesn’t save me time and is no less difficult. The only thing it affords me is more mobility and greater access to my creative process.

Joseph-Kuefler-Beyond-the-Pond-Pg-12 Joseph-Kuefler-Beyond-the-Pond-Pg-14

I read on your website all about Hum, and I’m so interested in that. Not so much as a musician myself, but because I think picture books function the same way a song does, as a complete and full narrative that can transcend that small space. What do you think?

I love this question because I absolutely agree. Prior to moving into my career as a creative director, I spent years working as a serious musician playing in an indie rock band. Songwriting and record producing is core to who I am and informs so much of all of my creative processes, both personal and professional.

Writing a great song begins with two questions: What do I want them to know? And how do I want them to feel? Nostalgia? Fear? Melancholy? Vulnerability? Defining the emotional arch predetermines so much about your palette—key, tuning, scale, effects, chord progressions, even mixing decisions. Once that’s defined, you need to reduce all of it, your whole vision, into between three and five minutes of music. It’s such a challenge.

This is true of great books. The books we love tell us a story, but they also tell us feeling. They teach us, adults and children alike, what it feels like to experience something, and they do it in 32 pages, give or take. A songwriter has chords. A picture book maker has paints and pencils. A songwriter has a small collection of seconds or minutes. A picture book maker has pages. Both artists curate their palettes to breathe the right mix of mood into whatever it is they are making.

More than any other mediums I’ve explored, children’s books and songs are the most related.

Like you suggest, great songs and picture books transcend their small spaces. They live on in your mind and heart and come to mean or represent so much more long after the final chord has rung and last page has turned.

Reviews have called this debut reminiscient of Maurice Sendak, Jon Klassen, and Wes Anderson, all huge story heroes. Who are your own story heroes?



I know this is a picture book blog, but my greatest passion is cinema. I love movies and have my whole life. My dad encouraged me to explore the classics, with a particular emphasis on the defining films of the 60s and 70s. Many of my story heroes are filmmakers. I am a huge fan of Jean-Pierre Melville because he found a way to steal the best parts of Hitchcock and blend it with that kind cool only the French possess.

As a child, I loved Spielberg and the wonderful films Amblin would produce because they seemed to understand children in a way few other films did. I do love Wes Anderson for his vision and wit but also for the expert way he handles melancholy. When I begin a new picture book, I typically dive into the films that I feel share a similar atmosphere or message. It’s intentionally obvious I’ve included a few homages to Anderson’s films and style in POND—I wanted to thank him for inspiring me, and I wanted to give moms and dads something of their own to discover within the book.

Animation is also a huge source of inspiration for me. Words can’t describe how much Miyazaki inspires me. His films are somehow massive in scope and incredibly intimate and personal.

gallery-myneighbortotoro-2 gallery-spiritedaway-1

I can’t say that I have any specific story heroes in the picture book space. I love the Steads and Klassen and Jeffers and all of the other usual suspects, but I don’t look to picture books to inform my own work as much as I do film or literature, even photography. I’m not trying to suggest that other picture books don’t influence my work—they most certainly do. They’re just not my primary source and I typically look to them much later in the process to help me work through a very specific problem.

I would, however, be remiss if I didn’t mention JK Rowling. Sometimes I close my eyes and hope that when I open them I will have somehow grown a scar on my forehead and transformed into Harry Potter. Rowling succeeded in revealing a hidden magic in our own world, something tucked away just around the bend, something you hadn’t realized was there all along. I love that so much about those books. Turning a pond into a portal seemed to transform the everyday and reveal a hidden magic in a similar way.

Can you tell us a little about the trailer for Beyond the Pond and how you created it? It’s such a perfect piece, and I always think trailers that feel like short films are some of the best!

Thank you for the compliments. I am a creative director who has spent many years in the branding and marketing industries working for clients we all know and love. Making films and telling their stories is a skill I’ve developed over time. When I began considering my own trailer, I knew it needed to feel a little more like a movie trailer than a “book” trailer. It was the only way I felt I could capture the spirit and scope of the book in such a short period of time.

Some are surprised to learn that the voice actor is me. The trailer simply HAD to be narrated by an old, English gentleman because, well, old, English gentlemen are the most magical of men. I didn’t have any on hand, so I put on my Dumbledore hat and effected one.

I love animating. It’s something I don’t get to do as often now, but I was thrilled to be able to dig back into After Effects for this little piece and am pretty happy with how it turned out, all things considered.

What do you remember about picture books from your childhood?

I remember my school library and, Ms. Geese, the world’s crabbiest librarian (if you’re reading this, Ms. Geese, I’m sorry, but you really were frightening). She demanded that we extract library books from the shelves with such expert precision you’d think they were Fabergé eggs. But since we were all so afraid of her, we would hide away in corners with our books. In some ways, her terror forced us to have a more intimate relationship with our books, and for that I am grateful.

I remember the pictures and wishing I could draw like those artists. Like all boys, I was so in love with WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE. I would try to replicate the wild things over and over and wondered how in the world anyone could ever draw like that. All these years later, I am still left wondering.

What is your favorite piece of art hanging in your home or studio?


I have two favorite walls in my home. One is a quiet corner of my house filled with family photos and texture studies I made over this last year. The family photos feature some of our favorite memories and experiences. It’s something we will continue to grow and add on to over the years.


The second is a Banksy print hanging in my dining room. It’s big and bold and probably doesn’t belong in a space where people are meant to enjoy meals, but I like that about it.

What’s next for you?

A nap. Honestly. Between my day job, working to support POND’s release, welcoming our third child, Augustine, into the world four months ago, and breathing life into a new picture book, this year has been full, so incredibly, exhaustingly full. But it’s been a good kind of full.

Alessandra Balzer and Balzer + Bray were kind enough to buy two more books from me immediately after we finished POND. By the time this feature runs on your blog, I will have just completed final art for my next book. Then, it will be onto the third. I’m also developing a middle grade book and young reader series.

Beyond that, what’s next is experiencing what it feels like to release my very own picture book into the world. This whole thing continues to be so surreal. One of my lifelong dreams is in a state of becoming, and I couldn’t be happier.


That story about Ms. Geese is one of the greatest library stories I’ve ever heard! Joseph, thanks for the music and the glimpse at the pond and beyond it all.


A big thank you to Joseph Kuefler for the images in this post.

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3. Ellie

Ellie by Mike Wuby Mike Wu (Disney Hyperion, 2015)

Before anything else, this (full screen!):

Ellie’s endpapers start us off like this: long and lonely and barren.

Ellie by Mike Wu Ellie by Mike WuThere she is, a little hint of her. And if you want another one, take the dust jacket off to reveal the case cover.

Ellie by Mike WuOk.

We learn quickly why the zoo was so sullen and gray. Because the story happened visually, to start, we don’t need to linger in introductions and routines and the way of this world.

We know.

Ellie by Mike Wu Ellie by Mike Wu Ellie by Mike WuHeartbroken.



Ellie by Mike WuEllie, and a hint again, carrying something with her trunk, wishing and wanting to help.

But a small elephant isn’t a tall giraffe or a burly gorilla.

She’s just Ellie.

Ellie by Mike WuBut in that curlicue grip, that same hope.

Does she see it? Do you?

Linked by color and purpose and quite possibly definition, this happens next:

Ellie by Mike WuDoes she notice? I don’t know. I’d like to think she did.

Watching and waiting, a wise little elephant.

Ellie by Mike WuThis is the first spread without Ellie in it, without her sweet, sad eyes.

But now we get to see through them, and I’d bet a reader’s eyes do the same awe-pop that hers must be doing right now. That’s something I’m sure is true.

Ellie by Mike Wu Ellie by Mike WuTurns out, Ellie found her thing.

And here’s where I’d recommend finding a copy of this yourself, because the final spreads are something you should see and feel through your own eyes. But be sure to notice the back endpapers and their stark difference to the front. The progress is literally told in colors.

This book is rectangular, and so open, it’s an expanse. That trim size gives the zoo a little room to breathe, to extend, to become the physicality of Ellie’s journey. There’s space in that shape, space in the story.

Mike Wu’s film background (did you notice the zookeeper’s name?) may have influenced that trim size. What we call trim size they call aspect ratio, and aspect ratios in film are far from the standard definition of once upon a time.

Maybe? I don’t know. But I’d guarantee a visual storyteller thinks of those things, and it’s for us to appreciate, to wonder about, and to call beautiful.

Ellie by Mike WuOk.


I received a review copy of Ellie directly from the author, but all opinions are my own.

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4. Free Book Trailers

YouTube has a free video editor you can use to make your book trailer.


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5. Saturday Trailer: Summer of Yesterday

What better day for book trailers than a Saturday?

Gaby Triana’s Summer of Yesterday was released in June.

Back to the Future meets Fast Times at Ridgemont High when Haley’s summer vacation takes a turn for the retro in this totally rad romantic fantasy.

Summer officially sucks. Thanks to a stupid seizure she had a few months earlier, Haley’s stuck going on vacation with her dad and his new family to Disney’s Fort Wilderness instead of enjoying the last session of summer camp back home with her friends. Fort Wilderness holds lots of childhood memories for her father, but surely nothing for Haley. But then a new seizure triggers something she’s never before experienced—time travel—and she ends up in River Country, the campground’s long-abandoned water park, during its heyday.

The year? 1982.

And there—with its amusing fashion, “oldies” music, and primitive technology—she runs into familiar faces: teenage Dad and Mom before they’d even met. Somehow, Haley must find her way back to the twenty-first century before her present-day parents anguish over her disappearance, a difficult feat now that she’s met Jason, one of the park’s summer residents and employees, who takes the strangely dressed stowaway under his wing.

Seizures aside, Haley’s used to controlling her life, and she has no idea how to deal with this dilemma. How can she be falling for a boy whose future she can’t share? (Amazon)

Filed under: trailers Tagged: Gaby Triana, Latinao, trailer

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6. Trailer Reveal! Night Sky by Suzanne Brockmann and Melanie Brockmann

I haven’t shared a trailer in a while, and since I’m looking forward to Night Sky, I decided to pass this one along.  What do you think? Are you going to add Night Sky to you TBR stack?

Night Sky

By Suzanne Brockmann and Melanie Brockmann

Sourcebooks Fire ? October 7, 2014

ISBN: 9-781-4926-0144-9 ? Hardcover/$16.99 ? Ages 14+

Preo-order here Amazon BN.com

“Original and exciting, NIGHT SKY propels readers into a dangerous future. Loved it.” –Melissa Marr, New York Times bestselling author of Made For You and the Wicked Lovely series.

“A gripping page-turner from first to last…the start of something that can only be described as ‘greater-than.’” –Kirkus STARRED review

“Action-packed, mysterious, charming and witty. I’m ready for more!” — Gena Showalter, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Alice in Zombieland

“Full of adventure, humor, and just the right amount of Brockmann wit…I love this book!” –P.C. Cast, New York Times bestselling co-author of the House of Night series.

Hunted. Kidnapped. Bled. Destiny can be dangerous…

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Suzanne Brockmann makes her young adult debut with a pulse-pounding novel of paranormal suspense set in the same world as her highly acclaimed and bestselling romance Born to Darkness, alongside her daughter and co-author Melanie. Young girls are being murdered for the secret that’s in their blood. When Skylar’s neighbor becomes the next victim, she must use her newly discovered abilities to save her before it’s too late.

Sixteen-year-old Skylar Reid is thrown into a strange world when she discovers that she has unique telekinetic and telepathic powers.  After Sasha, the child she babysits, is kidnapped and believed to be murdered, Sky and her best friend Calvin are approached by Dana, a mysterious girl who has super-abilities similar to Sky’s.  With the help of Dana and her sidekick Milo, the four teens embark on a quest to discover who killed Sasha, and to bring the killers to justice.

With Dana as Skylar’s surly and life-toughened mentor, Sky attempts to harness her powers to aid them in their quest. Complicating an already complex relationship with the older girl, Sky starts to fall for the dangerously handsome and enigmatic Milo – and begins to suspect that the attraction is mutual. But then Sky realizes that Sasha might still be alive, and the unlikely foursome’s mission becomes one of search and rescue, pitting the heroic teens against a very deadly enemy.


Suzanne Brockman, a New York Times and USA Today bestselling romance author, has won 2 RITA awards, numerous RT Reviewers’ Choice, and RWA’s #1 Favorite Book of the Year three years running. She has written over 50 books, and is widely recognized as a “superstar of romantic suspense” (USA Today). Suzanne and her daughter, Melanie Brockmann, have been creative partners, on and off, for many years. Their first project was an impromptu musical duet, when then-six-month-old Melanie surprised and delighted Suz by matching her pitch and singing back to her. Suzanne splits her time between Florida and Massachusetts while Mel lives in Sarasota, Florida. NIGHT SKY is Mel’s debut and Suzanne’s 55th book. Visit Suzanne at www.SuzanneBrockmann.com.

Suzanne’s website and a link to her virtual signings: http://www.suzannebrockmann.com/about/ns-virtual-signing/

The post Trailer Reveal! Night Sky by Suzanne Brockmann and Melanie Brockmann appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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7. Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer raises questions, expectations


As we hastily posted from our phone last night, the AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON trailer was supposed to break next week during Agents of SHIELD, but last night leaked versions sprang up like bedbugs, unstoppable and immortal. Marvel Studios, being smarter than the average bear, just made a joke


Poor Agents of SHIELD—can’t buy a break. (However I should point out that the show is FINALLY tying in lesser characters from the Marvel U, like Mockingbird, and should rebound just fine if they don’t mess it up.)

Rections to the trailer were swift, and as you read this there are probably 900 detailed frame by frame analyses of the thing. I’ve stolen the screen caps from all the other, better sites, but I must give Andrew Wheeler a shout out for noting the “shirtless, wet Thor”.

Anyway, here are some pics and thoughts, and ideas.

The Avengers 2 Leaked Still Ultron 620x370 Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer raises questions, expectations

James Spader voices Ultron, the robot created by Tony Stark, and, wow he’s actually scary! This trailer has  a darker, Nolan-esque  feel to it, but sandwiched between some light heated outings Guardians and Ant-Man, it’s okay. The slowed down “I’ve got no strings to hold me up” song recalls the trailer for the very successful Maleficent, which also used a creepy version of a Disney classic to set up a sad, bad world.

As for what it means: Ultron is to Tony Stark as Pinocchio is to Gepetto, get it? Throughout the trailer we see Tony looking sad and other Avengers looking mad, so presumably everyone gets annoyed that Tony created this killer robot genius in the first place.  If one wishes to detect a trace of Joss Whedon in the idea of Ultron’s journey presented as a murderous, tragic take on the sturdy Pinocchio story, well go ahead. A nice solid dramatic spine is a nice thing in a superhero epic.

The Avengers 2 Leaked Still Hulkbuster 620x370 Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer raises questions, expectations

This is Tony Stark’s HULKBUSTER armor, as various leaks have shown the Hulkbuster fighting Donald Sterling. NO NO WHAT AM I SAYING, The Hulkbuster fights the Hulk! The internet went ape shit over the Hulkbuster. Because you see…

1414027793 Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer raises questions, expectations

Mark Ruffalo’s Banner/Hulk looks to be pretty busted up in this one. As the only “Core” character without his own film series at this point, it’s time for The Hulk to get his due. Evidently he gets the feels over something, freaks out and in true Marvel Comics fashion, must be stopped by any means necessary.


1414027800 Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer raises questions, expectations
Hey it’s Andy Serkis! The mocap madman did some of the acting for Ultron and gets to show his face as well…but as WHO WHO WHO? The internet has decided that he’s playing a supervillain named Klaw, and this has excited the internet because Klaw is the natural enemy of The Black Panther! And The Black Panther’s introduction into the MCu has been rumored for a long time.


1414027816 Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer raises questions, expectations
This could be interesting because one of the MOST SHOCKING SHOTS IN THE TRAILER shows Captain America’s shield DESTROYED! Oh god, can someone called Stephen Colbert? IF this is not a dream, not a hoax, not an imaginary story (and I’m not convinced it isn’t) then maybe they have to go to Wakanda and get some vibranium to make a new shield? That’s the popular theory anyway.

Untitled 136 Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer raises questions, expectations


Shirtless, wet, anguished Thor. Paging fanfic writers.

The trailer also shows the Black Widow looking jaunty on a motorcycle, Captain America looking grave, Hawkeye running around in the woods, and lots of rubble. Lots and lots of rubble.

Finally, this was the greatest thing to come out of the Affair of the Early Avengers 2 Trailer. (That’s a still from CRASH, a movie in which Holly Hunter and James Spader play people who can only have sex at the scene of horrible auto accidents, in case you didn’t know.)

Anyway, that’s what caught MY eye. What did YOU think?



3 Comments on Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer raises questions, expectations, last added: 10/25/2014
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8. Music for Book Trailers.

There are several sources of LEGAL music to use on your video. 


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9. Legal Music

Don't violate another artist's copyright when you create your book trailer.


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10. Home by Carson Ellis

Home by Carson Ellis

by Carson Ellis (Candlewick, 2015)

It’s a great honor to give you this first look at Carson’s own farmhouse in Oregon where she lives and creates, and some of the art and inspiration inside. Home is in stores today, so bring it to yours and enjoy.

There’s plenty more to ponder in this volume of homes, and I can’t wait to talk more about it. For now, settle in and enjoy this treat.


Thanks to the fine folks at Candlewick for sharing this with us first!

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11. This Is Sadie Book Teaser

We're getting very excited about the new book...not too long now.
My brilliant son Euan has put together this little teaser trailer to celebrate.

May 12, 2015
Available to pre-order at:
Barnes & Noble Indie Bound Amazon.com McNally Robinson Indigo Powell’s Hive

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12. Star Wars teaser: NAILED IT

The latest Star Wars teaser is out, and All of The Internet is caving to the perfect sense of nostalgia it invokes.

Have a look:

The teaser for Star Wars: The Force Awakens was released at Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim and features new characters and the return of old favorites, like Han Solo. The film is slated for a U.S. release on Dec. 18 of this year.

3 Comments on Star Wars teaser: NAILED IT, last added: 4/17/2015
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13. Hello, Mr. Hulot

hellomrhulotCoverby David Merveille, based on the character brought to life by Jacques Tati.

{published 2013, by NorthSouth Books}

I was smitten by the looks of this book at first glance. Perhaps it was a bit of that orange and blue thing, and a bit of it just being so spectacular. But first, I had to introduce myself to Monsieur Hulot, the comical character from French cinema, and the spirit and subject of this book.

His trademarks are his raincoat, umbrella, pipe, and sheer ineptitude.

I loved him immediately. Here’s a trailer (love those title graphics!) for Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot (Mr. Hulot’s Holiday.)

breakerSo now that you are entirely delighted and heartwarmed, isn’t it the greatest news ever that a nearly wordless picture book contains this nutty dude? Yes. I know.These endpapers are reminiscent of the title graphics in the trailer as well as the movie poster, so, of course we love that.The shapes of his raincoat-suited-self-H and an umbrella-O set you up for the hysterical stories inside. This title pages sets you up for humor, heart, and charm, and the following pages do not disappoint.

Here’s what I mean.FrenchRivieraIt’s a series of stories told through pictures. Two pages contain witty puzzles and a complete visual narrative. This one, French Riviera, is one of my favorites. You think Monsieur Hulot is floating underneath the waves and gallivanting with sea creatures.

But no. He’s just biking next to a fish truck.

Brilliant might be an understatement.TheCrossingThe Crossing also had me in stitches, and reminded me a teensy bit of The Other Side. What seems to be true might not be at all!

What a treat to be surprised and delighted by this goofy guy!You’ll never guess what preceded this page.And you’ll be shocked by the conclusion of this one.

If you are a picture book writer, be sure to grab this one. It is a master class in the suspense and payoff of the page turn.

Sly, subversive, and completely unexpected. A thrill to read! And perhaps a good pair with Matt Phelan’s Bluffton: My Summers with Buster Keaton?


Review copy provided by NorthSouth Books.

Tagged: comics, david merveille, graphic novel, jacques tati, mr. hulot, northsouth books, picture books, wordless

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14. What Happens When . . .

by Delphine Chedru

{published 2013 (in English), by Tate Publishing}

I’ve been thinking a lot about visual storytelling lately. Well, I pretty much am always thinking about visual storytelling. And that’s why I was so tickled and touched by this book. Thanks to Rebecca at Sturdy for Common Things for introducing me to this lovely find!

I bought it because of that cover. I didn’t know I’d open page after page of wow.Instantly, I was drawn to the simplicity of each layout. A spare white page on the left, graced only with one line of text. And on the right, a richly colored illustration to match the text. On this very first spread, you get a clear sense of Delphine Chedru’s suggested shapes and mastery of negative space. It’s graphic and bold and beautiful.

So what does the text say?

What happens when my balloon floats up, out of the zoo . . . ?

And then, this:Rather than turning the page, you unfold it. The text is still there to remind you of the story that gurgled up out of that wonder. Do you see your red balloon?The pages that follow are just as curious, and just as surprising. It’s impossible to not create a scenario for each posed question, and then be awed by the illustrator’s solution. And to my bucket when I leave it behind on the beach . . . ?What you might not be able to see in that picture is a WANTED sign for the shark, and a tiny red fish with a sheriff’s hat leading his capture, all with that bucket that you left on the beach. Adore.

And wouldn’t it be fun to create your own pages like this? Or respond to these pictures in writing? Isn’t all creativity answering ‘What if?’What happens when my left sock slips behind the radiator . . . ?

Well?What happens to Teddy when I leave him behind . . . ?

That bird on the boing-boing horse is just too much. Makes me laugh every time.

And then, a big, huge, monster question:What happens to stories once a book is closed . . . ?
This last page doesn’t unfold. This answer is up to you.

I am so under the spell of this weighty book with the lighthearted illustrations. I’m not sure how to answer that last question, and sitting with the ‘What if?’ is both challenging and satisfying, isn’t it?breakerWant more Delphine Chedru? Me too. I found this book trailer, and although I can’t understand the words, I can read the pictures. So charmed.


Tagged: color, delphine chedru, illustration, negative space, shape

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15. Out the Window

Out the Window by Cybele YoungOut the Window by Cybele Youngby Cybèle Young

published 2014 by Groundwood BooksOut the Window by Cybele YoungDon’t you hate throwing your ball out the window and being too short to see where it bounces? The worst.Out the Window by Cybele YoungOut the Window by Cybele YoungBut the worst gets better, because in its place a spectacular parade clash-crashes by. Except when you’re a frantic, too-short creature, it’s really hard to see over the windowsill. Good thing you’re a clever whippersnapper, and push that chair up to take a peek.Out the Window by Cybele YoungOut the Window by Cybele YoungOut the Window by Cybele YoungAnd just when you can finally see outside, the book tells you to turn around.

You’ll stumble smack dab into the spectacle.

Juggling shrimp on a unicycle! A bat on a hanging, clangy contraption! Pink swans pulling a turtle on a wagon!Out the Window by Cybele Young Out the Window by Cybele Young Out the Window by Cybele YoungThanks to this parade, you might just get your ball back. It’s one fantastic game of catch.

And check out this trailer to see the book in its glorious action. Mesmerizing.


P.S. – Remember the Twitter chat with Groundwood Books and Cybèle Young? The transcript is here, if you want to add to your art-to-study and books-to-love pile. It was such fun!

Tagged: board book, cybele young, groundwood books

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16. Presto Change-o! A Book of Animal Magic

Presto Change-o!by Édouard Manceau

published March 2014 (tomorrow!) by Twirl Books, distributed in America by Chronicle Books

What a treat to give the new Twirl books a whirl! (They are doing something right when a thirtysomething-ed lady squeals over a box of board books, right?)

This one is perfect for grabby hands and curious minds. Check it out in action.

breakerPresto Change-o!This is a board book that’s been on a steady regimen of spinach and milk. It’s big and beefy. That’s a great thing, because there’s a lot to experience on these pages.

Here’s how it works. The left page shows two seemingly unrelated nouns, loosely connected by a narrative. Sometimes it’s lilting and sometimes a bit labored, but since it’s a translation, all text-clunk is forgiven. Besides, the real treat is in the visual and tactile experience.Presto Change-o!Swinging a shape or two or three around transforms one picture to another. It’s simultaneously simple and sophisticated. And just plain fun to see and do.Presto Change-o!Presto Change-o!Some standard fare lives here: Rabbit, Teapot, Owl. And then there’s Bowl of Salad. Bowl of Salad! Thank goodness for the French. What a delight!Presto Change-o!Presto Change-o!I’m teaching an introductory Photoshop and graphic design class this summer. To 3rd – 6th graders. My brain exploded with ideas for projects when I saw this book. You better believe we will be creating our own Presto Change-os! 

Stay tuned.Presto Change-o!Here’s a bit more about Twirl Books.



Review copy provided by the publisher.

Tagged: Édouard Manceau, board books, chronicle books, color, shape, size, twirl books

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17. Trailer Tuesday: The Maze Runner Movie + More!

Hello! It's Trailer Tuesday here at RNSL (I totally just made that up). But I do have some trailers for you. 20th Century Fox just released the official film trailer for The Maze Runner movie last night. I have not read the book yet but the trailer looks pretty good. I like that the actors seem like relative unknowns and it looks like a harrowing story. I really need to read this one before the movie comes out.

While I was strolling through Trailer Land, I found a few new book trailers that looked interesting as well.

In the trailer for Monument 14: Savage Drift, things are looking pretty bleak. This is another book series that has been on my shelf for a while but hasn't been read. I like the tone and cinematic styling of this one.


Free to Fall by Lauren Miller feels like an ad for online dating or a prescription drug. That actually might be the intention of it and it comes off as pretty creepy.

Tremor by Patrick Carman looks a bit cheesy to me. I think it's because the floating cars look fake. Good effort but not my favorite book trailer.

Untamed City: Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr is a very epic trailer. The music and content of the trailer make it seem like a gladiator movie. I wish the fighting was a little more badass but overall, not too shabby.

And last but not least we have a little featurette from the Divergent movie (coming out this week!) that showcases Four.

I am a still on the fence about this movie. I wasn't the biggest fan of the books (though I liked the first one enough) but I will be seeing this. 

Well that's it for the just coined Trailer Tuesday. Do any of these books or trailers seem interesting to you? Are you in line for Divergent already? :) Have a happy Tuesday!

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18. From print to screen

Books are always better than their movie adaptations. Always. Sometimes I've been devastated by the director's interpretation of a favorite book *cough* Percy Jackson *cough*. Other times though, the movie offers a different interpretation of the story that doesn't detract from the image I formed in my mind, but add another view I hadn't considered before (The Book Thief!).

2014 is a great year for movie adaptations. 

The Maze Runner, by our own James Dashner, a Utah native, comes out in September. 

Divergent, by Veronica Roth is out in theaters right now.
Here's the trailer as well:

And finally, The Giver, by Lois Lowry, is also coming out.

What do you think? Are you planning on watching the movies? Have you read the books? What book would you like to see on screen?

I've read all three of these books and I'm REALLY excited about the movies. I would also love to see The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel's Game, both by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.

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19. The Giver Film Trailer

I'm back with another trailer! It's been a big week for YA book to film adaptations. The trailer for The Maze Runner was released and Divergent hits the big screen today. And the official trailer for Lois Lowry's The Giver was also released. I have not read The Giver yet so I can't really comment on how accurate it is based on the books. From what I've seen on the internet, there are some mixed feelings about this one. I just borrowed the book from the library though and hope to read it soon. 

Have you read the book? Does this look like a faithful adaptation? I am interested to hear what people think of this one. Happy Friday, all!

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20. Free Trailers

How to make a great trailer for your book without spending any money. 


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21. Trailer Tuesday: Broken Hearts and The Fault in Our Stars Extended

Hello! I am back once again with some trailers to show you. Not much has come out since last week but I found a few goodies for you. Let's check them out.

Broken Hearts, Fences and Other Things to Mend by Katie Finn. At first I thought this book might have some kind of paranormal twist with the whole mistaken identity thing but, after reading the synopsis online, I don't think that's the case. Still, it looks like it could be a fun contemp read.

Fox just released an extended trailer for The Fault in Our Stars movie. It's still looking good and I plan on seeing this when it comes out.

Let us know what you guys think of these trailers in the comments!

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22. Number One Sam and an interview with Greg Pizzoli

Number One Sam by Greg Pizzoliby Greg Pizzoli

published 2014 by Disney-Hyperion

I’m honored and thrilled to have Greg Pizzoli back to the blog this week. About a year ago we talked about Kroc and The Watermelon Seed, and in the many weeks since, that thing (and Greg!) won the Geisel Award! My kindergarteners call him ‘the BURRRRPPP man’ which I’m pretty sure is the highest praise any mere mortal can achieve.

But today! Today is the birthday of Greg’s latest and greatest, Number One Sam. This is my favorite tweet about it:Screen Shot 2014-05-11 at 3.47.57 PM(And side note, you should follow Matt Roeser at Candlewick cause he has impeccable taste and eyeballs.)

And this (!) is the trailer:

breakerGreg chatted with me about process and art and picture books, and I’ve read these answers about a billion times and am still learning. Enjoy!

Your spot color. Wow! Can you talk about why such a stripped-down design with a limited color palette is such a powerful visual device?

Great question!

To be honest, I’m not sure. But, I think it comes down
to working from an intention, and just having a plan, or restrictions
set in place from the beginning. You can’t just grab another color
from somewhere – when it comes time to make final art, we’ve done
rounds of pantone tests and paper tests, and the limitations and
possibilities are in place, so nothing is casual. Maybe it makes you
consider things in a way that is unique to working in that way?

I know for me, if I’m doing a book that is printed in a limited color
palette, it can feel restrictive in one sense, but there is a real
freedom within the limitations, if you know what I mean. There’s not
endless guessing the way there might be with a CMYK book. Obviously we
do lots of tests and make sure we get the base colors right for the
book, but once that is done, I can start carving out the drawings and
not worry too much about the colors, because we’ve done so much work
on the front end. It’s a challenge I enjoy.

Here’s a photo of a spot color test proof.Number One Sam by Greg Pizzoli

Why do you think your stories are best suited to the form of the picture
book. What can you do in this form that you might not be able to in another?

This is a tough one, Carter. Boy, I come to your blog looking to have
a good time, maybe show a video or something, and you slam me with
this “why picture books” stuff. Sheesh. “Gotcha blogging” right here.
But that’s fine, I’ll play along.

I’m kidding, of course. But, it is a tough one. I guess it’s not all
that complicated for me. I’ve always loved picture books and I think
it’s because there are so many possible ways to solve the problem of
telling a story with text and images. It’s a cliche I think, but you
really can do anything in a picture book. But here again, I like the
restrictions. As much as I might complain to my editor that I “just
need one more spread” to tell the story, it’s actually nice to have a
structure where you have to fit a complete world, with a character, a
problem, and (maybe?) a solution to that problem in only 40 (or so)

There’s something about how deliberate every decision has to be
that is super appealing to me. I’ve been working on writing a longer
thing recently, a series, and it’s not as though I’m not deliberate
when working on it, but I’ll admit that it feels as though not as much
is hinging on each line or picture in the same way. With picture
books, you don’t have room for anything to feel arbitrary. I like

Also, I thought you might want to see these. Sam started out as a
print of a weird dog (top) and then I made a print of another
(cuter) dog, and he kept coming up in my sketchbooks until he became
Number One Sam (bottom).Number One Sam by Greg PizzoliNumber One Sam by Greg Pizzoli

What do you think are the most important considerations when creating a book trailer?
How do you think through compressing an already spare narrative into a short
animation? Are there aspects to animation you wish you had access to in
picture book art or vice versa? (I guess mostly I’m curious about how book
trailers share storytelling space with picture books and what they can do
differently. Does that make sense?!)

Ya know, it’s a complicated thing this book trailer business. I am
really happy with the two we’ve done so far, but I definitely can’t
take all the credit. Jimmy Simpson, directed and animated both the
trailer for The Watermelon Seed and for Number One Sam, and he is
pretty incredible to work with. Both times we started working, I had
already finished the book, and I had a very basic sense of what I
wanted the trailer to be, but he figures out all of the transitions
and added all of the touches that make them work as well as I think
they do. For example, the “wink” shot from the Number One Sam trailer –
that’s all Jimmy. And of course, he does all of the animation.

I draw the stuff, which is somewhat complicated because you have to
keep everything separated, meaning draw the arm on a different layer
from the body, and the hand on a different layer than the arm, and the
ear on it’s own layer, etc. Basically everything needs to move
independently of everything else, but my characters are pretty simple,
so it’s not too big a deal.

And the music is key. My buddy Christopher Sean Powell composed the
music special for both trailers. What a talent, right? He plays in the
band Man Man, and has his solo music project called Spaceship Aloha,
and was a part of a pretty seminal band from these parts called Need
New Body. I’m thrilled we get to work together on this stuff.

But, to your actual question, I see the trailer and the book as
completely separate things. They have their own pacing, and their own
objectives. With the book, you want everything to feel complete, and
have an emotional pay off of some kind. And you have the narrative arc
to keep things together. With the trailer, it’s more of a tease. You
don’t want to give it all away. And I guess our objective is to just
make them fun and unique.

Book trailers have become more popular, and there is a sort of
template for how they are done that we have tried to stay away from.
We just want them to feel different enough to maybe stand out. It’s a
super small community in some ways, and my book trailers certainly
aren’t racking up millions of views or anything, but we enjoy making
them for their own sake, partly I think because we all just like
working together. If other people dig them, and check out the book on
top of that, that’s icing.

What types of trophies do you have lining your shelves? What kind do you
wish you had? Side note: What would a book called Number One Greg be about?

Beyond my published books, which I kind of think of as trophies in a
way, there are a couple. Last year when I finished the art for Number
One Sam, my editor Rotem sent me a trophy that I keep on my bookcase.
And recently I was looking through some old family photos and found a
first place ribbon that I had won for a school wide art contest in
the 1st grade. My family moved around a ton when I was little, so the
actual winning piece was lost. I remember it though! It was a big
piece of yellow poster board with a marker drawing of outer space.

Maybe it’s time to do a space book?Number One Sam by Greg PizzoliNumber One Sam by Greg PizzolibreakerAnd now for some art from Number One Sam. Thank you, Greg! (Click to make any of them larger.)Number One Sam by Greg Pizzoli Number One Sam by Greg Pizzoli Number One Sam by Greg Pizzoli Number One Sam by Greg Pizzoli



Tagged: book trailers, CMYK, disney-hyperion, greg pizzoli, illustration, spot color

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23. A Visit to the Faerie Court – The Girl Who Never Was Trailer

I’m afraid I haven’t been a stellar member of the Faerie Court, and have been lacking in my royal duties.  To make up, I have some information about the Unseelie Court and wizards, as well as the trailer for The Girl Who Never Was.

Background on the Unseelie Court:

In Scottish folklore, the Unseelie Court was the “evil” court set up in opposition to the Seelie Court. I really liked the idea of there being no such clear dichotomy any longer: Both courts had become corrupted and dangerous to the Otherworld.

Because the Seelie Court was traditionally considered the court of light, I placed it in bright sunlight. By contrast, the Unseelie Court was traditionally considered the court of darkness, so I placed it underground, accessible to our world by going below. This is not to imply that the Seelie Court is accessible by going above, but I wanted to keep the dichotomy between the two. In my head, they almost exist on the same sheet of paper, but one is on top and one is on the bottom.

The Seelie Court rules the Otherworld and its tendrils are everywhere. I wanted the Unseelie Court to be its own little fiefdom within that kingdom, tolerated by the Seelie Court only because the Unseelies had assembled enough power of their own to resist them. The Unseelies do not mind being creatures of the darkness, and they are happy to stay in their self-contained world. Their border control measures are intense, and they seldom interact with the rest of the Otherworld. The Seelie Court would tell you this is because they do not wish the Unseelies to have access to the Otherworld, but the Unseelie Court has no desire to branch out into the rest of the Otherworld. They have no interest in political power, they only seek to be left alone to their dark magic.

The Unseelies will grant asylum on occasion to those who need it. Because it is the only independent place in the Otherworld, it is the only place to hide from Seelies. Also, because it is so inaccessible, all sorts of amazing legends have grown up about it in the Otherworld. Otherworld creatures are taught that everyone and everything could be living in the Unseelie Court, every terrifying creature that could be imagined, because none of the Otherworld creatures really know what happens there.


In the days when the borders between the Thisworld and the Otherworld were open, wizards (the female counterparts were known as witches) were quite common and it was considered a well-respected calling. It was favored, in the beginning, by families that already had great wealth, because there was little money to be made off of it. Magic, however, was a dangerous thing to practice, exhausting and potentially deadly if abused, so it was mostly favored for second sons as an alternative to the clergy. 

Witches and wizards attended universities of magic in order to learn their craft. Each developed talents for a particular type of magic that acted as their specialty. They tended to be naturally self-confident and arrogant, as belief and intent were two necessary ingredients to magic, which resulted in many clashes and feuds. Every witch and wizard consider themselves to be the best, and every other witch and wizard to be a pretender to their throne. Magical alliances were frequently fraught with tensions between overbearing personalities, and, as such, wizards and witches tended to be loners when it came to each other, even if some did develop friendships outside of the field. (William Blaxton had a reputation for being an especially gregarious wizard when it came to interspecies relationships, which was how he ended up forging the New World path.)

When magic began to fall out of favor in the onslaught of science, it began to be seen as a haven for eccentrics. Most of the last of the wizards and witches were adventurous souls, drawn to the unpredictability of the practice of magic, and many of them ended up in the New World, which they thought at the time might be more accepting of the idea of the continued existence of everyday magic. Will Blaxton settled Boston. His fellow wizard Roger Williams settled Rhode Island, slightly farther south, together with help from their fellow witch Anne Hutchinson. Meanwhile, another wizard, self-styled Lord Timothy Dexter, settled north of Boston in Newburyport.

In the early days, the witches and wizards thrived and were well-respected members of the community, but eventually they began to clash more and more with the humans who arrived and who were not interested in continuing on the practice of magic. Most of the witches and wizards went underground and rewrote the history books to take the power of their magic out of the words. The Salem Witch Trials were an effort to ferret out all of the remaining magic in the New World, but it was sadly entirely ineffective and managed merely to kill a great many innocent people, as the witches and wizards had already gone into hiding by that time.

Check out Skylar’s website for more info about her book! http://www.skylardorset.com/

The Girl Who Never Was (Otherworld)

This is not your average trip to Fairyland

In Selkie’s family, you don’t celebrate birthdays. You don’t talk about birthdays. And you never, ever reveal your birth date.

On her seventeenth birthday, Selkie finally understands why. All she wanted was a simple “Happy Birthday” from her secret crush, Ben. But the instant she blurts out the truth to him in the middle of Boston Common, her whole world shatters. Because the Boston that Selkie knows is only an elaborate enchantment constructed to conceal the truth: Selkie is a half-faerie princess. And her mother wants her dead. The faerie court believes Selkie is a child of prophecy-fated to destroy the court’s powerful grip on the supernatural world. And the only way for Selkie to survive…is to prove them right.

The post A Visit to the Faerie Court – The Girl Who Never Was Trailer appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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24. The Baby Tree

The Baby Tree by Sophie Blackallby Sophie Blackall

published 2014 by Nancy Paulsen Books, at Penguin KidsThe Baby Tree by Sophie BlackallAbout a year ago, I heard Sophie Blackall give a keynote at SCBWI Western Washington. She wears great tights and shoes and is a total riot. She had this effervescent spirit that had the whole room in stitches. It felt like watching one of her illustrations bounce right off the page and into the room.

See, I’m a big fan. Ivy and Bean are soul sisters. I gushed about The Crows of Pearblossom and The Mighty Lalouche over at Design Mom, and still stand by this tweet from the end of 2013.

Her work has sprinkles of fairy dust or something in it – something enchanting and mysterious and compelling and darn beautiful.

And this, her latest offering, is both calming and humorous, sweet and sassy. It’s a bound and beautiful answer to the dreaded where do babies come from?

breakerShe’s so in tune with the vast (and sometimes creepy!) imagination of a youngster, and look at how that plays out in this art. Real life is a spot illustration, surrounded by white space and unknowns. But the what if bleeds to the edge of the page, filling every millimeter with color and wonder and possibility. Not only is it stunning to see, it’s intentional storytelling.The Baby Tree by Sophie BlackallThe Baby Tree by Sophie BlackallHat tip, always, to Jules at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast for the interview that revealed that delicious tidbit. Check out her interview (and more art!) with Sophie here.

Sophie works in Brooklyn with other illustrators Brian Floca, Ed Hemingway, John Bemelmans Marciano, and Sergio Ruzzier. Can you even imagine spending an hour in that studio, soaking it all up and trying not to faint and fall in it? Dream field trip, for sure. Their kinship and support of one another has always been so apparent. Look here, and here, and here to see what I mean.

But also, look inside The Baby Tree for a glimpse at their love and support of one another. What’s our pajama-clad wonderer reading with Mom and Dad, all cozied up in bed? I won’t spoil it for you, cause it was a gasp-moment for me. If you’ll bust without knowing, check out Danielle’s post over at This Picture Book Life about allusions in picture books. (And stay there a while even once you see what I’m talking about, cause how brilliant is that?!)

You’d like a copy, right? Penguin has two to give away to you! (And you!) Just leave a comment on this post by Monday at noon PST, June 2nd. I’ll pick two, and have the stork deliver The Baby Tree right to your doorstep. Good luck!


Review copy provided by the publisher, all thoughts and love my own.


Tagged: book trailer, composition, full bleed, giveaway, nancy paulsen books, penguin, sophie blackall, spot illustrations, the baby tree, white space

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25. Ninja! and an interview with Arree Chung

Ninja! by Arree Chungby Arree Chung

published June 2014 by Henry Holt and Company, an imprint of Macmillan.

Friends, I’m so excited to have Arree Chung in this corner of the internet today. I met Arree last summer at SCBWI in Los Angeles, and am humbled every time I think about how we share an agent and a friendship. He’s an expert storyteller with a bright, animated style and a fresh perspective. Ninja! is his debut picture book, and it will be far from his last.

First, you should watch this short film. And here’s my confession. Arree sent this to me a number of weeks ago with the caveat that it was unreleased and not to share. Except: it was too awesome not to. So I showed it to my students, because single-digit-aged kids are pretty good at secrets and don’t have Twitter accounts anyway.

They loved it. And I mean L O V E D  I T. Each class, without fail, asked to watch it many, many times in a row. So we did.

Meet Maxwell, and then meet Arree.

breakerWhat has been the most surprising thing about this whole debut picture book thing?

The most surprising thing about the publishing process is how long it takes to actually bring a book to market (1.5 – 2 years).  My background is in games, where companies can publish with the click of a button and make updates via the internet.  The process gives me appreciation for the care that goes into the publishing process.  It also helps to have a great team of people to work with.  Everyone from your agent, publisher, editor and art director in making the book and then there’s publicity, marketing and sales folks that help in getting the book out.1stCoverAn early cover design.Ninja_Revision_Notesrevision notes.

I’m fortunate to have a supportive publisher in Macmillan.  They have a great team of experts.  Each one helps you with a specific aspect of the publishing process.  I’ve learned so much.  I’m so grateful I’ve been in good hands.  I’ve worked hard to hold up my end of the deal and make something special.  With Ninja it was easy, because I loved it so much.

Who are your creative and/or literary heroes?

Oh, so many!

Roald Dahl
E.B. White
Jack Gantos
Judy Blume
Jeff Kinney

Russell Patterson
Chris Ware
Yuko Shimitzo

Shel Silverstien
Wolf Erlbruch
William Steig
Mo Willems
Peter Brown
Leo Lionni
Maurice Sendak
Ian Falconer
Jon Klassen
David Shannon
Bill Peet
Calef Brown

Jim Lee
Scott McFarlane
Jeffrey Brown
Bill Watterson
Jim Davis
Charles Schulz

Brad Bird
John Lassetter
Guillermo Del Toro
Chris Sanders
Danny Boyle
Tim Burton
Nick Park (Wallace & Gromit)
Steven Spielberg
Hayao Miyazaki

Can you talk about the similarities and differences in animation and the picture book form?

I love both mediums for different reasons.  Both mediums can transport the reader into new worlds.  I love it when a book or movie captures my imagination and I am completely immersed in a world that has been built.  The world is invented but it feels familiar and the story resonates with honesty.  I hate it when a story is force feeding me a message and it feels like an infomercial or when a story rambles without a focus.  Storytelling is magical when it has both the imagination and heart and speaks to you directly and honestly.  A great story is so exhilarating.  There’s nothing in the world that feels like it.  I love both animation and picture books because they have the ability to create magic.

How they are different?  Well, I think the main difference is that film tends to be a passive experience.  The viewer is in a dream like state that watches the story unfold.  It’s like being suspended in a time capsule and you watch everything that happens.  You take the story in a more subliminal kind of way.NinjaCreepAwaySpread14_15Books on the other hand I think are active experiences.  You as the reader actively interact with the words and pictures.  It’s like your brain is the film projector and is working to play the story.  Because of this, I think books are much more intimate experiences.  You go at your own pace.  You stop, question and wonder.  Sometimes you’re so engaged, you speed all the way through and sometimes you like to read slowly just because.  Readers engage books with their imaginations and a lot of the story is told in-between the words, the page turns and the illustrations whereas films are full experiences that use all the arts of composition, acting, music and visuals to put you in a state of suspension.

Both are magical and I love doing both so much.

Can you give us any behind-the-scenes information on how you created the short film? Did you get to know Maxwell differently in that format?

Yeah!  It was so thrilling to bring Maxwell to life.  I had a pretty good idea of who he is as a character after creating the book but actually seeing him move and casting Taylor Wong as Maxwell brought another whole dimension.

As for production, here’s a quick behind the scenes look of what it took to make the short film.  I plan on doing a much more in-depth look in a separate blog post.

We used 4 software tools: Photoshop, Flash, After Effects and Final Cut Pro.  The process was a highly collaborative effort between folks at MacMillan, myself and David Shovlin, the animator.  It was a ton of work to do but a ton of fun as well.ShortFilm_Process

In all, it took about 5 weeks of work.  David and I worked really hard on it and I’m really proud of what we created in a relatively short period of time.2013-09-09 23:23Where did Ninja! come from?

It’s been my dream to make my own picture books for a long time.  The first conception of Ninja came when I was in art school.  I jotted down “A boy goes creeping around the house dressed as a Ninja and causes trouble.”  That was probably in 2007 or so.

Maxwell_1st_CharacterSketchesNinja_Thumbnails        MaxwellScanNoPencilNinja_earlySketches-1Early Ninja! thumbnails and character sketches.

In 2012, I decided to do the Illustrator Intensive at the SCBWI Summer Conference.  We were given an assignment to submit a story along with a manuscript, thumbnails, character sketches, and a finished illustration.  Up to that point, I had been writing stories for years but was stuck on many of them.  For the workshop we had to write down answers to the following questions:

WHAT is the dilemma?
WHERE does it take place?
HOW is the problem solved?

This really helped me a lot.  Previous to this, many of my stories didn’t have focus and wandered a lot.  Ninja was a big break through for me as a storyteller and I had lots of people who helped guide me through it.   I’m so thankful for Rubin, my agent, and Kate, my editor.  The more I worked on it, the more the world and character took shape and gained depth.  It was so much fun to make.

Do you remember any art you made as a kid? What was it?!

Yeah, I made a lot of ninja stars and origami.  I was also obsessed with Legos.  I loved to build cruiser space ships and large fortresses armed to the teeth.  Whenever my uncle bought us Legos, we would make the thing we were supposed to make and then tear it apart and then make what we wanted to make.  Making your own thing was much more fun.

I was a huge comic book reader and collector as well.  I bought all of the X-men, Spiderman, Spider-ham, Batman and Spawn comics.  I still buy comics.

I also really love the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  I used to record all of the episodes.  In fact, I used to press pause on the VCR and trace drawings of the Ninja Turtles by overlaying paper onto the TV.  At school, everyone thought I was the best drawer, but I never told anyone my technique til now!  Eventually I copied so many drawings I could draw it out of memory.  I tried to do the same technique with Transformers but that wasn’t nearly as successful because I didn’t understand perspective as at 12 year old.

And now what’s next for you?Ninja_GhostStoryI’ve got a lot of things I’m working on.  I have lots of Ninja stories to tell with Maxwell. (I’m so excited about all of them!)  One of them involves an old Chinese folktale involving ghosts!

I’m also illustrating two Potty Training books for kids that are hilarious.HowToPeeillustrations from How to Pee

I have lots of picture book stories I’m developing and I’m also writing a middle grade novel titled Ming Lee, All American.  Ming Lee chronicles my experiences growing up as an ABC (American Born Chinese).  It’s deeply personal and is funny in that Louis CK, embarrassing but honest kind of way.  I would describe it as Judy Blume meets Diary of a Wimpy Kid.  Of course, it is its own thing that I am figuring out.  I have a sense of what I want it to be but you never know what it will be until you get there.


breakerA huge thanks to Arree for this peek into the mind of a master craftsman. Be sure to get your hands on Ninja! this week!


Tagged: arree chung, character sketch, design, illustration, lego, ninja!, picture book, rubin pfeffer, scbwi, teenage mutant ninja turtles, thumbnails, typography

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