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1. Stop the Presses…and START HERE!

This may be the first book cover that actually teaches how to letterspell "A B C"  in American Sign Language!

This may be the first book cover that actually teaches how to letterspell “A B C” in American Sign Language! (click to enlarge)

Let’s start with unveiling the cover itself. It features a lenticular!

And it’s going on press this month! I’m so excited!

Why? Because it all began as a list of words on a spread sheet almost five years ago. Gallaudet University Press lined up a team of illustrators for their upcoming definitive American Sign Language reference (think Merriam-Webster, but for signing), aimed at the pre-school through grade 3 level. It had to be usable for hearing families as well as the deaf and hearing-impaired.

Page 1 from the Dictionary

Page 1 from the Dictionary


One of the illustrators already on board was Debbie Tilley. When agent Richard Salzman discovered it was (a) Gallaudet first foray into children’s books and general trade; and (b) they expected Debbie to produce the layouts too, he recommended they contact me to pull it all together for them. It was a dream project for all of us!

Dictionary_p-105_Page_011   Dictionary_p-105_Page_008 Dictionary_p-105_Page_007

 392 pages of full color! It looks like a graphic comic, with over 1,000 word entries, fully illustrated. Plus it includes a DVD featuring a rainbow of children signing. There’s also a special feature on forming sentences.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll guide you on the process. It will be like a diary on the making of a children’s reference classic. . .

Spread from pages 238-239

Spread from pages 238-239 (click to enlarge)

You will witness exclusive behind-the-scenes book making. Stay tuned. That’s why I’ve been away for so long. Been dictionary-ing…


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2. Take Away the A

Take Away the A
by Michaël Escoffier (author of Brief Thief, Me First! and The Day I Lost My Superpowers)
illustrated by Kris Di Giacomo
Enchanted Lion Books, due out September 12, 2014
review copy provided by the publisher

You will want this book. I guarantee it.

Best. Alphabet Book. Ever.

This is the kind of mentor text that makes you want to try writing this way...right NOW.

Here's a taste:

"Without the A
the BEAST is BEST.

Without the B
the BRIDE goes for a RIDE.

Without the C
the CHAIR has HAIR."

See what I mean?

I wish you could actually see the book, because the other part of the fun is finding the duck, the mice, the octopus, the monkey, and the cats in spreads other than their own throughout the book.

Need a quote for a slide in your word study/vocabulary presentation? From the press release:
"Since we are really only able to think about the world, ourselves, and the nature of life itself (along with everything else) within the vocabulary that is available to us, the richer and more nuanced our language is, the richer our possibilities for thinking and understanding become. From this point of view, the ethical, political, cultural and intellectual imperatives for deepening a child's sense of language and its possibilities are profound. Giving them the idea that language is a vital material with which they can make and build and shape their world is so clearly of vital importance."

What are you waiting for?

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3. December Mosaic and 2012 Photo Projects

Flickr photoset is here if you'd like to see the photos full-sized.

At the beginning of the month, our temperatures were still in the 50s. Almost like the flipping of a switch on Winter Solstice, the temperatures dropped and the snow came. Fun vegetable shots this month -- "Bright Veggies" in my Buddha Bowl at Northstar, a grinning spud spotted at Kroger, and fresh Brussel Sprouts from the Winter Worthington Farmers Market before they were roasted for Christmas dinner.


Back in January, I gave myself a new focus for my photos:
I'm going to collect photos of numbers and letters (actual and representations). By the end of the year, I'll be able to make my own Alpha-Numeric picture book through the iPhoto store!
I collected about half of the alphabet and all of the numbers 1-13 except 9 and 10. I also discovered that our local Cord Camera is the way to go for all kinds of photography projects: support a local business and don't pay exorbitant shipping fees!

Here are the ABC and 123 projects so far:

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4. 13 Days of Halloween: The Gashlycrumb Tinies

Or, After the Outing   by Edward Gorey Simon & Schuster 1963  A ghastly little abecedarian for hip little children... who might just happen to be teens or adults with a sense of humor. I think this one is best explained by example. You can probably figure out how the rest of this plays out. Twenty-six children, each with their own half of a dactylic couplet to explain their demise.

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5. All About Boats: A to Z by David & Zora Aiken

5 stars
All About Boats: A to Z
David & Zora Aiken
Schiffer Publishing
No. Pages:  32       Ages: 6 to 8

Back Cover:  Boating time is family time as everyone often shares both the fun and the work. Even young children are eager to help. Their curiosity is roused and they’ll look for ways to learn more about boating. All About Books: A to Z shows the youngest crew members the purpose of the many things they see while boating. The book can prompt conversations about all aspects of boating as families develop their onboard teamwork.

All About Boats: A to Z is a unique alphabet book. For one, it is written for older children who already know their ABCs. A boating term, beginning with that page’s letter, helps a child learn about boats and boating terms. A rhyming verse explains the term in a light, easy tone. Finally, the illustrations add further explanation of the term.

For example, the letter K’s word is keel.

Most boats have a keel—

It’s part of the design.

A sailboat’s deep keel

Helps hold a straight line.

The illustration for letter K is a sailboat on transparent water, allowing the child to see the keel on the sailboat. This is a great way for anyone to learn something new. The more senses involved, the better the retention.

All About Boats: A to Z uses sight and sound, but in multiple ways. The child will read the letter and its word in bold type. Then they will read a short verse, which rhymes and includes the word’s purpose. Each illustration shows the child where the term is in relation to boating. Assuming the family owns a boat, the child can connect then term with the real thing.

I like the book’s multiple avenues for learning both the alphabet and boating terms.  Younger children can use this as an ABC book, especially if interested in boats. All About Boats: A to Z is written for the older child who wants or needs to learn the terms of boating. Each verse helps the child remember the purpose of each word. The important word is in bold type and always in the verse. The illustrations do a wonderful job of capturing the word, while still keeping the book’s feel light and airy, somewhat like boating itself.

I think kids will love to learn about boats by using this book. It is friendly, fun, and familiarizes the child to boats and their functions quickly. A young child, under the age of five or six may not understand all of the terms, even after having the verses read to them and looking at the illustrations. Still, I would not hesitate in giving this ABC book to a youngun (as my fellow book reviewer Erik, called young children in a recent review).

This is a book that can help a child prepare for a boating trip and then reinforce the boating term, part, and function while on the trip. Some adults, not accustom to boating on a regular basis, will learn much from this cute book. T is for transom,which is the area on the back of the boat, where a boat’s given name is painted. I did not know that.

I like this book. Kids will enjoy the illustrations and learning about boats. I think girls will enjoy this as much as boys. Anyone with children, or grandchildren, who regularly boats, especially if they own a boat, will find this book valuable. Any child who loves boats, be it the large ones sailing the ocean or the small ones sailing the carpet, will want this boat, learn from this boat, and be thrilled to own this book. All About Boats: A to Z is a great book for many reasons—all of them kid friendly.


*One possible game that can be played to reinforce remembering a term, is to find that term on other pages of the book.  For example, the term transom, which I did not know until reading this book.  There are seven transoms with a name in this book. One boat has its name on its side, so I would think it does not count.

Those seven boats with names, when found by the child, will help reinforce what a transom is for. The last spread is a beautiful scene of all shapes and sizes of boats, yet not one has a name on its transom.  This is a missed opportunity for reinforcement of letter T’ and the word transom.

All About Boats: A to Z

Author: David & Zora Aiken
Illustrator: David Aiken
Publisher: Schiffer Publishing   website
Release Date: July 28, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-7643-4184-7
Number of Pages: 32
Ages: 5 to 8

Filed under: 5stars, Children's Books, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade, NonFiction Tagged: ABC, alphabet, anchor, boating terms, boats, children's book, compass, dinghy, ensign flag, family fun, fender, galley, horns, instruments, jib, keel, learning about boats, lines, middle grade book, mizzen, monkey, motoar boats, oars, ocean liners, port, quarterberth, radar, sailboats, ship's bell, sou'wester, starboard, tack, tow boat, transom, yawl, zigzags

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6. Cubes: Tour of ABC News Headquarters

Here’s an inside look at ABC News. In this episode of mediabistroTV’s “Cubes,” David Muir, weekend anchor of “World News,” gives us a behind-the-scenes tour of the ABC News headquarters.

The ABC complex on Manhattan’s upper west side is home to ABC News, “Live! with Kelly,” and local New York station WABC. Diane Sawyer also makes a cameo in the video (as do her dozens of Emmys).

For more mediabistroTV videos, check out our YouTube channel, and be sure to follow us on Twitter: @mediabistroTV

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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7. Letter Z

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8. Letter X

1 Comments on Letter X, last added: 6/2/2012
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9. Letter W

1 Comments on Letter W, last added: 5/29/2012
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10. Letter V

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11. Letter U

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12. Letter Q

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13. Letter O

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14. Letter N

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15. Letter L

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16. Letter K

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17. Letter J

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18. Teen TV: What Will They Be Watching This Fall

This week, the major TV networks got all dressed up to court advertisers at their upfront presentations. They casually announced several show cancellations — “Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior,” “Hellcats,” “$#*! My Dad Says,” and many,... Read the rest of this post

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The kiwi kid’s ABC by Rebekah Holguin, HarperCollins NZ
ABC books are always popular, especially with grandmothers like me! As I read it, I was imagining how I’ll share it with my 3-year-old grandson, who already knows his ABCs. I think he’ll be most intrigued, firstly with the bright, bold, in-your-face style of the illustrations, and secondly with the distinctly New Zealand flavour. The letters of the alphabet (shown in heavy black print, both small and capital) have either a single or double spread, with the doubles being particularly striking. For A we get aroha, for D we get dolphin, for J we get jandals; also rugby for R, and ukulele for U. The double spread for B gives us bucket, bare feet, beach, ball and bay. The illustrations are done with eye-catching colours and strong black outlines (to my mind, the black outlines look rather retro).
I tried to find out a bit about the author/illustrator but couldn’t detect much, not even on the publisher’s website or her own. This is obviously her first book. Her previous work seems to lean towards fantasy illustration, and she has trained with Weta Workshops. I suspect we may see more of her work, so I hope the publishers update their website. If you’re looking for an ABC book for New Zealanders, this is a good one to try.
ISBN 978 1 86950 895 1 RRP $16.99 (pb)
Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

100 Things by Masayuki Sebe, Gecko Press
This counting book (by the author/illustrator of Dinosaurs Galore) for ages 3 to 6 is typical of what we’ve come to expect from Gecko Press – bright and funky, eye-catching and very 21st century. On each double spread you will find 100 whatevers – mice, moles, children, cars. As well as exhaustive counting, you will also find other activities such as “Can you find 1 rabbit?” on the sheep page, and “Where is the other cat?” on the children page. The last double spread offers ten subjects arranged in 10s, followed by a page of extra location challenges – “Who lives in this house?” The illustrations are done in simplistic cartoon style, and are very appealing.
This book would be best shared with children who understand the concept of counting to one hundred. It would be a bit too much for children who can only go up to 10 or twenty, so not many 3-year-olds would appreciate it. But I’ll be keeping it safely on my bookshelf for when grandson Lachlan develops his counting skills a bit more – and I’m sure we’ll both have lots of fun with it. It would be a popular buy for preschool centres and kindergartens.
ISBN 978 1 877467 82 0 RRP $19.99 (pb) $32.99 (hb)
Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

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20. Ypulse Essentials: Facebook’s Open Graph In Action, Another ‘Beauty And The Beast’ Reboot, HootSuite University

Here’s a roundup of some of the best ways that brands are using Facebook’s new Open Graph (to encourage their fans to share their brand interactions on the site. We’re big fans of Ticketmaster’s mashup with Spotify’s... Read the rest of this post

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21. Ypulse Essentials: Cartoon Network’s Upfront Announcements, ‘Anchorman’ Sequel In 2013, YouTube’s Search For Its Next Star

Cartoon Network is turning 20 this year, and it reveled in its position as the #1 network for 6 to 11 year old boys (during its upfront presentation this week. The network officially announced a few shows that we knew were coming — including... Read the rest of this post

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22. Monster eBook giveaway! Free Silly Monsters eBook and free coloring-in picture download!

I am scheduling a free kindle eBook giveaway of Silly Monsters ABC for this Friday and Saturday, 27th and 28th of April.

Cover picture from Silly Monsters ABC, a kid's kindle ebook

Here is a selection of quotes from the reviews on amazon.com:

"This is among the very best of the children's books for Kindle that I have seen." 

"BRILLIANT kids ABC book! . . . VERY creative text - I could read this book a million times over and never get tired of it."

"Cute little book. Very creative monsters. The descriptive words are sure to expand your child's vocabulary. My son enjoyed it."

"It is very well formatted for Kindle, both black and white and color (much better than the average Kindle picture book). "

"I've read quite a few of Gerald Hawksley's picture books and like the others this one is a lot of fun to read. ... Simply a book that is lot of fun, even as a fun read for adults who already know their alphabet."

You can sample the first few pages by using my Silly Monster Online eReading Device below.
(Unless you are browsing with IE6, in which case it won't work.)

And here is a picture of a hairy hipparoo from the book for you to color in!
Go to the download page and right-click or ctrl-click (Mac) to save to your computer. Then you can either color it in wi

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23. Letter G

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24. Letter H

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