- Idea generating is like any other part of writing: it must be practiced to be strengthened.
- Playing with ideas without drafting means deeper, broader, more outlandish concepts; fresh perspective; and creative freedom...things will lead to some pretty fun writing.
- With my picture book read aloud years essentially done, I have some gaps in my knowledge I need to fill in. Here are three great places I've found to brush up on my studies:
- PiBoIdMo Day #7 -- Tammi Sauer (books in the picture above are taken from this post)
- Nerdy Book Club Awards Picture Book Award Nominees
- The Picture Book Month website
What are my writing goals for December?
- Study, study, study to fill in some picture book gaps
- develop a few manuscripts based on my month of brainstorming
- line edit my most-recent verse novel for agent Michelle
What about you? What do you plan to accomplish this month?
At the beginning of November's Picture Book Month, I posted several picture books that resonate with me. Now that the month is almost over, I'd like to write about one that leaves me, well, let's just say underwhelmed. No, it's not The Giving Tree
, a book that many parents either love or hate. While I don't care for that book's premise--a tree gives and gives of herself until nothing is left--it was never a book I read. No, my least favorite picture book is the much beloved The Little Engine That Could
I know, I know. It's a classic and the illustrations, I agree, are charming. But I've never been a fan of its message. Oh, I guess I enjoyed the book as a kid--or was it the pictures of all that luscious candy?--but as an adult I find it way too didactic and its moral questionable. Yes, I realize that it's important to always try and that a positive mindset can get you over humps. But guess what? Sometimes you can give your all and still fail. As a child I practiced dance steps over and over, but no amount of positive thinking will ever make me a ballerina. So I resent being told that if you try really, really hard, you're bound to succeed.
Naturally, I never purchased the book for my daughter. When her aunts found out, they fretted that their niece would grow up deprived and one of them gave her the book as a present. Once in her hands, I had no choice but to read it to her--again and again. Another thing--is that book long or what! Now--full confession--she did grow up to perservere in her chosen field, undertaking three grueling years in grad school and she's currently working at a very demanding job with an extremely long commute. Does she get through her day thinking, "I think I can. I think I can."? If so, then all those endless hours reading a book I didn't much like paid off.
Well, I'm glad I got that off my chest. Now it's your turn. What picture book sticks in your craw?
It has NOT been a quiet week since getting back home. Of course I added the previous Creative Spaces
post from my lovely friend Katie Davis
for her blog tour. That was heaps of fun. And in case you didn't hear me you might want to visit Katie's podcast
where she spoke to all of us who were part of her tour, about something memorable to do with book launches. I am up early on the podcast and reflected on a launch with one of my pythons.
But now to catch up:
Last Saturday was Kids Day Out
at Glebe Library - their first event for 2012 National Year of Reading
, for which I am one of the National Ambassadors. I spent a delighful few hours at the library, first opening the days' programme and then later conducting a SOUNDS SPOOKY
reading session. It was really a joy (I lurve reading my own book) and while I was reading Sounds Spooky
I noticed a very young bub cradled by her mum quite close to where I was sitting on the floor. As anyone who has read the book knows, there is a part where there is a scream, so when it came time to scream I did screanmed very, very gently watching out of the corner of my eye the mum nad bub. BUT my gentle scream wan't quiet enough ... and they both jumped which was followed by quite a few giggles! I would love to add a photo here of the gathering masses but as I was presenting and my camera swas still tucked in the bag ... there is none to show.
2012 National Year of Reading
has begun ... well sort of. The official kick off is next Tuesday in Canberra (ACT) at the National Library of Australia and I will be zapping on down for the day! As National Ambassador already I have been at the Glebe library Kids Day out and written a few articles and blog posts. I feel very privileged and thrilled to be one of the National Ambassadors.
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November is a busy month for literacy, with NaNoWriMo and PiBoIdMo both going on. Something else that is happening is Picture Book Month. Here is what their site about page reads:
Picture Book Month is an international literacy initiative that celebrates the print picture book during the month of November.
Founder, Dianne de Las Casas (author & storyteller) storyconnection.net, and Co-Founders, Katie Davis (author/illustrator) katiedavis.com, Elizabeth O. Dulemba (author/illustrator) www.dulemba.com, Tara Lazar (author) taralazar.wordpress.com, and Wendy Martin (author/illustrator) wendymartinillustration.com, put together their worldwide connections to make this happen.
Every day in November, there is a new post from a picture book champion explaining why he/she thinks picture books are important.
Come join me as an ambassador to celebrate the print picture book for the month of November!
Read *Share *Celebrate!
I can’t believe it’s already November! PiBoIdMo, 12X12 and Picture Book Month are all in full swing, proving that the venerable picture book has merit and value. It is because of because of you, writers and lovers of picture books, that we have reason to celebrate! So I begin this post with a thank you. Thank you for your passion and commitment to picture books.
Now on to the subject of my post. The Space Between. It sounds like some ethereal place that might exist in a Lois Lowry book but it is a very real place that exists, especially in picture books. Joe Wos, a friend who is a cartoonist and curator of the Toonseum in Pittsburgh, Pennsyvania, once taught me about “the space between” in comic strips. It’s that blank space that exists in between each comic box. What is so important about The Space Between are not the words before and after it, but the words and actions that are left unsaid.
I thought about it. As writers, we all rely on The Space Between without even realizing it. In novels, you’ll see two passages divided by a set of asterisks. The moment you see it, you know moments, actions, and words have passed, all shrouded in The Space Between. The writer leaves it up to you to decipher what happens between one scene and the next. The device is also used in movies. Movement from scene to scene relies on The Space Between to create a smooth transition.
So how does this fit into writing picture books? For picture book writers, The Space Between is the page turn. It is the breath or the pause between pages. It can be dramatic and full of suspense, ushering the next bit of action in the book. Eric Litwin’s New York Times best-selling book, Pete the Cat does this so brilliantly that listening audiences automatically chime in the answer when the page is turned.
The Space Between can also be subtle and gentle. In the nearly wordless picture book, Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathman, the device is used ingeniously. The Space Betweeen becomes the thread that ties every scene together, creating a story so seamless, you don’t even notice what is not shown. On one page, the zookeeper’s wife wakes up. On the next page, she is on the lawn, walking the animals back to the zoo. What happens in between needs no explication.
The Space Between can also be intentional. Stories that are poems have a natural break between stanzas such as those in Dr. Seuss books. In the book, Z is for Moose by Kelly Bingham and illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky, The Space Between is used to create deliberate tension. Moose vies for a spot in the alphabet and Zebra is the referee trying to corral Moose and keep him from ruining the procession of letters. At one point, Zebra says, “No! Now, move off the page.” The page turn reveals whether or not Moose moves and what his next antics might be.
The next time you are reading or writing a picture book, think about The Space Between. Think about the words and actions you commit to paper as well as the ones you don’t. Think about that pause, the breath that is the page turn. What does your “space between” say?
November is Picture Book Month. Read * Share * Celebrate!
Dianne de Las Casas is an award-winning author, storyteller, and founder of Picture Book Month, who tours internationally presenting author visit/storytelling programs, educator/librarian training, and workshops. Her performances, dubbed “revved-up storytelling” are full of energetic audience participation. The author of twenty books, her children’s titles include The Cajun Cornbread Boy, Madame Poulet & Monsieur Roach, Mama’s Bayou, The Gigantic Sweet Potato, There’s a Dragon in the Library, The House That Witchy Built, Blue Frog: The Legend of Chocolate, Dinosaur Mardi Gras, Beware, Beware of the Big Bad Bear, and The Little “Read” Hen. Visit her website at diannedelascasas.com. Visit Picture Book Month at picturebookmonth.com.
HAPPY PICTURE BOOK MONTH!
There is indeed a movement to make November a time to celebrate children's literature with Picture Book Month
. Led by author Dianne de Las Casas, the website will feature essays of notable authors and illustrators, along with resources, activities, and referrals. As the organizer for the Cybils category
for picture books, I could certainly get on-board with such fantastic idea. As it turns out, I was already planning to fill this blog with reviews of the many, many, many Cybils-nominated titles in my category. So, look for that.
It's also good timing that I can start today with a proclamation, but even better that it is written by someone else. Especially if that person or people should have particular regard for the topic. People like authors and illustrators of children's books, like Mac Barnett, Sophie Blackall, Carson Ellis, Adam Rex, Jon Scieszka. Something like this:
While I'm not sure I agree with all aspects of the manifesto - I don't mind the term "kid-friendly" for one - I love the concept. The website
is getting a lot of attention and hopefully starting some conversations. With my idea to talk more about the many (many, many) books nominated for the Cybils this year, I'm taking another look at one line of the manifesto: "We need more robust criticism to keep us original." Are you sure? Really? Cause I could give it to you, but it won't be nice...
Links to material on Amazon.com contained within this post may be affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which this site may receive a referral fee.
Did you know November is Picture Book Month? Here's a great blog to help you celebrate! http://picturebookmonth.com/
by Dianne de Las Casas
Now what did you hear when you read that word? Whose voice was it? Was it your mom’s voice? Was it your grandmother’s voice? Was it your own voice hushing your children? So much of our world operates in onomatopoeic sounds: the chirping of the morning birds, the beeping of the garbage truck, the roaring of a car engine, the screeching of the school bus as it comes to a stop…
As a professional storyteller, I actually become better at telling my stories by listening. It is through this simple auditory observation that I find inspiration for my tales. As a picture book author, I become better at writing by thinking of my story in terms of sound. How will this tale reverberate when it is read out loud?
The sound of a baby’s “Wah! Wah!” became a turning point in a recent story I revised. The sing-songy refrains that I have become known for in my books work better when they are released from the page through the read-aloud. In Denise Fleming’s picture book, In the Tall Tall Grass, you hear, “Crunch, munch. Caterpillars lunch.” The sounds become actions. The actions become story.
Watch little boys as they play with trucks and cars. They zoom and they vroom. Listen to preschoolers and kindergarteners make sound effects. Go the playground and take note. You’ll hear the clap clap clap of the girls’ hand games and the thump thump thump of a boys’ basketball game. Even the swingset makes a whooshing sound as the swings take flight.
Today, listen to the noise around you. Write down the sounds, even making them up if there is no known word for what you hear. The kerchink kerchink kerchink of the dryer could lead to a new picture book idea (but don’t you hate it when your family leaves stuff in their pockets?! LOL).
Even if you like to write in the quiet, today is the day to make some noise. Perhaps you will hum, echo, thud, crash, jingle, swish, or clatter your way into a new story.
Listen up. What do you hear?
Dianne is generously giving away a signed picture book to a lucky commenter. A winner will be randomly selected one week from today!
Dianne de Las Casas is an award-winning author of 18 books, a professonal storyteller, and founder of the international literacy initiative, Picture Book Month. She tours worldwide presenting revved-up author visit/storytelling programs, lively educator/librarian training, fun workshops, and inspiring artist residencies. Her children’s books include The Cajun Cornbread Boy, Madame Poulet & Monsieur Roach, Mama’s Bayou, The Gigantic Sweet Potato, There’s a Dragon in the Library, The House That Witchy Built, and Blue Frog: The Legend of Chocolate. She is a founding member of November’s Picture Book Month. Visit her at www.storyconnection.net and follow all the storytelling fun on Twitter @storyconnection.
10 Comments on PiBoIdMo Day 10: Listen Up Like Dianne de Las Casas (plus a giveaway!), last added: 11/10/2011
November is Picture Book Idea Month (better known around the blogosphere as PiBoIdMo), and this is the first year I'm participating. Like the other 300 or so writers and illustrators taking part, I've been busy trying to come up with 30 new picture book ideas before the month is over. Luckily, I've been finding tons of inspiration on Writing for Kids
(the official PiBoIdMo blog) and on a new website celebrating November as the first annual Picture Book Month
. But I'm always looking for more...
Given this context, November seems the perfect time to talk about the picture book I Love to Dance
, by Australian author and illustrator Anna Walker
. The words in the book are few (only 88 of them) and the illustrations quite simple, but the book resonates with me strongly and inspires me deeply.
My six-year-old thinks the main character of the book, Ollie, is a zebra. My four-year-old thinks he's a dog. I'm not quite sure what I think he is, but perhaps this is one of the reasons I love the book so much. When I read it, I pretty much forget about...or don't even care...whether Ollie is a zebra, a dog, or some other creature. I only care that he loves to dance, and I feel happy for him that he dances so easily and with such abandon.
Ollie loves to dance loudly, and to dance quietly. He loves to dance like jelly. He loves to jump, roll, and flip. And he loves to hop! However, I think it is really Anna Walker's illustrations that let readers get to know Ollie and how creative he can be. When he jumps, rolls, and flips, the illustrations show him doing it all inside of a cardboard box. And when he hops, he doesn't hop the way you might expect he would. He does it upside down--in a one-arm handstand!
I love that Ollie thinks up new and exciting ways to do classic movements...kind of like the way picture book writers and illustrators must think up new ideas and angles for telling stories that have probably been told in other ways many times before.
Picture books and the ideas behind them can inspire. They can touch the hearts of readers and make them feel connected to the characters in a book and to themselves. That's how I feel about Ollie, and that's what makes me want to read more about him and the activities he loves. For now, though, I'm going to take the inspiration that Ollie has already given me and try to come up with some more picture book ideas of my own!I Love to Dance
Although if you do (and maybe you should) you might find not only a new post by another terrific Picture Book creator, there's one every day for the month of November, but part-way down the middle column you will find that someone (now who would that be) has been appointed as International Liaison for the Advisory Board.
Go on have a look!
And you haven't even seen my post yet.
You will just have to check in each day to find out when I am there.
I promise it will appear! Read
Picture Books ... all over the world!
By: Aline Pereira
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Picture Book Month is an international initiative to designate November as Picture Book Month, encouraging everyone to celebrate literacy with picture books. Founder, Dianne de Las Casas (author & storyteller) and Co-Founders, Katie Davis (author/illustrator), Elizabeth O. Dulemba (author/illustrator), Tara Lazar (author), and Wendy Martin (author/illustrator), are putting together their worldwide connections to make this happen.
In October 2010 The New York Times published an article, “Picture Books No Longer A Staple for Children.” The controversial article incited a barrage of responses from the children’s book industry, many in defense of the venerable picture book. In addition, the digital age has ushered in an unprecedented amount of ebooks and, with devices like the iPad, the color Nook, and the Kindle Fire, picture books are being converted to the digital format. In this digital age where people are predicting the coming death of print books, picture books (the print kind) need love. And the world needs picture books. There’s nothing like the physical page turn of a beautifully crafted picture book.
Each day during November picture book authors have contributed a short essay on Why Picture Books Are So Important. The Picture Book Month website also features links to picture book resources, authors, illustrators, and kidlit book bloggers. So stop by and check out the essays, and all the rest of the material (including calendars and celebration ideas and much more) for Picture Book Month at www(dot)picturebookmonth(dot)com. Join the celebration and party with a picture book!
I'm really enjoying Picture Book Month
, which is the first annual celebration of my favorite kind of book. As part of the celebration, I want to share with you a new book from Tiger Tales
--a small independent publisher that happens to only
make picture books.
, written by Ann Bonwill
and illustrated by Teresa Murfin
, was actually first published in April 2011 by Oxford University Press in the United Kingdom. Tiger Tales then published it a few months later, in September 2011, in the United States. Here's the cast of characters from the book:
- Chloe is the narrator and main character. She dances with gusto...but not with much grace.
- Belinda is Chloe's big sister. She's a natural ballerina.
- Madame Mina is the girls' ballet teacher. She makes Belinda the star of the ballet show and casts poor Chloe as a rock!
- Mr. Tiempo plays the piano during ballet class. Chloe and her creative spirit make him smile again and again.
"Float like clouds!" says Madame Mina, and I spin around the room like a dust cloud, clap like a thundercloud, whoosh like a rain cloud...SMACK! straight into Anthony. "What were you thinking?" asks Madame Mina. "I was a cloud with gusto," I say. Before I hang my head, I think I see Mr. Tiempo smiling.
2 Comments on Good Toes or Naughty Toes?, last added: 11/21/2011
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November is National Picture Book Month, and I thought I would contribute to the celebration with a list of ten of my favorite picture books. This is by no means a definitive list – I have hundreds of favorites! – but for our family, these books have stood the test of time and continue to delight, even after multiple readings. Many of them also ‘break the rules’ of picture book writing and publishing, and remind us that a unique idea, an original voice or a magical complement of story and art make it possible to venture beyond formulas and create something surprising and enduring:
Bark, George! (Jules Feiffer) – The giddy tale of a puppy who speaks every other animal’s language but his own – with superbly spare text and Feiffer’s brilliant, classic line-drawings.
The Dot (Peter H. Reynolds) – A child who thinks she has no creative talent learns how simple it can be to express oneself creatively and to take pleasure in the ownership of one’s efforts.
Goodnight, Moon (Margaret Wise Brown/Clement Hurd) - A little rabbit preparing for bed says goodnight to everyone and everything in his world. The perfect, classic bedtime story.
Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus (Mo Willems) – A brilliant tribute to the often dramatic and unreasonable behavior of preschoolers, with simple but hilarious illustrations and text.
Harold and the Purple Crayon (Crockett Johnson) – Harold takes a memorable journey with a simple purple crayon… First published in 1955, a tribute to the power and wonder of imagination.
I Stink (Jim and Kate McMullan) – A hilarious ode to the humble garbage truck, reminding us that everyone has value and something to contribute.
Miss Rumphius (Barbara Cooney) – Alice Rumphius has three life quests – to see faraway places, to live by the sea in her old age, and to do something to make the world a more beautiful place.
Olivia (Ian Falconer) – The “Eloise” of pigs! Ian Falconer’s hilarious series about an unforgettable (if a tad precocious) porcine heroine.
Owen (Kevin Henkes) – Owen and his beloved blanket are inseparable, until the first day of kindergarten. Can his parents find a solution that suits everyone and helps their son transition?
Tell Me Something Happy Before I Go To Sleep (Joyce Dunbar/Debi Gliori) – A thoughtful bunny calms his younger sister’s nighttime fears by encouraging her to think happy thoughts.