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Here in New York we’re getting very excited. The 90-Second Film Festival is coming!! And soon too! Here’s a PW interview with James Kennedy about the festival and for those of you in the NYC area you can see it at NYPL on Saturday, March 7th at 3:00 p.m. In fact, now that I think about it, you could begin your day at NYPL at 2:00 p.m. at my Children’s Literary Salon Blurred Lines?: Accuracy and Illustration in Nonfiction. We’ll be hosting Mara Rockliff (author), Brian Floca (author/illustrator), Nicole Raymond (editor), and Sophie Blackall (illustrator/author) as they discuss the responsibility of an illustrator when working on a piece of historical nonfiction for kids and whether or not words garner closer scrutiny than pictures. Should be a fabulous day.
We all know on some level that when a book is adapted into a movie the likelihood of the strong female characters staying strong is negligible. There are always exceptions to the rule, but by and large it’s depressing not to be more shocked by the recent Cracked piece 6 Insulting Movie Adaptations of Strong Female Characters. I was very pleased to see the inclusion of Violet from A Series of Unfortunate Events too. Folks tend to forget about her.
At the beginning of February I had the infinite pleasure of hosting a Children’s Literary Salon at NYPL on Collaborating Couples. I invited in Ted & Betsy Lewin, Andrea and Brian Pinkney, and Sean Qualls and Selina Alko. You can read the PW round-up of the talk here, but before we hit the stage I had to ask Sean about this incident that occurred involving his book with Selina, The Case for Loving and W. Kamau Bell’s treatment at Berkeley’s Elmwood Café. We didn’t touch on it during our talk since it wasn’t pertinent to this particular discussion, but if you haven’t read the article I suggest you give it a look.
If I’m going to be honest about it, this perfectly encapsulates what I’ve always personally felt about the Elephant and Piggie books. This is because growing up I was the child that wanted everyone and everything in the universe to pair up. Sesame Street fed this desire to a certain degree but the only time Mr. Rogers got close was during the opera episodes. And don’t even get me STARTED on Reading Rainbow (no sexual tension = no interest for 4-year-old Betsy). Hence my perverse desire to see Gerald and Piggie become a couple. I know, I know. Clearly I need help.
Moomins! Ballet! Moomins in ballet! Sorry, do you need more than that? Thanks to Marci for the link.
It’s fun to read this look at the Mary Poppins Hidden Relationships Fan Theory, but I’ve a bone to pick with it. Correct me if I’m wrong but doesn’t the book of Mary Poppins make it very clear that yes indeed Mary Poppins WAS Bert’s nanny back in the day? Or am I just making stuff up? I thought this was cannon. That other stuff about Bert’s relationships is particularly peculiar as well.
Perhaps you feel, as I do, that you’ve read every possible Harry Potter related list out there devised by the human brain. Still and all, while I had seen a bunch of these, there are still some lovely surprises in the BuzzFeed list 21 Times “Harry Potter” Was the Cleverest Book Series Ever.
Speaking of Harry Potter and BuzzFeed, new term alert: Racebent. Didn’t know it, but this piece has actually convinced me that it is entirely possible that Hermione Granger isn’t the white-skinned schoolgirl she’s often considered to be. Recall if you will that it was only ever made explicit that Dean Thomas had dark skin when the Harry Potter books were brought over to America (a fact that is not usually mentioned in these stories).
Oh, what the heck. May as well get as Harry Potterish as possible today. Look! Cover animations!
For years I’ve yearned to go to TLA (the meeting of the Texas Library Association). State library meetings are always fun, but Texas takes their own to another level. So far I haven’t had an excuse, but I was reminded of this desire recently when I read the rather delightful piece on how an abandoned Texan Walmart got turned into the ultimate public library. McAllen? You’re good people.
Let It Be Known: That every author and illustrator out there that makes school visits on a regular basis should take a very close look at Nathan Hale’s School Visit Instructions and replicate PRECISELY what he has done on their own websites. Obviously you cannot all draw so in terms of visuals he has you beat. However, this information is perfect and you could certainly write it down in some form yourself. Let it also be known that his upcoming book about Harriet Tubman, The Underground Abductor, is AMAZING. Here’s the cover:
David Wiesner created an app? Yep, pretty much. It’s called Spot and it is now on my To Buy list.
I’ve been meaning to get back to work on updating my post of the Complete Listing of All Children’s Literature Statues in the United States for a while here. There are definitely some sections that need work. However, one image I will not be adding is this statue of what might be the world’s creepiest Cat in the Hat. Not because I don’t like him (oh, I do, I do) but because it’s on school rather than public property. That doesn’t mean I can’t share him with you anyway, though.
Many thanks to Paula Wiley for bringing him to my attention. Wowzah.
Today is not just the 25th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall. It's the 25th anniversary of the remarkable, enduring, smart, and somehow simultaneously huge and intimate Children's Book World of Haverford, PA.
As part of the celebration, CBW hosted The Caldecott Panel at Friends' Central School—the very best of the very best right there on City Line Avenue. Chris Van Allsburg. David Wiesner. Brian Selznick. And Jennifer M. Brown as moderator of what quickly became a wide-ranging conversation about black and white vs. color, visual narratives, filmic translations, the plot power of the artistic media, the certain school of design attended by all three of these great storytellers (RISD), and who taught who, or who might have taught who, or who wished they had taught who.
There they sat on one long couch and two book-ending chairs, surprising each other, while Jenny Brown, who knows this business better than anyone anywhere (our Ambassador of Children's Literature, I've always said), asked her intelligent questions, sat back, and enjoyed the surprises, too.
A packed house. An eager audience. Dozens of hands flying up during the Q and A—half of those hands belonging to children.
You want to celebrate one of the top children's book stores in the country? I can think of no better way.
Congratulations, CBW. The lovely lady with the dark tresses, by the way, is CBW's own Heather Hebert.
According to the museum’s website, the curators created seven “three dimensional, bi-lingual (English and Spanish) play and learning environments that highlight the six pre-reading skills.” The Public Library Association and the Association for Library Service to Children (a division of the American Library Association) define those skills as “disposition to read, print awareness, letter knowledge, sound awareness, vocabulary, and narrative skills and comprehension.”
They drew inspiration from the following titles: The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter, The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats, Where’s Spot? by Eric Hill, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. & John Archambault, Abuela by Arthur Dorros, and Tuesday by David Wiesner. The closing date for this exhibition has been scheduled for January 04, 2015.
I've found that the best of these books spoke to my kids when they were pre-readers, but still continue to draw them back again and again, as they uncover more in the multilayered stories.
So without further ado, here are the Fitzgerald family's Top 5 Wordless Books.
Here we are in the glory of spring. With all the beauty just ah-popping outdoors, what better time to sequester ourselves inside to watch mad videos about children’s literature related affairs?
So first and foremost, you may have seen me make mention of the fact that I had a podcasting-related Children’s Literary Salon last weekend. My Lit Salons are monthly gatherings of children’s literature enthusiasts who come to the main branch of NYPL to watch me finagle different topics out of incredibly interesting people. People often ask me to record these, but at this time there is no place online for such talks to live. Happily, that problem was solved recently when Katie Davis (Brain Burps About Books) , John Sellers (PW KidsCast), and Matthew Winner (Let’s Get Busy) came over and Matthew recorded the whole dang thing. This is, insofar as I know, the very FIRST time a moderated event has covered this particular topic (children’s literature podcasts). With that in mind, enjoy!
“John Newbery ate every single book he ever read”. That was going to be my subtitle for today’s blog post. I may still have to use it at some point because it’s one of the highlights of this James Kennedy / Libba Bray interaction at the recent 90-Second Newbery show here in NYC. For years, I’ve been sitting on my laurels with my Randolph Caldecott music video. Now I’ve been royally trumped and it’s all thanks to the song “What Would John Newbery Do?” I can’t top this.
And now, with the approach of the Children’s Book Week Awards, time to break out the big guns. And these, ladies and gents, are some SERIOUSLY big guns!
Turns out the CBC collected a whole CHUNK of these videos and they’re just out there! Like this one starring two of my favorite author/illustrators, Amy Ignatow and Brian Biggs. You must be SURE to stick around for the ghost of David Wiesner. And it backs up my theory that every person in my generation has one rap song memorized. Mine’s “Shoop”.
Nice use of “Rock Lobster” too.
We’re about three days away from El día del niño, otherwise known as the day of the child. Unfamiliar with Dia? Not anymore. Here’s a quickie recap for those of you who are curious:
Día means “day” in Spanish. In 1996, author Pat Mora learned about the Mexican tradition of celebrating April 30th as El día del niño, the day of the child. Pat thought, “We have Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Yes! We need kids’ day too, but I want to connect all children with bookjoy, the pleasure of reading.” Pat was enthusiastically assisted to start this community-based, family literacy initiative by REFORMA, the National Association to Promote Library & Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish Speaking. El día de los niños, El día de los libros/Children’s Day, Book Day, also known as Día, is a daily commitment to link all children to books, languages and cultures, day by day, día por día. Many resources and an annual registry are available at the Association for Library Services to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA). Every year, across the country, libraries, schools, and community organizations, etc. plan culminating book fiestas creating April Children’s Day, Book Day celebrations that unite communities.
Interested in participating? It’s not too late. Best of all, here’s a video from previous years of what folks have done in their libraries. Viva Dia!
We’ve sort of an embarrassment of riches this year in terms of trans boy picture books (see the 7-Imp recap of this very thing here). Now one of those books, Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress, has a book trailer that hits on the tone about right. Let’s put it up on the big board!
Thanks to Fred Horler for the link.
This next one is a fictional tie-in to a nonfiction subject. Which is to say, a CCSS dream. I’m not usually on board with rhyming picture books, but this one actually gets away with it!
And for the off-topic video of the day, we all love Neil deGrasse Tyson. This is the video of him slowed down ever so slightly. He loves it. Shows it at his talks sometimes.
The Kutztown University Children's Literature Conference occurred today and it was, as always, wonderful. Thanks so much to all the people who pull this conference together. The keynote speakers, Frank Serafini, Jim Murphy and David Wiesner, were amazing and the book reviews were, too. (She lowered her eyes, modestly.) The problem with being a book review presenter is that you can't see what the other reviewer is doing. I put out a booklist. I wonder if she does, too. My booklist is up on the Lists page but check back in a day or two to see The Titles That I Forgot!
David Wiesner’s book, Mr. Wuffles, winner of a 2014 Caldecott Honor Book designation, put me in mind of the phrase, “strange bedfellows” and the Disney movie Cinderella. Please bear with me if all this seems a bit strange and I will explain all.
Mr. Wuffles, a large black cat, looms large on the front cover of this graphic novel picture book with no narrative save the ‘Wiesneresque” invention of alien speak. In order to understand this very imaginative picture book, you must enter the world of Mr. Wuffles who is confronted by a group of ALIENS who invade his master’s house and flee this cat combatant to the safety of a grilled vent. Indignant at these house intruders, the cat is totally in defense mode, sending the space ship and its tiny inhabitants, who are on a search and discovery mission from a planet far, far away, sliding, with a swat of his paw, into a vent where they seek refuge and repair of their damaged ship. Are you with me? Good! For at the outset of this book I, too, had the sense of “Whaaa?”
Even if you are a huge fan of the classic picture book, as I am, you have to be in awe of an imagination that conceived this book’s premise and the art that executed it.
Mr. Wiesner ingeniously gives a tip of the hat to the Lascaux Cave paintings of 1940, discovered by one Marcel Ravidat near a village called Montignac, in southwestern France; and how he executes this feat is even more amazing. Just some background on Lascaux first; Ravidat, an 18-year-old garage mechanic at the time, wandered into a cave in the Dordogne region and uncovered startling Paleolithic era cave art, revealing drawings of animals unseen by humans for 17,000 years! Side note: The cave was closed in 1963 to protect the 600 paintings and 1500 engravings found there from deterioration.
Mr. Wiesner’s picture book puts forth a parallel theme between the cave painters of Lascaux and the small aliens that immortalize their encounter with Mr. Wuffles for future visitors at their hiding place. The aliens draw on the wall of their refuge behind the vent-hiding place, pictures of their encounter with Mr. Wuffles, their antagonist! They want to leave behind drawings that say, “We were here and this is what we SAW.” For the Lascaux painters, it was probably the buffalo-like animals that the cave painters beat a retreat from. For the aliens, it’s the predatory Mr. Wuffles that they flee, who, in his defense, is only protecting his turf! “The more things change, the more they…”
Cooperation ensues of necessity between the ant inhabitants of the vent, other insects that live there, in concert WITH the aliens in order to repair their spaceship for their return voyage home. Which brings me full circle to the “strange bedfellows” phrase and Cinderella.
In the movie, Cinderella is in dire straits as the evil stepmother and her harridan daughters have locked Cindy in her room, correct? How can she try on the glass slipper? Just who stands in the way of opening her door with the rescued key? None other than Lucifer, the cat, that’s who! Banding together mice and birds help outsmart the fat beady-eyed black cat that stands in the way of Cinderella having the chance to try on the glass slipper and find her way HOME – to the castle! Everyone is Dorothy in one way or another, as there really is no place like home whether it’s a planet out THERE or a home in a vent.
It may be a stretch, but I think Mr. Wiesner is trying for a way to express the commonality of the need for cooperation and ways of expressing experience that stretches across species and time! Banding together for a cause seems to be nothing new in the universe, Mr. Wuffles seems to be suggesting.
Wouldn’t it be nice to think that it were so.
This is a book that definitely requires a sit down with your young reader where together the story is fleshed out in their words, with help from you. The really excellent avenue for an opening up of a possible discussion exists here about cooperation and the discovery of the Lascaux cave paintings. Thanks, Mr. Wuffles for the lead in to further inquiry of great topics and also a very inventive way of expressing the need for cooperation, even if it is cross species! And, yes, we know you were only doing your job as protector of the house! But even cats need to lighten up once in a while!
David visits lots of art schools around the country and sees students' portfolios. There's no end to the amount of creative ideas being produced out there, David says, but the problem for new illustrators is their technique.
It may sound very basic, but if you are being told in portfolio critiques that your people don't look all that great, GO TAKE A FIGURE DRAWING CLASS. Figure drawing is tough, get over your fear, and don't worry about showing your figure sketches (Don't! says David) or having it look good until you've drawn 100 figures.
If your characters aren't necessarily human, be sure you find photos or real life examples and do your research -- for TUESDAY David found frog skeletons to reference.
I love David Wiesner's children's books. How cool is it that one of them came true - sort of. A sea turtle found a digital camera in a water proof housing and managed to turn the thing on and record himself. He's not a very good cinematographer, in fact, I imagine he was probably trying to eat the camera. But it's still neat. Even neater was that they actually tracked down the owner of the camera, a man who lost it scuba diving in November 1,000 miles away.
“A wonderful student but…” is a phrase that would commonly show up on my report cards and I swear my dad’s eye would twitch each time he stumbled across one of those “buts”. The only complaint I ever got all through school was my lack of concentration. English class was spent deep sea diving, looking [...]
Illustrators of children’s books are easier to deal with if you can lump them into little boxes. Multicultural family stories that tug at the heartstrings? That’s the Patricia Polacco box. Cute kids in period clothes frolicking with goats? Yup, that’s Tasha Tudor. So my problem with David Wiesner is that he throws my entire system off. Though his style is recognizable in each and every one of his books (Freefall, Sector 7, etc.) his storylines zigzag around the globe. One minute he has a book about frogs that unexpectedly take flight. The next it’s a wordless tale about a boy who finds a fantastical camera from beneath the sea. He remains an unpredictable force. You literally never know what he will do next. When Art & Max was first discussed, folks had a very difficult time figuring out what it was about. There are lizards? And painting? As always, Wiesner considers his reader first, then creates a story that will be both fun to read and visually stimulating. Consider this your Example A.
Art, a horned lizard with an artist’s temperament, is doing a bit of portraiture in his desert environment when along bounces happy-go-lucky Max. Max wants to paint just like Art, and the grumpy elder agrees grudgingly, informing the little guy, “Just don’t get in the way.” When Max asks what he should paint, Art suggests himself. Unfortunately for him, Max takes this advice a little too literally and Max finds himself covered in oils, turned into pastels, and eventually nothing more than a mere outline of his former self. By the end, however, he has come around to Max’s exuberance and the two decide to paint. Max makes a portrait. Art throws paints at a cactus.
The thing I forget about Mr. Wiesner is that he always has the child reader in mind. Sure, he may break down the fourth wall in The Three Pigs, but he’s still having fun with the kids reading the book when he does so. That said, a friend of mine suggested that Art & Max differed from The Three Pigs in this way. She was concerned that Art & Max wasn’t kid-friendly enough. She said it deals with characters coming to terms with the fact that they themselves are drawn, but not in a way that k
“Once upon a time three pigs built three houses, out of straw, sticks, and bricks. Along came a wolf, who huffed and puffed…” Read more after the jump.
Author and illustrator David Wiesner explores the nature of storytelling in his book, The Three Pigs. In a new spin on this classic tale, Wiesner gives the three [...]
In the Author of the Year category, teen fiction writers dominate. The nominees include Suzanne Collins for Mockingjay, Stephenie Meyer for The Second Short Life of Bree Tanner, Rick Riordan for The Lost Hero, Jeff Kinney for Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth, and Cassandra Clare for Clockwork Angel.
Children of all grades are encouraged to vote for the Illustrator of the Year award. Those nominated for in this category include Loren Long for President Barack Obama‘s Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters, David Wiesner for Art & Max, Mo Willems for Knuffle Bunny Free: An Unexpected Diversion, Robin Preiss Glasser for Fancy Nancy and the Fabulous Fashion Boutique, and Nancy Tillman for Wherever You Are: My Love Will Find You. Who do you want to win?
May 2-8, 2011, is Children’s Book Week. Each year, during this week, The Children’s Book Council hosts the Children’s Choice Book Awards. These are the best awards because the children are given a voice! I highly recommend checking out the thirty books that have been nominated for the six categories: k-2nd, 3rd-4th, 5th-6th, Teens, and author of the year. Then, along with your kids or classroom, go and vote for their favorite(s)—you have until April 29. The winners will be announced on May 2 at the Children’s Choice Book Awards Gala.
This year’s Children’s Choice Book Award finalists are as follows:
Kindergarten to Second Grade Book of the Year
Shark vs. Train
by Chris Barton (Author), Tom Lichtenheld (Illustrator)
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; 1 edition (April 1, 2010)
Publisher’s synopsis:Shark VS. Train! WHO WILL WIN?!
If you think Superman vs. Batman would be an exciting matchup, wait until you see Shark vs. Train. In this hilarious and wacky picture book, Shark and Train egg each other on for one competition after another, including burping, bowling, Ping Pong, piano playing, pie eating, and many more! Who do YOU think will win, Shark or Train?
Publisher’s synopsis: Learn to read with this New York Times-bestselling picture book, starring an irresistible dog named Rocket and his teacher, a little yellow bird. Follow along as Rocket masters the alphabet, sounds out words, and finally . . . learns to read all on his own!
Most of David Wiesner’s wordless picture books are all wonderful, it is hard to pick one, but I don’t want to list them all and take up spots. This one is more intricate, and a good one to ask kids to write out their version of the story. – Dudee Chiang
There is no finer example of unbridled imagination than Wiesner’s 2006 wordless story about a boy who finds amazing things inside old camera washed up on a beach. As the storyline unfolds, the reader discovers that undersea life may be much more sophisticated (and whimsical) than previously thought. - Travis Jonker
An amazing book that exemplifies the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words.” A great book for sharing with kids. – Michael Oakleaf
Hmmm. What to make of Wiesner. Last time this book clocked in at an impressive #58. Now we sink down to #77. Time has passed and memories fog. Will it continue to slip over the years or will it remain here in the brains of adults and children everywhere? Hard to predict.
At any rate, at long last David Wiesner makes an appearance on today’s list. The three time Caldecott Award winner is going to have to stop making books someday if he doesn’t want to cause a revolt amongst all the other author/illustrators out there. Of course, that would mean not getting any more Wiesner books and we cannot have that, can we?
The description from my review reads: “A scientifically minded young man is closely examining the various critters and crabs he finds washed up along the beach shore when he’s suddenly doused in a wave. When he emerges he’s sitting on the sand with an old-fashioned camera beside him. On its front are the words, ‘Melville underwater camera’. Intrigued, the boy plucks out the film and takes it to a one hour photo store. The pictures he gets back, however, are nothing a person could imagine. Mechanical fish swimming with real ones, hot-air pufferfish, entire civilizations living on the backs of gigantic starfish… and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The last photo, however, is the most interesting of them all. In it, a girl holds a picture of a boy holding a picture of a boy, holding a picture of a girl, and so on. Our boy gets out his magnifying glass and sees even more pictures of kids holding pictures of kids. And when he gets out his microscope he can see all the way back to the very first picture in the batch ever taken. When last we see of our hero he has taken a picture of himself holding the last photo with the Melville camera. Then he tosses it into the sea, where we see it acting out a couple of adventures until the last picture in the book; A girl on a tropical beach reaches for the camera, half-buried in the sand.”
I have always remembered and been fond of the book trailer that was constructed for Flotsam. Here you can see it. Full discloser, my husband is an acquaintance of the creator (now on staff of that new Tim Allen TV show), being a film student and all. It’s funny but this was one of the first major picture book trailers I ever saw. It’s an interesting experiment in the long-term use of book trailers. With more than 14,000 views, maybe there’s something to them after all . . .
Aw, what the hey. I’m in a video mood. Here then is Mr. Wiesner talking about winning the Caldecott for this book:
#68 The Three Pigs by David Wiesner (2001)
So meta. It blew my mind the first time I read it, and continues to do so. - Kyle Wheeler
I love Weisner’s books, but out of them all, this is my favorite. I love the meta-ness of it, and I never get tired of reading the story aloud (even if I know how it ends). - Melissa Fox
I love metafiction, and this book is perhaps – perhaps – the only example to surpass Grover’s classic “Monster at the End of this Book.” Leave it to David Wiesner... – Aaron Zenz
And the word of the day is . . . meta. It is, by all appearances, impossible to describe this book without invoking that word. Last time this was on the list (at #53) Kathe Douglass said of it, “More metafiction as Wiesner explores the space around a book, and behind, and between.” So, you can see, it’s the only term that fits to a tee.
Yet another Caldecott Medal winner graces the list. And if we are to rank Wiesner’s wins in order of popularity, then clearly his 2002 award winning book The Three Pigs outdoes Flotsam (#77) in terms of public perception. When I first reviewed this book I titled the review “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Fourth Wall?” I’ll stand by that. Before Willems’ Pigeon ever got his wings, Wiesner’s book contained characters in search of their own story.
A synopsis from my review: “I think we’re all familiar with the story of the three little pigs. Three pigs build houses of their own. The first is made of straw, the second of sticks, and the third of bricks. Then a big bad wolf comes along and blows the first house down. And that’s when things start to get interesting. Instead of eating the pig (as the text instructs) the wolf is baffled to find the pig gone. In fact, Pig #1 has inadvertently been blown into the white margins of his own story. Able now to travel freely around the static pictures of his tale, Pig #1 has his two brothers join him in the margins. They construct one of the story’s pictures into a paper airplane and fly it about. They walk in and out of other stories, making new friends along the way. Finally, it’s time to return home and the pigs know the perfect way to make their tale have a happy ending.”
Feel like taking a peek? Read much of the book here, if you’ve half a mind to.
Publishers Weekly said, “Wiesner’s (Tuesday) brilliant use of white space and perspective (as the pigs fly to the upper right-hand corner of a spread on their makeshift plane, or as one pig’s snout dominates a full page) evokes a feeling that the characters can navigate endless possibilities–and that the range of story itself is limitless.”
The New York Times added, “Wiesner’s dialogue and illustrations are clever, whimsical and sophisticated.”
And School Library Journal summed it all up with, “Witty dialogue and physical comedy abound in this inspired retelling of a familiar favorite.”
0 Comments on Top 100 Picture Books #68: The Three Pigs by David Wiesner as of 1/1/1900
With temperatures soaring, I had my first ice cream cone of the season, a scoop of butter pecan on a sugar cone from Ed’s Real Scoop. Voted the best homemade ice cream in the city, Ed’s was worth the trip across the city. With ice cream in hand, I made my way to the water. [...]
I promised a little run down on my recent visit to Highlight's Foundation in Boyd's Mill, PA. It puts the TREAT in RETREAT. Here's one reason ...
and here's another ...
Just in case we were feeling faint they fed us 3-4 times a day. And in between we were welcome to raid the pantry ... yee gads! Thankfully, all the top-notch food is locally sourced, cooked with care and healthfully. Which is good, because you wouldn't want to miss any of it! Especially 'Angel Poop' .. my fav dessert.
But there's more to Highlights than just good grub. If you've no idea what I'm talking about, here's a link to their website. They run fabby writing and illustrating workshops for the kidlit world at a wonderful facility in Pennsylvania. Highlights is allied to Boyd's Mill Publishers in Honesdale and the first day includes a tour if you get there a little early. Which I did. A day early because of flights (which they don't charge you for). I was collected from Scranton airport by a very nice chap called Bob. All the staff are very welcoming and helpful. It's a bit like being at a private country club for children's writers and artists, but with no boring golf or rubbish conversation at the bar.)
at Boyd's Mill ... some place to have your office ...
The Barn, where all workshops and meals take place. It's a beautiful building and very welcoming, with informal rooms to lounge around in and a big space for work and eating. Some nights we ate on the patio.
Attendees get to stay in cute little private cabins ... but I got to stay in the farmhouse, which I loved!
The workshop I attended (Advanced Children's Illustrators) had a great faculty - Eric Rohmann - Ruth Sanderson - Kelly Murphy - Floyd Cooper ... plus guests including Neal Porter (Roaring Brook Press), David Wiesner, Donna-Jo Napoli. During the week, staff and editors from Boyd's Mill popped in and shared mealtimes with us, which was very nice and friendly.
Days start early with coffee at 7.30am, followed by breakfast (and 2nd breakfast if you want it!) then workshops at 9am until .... you want to stop in the evening. It was great to have several days to experiment, the wonderful atmosphere and secluded surroundings of the foundation make it a pleasure. After a day your fellow attendees feel like family. The everyday world is a memory.
I wanted for nothing while I was there. Wifi is available most everywhere (phone service is a little squiffy, but there are house phones you can use a calling card on, or get folks to call you back). If there is anything you need - then you just have to ask. Did I say I worshiped the kitchen staff ...?
There is nothing, however, to top sitting down with seasoned professionals and listen to their experiences, chat around the dinner table or next to the outdoor fireplace and hear about experiences on a personal level. With only 24 or so attendees it was great to really get to know each other in intimate surroundings.
If you are looking for a different experience from the usual hurly-burly of the conference circuit, I suggest you give Highlights a try. The cost of the workshops are truly reasonable given the level of attention and accommodation. They also offer scholarships to those who qualify.
I leave you with some photos as they speak more eloquently than I ...
Because I have amotivational syndrome (that’s a fancy way of saying that I’m lazy), I‘m going to link here to Stacy Mozer’s nice notes about a fantastic event that I attended yesterday. (Thank you, Stacy.)
by Barbara McClintockFrancis Foster Books / FSG 2008I'm not generally a huge fan of an excellent stand-alone picture book gaining a sequel but I'm going to give this one a pass because I love McClintock's illustrations.Adele and Simon, those two early 20th century Parisian children, have traveled to America to see the country by train with their aunt. As with their previous outing, Simon is
David Wiesner is following the tough act of Sherman Alexie followed by Lin Oliver telling a few jokes this morning. But superhero illustrators can always get the job done. Lin calls David "the master of creating picture book art."
You won't believe it but, his powerpoint is ALIVE!
(shot from David's opening image)
David talks about how his idea for TUESDAY came about -- as an assignment for Cricket Magazine. They asked him to do a cover with frogs on it. David turned to his sketchbook and noticed that a frog on a lily pad looks a lot like a UFO.
NOW David is showing us clips from THE SHINING... and how it influenced TUESDAY. No really. He is!