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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 ...
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. [...]
#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
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:
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!
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!
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?
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