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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Random House, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 811
1. Starters (2012)

Starters. Lissa Price. 2012. Random House. 352 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I enjoyed this dystopian novel. Callie is our heroine. Early in the novel, Callie has to make a tough choice: should she rent out her body for profit and secure a life for herself and her younger brother, Tyler? Or should she continue the day-to-day struggle to survive when every single day brings danger and risk. Callie is older and stronger than her brother. If she goes to Prime Destination, it will be FOR him, not for greed. As you might have guessed, Callie DOES go to Prime Destination, she does sign the contract which allows Prime Destination to rent out her body to others (via neurochip). IN this society, "Enders" find enjoyment and thrills by renting the bodies of teenagers. The two are linked via the neurochip, but it is the Ender, the renter, who is in control of the young (newly made beautiful) body. Callie has signed on for three rentals, it will be the third that will change her life forever...

I enjoyed this one. I did. I enjoyed getting to know Callie AND the "voice in her head," Helena. I am looking forward to reading the second book!

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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2. Starstruck (2013)

Starstruck. Rachel Shukert. 2013. Random House. 339 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Starstruck is delightful and fun. It is. It is set in 1938 in Hollywood. It features three heroines; the narration switches back and forth between all three throughout the novel. The three aren't always friends. But. They aren't always enemies either. Each girl has a dream, a hope, an idea of how they want their happily ever after to come about. Selfishness comes naturally, but, that doesn't mean the girls lack depth of feeling.

Margaret (Margo) Frobisher (Sterling) has dreamed of being discovered for years and years. She is more than a little obsessed with the movies, with the big stars. When she is discovered, her life will change forever. It wouldn't have to be FOREVER, but, her family makes it super-dramatic. If she signs a contract with Olympus Studios, if she chooses to become an actress, then they never want to hear from her again. No matter what. She can never come home. Margo doesn't even take a minute to consider. To be a star is her destiny!

Amanda Farraday has reinvented herself more than once. She is another hopeful under contract at Olympus. She has not had her moment to shine...yet. She is not as obsessed with BEING A STAR as Margo. I think Amanda would settle for happily ever after off screen. I think Amanda just wants to be loved. Unfortunately, she seems to be caught in a world where appearance is everything and secrets have to stay buried because no one wants to live in the real world. I really cared about Amanda's story.

Gabby Preston is a talented singer, and a fine actress. Is she a great dancer? Not really. And Olympus wants her to SING and DANCE and ACT. To make it big, she needs to have it all, and Gabby isn't quite there yet. They encourage her to lose weight. They send her to a special doctor with special pills. Gabby is enthusiastic, or, as enthusiastic as one can be when struggling. Is Gabby happy? No! She wants to be a big star. She wants a HAPPILY EVER AFTER. And that means a romance with a star. Even if that romance is dictated and scripted--the product of the studio. Gabby has never felt good enough, she's always felt like an almost. Gabby, like Amanda, could use some good unconditional love.

Starstruck also features MYSTERY and ROMANCE.

For me, this series has more potential than Luxe. I enjoyed Luxe, but, saw the flaws and weaknesses with each book. That didn't stop me from reading the series! I read each and every one. I remember liking some characters, hating some characters. There weren't any characters that I truly LOVED. In Starstruck, I actually cared about all three girls.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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3. Review of the Day: Boys of Blur by N.D. Wilson

BoysBlur Review of the Day: Boys of Blur by N.D. WilsonBoys of Blur
By N.D. Wilson
Random House Books for Young Readers
$16.99
ISBN: 978-0-449-81673-8
Ages 9-12
On shelves April 8th.

I like a kid’s book with ambition. It’s all well and good to write one about magic candy shops or goofy uncles or simpering unicorns or what have you. The world is big and there’s room for every possible conceivable type of book for our children you can imagine. But then you have the children’s book authors that aim higher. Let’s say one wants to write about zombies. Well, that’s easy enough. Zombies battling kids is pretty straightforward stuff. But imagine the chutzpah it would take to take that seemingly innocuous little element and then to add in, oh I dunno, BEOWULF. N.D. Wilson is one of those guys I’ve been watching for a very long time. The kind of guy who started off his career by combining a contemporary tale of underground survival with The Odyssey (Leepike Ridge). In his latest novel, Boys of Blur Wilson steps everything up a notch. You’ve got your aforementioned zombies as well as a paean to small town football, an economy based on sugar cane harvesting, spousal abuse, and rabbit runs. It sounds like a dare, honestly. “I dare you to combine these seemingly disparate elements into a contemporary classic”. The end result is a book that shoots high, misses on occasion, but ultimately comes across as a smart and action packed tale of redemption.

There is muck, then sugarcane, then swamps, then Taper. The town of Taper, to be precise, where 12-year-old Charlie Reynolds has come with his mother, stepfather, and little sister to witness the burial of the local high school football coach. It’s a town filled with secrets and relatives he never knew he had, like homeschooled Sugar, his distant cousin, with whom he shares an instant bond. Together, the two discover a wild man of the swamps accompanied by two panthers and a sword. The reason for the sword becomes infinitely clear when Charlie becomes aware of The Gren. A zombie-like hoard bent on the town’s obliteration (and then THE WORLD!), it’s up to one young boy to seek out the source of the corruption and take her (yes, her) down.

I had to actually look up my Beowulf after reading this. The reason? The opening. Wilson doesn’t go in for the old rules that state that you should begin your book with some kind of gripping slam-bang action scene. His first page? It reads like an ode. Like a minstrel has stepped out of the wings to give praise to the gods and to set the scene for you. Only in this case it’s just the narrator telling you what’s what. “When the sugarcane’s burning and the rabbits are running, look for the boys who are quicker than flame.” Read that line aloud for a second. Just taste and savor what it’s saying. It sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Like you’ve read it somewhere else before (particularly that “look for the” part). Then there’s that last line. “Out here in the flats, when the sugarcane’s burning and the rabbits are running, there can be only quick. There’s quick, and there’s dead.” So I looked up the beginning of Beowulf just to see if, by any chance, Wilson had cribbed some of this from his source material. Not as such. The original text is a bit more concerned with great tribal kings past, and all that jazz. That doesn’t make Wilson’s book any less compelling, though. There’s a rhythm to the opening that sucks you in immediately. It’s not afraid to be beautiful. It begs to be heard from a tongue.

And while I’m on the topic of beautiful language, Wilson sure knows how to turn a phrase. If he has any ultimately defining characteristic as a writer it is his complete and utter lack of fear regarding descriptions. He delves into them. Swims deep into them. Can you blame him? Though a resident of Idaho, here he evokes a Florida that puts Carl Hiaasen to shame. Examples of some of his particularly good lines:

“As for the church bell, it crashed through the floorboards and settled into the soft ground below. It’s still down there, under the patched floor, ringing silence in the muck.”

“Charlie looked at the sky, held up by nothing more than the column of smoke he’d noticed during the service.”

“Charlie stopped at the end, beside a boy with a baby face on a body the size and shape of someone’s front door.”

And I’m particularly fond of this line about new siblings: “When Molly had come, she had turned Charlie into a brother, adding deep loves and loyalties to who he was without asking his permission first.”

The book moves at a rapid clip, but not at the expense of the characters. For one thing, it’s nice not to have to read about a passive hero. From early in the book, we know certain things about Charlie that are to serve him well in the future. As the story says, thanks to experiences with his abusive father, “he could bottle fear. He’d been doing it his whole life.” This gives Wilson’s hero a learned skill that will aid him in the rest of the story. And when there are choices to be made, he makes them. He isn’t some child being taken from place to place. He decides what he should and should not do in any given moment and acts. Sometimes it’s the right choice and sometimes it’s wrong, but it is at least HIS choice each time.

The sugarcane fields themselves are explained a bit late in the narrative. On page 64 or so we finally get an explanation about why the boys are running through burning fields to catch rabbits. For a moment I was reminded of Cynthia Kadohata’s attempts to explain threshing in her otherwise scintillating book The Thing About Luck. Wilson has the advantage of having an outsider in his tale, so it’s perfectly all right for Charlie to ask why the only way to successfully harvest cane is to burn it, “Fastest way to strip the leaves . . . Stalks is so wet, they don’t burn.” Mind you, this could have worked a little earlier in the story, since much of the book requires us to take on faith why the rabbit runs occur.

It’s also an unapologetically masculine story as well. All about swords and fighting and football and dangerous runs into burning sugarcane fields. The football is particularly fascinating. In an age when concussions are becoming big news and people are beginning to turn against the nation’s most violent sport, it’s unique, to say the least, to read a middle grade book where small town football is a way of life. Small town football almost NEVER makes it into books for kids, partly because baseball makes for a better narrative by its very definition. Football’s more difficult to explain. Its terms and turns of phrase haven’t made it into the language of the cultural zeitgeist to the same extent. For an author to not only acknowledge its existence but also give it a thumbs up is almost unheard of. Yet Boys of Blur could not exist without football. Charlie’s father went pro, as did his stepfather. The book begins by burying a coach, and there are long seated animosities in the town behind old high school football rivals. For many small towns, life without football would be untenable. And Boys of Blur acknowledges that to a certain extent.

The women that do appear are few and far between, but they are there. One should take care to note that it’s Wilson’s source material that lacking in the ladies (except for the big bad, of course). And he did go out of his way to add a couple additional females to the line-up. It’s not as if Charlie himself doesn’t notice the lack of ladies as well anyway. At one point he ponders the Gren and wonders why there aren’t any girls. The possible explanation he’s given is that much as a selfish man is envious of his sons, so would a selfish woman find her own daughters to be competition. Take that as you may. We veer close to Caliban country here, but Wilson already has one classic text to draw from. Shakespeare can wait.

Charlie’s mother would be one other example of a woman introduced to this story that gets a fair amount of page time. On paper you’d assume she was just a victim, a woman who continues to fear her ex-husband. But in reality, Wilson gives her much more credit. She’s the woman who dared to get out of an untenable situation for the sake of her child. A woman who managed to find another husband who wasn’t a carbon copy of the first and who has done everything in her power to protect her children in the wake of her ex-husband’s threats. And most interesting, Wilson will keep cutting back to her in the narrative. He doesn’t have to. There’s a reason most children’s fantasy novels star orphans. Include the parents and there’s a lot of emotional baggage to attend to. But Wilson’s never liked the notion of orphans much, so when his story cuts back to Natalie Mack and what she’s up to it’s a choice you go along with. In Wilson’s books parents aren’t enemies but allies. It goes against the grain of the usual narratives, wakes you up, and makes for better books.

Where do heroes find their courage and resolve? In previous books Wilson had already gone underground and into deep dark places. In Boys of Blur he explores the dual worlds of cane and swamp alike. Most epic narratives of the children’s fantasy sort are long, bloated affairs. They feel like they can’t tell their tales in anything less than 300 pages, and even then they end up being the first in a series. Wilson’s slick, sleek editing puts the bloat to shame. Clocking in at a handsome 208 pages it’s not going to be understood by every child reader. It doesn’t try for that either. Really, it can only be read by the right reader. The one that’s outgrown Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. The one who isn’t scared off by The Golden Compass and who will inform the librarian that they can’t possibly impress him or her because they’ve read “everything”. This is a book to stretch the muscles in that child’s brains. To make them appreciate the language of a tale as much as the action. And yes, there are big smelly zombies that go about killing people so win-win, right? Some may say the book ends too quickly. Some will wonder why there isn’t a sequel. But many will be impressed by what Wilson’s willing to shoot for here. Like the boys in the cane, this book speeds out of the gate, quick on its feet, willing to skip and hop and jump as fast as possible to get you where you need to go. If you’ve read too much of the same old, same old, this is one children’s book that’s like no other you know out there. Gripping.

On shelves now.

Source: Galley sent from author for review.

Like This? Then Try:

  • Zombie Baseball Beatdown by Paolo Bacigalupi – Lots of similarities, actually. Particularly when it comes to beating down zombies in cane fields / corn fields.
  • Beowulf by Gareth Hinds – Undoubtedly the best version of Beowulf for kids out there, this is Hinds’ masterpiece and is not to be missed.
  • The House of Dies Drear by Virginia Hamilton – Bear with me here. It makes sense. In both books you’ve mysterious African-American men hiding a secret of the past, scaring the local kids. I draw my connections where I can.

First Line: “When the sugarcane’s burning and the rabbits are running, look for the boys who are quicker than flame.”

Other Blog Reviews:

Misc: Read some of the book yourself to get a taste.

Videos:
Remember, if you will, that Wilson both shot and narrated the following book trailer. One of the best of the year, too:

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4. Mountains Beyond Mountains (2013)

Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World. By Tracy Kidder. Adapted for Young People by Michael French. 2013. Random House. 288 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Some books are intimidating to review. They just are. Such is the case with Mountains Beyond Mountains. The book I read was the "adapted for young people" edition; it was adapted by Michael French. The book is good, very good. The subject is serious, but, the style is personal. The subject of the book is Dr. Paul Farmer. The book is not always in chronological order, but, essentially by the time you're done, you've got a good grasp on who he is, what he does, why he does it, how he grew up, how he balances (or not) his personal life and professional life, etc. The book seems very well-researched and quite detailed. I'm not sure all those personal details were essential. For example, I'm not sure readers need to follow every little fight he had with an ex-girlfriend and how that relationship developed and fell out. I suppose, it was interesting to have another strong opinion as to what he was like to be around on a day to day to day basis, but, was it essential? I'm not sure. 

 The book chronicles decades worth of work, mainly but not exclusively in Haiti. There is a lot of discussion about infectious diseases: how to treat them, how to make the most effective treatments available to everyone, how to decide who gets what and who pays what, etc. TB-MDR, HIV, AIDS among others.

The book has an honest, open approach to it. Many parts are narrated by the author who, over the years, accompanied him various places, observed him working and interacting, traveled with him to various conferences, etc. The author, of course, also was in contact with him at other times through email. The author, again, had access to interview those closest to Farmer. The book definitely reflects this.

I would recommend this one.


© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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5. The Trouble with Magic (1976)

The Trouble with Magic. Ruth Chew. 1976/2014. Random House. 144 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I may not have loved Ruth Chew's Magic in the Park, but, I definitely LOVED her fantasy novel The Trouble with Magic. To think this little fantasy novel starts with a big stink! Barbara and Rick have sensitive noses, I suppose. They are so overwhelmed with disgust at the smell of cooking cabbage, that Rick easily persuades Barbara to spend her allowance money (fifty cents!) on air freshener. She doesn't have enough money for scented spray (that would cost sixty-nine cents), but, she does have enough for a bottle of something--something with a wick?--that will get the job done, or so they think. They take the bottle home...and that's when the adventure begins. For INSIDE the can is a wizard with a magical umbrella! This poor wizard has been TRAPPED. Harrison Peabody is more than happy to grant wishes (via the umbrella, though they don't know that at the beginning) to those lovely children who freed him. Barbara wishes for her room to be covered in roses! Rick wishes for his room to be covered in pine trees. Still the children are thinking of those noses and that CABBAGE. The children spend a few minutes quite pleased with themselves until they realize how impractical magic can be when it comes time to do homework and go to bed! It isn't long before they want the magic undone...

I thought this one was delightful. It definitely reminded me of other wish-related fantasy novels like Five Children and It and Half Magic. I love seeing WHAT these two children wish for and how it almost always goes wrong. I thought it was a fun twist that the wishes can only work IF the umbrella is used when it's raining.
© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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6. Magic in the Park (1972)

Magic in the Park. Ruth Chew. 1972/2014. Random House. 144 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Magic in the Park is a quick fantasy read. Jennifer, our heroine, has just moved to Brooklyn. At first, she is so focused on what she's missing, that she is more than a little bitter. However, after discovering nearby Prospect Park and meeting a new friend, a prone-to-falling-in-the-lake lad named Mike, she embraces her new life. It isn't just that Mike is great fun all on his own. It is, in part, that these two discover things together and keep secrets. They discover that Prospect Park is more than a little magical. They both happen to notice that there is one tree in particular, an old tree, a seemingly hollow tree, that MOVES around the park. You never know where you'll find it next. And some days...it's not there at all. On those days, the children see a friendly old man who feeds the birds. Birds are important in this one.

Magic in the Park is fantasy adventure. Mike and Jennifer are curious, of course. All children in fantasy novels seem to be extra curious, this helps them stumble into various adventures I suppose.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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7. The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches (2014)

The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches. Alan Bradley. 2014. Random House. 310 pages. [Source: Library]

I haven't loved each and every Flavia de Luce book equally. I definitely enjoy Flavia as a character and narrator even though I can't always relate to her all the time. In this sixth mystery, Flavia's focus is NOT on a current murder mystery. Far from it, even though a murder occurs practically in front of her (at the train station), she can't really be bothered. Why? Well, her mother is coming home...at last. For Flavia, the one de Luce child who CANNOT remember her mother at all, this is just confusing and bittersweet. Is she glad her mother's body has been found? That the body is being returned so it can be properly buried? In a way, perhaps. But. The homecoming is just as bitter as it is sweet. It upsets the family so much, brings so many emotions out in the open where they cannot be ignored. The situation is forcing Flavia outside her comfort zone. If the novel does NOT focus on the current dead body, what does it focus on?! Well, it focuses on the past; it focuses on the years leading up to World War II. It provides context for her mother's life...and death. For Flavia solving this mystery of who her mother was, who she really was, her worth and value, means EVERYTHING. There were quite a few uncomfortable scenes in this one for me. I found the scenes where Flavia is trying to scientifically bring her mother back from the dead (after ten years) to be a bit creepy--she's trying to acquire the right chemicals to resurrect the dead.

Just like the previous book, this one closes with change on the way for Flavia.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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8. The Heir Apparent (2013)

The Heir Apparent: A Life of Edward VII, The Playboy Prince. Jane Ridley. 2013. Random House. 752 pages. [Source: Library]

The Heir Apparent was very fascinating in places. I wouldn't say it was equally fascinating from cover to cover, however. There are high points in this biography, and low points. Low points for me, for example, being chapters that focuses solely on politics, politics, foreign politics, and more politics. High points for me, on the other hand, being chapters that focused on royal dysfunction, family drama, relationships between family members, society-type gossip and scandals and potential scandals. This book is PACKED with detail: that is its greatest strength and biggest weakness.

The book begins, and appropriately so in my opinion, with the reign of George IV. It is only fair to readers to get Queen Victoria's FULL story from birth to death. For I believe it is only in understanding Victoria and Albert that you can begin to make sense of their children's lives. And Bertie's in particular. For example, I think it helps to know that he comes from a LONG LINE of people who are incapable of showing love and kindness and decency to the firstborn heir. Since over half the novel focuses on Bertie's relationship with his parents--particularly his mother, the more you know about Victoria, the better. Queen Victoria is not shown as wonderfully, adoring, kind-hearted, compassionate mother. She was VERY VERY VERY opinionated about her children, about their "weaknesses". She could have a very cruel tongue, to say the least.

For readers who want to know more about Victoria and Albert, about Bertie and his royal brothers and sisters (all who married royalty, I believe, and how Queen Victoria's children and grandchildren effected European politics), about Bertie and his wife, about Bertie and his many mistresses, about Bertie and his habits, about the politics of prime ministers and ministries and cabinets and such, then this is a good place to go.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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9. Poem-Mobiles: Crazy Car Poems

Poem-Mobiles: Crazy Car Poems. J Patrick Lewis and Douglas Florian. 2014. Random House. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Silly car poems. Silly futuristic car poems. J. Patrick Lewis and Douglas Florian have teamed up to bring readers delightful, over-the-top poems about automobiles. The illustrations are by Jeremy Holmes. Poems include: "Giant Bookmobile of Tomorrow," "Mini-Mini-Car," "Fish Car," "Eel-ectric Car," "Jurassic Park(ing)", "The Dragonwagon," "The Paper Car," "The Backwards Car," "High-Heel Car," "23rd-Century Motors," "Balloon Car," "Caterpillar Cab," "Bathtub Car," "The Egg Car," "Hot Dog Car," "The Sloppy-Floppy-Nonstop Jalopy," "Grass Taxi," "The Love Car," "The Banana Split Car," "The Supersonic Ionic Car," and the "Rubber-Band Car."

Without a doubt my absolute favorite is "The Giant Bookmobile of Tomorrow." This little poem is ABSOLUTELY delightful. It is just a gem of a poem, and chances are an instant favorite with librarians everywhere! There is probably a good reason why this poem is at the start! Just open it up, read it, and it might just hook you. I think it's the kind of poem that will appeal to readers even if they "don't like" poetry. The other poems, well, I'm not sure they're equally appealing to non-poetry-readers. But this one, all you have to do is LOVE books, and it's sure to delight!

Some poems are enjoyable because they are silly and playful and use language in a fun way. Some beg to be read aloud. Other poems, however, I didn't quite get as enthusiastic about. Probably the funnest poem title to read aloud is "Sloppy-Floppy-Nonstop Jalopy." I also enjoyed "Hot Dog Car" and "The Banana Split Car."

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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10. TURNED Blog Hop ~ 3/20 – 4/1 = Free Books!

Romance at Random is having another blog hop, and you can win lots of awesome prizes!!  To get the party started, just keep reading!

The TURNED BLOG HOP officially begins March 20, 2014:

To celebrate Virna DePaul’s upcoming release of TURNED, (4/1/2014) we’re hopping and giving away free books — see the great prizes below! Make sure to visit each site to increase your chances to win!

Prizes (must be 18 or older with a US mailing address to participate):

  • 10 Preview copy winners of TURNED by Virna DePaul
  • 5 Preview Copy winners of WANTED by J Kenner
  • 2 Preview eBook copy winners of A Vampire’s Salvation by Virna DePaul
  • 2 Preview eBook copy winners of Arrested by Love by Virna DePaul
  • Grand Prize of $20 Gift Certificate to eRetailer of choice!!

    Enter to win here – Good Luck! — thanks for blogging with us!

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

  • Add a Comment
    11. Bookmaps and Storyboards using Photoshop. Part 1-Why digital tools?


    In January I gave a series of talk at Kindling Words east and can now share a bit of what I talked about during the breakout sessions with the illustrators. May 27th will mark the release date of Sleepytime Me by Edith Fine, my next book with Random house so it best to focus on this title for this series of posts.

    First I need to address the question of why I am using digital tools. Not for myself, but because I am asked...all the time. Technique and materials are really of little interest to me. Photoshop is a tool. Pastels and charcoal are tools. I am more interested in what you create with them. However, the question is always in the air so I will give you the cliff notes version of my thinking on the debate.


    I started using photoshop when I began work as a visual development artist working on animated films and have found the program to be an invaluable tool in my book production work. First a quick note to all the skeptics who ask: "Don't you miss traditional materials?"Quick answer: No. While there is a learning curve, I have been able to customize my tools to create a process that not only replicates my traditional technique but removes many of the limitations of working in pastel and acrylic. Here are two examples of work. The one on the left is from my pastel work on the Redwall  picture books, the image on the right is a detail from my book due out at the end of August 2014,  Baking Day at Grandma's by Anika Denise. The image on the right was created using only digital tools.


    I am impatient with my art. I work best when I can act and react. With digital tools changing the piece as it begins to emerge is far easier and I can get to the fun stuff faster. The goal is not necessarily to shorten the production time, though in this day  of ever tightening deadlines and shrinking advances this is clearly a very good byproduct. The goal is to get as much of original inspiration down on the page as possible. With digital tools, I can cut right to the chase and then have the flexibility to edit, change, and repaint the piece to suit the needs of the entire book.

    In the next post I will focus on the previously time consuming process of creating a bookmap with Photoshop.

    0 Comments on Bookmaps and Storyboards using Photoshop. Part 1-Why digital tools? as of 3/17/2014 2:15:00 PM
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    12. Forthcoming Graphic Novels From Random House, Fall 2014!

    Four titles, from Random House!

    Make Comics Like the Pros: The Inside Scoop on How to Write, Draw, and Sell Your Comic Books and Graphic Novels

    by Greg Pak, Fred Van Lente
    On Sale Date: September 9, 2014
    9780385344630, 0385344635
    $22.99 USD / $26.99 CAD
    Paperback / softback / Trade paperback (US)
    Comics & Graphic Novels Paperback Original
    Watson-Guptill 160 pages
    Summary:
    A step-by-step guide to all aspects of comic book creation-from conceptualization to early drafts to marketing and promotion-written by two of the industry’s most seasoned and successful pros.

    Every aspiring comic book creator wants to know: what separates the beloved comics of major publishers like Marvel, DC, Valiant, and Image from all the rest? Fan-favorite comic book writers Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente reveal the secrets of comics’ top talents in Make Comics Like the Pros. The authors take readers step by step through the comics creation process from idea to finished work, and along the way offer examples and insights from their own careers as well as their collaborators’. Not only that, but Pak and Van Lente also join forces with Eisner Award-winning cartoonist Colleen Coover to produce an original comic inside the book! With its unprecedented level of insider access, Make Comics Like the Pros gives comic book hopefuls the tools they need to reach the next level of sequential arts stardom.

    Shoplifter

    by Michael Cho
    On Sale Date: September 2, 2014
    9780307911735, 030791173X
    $19.95 USD / $23.95 CAD
    Hardback
    Comics & Graphic Novels / Contemporary Women
    Pantheon 96 pages
    Summary:
    A brilliant debut graphic novel about a young woman’s search for happiness and self-fulfillment in the big city.

    Corinna Park used to have big plans. Studying English literature in college, she imagined writing a successful novel and leading the idealized life of an author. After graduation, she moved to a big city and took a job at an advertising agency-just to pay off her student loans. Now she’s worked in the same office for five years and the only thing she’s written is…copy. She longs for companionship (other than her cat),gets no satisfaction from her job, and feels numbed by the monotony of a life experienced through a series of screens. But whenever she shoplifts a magazine from the corner store near her apartment, she feels a little, what? A little more alive. Yet Corinna knows there must be something more to life, and she faces the same question as does everyone of her generation: how to find it?

    Here

    by Richard McGuire
    On Sale Date: October 7, 2014
    9780375406508, 0375406506
    $35.00 USD / $41.00 CAD
    Hardback
    Comics & Graphic Novels / Literary
    Pantheon 320 pages
    Summary:
    From one of the great comic innovators, the long-awaited fulfillment of his pioneering comic vision.

    Richard McGuire’s Here is the story of a corner of a room and the events that happened in that space while moving forward and backward in time. The book experiments with formal properties of comics, using multiple panels to convey the different moments in time. Hundreds of thousands of years become interwoven. A dinosaur from 100,000,000 BCE lumbers by, while a child is playing with a plastic toy that resembles the same dinosaur in the year 1999. Conversations appear to be happening between two people who are centuries apart. Someone asking, “Anyone seen my car keys?” can be “answered” by someone at a future archaeology dig. Cycles of glaciers transform into marshes, then into forests, then into farmland. A city develops and grows into a suburban sprawl. Future climate changes cause the land to submerge, if only temporarily, for the long view reveals the transient nature of all things. Meanwhile, the attention is focused on the most ordinary moments and appreciating them as the most transcendent.

    Sugar Skull

    by Charles BurnsOn Sale Date: December 2, 2014
    9780307907905, 0307907902
    $23.00 USD / $26.95 CAD
    Hardback
    Comics & Graphic Novels / Fantasy
    Pantheon 64 pages
    Summary:
    The long, strange trip that began in X’ed Out and continued in The Hive reaches its mind-bending, heartbreaking end, but not before Doug is forced to deal with the lie he’s been telling himself since the beginning. In this concluding volume, nightmarish dreams evolve into an even more dreadful reality…

    4 Comments on Forthcoming Graphic Novels From Random House, Fall 2014!, last added: 3/16/2014
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    13. True Colors (2012)

    True Colors. Natalie Kinsey-Warnock. 2012. Random House. 256 pages. [Source: Review copy]

    I definitely enjoyed reading Natalie Kinsey-Warnock's historical novel, True Colors. This novel is set in Vermont, in the summer of 1952. The heroine of True Colors is Blue Spooner. (She absolutely HATES her name. Why did Hannah have to name her Blue? why?! Then again, why does Hannah have to name their new stray cat, "Cat"?!) Blue was a newborn baby left on Hannah's doorstep. There wasn't a note, explanation, or clues, at least not that have been revealed to our young heroine. Blue spends her time doing dozens of chores on the farm, fantasizing about finding her mother, and hanging out with her summer-time friend, Nadine. This summer has been extra difficult, perhaps, because Nadine is distant and sometimes haughty. She is a year or two older than our heroine, and Hannah assures her that Nadine is just "at that age" and that Blue will understand more when she's "that age." It's a summer of living and learning, Blue, for example, gets her first job and first paycheck. She also attends her first quilting meetings. She finds that she's good at listening and writing. (Sometimes she's a little too good at listening when she overhears a few things she shouldn't.) Family. Friendship. Community. It's a coming of age novel that touches on the bittersweet; I found it completely satisfying.

    © 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

    0 Comments on True Colors (2012) as of 3/11/2014 12:08:00 PM
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    14. We Were Liars (2014)

    We Were Liars. E. Lockhart. 2014. Random House. 240 pages. [Source: Review copy]

    We Were Liars isn't a novel to be read; it's a novel to be experienced. From the start, I was almost haunted by the raw emotion of the narrator, Cadence Sinclair Eastman. We Were Liars is an emotional, compelling examination of family, friendship, and first love. Most of the novel focus on a series of summer vacations, but it isn't a light, frivolous read.

    Gat, Cadence, Johnny, and Mirren are best friends, at least during the summer; they've been spending their summers together on the island for years now. But one summer EVERYTHING changes...

    We Were Liars has an unforgettable narrator. It is a powerful novel, very haunting in all the right ways. And its characters are oh-so-flawed that you just can't help making connections. I would definitely recommend this one!

    I have read and loved Lockhart's Ruby Oliver novels. I was surprised by how moved I was by this story. It's just so good, so very different from her previous novels. 

    © 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

    0 Comments on We Were Liars (2014) as of 3/5/2014 4:14:00 PM
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    15. Merry Grinch-mas!

    My husband and I watched How the Grinch Stole Christmas (original Boris Karloff animated version) with our three year old daughter last week. She was utterly enchanted. Of course I made sure to tell her that the story was originally from a book by Dr. Seuss. But for some reason, we didn't have a copy of the book. I made a mental note to rectify the situation, but then it slipped through the cracks.

    Imagine my pleasure, then, when a copy of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, the book, showed up on my doorstep yesterday, sent by the folks at Random House. As soon as my daughter saw it, she insisted that I put aside my work to read it to her (despite a babysitter also being present). I was, naturally, unable to resist.

    This was my first read-aloud of the book ... perhaps ever. But the lines trip off the tongue, familiar after more years than I care to admit of watching the TV/video/DVD version. And in truth, they would trip off the tongue anyway, because How the Grinch Stole Christmas is Dr. Seuss at his best. The movie isn't 100% true to book, but close enough. Sitting, reading this book to my daughter for the first time is destined to be one of my favorite memories from the 2013 holiday season. 

    I can't imagine that Random House is looking for reviews of a 56 year old classic. But they are trying to spread the word about a new campaign to "extend the Grinch's heartwarming message into an annual tradition of good-deed-doing and giving back to the community with 25 Days of Grinch-mas." Here's a bit from the website:

    "Grinch-mas is a new holiday tradition inspired by Dr. Seuss’s classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas! that encourages readers to “grow your heart three sizes” through the celebration of family reading, giving from the heart and community spirit. National Grinch Day, on December 1, will kick start the 25 Days of Grinch-mas. During this time, bookstores and local retailers all over the country will be hosting Grinch-mas events that will incorporate holiday story times for families and opportunities for kids to win special prizes for giving back to their communities by doing good deeds throughout the month of December."

    The website features kid-accessible Daily Good Deed suggestions, like: "Make someone laugh." There are also printables and activities and the like, If you have kids who are fans of the book or the movie, it certainly couldn't hurt to use 25 Days of Grinch-mas as a springboard for fun and the spreading of good cheer. 

    I think it's safe to say that I'll be reading How the Grinch Stole Christmas quite a lot in the coming days. 

    © 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate. 

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    16. Review of the Day: Written in Stone by Rosanne Parry

    WrittenInStone 198x300 Review of the Day: Written in Stone by Rosanne ParryWritten in Stone
    By Rosanne Parry
    Random House
    $16.99
    ISBN: 978-0-375-86971-6
    Ages 9-12
    On shelves now

    Finding books of historical fiction for kids about Native Americans is an oddly limited proposition. Basically, it boils down to Pilgrims, the Trail of Tears, the occasional 1900s storyline (thank God for Louise Erdrich), and . . . yeah, that’s about it. Contemporary fiction? Unheard of at best, offensive at worst. Authors, it seems, like to relegate their American Indians to the distant past where we can feel bad about them through the conscience assuaging veil of history. Maybe that’s part of what I like so much about Rosanne Parry’s Written in Stone. Set in the 1920s, Parry picks a moment in time with cultural significance not for the white readers with their limited historical knowledge but for the people most influenced by changes both at home and at sea. Smart and subtle by turns, Parry tackles a tricky subject and comes away swinging.

    A girl with a dream is just that. A dreamer. And though Pearl has always longed to hunt whales like her father before her, harpooning is not in her future. When her father, a member of the Makah people of the Pacific Northwest, is killed on a routine hunt, Pearl’s future is in serious doubt. Not particularly endowed with any useful skills (though she’d love to learn to weave, if anyone was around to teach her), Pearl uncovers on her own a series of forgotten petroglyphs and the plot of a nefarious “art dealer”. Now her newfound love of the written word is going to give her the power to do something she never thought possible: preserve her tribe’s culture.

    It’s sort of nice to read a book and feel like a kid in terms of the plot twists. Take, for example, the character of the “collector” who arrives and then immediately appears to be something else entirely. I probably should have been able to figure out his real occupation (or at least interests) long before the book revealed them to me, and yet here I was, toddling through, not a care in the world. I never saw it coming, and that means that at least 75% of the kids reading this book will also be in for a surprise.

    I consider the ending of the book a bit of a plot twist as well, actually. We’re so used to our heroes and heroines at the ends of books pulling off these massive escapades and solutions to their problems that when I read Pearl’s very practical and real world answer to the dilemma posed by the smooth talking art dealer I was a bit taken aback. What, no media frenzied conclusion? No huge explosions or public shaming of the villain or anything similarly crass and confused? It took a little getting used to but once I’d accepted the quiet, realistic ending I realized it was better (and more appropriate to the general tone of the book) than anything a more ludicrous premise would have allowed.

    If anything didn’t quite work for me, I guess it was the whole “Written in Stone” part. I understood why Pearl had to see the petroglyphs so as to aid her own personal growth and understanding of herself as a writer. That I got. It was more a problem that I had a great deal of difficulty picturing them in my own mind. I had to do a little online research of my own to get a sense of what they looked like, and even that proved insufficient since Parry’s petroglyphs are her own creation and not quite like anything else out there. It’s not an illustrated novel, but a few choice pen and inks of the images in their simplest forms would not have been out of place.

    Now let us give thanks to authors (and their publishers) that know the value of a good chunk of backmatter. 19 pages worth of the stuff, no less (and on a 196-page title, that ain’t small potatoes). Because she is a white author writing about a distinct tribal group and their past, Parry treads carefully. Her extensive Author’s Note consists of her own personal connections to the Quinaults, her care to not replicate anything that is not for public consumption, the history of whaling amongst the Makah people, thoughts on the potlatch, petroglyphs, a history of epidemics and economic change to the region (I was unaware that it was returning WWI soldiers with influenza that were responsible for a vast number of deaths to the tribal communities of the Pacific Northwest at that time), the history of art collectors and natural resource management, an extensive bibliography that is split between resources for young readers, exhibits of Pacific Northwest art and artifacts, and resources for older readers, a Glossary of Quinault terms (with a long explanation of how it was recorded over the years), and a thank you to the many people who helped contribute to this book. PHEW! They hardly make ‘em like THIS these days.

    I also love the care with which Parry approached her subject matter. There isn’t any of this swagger or ownership at work that you might find in other authors’ works. Her respect shines through. In a section labeled “Culture and Respect” Parry writes, “Historical fiction can never be taken lightly, and stories involving Native Americans are particularly delicate, as the author, whether Native or not, must walk the line between illuminating the life of the characters as fully as possible and withholding cultural information not intended for the public or specific stories that are the property of an individual, family, or tribe.” In this way the author explains that she purposefully left out the rituals that surround a whale hunt. She only alludes to stories of the Pitch Woman and the Timber Giant, never giving away their details. She even makes note the changes in names and spellings in the 1920s versus today.

    I don’t know that you’re going to find another book out there quite like Written in Stone. Heck, I haven’t even touched on Pearl’s personality or her personal connections to her father and aunt. I haven’t talked about my favorite part of the book where Pearl’s grandfather haggles with a white trading partner and gets his wife to sing a lullaby that he claims is an ancient Indian curse. I haven’t done any of that, and yet I don’t think that there’s much more to say. The book is a smart historical work of fiction that requires use of the child reader’s brain more than anything else. It’s a glimpse of history I’ve not seen in a work of middle grade fiction before and I’d betcha bottom dollar I might never see it replicated again. Hats off then to Ms. Parry for the time, and effort, and consideration, and care she poured into this work. Hats off too to her editor for allowing her to do so. The book’s a keeper, no question. It’s just a question of finding it, is all.

    On shelves now.

    Source: Galley sent from publisher for review.

    Like This? Then Try:

    Notes on the Cover: This marks the second Richard Tuschman book jacket I’ve reviewed this year.  The first was A Girl Called Problem, one of my favorites of 2013.  The man has good taste in books.

    Other Reviews:

    Professional Reviews:

    Misc:

    Videos: Um . . . okay, I sort of love this fan made faux movie trailer for the book. It’s sort of awesome.  Check it out.

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    4 Comments on Review of the Day: Written in Stone by Rosanne Parry, last added: 12/7/2013
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    17. Sophie's Squash: Pat Zietlow Miller & Anne Wilsdorf

    Book: Sophie's Squash
    Author: Pat Zietlow Miller (@PatZMiller)
    Illustrator: Anne Wilsdorf
    Pages: 40
    Age Range: 3-7

    Sophie's Squash is a picture book by Pat Zietlow Miller about loyalty, presented in a quirky, entertaining manner. When Sophie's chooses a squash at the farmer's market one late fall, her parents expect that the squash will become dinner. They do not expect that the squash will become Sophie's new best friend. But Sophie has other ideas. 

    This is all told totally deadpan. Like this:

    "When it was time to make supper, Sophie's mother looked at the squash. She looked at Sophie." (The squash has a marker-drawn face at this point)

    "I call her Bernice," Sophie said.

    "I'll call for a pizza," said her mother. 

    Despite her parents' best efforts to interest her in other toys, despite the mockery of other children, Sophie remains loyal to Bernice. And when Bernice, inevitably, starts to rot, Sophie comes up with a perfect solution (on her own, I might add). Not to worry - love triumphs over all. 

    I like the wry reactions of Sophie's parents:

    "Well, we did hope she'd love vegetables," Sophie's mother told her father.

    And I love Sophie's loyalty, her deafness to criticism. After some kids point and stare during a library visit, Sophie's mom suggests that she stay home next time. Sophie asks: "Why? She wasn't the one being rude." Indeed.

    This book has a similar plot line to The Wheat Doll by Alison Randall,reviewed here. It has the same warmth, but a much lighter, more humorous tone. Sophie's Squash would also pair well with Bob Staake's Mary Had A Little Lampreviewed here.

    Anne Wilsdorf's watercolor and ink illustrations are perfect for the story. Bernice is, well, a squash with a face, but she looks lovable. Sophie is frequently belligerent-looking, with annoyed eyebrows, and pigtails that stick up in the air. She's the tiniest bit cartoonish, but her home is cozy and ordinary. And her joy, at the end of the book, simply glows from the page. 

    Sophie's Squash conveys a strong message about loyalty and love, but the message is delivered completely within the context of the story. Sophie is a solid character, one who kids will be able to relate to (boys or girls). While Sophie's Squash, with its foliage-strewn cover, is a natural fit for fall, I expect it to be read year-round in my household. [In fact, I was scarcely able to review it, because my three-year-old, after asking me to stop mid-review to read it to her, wanted to take the book with her when she left. I had to promise to read it again later.] Highly recommended. 

    Publisher: Schwartz & Wade (@RandomHouseKids)  
    Publication Date: August 6, 2013
    Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

    FTC Required Disclosure:

    This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

    © 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

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    18. Ghostly Visions – An Inspired Relationship

    Jan Pienkowski’s vision &  Joan Aiken’s story ‘An Ill Wind’  from ‘A Foot in the Grave’ Today sees the publication of an elegant new edition of Joan Aiken and Jan Pienkowski’s ghostly collaboration  A Foot in The Grave is coming out just in time for Hallowe’en… for those who enjoy all things haunting and mysterious […]

    6 Comments on Ghostly Visions – An Inspired Relationship, last added: 10/4/2013
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    19. Betsy Snyder: ‘Give yourself a poetry challenge’

    Happy National Poetry Month! All throughout April, we will interview poets about working in this digital age. Recently, we spoke with award-winning children’s book author and illustrator Betsy Snyder.

    In the past, Snyder (pictured, via) has published two picture books that feature haikus, Haiku Baby and I Haiku You. She has been celebrating poetry by tweeting one haiku a day all month long. Check out the highlights from our interview below…

    continued…

    New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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    20. Agent Louise Fury – L. Perkins Agency

    louise Furytwitter_pic_205163742_stdLouise Fury is attending the NJSCBWI June Conference and doing critiques. She is with the L. Perkins Agency that was founded in 1987 by Lori Perkins, a former newspaper publisher and editor. They specializes in many different genres. Currently there are five agents representing approximately 200 authors to the publishing industry.

    The Agency has agents in 11 foreign countries and works with an established film agency. The L. Perkins agency works hard to stay ahead of the curve and makes it a priority to help their authors stay ahead of the pack. In 2010 they broke new ground by being the first (and currently ONLY) agency to hire a literary agent who works exclusively in the digital marketplace.

    Louise Fury is a senior agent at the L. Perkins Agency and specializes in romance, all kids and young adult material and pop culture nonfiction. She has sold books to both traditional and electronic publishers including Random House, Harper Collins, Simon & Schuster, Samhain and others. Louise encourages authors to have one foot in traditional publishing and the other in the digital-first arena. Actually Louise has reported 26 deal to Publishers Marketplace during the last 12 months, which is extremely good.

    Here is Louise’s Wish List.

    I am looking for writers with a unique voice and an unforgettable story.  I’m particularly drawn to stories with a strong protagonist.

    I want delicious adult romances with creative plots, sexy liaisons and unique characters that sweep me up in their love story and leave me smiling and sighing and longing for the romance to last forever.

    In Young Adult, I look for manuscripts that are written with an unforgettable voice – this can be deep, dark and gritty or literary, lyrical and emotional. Every sentence should be there for a reason, every word should matter.

    The YA sci-fi, thriller and realistic/gothic horror should have a bone-deep sense of danger that haunts me from page 1 and doesn’t let go of me for days.

    And I like to cry. Or laugh. I want to feel something unforgettable when I read your pages. I want manuscripts that I can’t stop thinking about.

    I believe in the power of marketing and I look for authors who know how to promote themselves. I only work with people that are pleasant online, on the telephone and in person. I want an author who knows that this is a business and is a professional, who understands the value of an agent in all mediums of publishing.

    To break it down further:

    • Well written, emotional and touching novels for teens.
    • Deep, dark contemporary YA–where the smallest of choices have the greatest of consequences.
    • Select MIDDLE GRADE fiction with a literary feel– it must be realistic and  thought provoking and the characters must be authentic and original.
    • I love romance, especially Regency and Victorian. 
    • In nonfiction: humor and pop culture manuscripts.
    • NO memoirs!!

    Louise also answered some interview questions I had.  Here they are:

    1. Your bio states that you specialize in romance, all kids and young adult material and pop culture nonfiction. Could you tell us a little bit about what really grabs your attention in these areas?

    Strong characters who take risks, push boundaries and fight for what they believe in, whether it is in a quiet dignified way that sneaks up on the reader or a stronger more obvious build that keeps our hearts pounding. I like to be emotionally shocked. Have a character break my heart and you are half way there.

    2. I assume you are also interested in picture books when you say, “all kids.”

    Yes. I have sold a picture book to Random House and have not found one to match its success since. But I am always looking.

    3. Is there any genre that you are not drawn to, such as: fantasy, paranormal, gothic, horror, suspense, magical realism, and humor.

    I am drawn to literary, moving and thought-provoking middle grade and picture book manuscripts, not light or humorous. But I am open to most things – whenever I say that I don’t want a certain genre, I am always shocked when a manuscript changes my mind. I love that!

    4. Is there a common mistake that you see in the submitted stories you see?

    When I get unsolicited queries, they are often for genres I do not represent. The biggest mistake is not doing enough research.

    5. How often do you take on a new client?

    There are times when I go for months without signing an author, but since being closed to submissions, I now only find authors through conferences, competitions and referrals. I have been very lucky to meet some amazing authors who are dedicated to honing their craft by attending conferences and learning from other writers and industry professionals.

    Since 11/25/12 I have signed seven new/unpublished authors and two published authors.  I am currently talking to three others.

    6. Do you work with your clients to improve the story before sending to an editor?

    I do a round or two of light edits, but the all these amazing authors on my list have set the bar pretty high, so new manuscripts need to very polished.

    7. Are you willing to represent unpublished authors?

    Absolutely. I actually seek out not-yet-published authors. I love unique, strong debut manuscripts. There is nothing better than finding that new author with a special manuscript.

    8. Do you have any advice for writers who submit to you?

    Follow submission guidelines. Be polite and professional at all times.

    Louise believes in staying ahead of the pack by embracing change, not just adapting to it and is a huge advocate for exploring secondary rights. She’s sold audio, film and foreign rights for her clients, including a recent deal with the cable channel, STARZ. Louise, a native South African, lives in NYC, but travels to Cape Town every year, where she spends time educating South African writers, meeting with international publishers and distributing books for women and children in need.

    Thank you Louise for taking the time to answer my questions and help people get to know you a little better. I am looking forward to meeting you in June.

    Louise still has spots left for critiques at the NJSCBWI June Conference. If you would like to jump on this opportunity to get a critique with a highly successful agent (26  deals in the last 12 months) you only have until April 30th to register.

    Talk tomorrow,

    Kathy


    Filed under: Advice, Agent, Editor & Agent Info, Interview, opportunity Tagged: Agent Louise Fury, HarperCollns, L Perkins Agency, Random House, Simon & Schuster

    1 Comments on Agent Louise Fury – L. Perkins Agency, last added: 4/25/2013
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    21. Memorial Day Wishes & Publishing Industry Changes

    Thank you to everyone who has sacrificed to protect this country.
    Happy Memorial Day!
    vietnam-memorial

    In case you never thought about doing this, you should get out your Children’s Writing and Illustrating Market guide and note the changes that you find here and other places in correct spots in the book. That way you will always have the most up-to-date info at your finger tips.

    At Inkwell Management, Charlie Olsen has been promoted to agent. He joined Inkwell in 2007 and is interested in commercial fiction; young adult and middle-grade fiction and non-fiction; graphic novels and illustrated works for children and adults; pop culture, and compelling nonfiction.

    Margaret Bail

    has joined Inklings Literary Agency, where she will continue to represent romance, thrillers, mystery, science fiction, fantasy, westerns, and historical fiction. Previously she was at the Andrea Hurst Agency.

    At the Random House Publishing Group, Andy Ward has been promoted to vp, editorial director, nonfiction, while David Ebershoff moves up to vp, executive editor.

    At Crown Archetype, Suzanne O’Neill has been promoted to executive editor, while Talia Krohn moves up to senior editor and Stephanie Knapp has been promoted to associate editor.

    Ryan Doherty has been promoted to senior editor and is moving from Random House Trade Paperbacks to Ballantine Bantam Dell. He will continue to oversee movie tie-in projects for RH publishing group as well.

    At Simon Pulse, Michael Strother has been promoted to assistant editor.

    Hope you had a Happy Memorial Day! Sorry, I messed up not getting it to post on the right date.

    Talk tomorrow,

    Kathy


    Filed under: Editor & Agent Info, need to know, News, Publishing Industry Tagged: Inkwell Management, Onklings Literary Agency, Random House, Simon Pulse

    0 Comments on Memorial Day Wishes & Publishing Industry Changes as of 5/28/2013 12:59:00 AM
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    22. Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library, by Chris Grabenstein

    A bit ironic as I was trying to escape from Chicago's O'Hare airport when I started reading this one!  Honestly, I wasn't in the best frame of mind when I opened the cover.  I was delayed, then canceled.  Many hours and gate-changes later, I was delightfully immersed in this book written so clearly for book lovers!

    Kyle Keeley comes from a family of gamers.  Not just video games, either...board games too.  And in Kyle's opinion, the king of the game makers is none other than Mr. Luigi Lemoncello of Lemoncello's Imagination Factory.  Too bad Kyle isn't as interested in school as he is in games!  His friend Akimi has to remind him on the school bus that he was supposed to write an essay on why he is excited about the new public library.  The old public library had been torn down 12 years ago, and now there is a contest asking the 12 year olds of the town to write about the new library.  The winners of the contest will be able to participate in a library lock in before the space is opened to the public.  Kyle furiously scribbles his half hearted essay on an extra piece of paper on the bus ride to school.

    Kyle is soon kicking himself about his lack of effort on the essay as he soon finds out that Mr. Lemoncello himself is going to judge the essay contest since he is one of the new library's biggest benefactors.  But here's the thing about Kyle -- he's not a kid who gives up and he finds a way to write a better essay and he tries to get it to Mr. Lemoncello himself.

    Imagine everyone's surprise when Kyle is one of the 12 chosen for the library lock-in.  

    What follows is a wonderful ode to all things library.  Cool state of the art gadgets, crazy technology, and all kinds of clues will keep book lovers glued to the pages once the 12 12 year olds realize that this isn't any old library lock in.  Lemoncello is Wonka personified, and the title dropping is a hoot.  All of the ideas wouldn't work without Grabenstein's tightly written prose and vivid descriptions.  This is a great book that I cannot wait to get into the hands of my book lovers come the start of school.

    3 Comments on Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library, by Chris Grabenstein, last added: 7/21/2013
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    23. Illustrator Saturday – Kristi Valiant

    KristiValiantPhoto280In fourth grade, Kristi often got in trouble for drawing too much during class.

    After graduating magna cum laude from Columbus College of Art and Design as an Illustration major, I worked in the graphics department at an educational publisher. Now I write and illustrate children’s books.

    She’s represented by Linda Pratt from Wernick & Pratt Agency.

    I’ve illustrated the following: THE LITTLE WINGS Chapter Book Series (Random House 2012) THE GOODBYE CANCER GARDEN (Albert Whitman & Co., March 2011) DO YOU LOVE ME MORE? (Standard, Jan 2011) OLIVER’S FIRST CHRISTMAS (Accord, Oct 2010) DANCING DREAMS (Accord, Sept 2010) CORA COOKS PANCIT (Shen’s Books, 2009)

    Kristi is the Indiana Regional Advisor of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and has great news she has just made her debut as author/illustrator with the publication of PENGUIN CHA-CHA from Random House.

    kristiPenguinChaChaCover500

    And I have Great News for all of you. Kristi has agreed to give away a Penguin Prize Package – a signed book along with a magnet, sticker, and bookmark for this adorable book. Anyone that leaves a comment will get their name put in the hat one time. If you would like to collect more entries into the hat you can do the following:

    One entry everything you tweet this link (One a day)

    One entry for putting the link on facebook or your blog.

    Five entries if you read the book and talk about it on your facebook page or blog.

    Please leave what you did in the comment section, so I know how many times to put your name in the hat. You have until this coming Thursday to enter to win the Penguin Prize Package.

    kristiBarnesNoble_PenguinChaChaI think she looks excited. Here is Kristi Showing her process.

    kristiPenguinsSketch8-9A

    Sketch drawn on Wacom Centiq – from the original dummy submitted.

    kristiPenguinsSketch8-9B

    Quick color studies painted in Photoshop to find the overall color scheme of the page.

    kristiPenguinsSketch8-9CBlocking in the color.

    kristiPenguinsSketch8-9D

    Painting the details and muting the background so Julia stands out more in Photoshop.

    kristiPenguinsSketch8-9E

    Above: This is the finished piece. Below: An Early Version of Penguin Cha-Cha.

    KristiPenguinChaChaEarlyVersion

    How long have you been illustrating?

    I illustrated my first book while still in art school, so I’ve been illustrating children’s books for 14 years.

    I see you graduated magna cum laude from Columbus College of Art and Design as an Illustration major. That is pretty impressive. Can you tell us a little bit about how you decided to attend CCAD?

    My high school art teacher showed me a promotional book from CCAD with work by CCAD students. I had looked at other art schools, but loved the illustration work from this art school the best. The decision was made even easier when I received a partial art scholarship to CCAD and one of my closest friends decided to go to Ohio State in the same city.

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    What types of classes did you take?

    It’s a 4 year art school, and all of our courses had to do with art in some way. Freshman year I took classes like perspective drawing, figure drawing, art history, 2D design, 3D design, color concept, typography, painting, etc. After freshman year I was able to take courses in my specific major of Illustration as well as electives.

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    What classes were your favorites?

    Digital illustration, advanced Photoshop, an illustration class taught by C.F. Payne, color concept, and fashion illustration.

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    Did the School help you find work?

    Yes. From a job fair at CCAD, I received some freelance illustration work from Bath & Body Works drawing Christmas characters for on merchandise, and I found an internship at a tiny children’s book publisher called Berry Books. During my senior year, all illustration majors had an assignment in which we illustrated a few pages from a children’s book by an educational publisher called Seedling Publications. The publisher choose me as the final illustrator for the book. I went on to work in their graphics department laying out children’s books after I graduated as well as illustrating more books for them.

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    Do you feel that the classes you took influenced your style?

    That’s hard to say. I’d like to think my style is my style and I would have drawn the same no matter what, but I’m sure learning specific techniques and seeing the work of other students and masters definitely influenced what I do. In C.F. Payne’s class we had to put together a binder of artwork that inspired us. Looking through each student’s binder was very telling as to what styles they loved. But then C.F. Payne encouraged us to find different styles and learn to respect and see the mastery in that work as well. It’s opened me up to playing more with color and texture and different kinds of things that I notice in different art styles than my own.

    kristiValiantPenguinChaChaFlap

    What was the first thing you did where someone paid you for your artwork?

    As a young teen I face-painted at events, and as a freshman in high school I created an airbrush t-shirt business after learning how to airbrush in art class. Then I did murals at my local YMCA and Walmart in high school too.

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    What was the first thing you did for children?

    My first children’s book that I illustrated was for a tiny publisher called Berry Books.

    kristiCoraCooksPancitProofs

    How did that come about?

    I met the owner of Berry Books at a job fair at my art school. He hired me to help with graphic design, marketing, book layout, and so on. It was such a tiny publisher that there were only 3 of us. The owner also owned a berry farm, and during berry season, we’d head out to pick berries and eat bowls of vanilla bean ice cream with berries for lunch. Yum!

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    When did you decide you wanted to illustrate for children?

    I’ve always loved children’s books and have a special one with gorgeous illustrations from when I was a child (actually, it’s my brother’s, but don’t tell him). It’s called Dean’s Mother Goose Book of Rhymes, illustrated by Janet and Anne Grahame Johnstone. I think that’s one of the main reasons I chose to illustrate for children. I made my first book in elementary school. My teacher asked me to read it to a younger class, and I was hooked.

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    Have you done any work for children’s magazines?

    Yes, for Highlights magazine. What a wonderful company!

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    Have you worked for educational publishers?

    Yes, I’ve illustrated over 30 books for educational publishers and I worked in the graphics department of an educational publisher, Seedling, after graduating from art school. It was a family run business and a joy to work there. I’ve also illustrated hundreds – perhaps thousands – of black and white vector illustrations for educational publishers.

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    How many children’s books have you published?

    A hand full of hardcover picture books in the last four years for various publishers as well as a chapter book series called Little Wings for Random House (the 5th in that series just came out), and before that I illustrated dozens of educational children’s books.

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    Was CORA COOKS PANCIT (Shen’s Books, 2009) your first picture book?

    Yes, CORA COOKS PANCIT was my first picture book for the trade market. It was the Picture Book Winner of the 2010 Asian/Pacific American Awards for Literature (APALA)! The author, Dorina K Lazo Gilmore, and I both flew to Washington DC for the award during ALA. It was such an honor for our book to win the award and I loved meeting Dorina!

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    How did that connection come about?

    I happened to send a postcard art sample to Shen’s Books just as they were looking for an illustrator for that book. What perfect timing! The book’s main character is a Filipino girl named Cora and I had sent an Asian girl on my art sample that they liked.

    kristiValiantCoraCooksPancitDog

    Can you tell us a little bit about Shen’s Books?

    Shen’s Books is a small publisher of multicultural books based out of California. Their books are lovely!

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    In 2010 you published two books with Accord. Could you fill us in on that publisher and share the story of getting those contracts?

    I honestly don’t remember how Accord found me. They create innovative children’s books that have some kind of novelty to them usually. Both of the books I illustrated for them, DANCING DREAMS and OLIVER’S FIRST CHRISTMAS, are part of their AniMotion series in which the illustrations appear to be animated as you turn the page. I illustrated them as normal spreads keeping in mind exactly where the animated part would fall, and they created the animations.

    kristiValiantDancingDreams16

    Then in 2011 you published DO YOU LOVE ME MORE? with Standard. How did that come your way?

    I think Standard found me through my website. This book has a wonderful way of explaining God’s grace. Standard is a great publisher of Christian books.

    kristiValiantDoYouLoveMeMore

    How did you end up being represented by Wernick and Pratt Agency? When did that happen?

    I met Linda Pratt at a dessert party during an SCBWI conference. I had sought her out when I felt I was finally ready for an agent, because I really liked her clients and thought we may have a bit of the same taste, so perhaps she’d like my work. She had just seen my artwork on display for winning the illustration contest at the conference and commented on it. We had a great chat and she invited me to submit. I was very blessed to have had such an easy time finding my dream agent.

    KristiValiantDoYouLoveMeMore2

    How many contracts have they gotten for you?

    Linda became my agent just as Random House wanted to acquire PENGUIN CHA-CHA, so she negotiated that one. She’s also negotiated a number of books I’ve illustrated: the Little Wings contracts, a book cover, and now PRETTY MINNIE IN PARIS, a picture book written by Danielle Steel that will be published by Doubleday/Random House in fall 2014.

    kristilittlewingscover

    When did you decide to start writing and illustrating?

    In 2007 I started writing some manuscripts and joined a critique group to help with my writing. Writing picture books really means learning a whole separate skill set. It took years to get one manuscript that was solid.

    kristiLittleWingsBook2_94Valiant

    Is PENGUIN CHA-CHA from Random House the first book where you were the author and the illustrator?

    Yes!

    kristiRandomHouseDrawOnWall

    Kristi and her editor, Michael Joosten in front of the illustrator’s wall at Random House on the kid’s editorial floor. Some big name illustrators have drawn on that wall, and Kristi says she was thrilled when Michael asked her to add her penguins to it! 

    Tell us a little bit about the story and how you came up with the idea.

    PENGUIN CHA-CHA began as an illustration for in my portfolio. I was in a swing and Latin dance group and wanted to draw some dancing illustrations. I like penguins and thought it would be fun to make them dance in a Latin dance competition, so that became a portfolio piece. Editors and art directors kept pointing out that illustration in particular in my portfolio and asking for a story to go along with it. I wrote story after story about dancing penguins until I finally got one that I really loved. Julia discovers that the penguins at the zoo are dancing when no one is around. She wants to join their jitterbug, but they freeze like penguin Popsicles whenever she approaches. Will they ever dance with her?

    kristipenguin

    How long have you been Regional Advisor for the SCBWI in Indiana?

    Since 2010. SCBWI has been instrumental in my career, so it’s an honor to volunteer in the role of Regional Advisor.

    kristiLittleWingsBook5CoverValiant

    Have you ever illustrated a book for a self-published author?

    Yes, twice when I was first starting out and needed pieces for my portfolio. I don’t anymore. One was a great experience and one wasn’t.

    kristiLittleWingsBook4_70Valiant

    Where does most of your paid work come from?

    I focus my time on my books, and I still illustrate black & white line vector drawings for one particular educational publisher.

    kristiLittleWingsBook3_45Valiant

    Do you do any marketing on your own to find illustration work?

    Not anymore. Before I had an agent I would send sample postcards a few times a year to editors and art directors.

    kristiValiantProdigalSon

    What is your favorite medium to use?

    I work all digitally. My book illustrations are done in Adobe Photoshop and my vector drawings are done in Adobe Illustrator.

    KristiValianthanging-hippo

    Not counting your paint and brushes, what is the one thing in your studio that you could not live without?

    I don’t use paint and brushes except with my kids! I love my Cintiq – it’s a large monitor that I can draw on with a stylus. I also need my large collection of picture books that inspire me.

    KristiValiantWing2

    Do you try and spend a certain amount of hours every day working on your art?

    I have two little girls, so I need to work quickly while they’re in preschool and childcare or napping. I have deadlines and try to schedule out how fast I need to work to get done in time, but sometimes an illustration doesn’t come together like I want it to and I end up working late into the nights.

    kristicoraface

    Have you ever won an award for your writing or illustrating?

    Recently, I won a regional art show with a Prodigal Son theme in 2012 for my artwork titled “Love That Lifts a Child.” A couple of my books have won awards: THE GOODBYE CANCER GARDEN won 2011 Best English Language Children’s Book at the Sharjah International Book Fair and CORA COOKS PANCIT was the Picture Book Winner of the 2010 Asian/Pacific American Awards for Literature (APALA). I won some illustration contests and one picture book writing contest at SCBWI conferences. I won a marketing grant from SCBWI for PENGUIN CHA-CHA.

    KristiValiantWaterWings

    Do you take pictures or do any research before you start a project?

    It depends on the project as to how much research or photos are required. Right now I’m illustrating a book that takes place in Paris, so of course, I HAD to visit Paris with my husband and try out all the pastries… I mean take lots of photos for visual reference, since there are tiny visual details, like electrical outlets, that look different in Paris than here. For CORA COOKS PANCIT, I definitely had to research the Filipino culture, try my hand at making Filipino food (yum!) just like the main character, and I took lots of photos of a little Asian girl as a model for Cora. Other books, like my PENGUIN CHA-CHA, didn’t require taking photos, but I have a dance background and was able to move into the dance positions myself in order to feel how to draw them. I usually always collect lots of references of clothes, colors, textures, and perspectives that I want to use in each book as I go.

    kristipenguincha

    Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

    Oh yes. My website has brought new clients, and I’m able to research and be inspired so much easier. I recently joined Pinterest and am loving all the fashion pins as I draw a picture book that’s heavy on fashion. I also use the Internet to connect with other writers and illustrators as well as reach new readers. I have a book trailer for my PENGUIN CHA-CHA picture book, and seeing the number of hits it has is fun. Being on blogs like this one is also wonderful!

    kristilittlewing2

    Do you use Photoshop with your illustrations?

    Yes, I draw and paint my books entirely in Photoshop!

    Do you own or have you ever tried a graphic Drawing Tablet?

    Yes, I used to draw with a drawing tablet, but now I only use that when I travel. I use a Cintiq at home. It’s a large monitor that I draw on and is attached to an arm that allows me to turn it easily like you would a piece of paper and bring it right down into my lap to draw comfortably. I love it!

    kristiboots

    Do you think your style has changed over the years? Have your materials changed?

    I used to illustrate educational books, so when I decided to work on breaking into the trade book market, I had to evolve my style to work with that market. I attended SCBWI conferences and had every portfolio critique with an art director in children’s books that I could find. One art director in particular, Laurent Linn, was very helpful at explaining the difference in my illustrations between the educational book look and the trade book look. I still am learning and developing my style. I think I always will. As for materials, in art school I had to learn how to use many mediums. In the educational books I tried out various mediums and styles. But I’ve always been one who enjoys being spontaneous and not planning everything out in the painting first but experimenting as I go. The problem with real paint is that you can’t move things around and resize them in your painting after you paint it. But digitally you can! Digital illustration has come a long way and some of my editors and art directors don’t even realize I work digitally until I tell them.

    kristiwingsschool

    Do you have any career dreams that you want to fulfill?

    To continue to write and illustrate my own books as well as illustrate others’ books that I really enjoy. I could say I want to win a Caldecott or something like that, but since that isn’t a goal that I have control over, I’ll stick with really enjoying my own books and hoping that others enjoy them too!

    What are you working on now?

    I’m illustrating a picture book written by Danielle Steel called PRETTY MINNIE IN PARIS! It’s a lovely book full of fashion, Paris, a teacup Chihuahua, and a stylish little girl. So much fun to illustrate! I visited Danielle and met the real Minnie when I visited Paris, and they were both a delight.

    kristiwings

    Do you have any material type tips you can share with us? Example: Paint or paper that you love – the best place to buy – a new product that you’ve tried – A how to tip, etc.

    Since I illustrate in Photoshop, I would suggest not using the awful pencil tool that comes with Photoshop, but instead create your own or download lots of free Photoshop brushes (search online for Nagel’s or others). Play with the brush settings such as shape dynamics, scattering, texture, etc. It took me years to create a pencil tool that looks and feels like a real pencil, but now I love sketching in Photoshop. Whenever I sketch on real paper with a real pencil, I want to hit the undo button!

    kristiballet_frontcover

    Any words of wisdom on how to become a successful writer or illustrator?

    Join SCBWI and volunteer. Meet other writers and illustrators and make friends. If you want to write or illustrate books, you need to read, read, read those books currently being published. Study what’s out there and figure out how to make your mark while staying true to who you are. Find out what makes your face light up – what subjects and themes and characters – and do that kind of work. Love what you’re doing!

    Kristi christmas_frontcover

    Thank you Kristi for sharing your process and journey with us. Penguin Cha-Cha looks like such a cute picture book. I wish you much success with that and your future books.

    You can visit Kristi at the following sites: www.kristivaliant.comhttp://kristivaliant.blogspot.comwww.penguinchacha.com - Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kvaliant – Twitter: https://twitter.com/KristiValiant

    Free Penguin Cha-Cha Storytime Activity Kit: http://www.penguinchacha.com/Penguin_Cha-Cha/activities.html

    Remember all you have to do is leave a comment for Kristi to receive one entry for your chance to win a signed copy of Penguin Cha-Cha. Hope you help spread the word for Kristi’s debut as author/illustrator.

    Talk tomorrow,

    Kathy


    Filed under: Advice, authors and illustrators, Contest, How to, Illustrator's Saturday, inspiration, Interview, Process Tagged: editor Michael Joosten, Kristi valiant, Penguin Cha-Cha, Random House

    12 Comments on Illustrator Saturday – Kristi Valiant, last added: 9/10/2013
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    24. Every Day After (2013)

    Every Day After. Laura Golden. 2013. Random House. 224 pages. [Source: Review Copy]

    I loved, loved, loved Every Day After by Laura Golden. I love it not because the characters are oh-so-perfect. I love it because the characters are oh-so-human. Our heroine, Lizzie Hawkins, is flawed but lovable. Every Day After is her coming-of-age story, and it's a great one.

    Every Day After is set in the early 1930s. Lizzie's father recently abandoned his family because he knew that they were about to lose their house. In addition, her mother has not been the same since he left. She has checked out mentally and emotionally. She has lost touch with reality. 

    Lizzie doesn't know why her father left; she even hopes that he will come back and save them all. But Lizzie is determined to be strong and brave and resourceful until then. She will take care of her mother. She will not let her mother be put into a mental hospital. She will not let the authorities put her into an orphanage.

    Her father had a simple rule: never, ever accept charity. To ask for help is to show weakness, and weakness is to be despised. But does Lizzie have to be strong in the same way as her Dad?

    Lizzie may feel she has to do it alone. But there are people in her life who do care.

    Lizzie has a best friend, Ben, and a worst enemy, Erin. It drives Lizzie crazy that Ben doesn't hate Erin too. That Ben actually treats Erin with kindness and respect. She thinks that because Erin treats her awful, bullies and teases her, that Ben should hate Erin on principle. But it is not in Ben's nature to HATE anyone. He is gentle and sensitive and compassionate. He sees what Lizzie absolutely cannot: that Erin is in tremendous emotional pain. I loved the themes of this novel. How Lizzie "grew" through the novel, how she learned about life, love, friendship, and family.

    What I loved the most about Every Day After was the characterization and the writing. I CARED DEEPLY about the characters. Some scenes were very intense and uncomfortable because I felt so much. I adored Ben!!!

    © 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

    0 Comments on Every Day After (2013) as of 1/1/1900
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    25. Happy Roald Dahl Day!

    DahlI learned via and email from Random House this morning that today is Roald Dahl day, a day to celebrate mischief and mayhem (image to the left is from Random House). How appropriate for a Friday the 13th. The email urges us to "Visit the official Roald Dahl site for ways to celebrate in your classroom or library and learn about the man behind the stories: www.roalddahlday.info." 

    But personally, I just want to talk about my two favorite Dahl stories:

    Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is the first Roald Dahl book that I ever read, and I love it to this day. It both captures the childhood imagination and contains biting satire. Such a perfect blend! When I was in 7th or 8th grade, I learned to type. I practiced by copying Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, sitting at the desk in my basement bedroom. I don't remember being bored for even a moment. Who wouldn't love (in regards to TV):

    Before this monster was invented?'
    Have you forgotten? Don't you know?
    We'll say it very loud and slow:
    THEY...USED...TO...READ! They'd READ and READ,
    AND READ and READ, and then proceed
    To READ some more. Great Scott! Gadzooks!
    One half their lives was reading books!

    (You can read the full poem at the RoaldDahlFans.com site.)

    Although it is somewhat different from the book (particularly the songs), I also love the movie. The original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory with Gene Wilder, of course, not the travesty of an unnecessary remake. What child of the 70's doesn't occasionally find herself humming: "Oompa loompa doompety-doo". (Full song lyrics here, if you want them.) And who hasn't dreamed of the chocolate waterfall?

    My other favorite Dahl story is Matilda. I'll even go so far in Matilda's case as to say that the movie may be better than the book. But the book is lovely, too. My favorite part of the movie is when young Matilda visits the library, and sits there and reads and reads. The image of this tiny person waiting for the walk light so that she can be with the books that are as necessary as breathing, well, of course it resonates.

    My husband and I have already introduced the movie to our three year old daughter. We were a bit worried that she would find it scary, but I think (and this is the beauty of Dahl) that it is so over-the-top that she finds it hilarious. She loves the part where the indifferent parents throw the baby seat loose into the back of the station wagon, so that it careens all over place. I think that witnessing the terrible parents that DeVito and Perlman bring to life so well makes her feel more satisfied with her own life. Or something. 

    But for me, Matilda is special because we share the eternal love of books, and the knowledge that books can take you anywhere. Happy Roald Dahl Day! (And than you Random House for the idea for this post.)

    What are your favorite Dahl books? What will you do to celebrate Roald Dahl Day?

    © 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate.

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