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1. Illustrator Saturday – David Small

MY PUBLICITY PHOTO copy-2I noticed that illustrator David Small’s new book, Catch That Cookie was hitting the bookshelves on August 14th, so I contacted him to see if he would like to be featured on Illustrator Saturday. He will be doing a book tour in September, so I’ll make sure I tell you all the ins and outs as soon as I know them. It will be a great opportunity to meet him and Hallie Durand, if they are coming to a bookstore near you.

Here is a little bit about David:

David Small was born and raised in Detroit. In school he became known as “the kid who could draw good,” but David never considered a career in art because it was so easy for him. At 21, after many years of writing plays, David took the advice of a friend who informed him that the doodles he made on the telephone pad were better than anything he had ever written. He switched his major to Art and never looked back. After getting his MFA at the Yale Graduate School of Art, David taught art for many years on the college level, ran a film series and made satirical sketches for campus newspapers.

Approaching tenure, he wrote and illustrated a picture book, “Eulalie and the Hopping Head”, which he took to New York, pounding the pavements and collecting rejections for a month in the dead of winter. “Eulalie” was published in 1981. Although tenure at the college did not follow, many more picture books did, as well as extensive work for national magazines and newspapers. His drawings appeared regularly in The New Yorker and The New York Times. A learn-as-you-go illustrator, David’s books have been translated into several languages, made into animated films and musicals, and have won many of the top awards accorded to illustration, including the 1997 Caldecott Honor and The Christopher Medal for “The Gardener” written by his wife, Sarah Stewart, and the 2001 Caldecott Medal for “So, You Want To Be President?” by Judith St. George.

“At the Caldecott ceremony in San Francisco,” said David, “facing that veritable sea of smiling faces — of librarians, of friends in publishing, of my family and other well-wishers— I was so overcome that I lost my voice and croaked my way through the speech. Having been turned from a frog into a prince by the American Library Association, before their eyes that night, I turned back into a frog.” To date he has illustrated over 40 picture books. At an average of 40 pages per book, that makes around 1,840 illustrations, though someone ought to check that math. Currently David is working on a graphic memoir about his problematic youth.

David Small and Sarah Stewart make their home in an 1833 manor house on a bend of the St. Joseph River in southwest Michigan. David’s studio is an 1890 farmhouse also overlooking the river, just a short walk from home.

Here’s David discussing his process for the cover of his new book, CATCH THAT COOKIE written by Hallie Durand:

JKT 1

Every picture-book has its unique set of problems in the making of it. This one had relatively few worries on the interior art but, what we didn’t know was: we had a long hard struggle coming up, trying to find a good title and a good jacket design as well. This was a first jacket sketch, from back in the summer of 2013, when the working title was “Searching for Gingerbread”, which nobody liked.

JKT 2

By December, Holly had come up with a great title. I still clung to that original pose for the Kid but, as you can see from my inked notations, we were already discussing a different attitude, one without the theatrical “Scout-Searching-the-Plains” hand over the eyes.

JKT 3

Here the Kid’s pose is more dynamic, but still something was wrong. Nobody thought the Kid should be able to see the Cookie. They were right: it made it look like an uneven match.

JKT 4

Here their positions are reversed. The hiding cookie seemed okay, but the Kid has no verve. The thrill was going out of this jacket project. By now, six months had passed. It was February 2014, I was working from my studio in Mexico, and our deadline for a jacket was coming up very soon. We decided to get the creative juices kick-started by taking a radically-different approach. (We had no idea what that approach would be, only that it had to be radical. [Slide #4a:] Lily (the Art Director) and I decided to comb over some old movie posters for dynamic image ideas. Here is Mark Wahlberg as “Max Payne.”

JKT 5

…. and here is the Kid saying: “Stop right there, you darn cookie! Put your doughy little arms up or suffer maximum pain!”

JKT 6

Another wrong direction. The illustrator’s panic shows in the whole pose. I and Lily, Holly and two editors– were working every day, all day and often into the night on this. We had passed the deadline long ago and were nearing the drop-deadline. We had to find another way!

JKT 7

Some smart-thinking person (not me,) had come up with this “WANTED” poster for the back jacket. Another person (also not me,) decided it might work as the front jacket.

JKT 8

For several days we went with that, but nobody was getting buzzed. This one had too much text to read …

JKT 9

…this had less text but still no “Grab-Me-Off-The-Shelf” appeal.

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How this– the final jacket design–evolved, was a similar ordeal full of false starts, wrong turns, bad decisions, do-overs and raw nerves but we finally got it. And that, in the end, is all that matters. I’ve shown you 10 examples here, but in my archives I have at least 50 different comps for this jacket, which doesn’t count all the others that went into the trash. It now seems amazing, unusual — even weird– that it took so long to get this right., but so it goes.

BELOW: DAVID ANSWERS TO THE INTERVIEW QUESTIONS I ASKED:

When did you first know you were destined to become an artist?

When I realized I was not fit for life in the real world and that any normal employment was out of the question.

QUIET PLACE

Did you always live in Michigan?

No. I’ve lived in Chicago, in Boston, in New Haven and in a small burg in Upstate New York. Also, you should know that there are two Michigans: one is called Detroit, and I’ve done time in both.

MONEY TREE Jkt
What was the first thing you illustrated and got paid for doing?

An article in the NYTimes Book Review. I was in NYC for 2 months, trying to market my first children’s book. (This was in the early 1980’s, before the Internet, when you had to be in NYC to get work there.) I  went up to the Times to the office of Steve Heller, showed him my portfolio, and then and there he gave  me an assignment for the Book Review. Since he wanted it the next day, I stayed up all night, working on
the floor of an empty apartment on W. 10th Street. (Some friends had loaned us their apartment while  they moved into another one, and the place had no furniture except a bed and a lamp.)

COWS Jkt
Do you feel getting your MFA at the Yale Graduate School of Art helped develop your style?

No. I had a far better art education getting my BFA at Wayne State University in Detroit, during the ‘60’s.

goergecowsinterior
What made you decide to go to Yale vs. other schools for art?

I didn’t make the decision. My mentor– a Boston artist named Michael Mazur–decided I needed to go to grad school. Mike had gone to Yale, was good friends with the printmaker Gabor Peterdi, who at that time taught in the Printmaking Department at Yale, and he used his influence to get me in.

georgescowsinteriors2
Did you have a favorite class at Yale?

Life Drawing was always my favorite class, wherever I was. At Wayne I had had great instructors in drawing the figure and Anatomy, so by the time I got to Yale all I really needed was to be left alone to continue practicing.
You may sense a certain “distant” tone when I speak about Yale? At the time I was
there, in the early 70’s, the Yale Grad School of Art was a ruptured institution, with one part of the faculty –the Traditionalists–at war with another, the Abstractionists. This tension got passed along to the students, who basically stayed hidden away in their studios, coming out only for the faculty group critiques of their work. These forums were staged in public, in an open pit, with people watching from the balconies tiered around that space. They were like gladitorial games and they always devolved into ideological screaming-matches between the professors, while students were frequently driven away in tears. I got spared these ordeals because we Printmaking majors weren’t considered actual artists.

georgescowinterior
You mention in your bio that you began with writing plays. Do you think you will ever write another play?

Making graphic novels is much like play writing, and it’s even more like film-making.

BOOK WOMAN Jkt
Do you feel getting your MFA at Yale opened doors for you?

Absolutely. In the world of academe, that Yale degree has genuine snob appeal. Out in the world of actual illustration, Art Directors at magazines and publishing houses could care less where you went to school. They don’t read your resume, they just look at your portfolio.

My opinion of art schools in general is they offer you two important things: 1) a place to work where you can avoid having to be out in the world while you develop your art, and, if you’re lucky, 2) possibly one or two good instructors who might encourage you. I still think the portfolio is more important than the degree.

DINOS Jkt
What was the catalyst for your first picture book, “Eulalie and the Hopping Head”?

My family. I grew up feeling my parents wanted to trade me in for a different model.

EULALE Jkt
Where did you teach art? How did the job to teach art come along?

I first taught at the S.U.N.Y. college at Fredonia. I presume it was the Yale degree that put me in the running for that position, but also, my work was substantial and I interviewed well. That job lasted 7 years. I left that institution -and tenure — when I was hired at Kalamazoo College ,which had all the qualities I was looking for in a place to teach; it was small, it offered a real quality education, it had that
Georgian architecture ( the look of a little Parnassus-On-A-Hill) and –a big plus–there were very few Art majors. That meant that my students came from other disciplines like the sciences and language, and so, had other interests than flinging paint around.

After 4 years there, the Reagan Recession hit and colleges everywhere began cutting positions to save money. My position was eliminated and my wife and I –both around 40 years old at that time– found ourselves out on the street, with no jobs, no savings and no place to live. At the time it seemed like a disaster, but it turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me. It pushed me out into the world of work. If I had stayed in academe I think I might have withered away and dried up completely.

OCF Jkt
How did you land your gigs with The New Yorker and The New York Times?

I showed them my portfolio and, to my surprise, they hired me. Then they hired me again. But there was  absolutely no certainty that they would ever hire you after that. This uncertainly–to me– was exhilarating, and stillis. It’s so different from academia, where you could relax and be assured that your next paycheck would be coming in.

RUBY MAE Jkt
Do you still do illustrations for magazines?

No. Maybe things have changed now, but for the years when I worked for magazines, the work was always very interruptive, the pay was low, and it all had to be done very fast. The pace got even crazier with the advent of fax machines, overnight delivery and the Internet.

FRIEND Jkt
Which books of yours were recreated into animated films and musicals?

IMOGENE’S ANTLERS was made into a great little mini-musical. Weston Woods has made films of SYWTB President?, MY SENATOR AND ME, and– coming soon– ONE COOL FRIEND.

friendinterior
Did your illustrating and your wife’s writing bring the two of you together?

No. A mutual friend introduced us at a party and it was love at first sight. I loved her face, her intellect, and the tiny vase of live violas she wore around her neck that night. We were friends for eight years before we married.

friendinterior2
Was it fun working on “The Gardener” that your wife Sarah Stewart wrote?

The word “fun” did not enter my work vocabulary on that project The story ,as you know, is set in the Great Depression, and concerns a child whose family can’t afford to keep her. She is torn away from everything she knows and loves and is sent off to work for her uncle in the city. When I illustrate a story I have to make my own. That is, I have to find myself in it. With The Gardener, at first and for a long time, I agonized over the pain and loneliness that child must have felt. I couldn’t find any light in it. Also, I was familiar with the black and white photos from that era, of the
starving families in the Dust Bowl, of the urban bread lines … It wasn’t pretty. I decided it was beyond my powers to illustrate that story, and I was ready to turn back the contract. Then came a breakthrough.

I had a talk with Lydia Grace Finch–the gardener friend of Sarah’s on whose childhood Sarah had based her story. I asked Lydia what it was like growing up during the Depression.She said: “I was just a kid like any other kid. I didn’t know what ‘the Depression’ was; that was just life. We all had to work, of course.
We worked hard, but we also knew how to enjoy ourselves. I had a lot of fun during the Depression!”

That conversation was an eye-opener for me. I put it together with my own childhood memories of growing up young and innocent in Detroit, and suddenly things began to develop rapidly on paper. I guess, maybe, at that point it started to be fun.

GARDENER Jkt
How excited were the two of you to win The Christopher Medal and receive a Caldecott Honor for that book in 1997?

Very excited and surprised as well. It was stunning for both of us, to have such a private, personal experience given such huge recognition by the larger world.

gardenerinterior
Did you see a jump in demand for your illustrating after those wins?

I suppose I did. I know I started getting offered a lot of manuscripts that resembled Sarah’s but that weren’t Sarah’s, so I really had no interest in doing them.

gardenerinterior2
Did you have any idea that “So, You Want To Be President?” by Judith St. George would win the Caldecott?

I personally didn’t think that book would sell five copies. But, speaking of “fun?” … that book was fun to make! Maybe that’s why I had little hopes for it, because it seemed more like bad-boy misconduct than work.

SYWTBPres Jkt
Once we realized that a Presidential election (Bush v. Gore) was coming up that very Fall, we stepped up the production schedule and I had to work very quickly; I didn’t have time to fuss and fret over every drawing. So, maybe my pessimissim about its prospects was related to my anxiety that maybe I hadn’t done a “perfect job”. (Aways a worry.)

presidentroosevelt
Was Imogene’s Antlers the second picture book that you wrote? How did you find a home with a publisher for that book?

It was the fifth book I had illustrated, the second book I wrote. The editor of my first book– Alan Benjamin– had just become the Senior Buying Editor at Crown. Nobody among the higher-ups at Crown wanted to buy that book, but Alan made them publish it. He had a sense about it. He and I shared that bad-boy quality in our taste for books, but Alan was also very suave, very urbane, and could be very persuasive.

IMOGENE Jkt
When did you meet your agent Holly McGhee?

It must have been 1997, the year she began Pippin Properties. I had given up on my search for a literary agent because all of the ones I met, for one reason or another, I had found disturbing. (One of them — a very famous kids book agent– was an outright crook. I had been warned away fromhim by several of my peers, but I interviewed him just to see if they were right. They were right. He met all red flag points on the official “How To Recognize a Sociopath” list. After that creepy encounter I had decided to go back to being agentless.

Then, Holly McGhee wrote to me. Her letter not only showed a genuine interest in– and enthusiasm for — my work, but she already had an impressive list of clients including William Steig and Jon Agee. When I met her face-to-face and found myself talking not to a self-inflated suit but to a genuine, straight-talking human being, I was convinced. I knew that she could help bring some business clarity to my life.

imogeneinterior
Were you Holly’s first client?
I was not the very first, but I was among them.

imogeneinterior2
Was it hard to write “Stitches,” since it is so heartfelt?

It took me about 7 years to make that book, and yes, it was very very hard to make. But, that being said, I was driven to do it. All the false starts, all the re-do’s, the frustrations and self-doubts, the piles of material that ended up in the trash and the fifteen full-length versions (all of them different) were just things that seemed very necessary to working out a coherent story.

Holly, by the way, was very involved with Stitches from the beginning. She edited the first 12 versions of it. When we finally had it in a form she thought she could present with confidence, she spent a whole year of research to find a list of 6 editors at 6 different houses where she thought my book would fit. After that, she and the other Pips spent months putting together a presentation package. About that, Holly said, “I want this thing to be so extraordinary-looking that an editor will immediately
pop it into their briefcase and read it on the train ride home.” The day after she sent it out she immediately got 5 offers.

STITCHES jkt
Was that your first graphic novel?

Yes.

stitichesinterior
Which one of your books is your favorite?

Stitches is the book of my life, okay?–but it is in a much, much different category from the picture books. Of those, The Money Tree (by Sarah ) and my own Paper John were probably the most  meaningful, because they both were pulled up from some place very deep in us both. As for the 50+  other picture books, I have to give the by-now cliched but still very-honest answer: I don’t play favorites with my children. That said, there are a few of those children who–although I wish them well– I’d prefer not to see again. You try the best you can every time, but sometimes the stars are misaligned ….  something has gone wrong.

PAPER JOHN Jkt
What is your favorite material to us when you do a colored illustration?

I first draw in waterproof ink, then do the color in water color and pastels.

paperjohn
Have your materials changed since your first published book?

Yes. By the time I did So, You Want To Be President? I was getting tired of Realism and was ready for a change in both my style and materials. That was when I loosened up my drawing style, began drawing more with a brush, and working in some patches of pastel chalk, for more emphatic color.

paperhohninterior
Have you tried your hand at Photoshop or drawing with a graphic tablet?

I have. Like everyone else in this ramped-up age of publishing, I was seduced by the “apparent” speed with which changes can be made with the computer, and by some of the impressive effects achieved by a few of the artists who use it. But, when I started taking Photoshop lessons I realized that I disliked more things about the medium than I liked. Most of all I missed the disconnect between the hand and the image. I missed having inky fingers and masses of art supplies surrounding me. I found out that being able to make speedy changes was not necessarily a good a thing for me: it felt strange that a drawing could be instantly evaporated into the ether, without having time to mellow and to reveal its good aspects. I should add that, when I go to an exhibit of original art I prefer to see original hand-made art, not a digital print-out. From the former I feel I’m always learning something useful about what the human hand is capable of doing, while from the latter I generally learn nothing. I also see a lot of computer artists trying clumsily to imitate the effects of
hand-drawn work. I’m not saying I’m against digitally-generated images, I’m only saying it’s not for me.

jane and david
Do you spend any time promoting your work or does Holly take care of all that for you?

I spend Zero time in self-promotion. I’m not on Facebook or Twitter. Holly is my advocate, my procurer (heh) , my confessor, my confidante, occasionally (as with Stitches,) my first editor and one of my best friends. As Artistic Director of her own company now, she chooses the best artists and authors she can find, gets them the best contracts she can, and lets their work stand for itself.

Promotion is up to the publishers and their Marketing Departrments. What makes them get behind a book –or not– is always a mystery, but I have to trust them. In any case, I’d much rather have them out there, doing all that, than doing it myself. I have other fish to fry.

HOOVER Jkt
What do you feel was your greatest success?

You can have many different kinds of success. There are books that might have been commercially successful that were not, in your own opinion, so successful as works of art or literature. There are books you are very proud of from an aesthetic standpoint, which sink without a trace. There are books that have a big critical success but which, for some reason, the public doesn’t go for. I’ve had all of  these.

The 2001 Caldecott Medal ceremony was the most astonishing public display of success I’ve  ever experienced. I think almost everyone present, that night in San Francisco, felt that something really significant had been done by the ALA. The crowd was immense and the air was electric. There was something very daring and spirited about the committee’s choice that year. I am sure it had something to
do with the political miasma swirling in D.C. at the time, and with the sense that Judy St. George, our editor Patricia Gauch and I had delivered some straight-talk to American children about the real human beings–full of real talents and real faults — who have held the highest office in the land. So, it was an enormous thrill being at the center of all that , but what I felt mainly was a fearsome lack of words with
which to express adequate thanks to the givers.

JOURNEY Jkt
Since you have a separate studio, would you tell us a little bit about it?

We have two houses on our property. One is the house we live in, the other–a 3-minute walk along the riverbank– is my studio, which occasionally doubles as a guest house. When I used to work at home Sarah and I found the intertwining of our lives too distracting. Sarah needs absolute silence, while I need music on, sometimes very loud, when I work. Sarah likes to leave the phone off the hook, but I don’t
mind interruptions. I enjoy emails, while Sarah has never touched a computer and won’t have one in the house. Those are significant differences, but we both share a need for privacy, so having separate work spaces –when we finally got them–was a big relief. That being said, I have to tell you that Sarah never once complained while I was at work at home, but, when the opportunity came along for me to have a studio, she was on it like spots on dice.

FENWICK Jkt
Do you try to spend a specific amount of time working on your craft?

No. I don’t have a stopwatch for the amount of time I put into my work , just as I don’t go over my Profit & Loss sheets. I pay no attention to time and I pay even less to money. If I paid attention to those things, my worries would be all about time and money. As it is, my worries are all about art.

BANANA Jkt
Do you take pictures or do any types of research, before you start a project?

For things like architectural styles and period costumes one must have research tools, books and the Internet. Computers are amazing tools for this, but I cherish equally my collection of books, which is big. A book is a often a better research tool, especially when you don’t know specifically what you’re looking for, you often find it by leafing through the pages.

bananainterior
Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

Oh yes! I live on a prairie outside a small farming village, Population 800. There is a distinct lack of culture out here. We have a very small library, but nothing else, no museums, no theatres. Even though Chicago and Detroit are only 3 hours distant, we visit them only occasionally and for very brief stays. With e-mail I communicate daily with business friends, editors and art directors in NYC and with close friends in
Boston, San Francisco, Mexico, Paris and Brazil. It’s fantastic.

UNDERNEATH Jkt

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

I hope to keep working and to fall over into my ink bottle when I croak. If there is an afterlife I hope they have a good art supply store there.

princess

What are you working on now?

I have a book coming out with Dial this September, CATCH THAT COOKIE! written by Hallie Durand. Next year will see GLAMOURPUSS by Sarah Weeks (Scholastic, Spring 2015.) At the moment I’m working on finals for BLOOM by Doreen Cronin (Atheneaum, Spring 2016.) I also have a graphic novel in the works. That will be published by Liveright.

interiorbowl

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.

A few years ago I fell in love with a refillable brush pen made in Japan and distributed by Pentel. I buy mine from Wetpaint in St. Paul MN. (On their website store, click on Brush Pens and it will be the first item listed.) I drew most of Stitches with that pen, and I always travel with them to use in my sketchbooks.

As for”How To” tips, I have two good ones:

A. Always carry a sketchbook with you and use it. If you’re self-conscious about people watching you, wear tinted glasses and develop a “don’t mess with me” look. (You are, after all, at work, and you have to focus at all costs.)
B. If you’re learning watercolor, try to put down no more than three layers of color, the first having so little paint in it that you can hardly detect any color. This advice comes from good old John Ruskin’s “Elements of Drawing” (1857.) When I can calm my own impatient impulses and follow it, a painting usually works out beautifully. When I forget Ruskin’s tip, my painting gets muddy and has to be done again.

LIBRARY Jkt

Any words of wisdom you have on how to become a successful illustrator would be appreciated?

Sure. Don’t think about being a successful illustrator. Just try being a great one. Copy the old Masters.

B&WJKT 4a

Thank you David for sharing your journey, expertise, and process with us. Good luck with CATCH THE COOKIE. I hope it is a big success.

Here is the Amazon link for anyone who wants to check it out: CATCH THAT COOKIE by Hallie Durand.  Can anyone tell me who is Hallie Durand?

You can visit David at his website: http://www.davidsmallbooks.com

Please take a minute to leave David a comment. I am sure he would love to hear from you and as always, I would, too.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, Illustrator's Saturday, inspiration, Interview, Process, Tips Tagged: Caldecott Medal, Catch the Cookie, David Small, Sarah Stewart, Yale Graduate School of Art

11 Comments on Illustrator Saturday – David Small, last added: 8/17/2014
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2. Swooning Over Swag (or Christmas in July)

I count myself lucky to know some really terrific people. And one such person is my colleague and friend Brian Abbott. Brian is the coworker who went to the ALA (American Library Association) Midwinter Conference back in January and brought me back several ARCs. (Read more about that by clicking Here.) A few weeks ago, he attended the ALA Annual Conference in Las Vegas and he came back bearing swag, and lots of it! From posters, to prints, to magnets, and even CDs, they were giving it all away at ALA. And Brian gave a bunch to me! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But his generosity didn’t end there. He waited in line and managed to grab me a signed copy, yes, a signed copy of Caldecott Medal winner Brian Floca’s book Locomotive! (Read my review of Locomotive Here.) 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Okay, that’s definitely sweet, but the most unique item Brian brought back was a seven-page, full-color booklet that was given out to attendees of the Newbery Caldecott Awards Banquet. Brian was invited to attend! (Okay, push down the author envy.) The booklet is so cool; it even has a pop-up in it! Swoon.   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks Brian, you’re awesome! To learn more about adult mystery novelist Brian Abbott, check out his site, The Poisoned Martini, and look for his debut novel Death On Stoneridge, coming soon.


2 Comments on Swooning Over Swag (or Christmas in July), last added: 7/25/2014
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3. Caldecott Thoughts 2013

This is not my hat  This year’s winner of the Caldecott Medal is This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen (Candlewick Press, 2012).  This story is a big fish tale, but not in the way you might think. It’s also a small fish tale about a small fish who stole the hat of a big fish. He’s pretty sure he can get away with it, but stealing is wrong, isn’t it? Do you think he’ll get away with it? Do you think he should? This story certainly made me smile. Mr. Klassen does a superb job moving the story along with short sentences and illustrations that change ever so slightly as they move to the right and off of the page.

Creepy carrots! The ALSC chose five honor books this year! Among them is Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds and illustrated by Peter Brown (Simon & Schuster, 2012). This fun picture book is cleverly illustrated with just enough color to set an eerie mood. If picture books were horror movies, this one would be rated G. It’s just so much fun; I read it three or four times. Jasper Rabbit has this terrible feeling that carrots are following him. Is it his imagination? Or have the creepy carrots devised a plan to keep Jasper out of the carrot patch?

Extra yarn Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen (Balzer+Bray, 2012) is my favorite of the picks this year. The story includes everything from a magic box of colorful yarn, to an evil archduke, to a sweet, young heroine who cares very much for her town. I like how the town gets more and more colorful as the story goes along. But the best part is the quiet, unassuming, and peaceful ending.

Green This honor book simply titled Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger (Roaring Brook Press, 2012) is beautifully illustrated in different shades of green, one of my favorite colors. It sports minimal text and peek-a-boo cut outs on several of the pages, which tie one page cleverly to the next. As you may guess, all of the illustrations depict the great outdoors and the natural beauty of the world, and showcase trees, flowers, animals, vegetables, and more.

One cool friend One Cool Friend by Toni Buzzeo and illustrated by David Small (Dial Books, 2012) stars a polite, young boy named Elliot who decides he wants a penguin. I like Elliot; he has a lot of character. I like the combination of color and black and white for the multimedia illustrations. My favorite picture shows Elliot and the penguin skating in his room. This is a fun story that will make you laugh. And the twist at the end is the best!

Sleep like a tiger Sleep Like a Tiger by Mary Logue and illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski (Houghton Mifflin Books, 2012) is a dreamy, bedtime story with muted colors that fill up the pages. The paintings are a mix of fantasy and reality and, along with the solid text, tell the story of a young girl who doesn’t want to go to sleep. I just love the pictures of the dog asleep on the couch; just gorgeous!


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4. ALA Youth Media Awards Have Been Announced!

Earlier today the American Library Association announced the 2013 Youth Media Awards Winners. Click here to read the press release.

Highlights include:

John Newbery Medal Winner (for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature):

The One and Only Ivan written by Katherine Applegate (HarperCollins Children’s Books, 2012)

Randolph Caldecott Medal Winner (for the most distinguished American picture book for children):

This Is Not My Hat, illustrated and written by Jon Klassen (Candlewick Press, 2012).

Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award Winner (recognizing an African American author of outstanding books for children and young adults):

Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America, written by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrated by Brian Pinkney (Disney/Jump at the Sun Books, 2012).

Coretta Scott King (Illustrator) Book Award Winner (recognizing an African American illustrator of outstanding books for children and young adults):

I, Too, Am America, illustrated by Bryan Collier, written by Langston Hughes (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2012)

Pura Belpré (Author) Award Winner (honoring a Latino writer whose children’s books best portray, affirm and celebrate the Latino cultural experience):

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, written by Benjamin Alire Sáenz, (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2012)

Pura Belpré (Illustrator) Award Winner (honoring a Latino illustrator whose children’s books best portray, affirm and celebrate the Latino cultural experience):

Martín de Porres: The Rose in the Desert, illustrated by David Diaz, written by Gary D. Schmidt (Clarion Books, 2012)

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5. The Caldecott Is Coming . . . Soon, Soon

One of my favorite blogs is Calling Caldecott. It's co-written by Robin Smith (a second grade teacher and reviewer for Kirkus and Horn Book) and Lolly Robinson (who teaches children's lit. at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and is designer/production manager for Horn Book.)

November was Picture Book Month at the Horn Book and two exceptional articles in that section of the blog are "Over and Over," an emotional tribute to Charlotte Zolotow written by her daughter, Crescent Dragonwagon; and Patricia Gauch's article "The Picture Book as an Act of Mischief."

Moving on to the reviews of possible Caldecott Medal candidates, here are a few of the books they've featured:

 Bear Has a Story to Tell  written by Philip Stead, illustrated by Erin Stead. A Home for Bird written and illustrated by Philip Stead and And Then It's Spring by Julie Fogliano, illus by Erin Stead. Could this be another "Stead" year?

 Goldilocks and The Three Dinosaurs by Mo Willems. Could the committee go for a fractured fairy tale? Maybe an Honor book?

Penny and Her Song.  Kevin Henkes. For the Geisel committee instead?

And my favorite:
Z is For Moose by Kelly Bingham and Paul Zelinsky. A wacky romp through the alphabet. Amazing to me that Paul Zelinsky, of the rich, traditional oil paintings, illustrated this with such freedom and verve. You can read Roger Sutton's interview with him on the Horn Book website.

Do you have a favorite Caldecott candidate?







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6. Learning From Mistakes






It’s a fact that I’ve learned a whole lot more from my writing mistakes than from my writing successes. Take, for example, the chapter book debacle.

The first manuscript I wrote was an 8,000-ish word chapter book called, "Eddie’s Chance to Dance." Except that I didn’t really know it was a chapter book. I just thought it was a charming tale that might be a tad short for juvenile fiction.

Then somebody told me it was a chapter book. Well, okay, no need to be all smartypants about it. It wasn’t like I hadn’t heard of chapter books. I’d bought a ton of them for my kiddies. I just hadn’t…what’s the word again? Oh, yeah. Read many of them. So I thought I’d better brush up on chapter books.

I checked out shelves full of these slim books from my local library and read every single one. And what I realized, after all that brushing up, was that my chapter book was not very good. Or to put it another way, Eddie didn’t stand a tap shoe's chance of getting published.

I’d made a big mistake. I dashed off a chapter book before I knew much about what makes a good chapter book. It seems like an obvious concept, to research before you write, but you’d be surprised how often writers (and I’m including myself here) will write something willy-nilly and expect the world (and I’m including mostly editors here) to love it.

I figured out a few things after all that reading, and not just about chapter books. For example, if I want to write for a market, say a webzine like WOW!Women-on-Writing, I’ll read a ton of issues before making a pitch. If I have a mystery novel in mind, I’ll read a couple Edgar Award winners before pounding out 50,000 words. And now that I write fiction for the kiddies, I’ve read picture books on the Caldecott Medal list, and chapter books and middle grade on the Newbery Medal list, and young adult novels on the Printz Award list. These days, I do my reading research.

Lesson learned.

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7. Kitten's First Full Moon

This black and white book may not seem like much at first glance, but Kevin Henke's Caldecott Medal-winning Kitten's First Full Moon will soon become a favorite upon opening the cover.  A little kitten, upon seeing the full moon for the first time, thinks it is a bowl of milk and sets off on an adventure to try and reach it.  Kitten's expressive face, and the simple illustrations and story will delight readers of all ages.

Try also:

My Friend Rabbit by Eric Rohman
City Dog, Country Frog by Mo Willems
Bark, George by Jules Feiffer
Gossie by Olivier Dunrea
The Tale of Tom Kitten by Beatrix Potter



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8. 2012 Children’s Book Award Winners Announced

 

This morning I got up at 5 a.m. to see (via webcast) the 2012 winners of the biggest awards in children's publishing--the American Library Association (ALA) awards.  The film industry has their Golden Globes® and their Oscars®, and we have the Caldecott and Newbery Medals, the Coretta Scott King Award, and the Michael J. Printz Award.  Unlike most other book awards, the major children's book awards given by the ALA have no lists of finalists or nominees.  It's a surprise every single year (with plenty of speculation beforehand) and I kind of love the secrecy.  This year's announcement had both the unexpected and the "ah, of course" books on the lists (including some 2011 Best of the Month titles)--you just never know who is going to win what. Congratulations to this year's winning and honored authors and illustrators:

 

2012 Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children:

 

2012 Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature:

 

 

2012 Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults:  

9. 2012 Children’s Book Award Winners Announced

 

This morning I got up at 5 a.m. to see (via webcast) the 2012 winners of the biggest awards in children's publishing--the American Library Association (ALA) awards.  The film industry has their Golden Globes® and their Oscars®, and we have the Caldecott and Newbery Medals, the Coretta Scott King Award, and the Michael J. Printz Award.  Unlike most other book awards, the major children's book awards given by the ALA have no lists of finalists or nominees.  It's a surprise every single year (with plenty of speculation beforehand) and I kind of love the secrecy.  This year's announcement had both the unexpected and the "ah, of course" books on the lists (including some 2011 Best of the Month titles)--you just never know who is going to win what. Congratulations to this year's winning and honored authors and illustrators:

 

2012 Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children:

 

2012 Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature:

 

 

2012 Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults:  

10. The Breathtaking Collages of Ed Young in “Wabi Sabi”


The collage illustrations of "Wabi Sabi" by Mark Reibstein, illustrated by Ed Young, had to be redone at the last minute.

Collage illustrations

 
A cat’s journey to find the meaning of her name leads her from her Kyoto home to the pine trees at the foot of Mount Hiei.

And there from a wise Zen monk-ey, our questing cat learns ‘a way of seeing’ that is at the heart of the culture of her land. 

Wabi Sabi, the Japanese and Tao zen concept that is also the cat’s name, ”finds beauty and harmony in what is simple, imperfect, natural, modest and mysterious.”

“It can even be a little dark, but it is also warm and comfortable.”

Wabi Sabi, by Mark Reibstein and renown illustrator Ed Young (published by Little Brown and Company) was named one of The New York Times “Ten Best Illustrated Books” of 2008.

A native of Tientsin, China who was a child in Shanghai during the World War II years, Young  came to the United States in the 1950s and worked as a graphic designer before turning to children’s book illustration. He has illustrated 8o books, several of which he has written.

He has worked in many mediums, from authentic Chinese paper cuts to the soft, bright pastels of Lon Po Po, his 1989 telling of a Chinese “Red Riding Hood” fable, in which three sisters outwit a wolf who comes to their house.  The book published by Viking Penguin imprint Philomel won the Caldecott Medal.

How To Be A Children’s Book Illustrator  recently interviewed Young about his pictures for Wabi Sabi.

Here, Young employed standard and some not-so-standard collage techniques.
“I’ve always used it in doing other mediums, because it’s easier to lay out compositions and make decisions with collage,” he said from his home in Hastings on the Hudson, New York on a Saturday morning in early November. 

(A collage is a work of art created by gluing bits of paper, fabric, scraps, photographs or other materials to a flat surface, often combining the imagery with painting and drawing. Young has cited the collage designs of Henri Matisse as a major influence on his work.)  

“It’s easier to change around, nothing is permanently pasted down,” Young said. “It’s flexible and alive. With other mediums you often get tight too quickly, then you get attached to it and it’s hard to change. Collage was something I used for sketching in the past. Now I use it to finish my work.”

Conversely, he drew pencil thumbnails in his sketchbook to get the idea formation process going for Wabi Sabi.  When he begins to work on an actual collage illustration, Young will place an item such as “a piece of bow” on the paper, and adds from there. For this he keeps several boxes of scraps, ribbons, colored tissue  — arranged in color schemes.

“I work flat until they are arranged in a way that’s satisfactory, then I’ll fix them to the paper with a little dab of Gluestick on the corner so the pieces won’t fly all over the place.

“It’s really play. You don’t get down to make something firm until the [pieces] start to talk to you.  Then you listen. “

Interior illustration of Wabi Sabi the cat is cut paper -- a color Xerox, actually, that Ed Young made of an iron portable stove.

“Illustrating children’s books is like making a movie,” Young said. “You’re making a series of pictures that tell a story. Those pictures are also like words made by you to lay out the moods.

“When you have the pictures together it’s like phrases. The phases have their own spirit and that becomes a poem of some sort — if they hang together right. But it’s very different than making a singular picture.

“In the concept stage, I am placing things down to start telling the story. Then several stages down the line, I introduce the colors. I play around with colors when the composition is right.

“These [colors and shapes] shift around. They have to work with the page. They have to flow from one to the other one so that when you flip the page, you’re either surprised by something, or staying in the mood for the next picture.”

The sequence is something to behold in Wabi Sabi. The viewer does indeed  feel like he’s moving from mood to mood, experiencing all the contrasting sights and emotions, epiphanies and wonderment of this cat on her journey to find who she is.

The story behind the illustrations should be made an epilogue to the book in the second edition.
Young’s first set of illustrations,  which took him two years to complete, mysteriously disappeared after he dropped them off on the front porch of his agent’s house.

(While taking his wife to the hospital, Young had dropped the bundled illustrations in an envelope at the agent’s doorstep, but they never showed up at the N.Y.C. office of his editor Alvina Ling. The agent never saw the package. Police and parcel delivery services were called. Locations were scoured to no avail.)

A few months later, when everyone came to grips with the idea that the art truly was lost, he had to start over with only weeks until his deadline. In the meantime, his wife had just died of cancer.  “I was in crisis mode,” Young said.

He had already cleaned out and re-organized his studio. The brightly
colored paper and tissue scraps and slivers that had been the raw materials for his pictures were gone. He had also tossed all of his visual references — except for some angled, distorted  snapshots that Ling had made of the collages in his studio.

By now, though,  Young knew that in his second go-around he would take a radical approach.
The look of the book would be quite different.

“Wabi Sabi is a term used for celebrating the common things that people overlook and seeing beauty in them,” Young said. “When I did the first round, I used beautiful new things, many done from scratch. And fresh things, although the pictures were beautiful, didn’t really develop the idea of wabi sabi.

“So when I started my second version, I decided to use wabi sabi materials.

“Wabi Sabi does not occur when something is newly made because it hasn’t got to that point where the soul is revealed. New things don’t have stories to tell.

He would have to work very fast. He recruited his 12 year old daughter to help him.
“In the end papers, you see cat foot prints, for example. When they were pouring concrete on my garage driveway, the cat actually walked on it. I wanted the images because that said something about the journey. So I had my daughter photograph that.”

Pine needles that Young’s daughter brought home from summer camp clump and adorn the trees of the forest on the book’s back cover and elsewhere in the pages. (In the original first set of collages, the pines were merely tree stem shapes cut from colored paper.)

The tree bark texture is actually from a large weatherworn outdoor thermometer in his back yard.
(Young is fond of this artifact.)

The autumn leaves on pps 17-18 are … autumn leaves, collected by Young and his daughter.

Other bits of photographed foliage and nature and urban scenes were –in time honored collage tradition — clipped from the covers of Smithsonian and other glossy magazines.

The bamboo leaf shapes are scissored from real corn husks.  A rug mat the cats in the story sleep on is made of lint scraped from the Youngs’ clothes dryer. The speckled cover of a college composition book provides the textured background for our cat heroine in one of Wabi Sabi’s epiphany moments near the conclusion.

The mottled brown pattern of the cat herself throughout the book comes from the rusted surface of a portable cook stove Young owns.

All of these materials  — the leaves, the pine needles, the dryer lint, even the big thermometer and the stove! –were  taken down to a neighborhood copy shop, layed on top of the glass of a color Xerox machine– and photocopied!  (”It probably isn’t something you could do at Staples,” Young offered.) Then he and his daughter merely cut around the myriad shapes and patterns in the color copies — to create the images for the story.  

“I try to take the time to find the soul of a story I illustrate,” Young said. “And, well, Wabi Sabi gave me the theme I needed to make use of that challenge,” Young said. “We were using things people have discarded, things people don’t want to celebrate. And I was reminded that this — and everything — is part of a process.

“With illustration, it’s no different. If I lose this set, I’m not the same person any more — so I’ll do another set.  One round is one telling. The next round is another  telling. I’m just finished for this round.

“The lesson is that nothing is frozen. If the book is ever to be made again, it can be retold by another person in a different way.  And it could be just as good, or better.”

                                                               * * * * *

 The missing set of originals have been alluded to in press releases, a review in School Library Journal  and other sources. I got additional details from Mr. Young and a video he loaned me of a talk he gave this fall at the Hastings on the Hudson Public Library.  The talk was in conjunction with an exhibit of the Wabi Sabi artwork at the library — All the art, Both sets!.  The once-missing original pictures showed up almost a year after they disappeared — in a Lutheran church where Young teaches Tai Chi classes!

“I’ve had Individual pieces of my art that were lost before, and even whole sets of illustrations.
But I never had a set of illustrations that was lost — and then found!”  Young told his appreciative library audience. 

                                                                        * * * *

My warm thanks to Mr. Young,  Tara Koppel with Raab Associates Inc. and Celia Holm, Children’s Librarian at the Spicewood Springs Branch of the Austin Public Library for their help with this article.  Mark Mitchell

Lon Po Po (inside illustration)

Lon Po Po (inside illustration)

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11. ALA Youth Media Awards Announced Monday January 26

The American Library Association (ALA) will provide a free live Webcast of its national announcement of the top books and media for children and young adults on January 26 at 7:45 a.m. MT. You can also twitter the awards, and receive live updates on award winners as they are announced during the ceremony. In addition, the Youth Media Awards has a home on Facebook which features the RSS feed from the Youth Media Awards Twitter site as well as has videos, photos, and information about the awards.

Awards announced on January 26, 2009 include:

  • Alex Awards for the best adult books that appeal to teen audience
  • Coretta Scott King Book Awards honors African American authors and illustrators of outstanding books for children and young adults that demonstrate sensitivity to “the African American experience via literature and illustration.”
  • John Newbery Medal honors the author of the year’s most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder Award honors an author or illustrator whose books have made a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children.
  • Margaret A. Edwards Award honors an author’s lifetime contribution in writing for young adults as well as a specific body of his or her work.
  • Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults.
  • Pura Belpré Award recognizes Latino/Latina writers and illustrators whose work best portrays, affirms and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth.
  • Randolph Caldecott Medal honors the illustrator of the year’s most distinguished American picture book for children.
  • Robert F. Sibert Medal honors an author, illustrator and/or photographer of the most distinguished informational book published for children.
  • Schneider Family Book Award for books that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience.
  • Theodor Seuss Geisel Award is presented annually to the author(s) and illustrator(s) of the most distinguished book for beginning readers published in English in the United States.
  • William C. Morris Award begins in 2009, honoring a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens and celebrating impressive new voices in young adult literature.

The press release announcing all of the winners will be posted in the Youth Media Awards Press Kit prior to 10:30 a.m. MT. These award announcements are made as part of the ALA Midwinter Meeting, which brings together more than 10,000 librarians, publishers, authors and guests in Denver, Colorado from January 23 to 28.

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12. “You’re supposed to kind of wear the book.” David Macaulay


Wear the book.  Be in the square. Make test books. Do it on tracing paper.

Author illustrator David Macaulay puts words to his latest process in this video shot by fellow author-illustrator Thatcher Hurd for the San Francisco Center for the Book’s recent exhibition,’Once Upon a Book.’

English born, an honors architecture  graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, David Macaulay has delighted the world with his books that look at the inner workings of things — from 16th century caravel sail ships, to grist mills, to  more complex machines like, well, the human body.

He won the Caldecott Medal in 1991  for his book Black and White, of which ALA Booklist said, “It’s a story. It’s a puzzle. It’s a game.”

He’s also received one of those MacArthur Fellowship “genius grants.”

Judging by this video, he also has one of the coolest art studios, anywhere.
I would love to work in there every day.

Thank you, Diandra Mae for sharing the fantastic video clip page from the SFCB site with our Wiggio Children’s Book Illustration Group!

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13. Timeless Thursdays: Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey

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I love the picture book, Make Way for Ducklings, written in 1941 by Robert McCloskey because he “noticed the traffic problem of the ducks” in Boston when he returned there to work. He had heard stories about them, and so he wrote and illustrated this timeless picture book.

Why should you still use this book with preschoolers, kindergarteners, and first graders? Because they will love it. First, the illustrations are priceless. My favorite is when the ducks want to cross the street, and they are all quacking at the cars. Which one is your favorite? What about your students? What do they think of Robert McCloskey’s style? What about the brown and white pictures in Make Way for Ducklings?

If you teach or live in Boston, you have to share this book with your students or your children. Do they recognize the places drawn or mentioned in the book? You can even talk about rhyming words and make up silly names with this book. Just look at the names of the ducklings–they all end in -ack. That’s pretty appropriate, don’t you think?

Have fun with Make Way for Ducklings! Show your students this Caldecott Winner, and then a Caldecott Winner from recent years. Ask them to compare and contrast the books.

The thing I love about Timeless Thursdays is that I get to revisit all these old books and realize why I still remember them.

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14. Wild Things


Before the movie fades from awareness, let’s look at some not so exalted celebrations of Maurice Sendak’s strangely theatrical Caldecott Medal winning-story, Where the Wild Things Are, opera for toddlers.

From Wikipedia:  “The original concept for the book featured horses instead of monsters. According to Sendak, his publisher suggested the switch when she discovered that Sendak could not draw horses, but thought that he ‘could at the very least draw ‘a thing.’  He replaced the horses with caricatures of his aunts and uncles, whom he had studied critically in his youth as an escape from their weekly visits to his family’s Brooklyn home.”

Children’s author-illustrators  influence our world.  Like a good ghostbuster I have video proof that I’ll share with you now. Monica Kelley posted this clip on her blog,  My Place For Art recently.

It got me looking at more of them.  So next it’s Jammin’s Crazy Chalk Drawings — the Wild Things’ island rendered on a blackboard.

And Max in his boat:

Here’s the Disney version, which luckily the public never saw.  It has Max in his wolf suit, chasing his dog.  Except he scurries  around his home and room like one of the baby squirrels from Snow White.

This next one one has feet of clay.  I don’t know what the journalism school students were doing working on this project, but I hope they all got A’s.  I think they brilliantly captured the spirit of Max.

Of course the  ballet companies pounced on Sendak’s premise that always seemed more suited to dance and backdrops than to words.

These are but a few of the many versions of Max’s odyssey on YouTube. They range in kookinesss and fun. They demonstrate how an  artist’s idea can inspire a chorus of creative interpretations and loving imitations  — in this case, 47 years after the book first rolled off presses at Harper & Row Publishers.

* * * * *

We had fun at our group call last night in the children’s book illustration class — even if it was a call without sound. We saw some great work by students.  Learn more about the online course, Make Your Splashes; Make Your Marks at this 0 Comments on Wild Things as of 1/1/1900

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15. Evaline Ness Collection Auction

Have you ever heard of Evaline Ness? She was an illustrator of many children’s books during the mid-20th century period. At a time when most illustration was still being done in a style of literal realism, Ness was among that group of stylistic pioneers whose work still influences the look of illustration today.

She also has the unusual distinction of having been married for a time to the famous FBI agent, Elliot Ness.

The Bloombury Auction House in New York has an upcoming auction featuring a collection of children’s books signed by Evaline Ness, her Caldecott medal for Sam, Bangs and Moonshine and some never before seen sketchbooks and dummies all of which come from her family collection.

The sale will take place at Bloomsbury Auctions New York on Wednesday, December 9th, but those who won’t be able to attend can view nearly a dozen pieces from the Ness collection in my Evaline Ness Flickr set.


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16. 2010 ALA Youth Media Awards Announced

Earlier today the American Library Association (ALA)  announced the top books, audiobooks and video for children and young adults – including the Caldecott, King, Newbery and Printz awards – at its Midwinter Meeting in Boston.

A complete list of all the 2010 literary award winners can be  seen here. Highlights include:

Winner of the John Newbery Medal ( for most outstanding contribution to children’s literature):
When You Reach Me written by Rebecca Stead

Winner of the Caldecott Medal (for most distinguished American picture book for children):
The Lion & the Mouse illustrated and written by Jerry Pinkney

Winner of the Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award (recognizing an African American author and illustrator of outstanding books for children and young adults):

Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal written by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson and illustrated by R. Gregory Christie

Winner of the Coretta Scott King (Illustrator) Book Award
My People illustrated by Charles R. Smith Jr. and written by Langston Hughes

Winner of the Pura Belpré (Illustrator) Award (honoring a Latino writer and illustrator whose children’s books best portray, affirm and celebrate the Latino cultural experience)

Book Fiesta!: Celebrate Children’s Day/Book Day; Celebremos El día de los niños/El día de los libros illustrated by Rafael López and written by Pat Mora

Winner of the Pura Belpré (Author) Award
Return to Sender written by Julia Alvarez

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17. Watch ALA winners on the Today Show

Missed seeing some of the ALA winners on the Today Show this morning? You can watch it here, featuring:
Rebecca Stead, author of When You Read Me (winner of the 2010 Newbery Medal);

Jerry Pinkey, illustrator of The Lion and the Mouse, winner of the 2010 Caldecott Medal;

and ALA President, Camila Alire.

It would have been nice if they’d had a bit longer segment on the author, illustrator, and winning books, but I’m happy they featured them at all. What do you think?

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

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18. Odds and Bookends: January 29

An Interesting Approach to Exciting Youngsters About Reading
What better way to get kids interested in reading than to make them the star of their very own personalized book?

Mixtape: 10 Songs About Libraries and Librarians
Check out these fun songs about libraries and librarians, including artists such as Frank Zappa and Green Day. You can even listen in to discover why these songs made the list.

Little House on the Prairie Continues to Wow Audiences
Everyone’s beloved story is back with a new musical twist. Be sure to check out this new musical, based on Laura Ingalls Wilder’s treasured classic storyline.

Baby-Sitters Club: Life After 30!
The acclaimed teenage gang gets a new twist as we ask the question: Where are they now? From Kristy Thomas to Stacey McGill, these projections will certainly bring back cherished memories.

The Caldecott, Newbery and Printz book awards go to…
John Pinkney’s exceptional illustrations were awarded the Caldecott Medal for capturing the true spirit of a classic fable. The Newbery Medal as well as the Printz Award were also given to some special talent for excellence in both children’s literature and young adult literature.

Books to Film: Martin Scorsese Continues the Trend
With the release of some truly spectacular new films based on classic children’s books, Brian Selznick’s “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” appears to be next in line.

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19. Drawing from a Story: Illustrations by Selected Caldecott Medal Winners

Last year I joined Rutgers’ (the State University of New Jersery, USA) Child_Lit service. This is a free, unmoderated discussion group convened for the express purpose of examining the theory and criticism of literature for children and young adults. For anyone interested in any aspect of children’s literature, I highly recommend signing up. The service provides a wealth of information and also makes my job a bit easier when looking for events that can be added to our Eventful World calendar.

Last week there was a post on Child_Lit that talked about  Drawing from a Story: Illustrations by Selected Caldecott Medal Winners, an exhibit taking place though May 23rd at the Brandywine River Museum in Chadds Ford, PA, USA.

Myths, fables, fairy tales, and folk tales are usually a child’s first steps into the world of literature, and the illustrations that often accompany the text when such stories are published for children stir the imagination and provide entrée to magical worlds. First awarded in 1938, the Caldecott Medal is considered the most prestigious award for children’s illustration. This exhibition will feature the works of selected Caldecott winners from seven decades, including Maurice Sendak, Dorothy Lathrop, David Wiesner [see image at right], Paul O. Zelinsky, Leo and Diane Dillon, Robert McCloskey, and 2010 medal winner, Jerry Pinkney, among many others.

Deidre Johnson responded on Child_Lit with the following comments which she has also allowed us to share with our readers :

I’ve seen it twice and can’t praise it enough. There’s material from most of the major archival collections, such as the Kerlan and deGrummond, as well as a generous sampling from the illustrators’ private collections.

The display is arranged beautifully — sometimes thematically (fairy tales grouped together, for example), sometimes by medium. There’s even an entire corner devoted to art from David Wiesner’s three winners. The exhibit includes not only art from the first Caldecott (and one of Caldecott’s own sketches for John Gilpin’s Ride!) but also from the two most recent winners. Some of the other materials show process (the McCloskey studies for Make Way for Ducklings seen in Marcus’s Caldecott Celebration are on display, and there are also studies for Rohmann’s My Friend Rabbit).

The Brandywine has hosted some fine exhibits associated with children’s literature in the past, but I think this is one of the best.

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20. December 2010 Events

(Click on event name for more information)

2011 PBBY-Salanga Prize Winner Announced~ Philippines

Dromkeen National Centre for Picture Book Art Exhibits~ Riddells Creek, Australia

Making Books Sing Presents a One-Woman Play Based on The Storyteller’s Candle/La velita de los cuentos by Lucía Gonzalez~ New York, NY, USA

Doha International Children’s Book Festival~ ongoing until Dec 2, Doha, Qatar

2010 Bologna Illustrators Exhibition~ ongoing until Dec 5, Nanao, Japan

Off the Page: Original Illustrations from NZ Picture Books~ ongoing until Dec 5, Ashburton, New Zealand

Guadalajara Book Fair~ ongoing until Dec 5, Guadalajara, Mexico

2011 Canadian Children’s Book Centre Awards~ submissions accepted until Dec 17, Canada

Scholastic Asian Book Award~ submissions accepted until Dec 31, Singapore

Hedwig Anuar Children’s Book Award 2011~ submissions accepted until Dec 31, Singapore

An Exquisite Vision: The Art of Lisbeth Zwerger~ ongoing until Jan 9, Hannover, Germany

Monsters and Miracles: A Journey through Jewish Picture Books~ ongoing until Jan 23, Amherst, MA, USA

Drawn in Brooklyn Exhibit of Original Picture Book Art by Brooklyn Illustrators~ ongoing until Jan 23, Brooklyn, NY, USA

National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature Presents From Houdini to Hugo: The Art of Brian Selznick~ ongoing until Jan 29, Abilene, TX, USA

Fins and Feathers: Original Children’s Book Illustrations from The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art~ ongoing until Jan 30, Raleigh, NC, USA

Summer Reading Club: Scare Up a Good Story~ ongoing until Jan 31, Australia

2011 Frances Lincoln Diverse Voices Children’s Book Award

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21. Brave Irene - William Steig, Narration by Meryl Streep



"An extroadinarily eloquent story about love andcourage"
- The New Yorker

The Duchess eagerly awaits the delivery of her ball gown by Irene'smother, Mrs. Bobbin, but the seamstress is sick in bed and can't possiblydeliver the gown in time.
Enter Brave Irene! Through a ferocioussnowstorm and deliberately treacherous winds, Irene sets out to save the dayfor her dear mother (who always smells like fresh-baked bread to Irene).
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