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Book: ABC Puzzle and Book Author: Tiger Tales Books Pages: 24 page paperback book, plus 30 piece puzzle Age Range: 3-6
I don't normally review non-book items, but this one snuck it's way in as part of a package from Tiger Tales, and became an immediate hit with Baby Bookworm. It's a little box with a carry handle that contains a 30 piece puzzle and a paperback alphabet book.
The puzzle offers the perfect mix of education and fun. One side has the alphabet (upper and lower case letters, white on black) across the top and bottom. The bulk of the puzzle consists of vivid photographs illustrating each letter, with the word included in small text. The pictures selected are fairly standard (ice cream, xylophone, zebra), but they're also kid-friendly, particularly a huggable-looking teddy bear and set of rubber ducks. Most of the images are overlap across multiple puzzle pieces, so that kids don't need to understand their letters to be able to assemble this side of the puzzle. There's a picture of the full puzzle on the box to help.
The other side of the puzzle just has the alphabet, in order, with one puzzle piece dedicated to each letter (upper and lower case), plus four blank corner pieces. The pieces all have the same matte green background, making it easy to tell which side of each puzzle piece should be facing up at all times.
I expected my daughter (who will be three shortly, and loves puzzles) to favor the side with the photos. And to be sure, the side with the pictures is the only one that she can complete on her own at this point. But to my surprise, she is fascinated by the side with the letters, too. And she's learning. I've been using the book to help. When she wants to know which piece goes in a particular spot, I'll show her the page corresponding to that letter from the book, and let her pick it out. She's already starting to recognize letters that hadn't quite made it onto her radar yet, like V and K.
So yes, the puzzle is the exciting part of this package. But the little book that comes with it is quite handy, too. There's a page for each letter. Readers can see the letter itself, as well as a series of photos of things that start with that letter (including the one from the puzzle). This fits well with my child's current fascination with naming people and things that start with a particular letter. (The letter that her name starts with is her favorite for this activity, of course).
The ABC Puzzle and Book is fun and educational, and comes in a sturdy, bright package. I would recommend it for home or preschool use for kids who enjoy puzzles, and for kids who are starting to learn their letters (bonus when this overlaps, as it does in my house). It would make a nice component to a third birthday gift, too.
Publisher: Tiger Tales Books (@TigerTalesBooks) Publication Date: March 1, 2013 Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
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Peepsqueak LOVES BEARS! …. and so do I!! I LOVE toys! I love weird toys, stuff animals, special teddy bears, and more. Having three grandsons gives me a great excuse to buy MORE toys! I took a trip to the thrift store just this week to look for action figures! I ran them through the dishwasher and stowed in my big toy trunk. Three more trucks are sitting near the book-case in the “YaYa” room. Its great fun! On Tuesday I played “Superhero”! My youngest grandson loves the stuffies! Including my own little Peeksqueak plush by Merry Makers. If you want to order one, you can go to the website, or call them.
They are a great toy company. I want ALL THEIR TOYS! ha ha!
You can also find Peepsqueak on his Facebook page. I am going to have another book Give-A-Way as soon as the new toy gets here! Peepsqueak and I are so excited! I may also put it on this Word Press site so stay posted!
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Ace Ventura: Pet Detective actor Jim Carrey will self-publish a “metaphysical children’s book” entitled How Roland Rolls.
During an interview with HitFix, (embedded above, book discussion at 2:20 mark), Carrey explained: “I’m going to self-publish, because that’s just the world right now and I think it’s cool.” He also promised that the book will be “beautifully-illustrated,” telling the story of a little wave named Roland.
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone star plans to release the book in September. Yahoo! News reports that Carrey wrote the book “in part for his grandson.”
I recently came across these photos online from 2010 after Booktime.org released their titles which included "Why is the Sky Blue?" illustrated by me. The news may be old but seeing photos of children reading and enjoying something you illustrated never gets old. It is really easy to lose sight of who the end user is when illustrating a project. These pictures make me so happy.
I have two new paper books in progress, but today I'm featuring my latest interactive e-book apps that I published recently.
I'm the actor, writer, producer and director. I do the set-design, lighting, costumes, makeup, stunts, choreography and special effects. I'm also the cameraman, technical wizard, animator and I make the coffee.
If I hadn't already made more than 50 printed books I'd never have known how to make these electronic gizmos. They were awfully fun to make since I was completely in charge of everything.
An undersea page with dozens of interactive elements - including a hidden treasure and a whale!
3) What genre does your book fall under?
'Mousey the Explorer' and 'Piggles Goes to School' are interactive ebook apps. They are totally different from a flat ebooks, where the only action is turning the pages and narration. An ebook app is a multi-dimensional structure that relies more on interaction than on a progressive plot dimension.
A first sketch of the clubhouse page.
2) Where did the idea come from for the book?
I think it was Charlie Chaplin who was the source of inspiration for my Mousey character in a roundabout way. It originally started as a mystery story with a very distinguished dour mouse. Anyhow, one thing led to another. I axed the mystery idea... and it turned into an explorer book instead.
Believe me, there is no structured rhyme or reason to creativity. One thing leads to another in an unpredictable way. That's why it's important to just do it and see what happens.
I love books and documentaries about faraway places... probably because in real life I never go anywhere. So maybe that's why it's an exploration book app.
4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
I acted the parts myself using GarageBand and a USB microphone. It was tons of fun! The trick is to tune the voice from my regular non-descript voice into the high pitched squeaky voice of Mousey. Since I'm a natural born geek it wasn't too hard to figure out a filter that worked fairly well. Might I add that these technical skills enable some sophisticated app concepts. The complexity shouldn't be underestimated. I'm still not sure if the monetization is worth the effort though. I'm also learning Kwik2, which allows creating apps through Photoshop.
I still like paper books the best though. They too have their own magic and they seem to pay a lot more.
5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Mousey explores his way around the world to visit jungles, oceans, the arctic, outer space and solves lots of interactive puzzles on his way there.
6) Who is publishing your book?
InteractiveTouchBooks.com and Apple. I am my own publisher in that respect.
7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
Three days. The thing about an interactive ebook is that the final writing happens last. This is similar to writing the script for a book trailer on Youtube. The images comes first and the words fit best afterwards.
8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
It's always good not to compare, in my experience.
9) Who or what inspired you to write this book? Jenny Harris, Charlie Chaplin and Stuart Little.
This shows the process of apps from rough sketch to published book online.
Writer Tro Rex and artist Eyo Bella are raising funds on Kickstarter for a kids’ book series called Littlest Lovecraft. The first book will be an adaptation of H. P. Lovecraft‘s 1928 short story “The Call of Cthulhu.” We’ve embedded a video about the project above–what do you think?
Here’s more about the project: “We want to share Lovecraft’s works with a broader, younger audience that may have a hard time getting into the original text. It is our hope that our generation of Lovecraft enthusiasts will find our books useful in sharing their love with young Lovecraftians in the making!”
“Art is a language,” Children’s book illustrator E.B. Lewis told a roomful of illustrators, aspiring and professional. What is a language, Lewis asked. “Letters of the alphabet that join together to form words, then paragraphs. And finally stories and jokes,” he answered his own question. And the mark of fluency? Maybe not what you think. “Telling [...]
The winners will be announced live at the Children’s Choice Book Awards gala on May 13th. Nominees have been divided into four groups classified by different school grades.
In the Author of the Year category, middle-grade fiction writers and young-adult novelists dominate. The nominees include The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, Diary of a Wimpy Kid 7: The Third Wheel by Jeff Kinney, Wonder by R.J. Palacio, The Heroes of Olympus 3: The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan, and Insurgent by Veronica Roth.
Balloon Trees, the new title from Sylvan Dell, written by Danna Smith and illustrated by Laurie Allen Klein, reveals that the rubber that makes up balloons, balls, tires, shoes and many more things actually comes from trees! What other surprising things do you think trees give us?
The house you live in may be made from wood from trees; that’s obvious, but did you know that that house is filled with gifts from trees also? Do you like that your parents are less grumpy in the morning when they have their coffee? You can thank the coffee arabica tree for that, a 20 foot evergreen that grows in warm climates of the world. A cup of hot cocoa has made a long journey from cocoa trees along the equator to reach your kitchen. Maple syrup, cinnamon, fruits, nuts, and many more delicious items also come from trees.
Ever wonder how jelly candies get so goopy and great? Check the ingredients and you’ll find “gum arabic” in the list. Gum arabic is hardened sap from an acacia tree, and it’s used in foods like desserts to lend its goopy texture to them. It is also a key ingredient in glues, paints, and many other products that manufacturers want to make ‘slimy,’ ‘goopy,’ or ‘jelly.’
“Cellulose” is part of the ‘skin’ of trees, and when manufactured it can become “Rayon” clothing to make our own skin warmer. Cellulose is even an ingredient in foods and beauty products, lending its texture to them to make them ‘thicker’ or ‘heavier.’ When fat is removed from some “diet” or “fat-free” products, cellulose is often added to try and make the food ‘feel’ the same in a person’s mouth as before.
Trees also give us many kinds of medicine, such as aspirin, and even the first medicine for fighting malaria, “quinine.” If you’ve read our book, The Most Dangerous, you know how harmful the mosquito-spread disease malaria can be. Without the discovery of quinine from Peruvian trees, malaria would have harmed that many more people, and maybe even changed world history! Soldiers in WWII that fought in the Pacific jungles took quinine everyday, and it helped the building of the Panama Canal, and the Dutch and English to build their historical empires!
Of course, this is only the beginning of the gifts that trees give us. Say “thank you” back, by planting a tree, or at least reading a Sylvan Dell book under the shade of one!
I’ve noticed that FUN is contagious! One of my artists is a real wiz at doing constant and adorable ‘little ditties’…. little “moments” in a single image that tell a bigger story. She can not stop herself…they jump out of her head at any time, and require her to draw them. Or so she tells me!
Well I wish all of my artists did this…and it’s a wonderful promotional idea for all artists, thus my sharing this phenomena. In fact, I was prompted because she has been offered a couple of book jobs lately (and other publishing interest as well) due to one or more of these ‘little ditties.’ And that pleases us no end! The artist is Priscilla Burris and many of you know her…. if not through SCBWI, then through her blog and well, her ‘ditties!’ And yes, she is just like her loveable characters. Priscilla hasn’t always done this, but in recent times she has been taken over it would seem….and it’s a good thing! Think about it all…. let those characters and their stories OUT! it’s spring…let them bloom.
An 11-year-old writer named Lauren raised more than $5,500 on Kickstarter to self-publish her first book, The Clown That Lost His Funny. She will use the money to cover the costs of print production and commissioning an illustrator.
We’ve embedded a video about the project above–what do you think? Here’s more about the project: “Hairy the Clown loves his job at the circus. But one day, something tragic happens and he ends up losing his ability to be funny. He’s forced to get a job he doesn’t like. What happens next is really cool.”
Here’s more from Deadline: “It’s directed by Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn from a script by John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein and Erica Rivinoja. Bill Hader, Anna Faris, Neil Patrick Harris, Terry Crews, Will Forte, Andy Samberg, Kristen Schaal, and James Caan, among others provide voices for the movie that Sony will release September 27th.”
The first movie came out back in 2009; it’s based on Judy Bartlett‘s popular picture book which shares the same title. Simon & Schuster’s Atheneum Books for Young Readers imprint published it in 1978 and also released the sequel, Pickles in Pittsburgh, in 1997. A third book entitled Planet of the Pies will hit bookstores in August 2013.
The weather is teasing me! A warm day, a nice breeze, flowers peeking from the cold wet ground, and then WHAM! A freak snow storm! Such is life in Colorado. Peepsqueak is not worried. As you can see in this picture, he is thrilled to find the first Spring flower.
Do you have any flowers up yet? We only have a few tulips and iris peeking out of the dirt. Flowers are still a few weeks away. I am ready!
So many spring releases to choose from, so little time. Here are ten children's books I'm dying to get my hands on. Check out other people's lists on The Broke and the Bookish blog.
Doll Bones by Holly Black This middle grade novel sounds creepy and fun--right up my alley. Pub date: May 2013
Bink & Gollie: Best Friends Forever by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee BFF Bink and Gollie are always up to something in this amusing beginning reader series. Pub date: April 2013
Dodsworth in Tokyo by Tim Egan Loved Dodsworth and his duck's tours of Rome and London so I'm betting Tokyo will be a blast. Pub date: April 2013
Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner This dystopic novel from the U.K. has garnered a lot of buzz. I snagged a copy from my library and I'm all set to read. Pub date: February 2013
Penny and Her Marble by Kevin Henkes The latest from a great beginning reader series by a master craftsman. Pub date: March 2013
Definitely No Ducks by Meg McKinlay I was charmed by McKinlay's first chapter book about a girl and her pet duck. I'm glad to see they're back and quacking. Pub date: March 2013
Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made by Stephan Pastis Timmy is an eleven-year-old detective and his partner is a polar bear in this comic middle-grade novel. What more do you need? Pub date: February 2013
Children’s writer Lilly Mossiano found self-published success on Smashwords with My New Daddy, a book to help kids cope with a loved one’s gender reassignment surgery. Find more independently published children’s books in our monthly list below…
Our weekly self-published bestsellers list is often dominated by the popular genres of romance and erotica. In an effort to help GalleyCat readers find other kinds of independent authors, we will offer regular genre-focused bestseller lists for other kinds of indie writers–we’ve highlighted three top children’s books from three different marketplaces.
"Be sure of it," said Lovelock. "This is the last time Mousebeard gets the better of me." Emiline shrank back into the passageway, the word 'Mousebeard' circling endlessly through her thoughts. He was the pirate of pirates: bigger, nastier, and hairier than any other. Ever since she was tiny she'd heard horrible tales of him and the infamous mice that lived in his beard. With her heart beating heavily, Emiline checked the mouse in her care. It was snoring sweetly, and making occasional sleepy squeaks. Something exciting was happening – something bigger and greater than anything that normally happened to a mousekeeper. She wanted to be part of it..."
Overview: Twelve-year-old Emiline Orelia is mousekeeper for Isiah Lovelock, Old Town's most famous mouse collector and one of its wealthiest citizens. Emiline cares for her own Grey Mouse, named Portly, as well as all of the mice in Lovelock's vast collection. It's not a glamorous job, but Emiline is very good at it, and hopes one day to become a mousehunter, so she can go out and discover new and interesting mice.
In Emiline's world, collecting and trading mice is valued above all else - but these are no ordinary field mice. There is the Sharpclaw Mouse: a sneaky, mischievous mouse with huge, dagger-like claws on its front paws that can slice through even wood and metal with ease. Or the Magnetical Mouse: prized by sailors for their bulletlike nose that always points due north. Or the Howling Moon Mouse: best known of all the howler mice, it howls only on nights with a full moon. And this is only to name a few.
When Mousebeard, the most feared pirate on the Seventeen Seas, sinks Lovelock's merchant ship, Lovelock hires Captain Devlin Drewshank to hunt him down and capture him. Emiline overhears the deal and, seeing this as the chance of a lifetime, runs away and boards Drewshank's ship, excited to be on the adventure. The journey is a dangerous one, filled with pirates, and battles, and even sea monsters. And Emiline soon comes to realize that all is not exactly as she thought it was, and that no one she's met is exactly who she thought they were.
For Teachers and Librarians: The Mousehunter is a book your students will love reading, and a book you will love for the many ways you can use it in your classes.
How about a character study? Have your students - either individually or in groups - create character trading cards for each character in the book, with an illustration of the character on one side, and on the other, list the character's motivations, personality traits, and the events in which the character has important roles, etc. Have any map geeks in your students' midst? This story lends itself perfectly to some cartography fun: have them research maps and mapmaking from early times, and the beliefs of those who made the maps. Discuss how the cartographers' and society's beliefs dictated to some extent what went on a map (i.e. sea monsters, indications of the edge of the earth, etc.) Then have your students create a map of the world of The Mousehunter, complete with markings consistent with the beliefs of the characters and their society, notations of the places where important events occurred, and indications of the journeys taken in the book.
Pirates! No study of a piratey book is complete without some piratey lessons, now is it? Have your students compare/contrast Captain Drewshank with Captain Mousebeard, maybe presented with a skull-and-crossbones motif, or drawings of their respective ships. Complete a mini-unit on the seafaring life: types of pirate ships, parts of the ship, ship's crew and the duties of each (with special mention of the specialized crewmen created for this book's pirates), and maybe even some fun discussions/research concerning the naming of a pirate ship. And what about a quick discussion on pirates vs privateers? Cap off this mini-unit with small groups creating labeled models of Drewshank's and Mousebeard's ships, complete with crew. And of course, there's a curse. Great stuff can be found on pirates and their curse beliefs, given even a cursory bit of research. (Sorry. Couldn't help myself there...)
I'm running out of room, but there are so many more ways to go with this book: a unit on island life and its impact upon people who live there (great anthropology and/or societal connections here); the habits and behaviors of hobbyists and collectors; animal classification (Illustrated mouse trading cards! Or go one better: clay models of the mice, along with accompanying description cards.); science/scientific study of animals; animal classification/care/study; evolution/adaptation of animal species; politics and how it impacts people and society. So many ways to go. Which will you choose?
Other ideas? Feel free to list them in the comments.
For Parents, Grandparents and Caregivers: Your kiddos will have a blast reading this book, and so will you. Besides being an exciting, mysterious, pirate-and-mouse-filled adventure, The Mousehunter has lots to think about. For example, the book has several characters who have various contradictions about them. Some are good guys with bad intentions, some are bad guys with good intentions. What is it that causes a person to be seen as "good" or "bad?" Actions? Behavior? Does how the person is perceived by others influence what/who they are? Or is it the other way around?
This book also explores themes of friendship, enemies, trust, and betrayal. How do you tell the difference between an enemy and a friend? Or is it not that black and white? Can a person be a little bit of both? What do you do when a friend that you trust lets you down? How do you feel, and what can you do about those feelings?
The Mousehunter is fun to read, with its pirates and unusual mice and such, but it also explores the sometimes complicated ways people relate to each other, and it hints that sometimes, people are not completely what they seem - which can be both good and not-so-good, depending on the situation. And don't we face things like that in real life every day? (Well, maybe not the pirates and the unusual mice...)
For the Kids: If you like adventure on the high seas, and pirates, and mice, then this is the book for you. OK. I know what you're thinking: Did she just say high seas and pirates...and mice? Yes. Yes I did. But the seas and pirates and mice in The Mousehunter are not your average, run-of-the-mill seas and pirates and mice. Nope. See, there are seventeen seas in Emiline's world, for one thing. And for another, the pirates are mouse-obsessed - though in their defense, so is practically everybody else in their world. And the mice? Well, they're like no mice you've ever seen before - some are older than old, some are almost four feet tall, some are bloodsuckers, some have wings, and some even have magnetic noses.Throw into the mix a couple of clashing pirate captains, a very wealthy dude who isn't quite the upstanding citizen people believe him to be, and a mysterious long-ago curse, and you've got a book you will not want to put down. (So why are you still sitting here reading this? Shoo! Go find yourself a copy of The Mousehunter and get reading. Adventure awaits!)
Wrapping Up: The Mousehunter is full of danger, intrigue, mystery, adventure, and tons of mouse-collecting, swashbuckling fun. It is a book not to be missed.
Title: The Mousehunter Author and Illustrator: Alex Milway Pages: 448 Reading Level: Ages 10-12 Publisher and Date: Little, Brown and Company, February 2009 Edition: First US Edition Language: English Published In: United States Price: $15.99 ISBN-10: 0316024546 ISBN-13: 978-0-316-02454-9
OK, silly title. And if anyone under 30 reads this post, they’re not gonna get the reference to Moon River.
But heck, I like it, so off we go…
Many kidlit writers hear “don’t rhyme” from picture book editors. It’s not that editors hate rhyme (well, maybe SOME do), it’s just that they see badly-executed rhyme so often in the slush, it’s easier to discourage it. Common rhymes like “me, see” and “you, two” and other one-syllable predictability can kill the joy of a story.
Remember “Celebrity Apprentice” when the men’s team gleefully authored “I know my A, B, C’s and my 1, 2, 3′s” as if it hadn’t been regurgitated in a googolplex of board books? They thought it was a rhyme worthy of victory and publication. Well, they did win the challenge, but the book Trump promised to publish was released by a vanity press, not a traditional publisher. No publisher was gonna touch it, ten foot pole or not.
Editors also see a lot of rhyme with flawed meter. Meter is a tricky thing. There’s stressed and unstressed syllables, plus the lilt of natural speech patterns that can render your meter more choppy than Zoanette Johnson’s drumming. If you read your own rhyme aloud, you might not even hear how off it is, because you are forcing yourself to follow the pattern you created.
Then there’s the near-rhyme mistake, when the words don’t really rhyme at all, unless you twist your tongue or alter your accent. Like “hat” and “what” or “hat” and “back”. Once or twice and you can maybe get away with it. More than that and the editor may assume you need the WaxVac.
Moreover, writers can find their story dictated by rhyme, getting trapped in nonsensical situations simply because “dishwasher” rhymes with “impostor” (almost). It’s obvious when a plot decision has been forced based upon one word.
For these reasons, editors will advise, “don’t rhyme”.
Lane is the author of WATCH YOUR TONGUE, CECILY BEASLEY, a rhyming picture book with a joyfully jaunty rhyme. Remember as a child when you stuck out your tongue and a parent warned, “It will get stuck that way!” Well, Cecily finds herself in that very predicament. Hilarity ensues when a bird takes up residence on Cecily’s perfect pink perch. What’s Cecily to do?
Knowing the difficulty of rhyme for picture book writers, Lane created RhymeWeaver.com to teach the bard-challenged the complexities of rhyming well.
Lane, your rhyme is perfection! How did you get to be so good at it?
Ha. Thank you, Tara.
The short answer would be: a gnawing question and a genetic glitch.
But there is also the long answer. When I first joined SCBWI, everybody seemed to be telling everyone else NOT to write in rhyme, like there was a disease associated with it. You know, literary sarcoma or writer’s blockjaw. You almost didn’t want to admit you were a rhymer lest they sit in some quarantined section and slap a scarlet R on your forehead. The other thing I kept hearing was that a person’s rhyme had to be PERFECT. I wanted to write PERFECT rhyme, but I could never get a really good answer as to what PERFECT rhyme was. This is the kind of scenario that drives a slightly obsessive-compulsive person to behaving obsessively compulsive. So I googled around and studied my Seuss and found a website that offered critiques for $50. The critique, although well-intentioned, was just plain bad advice involving “counting syllables.” And don’t get me wrong, I’ve definitely given bad advice (but I’m pretty sure it was free when I did it). I totally get that sometimes bad advice seems good because it comes from multiple sources, but “counting syllables” is not the way to perfect meter and I had (being slightly obsessive compulsive) already figured that out. So I went back to school thinking I’d take a poetry class and clear up the PERFECT meter issue. But the thing about college is they don’t tell you what you want to know, they tell you whatever they want to tell you. So it took a BA in English and healthy stab at an MA in British Lit to figure it out that meter is a lot of things, but PERFECT is rarely one of them (I only stabbed at the MA, I haven’ t killed it yet).
What inspired you to put all your rhyming knowledge into a website?
I watched a lot of people go through exactly what I went through: trying to figure out the rules, trying to decide if writing in rhyme was worth the stigma, trying to find complete resources that explained everything. I have a degree in psychology, where I focused on cognition and development (which is the opposite of those people who ask you to talk about your problems). Cognitive and developmental psychologists look at how people think and how they grow, mature, and learn. I knew that I could show meter in a way that’s visual and image-based. I knew that I could break it down into constituent parts in a way that I had never seen done. I knew that I could make it easier to grasp. But I wanted it to be free because I’m trying to improve the status of rhyme in the literary world and the more people who rhyme well, the less it looks like I have a disease.
Lane’s website has already helped this ruined rhymer who can’t hear meter even if I got whacked upside the head with it. So I encourage you to pay RhymeWeaver.com a visit, Pin it, share it, study it, LIVE IT. Children deserve better rhyming picture books like CECILY BEASLEY.
And hey, you can WIN CECILY! Just leave a comment telling me about the most interesting thing you learned at RhymeWeaver.com. A winner will be picked randomly in a week (or knowing me and prize distribution, two weeks).
So don’t hesitate, get out there and rhyme, oh Kate! (Sorry if your name isn’t Kate. I had to end on a rhyme.)
March 1st is quite the celebratory day as Little Known Holidays go - and in 2013, there are eight of them (that I know of at this time). Every one looks like a ton of fun, but with only so many hours in a day and only so much space in a blog post, let's split the difference and choose exactly half, and celebrate accordingly.
Let's start things off with National Pig Day. Created in 1972 by two sisters - Ellen Stanley and Mary Lynne Rave - the purpose of the day is "to accord the pig its rightful, though generally unrecognized, place as one of man's most intellectual and domesticated animals."
Next on the list is Peanut Butter Lover's Day. And Share a Smile Day. Not sure what the backstory is on either one of these, but the porcine fellow below sees no reason why he shouldn't celebrate both - from ear to ear and elbow deep:
Well. Not wanting to be outdone by a multitasking pig (clever though he may be), I thought it would be fun for us to celebrate not just two, but three of March 1st's holidays, all at once:
Books for Young People
Why not all four? Um, well, I think we have to draw the line at mixing books and peanut butter in the same celebration. That just does not end well. (The last time I tried, I ended up with peanut butter on the cover of one of my favorite books. And do you know, a little bit of that peanut butter is still there? True story!)
But enough about my peanut-buttery past. Let's get to those books. Below, you'll find five pig-populated books that I've very much enjoyed reading and/or sharing with my kids over the years. For each one, I've listed the title, author and illustrator, reading level, and the book's Piggy Connection. If I've reviewed or posted in some way about the book, the title will be a clickable link that takes you directly to that post.
Piggy Connection: Bernadette, Uncle Wrisby's beloved pet pig, will soon give birth to a litter of wiggly piglets. And when she needs some help, it comes from a very unlikely source.
Charlotte's Web Written by E.B. White Illustrated by Garth Williams Ages 6-11 Piggy Connection: Wilbur the pig is the runt of the litter, destined for a very short life, indeed. But then Fern the farm girl steps in to save him, and Charlotte the spider helps him find his way in this world.
Piggies Written by Audrey Wood and Don Wood Illustrated by Don Wood Ages 5 and up
Piggy Connection: Fingers and toes. Who knew these "piggies" could be so much fun?
Piggy Connection: The classic tale of the Three Little Pigs gets a not-so-classic retelling. Because this time, the pigs are taking charge of their story.
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And that concludes our little celebration. But the fun doesn't have to end here. Go on, enjoy March 1st in your own creative way, in all its piggy, peanut-buttery, smiley, book-filled glory. (But remember, you might want keep the peanut-buttery parts separate from the book-filled parts...)
The teachers in a Yonkers school have extended Read Across America a little this year: I’m reading to their Grade 3 and 4 classes from my home in Australia. But since the time difference meant I’d be reading at 1 am here for them to hear it at 9 am, I’ve cheated a little and pre-recorded it.
I thought it would be fun to do it outside, since it’s such a different environment to where they live. Naturally a wind picked up as soon as I started, but I hope dancing gum trees make the occasional crackles worthwhile.
I read from STOLEN: A Pony CalledPebbles, illustrated by Patricia Castelao, and promised to tell them a bit about the story behind the story.
When I was aged eleven to thirteen, we lived on the edge of a new suburb outside Colorado Springs, in the foothills of the Rockies. Apart from that group of scattered houses, there was rolling, empty prairie all around us. (Empty of people, I mean; there were plenty of birds, ground squirrels and rattle snakes!) The best thing about it was that it meant we could have a horse, and I could go out riding and exploring as much as I liked.
One summer I was riding near a ravine when I found a horse and a pony in a wire corral. I’d never seen the horses or the corral before, and there were no houses or signs of people anywhere in sight. I rode out there to pick them grass every day, because it was a small corral and they were getting hungry. The pony would crawl out under the fence to graze, and even followed me home one day. (My mother made me take it back! I don’t think she quite believed that it had really just followed me, and maybe I did encourage it a bit… ) The day after that the horses and the corral were gone.
I never did find out what happened, but that means I was free to go on wondering and make up my own ending. And so, many years later, Pebbles was born.
All the Rainbow Street Animal Shelter series are available from the publisher
Some time last year, Erica Wagner, Publisher at Allen and Unwin, is reported as having said that there was a lot to be gained by having a text already illustrated [not that Allen & Unwin published picture books]. This is seemingly a change in direction.
Some writers/illustrators I know have recently signed contracts for ‘print ready’ books. This is not self-publishing, but submission to a royalty paying publisher of a book that is ‘ready to go’ in publishing terms.
What constitutes a ‘print ready’ book? It is a book that has been -
proofread, has been
designed to industry standards,
professionally designed cover and,
if illustrated, has all images appropriately set.
This is a great way to go for authors who are able to pay illustrators and book designers up front. Most authors are not able to do this. This then means all creators involved in a book project agreeing to royalty share and working between paid projects to collaborate on their book.
What have I gleaned about such ‘print ready’ deals? One company, smaller and reasonably new, offered a small advance and a good contract, by industry standards, with higher than regular royalty share for creators. An offer of help with promotion was also part of the deal. Another company, medium sized and established, offered no advance but better than average royalty shares for creators and help with promotion and marketing of the book.
How does this stack up against what is generally on offer now?
Small and middle range publishers, in general, do not offer advances.
Larger publishers offer advances depending on the book, depending on the author, and depending on the agent involved.
Smaller and middle range publishers often [there are exceptions] expect the author to do it all in relation to promotion, even requiring the submission of a marketing plan.
Larger publishers vary greatly as to how much promotion they will give a book.
Generally, publishers will submit copies of their publishing output for major awards, such as the CBCA, and to a selection of leading review outlets.
What’s the down side for author, illustrator, book designer, [often the illustrator], to go down the ‘print ready’ publishing path?
It IS a lot of extra work for all creators involved to ensure the book is ‘professional’ standard even before it is submitted.
There is no money upfront.
Are the rewards worth the effort?
If you love collaborative work, it is a big plus.
Creators have much more project control to create the book they have collaboratively envisaged.
A quality product, ‘print ready’, is a major bargaining point for creators/agents. ‘Print ready’ saves the publisher heaps!
The first company mentioned does small print runs, sells out their print runs, reprints and even sells out reprints and so it seems to be gradually snowballing.
It is too early to know in the second instance. [I’ll keep you posted!]
My feeling is that, if Erica Wagner was sensing a ‘trend’ and if these companies make a success of it, we will see more such deals. It’s something to think about!
To be launched end of June – “Toofs!” a collaboration between J.R. and Estelle A.Poulter an illustrators Monica Rondino and Andrea Pucci. More to come on what was a ‘print ready’ deal.
TOOFS by J.R.Poulter & Estelle A. Poulter, illustrated by Monica Rondino & Andrea Pucci