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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: childrens books, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 3,043
1. #750 – Little Red Gliding Hood by Tara Lazar & Troy Cummings

Little Red Gliding Hood Written by Tara Lazar Illustrated by Troy Cummings .                         Random House Children’s Books  10/27/2015 .                      978-0-385-37006-6 .                     32 pages   …

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2. #749 – Peek-A Boo! by Nina Laden

Peek-a Boo! Written & Illustrated by Nina Laden Chronicle Books     8/01/2015 978-1-4521-3396-6 10 pages     Age Infant—3 “Peek-a goo? Peek-a brew? Peek-a booo! “In this hi-scare-ious follow-up to the bestselling board books Peek-a Who? And Peek-a Zoo!, Nina Laden turns her playful eye (and wear) to spooky Halloween sounds. Read the clue …

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3. Shadra Strickland and Sally Derby Discuss Their New Book, Diversity in Publishing, and More

sunday shopping coverReleased this past May, Sunday Shopping tells a whimsical story of a girl and her grandma who go “shopping” through the newspaper ads every Sunday. We interviewed author Sally Derby and illustrator Shadra Strickland about their creative processes, the children’s book publishing industry, and encouraging children to write more.

sally derbySally Derby, author

1. Sunday Shopping is not exactly a story about economic need, but the book subtly suggests that the family doesn’t have a lot of disposable income. Why did you decide to address this subject in this particular way? Are there any picture books that address poverty in a way you really love or admire?

As long as your basic needs for food and shelter are met, then poverty is a point of view and no matter what anyone else thinks, if you are happy with what you have, you are rich. In this country, so many of us have so much. I wanted to show a child who is happy without all the possessions many other families take for granted. In this regard, I have always loved Nikki Giovanni’s poem “Nikki-Rosa” about growing up in Woodlawn, a suburb of Cincinnati near where I lived. Just listen to the last lines of that lovely poem:

because they never understand

Black love is Black wealth and they’ll

probably talk about my hard childhood

and never understand that

all the while I was quite happy

I wasn’t Black, but I was a child of the depression, and I spent some of the happiest days of my childhood in my great-grandparents’ house in Elkhart, Indiana, outdoor plumbing and all. If that house had been set down next door to Nikki Rosa’s it probably would have fit right in.

2. Although you are white, many of your books (including Sunday Shopping) are told from the perspective of black characters. Why do you decide to write cross-culturally, and what kind of research do you do to make sure you get it right?

no mush today coverI know my answer will sound unbelievable to many, but I don’t “decide” to write cross-culturally or any other way. When I start to write a story I usually have only a fragment of something in my mind—a scene, a character, a scrap of conversation. But as soon as my fingers touch the keyboard I’ll hear a voice saying the words I type, and that voice determines everything that follows. As I listen, the story becomes clearer to me and as long as I don’t start sticking in my own words I have to trust that the story is going where it’s meant to go.

I feel very lucky that many of the voices happen to have come from Black characters. I always love listening to and learning from vernacular speech—Yiddish, Pennsylvania-Dutch, Appalachian, Urban Black. Before the Dictionary of American English went on line, I saved and scrimped to buy all six volumes for my own bookshelves. I could spend hours every day browsing in DARE and thoroughly enjoying myself.

I know many people think no one should write outside their own culture. But I think I have the right to write any way I want about anything I want. After I’ve written it, if I didn’t get the voice “right” people are free to say so and explain what is lacking or wrong.

I have had to do very little research for the three “cross-cultural” picture books I’ve written for Lee & Low, because the books’ narrators are talking about their experiences as little girls who just happen to be African American, experiences they might just as easily have had if they were Asian or Caucasian or . Of course, they will have had experiences peculiar to children of their race, but they are not speaking of those. If they had been, I would have had much more research to do.

3. What advice do you have for other authors who are writing stories cross-culturally?

I have no advice about writing cross-culturally that differs from what I’d advise about any sort of writing. No matter the subject, approach your writing honestly and humbly. Treat your characters with respect. When adverse criticism comes (as it will, no matter who you are or how well you write) try to evaluate it honestly. If it’s worthwhile, learn from it, and if it isn’t, disregard it.sunday shopping spread 1

We are limited by our experiences and we tend to judge everything from our own point of view. We learn by allowing ourselves, and being allowed, to see through the eyes of people unlike us. Reading can expand our worldview by introducing us to those we are unlikely to meet, even sometimes to those we wouldn’t want to meet.

4. Many people feel that libraries are becoming obsolete, given the Internet and the wealth of information that exists now. As someone who has seen publishing evolve over the years, what is your opinion on the relevance of libraries in the “age of information”?

I’m an optimist. Movies didn’t replace books, and television hasn’t replaced books, and I don’t think the Internet will replace books either. Kindles have their place, but it’s still more satisfying to close the cover of a book than to push a button that returns you to a black screen. And besides the enjoyment of books, especially picture books, that you can touch and hold, I don’t think we can overestimate the value of being able to wander through a library when you are researching a subject. If you confine yourself to a Google search, you may be offered a plenitude of sources, but the order in which they are presented will necessarily influence your choice of what to read. What you write then may be solid and factual, but it won’t be nearly as interesting or original as it would have been if your eye had been caught by that odd little volume with the faded purple color on the bottom shelf of the 590’s.

Sally Derby is the author of books for children including the popular NO MUSH TODAY and MY STEPS, published by Lee & Low. Her books are notable for their heartfelt family stories told from a spot-on childlike point of view. The mother of six grown children, she lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, with her husband.

shadra strickland Shadra Strickland, illustrator

1. What was your process for creating the unique and playful art in Sunday Shopping?

The art was made in many stages. The vignettes of Evie and Grandma in the bedroom were done in watercolor and gouache. I made line drawings of the imaginary scenes and scanned those in along with separate acrylic paintings of Evie and Grandma along with hand painted textures.sunday shopping 3

  1. Do you have a similar childhood experience to Evie, who pretends to go shopping with her grandma every Sunday?

I do! When I was little, I would ride the bus to my grandmother’s house after school while my mom was still teaching during the day. After my grandmother would finish her “stories” on television, most days I’d watch cartoons, but sometimes the JCPenny or Macy’s Wish Book would come in and we would spend hours looking through to pick out the things we wanted to buy. Often times, I would cut out the items I wanted to do my own shopping just like Evie. My grandmother is well into her 80s now and collects all of my books. When I shared Sunday Shopping with her, she gave a big laugh out loud and said, “This is you and me, aint it?”. It was the best validation I could ever get.

  1. You use a wide variety of media in your illustrations that vary from book to book. Do you have a favorite medium to work with? How did you decide which media to use for Sunday Shopping?

I love working in watercolor and gouache mostly, but when I read a manuscript, I usually have very strong visions of what it should look and feel like. Most stories have a strong visual element that is carried throughout. For Bird, it was his line drawings and MArcus’s hat. I knew from the start that Sunday Shopping would be driven by collage, but when I sat down to try and make collages, I failed miserably. It wasn’t until I found a youtube video of Michael Jackson and Roberta Flack singing “Free to be You and Me” that the idea of cut outs and digital collage came to the surface.

  1. Children are often encouraged to seek fields to go into other than art and other creative fields. How would you encourage a child who wants to become an artist or a writer?

I would give them opportunities to create. My mom made sure I always had lots of paper and pencils around and she would pose for me when I asked to draw her. Once she noticed how captivated I was with drawing, she gave me full reign to do so. She introduced me to the art teacher at the high school where she worked, bought me lots of how-to books on how to draw, and enrolled me in art classes at one of our local community art centers. I never will forget taking a portraiture class at Callenwolde Art Center when I was around 11. I was the youngest artist there in a room full of grown ups. It completely changed my life. It was my first time having a real professional teach me how to draw.sunday shopping spread 2

  1. What were your favorite picture books as a child, and what are a few of your favorite picture books as an adult?

I read a lot of instructional books as a kid. Things like, “Where Does Rain Come From?”, and he like. I remember being completely enchanted by “The Snowy Day”. A little later on when Reading Rainbow was popular, I fell in love with “Just Us Women” by Pat Cummings. Now, as an avid pupil of picturebooks, it is hard to say which ones are my favorites. I do still love “Bird”. Everything about that book came together so perfectly. I also, love looking through all of Mirislov Sasek’s “This is…” books. What an amazing life! To be able to travel and draw and share that work with readers for years to come…amazing.

  1. Lee & Low Books has the New Voices Award to create opportunities for new writers of color. What would be a good way to create more opportunities for illustrators of color and illustrators from other underrepresented groups?

That’s a tough question. Though competitions are wonderful ways for I also think that inspiring and encouraging kids to tell their own stories is a great way to get them started on a long road to storytelling. As artists and writers of color, I believe that we must be examples for future writers and artists. School visits is still a great vehicle for this.

Being active in our communities is also important ways to motivate, and teach through example. Recently I volunteered to bring the Ezra Jack Keats Bookmaking Competition to Baltimore City this fall. My hope is that it will help connect multiple community organizations committed to literacy and the arts and inspire young writers and artists to take their work seriously at a young age so that they will continue to develop and pursue their talents as they get older. The winners will receive cash prizes and have their work displayed across city libraries in the summer.

I think that exposing people to what we do as artists and authors is the best way to help keep them inspired. I also believe that now with technology becoming more and more accessible to everyone, it has become much easier for artists and authors to get their stories out into the world.

Shadra Strickland is the illustrator of several children’s books including Lee & Low’s BIRD, winner of the Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator Award and the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent in Illustration. Along with illustrating and writing stories, Strickland loves to make drawings during her travels around the country and the world. She lives in Baltimore, where she also teaches illustration at Maryland Institute College of Art. Her website isjumpin.shadrastrickland.com.

Purchase a copy of Sunday Shopping here.

1 Comments on Shadra Strickland and Sally Derby Discuss Their New Book, Diversity in Publishing, and More, last added: 10/7/2015
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4. Leonard Marcus – Children’s Literature Interview

I met Leonard Marcus three years ago, shortly after arriving in New York. An author/illustrator friend who gives wonderful kid lit parties in her small New York apartment was gracious enough to invite me to one. Thoroughly new to writing … Continue reading

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5. #747 – ROAR! by Julie Bayless

Roar! Written and illustrated by Julie Bayless Running Press Kids     10/13/2015 978-0-7624-5750-2 32 pages      Age 4—8 “It is nighttime in the savanna, which means that it is time to play for one rambunctious lion cub! The cub tries to make new friends with the hippos and the giraffes, but roaring at …

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6. #743-45 – Charley Harper’s Animal Alphabet, Count the Birds and Book of Colors by Zoe Burke and Charley Harper

Charley Harper’s Animal Alphabet— Count the Birds — Book of Colors Written by Zoe Burke Illustrated by Charley Harper Pomegranate Kids     6/30/2015 978-0-7649-7233-1 — 978-0-7649-7246-1 — 978-0-7649-7261-4 20 pages     Age 1—3 Today is not December 8th, but that is the date of Charley Harper Day in Cincinnati, Ohio where Mr. Harper …

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7. Multicultural Diversity in Children’s Books

Multicultural Diversity in Children’s Books

Multicultural Diversity in Children’s Books Spurs Sales in 2015

Excellent news for the children’s book industry and multicultural diversity in kids’ books was revealed at a Nielsen Summit held in September 2015 in New York. Jonathan Nowell, president of Nielsen Book, shared the following encouraging statistics:

  • Children’s book sales are up 12.6% in the US for the period between January 2014 and September 2015.
  • 11 of the 20 best-selling books in the US are children’s titles.
  • Print sales in the juvenile market have grown 40% in the last decade, with 5% of that market share growth in the last three years.

Continue reading Multicultural Diversity in Children’s Books at Story Quest.

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8. #742 – Dino-Boarding by Lisa Wheeler and Barry Gott

Dino-Boarding Written by Lisa Wheeler Illustrated by Barry Gott Carolrhoda Books          9/01/2014 978-1-4677-0213-3 32 pages       Age 4—8 A Junior Library Guild Selection “Team Green Machine battles the Shredding Crew for dino-boarding domination! Allo and Diplo thrill the surfing crowd, while Compy comes up short on a short board. …

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9. Fall Fun Book for Preschoolers

A time for Fall Fun is the second in a Four Season book series for preschoolers and the young at heart.


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10. Illustrating “The Hole Story of Kirby the Sneak and Arlo the True”

Summary: This blog post covers a book project that I worked on from the end of 2014 to the beginning of 2105. I was hired to create a cover illustration and a number of black and white interior illustrations for the book The Hole Story of Kirby the Sneak and Arlo the True.

via Studio Bowes Art Blog at http://ift.tt/1h8AfKg

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11. #741 – Magic Broom by Charles Reasoner

This has been a strange week. I love commenting on others’ blogs and have actually gotten better about it, taking more time to view and read those I love and new ones I come across. But now there is an eerie creature confounding me everywhere I go. My comments will not appear on most Wordpress.com blogs, …

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12. Exclusive: Deleted Scene from The Shark Rider by Ellen Prager

Today, we have something a little different. Something special. Marine scientist and author Ellen Prager is allowing Kid Lit Reviews to post a deleted scene from The Shark Rider, book #2 of the Tristan Hunt and the Sea Guardians series. Tristan has completed a mission in the British Virgin Islands with his Sea Camp pals and …

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13. Diamond in the Ruff the book arrives

At Ruff Life we've had some great news recently with the first stages of our long awaited game being complete and now that the proof of the second book Diamond in the Ruff has arrived we are now in the position to move forward and find a literary agent to take the book series forward.

0 Comments on Diamond in the Ruff the book arrives as of 9/23/2015 4:16:00 PM
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14. #738 – When a Dragon Moves In Again by Jodi Moore & Howard McWilliam

When a Dragon Moves In Again Written by Jodi Moore Illustrated by Howard McWilliam Flashlight Press        9/01/2015 978-1-936261-35-2 32 pages        Age 4—8 “If you build a perfect castle, a dragon will move in, followed by. . . a baby?! Preparations are in fll swing o welcome a new family …

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15. A Boy, a New Baby, and a Dragon?!

Today, Kid Lit Reviews is pleased to welcome a young man with either a wildly creative imagination or one of the most interesting best friends a boy can have by his side. We’ll call him “Big Brother” since his newest story centers around the addition of a new family member in the form of a …

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16. #736-7 – Who’s There? and All Shook Up! by Alain Crozon

What is better than an Alain Crozon board book? TWO Alain Crozon board books! Originally published in France (Éditions des Grandes Personnes © 2013), Chronicle Books has translated the texts of Who’s There? and All Shook Up! for English-speaking children. Chronicle Books has made a specialty out of translating and publishing French children’s book. If …

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17. Introducing I Want Cake! A Children’s Picture Book

Parents, teachers and librarians concerned about the lack of diversity in children’s books will welcome I Want Cake! This intergenerational picture book featuring three real-life siblings as they venture through their real-life multicultural neighborhood looking for cake for breakfast. It will be released November 12, 2015, by Story Quest Books. The story, for children ages […]

The post Introducing I Want Cake! A Children’s Picture Book appeared first on Story Quest.

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18. Book Launch: They Just Know

TheyJustKnowRobin Yardi is releasing her first picture book this week, They Just Know: Animal Instincts. The combination of the whimsical and real life come together perfectly with Laurie Allen Klein’s art as readers learn how some animals don’t need mom and dad to show them the way, they just know!

Before we get to the inside scoop on hidden gems in the art meet Robin and find out how this story came to be…

RobinYardiWhat was your incentive to write this particular book?

When my daughter was young we loved to talk about animals that didn’t need their mothers. I remember playing mommy and baby butterfly with her (a game of her invention) and trying to explain, “Well actually, butterflies never meet their mothers.” You should have seen her face! “Who teaches them to fly?” she asked. “Who makes them breakfast?” After years and years of watching butterflies in our garden this still amazes her, so I thought a book about the wonderful things animals can do all on their own would appeal to other kids too.

What animals in They Just Know have you seen before?

that winter and really don’t have many left. Now when I find ladybugs I give them to my children to wish on.

I’ve never seen a spring peeper, or pinkletink as some people call them, but I do love and worry about the world’s amphibians. I’ve had pet frogs and toads and once ended up with about two hundred tadpoles!

I’ve swum among Green Sea Turtles in the waters of Hawai’i. These turtles are protected and you cannot touch them, but you can look deep, deep into their eyes. I’ve rarely seen anything so beautiful, curious and gentle.

As a kid in California I caught two species of kingsnake, both strikingly and stripingly beautiful!

To read the full interview with Robin, click here, but first play find and seek throughout the book with Laurie Allen Klein’s art!

Hide and Seek in They Just Know

LaurieAllenKlein(hint, Laurie answers these questions on Nonfiction Nook, but see if you can find them yourself)

  • Find the t-shirt with all the animals from the book pictured on it.
  • Which way is the current headed for the baby swimming turtles?
  • What kind of “helmet” might a ladybug wear for flying?
  • If a shark needed a nightlight what kind of fish serves that purpose?
  • First flights are celebrated with a ritual, why is a cut t-shirt so special?
  • What is the equation on the frog’s blackboard showing?TJK-spread-13
  • What game are the king snakes playing?
  • What other Arbordale book is pictured within the pages here?

Comment here and enter to win your own copy of They Just Know!

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19. #731 – Where Are My Books by Debbie Ridpath Ohi

Where Are My Books? Written & Illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi .    Simon & Schuster BYR        5/12/2015 .                          .978-1-4424-6741-5 .                         .40 pages       Age 4—8 …

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20. Book Launch: The Hungriest Mouth in the Sea

HungriestMouthWho is the Hungriest Mouth in the Seas of the South? Where is the Seas of the South located? Find out in our For Creative Minds section linked below, but first meet the creator behind this fun and colorful book!

PeterWaltersPeter Walters lives in Cornwall England, but has traveled all over the world as an educator. He has helped children write their own picture books, but this is the first published picture book of his own. Find out what inspired Peter’s book and his art…

What was your incentive to write this particular book?

I can quite vividly picture where the journey of this book began. I was sitting on sandy dunes in Otago, NZ watching two brave yellow-eyed penguins scamper past a snoozing fur seal to a rocky alcove. I felt then that the richness of the environment and web of predators and prey was so detailed; that I believed it could so effectively engage with a child’s curiosity.

How has teaching children all over the world influenced your writing?

I am fortunate that my work with children has exposed me to a variety of cultures and it has always been fascinating to observe the role of the child and the attitude towards childhood wherever I have been. While I have seen many differences between cultures I have also witnessed traits that appear universal and I am certain the relationship children have with storytelling is one such trait. One other direct influence on my writing for children is their interaction and interest in the natural world. We of course, as a species, have an intimate relationship with nature and while the modern world increasingly obstructs the time children have to cultivate this relationship, the deep-routed curiosity that an image of a lion, eagle or dolphin generates still remains.

Learn more about Peter in his full author interview here, or dive into the For Creative Minds section to learn more about this wild habitat!


Leave a comment and enter to win a copy of The Hungriest Mouth in the Sea! 

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21. Queensland Literary Awards 2015 – still time to vote

After its recent tumultuous history, the Qld Literary Awards are growing from strength to strength under the banner of the State Library of Queensland and a bevy of eminent sponsors. The 2015 shortlists have just been announced and the winners will be revealed at the Awards Ceremony on Friday 9th October in Brisbane. Some categories […]

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22. Book Launch: Sounds of the Savanna

SoundsSavannaTerry Catasús Jennings has a talent for taking a simple concept and telling a great story. In her newest book Sounds of the Savanna, Terry takes readers to the African plains and shows them how important sound is to the animals that live in this habitat.

Get to know a little more about Terry’s writing:

TerryJennings72How did you first become interested in writing, and writing for children’s picture books?

When I read Little Women by Louisa May Alcott as a very young girl, I knew I wanted to be a writer, just like Jo March. I believe though, that I would have ended up being a writer even if I hadn’t read the book. Stories are always rolling around in my head. Whenever something happens I like to report on it, like writing a newspaper story, in my head. I also like to figure out why people may have acted in a particular way, so I take what happens and I figure out a plot line that may have led them to their actions. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? What I like best of all is figuring out the very best way to convey each message—the best words to use, how to form each sentence and that is especially important in a picture book. I love to use the rhythm of language when I write a picture book. It’s almost like writing a poem.

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

Read, read, read. Write, write, write. Look at the world with curiosity and try to figure out why things happen they way they do and why people act the way they do. Listen to people talk. Pay special attention to how they move. Capture a scene as if you were a movie camera and store it in your mind. You’ll use all those things that you have stored in your mind when you write your books.

You can read the full interview here!

But first here is a great roaring lion craft to go along with the book’s For Creative Minds section, check it out.

IMG_1112What you will need:

  • You can use felt or paper (for our mask we used paper).
  • You will need light brown, dark brown or black, A shade of red/pink, and white.
  • Scissors and a pencil
  • A large circle and small circular container for tracing
  • A stick, for ours we used a pipe cleaner
  1. On tan paper use the large circle and trace three circles in a heart shape pattern. Connect the two top circles to the bottom and cut out your back portion.
  2. On the same paper trace two circles connect them together at the top to form a straight line and cut those out. For the nose of your lion.
  3. On the dark brown or black paper use the smaller circle and repeat step one. This will form your open mouth.
  4. Again on the dark paper cut a triangle for the nose and then round the edges
  5. On the pink paper use the bottom of the open mouth form and trace the lower portion of the tongue. Use your small circle to overlap and form the heart shape of the top of the tongue.
  6. On white paper cut two narrow triangles.
  7. Glue the dark mouth to the background, glue the tongue in place and then the teeth. Glue the triangle nose onto the tan nose, then glue that on top of your lion mouth.
  8. Tape or glue a stick to the back and you have your finished roaring lion!

Leave a comment and enter to win a copy of Sounds of the Savanna!

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23. The Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight Spills His Gut

Kid Lit Reviews is proud to have Dragon—and a captive Knight—here today to talk about Penny Parker Klostermann and Ben Mantle’s debut picture book There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight. Tomorrow, Kid Lit Reviews will review this gorgeous and humorous picture book (read it here). Please welcome Dragon and Knight. Hi Dragon! Thanks …

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24. #734 – There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight by Penny Parker Klostermann & Ben Mantle

. There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight Written by Penny Parker Klostermann Illustrated by Ben Mantle Random House Children’s Books      8/04/2015 978- 0-385-39080-4 .                        .40 pages     Age 3—7 “A knight, a steed, a squire, a cook, a lady, a castle, [and …

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25. New Voices Award Winners on Revising Your Story

New Voices Award sealThis year marks our sixteenth annual New Voices Award, Lee & Low’s writing contest for unpublished writers of color.

In this blog series, past New Voices winners gather to give advice for new writers. This month, we’re talking about one of the most important steps in writing a story: revision.

Question: What does your revision process look like??

pamela tuckPamela Tuck, author of As Fast As Words Could Fly, New Voices Winner 2007

The first tip I would like to give new writers about revision is to understand that there is a difference between revising, editing, and proofreading. Editing and proofreading cover word economy, word choices, and grammatical errors. But true revision runs deeper. Revision is Rethinking, Reseeing, and Reworking your ideas, your voice, and your plot into an engaging masterpiece.

After I’ve written my first draft, I already know that it’s going to be BAD. Too wordy, somewhat disconnected, and possibly even confusing. The idea of it all is to capture those fast and furious and jumbled thoughts on paper in some sort of order, and then mold and shape them into a sensible, readable, and hopefully publishable manuscript.

One of my first steps in revision is making sure I have a steady flow to my storyline. I’m looking for a beginning to hook my reader, a middle to engage them, and a satisfactory ending. I try to make sure I’ve provided explanation to possible questions my readers may have by using subtle descriptions, active verbs, and concise word choices that will paint the best pictures and explain my thoughts. Once my story has taken shape, I call in my “critical crew” (family and friends) to read my first draft. Reading out loud helps me hear my mistakes and/or thoughts and also highlights areas that may not be as clear to the reader as I thought. I can also tell from my critical crew’s feedback, whether or not my writing is making the impact I desire it to make. After pouring my heart out and letting it get “trampled” on by loving, supportive family and friends, it’s time to let the story (and my heart) rest for a while (a few days, a week, a month, or however long it takes). This “waiting period” is a good time to do further research on your topic (if applicable) just in case you run across a fresh idea or different aspect that can be added to enhance the story during the second revision stage.

During the next stage of revision, I’m able to read my manuscript with “fresh eyes.” I try to make sure that what I’ve written says what I want it to say in a way the reader will understand. Then I try to perfect my voice and dialogue to make sure they are as realistic and powerful as they can be. This is when I pull in those editorial and proofreading skills, to challenge myself with better word choices and sentence structures that will give the effect I’m looking for. I incorporate any new research ideas that may clarify or give a little more detail to vague thoughts or ideas. Then it’s time to call in the critical crew again. After another round of reading aloud and analyzing, I repeat the process over and over again, until I feel satisfied with my manuscript as a writer, and the critical crew leaves my heart feeling elated.

paula yooPaula Yoo, author of Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds, New Voices Winner 2003

Are you sure you want to see my self-revision process? I’m going to warn you now. It’s really messy. I mean, SUPER MESSY.

There are two stages of revision for me. For REVISION STAGE 1.0, I spend the majority of time just brainstorming. NO actual writing is involved, other than jotting down casual notes. I ask myself tough questions about character motivation, emotional journeys, and voice. I brainstorm a storyline or plot based on what I discover about my character’s journey. This includes using index cards and outlines. For old school longhand, I use both yellow legal pads with a clipboard and my trusty Moleskine notebook. When I’m on my MacBook laptop or iPad, I use my favorite writing software apps – Scrivener, Scapple, Index Card, and Omm Writer.

New Voices Award Winners on RevisionsSo during the brainstorming time, I’m actually constantly revising as I free-associate and slowly build, tear down, and rebuild the structure for my story. This Revision Stage 1.0 of brainstorming is a writing process I was taught as a professional TV drama writer/producer. In TV, writers are not allowed to write the first draft of a script until they have brainstormed the story beats non-stop and have crafted a detailed, solid outline in which every single story point and character emotional arc has been mapped out completely.

Once I’m done with this brainstorming/revision session, I write. There’s no revision here. I just write straight from the heart. It’s raw and messy and inspired.

THEN I enter REVISION STAGE 2.0. This is where I print out what I wrote, find my favorite coffeehouse or library, and curl up on a comfy sofa chair or take over a library study carrel or coffeehouse corner table, and whip out the red pen. Yes, I use red ink. I wear glasses (bifocals too!), so red is just easier for me to read.

I simultaneously line edit (based on my former life as a newspaper and magazine journalist) and also jot down revision notes for the Bigger Picture. Some Bigger Picture revision questions include: Does the character’s inner personality and struggle organically inspire every single plot point and twist in the storyline? Do the story beats align in a logical and structured manner? Is there any “on the nose” dialogue I can tweak to be more natural sounding and even subtextual? Have I grounded the setting in each scene? And so on.

I also handwrite new lines or ideas or snippets of dialogue that float into my brain as I revise.

Once I’m done with this red pen marking mess, I then input everything into the computer in a new file (either a new folder in Scrivener or a new document in Word). Then I make a copy of that revised file and add a new date to it and start fleshing that version out more on the computer.

Then I move onto writing new material (either new scenes or chapters). When I’m stuck or need a break or want to pause and re-examine the new stuff I’ve just written, I print everything out and grab the red pen. Rinse and repeat. :)

In other words, I’m constantly revising. I’m never not revising. I told you, my self-revision process was messy! But it’s worth it in the end when a beautiful book rises out of that big crazy messy pile of red pen marks. :)

glenda armandGlenda Armand, author of Love Twelve Miles Long, New Voices Winner 2006

Once I have completed the first draft of a picture book, I put it away and start working on another manuscript.

I go back to the first manuscript and read it with fresh eyes. As I read it, I make changes. I read it again and again, over the course of days, each time making changes, big and small.

Once I can read the whole thing, without making a single change, I know that it is almost there! I put it away again.

When I come back to it and can read it again without revising, I give it to my sister, Jenny, the retired librarian, to read.

I tell her that I think it is perfect and that she is not going to find a single thing that needs to be changed. Jenny gives me a smug look and says, “Okay.”

Later, we get together and she offers her ideas and critiques. I get annoyed. Why? Because her suggestions are always spot on. I revise based on her opinions, and it always makes the manuscript better (I admit reluctantly).  I keep revising until we both think it is perfect. At that point, I am ready to send it to my agent. She usually offers ideas from her unique perspective that I take into account and revise the manuscript again.

I actually enjoy revising. I appreciate the input of my agent, editor—and my sister (but don’t tell her. It will go to her head).

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