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1. Details, Details...









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2. Review: Dear Baobab by Cheryl Foggo and Qin Leng

Dear Baobab, written by Cheryl Foggo, illustrated by Qin Leng (Second Story Press, 2011)

 

Dear Baobab
written by Cheryl Foggo, illustrated by Qin Leng
(Second Story Press, 2011)

 

Following the death of his parents, seven-year-old … Continue reading ...

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3. Review: Out of the Way! Out of the Way! by Uma Krishnaswami and Uma Krishnaswamy

Out of the Way! Out of the Way! written by Uma Krishnaswami, illustrated by Uma Krishnaswamy (Tulika Books, 2010 / Groundwood, 2012)

 

Out of the Way! Out of the Way!
written by Uma Krishnaswami, illustrated by Uma … Continue reading ...

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4. Ruth Chan – Illustrator Interview

I am not wanting to brag here, but when you live in New York you bump into amazing writers and artists all the time (and I am grateful for every day here), so to be honest I am not sure … Continue reading

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5. Writer Wednesday: The Common Thread


A while back, Beth Fred and I were talking about mission statements and the common theme in the books we write. Now, you all know I write across genres and age levels, so you can imagine my reaction when Beth said there must be a common theme in all my books.

Um… Yeah, that was me. I've always said I'm not one to write to trends. I write the stories I feel I need to tell. And that's led me to having a pen name for romance while I write speculative fiction under my own name. But after a while, I realized Beth was right. There IS a common theme in all my books. It's self-discovery.

In my Touch of Death series, Jodi finds out she's a special kind of necromancer descended from the Gorgon Medusa. She struggles with what this means for her and how she'll have to adapt her life now that she's poisonous to humans.

In The Monster Within books, Sam dies of cancer at seventeen and is brought back from the dead as a monster who has to kill to survive. She struggles to figure out where she fits into the world and whether or not she's willing to kill others in order to live.

In Perfect For You (Ashelyn Drake title), Meg is trying to find herself again after having her heart broken in a very public and humiliating way. As much as it's about her finding the right guy, it's about her finding herself.

In A Lion's Song (my most recent picture book), Amara is trying to figure out her place in the pride when she's the only lion who can't roar.

I could keep going with all my books, but I think you can see the common thread. All my MCs are struggling to figure out who they are in this world and what that means for them. So I do have a common theme after all, even if I didn't know I did at the time I wrote these books.

What common theme pops up in your work?

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6. JooHee Yoon’s Beastly Verse (Plus a Sneak-Peek …)



(Click each image to enlarge)


 

I’ve got artwork below today from illustrator and printmaker JooHee Yoon’s first picture book here in the U.S., Beastly Verse, published by Enchanted Lion Books last month. Does anyone else remember when JooHee visited 7-Imp back in 2011 to share some art? It’s exciting to see this book now.

This is a collection of animal poems, many from poets long-gone (Ogden Nash, Hilaire Belloc, Christina Rosetti), with gatefold surprises and Yoon’s distinctive and stylized art, so vivid in its palette that the spreads pop off the page. (You’ll see this below.) Daisy Fried wrote in the New York Times that “[k]ids appreciate the bizarre and off-kilter, and are too often denied it when grown-ups edit for positive messages and sweetness. Hooray for Yoon for countering that.” I love that.

I can also (if you want really detailed reviews) direct you to Betsy Bird’s review of the book here, as well as the post at Brain Pickings (where credit is given to Claudia Zoe Bedrick, founder of Enchanted Lion Books, for being the poetry-lover she is).

Up above, at the very tip-top of this post, is a spread from JooHee’s rendering of James Thurber’s story “The Tiger Who Would Be King,” which Enchanted Lion will publish this September. It’s a sneak-peek at that book today (and its cover), and I thank Claudia for that.

Here are some images from Beastly Verse. Enjoy!

 


– From “Three Young Rats” — without text (Anonymous)
(Click to enlarge)


 


– From “The Eel” by Ogden Nash
(Click to enlarge)


 


– From “The Friendly Hen” by Arthur Waugh
(Click to enlarge)


 


– From “The Happy Hyena” by Carolyn Wells
(Click to enlarge)


 


– From “The Pelican” by Robert Desnos
(Click to enlarge)


 



– From “Eletelephony” by Laura E. Richards
(Click each to enlarge)


 


– From “The Yak” (without text) by Hilaire Belloc
(Click to enlarge)


 


(Click to enlarge cover)


 

* * * * * * *

BEASTLY VERSE. Text and illustration copyright © 2015 by JooHee Yoon. First edition published in 2015 by Enchanted Lion Books, Brooklyn. All images here reproduced by permission of the publisher.

Images from THE TIGER WHO WOULD BE KING reproduced by permission of Enchanted Lion Books.

2 Comments on JooHee Yoon’s Beastly Verse (Plus a Sneak-Peek …), last added: 5/26/2015
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7. Interview with Anne Sawyer-Aitch, author of 'Nalah Goes to Mad Mouse City'


Anne Sawyer-Aitch (pronounced like the letter “H”) is a puppeteer and stilt-walker. When she decided to create her first book, Nalah and the Pink Tiger, she began experimenting with different styles of illustration, and finally discovered a technique that uses her skills as a maker of color shadow puppets. She calls it “Illuminated Illustration”, and it involves cut-away designs, layering, and backlighting. In her capacity as a puppeteer, Anne creates puppet pieces of all kinds: parade floats, giant stilt puppets, and intricate color shadow shows. She is a MN State Arts Board Roster Artist, teaching puppetry all over the state, and has been touring around with her first book & her Nalah and the Pink Tiger show for the last two years. Nalah Goes to Mad Mouse City is her second book. She lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

For More Information
Tell us about your recent release. What was your inspiration for it?

In my newest book, Nalah Goes to Mad Mouse City, the adventures of Nalah continue! One day Nalah finds herself bored and lonesome because all of her imaginary friends have gone away on vacation. But wait – not all. Mad Tooth, the little mouse who lives in her sock drawer, is still busy munching away on her knee-highs. When she finds out why Nalah is sad, she offers to take her down through the sock drawer into a mouse metropolis. The result is a tale of wild dancing, cousins and mice, taffy and a sock monster.

This book was inspired by my little niece, Nalah. She is a very lively girl who is always getting into mischief. She sparked the first story, Nalah and the Pink Tiger. The series has taken on a life of its own since then. 

Tell us about your children's books.

There are the two Nalah books mentioned above. I have illustrated a book for the MN Humanities Commission as well called The Imaginary Day. My next projects include a third Nalah book (Nalah in Piggy Wig Paris) and a book about animals in winter. The latter is something I started developing when I began painting small creaures sleeping: hedgehogs, squirrels, dormice, sleeping. I want to make a little board book for toddlers that parents can read to them at bedtime.

Describe your working environment.

Ha! I’m a puppeteer as well as an author/illustrator, and that means I save everything. I work in all sorts of mediums, from fabric to clay to paint and paper cutting. I’m always re-configuring my dining room table based on the project at hand. 

Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your works?




What are you working on now?

Aside from the books I mentioned before, I’ll be developing some new puppet pieces, including the Spanish version of Nalah Goes to Mad Mouse City, and a Mexican folk tale in toy theatre style. 

Where are your books available?


What was your experience in working with an illustrator author?

I illustrated both of my books. I think both in words and in pictures, so I enjoy doing it that way. I use a lot of speech bubbles in my books. Probably because I grew up reading my Mom’s old Donald Duck comics.

What type of book promotion works for you? Any special strategies you’d like to share?

Because I’m a professional puppeteer, I have a puppet show that goes with the book. I’ve been performing that at various sites and selling books that way. But also through social media, Amazon, Good Reads, and shops that support local artists. 

What advice would you offer aspiring writers?

Don’t worry about how you are going to publish it. There are lots of ways to do that. You don’t need anybody else’s permission. Focus on making something you enjoy.

Who are your favorite authors?

In children’s ficiton, I love Maud Hart Lovelace, the D’Aulaires, Wanda Gag, William Steig. Also the Harry Potter books. They are so Dickensian.


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8. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #433: Featuring Julie Paschkis


Julie: “P. Zonka is a Friesian Bantam.”


 

If I were really organized, you would have read this post months ago at the dawn of Spring. It’s a very Spring’y book, and it also has a lot to do with eggs, which are also very Spring’y. But sometimes I’m just slow. Better late than never, though. Right?

There is a closing note in Julie Paschkis’ new picture book about how she and her family have an annual party where they gather together with friends to decorate eggs and eat yummy food. She makes particular mention of pysanky, Ukrainian decorated eggs, and a brilliant, decorated egg is an integral part of the story in this bright and beautiful book, P. Zonka Lays an Egg (Peachtree, March 2015). When I say bright, I’m talking a primarily sunny yellow palette, punctuated by other warm and lovely colors.

The story itself is about a chicken who doesn’t lay her eggs on time, nor does she lay enough of them to suit all the other chickens. (Rebel, nonconforming chickens are my favorite kinds of chickens, even if I can’t start my day without scrambled eggs.) P. Zonka is too busy taking in her surroundings, observing all the world’s wonders and details, to lay her eggs. But never fear: She has a big surprise for everyone in the end. “Every page turn,” writes the Kirkus review, “reveals a stunning new composition of fowls with personality, baskets of eggs and floral design elements evocative of … the beautiful folk art found on a Ukrainian decorated egg.”

It’s technically still Spring, so let’s take a look at some art from the book. (Most spreads are sans text.) I thank Julie for sharing; she also sent some early sketches. Oh, and we’ll close with some of Julie’s decorated eggs.

Enjoy …





Julie: “I painted this test sheet of all the dyes in two strengths, but the printer couldn’t match the colors, so I did the book with watercolor and gouache.”


 


Julie: “Originally, I wanted to paint the book with Ukrainian dyes. This was a sample.”


 


“Maud laid one egg every day. Dora laid an egg every other day.
Nadine always laid exactly five eggs a week.”


 


“Gloria never laid an egg because he turned out to be a rooster.
It was his job and he did it well.”


 


“All the other chickens laid eggs regularly.
All of them except P. Zonka.”


 


“‘I will tell you why,’ said P. Zonka. ‘Because of the pale mornings, the soft dark moss, the stripes on the crocuses, the orange cat with one blue eye,
the shining center of a dandelion, the sky at midnight.'”


 


“‘I don’t get it,’ said Maud. ‘P. Zonka is just plain lazy,’ said Nadine.
‘Come on, P. Zonka,’ urged Dora. ‘You might like laying an egg.’
‘Cock-a-doodle-doo!’ ‘Can’t you at least try?’ they all asked.”


 


…spectacular! There were patterns of sun yellow, grass green, tulip red. There were blues as bright as day and blues as dark as midnight.”


 


“After that, P. Zonka went back to wandering around the farmyard. She looked down and she gazed up. She clucked in wonder at all the colors she saw.
She didn’t lay very many eggs…”








 

P. ZONKA LAYS AN EGG. Copyright © 2015 by Julie Paschkis. Published by Peachtree, Atlanta, Georgia. All images here reproduced by permission of Julie Paschkis.

* * *

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1) A night out.

1½) With raspberry torte.

2) Letterman’s farewell on Wednesday night. One of my oldest friends and I had on our bucket list to see him live one day, and well … we missed out on that. [She was, however, on the show years ago, handing an animal to Jack Hanna (since she works with zoos), and she brought me some surprises from the green room. I still have them.]

3) Last weekend’s children’s reading festival in Knoxville was wonderful, as always. Pictured here is the good discussion we had about picture books. I moderated, and weighing in with great responses were: R. Gregory Christie, Phil Stead, Erin Stead, Laura Vaccaro Seeger, and Dan Santat.

 


 

4) New bikes!

5) I finally wrote about my trip to Wyoming here. Maybe next week I’ll share more photos from the day (here at 7-Imp).

6) I went from the Tetons to the Appalachians in the span of one week.

7) School is over! The girls and I have a huge stack of books we can’t wait to read. Summer time = more time to read. (And swim.)

BONUS #1: This. Kyle Mooney makes me laugh.

BONUS #2: Game of Thrones, The Musical.

BONUS #3: Reading lots of picture books this week at my daughters’ school. I also got a third-grade class turned on to Dory Fantasmagory and left them my copy. Since I’m a Dory Evangelist, my work there is done.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

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9. Seuss on Saturday #21

Sleep Book. Dr. Seuss. 1962. Random House. 64 pages. [Source: Library]

 First sentence:
The news 
Just came in
From the County of Keck
That a very small bug
By the name of Van Vleck
Is yawning so wide
You can look down his neck.
This may not seem 
Very important, I know.
But it is. So I'm bothering 
Telling you so.

Premise/plot: A book to read at bedtime. It's addressed directly to readers, to you. Readers meet plenty of Seuss creations that are either already asleep or nearly so.

My thoughts: I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Dr. Seuss's Sleep Book. I can't read it--even silently--without yawning. I love so many things about it including...
  • the time for night-brushing of teeth is at hand.
  • the number of sleepers is steadily growing. Bed is where more and more people are going.
  • the Audio-Telly-o-Tally-o Count, a machine that lets us know who is down and who's up
  • They're even asleep in the Zwieback Motel! And people don't usually sleep there too well.
  • moose dreaming of moose juice, goose dreaming of goose juice...
  • Ziffer-Zoof seeds, which nobody wants because nobody needs.
The Sleep Book is one of my favorite books by Dr. Seuss. I love the story, the rhythm and rhyme, the silliness.

Have you read The Sleep Book? Did you like it? love it? hate it? I'd love to know what you think of it!

If you'd like to join me in reading or rereading Dr. Seuss (chronologically) I'd love to have you join me! The next book I'll be reviewing is Dr. Seuss' ABC.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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10. The Sky is Falling (2015)

The Sky is Falling. Mark Teague. 2015. [June] Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: One day an acorn hit Chicken Little on the head. She popped up, screeching, "The sky is falling! The sky is falling!" "I don't think so," said Squirrel. Squirrel knew a thing or two about acorns. "See, it fell from a tree."

Premise/Plot: Chicken Little is convinced that the sky is falling when an acorn hits her on the head. Soon other chickens join her in that belief. (Not every animal on the farm is convinced. Not all get carried away). So what does a chicken getting carried away look like?! Well, in this book, it looks like DANCING. The book embraces the chicken-dancing concept. It keeps building and building. "They did the moonwalk, the mambo, and the twist." While Squirrel and his 'reasonable' friends (like Cat and Rabbit) know that the sky isn't falling, they are soon inspired to join in the dance because dancing is fun.

It was NO ACCIDENT that an acorn hit Chicken Little on the head. Though I admit I didn't catch this the first time I read it. There is a certain recurring character on each page. He's to be SEEN long before attention is called to him in the text. The FOX thought the chickens would react very differently if the sky were thought to be falling. And he was ready for his plan. But the dancing reaction, well, it leaves the Fox puzzled and a bit threatened. (He hates it when it is suggested that HE CAN'T DANCE.) Will the Fox have his way and enjoy chicken for lunch or dinner?!

My thoughts: I liked this one more than I thought I would. It improved upon second reading. I've now read it twice, and browsed it a third time. It's a clever book in a way. I'm not saying I love, love, love it. But I definitely enjoyed it!

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 7 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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11. A Crazy Fairy Tale, some Rhythm and Movement, a cute Penguin, and Messy Pasta - all from Scholastic


A Crazy Fairy Tale…

Little Red Riding Hood Not Quite by Yvonne Morrison, illus. Donovan Bixley, Scholastic NZ

If you liked the previous Children’s Choice Award-winning story from this pair – The Three Bears Sort Of – you’ll like this one. 
It’s the same format, with a long-suffering parent trying to read the fairy tale to a precocious child. The interruptions and discussions are very funny – and extremely logical, when you think about it. The old fairy tales certainly weren’t renowned for being logical…Donovan Bixley’s bright and cheeky illustrations are done in mixed media, hand drawn and digitally painted. They convey the two layers of the narration with gusto. Probably best for older children, maybe about 6 to 8, who know the original story and can enjoy the input from the child listener.



ISBN 978 1 77543 263 0 $15.99 Pb

Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

Rustle Up a Rhythmby Rosalind Malam, illus. Sarah Nelisiwe Anderson, Scholastic New Zealand

Packed with action and noise, this will be great fun to read aloud to either a group or an individual child. Written from the point of view of a small boy, the rhyming text zips us through the day with his family, using such verses as: “Bibble, bibble, bubble, hums my egg from the pot, and the bread in the toaster goes click – click – pop!” Onomatopoeia is featured all the way through the story, right up to bedtime. The illustrations are friendly, expansive and colourful, happily integrating the “noise” words into the flow of daily events. Pre-schoolers in particular will love identifying and saying the words, at the same time associating sounds with events or objects familiar to them. I imagine this book will be very useful for reading and language sessions in pre-school centres and early entrant classes.

ISBN 978 1 77543 148 0 $19.00 Pb

Little Hoiho by Stephanie Thatcher, Scholastic NZ

Stephanie’s first picture book The Great Galloping Galoot was published by Scholastic NZ in 2012. It’s a jolly, bouncing story – fans will find this second book is quite different in tone but just as satisfying. On her first foray out of the nest, a little penguin finds that not all birds are the same. Kotuku struts on beautiful long legs, Toroa flies on big wings, Tui can sing. Little Hoihoi can’t do any of these things. Of course, as soon as she falls into the water she finds there is something she can do much better than the other birds… The pencil illustrations are a delight with their gentle watercolours, uncluttered scenes and good use of white space. Little Hoihoi’s expressive face takes centre-stage and delicately conveys her emotions. The book includes a small amount of information about yellow-eyed penguins, but its true value will be as a group read-aloud to children of around 3 to 7.

ISBN 978 1 77543 249 4 RRP $19 Pb

Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

Piggy Pasta and More Food With Attitude by Rebecca Woolfall and Suzi Tait-Bradly with feature photography by Vicki Leopold, Scholastic New Zealand
The picture on the cover is of some extremely pink (ie. beetroot-coloured) pasta which certainly draws the eye to the book… Once you get past the pasta pig face, you’ll find an alphabetically arranged collection of interesting recipes ranging from Dirt Pudding and Incy Wincy Chocolate Spiders to Rowdy Rice Saladand Witchy Poo Fingers. Each recipe is coded to indicate what types of meal it can be - there’s certainly a wide range of dishes covered. The authors are the founders of the Auckland-based LittleCooks cooking classes for kids (www.littlecooks.co.nz), so they know what’s likely to appeal to young appetites.

I studied the recipes and reached a few conclusions. Firstly, kids will love eating most of them and will especially love making them with a (very) patient parent to assist. Secondly, the recipes will probably be more successful with older children than with littlies – some procedures are quite fiddly and time-consuming. Scholastic recommends the book for ages 8+. Thirdly, what you see in the busy, bright illustrations is not necessarily what you get. Toys, props and fancy backgrounds have been used in the photos to create a fabulous picture – so if you want to replicate the presentation of some of the dishes, you’ll have to do a shopping trip to the toy shop first…

ISBN 978 1 77543 216 6 $19.00 Pb

Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

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12. Review: Jandamarra by Mark Greenwood and Terry Denton

Jandamarra, written by Mark Greenwood, illustrated by Terry Denton (Allen & Unwin, 2013)

 

Jandamarra
written by Mark Greenwood, illustrated by Terry Denton
(Allen & Unwin, 2013)

 

Presented in a quasi-graphic-novel format, Jandamarra is a picture … Continue reading ...

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13. What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week, Plus What I DidLast Week, Featuring Bénédicte Guettier,Patrick McDonnell, Daniel Salmieri, and Charlotte Voake


– From Meet the Dullards
(Click to enlarge spread)


 


– From The Skunk


 


“Unfortunately, an octopus is not a very suitable pet.
You should see the mess he makes in the bathroom!”
– From
Melissa’s Octopus and Other Unsuitable Pets
(Click to enlarge spread)


 


– From I am the Wolf … And Here I Come!


 

Today over at Kirkus, I write about the coolest picture book award you’ve never heard of, the Bull-Bransom Award from the National Museum of Wildlife Art. That link will be here soon.

* * *

Last week I wrote (here) about four new picture books — Sara Pennypacker’s Meet the Dullards, illustrated by Daniel Salmieri (Balzer & Bray, March 2015); Mac Barnett’s The Skunk, illustrated by Patrick McDonnell (Roaring Brook, April 2015); Charlotte Voake’s Melissa’s Octopus and Other Unsuitable Pets (Candlewick, April 2015); and Bénédicte Guettier’s I am the Wolf … And Here I Come! (Gecko Press, January 2015). Today, I follow up with art from each book. (Note: Sorry about the lines in the art from Guettier. Those lines indicate the gutter of the book.)

Enjoy the art …



 

Art from Sara Pennypacker’s
Meet the Dullards,
illustrated by Daniel Salmieri:


 


“After they finished painting the room, Mr. and Mrs. Dullard tried not to look at the walls. But it was no use—they were completely mesmerized.
All day long, the Dullards watched the paint dry.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 


“That night, Mr. and Mrs. Dullard fell asleep right away,
secure in the knowledge that their children were perfect bores.”

(Click to enlarge)


 



 

Art from Charlotte Voake’s Melissa’s Octopus
and Other Unsuitable Pets
:


 


“Sometimes he’s upstairs …
and he ends up downstairs by mistake.”

(Click to enlarge)


 



 

Art from Mac Barnett’s The Skunk,
illustrated by Patrick McDonnell:


 



(Click second image to see spread in its entirety)


 



(Click second image to see spread in its entirety)


 



 



(Click second image to see spread in its entirety)


 





 

Art from Bénédicte Guettier’s I am the Wolf …
And Here I Come!


 




 

* * * * * * *

I AM THE WOLF … AND HERE I COME! First American Edition published in 2015 by Gecko Press USA. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher.

MEET THE DULLARDS. Copyright © 2015 by Sara Pennypacker. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Daniel Salmieri. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Balzer & Bray/HarperCollins, New York.

MELISSA’S OCTOPUS AND OTHER UNSUITABLE PETS. Copyright © 2014 by Charlotte Voake. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA on behalf of Walker Books, London.

THE SKUNK. Copyright © 2015 by Mac Barnett. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Patrick McDonnell. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Roaring Brook Press, New York.

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14. Miss Hazeltine’s Home forShy and Fearful Cats


“Crumb lapped up every word. One day he hoped to find the courage to thank her.
Still, he worried. Would he ever be brave?”


 

I’m following up my BookPage review of Alicia Potter’s Miss Hazeltine’s Home for Shy and Fearful Cats (Knopf, May 2015), illustrated by Birgitta Sif, with a bit of art from the book, as well as some early sketches from Birgitta. The review is here, and I thank her for sharing the images here today.

Enjoy …



 



Early sketches
(Click second image to enlarge)


 



“Soon more cats came to Miss Hazeltine’s home. And more. And more. So many arrived that on a Monday at five o’clock, when everyone but Crumb was fast asleep, Miss Hazeltine ran out of milk. ‘I’m off to fetch a bucketful,’ she told Crumb,
‘and will be back before dark.’ Crumb watched her go.”

– Sketch and final spread


(Click each to enlarge)

 





 

* * * * * * *

MISS HAZELTINE’S HOME FOR SHY AND FEARFUL CATS. Text copyright © 2015 by Alicia Potter. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Birgitta Sif. Published by Alfred A. Knopf, New York. All images here reproduced by permission of Birgitta Sif.

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15. Stick and Stone

I love Picture Book trailers.  Here's a cute one for you.


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16. Early Start to Summer Fun

Summer is nearly here. School ends and fantastic summer reading begins.

Summer is the perfect time for kids to kick back with some books. Children who read during vacation will enhance their reading and educational skills—rather than backtracking and losing scholastic ground. With the incredible choices in quality children’s literature, every child can find an interesting book.

For younger readers, these diverse books are being made available through First Book, an organization which helps provide books to needy children.

Titles include:

 NINO WRESTLES THE WORLD by  Yuyi Morales
TANGO MAKES THREE by Justin Richardson & Peter Parnell
TIGER IN MY SOUP by Kashmira Sheth
EMMANUEL’S DREAM by Laurie Thompson
KNOCK KNOCK by Daniel Beaty
BOATS FOR PAPA by Jessixa Bagley

For older readers, visit the Suggested Summer Reading List. Most of these titles should be available through your local library or bookstore.


Don’t wait for the official start of summer. Begin your reading adventures today!


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17. Sam Zuppardi – Illustrator Interview

Dear blog followers, I promised you that I was going to try and expand my interviews beyond the North American borders, so today we are back in the UK with one of their finest picture book illustrators, Sam Zuppardi (well, … Continue reading

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18. Grandma in Blue with Red Hat, written by Scott Menchin and illustrated by Harry Bliss

Building a picture book around actual works of art can be a tricky task. With Grandma in Blue with Red Hat,  Scott Menchin, illustrator of several picture books and author of more than a few, creates a masterpiece. In addition to his work in picture books, Menchin is an award winning illustrator and teacher at the Pratt Institute Graduate School. This makes him very well poised to write a

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19. Picture Book Monday with a review of Roger is reading a book

Sometimes I come across a book that is so well written that I can hardly bear to set it down. I just want to spend a quiet time, curled up in a corner, reading on and on. Of course, all too often, life does not allow me to have that quiet time. A dog wants to go out, a cat wants some attention, dinner needs to be cooked, a manuscript needs to be edited, a book needs to be reviewed and so on. It is so frustrating!

Today's picture book is about Roger, who really, really, wants some peace and quiet so that he can read his book. Unfortunately Emily has other ideas.

Roger is reading a book
Roger is reading a book Koen Van Biesen
Translated by Laura Watkinson
Picture Book
For ages 5 and up
Eerdmans, 2015, 978-0-8028-5442-1
Roger is reading a book and he needs some peace and quiet. He sits on a stool, the glow from a reading lamp lighting up the pages of his book, and reads. His dog lies at his feet snoozing. Then, on the other side of the wall, Emily starts playing with a basketball. She bounces it and makes a lot of noise, which means that Roger has to get up to knock on the wall. He needs peace and quiet so that he can continue reading his book.
   For a short while all is well until Emily starts singing. Roger knocks on the wall. Emily starts playing the drums, Roger pounds on the wall. Emily juggles, she dances, and she hits a boxing bag. Emily makes so much noise that Roger is in despair. Something has to be done about this situation.
    This wonderfully clever book will delight young readers and will certainly resonate with their grownups who are probably very familiar with Roger’s predicament. The author finds a perfect way to solve Roger’s problem, and then presents us with another one that brings the story to a perfect close.
   With a minimal text and lots of sound words, this is the kind of book young children will enjoy looking through on their own. They will love seeing what the dog does as the story unfolds, for the dog, in the end, steals the whole show.

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20. Publisher Anita Eerdmans on Roger Is Reading a Book

roger is reading a bookIn our May/June 2015 issue, we asked publisher Anita Eerdmans about the bespectacled, bowtied — and strangely familiar-looking — protagonist of Roger Is Reading a Book. Read the review here.

Horn Book Editors: We’d like to know: Is that Roger our Roger?

Anita Eerdmans: Yes and no. In the original Dutch, the main character is called simply Neighbor (Buurman). One of our acquisitions team members objected to the impersonal nature of it and suggested we give Neighbor a name — maybe something alliterative with the title. Something like… “Roger.” Those of us who know Roger Sutton were immediately struck by the character’s uncanny likeness (bowtie and all). And so to our great delight, “Neighbor” became “Roger” (with thanks to the Belgian publisher, De Eenhoorn, who allowed the change).

From the May/June 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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21. Review of Roger Is Reading a Book

van biesen_roger is reading a bookRoger Is Reading a Book
by Koen Van Biesen; illus. by the author; trans. from the Dutch by Laura Watkinson
Primary   Eerdmans   40 pp.
3/15   978-0-8028-5442-1   $16.00

The rainy-night endpapers of this 
Belgian import draw readers into the cozy lamplight of Roger’s apartment. “Shhhh! Quiet. Roger is reading. Roger is reading a book.” The page turn reveals that peacefulness can be fleeting. A disturbing “BOING BOING” emanates from the other side of the wall, cleverly defined by the book’s gutter, as next-door-neighbor-girl Emily bounces her ball. Roger retaliates by banging on the wall, and noise amps up while neighborliness dissipates. Showcased on white or off-white backgrounds, the illustrations feature small bursts of patchy color and abstract linework that artistically depict sound. When Emily bangs her drum, thin colored lines show a slow-motion time lapse of Roger startling — shoe, hat, 
book, and glasses flying. In the end Roger gives Emily her own book to read. His peace offering brings quiet until his ignored dog’s hints to go out finally erupt into a cacophony of “WOOF WOOF”s sending everyone into the rain for a walk. Visually stimulating, this well-designed package of noises, books, and human nature is like an offbeat piece of chamber music. Any resemblance to The Horn Book’s editor in chief is entirely coincidental (or not).

From the May/June 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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22. Best book bracketology

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. A fresh, clean bracket has names neatly penciled into open slots, representing optimism and promise for excitement. Meanwhile, the sweetness of the beginning is quickly thrown into tumult, as surprises abound and unpredicted losses become the talk of Twitter. The competition is fierce, and the stakes are high. Naturally, I’m talking about March Picture Book Madness!

I was scouring through my daily dose of teacher blogs (a heavily addicting recreational activity, though I highly recommend it) when I came across an article in one of my absolute favorites. The Nerdy Book Club (yes, that’s its real name) was advocating for countrywide participation in a March Madness book battle. Over 700 schools across the US were putting in their picks for top-seeded picture books, middle grade novels, or young adult fiction. The website would then generate a bracket, with classrooms everywhere participating in the “madness!” My class just had to get in on all the fun — what an exciting excuse to indulge into picture books, and providing a fun incentive for read-aloud time!

Worried that your school may not have the funds to take on this challenge? Have no fear! Our grade level team didn’t enter the actual pool. We decided to use the list of books selected on the website as guide, and see which ones we could find in our school library. For ones that we could not find, we simply supplemented with other incredible picture books that we found! I put on my artistic hat and created my own bracket out of a large piece of card stock.

Just as the March Madness basketball brackets stem from different regions, the picture book bracket had two distinct categories: books written prior to 2014, and books written throughout the 2014-2015 season. This created a wonderful opportunity for all of us to explore the latest in children’s literature, as well as revisiting some old favorites. Check out the picture below for our classroom picks (click to see it larger). I know we’re past March now, but the fervor is still in the air as we come to our top pick. I hope you’ll consider an activity like this next year as it really isn’t that maddening to organize!

 marchmadness_500x368

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23. A Visit with Author-Illustrator William Bee

Where is Stanley going over there? COME BACK, STANLEY. Ah well. He has some mail to deliver, so he’s off.

British author-illustrator and commercial designer William Bee visits 7-Imp today to share some images from two of his 2015 picture books. (Bee visited 7-Imp back in the day for one of my favorite “breakfast” interviews.)

Migloo’s Day, released by Candlewick earlier this year (March), is a search-and-find adventure for young children. Migloo is a dog, and readers follow him throughout a day and busy, detailed spreads, as he explores his community. “There’s definitely a new ‘Busytown’ in town,” writes the Kirkus review. It’s definitely Richard Scarry-esque and a lot like Busytown on stimulants. It’s good stuff, rendered in Bee’s signature style.

Also, from Peachtree, Bee has his Stanley series for very young readers. Stanley (pictured above, ready to deliver that mail) is a hamster — and the star of this series, which explores occupations in sweet, but never cloying, stories that emphasize friendship and hard work.

Today, William shares some images from the books, including some process shots. I thank him for sharing.



 

Art from the Stanley books:


 


William: “[These are] early roughs. Goodness, some of these are ugly. I drew Stanley, as he became, and his friends with the computer mouse. I do not use a tablet. My earlier children’s books were all drawn on paper with a pen. … My team at Jonathan Cape are Sue Buswell, the boss; Andrea MacDonald, editor; and Helen Chapman, designer. Kids’ books are a team effort!
(Audrey Keri-Nagy and Maria Tunney worked on
Migloo.)”



 


William: “Shamus and Little Woo are meant to be shrew-like creatures. Once the hamster was working, I used him as a starting point. They got darker, and the child shrew had the extra bit of colour. A lot of young animals have markings
they lose as they get older.”


 


William: “We found that our original name ‘Harry’ had already been used for a hamster, so here are a few names we tried. [It’s] important to see what they look like.”


 


William: “In Stanley the Builder, we have a cement mixer. As you can see, it changed quite a bit. The last one (blue) is the actual artwork.”


 


William: “In each book, preceding the title page,
we have what we call the ‘tool pages.’ For the cafe, shop, and post books,
we do not actually have any tools, of course.”


 


William: “Stanley has a different job in each book. Garage mechanic, builder, chef, farmer, postie, shopkeeper. We are working on Stanley’s School,
followed (I think) by
Stanley’s Train.”


 


William: “Here is a finished cover — and the various rough ones.
Things develop quite quickly.”


 


(Released in 2014)


 


(Released in March 2015)


 


(Coming later this year)


 

Art from Migloo’s Day:


 





(Click to enlarge)


 


At the Market
(Click to enlarge)


 




At the Factory
(Click each to enlarge)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 


Taxi reference
(Click to enlarge)


 




 


Test spread lay-out
(Click to enlarge)


 



 

* * * * * * *

All images here are used by permission of William Bee.

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24. Review: Ahmed and the Feather Girl by Jane Ray

Ahmed and the Feather Girl, by Jane Ray (Janetta Otter-Barry Books, Frances Lincoln, 2010/Paperback 2014)

Ahmed and the Feather Girl
by Jane Ray
(Janetta Otter-Barry Books, Frances Lincoln, 2010/Paperback 2014)

‘There was once a little orphan boy with big … Continue reading ...

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25. How to Build a Child’s Self-Esteem

Selfus Esteemus Personalitus Low

By Leon Goss III; illustrated by Ken Tunell

 

Parents have been flooded for years with books and articles on how to build self esteem in children. Enough already. Maybe it all began with the popular Dr. Spock of the 1940’s and his 50 million copy sale of a book entitled, “Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care.” Parents ate it up and out the window went something called “personal responsibility.” Here’s a snippet of how the doctor suggested dealing with “stealing.”

 

                “I don’t mean that the parents

               shouldn’t mention the stealing…

               Naturally the child should return

               what he has taken on the basis

               that the owner will need it. It     

               might be wise for the parent to

               help make up the sum to be

               returned, or to make a present

               to the child of an object similar

               to the one stolen and returned.

                This is not a reward for stealing,

               but a sign that the child should

               not take what isn’t his, and that

               he should have his heart’s desire

               if it is reasonable.”

 

I think this advice is given to parents of six to eleven year olds!

No wonder we have a value void in the culture if children feel they are entitled to their “heart’s desire” without working a bit for it, and further, that they may take someone else’s “heart’s desire” with no consequence involved. In fact, rewarding a child is thinly disguised in this hair brained, psycho babble advice.

Sorry, but this type of pap gets my goat!

Back to the picture book and its young Copernicus Worrious. Seems he is concerned he has contracted a physical illness. He visits the quirky but kindly Dr. Pessimist who is unconventional. He advises Copernicus that he has “Selfus Esteemus Personalitus Low” that may devolve into “Queenus Dramaticus Flu” if left unaddressed. Horrors!

The cure? “Disease Eradicus” which is a simple mirror, not a pill or a potion, accompanied by the young boy’s glance into it, with the repeated words:

 

“I am worthy of you, I know this is true

and I don’t really care what others may do”

 

Simple? Crazy? Not really, as Copernicus finds out what a priest friend of mine proffered to me as advice ages ago. “Liz, what someone else thinks of you, is really none of your business.”

It’s the internal guidance system of affirming ourselves from the inside that matters; and the rest is icing on the cake.    

Some might go so far as to say that we, as a culture, coddle kids too much today. I think the term may even be referred to in the mainstream as “helicoptering.”

And then there is the opposing side of the scale, that may be termed “parenting by proxy,” where children are raised wholly or in part, by other people; not their parents. Somewhere in the middle seems a great compromise. Young parents today are faced with hard and difficult choices, and with families spread all over the map, sometimes little nuclear family support or advice.

But here in a small, undiscovered picture book it perhaps hints at the why of how we as a culture are going about the building of self esteem in young ones in the wrong way; that is from the outside in!

We reward everyone for every small deed and action. Example: “Hieronymus, I love the way you coughed.” Everyone receives a trophy for participation, competition in gym is frowned upon, and the playing field is constantly being leveled to a nice even steven shade of vanilla so kids won’t feel bad. We have a variety of flavors because every flavor is not the same! They are different and different is okay. In fact it’s great!

Some reasonable level of a competitive environment is good. It helps kids strive to try their best at whatever they do. But the key is to be content with what your best is; not eradicate competition in the false assumption that it builds self esteem in any or all. Kids are smart. They know. They get it.

Remember leveled reading groups in school? Kids absolutely knew the difference in ability between the “Robins”, “Bluebirds” and “Jays.” But hey, that’s okay. Because a “Bluebird” can morph into a “Robin!” And a “Jay” can fly up to be a “Bluebird” in time. The key is knowing deep down that you are the best in your assigned reading group, that you can be.

Self esteem comes from the inside; the belief and sure knowledge that you are worthy and that you matter aside from what you attain or achieve. All the praise and accolades then only serve to reconfirm what you believe about yourself.

That goal can never be achieved by destroying the desire to excel.

Perhaps as I read somewhere a while ago, “We are raising a nation of underachievers who feel good about themselves!”

Copernicus learns that he won’t hit a homer always, or maybe even ever. He’ll make mistakes and learn to win or lose, but have fun while he’s doing it. 

Young Copernicus is named for the discoverer of long ago who proposed that the sun, not the earth was the center of the universe. 

Our children, though we naturally love and care for them deeply, are the “sun centers”  of our universe, but not naturally that of the entire world. And therein, perhaps, lies a needed reorientation of the planets, that are our children, as regards modern parenting.

And even young Copernicus is discovering that the boy in the mirror largely decides if he is a success at what he attempts in life. And those attempts, successful or no, do count; they are necessary and they build for success. Sometimes a child may even…. dare I whisper it, learn more valuable life lessons from a failure than a success!

You go Copernicus, and discover it all! And have fun doing it!

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