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1. Zoe's Jungle: Bethanie Deeney Murguia

Book: Zoe's Jungle
Author: Bethanie Deeney Murguia
Pages: 40
Age Range: 3-5

My daughter and I both enjoyed (and continue to enjoy) Bethanie Murguia's two previous picture books about Zoe (Zoe Gets Ready and Zoe's Room: No Sister's Allowed). In this third installment, the irrepressible Zoe and her younger sister Addie pretend that a playground is a jungle. Some tension is added to the story by the fact that Mama has decreed that they'll be leaving the park in five minutes. But as it turns out, five minutes is enough time for a jungle adventure, if you have sufficient imagination.

Alternating page spreads show the jungle that Zoe is picturing, vs. the playground as it actually looks. This may be a bit confusing for the youngest readers (my four-year-old wasn't sure what was going on, the first time we read this). But once they understand the device that Murguia is using, I think that kids will enjoy it. For instance, Zoe crosses over an alligator-filled river on a fallen log. The "log" is revealed on the next page to be a wooden bench, passing near some kids playing in a puddle. Not until the final endpages do we see the full view of the park. (And I must say, it's a very nice park!)

Although this is still clearly Zoe's story, it's nice to see her sister growing a bit bigger, and more able to actively take part in things (this is clear from just looking at the cover). The "Addiebeast" runs away and hides, and the brave explorer Zoe must track her down. Addie's polka-dotted dress is echoed in the Addiebeast's spotted tail. 

I also, as a parent, enjoyed the by-play between Zoe and her Mama over when they would leave the park. Zoe goes on a huge rant over how five more minutes is "NOT" enough time. At the end of the rant, Mama just says: "Four minutes!". Zoe slumps over, saying: "Is there no respect for the explorer and her quest?" But then Addie distracts her, and the game is on. 

I love the green jungle palette of Zoe's Jungle, and the images of kids climbing trees and riding wild beasts, as well as the images of kids just playing in a playground. Mostly I love that Zoe's Jungle is a celebration of imaginative play, as well as a celebration of sibling bonds. Recommended, and sure to become a Baby Bookworm favorite!

Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books (@Scholastic
Publication Date: May 27, 2014
Source of Book: Advance review copy from the publisher

FTC Required Disclosure:

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

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

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2. Potty Training Books for a Diaper-Free Existence

And then there's potty training. It's a world unto itself, with special videos, portable potties, stickers, colorful underwear, and, of course, books. But the pay-off is huge: a diaper-free existence. We're big readers in our household, so why not read about it, too?

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3. Picture Book Contest and Tips

This is the 4th year for the Kids’ Book Review’s Unpublished Picture Book Manuscript Award. They are located in Australia, but this year they have added and International segment, (separate to the Australian segment), with Feedback Sheets.

Plus this year they are introducing a fabulous opportunity for illustrators!

There is a lot of information in the post. Don’t miss the picture book tips at the end of post.

DEADLINE: May 5th 2014

FEE: $25 for Writer’s and Illustrators $15 per illustration

The International Segment

Eligibility: Foreign nationals living anywhere in the world, including Australia, aged 18 or over.

Picture Book Manuscripts: No more than 400 words.

Illustrators: Only electronically submit illustration – $15 entrance fee. One winner will score a manuscript appraisal, a certificate and the chance to have their manuscript viewed by the editors at Penguin Books Australia. There is no guarantee of publication, and normal Penguin manuscript submission rules and timings apply. There is no monetary prize offered for the international segment at this stage.

We will also nominate several Highly Commended manuscripts (no prize).

All entrants will receive a feedback sheet.


The Australian Segment

Eligibility: Australian residents living in Australia or overseas, aged 18 or over.

Three winners will score $150, a manuscript appraisal, a certificate and the chance to have their manuscript viewed by Sue Whiting, Publishing Manager at Walker Books Australia. There is no guarantee of publication and normal Walker Books manuscript submission rules and timings apply.

We will also nominate several Highly Commended manuscripts (no prize).

All entrants will receive a feedback sheet.

Winner must have an Australian bank account to receive prize money.


The International Segment

Eligibility: Foreign nationals living anywhere in the world, including Australia, aged 18 or over.

One winner will score a manuscript appraisal, a certificate and the chance to have their manuscript viewed by the editors at Penguin Books Australia. There is no guarantee of publication, and normal Penguin manuscript submission rules and timings apply. There is no monetary prize offered for the international segment at this stage.

We will also nominate several Highly Commended manuscripts (no prize).

All entrants will receive a feedback sheet.


The Illustrator Segment

Eligibility: Australian residents living in Australia or overseas, aged 18 or over.

We are absolutely thrilled to announce an opportunity for illustrators, as part of our Picture Book Award.

Ten winners will score the chance to have one of their images seen by Walker Books Australia, with a view to showing their full folio. There is no guarantee of contracts/publication and normal Walker Books illustration submission rules and timings apply.

Please note there will be no prize money and no feedback sheets for this section of the Award. Certificates will be emailed to the ten winners.


Manuscript submissions are for picture books of 400 words or less. A word count above 400 will exclude your submission. This word limit is for your story text only and does not include the title, author details or illustration notes.

Illustration submissions are to be made electronically–ONE IMAGE ONLY per entry.

Both published and unpublished creators are eligible. Creator names must be on manuscript and illustration file name. Our judging system remains impartial to creatorship.

If you are an author/illustrator, you can submit an image that correlates with your manuscript submission, however, images and manuscripts will be judged completely separately.

Please don’t submit a manuscript you have submitted to the Award in previous years.

Submissions must be in English.

Submissions—both written and image—must be original and unpublished elsewhere, in any form including electronic, in whole or in part, even heavily edited or re-worked versions. There is a small exception for images–they can be previously published on a personal blog or facebook page, but should not have been part of a publication. If the submitted work—both written and image—is accepted for publication during this competition, KBR must be advised on or before Monday 28 April 2014.

The competition is open to writers aged 18 or over.

Authors: entry fee is A$25 per manuscript.

Illustrators: entry fee is A$15 per image.

This section forms our Terms and Conditions of Entry. By entering this competition, you agree to our Terms and Conditions.


Copyright for all work submitted is retained by the author.

We do not publish or share entries or entrant details with third parties.

At end of competition, all electronic manuscript copies and author/illustrator details are permanently deleted.


We have made changes to the submissions process. Please read these submission requirements carefully and if you still have questions, check our FAQs at the bottom of this post before emailing us. 

Submissions open Monday 3 February 2014 and close Monday 5 May 2014 at 11.59pm Australian Eastern Standard Time. Emails must be time-marked on or before 11.59pm, on 5 May, to be eligible, including those from overseas.

A shortlist will be announced on Monday 9 June 2014. Winners will be announced Monday 23 June 2014. Winners will be emailed shortly before the announcement on KBR.

We ask for emailed submissions only.

If you are an Australian living overseas, PLEASE indicate you are entering the AUSTRALIAN segment of the competition.

If you are entering the INTERNATIONAL segment of the competition, please type ‘KBR Award 2014 INTERNATIONAL’ in the subject line of your email.

Author entries should be emailed as an attached Word .doc or .docx to KBRawardATkids-bookreviewDOTcom with KBR Award 2014 in the subject line. Entries in other formats will be ineligible. The title of your Word document and manuscript should be the same.

Illustrator entries should be emailed as an attached .jpeg or .png file ONLY to KBRawardATkids-bookreviewDOTcom with KBR Award 2014 Illustration in the subject line. Files should be no bigger than 3MB. Entries in other file formats or over 3MB will be ineligible. The title of your image file should include your name.

Please take care when typing the KBRaward email address—it is KBRaward NOT KBRawards. If you do not receive confirmation within 48 hours, we have not received your submission and you will need to resubmit.


The ability to follow our submission format will count towards your overall score.


  • Double line-space your submission
  • Keep the text left-justified and use Arial or Times New Roman, 11 point
  • Make your payment at the same time as your submission
  • Your story title and Word document title should be the same and the document title should also include your name
  • Provide the following information at the top of your manuscript (NOT in the header) and ALSO in the body of your email:

Story Title
Word count: 496
Jane Smith
4 Writer Lane
Booksville Vic 3000
03-9999 1111
INTERNATIONAL (if you are entering the International Segment)
AUSTRALIAN (but only necessary if you are an Australian with an overseas address)


  • put your story or document title in capital letters
  • add any kind of visuals or any kind of formatting, including words in all-capitals, bolding, centering, indents, tabbing, tables, varying fonts and sizes and colours; text should be completely format-free
  • add page numbers or headers and footers
  • divide your story text into ‘Page 1, Page 2′, etc
  • send résumés, synopses, title pages or any other material

Illustrations + Illustration Notes
Please do not send illustrations to accompany a manuscript (but do feel free to enter an image, separately, in our Illustrator section), even if you are an artist or feel they are central to the story. Succinct illustration notes (in brackets or italics, directly below corresponding text) are fine but only if the text doesn’t clearly intimate illustrations.


The ability to follow our submission format will count towards your overall score.


  • Email your .jpeg or .png as an attachment, 3MB or under
  • Add your name to the image’s file title, eg: Flower Kids by Jane Smith
  • Make your payment at the same time as your submission
  • Provide the following information in the body of your email:

Image Title

Jane Smith
4 Writer Lane
Booksville Vic 3000
03-9999 1111 (add country code if you are international)


  • send your image embedded, or provide a link for us to follow
  • send résumés, image explanations or any other material


You will receive a KBR confirmation of receipt shortly after sending your entry—this serves as your entry receipt (along with your Paypal confirmation-of-payment email). If you do not receive the KBR confirmation within 48 hours, we have not received your entry. Please resend or make contact via taniaATkids-bookreviewDOTcom or message us on our facebook page. PLEASE don’t leave it until competition end (or later) to let us know you haven’t received confirmation. 


Multiple entries are welcome, though a fee of A$25 per manuscript and A$15 per image applies. Multiple entries can be submitted together or separately, but please ensure all illustrator/entry information is included with each submission.

Please take the time to submit your final version. We regret that we cannot accept updates.

Please don’t submit a manuscript you have submitted to the Award in previous years. We do feel your entry will be at a disadvantage if you do this. We prefer fresh, unseen work.

Please take the time to follow submission/payment guidelines. The ability to follow guidelines does count towards your overall score.


Cost of entry is A$25 per manuscript and A$15 per image. This is Australian dollars. There is no GST/tax component in this entry fee.

Paypal is now our only accepted method of payment. As such, we have wiped the $2 Paypal transaction fee. You do not need a Paypal account to make payment. All major credit and debit cards are accepted. Payment is fast and easy and safe. www.paypal.com.au or www.paypal.com.

Payment should be made at the same time as manuscript/image submission.

Please send Paypal payment to KBRawardATkids-bookreviewDOTcom, leaving your name and manuscript/image title in the note field. Take care when typing the email address correctly—it is KBRaward not KBRawards. Many payments are not reaching us because the email address is not being typed correctly. Please ensure you type the address exactly – KBRawardATkids-bookreviewDOTcom.

We cannot accept Paypal e-cheques.

International section entrants: Paypal payment must be made in Australian dollars; please do not deduct tax.

We are unable to advise receipt of payment but will be in touch if we find any issues. Your ‘confirmation of receipt email’ and Paypal’s confirmation of payment email serves as your receipt.


All author entrants will receive a feedback sheet (illustrators receive no feedback sheet). Sheets will be emailed within twelve (12) weeks of the end of competition. If you send in multiple entries, you will not receive all sheets at the same time.

Feedback Sheets consist of 10 components, with a total score of 50. Sheets may contain a small amount of written feedback, though this is not guaranteed.

We had exceptional feedback on our sheets last year and hope you find them valuable. We regret we cannot discuss or provide further information on them. Please do contact us if you haven’t received your sheet by 31 July 2014.

See our FAQs below and if you still have any queries, email KBRawardATkids-bookreviewDOTcom. Please email us, as opposed to leaving a comment below.


Golden Rule: don’t use too much dialogue, text or description. Let the pictures do the talking—don’t say what the pictures can show. Cut and cull your text. Be ruthless! If your text is 400 words long, it should be vibrant and intensely edited.

Think carefully about rhythm and flow—this is one of the most common obstacles between a work-in-progress and a publisher-ready ms. Read the work out loud and listen to the way the words work together. ‘Hear’ the beat and flow as you read, and adjust words as necessary.

Don’t attempt rhyme. It is not popular with publishers but if you simply can’t resist, make sure it’s infallible. Two rhyming end-words do not a perfect rhyme make. Rhythm and beat is as important as word rhyme—in fact, even more so. Don’t create awkward sentences with odd word placement in order to make a rhyme; rewrite the entire stanza instead.

Look at your word usage and sentence structure. Is it dynamic and interesting? Does it pull the reader along and make them want to read more? or does the reader stumble or become confused? Does it delight? Does it sound good?

Never talk down to the reader. Use big words. Use unusual words. Use a unique voice. Don’t patronise and don’t explain. Never hammer readers with morals. If you simply must use them, thread them through the story in an imperceptible way.

Unless you want your book to appear like an information brochure, attempting to educate children on social, physical, emotional and mental issues and conditions needs to be done cryptically and cleverly. Add humour. Create an unexpected storyline that intimates things in a subtle way and you will have a winner with kids.

Think about the plot. A good story leads the reader through conflict to resolution in a Beginning Middle Ending way, or in a Cyclical way. Things HAPPEN. Showing someone going about their day and going to bed at night is not a story. It’s an account. Write a story, not an account.

Have a protagonist. Your protagonist, or main character, does not sit by and observe—they action, take part and instigate.

Think outside the square. Cover unusual topics, with untouched themes (avoid monsters, fairies, trucks, mud, grandma dying, rainbows, farmyard animals, dogs and other overdone topics). Use different writing voices and story structure. Do something DIFFERENT.

Think twice about supplying detailed illustration notes. Too many notes absolutely do hamper your text; rely on the reader’s ability to imagine what your words are showing. Only supply notes if the text is very cryptic and needs ‘explaining’, and even then—make notes extremely short.

Look objectively at your story. Is it clear and simple or cluttered and confused? Be wary of submitting something that is wrapped up in your own head and unable to be deciphered by someone else. This happens A LOT.

Have an ending. A PB ending needs to be shocking, surprising, funny, quirky or in some way resolving and/or related to the plot. Around sixty per cent of the ms endings we have seen are either non-existent, confusing or dull. Go out on a top note, not a kerplunk. A great ending demands a repeat reading—and that is exactly what you want.

Write your book for kids, not adults. If you hit the nail on the head for kids, most adults will love it, too.

Keep it simple.

Follow submission guidelines to the letter. With hundreds of entries coming in, these guidelines are there for a reason, even if you don’t understand why. The ability to follow guidelines will be reflected in your overall score.

See our FREE ebookPicture Book Writing Tips for more tips.

Good Luck!

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: authors and illustrators, children writing, Contest, opportunity, picture books, Places to sumit, Writing Tips Tagged: Kids' Book Review, Unpublished Picture Book Manuscript Award, Win editor critique

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4. MD/DE/WV SCBWI Picture Book Workshop Recap (Phew, That’s a Blogful)

You may be wondering–what ever happened to Tara? It’s been almost a month since she blogged. (Or you may not. You may be relieved your inbox has been devoid of my blog blivel. I made that word up, in case you’re wondering. A portmanteau of blog and drivel.)

Well, I’ve been traveling! I’ve actually changed out of my pajamas several times in the last few weeks!

Not so pristine white board.

Not so pristine whiteboard.

At the end of March I drove down to MD/DE/WV SCBWI’s Annual Conference to present my workshop “From Concept to Dummy for Picture Book Writers”. About 70 writers attended–it was a full house in our little room. The attendees got a taste of my imbalance. Yes, my mental imbalance, but also my MS imbalance. Luckily I didn’t topple the whiteboard. I did, however, have one sinking moment when I thought I used a permanent Sharpie on the pristine white surface. It reminded me of NJ-SCBWI 2008 when I volunteered to hang signs on the aging plaster of the Princeton Theological Seminary, only to take chunks of wall with me when I removed the signs. Be forewarned, I cause mayhem and destruction at SCBWI events.

I think many will agree that the best part of the workshop was when we read the beginnings of successful picture books to discern the WHO, WHAT, WHERE, and WHEN in each opening line. Incorporating these details makes your reader ask WHY and eagerly turn the page to find out.

Many new writers mistakenly begin stories with, “My name is Jamie and I’m six years old.”  This tells a reader nothing about the story to come. And more importantly, an editor who reads this plain first line will most likely stop there. YIKES. Not what you want. You have to break out of that slush pile with a line that captures the editor immediately.

After reading a dozen picture book openings, with me screaming WHY? WHHHHHYYYYY? and bending over in feigned painful anticipation, shaking my fists at the sky, I challenged the participants to rewrite their opening lines. Everyone was quite thrilled to get their own Tara WHHHHHYYYYY? in response to their improved introductions.

Writer Sarah Maynard summarized my workshop with bullet points, to which I’ve added my thoughts from the event:

  • You have 30 seconds to grab their attention. MAKE IT GOOD!
    Like a resume to obtain a job, you have limited time to make an impression with an agent or editor. They can have hundreds of manuscripts to read each week, so they give each one only a few moments to grab them. Punch that opening, make them want to continue reading.
  • “Writing a picture book is 99% staring and 1% writing.”
    There is A LOT of thinking involved in writing a picture book. Don’t worry if you’re not actually putting words on paper every day. Think about how to resolve problems in your story. Stare at your manuscript. Your subconscious will most likely be working on a solution and it will pop out while you’re doing mundane chores, like emptying the dishwasher, folding laundry, or taking a shower.


  • Learn who YOU are as a WRITER.
    A lot of authors, including me, espouse advice that may not work for you. Discover how YOU work best and stick with it. For instance, routine doesn’t jive with me, although it works for a lot of other people. I used to force myself into routine only to get frustrated, losing my creative mojo. Only you know how to thrive in your creative mode. It’s very personal. Don’t take advice that doesn’t serve you well.
  • If it’s not apparent by words you’ve written, add an art note.
    One attendee told me I was the first person to speak positively about art notes. Yeah, I think they get a bad rap. They’re absolutely ESSENTIAL to use if it’s not apparent what’s happening by your words alone. If the text says your character is smiling but you actually want them to frown, you need an art note to convey that. Of course, you should not use them to direct the entire shabang, but to ensure there are no misunderstandings. Which brings me to the last point…
  • Don’t make an agent or editor guess!
    I find that some new writers like to surprise the reader on the second or third page of a manuscript. This means the beginning is not entirely clear and the reader must guess what is happening. Well, what if your reader guesses wrong? Then they become hopelessly confused at the reveal and probably discard your manuscript. You don’t want an agent or editor to have to guess what is happening in your tale. Make it CRYSTAL either by the text or the addition of art notes. It can be as simple as “[art: the character is a bear]” to make everyone understand.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Maryland—the hospitality of the chapter went above and beyond. We had a lovely faculty dinner at the Craftsman-style log cabin home of former RA Edie Hemingway. Is there anything more writerly than that (I mean, c’mon, HEMINGWAY)? Edie has a charming home with a writing hut tucked into the woods.


Far better than my writing space—my unmade bed!


As I crawl back into my pajamas, I’ll be getting another blog post ready. This time, about my trip to Reading is Fundamental and the donation that my publisher and PiBoIdMo participants made possible, enriching the lives of children with BOOKS!


10 Comments on MD/DE/WV SCBWI Picture Book Workshop Recap (Phew, That’s a Blogful), last added: 4/22/2014
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5. Celebrating Earth Day: Developing an understanding of ecosystems & endangered species (ages 7-12)

I have always been fascinated by the interdependence of species within an ecosystem. As we celebrate Earth Day with our students, I want to highlight two books that help children understand the complex interdependence within ecosystems and our role in help ensure their sustainability. There are no easy answers, but we must help our children understand the factors at play.
When the Wolves Returned
Restoring Nature's Balance in Yellowstone
by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent
photographs by Dan Hartman and Cassie Hartman
Walker & Co., 2008
Your local library
ages 9-12
Dorothy Hinshaw Patent explains in clear text the changes that have come about in Yellowstone after the reintroduction of the gray wolf population. The Hartmans' photographs are bold and compelling, illustrating the environment and range of animals that live in this complex ecosystem. The design of this book makes it particularly successful for 4th through 6th graders interested in reading about more complex issues, but without lengthy text. The photographs always take center stage, but the text provides depth and understanding.
Can We Save the Tiger?
by Martin Jenkins
illustrated by Vicky White
Candlewick, 2011
Your local library
ages 7-11
Using straightforward but compelling language, Jenkins starts by introducing the concept of what makes animals extinct.
"Some of the other animals and plants that we share the Earth with have coped with the changes very well. But some haven't. In fact, some have coped so badly that they're not here any more. They're extinct. This means we'll never see a live dodo... or a Steller's sea cow, or a marsupial wolf, or a great auk..." (pp. 6-8) 
With clear writing, an almost conversational tone, and large print size, this book makes a great choice for 3rd through 5th graders reading nonfiction on their own. Jenkins next turns to species that are barely hanging on: tigers, Asian elephants, sloth bears and the partula snail. He helps children understand the pressure that humans put on large animals like the tiger, who need plenty of room and prey for hunting. Fierce tigers usually eat deer and other wild animals, but when human developments spread into tigers' territory, conflicts arise.

These environmental issues are complex and still hotly debated. Just last month, the New York Times ran a passionate, thoughtful piece in the op-ed section called "Is the Wolf a Real American Hero?" I would point interested students to a range of resources on the subject, so they can see the complexities and the biases involved. In particular, I found these interesting:
Text to Text: 
Is the Wolf a Real American Hero?
Hunting Habits of Wolves Change Ecological Balance in Yellowstone
New York Times: The Learning Network
Wolves at the Door
Audio & reporting by Nathan Rott
Photography by David Gilkey
National Public Radio
After Major Comeback, Is the Gray Wolf Still Endangered?
by Elizabeth Shogren
National Public Radio
Wolf Restoration
Yellowstone National Park
National Park Services
The review copies came from our school library. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2014 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

0 Comments on Celebrating Earth Day: Developing an understanding of ecosystems & endangered species (ages 7-12) as of 4/22/2014 9:33:00 AM
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6. Little Pear Tree by Rachel Williams, illustrated by jenny bowers

<!-- START INTERCHANGE - LITTLE PEAR TREE -->if(!window.igic__){window.igic__={};var d=document;var s=d.createElement("script");s.src="http://iangilman.com/interchange/js/widget.js";d.body.appendChild(s);} <!-- END INTERCHANGE --> Yet another beautiful, out of the ordinary book from Big Picture Press. Little Pear Tree is an oversized board book with 25 flaps to lift with creatures to

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7. Stella's Starliner by Rosemary Wells

<!-- START INTERCHANGE - STELLA'S STARLINER -->if(!window.igic__){window.igic__={};var d=document;var s=d.createElement("script");s.src="http://iangilman.com/interchange/js/widget.js";d.body.appendChild(s);} <!-- END INTERCHANGE --> Rosemary Wells's world is one that I like to visit whenever I get the chance. Wells is a gifted author of children's novels, especially historical fiction, but

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8. Earth Day Reading | Board Books and Picture Books

I just love that Earth Day is in spring! It makes perfect sense to capture everyone's attention when they are ready to get back into the great outdoors after winter. Below you'll discover just a couple of the books that have caught my attention because of their appreciation of gardens, plants, and even weeds.

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9. Picture Book Monday with a review of Hermelin the detective mouse

I love detective stories and began reading Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers novels are an early age. It is therefore not surprising that I was thrilled when today's picture book arrived in the mail. The cover alone got me hooked because there was a picture of a typewriter on it (love these machines), a mouse (love mouse-centric stories) and the mouse is a detective. What could be better!

Hermelin: The Detective MouseHermelin the detective mouse
Mini Grey
Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Random House UK, 2014, 987-0-857-55023-1
Hermelin is a mouse who can read, and he lives in the attic of a house on Offley Street. Like many attics, this attic is full of stuff that people don’t want any more. There are stacks of boxes and books, and there is also a typewriter, which Hermelin has learned how to use.
   One morning Hermelin walks past the Offley Street notice board and he sees that is covered with notices. Seven of the eight notices were written by people who have lost something. Imogen Splotts has lost her tedd bear, Captain Potts has lost his cat, and Emily, who lives in Hermelin’s house at No.33, has lost her notebook. Other residents have lost a bag, reading glasses, a goldfish, and a diamond bracelet.
   Hermelin, who is a compassionate mouse, feels sorry for all these people who have lost something that is dear to them. They need help and he decides that he is the perfect person for the job.
   Hermelin begins by looking for Mrs. Mattison’s lost handbag. Being a mouse who is very observant and who remembers what he sees, he soon finds the handbag in her fridge behind the lettuce. He then finds Dr. Parker’s glasses. Hermelin saw Dr. Parker wearing those same glasses just that morning and at the time she was reading a book, Medical Monthly. It turns out that the glasses are inside the book.
   Every time he finds one of the missing objects Hermelin leaves the owner of the missing object a type-written note telling him or her where it is. Soon, Hermelin is a neighborhood hero and the people he has helped invite him to a party. They never imagine that their secretive little helper is a rodent.

   After spending just a few seconds with Hermelin, readers will find that they have developed a sudden fondness for typing mice. He is such a funny, intelligent fellow that one cannot help oneself. His story is engrossing and beautifully illustrated, and readers will be delighted when they see how Hermelin gets a wonderful surprise.

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10. In the Limelight with Children’s Author David Chuka…

I want to thank and welcome good friend and wonderful children’s author, David Chuka for sharing his personal writing journey with us on my blog today. David’s series The Fartastic Adventures of Billy and Monster and his other non-fiction books can be purchased from Amazon.

So let’s get this interview rolling! How long have you been writing, David?

As a children’s book author, I’ve been actively writing for the last two years. I’ve been writing non-fiction stuff longer than that.

Only two years? Quite prolific, I might say! Where did you get your idea and inspiration to write The Fartastic Adventures of Billy and Monster series?

The idea for the first book in the series came early one morning on Boxing Day 2012. The entire house was quiet and instead of lying in bed counting imaginary sheep, I crawled out of bed, grabbed my pen and pad and went to the kitchen. With an empty page staring at me, I began to imagine this little boy who’s an only child and creates this Monster character to serve as a brother and friend. They do everything together and have loads of fun. There’s just one problem. Monster farts a lot and everyone blames Billy for it. I completed the first draft in about 90 minutes. With the good reviews that accompanied the book’s publication and a nudge from a friend, I’ve gone on to write three more books in the series. Book Five is coming out this summer and it’s titled ‘Billy and Monster Meet the President.’

I want to know was in your coffee that morning for you to produce a draft in 90 minutes! What sets The Fartastic Adventures of Billy and Monsterseries apart from other books in the same genre?

I believe the books in this series are different from most books because in spite of the shenanigans Billy and Monster get up to in each episode, there is always a lesson with good moral values weaved into the story. Parents and grandparents have informed me that they enjoy reading the Billy and Monster books with their loved ones.

It’s certainly good to have parents and grandparents on your side! As a children’s author, what is your writing process?

I think for me, there has to be a big ‘What If What if someone couldn’t exercise self-control and it led them
to over-indulge? This ‘what if’ led to me writing ‘Billy and the Monster who Ate All the Easter Eggs.’ What if a child disobeyed their parent because they didn’t want to be teased by their friends? This ‘what if’ led to me writing ‘Kojo the Sea Dragon Gets Lost.’ A ‘What If’ scenario is always the springboard for me to write a story.

Asking ‘what if’ is a very powerful question for a storyteller. How long does it usually take for you to start and finish each book in The Fartastic Adventures of Billy and Monster series?

Hmmmm… that is a very interesting question. Sometimes, like with the first book in the series, it can take me less than two hours to have a first draft in place. Other times, like with the fourth book in the series, it took me about a month to get the story done.

Do you have any advice for other writers striving to write in your genre, David?

I would say to read a lot of children’s book to familiarize yourself with what’s out there. Then I would implore them to either innovate on what’s currently out there or perhaps take a fresh approach on a popular theme. I see a lot of me-too books in kidlit and it’s always refreshing to discover a new voice.

Sage advice, David! So, what’s next for David Chuka the author?

That is a very loaded question Sharon JIn the short term, I’ll be working with my illustrator to get the fifth Billy and Monster book ready before July 4th. In the medium term, I’m working on writing my first Middle Grade book. And in the long term, I have aspirations to write a mystery thriller. Maybe things will pan out in that exact order…maybe not.

Hopefully your plans will all take root, David. Okay, here’s one for me, since I’m writing a time travel series—If you could time travel anywhere into Earth’s past, where would you go and why?

I would love to go to Egypt during biblical times. Whenever I read the Bible or watch the Ten Commandments, I’m always fascinated by the drama that surrounded the ten plagues that beset the Egyptians as well as the parting of the Red Sea. I sometimes imagine closing my eyes and waking up to here and see Moses telling Pharaoh ‘Let My People Go!’

It’s been an absolute pleasure being on your blog today Sharon. I value and appreciate your friendship and the way you go out of your way to make other authors SHINE! Your blog readers can connect with me at one of the links below. I’d love to hear from each and every one of them!

David Chuka lives in London with his lovely wife and two adorable children. His family are usually the first people to hear his funny and quirky tales. He was inspired to write his first book, 'If You See a Doctor' after he struggled to find a book for his daughter who was a beginner reader.

He's gone on to write more books including the popular 'Billy and Monster' series, a funny set of books about a little boy and his Monster who get into all sorts of funny situations and learn about moderation, friendship, self control, bravery etc. Young children can relate to Billy and you'll love sharing his adventures with your children, grandchildren and loved ones.

As a father himself, he has parents at heart when he writes. He recognizes that bedtime has to be one of the best parts of the day for parents and grandparents as it gives them the opportunity to bond with their little ones. He believes you'll enjoy sharing his stories with your loved ones at bedtime.

In David Chuka's books, you can stay rest assured that quality and captivating images will always complement the story to ensure your loved ones are spell-bound as you read to them. Beginner readers will also enjoy discovering new words as they read his books.

He would like to keep you updated on what he's working on and any giveaways he currently has on offer. Please subscribe to his newsletter at www.davidchuka.com and you'll get a FREE Coloring and Activity book for your loved ones.

You can also connect with him on twitter @davidchuka and Facebook.

Make sure to watch the video trailers for his most popular books on his Amazon Page and you'll get a little taste of why his books have garnered more than 300 glowing reviews.

He has so many stories to tell and can't wait to share them with you and your loved ones.

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11. 5 Baseball Themed Books for Young Fans and Readers

Among scores of spring themed picture books, families with young fans can celebrate the season with this diverse selection of 5 baseball inspired books.

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12. Star Child: A Visit with Claire A. Nivola

“Slowly you will learn to take care of yourself.”


Claire A. NivolaIn early May, fans of the work of Claire A. Nivola will be happy to see Star Child hit shelves (Frances Foster Books/Farrar Straus Giroux). It’s an extraordinary, brand-new story from Claire, and I like it a lot. I reviewed this for BookPage, so you can read about it here.

Today, Claire (pictured here) is visiting to talk a bit about the book, and we can also take a look at some of the art from it.

I interviewed Claire here at 7-Imp in 2011, and it remains one of my favorite interviews. To make sense of what we talk about here today (assuming you haven’t already seen, say, an early copy of the book), since it’s an unusual story, be sure to read the review first and then return, if you’re so inclined, for her thoughtful responses.

I’m always happy when she visits 7-Imp, and I thank her for taking the time to do so.


* * *

Jules: How did this story come to you?

Claire: I have in front of me a tiny handmade “book” (1 3/4 x 2″), bound with a single staple, written by hand, and hastily illustrated with markers. Its title is “The Star Child,” and it is dedicated by me to my son on August 1988, when he was five years old. The idea is all there — tossed off in rough form, 26 years ago!

My father had died in that same year, just three months earlier, and as I say on the back flap of Star Child, the idea for the story came to me in response to the mystery of my father’s death (where does all the plenitude that a person has been, go to?), combined with the wonder I had felt at the birth of my son five years earlier (where does all that an infant already is, come from?). In Star Child, I am in no way trying to provide an explanation, but only to express the awe we feel in the face of these two ordinary, but utterly extraordinary, events.

“…To visit planet Earth you will have to be born as a human child.”


Jules: The Kirkus review describes it as a “fanciful, thoughtful examination of a life well-lived.” I had planned to ask if you had anyone in particular in mind when you wrote it, but you just answered that!

Claire: I had no particular person in mind, though the boy looks somewhat like my son (who looks somewhat like my father), and I did base some illustrations on photographs of my son when he was little. But no, I was not trying to portray any particular life, nor a “life well-lived.” In fact, I wanted the Star Child’s life on earth to be almost generic, anyone’s life, anyone’s life anywhere. That’s why he sometimes appears in a jungle with exotic animals, and at another point he’s walking away from a stark New England village. He is anyone and everyone.

“…and so much for you to feel — pleasure and fear …”


The story doesn’t presume to answer the big questions of why we are here or the meaning of life; the Star Child simply experiences life on earth and, like all of us, tries to make sense of that experience while caught up in confusion and wonder. That he has a chance to experience life is what matters. The colors, sounds, movement, ranges of emotions, all are the opposite of the eternal tranquility of the star he comes from. At the end, he affirms that the visit was worth it. I added that affirmation late in my many versions, as the affirmation became stronger in me.

The story is more of a fable that allows us to question and wonder.

“Here it is still and peaceful, but there the colors,
sensations, and sounds will wash over you constantly.”

(Click to enlarge spread)

Jules: Did you go through a lot of drafts?

Claire: My editor of many years, Frances Foster, and I went back and forth about the story over many years, often setting it aside for long stretches. My original versions—my intention—was to cover the full life cycle through youth, maturity, old age, and the death/return to the star of origin. It never really was a book for “children.” In fact, it was friends of my son and daughter, now in their mid- and late-twenties, who most enthusiastically appreciated the story. And yet, I couldn’t quite give up on the idea. …

A few years ago, after conferring with colleagues, Frances asked me to shift the emphasis to the early portion of the life cycle: to childhood. I did just that but felt that now by implication it was a child who had to return to its star, who had to “die.” My husband suggested that I make one spread that would encompass the passing of the years from youth to old age, and that is what I did.

Jules: Your paintings here are so beautiful.

“In your confusion and delight, you will forget where you came from.”
(Click to enlarge spread)

Claire: In the illustrations, I wanted to convey the brightness, variety, stimulation, colorfulness, moodiness — the sheer aliveness of life on earth! I tried some partial bleeds here and there with, in my opinion, mixed success. I had never tried that before!

Frances Foster, to whom the little book is dedicated, after many years of mulling this story over with me, had a stroke just as the project was nearing completion. It was graciously taken to a close by others at FSG, Joy Peskin as editor and Roberta Pressel as designer, but I will never think of it as anything but a story I made with Frances. We went through much of the life cycle together!

“The Star Child watched the Earth from far away in the sky. He saw the tiny bright swirls of blue ocean and green land turning in the empty cold blackness of space, and he wanted so much to go there. ‘Please, may I go and see what it is like?’ he begged.”


One more thought about Star Child may seem almost obvious to those who have seen some of my other books — though it wasn’t a conscious message when I conceived the story. The first photo of earth taken from space in 1968 is not unlike what the Star Child sees from his star.

That image became iconic for the environmental movement. And I think the whole Star Child story, though it tells of the human life cycle, is imbued with a sense of the wonders of our little planet and of how lucky we are, on balance, to have the amazing chance to live a life on it. My concern for the fate of those “tiny bright swirls of blue ocean and green land turning…in space” has sadly and alarmingly only intensified.

“You will see so many living things — plants and animals beyond imagining!”
(Click to enlarge spread)

* * * * * * *

Photo of Ms. Nivola taken by Anther Kiley and used by her permission.

STAR CHILD. Copyright © 2014 by Claire A. Nivola. Published by Frances Foster Books/Farrar Straus Giroux, New York. Illustrations used by permission of the publisher.

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13. Celebrating Earth Day: A focus on Molly Bang's science picture books (ages 4-10)

Among my very favorite books are those by Bay Area author-illustrator Molly Bang. She captures a sense of wonder, respect for a child’s perspective and a passion for helping kids understanding the science that underpins the way our world works. I love highlighting these books as we celebrate Earth Day with our students.

My Light
written and illustrated by Molly Bang
Blue Sky/Scholastic, 2004
Your local library
ages 4-8
This first book in Bang’s “sunlight series” focuses on how the sun’s energy fuels first the water cycle, then electricity and power for humans, animals and plants on Earth. Connecting the dots from a city lit up at night to the twinkling stars, Bang excels in explaining complex science for young children.
Living Sunlight
How Plants Bring the Earth To Life
by Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm
Blue Sky/Scholastic, 2009
Your local library
ages 4-9
The sun narrates this story, telling children: "Lay your hand over your heart, and feel. Feel your heart pump, pump, and pump. Feel how warm you are. That is my light, alive inside of you." The sun radiates across every page, spreading bright yellow dots as it travels. This light "becomes the energy for all life on Earth," as Bang and Chisholm explain. A beautiful, rich reflection that can be read at many levels.
Ocean Sunlight
How Tiny Plans Feed the Seas
by Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm
Blue Sky/Scholastic, 2012
Your local library
ages 4-9
The ocean shimmers with the sun’s light, but did you know that the sun fuels a billion billion billion tiny plants called phytoplankton? “Half the oxygen you breathe every day ... is bubbling out of all the tiny phytoplankton floating in your seas.” Bang and Chisholm capture this majestic beauty and fascinating science.

Join me on Wednesday for an interview with Molly Bang. Head over to the Nonfiction Monday blog to read more fantastic nonfiction to share with your children. The review copies came from our school library. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2014 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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14. THINGY THINGS: Crabby Crab and Cowy Cow by Chris Raschka

Back in 2000 Caldecott Medalist Chris Raschka published eight Thingy Thing books that eventually went out of print in 2006. Now abrams appleseed has revived the series and plans to publish four new Thingy Things books! Raschka originally conceived the series for his son, now a college freshman, when he was three. As Cecily Kaiser, publishing director of abrams appleseed, and the person

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15. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #378: Featuring Laurie Keller

Happy Easter and Passover to one and all. You’d think I’d have bunnies for you today, given the Easter holiday anyway, but nope. I’ve got doughnuts. Lots of doughnuts.

Back at the beginning of the month, I chatted with author-illustrator Laurie Keller over at Kirkus about her new chapter book series about Arnie the Doughnut. The first two books in the series are Bowling Alley Bandit, published last year, and Invasion of the Ufonuts, released in February of this year. These are published by Christy Ottaviano Books/Henry Holt and were inspired by Laurie’s beloved 2003 picture book, Arnie the Doughnut. We talked (here) about writing funny books for children, slapstick humor, schools visits, and Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Today, I follow up with some treats from Laurie. She shares some sketches and, well … she pretty much shows us how she does what she does. And I really appreciate her sharing. It’s fun stuff, and it’s neat to get an inside look at it all.

Without further ado, here’s Laurie …

* * *

Laurie: These are the opening two spreads for Bowling Alley Bandit (Book 1) that show Mr. Bing and Arnie laughing about how Mr. Bing tried to eat Arnie in the original picture book.

“Hey, Mr. Bing, do you remember the time you tried to eat me?”
(Click to enlarge)


I needed a way to show why Arnie wouldn’t be a doughnut-dog all the time in this series (like he turned out to be in the original picture book), so he explains:


I like adding extra jokes on the sidelines that have nothing to do with the main story:


“If you spell BOWL backwards, you get LWOB. I’m a LWOB.”
(Click to enlarge)

This spread introduces Peezo, Arnie’s new favorite bowling alley friend. He’ll be in each book in the series.


In each book, a famous person makes a cameo appearance a few times. In Bowling Alley Bandit, it’s Albert Einstein.

In Invasion of the Ufonuts, it’s George Washington.



This spread introduces Betsy, Mr. Bing’s new purple bowling ball. Unbeknownst to everyone, she gets stolen, which sets all the trouble in motion.



To create the art for these books, I do line drawings, then scan them into the computer and add textures and the gray values in Photoshop.



The finished illustration:



Sketches of bowling pins and bowling balls used to complete one of the illustrations:



Bowling ball return sketch and pattern I used to do the finished illustration:


(Click to enlarge)


Bowler sketches (first two images) for finished illustration:



Sketches of people and parts for the bowling alley tournament night illustration:


(Click each to enlarge)


Photo reference, sketch, and close-up illustration:


(Click to enlarge)


I use variations in type size and style to break up longer blocks of text.



This was one of my favorite jokes in the book, but I took it out when my friend’s 3rd- and 5th-grade kids didn’t know who Marilyn Monroe was.


(Click to enlarge)


These are early sketches while I was trying to get the right “voice” for the story. It takes me a while to get into the groove. (These are all wrong, by the way!)



The first chapter of Invasion of the Ufonuts:



Finally, how to speak UFONUT:


THE ADVENTURES OF ARNIE THE DOUGHNUT: BOWLING ALLEY BANDIT. Copyright © 2013 by Laurie Keller. Published by Christy Ottaviano Books/Henry Holt, New York.

THE ADVENTURES OF ARNIE THE DOUGHNUT: INVASION OF THE UFONUTS. Copyright © 2014 by Laurie Keller. Published by Christy Ottaviano Books/Henry Holt, New York.

All images here reproduced by permission of Laurie Keller.

* * * * * * *

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 * * *

I’m so glad Laurie visited and gave us a peek into her sketchbooks, too.

Instead of listing seven separate kicks this week, I’m gonna scott on outta here and eat me some hard-boiled eggs on this sunny day. If anyone is around on this holiday, I hope you’ll share your kicks, though. I’d love to read them.

11 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #378: Featuring Laurie Keller, last added: 4/20/2014
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16. Jumping Jack by Germano Zullo and Albertine

<!-- START INTERCHANGE - JUMPING JACK -->if(!window.igic__){window.igic__={};var d=document;var s=d.createElement("script");s.src="http://iangilman.com/interchange/js/widget.js";d.body.appendChild(s);} <!-- END INTERCHANGE --> Germano Zullo and Albertine are the duo who created Little Bird and Line 135 and now the very funny, kind of weird Jumping Jack. Jumping Jack and Roger Trotter are

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17. What I’m Up to at Kirkus This Week

This morning over at Kirkus, I take a look at Maira Kalman and Daniel Handler’s Girls Standing on Lawns, to be published by the Museum of Modern Art in early May. It made me want to find my own family photos of girls or women standing on lawns, which are in that piece over at Kirkus. Pictured above is my maternal grandmother.

That Q&A will be here today.

* * *

Pictured above is Dr. Alan Rabinowitz. I chatted with him at Kirkus yesterday about his picture book, A Boy and a Jaguar (Houghton Mifflin), illustrated by Catia Chen and also set to be released in early May. “This story,” Rabinowitz tells me, “is not just about a stuttering boy who studied jaguars, but about all children who feel sad, abused, or misunderstood by the world at large ….” It’s a remarkable story. That Q&A is here.

Until Sunday …

* * * * * * *

Photo of Alan Raboniwitz by Steve Winter and used with permission.

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18. Have You Seen My Dragon? by Steve Light

I wish that I could have found more images to share with you from Have You Seen My Dragon, the superb new picture book from Steve Light, but you should really buy it and see for yourself anyway! As you can tell by what I do have to share of Light's artwork, he has a style that is reminiscent of another time, specifically the late 1960s and early 1970s. Read my review of Light's last picture

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19. Illustrator Interview – Lita Judge

This interview arose from one of those serendipitous moments. I had been liking all Lita’s posts on FB about her new picture book FLIGHT SCHOOL for several weeks and had been thinking that I must see if she would like … Continue reading

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20. Review of Here Comes the Easter Cat

underwood here comes the easter cat Review of Here Comes the Easter CatHere Comes the Easter Cat
by Deborah Underwood; 
illus. by Claudia Rueda
Preschool    Dial    80 pp.
1/14    978-0-8037-3939-0    $16.99    g

Cat discovers an advertisement for the Easter Bunny’s arrival on the front endpapers of this witty offering, and from the very first page he is unhappy about it. The text addresses Cat directly throughout the book, and he responds using placards, humorous expressions, and body language to convey his emotions to great effect. When asked what’s wrong, Cat explains that he doesn’t understand why everyone loves the Easter Bunny. To assuage Cat’s jealousy, the text suggests that he become the Easter Cat and “bring the children something nice too.” Intrigued, Cat plans his gift idea (chocolate bunnies with no heads), transportation method (a motorcycle faster than that hopping bunny), and a sparkly outfit (complete with top hat). But multiple naps are an important part of Cat’s daily routine. When he discovers that the Easter Bunny doesn’t take any naps while delivering all his eggs, a forlorn Cat devises an unselfish way he can instead assist the hard-working rabbit. Rueda expertly uses white space, movement, and page turns to focus attention on Cat and the repartee. The combination of Underwood’s knowledgeable authorial voice and Rueda’s loosely sketched, textured ink and colored-pencil illustrations make this an entertaining, well-paced tale for interactive story hours. And if he isn’t going to usurp the Easter Bunny, then clever Cat will just have to take over another ho-ho-holiday.

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21. Digger Dog by William Bee, illustrated by Cecilia Johansson

<!-- START INTERCHANGE - DIGGER DOG -->if(!window.igic__){window.igic__={};var d=document;var s=d.createElement("script");s.src="http://iangilman.com/interchange/js/widget.js";d.body.appendChild(s);} Digger Dog is the newest picture book from William Bee, marvelously illustrated by Cecilia Johansson and perfect for the littlest listeners.  Digger Dog loves to dig, especially

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22. Tyrannosaurus Wrecks! by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, illustrated by Zachariah Ohora

<!-- START INTERCHANGE - TYRANNOSAURUS WRECKS -->if(!window.igic__){window.igic__={};var d=document;var s=d.createElement("script");s.src="http://iangilman.com/interchange/js/widget.js";d.body.appendChild(s);} <!-- END INTERCHANGE --> Tyrannousaurus Wrecks by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen with great illustrations by Zachariah Ohara is an awesomely colorful, dinosaur filled wreck of a book. Well

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23. A Handful of Illustrations Before Breakfast:Featuring Renato Alarcão, K.G. Campbell,Emily Gravett, and Steve Jenkins


Last week at Kirkus, I wrote about a handful of new picture books I like. All the talk talk talk is over here in that column, if you missed it last week.

Today, I want to share some art from each book. And, in the case of Emily Gravett, I’ve got a couple of early sketches, too. Above is a thumbnail from one of her sketchbooks. The rest is below.

Enjoy the art.

(Note: The illustrations from Mama Built a Little Nest are sans text. The colors in those also appear here on the screen a bit brighter than they do in the book.)

Emily Gravett’s Matilda’s Cat
(Simon & Schuster, March 2014):


Early thumbnails
(Click to enlarge)

Emily: “A page of rejected cats.”
(Click to enlarge)

A final spread from the book
(Click to enlarge)


Mina Javaherbin’s Soccer Star
(Candlewick, April 2014),
illustrated by Renato Alarcão:


“… Maria sees that I’m impressed. ‘So now can I be on your team?’ She asks me this day after day. But my answer is always the same: ‘Our team’s rule is no girls.’”
(Click to enlarge)

“We’re off to the ocean, and when it’s time, I cast my net in the deep.
Wild storm clouds appear fast in the sky above. …”

(Click to enlarge)


K.G. Campbell’s The Mermaid and the Shoe
(Kids Can Press, April 2014):


(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)

“There, one day, something new drifted into Minnow’s life. She couldn’t imagine
what it was for, but it was the loveliest thing she’d ever seen.”

(Click to enlarge)

“In the forest, she passed an octopus. ‘What is this?’ she asked it.
But the octopus just shrugged.”

(Click to enlarge)

“In the shallows, she happened upon a whale. ‘What is this?’ she asked it.
‘I swallowed one of those once,’ said the whale. ‘Yuck!’”

(Click to enlarge)


Jennifer Ward’s Mama Built a Little Nest
(Beach Lane Books, March 2014),
illustrated by Steve Jenkins:


Part of the male cactus wren spread: “Daddy built a little nest. / And then he built another. / And another. And another—/hoping to impress my mother.”
(Click to enlarge)

Part of the weaverbird spread: “Mama built a little nest. / She used her beak to sew /
a woven nest of silky grass, / the perfect place to grow.”

(Click to enlarge)

The grebe spread: “Mama built a little nest. / She gathered twigs that float /
and placed them on the water / to create a cozy boat.”

(Click to enlarge)

The hornbill spread: “Mama built a sealed nest / within an old tree’s hollow./
My daddy left a little hole / to pass her food to swallow.”

(Click to enlarge)


Steve Jenkins’ Eye to Eye:
How Animals See the World

(Houghton Mifflin, April 2014):


The halibut and panther chameleon spread
(Click either image to enlarge and see spread in its entirety)

The ghost crab and gharial spread
(Click to enlarge and read text)

The leopard gecko and tarsier spread
(Click to enlarge and read text)


Steve Jenkins’ and Robin Page’s
Creature Features:
25 Animals Explain
Why They Look the Way They Do

(Houghton Mifflin, October 2014):


“Dear harpy eagle: And why are your feathers sticking out?”
(Click to enlarge and read text)

“Dear horned frog: Your mouth is ginormous. Why so big?”
(Click to enlarge and read text)

“Dear sun bear: Why is your tongue so long?”
(Click to enlarge and read text)

“Dear shoebill stork: Why do you need such a burly beak?”
(Click to enlarge and read text)


* * * * * * *

MATILDA’S CAT. Copyright © 2014 by Emily Gravett. Published by Simon & Schuster, New York. Images reproduced by permission of Ms. Gravett.

SOCCER STAR. Text copyright © 2014 by Mina Javaherbin. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Renato Alarcao. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

THE MERMAID AND THE SHOE. Copyright © 2014 by K.G. Campbell. Published by Kids Can Press, Toronto. Images reproduced by permission of the publisher.

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST. Text copyright © 2014 by Jennifer Ward. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Steve Jenkins. Published by Beach Lane Books/Simon & Schuster, New York. Images reproduced by permission of Steve Jenkins.

EYE TO EYE: HOW ANIMALS SEE THE WORLD. Copyright © 2014 by Steve Jenkins. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston. Images reproduced by permission of Steve Jenkins.

CREATURE FEATURES: 25 ANIMALS EXPLAIN WHY THEY LOOK THE WAY THEY DO. Text copyright © 2014 by Robin Page and Steve Jenkins. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Steve Jenkins. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston. Images reproduced by permission of Steve Jenkins.

1 Comments on A Handful of Illustrations Before Breakfast:Featuring Renato Alarcão, K.G. Campbell,Emily Gravett, and Steve Jenkins, last added: 4/17/2014
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24. Environmental Book Club

Check out Literacy, Families and Learning's Literature and Environmental Issues: 18 Challenging Picture Books. The blog breaks the eighteen titles into four groups:

  • The relationship of people to the environment
  • The negative impact of humanity on the environment
  • A celebration of the environment, its beauty and wonder
  • Environment as creation and the metaphysical experience of our world
Graeme Base makes the list twice.

Make your comment in order to be considered for the Saving the Planet & Stuff giveaway.

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25. Tap Tap Boom Boom by Elizabeth Bluemle, illustrated by G. Brian Karas

<!-- START INTERCHANGE - TAP TAP BOOM BOOM -->if(!window.igic__){window.igic__={};var d=document;var s=d.createElement("script");s.src="http://iangilman.com/interchange/js/widget.js";d.body.appendChild(s);} In Tap Tap BOOM BOOM, Elizabeth Bluemle's jazzy, jangly text is matched perfectly with  G. Brian Karas's exuberant illustrations. A combination of gouache and pencil drawings and

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