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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Picture Books, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 26 - 50 of 6,167
26. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #401: Featuring Richard Byrne

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Today’s post will be brief, because it’s the weekend of the Southern Festival of Books here in middle Tennessee. My co-author was in town from New York City to present with me about our book (which was yesterday and went well). But it’s been an unusually busy work week, and this weekend itself is hoppin’. I’m, quite simply, worn out, so I’m going to tell you briefly about this entertaining book by Richard Byrne. And then I’m going to relax with a cup of hot cocoa.

Know your picture book terminology? Know what a gutter is? The gutter is the place between two pages where the binding meets. Awards committees (think: Caldecott) care an awful lot about gutters and whether or not an illustrator can effectively work around them. You don’t want, for instance, to let the gutter swallow an illustration whole.

Well, cue Byrne’s book. This UK illustrator’s newest picture book, This Book Just Ate My Dog! (Henry Holt, September 2014), embraces the gutter, to put it mildly. In this story, a young girl named Bella takes her dog for a walk “across the page,” only to discover that he is suddenly gone. He’s walked straight into the gutter, you see; the dog’s leash just disappears into the center of the book, leaving Bella with a look of shock on her face. When Bella sees her friend Ben, she declares, “THIS BOOK JUST ATE MY DOG!” When Ben investigates … you guessed it: He disappears into the gutter too. So do the fire truck, police car, and more: “Things were getting ridiculous,” Byrne writes.

My, what a vicious book!

So, our protagonist turns to readers to ask for help. She herself has disappeared after all. She tosses out a note, asking the reader to kindly turn the book and shake it.

If you’ve read Wild Things, by chance, you know that there’s a section about picture books in which the protagonists get eaten. Well, now we have a new one to add to the list, and in this case, it’s the very book itself causing all kinds of mischief. Chomp, chomp.

Here’s a bit more art. Big fun, this book …

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THIS BOOK JUST ATE MY DOG! Copyright © 2014 by Richard Byrne. Spreads used by permission of the publisher, Henry Holt, New York.

* * *

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 * * *

My kicks one to seven are this weekend’s festival. Betsy and I presented about Wild Things yesterday, as I said, which went very well. It was good to see Betsy here in Nashville, and my family and I saw some great authors and illustrators speak. The highlight was probably hearing John Rocco read Blackout and Blizzard to us all.

Tomorrow we head back for the likes of Jacqueline Woodson, Deborah Wiles, and Lev Grossman.

Best thing about Nashville in the Fall!

What are YOUR kicks this week?

9 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #401: Featuring Richard Byrne, last added: 10/15/2014
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27. Camarillo Hosts 5th Annual World Multicultural BookFest

The Fifth Annual Multicultural World BookFest will be held at the Camarillo Community Center on Saturday, November 1, 2014 from 10am-3pm.
I’ve been selected as one of the children’s book authors to present at the event at 11:00 AM, followed by book signings and readings.

• We will have six storytents representing: Asia; Africa; Latin America, North America, Europe, and Australia & New Zealand.

Location: Camarillo Community Center 1605 E. Burnley Street.
Take the 101fwy exit at Carmen Drive. Going north turn right @ light. Going south make 2 left turns; go over fwy. Continue on Carmen past City Hall to 4 way stop which is Burnley. Turn right then left into parking lot. Event will be inside the gated Community Center Room

Please join us for a day of books, readings, food trucks, fun and culture.

Hope to see you there!

Tonia Allen Gould/Author
Samuel T. Moore of Corte Magore


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28. What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Oliver Jeffers

This morning’s Kirkus column is all about Mac Barnett’s Sam and Dave Dig a Hole, illustrated by Jon Klassen.

That link will be here soon.

* * *

I wrote last week (here) about Oliver Jeffers’ Once Upon an Alphabet (Philomel, October 2014).

Today, I follow up with a bit of art from it.




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“How many elephants can you fit inside an envelope?”
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“The King of France / Went out for a dance /
And forgot to bring along keys.”

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* * * * * * *

ONCE UPON AN ALPHABET: SHORT STORIES FOR ALL THE LETTERS. Copyright © 2014 by Oliver Jeffers. Illustrations used by permission of the publisher, Philomel Books, New York.

1 Comments on What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Oliver Jeffers, last added: 10/11/2014
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29. Environmental Book Club

I've said before that my idea of an environmental book is one that immerses readers in some kind of natural experience. I'm not sure that Lifetime, by Lola M. Schaefer with illustrations by Christopher Silas Neal,  really does that. As the Kirkus reviewer said of it, "Is this book about the natural world? Counting? Statistics? Solving math word problems?" But the natural world is in there.

I can't say I know a lot about math. But what seems to be going on in Lifetime is an introduction to the concept of counting as well as the recognition that counting things is part of life. This isn't a traditional counting book, as in "1 papery egg sac," "2 caribou," "3 alpacas." It's just about counting. You can count the number of antlers a caribou will grow and shed in a lifetime. (10) You can count the number of beads a rattlesnake will add to its rattle. (40)

There are all kinds of animals out there, and you can count things related to them.

Hmm. Maybe there is an immersive experience here, one in which we take a human created activity and apply it to the natural world that animals live in.

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30. Josephine

josephine1 240x300 JosephineThe subtitle of Patricia Hruby Powell (author) and Christian Robinson (illustrator)’s fabulous picture-book biography of the early-twentieth-century African American dancer and iconoclast is “The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker” — and the book is truly as dazzling as its subject. So we can get that major, crucial criterion “appropriateness of style of illustration to the story, theme or concept” out of the way right off the bat; this book will be hard to beat in that category. Every adjective I can think of for the book’s art — vivid, bold, electric; essential; full of verve and pizzazz and razzmatazz — applies to the book’s subject as well. The saturated colors (a rainbow of them — and again, how appropriate); the visible brushstrokes — also brilliantly appropriate for a book about such an outsized and charismatic personality.

I used the word essential up above. I’m not exactly sure I’m using it correctly, but here is what I mean. On the spread where Josephine finally gets to join the chorus with the Dixie Steppers and immediately stands out from the crowd, all we see is four figures forefronted on a page of a rather neutral color — no background at all. The four figures — dancers in the chorus — are delineated about as simply as cartoons: circles for eyes, circles and lines for mouths and noses. Nobody has the correct number of fingers. This is pared-down, impressionistic painting — except that somehow artist Robinson makes Josephine Baker stand out so starkly from the others that you barely need to read the text  (“The chorus kicked forward, / she kicked backward… / They strutted, / Josephine shimmied instead”). Where the other figures are basically vertical, Josephine is all curved kinetic motion — hips swinging to the side, arms outstretched. And with just a white crescent for her smile and a few lines for her rapturously closed eyes, Robinson captures her ecstatic joy in dancing.

More “appropriateness”: the book uses the framing device of a stage to tell the story of Josephine’s life. It opens with a double-page spread of a stage, red theatrical stage curtains pulled closed: the performance is about to begin. From then on each section (“The Beginning”; “Leavin’ with the Show”; “My Face Isn’t Made for Sleeping”; etc.) opens with a spread of that stage with curtains pulled to the side, a few props or pieces of scenery in place, ready for the action to begin. (I particularly appreciate “The Beginning” ‘s center-stage spotlight; we are clearly expecting a star to enter.) This framing device is a brilliant choice for a woman who made such an impact on performance art and who felt most alive when dancing onstage. And notice that the book’s final double-page spread, after all the text has been presented, including the account of Baker’s death, is an echo of the first closed-curtain one, this time with flowers strewn all over the stage floor in tribute. It’s a poignant and appropriately dramatic end to a dramatic story.

There is so much more to talk about in Josephine, and I hope you’ll join in the conversation about this exceptional book. I’d like to hear all the ways YOU think it’s excellent in terms of the ”execution in the artistic technique employed;
  • Excellence of pictorial interpretation of story, theme, or concept;
  • Appropriateness of style of illustration to the story, theme or concept;
  • Delineation of plot, theme, characters, setting, mood or information through the pictures;
  • Excellence of presentation in recognition of a child audience.”

P.S. Josephine, which was published in February, is the winner of a 2014 Boston Globe–Horn Book Honor Award for Nonfiction, and the awards ceremony is tomorrow night at Simmons College, with a colloquium the next day. I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but I will say that Josephine fans who attend the colloquium will be very happy with one of the treats in their goody bags.

P.P.S. I am sure I will be much more informed after listening to the illustrator and author of Josephine this weekend, and I will be sure to share all insights gleaned in the comments below.

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The post Josephine appeared first on The Horn Book.

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31. What Are YOU Going to Be for Halloween?

Ladybug Girl and the Dress-up Dilemma

By David Soman and Jacky Davis


The latest Ladybug Girl adventure from the New York Times best selling team husband- and-wife team of David Soman and Jacky Davis, finds Ladybug Girl in a quandary that hit close to home for me while raising up a not-so-happy Halloween memory.

Halloween costumes for kids can be one of two things. It’s either dressing up to be someone who is your polar OPPOSITE in real life, or fashioning a costume that is pretty close to your own SELF – inside. When I was in grammar school both because of economic issues, AND because I loved the persona, I dressed up as a nurse – every year! My costume had been made by a wonderful seamstress and it looked like the real. It was a true-to-life nurse’s uniform of its time, from white uniform and cap, to a dashing navy cape with a Red Cross on the side. I was in heaven. Funny, how moments stick with you through the years.

We entered the local soda shop that Halloween and the proprietor, a neighbor, said in a snarky voice, “Liz, You’re the same thing every year.” The words stung and my costume suddenly felt old and uncool.

Well, Lulu/aka Ladybug Girl too, is in a bit of a dither as Halloween approaches. An old, familiar question is already being framed on kids’ lips this time of year and that is – “Whatcha gonna be for Halloween?” It is for Lulu as well.

The picture book opens on Halloween with leaves piled high everywhere and the eager anticipation of fun filled disguises is in the air. But Ladybug Girl and her faithful basset hound, Bingo, hear words from her brother that stir things up, as she is coaxed to be something DIFFERENT this Halloween.

Her brother starts her on the quest to redo her identity from Ladybug Girl with a harmless, “You’re ALWAYS Ladybug Girl!” Hmmm. Now THAT had a very familiar ring to it for this former trick or treater!!

Lulu starts on a search for a new costume and maybe, an identity. Robots, silent film stars, octopus, alien, wallaby (Australian kangaroo) and pandas are tried and discarded. Even a combo of a vampire/panda is met with a, “That’s the silliest thing I’ve ever heard of,” by her brother whose input Lulu seems to measure costume acceptance standards by. Will Lulu let her brother define the acceptability of who she will be?

A family trip to the local apple orchard pre trick or treating, finds Lulu scanning the fields of pumpkins and a silent windblown scarecrow for last minute ideas. Even a batty disguise is on her radar. Yet none of these seems quite right. You’re on the right track now, Lulu!

A young girl lost in a corn maize provides Lulu/lLadybug Girl with the opportunity to show the courage of her convictions and the chance to be, well, HERSELF!

On a darkened street, lit only by the light from houses greeting incognito candy gobblers, Ladybug Girl reveals to her ninja clad sibling what she deep down knew to be true – “I always knew that I wanted to be Ladybug Girl!”

Knowing who you are at your heart is no easy lesson for any of us, but when you have the courage to be true to who you are, despite the clamor of the crowd – or one person – now THAT deserves a big round of applause from this Halloween nurse!!

Ladybug Girl, you’ve done it again and this is one Halloween picture book that provides a most satisfying treat!

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32. Druthers by Matt Phelan

I love Matt Phelan. His graphi novels tackle serious, intriguing subjects while preserving a sense of playfulness that takes center stage in the picture books that he illustrates. Druthers, Phelan's newest picture book (and, if I did my research accurately, his first picture book as author and illustrator) is perfectly playful and especially sweet.  It's a rainy day and Penelope has

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33. Because I Like Seeing Zelinsky’s Sketches, Too …

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Last week at Kirkus, I chatted here with author Kelly Bingham and author-illustrator Paul O. Zelinsky about Circle, Square, Moose (Greenwillow, September 2014), the sequel to 2012′s Z Is for Moose.

Today, I follow up with some early sketches from the book from Zelinsky. He notes that he has no recollection of the pig holding the bow and arrow, who was never going to be in the book. I love this usurper MYSTERY PIG so much that I’m opening the post with that sketch.

Zelinsky also shares a bit of final art from the book.

P.S. You can read here about Moose’s Australian adventure.


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Final art
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Final art
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CIRCLE, SQUARE, MOOSE. Copyright © 2014 by Kelly Bingham. Illustrations © 2014 by Paul O. Zelinsky. Published by Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollins, New York. All images here used by permission of Paul O. Zelinsky.

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34. Illustrator Interview – Anna Raff

One of the great thrills of living in New York City is that fairly frequently I get to meet in real life one of the many authors and illustrators with whom I am friends on Facebook and/or Twitter. It turns out … Continue reading

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35. Vanilla Ice Cream by Bob Graham

I read and reviewed my first Bob Graham book back in 2010 and have been amazed and delighted by everything he does since then. His newest book, Vanilla Ice Cream, is no exception. Graham is a miniaturist with a global vision, a deeply gifted storyteller and a gentle, subtle teacher. Vanilla Ice Cream begins in the heat and dust of India with Annisha and Suhani, who are playing

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36. Another Gem from Patricia Polacco!

Mr. Wayne’s Masterpiece

By Patricia Polacco


School is back in session at the same time that one of my favorite picture book authors, Ms. Patricia Polacco, offers her newest picture book and it is reason to celebrate on so many levels.Artistically and narratively, her books are a joy to read. They draw you in immediately and hold you till the end.

Her books speak to children’s vulnerabilities, uncertainties, fears and doubts in a variety of situations. Bullying, disabilities that can hamper learning, shyness, and family problems are but a few of the issues some of her picture books address. I love that she never attempts to sugar coat or gloss over the very real emotions and feelings that children may encounter in any or all of the situations that may come their way. YET, there is always SOMEONE in her picture books that helps the child overcome those feelings and, in the end, conquer what have seemingly been roadblocks to learning AND growth. I am also very gratified to see that in many of her books, that person happens to be a male OR female teacher!

If you read “The Art of Miss Chew”, “Thank you, Mr. Falker”, “Bully” and the above, “Mr. Wayne’s Masterpiece”, Ms. Polacco has mirrored a life changing instance ( in many cases, it may well have been her own), in a child’s life that has paved the way for a more confident, emotionally healthy future adult. More often that not, it was because of the direct and caring words and actions of a teacher that recognIzed a need that had yet to be addressed in a child – and met. They meet it NOT by providing a way out, but by ACCOMPANYING the child THROUGH IT with words of encouragement and sincere belief in the child’s abilities when the child does not possess that courage and belief in themselves as yet. That is one of the reasons why teachers DO effect eternity in that their words echo throughout a child’s life.

Meet Trisha who has a very hard time with public speaking. She halts and hesitates through the reading of book reports to be read aloud in class. Trisha is smart, but lacks confidence in her own abilities. Do you know a Trisha? I have met many in my time in the classroom and it is so heartening to see them blossom through a word, a gesture, or a special note of praise. Sometimes, in a very busy day in a classroom, those are the moments that stand out.

For that is just what Trisha needs, and she gets it from the collaborative efforts of two teachers named Mr. Tranchina and the drama coach, Mr. Wayne, who has just composed a play for a school production.

Mr. Tranchina is the facilitator here in that he recognizes Trisha’s talents as a writer and connects her with the drama teacher. Mr. Wayne, in turn immediately notices her reticence to be front and center, yet sees her talent can be cultivated and nursed “behind the scenes.” Her facility also lies in the arts and painting! Remind you of anyone, yet? It should, to Polacco fans.

The winter play called “Musette in the Garden Snow” involves a girl, her friends and a mysterious garden, and as Trisha half listens backstage, she finds herself mouthing EVERYONE’S LINES, INCLUDING MUSETTE’S!!!

Circumstances find Trisha facing a daunting opportunity to take over the role of Musette with a mixture of trepidation and terror oddly mixed with a talent that will not be denied!

Children may find themselves identifying wholeheartedly with Trisha as she faces her fears and finds herself onstage and in command, and “on fire” as she fully embraces the energy of the performing arts.

I asked my actress daughter to explain to me what it feels like onstage. “Mom, she said, “It’s this energy that you give out to the audience and they pass it back to you. And when it”s working perfectly, it’s an exhilaration akin to hitting the “sweet spot” on a tennis racket.” It’s a volley that just continues throughout the play and it’s a feeling like no other.”

Trisha, thanks to those two teachers – AND a supportive mom, gets her moment to feel it too!

They say in life it’s the things you DON”T do that you regret the most, and in “Mr. Wayne’s Masterpiece”, his creative effort is not merely his play, but the newly confident Trisha, herself.

I count myself so fortunate to have had at least TWO such teachers in MY life! Each time I tell a story to a group of children, I can see their faces in the children’s eyes!!

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37. Catch That Cookie! by Hallie Durand, illustrated by David Small

If you don't already have a preschool or school age child, you may not know just how enthralling the story of the Gingerbread Man is to little kids. I think they love this story because it satisfies many of their most basic instincts, drives and interests. There is food, specifically cookies with candy on them. There is a little (cookie) boy behaving badly and being downright sassy. And

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38. Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Ben Clanton

Pumpkin granola with vanilla almond milk. Sourdough toast. And a cup of hot apple cider with caramel. Mmm. That’s the breakfast I’m having this morning with author-illustrator Ben Clanton.

Once upon a time—2010, to be exact—Ben visited 7-Imp before he was even a published author and illustrator, and it’s good to have him back. As you’ll read below, Ben has several picture books under his belt and more on the way. His brand-new picture book, Rex Wrecks It! (Candlewick, September 2014), is filled with what the Kirkus review calls a joyous energy. And I know for a fact that it is a story-time hit.

I love, in particular, to see Ben’s pencil and watercolor drawings (there are many in this interview today), and guess what? He recently started a Facebook page showing off his darker doodles. It’s called—you guessed it—”Dark Doodles,” and it’s here. Want to see one? Ben posted this just last night.

Perfect. It is nearly Halloween, after all.

Ben seems to be enjoying the new Facebook page, and so do those who have gone to visit it (including me). “I’m always careful about which sketchbooks to bring to signings and school visits,” he tells me. “Often there are dark things amongst the oodles of cute.”

So, to see both the dark and cute, keep reading below. Ben sent tons of art (which is how you win this blogger’s heart). I thank him for sharing.

* * * * * * *

Jules: Are you an illustrator or author/illustrator?

Ben: Author/Illustrator!

Jules: Can you list your books-to-date?

Ben: I’ve written and illustrated four picture books: Mo’s Mustache; Vote for Me!; The Table Sets Itself; and Rex Wrecks It! And I’m happy to say several more are in the works.

Books I have illustrated: Jasper John Dooley: Star of the Week by Caroline Adderson; Jasper John Dooley: Left Behind by Caroline Adderson; Jasper John Dooley: Not in Love by Caroline Adderson; Max Has a Fish by Wiley Blevins.

(A 2015 Jasper John Dooley title)

Jules: What is your usual medium?

Ben: Typically, I use a mix of ink (micron pens and dip pens), watercolor (Daniel Smith watercolor sticks), and pencil (6B or HB) — plus a bit of digital magic (Photoshop CS5).

My preferred paper is Strathmore Aquarius II.

Jules: If you have illustrated for various age ranges (such as, both picture books and early reader books OR, say, picture books and chapter books), can you briefly discuss the differences, if any, in illustrating for one age group to another?

Ben: I find that illustrating a chapter book comes with certain expectations — generally the pieces are black and white, have backgrounds and/or depict scenes, and do less of the storytelling than the words. Not always the case! But usually it is.

I find that picture books are much more open and allow for greater creativity. The format is more malleable when it comes to shape, size, color, the integration of the text, content, and design. For me this sort of freedom is both challenging and rewarding.

The above spot illustrations are from
Caroline Adderson’s
Jasper John Dooley series

Jules: Where are your stompin’ grounds?

Ben: I currently live in an old brick mill next to a pond in North Andover, MA. But Seattle, WA; Kalispell, MT; and Portland, OR, will always be home, too.

The mill
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Jules: Can you tell me about your road to publication?

Ben: I first became interested in writing children’s books when I was a freshman at Willamette University. I had a developing passion for social justice and service-learning and figured that I could make a difference by addressing important topics in children’s books. As a result, my original story attempts were extremely didactic. But with some encouragement from my girlfriend Kelsey (now my wife!) and her mother, Teresa Walsh (who happens to be an illustrator), I started to read picture books voraciously and began drawing and painting.

I became hugely passionate about making books. I joined SCBWI (an excellent decision for anyone who has an interest in creating children’s books) and attended conferences and workshops. When I graduated from Willamette (Anthropology major, Politics minor), I moved to Seattle and started to work at a before- and after-school program. My typical day started with reading stories with kids (sometimes my own stories — great opportunity to test them!), working on my stories between shifts, and playing with the kids. I learned A LOT about how to make books of interest to kids because of that experience.

It was during that time that I was featured on this very blog (a 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks post)! Shortly after that post (and because of it!), I received an email from Tara Walker at Kids Can Press saying she would love to see more of my work. I sent her several picture book dummies but none of them were quite right for Kids Can. However, Kids Can was interested in having me illustrate a new chapter book series, Jasper John Dooley by Caroline Adderson. Not very long after that I came up with a picture book that Tara and Kids Can were interested in, Vote for Me! [pictured below].

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Jules: Can you please point readers to your web site and/or blog?

Ben: www.benclanton.com.

Jules: If you do school visits, tell me what they’re like.

Ben: I love doing school visits! Generally I prefer to meet with smaller groups (one or two classes) at a time, because that way I can do more specialized hands-on stuff with the kids — like play drawing games or make up stories with them! I enjoy getting the kids involved. Often when I’m making drawings for the kids I’ll have them come up and pose as angry unicats and that sort of thing.

I also really like corresponding with kids. It is fun and inspiring to hear about what the kids enjoy, and I love the drawings kids make.

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Jules: Any new titles/projects you might be working on now that you can tell me about?

Ben: My latest picture book, Rex Wrecks It! (Candlewick), just came out. The story started out in an unusual way for me. Typically, a story idea comes all at once for me and I start by writing it down. This one started with pictures. I wanted to do a book that featured some of my favorite things to draw — things like dinosaurs, robots, monsters, and unibbits. The narrative came about from a comic I had drawn in my sketchbook about a little Godzilla character who kept messing up playtime for everyone.

My next book will be Something Extraordinary (Simon & Schuster), pictured below. I think I set the bar rather high with that title! It comes out next June.

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I’m also currently working on a graphic novel and just finishing my first draft of the first chapter book I’ve ever written.


A cover mock-up for the chapter book
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Mmm. Coffee.Okay, we’ve got more cider, and it’s time to get a bit more detailed with seven questions over breakfast. I thank Ben again for visiting 7-Imp.

1. Jules: What exactly is your process when you are illustrating a book? You can start wherever you’d like when answering: getting initial ideas, starting to illustrate, or even what it’s like under deadline, etc. Do you outline a great deal of the book before you illustrate or just let your muse lead you on and see where you end up?


: So far, I’ve found that each book is a little different. But I have noticed that my best ideas usually come in a flash of inspiration. Often this happens when I’m allowing my mind to wander (not an uncommon occurrence). I might be out for a walk, taking a shower, or driving somewhere when suddenly I stumble upon something I find funny and/or interesting. Next thing I know a story is playing out in my mind. Often I’ll let it tumble around my head for a bit and write down the occasional note about it in my sketchbook.

Funnily, some of my best ideas also come about when I’m under pressure. When I was working at a before- and after-school program in Seattle, I would make comics for the kids on the spot. Two of my books (Mo’s Mustache and Rex Wrecks It!) were a result of such comics.

When I feel like it is time for the idea to really get my attention, I sit down at the computer and type up a manuscript. I let it sit for a bit and then start the process of editing and fine-tuning. For me writing a picture book feels the same way as writing a poem. Each word counts, and the way they are organized (or not!) is imperative.

Once I have actually written the story down, I start the process of drawing the characters and exploring the visual style of the story. I also start the storyboarding process at this point. Typically, I start with small thumbnail scribbles and with each revision make it all a bit bigger and more precise. At this point I have to change up a lot of the wording to fit with the visual half. I want the words to be able to stand on their own and for the pictures to be able to as well, but for both to work best when together. The interplay of the two is very important to me.

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When creating a book dummy, I draw all the elements by hand and then assemble them in Photoshop so that I can move them around easily on the spread and try a number of compositions.

I approach final art in a similar way. I draw and paint each character and element individually, scan, and then assemble in Photoshop. It can be a bit of a time-consuming and meticulous affair, but also strangely cathartic. There is the danger at this point in the process of snuffing the life out of the illustrations. I try to allow happy accidents. I want the human hand visible in my work. I often find myself battling the perfectionist in me.

Final art
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Final art
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2. Jules: Describe your studio or usual work space.

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Robot helpers
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View from the studio window
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Ben loves books
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: I work from home and pretty much everywhere I go (always have a sketchbook with me). I tend to be a messy person, but recently I’ve been doing a good job of keeping it all somewhat organized. I definitely feel best when my work space is on the clean side.

I have a number of studio assistants [pictured above]. My dinosaur, Rex, isn’t so helpful. When my workspace is messy, it is usually his fault. My robot helpers make much better assistants.

I also have an intern, who joins me for walks in the woods. Her name is gigi.

Ben and gigi

3. Jules: As a book-lover, it interests me: What books or authors and/or illustrators influenced you as an early reader?


: A lot of the classics! Where the Wild Things Are, The Very Quiet Cricket, Make Way for Ducklings, The Story of Ferdinand, everything by Tomie dePaola, and all the books by Dr. Seuss were frequent reads for me.

And when I say “reads” I mean that I read them visually. I wasn’t too keen on reading words when I was a kid, but I loved the pictures. Recently I discovered some correspondence between my mom and my third-grade teacher in which my mom expressed concern that all I did was look at pictures. She was afraid I’d get too far behind, because I didn’t bother with the words. It was Harry Potter that ended up getting me into the words. That series made me the book addict I am today!

Oh, also, It Zwibble and the Greatest Cleanup Ever! LOVED that book!

[Pictured below are some early images and final art from
Mo’s Mustache,
published last year by Tundra Books.]

Thumbnail doodles
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Pictured above: Early drawings
(Click the last two to enlarge)


Character work
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Cover wrap idea
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Cover wrap
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“Mo’s Mustache Manual”
(the flip side of the dust jacket)

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Dummy image
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Final spread
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Dummy image

Dummy image
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Dummy image
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Final spread
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Final spread
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4. Jules: If you could have three (living) authors or illustrators—whom you have not yet met—over for coffee or a glass of rich, red wine, whom would you choose? (Some people cheat and list deceased authors/illustrators. I won’t tell.)

Ben: Quentin Blake, David Roberts, and Chris Riddell. I have a thing for those British illustrators!

[Pictured below are some early images and final art from
The Table Sets Itself

published last year by Walker Books for Young Readers.]

(Click to enlarge)

Final spread: “Where in the universe were Dish and Spoon?”
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Final spread: “It looked like Dish and Spoon might never return. …”
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Final spread: “Izzy would have taken off for France right then and there,
but her parents didn’t understand.”

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5. Jules: What is currently in rotation on your iPod or loaded in your CD player? Do you listen to music while you create books?

Ben: I like to listen to audio books, when illustrating. I go through several per week. Currently, I’m listening to Stoneheart by Charlie Fletcher and read by Jim Dale. I’ve got a voice crush on Jim Dale. Kelsey (my wife) and I have all the Harry Potter audiobooks (read by Jim Dale), and we fall asleep to them every night. Many people are surprised when they find out I work while listening to an audio book, but for me drawing is sometimes like breathing and, at other times, a meticulous task. In both cases, it is nice to do something else at the same time.

(Click to enlarge)

(Click to enlarge)

When I write, I tend not to listen to anything, but sometimes I’ll listen to music — Jack Johnson, Vampire Weekend, and James Taylor are a few favorites of mine. My book Mo’s Mustache was a bit of an exception. When I worked on that book, I listened to The Bee Gees and anything else that put me in the mood to dance. Drawing and dancing at the same time is lots of fun! I also make sound effects when drawing, but typically when I’m the only one around.

(Click to enlarge)

6. Jules: What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you?

Ben: Whenever I mow a lawn, I imagine it is a televised lawn-mowing competition. The announcers evaluate my technique and everything. Speed matters — but so does the quality of the cut. Yep.

(Click to enlarge)

7. Jules: Is there something you wish interviewers would ask you — but never do? Feel free to ask and respond here.

Ben: What is your dream project?

I really want to start or take part in making a quarterly children’s magazine with 100+ pages, printed on uncoated stock. It would have oodles of random awesomeness — stories, comics, coloring pages, drawing games, jokes, nonsense, and art made by kids. And all of my favorite illustrators would take part, of course. Something akin to The Goods but magazine format — so room for even more.

(Click to enlarge)


* * * The Pivot Questionnaire * * *

Jules: What is your favorite word?

Ben: “Doodles!”

Jules: What is your least favorite word?

Ben: I feel that most words (even the ones that grate on me a bit) have their place. But one that does send a shiver down my spine is “moist.”

Jules: What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

Ben: Walking in the woods, ice cream, bookstores, hot chocolate, games, drawing …

Jules: What turns you off?

Ben: Apathy.

Jules: What sound or noise do you love?

Ben: The sound of the ocean.

Jules: What sound or noise do you hate?

Ben: Shouting. But that depends on the situation.

Jules: What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Ben: Professional basketball player!

Jules: What profession would you not like to do?

Ben: Butcher.

Jules: If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

Ben: “What do you want to go back as? I think you’d make an excellent dragon!”

All artwork and images are used with permission of Ben Clanton.

REX WRECKS IT. Copyright © 2014 by Ben Clanton. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

The spiffy and slightly sinister gentleman introducing the Pivot Questionnaire is Alfred, © 2009 Matt Phelan.

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39. #663 – Can I Come Too? by Brian Patten & Nicola Bayley

Can I Come Too jacketx                  PEACHTREE PUBLISHERS BOOK BLOG TOUR
Can I Come Too?

Written by Brian Patten
Illustrated by Nicola Bayley
Peachtree Publishers            10/01/2014
Age 4 to 8            32 pages

“One day, a tiny mouse goes in search of the biggest creature in the world. Along the way, she meets a menagerie of animals. Each towers over mouse, but which is the biggest of all? One by one, mouse’s new friends join her quest. After a long day of searching, they finally discover a creature as big as an island and bigger than a million mice! Join mouse on her journey as she assures young readers that they don’t have to be big to have a grand adventure.”


“A very small mouse decided she wanted to have a very big adventure.”

The Story

A little brown mouse decides to find the biggest creature in the world. She thinks this will make for a grand adventure. By the lake, Little Mouse finds Frog, who is bigger than she is. Little mouse asks the brown frog,

“Are you the biggest creature in the world?”

Frog said no, but he thinks Little Mouse is brave for trying to find the biggest creature in the world. He wants to come along. Together, Little Mouse and Frog continue searching for the biggest creature in the world. They come upon several creatures, including a bird, a cat, an otter, a badger, a dog, a goat, a tiger, and a polar bear. Little Mouse asks each the same question she had asked Frog, but none of these magnificent creatures is the biggest in the world.

Polar Bear believes the biggest creature in the world lives in the ocean. One-by-one, each of the creatures Little Mouse and Frog came upon—all of whom joined the adventure—follow the others along the river to where it empties into the ocean. There, swimming in the salty ocean water, is a creature as big as an island . . . and the biggest in the world.


Can I Come Too? brings together ten animals of varying shapes, sizes, and sensibilities on a journey to find the biggest creature in the world. Little Mouse was, of course, the smallest, yet lead the group by the lake, along the river, through a small valley, a city zoo, and up a small mountainside before ending at the ocean. The animals are cordial despite differences in size and natural instincts. A few are humorous, adding a new layer to the story.

Can I Come Too interior-page-009

The cat is inclined to enjoy both the mouse and the bird, but chooses instead to join in the adventure, its curiosity getting the best of it. The tiger—with “paws as big as frying pans”—even promises not to eat anyone if only he could join the adventure. Like with Cat, Tiger is unanimously welcomed into the growing group. The Little Mouse looks to be no larger than one of Tiger’s front claws. In this spread, five other animals show their claws, all of which are larger than Little Mouse. The Kingfisher bird comfortably rests upon Tiger’s tail as if it sits here daily.

I love that none of these animals had to be afraid of another. The journey is more important to them than following a natural inclination to make a snack out of a smaller animal. One of the funniest parts, to me, is when the group comes upon the dog. Little Mouse asks the dog,

“Are you the biggest creature in the world?”
[Before Dog can answer} The cat said, “He’s the scruffiest creature, but certainly not the biggest.”

I could hear the sarcasm in the cat’s voice as it scrutinizes the dog. Then there is the animal that Little Mouse never approaches, yet decides the adventure is worth joining, so it follows the group out of the zoo. I think kids will enjoy meeting these creatures and deciding for themselves if the group has met the world’s biggest creature. They will also enjoy identifying each animal and comparing each to the next, always larger, animal to join the group.

Can I Come Too interior-page-008

The colored pencil on cartridge paper* illustrations realistically portray each animal and its surroundings. The brightest object is the Kingfisher bird with its bright blue feathers—with white dots on its head—and an orange belly. Rather than a more traditional green frog, the artist created a brown frog, but kids will easily recognize each creature. The most beautiful spread is, appropriately, the spread showcasing the biggest creature in the world. The magnificent yellow-orange sky on the right shines down upon the ocean and the name of the creature, making them stand out. All the animals in the adventure stand silhouetted on the bank, marveling at the creature they have found.

Young children and parents will both enjoy Can I Come Too? In addition to the gorgeous illustrations and the variety of animals, the mouse’s adventure sends a strong message that one does not need to be big, or bold, or brave to enjoy a magnificent adventure and gain new friends along the way. I like that the tiger and the cat choose the journey and its surprises against eating the smaller animals (as is their nature), showing kids that it is possible for anyone to become friends when they have the correct mindset. Can I Come Too is the perfect first adventure for young readers.

*cartridge art paper is a very heavy drawing paper (90 gsm to 128gsm), and sometimes toned, and used mainly in Britain and Australia.


CAN I COME TOO? Text copyright © 2013 by Brian Patten. Illustrations copyright © 2013 by Nicola Bayley. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Peachtree Publishers, Atlanta, GA.


Purchase Can I Come Too? at AmazonB&NBook DepositoryPeachtree Publishersyour favorite book store.

Learn more about Can I Come Too? HERE

Meet the author, Brian Patten, at his website:   www.brianpatten.co.uk

Meet the illustrator, Nicola Bayley, at her pinterest:   http://www.pinterest.com/bustersays/art-of-nicola-bayley/

Find wonderful picture books at the Peachtree Publishers website:   http://peachtree-online.com/

Can I Come Too? was first published in 2013 in Great Britain by Andersen Press.


Also by Brian Patten

The Most Impossible Parents

The Most Impossible Parents

Thawing Frozen Frogs

Thawing Frozen Frogs

The Monsters' Guide to Choosing a Pet

The Monsters’ Guide to Choosing a Pet

The Big Snuggle-Up

The Big Snuggle-Up






Also by Nicola Bayley

The Big Snuggle-Up

The Big Snuggle-Up





The Curious Cat

The Curious Cat







can i come too


Copyright © 2014 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews



Can I Come Too?

Monday 10/6

Green Bean Teen Queen

Tuesday 10/7

Geo Librarian

Kid Lit Reviews

Wednesday 10/8

Chat with Vera

Thursday 10/9

Blue Owl

The Fourth Musketeer

Friday 10/10

Sally’s Bookshelf

Filed under: 5stars, Children's Books, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Picture Book Tagged: adventures, Andersen Press, animals, Brian Patten, children's book reviews, friendships, Nicola Bayley, Peachtree Publishers, picture books

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40. Off-the-wall picture books

Here are some off-the-wall books for the Halloween season, from funny and not-very-scary for younger readers to suspenseful and weird for older readers.

seeger dog and bear tricks and treats Off the wall picture booksIn Laura Vaccaro Seeger’s Dog and Bear: Tricks and Treats, best friends Dog and Bear prepare for and enjoy Halloween. They go shopping for costumes (Bear gets distracted when he spies “another Bear” in the mirror); receive trick-or-treaters (Dog takes the children’s treats rather than giving treats out); and go trick-or-treating themselves (they go as each other). Seeger’s simple, satisfying text is supported by lively India-ink and acrylic illustrations that capture the characters’ emotions, particularly through the use of their expressive eyebrows. Plenty of white space and the division into three chapters make this work both as an easy reader and a picture book. (Roaring Brook/ Porter, 3–6 years)

chung ninja Off the wall picture booksMaxwell, a creative (and hungry) young ninja, will inspire legions of nascent warriors with this tale of an epic snack-time quest — and sibling harmony. In Ninja!, Arree Chung’s humorous, vibrant illustrations and simple text achieve the right pacing for Maxwell’s singular mission: a plateful of chocolate chip cookies. With a confident “I AM A NINJA!” leap, he sneaks, creeps, tumbles, and climbs his way to the kitchen, where he steals his baby sister’s cookies and milk. When he’s caught, he is contrite, but he inducts baby sister into “the ways of the ninja” — and the book ends with the duo embarking on a new adventure together. Comic-style panels and full-page spreads rich with detail — both real and imagined — capture Maxwell’s over-the-top-ninja antics. (Holt, 3–6 years)

newgarden bow wows nightmare neighbors Off the wall picture booksBow-Wow’s Nightmare Neighbors is a fanciful wordless nighttime adventure perfect for sophisticated picture book readers. A stalwart canine sets out to retrieve his stolen doggy bed from the ornery ghost cats and kittens who live across the street in a haunted mansion complete with loose floor boards, secret passageways, and moving-eye portraits. Around every corner, it seems as though Bow-Wow may have found his doggy bed at last, but each time he’s mistaken. Mark Newgarden and Megan Montague Cash tell the story through comic-book panels, spookily gray-scale with splashes of vivid color that amp up the humor and suspense at just the right moments. A fresh and funny look at things that go bump in the night. (Roaring Brook/Porter, 3–6 years)

browne what if Off the wall picture booksWith its sophisticated visual humor, What If…? is Anthony Browne at his artistically weird and psychologically complex best. Worrywart Joe is going to his first birthday party, but he’s lost the invitation — so he and his Mom aren’t sure of the exact house. As they walk down the street, hoping that what they see through each house’s front window will reveal the party’s location, Joe’s worries are made manifest through the strange, surreal scenes they view. Just as he asks, “What if I don’t like the food?” they pass a house containing four Tweedledee and Tweedledum–like schoolboys sitting around a table laden with worms, eyeballs, snails, and a smiling soft-boiled egg. When Joe and his mom finally get to the last house on the block, the strange silhouettes reveal themselves to be…a very cheery children’s birthday party. (Candlewick, 3–6 years)

From the October 2014 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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41. Review of Circle, Square, Moose

bingham circle square moose Review of Circle, Square, MooseCircle, Square, Moose
by Kelly Bingham; 
illus. by Paul O. Zelinsky
Preschool, Primary    Greenwillow    48 pp.
10/14    978-0-06-229003-8    $17.99    g

Irrepressible Moose (Z Is for Moose, rev. 3/12) is up to his old tricks, trying to force his way into another concept book. This time the subject is shapes, and at first we seem to be reading an old-school shape book (“that sandwich you had for lunch? That is a…square”). The fun begins on the third page, when Moose appears and takes a bite of the sandwich. An offstage narrator addresses Moose directly — “Hey! Don’t eat that!” — in bold-type text. When Moose proves intransigent and ever more disruptive, his old friend Zebra comes to try to save the day. Things grow more and more chaotic until Zebra ends up tangled in the ribbons that illustrate curves; loyal Moose rescues him by turning the sun’s shadow (representing circles) into a hole that takes them clear out of the book. As in the first volume, Zelinsky expertly juxtaposes the expected orderliness of a book with the chaos caused by Moose’s interruption, but this time he steps up the meta elements. The ending is far from pat, but just as true to the characters as that of the first book. On the back endpapers, we see the same exchange that concluded their previous adventure, but the characters have switched places: “Can we do that again?” asks Zebra. “Yes, Zebra. We can do that again.” Adults should be prepared to share this book again and again, as well.

From the September/October 2014 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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42. Runaway Tomato by Kim Cooley Reeder

Runaway TomatoWhat would happen if the tomatoes in your garden just grew WAY TOO BIG and then started to ROLL toward the town?? YIKES! That’s what happens in the Runaway Tomato. When it starts to rain, the tomato grows and grows until it is so big that it gets stuck in the doorway. Help is definitely needed to pull it out, and in fact the whole town comes to help, but it still won’t budge. Once it is finally free, the firefighters and police officers cannot stop it from rolling, until a helicopter grabs it and flies away. But wait … the ropes are too tight, and it squishes all over the town! What a mess!! Of course, there isn’t anything else to do but to clean it up and declare a day for TOMATOFEST! It seems like the big “tomato problem” is solved until . . . the next time it rains and the problem starts all over again. This clever rhyming picture book reminds me very much of Jamie O’Rourke and the Big Potato by Tomie DePaola and would be a very fun read-aloud.

Posted by: Mary

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43. Blog Tour: Can I Come Too by Brian Patten, illustrated by Nicola Bayley

About the Book: A young mouse sets out on a grand adventure to discover the biggest animal in the world and makes new friends along the way.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: Can I Come Too is a sweet and charming cumulative picture book perfect for preschoolers. The little mouse wants to discover the biggest animal in the world and spends the day meeting new animals and discovering bigger and bigger animals along the way.

The illustrations are gorgeous and are sure to inspire readers to pour over the pages and take in all the details. The text is simple enough for young readers but engaging enough for older readers to join in.

I love how the author deftly includes some science into the text. What animal is the biggest animal in the world? What animal will be next-it has to be larger than the animal we just met. It's a great way to get kids thinking about animals and their size. Pair this one with Steve Jenkins Actual Size for a fun filled animal science storytime! 

Full Disclosure: Reviewed from finished copy sent by publisher for review

Be sure to follow the tour: 

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44. What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Lane Smith

This morning over at Kirkus, I write about Once Upon an Alphabet: Short Stories for All the Letters by Oliver Jeffers.

That link will be here soon.

* * *

Last week’s column was devoted to Bob Shea’s Kid Sheriff and the Terrible Toads (Roaring Brook, October 2014), illustrated by Lane Smith. That link is here.

Today I’ve got some illustrations from this very funny book.

Bonus: Lane shares some early pieces of art — with text that didn’t end up in the final book. Consider them the Kid Sheriff outtakes.

I thank him for sharing.

Enjoy the art …


Some Early Kid Sheriff Pieces
(with Alternate Texts):


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Some Final Spreads from the Book:


“Then hope rode into town. Slowly. On a tortoise.”
(Click to enlarge)

“‘Howdy stranger. What brings you to our spicy town?’ asked the mayor.
‘I’m your new sheriff,’ said the boy. …”

(Click to enlarge to see full spread with text)

“It were the Toads. Itchin’ for some hootin’, hollerin’, and cattle kissin’.
‘No time for your foolishness. Dinosaurs just robbed the bank,’ said the sheriff. …”

(Click to enlarge to see full spread with text)

“…’Well, I reckon I could arrest you for being such a plumb nuisance, but I need this here jail for the real criminals. Dinosaurs are mighty big,’ said the sheriff.”
(Click to enlarge to see full spread with text)


* * * * * * *

All early images are used by permission of Lane Smith.

KID SHERIFF AND THE TERRIBLE TOADS. Text copyright © 2014 by Bob Shea. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Lane Smith. Final illustrations used by permission of Roaring Brook Press, New York.

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45. A True Friend Indeed

Otis and the Scarecrow

by Loren Long


What do we expect from our friends? It can lead to the question of what exactly IS friendship? It certainly does seem to involve expectations on both sides, right? But what if a small red and cream tractor could model to kids that it doesn’t ALWAYS have to be like that? It’s easy to be nice to those that are NICE to us and who reciprocate in kind, our friendship overtures. That’s pretty much a given. But what about when they do NOT? 

In Loren Long’s newest adventure of the beloved tractor named Otis in “Otis and the Scarecrow”, Otis models to readers that sometimes it’s enough to just BE with someone, that the kindness shown by a person’s mere presence is a gift of friendship in and of itself.

The familiar farm scene is here where the friendly red and cream tractor resides and it’s dressed for fall. Cornfields are filled with crows; despite the appearance of a lonely stern faced scarecrow that stands in solitary silence in the middle of the wind blown field. Overtures of friendship are made to the newcomer by former “newbies ” to the farm such as a puppy and small calf. They too, were once the “new kid on the farm.” 

And in turn, the friendly tractor named Otis went out of HIS way to make THEM feel welcome – for one on a dark and stormy night, he tractored to the rescue and for the other, caught in the middle of a Mud Pond, he brought the calf to safety.

But what do you do with a non responsive type lIke the scarecrow whose job and reason to be is to stand silently ALONE in a cornfield? First, Otis models to others what it’s like to just BE with someone in companionable SILENCE. Hmmm. Sounds easy. But here we enter quite a long learning curve for some of the farm inhabitants, especially the puppy, bull, calf, ducks, horse – well you get the picture. It’s downright HARD to be quiet as any child can tell you, yet Otis makes even THIS into a GAME.

In a very serenely sweet scene amid a downpour of a deluge, Otis MODELS what it is to BE there for someone, when they are unable to respond as we wish. He departs from the group huddled under an apple  tree and engages quietly and kindly with the scarecrow – on the scarecrow’s terms. He STANDS UP  while the others hunker down. Kids will get this quietly noble action of the small tractor named Otis.

And maybe, just maybe, THEY might emulate their OWN version of his soft “putt puff puttedy chuff shhhhhh” attempt at friendship with someone THEY may know! 

Smiling faces gazing up at you when you’re lonely are pretty hard to resist – and so is “Otis and the Scarecrow.”

This scarecrow is welcome at our farm anytime – and so is OTIS!!

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46. Illustrator Saturday – Lita Judge


19_me_and_crittersLita Judge is a writer and artist whose greatest passion is creating children’s books. She is the author/illustrator for over a dozen fiction and nonfiction picture books including Flight School (Simon & Schuster, 2014), Red Hat (S&S, 2013), Red Sled (S&S, 2011), Bird Talk (Roaring Brook, 2012), One Thousand Tracings, and Pennies for Elephants (Disney-Hyperion). Her background in geology, paleontology and biology inspires her nonfiction books. Lita spent several years working for the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology before turning to writing about dinosaurs and other natural history subjects. But her background with animals also inspires her whimsical fictional tales filled with characters who forge big dreams.

Several of her books have been selected as Junior Library Guild picks and they have received numerous awards including the 2013 Sterling North Award, the Jane Addams Honor Book, ALA Notable Children’s Book, the International Reading Association Children’s Book Award, Michigan Notable Book, and Kirkus Best Children’s book of 2011. She enjoys teaching both writing and illustration to students of all ages and shares much about her creative process in classrooms and on her blog and website.

Lita lives with her husband, two cats and a little green parrot named Beatrix Potter in Peterborough, New Hampshire.


Here is Lita talking about her process:

For me, creating art for one of my books involves a lot of drawing to capture a character’s gesture or body movement and expression. For example in my newest book, Born in the Wild, to be released this October, I had to draw a lot of animals. But I didn’t want my readers to just know what a chimpanzee or orangutan looks like. I want them to feel a connection to them. I want them to look into the faces of my animals and feel like there is an animal looking back at them. I also want them to get an understanding of the intimate world of animals within their own world. How does a mother panda hold her baby, or a baby orangutan curl up and feel safe with its parent? To capture all this I first do hundreds of very loose sketches, focusing on body language long before I worry about details and paint.





Once I feel like I’ve captured that intimate portrait between the animals, I start focusing on the details, which describe their faces and bodies. Slowly my drawings become more refined until at last, it is ready for a light watercolor wash at the end.


F 09_Born_in_the_WildCover for BORN IN THE WILD


Interior and end pages


How long have you been illustrating?

The first book I illustrated came out in 2006. Then my first picture book, One Thousand Tracings, which I wrote and illustrated was released in 2007.


Above: Cover of One Thousand Tracings, 2007 Hyperion)

How did you get to work at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology?

Many kids outgrow the dinosaur-crazed phase after elementary school, but when I was 14, during the summer before high school, I still had set my cap on becoming a paleontologist. I was eager to get started so I wrote dozens of letters to museums, curators and paleontologists who were working in the field, and basically pleaded with them to let me work on their dig. I had heard the Tyrrell Museum was working on a dig with literally thousands of dinosaurs in a bonebed and they were from the Cretaceous, the age I particularly wanted to study. I guess I ended up writing so many letters to Phil Currie, he eventually called and said welcome aboard. So the day after school let out the following summer, I was on a bus to Canada. I returned every year to work there and went on to graduate with a degree in Geology.


Lita on dinosaur dig

Did you do illustrating work for them?

Not really, we didn’t have much time for anything other than digging up fossils. But I did do a few drawings on my own, and they asked if they could use them for t-shirts and mugs. That was a boost, to think I could draw dinosaurs perhaps someday for pay.


Cover of How Big, released 2013, Roaring Brook Press

Did you go to School to study art? If so, when and where?

My only schooling was in Geology, at Oregon State University. I never studied art in school. I credit all the bird watching and sketching I did as a kid for teaching me how to see, how to observe. Then later, I traveled to many great museums all over the world which, painting on location, and looking at great art.


Field paintings from Europe. Above: Stockholm cemetery. Below: Paris museum.04_Paris

What was the first painting or illustration that you did where someone paid you for your artwork?

I think I sold a painting of a humming bird for about $35 at a Christmas fair. Back when I was a Geologist, I started drawing notecard and bookmark designs to get into doing art. Eventually I had over a hundred wildlife designs and sold them all over the country with a homemade catalogue I ran on a xerox machine. Then I started doing shows and craft fairs. Eventually I sold the business because I was spending all my time folding and filling notecard orders rather than painting. The dream was to paint, not fill orders. So I started showing and selling work in galleries. But I didn’t find my real home in art until I turned to writing and illustrating children books. The element of story is what made my art feel complete for me.


What type of job did you do right after you graduated?

I was an environmental geologist for the Forest Service. Spent a lot of time in the mud and rain working on the Oregon Coast.


What do you think influenced your style?

I don’t really think in terms of style. My art changes and evolves each time I do a story. I think it’s because I also write them and I have a wide range of interests — science, nature, historical, fiction, whimsical — so I do a broad range of stories. Each time I create a story it needs it’s own approach to the art.



When did you do your the first illustration for children?

In 2006, my first book was to illustrate the middle grade book, Ugly, written by Donna Jo Napoli.


How did that come about?

I had sent an art dummy of a story I had written into Hyperion and my soon-to-be editor, Namrata Tripathi, called and asked if I’d like to do a cover for a book. Of course I said yes! I was so excited I illustrated several interior pieces as well, which made it into the book, so it turned into a nice project, and a lovely friendship with Namrata. When that was done I sent her another dummy and we were off and running on my first picture book together.


How many children’s books have you illustrated?

I’m working on my 20th right now. Several in the pipeline also.



When did you decide you wanted to illustrate a children’s book?

I’ve always wanted to on some level but when I was living in really remote areas on the west coast it just didn’t seem possible. I had never met an illustrator and really didn’t know how to go about getting published. When My husband and I moved to New Hampshire I was able to meet people in the field and soon after I began submitting work. Once my first book was in the works, I knew this would be what I would spend the rest of my life doing, I LOVE it!


How long did it take you after that to get your first picture book contract?

I was pretty fortunate. I sent out work I think in early November and got that first project on Valentine’s Day 2005. But I had been drawing and drawing and drawing, and painting for years before then. I had built up a huge body of work before attempting to get published and I think that helped me.


I see you illustrated a second book by Donna Jo Napoli. Did you know you were doing that book when you signed to do UGLY?

No, Donna Jo hadn’t even written it. It just grew naturally from the fact that Ugly was received well and we both had fun on that project.


What was the first book that you wrote and illustrated?

One Thousand Tracings. It’s a true story about a relief effort my grandparents did to help people who had lost their homes in Europe after WWII. I found letters and foot tracings in my grandmother’s attic after she died and knew immediately I wanted to write about this amazing thing they had done to help all those families.


How did you find a home for that book?

I sent it to my editor at Hyperion about a week after I turned the art in for Ugly.




What book would you say has been your most successful?

Hmmm, I really don’t think of success in terms of how many books sold or how many editions. I think a book is successful if I as an artist got to create something I feel passionately about, and it connects with readers who also feel passionately about the same thing. Some of my nonfiction books may not sell as many books as Red Sled or Flight School, but I still feel like that little girl obsessed with dinosaurs craving to make a living as an artist when I create them and that is better than any measured success. And they solicit such beautiful responses from kids who share the same obsession, so it’s a pretty wonderful feeling. And my fiction, well that’s a dream too. To create a character that people respond to, that makes them smile or feel a connection, that is the best. I leave others to worry about book sales and things, and I just worry about making the stories I love. My career feels like a dream come true, so I guess all my books are successful in their own little ways.


What book award are you the most proud of winning?

Kind of the same feeling, I’m just so grateful when any group of librarians or teachers or reviewers gathers a group of books together that they love and decides to bestow an honor on one of my books. I treasure each nod I’ve received and am thankful because they always make me believe a little more each time I really get to keep doing this beautiful, fantastic, crazy career!


Have you worked with educational publishers?



Have you done any illustrating for children’s magazines?

No. I’ve been asked for both, but I can never seem to pull away on the stories I’m brewing up. My imagination seems to keep my docket pretty darn full these days.


Do you have an Artist Rep. to represent you?

I work with a literary agent, Linda Pratt, who I adore because she keeps life sane for me, juggling all the contracts and turn-in dates. But more importantly, she is my sounding board for stories. She always gives me a safe creative place to bounce around ideas.


What types of things do you do to find illustration work?

Nothing, other than I just keep writing stories. I work on them nearly every day. As soon as one is turned in to my editor and I’m waiting for feedback, I turn to the next. I don’t worry about projects, just about stories, and somehow that has kept me fully employed since the day I started.


What is your favorite medium to use?

Pencil and watercolor.


Has that changed over time?

My approach changes each time I launch into a new story. Sometimes I have a whimsical story that has to be light and fresh and very gestural. Another time, I may be working on a nonfiction that needs a more detailed approach. I’m working now on a book that takes place at night and has an element of mystery so things are dark with kind of magical lighting and a big beautiful moon. Another story I’m working on now is for much older kids and it’s kind of dark and at times very sad and scary, so that means a huge departure on my approach. I love not having a set style. It means I have to reinvent myself a lot, and that can take a lot of hours at the easel, but it is never boring.


What I really want to know is how did you find such a great studio? Did you buy the house because of that room? Had it been a church?

I build it. My husband and I found a piece of land and I designed it. We had been saving and dreaming for a very long time, so the studio grew out of that energy. I found a salvaged church window and lugged some niches home from France that were made out of 15th century oak and were in a church that was sadly destroyed in WWI, but they have a home with me now. And I carved ravens for the roofline outside to reflect my background. I was born on the Tlingit Indian reservation in Alaska and the ravens are my homage to their beautiful art and culture that inspires me. I’m grateful for everyday I get to create in this space!


What is the one thing in your studio that you could not live without?

Natural light and my critters!



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

I just work. Really I don’t keep hours. I just wake up every day eager to get back to the stories, and march on through the day and into the night and through the weekends. I hate being sick because that’s about the only time I’m not working and that for me is just plain boring. There is always at least 3 unfinished stories on my easel and a few more whispering in my ears, so as long as that is true, I’ll be working. I occasionally slip out for a bike ride, but I’m pretty much to be found with pencil or brush in hand.


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

I do lots of research and quite often take pictures. That is always a fun part. My parents are wildlife photographers and my grandparents were research biologists. So I think I came to love that part of the work naturally. I do a lot of photo shoots with kids and animals, whatever the need may be. Have had fun over the years, travelling to places I paint, working with elephants, taking back trips up into the back country, feeding giraffes. Research is the fun part indeed!



Which illustrated book is your favorite?

Ah, that is like asking a mom which is her favorite kid. OK, I may have a special fondness for a certain penguin (in Flight School) but don’t tell the others. And I’m working on two books now that I’m bursting to let out in to the world, but that will have to wait. I’ll just say Paris, Owlets, moons and fun!


Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

Oh yes, it’s a wonderful way to connect with people you would never meet otherwise. I get offers to speak and all sorts of wonderful things come out of the fact that people can so easily find your website and get a sense of what you have to offer. And I’m grateful for wonderful friendships with other writers whom I rarely see but keep in touch with.


Do you use Photoshop with your illustrations?

I do a lot of planning with Photoshop. I find it a wonderful creative tool hat helps me really explore and push a composition in a way I can’t with just pencil. I love how I can really play around with values as well so that you don’t have to muck around too much in guesswork with real paint. That never works well with watercolors.


Do you own or have you used a Graphic Drawing Tablet in your illustrating?

I do use one a lot in the planning stages. And a little in the final art- again it really depends on the story and what effect I’m trying to get. They are wonderful for some things, but I find a good old fashioned brush loaded in paint my favorite tool.

penniesfor elephants


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

To keep doing books that excite and interest me for the rest of my life! To never ever have the feeling that I want to slow down. And to travel to more wonderful places that allow me to soak up their beauty and capture their essence in a story. To continue connecting with kids, teachers, and parents over stories and feel in some small way your work was a part of their imagination and life. That’s all I want.


What are you working on now?

Well I have 5 books in various stages. Some I can let out of the bag, and a couple that need to stay inside where it’s safe and warm just a little longer. My next nonfiction book, BORN IN THE WILD, coming out with Roaring Brook has already gotten two starred reviews and will be released on October 21st, so that’s exciting. Then I have a picture book about my Parrot, Beatrix, coming out next spring with Atheneum entitled, GOOD MORNIGN TO ME! It’s a fun story about life with a very happy and exuberant parrot. Then I have a book I’m illustrating about a pygmy marmoset that has been a delight work on and took me on a mental journey to the Amazon, pretty fun (coming out with Boyd’s Mill). And then my owlet book set in Paris which I’m working on now (to be released with Dial), and then… oops, I can’t tell you what I’m working on after that, but it’s a big project that has pushed me to extremes and I can’t wait for it to be ready to break out of the studio and into the world.


Cover of Good Morning to Me, to be released Spring 2015, Ateneum



Do you have any material type tips you can share with us? Example: Paint or paper that you love – the best place to buy – a new product that you’ve tried – A how to tip, etc.

My all time favorite brush is an Isabey Petite Gris brush, all sizes. It’s shaped kind of flat and fat so it holds gobs of paint while still keeping a good point. I bought my first in Paris after I dropped my brushes in the Seine, and man am I glad I did, because this brush paints like a dream. I also love cheep bamboo calligraphy brushes as I do a lot of line work. My tools are pretty simple 4b pencils, arches watercolor paper, Windsor Newton paint.



Any words of wisdom on how to become a successful writer or illustrator?

It sounds kind of flippant, but I mean it in all sincerity – don’t worry about success. Just worry about the writing and/or the art. People want good stories, they crave them, if you focus on the craft, on making it the best piece of art or writing humanly possible, the “success” part of it will fall into place, at least enough so that you get to make a comfortable living at it and keep doing it. I honestly don’t think about number of books sold, etc, I’d go crazy second guessing every whisper of an idea that comes into my brain and I’d give up on it long before it had the time and nurturing from me to grow into a real story. But if you just focus on the art, and the writing, it will grow into something others can love. Just make a Utopia for yourself of your work, and the other “career” part of things will come out of that.


Sketch for upcoming book, Born in the Wild




Thank you Lita for sharing you journey and process with us. Please let us know when your new picture books come out. We’d love to see them and cheer you on. You can visit Lita at: http://www.litajudge.net

If you have a moment I am sure Lita would like to read your comments. I enjoy reading them, too, even if sometimes I don’t have time to reply to all of them. Thanks!

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: Advice, authors and illustrators, demystify, illustrating, Illustrator's Saturday, inspiration, Interview, picture books, Process Tagged: Born in the Wild, Flight School, Lita Judge, Red Sledge

16 Comments on Illustrator Saturday – Lita Judge, last added: 10/4/2014
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47. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #400, 3D-style: FeaturingSusan Eaddy, Maggie Rudy, and Karina Schaapman

Illustrator Susan Eaddy tweezes in an eyelash

It’s the first Sunday of the month, which usually means I feature a student illustrator. But I’m breaking my own rules and doing something different today.

I wrote a review last month for Chapter 16, which is a daily online journal about books and author events in Tennessee. I reviewed Julie Hedlund’s My Love for You Is the Sun, illustrated by Nashville artist Susan Eaddy, pictured right, and published by Little Bahalia Publishing last month. I’ve enjoyed reading Chapter 16 for years, so it’s particularly great to contribute to the site. That Chapter 16 review is here.

Regular 7-Imp readers know that I like to follow up these reviews I write at other places with picture book art. So, for today’s post, I asked Susan if she’d be interested in sharing some photos of what it’s like to create her illustrations. I thought it’d be fun to see Susan’s process in particular, because Susan works in clay. She shared generously, including some images of final spreads, and all of that is below.

But there’s more! Because I love to share as much picture book art as possible, I’ve also got illustrations from a couple of other new books. I mentioned in the Chapter 16 review that 2014 has given us a handful of picture books illustrated, like My Love for You Is the Sun, in what can best be described as a sculptural technique — not the traditional, two-dimensional illustrations we typically see in picture books. There is Yuyi Morales’ Viva Frida, for example, rendered in stop-motion puppets, paints, photography, etc. Yuyi will visit 7-Imp soon to share images from that. Or Loretta Holland’s Fall Leaves, illustrated in 3D paper vignettes by Elly MacKay, who will also visit 7-Imp soon. And remember Princesse Camcam’s Fox’s Garden, featured in this post? Yep. That one, too.

This year, we’ve also seen Karina Schaapman’s The Mouse Mansion, originally published in the Netherlands in 2011 but coming to the States next month from Dial. And there’s Maggie Rudy’s I Wish I Had a Pet (pictured above), published by Beach Lane Books in July.

Karina’s and Maggie’s three-dimensional tableaux are pictured below. Last up—because she sent so many images, which makes me happy—are the photos Susan sent, and I thank her for that.

Here’s to 3D art. Let’s get to it …

From Maggie Rudy’s I Wish I Had a Pet:


(Click to enlarge)


“…that you had a pet?”
(Click to enlarge)


(Click second image to enlarge and to see spread in its entirety)


(Click second image to enlarge and to see spread in its entirety)



From Karina Schaapman’s
The Mouse Mansion (without text):


The Mouse Mansion
(Click to enlarge)


“Little Sophie’s Birthday”
(Click to enlarge)


“Hoisting Time”
(Click to enlarge)


“The Bakery”
(Click to enlarge)



Susan Eaddy and My Love for You Is the Sun,
written by Julie Hedlund:


Figuring out the palette
(Click to enlarge)


Trying a new palette — with reference
(Click to enlarge)


Clay palette
(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)


Laying in the grass, one piece at a time
(Click to enlarge)


Building a face — with anatomy reference
(Click to enlarge)


Laying in the mane, one hair at a time
(Click to enlarge)


Final spread: “My love for you is the wind. /
Blowing kisses in your ears, / It wipes away your salty tears.”
Susan: “See how the mane changed? The art director thought
the first manes looked too ‘wormy.’”

(Click to enlarge)


Mama frog before spotting


Mama with spots


Bare baby
(Click to enlarge)


Spotted baby jumping


Making ripples
Susan: “You can see how many audio books I go through during the building stages!”

(Click to enlarge)


Putting in raindrops one at a time
(Click to enlarge)


Bunny- and background-building
(Click to enlarge)


Final spread (front and back of book)
(Click to enlarge)


Finally, want to see Susan create a spread (really, really fast)? Here we go:



* * * * * * *

I WISH I HAD A PET. Copyright © 2014 by Maggie Rudy. Spreads used by permission of Beach Lane Books, New York.

THE MOUSE MANSION. Copyright © 2011 by Karina Shaapman. U.S. Edition 2014. Spreads used by permission of the publisher, Dial Books, New York.

MY LOVE FOR YOU IS THE SUN. Text copyright © 2014 by Julie Hedlund. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Susan Eaddy. Published by Little Bahalia, Milwaukee. All images related to this book are used by permission of Susan Eaddy.

Author photo of Susan Eaddy used by her permission.

* * *

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) October.

1½) That my 10-year-old collects acorn caps in October.

2) The Boxtrolls. Totally off the wall and slightly demented and very entertaining.

3) I got our tickets to see Shakey Graves live in Nashville in a couple of weeks:

4) My girls and I are usually reading a small stack of novels at once (maybe a bad habit?), but once we started Laura Amy Schlitz’s A Drowned Maiden’s Hair, it trumped everything else and it turned into a reading frenzy. I swear, I nearly kept them home from school on Friday (but didn’t) just so we could finish it. ‘Cause WHAT A GOOD BOOK. It was a re-read for me, and I knew they’d hang on every word. Which they pretty much did.

5) My friend. Featured on the local news!

6) It was really wonderful to visit Karen MacPherson’s blog and talk about Wild Things! Her work was important to our research, and she has a great site for children’s book fans.

7) The Southern Festival of Books is next weekend. It’s, hands down, the best thing about Nashville in the Fall.


(Poster art created by Cage Free Visual)


What are YOUR kicks this week?

10 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #400, 3D-style: FeaturingSusan Eaddy, Maggie Rudy, and Karina Schaapman, last added: 10/5/2014
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48. Ten 2014 Picture Books

The Mouse Who Ate The Moon. Petr Horacek. 2014. Candlewick. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

One evening, Little Mouse peered out of her hole. She was looking at the moon. "The moon is beautiful," she said as she settled down to sleep. "I would love to have my very own piece of the moon."

I enjoyed reading The Mouse Who Ate The Moon. I liked Little Mouse very much. One night Little Mouse wishes she could have a piece of the moon. The next morning, she discovers that her wish has come true. She is delighted to find a piece of the yellow moon had fallen from the sky and landed on her doorstep. She never expected it. She also didn't expect to be tempted by it, tempted to want to eat it. One thing leads to another, and soon Little Mouse is convinced that she's eaten HALF the moon and the sky will never be the same again... Her friends try to gently tell her that she's just being silly. NO ONE can eat the moon they say again and again and again. Can her good friends cheer her up again?

I love the illustrations. I love "the piece of the moon" that Little Mouse discovers. Readers may realize the truth about "the moon" long before Little Mouse does! It is a simple story that is beautifully illustrated.

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10

The Way to the Zoo. John Burningham. 2014. Candlewick. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

One evening, just before Sylvie went to sleep, she thought she could see a door in the wall of her bedroom. She decided to look again in the morning to see if the door was really there. In the morning, Sylvie was late for school and forgot about the door until bedtime. 

What will Sylvie find when she opens the door? You'll want to read this one and find out for yourself.  (Or you could read the title and take a guess, I suppose!) I loved John Burningham's The Way to the Zoo. It was oh-so-magical for me. I loved the story progression. How Sylvie brings back animals--small animals, mainly--back to her own room night after night. I loved how careful she was with this magic. She always made sure to leave the door closed. But I also loved that there was just this one time when she forgot...

The story is just fun and joyful. I loved seeing what happened next, what animals she brought back with her. I loved the story, I did. But I didn't love the illustrations. At least not as much as I loved the text itself.

Text: 5 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10

Alexander, Who's Trying His Best To Be The Best Boy Ever. Judith Viorst. Illustrated by Isidre Mones. Simon & Schuster. 40 pages. [Source: Library]

Can Alexander be "the best boy ever" for one whole week?! After suffering the consequences of eating a whole box of donuts, Alexander sets out to prove that he CAN and WILL be good, better than good, the BEST. His parents and his brothers may have their doubts, big doubts, that Alexander can stay away from trouble for even just a day or two. But Alexander has something to prove to himself. His goal is ambitious, his temptations are many. At home and at school, everywhere he goes Alexander is tempted. There are so many things he wants to do during those six or seven days that are a bit naughty--some more naughty than others perhaps. What will Alexander learn about himself during this week? Is it good or bad that he learned it? Will readers agree or disagree with Alexander's conclusions?

I liked it. I didn't love it.

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 6 out of 10 

Druthers. Matt Phelan. 2014. Candlewick. 32 pages. [Source: Review Copy]

It was raining. And raining. And RAINING. "I'm bored," said Penelope. "If you had your druthers, what would you do?" asked her Daddy. "What are druthers?" "Druthers are what you would rather do if you could do anything at all." 

I really enjoyed reading Matt Phelan's Druthers. I loved how Penelope and her Dad played together on a rainy day. I loved turning the pages to see what she wanted to do next. Each activity was a "druther" of course. For example, wanting to go to the zoo, wanting to be a cowgirl, wanting to go to the moon, etc. Each druther leads to a fun opportunity for this father and daughter to explore together. This is a book that celebrates imaginative play. It also celebrates family! (I suppose you could also say the book handles disappointments as well.) The book is very sweet. I definitely recommend it.

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

Frances Dean Who Loved To Dance and Dance. Birgitta Sif. 2014. Candlewick. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Once there was a girl whose name was Frances Dean. She loved to dance and dance. 

Frances Dean loves to dance. She does. She loves, loves, loves to dance. But only in private. Only outside surrounded by nature. In front of people, well, Frances Dean gets too shy to dance. Will meeting a little girl who loves to sing inspire her to share her love of dance with another person? It just might! 

I love the illustrations. I do. This is a beautiful book. The story and illustrations are charming. I love how passionate Frances Dean is. This book is dedicated to "all those who live with all their heart."

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10

A Bunny in the Ballet. Robert Beck. 2014. Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Of the great many things in this world that we rabbits LOVE to do, ballet dancing tops the list! At least it does for me, Desiree Rabbit. But there were NO BUNNIES in the ballet until I came along. And this is my story...

Desiree is a bunny with big dreams. She is a Parisian bunny that wants to study ballet. She loves it so much. Dancing is her life, her passion. She adores ballet. If only she can convince a couple of humans to give her a real chance to learn and perform. Will Desiree achieve her dreams? Will she dance in a ballet? 

This one is a cute read. It's predictable, I suppose. But charming too. I definitely enjoyed some of the illustrations. There were one or two that were just so very right. (I liked the illustrations of Desiree better than the illustrations of the humans in her life.)

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 6 out of 10

My Pet Book. Bob Staake. 2014. Random House. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Most pets, you know, are cats and dogs. Go out and take a look. But there's a boy in Smartytown whose pet is... a little book. 

The boy in this story has a book for a pet. It's not that his parents wouldn't allow a cat or a dog, but, that this boy really wanted a pet book. The premise is quirky and not without potential. For some readers, this one may prove completely charming. 

My problem with the Pet Book was not the premise. I found the rhythm and rhyme to be a bit off or unnatural. The rhyming just didn't work for me. And it felt like it was the need to rhyme that was driving the book, the story. For example when the book "runs away," this is the rhyme we're "treated" to:
"He ran away! He ran away!" The boy began to bleat. "How could a pet book run away without a pair of feet?" 
It continues, 
The maid could hear the crying boy. (That sound was such a rarity.) "I think I know what happened..." (gulp) "I gave your book to...charity."
Text: 2 out of 5
Illustrations: 2 out of 5
Total: 4 out of 5

The Good-Pie Party. Elizabeth Garton Scanlon. Illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton. 2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Posy Peyton doesn't want to move. 

Posy Peyton may not want to move, but, Posy Peyton really doesn't have a choice in the matter. What she does have a choice in perhaps is how to handle it, how to cope with it. And one of the ways she does handle it is by baking in the kitchen with her friends. (The kitchen is the only room in the house that hasn't been boxed up...yet.) What she discovers is that GOOD PIE is better than saying good bye. And so inspiration comes, they throw a good-pie party and invite their friends and neighbors. Everyone is to bring a pie....

I liked this one.

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 6 out of 10

Say Hello Like This! Mary Murphy. Candlewick. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

A dog hello is licky and loud...like this!
A cat hello is prissy and proud...like this!

Say Hello Like This! is a fun, playful book to read aloud to little ones. It is all about the animal sounds! It is also rich in descriptive words. (licky, loud, prissy, proud, silly, happy, tiny, tappy, etc.)

I would recommend this one as a read aloud. I love the bright illustrations.

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10

The Midnight Library. Kazuno Kohara. 2014. Roaring Brook. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

Once there was a library that opened only at night. A little librarian worked there with her three assistant owls. Every night, animals came to the library from all over the town. And the little librarian and her three assistant owls helped each and every one find a perfect book. 

I really, really liked this one. I still don't know what it is about it that I do like so very much. If it is the illustrations. If it is the premise. But there is just something magical about this one for me. I find myself mesmerized by the illustrations. Most picture books are after all illustrated in more than three colors. (Midnight Library is all black, blue, and yellow.) They are simple too. Yet I find myself spending time looking at the illustrations carefully. I find the story charming. My favorite part? Well, I guess that would be when the little librarian insists that the tortoise gets a library card. The image of him with the book on his back, it just makes me smile!

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Total: 9 out of 10

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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49. 100 Things That Make Me Happy by Amy Schwartz

Little kids love to see their (tiny) world presented to them on the pages of a book. They also love to arrange and organize things, whether it's toy animals, goldfish crackers or twigs. And, they also appreciate a good rhyme. 100 Things that Make Me Happy by Amy Schwartz satisfies all three of these with a charm and simplicity that harmonizes with the thoughtful choices and engaging

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50. Picture Book Monday with a review of Winter is Coming

Though fall is only just starting to make itself here in southern Oregon, the wild animals in the woods and fields are already getting ready for the winter months. In this gorgeous picture book we see, through the eyes of a young girl, scenes that capture animals in their natural habitats as they prepare for the cold months of the year.

Winter is ComingWinter is Coming
Tony Johnston
Illustrated by Jim LaMarche
Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Simon and Schuster, 2014, 978-1-4424-9900-3
It is a cold fall day and a young girl senses that winter is coming because she can feel that “ice is in the air.” The girl climbs up to her tree platform with a pad of paper, some pencils and a pair of binoculars. From there she sees a red fox and becasue she manages to stay very quiet, the fox goes about its business below her
   Next a mother bear and her cub arrive on the scene, walking through the trees on the fallen red and gold leaves. The two animals snuffle around looking for food. Winter is coming and they need to eat as much as they can now.
   In October the girl is lying on her platform when a family of skunks waddles around the base of her tree. Lying on her stomach she watches as the mother skunk and her three babies look for food.
   One morning the girl gets up at dawn and she is lucky enough to see a pair of woodpeckers drilling holes in a tree. Diligently the two birds fill the holes they made with acorns that they have collected. They know full well that winter is coming and they are going to need those acorns in the months to come.

   In this remarkable book a lyrical, image-rich text is paired with beautiful illustrations to give us a wonderful journey through the months of fall. From her perch in the tree the girl sees all kinds of animals preparing for winter, and she shares with us the wisdom she has learned from her family members about animals and their ways. She knows that there is a lot that she can learn from animals “About patience. About Truth. About quiet. About taking only what you need from the land because we are its keepers.” 

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