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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Picture books, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. How To Be A Pirate

How to Be a Pirate. Sue Fliess. Illustrated by Nikki Dyson. 2014. Golden Books. 24 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Ahoy, landlubber! Come with me. Board me ship upon the sea! Not a pirate? Don't know how? Ye can learn to be one now! Come in closer--I don't bite. A pirate ye shall be tonight!

Premise/plot: The title says it all, this book "teaches" how to be a pirate.

My thoughts: I enjoyed it. I enjoyed it so much more than I thought I would. I like the rhythm and the rhyme of it. It gets that part right at least!!! The plot is simple enough, and, in a way it's predictable enough. There is just something joyful and fun about this one.
Rules for pirates?
Let's just say...
ye can throw all the rules away!
No more toothpaste!
Farewell, bath!
once ye choose the pirate path.
Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out 5
Total: 8 out of 10

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

0 Comments on How To Be A Pirate as of 5/4/2016 11:11:00 AM
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2. Lane Smith’s There Is a Tribe of Kids

  One of my favorite picture books of 2016 thus far is Lane Smith’s There Is a Tribe of Kids (Roaring Brook, May 2016). I’ve got a review of it over at BookPage. That is here. Today, Lane shares some early studies and sketches, as well as some final art from the book. (Note: Some […]

3 Comments on Lane Smith’s There Is a Tribe of Kids, last added: 5/4/2016
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3. Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Brianne Farley

  Several weeks ago at Kirkus, I wrote here about Brianne Farley’s new picture book, Secret Tree Fort, published by Candlewick just last month. When I write about picture books over at Kirkus, I always like to follow up with art about a week later here at 7-Imp. I can’t write about picture books without […]

1 Comments on Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Brianne Farley, last added: 5/3/2016
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4. The Mother of All Posts

  I joined a few other children’s lit folks over at Slate Magazine to discuss children’s books that celebrate motherhood. Click on the image above to see the gallery of titles. Until tomorrow …

1 Comments on The Mother of All Posts, last added: 5/2/2016
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5. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #481: Featuring David Litchfield

  It’s the first Sunday of the month, which means that here in 7-Imp Land I take a look at the work of an up-and-coming illustrator. Today, instead of a student, I’ve got a debut author-illustrator. David Litchfield’s new book, The Bear and the Piano (Clarion), was evidently inspired (in part) by the White Stripes’ […]

3 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #481: Featuring David Litchfield, last added: 5/1/2016
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6. Awake Beautiful Child by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Gracia Lam

Awake Beautiful Child by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Gracia Lam

| Storytime Standouts

Awake Beautiful Child written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal illustrated by Garcia Lam

Awake Beautiful Child written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Gracia Lam
Alphabet picture book published by McSweeny’s

In this fascinating picture book, Amy Krouse Rosenthal uses only words that begin with A, B or C to tell her story. The day begins as a young boy awakens and enjoys Apples, Bananas and Cantaloupe for breakfast before heading outside and finding Ants, Butterflies and Caterpillars. He later celebrates at a birthday party, explores a city and appreciates an artist. Older children will enjoy scouring debut picture book illustrator Gracia Lam’s detailed digital illustrations for an apron, bowling pins, binoculars, a castle, a cape, a church (and more!) that serve to broaden the appeal of the story and support the development of phonemic awareness

and alphabet recognition.Awake Beautiful Child spread

It is worth mentioning that Ms. Rosenthal and Ms. Lam do not limit the story or illustrations to the phoneme /K/, they also challenge readers to recognize the use of ‘C’ in words beginning with the /ch/ and soft ‘C’ sounds, as in church and city. the ‘A’ words that we detected use the short vowel sound.

We envision this picture book as a wonderful inspiration to young illustrators and writers. Great for classroom use, the clever take on the alphabet book genre could certainly be a jumping off point for children to create their own stories and illustrations using only two or three letters.

This is a picture book that will be enjoyed by children aged 3 and up but that has great potential for exciting older children and adults.

Awake Beautiful Child at Amazon.com

Awake Beautiful Child at Amazon.ca



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    7. Review: Mabrook! A World of Muslim Weddings by Na’ima B. Robert and Shirin Adl

    Mabrook! A World of Muslim Weddings,written by Na'ima B Robert, illustrated by Shirin Adl (Janetta Otter-Barry Books, Frances Lincoln, 2016)

    Mabrook! A World of Muslim Weddings
    written by Na’ima B Robert, illustrated by Shirin Adl
    (Janetta Otter-Barry … Continue reading ...

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    8. What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Bethan Woollvin

      This morning over at Kirkus, I write about three new engaging picture books for the preschool set. That will be here soon. * * * Last week, I wrote here about Bethan Woollvin’s Little Red (Peachtree, April 2016), and I’m following up today with some spreads from the book. Enjoy!   “And he made […]

    0 Comments on What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Bethan Woollvin as of 4/29/2016 2:36:00 AM
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    9. Review of the Day: One Day in the Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus Tree by Daniel Bernstrom

    OneDayOne Day in the Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus Tree
    By Daniel Bernstrom
    Illustrated by Brendan Wenzel
    Katherine Tegen Books (an imprint of Harper Collins)
    $17.99
    ISBN: 978-0-06-235485-3
    Ages 3-6
    On shelves May 3rd

    Like any children’s librarian, I like to assess each picture book that crosses by my eyeballs for readaloud potential. While every picture book (even the wordless ones) can be read aloud to a large group of children, only a select few thrive in that environment. It takes a certain magical combination of art and text to render a story readaloud-perfect. Books you can sing have a leg up. Ditto books with flaps or pull-tabs. But the nice thing about Bernstrom’s book One Day in the Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus Tree is that it doesn’t need to rely on those extra features to enrapture an audience. The book’s lilting rhymes, when practiced beforehand, have the potential to render an audience entranced. Add in the art of Brendan Wenzel, and how well it reads across a room, and you’ve got yourself the makings of what might possibly be the best readaloud picture book of the year.

    A boy and his whirly-twirly toy are just the first things to disappear down the gullet of a hungry yellow snake. But rather than bemoan his fate, the boy gets to work in his new role as the snake’s inner id. Commenting on the sheer amount of room and space in the belly, the boy cajoles the snake into eating more and more and more. From birds and worms, to mossy sloths, to a single apple bearing a tiny fly, the creatures slide down the snake’s rapidly expanding throat. A final meal proves too much for the voracious viper and next thing you know boy, toy, and a host of other animals are upchucked back into the world from whence they came. A sly illustration at the end suggests that history may repeat itself soon.

    OneDay1It’s not as if Mr. Bernstrom is the first person to find the word “eucalyptus” so exceedingly delicious to both tongue and ear, but he certainly seems to have been the most prominent in recent memory. As I read the book the language of the reading triggered something in my brain. Something long forgot. And though his name evokes strong feelings in every possible direction, it was Rudyard Kipling I thought of as I read this tale. Specifically the tale of “How the Elephant Got His Trunk”. Though that story does not realize how superb the word “eucalyptus” is when repeated, Kipling got a great deal of mileage out of illustrating thoughts with words. Terms like “great grey greasy Limpopo river”, “Kolokolo Bird”, and “the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake” make those of us reading the stories aloud sound good. Bernstrom is writing for a younger audience so he doesn’t flex his muscles quite as far as Kipling did, but at the same time you recognize that he has the potential to do so. One hopes his future publishing plans may include longer stories just meant for sharing aloud. Lord knows we need more authors like that these days.

    The story itself sounds familiar when you read it, but that may have to do more with familiar tropes than a tale we’ve actually seen done. The book also taps into a very popular method of extracting eaten creatures from predators’ bellies: burping. Vomiting works too, though the word sounds more disgusting, so usually in cases like this book the critters are released in a big old burp. In this case, we’re basically seeing a nature-based version of that Monty Python skit where the diner is persuaded to eat one final item (“It’s wafer-thin”). It’s odd to enjoy so much a book where a kid tricks the animal it is within to throw up, but there you go. The storytelling itself is top notch too, though I had a moment of confusion when the snake ate the beehive. Seems to me that that moment is where the boy’s plan potentially takes a turn south. Being stuck in a snake’s belly is one thing. Being stuck in a snake’s belly with flying, stinging insects? Thanks but no.

    OneDay2Illustrator Brendan Wenzel burst onto the children’s picture book illustration scene in 2014 but his rise in prominence since that time has been slow. The artist first caught everyone’s eye when he illustrated Angela DiTerlizzi’s Some Bugs but it was the cover art of Ellen Jackson’s Beastly Babies the following year that was the most eye-catching. That cover sold that book. An ardent conservationist, it makes a lot of sense to turn to Wenzel when you’ve a story chock full of sloths, snakes, and bees. With Bernstrom’s tale, Wenzel must render this tale in the style of There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly. Which is to say, he needs to balance horror with humor. Books where the protagonist gets eaten are common. Books where the protagonist gets eaten and then continues to comment on the action are rare. Wenzel’s snake falls into that category of villains that must be vicious enough to serve as a legitimate threat, but tame enough that a four-year-old won’t fear them on sight. To do this, Wenzel’s art takes on a distinctly jovial tone that treads towards the cartoonish without ever falling in completely. The colors are bright but not overwhelming, just as the action is consistent without horrifying the audience. Most of the creatures handle being eaten with gentle good grace (though the sloth looks more than a little put out about the whole thing).

    The idea of being eaten whole is as old as “Little Red Riding Hood”. Heck, it’s even older than that. Look at the Greek myths of Cronus devouring his children whole. Look at any myth or legend that talks of children springing unharmed or fully formed from within nasty beasties. Together, Bernstrom and Wenzel take this ancient idea and turn it into a trickster tale. Usually it’s the eater doing the tricking, and not the eaten, but One Day in the Eucalyptus Eucalyptus Tree isn’t afraid to shake things up (or, for that matter, swallow them down). An oddly peppy little tale of surviving through another’s hubris, this is bound to become one of those readaloud picture books that teachers and librarians lean heavily on for decades to come. Look out, Bernstrom and Wenzel. You guys just went and created for yourselves a masterpiece.

    On shelves May 3rd.

    Source: F&G sent from publisher for review.

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    2 Comments on Review of the Day: One Day in the Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus Tree by Daniel Bernstrom, last added: 4/29/2016
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    10. A Bargain for Frances

    A Bargain for Frances. Russell Hoban. Illustrated by Lillian Hoban. 1970/1992. HarperCollins. 64 pages. [Source: Library]

    First sentence: It was a fine summer day, and after breakfast Frances said, "I am going to play with Thelma." "Be careful," said Mother. "Why do I have to be careful?" said Frances.
    "Remember the last time?" said Mother. "Which time was that?" said Frances. "That was the time you played catch with Thelma's new boomerang," said Mother. "Thelma did all the throwing, and you came home with lumps on your head." "I remember that time now," said Frances. "And do you remember the other time last winter?" said Mother. "I remember that time too," said Frances. "That was the first time there was ice on the pond. Thelma wanted to go skating, and she told me to try the ice first." "Who came home wet?" said Mother. "You or Thelma?" "I came home wet," said Frances.
    "Yes," said Mother. "That is why I say be careful. Because when you play with Thelma you always get the worst of it."

    Premise/plot: Poor Frances! Her mother was right. Again. Thelma had ulterior motives with wanting to play tea party with her friend, Frances. And Frances got tricked! Tricked into trading her money for Thelma's old tea set. Her ugly old plastic tea set. (A set so ugly that even Gloria sees it as junk.) Thelma then uses the money to buy a new tea set--the exact tea set that Frances had been saving for for months and months. Will Frances get even with Thelma? Can she outwit this trickster? Can this friendship be saved?!

    My thoughts: I have enjoyed rereading the Frances books. Have you read any of these? Do you have a favorite? I think each book is made stronger by the fact that it is a series. That each book stars characters that you already know and love. Frances is a gem of a character. I love her VERY much. I love her songs. I love her imagination.

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

    © 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

    0 Comments on A Bargain for Frances as of 4/28/2016 5:18:00 PM
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    11. 2016: SCBWI Bologna Illustrator Interview: Paul O. Zelinsky

    By Elisabeth Norton
    for SCBWI Bologna 2016
    and Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations

    Paul O. Zelinsky grew up in Wilmette, Illinois; the son of a mathematics professor father and a medical illustrator mother. He drew compulsively from an early age, but did not know until college that this would be his career. 

    As a sophomore at Yale College, he enrolled in a course on the history and practice of the picture book, co-taught by an English professor and Maurice Sendak. This experience inspired Paul to point himself in the direction of children's books. His first book appeared in 1978, since which time he has become recognized as one of the most inventive and critically successful artists in the field. 

    He now lives with his wife in Brooklyn, New York. They have two grown daughters.

    Among many other awards and prizes, he received the 1998 Caldecott Medal for his illustrated retelling of Rapunzel, as well as Caldecott Honors for three of his books: Hansel and Gretel (1985), Rumpelstiltskin (1987), and Swamp Angel (1995).

    Spring is the season of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, so I thought I would focus on the business side of illustration today. Can you tell us about how you as an illustrator are selected to work on a picture book project?

    Other than through the occasional subliminal suggestion I plant in the illustrations of my published books (painting “HIRE ME!” upside down in the trees outside of Rapunzel’s tower and so on), I don’t know how I get chosen.

    My work looks awfully different from book to book, but I imagine that an editor or art director who ends up contacting me is thinking of one look in particular, and they might mention that to me, though they may not end up getting it. Also, from my third book on, I have tended to keep working with people I’ve worked with before, so those publishers know more what they’re getting into. On my end, what happens is that I get a call or an email. 

    Could you describe your involvement in the process, from the time you are contacted about a new project, through the creation of the illustrations, to the finished book?

    I usually want to stick my nose into all stages of the creation and production processes, but as I try to do it in a nice way and, I hope, not out of a personal need for control but in the spirit of collaboration, I’ve rarely had trouble.

    So it usually begins for me when I get a phone call or email from a publisher, either asking if I’m available or just sending a manuscript, and I can sometimes tell pretty quickly if I think it’s a good idea for me on or not. Sometimes I don’t know and I mull.

    My first criterion (and I’m sorry if this seems pompous) is whether the story makes me think that our overcrowded world, with no shortage of books in it already, would be notably worse off without this new addition. (Which is sort of like saying how much do I like it, but not quite). Then I imagine what kind of art I’d like to see illustrating the manuscript and at that point I can usually tell whether I’d get excited by the prospect of trying to make that kind of art.

    Then, if it’s a go, come all the stages you probably know about in the making of an illustrated book. If it’s a picture book, that means breaking the manuscript up into pieces that fit in a 32- or 40-page book (publisher tells me what’s possible)—not a simple job if you want to do it right.

    At the same time, I try to imagine the best size and proportion for this book, long before having any idea of the content of its pictures. Then with text decided for each spread I’ll very, very crudely rough out an array of thumbnail sketches, trying to establish the dynamic of the storytelling through the pictures, the content and composition of each illustration.

    After or during that time, I’ll be casting around for what the characters should look like, and I’ll be thinking about the style I want the drawings to display. This is intimately connected to the choice of medium, so I’m thinking about that, too, and probably doing a lot of testing on scratch paper.

    If I get the thumbnail sketches working, I’ll go to a full-sized, or at least not-so-little dummy, in black pencil, with text placed on the pages.

    The dummy can be very rough, too, and I am generally willing to risk showing it to the publisher even before, say, I have any idea of what the characters will look like.

    I like feedback, and things like pacing can be judged without other important features yet in place. I might also put the pictures together with text in InDesign, at least as a preliminary version before the art director gets to work on it.

    When the designer does join in, I’ll want to be part of her or his process, too. Then there is research, refining sketches, working out color, checking with editor and art director all along, and working and working and working on finished art.

    How involved is the art director or author in determining the style of the artwork for a particular project?

    The style of my artwork has to be determined by me, to the extent that I can control it. I think the author should have a role in choosing an illustrator, and if there’s a wish to have the book look a certain way, that could be part of the manuscript’s presentation to me at the outset. But in fact this rarely happens. I think publishers are interested in seeing what I come up with.

    It has happened that after seeing what I come up with, they aren’t convinced. Then it becomes a conversation, or a discussion, or a debate, in which at the end everybody needs to be on the same side. And I can be convinced that I was wrong, at least if I was wrong.

    Do you ever revise your illustrations based on feedback from the art director or for other reasons?

    I make lots of changes based on suggestions. Art directors and editors I work with often have great ideas that I didn’t think of, or can point out features in my drawings that I then realize were not so great. I believe we are all devoted, at base, to creating the best possible book. So if I’m given a suggestion that I don’t feel good about, I will say why, and another conversation can begin.

    I will try to convince the other parties that I have important and valid reasons for seeing things my way, or point out (if it’s the case) that their suggestions might have problems they may not be considering, and at the same time they’ll do the same to me.

    In the end, with very few, minor exceptions, I don’t think any book I’ve worked on has left anybody feeling that the wrong path was taken.

    What is the typical timeline, from receiving a commission, to submitting the completed artwork to the publisher?

    I’ve rarely managed to finish illustrating a book in less than a year. That has been about the average, I think, but I’m usually not able to start work on a manuscript right when I receive it, so it’s hard to pin down the time it takes when I’ve got a couple of projects waiting to be begun for a couple of years, and I’m already thinking about all of them a little.

    You have said in the past that you have created many of your picture book illustrations using oil paints. When that is the case, how is the final artwork submitted to the publisher?

    Art that isn’t digital to begin with needs to be scanned, and it is still the case that publishers use scanners or cameras of a higher quality than almost any individual illustrator would have access to.

    I’ve talked to some younger illustrators who scan their reflective art and deliver electronically, without even considering that they could or should deliver the actual art on paper. That is really the preferable way to go. Oil paints have the reputation of not drying, but my oils are usually dry within a day, or at least dry to the touch. There is an additive you can put in your painting medium to speed the drying, and if I’m running very late I will sometimes mix in a little more of this desiccant, or I will avoid painting with pigments I know are slow-drying and favor the faster ones, if possible.

    Although I won’t scan my own oil paintings (my scanner picks up reflections on oil paint’s shiny surface for every little textury bump in the paper), I’m not above asking for the high resolution files that the publisher gets from their scanner, and sometimes even before first proofs, going in digitally to fix things I didn’t manage to do correctly in the art.

    After a book is released, what kinds of promotional activities do you as the illustrator engage in to support its release?

    The more the merrier, I say. I’m on Twitter (@paulozelinsky) and Instagram (paulozelinsky) anyway, and while I don’t like self-promotional posts, when a new book is coming out, there is plenty of interesting information to share. I go on Facebook, too, but only privately for my personal account. I would prefer that people I don’t know personally “Like” my Facebook author page.

    Z Is For Moose fabric, suitable size for quilt
    I’ve had some ideas for contests and a raffle for prints of the cover art of a book. Sometimes the publisher has given me great support and help. But I’ve also done a raffle or two on my own.

    In general I do these things because they seem like cool things to do; I don’t know if they have in any way helped sales—in fact I doubt it. Also, I like to create a repeating design based on almost every new book, and have it printed on fabric (at spoonflower.com). People can purchase it on their own, by the yard (though they don’t), and I can have some of made into a shirt or a vest (which I do). Not so long ago I couldn’t decide on color choices in one of these patterns, so I conducted an online vote; that was fun.

    An additional layer of attention has sometimes become available to me that would be harder for most illustrators to garner, in that a few of these larks I’ve gone on were interesting enough that Publishers Weekly has written about them, or the Horn Book. But only after a friend pushed me into asking these journals if they’d like to write about it.

    I’ve made ties that go with my books, as well as shirts and a couple of vests, and I wear this special apparel (in moderation!) whenever there’s an appropriate event.

    And yes, school visits are great. I love to do them with or without a new book. There is nothing better than to see groups of children appreciating the very things you spent so much time and effort on in the solitude of your studio, a year or more earlier.

    When it comes to visiting schools I tend to be passive, waiting to be asked, but it’s not out of line to approach and let schools know you’re available if they’re interested. School visits not related to a book tour are a source of income; as part of a book tour, arranged by an independent bookseller, I’m happy to give one presentation to a school, but not the three or four I’d give if it were a paid arrangement.

    Are there some new releases we should look out for?

    Actually, no. It will be a long time before anything new comes out. After the recent Toys Meet Snow, it’s going to be quite a while until the next thing.

    But one brand-new release that is partly mine is the 75th anniversary edition of Make Way for Ducklings. I was very honored and excited (you can imagine) to be asked to draw a pictorial map of Boston that would be included with the book and a CD recording in a boxed set. That edition is just out now, I think.

    I had a wonderful time researching what Boston looked like in 1941 (if felt like detective work), and illustrating parts of the story in the appropriate parts of my map, which is really an aerial view as much as it is a map. My drawing didn’t reproduce every single building in and around Beacon Hill, and I had to squash some blocks down in size for the picture to fit the proportions of the paper, but it’s pretty faithful to reality, I’d say.

    You’re going to be one of our dueling illustrators at the SCBWI booth at the 2016 Bologna Children’s Book Fair. How often have you visited BCBF?

    Publishers always told me, when I asked about Bologna, that going there was not something I would want to do, or should. It was only for brusque, publisher-to-publisher deal-making and if I went I would be in the way.

    I first came to Bologna anyway in 2006, because after planning a family trip to Venice, I decided to look up the Bologna fair and discovered that it started immediately after we were going to leave Venice, and Bologna was an easy train trip away. And then a friend told me that SCBWI was holding a full-scale pre-conference in Bologna on the weekend leading up to the fair. I was able to get a spot on a panel, and then when I asked publishers again, they told me I should go after all, and helped me find a hotel room (almost impossible just a month before the fair). And I enjoyed it tremendously!

    So after that first wonderful time there, I’ve been going back almost every other year, and continuing to enjoy it tremendously. Where else can you see virtually every children’s book published in the world in the previous year? I see a lot of editors that I know, as well as the great SCBWI community, so it’s an occasion to hang out with friends, and I must say that eating is a large part of the pleasure.

    I think the Bologna fair has been changing, and now you see a greater presence of book creators among the sub-rights sales force and the editors. Mostly these are just people coming on their own, but now very occasionally they are even being sent by their publishers.

    SCBWI isn’t putting on Bologna pre-conferences any longer, but they have an active booth at Bolognafiere every other year. Of course my favorite activity is the dueling illustrators tradition, which is huge fun. And this year the booth is bigger than ever before.

    How can visits to fairs such as BCBF benefit an illustrator’s career?

    I haven’t used my trips to the fair in a practical or useful way from the point of view of career-helping. But I’ve seen illustrators come away with publishing deals: it can happen though I’m not positive how it’s done.

    SCBWI itself can facilitate this, because you can arrange for a period of time when you sit in the booth and basically represent your books to passersby like all of the other publishers with booths there.

    There’s also a wall at the fair for illustrators to put up their promotional cards, and publishers look through them (although there are so many cards by the end of the fair that it seems like an awfully long shot).

    European publishers set up periods for open portfolio-viewing, and illustrators line up with their work in hand, to be seen by an art director in the flesh.

    Do you have any advice for a first-time visitor to BCBF?

    If you have published already, and are thinking of visiting Bologna, definitely ask for advice from your U,S, publisher. If you have ever had a book picked up by a foreign publisher, it would be a great thing to arrange to meet that publisher’s representatives in Bologna. This will make you more of a real person to that publisher rather than just a subsidiary right they purchased.

    SCBWI offers various good opportunities to get your work seen, so definitely arrange your visit with SCBWI in mind. Even if you’re not trying to network or push your career forward, hanging out (and eating out!) with SCBWI folk is reason enough to make the visit a fun time. Many but by no means all of them are of US origin, but they live all around the world.

    What’s your favorite thing to do in Bologna, apart from visiting the BCBF?

    Did I mention eating? Well, other than that, Bologna has some fantastic museums. Besides the main art museum (the Pinatoteca) there is a fabulous Medieval museum.

    On the other end of the spectrum, there is a museum devoted entirely to the generally under-appreciated painter Morandi, although I think it may be closed temporarily and its collection shifted to the Modern Art Museum. There is plenty more to do in Bologna, and don’t forget about the eating.

    People say that Bolognese food is the best in Italy, and although that kind of claim is sort of meaningless, it is probably also true.

    Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with me today. It was great to see you at the Book Fair. I really enjoyed watching your duel with Doug Cushman at the SCBWI booth during the fair!

    Thank you! The pleasure is mine.

    Cynsational Notes

    Elisabeth Norton grew up in Alaska, lived for many years and Texas, and after a brief sojourn in England, now lives with her family between the Alps and the Jura in Switzerland.

    She writes for middle grade readers and serves as the regional advisor for the Swiss chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

    When not writing, she can be found walking the dogs, playing board games, and spending time with family and friends. Find her on Twitter @fictionforge.

    The Bologna 2016 Interview series is coordinated by Angela Cerrito, SCBWI’s Assistant International Advisor and a Cynsational Reporter in Europe and beyond.

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    12. Borten’s Book Re-Birth

    “The renewed interest in work I did so long ago is both wonderful and disconcerting; it brings back a different person, a young artist juggling a career and motherhood, as passionately immersed in visual expression as I later became in sound production.” * * * Over at Kirkus today, I talk to author-illustrator Helen Borten, […]

    2 Comments on Borten’s Book Re-Birth, last added: 4/28/2016
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    13. Best Friends for Frances

    Best Friends for Frances. Russell Hoban. Illustrated by Lillian Hoban. 1969/1994. HarperCollins. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

    First sentence: It was a fine summer morning, so Frances took out her bat and ball. "Will you play ball with me?" said her little sister, Gloria. "No," said Frances. "You are too little." Gloria sat down and cried. Frances walked over to her friend Albert's house, singing a song: Sisters that are much too small To throw or catch or bat a ball Are really not much good at all, Except for crying.

    Premise/plot: It was easy for Frances to dismiss Gloria as an unworthy playmate, but when Albert (and later Harold) dismiss Frances, well, Frances learns that sometimes a sister can be a friend--a best friend. It's summer and Frances loves to play with her friends. One day Albert rejects Frances because it's his "wandering" day. And the next day, Albert and Harold reject Frances because she's a girl, and girls can't play baseball as well as boys. But Frances is not to be stopped. Even if it means playing with her little sister, she'll show Albert what is what! If Albert wants a no-girls-allowed club, then she'll start a no-boys-allowed club.
    "Do you want to play ball?"
    "All right," said Gloria.
    "If any boys come, they can't play," said Frances, "and I think I will be your friend now."
    "How can a sister be a friend?" said Gloria.
    "You'll see," said Frances.
    "For frogs and ball and dolls?"
    "Yes," said Frances.
    "And will you show me how to print my name?" said Gloria.
    "Yes," said Frances.
    "Then you will be my best friend," said Gloria. "Will it just be today, or longer?"
    "Longer," said Frances. (20-21)
    My thoughts: I do like this one. But Frances isn't always nice in this one. Then again neither is Albert. Or Harold. The only one that is nice all the time is Gloria.

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

    © 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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    14. Video: Author-Illustrator Marla Frazee

    From Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations


    Marla Frazee from Adam Goodwin on Vimeo.

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    15. Poet Tree


    Apparently, it's Poetry Month.

    Only, I've been a little distracted.
    I skipped off to the city
    for my local SCBWI meeting -
    an art show,
    a lecture from book-wise and witty
    editors Mary Kate Castellani and Caroline Abbey,
    and then a consultation and workshop with
    art director, professor, and story genius Joy Chu.

    This is the same Joy who guided me over the last two winters
    in visual storytelling classes through the UCSD online extension program.

    I'm still reeling with inspiration.
    I could have listened for days. Months. Years.

    Now I'm home, all bright and hopeful,
    waiting for my brain to shape so many beautiful tips
    and ideas into working order.
    Time to let the front thoughts simmer.  
    Time to play with poetry.

    We started with a poet-tree.

    The wildebeests and I cut out branchy trees and labeled each branch with simple word:
    sky, go, sea, etc.
     
    Next, we cut out dozens of leaves - in all flutters of color,
    because it just looks more exciting that way.

    Each branch grew rhyming leaf words:
    sky = cry, my, pie, etc.


    Because we like to make life even more thrilling, and sometimes complicated,
    I thought it might be fun for the older wildebeests to thread their leaves on yarn.


    Winnie added a button.


    Pip used gold pen. She's really into gel pens lately.

    And their finished masterpieces.

    I'd love to meet a tree like this someday, shimmering with colors, yarns, and words!
    I think I'd move in.


    I'll share more poetry play next time.

    Until then, here are a few favorites:







    A Kick in the Head, An Every Day Guide to Poetic Forms - compiled by Paul Janeczko, ill. by Chris Raschka
    The Random House Book of Poetry - edited by Jack Prelutsky, ill. by Arnold Lobel
    Switching on the Moon - collected by Jane Yolen and Andrew Peters, ill. by G. Brian Karas
    Chicken Soup With Rice - by Maurice Sendak
    When We Were Very Young by A. A. Milne, ill. by Ernest Shepard
    Now We Are Six By A.A. Milne, ill. by Ernest Shepard






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    16. Author Interview with Sylvia Liu about her debut PB, A MORNING WITH GRANDPA

    I am so very happy to welcome back Sylvia Liu onto Miss Marple’s Musings as part of the blog tour for her debut picture book, A MORNING WITH GRANDPA. This manuscript won the 2013 Lee and Low New Voices Award … Continue reading

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    17. Charles Darwin's Around-the-World Adventure ~ Advance Copy!

























    An advance copy of my next book arrived yesterday, to my total surprise! I am absolutely thrilled with the way it turned out. (Hard to see in the photo, but there's a spot varnish on the butterflies, Charles, and the title. I totally wasn't expecting such a wonderful detail. The design geek in me is very, very happy!)

    I'm feeling truly fortunate and thankful to be working with such an amazing Editor, Art Director, and the whole team at Abrams!

    The book will be out in October... stay tuned for some behind-the-scenes book posts in the weeks leading up to release!

    0 Comments on Charles Darwin's Around-the-World Adventure ~ Advance Copy! as of 1/1/1900
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    18. Definitely Something Beautiful

    “In the heart of a gray city, there lived a girl who loved to doodle, draw, color, and paint. Every time she saw a blank piece of paper, Mira thought to herself, Hmm, maybe . . . And because of this, her room was filled with color andher heart was filled with joy.”(Click to enlarge […]

    2 Comments on Definitely Something Beautiful, last added: 4/27/2016
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    19. Can a Princess Be a Firefighter?, by Carole P. Roman | Dedicated Review

    Can a Princess Be a Firefighter? is an empowering picture book by award-winning author Carole P. Roman that encourages children to follow their dreams.

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    20. Papercut Paris

      Over at BookPage, I’ve got a review of Paris Up, Up and Away (Thames & Hudson, April 2016) from French illustrator and paper and textile designer Hélène Druvert. That is here. (Or you can just click on the snippet above.) Until tomorrow …

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    21. Rose and Her Amazing Nose, by Andrew Fairchild | Dedicated Review

    Can there ever be enough books that encourage kids to accept themselves for who they are? We think not! Rose and Her Amazing Nose is a picture book that does just this: it teaches kids the importance of accepting themselves.

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    22. D is for Dress Up: The ABC’s of What We Wear, by Maria Carluccio | Book Review

    The ABC's have never been more fashionable in this delightful alphabet book.

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    23. What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week, Plus What IDid Last Week, Featuring Ken Min and Bob Raczka

    — From Bob Raczka’s Wet Cement(Click to enlarge)   — From What Does It Mean to Be an Entrepreneur?   Today over at Kirkus, I write about Bethan Woollvin’s debut picture book, Little Red (Peachtree, April 2016). That is here, and next week I’ll have some art from it here at 7-Imp. * * * […]

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    24. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #480: Featuring Kaori Takahashi

    (Click to enlarge)   I’ve got a tiny peek today inside Kaori Takahashi’s Knock! Knock!, published by Tara Books this month and with text from Gita Wolf. Tiny, as in just two little illustrations, but if you want more information, you can head over to my BookPage review of the book. As you’ll read there, […]

    3 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #480: Featuring Kaori Takahashi, last added: 4/24/2016
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    25. I Want to Write a Children’s Book and Get it Published!

    Join Me This Summer: Writing Workshops

    at Highlights Foundation


    If you’ve been writing or illustrating chidlren’s books (picture books or novels) for long, you’ll hear this comment and question: I’ve got a great idea for a children’s book. How can I get it published? Here’s some answers to get you started.

    Write a Great Book

    The first thing to do is write a great book. OK, you say. That’s easy.

    Is it?

    When you fail at the rest of the stuff below and decide to circle back around to this one, here are some resources.

    Another big hint: Spend a couple hours in a bookstore studying current children’s books. Read 100 children’s books this month, making sure the copyright is within the last year or so. After that immersion in the current children’s publishing market, do you still think your story stacks up? Great. Move on.


    Picture book author Mem Fox comments on the difficulty of writing a chidlren's picture book. | DarcyPattison.com

    Get the Great Book Published

    Now that you have your Great Book, let’s talk about how to get it published.

    Ah, this is where most people want me to wave a magic wand. Unfortunately, I can’t. Children’s publishing is an industry like any other, with its own best practices, fads that come and go, and a network of professionals who look askance at outsiders.

    To break into the publishing world, you need to send your Great Book to someone for evaluation. This could be a publishing house or an agent.

    The manuscript must be in standard manuscript format, and you’ll usually want a killer of a query letter.

    Then comes the big question: WHERE do you send Great Book?
    The annual Children’s Writers and Illustrator’s Market (CWIM) is like a big telephone directory of children’s publishers. It lists contact information, what types of books this company publishes and specific information on how to contact them. The CWIM also lists agents who represent children’s books, so you’ll want to study those listings, too. For members, the SCBWI also has listings of publishers and agents that are helpful.

    Unfortunately, I can’t tell you where to send YOUR mss. You’ll have to study the market and find the best fit for you and your story. There are five mega-publishing houses, but each has multiple imprints that often operate as a separate company in many ways. For editorial purposes, you can usually submit to each imprint. So, would you be happier with one of the mega-publishers or a small, local or independent publisher? Does your book have widespread appeal for the bookstore (or trade) market? Or do you anticipate a niche market audience, such as 2nd grade teachers? Are you only writing for a religious market or an education market? Who is your audience and where would you expect them to buy this book?

    In other words, there’s no free ride on this question. You must research your options and the best I can do is to say get started. Use the market guies as a starting point, but then move online. For example, today, it’s easy to find an editor or agent on Twitter and follow them for a while to see if they’ll be a good fit. Are they encouraging or contemptuous of authors? Do you like their approach to problems? And so on. Follow a local publisher’s Facebook page or sign up for their newsletter. Research on the market is key to getting published.

    Whether you decide to submit to an agent or a publisher, there are some common tips:

    • No, you don’t have to have an illustrator lined up. In fact, this could hurt your chances for a sale.
    • The waiting game. Major publishers can receive up to 10,000 manuscripts a year. Of those, they might publish 200. Of those 200, maybe three or four are from new authors. Why should they pick up your story and read it? As for agents, they are also bombarded with manuscripts and are taking on few new clients. To wade through the tsunami of manuscripts, each company (publisher or agent) has developed certain strategies. Be sure to follow their instructions. But even then, it can easily be 3-6 months before they respond. Often, they won’t respond unless they are interested.
    • The personal touch. If that sounded depressing and like you’re fighting an uphill battle, you’re right. In business they say that people do business with people they know. It’s a cliche that holds true in children’s publishing! In other words, you can shortcut some of the waiting by meeting an editor or agent at a conference. The SCBWI national summer conference is now open for registration. But also check out the SCBWI chapters for local or regional conferences.

    People do break into children’s publishing every day. The industry needs newcomers with fresh ideas and amazing stories told in amazing ways. They need illustrations that capture a child’s imagination. But this is an industry with a rich history, career professionals and dedicated creative writers and artists. If your interest is casual and by-the-way, you won’t have much of a chance. If you’re ready to dig in and devote a career to children’s literature, welcome! Take that next step and submit your story!


    ,a href=”http://www.darcypattison.com/picture-books/write-childrens-book-get-published”>Dr. Seuss comments on the skill necessary to write for children and get it published. | DarcyPattison.com


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