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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Picture books, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. Combining History and Holiday

Hanukkah At Valley Forge

By Stephen Krensky, illustrated by Greg Harlin

With the arrival of the celebration of Hanukkah, I wanted to revisit a special book I have spoken about before; Hanukkah at Valley Forge. In 2007 this book received The Sydney Taylor Award from the Association of Jewish Libraries given in recognition of picture books and also those for teens that authentically reflect the Jewish experience. Here, the book’s vivid watercolor illustrations coupled with Mr. Krensky’s fictionalized retelling of a historically researched anecdote come together for what I think is a powerful picture book.

Stephen Krensky’s book, Hanukkah at Valley Forge, combines history and holiday in an interesting way. The parallels of American and Jewish history intertwine on a bitterly cold winter evening at Valley Forge. Faced with increasing uncertainty and mounting odds, General George Washington meets a Polish immigrant observing the first night of Hanukkah with the lighting of the candles there amidst the fading hope of Washington’s ragtag colonial army.

Common themes of man’s need to hope in the face of increasing despair and the price of liberty’s cause, echo in the meeting of these two men at a pivotal point in our nation’s early history. Some historical accuracy was apparently discovered in the research of the book, and it is left to the reader to wonder if chance meetings sometimes turn the tides of men and war.

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2. Traditional Tales with Bernadette Watts

I’ve got my work cut out for me this week and so my time today is limited, but here’s a quick post to share a few spreads from The Bernadette Watts Collections: Stories and Fairy Tales, coming to shelves in an English edition early next year (NorthSouth). If you’re up for some colorful, pastoral art—with some no-holds-barred drama to boot—you’re in the right place today.

Watts, whose fairy tale art is well-known in Europe, was born in England in 1942 and still lives in the UK (and is still creating new stories). This collection of nearly forty previously-published stories, released this year in Switzerland, includes tales from Aesop, Leo Tolstoy, the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, and more. The book includes an introduction from Eric Carle, where in part he writes:

Although we have never met, I have been an admirer of Bernadette Watts’s art for a long time. Dominant in her work are the settings. She is a very English illustrator/artist, and her pedigree is unmistakable. That said, in “Varenka” [a story based on a Russian legend] she boldly and with a modern brush employs the vernacular of Russian religious art. …

Her books generally display warm and pleasing colors that bathe each image in an almost theater-like setting: the lights have been dimmed, the curtain has been drawn, and the viewer has settled back, invited into the magic unfolding in Bernadette’s art and stories. …

Watts strikes just about every mood in this collection. She goes from eerie (“Little Red Riding Hood,” originally published in 2009) to sweet (“The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse”) and hits just about every note in between.

Here’s a bit more art.

Until Thursday …

 


“‘Hmmmm,’ thought the wolf. ‘This little girl will make a tasty treat indeed, much more tender than the old woman. I will have the old woman for dinner and this little morsel for dessert.’ The wolf walked a little way with Red Riding Hood. Then he said, ‘Look at all the lovely flowers! I am sure your grandmother would love to have some.’
Red Riding Hood looked at all the bright flowers dancing in the woods. …”

(Click to enlarge spread)


 


“Then a voice called from the window: ‘Nibble, nibble, mousekin, / Who’s nibbling at my housekin?’ The children answered: ‘The breeze, the breeze / That blows through the trees,’ and ate on without letting it worry them.”
(Click to enlarge spread)


 


“She seized Hansel in her scrawny hands and put him in a little cage, and locked him in behind a wire door. He could scream as much as he liked and it would do him no good. Then she went to Gretel, shook her awake, and said, ‘Get up, lazybones, and cook your brother something nice to fatten him up. Then I can eat him.’”
(Click to enlarge spread)



 

* * * * * * *

THE BERNADETTE WATTS COLLECTION. Copyright © 2014 by NordSüd Verlag AG, CH-8005 Zürich, Switzerland. First published in the United States in 2015 by NorthSouth Books, Inc. Illustrations here reproduced by permission of the publisher.

6 Comments on Traditional Tales with Bernadette Watts, last added: 12/18/2014
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3. Stanley the Builder by William Bee

Stanley the BuilderWhen you read Stanley the Builder with its simple story, likeable characters, and bright illustrations, it brings to mind another favorite character named Maisy. And I LOVE Maisy! I think little boys and girls will also love reading Stanley the Builder and the other stories about Stanley as well – Stanley’s Diner, Stanley the Farmer, and Stanley’s Garage. This book is just the right length for those little ones who typically have a very short attention span, but will be able to sit for Stanley. I like the boyish themes in the series; and just as with Maisy, I think boys and girls (and parents) will enjoy reading these very much! Yeah!

Posted by: Mary


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4. Malala: A Brave Girl from Pakistan / Iqbal: A Brave Boy from Pakistan, by Jeanette Winter

Becoming an elementary school librarian has changed the way that I read and think about children's books. Instead of reading to or imagining my own children reading the books I review, I now also think about my students and how they will receive and understand a book. Also, as a librarian, I can encourage (or insist) students read a book that they probably would never pick up on their own.

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5. Scarletta Press Submissions

ScarlettaLogo380SCARLETTA PRESS accept submissions ONLY during their reading period (September 1 to June 1).

SUBMISSIONS ARE CURRENTLY OPEN.

They use Submittable.

While they seek to publish new voices missing from the literary world, they also want to make sure your manuscript will fit their genre community. The books they choose to publish are intellectually stimulating, adding relevant knowledge to readers’ minds. Their Junior Readers and Kids imprints focus on literature and picture books with educational twists, exciting illustrations, and engaging plots.

Genres they focus on include:

  • Children’s Fiction
  • Middle-grade Fiction
  • Educational Fiction/Nonfiction
  • Picture Books

They do not publish plays, screenplays, short story collections, or poetry.

With your cover letter, please submit a synopsis of your book and one or two chapters, no more than 30 pages. They accept both agented and unagented manuscripts.

Illustrators: Don’t forget that picture book publishers need you, too.

You may submit electronic submissions through Submittable. If you are including images–no more than one total file–please make sure to save and upload them in a .pdf format.

You may send your hard copy submission to:
Editor
Scarletta
1201 Currie Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55403
Please include a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) with any hard copy submissions to receive our response.

Special Instructions from Scarletta Publishers
*Please do not send submissions directly to any of our staff members.
**Note that due to the number of submissions we receive, we do not have the ability to notify authors of having received their submissions. While we understand that you may be anxiously awaiting a response to your submission, we ask that you do not send your manuscript more than once or send multiple inquiries about your submission’s status.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Artist opportunity, authors and illustrators, chapter books, Middle Grade Novels, need to know, opportunity, picture books, Places to Submit, publishers, submissions Tagged: Scarletta Press

3 Comments on Scarletta Press Submissions, last added: 12/15/2014
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6. The Hula-Hoopin' Queen: terrific picture book + gift idea (ages 5-10)

Each holiday I love pairing books with toys that kids will enjoy. Kids love toys (duh!) and these pairings extend the experience of both book and toy by capturing their imagination. This week, I'll share posts each day with fun ideas.

The Hula-Hoopin' Queen would be a perfect grandma gift for a young reader -- especially from a grandma that's still young at heart. Pair it with a sparkly hula hoop and you're all set!
The Hula-Hoopin' Queen
by Thelma Lynne Godin
illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton
Lee & Low
, 2014
Your local library
Amazon
ages 5-10
Kameeka loves hula hooping and is sure she can become the Hula-Hoopin’ Queen of 139th Street--but Mama reminds her that she has to help get ready for Miz Adeline’s birthday. After all, Miz Adeline took care of Mama and Kameeka when they each were babies. How will Kameeka ever get all these things done and get outside to beat her rival Jamara?
"Girl, don't you even think about it. You know today is Miz Adeline's birthday."
When Kameeka heads out to run an errand, she sees Jamara and just can't avoid stepping up to save her reputation. By the time she gets home, it's too late to make the birthday cake! I especially love the ending, as Miz Adeline lets Kameeka see how much she loved hula hooping when she was a kid.
"Neighborhood kids crowd around as Jamara and I hoop."
Godin's text has snap and is great fun to read aloud. Brantley-Newton's illustrations really appeal to my students, capturing the feel of our multicultural urban community.

Pair this fun book with a hula hoop set and maybe you'll inspire some intergenerational or neighborly contests of your own.

Illustrations copyright ©Vanessa Brantley-Newton, 2014, shared via Lee and Low site and Thelma Lynne Godin's site. The review copies were kindly sent by the publisher, Lee and Low Books. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2014 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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7. Eight Christmas Books

Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree. Robert E. Barry. 1963. Random House. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

Mr. Willowby's Christmas tree came by special delivery. Full and fresh and glistening green--the biggest tree he had ever seen. He dashed downstairs to open the door--This was the moment he'd waited for.

I loved, loved, loved Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree. It celebrates giving in a fun and playful way. Mr. Willowby starts off a long chain of giving when he chops off the top of his too-tall Christmas tree. A tree that is splendid in every other way. He gives the tree-top to the upstairs maid. She's delighted. Very delighted. How thoughtful! How cheery! But the tree is too-tall for her small room. The top must go! Chances are you can predict at this point how the story will go. But that doesn't mean it is in any way less delightful. This little tree-top gets passed down and re-trimmed again and again and again and again and again. And it's just WONDERFUL to see how much happiness and cheer it brings to others.

I loved the premise. I loved the writing. The rhyming was delightful. It worked very well for me! I think this one would make a great read-aloud. I also loved how uplifting it is. (After reading Baboushka and the Three Kings, I needed a cheery story!)

Why didn't someone tell me about this wonderful and charming picture book?! Why?! Well, I am glad to have discovered it now!

Which Christmas books would you consider classic? Which would you recommend?

Uncle Vova's Tree. Patricia Polacco. 1989. Penguin. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

Uncle Vova's Tree is rich in detail and tradition. The author, Patricia Polacco, is drawing from her past and recalling some of her childhood Christmases. She writes, "As a child I celebrated Christmas as most American children did, but at Epiphany in January, my brother, my two cousins, my grandparents and I would go to the farm of my Great Uncle Vladimir and Aunt Svetlana to celebrate in the Russian tradition." The book recalls two family gatherings specifically. The first is Uncle Vova's last Christmas. Though of course, most everyone did not *know* it would be his last Christmas. The second is that first Christmas without him. The book definitely has tones of sadness, but, it is ultimately hopeful. Memories, good, strong happy memories, remain.

The book is rich in detail and tradition. It is informative in many ways. Did you know about the tradition of putting hay underneath the tablecloth to remember and honor the stable in Bethlehem where Jesus was born? But in addition to honoring tradition--in this case, Russian tradition--it also celebrates families. Readers meet a family that is close and loving and supportive. Little details make this one work well.

Too Many Tamales. Gary Soto. Illustrated by Ed Martinez. 1993. Penguin. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

Snow drifted through the streets and now that it was dusk, Christmas trees glittered in the windows.

Too Many Tamales is a great family-oriented Christmas story. Maria, our heroine, is helping her mom make tamales. She loves helping her mom, loves being grown-up in the kitchen. But things don't go smoothly with this first batch of tamales. And it is her fault. Mostly. Maria really, really, really wanted to try on her mom's ring. Unfortunately, this-too-big ring falls right into the masa mixture. Hours later, she realizes that she never took the ring off. She doesn't know for sure where the ring is. But she has a strong suspicion that it may very well be in one of the twenty-four tamales. With a little help from her cousins, Maria is in a race to find the ring before her mom--and all the other relatives--realize what has happened. Will she find the ring? Will her mom find out? Will her cousins ever want to eat another tamale?!

I liked this one very much.

Angelina's Christmas. Katharine Holabird. Illustrated by Helen Craig. 1986. Penguin. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

Christmas was coming, and everyone at Angelina's school was working hard to prepare for the Christmas show.

I enjoyed reading Angelina's Christmas. I enjoyed meeting Angelina and her family. I loved how thoughtful and empathetic Angelina was. She realizes that there is one house in the village that is not decorated. She notices that there is one "old man huddled by a tiny fire." She learns from her parents that this old man is Mr. Bell, a retired postman. She decides that she will do something special for him so he won't be all alone at Christmas time. (And Angelina isn't the only one joining in to help make this Christmas memorable for Mr. Bell.) She makes him cookies, her mom sends along mince pies and fruit, her dad cuts him a Christmas tree. They visit him, Henry, Angelina's brother comes along too. But perhaps even more importantly than showing him kindness through things, they take the time to listen to him, to include him. This one is a lovely book.

The Trees of the Dancing Goats. Patricia Polacco. 2000. Simon & Schuster. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

At our farm just outside Union City, Michigan, we didn't celebrate the same holidays as most of our neighbors...but we shared their delight and anticipation of them just the same.

I enjoyed reading The Trees of the Dancing Goats by Patricia Polacco. She is sharing yet another holiday memory with young readers in this picture book.

The story focuses on one holiday season when the town is hit by an epidemic, scarlet fever, I believe. The heroine's family is not sick, but, most of their neighbors are. As they are preparing to celebrate Hanukkah, they realize that most of their neighbors are too sick to prepare for and celebrate Christmas. They love their neighbors. They want to do something for them. Working together as a family, they decide to bring Christmas to their neighbors: food, a tree, decorations. Since they don't own any Christmas ornaments, they use animals carved out of wood. One of the animals, as you might have guessed, is a goat. When hung on the tree, it appears to be a dancing goat. Can one family bring Christmas cheer to a community?

I liked this one. I liked the family scenes very much. It is a thoughtful book. I'm glad I finally discovered it!

Morris' Disappearing Bag. Rosemary Wells. 1975. Penguin. 40 pages. [Source: Library]

It was Christmas morning. "Wow!" said Morris.

Morris' Disappearing Bag probably isn't my favorite Rosemary Wells, but, this one is enjoyable enough that it's worth reading at least once or twice. Morris stars in this one. He has three older siblings: one big brother, Victor, and two older sisters, Rose and Betty. It is a Christmas book, of course. After all the presents are opened, the three older siblings play with their presents and play with each others presents. Victor got hockey stuff. Betty got a chemistry set. Rose got a beauty kit. They take turns sharing. Much fun is had. But not by all. For Morris has only his present (a teddy bear) to play with. He doesn't get a turn with his siblings' presents. But that changes when Morris discovers a fantastic present under the tree. A bag. A disappearing bag. Whatever is in the bag disappears. His siblings all want a turn, and, he lets them in the bag. While his siblings have disappeared for the day, Morris plays with their stuff before settling into bed with his bear.

Max's Christmas. Rosemary Wells. 1986. Penguin. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

I love watching Max and Ruby. I've seen the adaptation of Max's Christmas plenty of times before I read the book. If you like the show, chances are you'll enjoy reading this book. It is very similar. For those new to these lovable siblings, Ruby is the older sibling. She seems to be raising Max all on her own. (Ruby and Max don't have parents. They have a Grandma, but, she does not live with Max and Ruby.) Max is the younger sibling. He is many things: cute, clever, curious. Yes, he can be mischievous, but, he is also super-observant. I love, love, love them both. I might like Max a tiny bit better than Ruby. But still. I love them both.

In this book, readers join Ruby and Max on Christmas Eve night. Ruby is trying her best to get Max to get ready for bed, to go to sleep. Max is excited, of course. Once he knows that Santa is coming to his house tonight, he wants to see it for himself. So he goes downstairs to wait for Santa....

I liked this one very much.

Wombat Divine. Mem Fox. Illustrated by Kerry Argent. 1995/1999. HMH. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

I found Mem Fox's Wombat Divine to be charming. I loved Wombat. He loves, loves, loves Christmas. More than anything, he wants a part in the nativity play. At the auditions, he tries his best. But there are so many parts that he's just not right for. I love the refrain, "Don't lose heart. Why not try for a different part?" which is used throughout the whole auditioning process. He auditions for Archangel Gabriel, Mary, a wise king, Joseph, an innkeeper, and a shepherd. But there's one role that he'd be just perfect playing. Can you guess it?

I liked this one. I thought it was cute and sweet. I liked the writing. I found it unique and oh-so-right.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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8. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #410: Featuring Chris Raschka


“And that is the very best sort of thing to be.”


 

I’ve got some illustrations today from Caldecott Medalist Chris Raschka, and I think taking a look at his artwork is pretty much always a good way to start one’s day.

If You Were a Dog (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, September 2014) was written by Jamie A. Swenson and is an engaging title for very young children. Swenson introduces a series of animals, using the conditional if-you-were question — from dogs to dinosaurs and lots of other animals in between (including a human at the book’s close). The text has an infectious energy, its fair share of entertaining onomatopoeia, and a very playful rhythm that begs to be shared in group story times. You can see some of that below in the spreads shared here today. It’s a book that invites young children to use their imagination and play along; I kinda wish I could snap my fingers right now and have a group of children to share it with.

Kirkus calls this one a “cheery picker-upper.” It’s true. See for yourself below. And please enjoy Raschka’s menagerie of swooping, swimming, stomping, swooshing, fluttering, buzzing creatures. His color palette here is spot-on, and I love the way he captures the movement and energy of all these creatures.



 


“Would you howl at the moon? …”
(Click to enlarge spread)


 



(Click second image to see spread in its entirety)


 


“If you were a dinosaur, would you be a stomping-roarer, earth-quaker, tree-shaker, sharp-pointed toothy-grinner, colossal-chomper, super-duper,
longest-neck-o-saur sort of dinosaur?”

(Click to enlarge)


 



 

P.S. Raschka has another 2014 title out, this one from Atheneum Books and released in August. But I haven’t seen this one yet. (Well, I’ve seen it on bookstore shelves, but I haven’t yet spent a lot of time with it.) Have any of you? Oh, and you all saw the Sun Ra biography from earlier this year, yes?

 



 

IF YOU WERE A DOG. Copyright © 2014 by Jamie A. Swenson. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Chris Raschka. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Farrar Straus Giroux, 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 * * *

Last week, I was super busy with a writing assignment (which I’m still working on), so I didn’t leave seven separate kicks. And this week I’m, once again, not leaving seven separate kicks, because I’m actually out of town for a very short trip. So, I apologize, but I’m SURE to have listy kicks next week.

I’ll be back today, and as always, I’m eager to hear that you all had a good week. At least I hope you did. So, please do kick here — if you’re so inclined.

(Also, Seven Separate Kicks. Band name. I call it!)

10 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #410: Featuring Chris Raschka, last added: 12/14/2014
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9. Post-PiBoIdMo Prize Winners!

Oh, this doggie is persistent! He is so eager to know if he won!

doggie2

Well, let me tell you if YOU won…

Timothy Young’s Prize Winners: One picture book each

JENNY SEIGER (The Angry Little Puffin)
ELIZABETH BROWN (I Hate Picture Books)

Carol Gordon Ekster’s Prize Winner: One signed copy of Before I Sleep

SHARON PUTNAM

Laura Zarrin’s Prize Winner: “Winter Dancing” print

ASHLEY BOHMER

I will be  contacting you via email in the next few days to arrange delivery of your prizes.

Congratulations!

More prizes to come…


10 Comments on Post-PiBoIdMo Prize Winners!, last added: 12/13/2014
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10. Pre-PiBoIdMo Prize Winners!

I know you’ve been waiting patiently…

doggie

So here are the Pre-PiBoIdMo Winners!

Matthew Winner’s Prize Winners (say that 10 times fast!): One picture book each

RITA ANTOINETTE BORG
KAREN CALLOWAY

Margie Myers-Culver’s Prize Winners: One picture book each

SHERRI JONES RIVERS
LAURIE SWINDLER
CAROL FEDEROFF
MIKE KARG

Lauri Meyers’ Prize Winner: PiBoIdMo Mug

PAM MILLER

Darshana Khiani’s Prize Winner: One picture book critique

SYDNEY O’NEILL

I will be  contacting you via email in the next few days to arrange delivery of your prizes.

Congratulations!

More prizes to come…


10 Comments on Pre-PiBoIdMo Prize Winners!, last added: 12/13/2014
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11. Best of First Half of 2014 Illustrator Saturday

Last Saturday I picked my favorite Illustrator Saturday Illustration from each illustrator who had been featured during the second half of this year. Even though I had picked my favorites from the first half on May 24th I still wanted to post the first half and added a new choice for each illustrator so there would be something new.

ELISABETH ALBA

albabattle-angel-final-s

albapiedpiper-b

http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2014/03/08/illustrator-saturday-elisabeth-alba/

OMAR ARANDA

29

omarbedfall

http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2014/05/03/illustrator-saturday-omar-aranda/

DENISE CLEMMENSEN

denisefoxes

denisecatintreecropped

http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2014/05/10/illustrator-saturday-denise-clemmensen/

MIKE CRESSY

cressyBubbles02

cressyWhenTheSunWentDownSML

http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2014/03/15/illustrator-saturday-mike-cressy/

MICHAEL DOOLING

michaelfossilcoverlast500

michaelfap_looking_glass_LG500

http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2014/02/22/illustrator-saturday-michael-dooling/

CHRISTOPHER DENISE

christopherabbeysnow

christopherbearcropped

http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2014/04/12/illustrator-saturday-christopher-denise/

ERIC FREEBERG

ericgoldilocks

ericsnowdog

http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2014/04/26/illustrator-saturday-eric-freeberg/

MELANIE HOPE-GREENBERG

melaniehgQ14

melanie07

http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2014/03/22/illustrator-saturday-melanie-hope-greenberg/

MICHELLE HENNINGER

michelleelvis

michellechoir_dvd_cover_paint_crop

http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2014/01/04/illustrator-saturday-michelle-henninger/

CAROL HEYER

carolliberty

carolblackwingsback

http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2014/02/01/illustrator-saturday-carol-heyer/

ALISON JAY

alisonfourfrogs

alisonflyingcropped

http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2014/05/17/illustrator-saturday-alison-jay/

SUZANNE KAUFFMAN

suzanneNight%20Owl_p24

suzannewonder_girl_balloon_facebook500

http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2014/01/18/illustrator-saturday-suzanne-kauffman/

KAREN LEE

karenleeSlider-Dead-Anyway

karenleeHFC What Is It_ final

http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2014/02/08/illustrator-saturday-karen-lee/

DANA MARTIN

dana800aladdin

dana800sinbad

http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2014/04/19/illustrator-saturday-dana-martin/

WENDY MARTIN

wendy05-2TristanIsoldeWendyMartincropped

wendyorch

http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2014/03/01/illustrator-saturday-wendy-martin/

BOB MCMAHON

bobBrunos Bakery

bobSing Clap Praise

http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2014/01/25/illustrator-saturday-bob-mcmahon/

ANA OCHOA

anafishing

anaducks

http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2014/01/11/illustrator-saturday-ana-ochoa/

LYN STONE

lynRumpletump-in-colour

lyncatdogfight

http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2014/03/29/illustrator-saturday-lyn-stone/

JENNIFER THERMES

jenniferflying witch

jenniferwhipingwind

http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2014/02/15/illustrator-saturday-jennifer-thermes/

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: authors and illustrators, illustrating, Illustrator Sites, Illustrator's Saturday, inspiration, picture books Tagged: Best of Illustrator Saturday first half of 2014

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12. A Letter for Leo – Perfect Picture Book Friday

Title: A Letter for Leo Written and illustrated by: Sergio Ruzzier Published By: Clarion Books, New York, 2014 Themes/Topics: postmen, friendship, letters, birds, weasels Suitable for ages: 3-5 Fiction, 32 pages Opening: Leo is the mailman of a little old town Synopsis: Postman Leo … Continue reading

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13. Up & Down: A Lift-the-Flap Book by Britta Teckentrup

Britta Teckentrup is one of my new (to me) favorite picture book illustrator/authors. Her work in Busy Bunny Days  and The Odd One Out, which I reviewed earlier this year call to mind the work of Richard Scary and the brightly patterned fabrics of Marimekko. In her newest book (in the U.S.) Teckentrup, who is German but lived in London for almost 20 years, uses her way with patterns and

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14. The Extraordinary Mr. Qwerty by Karla Strambini

Honestly, Karla Strambini could have created an entirely wordless picture book that didn't even have  a plot and I would have turned the pages just as eagerly - her illustrations are that compelling, that filled with stories of their own. That said, The Extraordinary Mr. Qwerty has a wonderful story threaded with themes of creativity, community and creative diversity. I especially love her

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15. What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Eva Eriksson


“Grump the tomte lived in the grounds of an empty cottage and every day, he slipped into the cottage through the cat flap. That’s how small he was. Real house tomtes are like that. They are small and quick and grumpy and they are always dressed in grey, apart from a pointy red hat. You hardly ever see them.”


 

This morning over at Kirkus, I spotlight Pat Mora’s Water Rolls, Water Rises, illustrated by Meilo So. That link will be here soon.

* * *

Last week I wrote here about Ulf Stark’s The Yule Tomte and the Little Rabbits (Floris Books), illustrated by Eva Eriksson and first published in Sweden in 2012. I’ve got some art from it today.

Enjoy.


“Grump picked up the bee and ran back to his own house to light the first candle in the Advent candlestick. Tomtes always light the first candle on the first of December, whatever day of the week it falls on.”


“He got out his best book. It was the only one he had. It was called
In Praise of Solitude. The he started to read:
‘What could be better than enjoying silence all alone…’”


“Quite some way away, under an enormous oak tree in a big forest,
was a rabbit burrow. The burrow was full of life.”


“‘What is winter?’ asked Binny. None of the rabbit children knew what winter was. They had never experienced a winter. ‘It’s when the cold gets so cold it pinches your nose and everything turns as white as a cauliflower,’ said Grandfather.
‘The white stuff is called snow.’”


“‘What’s this?’ Binny wondered. ‘Perhaps it’s winter?’ guessed Barty. ‘It is quite white.’ ‘Yes,’ said Binny, ‘but it is mostly grey. And it is not pinching our noses.’”


“After a lot of work, the Christmas tree was ready. … Oh, how beautiful it was! And what fun it would be to dance around it and sing songs. But they couldn’t do that until the Yule Tomte arrived. ‘He is in no particular hurry, that one,’ said Uncle Nubbin.”


“But it really was the Yule Tomte! With a sock on his head.
He had Binny and Barty with him too. And the bee in its little box.”


 



 

* * * * * * *

THE YULE TOMTE AND THE LITTLE RABBITS. First published in Sweden in 2012. First published in English in 2014 by Floris Books. Copyright © 2012 Rabén & Sjögren. English version © 2014 Floris Books. Illustrations here are reproduced by permission of the publisher.

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16. Some Haiku Before Breakfast …

I love the fact that a haiku is designed to capture a moment in time. It allows the reader, and the writer, to savor that moment.

These days, we are bombarded with so much information that sometimes we forget to stop and appreciate the little things.

I also love the challenge of presenting these small moments in just seventeen syllables, with a little twist to make them memorable.”

* * *

Today over at Kirkus, I chat with children’s book author and poet Bob Raczka, pictured above, about writing poetry for children; Santa Clauses: Short Poems from the North Pole, his beautiful new picture book, illustrated by Chuck Groenink; and what’s next on his plate.

That link will be here soon, and next week I’ll have some art from the book here at 7-Imp.

* * * * * * *

Photo of Bob Raczka used by his permission.

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17. Is there a dog in this book? by Viviane Schwarz

Viviane Schwarz has long been a favorite of mine. Back in 2008 she introduced us to Moonpie, André and Tiny, a pack of cats in a brilliant lift-the-flap book who, when not hiding invited readers to toss them balls of wool,  open boxes for them to hide in and to blow on the page to try them off after being caught up in a fishy "floodwave" to hilarious ends in There are cats in this book.  In

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18. Tiptop Cat by C. Roger Mader

I love a good cat story, and by that I mean a story in which a cat is behaving (although not necessarily always realistically illustrated) like a real cat, and Tiptop Cat by C. Roger Mader is definitely that!  Tiptop Cat begins, quite simply, "Of all the gifts she got that day, the best on was the cat." Right away, we know that this story is about the cat - people are irrelevant, or at

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19. Winter Bees and Other Poems of the Cold

sidman winter bees 300x259 Winter Bees and Other Poems of the ColdBaby, it’s cold outside. Time to look at this very wintry book.

Taking it from the top…

We notice the arresting cover: the leaping fox; the contrast between the fox’s red coat /dark paws and the white, snowy background; the overlay of snow in the air.

Open the book to see endpapers the color of a winter twilight.

Right off the bat there’s an attempt to involve the audience, visually: that fox on the cover (what is it about to pounce on, we wonder); the moose looking straight at us from out of the title page; even the vole on the front flap seems to be looking at us. (I imagine this was a calculated decision, given the nature of the subject: winter being the least active season of the year. All this pulls the audience in before the majestic double-page spreads begin.)

Immediately we notice the sense of texture on the page; the overlay of falling or swirling or even just imminent snow. You can almost breathe this book; you can feel the frozen air in your lungs. There’s a lot of accomplishment on evidence in this book, but the palpable air in this book may be its most remarkable quality.

Then we are presented with one double-page spread after another of majestically composed winter scenes featuring a range of animals, large and small. We notice the care taken to present scenes from an animal’s-eye view, the arresting perspectives, the palette that somehow communicates the sense of cold and yet uses warm colors in spots — and sometimes more than that. Particularly the orange-red of the fox, the bees’ hive, the beavers’ lodge, the chickadees’ breasts. (The cover -and title-page type presages this constant contrast between cold and warm, with the word winter in a chilly blue-purple and the word bees in that orange-red.)

My favorite two spreads in the book, however, feature no animals at all. (I will not be able to be eloquent enough about them, so be sure to take a look for yourself.) A closeup of a single branch opens the book (coming directly after the title page and before the table of contents). On the left hand page, we see the branch as it would look in autumn; as our eye travels toward the right, that same branch gradually morphs into what it would look like in winter. At book’s close (just before the final glossary page), the left-hand page shows the branch in winter, and now as our eyes move to the right, the branch morphs into spring, with the snow disappearing and small buds beginning to appear. And on the tip of the branch? Green. A bud just flowering into leaf. Taken together, those two spreads are the most elegant depiction of the changing seasons I think I’ve ever seen.

About his process for creating the illustrations for Winter Bees, Rick Allen writes (on the copyright page): “The images for this book were made through the unlikely marriage of some very old and almost new art mediums. The individual elements of each picture (the animals, trees, snowflakes, etc.) were cut, inked, and printed from linoleum blocks (nearly two hundred of them), and then hand-colored. Those prints were then digitally scanned, composed, and layered to create the illustrations for the poems. The somewhat surprising (and oddly pleasing) result was learning that the slow and backwards art of relief printmaking could bring modern technology down to its level, making everything even more complex and time-consuming.”

Does this matter? Would a knowledge of the laboriousness and complexity of the artist’s process influence the Caldecott committee? Is the committee even allowed to take such information into consideration? or must they ignore it and simply consider the finished product?

Your thoughts are welcome.

 

 

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20. George Can! (And You Can Too!), by Maria Stuckey-Leach | Dedicated Review

George Can! (And You Can Too) is an affirming picture book about the wonderful powers of positive thinking. It offers young readers a playful nudge toward an optimistic attitude by utilizing the mantra “I can! I will! I believe!”

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21. One Impossibly Large Apple Before Breakfast


“It stuffed and stuffed and stuffed itself,
and had not even eaten half when it choked on it and fell down dead!”

(Click to enlarge spread)


 

It’s challenging to write about new picture books at this time of year, given that it’s the end of a calendar year and most Fall books are well past initial release. Instead of looking at newer titles, everyone’s talkin’ Caldecott. (This is something I enjoy reading about, to be sure. If you’re not already reading Calling Caldecott, I’d recommend it.)

Today I’m going to jump way back, though, to 1965; if we don’t have as many new books to explore, let’s look at this one, originally published in Switzerland and created by a German author-illustrator. Just One Apple comes from Horst Eckert, whose pen name is Janosch. NorthSouth re-released this here in the States in September of this year.

In this be-careful-what-you-wish-for tale, a poor man named Walter longs for an apple tree with a blossom. He makes a wish one night, and not only is it granted, but he eventually ends up with a monstrously large apple. He figures that everyone in the kingdom is now his friend, but then he becomes paranoid, believing thieves will take it. “He trusted no one — and even his friends deserted him.” He can’t even sell the fruit when he takes it to market. (And in my favorite line of the book, he has to admit he doesn’t even like apples.)

Turns out, though, that a giant green dragon descends upon the town and taunts the kingdom. In the end, the king’s “detectives” feed the apple to the dragon, who chokes and dies on it. (See above.) The kingdom is saved. Walter was happy again — and this time only wishes for two small, basket-sized apples.

Jonosch’s art is new to me. This is one thing I love about publishers like NorthSouth — that they give us a window into illustrators from overseas with much different sensibilities. I’m struck by how Janosch’s art reminds me of John Burningham’s art (British) in more than one way.

Here are a couple more illustrations. Enjoy.


“As autumn came, the apple grew and grew. But when it was fruit-picking time,
Walter decided to wait. With each passing day, the apple grew bigger and bigger. …”

(Click to enlarge spread and to see full text)


 


“But in the market everyone scoffed at him: ‘You’re a liar and a braggart!
No one has ever seen such a huge apple. It can’t possibly be real.’”

(Click to enlarge spread and to see full text)


 

* * * * * * *

JUST ONE APPLE. Copyright © 1965 by NordSüd Verlag AG, CH-8005 Zürich, Switzerland. English translation cpyright © 1989 by NorthSouth Books, Inc., New York. This edition published in September 2014. Illustrations here reproduced by permission of the publisher.

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22. Post-PiBoIdMo Final Day 9: Deb Lund Works Her “Fiction Magic”

by Deb Lund

Amplify the Longing

“Amplify the Longing!” That was the first card I randomly pulled from my Fiction Magic card deck for writers on the first day of November. Jan O’Neil and I were hosting about a dozen writers for a PiBoIdMo and NaNoWriMo kickoff at the Diamond Knot Brewery next to the Whidbey Island ferry.

Diamond Knot

Good thing I pulled that card before everyone got there. It didn’t take long for Jan and I to discover the afternoon would be more of a social event than an idea-gathering one. Fortunately, using the Fiction Magic cards got us half way through our 30 ideas in record time so we could be social along with the rest of them!

When Tara asked me to write about using Fiction Magic for a Post-PiBoIdMo post, I said yes, because I always say yes to Tara’s challenges. In this case, though, I knew the cards would work well for generating picture book ideas, but following up on those ideas? My first thought was that it would be challenging. That’s good and bad.

It’s difficult for me to resist a challenge.

Fast forward to the last day of November, with my unfinished PiBoIdMo list. How could I write a Post-PiBoIdMo post if I didn’t complete the challenge myself? With my crazy schedule (and clothes-dryer mind), I hadn’t touched that list since our gathering. There’s nothing like a deadline to make a challenge even more exciting!

I pulled out my cards and completed my list in one short sitting. (Should I be admitting that to Tara?)

And then I heard from Jan:

“I had 30 ideas done in 28 days, with the last 11 ideas coming on day 28. That’s the day I was sitting in line for a ferry, pulled out your cards, and whipped out those last puppies.”

cards and card set

All that is great, but I still had the new challenge from Tara ahead of me.

I did say I like challenges, right?

I decided to keep going with the unknown (always a good thing to do when creating) and randomly drew a different Fiction Magic card to apply to each of the original ideas.

Remember the “Amplify the Longing” card? My PiBoIdMo lists in past years were a few words at the most. Not this year! The original idea from that card was:

Kid is never satisfied, wants more, more, more. Parents get run down, tired of trying to keep up with his demands, and when they can’t give any more, he gives them more and more love.

Jan revealed another similar experience:

“In the previous three Novembers, I finished all of the challenges by the skin of my teeth and came to understand that I am not one of those people for whom ideas come fully formed. Most of my ideas fit on one line of my journal paper. Later they may have notes written in the margins, but not at the time the idea first comes. This year, using the Fiction Magic Cards, my ideas are way more fleshed out. I mean, some even take six lines in my journal!”

So I held my breath, reminded myself that I love challenges, and drew a card as a follow-up to “Amplify the Longing.”

“Revolt!”

Yes! I could revolt and pick a different card, right? No? But the guidebook has creativity coaching tips following each craft suggestion! Couldn’t “Revolt” be a coaching tip?

Okay, okay…

My first thought was to have the parents go on a strike, but I didn’t want them to have any direct part in solving the problem, so I decided my main character needed to revolt. Maybe he’ll throw a tantrum until he’s all tired out, too. Then he can relate to how they feel and figure out that they all need love.

Don’t we all?

Here are a couple more examples of my PiBoIdMo ideas and how I used Fiction Magic cards to flesh them out:

“Speak the Unspeakable”

Original Idea: This little girl can only say no.

This little girl can only say no. When it’s time to go? No!
This little girl can never say yes. Clean up your mess? No!
This little girl can only say no. Would you like ice cream? No!
This little girl would like to say yes. Does she? No!
Can she still have ice cream? No!

The additional card I selected for this idea was “Take a Break.” I thought the girl could insist that she can’t say yes, but when she gets tired of all the no’s, of not getting all she wants, she stops talking instead of saying yes, and later, when she finally says yes, she saves face by saying the change was because her tongue needed a break. I also decided that I needed to take a break from all the “This little girl…” lines—and maybe a good long break from this idea!

Are you getting the idea that you have to come up with a lot of bad ideas in order to get a good one? Good! That’s one of the reasons Tara does all this work.

Okay, one more…

Risk it All 

Baby learning to walk. It’s a risk for the baby, and the artwork could show the determination and obstacles to walking.

I thought this would be a story from the Baby’s point of view, but then I knew it had to be a sibling watching the baby learn to walk. The sibling, of course, is not happy about the baby getting all the attention until the baby chooses to walk to the sibling.

Well, there might be a little hope for that idea.

The card I chose to follow up on that one was “Provoke a Response.” That’s exactly what the baby does. Naturally, there would have been a response from the sibling, but because of the second card, I’ll make sure it’s big enough. And maybe the baby will even say the sibling’s name as the first word. Hmmm… And that means I will work in a little bit at the beginning about how the baby “can’t even talk” and just “makes noise.”

See how this works? Fiction Magic isn’t magic. It just feels that way because it triggers new ways of seeing and deepens the concept and plot by combining ideas to create what Tara and I call “High Concept Picture Books.”

Will I work on any of these stories? Maybe. Will any of them be published? It doesn’t matter. It’s all practice. You have to mine a lot of rock to get at the gems.

Keep adding to your ideas, keep writing badly (you have to reach your quota!), and go where your magic leads you.

guestbloggerbio2014

Deb Lund may be best known as the author of All Aboard the Dinotrain and other picture books, but she has taught writing (the focus of her master’s project) to teachers and writers of all ages for 25 years. Deb is also a creativity coach whose mission is to get everyone claiming their creativity. Visit her at DebLund.com and follow her on Twitter @DebLund.

Creativity Deb

Fiction Magic: Card Tricks & Tips for Writers is a 3.5” x 5” boxed set of 54 cards with a 60-page guidebook. Fiction Magic card “tricks” help writers raise the stakes in their writing with phrases like “Alienate an Ally” and “Remove the Moral Compass.” The guidebook provides possible interpretations for each of the 54 cards, followed by creativity coaching “tips” to help writers apply the cards’ messages to their writing lives. It’s like having two decks in one!

For a limited time, Fiction Magic is 50% off.

 

***THIS POST CONCLUDES PIBOIDMO! THANK YOU FOR PARTICIPATING AND GOOD LUCK WITH YOUR IDEAS! PRIZES WILL BE ANNOUNCED ALL WEEK, SO STAY TUNED!***


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23. Shooting at the Stars: the Christmas Truce of 1914 by John Hendrix

Shooting at the Stars: The Christmas Truce of 1914 is the newest book from a longtime favorite of mine, John Hendrix, and the second that Hendrix illustrated and authored himself. Commemorating the 100th anniversary of World War I, Herndrix turns his thoughtful eye to a humane moment in the midst of an inhumane period of history, telling the story of the incredible Christmas Truce between

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24. Illustrator Interview – Yuyi Morales

In keeping with my blog’s strong support of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign, for a while I have wanted to interview illustrator Yuyi Morales. I think from the words and photos YuYi shares today, you will see the important stories and influences … Continue reading

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25. Catch That Cookie! by Hallie Durand and David Small -- a fun twist on a classic tale (ages 4-8)

Every year, our kindergarten classes read different variations of the Gingerbread Man folktale. This year, we're adding in a new twist to our collection: Catch That Cookie! by Hallie Durand and David Small. Our students loved the humor, twists and turns of this take on one of their favorite stories.
Catch That Cookie!
by Hallie Durand
illustrations by David Small
Dial Books / Penguin, 2014
Your local library
Amazon
ages 4-8
Marshall's class has been reading Gingerbread Man stories all week, and he's sure these stories are just made up. Those gingerbread men can't run away--they're just cookies, after all. But when his class opens the oven to take out their gingerbread men, they've disappeared!
"But when they looked in the oven... there was nothing inside!"
The gingerbread men leave behind clues for the students to follow, and my students loved the suspense that these twists added to the story. Each clue is crafted with a rhyme, so that kids can take part in figuring out where the gingerbread men have gone.
"Too bad you didn't catch us,
'Cause we taste like candy.
Now we're on vacation
On a beach that's _________."
"Sandy!" my students shouted. While the rest of his class runs off to follow the clues, Marshall notices small details that his classmates don't see. He spots a raisin that might be from his gingerbread man's eye, and later notices a silver ball that was from the gingerbread man's belt.

"He turned the pot over and ... felt something soft and small. A raisin!"
My students definitely liked the way this story was more of a mystery than the traditional gingerbread man story -- they talked about how the original story is more a fun chase story, and here Marshall has to figure out what's happening. They also loved the ending, as Marshall discovers where the cookies are hiding.

This story will work best if kids know the gingerbread man story. I started by looking at Eric Kimmel's The Gingerbread Man, and asking students to retell the story just from the pictures. For more versions, check out the Padlet that terrific librarian Margie Culver put together.

Add some extra fun with your own gingerbread party or scavenger hunt! I'll be giving a bundle of gingerbread man stories to my nephews, along with some cookie cutters of their own.

The review copies were kindly sent by the publisher, Dial Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Group. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2014 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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