Constructionby Sally Sutton, ill. Brian Lovelock, Walker Books Australia
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Leonard Marcus gave a swell talk about Robert McCloskey last night, but what’s really sticking with me is a response he gave to a question at the end about ebooks. Size matters, he essentially said, when it comes to picture books and other books for young children. Of course, we all know this, but I hadn’t thought about the point in the context where Leonard was placing it, that the size and shape of whatever ebook you’re reading is subsumed by the size and shape of whatever screen you’re reading it on. The difference between the board book, picture book and big book editions of Goodnight, Gorilla disappears in your e-reader edition (which–I just tried it–is a disappointing experience indeed). I’m thinking I may need to gin up a jeremiad for our Cleveland presentation on Friday.Add a Comment
September should be “giveaway month” here on the blog, since we’ve got a bounty of books ‘n’ stuff. The winner of THE LAKE WHERE LOON LIVES was Carol Nelson, who was notified, and who exclaimed that she never wins anything. I was tickled to prove her wrong!
And today we’ve got yet another giveaway, from a long-time blog reader and PiBoIdMo participant, Lori Alexander. Her debut picture book, BACKHOE JOE, is being released TODAY! A round of applause for Lori! I sat down with her to discuss the making of a debut. (Well, I sat HERE, while she sat THERE. We did not sit together, although I would have loved to. I mean, look at her! Isn’t she adorable?)
Lori, there are many truck books on the market because they’re so popular with young children. (In fact, once an editor told me not to write a truck book because of others already out there!) Tell us what makes BACKHOE JOE different and special!
You are right, Tara! There are lots of truck books. When my son was younger, he was crazy about construction. He wore truck shirts and slept on truck sheets and had truck birthdays. We pulled the car over for close-up looks at construction equipment (which set an exhausting precedent on cross-country trips, with me wishing my son had been born a dinosaur fanatic instead. No stops!). We also sought out as many construction books as we could get our hands on. After a while, they all seemed similar to me: a bulldozer pushes, a dump truck dumps, an excavator digs. A playground is built at the end. To mix it up, my son and I had lengthy conversations about what we would do with our own backhoe. Our backhoe could scoop Legos into a pile, dump dirty laundry into the washer, and drive all the neighborhood kids to school (that front loader is roomy!). These dreamy discussions led to the kernel of the idea for BACKHOE JOE which is about a boy who tries to adopt a “stray” backhoe. So, like pirate books and dinosaur books and princess books, BACKHOE JOE joins a crowded subject, but I’m hoping he will dig out some space of his own on the bookstore shelves.
I’m sure he will! (I mean, look at him! Isn’t he adorable?) And that’s what we all have to do, take a common theme and make it unique! I love the idea of a truck as a pet.
Is this the project that landed you an agent? How did you pitch it?
That is something you hear editors ask for…a fresh twist on a common theme! With Backhoe Joe, it took me a few years to get it right. My early drafts were about a boy asking for a backhoe for his birthday, through a series of letters to his parents, à la I Wanna Iguana. I received some positive feedback from a small publisher, who liked the concept, but wasn’t sold on the letter format. Many more months of big-picture revisions as well as tiny tweaks lead to the current version. I received some positive feedback from agent Mary Kole during a webinar critique, and that gave me the boost of confidence I needed to begin querying agents. I queried with BACKHOE JOE but had two other PB manuscripts ready to go, in case an agent was interested. Lucky for me, one was! And you asked how I pitched it. I believe in the cover letter I said something completely cheesy, like “it’s FANCY NANCY for boys!”
Well, that would certainly grab my attention!
What can you share about your debut book experience that’s been most surprising?
While writing BACKHOE JOE, I really tried to nail the page breaks. I studied the page turns in my favorite picture books and read blog posts about layout (Tara’s “Picture Book Dummy, Picture Book Construction: Know Your Layout” is one of my favorites). I submitted BACKHOE JOE to my agent divided into 16 spreads. I thought she might want to remove the breaks and submit it to publishers in paragraph form, but it never came up. I was surprised (in a good way!) when my editor at Harper agreed and the final layout of Joe was exactly how I envisioned it. All that homework paid off!
Another surprise was, although I should have known better, having one sale under your belt doesn’t make it any easier to sell the next book. Rejection—a thing of the past? Not so!
Ha, don’t I know it! They never stop, but they do get easier to swallow. (However, I am not advocating eating your manuscript.)
What’s your favorite line in the book?
My absolute favorite line is on the last page, but I don’t want to spoil anything. I will say Craig Cameron did a fantastic job bringing Joe to life and he set-up the twist ending beautifully.
Aha, I LOVE a twist ending! I think it’s so important for a successful picture book, to surprise your audience, to extend the story beyond the story. Let them imagine what happens next (plus set yourself up for a sequel)!
My second favorite bit is when the main character, Nolan, tries to train Backhoe Joe like he’s a dog. But naughty Joe revs at the mailman, buries his cone in the flowerbed, and digs in the garbage. It was fun to think about the ways a dog and a construction truck might behave similarly.
OK, one last question. I have a list of fun words I posted recently, which has become quite popular. What’s your favorite word?
This time of year, my favorite word is monsoon.
Yeah, I love ooh sounds!
And now our readers are gonna make ooh sounds (corny segue, Tara) because Lori has a BACKHOE JOE prize pack to give away! Just leave one comment below by September 23rd!
The prize pack includes a signed copy of BACKHOE JOE, bookmarks, stickers, and squishy foam stress “rocks”. (Hey, I could use some of those! Remember, the rejections never cease!)
Lori Alexander lives in Tucson, Arizona, with her husband and two rock-collecting kids. Her family always brakes for road construction so they can admire the dozers and diggers. Lori still secretly hopes a backhoe will follow them home. She is represented by Kathleen Rushall of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. This is Lori’s first picture book. Visit her at LoriAlexanderBooks.com.
It’s 5:08 AM and has over a year since I last wrote in this space. Much can happen in a year, like a 4 year old (now 5) blowing my mind nearly every day with the ways she dances through her magical world, so free, her heart and mind wide open. I finished the children’s book that I went to the Redwoods to research last year, and it was dreamy, really, how Tulsi actively contributed in my process. She “played” out the story and quoted many lines from the manuscript. Sitting side by side, we elaborated and refined drawings from my initial dummy sketches while looking at photos from our trip. She freely offered countless ideas of details to add (or even hide) in the pictures. I treasured her unpredictable and untrained color sense while we both painted color studies of every illustration. And during long days of painting, she would climb up on her step stool next to me, gift encouraging “wow”s, thoughtful questions, keen observations only a child would notice, and even draw in wee details! It was such a treasure sharing this process with her.
The publishing world moves at a comparable rate to mine these days (ha), so even though I shipped off 20 illustrations mid-March, you’ll still have to wait until Fall 2015 to see it. I wanted to share a glimpse of LUNA & ME before I’m too engrossed in the next book(s). :) LUNA & ME, The True Story of a Girl Who Lived in a Tree to Save a Forest is a picture book inspired by environmental activist Julia Butterfly Hill’s two year tree sit in an ancient Redwood tree. Her story (and so many other environmentalists) inspire me to do what I can to care for our world using my own talents. One thing I love about this book is Julia’s example of acting from a place of love and compassion and then adding passion, dedication, faith, education, teamwork and endurance, to create change. And it is a magical, powerful story – one I am so happy my kids, and your’s, will know.
And recently, it has been awesome watching my incredible designer work her own sweet magic on the interior and cover design. So many people have supported this project, and I can’t wait to share it with you! – with Christy Ottaviano Books
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Very Little Red Riding Hood by Teresa Heapy, illustrated by Sue Heap, is the first in a series of picture books that re-imagines classic fairy tales with toddlers as the stars. When you think about it, this is a pretty good idea since kids are fascinated with fairy tales from a very young age. The problem is, when you don't Disney-fy the classics, the can be a bit dark for the littlestAdd a Comment
This month, I reviewed Stian Hole’s Anna’s Heaven, released by Eerdman’s in September, for BookPage. That review is here.
You all know I like to follow up reviews with art from the books I write about, if possible, but for this one I also decided to chat with the award-winning illustrator himself (pictured here) about this book, what’s next for him, how picture books differ in the U.S. and overseas, and more. In fact, he poses a question to readers below (regarding U.S. publishing), if anyone is so inclined to weigh in.
The chat today includes art from Anna’s Heaven, as well as a couple of older picture book titles of Stian’s, published here in the States. Stian also shares images from a forthcoming book, which will also be published here.
Let’s get right to it, and I thank him for visiting.
Jules: Your photocollage work is beguiling. I imagine you always on the look-out for vintage photographs and vintage books. Am I right? Where do you typically find source material?
Stian: Yes, I am a collector of bits and pieces that I move around and try to put together. That is what I do for a living. Like in a theater, I have a huge prop stock. By the way, have you noticed all the things theatre and picturebooks have in common?
Some years ago I used to search libraries and second-hand bookshops. Now, databases and collections on the internet have opened up new possibilities. Isn´t it amazing what people out there collect?
Most of the time I find something other than what I am looking for, though. So, more and more often I take a walk instead and use the camera on my cell phone.
Jules: Yes, in Uri Shulevitz’s Writing with Pictures, he says that a picture book is closer to theater and film—silent films, in particular—than other kinds of books. Fascinating.
I love that you honor open endings in your picture books. Americans, it seems, get sort of twitchy sometimes about open endings. What do you think are some of the biggest differences between children’s book publishing here in the States and overseas?
Stian: Your question is interesting, but too big for me to answer, I am afraid. Hmm, I will try to find a way …
I wonder why someone would feel insecure about open endings in children´s literature. Life isn´t always a safe place, so why should it be in picture books? Wouldn´t it be a fraud to tell children that life is always sweet? Anyway, I think kids already know it isn´t so. I believe picture books are a quiet—and safe—meeting place for wonder and reflection. Picture books are often read by adults and children together, and they give a valuable opportunity for thoughts, conversation, and mind-traveling for people of different ages. It is a magic place for opening secret doors, for listening and sharpening your senses.
Anyway, I believe what is scary in life becomes less scary when you speak with someone about it.
It is a good thing when books travel. I wish more books could travel across borders. When I follow my books around, I sometimes get small glimpses of other cultures´ traditions and views on children´s literature. I love to meet people that think differently than I do. It makes me think.
One difference I have noticed across the Atlantic sea, though, is that for some reason I don´t quite understand there is sometimes—or rather in some places in the U.S.—a reluctance of skin, nakedness, and sexuality in children´s and young adults´ books. The U.S. is the only country who has asked me to put more clothes on the characters in my images or else they will not publish them. I once had to remove a boy that was peeing, for some reason. Not even the Arabic countries asked me to do that.
So, I try to turn my head upside-down and look at Nordic picturebooks from the other side of the sea. But I find it difficult to see oneself. Can someone of your readers help me? Anyway, I must say that my publisher in the U.S. has always been thorough and honest with me, and I must pay tribute to them for publishing my weird books.
Jules: I don’t have an answer for that, but perhaps some blog readers will weigh in with some thoughts.
Did anything in particular from your life inspire Anna’s Heaven?
Stian: I usually only have a starting point when I start working on a story. That is all I have; the rest is a strange journey, sometimes fragile and frustrating, sometimes sweet and joy-filled.
In this case, I saw a girl hanging upside-down in a swing and remembered doing the same thing as a boy. It made me stop and think that I still want to do that as an author and illustrator: to turn things upside-down and see the world from another angle! So I realized it was something I had to investigate further.
Along the way, many things inspired me — memories, personal experiences, and lots of influences from different people. When I work on a story, I always keep an alert eye and ear for things I might use in the story. Not only pieces for the illustrations, but also words, feelings, and incidents. Anything. Often I find something else than what I was looking for, things that catch my attention but probably don´t belong in the story. Nevertheless, I pick them up, write it down, and sometimes use it later in another story. You know, people like me are collectors and researchers. One of my favourite authors, Peter Høeg from Denmark, once said, “I am a scientist. I investigate my heart.”
Jules: How much do the illustrations, as you’re working on them, inform the text — if at all? (Or vice versa.)
Stian: In picturebooks, the images and the text should not say quite the same. It is the dialogue between them that is the engine of the picturebook. The third hub is the reader. The author should strive to open up the story, so different readers can add thoughts and help co-write the book. Books do not work without readers.
Jules: What are you reading now?
Many of the American classics have had an impact on my artistic life — J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, Edgar Lee Masters´ Spoon River Anthology, Fitzgerald´s The Great Gatsby. I must also mention the Canadian writer Alice Munro´s short-stories, among many others.
Jules: On that note, what picture books have you loved lately? Or whose work have you seen that you think deserves some love and attention?
Jules: What do you, as an artist, find most challenging and satisfying in the creative processes you employ?
Stian: That is a good question. I often feel that reading and writing stories have something important in common. They makes me feel like I live multiple lives. I am thankful for that. It is very satisfying to live parallel lives, since only one life can feel so short. I am also grateful whenever art open doors inside me, to rooms and places that I have not visited for a while or maybe never been. Sometimes art open the doors all the way to my heart.
But sometimes when I am daydreaming, falling down the rabbit hole, floating inside a bubble, working on a story, I get afraid that I am not present enough in reality. Then I promise myself to hug and tell my wife and my boys that I love them when they come home from school and work. These things feel so important in my life, but hard to explain — does it make sense to you?
Jules: Yes, that makes sense to me. Art is taking you outside of yourself. My favorite singer-songwriter/musician, Sam Phillips, has this lyric in one of her songs (called “Lever Pulled Down”):
I’m a lever pulled down / I’m a flipped switch / I’m a lever pulled down / from the fire in the air / … and I’ll give my life for the lightning in our dreams …
I think that’s what you mean. Perhaps.
(I wish I could link to the song, but it’s one of her rare tracks and not online.)
p.s. I have a Sam Phillips lyric for EVERYTHING in life.
So, what’s next for you?
Stian: Soccer. All three boys are playing matches this weekend, and I will be there. On Sunday, I am goalkeeper when the Norwegian author´s team meets the Italian author´s team. They have come all the way to Oslo.
Then there will be new stories to write. Always. I hope the next book will be a love story. I want all my books to be love stories.
Photo of Stian Hole taken by Jo Michael.
All artwork here is used by permission of Stian Hole and Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, Grand Rapids, Michigan.Add a Comment
Pig and Small
Written & Illustrated by Alex Latimer
Peachtree Publishers 9/01/2104
Age 4 to 8 32 pages
“Pig and Bug just want to be friends, but their size differences are proving to be a BIG problem. Pig wants to play games—but Bug is too small to keep up. Bug wants to make things for his friend—but Pig is too big to appreciate the craftsmanship! Just as they’ve given up all hope for a friendship, Pig has an idea. Will it work? (Yes, it will.)”
“Before this morning, Pig’s nose had never squeaked—not even once.”
Poor Pig. His nose squeaked so much he even looked it up in a medical book. Squeaky Nose Syndrome is right after Squeaky Mouth Syndrome and before Squeaky Pants Syndrome. Wait, it isn’t there. There is no Squeaky Nose Syndrome. Pig examines his nose himself and finds the problem, which is not a problem at all, but a tiny bug. Bug is waving his arms—all four of them—trying to get Pig’s attention. Bug wants to be friends.
“Hello,” said Pig.
“Squeak, squeak,” replied Bug.
Pig and Bug start doing things together, but their friendship has problems from the start. What Pig likes to do—play board games, ride bikes, catch—was difficult and sometimes a wee bit dangerous for Bug, and what Bug likes to do—make things for Pig, Hide-N-Seek—was too small or too hard for Pig. They decide to part ways.
I really like the illustrations by Alex Latimer. He also wrote and illustrated Lion vs. Rabbit (reviewed here), The Boy Who Cried Ninja (reviewed here), and Penguin’s Hidden Talent (sadly, not reviewed here). I love the simple lines and colorful characters that always shine with emotions. He also adds small details that I love and often find amusing. Latimer’s picture books use humor and situations to teach young children without seeming to send a message. In Pig and Small, size makes a difference for BIG Pig and small Bug, so they decide not to be friends. However, this is not the end of Pig and Small.
Pig turns to leave, after he and Bug decided to go their own ways, and the wind, blowing mighty hard, whips a newspaper at Pig, sticking it to his face. Open to the movie section—The Pirate, the Ninja, and the Invisible Dog—Pig realizes there are many things he and Bug can both enjoy. They go see the movie and have a great time. Bug . . . nah, I’ll leave the details between the pages. Do not miss the BIG finale.
BIG Pig and small Bug decide size does not matter. There are many things the two interesting friends can do together that both enjoy. They enjoyed the movie and talk about it on the way home. There are museums, zoos, plays, and aquariums awaiting them. Size does not matter in friendships. Differences melt away between friends and they find ways to enjoy their time together.
Once again, Latimer’s soft, easy tones guide us to a new understanding of what friendship is about, or rather what it is not about—size. With kids back in school and the holidays approaching (much too fast), children have the opportunity to make many new friends. After reading Pig and Small, they will understand that size does not matter in friendship, or do friends need to have identical likes to get along and be friends. Friendship, as in life, is a compromise and differences should not matter . . . at least not to friends like Pig and Bug.
PIG AND SMALL. Text and illustrations copyright © 2014 by Alex Latimer. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Peachtree Publishers, Atlanta, GA.
Pick up Pig and Small at Amazon—B&N—Book Depository—Peachtree Publishers—your favorite local bookstore.
Learn more about Pig and Small HERE
WIN PIG AND SMALL from Peachtree Publishers HERE
Check out what he has to say at his blog: http://alexlatimer.blogspot.com/
Tweet him at his Twitter: https://twitter.com/almaxla
Peachtree has a blog with occasional giveaways here: http://peachtreepub.blogspot.com/
Also by Alex Latimer
Copyright © 2014 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews
Over 1.5 million children from more than 75 countries have signed up to celebrate International Dot Day in their classrooms and individually. It is a day of COLLABORATION and CREATIVITY across the globe. Peter Reynolds says, “the theme for this year’s … Continue readingAdd a Comment
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I have a soft spot for animals that no one wants, which is why I end up with cats and dogs who have been ill-used and thrown away. These cast off always become dear and loving pets. In today's picture book you will meet a young girl who takes in rather unusual creatures who need a home.
Julia’s House for Lost Creatures
For ages 5 to 7
First Second, 2014, 978-1-59643-866-8
One day Julia’s house, carried on the back of a large tortoise, comes to town and settles on a hill by the sea. That evening Julia sits by the fire sipping tea and reading a book. All is still and cozy. All is quiet. Julia sits there and realizes that her home and her life is too quiet, so she runs to her workshop where she makes a sign. Then Julia hangs the sign outside her front door. The sign says: Julia’s House for Lost Creatures.
Julia does not have to wait too long before there is a scratch at the door. When she opens the door, Julia sees a fabric, and much patched, cat sitting on the other side. The cat moves in and all is well. Then there is another knock at the door and when Julia and Patched Up Kitty go to see who is there they find a very large, and very sad, troll standing on her front porch. The troll has lost its home under the bridge and needs a place to stay until he can “get back on his feet.”
A short while after, Julia’s door is assaulted by a variety of bangs, bellows, scratches and whines. Waiting outside there are “lost and homeless creatures of every description.” Julia is run off her feet taking care of her house guests and she is driven to distraction by their messiness, their noise, and their sometimes peculiar ways. Eventually Julia snaps. She has had enough and something has to change.
Readers of all ages are going to love this unique tale. It is clear from the very beginning that Julia is an unusual person, but it turns out that she is also very clever and that she is a skilled problem solver, even when one problem leads to another one. Readers who like the idea of having lots of different and unusual friends will be captivated by the creatures who move into Julia’s house.
SALINA YOON is the award-winning author/illustrator of nearly 200 books for children. Check out which picture books are her family's favorites!Add a Comment
Jeffrey’s Darth Vader series was originally geared towards adults as it was about the experience of being a parent; however, parents shared it with their kids and now both adults & kids love the series. Goodnight Darth Vader was created with both audiences in mind.Add a Comment
Hello, dear kickers. Today I have some artwork from author-illustrator David Biedrzycki, whose has a brand-new picture book out from Charlesbridge, Breaking News: Bear Alert (Charlesbridge, September 2014). It’s the story—in the style of a breaking-news, this-just-in television report—of two very curious bears who make their way into a busy town. It’s a fun story, and David has a handful of spreads from it to share today, as well as a few early sketches. The Kirkus review for this one notes that David’s Adobe Photoshop illustrations are “bold and playful, appropriately reminiscent of vintage Hanna-Barbera and a good match for the slapstick story,” while the Publishers Weekly review adds that David’s book “comically exploits our cultures of distraction and surveillance.” (They make an excellent point.)
The cover’s so entertaining that I’m opening this post with it, though I normally open with artwork (well, non-cover artwork).
While David’s here, he’s also sharing some other artwork, so let’s get right to it, shall we? To read more about the books from which these images come and more about David and his work, you can visit his site here.
All artwork is used with permission of David Biedrzycki.
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.
1) A weekend with no big plans, which is good for relaxing and reading.
2) Good food and good conversations with friends this week.
3) I love the first song on this First Listen from Shara Worden, who evidently goes by the name My Brightest Diamond. (New to me, but I love all the sounds in that first tune.)
4) You gotta admit this is funny.
5) Picture books are always a kick for me, but I enjoyed two in particular this week: Joyce Sidman’s Winter Bees & Other Poems of the the Cold, illustrated by Rick Allen (see some beautiful spreads here!), and Jen Bryant’s The Right Word: Roget and his Thesaurus, illustrated by Melissa Sweet. Melissa shared some images from that book back in July (here), but this week I saw the hardback. MY GOODNESS, it’s gorgeous.
6) A friend recommended a BBC drama called Happy Valley, and my husband and I watched the whole first season in a few days. (Granted, there are only six episodes. Also I’m a hopeless night owl.) The acting is particularly wonderful, though it’s also intense and difficult to watch in spots.
7) I’m learning a Chopin piece on piano this week.
What are YOUR kicks this week?Display Comments Add a Comment
Bonus Critique: Register before September 20, 2014 and receive a free picture book manuscript review and 20-minute Skype session with Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, redeemable within six months of the course’s completion.
Author Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen is proud to offer the first in this series, a course on Plotting in Picture Books.
The Picture Book A to Z series is designed to be a collection of master level classes that cover all of the fundamentals of picture book craft. While each class is complete on its own, taken together, the series will teach you everything you ever wanted to now about picture books — and a lot more!
What You Will Learn
The ability to craft a strong picture book plot is one of the factors that separates unpublished writers from those who consistently sign publishing contracts to see their work in print. This course will teach you the essentials of creating compelling plots, starting with Arcs, Beginnings, and Climaxes — then literally taking you through the alphabet. Each topic will be explored in depth, both in the lessons and in the discussion forums and webinars. The writing exercises that are a part of the course are designed to help you apply the lessons to your own writing seamlessly and immediately. By the end of the course, you will never look at plotting the same way again!
How the course is structured:
Optional Add on Critique: Add an in-depth picture book manuscript critique with an hour-long Skype session with Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen at a special class-only discounted rate.
Click this link to register: http://www.kidlitwritingschool.com/picture-book-a-to-zs–plotting.html
In This Book
Written by Fani Marceau
Illustrations by Joёlle Jolivet
Chronicle Books 8/01/2014
Age 3 to 5 94 pages
“I am in the poppy, said the bee. I am in the nest, said the bird. I am in space, said the planet . . . And there is beauty all around us!
“From bestselling author and illustrator duo Fani Marceau and Joёlle Jolivet comes an art-immersive experience featuring early concepts and themes for infants, toddlers, and anyone delighted by the wonders of everyday life. Inspired by linocut art techniques, the illustrations offer windows onto ordinary objects and experiences. Open the book, delve into the details, and discover animals, people, and surprises large and small gracing each oversized page in this whimsical book that makes the perfect springboard for storytelling, learning, and dreaming.”
“I am in the poppy, said the bee.”
At first glance, one would think In This Book about finding the bee in the poppy or the bird in the nest. The objects that are in things are not hard to find. This is not another Where’s Waldo type of art book for children. Far from it. In This Book brings a certain amount of sophistication to the picture book genre for very young children. A total of 52 images fill the pages. A few run the full spread but most just the single page. All begin with the phrase,
“I am in the [blank], said the [object in the blank].”
Repetition is good for this age group, yet reading this first-person phrase over and over and over becomes tiresome. Young children should have no trouble finding the object on each page and will enjoy their success. The biggest problem with the text is a lack of story. The languid phrase “I am in the . . . “is the only connection between each page, each object. Interestingly, the final spread is that of a child asleep in the lap of a sleeping adult. Wonderfully, the adult is dad, who does not get his share of representation in picture books. The child is holding a book—In This Book—and I wonder if the phrasing put them to sleep or if it was simply that time of day.
The illustrations are an art technique called a linocut. For those, like myself, who need an explanation of a linocut, there is a wonderful visual explanation of the art from HERE. Once the illustration is drawn onto a piece of art-grade linoleum, and the artist carves out their image, the result is used somewhat like a stamp to make the prints that became this book. The carved linoleum must be a reverse-cut of the image, meaning any part of the image remaining white is carved out of the linoleum. The areas inked remain untouched. This is a rather simplest explanation. For those who want a better, visual “mini-lesson” in the art of linocut printing, please click HERE. (This is the same link as the above link.)
I think the fun In This Book comes from the stories a reader can make up about each object. Why did the monkey sit in the tree? Why is there only one person on the multi-car train? This spread of the train is a wonder shade of purple in a backdrop of green and purple. It looks to be a super train or a bullet train. Where might it be doing? The number of questions and stories imaginable are endless for each object. Those question, or simply talking about the illustrations, can further stimulate each child’s imagination and sense of wonder. For every reading, the stories can change, making In This Book a never-ending adventure.
IN THIS BOOK. Text copyright © 2012 by Fani Marceau. Illustrations © 2012 by Joёlle Jolivet. Reproduced by permission of the US publisher, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA.
Purchase a copy of In This Book at Amazon—B&N—Book Depository—Chronicle Books—your favorite bookstore.
In This Book, originally published in France, in 2012 by hélium, is entitled, Dans le livre.
Learn more about In This Book HERE.
Meet the author, Fani Marceau, at her website:
Meet the illustrator, Joёlle Jolivet, at her website:
Find additional picture books at the Chronicle Books’ website: http://www.chroniclekids.com/
Also by Fani Marceau
Also by Joёlle Jolivet
Copyright © 2014 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews
Mehrdokht Amini has worked on many books for children. One of her latest picture book “Golden Domes And Silver Lanterns” in collaboration with” Hena Khan” has been highly praised and has been selected in the 2013 ALSC notable children’s booklist, which is a list of best of best in children’s book.
She lives in Surrey, England.
Below are her clients:
The British Museum Press,
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Here is Mehrdokht explaining her process:
This is the step-by-step process of one of the illustrations of the book that I have written myself. At the moment I am working on some samples of this book to take to the publishers. The book is called “The day I met Poppito.”
In this image, the main character of the book has come down for breakfast and sees that his parents are very annoyed by this news that a family of hippos have moved in next door to them. The mother is particularly not happy with the situation.
I start the project by first sketching the overall composition that I have in mind and a bit of character designing.
Gradually I delve into more details of the image .The character facial expressions are especially very important to convey the massage of the picture.
I scan all the sketches and save the files in tiff format to make sure all the details are kept as accurately as possible for next stages. Then I start to take photos for my image based on the composition. I might not use all the photos I take but at this stage I try to gather whatever material I think might come in handy in later stages of the work.
I might need the texture of a plastered wall.
Or details of a room because it is an indoor image.
After the sketches are finished and I am done with taking photos. I start working on the background of the image.
I brush the surface of a watercolor paper with GOLDEN Molding Pastes a few times on intervals to get the desired texture and then I color the surface with Acrylics in layers. I put one layer of color, wait for it to get dry then repaint it again with another color. That’s because sometimes I scratch the surface to get to the layers underneath and have a more interesting surface.
I take then everything to Photoshop. Here the floor needs to be change so I make another surface for it.
I then fit it into its place in Photoshop in a separate layer. In the “Hue/Saturation” I bring down the saturation of the floor layer to zero and finally put it in the “soft light” mode so the layer beneath could be seen through.
There I arrange the sketches on the background in a different layer and change their mode on “intensity” to be able see through them. Then I start painting on them with the brush tool.
Using my photos I work a bit more on the texture of the wall and the staircase.
I feet the table perspective doesn’t really work this way so I change it too.
Eventually this is how the picture looks like when finished.
How long have you been illustrating?
I went to Secondary School of Creative Arts in Iran and I remember once a teacher asked us to choose a story and make illustrations based on that. I chose “The Red Shoes” by Hans Christian Anderson and it was the first time I tried to illustrate a book. I enjoyed the process so much that I decided then that I wanted to continue my career in that direction. What I enjoyed most and continue to take pleasure in was that for a short time it gives me the opportunity to live in an imaginary world and create my own characters and scenes and share them with others.
I see you attended Alzahra University in Tehran. How did you decide to study Graphic Design there?
After getting my Secondary school certificate in Art it was a natural thing for me to continue my higher education in the creative field. As there was no BA course available in illustration I decided to study in Graphic design. At the time it wasn’t a very well known subject to study in Iran and studying art was considered by many parents as something for the students who couldn’t do very well in scientific subjects. So I guess it was a brave act for my parents to go along with my desire to become an artist.
What were you favorite classes?
I enjoyed life-drawing classes partly because we used to laugh a lot during that course. The thing is, in Iran a lot of restrictions are imposed on art students. As ridiculous as it might sound, in life drawing classes no nudity was allowed. So we had to sketch the models all dressed up. We had to guess what was under the folds of clothes and so occasionally our sketches looked ridiculous. I also enjoyed photography courses. It was the pre -digital era and we had to develop and print our photos in the dark room. I loved the dark room anticipation of seeing the result of the work appearing gradually on the paper and the various techniques we could do with the developing materials on the photo papers.
Now that you live in the UK, do you think the Universities are different than the ones in Tehran?
They are totally different. Here the art students have the freedom of expressing their feeling with no boundaries whatsoever. It is an essential ingredient for an artist which some might take it for granted. Over there, there are many taboos and lines that could not be crossed.
Did you immediately decide you wanted to get your MA in Art Research or did you get a job right out of college?
I was still in college when I got my first commission to illustrate a book. It took me some years to go back to university to get my MA and the reason I chose Art research was because I felt a lack of enough theoretical knowledge in myself.
What types of things do you study when you go for a degree in Art Research?
I am not sure weather such a course is available here in MA degree or not. But over there it ranges from history and philosophy of art to critical thinking in art.
What was your most interest class while going for your MA?
For me it was a course during which we did lots of discussions on contemporary theories of art. We worked mostly on “A reader’s guide to contemporary literary theory” by Raman Seldon and Peter Widdowson. There I learned for the first time about the developments of modern art theories; A fascinating subject that change my point of view not only on art but also on life itself.
Did the School help you get work?
No, Unfortunately in Iran schools don’t feel any obligation to find work for the students.
Do you feel the classes you took in college have influenced you style?
No, I don’t think so. They help me a lot in term of having a better critical mind as an artist and choosing my path. But thankfully the professors didn’t try to influence our style. I think it is a catastrophe when the art teachers try to impose their ideas on students. They should probably just show the ways and let them decide.
What type of work did you do right after you graduated?
Apart from illustrating books I did occasional designing jobs here and there but I have always been freelance.
What was the first art related work that you were paid?
The book that I did for “Khane Adabiat” publication during my BA was my first paid job.
Do you have an agent or artist rep.? If so, who are you with? When did you join them and how did the two of you connect? If not, would you like to find representation?
Yes, I decided to find an agent for myself last year because I am not that good at representing myself.
At the moment I am working with “The Illustrators Agency“(www.theillustratorsagency.com) based in Australia. So far we have been connected only through emails. They have managed to find me two book commissions so far from “Cengage Learning” which is a global educational publisher and I am very happy to be able to work with them.
When and what was the first children’s book that you illustrated?
There is a very famous Iranian poet called “Ahmad Shamlou” who sadly passed away a few years ago. He has a few long poems, which in form are quite rhythmic and seem to be written for children but their contents occasionally have some political connotations.
One day when I was still studying for my BA I decided to work on one of these poems and as it was not very long for a whole book, I came up with this idea to illustrate it in a new format. Something like a big three folded brochure. It worked and subsequently I worked on other poems of the same writer and some other famous contemporary poets in the same format.
How did that contract come about?
I didn’t have any particular publishing house in mind at that time. The only thing I knew was that most of the publishing houses were clustered around a few avenues around Tehran University. So when I finished the draft of the work, I took in my portfolio case and started searching around in that area for a children’s book publisher. By chance I came to Khane Adabiat and the editor of the time liked the idea very much. Every thing started from there.
Do you consider that book to be your first big success?
I do. It was vey successful and after more than fifteen years copies of it is still selling in Iran. But it is greatly due to the fact that the poet is very famous in Iran and these series of his work were only published in collections and not individually -illustrated format. The new format of the book also made it stand out in the shelves of the bookshops. But if I could illustrate them again I would totally change the illustrations!
It looks like you did a large amount of books with Khane Adabiat Publications. Are they the big publishing house in Tehran?
At that time they weren’t huge but after some years they made a good name for themselves in children’s publishing industry in Iran.
Have you tried to write and illustrate a children’s book, yet?
This is my ultimate goal to be able to illustrate my own stories.
What made you move to the UK?
I guess it was destiny that brought me here!
After ten years of publishing with Khane Adabiat Publications, you get to do a picture book with a publisher in Poland and Harcourt in the US. How did those two books contract come about?
I came to live in UK ten years ago and at first I didn’t know how to continue my career here as an freelance illustrator so I decided to learn Photoshop and Corel draw and try to find a job as a Graphic designer. It took me 6 months to learn these two software and during the process of learning them I discover how powerful they could be as a tool for making illustrations. Eventually I did a few digital pieces and decided to have a website to showcase them. These were the ones, which gained me these two commissions.
What was it like to illustrate a picture book for the British Museum in the UK? Did they have an editor or art director?
It was a great honor for me to work with the British museum. Apparently Helen East, the author of the book “How the Olympic came to be”, had spotted my website and recommended me as the illustrator for her upcoming book with The British museum. We had a few meetings with the editor of the time and discussed the sketches together. It was a really enjoying experience.
How did that come about?
It was a year before the London Olympics and the book was the story of Olympics through Greeks myths and legends. I was supposed to get inspiration from the objects of British museum related to the story for my pictures. It was really fun because it gave me the opportunity to study the classical period of Greek art and learn more about Greek mythology. I particularly fell in love with their ancient potteries and all the delicate silhouettes painted on them, each telling different stories about Greek heroes and villains.
How did you hook up with Chronicle Books to illustrate GOLDEN DOMES AND SILVER LANTERNS?
They had found me through childrensillustrators.com and contacted me to see whether I was interested to work on the “Golden domes and silver lanterns”.
How did you connect with them?
Our contact was only through emails, which at the beginning created a bit of problem. We didn’t have the chance to discuss the pictures face to face and as a result my first round of sketches was almost completely rejected. I had imagined the settings to be depicted in an ancient time, whereas the editors and writer had a clear objective to have the story portrayed in a contemporary atmosphere.
I had to redo the sketches but I think eventually we were all happy with the final result.
Do you feel living in the UK has broaden your career as an illustrator?
Living here has lifted many obstacles in my career. I have more access to different sources of inspiration and could keep myself up to date. In Iran many Internet sites are blocked and young artist have limited way of displaying their work or connecting with the rest of the world.
What illustrating contract do feel really pushed you down the road to a successful career?
It is not one contract that helped me in my career but the whole portfolio of my work. Each piece has it’s own importance and has pushed me a bit forward. I am not completely satisfied with my early pieces and wish I had a chance redo them again but each had its own importance in my career.
Have you done illustrations for any children’s magazines?
When I was still in the university one of the teachers who was running a magazine for children asked me to do some illustrations for her but after that I didn’t have the chance to work for a children’s magazine any more.
What materials do you use to paint your color illustrations?
I usually make a background with the help of GOLDEN Molding Pastes and acrylics or whatever medium I think is appropriate. Sometimes I paint straight on this background or use other surfaces for different part of the illustration, then I scan all the materials and take everything to Photoshop and continue to work on the image from there.
What types of things do you do to find illustration work?
For some years now I have been subscribed to childrensillustrators.com and had some commissions coming from that site. Occasionally I send samples of my works to the publishers who accept unsolicited materials. Social medias is a powerful tool for getting noticed too but it is very time consuming and needs lots of dedication. Right now I am hoping that my agent will find me work so I could have more time for the creative side of work.
What is the one thing in your studio that you could not live without?
It is my digital pen.
Do you try to spend a specific amount of time working on your craft?
Not really. When I start to work on a piece I lose the track of time.
Do you take pictures or do any types of research before you start a project?
Yes, I do take pictures all the time and with the help of Photoshop might use them in my illustrations too.
The research phase is the first and one of the most important parts of the work for me. It helps me to have a more accurate picture of story in my mind. For example I had a commission few years ago to do a few pieces based on a short story that was related to Hispanic culture. I had to do a long research through photos, their art, history etc… to familiarize myself with the setting in that story.
Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?
Most definitely. All my commissions are coming from the Internet. But the truth is that as much as Internet had made the life easier for illustrators, in my opinion, it has created the problems of its own.
The industry is really tough and the competition for getting a commission is really high.
Occasionally I am approached by clients who ask for a great amount of work in exchange for a ridiculously low fee. I usually say no because thankfully I’ve got other means to support myself, but I am sure there are illustrators in countries hit by economy crisis who might be happy to work with that amount of money. There are also graduate students who are willing to work for low fees just to have a published piece of work in their portfolio. So I guess it has created a bit of financial instability for illustrators too.
Do you use Photoshop or Corel Painter with your illustrations?
Yes, I work with Photoshop all the time but I try to use it carefully. The problem with digital work is that if you limit yourself to just drawing with a digital pen and nothing more, the end product would be something bland with no spontaneity in it. In manual works you often make mistakes, an unintentional drop of ink on the surface or a wrong stroke of the brush etc… that make the work even more interesting. So I try to have a mixture of manual and digital techniques in my works.
Do you own or have you used a Graphic Drawing Tablet in your illustrating?
Yes, it is many years now that I have one and I think it is one of the best tools that I have bought for myself so far.
Do you have any career dreams that you want to fulfill?
I wish that one day I get the chance to illustrate a collection of the “One thousand and one night”.
Many artists have tried it so far, among the best in my opinion is the one by Edmund Dulac but I think it still has a great potential for exploration and hope that one day the opportunity rises for me to do it too.
What are you working on now?
At the moment I’m working on a story that I have written myself called “The day I met Popito” I have finished the first draft of the story and I am working on some samples to take to publishers now. The story is about a family who one day finds out that a family of hippos has moved next door to them. They are not happy about having hippos as their neighbors at all but in time they learn to know and appreciate each other more.
I think the message in the story is probably appropriate for our time. More and more people come across a situation where they have to co-exist with people who might be different from them. Different in color of skin, nationality, religion etc… we have to find a way to harmoniously live together and accept our differences.
Do you have any material type tips you can share with us? Example: Paint or paper that you love – the best place to buy – a new product that you’ve tried – A how to tip, etc.
Recently I have bought this gadget from Wacom called “Inkling digital sketch pen”. While you sketch on paper with a ballpoint pen provided, it captures your sketches digitally and then you can transfer the files to your computer with a USB connection. It lacks a bit of smoothness and occasionally misses the lines if you don’t press your pen hard enough on paper but I found it a very interesting device to have for sketching digitally.
Any words of wisdom on how to become a successful writer or illustrator?
Once, one my college professors gave me a good piece of advice, which I still remember. She said” if you try, all your life, to perfectly imitate someone else’s work or style you might end up becoming very good in it but your work has really no artistic value and doesn’t take you anywhere Eventually you would be just a good imitator. But if you try to draw one straight line, it belongs to you and it has some originality of its own.”
Thank you Mehrdokht for taking the time to share your process and journey with us. We look forward to hearing about all your future successes.
To see more of Mehrdokht’s illustrations visit her at:
Please take a minute to leave a comment for Mehrdokht, I know she would love to heard from you and I always appreciate it. Thanks!
Today at Kirkus, I write about two picture books, Chieri Uegaki’s Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin, illustrated by Qin Leng, and Little Melba and Her Big Trombone, written by Katheryn Russell-Brown and illustrated by Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award winner Frank Morrison. That link will be here soon.
Last week, I wrote here about two wonderful new books for budding, young photographers, Susan Goldman Rubin’s Stand There! She Shouted: The Invincible Photographer Julia Margaret Cameron, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline, and Ruth Thomson’s Photos Framed: A Fresh Look at the World’s Most Memorable Photographs. I’ve got a bit of art from Ibatoulline today.
Until Sunday …
STAND THERE! SHE SHOUTED. Text copyright © 2014 by Susan Goldman Rubin. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Bagram Ibatoulline. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.Add a Comment
by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen
It’s back to school season here in New Jersey (or, outside Philadelphia, as I typically refer to it) and that means big changes in my household. All summer, my kids and I are bums. We hang out at the beach, at the pool, at the mall. We travel, we sleep in, we do nothing. Summer is heaven.
But come September, my children’s lives change. Gone are the no schedule, no stress days and in their place we have wake up alarms, agenda books, and deliverables (and, it seems, a LOT of laundry!). The kids aren’t the only ones who go back to school—as a children’s book author, the school year means that I go back to school as well.
Every year, between school visits, Skype visits, and events like Dot Day or World Read Aloud Day, I connect with about 100 different schools all around the world. Because I spend so much time with school kids, I end up doing quite a bit of teaching, especially teaching writing. Which happens to be a completely different skill than actually writing.
There is a very stupid expression that you sometimes hear people throw around: “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.” I want to be very, very clear here: that is one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard. Not only is it disparaging, inflammatory, and demeaning, it also has the distinction of being very WRONG. I definitely knew that before I personally started working with schools, but now that I teach on a regular basis, I can tell you that those who teach can do better than anyone else.
It has to do with the nature of teaching. In order to teach someone a skill, you have to know it so well that you can explain every step, even the ones you do automatically or on muscle memory. Here’s an example: when I was in graduate school, I bought a brand new Mustang that I couldn’t drive. Because it was a stick shift and I only knew how to drive an automatic. So I had a friend try to teach me how to drive stick. We got in my car, I started it up, and I asked him what to do next. He said, “OK, now drive.” I looked at him blankly. “Just don’t stall the car,” he added. I had no idea what that meant. So he said, “Don’t ease off the clutch to quickly. Or too slowly!”
At that point, I threw him out of the car. He, to this day, doesn’t understand what had upset me.
He knew how to drive a manual, and things that I needed to know—how to properly come off the clutch when changing gears, how to tell when to shift up or down, etc.—were things he’d stopped thinking about. So he couldn’t teach me to do them because he hadn’t been thinking about all those little steps that you do to succeed that once you’re successful, you completely forget about.
(For the record, I can now totally drive a stick.)
When I started teaching writing, I struggled with this same thing. I thought to myself, How can I teach something that I just DO? Trust me, this was very difficult to figure out. But the more I did figure it out—the better I got at teaching others how to write—the better I actually got at writing. Just like my friend who failed at teaching me how to drive my Mustang because there were so many things he was doing on autopilot that he couldn’t explain, as writers, we do that same thing. When you get to a certain point in your writing journey, you don’t even think about certain things like how to conceptualize a complex character or add layers to your plot, you just do it. But if you try to teach someone else how you do what you do, you have to break down every action into baby steps so that you can show your students how to mimic your actions. This forces you to think through your methods, and in the process, refine them even more.
So even if you’re not at the point in your publishing career where you are teaching, I’d like to encourage you to think like a teacher to become a better writer. For example, instead of saying, “I’m going to create a charismatic main character,” I’d ask you to analyze what steps you’d take to do that, like:
The more you go through this process of treating your writing objectives like lesson plans, the deeper you’ll understand what you’ve done when something work—and what you may have left off inadvertently when something doesn’t work.
When you’re a good teacher, your students will benefit. When you yourself are your own student, your teaching skills make you so much better at doing.
Happy Back to School!
Sudipta is an award-winning author of over 40 books and the co-founder of both Kidlit Writing School and Kidlit Summer School. Her books include DUCK DUCK MOOSE, TYRANNOSAURUS WRECKS, ORANGUTANGLED, and over thirty more books that have been acclaimed by the Junior Library Guild, the California Reader’s Collection, the Bank Street Books Reading Committe, the Amelia Bloomer list, and many more. Find out more about her by visiting Sudipta.com or her blogs Nerdy Chicks Rule and Nerdy Chicks Write.
Sudipta’s new class: Picture Book A to Z’s: Plotting in Picture Books
The Picture Book A to Z series is designed to be a collection of master level classes that cover all of the fundamentals of picture book craft. While each class is complete on its own, taken together, the series will teach you everything you ever wanted to now about picture books- and a lot more!
The ability to craft a strong picture book plot is one of the factors that separates unpublished writers from those who consistently sign publishing contracts to see their work in print. This course will teach you the essentials of creating compelling plots, starting with Arcs, Beginnings, and Climaxes — then literally taking you through the alphabet. Each topic will be explored in depth, both in the lessons and in the discussion forums and webinars. The writing exercises that are a part of of the course are designed to help you apply the lessons to your own writing seamlessly and immediately. By the end of the course, you will never look at plotting the same way again! The first course in this series, Plotting in Picture Books, will begin on October 6, 2014.
Bonus Critique: Register for Plotting in Picture Books before September 20, 2014 and receive a free picture book manuscript review and 20-minute Skype session with Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, redeemable within six months of the course’s completion.
Thanks, Sudipta! And now for the giveaway…either a 20-minute telephone/Skype PB critique with Sudipta or one of her signed books. The choice is yours. Just comment once below by September 16th to enter!
by William Bee
Peachtree Publishing 9/01/2014
Age 3 to 8 32 pages
“Stanley is working at his garage today. From filling up Hattie’s red sports car with gas to changing the tire on Shamus and Little Woo’s blue car, it sure is a busy day. As his friends each come in with their car problems, Stanley knows just what to do to get them back on the road.”
“This is Stanley’s Garage. Who will drive in today?”
Stanley the hamster owns a garage and a green tow truck. He spends the day helping his friends. Hattie needs gas in her car, and, like the days of old, Stanley pumps the gas for her. I love her red sports car. Shamu’s car has a flat tire. While Shamu and Little Woo’s car has a flat tire, Charlie’s car is overheated, and Myrtle, in her purple car, needs towed back to Stanley’s garage. All day Stanley fixes auto problems. It’s a lot of work for one day. Stanley, smudged in black oil spots, walks home. He takes a bath, eats his supper, and heads to bed ready for tomorrow. What job will Stanley take on tomorrow? Will he be a chef at his own diner, or maybe the farmer that grows the food?
Young boys will love the Stanley’s Garage. Stanley does a variety of jobs, all to help his friends. Young boys, and some girls, will enjoy Stanley in his new business. In his garage, Stanley works alone, unlike as a builder with Charlie. The illustrations are basic with large, easy to recognize shapes, separated by solid black lines, which help deepen the colors and drawing one’s attention. The colors are basic primary and secondary colors. Kids should be able to recognize each color, and he basic shapes that compose the items in Stanley’s world, if asked.
I love this clean presentation. The white background helps keep the eyes focused on the illustrations. I like watching Stanley helping his friends and I really wish, like Stanley, garages with gas pumps still pumped the gas for customers. What else has changed that kids might recognize? The text is simple with a few complex words related to automobiles. These words are: radiator, overheating, jacks, tow (no, not toe), and oily. Boys and girls will have a new vocabulary to use when playing with their toy cars.
Young children will enjoy learning about the jobs Stanley takes on in this series. Along with building a house and running a garage, Stanley will be a chef in his own cafe, and grow food as a farmer. What other jobs Stanley might take on in the future is anyone’s guess. After reading Stanley’s Garage, young children will wonder why mom and dad pump their own gas. Stanley’s Garage can help prepare for kindergarten, as they learn the colors, shapes, and new words in each story.
The Stanley books are also a great choice for story-time. The illustrations, thanks to those black lines, are easy to see from a short distance. Stanley has more adventures on the way. Young children will eagerly await each new addition. Next, Stanley runs a cafe and then becomes a farmer.
STANLEY’S GARAGE. Text and illustrations copyright © 2014 by William Bee. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Peachtree Publishing.
Review is HERE
Learn more about Stanley and his series HERE
Check out William Bee’s fantastic blog: http://williambee.blogspot.com/
Also by William Bee
Migloo’s Day – March 24, 2015
Copyright © 2014 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews
Peachtree Publishing Book Blog Tour
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Filed under: 5stars, Books for Boys, Children's Books, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Picture Book, Reluctant Readers, Series Tagged: automobiles, children's book reviews, jobs, Peachtree Publishers, picture books, Stanley the Builder, Stanley the Farmer, Stanley's Cafe, Stanley's Garage, William Bee
How do you find a picture book that teaches good behavior by showing the exact OPPOSITE in little rascals that model pure unadulterated mischief from the get go AND introduces the ABC’s in the process?
Example is usually always the strongest teacher when WE model behaviors we want to see in our children such as empathy, honesty, kindness, sharing, politeness and the like. But Ms. Ashman has chosen a different approach. She shows in her alphabetically listed antics of a very anti social group of young ones, A to Z named kiddies modeling behaviors you hope your young would be reader will opt to AVOID!!
Picture book readers are probably fascinated like their older siblings with all things electronic. What about starting them out as they begin the adventure of reading and recognizing letters with a physical book. The mischievous maniacs listed here will help build sustained attention span in your child as you relate the antics of this wildly uncivil group!
Sometimes, and the operative word here IS sometimes, the more effective way to reinforce GOODNESS is to point out its counterpart in VERY NAUGHTY kiddies. Ideally, the behavior you point out will look so awful they will roll their eyes and say UGH!
BUT, there is always the slightest of risks that these behaviors may look, shall we say, attractive and their reaction will be…Hmmm! But Ms. Ashman has wisely put a poetic caveat at the intro to her book.
You, of course, are not the sort,
To argue, fight, or brag.
You’re not inclined to be unkind:
you rarely whine or nag.
Others aren’t so pleasant, though.
Read on and you shall see.
Here’s a catalog of naughtiness.
Presented A to Z.
Linger longingly when you read the most ubiquitous behaviors of these 26 baddies such as Impolite Irma, Joking Jackson and Untidy Ursula. Then skip quickly through the more irascible ones such as Kicking Ken, Vile Vern and Zany Zelda. But then again they’re probably the ones your young one may cotton to. Twas ever thus! Nancy Carpenter’s art is fresh and funny illustrating the antics of the deviant behaviors of this lot of young ones to a tee.
But if you’ve ever sat in a restaurant and watched a fellow diner’s child wreak havoc while people attempt to enjoy their meal, you may just recognize SOME of these behaviors. I like Ms. Ashman’s approach. If you don’t recognize BAD behavior, how can you learn to avoid it? Kids will certainly recognize it here AND learn their ABC’s from this self-obsessed group of god-awful kiddies.
Roald Dahl’s “CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY” crew, famously named Violet, Augustus, Mike and Veruca are a walk in the park compared to this lot. They definitely need a trip to the factory and a visit from the Oompah Loompahs!Add a Comment
Written and illustrated by Lizi Boyd
Chronicle Books 8/01/2014
Age 2 to 6 32 pages
“Inside the tent it’s cozy. But what is going on outside? Is it dark? Is it scary? Not if you have your trusty flashlight! Told solely through images and using a spare yet dramatic palette, artist Lizi Boyd has crafted a masterful exploration of night, nature, and art. Both lyrical and humorous, this visual poem—like the flashlight beam itself—reveals that there is magic in the darkness. We just have to look for it.”
The young girl, let’s call her Amy, is outside with her flashlight, shining it on the ground. Look! she has found a mouse, no three mice, going about their nighttime activities. Looking up with her flashlight beam, Amy finds an owl, which looks a little spooked that Amy found it in its tree.
Flashlight is an amazing picture book. Without words, “Amy” has a nighttime adventure of a lifetime. With her flashlight, Amy finds all sorts of animals, but misses just as many who are in the dark. She spies an owl in a tree, a couple of fish in a pond, a fox, and doe with her two babies. If this is not the best adventure for a young child, I cannot think of what could be better. The artist strategically added a hole placed in each spread that focuses upon something the young girl does not see in the dark, but the reader now can. I like that little change that holds more surprises for the reader.
Oops! Amy tripped on stone, tossing the flashlight onto the ground. A raccoon has the flashlight and is lighting up Amy’s face. It passes the flashlight to a beaver, which lights up Amy’s backside. The animals continue to pass off the flashlight until the owl takes possession, pointing the light onto the opening of Amy’s tent. I believe the owl, as wise as it is, thinks Amy should be in bed. Amy tucks in then reads a story to the three mice. I wonder what the story she is reading those three mice.
Flashlight is an amazing nighttime adventure right in the young girl’s backyard or park, there is no way to be sure. She enjoys finding the animals as well as young children will enjoy finding them. I enjoyed it. There are so many stories kids can imagine with each animal and what they are doing at might. Why does the wise owl want Amy to stop flashing its friends and go to sleep inside the tent? Is he worried about her sleep, or does he want her to stop interfering with the animals nighttime routines?
Children and parents will love this picture book adventure, as do I. Read as a bedtime story, Flashlight can about the young girl or the animals. Parents and their child will enjoy discovering the different animals. How wonderful that could be. The illustrations are all on black paper, with silver-lined animals (in the dark) and colorful animals as the flashlight shines upon them. Flashlight is a magnificent picture book and one of the most original I have seen this year.
Flashlight is a Junior Library Guild selection for 2014.
FLASHLIGHT. Text and illustrations copyright © 2014 by Lizi Boyd. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA.
Learn more about Flashlight HERE.
Meet the author/illustrator, Lizi Boyd, at her website: http://liziboyd.com/
Find more magnificent books at the Chronicle Books’ website: http://www.chroniclebooks.com/
Also by Lizi Boyd
Copyright © 2014 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews
I had the pleasure of meeting Arree at an SCBWI conference schmooze and I was struck by his dedication, enthusiasm and humility. [JM] Illustrator or author/illustrator? If the latter, do you begin with words or pictures? [AC] I consider myself … Continue readingAdd a Comment
Starting school can be stressful for some children. If you are looking for a fun introduction to the school day and to lighten the mood, check out Ollie’s School Day. It is a question and answer book that follows Ollie through a day of school. Each set of questions includes three silly suggestions followed by the correct one. Will Ollie wear a bathing suit, a space suit, a police officer’s uniform or a pair of pants and a shirt to school? It’s sure to have kids laughing at the crazy suggestions of what Ollie will do throughout the day. While listening and laughing, young readers won’t realize they are learning how to behave at school. If you are looking for other silly school stories with a similar format, pair it with Saltzberg’s Cornelius P. Mud, Are You Ready for School? Or Milgrim’s Eddie Gets Ready for School.
Posted by: Liz
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