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1. #649 – Bonjour Camille by Felipe Cano & Laia Aguilar

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Bonjour Camille

Written by Felipe Cano
Illustrated by Laia Aguilar
Chronicle Books              8/01/2014
978-1-4521-2407-0
Age 3+           32 pages
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“It’s a Sunday morning, and Camille—adorned in a tutu and a top hat—has so many things to do! There is jumping on the bed (of course), choosing a new favorite color, drawing thousands of faces on thousands of balloons, hiding all of the umbrellas, seeking out the unexpected on a map, and more in delightful surprises, all experienced through the eyes of an inspired child.”

Opening

“On Sunday mornings, as soon as the sun comes up, Camille opens her eyes and . . . “

Review

Camille wakes and puts on a tutu and a top hat. This is her battledress. She has many things to do on this Sunday, beginning with jumping on the bed until . . .

“THAT’S ENOUGH!”

That was Camille’s mother. Camille has many things planned for her day. She plans on,

Bonjour Camille_Int_2

“Giving names to all the waves.”

Bonjour Camille_Int_3

“Asking the wind in a whisper voice to tell her a story.”

There are so many things Camille has to do on a Sunday. She most definitely must get an ice cream cone and then let it melt away in her hand. Depending upon the height of your viewpoint, Camille’s plans are either delightful ideas or odd and impossible. As Camille continues making her plans, giving balloons’ faces and yelling at winter until . . . a voice penetrates her thoughts,

“STOP that jumping!”

Camille is a typical young girl, bored on a winter Sunday, trying to find fun things to do inside the house. While she conjures up her plans, Camille continues jumping despite her mother sternly saying it was enough (but she did not say exactly enough of what). Camille, deep in her thoughts, may not have heard.

I love Camille’s spirit and I adore her whimsical imagination. Though many little girls have had ice cream melt on their hand and drawn faces on a balloon, Camille plans these activities and then allows the ice cream to melt, and draws faces on thousands of balloons. Camille has an indomitable spirit.

The illustrations look drawn with Camille’s own hand. The images are simple, yet fun. Originally released in Spain, Bonjour Camille is different from most picture books from Chronicle. Other than its small 6 x 8 size, the colors are not as bright and bold as most picture books. None of this takes away from book’s charm. Bonjour Camille is the perfect gift for a spunky little girl or the parents of an adorable baby girl.

BONJOUR CAMILLE. Text copyright © 2011by Felipe Cano. Illustrations copyright © 2011 by Laia Aguilar. Reproduced by permission of Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA.

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Purchase Bonjour Camille at AmazonB&NBook DepositoryChronicle Booksyour favorite bookstore.

Learn more about Bonjour Camille HERE

Meet the author, Felipe Cano, at his website:

Meet the illustrator, Laia Aguilar, at her LinkedIn:    https://www.linkedin.com/pub/laia-aguilar/1a/493/bb0

Find more picture books at the Chronicle Books website:    http://www.chroniclebooks.com/

First published in 2011 by BOBO CHOSES.

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bonjour camille

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Copyright © 2014 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews


Filed under: 4stars, Children's Books, Library Donated Books, Picture Book Tagged: Bonjour Camille, children's book reviews, Chronicle Books, Felipe Cano, imagination, indomitable, Laia Aguilar, little girl dreams, picture books, translated from Spanish, whimsical

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2. KidLit Events Sept. 2-9

Fall events are off and rolling! Here’s what’s going on this week:

September 6, Saturday, 2:00 PMTHE GIRL WHO NEVER WAS by Skylar Dorset
Blue Willow Bookshop
Skylar Dorset, YA Author

Debut author Skylar Dorset will discuss and sign her novel for young adults, THE GIRL WHO NEVER WAS. In Selkie’s family, you don’t celebrate birthdays. You don’t talk about birthdays. And you never, ever reveal your birth date. Until now. The instant Selkie blurts out the truth to Ben in the middle of Boston Common, her whole world shatters.

Because her life has been nothing but a lie—an elaborate enchantment meant to conceal the truth: Selkie is a half-faerie princess. And her mother wants her dead.

September 8, Monday, 7:00 PMARMY CAMELS: TEXAS SHIPS OF THE DESERT by Doris Fisher
Tracy Gee Community Center
SCBWI Houston
Doris Fisher, Children’s Author

Doris Fisher, won the Crystal Kite Award for the Texas/Oklahoma Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators region this year for her book, ARMY CAMELS, TEXAS SHIPS OF THE DESERT. Doris will talk a little about her writing journey, so don’t miss hearing her story. Also, local writers who attended the National SCBWI Conference in Los Angeles this month will share what they learned from the many breakout sessions and keynotes.

September 9, Tuesday, 6:00 P.M.A LITTLE SOMETHING DIFFERENT by Sandy Hall
Katy Budget Books
Sandy Hall, YA Author

Teen librarian Sandy Hall signs her debut YA romance novel, A LITTLE SOMETHING DIFFERENT, which was selected as the first novel to be published by Swoon Reads, a crowd-sourced teen romance imprint. This sweet romance between two college students is told from 14 different viewpoints. The creative writing teacher, the delivery guy, the local Starbucks baristas, his best friend, her roommate, and the squirrel in the park all have one thing in common—they believe that Gabe and Lea should get together.

Lea and Gabe are in the same creative writing class. They get the same pop culture references, order the same Chinese food, and hang out in the same places. Unfortunately, Lea is reserved, Gabe has issues, and despite their initial mutual crush, it looks like they are never going to work things out. But somehow even when nothing is going on, something is happening between them, and everyone can see it.

Please remember to check the website of the sponsoring bookstore or organization for the most up-to-date information on these events.

 

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3. Happy Birthday, Madame Chapeau by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts

Happily, Andrea Beaty and David Roberts, the dynamic duo who brought us Iggy Peck, Architect Rosie Revere, Engineer, have teamed up again for the delightful Happy Birthday, Madame Chapeau. Even better, as I learned in the Artist's Note, David Roberts worked as a milliner himself for many years before turning his hand to illustration. Roberts shares that he has a "particular appreciation for

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4. Best Selling Picture Books | September 2014

Our best selling picture book for the past month is Herve Tullet's completely awesome Press Here (Chronicle Books, 2011). As per usual, we've shared our hand selected list of the most popular picture books from the nationwide best selling picture books, as listed by The New York Times

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5. Review of I’m My Own Dog

stein im my own dog Review of I’m My Own DogI’m My Own Dog
by David Ezra Stein; 
illus. by the author
Preschool, Primary    Candlewick    32 pp.
8/14    978-0-7636-6139-7    $15.99

“I’m my own dog. Nobody owns me. I own myself.” This independent, self-starter narrator looks down on ordinary pups, the ones owned by people. This dog will not sit for anyone, even if a bone is the reward. But one day, when his legs prove to be too short to reach an itchy spot in the middle of his back, our canine actually lets someone scratch it. That someone is a mustachioed man who scratches the dog’s back and then follows him home. Soon the dog is taking his “good boy” on walks, teaching him about chasing squirrels, and showing him how to throw sticks. Stein’s gestural watercolors are the perfect foil for the droll text. As the story unfolds, young readers will begin to understand the humorous tension between what the text says and what the pictures show (and what they know to be true about dogs and their owners). When the dog complains about having to “clean up after them,” one can imagine a child laughing at the scene of spilled ice cream. Dog-loving parents will be reading this one over and over — and will never tire of it.

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

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6. Peanut Butter & Cupcake by Terry Border

All Four StarsComplete this rhyme:

Hello, I’m new here, and I’d like to play
Maybe now, maybe later – or even all day
I’ll make you chuckle deep down in your belly
and we’ll go together like Peanut Butter and…

You chose “cupcake”, didn’t you? No? What about “French fries?” Not that either? Ok, I’ll bet you chose “meatball!” Well, in the delightfully fun picture book Peanut Butter & Cupcake by Terry Border, a young slice of peanut butter toast tries all of those options and then some to round out his rhyming request for a new friend. Peanut Butter is new in town and his mom sends him out to make some friends. Along the way he is rebuffed by the likes of a hamburger, egg, alphabet soup and more before finally finding an ideal match in, you guessed it, Jelly.

This sweet story of friendship and acceptance is illustrated with photographs of three dimensional objects manipulated on a bright outdoor backdrop. Each inanimate food item is brought to life simply with the addition of wire arms and legs. One particularly adorable moment occurs when Peanut Butter encounters Hamburger as he struggles to walk his “dogs.” Terry Border’s clever and thoughtfully laid out scenes are silly enough to make readers of all ages smile and want to flip through the pages time and time again. Peanut Butter & Cupcake is a perfect read aloud for preschoolers and kindergarteners who will get a big kick out of the mismatched food pairings throughout. “Peanut butter and hamburger? Noooooo!”

Posted by: Staci


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7. Blog Tour: Stanley the Builder by William Bee PLUS Giveaway

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About the Book: Stanley is a helpful guinea pig who helps his friend Myrtle build a new house.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: When it comes to picture books, I can't help but do the storytime browse when I look through them. You know the one. You open a book, check the length of the text on the page and if it's a page long, you put it aside in the not for storytime pile. Yes, I know, longer picture books are great for lapsits and older readers, but I'm always on the lookout for simple text to use with my youngest storytime crowd.

New toddler books are hard to find so I am thrilled that William Bee's Stanley is here! Bright colors, simple text and fantastic vocabulary all make this a wonderful addition to toddler storytime.

Stanley builds Myrtle's house using a variety of trucks which is sure to be a hit with young readers. I love that in addition to the vocabulary of each vehicle used, there's also an introduction to the color of each vehicle. The colors are bright and vibrant and sure to engage young readers who will love looking at Stanley's adventures.


Along with his friend Charlie, Stanley builds Myrtle's house using concrete, bricks, nails and of course paint! 


The process of building is explained in a way that toddlers will understand. They're sure to want to read it again and again. And who can resist the adorable Stanley? 

Stanley is a great addition to toddler storytimes and would pair nicely with Lauren Thompson's Mouse Series

Would you like to win a copy? 
-One entry per person
-US Address only
-13+
-Contest ends September 8

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Full Disclosure: Copy reviewed from galley received from publisher for review 



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8. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #395: Featuring Bruce Eric Kaplan

Okay, you all. I just gotta write about another Bruce Eric Kaplan picture book, because whenever he writes and illustrates a new one, I’m reminded how wonderfully weird and refreshing they are. I see a lot of picture books on a regular basis, you see, and some of them start to blur together in my vision, but when one of his shows up, I know I’m likely in for a laugh.

Let me back up first. Kaplan is a cartoonist, whose work regularly appears in the The New Yorker, and since he’s known for his darker humor, his picture books have a touch of that as well (which means, of course, I’m going to be drawn to them). Dark humor in picture books is an easy thing to get wrong, though, yet Kaplan hasn’t made a misstep yet. At least, not in my book anyway. His debut picture book was 2010′s Monsters Eat Whiny Children, featured here at 7-Imp, and this was followed last year by Cousin Irv from Mars, which I wrote about here at Kirkus (and followed up here with art).

The new one, Meaniehead, came out in June (Simon & Schuster) and features more of his dark, hyperbolic humor and wry (and wise) observations on childhood. Henry and Eve are siblings who are experiencing an ugly new phase (as you can see above), involving lots of arguing. One day, an argument over an action figure (“There’s nothing sillier than fighting about what belongs to whom, but no kids and even fewer adults know that”) leads to a broken lamp, a wrecked bedroom, and the destruction of the house, the neighborhood, the local toy store, the library, the pizza place, the beauty parlor, the park, and all the town’s buildings, really. After a snack break, the intensive arguing continues until … well, I can’t give it all away, but some Texas football teams get involved …


… and in the end the world explodes.

That’s a Bruce Eric Kaplan book for you. Though you can never expect a moral with his books (thank goodness), there is some remorse, post-apocalypse. Best of all, he seems to really get those intense childhood fights. (My late brother and I grew up to be the best of friends, but boy howdy did we have some doozies when we were younger. I remember an argument over macaroni that is best not discussed.)

MEANIEHEAD. Copyright © 2014 by Bruce Eric Kaplan. Illustrations used by permission of the publisher, Simon & Schuster, 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 * * *

1) I might have to listen to this great conversation with poet Marie Howe multiple times. This is excellent on so many levels.

2) I took my girls this weekend to this Coretta Scott King event at the Nashville Public Library, and they got to take writing and art workshops — and I finally got to meet in person R. Gregory Christie.

3) Reading about this smart idea (putting a social worker on staff at a D.C. library to work with homeless patrons) led me to this podcast. It’s from the Dallas Public Library; it’s about homelessness; and it’s hosted by a young man who is himself homeless. I’m on episode three at this point; so far, it’s interesting stuff.

4) It’s lovely to see Dolly Parton’s book program (which is FABULOUS) get some national love and attention.

5) I got a good stack of new novels at the bookstore today. On that note …

6) Bubble bath. Reading. Bye! (Sorry to kick #7.)

What are YOUR kicks this week?

10 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #395: Featuring Bruce Eric Kaplan, last added: 9/2/2014
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9. Television Animation vs. Picture-Book Illustration

In my opinion, neither animation nor illustration is better than the other, and as with all things, each has its own assets and liabilities.

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10. What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Michael Emberley


” … which is exasperating boys like YOU.”
(Click to enlarge)


 

This morning over at Kirkus, I’m doing something entirely different. I’m chatting with author Kekla Magoon about her upcoming YA novel, How It Went Down. Why is someone who always writes about picture books and illustration doing that? Because the events in Ferguson have weighed heavy on my mind, as they have for many. More about this great novel and my chat with Kekla are here.

Last week I wrote about Barbara Bottner’s Miss Brooks’ Story Nook (where tales are told and ogres are welcome!), published by Random House in August and illustrated by Michael Emberley. That link is here.

Today, I’m following up with some sketches from Emberley and art from the book. Michael tells me he typically does hundreds of sketches for each book. These below are just some. You can click on nearly every sketch below to see it larger and in more detail.

Michael has even more about the book, including more sketches, at this page of his site.

Until Sunday …



 

Sketches


 


















 

Some Final Illustrations


 



(Click second image to see spread in its entirety)


 



(Click second image to see spread in its entirety)


 



(Click second image to see spread in its entirety)


 

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MISS BROOKS’ STORY NOOK (WHERE TALES ARE TOLD AND OGRES ARE WELCOME!). Text copyright © 2014 by Barbara Bottner. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Michael Emberley. Published by Alfred A. Knopf, New York, NY. All sketches and art here reproduced by permission of Michael Emberley.

3 Comments on What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Michael Emberley, last added: 8/29/2014
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11. Sharing a Read-Aloud Between Grandparents and Grandchildren

Do you have grandmother memories that you treasure? I have so many, and luckily for me, as I launch my new picture book, My Bibi Always Remembers, about a grandmother elephant and her little grandbaby, I have a reason to revisit them all!

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12. Dog Days of School by Kelly di Pucchio, illustrated by Brian Biggs

Dog Days of School is a very funny flip-flop-school-story written by Kelly DiPucchio and  illustrated by Brian Biggs. Charlie does not like going to school and is tired of everything about it. In fact, Charlie is "tired of being tired." Norman, Charlie's dog, seems like he has it all - a soft bed to sleep on and nothing to do. As he falls asleep in Sunday night, Charlie wishes he was a dog.

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13. #645 – Flora and the Penguin by Molly Idle

Flora and the Penguin                    2014

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Flora and the Penguin

Written and illustrated by Molly Idle
Published by Chronicle Books 2014
978-1-4521-2891-7
Age 4 to 8 (+) 32 pages
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“Flora is back and this time she partners with a penguin. Twirling, leaping, and gliding on skates and flippers, the duo mirror each other in an exuberant ice dance. But when Flora gives the penguin the cold shoulder, the pair must figure out a way to work together for uplifting results.”

Opening

As Flora ties her right skate, she notices something poke out of a hole in the ice. What could it be?

Review

Flora is back at the ice rink, getting ready to glide and twirl when she sees something odd in the hole across from where she sits lacing her skate. Flora extends her hand, offering it to Penguin. He accepts (I am assuming Penguin is a he, I really do not know). Flipper in hand, the pair glide in perfect harmony. Left foot glide to the right; turn and right foot glide to the left. In absolute harmony, Flora and Penguin take off and then LEAP into a perfect twirl.

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Oh, NO! Penguin misses his landing, falling onto his rotund rear. Flora glides away . . . laughing. Penguin belly slides to her with a twinkle in his eye. This is not Flora and the Flamingo. The grace and style are present. The harmonious duet is there. The serious business of skating is not. Penguin brings the smiles and laughs out of Flora. He also spoils his partner, or, rather, he tries. Flora rejects Penguin’s gift. Sure, it is a small fish he has brought her; a snack Penguin chased below the ice—in synchronicity with Flora’s skating. Flora flips the fish over her head. Penguin looks mortified as his gift somehow lands into the hole in the ice and swims away.

The beautiful illustrations once again capture the elegant characters gliding, twirling, and leaping. At quick glance, one might believe this is the Caldecott Honor Book Flora and the Flamingo, only with a penguin. That person would be wrong, terribly wrong. In Flora and the Flamingo, Flora is the student learning from Flamingo, the teacher. In Flora and the Penguin, Flora is no longer the student, nor is she the teacher. She and Penguin are friends skating together and having fun. When Penguin misses his landing, no one turns away in admonition. No, Flora happily laughs and Penguin giggles as they join back together. These two are playmates.

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Playmates have fights, as you are sure to remember. Flora turns away in a pout, checking on Penguin when he looks away. Penguin is also pouting in anger and keeping an eye on Flora. These two friends need to find their way back and Ms. Idle does this in grand style. A four-page grand spread. Flora and the Penguin is a gorgeous, wordless picture book that will wow anyone lucky enough to turn the pages. Some pages contain flip-up, -down, or –sideways, always changing the scene and promoting a smile.

Flora and the Penguin is an easy choice for anyone who loves ballet. Yet this gorgeous, should-win-lots-of-awards picture book will attract a wider audience. Like her throngs of admirers, I cannot wait for her next release, though I am secretly hoping for new characters in a new story. Whatever direction she takes, parents and young children will love the finished product. Ms. Idle has perfected the art of wordless storytelling.

FLORA AND THE PENGUIN. Text and illustrations copyright © 2014 by Molly Idle. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA.

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Buy Flora and the Penguin at AmazoniTunesB&NBook DepositoryChronicle Booksyour favorite bookstore.

Learn more about Flora and the Penguin HERE

Meet the author/illustrator, Molly Idle, at her website:  http://idleillustration.com/

Find more picture books at the Chronicle Books’ website:   http://www.chroniclebooks.com/

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Also by Molly Idle

Camp Rex

Camp Rex

Tea Rex

Tea Rex

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flora and the penguin

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Copyright © 2014 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews


Filed under: 6 Stars TOP BOOK, Children's Books, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Picture Book, Series, Top 10 of 2014 Tagged: ballet, children's book reviews, Chronicle Books, Flora and the Penguin, gorgeous illustrations, ice skating, Molly Idle, penguins, picture books, wordless stories

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14. Chu's First Day of School by Neil Gaiman & Adam Rex

Earlier this year in a Literary Celebrity Guest Review, Elissa Brent Weissman reviewed the charming Chu's Day, written by Neil Gaiman and brilliantly illustrated by  Adam Rex. Now, just in time for fall, Chu is back and headed to school in Chu's First Day of School! Chu is nervous. School is starting and he worries whether the other students will like him and what will happen. His

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15. Review of Quest

becker quest Review of QuestQuest
by Aaron Becker; illus. by the author
Primary    Candlewick    40 pp.
8/14    978-0-7636-6595-1    $15.99

Journey (rev. 9/13) introduced a girl with a magic red crayon who could draw her way into an adventure and back home. At the end of the book she met a boy with his own purple crayon. Quest — the second in a planned wordless trilogy — opens where we last saw the friends, in a present-day city. While sheltering under a bridge during the rain, they are surprised by the arrival of an old man who gives them an orange crayon, a colorful map, and a holster with six small chambers. After the man is seized by soldiers, the children follow them into the same land we saw in Journey. Reading their map, the kids go on various quests (each lasting two or three spreads) to collect different-color crayons that fit neatly into the holster. Along the way they use their own purple and red crayons to draw objects that help them escape baddies in steampunk dirigibles. They make their way back to the Journey city and save the old man with their now-full holster, creating a magic rainbow. Becker’s illustrations are satisfyingly lush and full of subtle clues that will reward multiple readings. Compared to Journey’s simple yet mysterious story line, however, Quest seems overly complicated and, after the first reading, predictable — particularly for those familiar with the Myst computer games. Nevertheless, fans of the first book will probably be happy to explore this fantastical world in more depth.

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

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16. Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Mike Curato



 

Debut author-illustrator Mike Curato is visiting for breakfast this morning to share lots of art and talk about his new book, Little Elliot, Big City (which I think actually comes out today — I swear I don’t plan these things, but I just get lucky with my timing sometimes). Clearly, based on the sketch of Elliot above, we must have cupcakes for breakfast. Actually, Mike agrees, when I ask him what he’d like on his plate. “If I could choose whatever I wanted without consequence,” he told me, “I’m sure I’d start off my morning with a cupcake. (Aren’t muffins just really boring cupcakes anyway?)” He went on to say that he usually starts his day with something a bit healthier, but I’m all for this cupcake plan (healthy schmealthy), so let’s just DO IT.

Little Elliot tells the story of a tiny (cupcake-loving) elephant, who heads intrepidly into the big city and eventually makes a new friend. Booklist praises Mike’s “almost cinematic artwork,” and the Kirkus review notes “the meticulous beauty” of the illustrations. Mike’s here today to show us some of that, as well as some other illustrations. I’ll get the cupcakes and coffee out, and I thank him for visiting.

* * * * * * *

Jules: Are you an illustrator or author/illustrator?

Mike: Both!

While thinking about this question, I started wondering if I should just go by “storyteller,” since I love to tell stories whether it’s visual, written, or spoken. But then people might roll their eyes if I say that, so let’s stick with Illustrator/Author.


An animated GIF showing Mike’s process;
this is a spread from
Little Elliot, Big City

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

Mike: My very first book, Little Elliot, Big City, comes out August 26th. It’s the first in a three-book series with Henry Holt Books for Young Readers (Macmillan), starring my favorite polka-dotted elephant.



Books of Wonder’s storefront window
(Click to enlarge)


 

Also, before that I illustrated a self-published book called Mabel McNabb and the Most Boring Day Ever by Amy Jones [pictured below].

 




Jules: What is your usual medium?

Mike: Usually, I draw in graphite-on-paper, then scan and color in Photoshop. For a super detailed explanation, click here.

Jules: Where are your stompin’ grounds?

Mike: I currently live in Brooklyn, NY. I actually grew up in the NYC suburbs, then went to college upstate at Syracuse, then lived in Seattle for ten years, and I just moved here last November. I think what I like most about Brooklyn is that you could throw a kneaded eraser and you’d hit two or three illustrators.


(Click to enlarge)

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

Mike: You mean aside from wanting to do this forever?

Well, in 2012 I attended my first SCBWI Winter Conference here in NYC. I entered the portfolio show and won. Everyone was smitten with Elliot, who appeared throughout my portfolio. The week after was filled with emails and calls from agents and publishers. I signed with Brenda Bowen, a literary agent at Greenburger (who is now officially my favorite strawberry blonde person). I worked on a manuscript for several months. We took it to several houses, and then it went to auction. I signed with Holt for a three-book deal and have been blessed to be able to work with my editor, Laura Godwin.


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)

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

Mike: You can see my portfolio at www.MikeCurato.com.
You can read my blog at mikecurato.wordpress.com/.

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

Mike: I just had my very first school visit this July at a preschool on the Lower East Side. In addition to reading Little Elliot, Big City, we wrote our own Elliot story: “Elliot woke up. Elliot ate breakfast. Elliot brushed his teeth. Elliot went to the beach. Elliot ate ice cream.” The kids told me what to draw in each scene, and some details were quite interesting. It was super fun, and I can’t wait to do it again!


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)



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

Mike: I just finished the second book in the Little Elliot series, Little Elliot, Big Family, which comes out Fall 2015. Soon I’ll start working on the third, and I honestly have no idea what it’s going to be about yet.

Meanwhile, there are two projects I just agreed to illustrate, but I can’t talk about them just yet. (Eep! I can’t wait to shout them from the rooftops!)

I have also been working on an idea for a YA graphic novel, but it will be some time before it’s ready to be shown to anybody.

Mmm. Coffee.Okay, I’ve got coffee and more cupcakes, and it’s time to get a bit more detailed with seven questions over breakfast. I thank Mike again for visiting 7-Imp.

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

Mike

: DANCE. My “process” isn’t sequential. I jump back and forth between writing and illustrating, almost like a dance. Doing one will inspire the other, or sometimes when I’m feeling stuck, I’ll switch to get back in the rhythm. So, I start with sketches, then do some writing, then back and forth.


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KEEP IT LOOSE. The initial dummy is very loose. The sketches just show enough to convey what is going on in the spread; that way I don’t get too hung up on the details. However, I did start out both Little Elliot, Big City and Little Elliot, Big Family with one finished piece of art that I made before the book deal.

RESEARCH. When you’re illustrating a non-abstract scene, you need reference materials. Little Elliot is set in the late 1930s/early ’40s, so I had to do my homework on the look and feel of the time period. One of my favorite parts of the research was going to the MTA archives to look at photos of the subway and then going to the MTA museum to see vintage subway cars. (High-fives to my fellow history nerds!)


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DRAW, DRAW, DRAW. Once my thumbnails are approved and I have all the reference materials I need, I create a detailed comp for each spread. Sometimes I’ll create a mock-up by stitching together all of my reference materials in Photoshop. I check in with the editor one more time with the comps before taking everything to finish, giving me a window to make adjustments to the drawings. Once all adjustments are made, based on feedback, I will finish the drawing.

COLOR. After I scan, I touch up anything that sticks out, then start coloring. Each color is a separate layer in Photoshop with different opacities, almost like a glazing technique one would use in painting.


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

Mike

: I have a workroom in my apartment. It’s a pretty easy commute! It’s spacious (by New York standards) and gets good light. I love being there.


Mike: “Let there be light!”
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Mike: “The wall to the right houses some illustrations by friends (and artists I WANT to be friends with). I made that picture of a cat when I was four. The image of Elliot above the desk appears in Little Elliot, Big Family.”


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Mike: “Books and flatfiles of drawings and books and art supplies and books.”
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3. Jules: As a book-lover, it interests me: What books or authors and/or illustrators influenced you as an early reader?

Mike

: My Mom says that my favorite books when I was little were The Little Red Caboose and The Poky Little Puppy. She used to read to me all the time from a Golden Book compilation entitled Tibor Gergely’s Great Big Book of Bedtime Stories, which I still have and I still love. I think Gergely’s work still influences me today. I also loved Richard Scarry’s What Do People Do All Day?, Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham, and Mabel Watt’s Hiram’s Red Shirt (illustrated by Aurelius Battaglia?).

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

Mike: Since moving to Brooklyn, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting so many amazing illustrators, but I have yet to meet this handful of heroes. (Okay, okay. I know I’m only supposed to choose three, but who do you expect me to cut from this list?)

Chris Van Allsburg, Ian Falconer, Peter McCarty, and Renata Liwska.

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

Mike: I often listen to music while I’m illustrating (or I have a movie playing in the background). While working on the latest book, I listened to a lot of Fiona Apple (The Idler Wheel), Robyn (Bodyrock), Mark Ronson (Record Collection), Gossip (A Joyful Noise), MS MR (Secondhand Rapture), and everything/anything by Vampire Weekend and Rufus Wainwright. I’m also really into soundtracks such as Amélie, Chicago, Pride & Prejudice, Sleepless in Seattle, and Pina. And when I really want to burn the midnight oil, I usually default to either my ’80s pop or ’90s grunge playlists. Oh, and Weezer’s Blue Album is always playing at some point when I make art. It’s a tradition that my former college studio-mates and I share.

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

Mike: One thing I must confess is that I was not a voracious reader in my teens. I’m not sure what happened, but once I grew out of picture books, the idea of reading seemed like such a chore. It was cutting into my drawing and TV time! Thank goodness for comic books. They are pretty much all I read from the ages of 12 to 15. I was very passionate about my X-Men collection from then into my early 20s. I did dream about making my own picture books when I was very young, but for the duration of middle and high school, I aspired to be a comic book artist. Though my interest in classic superheroes has diminished, I am hoping to break into graphic novels one day.

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

Mike: One question I’d like to hear is: “Aside from other children’s books, is there anything that influences your work?” And the answer would be: “YES!”

I am really inspired by film. Good cinematography, like picture books, can tell a story with very few words. My favorite movies (and picture books) have both amazing imagery and compelling narrative. Movies like Amélie, The Last Emperor, American Beauty, Inception, Marie Antoinette, The Royal Tenenbaums, and Lord of the Rings are not only riveting stories; everything is also visually stunning. There is attention to detail in every scene. Every object is carefully placed — and the color adjusted to convey the feeling in the atmosphere. The framing of each scene is dynamic and directs the eye. I could watch any of these on mute and just revel in their beauty. I try to take the visual lessons I learn from films like these and apply them to my work.



 

* * * The Pivot Questionnaire * * *

Jules: What is your favorite word?

Mike: “Cake.”

Jules: What is your least favorite word?

Mike: “Literally.” When it’s misused.

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

Mike: See: What is your favorite word?

Jules: What turns you off?

Mike: Celery.

7-Imp: What is your favorite curse word? (optional)

Mike: I couldn’t possibly choose one.

Jules: What sound or noise do you love?

Mike:

Jules: What sound or noise do you hate?

Mike:

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

Mike: Maybe acting. Or ice cream-taste-tester. (That’s a thing, right?)

Jules: What profession would you not like to do?

Mike: Anything involving customer service. Been there. Done that. Next.

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

Mike: “Don’t worry. You can still keep making books.”


All artwork and images are used with permission of Mike Curato.

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

3 Comments on Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Mike Curato, last added: 8/27/2014
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17. Feathers, Scales, Fur or Skin: Tales of Friendship and Being Yourself

The Lucky Country. That’s Australia. We embrace difference. Celebrate diversity. Stand up for what we believe in. Be ourselves. Show compassion for those in need.   The following picture books, as chosen for the 2014 Speech Pathology Australia Books of the Year shortlist, all share common themes; diversity, friendship and uniqueness.   The Short Giraffe […]

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18. Monsters Love School by Mike Austin

Last year I reviewed Mike Austin's Monsters Love Colors. Austin took a pretty standard concept book and turned it into an energy-filled-outing with some scribbly-but-sweet monsters who are very fun to spend time with. In Monsters Love School, Austin and his monsters work their magic again, this time taking a pretty standard starting school story and making it special. Monsters Love

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19. Lee & Low Books Picture Books Contest

Lee & Low Books New Voices Award

Cash prize of $1,000 and a publishing contract.

— No Entry Fee
Prize: $1,000.00.
Entry fee: $0.00.

Deadline: 09-30-2014

WRITING CONTEST WEBSITE

To recognize the talents of children’s picture book authors, Lee & Low Books (est. 2000) is inviting U.S.-based authors of color to submit manuscripts (up to 1500 words) to its 15th Annual New Voices Award for a chance to win a cash prize of $1,000 and a publishing contract with the company.

A second-place winner will receive $500.

The judges accept unagented, original, unpublished children’s stories only. Categories include fiction, poetry, and non-fiction appropriate for kids, ages 5-12.

Submissions should focus on the necessities of children of color and engage young readers with relatable stories. You can submit up to two entries per application.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: children writing, Contest, picture books, Places to sumit, publishers Tagged: Lee and Low Books, New Voices Award, Picture book authors

0 Comments on Lee & Low Books Picture Books Contest as of 8/24/2014 2:41:00 AM
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20. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #394: Featuring Julie Morstad


“When Julia was very little, she had a splendid meal of sole meunière. And that was that. Julia fell in love with French food. She loved to eat French food.
And she especially loved to cook it.”

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I think this is the first time I’ve featured the illustrations of Julie Morstad here at 7-Imp (oh wait, I have some of her art here from back in 2012). I always like to see her artwork, and her latest illustrated picture book is Kyo Maclear’s Julia, Child, released by Tundra Books in July.

The book is pure fiction. As Maclear writes in an opening note:

While the story contains no true knowledge of (the real) Julia Child and should be taken with a grain of salt and perhaps even a generous pat of butter, we hope that you will find something here to savor.

It tells the story of Julia and her friend Simca. Simca would be French cookbook and author Simone Beck, who once worked and wrote with Child (Mastering the Art of French Cooking).

This book imagines a childhood friendship and two girls who work to bring cheer and imagination into the lives of the adults around them with their cooking. Noting that “too many grown-ups … did not know how to have a marvelous time,” they set out to create recipes for them. It works for the poor, tired, harried adults — until they begin to argue. The girls then decide to make smaller portions for the grown-ups, “just enough to feed the sensible children from whom these senseless grown-ups grew.” The cookbook they create here? Mastering the Art of Childhood.

Morstad used gouache, ink, and Photoshop to create the illustrations. Oh! And don’t miss Jama Rattigan’s July chat with author Kyo Maclear here at her site, Jama’s Alphabet Soup.

Here’s a bit more art. Enjoy.


“On weekends, she and her friend Simca would shop at the market
and gather new ideas and recipes.”

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“But together they took cooking and baking classes, and practiced and practiced.
And learned a few tricks.”

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“…They cooked extra slowly to bring out the flavor of not hurrying. They used delicate spices so that worries would disappear and wonders would rise to the surface.”
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“As the savory scent of cooking waited through the streets, a curious crowd began to gather. Soon, all sorts of big, busy people wanted a place at the table.”
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JULIA, CHILD. Text copyright © 2014 by Kyo Maclear. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Julie Morstad. Illustrations used by permission of the publisher, Tundra Books, Toronto, Ontario.

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1) Julie Morstad illustrated one of my favorite CDs EVER.

2) My husband’s been working hard, doing some much-needed maintenance on 7-Imp. Whew. It’s still here, and thank goodness he knows his tech stuff.

3) As I’m typing, I’m listening to All Songs 24/7, and they are currently playing a wonderful Broken Bells song I’ve never heard.

4) Sam Phillips sent her fans a new song this week. Well, it was created last year, but anyway, it’s downloadable here now. Only Sam could make a song about a rock beautiful.

5) Visiting Little Willow’s site!

6) Getting to hear Jon Scieszka speak in Nashville this week. Also this this this this this this. Every word of this. YES. I wish every teacher and librarian in the country would read that.

7) This write-up about Sonya Hartnett, one of my favorite writers.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

9 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #394: Featuring Julie Morstad, last added: 8/24/2014
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21. Book Review: Made by Raffi by Craig Pomernz and Illustrated by Margaret Chamberlain


Book received at no charge to facilitate review.

Raffi feels different from all of the other boys at school. While they like to play rough and make a lot of noise, Raffi preferred to sit quietly by himself. While looking for a quiet spot, he finds his teacher knitting and can't hide his fascination at her creation. He jumps at the chance to learn to knit and gathers yarn in every color of the rainbow for a scarf for his dad.

As his project grows, he tries to ignore the taunting of the other children on the school bus.  He receives unwavering support at home when he asks his parents if there is such thing as a "Tomgirl." Raffi expands his skills for the school play and gains the admiration of his classmates in the process.

Made by Raffi celebrates children's unique difference with pizzazz and color in a spirited story that will win the hearts of those who feel different as well as those who want to celebrate differences. Move over Calvin Klein, the young reader may want to take over the world of fashion design.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Publishing Details:
Publisher: Francis Lincoln Children's Books (July 29, 2014)
ISBN: 978-1-84780-433-4
40 pages
Ages: 5-9

Purchase from the following retailers:



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22. Picture Book Monday with a review of Flora and the Flamingo

They say that imitation in the sincerest form of flattery. This may be true sometimes, but being imitated can also be really, really annoying. In today's picture book you are going to meet a little girl who decides to imitate an elegant flamingo and who soon learns that her actions are not appreciated. At all.

Flora and the FlamingoFlora and the Flamingo
Molly Idle
Wordless Picture Book
For ages 5 and up
Chronicle Books, 2013, 978-1-4521-1006-6
Flora is a girl who is wearing a pink bathing suit, a yellow swimming cap, and black flippers. In the shallows of a pond there is a flamingo and Flora decides to copy it. When the flamingo stands on one leg so does Flora. When it makes several elegant ballet-like poses, Flora does her best to copy the bird’s moves. Though Flora tries not to be seen copying the flamingo, the wily bird soon sees what she is doing and with a firm squawk it puts a stop to Flora’s shenanigans. The startled girl ends up doing a forward roll and finds herself sitting on her bottom in the water with a flower on her head.
   This could very easily be the end of the story of Flora and the elegant flamingo, but the kind-hearted bird reaches out to the child and teaches her a little about dance and a lot about friendship.
   In this remarkable picture book the illustrator tells a riveting story without using any words or word sounds at all. The expression on the faces, and the body language, of the two characters is so expressive that no words are needed. Children will love seeing how Flora and the flamingo come to terms, and how something special grows out of their interaction.


0 Comments on Picture Book Monday with a review of Flora and the Flamingo as of 8/25/2014 8:23:00 AM
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23. Back to School Picks: Thank You, Mr. Falker

Thank you, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco

Let me start by saying I am an unmitigated Polacco fan, and among the many books she has written, this may just be my favorite.

It packs a wallop if picture books can, amidst their recent much-heralded demise, continue to do such a thing. This one definitely does.

As a new school year is in the offing, most of us, if we search our memories, can recall with perfect clarity a teacher who had a life changing effect on our life, both academic and otherwise. These are often defining moments as we look back. Sometimes it was not that dramatic – perhaps a random word of encouragement, some extra time spent or an affirmation at a time when we needed it most.

I had two such remarkable people who stretched me and made me want to excel. One was my 6th grade teacher and the other taught English in my sophomore year in high school. They showed me the possibilities of what could be, not what was. They were most probably the reason I became a teacher. One of them is still in my life as a friend and mentor, meeting her again after many years. The other, I bumped into quite randomly in Sag Harbor as I was entering a restaurant several years ago. I got the chance to say “thank you” to my version of Mr. Falker and it felt great!

This is the true story of one of Ms. Polacco’s childhood school experiences, dense with the richness of the truth of so many things. It starts, as do most things, with a family, its traditions, and the importance it places on certain things and in that placement, the passing on of an inherent value to its children.

Readers will witness the ritual of the Polacco family and her grandfather, as he has done for generations, pouring honey on the cover of a small book and offering the youngest a taste of honey with the query, “What is that taste?” “Sweet” is the reply. Then the entire family joins in with one voice, “Yes, and so is knowledge, but knowledge is like the bee that made that sweet honey, you have to chase it through the pages of a book.” Trisha longs to pursue the tradition through learning to read.

Her story concretely and painfully details the power of words to hurt and to heal, the ability of a teacher to change one life at a time, simply by caring enough to probe deeper into the reason for a certain child’s struggles with academics, and the devastating effects of bullying.

For all that, it is a supremely uplifting and honest book, chronicling the difficulty faced by one child and her struggles in learning to read. The raw truth of this book as Ms. Polacco details her struggles with deciphering letters and their accompanying sounds, is juxtaposed against the caring Mr. Falker and his charismatic ability to change one child’s gradual mistaken belief that they are not smart because their learning curve is different. They have what is termed a learning disability – they process information differently.

Trisha’s drawing talent and ability become evident and are a soothing comfort in her struggle to adjust from a comforting farm life with which she is familiar, and her new life as the family moves to California. Her reading struggles intensify, accompanied by the unrelenting taunts of a classmate.

Soon, Trisha herself begins to believe the truth of the taunts – she is different, she believes and as she sees it, dumb. That difference, she mistakenly perceives is her fault and the reason for her inability to succeed and fit in. Enter Mr. Falker!

Fifth grade will be life changing. His elegant clothing and insistence on civility are  only his outward hallmarks.

He gradually sees through the loneliness and fear brought on by Trisha’s inability to make sense of the squiggles on the blackboard.  Promising her everything will change, he assures her that it has only been through her cunning, smartness and yes, bravery, that she has eluded and fooled many teachers in her ability to keep up.

Mr. Falker and a reading teacher meet with Trisha nearly every day and the world opens to her. It finally all begins to make sense!

She clutches a jar of honey and a book in triumph as she remembers the tradition of her family. Open sesame! The promise of the family tradition is met and kept.

Fast-forward thirty years and Trisha’s reconnection is tender as she meets again the life changing Mr. Falker or Felker, his real name. He asks her what she does for a living and thanking him, she brightly replies, “ I make books for children”.

You can’t write better than this, even in fiction.

Thanks to all the Mr. Falkers of this and every school year that have affected eternity in their ripple effect and sometimes never get to see the difference in the lives they’ve touched. This book is for you and those you’ve changed forever, whether you ever come face to face with it or not! You are the real heroes of this book, along with the students whose lives you’ve saved in the simple deciphering of the human heart.

 

 

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24. Two Speckled Eggs by Jennifer Mann

Two Speckled EggsSometimes you think you know all about someone, but it turns out that people will sometimes surprise you in good ways and in bad. When Ginger plans her birthday party, her mother tells her that she must invite all of the girls in her class, including Lyla Browning. Lyla Browning is a little different; some might call her “weird”, especially if you never get to know her. She likes things like tarantulas and ladybugs and nature, and she carries a magnifying glass in her pocket.

When Ginger’s birthday finally arrives, her friends from her class all come, and so does Lyla. Much to her surprise, her friends aren’t exactly on their best behavior. They use the Pin the Tail on the Donkey on each other and don’t want to even try her coconut and pineapple birthday cake. Ginger is also surprised that she and Lyla have some things in common, like for instance ladybugs. Lyla brings her a beautiful homemade gift of a nest made from paper, tinsel, ribbon, and string, and in the center are two speckled malted milk eggs. This is Ginger’s favorite gift, and eventually Lyla becomes Ginger’s favorite friend. What a wonderful surprise!

Posted by: Mary


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25. The Star Giver, by Ginger Nielson | Dedicated Review

Ginger Nielson tells a soothing folktale set deep in the forest. When Little Bear asks, “Where did the stars come from?” Mother Bear leans in closely to share a Native American legend from “the far, far north.”

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