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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Picture books, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 7,053
1. Captain No Beard Blog Tour 2015

Captain No Beard sets sail on 9 separate voyages of the imagination with his fearless crew aboard his pirate ship The Flying Dragon.

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2. Boo! Before Breakfast


“Later Leo would not be able to say where the idea came from. He threw the bed sheet over himself and flew at the thief, who was so frightened he dropped all the salad forks. Leo chased the man into a closet, then slammed the door shut
and locked him inside. It was very well done.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


 

Over at BookPage, I’ve got a review of Mac Barnett’s Leo: A Ghost Story (Chronicle, August 2015), illustrated by Christian Robinson. That review is here.

And I’ve got a bit of art from the book here today. The only thing these spreads today are missing is the wonderful character of Jane, but you’ll just have to find a copy yourself so you can meet her. Oh, wait! She’s in the bottom right corner of this image:

 



 

I think this is one of the year’s best picture books thus far. Definitely a favorite for me.

Enjoy.



 


“This is Leo. Most people cannot see him.”
(Click to enlarge spread)


 


“But you can. Leo is a ghost.”
(Click to enlarge spread)


 


“The family called in a scientist, a clergyman, and a psychic to get rid of the ghost.
But they should have saved their money: Leo knew he was unwanted.
He said goodbye to his home and left.”

(Click to enlarge spread –
please note the colors are a bit off in this spread)


 


“‘I have been a house ghost all my life,’ Leo thought. ‘Maybe I would like being
a roaming ghost for a while.’ So Leo roamed.”

(Click to enlarge spread –
please note the colors are a bit off in this spread)


 



 

* * * * * * *

LEO: A GHOST STORY. Copyright © 2015 by Mac Barnett. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Christian Robinson. Images reproduced by permission of the publisher, Chronicle Books, San Francisco.

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3. Picture Book Monday with a review of The Good Little Book

This may sound strange to some of you ,but I have close relationships with a few of my books. They have become friends, companions who comfort me during hard times. The familiar words offer solace when the world feels unfriendly and confusing.

Today's picture book explores the relationship that one little boy has with a book, and readers will be intrigued to see that the story does not, perhaps, turn out the way they it would.

The Good Little BookThe good little book
Kyo Maclear
Illustrated by Marion Arbona
Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Tundra, 2015, 978-1-77049-451-0
There once was a good little book that rested on a shelf in a study alongside many other books. Unlike many of the other books, the good little book did not have a flashy cover, nor had it been awarded medals. It was just a modest little book.
   One day a boy came into the study, and he was not in a very good mood. He was in trouble and had been told to “think things over.” The boy did this, for the briefest of times, and then he started to look around the study. He found the good little book, opened it, and started to read. In no time at all the boy was swept up by the narrative in the book, and he barely noticed time passing. He read the book from cover to cover and then read it all over again.
   All through winter the boy went about his days with the good little book as his “loyal companion.” In spring the special connection between the book and its boy kept going, until one terrible day when the book fell out of the boy’s backpack and was lost. The boy was so worried about the book and spent hours looking for it. The boy was concerned that the book, which “did not have the skills that would help it in the dangerous wild or in the rushing streets,” would not be able to survive.
   The boy asked people for help, he put up lost book posters, and he searched the library; all to no avail. What he did not know was that the good little book was coping quite well, considering that it was small, unassuming, and helpless.
   This wonderful picture book beautifully captures the way in which a person can have a special relationship with a book. It also celebrates the way in which a book lives on within the hearts and minds of its readers, long after it has gone out into the world to find new readers.


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4. Are we there, Yeti?

Be warned.  This could be an ear-worm trailer.


Are We There, Yeti? by Ashlyn Anstee



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5. Fab Four Friends

Fab Four Friends: The Boys Who Became The Beatles. Susanna Reich. 2015. Henry Holt. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I love the Beatles, have spent several decades loving the Beatles, so I was quite excited to read Susanna Reich's picture book biography of the fab four. She introduces each Beatle individually, starting with John, of course. As each one meets John and joins the band, his story is then told in some detail. It is a partial biography, not a full one. The book concludes circa 1963 with the Beatles just beginning to become HUGE in England. (Think Love Me Do and Please, Please Me.)

The details are age-appropriate, in case you're curious. If you're familiar with the Beatles--as a group, or as individuals--then you know that there is plenty that could have been said, could have been shared, for a mature adult audience. The book captures them at their innocent best.

I've read a handful of books about the Beatles--mainly biographies--over the years, and this one did a good job with the basics. I liked the simple approach for a younger audience. Though this one would definitely be a picture book for older readers, and not a book ideal for preschool read aloud.

The Illustrations are by Adam Gustavson. I spent time looking at each spread of this picture book, absorbing the details in the text and in the illustration. I've spent plenty of time looking at photographs of the Beatles--I had a new Beatles calendar for several years in a row. So what did I think of the illustrations? I liked them for the most part. There were one or two that I thought were practically perfect. But I couldn't really say that of each and every page. Still, I liked the illustrations overall.

If used in a classroom, this one would pair well with the first Beatles Anthology album. Students could listen to "early" recordings of the Beatles.


© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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6. New Book Brings People Closer to the Intriguing Life of Dinosaurs

What is it about dinosaurs that intrigue us so much? There are lots of extinct animals, some are even stranger than the dinosaurs. Yet when it comes to capturing our imagination, dinosaurs rule.

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7. Leo: A Ghost Story, by Mac Barnett & Christian Robinson -- a story of friendship and acceptance (ages 3-7)

Even though children are surrounded by other kids at school, they often don't feel seen or acknowledged. Mac Barnett and Christian Robinson tap into this feeling in their delightful story about Leo, a little ghost who makes a friend.

Leo: A Ghost Story
by Mac Barnett
illustrated by Christian Robinson
Chronicle, 2015
Your local library
Amazon
ages 3-7
*best new book*
Leo has a hard time making friends because he’s a ghost. No one can see him. But we can. He’s pretty satisfied spending time by himself, but he is happy when a family moves into his house. It's good to have company. But the family doesn't see things the same way.

Kids will know just what it's like not to be wanted, and they will empathize with Leo as he leaves home. The cool blues of Robinson's illustrations match the soft, subdued mood. One afternoon, "Leo found himself roaming along a sidewalk covered in drawings." Jane looked right up at Leo and asked if he'd like to play. At first, Leo is stunned that she's talking right to him.
"Leo, do you want to play Knights of the Round Table?"
Leo is delighted by her imaginary play as she knights him in their game, but he's nervous that she will be scared when she finds out he’s a ghost. I love how accepting Jane is, how open she is not only to Leo but also to her own imagination. Jane is kind, direct and self-assured--definitely one of my favorite characters this year.

I won't give away the ending, but be rest assured that it will bring a smile to your face and let kids know that they can find a friend who likes them just the way they are.

Enjoy this book trailer. Just like the book, the kids' voices shine through.

Check out these other reviews & interviews:


Illustrations ©2015 Christian Robinson. The review copy was kindly sent by the publisher, Chronicle Books. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2015 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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8. Our Week in Books: August 23-30

Books We Read This Week - Here in the Bonny Glen

 

Sophie's Squash by Pat Zietlow Miller & Anne WilsdorfSophie’s Squash by  Pat Zietlow Miller & Anne Wilsdorf. Read to: my boys.

If you only pick up one new picture book for fall, let this be it. Here’s what I wrote in a Picture Book Spotlight post last year:

We first read this absolute gem of a picture book last year during the CYBILs. Fell so utterly in love with it—the lot of us—that a library copy wouldn’t do; we had to have our own. Huck and Rilla were overjoyed when I pulled it out this morning. Sophie’s instant bond with a butternut squash is utterly believable, and not just because Huck formed a similar attachment once upon a time, long before we encountered this book! “Bernice” becomes Sophie’s best friend and closest confidant, all through a bright and beautiful autumn. But as winter approaches, Bernice begins to get a bit squishy about the edges. Sophie’s parents make gentle attempts to convince Sophie it’s time to let her friend go, but since their suggestions involve treating the squash like, you know, a squash, Sophie’s having none of it. Her own solution is sweet and heartwarming, and it makes my kids sigh that contented sigh that means everything has come out exactly right.


 

How to Read a Story by Kate MessnerHow to Read a Story by Kate Messner, illustrated by Mark Siegel. Read to: my boys.

Well, I was sure I had posted a video of Huck reading this book last March. He was enchanted by the story from the first—a little step-by-step guide to enjoying a book with your best reading buddy, charmingly illustrated—and one day I caught him reading it out loud to himself, putting in all the voices. ::melt:

 

(In case the video won’t play for you, here’s a Youtube link.)


 

Charlie Parker Played Be Bop by Chris RaschkaCharlie Parker Played Be Bop by Chris Raschka. Read to: my boys.

One of our longtime family favorites. The rhythm and whimsy of the text has captivated each of our small fry in turn. And the art is bold and funny and altogether wonderful.


 

Don't Know Much About History by Kenneth C. DavisDon’t Know Much About History by Kenneth C. Davis. Read to: the teens.

Another of the texts Beanie, Rose, and I are using for our 20th-century history studies. We continue to enjoy reading history texts aloud together, which allows us all to stay on the same page (literally) and—even more important—fosters discussion and fruitful rabbit trailing. We try to reserve two 45-minute blocks a week for this, supplementing with other books (including graphic novels, historical fiction, and biographies) and videos.


 

Poetry:

Walt Whitman, selections from “Song of Myself
Gwendolyn Brooks, “kitchenette building


 

Books Continued from Last Week:

(Rillabooks in the top row)
Charlotte's Web by E.B. White Ginger Pye by Eleanor Estes D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths Dancing Shoes by Noel Streatfeild audiobook

Best of H.P. Lovecraft An Old-Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

I’m nearing the end of To the Lighthouse and am feeling pretty well shattered. And I sort of want to start it all over from the beginning.


 

Related:

books to read with my 9yo  TEXT HERE (2)

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9. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #447: Featuring Simona Ciraolo



 

“I’d had my suspicions for a while that someone had replaced my sister with a girl who looked a lot like her. It had to be! …” Thus opens the new book from author-illustrator Simona Ciraolo (who brought us last year’s Hug Me), Whatever Happened to My Sister? This will be on shelves, come November, from Flying Eye Books. It’s the story of a young girl whose teenage sister is keeping her distance, as teenage sisters are wont to do. The girl, however, is filled with confusion and sorrow, given that they used to play together closely. “I am rather observant,” the girl notes, “yet the moment of the switch must have passed me by.”

There’s a real tender pain here as we follow the girl watching her sister, the latter fully engaged in typical teen activities (listening to music, watching television, hanging with her friends). The younger one tries to engage her sister yet can’t — and eventually she is moved to tears and hides behind the living room couch. But fear not: Her older sister finds her and they spend time together.

There’s humor here, as well as hurt feelings. The family cat brings some comic relief, for one. Ciraolo’s characters are expressive and her palette, intriguing. The colors are fairly limited, but this serves the story well. The bright oranges are fitting for the intense moments of either frustration or loneliness, and the final spread—where the two girls sit and talk on the couch—are washed in a brilliant, intense red. As always, I’ve got some spreads here to show you (sans the text, in this case) so that you can see for yourself.

Enjoy the art!



“I’d had my suspicions for a while that someone had replaced my sister
with a girl who looked a lot like her. It had to be!”

(Click bottom image to see spread in its entirety)



 


“My sister was never so tall. Did it happen overnight? I am rather observant,
yet the moment of the switch must have passed me by.”

(Click to enlarge)


 


“I suppose there were the signs. She’d been incredibly boring on several occasions
but I guess I didn’t give it much thought …”

(Click to enlarge)


 


“… at least until I noticed her sense of fashion had gone.
This new sister showed no interest in pretty things.”

(Click to enlarge)


 

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO MY SISTER? Copyright © 2015 by Simona Ciraolo. Illustrations used by permission of the publisher, Flying Eye Books, 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) The care that Flying Eye Books puts into the production of their books.

2) Exploding Kittens, the card game, has arrived — and it’s like it was made EXPRESSLY for my daughters.

3) The girls and I are reading Anne of Green Gables aloud (first time for each of us), and it’s a HOOT.

4) Solutions that work.

5) Kindnesses extended to me.

6) Helping hands.

7) This has been a good listen.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

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10. The Oak Tree, by J. Steven Spires | Dedicated Review

In The Oak Tree, written by J. Steven Spires and illustrated by Jonathan Caron, the reader is given the opportunity to revisit the devastation wrought by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita on the Gulf Coast 10 years ago.

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11. Seuss on Saturday #35

There's a Wocket in my Pocket! Dr. Seuss. 1974. Random House. 30 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Did you ever have the feeling there's a wasket in your basket?

Premise/plot: The narrator starts out asking a series of very silly questions. There's no doubt there's more silliness than actual plot to this one. Readers "meet" lots of fanciful creatures in, on, behind, up, and under common household objects in a special sort of house. The narrator warns: some are friendly; some are not.

My thoughts: I like this one. I do. It's one I definitely remember from childhood. And it's one I recommend parents read to their children. It's just a lot of silliness!

Have you read There's a Wocket in My Pocket! Did you like it? love it? hate it? I'd love to know what you thought of it!

If you'd like to join me in reading or rereading Dr. Seuss (chronologically) I'd love to have you join me! The next book I'll be reviewing is Great Day for Up!

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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12. Your Hand in My Hand

Your Hand in My Hand. Mark Sperring. Illustrated by Britta Teckentrup. 2015. [November] Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Your hand in my hand is where it belongs. Your hand in my hand as we walk along. The world's full of wonders. There's so much to see. I'll find them with you if you find them with me.

Premise/plot: Your Hand in My Hand celebrates families, friendship, seasons, and nature. The illustrations feature a parent and child. (They're mice, I believe.) It's a sweet and precious book. Not every reader loves sweet and precious. Not all adults and not all children. But for the right reader, or set of readers, this one is quite lovely.

My thoughts: Did I love it? Yes and no. I didn't love Your Hand in My Hand as much as his previous book, Max and the Won't Go To Bed Show. I really loved that spirited book. Your Hand is My Hand is much quieter, not as exuberant or obnoxious. There's something personal and precious about it which I can't help liking. This one was originally published in the UK.

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

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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13. When Sophie's Feelings Are Really, Really Hurt

When Sophie's Feelings are Really, Really Hurt. Molly Bang. 2015. [September] Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Sophie loves to paint. She also loves the woods. Now Ms. Mulry is telling the class: "After school, find a tree you like a LOT. Look at it carefully--the trunk, the branches, the leaves. Tomorrow your'e going to paint that tree from memory."

Premise/plot: Sophie's feelings get hurt during art time at school. One of the boys--Andrew--teases her about her painting, telling her that her painting is all wrong. Can the teacher intervene and reassure Sophie that there isn't a right and wrong way to paint a tree?

My thoughts: I liked the text. I did. I like Sophie as a character. And I liked how expressive the story was. Did I like the illustrations? Yes and no. I actually really liked Sophie's drawing of a tree. Her art assignment was beautiful. And I liked the brightness of the colors. But overall, I didn't "love" the illustrations.

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

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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14. ABC School's For Me!, by Susan B. Katz: delightful celebration of school (ages 3-6)

As your little ones come home from their first few days of school, do they talk much about it? Or do you have to poke and prod to find out about their school day? In either case, Susan Katz's newest picture book is a delightful way to celebrate and talk about the school day for preschoolers and kindergartners.

ABC School's For Me!by Susan B. Katzillustrated by Lynn Munsinger
Scholastic, 2015
Your local libraryAmazonages 3-6
With delightful rhyming couplets, Katz celebrates playful school activities from a typical preschool or kindergarten day. She uses the alphabet to guide the story, starting each line with a different letter which is highlighted in bold block print. But the real delight comes from the adorable bears parading through their day.
"Books that are just right for me.
Crayons for coloring, in my hand,
Dump trucks, playing in the sand.”
Children will love looking at the pictures, noticing the details in each scene. Munsinger not only captures the bears' expressions but also their busy activity throughout the day. Katz moves easily from dump trucks to jumping rope, building letter block towers, playing with paper puppets and waiting in line. Her rhymes have grace and rhythm that are lovely to read aloud and never overwhelm the pictures. The best description of this book came from my 11 year old:
"It's a first-day-of-school stress reliever."
I couldn't have said it better myself. Enjoy and delight in seeing what your little one talks about or notices. Want more back-to-school books? This week I've reviewed these new favorites:

Illustrations ©2015 Lynn Munsinger; used with permission from the publisher. The review copy was kindly sent by the publisher, Scholastic. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2015 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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15. What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week, FeaturingJayme McGowan, Victoria Turnbull, & Phoebe Wahl


“Where I lead, Oscar follows.”
– From Victoria Turnbull’s
The Sea Tiger
(Click to enlarge)


 


“‘Shhh,’ said Sonya’s papa. ‘What might seem unfair to you
might make sense to a fox.’ And he told her a story. …”
– From Phoebe Wahl’s
Sonya’s Chickens
(Click to enlarge)


 


– From Jayme McGowna’s One Bear Extraordinaire


 

This morning over at Kirkus, I peek at some Fall 2015 picture book releases and how in many of them, you’ll be greeting old friends. That link is here.

* * *

Last week I wrote here about the picture books of three newcomers, so I’ve got art (and, in some cases, preliminary images) from each book today. Those books are Jayme McGowan’s One Bear Extraordinaire (Abrams, September 2015), Victoria Turnbull’s The Sea Tiger (Candlewick, October 2015), and Phoebe Wahl’s Sonya’s Chickens (Tundra, August 2015).

Enjoy the art!



 

From The Sea Tiger:


 


“We go to extraordinary places.”
[Text here is different from the way it appears in the final copy.]

(Click to enlarge)


 



 

From Sonya’s Chickens:


 




(Click each early sketch to enlarge)


 


Final art: “The floor of the coop was frosted with feathers, and Sonya cried out as she counted not three, but two frightened chickens cowering in the rafters above. The third was nowhere to be seen. Sonya burst into tears. Before she knew it,
strong arms scooped her up and she cried into her papa’s beard.”

(Click to enlarge)



 



 

From One Bear Extraordinaire:


 


Bear sketch


 





 


Campfire sketch
(Click to enlarge)


 



Final art
(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)


 



Final art
(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)


 



Final art
(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)


 


Final art: “‘We’ve got ourselves a singer!’ Bear said. …”
(Click to enlarge)


 



 

* * * * * * *

ONE BEAR EXTRAORDINAIRE. Copyright © 2015 by Jayme McGowan. Published by Abrams, New York. All images reproduced by permission of Jayme McGowan.

THE SEA TIGER. Copyright © 2014 by Victoria Turnbull. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

SONYA’S CHICKENS. Copyright © 2015 by Phoebe Wahl. Published by Tundra Books, a division of Penguin Random House, New York. All images reproduced by permission of Phoebe Wahl.

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16. Daddy's Back-to-School Shopping Adventure, by Alan Lawrence Sitomer (ages 4-7)

I have to be honest: I feel torn about back-to-school shopping. I love getting my kids organized, but I hate the pleading for useless knick-knacks or trendy decorations. But one thing's for sure: it's all part of getting ready for school. Alan Lawrence Sitomer, California's Teacher of the Year in 2007, celebrates this tradition with a silly, heart-warming story: Daddy's Back-to-School Shopping Adventure.

Daddy's Back-to-School Shopping Adventure
by Alan Lawrence Sitomer
illustrated by Abby Carter
Disney Hyperion, 2015
Your local library
Amazon
ages 4-7
It's time for back-to-school shopping, and siblings Jenny and Jake know that the number-one rule is "We only buy what's on the list." But that doesn't mean shopping can't be a little fun. This family knows how to be goofy. The illustrations are giggle-inducing, full of exaggerated movement and lots of details for kids to enjoy.
"Look at us," Jenny called out.
When Daddy finds a lunchbox that's just like the one he had when he was a boy, he just has to have it. In a humorous role reversal, now it's the kids' turn to say, "Uh daddy... Is it on the list?" I loved how the dad then turned to a softie, trying to negotiate and wheedle his way to get his coveted lunchbox. Sitomer balances the humor with a heartwarming ending.

Want more back-to-school books? This week I'm reviewing these new favorites:
Illustrations ©2015 Abby Carter; used with permission from the publisher. The review copy was kindly sent by the publisher, Disney Hyperion. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2015 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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17. Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova by Laurel Snyder, illustrated by Julie Morstad

Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova is the first work of narrative non-fiction for Laurel Snyder, author of several picture books and middle grade novels. Illustrated by Julie Morstad, the cover of Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova drew me in instantly, even though I never made it past rudimentary ballet classes as a very young child and the most I know about this Russian

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18. Maple & Willow Apart, by Lori Nichols -- back-to-school transitions for two sisters (ages 2-6)

Back-to-school stories usually focus on what it's like to start school, but what happens to sibling's relationships when kids head off to the classroom? Lori Nichols' newest book provides a tender and charming look at how two sisters cope with the transitions when one of them heads off to school.

Maple & Willow Apart
by Lori Nichols
Nancy Paulsen Books / Penguin, 2015
Your local library
Amazon
ages 2-6
*best new book*
Maple and Willow have loved playing together all summer, but when it's time for big sister Maple to start school the transition is especially hard for Willow. "Home wasn't the same without Maple." And when she came home, Maple couldn't stop talking about her new friends. I adore how Nichols shows Willow's perspective, how she tells about her new friend Pip -- an acorn-topped sprite she finds under a tree -- how she explores and finds things to do when Maple is away.
"I had fun too," said Willow. "I played with Pip."
I especially love how Nichols uses her delightful illustrations to develop the story, keeping the language spare. Each picture focuses on the children and their world, but there's enough space to let the reader imagine themselves as being there too.
"And we have loud horns!"
Nichols develops the relationship between Maple and Willow in perfect balance, moving back and forth from each sister's perspective, helping children empathize with both sister. You can see just how excited Maple is to start school, but also how much she misses her sister. And the ending still has me smiling, as the sisters come up with just the right solution.
The next morning, Willow had a surprise for Maple.
"Maple, Pip wants to go to school with you today."
Want more back-to-school books? This week I'm reviewing these new favorites:
Illustrations ©2015 Lori Nichols; used with permission from the publisher. The review copy was kindly sent by the publisher, Nancy Paulsen Books / Penguin. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2015 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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19. A Video Read-Aloud!

[There is a video that cannot be displayed in this feed. Visit the blog entry to see the video.]

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20. Review of Boom Snot Twitty: This Way That Way

cronin_boom snot twittyBoom Snot Twitty: This Way That Way
by Doreen Cronin; 
illus. by Renata Liwska
Preschool   Viking   40 pp.
6/15   978-0-670-78577-3   $16.99   g

On the opening endpapers of this gentle story, the unfortunately named Snot (a snail) is happily gathering blueberries and putting them in a basket. The title page shows Boom (a bear) and Twitty (a robin) each preparing for…something; Boom is packing a beach bag while Twitty readies her hiking boots. By the first page they are all set to go, but Boom wants to go one way, and Twitty the opposite direction. “‘Hmmm,’ said Snot.” Boom had his heart set on the beach, and Liwska softens the edges of her delicate-colored illustrations to show that Boom is imagining the sand and sun, just as on the next pages Twitty is imagining hiking up a hill. Each is determined to get his or her own way; Snot, meanwhile, sets off to find someplace that will satisfy all of them. Liwska’s drawings give each creature and object a fuzzy quality that adds to the feeling of coziness. Cronin’s usual rollicking humor is less in evidence here than is her way with spare, child-friendly text. This story of friends disagreeing but finding compromise, through the zen-like wisdom of Snot, will satisfy and perhaps enlighten readers, too.

From the July/August 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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21. Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Daniel Miyares

Author and illustrator Daniel Miyares—whose most recent picture book is Float, published by Simon & Schuster in June (and the subject of my Kirkus column here)—visits for breakfast this morning. Normally, he tells me, he has merely a hot cup of Earl Grey tea with a splash of milk in the fabulous mug his wife gave him, pictured below. (“She gets me,” he adds.) If he’s taking the time to sit down and eat in the mornings, he says, he goes with biscuits. “I grew up in South Carolina,” he tells me. “It’s kind of a requirement.”

Hey, I’m in Tennessee and get this, so biscuits and tea it is.

Daniel is relatively new to picture books, at least in the grand scheme of things, and I thank him for visiting today to tell me and my readers more about his career, his books thus far, and what’s next on his plate.

Let’s get right to it.

* * * * * * *


Daniel’s breakfast mug-of-choice

Jules: Are you an illustrator or author/illustrator?

Daniel: Author/Illustrator, but my entry point into a story idea is usually the visual narrative.

 


(Click to enlarge spread)


 


(Click to enlarge spread)


 


Spreads and cover from Float (Simon & Schuster, June 2015);
Visit this 2015 7-Imp post for sketches from the book

(Click each to enlarge)


 

Jules: Can you list your books-to-date? (If there are too many books to list here, please list your five most recent illustrated titles or the ones that are most prominent in your mind, for whatever reason.)

Daniel: I’ve illustrated: Waking Up Is Hard To Do (Imagine Publishing, 2010) and Bambino and Mr. Twain (Charlesbridge Publishing, 2012).

As author/illustrator: Pardon Me! (Simon & Schuster, 2014), Float (Simon & Schuster, 2015) and Bring Me A Rock! (to be published by Simon & Schuster, Summer of 2016)

Jules: What is your usual medium?

 






Spreads and cover from Pardon Me! (Simon & Schuster, 2014);
Click here to see early sketches and development work from the book

(Click each to enlarge)


 

Daniel: I use inks, watercolors, gouache, acrylics, and digital tools to build my images.

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

 


(Click to enlarge)


 

Daniel: I’ve gotten to try a variety of book-type projects. I’ve made picture books, did a novel cover, and when I was first starting out I got to illustrate some serial books for the Kansas City Star newspaper. No matter who the book audience is, I try to use the same approach to visual storytelling. The principles of design and timing speak to all age groups, I think. I have learned, however, that young children have an easier time appreciating where a story wants to take them. Something about getting older dulls our ability to imagine and tolerate the absurd. I’ve found that in the picture books I make I can paint what something feels like and not just what it looks like. Sometimes to tell a proper story you need the freedom to break with truth and reality. Kids get that in a big way.

Jules: Where are your stompin’ grounds?

Daniel: I live in the middle of the map as they say, the city of Overland Park, Kansas. It’s just south of Kansas City.


Daniel, age four

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

Daniel: My first book gig was a collaboration with Singer/Songwriter Neil Sedaka. He was working with Imagine Publishing to bring some re-works of his hit songs to life as picture books. The first one they wanted to do was Waking Up Is Hard To Do [pictured below]. It was 2009. I had just finished building a portfolio with my artist rep (Studio Goodwin Sturges), when they said there may be an opportunity for me, but … you would need to do a sample piece for the story on spec. It wasn’t like I had another project going on at the time, so I said sure. I’m assuming they had a handful of other artists contending for the book as well. We went a few rounds on the samples to define my take on the story, and in the end I got to do the book. For a young illustrator, it was like jumping off the end of the pier to learn how to swim. The stakes felt high. The deadlines were tight. I learned so much about who I was as a book maker, as well as who I might want to be going forward. Also, I realized just how amazing of a creative family I had in my Studio Goodwin Sturges partners. They really gave me an education on the nuts and bolts of bookmaking.

Neil was a force. I really admire his passion for music and passing that on to his grandchildren. You could tell he was totally smitten by them. Before I knew it he was on the Today show talking about our book with Kathie Lee and Hoda.

 


(Click to enlarge spread)


 

It was a wild first adventure as a book illustrator. Pretty soon after that, I started to feel the pull to tell my own stories.

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

Daniel: danielmiyares.comm or on Instagram @danielmiyaresdoodles — and on Twitter @danielmiyares.

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

Daniel: I try to tailor my presentations to the audiences.

If it’s a large school-assembly kind of situation, I’ll do a slide show and discussion that starts with when I knew I wanted to be an artist (at about age four).

I also like to share what I think an Author/Illustrator really does. No matter what the age group is, if I ask what an Author/Illustrator does, I get the same answer: “They write the words and draw the pictures.” Technically, they’re right, but I’m convinced there’s a lot more fun and adventure in it than that. To prove it, I share an example of a three sentence story that I wrote for a children’s book class I taught a while back at the Kansas City Art Institute. First I share it with just the words and I ask if it’s a good story. Usually I get a resounding NO! Sometimes I get a boo or two. (Kid-honesty is the best.)

 





 

Next, I share the same story again, except I’ve added some rough sketches to it. This time I usually get belly laughs and cheers. Really I just want to share that words and pictures don’t have to be serious, intimidating business. Telling stories can be a lot of fun.

 




(Click each to enlarge)


 

I also do readings of my books. The kids are usually so respectful and well-mannered. I invite them to take part in the readings. They help me figure out what’s going to happen next or shout out questions or suggestions. I’ve learned so much about my books through those interactions. Secretly, my goal is to get them whipped up over a story. I want the students to have as much joy and excitement as possible around the reading experience.

My finale is usually a live drawing demo. I make the wild claim to the crowd that it’s possible to make any animal in the world out of basic shapes. Mostly they don’t believe me, so I ask for a shape suggestion from the audience. I draw that on the pad of paper. Then I ask for the animal. If all works out, we end up with some pretty fun stylized animal drawings. As time allows, I’ll get some other brave souls up there to convert shapes into animals, too.

For smaller groups (like the size of one classroom), I’ll change it up to be more hands-on. I like having an activity where we make something together. If they’re on the older side, I break out the three-sentence story assignment for them. It’s a lot of fun, plus I like leaving things behind that they can keep working on or do again in their own way with their teachers.

 






 





Daniel’s That-Neighbor-Kid series

Jules: If you teach illustration, by chance, tell me how that influences your work as an illustrator.

Daniel: When I’ve had the opportunity to teach classes, I’m always amazed at how much I grow personally. There’s something about taking on the responsibility of helping others connect dots that inevitably leads to my own dot-connecting.

I was teaching a children’s book class at the same time I was working on Float. When we covered basic principles, like pacing and composition, I would bring in-progress art from my book to speak to. They enjoyed talking about real world examples, and I got some straightforward feedback on how things read. There’s a wonderful accountability that goes along with being transparent.

Also, the student’s passion and curiosity for art and design is infectious. It’s really hard to replicate that energy outside of a classroom.

 


Cover art for Leah Pileggi’s Prisoner 88 (Charlesbridge, 2013)
(Click to enlarge)


 

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

Daniel: I just wrapped up the art on my next book with Simon & Schuster. It’s called Bring Me A Rock! It will be released Summer of 2016. It’s about a megalomaniac insect king on a power trip and the little bug who saves the day.

 



Sketches
(Click each to enlarge)


 

Also, I am in the middle of illustrating a new book that Kwame Alexander wrote for North South, called Surf’s Up.

 


(Click to enlarge cover)


 

Mmm. Coffee.Okay, we’ve got our eggs, and it’s time to get a bit more detailed with six questions over breakfast. I thank Daniel 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?

Daniel

: In describing my process, I have to mention Uri Shulevitz’s book Writing With Pictures. A friend turned me onto it when I was building my first book concepts as an author/illustrator. In the second paragraph of the first chapter, Uri says, “A picture book says in words only what pictures cannot show.”

This simple idea helped the tumblers fall into place for me. Don’t let your words try and do what your pictures are doing and vice versa. The magic for me is that space in between word and image. Now when I’m working on a book idea, I do rough loose thumbnail drawings and write at the same time. I also like drawing and writing quickly so nothing is too precious in early stages.

 



Dummy and final spread from Float
(Click final art to enlarge)



 



Dummy and final spread
(Click final art to enlarge)


 



Dummy and final spread
(Click final art to enlarge)


 

My ideas for stories come from all over the place. I wish I had a clean formula for generating a great idea. As best as I can tell, I usually start with a personal struggle or anxiety. I know that doesn’t sound very uplifting, but I believe that if you can show real human struggle and how it’s overcome or redeemed, people will connect to it.

Float was a different one for me. I didn’t start with an idea at all. I was flying home from my aunt’s funeral, and on the plane I did a small drawing of a boy floating a paper boat in a puddle. As I looked at it I wondered what happened just before that moment — and I drew it. Then I wondered what happened after and I drew that. I went on like this until I found the beginning and end of the story. It felt like carving something out of stone. The plot line was in there already; I just needed to knock off what didn’t belong to uncover it.

 



Dummy and final spread
(Click final art to enlarge)



 



Dummy and final spread
(Click final art to enlarge)


 



Dummy and final spread
(Click final art to enlarge)


 

When it comes to making art, I usually always make a quick rough sketch to start from. I try not to overdraw my sketches. Many times I’ve fallen in love with a drawing that says it all and then proceeded to choke the life out of a finished painting of it. Now I try to let my sketches give me the energy and spirit I want in my finished piece but not take it too far. I think I have the best outcomes and the most fun when I make some discoveries in my finished paintings.

I use a variety of media. I use inks, watercolors, gouache, acrylics, and digital tools. I paint the elements for my pieces separately and compile them digitally. It allows me to focus on mark-making, edges, and surface texture in a free way. So, for instance, in Float I painted most of the backgrounds with inks and watercolors wet into wet. I wanted it to feel rain-soaked throughout, but for the little boy I cut shapes out of some of my hand-painted textures on the computer. You know how rain slickers are kind of stiff and have those harsh distinct creases in them? It seemed like a fun contrast to those deep, washy, rolling neutral greys.

 



Dummy and final spread
(Click final art to enlarge)



 



Dummy and final spread
(Click final art to enlarge)


 

Aside from the hours upon hours holed up in my studio drawing and painting, making books for me has to be a team sport. The collaborations with my reps, editors, and design partners have truly helped to make my books the best they can be. I hope I never feel like I’ve got it all figured out.

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

Daniel

: My workspace now is a studio/office in the lower level of my house. We moved in not too long ago, and I’m thrilled to have a separate room set aside to make stuff in. Up until now, our finished attic doubled as our bedroom and studio. My wife is some kind of saint for putting up with all those late nights.

I like painting on this old reclaimed library table a friend of mine gave me when I first moved to Kansas City many years ago. Painting flat suits my love of wet media. Since I use digital tools, too, I like to be just a chair-swivel away from my Mac.

 


(Click to enlarge)


 

I have realized that when I’m cooking up ideas for stories and concepting new projects, being out and about works well for me. I spend lots of time in coffee shops and libraries with my sketchbooks.

 


Sketchbooks
(Click to enlarge)


 

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

Daniel

: Shel Silverstein really ignited my imagination as a kid. In the third grade, I had a teacher read to us from A Light In the Attic. I couldn’t believe we were allowed to read things like that in school. It seemed unfair, like we were getting to skip our school lessons.

Later on, it was Mark Twain’s short stories that got me. And poetry — Langston Hughes, E.E. Cummings, and the imagist poets. I quickly saw that language could evoke the most visceral of feelings.

 




Spreads and cover from Bambino and Mr. Twain
(Charlesbridge Publishing, 2012)

(Click spreads to enlarge)


 

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.)

Daniel: Ok, as long as it’s between us. Let’s see … I might have to do both living and non.

William Joyce — I’d love to throw around book ideas with him. I don’t know him at all, but he seems like a great idea man.

Alice and Martin Provensen — I’m rather intrigued with how the collaboration worked, but really because The Glorious Flight is one of my all time faves.

Lynd Ward — Because his drawings are ridiculous! Maybe we could’ve drawn together. A friend pointed me toward The Silver Pony, and I can’t stop going back to it.

 


(Click to enlarge)


 

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?

Daniel: I do listen to tunes when I work. Currently I’ve got Dave Brubeck, R.E.M., Sam Cooke, The Cure, Spoon, Dr. Dog. …

 



 

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

Daniel: I’m a huge John Cusack fan. Whenever he does a new movie—good, bad, or horrible—I have to see it.

 



Daniel: “A friend of mine recently saw Float
and made me a plush paper boat.”


 

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

Daniel: I usually don’t get asked about my family, but they’re so much a part of what I do. My wife and I [pictured below] have a six-year-old daughter, named Stella, and a three-year-old son, named Sam. I didn’t grow up dreaming about making picture books. After my daughter was born, it started to make a lot of sense to me. Seeing the world through my children’s eyes has been a real privilege. I never expected they would have such an impact on my creative pursuits. Plus, they constantly remind me of what’s important in life. If left to my own devices, I worry I would be all work and no play. They keep me in a healthy balance.

 



 

* * * The Pivot Questionnaire * * *

Jules: What is your favorite word?

Daniel: “Quietude.”

Jules: What is your least favorite word?

Daniel: “BOGO” (not the deal, just the acronym).

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

Daniel: Good art, films, poetry, the fam, drawing just because, down time.

Jules: What turns you off?

Daniel: Doing the same things over and over and small-mindedness.

Jules: What is your favorite curse word? (optional)

Daniel: Does “poop” count? In my house, it counts.

Jules: What sound or noise do you love?

Daniel: Belly laughs.

Jules: What sound or noise do you hate?

Daniel: Silent cries. (You know, those out-of-breath kid-cries, where it takes the sound a minute to catch up to the face.)

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

Daniel: Teacher.

Jules: What profession would you not like to do?

Daniel: Accountant. (No offense. It just ain’t me.)

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

Daniel: “Welcome.”

All images are used by permission of Daniel Miyares.

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

1 Comments on Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Daniel Miyares, last added: 8/28/2015
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22. Leo: A Ghost Story by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Christian Robinson

Leo: A Ghost Story is Mac Barnett's fourteenth picture book (two of which have won the Caldecott Honor Medal) in six years. That might seem like a lot for an author/illustrator, but not necessarily for a picture book author. While I tend to prefer picture books where the author is also the illustrator, Barnett's books are favorites of mine and I love seeing his unique story telling style

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23. Review: I Know the River Loves Me / Yo sé que el río me ama by Maya Christina Gonzalez

I Know the River Loves Me / Yo sé que el río me ama, by Maya Christina Gonzalez (Children’s Book Press, 2009)

I Know the River Loves Me / Yo sé que el río me ama
by Maya Christina GonzalezContinue reading ...

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24. Recommended Narrative Nonfiction: Picture Books

applegate_ivanApplegate, Katherine Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla
40 pp. Clarion 2014. ISBN 978-0-544-25230-1
Illustrated by G. Brian Karas. Applegate introduces picture-book readers to the true story that inspired her Newbery-winning The One and Only Ivan. In poetic prose she describes gorilla Ivan’s early life in Africa; his dramatic capture; his time on display in a shopping mall; and his transition to the Atlanta Zoo. Karas’s mixed-media illustrations — in his warm and unaffected style — are at once straightforward and provocative.
Subjects: Mammals; Animals—Gorillas; Zoos; Shopping malls

bang_buried-sunlight_170x209Bang, Molly and Chisholm, Penny Buried Sunlight: How Fossil Fuels Have Changed the Earth
48 pp. Scholastic/Blue Sky 2014. ISBN 978-0-545-57785-4
Illustrated by Molly Bang. Bang and Chisholm explain the production and consumption of fossil fuels, along with the consequences of all that energy use: climate change. The sun serves as narrator describing the relationship between photosynthesis (plants) and respiration (animals) and energy; a slight imbalance produces fossil fuels. Bang’s illustrations brilliantly represent the chemistry: bright yellow dots of energy against a deep-blue background hover over their producers.
Subjects: Earth Science; Energy; Astronomy—Sun; Global warming; Fossil fuels

bryant_right-word_170x231Bryant, Jen The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus
48 pp. Eerdmans 2014. ISBN 978-0-8028-5385-1
Illustrated by Melissa Sweet. Apt language and ingenious imagery combine to tell the life story of Peter Mark Roget, creator of the thesaurus. Bryant’s linear telling follows Peter closely, expressing his curiosity, sensitivity, and populist spirit in language both decorous and warm. Clever book design and visionary illustration add layers of meaning. Sweet embellishes her own gentle watercolors with all manner of clippings and realia. Reading list, timeline. Bib.
Subjects: Individual Biographies; Language—Vocabulary; Great Britain; Roget, Peter Mark; Books and reading

george_ galápagos georgeGeorge, Jean Craighead Galápagos George
40 pp. HarperCollins/Harper 2014. ISBN 978-0-06-028793-1
Illustrated by Wendell Minor. The author asks readers to extrapolate from the life cycle of a single female Galápagos tortoise, Giantess George, to the development of the species as a whole. She and other tortoises are swept away to different islands in a storm; over thousands of years, they evolve into different subspecies. Minor’s painterly illustrations showcase the changing setting and the magnificence of the tortoises. Reading list, timeline, websites. Glos.
Subjects: Reptiles and Amphibians; Galápagos Islands; Animals—Tortoises; Evolution

heos_iflyHeos, Bridget. I, Fly: The Buzz About Flies and How Awesome They Are
   40 pp. Holt 2015. ISBN 978-0-8050-9469-5
A fly argues why he should be the science-class representative for insect life cycles instead of the overexposed butterfly. A skeptical class grills him about unsavory habits (garbage-eating, disease-spreading). Eventually convinced that “Flies rule!,” they capture the fly for study, and he changes his tune. Cleverly skewering elements of the typical animal book, this take on insects is refreshing, amusing, and scientifically accurate. Bib., glos.
Subjects: Animals—Flies; Life cycles; Science—Insects and Invertebrates

mattick_finding winnieMattick, Lindsay Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear
   56 pp. Little, Brown 2015. ISBN 978-0-316-32490-8
Illustrated by Sophie Blackall. A boy’s mother tells him the story of his great-great-grandfather, owner of a baby bear named Winnie, and the circumstances that led to another boy, Christopher Robin Milne, befriending Winnie — inspiring that boy’s father to write some children’s tales. Mattick, the storytelling mother in this book, embellishes her family’s history with evocative, playful language, matched by the period warmth of Blackall’s carefully composed images.
Subjects: Animals—Bears; Milne, A. A.; Family—Mother and son; Toys; Authors; Biographies

petricic_my family tree and mePetričić, Dušan My Family Tree and Me
   24 pp. Kids Can 2015. ISBN 978-1-77138-049-2
Reading from front to middle, we meet the narrator’s paternal line through five generations. From back to middle are portraits of the maternal line. And in a glorious middle double-page spread we see the whole extended family and can trace and invent individual stories. Petričić’s gift for caricature is used joyfully in this celebration of ancestry, showing one family’s variations and particular beauty.
Subjects: Social Sciences—Families, Children, and Sexuality; Genealogy

Separate Is Never EqualTonatiuh, Duncan Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation
40 pp. Abrams 2014. ISBN 978-1-4197-1054-4
In 1947 the Mendez family fought for — and won — the desegregation of schools in California. Tonatiuh uses a child’s viewpoint to succinctly capture the segregated reality of Mexican Americans. The straightforward narrative is well matched with illustrations in Tonatiuh’s signature style, their two-dimensional perspective reminiscent of the Mixtec codex but collaged with paper, wood, etc. to provide textural variation. An author’s note with photos is appended. Bib., glos., ind.
Subjects: Government, Economics, and Education; Schools; Hispanic Americans; Civil rights; Mendez, Sylvia

From the August 2015 issue of What Makes a Good…?

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25. The Elephantom by Ross Collins

Ross Collins is a prolific illustrator (and author) of picture books, chapter books and novels for kids. His newest picture book, The Elephantom, is a huge hit in the U.K. and it's been adapted into a  play by the Royal National Theater that's also a huge hit! After reading The Elephantom, I can see why. The narrator of The Elephantom, a very cute little girl - Collins has a way with

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