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1. Picture Book Month: Mac Barnett

Mac Barnett is having a very good 2014! He has three picture book releases this year, all of which are delightful! Be sure to check them out!


Sam and Dave Dig a Hole

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About the Book: Sam and Dave are digging a hole and they won't give up until they find something spectacular.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: Mac Barnett teams up with Jon Klassen for another winner. Klassen's illustrations match the text perfectly and gives the feel of an outdoor adventure. Readers will spot the spectacular treasure that is hiding just out of Sam and Dave's reach and are sure to laugh when the get so close but then change directions. They'll also be sure to notice the dog is the only one who seems to have a nose for treasure hunting. A fun tale that is sure to inspire some digging of your own.

President Taft is Stuck in the Bath

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About the Book: President Taft is stuck in the bath! How will he get out?

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: Mac Barnett takes on a presidential tall tale with humorous results. The president is stuck in the bath and everyone has an idea of how to help. The ideas get more and more ridiculous, from butter to explosions. There are also plenty of textual humor from the secretary of the treasury who responds with "throw money at the problem" to "the answer is inside you" from the secretary of the interior.  Chris Van Dusen's illustrations are cartoonish and add to the humor of the tale. The end of the book provides some historical facts about President Taft and his bathtub. This would pair with King Bidgood's in the Bathtub for a silly bathtime storytime.

Telephone

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About the Book: It's time for Peter to fly home, but his message about dinner gets scrambled along the telephone line.

GreenBeanTeenQueen: Remember the game telephone? Where what you start out saying ends up completely different? Mac Barnett and Jen Corace re-imagine the telephone game with a flock of birds on a telephone wire with hilarious results. Each new message gets more and more mixed up which is sure to leave young readers howling with delight. Each bird hears something new that makes sense to them and matches their own interests and hobbies. The illustrations reflect the each birds interests and helps the reader find clues as to why each bird heard what they did. A hilarious take on a the game of telephone perfect for reading aloud.

Full Disclosure: Sam and Dave Dig a Hole and President Taft is Stuck in the Bath reviewed from finished copies sent by the publishers. Telephone reviewed from library copy.


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2. PiBoIdMo Day 24: Agents Love Picture Books

I asked the kidlit agents participating in PiBoIdMo as your “grand prizes” to tell us why they love picture books. Their answers are sure to inspire!


Heather Alexander, Pippin Properties
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Picture books are easy to love because they are tiny little windows that offer beautiful glimpses out into the whole, wide, wonderful world, and into hearts like and unlike our own.

 

 

 

 

Stephen Fraser, Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency
stephenfraser
I do love picture books! There is nothing more satisfying that to find a picture book manuscript which has been carefully crafted to share a story with the youngest readers.  The Impressionist painter Pierre Auguste Renoir said that painting is “making love visible” and I can’t help thinking that is why some picture books are so endearing and everlasting. They make the love we feel for our children, our grandchildren, and the children within us very visible. It is a true craft which needs to be learned and practiced. And I honor those who learn this craft and honor children.

 

Kirsten Hall, Catbird Agency
Kirsten Hall
Picture books pretty much have me wrapped around their finger. I’m obsessed by the story-telling opportunities offered by this highly-visual genre! Picture books (as a format) seem simple at first blush, but they are often in fact quite layered and even poetic, displaying an elegant interplay between text and art. Best of all, picture books are accessible to everyone. You don’t have to be able to read in order to love them. They can be savored for what they offer visually, and when read aloud, until a reader has command over the written word. Simply, what format is better than the first one that takes children by the hand and turns them into book-lovers?

 

Susan Hawk, The Bent Agency
susanhawk
The best part of picture books, for me, is way words and illustration marry together to create a sum greater than its parts.  I love the way art builds meaning in the story, and how the simplest of texts can be full of emotion and heart.  I remember so well the picture books that I poured over as a child — mystified and delighted to be invited into the world of reading and books.  For me, it’s an honor to represent picture books!

 

 

Tricia Lawrence, Erin Murphy Literary Agency

trishagentI love picture books because they celebrate a time in our life we all look back on so fondly. I love being a part of helping to create them because we’re creating books for kids who will look back on them for the rest of their lives.

 

 

 

Erin Murphy, Erin Murphy Literary Agency
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I became a reader because of picture books, and I became an agent because of picture books. They are one of the richest and most influential forms of literature. So much feeling, so many laughs, in so few pages, meant to be read over and over again!

 

 

 

 

Ammi-Joan Paquette, Erin Murphy Literary Agency
joanagent
I love picture books because they speak to the quintessential child in each of us. They reach across the gaps of age and culture and language and bring us under their spell. A perfectly-crafted picture book is a full-senses experience that can last a lifetime.

 

 

 

Rachel Orr, Prospect Agency
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I love the breadth of story and emotion—from clever and comical, to poetic and pondering—that can be found within the framework of a 32-page picture book.  I love the right prose, the visual subplots, the rhythm and rhyme and repetition (and repetition, and repetition).  But, most of all, I love them because they’re short.

 

 

 

Kathleen Rushall, Marsal Lyon Literary Agency

kathleenrushallI love working with picture books because they remind me that the earliest literature we read in life can be some of the most memorable (and the most fun!).

 

 

 

 

Joanna Volpe, New Leaf Literary & Media, Inc.
joannavolpe
I love picture books because they’re fun to read aloud, and they’re meant to be read with someone else.They can’t not be shared! Even now, I don’t have kids, but when I read a good picturebook, my husband gets to be the audience. He’s very understanding. :-)

 

 

 

 


10 Comments on PiBoIdMo Day 24: Agents Love Picture Books, last added: 11/24/2014
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3. Picture Book Monday with a review of Any Questions?


Many children's book authors and illustrators visit schools, and when they do the eager students often ask a lot of questions. One of the most commonly asked questions is some version of "Where do your stories come from?" In today's picture book this question is answered in a clever and often amusing way.

Any Questions?
Any Questions?Marie-Louise Gay
Picture Book
For ages 7 and up
Groundwood, 2014, 978-1554983827
Marie-Louise Gay is a much loved author whose books have delighted children (and adults) for many years. When Marie-Louise goes to talk to children in schools and libraries, they do what all children do. They ask questions. A lot of questions. Often the children want to know about Marie-Louise and her life, and then there are the questions that pertain to her stories and how she creates them. One of those questions that is often asked is, “Where does a story start?”
   A story always starts with a blank page. If you stare at the page long enough, “anything can happen.” You might think that a blank piece of white paper cannot possibly inspire anything, but this is not true. For example, it can give birth to a scene that is full of a snowstorm. If you start with a piece of paper that is old looking and has a yellow tinge to it then you might end up telling a story about a time when dinosaurs walked the earth. Blue paper can lead to an underwater adventure and green paper can be the backdrop for a story about a jungle.
   Sometimes stories don’t start with a color at all. Instead, “words or ideas” come “floating out of nowhere.” Bit by bit pieces of paper with words and thoughts written on them are collected and sorted, and then they are joined by “little scribbles and doodles,” which is when the kernel of a story starts to grow. Of course, sometimes an idea pops up on the page that simply does not work at all. When this happens an author has to search around for something that does work, which can take a little (or even a lot) of time to happen. These things cannot be rushed though, and eventually the right piece of story comes along and the author is off and running.
   In this wonderful picture book, Marie-Louise Gay explores the writing process, answering questions that children have asked her over the years. She shows us how a story is built, how it unfolds, and we see, right there on the pages, how she creates a magical story out of doddles, scraps of ideas, and tidbits of inspiration. The little children and animals characters who appear on the pages interact with the story, questioning, advising, and offering up ideas.
   This is a book that writers of all ages will love. It is funny, cleverly presented, and it gives writers encouragement and support.

0 Comments on Picture Book Monday with a review of Any Questions? as of 11/24/2014 7:22:00 AM
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4. Ripley’s Fun Facts & Silly Stories 3: An Interview with Ripley Publishing

In this interview, we discuss Fun Facts & Silly Stories 3, the third title in the Ripley’s Believe It or Not® successful Fun Facts and Silly Stories series.

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5. Ripley’s Fun Facts & Silly Stories 3 | Dedicated Review

The third title in the Ripley’s Believe It or Not® successful Fun Facts and Silly Stories series is here: Ripley’s Fun Facts and Silly Stories 3.

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6. Fun Facts & Silly Stories: The Big One!: An Interview with Ripley Publishing

As the world authority on all that is unbelievable, we're supper excited to chat with Ripley Publishing, an arm of Ripley Entertainment Inc. and the owner of the internationally famous trademark Ripley’s Believe It or Not!

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7. Ripley’s Fun Facts & Silly Stories: The Big One! | Dedicated Review

Fun Facts & Silly Stories: The Big One! is the newest addition to Ripley’s successful Fun Facts and Silly Stories series. Each of the pages in this massive new collection of bizarre truths is loaded with information primed to capture the attention of every child out there.

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8. PiBoIdMo Day 23: Ammi-Joan Paquette Chases the Magic

by Ammi-Joan Paquette

Let me say one thing straight out: My picture book, GHOST IN THE HOUSE, is very close to my heart. Of my published picture books, it’s the one that’s gotten the most visibility so far, including a fabulous review in the New York Times, several “Best of the Year” roundups, and a pickup by the Scholastic Clubs and Fairs. Needless to say, these small joys absolutely thrilled me.

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But also? I have to be honest: They surprised me a little. Those of you who have heard me speak about GHOST IN THE HOUSE will have heard how it came about: Following the rejection of another Halloween manuscript, an editor asked if I “had any other spooky rhyming picture books.” At that moment, I did not. Several weeks, much brainstorming, and a torrent of writing later, I did.

Don’t get me wrong. I worked hard on GHOST IN THE HOUSE. But compared to many of my picture book texts, over which I toiled ad infinitum, this text came relatively easy. The end result also felt, well, simple. It was a sweet, zippy rhyming story. Short and to the point. Fun characters, neat twist. But when lined up against my other laboriously crafted stories—and, in particular, the one it had originally supplanted—it felt uncomfortably ordinary.

Still, someone wanted to publish my picture book! Joy!

In the months following publication, I gained more respect for my modest little manuscript. But it took one final thing to bring me fully around. And that was this: One day I received an email from my editor at Candlewick, asking what I would think about writing a companion book. It might, she suggested, be called ELF IN THE HOUSE.

Well! Ask no further—I was on it. GHOST was just a simple, puny little story, right? I could crank out another one of those in a flash. No worries!

Instead? I hit the blank page. Hard.

Frustrated at my false starts, I sat down and listed the elements that made up GHOST IN THE HOUSE, so I could attempt to replicate them (in a perfectly organic, all-new-and-fresh way, with a Christmas spin) in the sequel. Here’s what I needed:

  • recognizable creatures
  • a reason for the creatures to accumulate
  • tension—what’s keeping the reader turning the pages?
  • perfect fit to the rhyming scheme
  • surprising twist
  • satisfying, feel-good ending

Let’s just say (if that list wasn’t clear enough), that this exercise made me look at GHOST in a whole new light. Short? Yes. Simple-easy-basic-ordinary? Not so much.

Astute readers will likely have seen this coming, but ELF IN THE HOUSE did not come in a flash. More than once I doubted if I could pull it off at all. It took writing, and rewriting, and re-rewriting. Forget inspiration: This was deliberate, backbreaking effort: Lists and brainstorming and trial-and-error and throw-it-all-out-and-start-over. Time after time after time. I’d almost have it… but not quite. This angle might work… only not.

It did not come easy. Not even close.

But finally, in the end, it did come. And great was my delight when my editor received my final manuscript, and made a publication offer. (Woohoo!)

Once ELF IN THE HOUSE is published, I imagine most readers won’t see much difference in tone between the two stories. From the outside, it’s likely that they’ll both appear effortless and breezy. But what this experience crystalized for me was that stories can be born in all sorts of ways. Some arrive on the magical wings of inspiration, landing lightly on your shoulder and seeping onto the screen with the greatest of ease. Others bare their bloody fangs and force you to wrestle them into submission.

One method, one origin, one final story is not necessarily greater than any other. We are authors: we take what we can get, and we make it our own. It’s the making—however long or short, easy or gut-hard—that brings the magic.

guestbloggerbio2014

joanagent

Ammi-Joan Paquette is an author and a literary agent with Erin Murphy Literary Agency. She’s a mother, friend, reader, traveler, food-lover, chocolate connoisseur. She is not especially tidy, a fan of mushy vegetables, or good at coming up with spur-of-the-moment self-portraits.

Learn more about Joan and her books at ajpaquette.com and follow her on Twitter @JoanPaq.


15 Comments on PiBoIdMo Day 23: Ammi-Joan Paquette Chases the Magic, last added: 11/23/2014
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9. 7 Underwear Books for Kids: Including One Big Pair of Underwear

Laura Gehl is the author of One Big Pair of Underwear, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld, which released in September. There are a number of underwear books for kids... Read the rest of this post

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10. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #407: Featuring August Hall


“Foxes, wolves, deer nest too. Forest knows waking, opening up.”
(Click to enlarge spread)


 

I always look forward to new picture book releases from Kentucky novelist and poet, George Ella Lyon. I reviewed her newest picture book, What Forest Knows (Atheneum, November 2014), illustrated by August Hall, for BookPage. That link is here, if you’d like to read more about it. And today I’m sharing some spreads from it.

While we’re on the subject of Lyon, I’m also currently reading this wonderful book, which she wrote with J. Patrick Lewis and which was released by WordSong last month:

There’s more about the book here, including several starred reviews, and here’s an interview with Lyon at Sylvia Vardell’s site.

Here are two more spreads from What Forest Knows:

 


“Then forest knows snow. While Earth travels round the sun
Forest knows each season, each creature, needs the others.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


 


Sniff. Forest knows everything belongs.”
(Click to enlarge spread)


 

WHAT FOREST KNOWS. Copyright © 2014 by George Ella Lyon. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by August Hall. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 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) Naomi Shihab Nye. One of my favorite writers, and this interview from this week is wonderful. Also, I’m excited to start her new book, which I just got.

2) While we’re discussing Naomi, she wrote my favorite poem.

3) This made me laugh:

4) Gantos has a Tumblr!

5) I have ordered this book and am really eager to see it.

6) Ditto for this one.

7) My 9-year-old’s second-ever piano recital.

BONUS: A friend told me to check out Gravity Falls. It’s a hoot and makes everyone in the family laugh. Also, I love Mabel.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

8 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #407: Featuring August Hall, last added: 11/23/2014
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11. PiBoIdMo Day 22: Diana Murray Brews Up a Character-Driven Story (plus a prize!)

DianaMurrayBioPhotoby Diana Murray

Picture books are as varied as the potions in a witch’s cupboard. Some are spicy and bubbly, while others are mellow and sweet. So which kinds of stories are editors and agents clamoring for? Well, their tastes are just as varied. But one thing that seems to be on everyone’s wish list is this: character-driven stories. A few examples include FANCY NANCY by Jane O’Connor, LLAMA LLAMA RED PAJAMA by Anna Dewdney, PINKALICIOUS by Elizabeth Kann, RUSSELL THE SHEEP by Rob Scotton, SKIPPYJON JONES by Judy Schachner, PETE THE CAT by Eric Litwin, LADYBUG GIRL by David Soman and Jacky Davis, MAX AND RUBY by Rosemary Wells, and SCAREDY SQUIRREL by Mélanie Watt. As you can see, character-driven books have great series potential and overall marketing potential. When readers fall in love with a character, they want to read more about him/her, and it’s fun to visualize what other sorts of situations the character may get into.

This doesn’t mean that character-driven stories are the only kinds that sell or do well in the marketplace. Nor does it mean that writers should focus primarily on pleasing editors or following trends. The best writing comes from the heart! But with that in mind, if you want to explore the possibilities of a character-driven story, here is one quick and easy recipe for brewing up a strong concept. Two ingredients are all you need!

  • Personality Trait
  • Conflicting Goal

I recommend you start off with a list of your own personality traits. This will make it easy for you to feel an emotional connection with (and understanding of) the trait.

My list might look something like this:

  • introverted
  • joker
  • nerdy
  • perfectionist
  • quiet
  • creative
  • analytical
  • messy
  • quirky
  • worrier

DianaMurrayBlogArtBG

Pick one trait (or several, if you’re feeling bold!). Next, choose a goal. Not just any goal, but specifically a goal that is in opposition to the trait you selected. When I wrote GRIMELDA, THE VERY MESSY WITCH, I chose the trait of being “messy” and made the goal “to find an item the character desperately wants/needs.” Or let’s say, for example, I choose “quiet”, then perhaps the goal would be to sing on stage, or speak out against something, or win an international yodeling contest. Sprinkle the goal in with your trait and–POOF! Instant conflict. And the conflict is intrinsically related to the essence of the main character. Adding conflict to a story is one way of encouraging readers to keep turning the pages. They’ll want to find out what happens next! Now, how will your character attempt to reach that goal or face that problem in his/her own unique way?

Feel that story bubbling to life? Now all you have to do is write (and revise, and revise) the rest. Of course, that’s the hard part. But a little inspiration magic can go a long way!

guestbloggerbio2014

Diana Murray is the author of several forthcoming picture books including, CITY SHAPES (Little, Brown, Spring 2016), NED THE KNITTING PIRATE: A SALTY YARN (Roaring Brook Press, Winter 2016), and GRIMELDA, THE VERY MESSY WITCH, plus a sequel (Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins, Summer 2016, 2017). Diana is the recipient of two SCBWI Magazine Merit Awards (2013 and 2014) and an Honor (2013) for poetry. She also won the 2010 SCBWI Barbara Karlin Work-In-Progress Grant for a picture book text. Diana is represented by Brianne Johnson at Writers House. She was raised in New York City and currently lives in a nearby suburb with her husband, two very messy children, and a goldfish named Pickle. Diana’s character GRIMELDA was brewed up during the first official PiBoIdMo, back in 2009! You can read more about that experience here.

For more information and news, you can visit DianaMurray.com or follow Diana on twitter: @DianaMWrites.

prizedetails2014

Diana is giving away a picture book critique!

This prize will be given away at the conclusion of PiBoIdMo. You are eligible for this prize if:

  1. You have registered for PiBoIdMo.
  2. You have commented ONCE ONLY on today’s post.
  3. You have completed the PiBoIdMo challenge. (You will have to sign the PiBoIdMo Pledge at the end of the event.)

Good luck, everyone!


14 Comments on PiBoIdMo Day 22: Diana Murray Brews Up a Character-Driven Story (plus a prize!), last added: 11/22/2014
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12. Captain No Beard and the Aurora Borealis, by Carole P. Roman | Dedicated Review

In the latest installment to Carole P. Roman’s award-wining series, Captain No Beard and his crew are heading in the direction of the North Star. This time they’re on a journey that the captain’s team is not so keen on joining—Captain No Beard has plans to take something without asking permission.

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13. Illustrator Saturday – Leeza Hernandez

leeza_johnlithgow

Leeza Hernandez is an award-winning illustrator and children’s book author, hails from the south of England, but has been living in New Jersey since 1999. In 2004 she switched from newspaper and magazine design to children’s books, and hasn’t looked back. With a few books now under her belt, she’s currently working on three new projects: a follow up to Dog Gone! called Cat Napped; a sequel to Eat Your Math Homework called Eat Your Science Homework, other released this year. In 2013 she illustrated a picture book written by acclaimed actor and author John Lithgow. Follow Leeza on Twitter @leezaworks. She also took over my place as the Regional Advisor for the New Jersey SCBWI chapter and is doing a great job.

Below is Leeza at six years old with her cat Minnie Weasle!

Leezawcat

Here is Leeza explaining her process:

The cover of Never Play Music Right Next to the Zoo took a fair amount of working out—between not giving too much away and showing to little that it looked too vague. The images show a handful of the different covers that were sketched up, then the progression of the final color cover.

Adobe Photoshop PDF

These are the thumbnail sketches for the book layout.

Adobe Photoshop PDF

Because there were so many animals in Never Play Music Right Next to the Zoo, I kept all my research pictures organized in a jumbo ring binder.

binderreference

But, no matter how hard I looked, I just couldn’t find an image of a yak playing a sax so had to use some creative license!

CreativeReference

Below you can see the process of the cover art.

ZooBook_Cvr_Color_final

Below is an up close look at the final cover.

never play music

What caused you to move from the UK to the US?

Work. I took an art director position at a newspaper in the late 90s which was the field I worked in back then.

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When did you decide you wanted to illustrate for children?

It wasn’t a conscious decision really, but in the early 2000s I discovered Illustration Friday (www.illustrationfriday.com)—a great source of inspiration but also a way to help you create illustrations for yourself based upon a weekly word prompt. Browsing through the site, one link led to another and I eventually landed at SCBWI (www.scbwi.org) and that was that!

Leeza_IF_wisdom400

This image was created for the Illustration Friday prompt “Wisdom” and received an American Illustration selection back in the early 2000s. I added it to my portfolio among a handful of painted images and it was what art directors responded to the most. I was encouraged to create more!

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What was the first picture book that you illustrated? And how did that contract come your way?

Eat Your Math Homework was the first trade picture book I was hired to illustrate, which came about after attending a Rutgers One-on-One Plus conference (ruccl.org). I met an editor at the luncheon who took my promo postcard away with her and about six months later the designer reached out to my agent asking if I was available-yay!

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How did you connect with John Lithgow to illustrate his book, Never Play Music Right Next to the Zoo ?

I was asked to do some samples (along with some other illustrators) for a book written by a ‘high-profile’ author but I didn’t know who it was until I found out I was picked for the project. It was all very mysterious and exciting!

BN-AB343_lithgo_Q_20131019142150

Have you met John Lithgow?

Yes, he’s lovely. We launched the book together in New York, it was so much fun. He sang his songs. I spared the audience and did not sing!

BN-AB344_lithgo_Q_20131019142409

How long did you have to illustrate Never Play Music Right Next to the Zoo?

This was one of the quickest turnaround books I have worked on and it was 40 pages. From initial sketches, through revisions and to final art was a little less than eight months total.

BN-AB345_lithgo_Q_20131019142620

I see you illustrated a second book with Ann McCallum this year, titled Eat Your Science Homework. Did you sign a two-book deal when you illustrated Eat Your Math Homework in 2011?

No two-book deal. It was simply an organic progression. Ann had an idea and submitted her proposal for the science book and a few months after they acquired the manuscript, Charlesbridge asked if I’d
illustrate it.

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Will there be a third book with Ann?

Yes! Eat Your U.S. History Homework is due to release in late 2015.

eat your math homework

I am assuming that Cat Napped! published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons came about due to the previous book you wrote and illustrated titled, Dog Gone! Can you tell us the story behind these two books?

Back in 2009 I won the Tomie de Paola portfolio award at the New York SCBWI conference—which was amazing. As a result, I was invited in to the Penguin offices to meet with an editor, publisher and art director and they looked at my work as well as a sample and manuscript for Dog Gone! and they took it. I was beyond thrilled and so, so grateful for the opportunity.

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During the time I worked on Dog Gone! I had this idea that I wanted to create a cat book in the same vein and I already had the title Cat Napped! noodling around in my head, but it took a while to flesh out the story. I remember having submitted the story along with a couple of other ideas to the editor and right after Dog Gone! released they took it.

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Have any of the books you worked on won any awards?

Eat Your Science Homework was awarded a 2014 Junior Library Guild selection—awesomesauce!

eat your mathinterior

Do you have plans to write and illustrate another book?

Hahaha, yes of course! I hope I never stop.

leeza-rabbitscropped

What do you consider your first big success?

Wow, that’s a tough question. I’m not sure I can measure one big success that easily. Having a book published is amazing, but I also consider the ever-evolving process as a series of successful stepping-
stones and I do a little happy dance each time I move to the next one—because they all teach me something about myself and/or my work. Creative folks are such sensitive creatures and it can be
intimidating to put our work out there in front of people, so each time we are brave and face our fears head on, that’s a success. Actually, when I attended a SCBWI conference for the first time, I was so overwhelmed I almost didn’t go back the next day—so I’d say not giving up right off the bat was my first big success!

PencilOnArches

For pencil work, I use 2H, HB, 2B and 5 or 6B pencils on Arches hotpress 140lb paper.

PencilOnArches2What is on the drawing board now?

My schedule has been a little nuts lately so I am taking a rest-of-the-year break and finally getting around to updating my website, which has been somewhat neglected.

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Do you ever use Corel Painter or Photoshop when illustrating?

I ‘collage’ in Photoshop. I take all the pieces that I create by hand, scan them in, then slice ‘n’ dice them into a final illustration. I think of Photoshop as my digital scissors and glue, but I don’t actually illustrate with Photoshop if that makes sense, like, I’m not drawing or painting digitally using brushes and filters.

herman-and-his-penguins

Do you own a graphic tablet?

No. If you mean a Cintiq or Wacom, that is. I’ve seen them in action though, wow!

hernandez_winter_a72dpi

Is there one thing that you did or happened that you feel really pushed your career to the next level?

I joined SCBWI. So far, this has been an amazing journey of education, connections, opportunities, projects and rewards, but it all started with this incredible organization that continues to play a role—LOVE SCBWI!

Hernandez_Wolf

Do you take pictures or other research before you start a project?

Before and during—yes. Having reference material gives me a much better understanding of what I am drawing than simply imagining. I like to begin by drawing realistically before I think about characterizing for a book because it gives me an accurate sense of anatomy, behavior, body language, etc., even though they’re very loose drawings. There were a number of animals in Never Play Music Right Next to the Zoo that I hadn’t drawn before, so I filled a ring binder with reference just for that project.

lhernandez_wolf

The original pick-up truck for Cat Napped! was a struggle, but after sharing with my editor, we realized it was too square and modern, so I went back and researched vintage trucks from the 40s and 50s. The end result was a bit of a hybrid but its softer, curvier edges suited the tone of the book far better than the angular truck I had originally drawn.

LeezaHernandez_Blog

The internet is a powerful tool—National Geographic (nationalgeographic.com), Nat Geo Kids (kids.nationalgeographic.com), NASA (nasa.gov), and Pinterest (pinterest.com) are some of my favorites but discipline is key. The amount of research I do depends upon the project but I have to be careful with the amount of time I spend researching versus creating the art.

leezaillustration1

I use a timer to stay on top of it. And even if I am not researching for a particular project, I carry a sketchbook with me and either have my phone or camera for taking any pictures. Inspiration strikes when I least expect it so I like to be as prepared as possible.

dog

Have you found most art directors and editors give you a lot of freedom when illustrating a book? Do they want to be involved all the way through the process?

Once, I was given very specific art notes for an educational book but the turnaround time was tight, so the notes were helpful for me to jump right in. I’ve received minimal notes for nonfiction projects if there was a point that needed to be demonstrated visually for some specific text. For example: the Homework books sometimes have charts.

leezadg_originalsample

For the fictional projects, I’m pretty much left to it for the first round of sketches, then the art director and/or editor and I discuss together. Sometimes, I’ll offer up additional sketch options for a handful of spreads if I have lots of ideas and can’t decide which direction to go. There can be a lot of back and forth on the cover, though.

leeza

What is the one thing in your studio that you could not live without?

My art materials—pencils, brushes, paper, inks, sketchbooks—I’d be kinda lost without them!

leeza in and outcropped

Do you try to spend a specific amount of time working on your craft?

Yes, even if it’s only for ten minutes, that’s my rule.

leezaDG_lastSpreadFinal

Do you have any career dreams that you want to fulfill?

To travel, keep making art, and continue creating books for young readers—that would be lovely!

leeza rock bandcropped

Thank you Leeza haring your journey and process with us. Can’t wait to see your career go forward. You can visit Leeza at her website: http://www.leezaworks.com to see more of her work.

If you have a moment I am sure Leeza would love to read your comments. I enjoy them too. Thanks!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, authors and illustrators, How to, illustrating, Illustrator's Saturday, inspiration, Interview, picture books, Process Tagged: John Lithgow, Leeza Hernandez, Never Play Music Right Next to the Zoo

10 Comments on Illustrator Saturday – Leeza Hernandez, last added: 11/24/2014
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14. Alex Field’s ‘Mr Darcy and the Christmas Pudding’ is a Real Treat

Alex Field‘s talents as an author, publisher and speaker, her love of Christmas pudding, and her overt enthusiasm for Jane Austen all cleverly amalgamate in the latest of her series, Mr Darcy and the Christmas Pudding. Having previously featured her beloved Pride and Prejudice characters in Mr Darcy and Mr Darcy the Dancing Duck, Alex […]

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


(Click to enlarge)


 

This morning over at Kirkus, I write about Bárður Oskarsson’s The Flat Rabbit, released by Owlkids Books in September. That link is here.

Last week, I wrote about Russell Hoban’s Jim’s Lion, which has been re-imagined as a graphic novel (Candlewick, November 2014) with the illustrations of Alexis Deacon. That link is here, and above and below are some spreads from the book, as well as the cover of the 2001 picture book with art from Ian Andrew.

Enjoy.



(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)


 


* * * * * * *

JIM’S LION. Text copyright © 2014 by Russell Hoban. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Alexis Deacon. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA on behalf of Walker Books London.

3 Comments on What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Alexis Deacon, last added: 11/23/2014
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16. PiBoIdMo Day 21: Girllustrators Draw a Trifecta (plus prizes!)

Today I invited The Girllustrators, Austin-based kidlit artists, to guest blog for PiBoIdMo, so you’re getting THREE inspirational essays—by Emma Virján, Caitlin B. Alexander and Marsha Riti—for the price of one. (And they’re all FREE, LOL.) I recommend following these talented ladies on Twitter @Girllustrators.

EJVirjan(sm)

Up first: Emma Virján!

WHAT THIS STORY NEEDS IS A PIG IN A WIG started with this doodle of pig snouts.

WTSN_01 BWSnoutDoodle

Sketches of pigs started to fill my notebooks.

WTSN_02 PigSunHammock

 

After many drawings, I determined pig needed a name. I named her Pig.

It was also determined that she needed a wig.

WTSN_03 YellowWig 

I drew Pig wearing many different wigs.

WTSN_04 DiffWigs

I loved Pig in all of her wigs (still do) but this one became my favorite.

WTSN_05 FaveWigs

The story of Pig and her wig started to take shape. Work began on a manuscript.

WTSN_06 EarlyDraft

The words “on a boat” kept cropping up and I started drawing images of Pig near a boat.

Sometimes I only drew the boat. The boat always had a pig snout on the bow.

WTSN_07 Boats

The first of many thumbnails were created.

So began the real work of the images and words becoming a picture book.

WTSN_08 EarlyThumbnails

 

Revisions happened. Drawings were scrapped and new ones were drawn. More revisions happened and eventually What This Story Needs Is A Pig In A Wig was finalized.

WTSN_09 PigInaWig-Cover

WTSN_10 PigOnHerBoat

It’s amazing to think that a black and white doodle of pig snouts, drawn while on the phone with a client, became the inspiration for a character and a story.

And the endpapers.

WTSN_11 SnoutEndpaper

guestbloggerbio2014

Emma J Virján was born under an Aries moon on a Wednesday, her dad’s bowling night. This explains her attraction to hardwood floors. She likes to draw, work in her garden and often lets her dog sleep on the couch. She makes her home in Austin, Texas where she spends her days as an illustrator and graphic designer. 

She is the author-illustrator of Nacho the Party Puppy, Random House, 2008, and the forthcoming What This Story Needs Is A Pig In a Wig, HarperCollins, May 12, 2015.

You can visit Emma Virján at Emmavirjan.com and follow her illustrative moods on Twitter @EmmaVirjan.

____________________________________________________________________________

Caitlin bio image

Next is Caitlin B. Alexander! 

Being an illustrator, my concept for a story grows in tandem with my visual ideas. I look at children’s books that I admire, both old and new, and take note of what draws me to them. Is it the overarching message? The color palette? The scenery? What medium did they use for the art, and what kind of characters did they use? The art or writing may not resemble my work, but something about it can still inspire me. I have a massive collection of books that I turn to frequently.

Pic 1

I am somewhat of an overly-organized person, so I make all sorts of bubble charts and graphs, with ideas sprouting into other ideas. Some of these are just images I would love to incorporate into a story, like a sailboat, and others are larger concepts. Eventually, with a lot of scribbling, listing, doodling, highlighting, and sample-writing, I come up with a rough idea or two that can be explored further. It reminds me of a slab of clay that has barely taken shape, but has a lot of potential.

Pic 2

Pic 3

I wish I could say that I know what perfect and repeating formula works for getting a book published, but there are probably few people who do. The rest of us just create things that we love, and keep learning, making mistakes and trying new things. If we’re lucky, we’ve hit the right combination, and someone else has fallen in love with the idea as much as we have.

Pic 4

Pic 5

Pic 6

guestbloggerbio2014

Caitlin B. Alexander is an illustrator based in Austin, Texas with a particular love for dry-brush gouache painting. Both her life and work are heavily influenced by the aesthetics of the 1940′s, ’50s and ’60s. She fancies herself a collector of memories as much as a collector of things, andenjoys bringing this sense of nostalgia to her audience.

Clients include: Spider Magazine, Ladybug Magazine (Cricket Media), Geneologie, Texas Board of Tourism, Dallas Child Magazine, Bearded Lady Screen Prints, Austin Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, PERC Coffee, The Kloud Agency, What’s Up Annapolis? Magazine

Visit Caitlin’s website at cbaillustration.com, follow her Tumblr at cbaillustration.tumblr.com and Tweet with her @cbaillustration.

____________________________________________________________________________

 

Marsha Riti

And now…Marsha Riti!

Because I consider myself an illustrator first and foremost, the way I approach storytelling is a bit different than a writer. My inspiration comes from sketching and playing around with materials.

I’m currently working on a dreamy story about a girl, a rabbit, and the moon. This story came about from playing around with loose watercolor techniques and other materials.

Image 1

Then I started playing with character sketches.

Image 2

 

I love to thumbnail out ideas. Tara Lazar has a great thumbnail guide on her website and so does Debbie Ohi.

Image 3

Here’s a small sample of a double-page layout.

Image 4

And here’s a finished spread.

Image 5

This process naturally lends itself to wordless storytelling, but I don’t want to limit myself. If the story needs words, then I’ll supply them. If it does not, then so be it.

One other place I find inspiration is this quote below from a Blake poem titled “Night.”

“The moon like a flower,
In heaven’s high bower,
With silent delight!
Sits and smiles on the night.” ~ William Blake

My husband and best friend Adam happened across it while reading “Songs of Innocence.” Adam is another source of inspiration. We have wonderful conversations about life and philosophy that are always giving me new ideas.

guestbloggerbio2014

Marsha Riti is a children’s book illustrator from Austin, Texas. She has been a member of SCBWI for a number of years, and is also a co-founder and member of a female illustrator collective called the Girllustrators. She is currently illustrating a chapter book series for Simon & Schuster, The Critter Club, and is represented by Teresa Kietlinksi of Prospect Agency. And she’s got a wicked sense of humor.

Tara featured Marsha in a “Portrait of an Aspiring Illustrator” in March 2009.

View Marsha’s artwork and latest projects at marshariti.com and follow along on Twitter @marshariti.

prizedetails2014

Emma is giving away a NACHO THE PARTY PUPPY book and tee!

Emma_Nacho

And Marsha is donating two books from THE CRITTER CLUB!

CritterClub_Amy CritterCLub_Marion

These prizes will be given away at the conclusion of PiBoIdMo. You are eligible for these prizes if:

  1. You have registered for PiBoIdMo.
  2. You have commented ONCE ONLY on today’s post.
  3. You have completed the PiBoIdMo challenge. (You will have to sign the PiBoIdMo Pledge at the end of the event.)

Good luck, everyone!

 

 


10 Comments on PiBoIdMo Day 21: Girllustrators Draw a Trifecta (plus prizes!), last added: 11/21/2014
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17. Hook, Heidi, and Hendrix


“Though she couldn’t tell for certain from her vantage point, Jocelyn did not expect to find a single corset on the entire island. She was utterly charmed. Even so, the girl knew that somewhere down there, amidst all the wonder, a terrible beast was waiting. Reminds me a bit of my first wedding day.”


 

Just last week, dear Imps, I chatted over at Kirkus with author Heidi Schulz about her debut novel, Hook’s Revenge (Disney-Hyperion, September 2014), illustrated by John Hendrix. That link is here, but I wanted to follow up with some art from Hendrix today. Above and below are some of his interior illustrations from the book.

Enjoy.

 


“‘Don’t die,’ he said. ‘What fun would that be? For me, I mean?’
She reached over and gave him a little shove. ‘This is serious.’
‘Oh yes. Serious. I can tell.’ He arranged his face into mock gravity.”


 


“If you have ever felt a bit nervous about a task before you—such as walking past a snarling dog on your way to school, confessing to your mother that you broke her favorite Royal Family commemorative plate, or needing to dig up and rebury a body on a cold, dark night—you may have an idea of how Jocelyn felt
as she seated herself in the little boat.”


 


“The beast looked confused. It snapped its jaws in first one direction, then another.
A third attack followed, then a fourth. Though no blood flowed, the archers finally succeeded in driving the monster away. It hissed at Jocelyn once more before lumbering off through the jungle.”


 


“‘So you took up the challenge.’ His deep, rich voice held the edge of a sneer.
‘I didn’t expect you would.’ Jocelyn spoke past the lump forming in her throat.
‘You asked me to. Your letter said it was my inheritance.’”


 

* * * * * * *

HOOK’S REVENGE. Copyright © 2014 by Heidi Schulz. Illustrations © 2014 by John Hendrix. Published by Disney-Hyperion, New York. Illustrations used by permission of John Hendrix.

1 Comments on Hook, Heidi, and Hendrix, last added: 11/20/2014
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18. The Perfect Picture Book for Thanksgiving Prep!

Baking Day at Grandma’s

By Anika Denise; illustrated by Christopher Denise

 

 

         “Over the river, and through the wood,

         To Grandfather’s house we go.

         the horse knows the way to carry the sleigh

         through the white and drifted snow.”

 

 

 

Remember this Thanksgiving poem of six verses by Lydia Maria Child? Originally called “The New England Boy’s Song about Thanksgiving”, it spoke of fun, frolic and festivities with these original lines:

 

        “Over the river and through the wood,

         When Grandmother sees us come,

         She will say, “Oh dear, the children are here.

         Bring a pie for everyone.”

 

 

How about a picture book perfect to go along with Thanksgiving prep or the trip to Grandma’s house this holiday season? “Baking Day at Grandma’s” displays in wonderfully evocative deliciously homey art by Christopher Denise, the wholesome New England coziness of a trip to Grandma’s for a day of baking fun.

Only as an additional picture book perfect plus, THIS Grandma happens to be a huge, maternal fur laden, bespectacled bear whose house is nestled deep in the wintry countryside.

Three small bruins are on an adventure, passing icy ponds, dressed in Nordic caps and sweaters, towing the smallest of the three in a wooden sled. Destination? Grandma’s house! Arriving at Gram’s, they are greeted by a shawl around her shoulders, image of “grandmotherhood” itself, in the persona of a bear. Kids will just imagine being scooped up in a furry hug by those gentle paws. Of course, Mr. Denise, the author’s husband has fashioned an amazingly cozy Grandma’s house for this baking day. His attention to detail is faultless with its log cabin lines, farm sink, hand turned victrola, wide pegged wooden floors topped with a glass fronted cupboard, AND even the MIXING bowls pattern I remember from MY childhood!!

This bear trio measure, stir, lick wooden spoons and bake to their heart’s content with their kindly Grandma guiding the day’s activities of hot cocoa and old-time music and tapping feet, passing the time while the kitchen timer ticks away! Love that hooked rug they prance their paws upon.

Brownies iced and bagged AND wrapped to perfection with red ribbons are the ultimate take away from a day spent with someone you love DOING SOMETHING you love.

And as those bears don their outdoor togs for the trek back home with warm hugs all around, Ms Denise has created the picture book that will cause YOU to want to ring up your own children’s Grandma and ask HER to echo the lines that dot this picture book,

 

                 “It’s baking day!

                 It’s baking day!

                 It’s baking day at Grandma’s!”

 

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19. November 2014 Picture Book Month Passes the Halfway Mark



“When we reached the top, there were over a hundred children gathered on the hillside, some of whom had walked miles to hear a story.” – Sophie Blackall from her Picture Book Month Essay

“If a picture book and an iPad got into a fight, a picture book would totally kick an iPad's butt.” – Aaron Reynolds from his Picture Book Month Essay

Picture Book Month has just passed the halfway mark. Around the world, schools, libraries, booksellers, and book lovers are coming together to celebrate the print picture book during the month of November. Now in its fourth year, the initiative is a viral phenomenon.

The website, PictureBookMonth.com, features essays from thought leaders in the children’s literature community. Each day in November, a new essay is posted. This year’s Picture Book Month Champions are: Chris Barton, Aaron Becker, Kelly Bingham , Sophie Blackall, Arree Chung, Anna Dewdney, Johnette Downing, Ame Dyckman, Jill Esbaum, Carolyn Flores, Lupe Ruiz-Flores, Robin Preiss Glasser, Deborah Heiligman, Marla Frazee, Stefan Jolet, Kathleen Krull, Rene Colato Lainez, Loreen Leedy, Betsy Lewin, Ted Lewin, Brian Lies, Kelly J. Light, Debbie Ridpath Ohi, Alexis O'Neill, Sandra Markle, Ann Whitford Paul, Aaron Reynolds, Judy Schachner, Linda Joy Singleton, and David Schwartz.

New features this year include “Curriculum Connections” by Education Consultant, Marcie Colleen. Every day, a new activity and curriculum connection is posted based on the Author/Illustrator’s book. In addition, the multi-page Picture Book Month Educator’s Guide, correlating picture books across the curriculum, is available as a free download for educators and teacher librarians.

We are pleased to also announce that Reading Rainbow has recently joined as a Picture Book Month partner. Support for the initiative continues with partners such as the American Booksellers Association, the American Association of School Librarians, the Children’s Book Council, Reading is Fundamental, and SCBWI as well as industry trade journals such as Hornbook, School Library Journal, and Publishers Weekly. New 2014 partners also include The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art and Friends of Tennessee Libraries.

A downloadable promotional kit is available as well as certificates, posters, and bookmarks created by Joyce Wan. Katie Davis’ Brain Burps About Books Podcast, the #1 kidlit podcast on iTunes, is dedicating the entire month of November to Picture Book Month with new episodes airing every Friday. The PBM calendar created by Elizabeth Dulemba lists all the Picture Book Month Champions as well as the daily theme. The daily themes are used to plan story times, book displays, and blog posts.

Founder Dianne de Las Casas says, “People are joining the celebration from countries such as Ireland, Jamaica, and Singapore, as well as across the entire United States. We love that school libraries are reporting virtually empty picture book shelves. It’s not too late to join the celebration!” Follow Picture Book Month on Twitter, @PictureBkMonth, and Facebook, and use the hashtag #PictureBookMonth. Visit www.picturebookmonth.com.

“A picture book is a simile that shivers. A metaphor that melts. A not-a-poem, yet Every. Word. Counts. Picture books excite the eye, the ear, the heart.” – Alexis O’Neill from her Picture Book Month Essay


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20. Belches, Burps, and Farts - Oh My! by Artie Bennett, illustrated by Pranas T. Naujokaitis

Belches, Burps, and Farts - Oh My! by Artie Bennett and illustrated by Pranas T. Naujokaitis is a fantastic way to get kids interested in science and biology and nonfiction in general. Both the subject matter and the illustrations in Belches, Burps, and Farts - Oh My! are funny and fun, with Bennett's rhyming couplets adding to this seriously silly look at something we all do everyday.

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21. PiBoIdMo Day 19: Kelly Light Wants to be the Hardest Working WO-Man in Show Business (plus prizes!)

dinerkellyby Kelly Light

“I want to be The Hardest Working WO-Man in Show Business”

But I’m tired. Are you?

It’s been an insane few months in my life. My book, Louise Loves Art, came out September 9th! Then I went on a 27-day book tour.

When I sit down to work and I have A LOT of work…sometimes, I got ‘nuthin.

Sometimes we feel like we just can’t go on.

We can’t do no more.

But you can. You can get back up. Like James.

You can find it in yourself. You have come this far.

You can still dance and spin.

You’ve got more ideas inside of you, dig. Dig deep.

Throw off that cape! Pull yourself up.

Let’s channel a little James this year.

Watch this:

James Brown.
The hardest working Man in show business.
Even he just has to fall on his knees and ask… Please.!?!?
Please, please, please, please.
Let’s grab the mic, Wacom pen, pencil or hairbrush … and sing with……PAIN.
(back up singers in parenthesis) (PiBoIdMo peeps – that’s you)

Spoken like James:
This year I gotta dig a little deeper.
Ya see ‘cause I am tired.
I’ve been working so hard.
(So hard. )
So hard.
(So hard.)

Start singing:

30 ideas in 30 days.
(Who came up with this idea?)
11 more to go, you’re in a daze
(I need a shot of tequila)
Pencil in hand, butt in chair.
(I gotta find a new idea)
Ideas, I can’t find you anywhere
(need to get my head in gear)

Yeah, oh yeah, ideas, I need you so..
(Please, please ideas don’t go)
Please, please, please, please….
(Please, please don’t go)
Please, please, please….
(Please, please ideas don’t go)

Can you hep me?
Somebody hep me!

Please, please, please, please….
(Please, please don’t go)
Please, please, please….
(Please, please ideas don’t go)

Imagination is all gone
(all dried up, ideas are gone)
Why did you leave and do me wrong?
(you are fried, you can’t hold on)

Please, please, please, please….
(Please, please don’t go)
Please, please, please….
(Please, please ideas don’t go)

I wrote so many ideas down
(So you wrote some good ideas)
I used some adjectives and some nouns
(these sound like bad ideas)

Doesn’t matter, I got 30 ideas out
(ideas on the page it’s a start)
Makes me wanna scream and shout!
(Keep on going, you’ve got heart!)

I’ll come back to these ideas one day
(Don’t leave them up on a shelf)

Soon You’ll see me signing at BEA!

(don’t get ahead of yourself, do 12 X 12)

Please, please, please, please….
(Please, please don’t go)
Please, please, please….
(Please, please ideas don’t go)

Danny! I can’t do no more…

WAIT! C’mon….

Now JUMP BACK! You’re super bad! You gotta kiss yourself!

Listen to this:

guestbloggerbio2014

Kelly Light is working hard out on the road with LOUISE LOVES ART while working on the second Louise book and the first Louise reader. Look for those next year from Balzer and Bray. Also out next year is JUST ADD GLITTER by Angela DiTerlizzi from Beach Lane Books. She’s got soul. She’s tired and she’s super bad.

prizedetails2014

louiselovesart

You can win a signed LOUISE LOVES ART book and a “Holiday Louise” print by Kelly!

These prizes will be given away at the conclusion of PiBoIdMo. You are eligible for these prizes if:

  1. You have registered for PiBoIdMo.
  2. You have commented ONCE ONLY on today’s post.
  3. You have completed the PiBoIdMo challenge. (You will have to sign the PiBoIdMo Pledge at the end of the event.)

Good luck, everyone!


10 Comments on PiBoIdMo Day 19: Kelly Light Wants to be the Hardest Working WO-Man in Show Business (plus prizes!), last added: 11/19/2014
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22. Way Back Wednesday Essential Classic

Millions of Cats

By Wanda Gag

 

One of the reasons I started The Snuggery and the Way Back Wednesday portion of it was the belief that there ARE “essential classics” in the realm of the picture book world that should be part of a canon of literature for kids. And, more than that, these “essentials” had, for a variety of reasons, fallen off the radar for parents, grandparents and anyone interested in introducing great picture books to children.

So, as the year winds down and the weather grows colder and we move many of our activities indoors, it’s a perfect time to highlight the “essentials” with your young readers.

In case you’ve forgotten THIS title, Way Back Wednesday today features the oldest American picture book in print, “Millions of Cats” by Wanda Gag.

One of the very few picture books to win a Newbery Honor book designation, it was given in 1929. Wanda also pioneered the double page spread as Anita Silvey, prominent reviewer points out in her book, “100 Best Books for Children,” “She used both pages to move the story forward, putting them together with art that sweeps the entire page spread…..”

And its popularity stemmed from the hand lettered text that Wanda’s brother contributed to the book, its black and white folk art style, and, of course the repetitive phrase that has stayed alive and been repeated by young readers since its printing:

 

 

                                           “ Cats here, cats there,

                                        Cats and kittens everywhere,

                                             Hundreds of cats,

                                             Thousands of cats,

                                   Millions and billions and trillions of cats.”

 

 

A sweet, but lonely peasant couple living in the country are looking for a cat to keep and love. So, off the husband goes in search of one. But trouble ensues when, after finding a cat, he is tempted by additional ones that make final decision making quite a task. Instead of just one, he opts for a coterie of cats, a cacophony of cats and a conglomeration of cats that drain ponds as they each take one sip, de-blade a hillside of grass as each takes a munch on the trip home and, ultimately get into the biggest “cat fight” in history!!

Prompted by a final cat selection question from the couple somewhat akin to the queen in “Snow White” asking the mirror, “Who’s the fairest of us all?”, a cat calamity begins with a row of epic proportions among all but one of the cats.

Can you guess who is picked as the prettiest?

Read and remember right along with your young reader, this cat tail er tale that is still essential some 85 years after its printing!! It’s a “cat astrophically” essential picture book classic.

 

 

 

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23. Visiting grandparents: three picture books to share (ages 3-8)

As the holidays approach, many children are excited about visiting grandparents. I wanted to share three different picture books that show different small moments as children spend time with their grandparents.

Hot Hot Roti for Dada-Ji
by F. Zia
illustrated by Ken Min
Lee and Low, 2011
Your local library
Amazon
ages 5-8
Young Aneel’s grandfather Dada-ji has great fun telling how he got “the power of a tiger” when he was a boy by eating the best roti in town. Aneel is so excited that he races to the kitchen to make this Indian flatbread.

Kids love the way that Dad-ji exaggerates the story from his childhood. Zia's writes with verve and gusto. She is "a writer and an elementary school teacher who grew up in Hyderabad, India." As Aneel starts gathering ingredients to make his roti, the fun really begins. Kids can relate to how food brings people together and will love the way Aneel takes charge.
Max and the Tag-Along Moon
by Floyd Cooper
Philomel / Penguin, 2013
Your local library
Amazon
ages 4-7
Saying goodbye can be particularly hard for young kids. When young Max must say goodbye to his grandpa, the young boy points to the full moon shining above. Grandpa promises him that “that ol’ moon will always shine for you...on and on!”

As Max drives home, he keeps watch of that same moon and is reassured by its presence. This quiet warm book glows softly with the love between African American grandfather and grandson. It's a wonderful read-aloud that helps talk about how the people we love stay with us in our hearts long after we have to say goodbye.
Nana in the City
by Lauren Castillo
Clarion / Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014
Your local library
Amazon
ages 3-6
What do we do when our children are afraid? You'd never know it by looking at the cover, but this young boy is scared by all the noises and commotion in the bustling city. He's excited to see his Nana and her new apartment, but oh how the city noises are just too much.

I love how this wonderful Nana listens, understands and helps the young boy overcome his fears. She never dismisses his fears, but she shows him how he can be brave and she'll be right there with him. I also love how Castillo shows a grandmother who lives in the city and loves exploring. Below you can see how the little boy slowly changes his mind, with his Nana right by his side:
"But Nana was right. The city was not filled with scary things..."
Do you have a favorite book that reminds your children of times they spend with their grandparents? Or maybe after the holidays, you and your child could write a story together about a day they spent with their grandparents.

The review copies were kindly sent by the publishers, Lee & Low, Penguin and Clarion. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2014 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

0 Comments on Visiting grandparents: three picture books to share (ages 3-8) as of 11/20/2014 12:06:00 AM
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24. Renée Treml Reveals Answers About Her Picture Book, ‘The Great Garden Mystery’

Renée Treml is a talented artist and author, originally from the States, now residing in Melbourne. She creates her stunning illustrations primarily using the scratchboard technique, setting her work apart with its unique qualities. Her artwork can also be seen at design markets and art exhibits through a range of gorgeous products. Renée has three […]

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25. PiBoIdMo Day 20: Henry Herz Becomes a Sponge (plus prizes!)

by Henry Herz

Everything I know about writing picture books, I learned from animals.

Animals make great picture book characters. Just ask the Very Hungry Caterpillar. And animals offer authors and illustrators nine B’s of inspiration for creating PBs:

Be a sponge.

sponge

Soak up everything around you. View, listen, sniff, taste, and feel. Watch people (in public, not with a telescope from your house), read books (especially picture books), and watch TV and movies. Take notes. Even the most mundane situations can unexpectedly feed your muse.

Be a sharktopus.

sharktopus

OK, that’s not a real animal, but I’m making a point here, people. Combine elements into unlikely (and therefore hilarious) pairs, as in Doreen Cronin’s Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type. Practice riffing on the things you soak up. I did a classroom reading where this boy had a torn-up sneaker. I thought, picture book title: The Boy With Exploding Sneakers. Let your creativity run free. 

Be a honey badger.

honeybadger

Have no fear. Don’t be scared to put words to paper. Don’t flee from constructive criticism. Don’t be afraid of rejection. They all line the path to traditional publication. Honey badger don’t care, and neither should you! Get outside your comfort zone.

Be a dung beetle.

dungbeetle

Be tenacious, even on crappy days. Becoming published isn’t easy. But it won’t happen if you stop trying. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a one step. Revise, revise, revise. But remember that perfect can be the enemy of good enough. At some point, you need to submit! 

 Be an armadillo.

armadillo

You need to be thick-skinned and learn to roll with the punches. Understand that a publisher’s or agent’s rejection isn’t personal, but it is highly subjective. Many great works of literature were rejected repeatedly before being published, so you’re in good company.  

Be an ant.

ants

No man is an island, and no ant is a bridge. Teamwork is your best friend. Take advantage of critique groups to hone your craft. Join the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) to develop a support network. Leverage social media to connect with fellow writers. You’re not alone.

Be a hagfish.

hagfish

Be flexible enough to incorporate helpful feedback. But feel free to ignore feedback that doesn’t resonate with your gut. Follow the rules, but recognize that they can be broken when the result is a success. Drew Daywalt’s The Day the Crayons Quit is a picture book with over 1,000 words and inanimate characters. But it’s also a New York Times bestseller.

Be a peacock spider.

peacockspider

Male peacock spiders don’t just have stunning colors. They have a delightfully entertaining mating dance (think MC Hammer’s “Can’t Touch This”). They show the ladies some enthusiasm! They wear their passion on their, er, sleeves. Writing is also an act of passion. Write about what you love. Have fun writing. Write the story that is inside you, trying to get out. But hopefully not like a chestburster from Alien, or Ian Ziering in the final scene of Sharknado.

Be a cat.

cat

Cats are lucky. They always land on their feet, and have nine lives.

There’s an expression, “luck favors the prepared.” Working at the other eight B’s is the best way to earn some luck. Good luck to you!

guestbloggerbio2014

henryherzHenry Herz has masters degrees in engineering and political science, neither of which help him write children’s books. He enjoys moderating sci-fi/fantasy literature panels at conventions, eating Boston Creme Pie, and writing children’s books with his sons Josh and Harrison. Their indie-published Nimpentoad was featured in Young Entrepreneur, Wired GeekDad, and CNN. Their picture book, Monster Goose Nursery Rhymes, will be published by Pelican in January 2015. Henry edited the YA dark fantasy anthology, Beyond the Pale, with stories from Peter S. Beagle, Heather Brewer, Jim Butcher, Rachel Caine, Kami Garcia, Nancy Holder, Jane Yolen and others. He interviews KidLit authors and illustrators at www.henryherz.com.

prizedetails2014

Henry is offering two picture book critiques to two PiBoIdMo winners!

These prizes will be given away at the conclusion of PiBoIdMo. You are eligible for these prizes if:

  1. You have registered for PiBoIdMo.
  2. You have commented ONCE ONLY on today’s post.
  3. You have completed the PiBoIdMo challenge. (You will have to sign the PiBoIdMo Pledge at the end of the event.)

Good luck, everyone!

 


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