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Viewing Blog: We Love Children's Books, Most Recent at Top
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In October 2007 We Love Children’s Books (Bobbie and Laurina) took ourselves and our work out on the road and we started this blog to chronicle our time working and traveling for the next couple of years. We plan on visiting bookstores and libraries, friends and colleagues we know from 22 and 20 years in the children’s (and teen) book industry.
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1. Book Spine Poems

I love this idea, I just do. I never write poems but I enjoy this kind of "writing." Thanks to Travis Jonker of 100 Scope Notes for this idea and his Book Spine Poem Gallery. Happy National Poetry Month!

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2. Waiting for a Book

I'm eagerly waiting for a copy of Virginia Wolf from the publisher, Kids Can Press. When I receive it I know I'll read and re-read and read it again. I'm so taken by the art that I've seen so far, created Isabelle Arsenault and words by Kyo Maclear. And I'm a Virginia Woolf nut.

Meanwhile I discovered this magnificent book trailer. The young girl's voice is an inspired choice and the music ... the music! I watch this at least once a day. 

Thank you to Julie Fortenberry and Shelley Davies at  Children's Illustration which is where I found the book trailer.

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3. March Book Reviews

Read our reviews from the March issue of Parents Express.

Look Who's There! and What Do You See?  written and illustrated by Martine Perrin, Albert whitman, board books,ages birth -3.

Whoa Baby Whoa! written by Grace Nichols and illustrated by Eleanor Taylor, Bloomsbury, ages 1-3.

Sammy in the Sky, written by Barbara Walsh and illustrated by Jamie Wyeth, Candlewick, ages 4-8.

Hidden New Jersey, written by Linda J. Barth and illurstrated by Hazel Mitchell, Charlesbridge, ages 6-9.

Thank you to the publishers for supplying the review copies.

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4. Stay: The True Story of Ten Dogs

Molly (our border collie mix) and I just finished reading Stay: The True Story of Ten Dogs, by Michaela Muntean with photographs by K.C. Bailey and Stephen Kazmierski (Scholastic Press). Not only is it an inspiring story about dogs who have been rescued, it's about the circus! Circus + dogs = GREAT book for kids! The photographs were just wonderful, large closeups showing the performers' enthusiasm and joyfulness. Molly gives this one 5 barks (out of 5!)

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5. Get Ready for the Children's Choice Book Awards

Voting opens online March 14 for the 5th annual Children's Choice Book Awards. Some of my favorites include Bailey by Harry Bliss and Okay for Now by Gary Schmidt. But since I'm not a kid, I can't vote.

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6. 2011 Cybils

Congratulations to all 2011 Cybils Awards winners! Following a long process of nominations and judging, the winners were announced today. These awards are given in several categories by the children's and teen book blogging community.

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7. Book Reviews

Here's a link to our book reviews published in the February issue of Parent's Express (Philadelphia.)

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8. Making the Web Work for You -- a Highlights Foundation Workshop

This morning Bobbie and I listened to the lastest Brain Burps About Books, a regular podcast by author/ illustrator Katie Davis. We've listened before and find Katie's podcasts fun and informative but Episode #81 is special because ... we were interviewed! Yes, as part of a team also including Katie, Lindsey Leavitt, Paul Crichton and Jules Danielson, we were interviewed about our upcoming workshop, March 4- 8, at the Highlights Foundation's Making the Web Work for You. Geared to both new and established writers and illustrators, the workshop will provide details -- much more than an overview -- about marketing and promotion through websites, blogs and social media tools.

We haven't met the other participants so it was cool listening to them talk about the business and what  they'll be focusing on during our week long (almost) teaching and learning experience. We're SO looking forward to our time in lovely Honesdale PA and the retreat-type atmosphere of the big barn, cabins and grounds. And the FOOD!

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9. Teen Book App

Very cool. I wonder how often titles will be added? Right now the list includes Award winners and titles from YALSA's "best book" lists.

YALSA App ‘First of Its Kind’ for Discovering Teen Books -- http://www.thedigitalshift.com/2012/01/mobile/yalsa-app-first-of-its-kind-for-discovering-teen-books/

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10. Love those ALA Youth Media Awards!

Very exciting morning watching the announcements of the ALA's Youth Media Awards.  Laurina was present at the announcements (only fitting for a former Newbery committee-person) and I tuned in to the ALA's webcast.  Congratulations to all of the winners!

Just so you know we've been paying attention, below is our review of Balloons Over Broadway, the Caldecott winner, that ran in the November issue of the Philadelphia Parents Express. Also below is Laurina's September interview with Jack Gantos, winner of the Newbery Award for Dead End in Norvelt.

Balloons Over Broadway: the True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy's Parade, written and illustrated by Melissa Sweet, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $16.99, hardcover, ages 4-8.

Many of us can remember the anticipation of seeing the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade on TV, or maybe even the thrill of being on the New York City streets watching the parade live. This delightful picture book biography for young and old tells the story of the man who created the huge balloons that are such an integral part of the holiday festivities.

As a young boy, Tony Sarg showed talent as an artist and an engineer with a big imagination. In his career as a puppeteer and marionette-maker he came to Macy's attention; first designing windows for the store and then floats for the store' s very first parade. From large scale part-puppet, part-balloon animals propped up by wooden sticks, he had the idea of creating floating puppets controlled from the bottom rather than top like marionettes worked. The tremendous excitement felt in 1928 as adults and children watched these magnificent, playful, gigantic balloons dance above skyscrapers is expertly captured by Sweet's watercolors. The art also makes use of scrapbooking and collage techniques adding details and a sense of history to Tony's story. A true homage from one artist to another.

Jack Gantos: Following the Best Idea
Interview with Jack Gantos for Parents’ Express by Laurina Cashin

September 19, 2011

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11. We've Got a Job

I just finished reading We've Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children's March, by Cynthia Levinson (Peachtree).  Although I was born in 1961 and wasn't aware of current events of the 60's as they happened, I have read quite a bit about the Civil Rights Movement.  Somehow I missed hearing about the Children's March, though, and so I found this book fascinating.  Levinson focuses on four young people who were involved in the March, weaving their stories in and around details of the larger Movement, a method that makes this narrative very accessible to children. It's liberally illustrated with photographs that today have the same power to shock and educate as they did when they were taken.

Going off to re-read The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963 now.

Cynthia Levinson's website
Peachetree Publishers website

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12. Is Your Website Working for You?

We're starting to get excited about our upcoming Highlights Foundation Founders Workshop, Making the Web Work for You, coming up March 4-8.  One of our breakout sessions is called "Is Your Website Working for You?"  Here's a description:

Gone are the days when authors and illustrators would ask “Do I need a website?”   Now it’s unthinkable that a professional would not have a website (or a blogsite, Facebook page, or other web presence.)  It’s not enough, though, to create your site and just let it be.  We’ll discuss updating your site (how often?) to keep it relevant, marketing your site to connect you with the larger children’s book community on the web and give you tips for analyzing your site traffic, maximizing the “reach” of your site and making your site content sparkle. 
We hope you'll join us up in Honesdale for good food and lots of brainstorming!

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13. January Reviews

Here's a link to our reviews in the January 2012 issue of Parents Express Magazine:
We reviewed: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star by Jerry Pinkney (Little Brown) A New Year's Reunion by Yu Li Qiong (Candlewick) Full Moon and a Star by Lee Bennett Hopkins (Abrams) Nursery Rhyme Comics (First Second)

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14. More about Tamora

Just watched a GREAT interview with Tamora Pierce that Nancy Pearl did. Here's the link:

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15. Tamora Pierce has never let me down

Honestly. Not once, in 28 books, have I been disappointed or thought a plot was mediocre or disliked a character. Not once! I don't think I can say that about any other author (well, maybe my old faves Eleanor Estes and Elizabeth Enright.)

So perhaps you can tell that I've just finished Mastiff, the final book in the Beka Cooper trilogy - WOW! SO gratifying, right up until the very, very end. Of course I was smiling and crying for the last 50 pages. I just never get tired of Tortall and its people.

I've met Tamora Pierce a few times and even got to sit next to her at a publishing dinner once because none of the "big shots" at the dinner had read any of her books. I count that dinner as one of the many blessings that working in this business has given me - to actually meet and talk with someone you admire, to ask questions, to gush, is amazing.

If you're already a fan and you haven't read Mastiff, take the weekend and DO IT. If you're not a fan yet, then pick up a book and get started!

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16. Making the Web Work for You

Maybe we've mentioned how much we love the folks at the Highlights Foundation? We really do, and we think the Founders Workshops they give in Honesdale, PA are a great place for learning and/or networking.

We'll be sharing insights at a Founders Workshop March 4-8, 2012, called Making the Web Work for You, along with additional faculty Lindsey Leavitt and Katie Davis and special guests Jules Danielson and Paul Crichton. This workshop promises to give you the tools you need to put your name and your stories in front of thousands of eager readers.

Highlights asked us to answer a few questions to give potential attendees an advance look...

Highlights Foundation: Why does an author who has yet published a book need to worry about self-promotion?

Bobbie Combs: Why indeed? I think the answer would depend on what your goals are as an author. If you just want to write a book for yourself and/or your family, that's fine. Then maybe you wouldn't care about promoting yourself or your book. That said, I don't think I've ever met one author who felt this way: "Oh, I'll just write this one book and then go on with my life, try something else." The authors I've met want to publish that first book, and then another, and then an award-winning one, and then a best-selling one . . . that's the way this particular dream usually goes. And if that is your dream—to be a published author, not just of one book but of a body of work—then I think you need to treat yourself and your talent as a small business. You are an entrepreneur, creating a unique idea/product to share with the world. And as with all entrepreneurs, all small businesses, your customers will usually not just stumble across your product/idea/invention as they go through their day. You need to do something to bring it to the attention of the world. Why should they choose your book over your competitor's book? Why should they want to read the story you have to tell? Is there something interesting about you that would resound with them and make them want to read your book? What do they have in common with you that would make them curious about what you have to say?

A lot of successful entrepreneurs and celebrities give interviews that reference all the years of work before they "made it." But during those years of ascension, everything they did was about branding themselves: their "look," their sound, their business strategy, so that when their big break came, they were ready. That's what I think you as an author can do while you continue to write and submit to publishers: lay the groundwork. Attend conferences and get your name out there. Blog, and comment on other blogs, to build name recognition. Build a website (or use your blog as a blog site) and share some of your writing with the world. Learn all you can about contracts, rights, agents—the equivalent of crafting your own business strategy. Do all this, and when your big break comes, everyone will see you for the professional you are.

Highlights Foundation: If you had to choose one social media outlet, which would it be and why?

Laurina Cashin: My quick answer to this question would be to choose the outlet that appeals to you most because that's the one you'll use. All factors being equal, though, I'd choose Twitter because it's versatile, and the character limit makes it quick. With links and re-tweets you get brevity AND substance; with tags you can reach more people and hopefully increase your followers. Also, you can easily turn tweets into Facebook comments, and you can tweet blog posts. See what I mean about versatile?

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17. We finally watched an episode of the Simpsons

...and we laughed our heads off. It's really not our kind of show, but PW Children's Bookshelf tipped us off to this episode called The Book Job, where they (brilliantly) spoof the teen lit genre.  You can watch it on Hulu here: http://www.hulu.com/watch/302535/the-simpsons-the-book-job.

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18. Guardians of Childhood on Sale Today

Guardians of Childhood, a new series by William Joyce, goes on sale today. Here's my review of The Man in the Moon, which first appeared in the August issue of Parents Express (Montgomery News.)

The Man in the Moon, written and illustrated by William Joyce, Atheneum/Simon and Schuster, $17.99, hardcover, ages 4-8.

The September publication of The Man in the Moon marks the beginning of a grand event in bookmaking for it is the first book in the series The Guardians of Childhood. Joyce has spent the past 20 years working on the concept of Guardians, which will present the histories of such childhood icons as Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Sandman, and the Easter Bunny. The series will consist of 13 books—seven chapter books and six picture books – and an animated film due in Fall 2012. In this book we learn the story of the Man in the Moon (MiM,) a baby loved by his parents and watched over by his friend Nightlight, all who traveled the heavens in a ship named the Moon Clipper, designed to turn into the moon at night. His parents and Nightlight are lost in a battle with Pitch, the King of Nightmares (a character who figures prominently in the series' story arc.) A stirring text and glorious, stunning art tells of MiM’s growing up and his discovery of Earth, its children and their dreams, and MiM’s plan to guard and protect them with help from friends – a toy maker, a regal rabbit, a fairy, a sleepy fellow who knew about dreams, and a lovely storyteller. This is the beginning of something special, a tribute to the caretakers we all know and believe in. For more information visit the website.

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19. July Reviews

Here's a link to our book reviews for July published in the Parents Express -- Bobbie’s Books of the Month - Parents Express - Montgomery News.

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20. June Book Reviews

Here are my June reviews for the Philadelphia Parents Express.

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21. Rafael López : Guest Blogger on TeachingBooks.net

From TeachingBooks.net Guest Blogger: Rafael López describes his illustrative process, developing art for Monica Brown's Tito Puente Mambo King/ Tito Puente Rey del Mambo due from HarperCollins in 2013. I love the textures in Rafael's paintings and the abundance of rich color. There's magic there too. I like that his art is public -- he's done stamps, murals, posters, as well as books.

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22. Happy Earth Day

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23. Get Ready for El día de los niños/El día de los libros on April 30

Get Ready for El día de los niños/El día de los libros on April 30

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24. April Bobbie’s Books of the Month - Parents Express - Montgomery News

April Bobbie’s Books of the Month - Parents Express - Montgomery News

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25. Book Reviews

Here's a link to the book reviews I wrote for the March issue of Parent's Express. March's Books of the Month - Parents Express - Montgomery News

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