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1. Current Scratch: Join Us, (Mostly) Annual Conference, Local Events, 2016 Best Children's Books, Market Your Book

Join Us! 

Our next regular meeting will be held on Wednesday, January 25th at 10 a.m. in the College Station Barnes & Noble (if you'd like to see us before then come to the holiday party - see info in next section). Topic: Make 2017 Goals. We'll also discuss news and provide encouragement. Gentle critique begins at 9:30 a.m. Bring copies of 5 double-spaced pages of your work in progress. Those who have time may go to lunch at a local restaurant. Members and friends welcome.


Annual Conference

Brazos Valley Blooms -- SCBWI-BV 25th Annual Conference!

REGISTRATION BEGINS December 15, 2017.  You will want to jump in early for this one. Prepare for keynotes, manuscript consultations, portfolio showcase, box lunch, dinner(pay your own way)...

Date:  March 4, 2017
Time: 8 a.m. (registration) to 5 p.m.
Place: Covenant Presbyterian Church, 220 Rock Prairie Road, College Station, TX 77845

SPEAKERS


Kathi Appelt, award-winning author

Kathi's books have won numerous national and state awards, including the Irma and Simon Black Award, Children’s Choice Award, Teacher’s Choice Award, the Oppenheimer Gold Award, Parent’s Choice Award, Storytelling World Award, Growing Good Kids Award, Texas Writer’s League Award for Children’s Literature, the Texas Institute of Letters Award, Best Books for Young Adults, VOYA Top of the Shelf Award, and a host of others. Kathi is a founding member of SCBWI Brazos Valley

Her first novel, The Underneath, was a National Book Award Finalist and a Newbery Honor Book. It also received the Pen USA Award, and was a finalist for the Heart of Hawick Children’s Book Award.  www.kathiappelt.com




Associate Editor: Karen Boss, Charlesbridge Publishing

"Karen is an associate editor at Charlesbridge where she works on fiction and nonfiction picture books and middle-grade novels. She holds a MA in Children’s Literature from Simmons College and regularly acts as a mentor for their Writing for Children MFA program. Karen also has an MA in higher education administration and worked at colleges and in the nonprofit sector for the first 15 years of her career. She still works part-time in development at Hyde Square Task Force, a nonprofit that works with at-risk youth in Jamaica Plain. Some authors she’s currently working with are David L. Harrison, Jane Yolen, Nancy Bo Flood, Rich Michelson, and debut author Tami Charles. Her favorite children’s book is The Trumpet of the Swan by E. B. White, and she thinks that Holes by Louis Sachar is quite possibly the best thing ever written."

excerpt from www.highlights foundation.org. 
Hornbook Interview-podcast

Donna Cooner, award-winning author

Donna, a Texas native, is a three-time graduate of Texas A&M University. A former teacher and school administrator, she now teaches teachers and principals at Colorado State University where she is the director of the School of Teacher Education and Principal Preparation. She lives in Fort Collins, Colorado, with her two labs and a cat named Stu. She's a big fan of chocolate and laughing (not necessarily in that order).

Donna is the author of over twenty picture books and was a founding member of the Brazos Valley Society of Children's Bookwriters and Illustrators. She has also written children's television shows for PBS and textbooks for future teachers. SKINNY was her debut novel for young adults, followed by CAN'T LOOK AWAY. www.donnacooner.com



E.B. Lewis, award winning-Artistrator




E.B. has illustrated over seventy books for children, including Nikki Grimes’ Talkin’ About Bessie: The Story of Aviator Elizabeth Coleman, the 2003 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award Winner; Alice Schertle’s Down the Road, an ALA Notable Book; Tolowa M. Mollel’s My Rows and Piles of Coins, an ALA Notable Book and a Coretta Scott King Honor Book; Bat Boy and His Violin by Garvin Curtis a Coretta Scott King Honor Book, and Jacqueline Woodson’s The Other Side, a 2002 Notable Book for the Language Arts.  www.eblewis.com



Associate Literary Agent: Jennifer March Soloway, Andrea Brown Agency

Jennifer works closely with Executive Agent Laura Rennert. She enjoys all genres and categories, such as laugh-out-loud picture books and middle-grade adventures, but her sweet spot is young adult.

Jennifer is a suspense junkie. She adores action-packed thrillers and mysteries, full of unexpected twists. Throw in a dash of romance, and she’s hooked! She’s a sucker for conspiracy plots where anyone might be a double agent, even the kid next door. She is a huge fan of psychological horror that blurs the lines between the real and the imagined. But as much as she loves a good thriller, she finds her favorite novels are literary stories about ordinary teens, especially those focused on family, relationships, sexuality, mental illness, or addiction. In such stories, she is particularly drawn to a close, confiding first-person narrative.



Nearby Lodging:

La Quinta Inn & Suites College Station South
1838 Graham Rd, College Station, TX 77845
Phone:(979) 704-6100

Sleep Inn & Suites
Address: 1846 Graham Rd, College Station, TX 77845
Phone:(800) 424-6423

Courtyard Bryan and College Station
3939 Texas 6 Frontage Rd, College Station, TX 77845
(979) 695-8111

***


2016 Best Children's Books





Market Your Book

Manuscript Wish List   --  The official website. 




Hope you are ready for a fabulous new year!!!!


 Disclaimer: The views expressed here are my own, and not necessarily those of the SCBWI.





1 Comments on Current Scratch: Join Us, (Mostly) Annual Conference, Local Events, 2016 Best Children's Books, Market Your Book, last added: 12/29/2016
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2. Monthly Book List: Our Five Favorite Books for April

Our favorite books for April teach some important lessons!

One celebrates the human body and diversity, while others teach kindness and the keys to a true friendship. You’ll find a story that will help foster kids’ sense of empathy and understanding and an award-winning novel that tackles the topics of prejudice and police brutality.

For Pre-K –K (Ages 3-6):

happy_in_our_skin_2Happy in Our Skin written by Fran Manushkin and illustrated by Lauren Tobia

This affirming and informative book is a charmer and a true celebration – both of diversity and of the human body! Kids will enjoy poring over the diverse faces and hidden details on these pages as they learn about the important role skin plays in their lives.

 

 

For 1st and 2nd Grade (Ages 6-8):

my_best_friend_mary_ann_rodmanMy Best Friend written by Mary Ann Rodman and illustrated by E.B. Lewis

Friendships and healthy relationships – those are two key themes of this read-aloud that will have your students’ undivided attention. Honest and relatable, it perfectly illustrates the confusion kids experience when they want to be liked but set their targets on the wrong person. This book will help them understand that a true friend treats others the way we all want to be treated – with kindness.

 

 

For 3rd & 4th grade (Ages 8-10):

toys_go_out_emily_jenkins_2Toys Go Out: Being the Adventures of a Knowledgeable Stingray, a Toughy Little Buffalo, and Someone Called Plastic written by Emily Jenkins and illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky

Hilarious and heart-warming, this chapter book is a perfect pick for kids wanting a laugh-out-loud funny book to read on their own. It also makes a perfect family read-aloud!

 

 

 

For 5th and 6th Grade (Ages 10-12):

steal_a_dogHow to Steal a Dog written by by Barbara O’Connor

Empathy, understanding, and a clearer sense of right and wrong – these are just some of the lessons kids will take away from this wonderful, highly accessible book about a well-intentioned girl whose frustrations get the better of her when her family loses their apartment and is forced to live out of their car.

 

Grades 7 & up (Ages 13+):

all_american_boysAll-American Boys written by Jason Reynolds & Brendan Kiely

Teens will be both won over and bowled over by this tremendous novel about prejudice, power, and police brutality. Fantastic fuel for discussion, it’s A 2016 Coretta Scott King Author Honor book and the recipient of the Walter Dean Myers Award for Outstanding Children’s Literature!

The post Monthly Book List: Our Five Favorite Books for April appeared first on First Book Blog.

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3. All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom

johnson all different now All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom I have written about and talked about this book a lot elsewhere, so it seems time to put my finger on why the Caldecott committee should take a close look at All Different Now.

Before I start, I want to dispel a myth I hear a lot. It goes something like this: this is really a Coretta Scott King Award book, so the Caldecott committee will figure it will win there and might not pay much attention to it. NO. NO. NO. That’s not how it goes.

The Caldecott committee is not allowed to think or talk like that. It doesn’t work like that. When I was on Caldecott, Dave the Potter was honored by both committees. Each committee works independently of the other. I know because I have been lucky enough to serve on both the Caldecott and the CSK committees. So, I would never be surprised to see this book (or any eligible title) honored by both. It should happen more often, actually, that a book is honored by a number of committees. Though each committee has its own manual and criteria (and here I am talking about every committee, whether it’s part of the American Library Association or not), every committee is hoping to identify the best book, best art, best story of the year. I am thinking of the year Steve Sheinkin’s Bomb won in a gazillion categories: I wanted the wealth to be spread, but understood how it happened that one book pleased so many constituencies. So to repeat, there is no communication between the committees. And on the Monday morning when the awards are announced, everyone in the room is surprised (or disappointed) at the same time.

On to All Different Now. Angela Johnson and E.B. Lewis have created something special here. For those of you who might not know, Juneteenth refers to the anniversary of the day that slaves in Texas heard the news that the Civil War had ended and that slavery had been abolished. Plantation owners kept the information away from their slaves, and Union soldiers had trouble getting into Texas to tell them. Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, on June 19th 1865; hence the moniker Juneteenth. The excellent back matter tells the reader everything that was probably skipped in American history classes.

But this is not a history book; this is a story imagining how people reacted to the news that they were finally free, that things were “all different now.” Lewis’s painterly style is perfect for this story. Using a child narrator, Johnson and Lewis tell the story of the news of Emancipation spreading from the port to the town to the country and to the fields in one stunning paneled spread. Look closely at the astonished faces of the women, the suspicious looks from the men, and the jubilant body motions of the people in the cotton field. Lewis and Johnson imagine the feelings: anger, jubilation, confusion, gratitude, frustration. Somehow Lewis is able to paint all those feelings. He also shows how strong the family is in the story: at the beginning we see the children warm under a quilt and next we see a mother or sister taking care of the children. Everyone, from one-hundred-year-old Mr. Jake to the baby in Aunt Laura’s arms, is cared for; everyone understands the seriousness of the news they have just received.

Lewis’s watercolors use color and tone to tell this story. Muted greens and browns tell the story of the first half of the book; a more hopeful blue enters at the halfway point. The white of the beach pushes away the brown of the field, and the girls’ white dresses pop against the night sky and the burning fire. The night scenes are somber.

I love the final spread, where the only words are “all different now.” The little houses are closed up and the people are leaving. For what? To go where? The text does not reveal where they are going, allowing the reader to imagine herself into the story.

I return to the cover often. The outstretched arms of so many women (and one man) give me a little chill. And sometimes a little chill is all it takes for someone to champion a book. I would champion this one, if I were on the committee.

 

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The post All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom appeared first on The Horn Book.

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4. Illustrator Interview – Ruth McNally Barshaw

I have many different reasons for inviting illustrators onto my blog. Many have become  friends, all are gifted artists whom I admire, sometimes their daily doodles inspire me, others have won portfolio awards or I have contacted them after drooling over … Continue reading

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5. Each Kindness

Each KindnessDarn you, Charlotte Zolotow committee! You beat me to the punch, awarding this fine book your award last week! The CCBC website explains, “The Charlotte Zolotow Award is given annually to the author of the best picture book text published in the United States in the preceding year….The award is administered by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, a children’s literature library of the School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Each year a committee of children’s literature experts selects the winner from the books published in the preceding year. The winner is announced in January each year. A bronze medallion is formally presented to the winning author in the spring during an annual public event that honors the career of Charlotte Zolotow.”  If you have never attended the Zolotow celebration, you are really missing out. First, you get to go to Madison, Wisconsin, and second, you get to be with people who love children’s books, and third, the lectures are always terrific. 

So, this lovely book won an award for the text. Do the illustrations hold up as well as the words?

If you have not read Each Kindness, please do. I just gave a talk to 80 or so second graders at a local school and this (along with Island) was the book they appreciated the most. This school does a fantastic Caldecott exploration each year, and by the time I drag in with my little dog-and-pony show, they have some strong opinions about current picture books. I get to tell the story of how I got to be on the committee…blah blah…but then I get to sneak in a few questions about what they are liking and not liking. When I held up Woodson’s book, there was a collective intake of breath and a murmur of oohs and ahhs.

Second/third  grade might be the perfect age for this one. Somewhere around this time, kids start to notice things like clothing and wealth and what makes kids fit in or not. These are the same grades where teachers find themselves reaching for The One Hundred Dresses, a book which deals with a similar theme.

Let’s look at the art, shall we? Lewis’s watercolors never disappoint, do they? The first spread is a lovely school shot– rural school,  snow-covered. A lone child walks up the front steps. Turn the page and Lewis captures the perfect feel of a New Kid. Maya’s eyes are cast down, the teacher is holding her hand, and the perspective lets us know that she is not comfortable. Her clothes reflect the text–her clothes look a tad ragged, especially for the first day. Turn the page and we see the other main character, the narrator Chloe, looking out the window at the reader, a sour look on her face. Maya is faded in the background, but she has a little smile, a little hope on her face. The playground page is almost too painful to look at–three little girls, holding hands, while Maya walks with her hands behind her back. Lewis puts a bit of sunlight around the girls and has the rest of the group looking at Maya. No one is including her.

The art goes on, gently documenting the social strata of this classroom. Chloe rejects Maya and sets the tone for the rest of the class. The seasons change, Maya keeps trying to fit in, but Chloe and her friends do not allow it. We see her in her fancy (but used) dress and shoes or holding the wrong doll and her eyes always remind us of her pain. Even while she skips rope, she skips alone.

The story and illustrations change once the teacher (finally, I say) gets involved. Maya is absent when the teacher presents a lesson on kindness that finally gets through to Chloe.  We see the faces reflected in the ripples of the bowl of water–a nice change of perspective. The art now highlights Chloe. First, her somber face stares at that stone that stands in for the idea of kindness. Then, her eyes are cast down (like Maya’s) on her way home, slowly walking how from the school with the backpack seeming to drag her down. The next page is the only dark page in the book–Maya’s empty desk which will stay empty. The last two pages let us know the truth–that Chloe will never get a chance to make it better. Chloe looks sad and sorry, her body slightly slumped as she contemplates what has happened. She becomes smaller on that final page turn, less powerful, but with a hopeful shaft of light pointing to the future. 

This is a true teacher’s book–with plenty to talk about in a classroom. Will the committee find it too teacher-y or a new classic in the literature of bullying and kindness?

What say you?

 

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The post Each Kindness appeared first on The Horn Book.

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6. Each Kindness

Each KindnessDarn you, Charlotte Zolotow committee! You beat me to the punch, awarding this fine book your award last week! The CCBC website explains, “The Charlotte Zolotow Award is given annually to the author of the best picture book text published in the United States in the preceding year….The award is administered by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, a children’s literature library of the School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Each year a committee of children’s literature experts selects the winner from the books published in the preceding year. The winner is announced in January each year. A bronze medallion is formally presented to the winning author in the spring during an annual public event that honors the career of Charlotte Zolotow.”  If you have never attended the Zolotow celebration, you are really missing out. First, you get to go to Madison, Wisconsin, and second, you get to be with people who love children’s books, and third, the lectures are always terrific. 

So, this lovely book won an award for the text. Do the illustrations hold up as well as the words?

If you have not read Each Kindness, please do. I just gave a talk to 80 or so second graders at a local school and this (along with Island) was the book they appreciated the most. This school does a fantastic Caldecott exploration each year, and by the time I drag in with my little dog-and-pony show, they have some strong opinions about current picture books. I get to tell the story of how I got to be on the committee…blah blah…but then I get to sneak in a few questions about what they are liking and not liking. When I held up Woodson’s book, there was a collective intake of breath and a murmur of oohs and ahhs.

Second/third  grade might be the perfect age for this one. Somewhere around this time, kids start to notice things like clothing and wealth and what makes kids fit in or not. These are the same grades where teachers find themselves reaching for The One Hundred Dresses, a book which deals with a similar theme.

Let’s look at the art, shall we? Lewis’s watercolors never disappoint, do they? The first spread is a lovely school shot– rural school,  snow-covered. A lone child walks up the front steps. Turn the page and Lewis captures the perfect feel of a New Kid. Maya’s eyes are cast down, the teacher is holding her hand, and the perspective lets us know that she is not comfortable. Her clothes reflect the text–her clothes look a tad ragged, especially for the first day. Turn the page and we see the other main character, the narrator Chloe, looking out the window at the reader, a sour look on her face. Maya is faded in the background, but she has a little smile, a little hope on her face. The playground page is almost too painful to look at–three little girls, holding hands, while Maya walks with her hands behind her back. Lewis puts a bit of sunlight around the girls and has the rest of the group looking at Maya. No one is including her.

The art goes on, gently documenting the social strata of this classroom. Chloe rejects Maya and sets the tone for the rest of the class. The seasons change, Maya keeps trying to fit in, but Chloe and her friends do not allow it. We see her in her fancy (but used) dress and shoes or holding the wrong doll and her eyes always remind us of her pain. Even while she skips rope, she skips alone.

The story and illustrations change once the teacher (finally, I say) gets involved. Maya is absent when the teacher presents a lesson on kindness that finally gets through to Chloe.  We see the faces reflected in the ripples of the bowl of water–a nice change of perspective. The art now highlights Chloe. First, her somber face stares at that stone that stands in for the idea of kindness. Then, her eyes are cast down (like Maya’s) on her way home, slowly walking how from the school with the backpack seeming to drag her down. The next page is the only dark page in the book–Maya’s empty desk which will stay empty. The last two pages let us know the truth–that Chloe will never get a chance to make it better. Chloe looks sad and sorry, her body slightly slumped as she contemplates what has happened. She becomes smaller on that final page turn, less powerful, but with a hopeful shaft of light pointing to the future. 

This is a true teacher’s book–with plenty to talk about in a classroom. Will the committee find it too teacher-y or a new classic in the literature of bullying and kindness?

What say you?

 

Share

The post Each Kindness appeared first on The Horn Book.

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7. First Book at the American Library Association Conference

One of the great things about working at First Book is how wonderfully supportive our many partners and friends are of the work we do.  In fact, we regularly hear from authors who say, “How can I support First Book’s efforts?”  So regularly, in fact, that we will be rolling out some exciting opportunities for authors and illustrators to get involved with First Book on a wide variety of levels.

In addition, we realized that the fact that the American Library Association annual conference was being held in Washington, DC this year offered a rare opportunity to reach out to many of our author friends to provide an opportunity to support us that did not involve any hassles, expenses or travel (unless you could crossing a street).  We created what we aptly named “The First Book Shameless Promotion Chamber” and we rolled out the red carpet.  To our delight, over twenty five of our favorite authors and illustrators came to participate in the project and gave it their all.  We were touched to hear a Newbery medal winner say, “I want to work with First Book!”  We were also honored when our literacy statistics moved more than one author to tears and consternation.  And we were rolling on the floor when two accomplished and well known authors turned on their considerable charm and humor simultaneously.

We’ll unveil the wonderful results of our video shoot soon, but here are a few candid shots to tide you over:

photo 2 photo 3 CIMG2513 CIMG2532

We are externally grateful to the talented and eloquent author and illustrators, as well as the kind and accommodating publicists who arranged their appearances.  It may have been shame-LESS, but we all had a wonder-FUL time promoting First Book.

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8. E.B. Lewis- Process vs. Product: Pointing Our Kids in the Right Direction

I recently had a discussion about whether or not artists are responsible for what they put into the world. I was arguing that no, artists are simply responsible for making art, be it music, literature, images, etc, and what the world does with it is out of the artists' hands. But after E.B. Lewis's session today, I've changed my opinion. A main topic of the session was our responsibility as artists to put work into the world that really benefits children, especially considering the way many schools and the whole school system is currently failing to truly engage them.

Among many gems I scribbled down during the session, here are a few quotes from Lewis:

- A kid does not care what you know, until they know that you care.

- Knowledge that doesn't come from the heart is dangerous.

- We have a great priveledge to make a mark, but you have to work to earn the right to leave a mark.

Lewis also showed us a dvd by photographer and public speaker Dewitt Jones called Everyday Creativity. If you can, try to watch it—but a warning if you want to buy it, it's expensive! Jones compares using the right lense in order to get the right photo to finding the right perspective in a situation. He talked about the need to change up our perspective to keep searching for the way to be your most creative and create your best art.

Even if Jones's photography style isn't your fave, the advice about ways in which to view the world to be your most creative makes the dvd worthwhile.

It's refreshing and a great reality check to hear E.B. Lewis talk about the importance of making art and books that give children what they deserve—to be engaged with the world, to explore, to be creative.

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9. The Story of First Book

A collection of our favorite authors and illustrators sat down to help us tell the story of First Book:

The Story of First Book from First Book on Vimeo.

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10. Leave Room for Pecan Pie

I’ve been marveling at Jacqueline Woodson’s finely wrought fiction for years, so it seems fitting that I feature her in this fourth of four posts on outstanding African-American authors or illustrators. Her latest picture book, Pecan Pie Baby (Putnam, 2010), is another treat. Mama’s little Gia isn’t wild about having a new baby in her family. In fact, all the fuss about that “ding-dang baby” is just plain annoying. When Mama says the baby’s wanting some pecan pie, Gia says, “Well, … I love pecan pie. And you love pecan pie. So that baby’s just being a copycat!” Sophie Blackall’s ink and watercolor illustrations clearly portray the child’s worried, sometimes exasperated expression.  At Thanksgiving, engulfed in the family’s incessant talk of “baby this and baby that,” Gia explodes: “I’m so sick of that DING-DANG BABY!” Sent to her room, a teary little Gia sits on her bed feeling “real, real, real alone.” The illustrator’s perspective of looking down on Gia from a distance captures her forlornness. Later, Mama comes upstairs and tells Gia how she’ll miss those special days shared by just the two of them — just the message she needed to hear. The night ends with cuddles and a plate of pecan pie for all three. Growing families will find this a sweet, reassuring book to share with children ages 4 to 7.

More Timeless and Touching Picture Books …

Coming on Home Soon. illus. by E.B. Lewis. Putnam, 2004. Ages 6-9. Set during World War II, Ada Ruth’s mom has left to seek work. She’d heard “they’re hiring colored women in Chicago since all the men are off fighting in the war.” Her grandmother tries to comfort Ada Ruth, but it’s just not the same. Lewis’s lovely watercolor paintings capture the changing emotions of the girl as she waits. One full-page illustration shows her sitting in an old-fashioned hardback chair, gazing out the window at the snow and trying to recall her mother’s smell: “like sugar some days.” A little black stray kitten arrives and gives Ada Ruth some comfort. The pet stays nearby as she and her grandmother listen to news on the radio. Ada Ruth prays for the soldiers who won’t return anytime soon. And she thinks proudly of her mama, washing the trains up in Chicago. At last, Mama’s long-awaited letter arrives with much-needed money and with the words Ada Ruth has craved: she’s coming on home soon.

The Other Side. illus. by E.B. Lewis.Putnam, 2001. Ages 6-9. In this sensitive story, there’s a split-rail fence that separates a rural black community from the white. Young Clover lives in a yellow house on one side of the fence; a new girl, Annie, lives on the other. Clover watches red-headed Annie sit on the fence and sta

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11. Each Kindness

By  Jacqueline Woodson
Illustrated by E.B. Lewis
$16.99, ages 5-8, 32 pages

A school girl is overcome by regret when she loses her chance to apologize to a classmate she was mean to, in this extraordinary picture book.

Told from the perspective of a child who bullies, the story reveals how painful it can be to hurt someone and how paralyzing it is when you can no longer say you're sorry.

Acclaimed author Jacqueline Woodson draws from a time when she was unkind and also shows that at some point everyone behaves badly and must face the ugliness inside of them.

When a new girl named Maya starts school, Chloe refuses to even return her smile. The girl's clothes are ragged and the class ignores her, so Chloe does too. She scoots her desk away from Maya to try to separate herself.

As the days go by, Chloe's cool reserve grows into disdain, as she and her two close friends whisper secrets behind Maya's back, and make fun of her clothes and lunch. Maya must hear what they say, yet she is kind and tries to win them over.

Day after day Maya comes up to the girls, holds out what she brought to school to share (a set of jacks, pick-up sticks or a tattered doll) and asks if they will play with her. And each time, the girls refuse and stay locked in their ugly moods.

They put on airs and seem to take delight in hurting her. At one point, a cool satisfied look comes over their faces as they follow Maya walking away from them. Maya's brow is now creased with sadness and readers' hearts sink too.

Then one day, Maya doesn't come to school and Chloe's teacher gives a lesson about kindness. Ms. Albert has her class gather around a big bowl of water, and she drops in a stone and talks about how the waves ripple out.

"This is what kindness does," she tells them. "Each little thing we do goes out, like a ripple, into the world." Afterward, Ms. Albert asks each student to drop in a stone and share what nice things they've done -- only Chloe can't think of any.

It is a pivotal moment and illustrator E. B. Lewis angles down on Chloe from above. He's whited out the background to put readers' focus on Chloe, who now stares down ashamedly at the stone.

Suddenly it's as if all of Chloe's mean behavior rushes back to her and she can think of little else but how to make things better with Maya. But where is Maya? She's still not come back to school.

"Each morning, I walked to school slowly, hoping this would be the day Maya returned and she'd look at me and smile," Chloe says. "I promised myself this would be the day I smile back."

But the opportunity never comes and one day, Ms. Albert announces that Maya's family has moved away and Chloe's throat fills with all the things she wished she would have said to her.

That afternoon, Chloe walks home alone, her eyes cast down to the ground. On the way, she stops at a pond, squats down on the bank and begins tossing in small stones over and over, and watches how the ripples go out and way.

"Like each kindness -- done and not done," Woodson writes. "Like every girl somewhere -- holding a small gift out to someone and that someone turning away from it." And Chloe realizes her chance to be kind to Maya "is becoming more and more forever gone."

Chloe's painful, yet empowering story shows readers not only how awful it feels to be unkind, but how important is to be nice as much as they can. Chloe's pain of being mean is compounded by her inability to say she's sorry.

The book also enlightens like few others have, by showing that bullying can come from anyone, even from kids who try to be good. As Woodson put it in an interview, the capacity to hurt others "exists in all of us."

"I think it's easier for the world to say, 'That person is a bully and THAT person is being bullied,'" she continued. "But the truth is, it's much more complicated than that and until we can each take an internal look, we're not going to understand the enormity of…of anything."

Celebrated illustrator Lewis, who collaborated with Woodson on two other award-winning books, does a masterful job at echoing Woodson's words. He seems to have an intuitive sense of how to express deeply felt emotion and bares everything the characters are feeling in his watercolors.

As a result, characters' emotions seem to sizzle on the page and readers may feel as if they're also welling up inside of them.

This is a brilliantly handled book that explores bullying without being judgmental -- and then inspires readers to be brave, own up to their mistakes, and always try, every day, to do something nice for someone else.

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12. Catching Willie Mays (in a children’s book illustration)

How perfect that award-winning children’s book artist Terry Widener has done the pictures for the new picture book by Jonah Winter (just released by Schwartz and Wade) about the greatest all around baseball player ever – Willie Mays. Terry brings a background of high level advertising and editorial illustration and something else to the many [...]

3 Comments on Catching Willie Mays (in a children’s book illustration), last added: 2/19/2013
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13. Picture books are art forms.

I spent a weekend in the woods learning about picture book art and design at a workshop led by educators from the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art and the Highlights Foundation.

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14. Picture books are art forms.

I spent a weekend in the woods learning about picture book art and design at a workshop led by educators from the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art and the Highlights Foundation.

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15. Poetry Friday: The Negro Speaks of Rivers

Ok, ok, so I'll admit it. I'm not a huge poetry fan. Well...I'm not even a big poetry fan, let alone huge. Even if I wouldn't necessarily chose to read a book of poetry for fun, I still loooovve books with great poems, and what better poet to write a poem-based picture book than Langston Hughes? Now, Hughes didn't tecnically produce this wonderful book, as he passed away over 40 years ago, but his poem is the center of the entire story, so I'll give him some credit too. :)

The Negro Speaks of Rivers is based on the poem of the same name, written by Langston Hughes and illustrated by the amazing E.B. Lewis. The poem speaks of the importance of water in this man's life, from time in the Euphrates in Africa, to the Mississippi River Abe Lincoln traveled down on his quest for ending slavery.


E.B. Lewis writes in an illustrator's note, the following:
"Water has played a powerful role in the lives of black people. It has been the boon and bane of our existence. We have been born out of water; baptized by water, carried by and even killed by water."
I thought that was a wonderful explanation of the connection he felt to Hughes' poem and why he felt compelled to pair it with his gorgeous illustrations.

The poem is beautiful and the illustrations are just amazing, following the path of the water that played such a huge part in the lives of the ancesters of both the author and illustrator. I was touched by this book, and have since read it over and over again, lingering on each page to see all the illustrations have to offer.

A wonderful selection for all libraries, as well as the Black History Month displays that I'm sure are popping up all over your own libraries. I truly loved this wonderful book.

To learn more or to purchase, click on the book cover above to link to Amazon.

The Negro Speaks of Rivers
Langston Hughes and E.B. Lewis
32pages
Picture Book/Poetry
Hyperion Books for Children
9780786818679
January 2009

4 Comments on Poetry Friday: The Negro Speaks of Rivers, last added: 2/7/2009
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16. NJ SCBWI Conference: Day 1: Illustrator's Intensive Workshop with Tim Gillner

Today was a very fun filled day as I arrived on the Princeton Theological Seminary Campus this rainy morning for our illustrator's intensive workshop. I finally was able to officially meet two members from my critique group, wonderful ladies Penny Weber and Deb Cuneo. We split off into 2 groups of 10 for our critique. I was in Tim Gillner's group of Boyds Mill Press. Everyone brought with them a preassigned illustration in which we were given the opportunity to submit a sketch to the art director and have him make comments before bringing in the final art to the conference. I chose the story Piggy Wiglet, a manuscript about a little piggy who decides he is going to leave his pen, go out the barn, and into the city in an attempt to catch the sun. This is my first sketch for submission.
Afterwards I received these comments from Tim:
" Hi Christina,
Nice sketch,
I love the expressions on the cows. I am having a problem with the goose. It seems to be lost up there and it seems to be too far away from the text. I am not sure what to do here. Here are a couple thoughts which may or may not work.
1. Move the barn to the left into the valley to isolate the goose and move the piggy a little to the right.
Or
2. See attached PDF. I just moved these around. you may have to change position and direction. This is just to give you an idea. ------------->


3. Leave as is.
You can do another sketch and send it to me or just make the correction when you do the final. It is up to you.

Best,
Tim

After reviewing these comments I then went along to the final deciding to take his advice from the PDF he had played around with.

It was finally my turn for a critique as I waited with anticipation second from last. Tim said "that it actually turned out a lot better than I thought it was going to be from the sketch" in which I responded "Thanks......I think". I smiled though because I knew this was a good thing for my finished piece! The grass may be too dark Tim said but can easily be fixed in photoshop. A few fellow illustrators also commented that perhaps I can add in a grass hill at the bottom of the barn to give it more of a rolling hills feel. Also a nice suggestion was that perhaps if the cows back is continued to the edge than it would take away that negative space in the upper left corner and, in turn drag your eye closer to the pig. (You can cover the upper left corner with your thumb and squint one eye to understand what I mean.)

I also learned some very valuable information such as it is always a good question to ask a publisher if your book will be using "perfect binding" in which they glue the spine of your book and you actually lose 3/16 " so it is wise in this case to add more illustration room to the gutter. Additionally, interactive websites are not always a good idea since the art director wants to just get to your work as soon as possible since their time is precious. This also includes seperating your portfolio into educational, picture book, and advertising categories so they can use their time more efficiently to see the types of portfolio pieces they would be interested in. Also the Highlights Foundation offers two workshops for illustrators in which you can apply for a scholarship to attend!

I then had a lovely lunch and was able to sit with a number of illustrators from critique group and was also able to have a little group chat with Scott Piehl of Disney's Group for Young Readers. I was also able to see my good college friend and fellow illustrator Olga Levitskiy.

The rest of the day was packed with wonderful presentations and inspirational speeches by Newbury Award Winner Richard Peck and award winning illustrator of 48 picture books E.B. Lewis. He explained when an artist struggles to find their voice and said "the artist is never supposed to be aware of their style- someone else comes in and recognizes the work. We are just producing." He also explained the difference between an illustrator and a fine artist. He said, " the illustrator is solving someone else's problem and a fine artist is solving a philosophical question for themself." I also admired his remark that "artists are the critical thinkers of society."

Overall is an informative, fun filled day and I can't wait to go back and see what's in store for tomorrow!

1 Comments on NJ SCBWI Conference: Day 1: Illustrator's Intensive Workshop with Tim Gillner, last added: 6/7/2009
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17. NJ-SCBWI Conference: E.B. Lewis Keynote


Lewis“For all those who thought E.B. White was coming. Sorry, I’m the black one. As you can see, I’m not white and I’m not dead.”

Talented artist and illustrator E.B. Lewis discussed process versus product for his NJ-SCBWI keynote. He opened with some humor but then got to serious business.

He has a strong work ethic and told the audience that a person was only an artist if they spent each day producing art. It takes no less than 10,000 hours to become an expert in your craft. If you’re counting, that’s nearly 5 years straight of 40-hour work weeks, no breaks, no vacation.

Work is just that–work. It shouldn’t be easy. But you should love the work. If you don’t, then maybe you’re just fooling yourself into believing you’re something you’re not. Some people say they don’t have the inspiration. “I don’t understand that. I can’t step out of my bed without falling over a juicy piece of inspiration.” (Note to Mr. Lewis: I’m the one who tripped over your portfolio case. How’s that for falling over juicy inspiration?)

Mr. Lewis claims that once he finishes a painting, he admires it. He loves it–for about two hours. Then he hates it. For him, it’s all about the process of creating. He isn’t happy until he is creating once again, improving upon his last accomplishment, trying something new. “As soon as an artist knows their style, they’re dead in the water,” he said. Because your style is something that should be evolving. You’ve got to work hard, you’ve got to better yourself. If you’re satisfied, perhaps you aren’t a true artist.

homesoonHe gave us some background on his childhood. “When I visit schools, I tell the kids that I failed 3rd grade. It levels the playing field. ‘Wow, E.B. Lewis failed!’ the kids say.” The children immediately understand that if Mr. Lewis was able to become an artist, they, too, can reach their goals.

Mr. Lewis attended a small, old school with fireplaces in every classroom. One day during math class, he crawled up the fireplace. Remember how the girl in A Christmas Story pointed shyly toward Flick, outside, tongue frozen to the flagpole? Well, the whole class pointed shyly up the fireplace when the teacher asked where Earl had gone.

Then on career day, a classmate said he wanted to become a doctor. That boy received a lot of attention. E.B. wanted that same kind of attention, so he raised his hand. His teacher pushed it down. He raised it again. Finally, he was able to answer. “I want to be a lawyer,” he said, not because he really wanted to, but because he thought everyone would admire his aspirations. Instead, they all laughed, including the teachers. No one thought E.B. Lewis would amount to anything.

So E.B.’s uncle decided to take a special interest in his nephew. Every Saturday afternoon for years, his uncle drove him to art class because he knew E.B. loved to draw. His uncle told him that artists were the critical thinkers of society, and very well read, so he gave E.B. a new book to read every week. This man connected E.B. Lewis to his passion.

E.B. began his career as a fine artist. He would take photographs of his subjects, but from far away, hidden, with a telephoto lens, because as soon as someone knows their picture is being taken, they no longer act naturally. They’re no longer in the moment.

His work appeared on the cover of a magazine and a few days later he got a call from someone in the children’s book industry, asking if he’d like to illustrate a book. He said no. Why not? “Because I’m a fine artist, not an illustrator.”

What’s the difference? A fine artist solves their own philosophical problem. An illustrator solves someone else’s problem.

However, that art director was persistent and encouraged E.B. to go to the children’s section of the library. Mr. Lewis soon realized that some of the most ground-breaking artistic work was being published in children’s books. He called back and agreed to illustrate.

batboyOver the past 14 years, Mr. Lewis has illustrated 47 books at the rate of about 3/4 books a year. He has won the Coretta Scott King illustrator award four times. He won a Caldecott honor for Coming on Home Soon. He works with 14 different publishers and is currently booked through 2014. (That’s right, five years in advance. But I’m taking special note of the lucky number 14.)

He is one of the few illustrators who travels to meet with his editor and art department to discuss a book at the early stages. He likes to create a brain trust in the beginning. He starts with thumbnail sketches and this begins the dialogue. Then he enlarges the sketches to a dummy and adds the words. He researches photos in the library and uses a model, often combining both photographic guides to create the end result.

“I have a love of the process, the doing. For me, that’s all there is.”

How lucky for us. We get to enjoy the fruits of his labor.

4 Comments on NJ-SCBWI Conference: E.B. Lewis Keynote, last added: 6/11/2009
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18. Tuesday Tales: Homegrown House (Written by: Janet S. Wong; Illustrated by E.B. Lewis)

house-by-davidorban.jpg
by David.Orban www.flickr.com

*Picture book for preschoolers through third graders
*Third-grade girl as main character
*Rating: Homegrown House is worth checking out just to see E.B. Lewis’s illustrations. Then add the clever and heartfelt text by Janet S. Wong, and you have a special picture book here!

Short, short summary: A young girl loves her grandma’s house and wishes that she and her parents could live in a house as long as Grandma has lived in hers. But her family moves around a lot. She lived in a preschool-kindergarten house and a first-second grade house, and now a third-grade house because of her parents’ careers. Each house had something wrong with it that was just about to get fixed or that the family was just about to get used to until they had to move again. Throughout all the moves, the young girl discusses houses with her grandma and wishes that she could find and settle in a house as special as hers. So, she uses her imagination to create her own homegrown house.

1. A social studies activity you can do with this book is discuss different types of homes people live in. People may live in apartments, condos, houses, trailers, mobile homes, huts, and so on. Once students list different kinds of homes, discuss what makes these homes special to the people that live in them. Once you and your students or children finish making the list and discussing each place, they can draw a picture or write a journal entry about your discussion or their favorite place from the list.

2. This is the perfect book to talk about moving with students and how hard moving can be. In your classroom, you will most likely have a child who has moved. You will have other children who are experiencing loss due to someone else moving because of divorce, death, careers, and so on. Talk to students about the advantages and disadvantages of moving. Allow students who have first-hand knowledge of moving or dealing with others moving talk to students about their feelings.

3. Another social studies objective may be to discuss reasons why people move. This book lists career as a reason why people move, but there are many other reasons such as overcrowding, finding better schools, upsizing or downsizing, and getting closer to family. With students, make a list of reasons why people move.

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19. SCBWI and More!!














I went to the SCBWI Conference and had a blast!! I was able to work hands on in a small group with the amazing and award winning illustrator EB Lewis. He gave much insight to the career of illustrating children's books. He showed us much inspiration and how creativity can be viewed in the every day life. One thing he did say that was interesting was that you are not considered to be an expert in your craft until you have put forth 10,000 hours practicing it. That would take about 10 years if you never once put down your brush. He was so knowledgeable and motivating I couldn't wait to go home and paint again!

I also met with Christine Tugeau who is an agent at her own agency. She gave me some helpful tips with my portfolio and some advice for my new forth coming picture book. I also met with Donna Mark, the art director of Bloomsbury Press who was very helpful in showing me my strengths and what I should focus working more on in future paintings.

I can also officially say that I will be illustrating a bilingual picture book written by Judith Ortiz Cofer. Our book will be out Spring 2011 and is being published with Arte Público Press! Yay!! I am super excited and will definitely have my work cut out for me since this is my first book. This was the preliminary concept I sent into them in order to get the contract. I will have to make a few changes to the characters. Stay tuned!!

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