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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: stunning gift ideas, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 19 of 19
1. Photos: Book Launch for HARBINGER, by Sara Wilson Etienne—w/ details for Harbinger Launch Party 2.0!

Sara's debut YA novel Harbinger came out on Feb. 2nd, 2012, and I had the privilege of attending her first book launch for it on Saturday, Feb. 4th, at Children's Book World in L.A.

Sara Wilson Etienne mingling at the book launch for HARBINGER
Sara Wilson Etienne mingling at the book launch for Harbinger
at Children's Book World in Los Angeles, CA, Feb. 4th, 2012

Click here to view all 53 photos on Flickr.
(Photos by both me and my husband, because I had fractured my foot and needed help. Thank you, D!)

I've included some favorite photos here, and they should speak for themselves (especially because I wrote captions for them). This book launch was phenomenal. Children's Book World was packed to silliness, and Sara delivered a silky smooth, perfect talk, and then friends and family and fans from all over the country lined up to get their copies signed.

Sara's proud writing group—me (Rita Crayon Huang) and Lee Wind—at the book launch for HARBINGER
Sara's proud writing group—me (Rita Crayon Huang) and Lee Wind—at the book launch for Harbinger

Sara's fans applaud wildly Sara's fans applaud wildly
Sara receives a warm welcome. "Author! Author!"

Sara Wilson Etienne shows off HARBINGER's endpapers, illustrated by artist husband Tony Etienne
Sara shows off Harbinger's beautiful endpapers, illustrated by artist husband Tony Etienne

Author Kristen Kittscher listens appreciatively to Sara's talk
Author Kristen Kittscher listens appreciatively to Sara's talk

Let the autographing begin! Sara Wilson Etienne signs copies of HARBINGER for fans.
Let the autographing begin! Sara Wilson Et

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2. Fuse #8/SLJ Review of Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji by F. Zia, illustrated by KEN MIN

Check check CHECK it out! Ken Min's upcoming picture book has already gotten an awesome review from Fuse #8 on SLJ!! Read all about it! I've had my copy preordered for MONTHS.

You can also find this excellent review--which includes special praise of Ken's delicious artwork, and a few samples--on GoodReads.com here (whence I lifted this cover image).

Hot Hot Roti for Dada ji by F. Zia, illustrated by Ken Min 

Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji

By F. Zia

Illustrated by Ken Min

Lee & Low Books


ISBN: 978-1-60060-443-0

For ages 4-8

On shelves May 2011

Congratulations, Ken!! I can't wait to get my hands on the real book!!


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3. Rita Book Today: Best Picture Books from The Year of the Tiger

Everybody happy? Everybody shiny? Everybody all revved up, ready for the New Year??

What? You thought the New Year started a month ago?? Silly Tiger! Trix are for Rabbits! (Something like that.)

Every year I like to take Chinese New Year as a fresh opportunity to get that fresh start I didn't have time to get during the holidays. So.

Here are my personal, Top Five Picks for Picture Books from 2010 the Year of the Tiger. I gave out lots o' copies of these during the holidays, and have plenty more ready on my shelf for the upcoming year. (Those of you who haven't gotten yours yet; here's upping your anticipation!)

In New Year's Eve countdown fashion:

  (drumroll, please . . .)


Oh No!: Or How My Science Project Destroyed the WorldOH NO! (Or How My Science Project Destroyed the World) by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Dan Santat

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So brilliant, so fun, so design-y gorgeous in every way! Damon and I have had tons of fun investigating these illustrations, and the story is super empowering--for school science fairs everywhere! Also for well-meaning geniuses. Bonus points that our scientist burdened with saving the world from her own creation is a girl. (Minus points for me, for being the only person I know of who has pointed this out. Please ignore I said anything, and give this book to all the boy children you know immediately.) (And to the girls, too!!) It's giant robots battling giant toads, with robot-controlled dogs in the mix!

Although I haven't yet, I'm thinking of pairing this in future presents with Tuesday, by David Wiesner--which I also feel requires a somewhat more sophisticated audience. OH NO! is spare in words--in a graphic-novel-meets-crazy,-dubbed-Japanese-movie way--while Tuesday has (nearly) none, and spreads into your life via eerie, silent-movie magic. Both feature frogs (ok, amphibians) and appeal to your sci-fi exploring instincts (i.e. imagination + smarts).

TuesdayTuesday by David Wiesner

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Near and dear to my heart since I first discovered it in college--along with my college roomates and friends! Still wondering when to spring this on my friends with kids. How old do you think these energetic toddlers need to get before I introduce their parents to wordless picture books?


Piggies in the Pumpkin PatchPiggies in the Pumpkin Patch by Mary Peterson and Jen Rofe, illustrated by

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4. SCBWI-LA Illustrator's Day 2010 Photos are Up!!

Hello, Everyone! Photos from SCBWI-LA Illustrator's Day 2010 are up!

Illustrators Day 2010-3 Illustrators Day 2010-4 Illustrators Day 2010-1 Illustrators Day 2010-37 Illustrators Day 2010-15 Illustrators Day 2010-72

Illustrators Day 2010-36

You can view the full SCBWI-LA Illustrator's Day album on Facebook here: http://on.fb.me/i5QwA3
and on Flickr here: http://bit.ly/dK0MSS

Captions in the online albums were provided by Ken Min, my very good friend and a superstar illustrator. Thanks, Ken, for organizing the event, and for asking me to photograph it!

Illustrator's Day was an amazing conference held in San Gabriel last Saturday, featuring illustrator Brian Floca, agent/author Jennifer Rofé, Art Director Rich Deas, Editor Abigail Samoun, and illustrator Dan Santat as speakers; with door prizes, portfolio displays, awards announced, hijinks, and touching surprises. Check out the photos to relive the excitement, or to glimpse what it was all about!

With thanks again to organizers Ken and Milla for the wonderful job they did this year, as well as to all the hardworking volunteers they recruited! The entire day was inspiring and delicious! (Speaking of delicious, several of us went out for dumplings at Din Tai Fung afterwards . . . yum, yum.)

Cheers, and Happy Holiday Week, Everyone!*

* gobble, gobble

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5. I wish I knew how to burst spontaneously into song and dance

We rented this from Netflix (picture from off the Web somewhere)I spent fifteen minutes today learning the end dance moves to High School Musical. I've got the gist now. I'll probably try it again tonight. big cheesy grin Who's in for a pyramid dance formation? (Irvin? Karen?! I need backup!)

This movie is kinda terrible; but also kinda wonderful. We just watched it two nights ago. (We saw High School Musical 2 a few months ago—at Calvin's place, haha.)  The song "Stick With the Status Quo" is by far the best thing in this one—in terms of melody, lyrics, message, choreography; everything. Oh, man, it's so good! I get giddy. I've watched this track seven times already. I think I have to buy this movie, just so I can watch this track always.

This song takes the tired old premise I usually hate—about high school cliques being so rigid and everyone being so locked into their roles—and translates it into mass hysteria, with one guy's mini-rebellion creating a huge ripple effect of mini-rebellions in every circle. Anarchy; I love it! It makes me buy into this world, just so I can have the fun of seeing its rules get broken.

(Also: that turn of everyone wanting to hear your secret but then turning on you the second they do; I love that, too!)

I have to say that while 2's story was weaker (and the dialogue was horrible), the song-and-dance numbers in that sequel were fairly consistent*—with just the one travesty. ;) Whereas, in the first one, there's really only two shining song-and-dance numbers—"Stick With the Status Quo" and Ryan and Sharpay's callback (one of the HSM promo photos circulating)Ryan and Sharpay's callback number, which cracks me up. The others . . . have their moments.

But the end group sing [oh, that makes three; I can't count] is made for kids to want to dance along. It begs you to stand up and learn the moves, and they're really sellin' it in that beaming Disney way that calls to my inner upstanding youth. I could feel the urge—and the embarrassment—of wanting to get up and sing. I'm not one to let embarrassment get me down.

"We're all/ in this/ to-gether! Dah dah dat! Dah dah dat! Dah dah dat! Dah dah da-ahhh!"

The best character in this series is Zeke by far, the jock who confesses he loves to bake. Oh, man. This is what Ryan looks like. I wish I could find one of Zeke!And my second favorite is Ryan (who grew up to look the way Macaulay Culkin should have). I'm not a fan of the main guy, but those two?? *love*

Why don't they use Zeke more? Even his singing (if that is his singing) is better than all the others'. And that's sayin' somethin! He doesn't deliver a bad line or facial expression ever, in the few bits they give him. He rocks!!

And that is my rave about High School Musical.

I told you I don't let embarrassment get me down. :D


Sharpay is a lot better and more fun in this storyline, too. Hilarious, actually. You know what? They made her and her brother too powerful at the Country Club, in High School Musical 2. In the high school setting, you feel for them. (You know? Their world was perfect before these people came along.)

Plus, being that little bit younger makes their ridiculousness that much cuter. :)

Oh! Look what I can do! I can post a YouTube link to the big group sing I'm talking about!

("We're All In This Together")
Quality isn't great, but you get the idea. The first time they do the chorus routine is one minute in, and the best is two minutes in, when they show the whole sequence clearly. (Damon's been egging me on, by the way. He's home sick with a fever, but is also full of advice about which foot to turn on. Contrary to what you'd think, embarrassing stuff is actually easier when someone's watching.)

And here, for good measure, is Ryan and Sharpay's callback audition:
"Bop to the Top"

(They're the brother-sister act that rules the school's drama scene—until the new girl and this jock mess up their perfect world.)

Oh, and you need this link, too:
"Stick to the Status Quo!!"

The setup for this is that the whole school has just found out the school's star basketball player has landed a callback audition for the musical; which means he auditioned in secret. Haha. The first guy to sing here is my favorite, Zeke!

:D Cheers!

Pictures in this post were lifted off the Web. I don't remember the sites, but they're the same promo pictures circulating everywhere. I wish I could find one of Zeke!

Calvin, I know you're secretly practicing.

Emmie, you better be watching!!

* I really don't remember how good the numbers in High School Musical 2 were. I guess we'll be renting that next!

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6. More From Cyber Kid

Hey, gang, this has been quite a busy day. I can't be too long today, so I'll post cyber kid 303's new comment:

Old Man's Cave By Jeff Smith is a good book because it is an action packed book about Fone Bone, Smiley Bone, & Phoney Bone who accidently go to a new city and there are many adventures. This is the sixth book in the series and this one is all about the war between the Flat Landers and the Rat Creatures.

I really liked Old Man's Cave, but then, I like all the Bone graphic novels. By the way, cyber kid came here today for a program about Norman Rockwell. Here's a photo:

Cyber kid and Will are neck-and-neck in the free T-shirt contest but I'll have to post the standings tomorrow. We're going to have some fun at the Heroes fest next Tuesday from 2-4. We'll have Guitar Hero, a place to get your body traced and design your own hero (or villain), a portable basketball goal to be a Basketball Hero, a knights vs dragons balloon sword area, and more fun stuff. Be sure to come!


PS--Darth Bill is back! I thought he was sick but I was wrong! Just wait until you hear his amazing story!

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7. Grammar and Spelling is Killing Me!!!!

Hello all, yes once again it is I, the slightly schizophrenic Sith/Pirate/Ninja Bill!!!!!!!!

I am appalled that in a recent post here at our ever-so-friendly blog that my very character and nobility was attacked by a certain Melanie person:

"Just goes to show, you can't trust boys! Bill, Bill, Bill . . . I'm at a loss to understand how you can spell miscellaneous right and get scissors so very wrong. :) Hmmm, perhaps those short words are trickier for you than the long ones."

At first I found it impossible to believe that I the one, the only Sith/Pirate/Ninja Bill had misspelled any words at all (I'll have you know that at Sith School I always won the Spelling Bees). Well just to make sure, I went and checked with that Jedi sympathiser Carl to see if indeed anything had been misspelled (as loath as I am to admit it, he is a very good speller). He pulled out this huge book that I had never seen before which he said was called a dictionary. He said that it contained most of the correct spellings of words in the English Language. To my horror he opened up this huge tome of knowledge and confirmed what Melanie had said. I had indeed misspelled a word. Imagine my horror and dismay!!!!!!! Better yet, take a look at it:

Nooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What is this evil contained in this "Dictionary" that tells me I am wrong!!!!!!

I could not believe it to be the truth so then I went to confront the "sophisticated" Melanie to challenge here to a duel to reclaim my honor. What was the outcome, you ask? Well, let's just say that this massive tome that is called a "Dictionary" can be used for more than looking up words:

Ahhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That hurts!!!!!!!!!! I beg of thee to stop!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Of course, I had left my trusty lightsaber in my other pair of pants at home and had totally forgotten about my "Flashing Book Holders of Death" My wounds were most grevious, but I will return stronger and more unpleasent than ever!!!!!!!! This I swear!!!!!!

Well enough of this unpleasent incident, lets talk about books:

Tiger Moth: Kung Pow Chicken & The Pest Show on Earth both by Aaron Reynolds and Erik Lervold – Is there anybody still out there who is not familiar with the greatest insect super powered ninja fighting team of Tiger Moth (a moth, duh!!) and his apprentice Kung Pow (a pill bug; what the heck is a pill bug?)? If not, it’s time you do! The Tiger Moth graphic novel series is both great fun and hilarious to the max!!!! In “Kung Pow Chicken” Tiger Moth’s apprentice Kung Pow is left on his own to save his mentor from the villainy of Weevil. Will Tiger Moth be saved from insect eating spiders? Will Kung Pow prove that he is no chicken? Read this graphic novel to find out the answer to this and many other questions you have not even yet begun to form!!!!!! The next adventure entitled “The Pest Show on Earth” brings back Tiger Moth’s archenemy Weevil this time in the guise of a carnival employee that comes to town. Tiger Moth and loyal apprentice Kung Pow visit the carnival and spot the evil Weevil (that was fun--it rhymes; say it three times really fast) immediately. What can his evil plan be this go-round? Loyal readers, you must read this graphic novel to find out! Is the suspense killing you yet? Read and all will be answered. Remember, as Tiger Moth says: “When two birds fly, only one stone can be thrown.” Great wisdom are there in these words. Other Tiger Moth titles include: The Dung Beetle Bandits, Tiger Moth Insect Ninja, The Fortune Cookies of Weevil, and Tiger Moth and the Dragon Kite Contest. Many of these titles can also be downloaded onto your computer. All you have to do is go to the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg Catolog and download away!!!!! This series rocks, so check it out now!!!!!!

X-Men Fairy Tales written C.B. Cebulski and illustrations by various This is a really fun graphic novel that takes fairy tales from around the world and puts them with X-Men characters. You don’t have to be familiar with the X-Men to enjoy the stories, but if you are, it’s an extra kick. The fairy tales covered are: “The Peach Boy” inspired by the Japanese fairy tale “Momotaro;” “Faith in Friends” inspired by the African fairy tale “The Friendship of the Tortoise and the Eagle;” “Restless Souls” tapping some of the spooky traditions of New Orleans; and “To Die in Dreams” taken from some of the Brothers Grimm’s most exciting fairy tales. The stories are really good reads and the art just awesome. So if you are a fan of the X-Men or Fairy Tales or both, this graphic novel is well worth checking out and reading. Also the library system has another graphic novel along the same line “Spider-Man Fairy Tales” staring everyone’s favorite wall crawler along with characters associated with him. Really just great stuff!!!!!

Twisted Journeys: Captured by Pirates by Justine & Ron Fontes with illustrations by David Witt – Now I know everyone out there is probably familiar with the choose your adventures type books, if not, I’ll elaborate. These are the fun types of books where, based on what decisions you make, the books take different directions and different storylines. Well, combine this strictly text-based type of book with a graphic novel and you get the Twisted Journey experience. “Captured by Pirates” is too cool and what’s even better is there are other books in the series. Captain Bootstrap Bill gives these books a hardy Aaaarrrrrrrrrr!!!!!!!!!

Bone: Ghost Circles by Jeff Smith – Well, the seventh volume in the Bone Graphic Novel Series has finally come out and it was well worth the wait. As the title to this volume intones, things get real scary and serious in this one. The villagers and Veni Yan Monks are really put to the test by the “Lord of the Locust’ and his armies. Everything goes crazy with a volcano eruption and the appearance of “Ghost Circles” everywhere. The Bone cousins (Phoney, Smiley and Fone Bone), Thorn, Gran’ma Ben, and the recently returned Bartleby are also being pursued by the forces of the “Lord of Locust” and just manage to stay one step ahead. But how long can their luck hold? What is a Ghost Circle? Who lives and who dies? Only one way to find out, read the book. You won't be disappointed.

Well, gotta go now guys. As always, peace,


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8. Happy, Happy Year of the Rat!! (Reading Recommendations for the New Year!)

The Year of the Rat, by Grace LinJust in time for Chinese New Year comes The Year of the Rat, by Grace Lin. My nine-year-old cousin should have received her copy by now!

Happy Chinese New Year! Of all the books I want to review, I have the perfect one to start!

Grace Lin's The Year of the Rat is the sequel to her debut middle grade novel, The Year of the Dog (which I was completely gaga about). Once again Pacy's modern-day, American, grade school experiences, triumphs, and discoveries are peppered throughout with little stories and anecdotes told by her family: of their childhoods back in Taiwan, of their earlier years in the U.S., and of a lot of Chinese fables familiar to my heart. Plus there are these delightful line drawings. The emotional stakes are raised this time when Pacy's best friend Melody moves away to California. Pacy's cultural self-awareness evolves, too, ever so gently and truthfully, when a new Chinese family (from China) moves into Melody's very home, with a boy Pacy's age whose grade-school experiences in the U.S. seem not so rosy as her own.

I also related to Pacy's growing concern over her family's attitude toward her ambitions an an artist. Her triumphs with the class poster. Her crush. Her experience of a Taiwanese American wedding. Her return to her pre-Melody friends. Her decision with Melody to share their beloved book collection by actually mailing their books to and from California every month. All the words I've seen other reviewers use for these books--"gentle," "engaging," "lively," "magical,"--I heartily echo, and I love the simple language, too. I can't wait to hear what my little cousin has to say.

I sent my little cousin The Year of the Dog last fall, by the way, and this was her review (via e-mail):

Thanks for the book The Year of the Dog. I finished it in the first two nights. It was a great book except for one editing mistake.

What! Luckily, I saw my cousin a couple weeks later and got to find out exactly what she was talking about. First she said, "Oh, it was more just like a typo." Then she explained that a certain Chinese fable mentioned in it had been titled one way, when really it was another.

I've heard that story told a few different ways, so this wasn't a "mistake" in my book. But I was glad to see her treating the content with such authority. (She's this genius whose reading/writing progress knocks me out every next time I see her. I've no doubt her next review will be several pages long.)

The Year of the Rat has gotten me thinking this is going to be an excellent year for making Changes. Just as I was pondering the possibilities, my husband said, “Let’s resolve to make one piece of art each, this year, and put it up."

Cool! I'm up for anything!

Just one piece of art? That’s such a small goal. (An excellent, doable, lovely goal.) Maybe I’ll make five. But maybe I’ll start with just one (and maybe four more will follow).

I was going to end this book review here, but Year of the Rat actually gives me an unintentional transition to the next book on my list:

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, by Robert C. O'BrienMrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, by Robert C. O'Brien. Winner of the 1972 Newbery Medal.

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH!! I recently revisited this classic when Sara reminded me of its awesomeness. 

Read this, read this, you must re-read this!

Oh, those poor rats of NIMH. Oh, oh. They never even said what NIMH stood for. You have to make it up [edit: or figure it out for yourself]. And that is just one tiny example of the genius at work here, because even though these pages are jam-packed with informative, evocative, smartly written details (on locations! Action!! Story! Backstories! The goals of the rats of NIMH!), everywhere you look, there is room for your imagination to fill in more. What Jonathan Frisby saw in Mrs. Frisby (she was clearly a remarkable mouse). The hints at Justin’s future. The fact you don’t know . . . so many things you want to know. What you think you know. What you hope you know. You’re left wanting to go there, to find out the rest for yourself.

Oh, oh, oh.

I was aware as I was reading that some of my intense bond with these rats (and mice!!) was underscored by association with my equally intense love for Flowers for Algernon, by Daniel Keyes--a book I pushed on my brother when he was in 7th grade (and I was in 10th) that he read all in one night. (I'm actually reading The Wednesday Wars, by Gary D. Schmidt, right now, and there are rats in that book, too. Goodness!)

I have a lot more books to review, but I like this beginning to the Year of the Rat. We now return to our regular posting schedule of (maybe) once a week.

With love for books!

I urge you to read these books.

It is my hope, once you’ve read these books, that we can talk about them in-depth. Preferably in person!

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9. Nim's Island! Nim's Island! Nim's Island!

Remember how in my last reading recommendations post, I goofily transitioned from talking about Grace Lin's The Year of the Rat to Robert C. O'Brien's Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH?

Well, that book segues into my next reading recommendation just perfect: Nim's Island!!

Nim's Island, by Wendy Orr. Illustrated by Kerry Millard. (Originally published in Australia in 1999; first American edition 2001.)

Oh, what a find!!—is what I want to say, but apparently the book has been found. It's being made into a movie for later this year. (In fact, I learned about this book through Tony W's blog post on movies to watch out for.) Starring Jodie Foster as (I can only assume) Alex Rover!

Perfect casting!! I'm excited. Aren't you?

The best thing about this book is how the story feels imagined by a nine year old—with much of reality going cheerfully out the window, such as when the book states on page six that "Marine iguanas don't eat coconut, but no one had ever told Fred"and how Nim feels like a true nine year old, too, with her marine iguana and sea lion friends, and her going around the island wielding a machete. The coincidences in the story strike just the right tone of wonder, and in the meantime, you feel like you are living there with her. Lovely!

One thing saddens me. I wanted to buy the copy of this book with the same cover art that my library copy had (the first version shown in this post)—but it seems a bit harder to get now that new covers tie in to the movie. I will have to search!

Linda Sue Park has said in her blog that one of the highest recommendations you can give a book is to say you read it all in one sitting. I read this book twice. When I got to the end, I flipped right back to the start. (And the reread was totally rewarding!)

I'm crazy about this book,

Check out excerpts from the book's opening pages here! I could just start reading again.

I love how Nim has email and a cell phone, but has never spoken to another human friend.

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10. Rita Book Today: Sarah, Plain and Tall

Sarah, Plain and Tall  (HarperClassics) Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan (Newbery Medal winner)

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars

Good grief. Everyone has read and loved Sarah, Plain and Tall, so I thought I had read and loved it, too. Trouble was, I couldn’t remember a thing about it, which, well, troubled me over the years.

Turns out, I’ve never read Sarah, Plain and Tall. Ever.

Took about half an hour, and I teared up every other chapter—plus the last. That’s five chapters out of nine.

Good grief. I love Sarah, Plain and Tall!!


View all my reviews.

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11. Elevator Conversations! A Birthday Card by fomato

So this is hilarious and a half.

Remember when I blogged “7 Random/Weird Things About My Significant Other” a while back, wherein I changed the rules of a meme to focus on Damon instead of me? Well, that post turned out to be a favorite among friends, including all kinds of people I had no idea were reading. Everyone loved how D loves elevator conversation.

Our friend Emmie Hsu, of Fomato Cards, asked “permission” to use the idea for a birthday greeting card. Then, out of the blue, she sent it to us last week.

I love it!! Both Damon and I love how it turned out so much!

I now present to you . . .

elevator conversations
by fomato cards




Click here to see “elevator conversations” on the fomato cards Web site

Click here for the main fomato site, where you can find all her masterpieces!

She tried to work in D's favored Days of the Week, but it didn't fit—at least not in this card. She got more input from our friend Calvin and used Frankie's “Living the dream.”

I love all fomato cards so much, you guys. I use nothing else. They are hilarious, gorgeously illustrated, high quality, irreverent, totally indie, and smack of asian american pop culture flava.

(Yes, I said flava. You have no idea how much I resist yo.)

So get thee to fomato.com for a hi-larious reading experience! Each card is short, punchy, and perfect for someone you know. Before you know it, you’ll have read them all. You’ll wind up ordering, too, because her cards totally inspire that “I-have-to-get-this-for-So-and-so!” reaction.

So much fun,

A few more of my favorites:
   facebook intervention
   ramen noodle festival
   chinese food
   sushi lesson
   school o dissatisfaction (This one’s perfect for pessimists, optimists, and people who love mangoes)

Here is Damon’s favorite:
   screw you

Which ones are yours?

Photos from Writer’s Day are still coming! This is one of the rules of writing: Never deliver what you promised. That keeps readers coming back.

Thanks for all the congrats, though—here, on Facebook, and everywhere!

Now get to fomato.com!

Damon’s favorite is apparently fomato’s current bestseller. I am mortified.

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12. The latest Westside Schmooze--on "Voice: The End-All Definition"

Agnes Parker Girl In Progress.GoodReads.1556085 Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg.GoodReads.4414890 I Am A Genius of Unspeakable Evil.GoodReads.6192443 Hold Still.GoodReads.6373717 Gorgeous.GoodReads.5973767 Monstrumologist.GoodReads.6457229

Some of my favorite reads (and examples of Voice!) this year: Agnes Parker . . . Girl In Progress, by Kathleen O'Dell; The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg, by Rodman Philbrick; I Am A Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want To Be Your Class President, by Josh Lieb; Hold Still, by Nina LaCour; Gorgeous, by Rachel Vail; The Monstrumologist, by Rick Yancey. (All images from GoodReads.)

All right. So here's the promise Lee and I made to the world in our latest e-blast about the SCBWI Westside Schmooze.

Subject: The SCBWI Westside Schmooze -- Wednesday, October 13th at 7 PM

Does October mean thrills, chills, and suspense to you? Well, it should if you attend the next meeting of the SCBWI Westside Schmooze! Because on October 13th, at 7 PM, we will meet to unmask . . .

VOICE: The End-All Definition

That's right. Editors and Agents often say that while they can fix everything else in a manuscript, Voice is that one special quality a manuscript must have from the start, for them to fall in love. Yet when it comes to defining what Voice IS, even the greats flounder, with many falling back on the axiom "You know it when you see it."

What is THAT about? Are we in the business of describing things or aren't we?? At the next Westside Schmooze we aim to settle this mystery once and for all--AND come up with an End-All Definition--by showing great examples of Voice, analyzing WHAT IT IS, and sharing exercises that will help each of us find and perfect our own. For Picture Book through Young Adult, fiction and non-fiction. Let's do this. It's time.

Now, I'll admit I've been frustrated in my life lately, and I wrote this email with a mad gleam in my eye when the weather had taken a turn for the worse.


I think it's hilarious to set out to do "impossible" things--especially because (in my experience) 60-65% of the time, it totally works. Most of the time, the only

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13. Video Sunday - Misc.

No theme this week. I'm feeling all kinds of lazy. So let us plumb the internet itself, sans rhyme or reason, and come up with tasty tidbits in and of themselves.

This one comes from Adrienne at What Adrienne Thinks About That. Her boss apparently sent it to her. Those of us in the profession can relate. And I was delighted to see that it also displays a death-by-closed-stacks portion that is reminiscent of a movie my husband made in college.

In the realm of "oh, THAT's how it's done!" I bring you an explanation for how graphic novel illustration works via computer. Like the Bone books? Of course you do. You are a beautiful, intelligent, highly motivated individual. As such, you will enjoy this view of coloring in Thorn from the books. I just think that it's cool that you get to draw on the actual screen.

Julie at Children's Illustration recently had a small tribute to Bill Baird and Company over at her site. First off, it's very interesting to watch pre-Muppet puppets. Plus the song is fairy trippy in and of itself. Betcha you won't see the iron lung coming, though.

How come no one names their daughters Cora anymore? I think Cora is going to have a second coming. GO CORA! Julie, I should note, also located this neat interview with Brian Selznick about his latest. You may have heard of it. It's something something Hugo something, I think.

Which led to me to the discovery of this Expanded Books website. And that, in turn, led me to the discovery of something the Buffy fans amongst us will find odd. Look! It's Tara! Writing books! The book itself isn't all that thrilling, but it's nice to see Amber Benson getting work of one kind or another.

We'll do a 180 after this and show the direct opposite of horror novels with an interview with Rosemary Wells. Anyone who has ever worked with Ms. Wells will tell you that the woman is... a pistol, let's say. Yes. That sounds about right. A pistol. Well, here she is doing the sweetness and light bit.

Pistol, I say.

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14. Spreading the Word: Latest Book Roundup and Robert's Snow

Here are the books I've loved lately, that have graduated from my To-Read list to my To-Buy (or Just-Bought!) list. 

First, the Middle Grades and YAs:

Getting Near To Baby, by Audrey Couloumbis The Year of the Dog, by Grace Lin Ironside: A Modern Faery's Tale, by Holly BlackThe Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl, by Barry Lyga

Getting Near To Baby, by Audrey Couloumbis (MG). 2000 Newberry Honor Book. In addition to drawing me into a cast of characters, every one of whom I rooted for, each chapter's end gave me that fine feeling of having read a poetic short story.

The Year of the Dog, by Grace Lin (MG). Absolutely charming and magical, in the tradition of those Carolyn Haywood books we all loved growing up (the Betsy and Eddie books!), but starring Chinese Americans! Got one in paperback for my little cousin, one in hardback for me.

Ironside, by Holly Black (YA fantasy). Awesome. I heard Holly Black speak recently at San Diego Comic Con in a panel on YA villains, and she talked about her interest in creating cultures clearly alien to our own. Everyone who'd read any of her three modern faerie tales bobbed their heads enthusiastically to hear her say it.

The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl, by Barry Lyga (YA). Deftly handled, with all the subtle (yet extreme) tensions and characters clearly delineated. And funny(!), though I feel odd saying so. Recommended in particular for Calvin, because the voice reminded me of his.

(I also got the two books mentioned in my last book roundup: Life As We Knew It, by Susan Beth Pfeffer and A Drowned Maiden's Hair: A Melodrama, by Laura Amy Schlitz. And for the record, I loved Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7), by J. K. Rowling, illustrated by Mary GrandPré, but we can never talk about it [online].)

I should probably mention that, while my apartment is always overflowing with library books, I only bring up books here I've loved enough to put down funds and buy. That requires extreme love. (It also means there are lags between book posts, as I can't buy the books I love all that fast.)

Regarding picture books, I try (sadly, unsuccessfully) to limit the number in my personal collection. But I'm always excited to buy them for friends. It's one of the key reasons I get excited when friends have babies! ;D (Sounds like a Discovery Channel show: When Friends Have Babies.)

And on that note, here are the latest picture books to have stolen my heart: 

Not a Box, by Antoinette PortisBee-bim Bop!, by Linda Sue Park, illustrated by Ho Baek LeeThe Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack KeatsI'd Really Like To Eat A Child, by Sylviane Donnio, illustrated by Dorothee De Monfried

Not a Box, by Antoinette Portis. Um. Everyone needs this book. This is a picture book in its purest, most joyful form. Kids will relate and want this again and again. (I've already "handsold" a couple in bookstores to friends, haha.) "It's not a box!"

Bee-bim Bop!, by Linda Sue Park, illustrated by Ho Baek Lee. Genius! (again!) The fun of the words, the fun of the dish, the worlds of the grocery store and kitchen prep and dinner table evoked by the illustrations. See that cover? This book speaks to you and will make you bop.

The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats. 1963 Caldecott Medal winner. Everyone also needs this book. A classic for every good reason. I don't know how I could have not known about it sooner. Utterly engaging and engrossing to the senses.

I'd Really Like To Eat A Child, by Sylviane Donnio, illustrated by Dorothee De Monfried. Translated from the French original, Je mangerais bien un enfant.
Actually, I'm not sure everyone needs this book. I need this book—for the sheer audacity of the premise and the fun way the cocky main character is drawn, which paid off every time I read this. My current strategy is to show this off to everyone in person and see whether they need their own, too. J'adore. (Je l'adore?? Vicki! Lynn! Help!)

And now, Robert's Snow:

Robert's Snow, by Grace LinRobert's Snowflakes, compiled by Grace Lin and Robert Mercer

In (partial) reference to my last post, it turns out there is something a blogger can do—in a bloggerly fashion—to express sympathy and show support to a blogging friend. At least, there is in the case of Grace Lin, whose husband Robert Mercer passed away on August 27.

Robert's Snow is the amazing fundraiser the couple created in 2004, which to date has raised over $200,000 for cancer research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. So, first of all, you can buy the original Robert's Snow picture book; you can buy Robert's Snowflakes, the book which commemorates pieces from the first Robert's Snow snowflake auction in 2004; you can give money in the name of "Robert's Snow"; or you can bid in this year's Robert's Snow snowflake auction to get your own unique piece of artwork—a wooden ornament decorated by a children's book artist—all for this tremendous cause. Over 200 incredible children's book authors and illustrators are contributing snowflakes this year. (You can view the 2005 snowflakes here and 2004 snowflakes here. They are stunning. There are even sculptures!)

Have your favorite author/illustrators created snowflakes? I bet they have. Look them up! You can sort the 2004 and 2005 contributors alphabetically!

EDIT to the original post: You can now go here to view the 2007 snowflakes, as well as years' past! Go, go, go!

It is amazing. You want a snowflake.

Second, if you've got a blog, you can promote Robert's Snow and the snowflake auction. In fact, thanks to the good people at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, bloggers can now sign up to feature from one to five of this year's Robert's Snowflakes artists, on their blogs. 7-Imp is organizing the list, and it'll be a cross-posting extravaganza, with everyone clicking to learn more about artists and snowflakes, and all traffic driven to the auction itself. Click here to read more and sign up!

I first heard about this on Jo Whittemore's blog, followed immediately by the next several blogs I read. Spread the word, everyone!

I know several people whose lives have been touched by cancer recently, quite profoundly. I am often at a loss about what I can do. Well, here is one thing.


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15. Bone thoughts

I'm rereading Bone, still. Rereading the first episodes for the first time since I wrote the introduction to "The Great Cow Race" was really strange, in light of where the story went, but the most impressive, unexpected thing about that part of Bone is how very consistent it was from the start.

There's a G. K Chesterton quote about Dickens' The Pickwick Papers, where he says

... the fault of Pickwick (if it be a fault) is a change, not in the hero but in the whole atmosphere. The point is not that Pickwick turns into a different kind of man; it is that "The Pickwick Papers" turns into a different kind of book. And however artistic both parts may be, this combination must, in strict art, be called inartistic. A man is quite artistically justified in writing a tale in which a man as cowardly as Bob Acres becomes a man as brave as Hector. But a man is not artistically justified in writing a tale which begins in the style of "the Rivals" and ends in the style of the Iliad. In other words, we do not mind the hero changing in the course of a book; but we are not prepared for the author changing in the course of the book.
CHESTERTON -- Charles Dickens, The Last of Our Great Men

...which is, I think, the problem that many readers have with Cerebus (a narrative created over nearly 30 years), and would have certainly been the problem with Sandman if I'd kept writing it -- that I was no longer the person who had started it a decade before. And I think that, if asked, I would have put Bone there in my head, too, that it started like Walt Kelly and ended like Tolkien. But no, everything that made the last third of Bone what is was is absolutely laid out in the opening books.

Right. Back to reading and making notes.

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16. The Most Popular Picture Book of All Time?

I have a million and one blog posts coming up. In the meantime, here's something that's been on my mind the past couple days:

What would you say is the most beloved and well-known picture book of all time?

Which one is your favorite, but also, which one do you think is the favorite of the masses, not just of children's book people? If we had to crown just one, based on pure popularity and mass recognition (and maybe sales), what do you think is in everyone's hearts?

I ask because a friend asked me about a certain book, and I tried to make this claim about it. Now I wonder how outrageous that statement was.


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17. Robert's Snow: Auction 1!


Here is the most important thing I've needed to tell you:

www.robertssnow.comThe Bidding For Auction 1 of Robert's Snow is going on right now, and it ends today.

Bid now! Bid today! Bid before 5 PM (Eastern Standard Time)!!!
(Click this link and go!!)

Remember, this is the awesome opportunity I told you about a little while back—to own your very own original piece of artwork by a children's book artist of astounding renown and fight cancer at the same time? Where all these incredible children's book illustrators and authors have come together to contribute unique snowflake holiday ornaments, and the art pieces are available online, right now??

Robert's Snow happens in three rounds of online bidding, with a different third of the snowflakes being auctioned off each week. Next week is Auction 2. The week after is Auction 3.

The first third of the snowflakes is going fast, right now!!

Click here to go to Auction 1!!

Click here to go to Auction 2!!

Click here to go to Auction 3!!

(Actually, here is one master link that will take you to all three auctions! They happen Nov. 19–23, Nov. 26–30, and Dec. 3–7, respectively. Check out all the snowflakes! It's incredible!!)

Equally incredible is that each of these artists—and the snowflake each has contributed—has been further individually profiled by dedicated bloggers. So here is a list of all the relevant links where you can read up even more on the snowflakes you love and want!!

Amazing collectibles. Stunning gifts. The joy of owning/giving/bidding on these will warm your hearts for always.

Let it snow, let it snow,
now go, let's go!!


P.S.  A few sample Auction 1 snowflakes:

Blue-Haired Lady by Brie SpanglerSnowy Snooze by Mary PetersonShoveling by Lisa WoodruffReflection, by Paige KeiserGretchens Snow, by Leanne FransonFishmas Tree Topper, by Patrick Girouard

I lifted these few images (fronts and backs) off the Auction 1 page of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute/Robert's Snow Web site. The Robert's Snow poster above I lifted from 7-Imp, the good people who have done an incredible job of organizing Blogging For A Cure. Ooh, you want to bid!

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18. Robert's Snow 2007: Auction 2 (until Nov. 30, 5 PM EST!!)

Auction 2 of Robert's Snow is going on right now.

I could not possibly show you all the awesome snowflakes I want that are part of this round. You have to check them out yourself.

Here are just a few . . .

Expectation" by Wendy EdelsonKachinas Bearing Gifts" by Ashley WolffThe Joy of the Future" by Scott BakalSpecial Delivery" by Joanne FriarThe Clauses" by Linas AlsenasSnow Dance" by Denise FlemingWinterdragon" by Aaron ZenzPenguins" by Carol SchwartzI am not a snowflake, I'm a dog!" by Janet StevensYou'd Better Duck!" by Don TateRain Forest Wreath" by Laura JacquesArctic Christmas" by Teri SloatCity Snowflake" by Cecily LangPeace on Earth" by C.B. DeckerSnow Angels" by Jane DippoldHedgehog's First Snow" by Judith MoffattWinter is the Warmest Season" by Lauren StringerSunset over Manana Island" by Matt TavaresThe Gift" by Lee White


Imagine how beautiful your tree will look decorated in one, two, three, or half a dozen of these! Imagine a child looking at your tree (or window, or holiday vacuum cleaner) and dreaming of the stories implied.

I lifted these images (fronts and backs) off the Auction 2 page of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute/Robert's Snow Web site.

Go bid!

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19. Robert's Snow: The Last Round!!! (Auction 3 Ends This Friday, Dec. 7, 5 PM E.S.T.)

If you roll over these images, you should see the snowflakes' titles and artists' names pop up (though I've noticed this feature doesn't work in Firefox).

Once again, just "a few" of my favorites:

Loch Kindness, by Scott MagoonSupportiveness, by Randy CecilSkippyjon 'Snow Flake' Jones, by Judy SchachnerThree French Hens, by Laura Huliska-BeithGilbert says 'Hi,' by Diane deGroatPaddington at Paddington Station, by R.W. AlleyFlower, by Grace LinChillax! by Dan SantatJingle Pig Rock, By Jarrett J. Krosoczka     A Cozy Night for Cuddling Up, by Juli KangasThe Great Crab Hunters by Kelly MurphyWithin Reach, by Joy AllenChowder's Snowy Bounce, by Peter BrownWishing, by Jui IshidaHopper Holiday, by James T. WilliamsonBird and Flowers, by Kristina SwarnerGrace, by Linda S. WingerterBe Strong, by Meghan McCarthySnow Taxi, by Selina AlkoYikes! by Mo Willems

Bid bid bid bid bid bid bid.

I lifted these images (fronts and backs) off the Auction 3 page of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute/Robert's Snow Web site. Too many wonderful snowflakes to post here! Go to Auction 3 and get tempted by them all!


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