Last month I established the Blogettes Funny Prize and we received some wonderful nominations. I was thrilled to see a mix of big presses and small presses, well-known and lesser-known, as well as collaborations and author-illustrators.
Now today, I am opening up the voting for the FIRST ANNUAL BLOGETTES FUNNY PRIZE!
Place your vote by commenting below with the title of your choice. Please only vote once.
The nominees are as follows:
Mustache Baby by Bridget Heos, illustrated by Joy Ang
(Clarion Books, May 2013)
Nominated for it's unique and clever twist on an evergreen idea. Laugh out loud funny with every page turn.
When Baby Billy is born with a mustache, his family takes it in stride. They are reassured when he nobly saves the day in imaginary-play sessions as a cowboy or cop and his mustache looks good-guy great. But as time passes, their worst fears are confirmed when little Billy’s mustache starts to curl up at the ends in a suspiciously villainous fashion. Sure enough, “Billy’s disreputable mustache led him into a life of dreadful crime.”
Too Much Glue by Jason Lefebvre, illustrated by Zac Retz
(Flashlight Press, Sept 2013)
Nominated based on its funny pictures and text, in addition to depicting a wonderful father-son relationship.
Although Matty’s art teacher has warned him that too much glue never dries, Matty loves glue. After all, he and his dad make oodles of glue projects at home. One day during art class, Matty finds the fullest bottles of glue, and the fun begins. With a squeeze and a plop, Matty pours a lake of glue before belly-flopping right in the middle and finds himself stuck to the desk. When Matty’s dad arrives at the school, instead of being mad, he celebrates his son’s creativity and calls him a work of art.
How Martha Saved Her Parents from Green Beans by David LaRochelle, illustrated by Mark Fearing
(Dial, April 2013)
Nominated based on it's a twist on the picky eater story. Also a great read aloud for parents.
Martha HATES green beans. When some mean, green bandits stroll into town, anyone who ever said "Eat your green beans" is in big trouble. But when the beans kidnap Martha's parents, Martha is forced to take action. She can think of only one way to stop the villainous veggies from taking over her town, and it’s not pretty...or tasty.
Battle Bunny by Jon Scieszka and Mac Barnett, illustrated by Matthew Myers
(Simon & Schuster, October 2013)
Nominated for its ground-breaking mix of naughty and funny.
When Alex gets a silly, sappy picture book called Birthday Bunny, he picks up a pencil and turns it into something he'd like to read: Battle Bunny. An adorable rabbit's journey through the forest becomes a secret mission to unleash an evil plan--a plan that only Alex can stop.
That is Not a Good Idea! by Mo Willems
(Balzer + Bray, April 2013)
Nominated because who can NOT love the humor of Mo Willems?
One day, a very hungry fox meets a very plump goose. A dinner invitation is offered.
Will dinner go as planned? Or do the dinner plans involve a secret ingredient?
Thank you to all who nominated these books. Now, warm up those funny bones and get to reading. Spread the word! Voting closes on Monday, March 24th at midnight EST.
In previous chapters Marcie Colleen has been a teacher and theatre educator, but now she splits her days between chasing the Picture Book Writer dream and chasing toddlers on the playground as a nanny. Both
are equally glamorous!
Her blog, The Write Routine and her Teacher’s Guides, can be found at www.thisismarciecolleen.com. You can
also follow her on Twitter. Additionally, Marcie is the Education Consultant for Picture Book Month.
She contributes the 4th Friday of the month, as a Blogette, right here, posting on humor in picture books.
Marcie lives with her fiancé and their mischievous sock monkey in Brooklyn, NYC.
Digital Limited Palette with Mary A Livingston
Picture books are a glorious balance of story and illustration. Now, enter a third artistic element…digital presentation. By considering digital interpretation as an art, rather than embellishments or accessories, there is opportunity to add another dimension to the story. Just as an artist uses a limited color palette or as an author uses a limited number of words, a digital designer will do well to limit the digital enhancements when designing a digital picture book. The reasons to limit a digital palette are the same as for the art of writing and illustrating. It serves to bring focus to a point and distractions to a minimum. When choosing to animate, interact or amplify, consider the story first.
For comparison, I’ve chosen two digital picture book apps. COWZAT!, digital design by Colour Me Play and Prancing, Dancing Lily, digital design by Fat Red Couch. While there’s a clear difference in animation style, I’m only evaluating the palette of digital effects.
The first scene of COWZAT!
The animations are elegant, smooth, and clever…but so numerous they interfere with the story flow. It becomes more like a cartoon than an interactive book especially since the narration will not turn off. The unrelated digital content is a distraction and the sheer number of actions overwhelms the story content.
The digital actions of Prancing, Dancing Lily don't interfere with the story. Each digital element has a place in the story. Some build on the existing illustrations, others add information.
The temptation to show off animation skills and cram the screen with a gluttonous load of electronic gibber can snuff the life out of a story. While I appreciate the animation quality of COWZAT!, the digital designers of Prancing, Dancing Lily have respected the story by making appropriate enhancements.
Digital design is part of an artistic triad for picture eBooks. The digital elements and interactivity should be included in the editorial process like the text and illustrations. Just as an author and illustrator must evaluate the relevance of specific words or imagery, the digital designer must consider if the animation or interactivity is pertinent to the specific story.
Upon discovering I wrote children’s picture books, the woman’s first question was, “How many words do you write a day?”
I was speechless. There were no words. If there had been words, I would have said something like, “If I’m lucky, I write 10 words a day, but they are very good words.”
It seemed an odd first question to ask an author, especially an author who last year sold a manuscript of only 22 words. I wrote that story in about 3 months, a very short time for me. Let’s see. That’s less than 1 word every 3 days. Not very impressive, I must admit.
However, in today’s market, the fewer words in a manuscript, the better, or so it seems. And art notes, once verboten, are now acceptable, as long as the writer understands how to use them. Shutta Crum is one who knows how to use them. She explains a bit about the art notes she wrote to go with her 9 ½ word book Mine! in the March/April 2013 SCBWI Bulletin, “Writing the Wordless, or Almost Wordless, Picture Book.”
The woman’s question seemed to reveal underlying questions:
“How fast can you write?” “How much can you do?”
If I’d had the time and she’d had the interest, I could have explained:
“Less is more.”
“Quality is preferred to quantity.”
“Every word must be perfect and perfectly placed.”
“Our job, as writers, is often taking words away, rather than adding them.”
"Sometimes when I’m writing, I just sit and think or walk and think. I don’t actually write at all."
The brilliant inventor, Nikola Tesla, would sometimes sit for hours thinking, putting his invention together in his mind, before he sat down to physically construct it. Abigail Samoun, agent extraordinaire and author of Mind Afire the visions of Tesla says. “When Tesla first thought up his AC motor, he had imagined its every specification so clearly, that when he built it, it worked flawlessly.
Sadly, I don’t have the mind of Tesla, but the last two times I had mini breakthroughs were 1) upon waking and 2) when I was sitting quietly prior to meditation. I was silently waiting, not writing at all.
Perhaps a better question would have been, “What value do your stories give to children?” “Is there a philosophy or theme that runs through your work?” or even, “What are your stories about?”
In the spirit of “less is more” I'm sharing two books that demonstrate this in different ways. They also both demonstrate love, perfect for Valentine's Day.
No by Claudia Rueda is a 125-word picture book about a little bear who isn’t ready to hibernate, relatable to children who aren’t ready to go to sleep. In the second half of the book there are 3 double page spreads with no words, just the illustrations, also spare, showing the rising action. After those 3 double page spreads, there are 2 double page spreads with only 1 word on each spread: “Mama!”, then another double page spread with no words.
Trouper is a picture book in which a three-legged dog is the main character. One of the things I loved about this book, which is based on a true rescue story, is that the three legs are never mentioned directly. You see the images from the beginning, but the only two references are near the end: “my hairy stump” and the endearing ending when Trouper and the boy who’s rescued him play “a game called RUN ----- and leave five footprints in the snow.”
As Deepak Chopra wrote in his book Creating Affluence, “The field is dynamic. Even though it is silent, it has the infinite dynamism that can create any possibility....In the silence is the source of the dynamism...The deeper the silence, the more the dynamism.”
Go back and substitute the word “story” for “field.” Sometimes it’s not about how many words we write. Sometimes it’s the dynamism we can create through silence. That’s when we can listen, to ourselves, or to our muse, and not worry about how many words we wrote per day.
Called a “born storyteller” by the media, Marsha Diane Arnold wrote the award-winning “homegrown treasures” column prior to penning eleven award-winning picture books. Last year, Marsha contracted with Neal Porter Books for two new picture books, Kate O'Sullivan of Houghton Mifflin for another, and Tamarind for a fourth. Marsha's course Writing Wonderful Character-Driven Picture Books has helped many published and aspiring writers to write stronger characters. If you're near Sebastopol, CA, come hear her SCBWI presentation on Character-Driven Books on March 6th, 2014. All attendees may receive half off her course.
Play takes you all the way!!!
Once upon a time…
She made sure they had color and books in their hands. Then cut them out and gave them something a little extra so they could stand up on their own!
The woman longed to make more play things. Find more stories! And so it was that she was a children’s book maker.
She allways remembered…
to make books that children can enter and find themselves…
one must enter first and play, play, play.
Big blessings on ALL your play! May you play your way right into making a great big book!
Maya Gonzalez is largely self-taught. She has illustrated over 20 award-winning multicultural children’s books and written 3 with, not an end in sight! Her latest book, Call Me Tree, set to come out this year with Lee&Low Books, is her most recent labor of love! Her fine art has shown internationally and appears in numerous books about the contemporary Chicano Art Movement including on the cover of Living Chicana Theory and Contemporary Chicana and Chicano Art: Artists, Works, Culture and Education considered to be "the Bible of Chicano/a art." Ridiculously creative, she’s probably making art as you read this or thinking about making art if she’s driving a car or using the stove. And one of her ultimate passions is inspiring others to create books, because she believes that creating children's books has the potential to be one of the most radical things you can do!
Meet the Friday Blogonauts
First Fridays will feature Bryan Patrick Avery, published writer , man of mystery, and professional magician among other things.
Second Fridays will feature awesome multi-award winning author Marsha Diane Arnold who will be writing about character-driven and/or nature-based books and/or anything she likes :)
Third Fridays will feature independent Aladdin/Simon & Shuster editor Emma Sector who has helped bring many books into the world.
Fourth Fridays will feature the great Christine Taylor-Butler who has published over 70 award-winning fiction and non-fiction and nonfiction books including the acclaimed new middle grade series - The Lost Tribes.
Fifth Fridays will feature the fabulous Carl Angel award-winning multi-published Illustrator and graphic designer.
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