Ever write a blog post that you are really proud of but you are in a place with lousy wifi and it just disappears into the ether along with a million other lost blog posts that were never published? That's where I am right now. In an airbnb in beautiful Marin sitting in an over upholstered chair that I keep slipping down from. So I'm going to try and rewrite that post as best I can, pausing every now and then to save and hoping that I don't get kicked off the Internet with an “Unable to Reach Server” notice. Imagine hearing a deep but silent Sigh.
I had written about looking in my overabundant (read children’s book buying addict) library and discovering that most of my favorite books were concept books, i.e. books about concepts or ideas, and that I was especially fond of books that combined both concept and plot like Yuyi Morales’s Just a Minute, a counting book that features Grandma Beetle as a character who outsmarts death. I also looked at another favorite former student, Deborah Underwood’s, The Quiet Book, which doesn’t have a plot but is brilliant in so many other ways.
Next I came upon Kathryn’s books Zero, One, and Two, which to an unsuspecting viewer might come across as simple numbers books until they open them up and start reading. These books are full of deep concepts. For example, Two is about friendship, betrayal, ostracism, alienation, bigotry, war, reconciliation and so much more, all told in brilliant rhythmic language with musical undertones and fabulous calligraphic illustrations that show numbers with individual personalities in non-anthropomorphic ways. Wild hey.
I was lucky enough to be Kathryn’s teacher way back when and I knew she had great things ahead of her. I was lucky enough to become her friend and keep that friendship over the years. And then I was lucky enough to watch her realize the fabulous potential that I'd seen.
I came to Marin to attend her book launch for Two and it was so wonderful; a total love fest of kindred spirits. I saw four of my former students there, three of them now published. I saw the extraordinary Uyen Pham who, if all goes well, will be contributing to our upcoming Craft and Business of Illustrating Children’s Books course starting next week. I met this extraordinary woman who is an emotions consultant (not that she calls herself that) and Lissa Rovetch, who I’m hoping to convince to co-teach a humor course with us sometime. I also saw tons of beauty and creativity and hope and caring and humor from members of our community including SCBWI RAs, agents, editors, book distributors, emotion consultants, and kid’s book creatives. It made me feel all warm and fuzzy.
As I was leaving, I realized Kathryn hadn’t even brought her new book out. She wanted this party, which wasn’t really a launch at all, or maybe it was on some other level, to be a coming together of community, of people who had been a part of her journey in some way and perhaps this explains a lot about who Kathryn is and how she could write a book like this with so much beauty and creativity and hope and caring and humor and in the end, community. I hope you love this book as much as I do. It has major read aloud re-readabily and works on different levels for all sorts of ages.
If you can, do let us know in the comments what you think, and buy her book so that she can make more. Also, find out more about Kathryn and her books at http://www.kokidsbooks.com/ (though I hope that she updates the site soon to include Two and have purchase links). I also came across this interview where Kathryn shares more about herself and her journey http://www.hyphenmagazine.com/magazine/issue-20-insideout/one-kids-0
PS For some weird reason, I’m really looking forward to Four. I’m hoping he’s too square and needs to loosen up and get out of his box, though who knows where Kathryn will take it in this brilliant series. Any other number ideas?
We are so excited to be mixing things up at the Children's Book Academy. Mondays with Mandy or Mira is now the Blogfish!!
Here's our lineup:
1st Mondays will feature award-winning former agent and former kidlit professor Mira Reisberg PhD who is also the Director of the Children's Book Academy.
2nd Mondays will feature reading specialist and MFA in creative writing graduate Mandy Yates has been published multiple times in Highlights Magazine.
3rd Mondays will feature Bryan Patrick Avery, published writer, man of mystery, and professional magician among other things.
4th Mondays 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.
And 5th Mondays will feature will feature the fabulous Carl Angel, award-winning multi-published Illustrator and graphic designer.
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