It takes two…
By Sharon Giltrow
…people to make a picture book. Especially if one of those people - me - can only draw stick figures. Luckily the publisher of our soon to be released book, GET READY, MAMA! matched my words to the amazing illustrative style of Arielle Li. Then they encouraged us to collaborate on the illustrations. Starting with the choice of initial characters, to the cover, and all the pages in between.
This successful collaboration created a story where the illustrations match the text beautifully, while at the same time adding some fantastic and surprising elements.
Get Ready, Mama!
Written by: Sharon Giltrow
Illustrated by: Arielle Li
Published by: EK Books, 6th April 2022
Available for pre-order
Even the most reluctant risers will find the fun in the morning routine with this lively role-reversal story about a mama who just doesn't want to get ready!
Getting Mama ready for the day can be a challenge... you'd better watch out that she doesn't sneak back into bed, try to distract you with cuddles, get breakfast all over her top, or... wait, is Mama watching TV?! Learn how to get Mama up and ready despite her mischievous delaying tactics with this essential guide to dealing with morning mayhem!
Now, let me share with you my favourite spreads from GET READY, MAMA! and show you an example of how Arielle added to the story to make it even better (and funnier).
S – For this spread the text is:
Scurry to the car.
You can’t drive.
Look at your mama,
When I pictured this scene, I saw the mama and child getting out of the car and swapping seats. Arielle made this spread so much better by having the mama and the child swap seats while still in the car - something unexpected and super funny. Arielle pushed the joke in the text as far as it would go.
Now, here is one of Arielle’s favourite spreads from GET READY, MAMA! and she shares with us why she loves it.
A- I love how the scene captures the little rituals parents and their children have when they part from each other... except now it's the mama who is the one who couldn't let her go (and quite literally too!). I also enjoyed painting mama's pouty face. He-he.
S – Arielle has again added humour to this scene by showing how reluctant mama is to say goodbye. The illustration where mama is lying on the ground clinging to the child’s legs is hilarious. It is also very relatable to parents and gives a nod to them and their daily struggles.
Words and pictures - you can’t have one without the other, especially when you’re creating a picture book. So, when you are writing your next story, be sure to leave room for the illustrator so they can add some surprises.
See you in March with another great Aussie book.
Share a laugh, and connect with someone today.
For a chance to win a copy of our book GET READY, MAMA!
Sharon Giltrow grew up in South Australia, the youngest of eight children, surrounded by pet sheep and fields of barley. She now lives in Perth, Western Australia with her husband, two children and a tiny dog. Sharon has taught for all of her career. Previously a teacher of children who are hearing impaired and Deaf-Blind, she now teaches young children with Developmental Language Disorder. Her humorous debut PB, BEDTIME DADDY! released May 2020 through EK books. Sharon’s humorous follow up PB, GET READY, MAMA! Is due to be released through EK books in April, 2022. Her third PB, LET’S GO SHOPPING, GRANDMA! is due to be released through Dixi Books in 2022. SAMARA RUBIN AND THE UTILITY BELT, book one in Sharon’s early MG series – THE UTILITY BELT, will be released in 2022 through Clear Fork Publishing. With book two TOBY KING AND THE UTILITY BELT to follow.
Arielle Li has been passionate about creating art from a young age, and has been pursuing illustration as a career since 2019. She enjoys long walks at the beach, chasing her cats around the house and practising Taekwondo. Her debut picture book GET READY, MAMA! releases in April 2022. Arielle is based in Adelaide.
by Bryan Patrick Avery
It’s February and that means it’s Black History Month in the United States. While I’ve always felt that African American history is, and should be treated as, American history, I also like that fact that, once a year, we set aside time to honor the efforts and contributions of Black people. This year, Black History Month is especially exciting for me because it marks the release of my newest book, BLACK MEN IN SCIENCE, a middle grade collection of biographies illustrated by Nikita Leanne.
The theme of my school visits for the book is “History Matters”. With that in mind, let’s take look at three wonderful Black history books that are available now.
Written by Tracey Baptiste, AFRICAN ICONS: TEN PEOPLE WHO SHAPED HISTORY, dispels the myth that Black history begins with slavery. The ten subjects covered in the book are scholars, inventors, and royalty. They are also native Africans who accomplishments pre-date slavery.
Hillary D. Wilson’s amazing illustrations put faces to the names of some of history’s greatest figures, including Hannibal Barca, Amanirenas, and (my personal favorite) Aesop. Each profile will inspire you and incite your curiosity. This is truly a history book that belongs on every shelf.
Over the last few years, the horrors of the Tulsa Massacre have been front in center. It was the subject of the tv series The Watchman and multiple books and news segments have covered the tragedy. Nikki Shannon Smith’s new novel, LENA AND THE BURNING OF GREENWOOD: A TULSA RACE MASSACRE SURVIVAL STORY tells the story of young Black girl whose family is forced to flee when Greenwood is attacked by a white mob intent on destruction.
Part of the Girls Survive series, LENA AND THE BURNING OF GREENWOOD allows readers to see and feel what it was like for Black family’s during this horrific event. In addition to a captivating tale that will have readers hearts pounding, the book includes backmatter which provides more information on the Greenwood District and discussion questions and writing prompts to help readers process their feelings on this incident.
I’ve loved baseball ever since I was a kid playing in the outfield for Stapleton Spence Packing. I fell in love with the Negro League baseball watching The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings around the same time. Starring James Earl Jones and Billy Dee Williams, the film follows the travels of a barnstorming Negro Leagues team as they attempt to make a name for themselves in baseball. It should be no surprise, then, that one of my favorite history books for kids is Varian Johnson’s What Were the Negro Leagues?”
Covering everything from the reason behind the need for the Negro Leagues, to the stories of legends like Rube Foster, Gus Greenlee, and Satchel Paige, WHAT WERE THE NEGRO LEAGUES? tells the story of baseball giants that were every bit is important to baseball as Babe Ruth, Whitey Ford, and Mickey Mantle. Stephen Marchesi’s illustrations bring the excitement to life and the book includes a detailed timeline of the Negro Leagues as well as a bibliography which directs reading to other resources.
Well, that’s all for this month. I encourage you to check out these wonderful books. Drop the titles of your favorite Black history books in the comments below. Happy writing and have a magical month!
At the age of 7, Bryan Patrick Avery discovered a love of reading and mysteries after receiving his first Bobbsey Twins Mystery Book. Today, he is an award-winning poet and author of books for children. His middle-grade story, “The Magic Day Mystery”, appears in SUPER PUZZLETASTIC MYSTERIES, an anthology from HarperCollins and the Mystery Writers of America. His debut picture book, THE FREEMAN FIELD PHOTOGRAPH, illustrated by Jerome White, was published by Clearfork Publishing/Spork. His early reader series, MR. GRIZLEY’S CLASS, illustrated by Arief Putra, is available now from Picture Window Press. He is the 2021 recipient of the SCBWI Work in Progress Award for his chapter book mystery THE ROBOT IN THE LIBRARY. His middle grade non-fiction book, BLACK MEN IN SCIENCE, was just released by Rockridge Press.
Bryan serves on the board of directors of the Northern California Chapter of Mystery Writers of America and is a 2021 Amplify Black Stories Fellow, a joint program presented by the Brown Bookshelf and the Highlights Foundation.
Bryan lives in Northern California with his family.
by Melissa Stoller
February 14th conjures images of roses, boxes of chocolates, and loving cards. Here are a few ways you can capture some warm heart moments and use them as inspiration for your stories.
Think about your first friend. Or your best friend. Or a friend who used to be in your life. What memories do you associate with this friend? What activities did you share? Remember events you attended together. Pick one friendly association and write a few lines.
Cheers to heartfelt creativity!
Melissa Stoller is the author of the chapter book series The Enchanted Snow Globe Collection - Return to Coney Island and the picture books Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush; Ready, Set, GOrilla!; and Sadie’s Shabbat Stories. Planting Friendship: Peace, Salaam, Shalom (co-written with Callie Metler and Shirin Rahman, illustrated by Kate Talbot), released from Clear Fork Publishing in October, 2021. Building Bridges: Peace, Salaam, Shalom releases in 2022. Melissa is a Blogger and Course Assistant for the Children’s Book Academy, a Regional Ambassador for The Chapter Book Challenge, a volunteer with SCBWI/MetroNY, and a founding member of The Book Meshuggenahs. She also interviews authors on her blog, This Writing Life, and offers book tips and resources. In other chapters of her life, Melissa has worked as a lawyer, legal writing instructor, freelance writer and editor, and early childhood educator. She lives in New York City with her family, and enjoys theatre, museums, and Wordle! www.MelissaStoller.com
by Denise Gallagher
I am a graphic designer and illustrator who spent many years working happily as an art director. But in 2009, I hit a creative wall.
I wanted more.
So I decided to pursue my dream of illustrating children’s books.
“I know! I’ll write my own picture book to practice on!” No big deal, right?
I sat down to write and came up with a whopping 1400-hundred word fairy tale titled, “Claire de Loup” that I absolutely fell in love with.
I threw myself into the task of creating some moody, lush, heavily patterned illustrations and a thorough book dummy.
Then I shared it with the world.
It was dark.
It was dense.
It was not ready.
I got some helpful feedback but
was overwhelmed so put it all in a drawer.
I still loved the story, though.
So in 2014, I decided to revisit it. I scrapped all of the original illustrations and started over in a new style.
The story was the same but the illustrations were brighter and more kid-friendly.
With renewed confidence, I packaged up this revised version and brought it with me to an SCBWI conference in Houston.
The illustrations were a hit and I won the portfolio showcase!
But the manuscript review… oof.
Among other things, it was way too long.
How do you cut text when you love every single word that you’ve written?
I can be very stubborn. I know this about myself.
But, kicking and screaming, I did it. I winnowed down the story. I cut out flowery language and descriptive words. I did more showing than telling.
And guess what? I still loved it!
This is it! This will be published! And I truly believed that it would.
I sent it out into the world again, to a much warmer review.
I received kind rejections.
Why did I think I could be a writer anyway?
Didn’t I just want to be an illustrator?
Dejected, I put it in a drawer again.
In 2015, I was awarded a scholarship to a writing course from Mira Reisberg’s Children’s Book Academy. The course helped me to really focus on the writing portion of creating a picture book. During the course, Mira helped me to work diligently on everything from characters, to plot twists and endings. My confidence in writing was bolstered!
Then in 2019 I attended Leslie Helakoski’s workshop, “Structure and Voice. Rhyme and Revision." I needed something to work on so I grabbed a pencil and a notebook and dusted off my old manuscript.
One section of Leslie’s workshop discussed what to do with a manuscript that just seemed to have stalled.
This hit a nerve.
She encouraged us to step back from the story and imagine changing one aspect and rewriting it. That aspect could be voice, character, setting, etc.
Up until this point, my beloved story was about a girl and a wolf in the forest.
You can imagine the comparisons it drew.
Leslie had gotten the wheels turning again. I was once again excited about my book.
The wolf became a tiger. The forest, a jungle — a jungle which teemed with unusual creatures. The story changed just a bit but became deeper in meaning.
Happy with the new manuscript, I started over — for the third time — on the illustrations. Using juicy colors, I created a character that was unique and spunky and who lived in a jungle landscape that was fresh and exciting and full of life.
And I changed the title to “Moonsong.”
I got some great feedback and in 2020 I received a publishing offer during a Twitter pitch event. That was at the very beginning of the pandemic so working on the final art was a happy distraction from the events going on in the world around me.
On October 1, 2021, “Moonsong” became a real book — a book that lives in happy homes and on library shelves around the country.
I had always believed in the story.
From the very beginning.
I just had to learn to be a little less stubborn and a little more patient.
I learned to let go and to embrace change.
It took 12 years, three different illustration attempts and many, many text revisions to finally see my story in its final form.
And I am happy to say that there is a child out there who now looks up at the moon just a little differently — all because of my story.
Denise Gallagher, Biography
Denise Gallagher is a published author and illustrator of children’s picture books. She is also proud to be the Illustrator Coordinator for the Louisiana/Mississippi Region of SCBWI. Her illustration portfolio won first place in portfolio reviews at SCBWI Conferences in both Houston and New Orleans.
Her picture book “Moonsong” which she wrote and illustrated was published by The Little Press in the Fall of 2021.
Her picture book “A Tip Tap Tale,” which she wrote and illustrated, was published in 2017 by UL University Press.
She has also illustrated folk tales from Louisiana and Canada. “Peg Bearskin, A Traditional Newfoundland Folktale” received the Aesop Prize by the Children’s Folklore Section of the American Folklore Society and was on the short list for the Lillian Shepherd Memorial Award for Excellence in Illustration for the 2020 Atlantic Book Awards.
Denise is on the Editorial Board of the University of Louisiana Press and is an Adjunct Professor of Graphic Design at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. She is part of the Teaching Artist Program in Lafayette, teaching literature and art to students of all ages. She has also been included on many literary panels and speaking events.
Denise has a passion for folklore, folktales, unusual animals and magical realism and is inspired by her lush, green Louisiana home.
We are so excited to be mixing things up at CBA, beginning with some delicious additions to the Blogfish. Meet our awesome bloggers!!
Here's our lineup:
1st Mondays begin with awesome multi-published former student Shirin Shamsi who will be focusing on Muslim and cultural kidlit.
2nd Mondays will feature super smart Melissa Stoller whose career is taking off with several new books.
3rd Mondays will feature Bryan Patrick Avery, published writer, man of mystery, and professional magician among other things.
4th Mondays will feature STEM, STEAM & SEL obsessed author Kourtney LaFavre sharing delightfully dorky, quirky, and fun info.
And 5th Mondays we'll be taking a break