There's nothing like the excitement of gearing up toward a new course and our upcoming Craft and Business of Illustrating Children's Books is especially exciting. We have more outrageously fabulous major award-winning contributors than I could ever have imagined including the wonderful Salina Yoon, Lane Smith, Ashley Wolff, Paul O. Zelinsky and so many more. I'm co-teaching it with Kristie Radwilowicz who designs and art directs books for both Farrar Strauss and Giroux and Roaring Brook Press, two awesome imprints from Macmillan. In case you're curious about Kristie, here's a wee informal video of her (1 minute). She really is a delight and despite looking 16, knows her stuff.
Meanwhile, I'm having an "I Love Salina Yoon Day". If you've ever had the good fortune to meet her in person, you'll understand why her books are so successful. Besides her talents and skills, Salina's books reflect her warmth, smarts, open-heartedness and quirky personality. In this 8 minute video, I look at 2 of Salina's books from her bear series (she tends to work in series) and while I talk a little about the stories, I mostly focus on the art and what she does that makes her images uniquely hers as well as what makes them work!! Unfortunately the color came out a little florescent so bear that in mind (pun intended) and know that the colors are much more attractive in real life.
Oh and just a quickie heads up - if you sign up between now and September 7th sign up for the Craft and Business of Illustrating Children's Books, we'll teach you how to draw (if you need that), how to illustrate board books through graphic novels, and how to take your work to the next level and sell it in the contemporary market. You'll also receive FOUR FREE BONUS COURSES (our most ever) with a year's access each plus the early bird special price. Here's the link!
Finally we have a really fun quiz/giveaway with great prizes in honor of the new course right here.
Do come join the fun and we'd love your comments below. In fact share about the quiz and comment below to win a free social media course!! WAHOO!!
No, I'm sad because I always want to accomplish so much more than I do. I wanted to spend more days in the sun, more time at the beach, read more books than I did, visit more places than I have. But then again if I had done all these things, I would be sad and frustrated that I didn't work on enough school related things and I would feel totally unprepared.
It's all about balance. Something I will forever be chasing.
In the meantime, please share in my farewell to summer and welcoming of school, fall, the smell of sticky notes and sharpened pencils and that amazing feeling of the first blank page of a brand new notebook.
By Judith Viorst
One by one the petals drop
There's nothing that can make them stop.
You cannot beg a rose to stay.
Why does it have to be that way?
The butterflies I used to chase
Have gone off to some other place.
I don't know where. I only know
I wish they didn't have to go.
And all the shiny afternoons
So full of birds and big balloons
And ice cream melting in the sun Are done.
I do not want them done
by Eve Merriam
Vacation is over;
It's time to depart.
I must leave behind
(Although it breaks my heart)
Tadpoles in the pond,
A can of eels,
A leaky rowboat,
Abandoned car wheels;
For I'm packing only
A month of sunsets
And two apple trees.
The First Day of School
by Aileen Fisher
I wonder if my drawing will be as good as theirs
I wonder if they’ll like me, or just be full of stares
I wonder if my teacher will look like mom or gram
And I wonder if my puppy will wonder where I am.
Close the bar-b-que
Close the sun
Close the home-run-games we won
Close the picnic
Close the pool
Close the summer
Wowee zowie! The SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and illustrators) LA conference was fabulous!! And now I’m totally excited about our scholarships and upcoming course. Double wahoo!!
First off I want to share some of my personal highlights from the conference starting with seeing old friends, making new friends, and having a wonderful Children’s Book Academy get together lunch, and having a wonderful roommate in Carol Foote. Then there was the thrill of seeing 6 former students selling their books at the PAL members book signing even though I got there late after the Red Fox Literary party and many were gone.
Below are some pics in a slide show. Just click on the left to pause if you like or use the arrows on the right to scroll through faster or go back.
I loved Newbery winner Kwame Alexander talking about self-publishing and taking his book to the farmer’s market where he’d make thousands but then October came…. What a fabulously charismatic and inspiring man.
Gorgeous and funny keynote MCs and SCBWI co-founders Steve Mooser and Lin Oliver who did a brilliant job and kept us all laughing.
Caldecott winner Dan Santat shedding a tear at the end of his keynote presentation. Jordan Brown talking about connecting your character’s voice to the reader’s experiences. The importance of empathy. Mem Fox being Mem Fox – awesome. Emotion. Miranda Paul’s clarifying that creative nonfiction doesn’t mean invented or untrue and asking – what does your story give that readers can’t get from the Internet? Adam Rex, hilarious and ridiculously talented. Kathleen Krull and Paul Brewster on writing humorous nonfiction. Jane O’Connor says she’s a fantastic eavesdropper, and middle grade novelist Shannon Hale who impressed me so much that I went to her website, which is also hilarious and full of great stuff that you can learn from http://oinks.squeetus.com/. Clearly I could write many blog posts on the many fabulous speakers that I saw.
This year I also splurged and stayed for the Illustration Intensive just to make sure that our upcoming course is as extraordinary as I think it is and the great news is, that it is!! Still, it was so fabulous seeing what we’ll be teaching (on a much deeper level and a whole bunch more that of course couldn’t be included in a one-day intensive) presented in a different way and I even learned some new things (always a thrill). I loved the faculty including Laurent Linn, Paul Zelinsky, Pat Cummings, Eliza Wheeler, Peter Brown, Melissa Sweet, Cecilia Yung, John Rocco, Alexander Penfold, Dan Santat, Brenda Bowen, and Lauren Rille who were all generous and erudite and inspiring. And even though after 28 years, I was familiar with most of the content, the specifics of how some of these folks do what they do was absolutely wonderful to see and the camaraderie was awesome. It was an awesome way to end the conference and totally inspired me for our upcoming course for which we are offering both full and half scholarships!!
Recently we gave away a record number of scholarships for our picture book writing course, which ended up being a total love fest with Knopf assistant editor Kelly Delaney and a fantastic group of students. All of us were blown away with how far students took their stories from the beginning to the end of the course and now we’re hoping to do the same with our next course. So we’re thrilled to announce that scholarship applications and registration are now open for the 2015 Craft and Business of Illustrating Children’s Books. This course is for fearful beginner, courageous writers, and award winners. It gets rave reviews and many former students are now published. And while the main focus is on picture books, we’ll also be including materials on illustrating chapter books, middle grade, and graphic novels if we can squeeze it all in plus we have some fantastic bonuses and Golden Ticket submission opportunities! The scholarship applications, where we are honoring both Rafael Lopez and Pat Cummings, are easy peasy. Here’s the link to find out more bit.ly/1NnXLQn Don't worry if you register for the course and get a scholarship, we'll refund your money without problems. We’d also be grateful if you’d help us get the word out about these and also about the course here bit.ly/ZVVAib
And now for our Big Announcement!!
The delightful and incredibly creative assistant graphic designer and art director for Farrah Strauss and Giroux, Kristie Radwilowicz, as described by FSG Editorial Director Joy Peskin, will be co-teaching the course! Kristie is warm, generous, super smart, and lots of fun. She’ll be giving us the inside scoop on this veteran NYC publisher while gently helping students take their work fabulous places and guiding them through new doors. We also have some phenomenal bonuses for this course as well as some excellent submission opportunities that we’ll be announcing later not to forget some brand new extraordinary contributors including the great Salina Yoon, Lane Smith, Eliza Wheeler and Paul O. Zelinsky! Wow. Please come check it out and help spread the word.
Yours in children’s book love ~ Mira
Read to your children.
Effective teachers of reading know that encouraging their students to read trade books, both in and out of school, is the best way to bolster their students’ vocabulary. As books are rich in academic words, the extended reading of trade books not only increases vocabulary in terms of quantity, but it also enhances vocabulary in terms of quality. “Written language, including the language found in children’s books, is far more sophisticated and complex than is spoken language, even that of college educated adults” (Cunningham & Zibulsky, 2013; Allington, 2012; Hayes, 1988). Compared to written language, spoken language is “lexically impoverished.”
The amount of students’ reading is strongly related to their vocabulary knowledge. Students learn new words by encountering them in text, either through their own reading or by being read to. Increasing the opportunities for such encounters improves students’ vocabulary knowledge, which in turn improves their ability to read more complex text. “In short, the single most important thing you can do to improve students’ vocabulary is to get them to read more.” (Texas Reading Initiative, 2002).
Three Tiers of Vocabulary
Educator and author of Bringing Words to Life, Isabel Beck, has categorized all words into three tiers.
-Most basic words
-Rarely require instruction in school
-Examples: clock, baby, happy
-Words that are high frequency for mature language users and are found across a variety of domains
-Not so common in everyday language
-Instruction adds productivity to an individual’s ability
-Examples: coincidence, absurd, industrious
-Words whose frequency of use is quite low and is often limited to specific domains
-Best learned when needed in a content area
-Examples: isotope, lathe, peninsula
Therefore, when teaching vocabulary, it makes the most sense to teach Tier II words.
So what does this mean for writers?
It means that educators specifically choose well-written picture books that contain tier II vocabulary words. It means that writers should be aware of this and not shy away from such vocabulary words when writing. Often, I hear writers discussing using “higher level” vocabulary words in picture books. And whether it's appropriate or not. But they typically clump together tier II and tier III words together as this "higher level vocabulary." However falling into this assumption will cause writers to fill picture books with inappropriate “higher level” vocabulary that will make the picture book inaccessible for young readers.
Knowing the difference between the tiers and having an understanding of effectively using tier II words will make a picture book reach a much wider audience.
Is there a list of all tier II words?
No. (Not that I know of.) Because the list would be way too large. However, even within tier II words, writers and educators can choose the “best” tier II words to use for instruction.
For example think about this:
-Is the word interesting? Useful? Will it be in other texts?
-Can you define the word using vocabulary the student will understand?
-Will the word help with the major understanding of the selection?
This book has it all!
-Flawed, yet likable character.
-Strong character want and problem.
-Clever, original rhyme.
-A never stumbling, perfect meter.
-(I hate using LOL, but the humor in this book is literally the laugh out loud kind.)
-And for a book that is geared toward a younger audience, the use of vocabulary will make your four year old smarter (as well as your ten year old.)
Check out some of the stunning vocabulary used in this amazing picture book:
What About Moose? Well, it’s simply splendid, engaging, and full of stunning vocabulary!
Many apologies for not having a blog post today but am in LA, the City of Angels, having a wonderful time at the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators summer conference. It's been really wonderful on many levels. After I return, I'll start putting together a report on the conference along with why it's so important to join SCBWI if you aren't already a member along with some other exciting news.
TTFN (ta ta for now) ~ yours in children's book love and community ~ Mira
We are so excited to be mixing things up at CBA, beginning with some delicious additions to the Blogfish. Meet our awesome new bloggers!!
Here's our lineup:
1st Mondays begin with Clear Fork/Spork editor/art director, former agent and former kidlit professor Mira Reisberg PhD who is also the Director of the Children's Book Academy.
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 feature funny Aussie author Sharon Giltrow sharing awesome Aussie books.
And 5th Mondays will feature Libyan American author Koloud Tarapolsi sharing wonderful diverse books.