Last week was quite the magical week with lots of creativity happening all over the place and now this week we officially open registration for the Craft and Business of Illustrating Children's books, which I'm thrilled to say I will be co-teaching with Kristine Brogno, Chronicle Books' Design Director (and Art Director extraordinaire)!!! Here's the link if you'd like to find out more. It's for the whole range from fearful beginners, to adventurous authors, to award-winning illustrators. Hmmm. Come check it out. Lots of goodies.
Kristine Brogno You Know Who Mandy Yates
I also got to see three former students present and do book signings at Sacramento's Fairytale Town and they all did brilliantly!! Congratulations to author/illustrator Linda Knoll for Patience for Pumpkins about farmer's markets and produce, which mixes a lovely story and nonfiction information with beautiful watercolor illustrations.
Fabulous multi-award winning author/illustrator Kathryn Otoshi has followed up from Zero and One to Two, which on the surface is about playing with numbers but is really about friendship, bullying, being left out, conflict, and tons of other meaty concepts. It's quite extraordinary as is Kathryn. When time allows, I'll be reviewing each of these books and doing interviews with them so do check back.
Finally, Gayle Pitman's simple rhyming book This Day in June is one of, if not the only, children's books about Gay Pride and the many different kinds of people and families who participate. The short stanzas are later explained in a section called Reading Guide that unpacks both the words and images for readers. It's quite fabulous. Needless to say, I felt like a proud mama.
Interestingly enough, just after my former students finished one of my current co-teacher's, Barbara Bottner's, former students, the inimitable Barney Saltzberg also presented and signed books. He played guitar and sang and drew and was quite the showman. Linda, Kathryn, and Gayle were also super interactive with the audience and that's a whole other topic I'd love to explore in a blog post at some point.
Meanwhile I want to share a wonderful book by Barbara Krasner and Kelsey Garrity Riley that's a great new nonfiction approach to biography published by Kar-Ben publishers, an imprint with Lerner.
OK and because I couldn't resist, I usually save these for courses, but here's an interview with Joni Sussman, Kar-Ben's publisher. I hope you enjoy all of these. ~ Yours in children's book love ~ Mira
What have you read lately?
Download a copy here.
Agents share their favorite character driven picture books...
So, what books are you looking forward to adding to your reading list? Comment below and let me know!
If you are a 21st century children's book lover or creator, a teacher or a parent, chances are you've heard of Mac Barnett. The man is a treasure trove of funny, irreverent, anarchic, reality-and-convention-challenging children's books. Just about anything he writes takes you on a wild ride of childlike wonder and delight by breaking the rules and defying accepted writerly behaviors. As a kid lit teacher, I love sharing his work as examples of wonderful writing that surprises and delights. On the surface these books are mostly just tremendous fun, although that's not to say he isn't tender, especially in books like Extra Yarn, but if you sit with his books, sometimes you start reflecting on what he's actually doing as a writer. From what I can tell, he's not writing stories with deep messages other than encouraging us to question assumptions, expect the unexpected, and make friends with your imagination. And in a way, this is a deeply important message, especially in a society that has come to rely more and more on standardized tests that teach kids that there is only one right answer. Sigh. The last thing we need these days in an increasingly complex society needing independent thinkers more than ever before.
FYI, Deborah Hopkinson also does this meta move (story about story making within another story) in another favorite book, Abe Lincoln Crosses a Creek, illustrated by the fabulous John Hendrix. So before I sign off with my video review (AKA slight love song to Mac Barnett) I want to acknowledge another super smart guy, Adam Rex, who illustrated both of these books. So here's the review. I hope that you enjoy this work as much as I do. Please I'd love to know if there are any other Mac Barnett fans out there or what you think and share if you think it might be helpful to others :)
Parents always ask me: How do I get my kid to be a better reader? What can I do to help them? While there are many intervention strategies I can give parents, the one I wish I could give them is a time machine. Because I want them to go back to when they were babies. Not when they were in Kindergarten or Preschool, but babies. Like a week old. Because honestly, starting to think about becoming a good reader at the age of kindergarten is already too late.
And actually, it doesn’t just have to be books. The main thing I would tell parents would be: Talk to your children. Let them experience what a conversation is. When they start to babble, give them a chance to babble and then respond to them.
Check out the following information from Upworthy about the science behind talking to your children.
Why Talking to Babies Is An Investment Worth Making
Did you know that the learning process for kids starts way before kindergarten? And even before pre-school? Babies are actually learning all the time, so how we talk to them is really important because it is literally helping their brains grow!
Unfortunately, kids born in poverty often do not get the interaction needed to promote that kind of brain growth. As a result, they end up hearing 30 million fewer words on average in their earliest years compared to kids born into wealthier families.
And once you’ve mastered the art of talking to your children, reading to them gives them even more of an advantage.
Reading Stimulates Language
(Originally published in American Baby magazine, Updated 2010.)
When you read to your kid, you're interacting with her and allowing her to hear the rhythm of your voice. Plus, you're exposing her to many words that don't typically come up in everyday life. For instance, when was the last time you said "hippopotamus" in casual conversation? And not only is she exposed to more words, she's introduced to different word orders: Is it a unicorn? It is a unicorn! Studies show that children who are read to have greater language comprehension and a more expressive vocabulary. Getting tired of reading Goodnight Moon ? You don't necessarily have to read every word of a book for it to be beneficial. As you go through the pages, talk about the pictures, point out the colors and objects, and ask questions about the various scenes.
So don't wait! Babies are never too young to hear great literature or have a conversation with!
Hello all, in case you don't know this book, I'd like to introduce you to Sophie and her BFF Berenice. I love that this book works on so many levels - the universal theme of wanting a friend or loved one, memorable characters (a girl and her squash), wonderful understanding parents, great minimal text with lovely language, and great art that's a wonderful match to the text that also adds a little more character and flavor. It's one of the books that we'll be looking at in the upcoming Craft and Business of Writing Children's Picture Books along with a whole slew of other contemporary quirky and or soulful books that straddle the line of literary and commercial writing.
Here are the things that I love about it:
Hooks you right in with a subtle question - What are Sophie's plans for the squash?
Takes you along on a wonderful ride without it being overtly plot driven. Uses great language and a combination of predictability (kids love guessing what comes next) and surprises
Ends with a lovely twist
To which I say, "Well done author Pat Zietlow Miller, illustrator Anne Wilsdorf , editor Stephanie Pitts, and whoever the art director was, congratulations to you too!"
I hope you enjoy this book as much as I do.
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.