All the Best Picture Books of 2014
This is my final post for the year so I thought I'd do a quick review. It was a year of great highs and some lows. I learned that I could only work 14-20 hr days 7 days a week for a year before my health completely chucked it in and gave up being an agent to focus on just running the Academy and getting well. While I loved being an agent, learned tons about publishing and the industry, met fantastic editors and fellow agents, and helped a whole bunch of people, I am so much happier doing one thing and focusing my ridiculous energy and expertise there. Yay Children's Book Academy! One of the sweetest things I heard apart from how much students learn is that the school should be called Love Fest Academy because of the way that it is set up as a gestalt with everyone helping each other and sharing the love. It is pretty magical. We held lots of classes and webinars and most of the experiences were truly wonderful learning journeys for all involved. The courses just seem to get better and better as we learn from you all what works best. I'm happy to report that during the Academy's brief life, 21 former students have received 32 contract offers and many others have become agented. Sweet! Cant wait till I have covers to add to the wall of fame from earlier students!
I'm also super excited about our upcoming free webinar on January 2nd where Hillary Homzie and I will be sharing and showing folks how easy it is to write a chapter book or early middle grade. Here's the link, which we'd love for you to share http://www.childrensbookacademy.com/free-novel-writing-webinar.html We are also hoping to have a mystery editor or agent with us, and Hillary being a former comedian pretty much guarantees that this (did we mention free?) event will be lots of fun, so do join us. Those registered will receive a recording link afterwards and the possibility of winning one of our sweet prizes. Of course I'm also really excited about Hillary's and my course starting January 12th that blew people out of the water last year when quite a few picture book writers discovered that they were really chapter book and early MG writers. We were delighted because it's a much needed form now that picture books are skewing younger and shorter and parents are pushing for earlier independent readers. Plus they were amazed that they could write a first draft novel in 5 weeks.
This year was also a time of planning: a new website design will be coming that will hopefully make navigating easier and a bunch of new courses will also be coming. We'll be telling you about these in 2015. So farewell 2014 and hullo 2015. I hope the year has been a good one for you too and that 2015 will be even better.And now for our fun three for one video reviews. Short and sweet let's take a peek at the non-fiction chapter book Who Was Harriet Tubman, another chapter book Freckle Face (an oldie but goodie by Judy Blume) and the hip middle grade graphic novel Low Riders in Space. A little random I know but well worth a look. Total 9.14 minutes.
Wishing you peace, happiness, and creative joy ~ Mira
100 Things That Make Me Happy
In the grand tradition of “Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens” comes an uplifting tribute to 100 everyday things worth celebrating. The list, in rhyming couplets, draws directly from a preschooler’s world—from slippery floors to dinosaurs, from goldfish to a birthday wish. Amy Schwartz weaves a masterful balance between art and text, with each of the 100 items portrayed as its own well-observed and warmly detailed vignette. While the contents provide readers with a frame of reference for the quantity of “100”—a celebratory milestone in preschools and early elementary grades—the oversized pages envelop young children in the wonderful things surrounding them.
From School Library Journal PreS-Gr 1--
This lovely volume features 100 everyday objects and activities from a child's world that elicit pleasure. In rhyming couplets, the list ranges from "bucket trucks/yellow ducks," "flip-flops/lollipops," and "mud puddles/soap bubbles" to "polka dots/forget-me-nots," "pony rides/shiny slides," and "braids/parades." A sample spread reads "fuzzy sweaters/long letters/ slippery floors/dinosaurs/comfy chair/county fair." Each of the rhymes is accompanied by a delightful illustration featuring a diverse cast of characters. The book jacket doubles as a poster featuring smaller-size illustrations of all 100 happy things on the reverse side. A fun, engaging read.—Sarah Polace, Cuyahoga Public Library System, OH
Reasons why I love 100 Things That Make Me Happy
1. It's a picture book in list format. (There is no story. It is simply a list.)
2. It's a brilliant topic for a list. (The idea is that there are at least 100 things in life that can make you happy.)
3. It has a great message: Simple things in life can make you happy. (slippery floors, birthday wishes, flip flops, fuzzy sweaters!)
4. This can be a fantastic writing exercise for yourself or if you are a teacher or parent it could be a fun writing exercise or project for kids!
5. This list could spark other ideas to write about. It could spark other lists: 100 things that make me sad, 100 things that scare me, 100 tiny things, 100 things I love about the beach etc...
6. This book could be a great conversation starter or sparker between adults and children, or between children.
7. It rhymes in short list format, rhyming couplets. This is one of my favorite ways to rhyme. (Not rhyming couplet, but specifically short, list format, rhyme.)
8. It's fun to read aloud!
9. This book could be used for math as well as a 100 day celebration read aloud!
10. It reminds me of the song Julie Andrews sings in The Sound of Music: My Favorite Things. And who doesn't love that song or that musical or Julie Andrews?
11. It's a mood changer. It will put you in a better mood! Thinking about all the things that make you happy is a great way to cheer yourself up if you are feeling blue.
I simply can't wait to buy this book and read it aloud to my baby Harper. I also can't wait to try to come up with my own list of 100 things that make me happy.
Below are some of the images from the book shared from Amazon.
Do you think you can think of 100 things that make you happy? My list is going to start with this book!
With the completion of the Illustrating Children's Picture Books course and the advent of the upcoming Chapter Book Alchemist course, there's been a lot going on in my life. So I present to you Tuesdays with Mira! The new course also got me thinking, "Hey, wait a sec, why haven't I reviewed Chapter Books??" Late is better than never right? So here I go, I present to you Kung Pow Chicken! by the amazing wordsmith Cyndi Marko. This book is just chock full of funny puns and superhero suspense, I found myself laughing out loud on nearly every page. This book is also a perfect example of second visual stories, so please check it out!
Also, I apologize for the lighting, I only had one chance to record and it was just as the sun was setting! Still, it should be fun!
Next up I have for you another quickie video I put together called What Is a Chapter Book?? So often Chapter Books are mixed up with Middle Grade novels. And if you liked Kung Pow Chicken then you'll understand why they're such a great niche in the Children's Publishing world.
Chapter Books allow writers the freedom of WORDS. Have you been struggling to write a Picture Book but cant keep it under 400 words? Chapter Books open up a whole new world, and not to mention they are still fabulously illustrated. Still need some clarification? Check out my little video :)
If any of this has you tempted to consider writing your own chapter book (it's easier than you think) check out our highly interactive Chapter Book Alchemist e-course right here. Super specials are ending December 15th!
It looks like I goofed and missed my deadline. Hopefully I won't be fired. Please check back tomorrow.
Sometimes life gets in the way. Finishing up the Craft and Business of Illustrating Children's Books with Chronicle Books' Kristine Brogno as co-teacher and the most fantastic group of students (and assistants) and extraordinary results complete with a bonus websites makeover webinar tonight and getting the contest criteria all together for the grand finale contest plus lining up guest interviews and editor and agent "prizes" for the upcoming Chapter Book Alchemist course makes for a very long run on sentence and a busy woman. But the gist of it is that I'm late with my post. Please check back tomorrow and I'll do my best to make it extra special.
With apologies, Mira
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