Monday, November 30, 2009

Sesame Street's in Brooklyn

It's Monday--Picture Books Past. Well, recent past--40 years, to be exact. Sesame Street has had a huge impact on children's media. Just think of the countless books it has spawned over the years. The Brooklyn Public Library is having an exhibit celebrating Sesame Street's 40th. Look at some pictures of the exhibit here. Check the news coverage below.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Blog, Blog, Blog

It's Book Business Friday. One aspect of the book business is blogging--voila--Picture Book Party, for instance. Here is list on Kidlitosphere Central which gives a sampling of blogs. One of the most popular is Fuse #8, which also has lots of good suggestions for other blogs to visit. Check this recent Fuse #8 post, and its video, to see how far blogging can take us into the world of children's books.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

It's Thursday--Real Kids Day. Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


It's Writing Wednesday.
Reminder: Shorter posts this Thanksgiving week. As writers, we want to avoid cliches, but it may be fun to steep ourselves in them a bit, if only as a reminder not to use them. They can be sneaky--it's so easy to reach for a familiar phrase. Check them out here.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


It's Illustration Tuesday.
Reminder: Shorter posts this Thanksgiving week. Check out the entertaining and illuminating blog called Drawn! which has multiple contributors posting about cartoon and illustration art. There's always something interesting there. See it here.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Historical Collections Links

It's Monday--Picture Books Past.
This Thanksgiving week Picture Book Party is partying, so the posts may be a bit shorter. The website of the American Book Collectors of Children's Literature has a page with links to notable collections. Check it out here and explore some of these sites to get an overview on the historical side of children's book collections.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Small Screens

It's Book Business Friday. There's continuing coverage on the new ways to read electronic books. One way is on smartphones, like Apple's iPhone. They may be small for reading on, but they are very convenient. No wonder these phones are growing in popularity. There's so much they can do--there are over one hundred thousand "apps," or application software items, available to use on them. Reading on a phone is a feature that some people are going to enjoy. There's a very good article about it here.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


It's Thursday, Real Kids Day. Different kids, different interests. Different cultures, different expectations. Ballet is something so many little girls crave and dabble in. For some kids, especially in some other countries, it's serious business. There are so many, many ways a child may be explore and develop his or her unique potential, aren't there?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Film Storyboards

It's Writing Wednesday. A fundamental part of the process of making a film is storyboarding. As writers and illustrators of picture books, we can think in these terms, too, to help visual our end product, the book. By storyboarding we get deeper into the storytelling. Though the writer may not be able to create the art for the book, the story can benefit from the writer understanding what the pictures could be. Check out these introductory videos on film storyboards.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

English Pictures

It's Illustration Tuesday. English children's picture books, and their illustrations, have a little different history and background than American picture books. Lots of lovely countryside and all that. Take a look here at a slide show of some contemporary English illustrators doing new pictures for classic English children's books. See what you think. Below is an illustrator working in that same tradition--sort of a high tech Beatrix Potter, as you'll see.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Robert McCloskey

It's Monday--Picture Books Past. Robert McCloskey is a giant in picture books. His beloved Make Way For Ducklings is a true classic. Below, try a high tech experience of where those famous ducks flew. Below that, a quick look at the sculpture honoring the book in the Boston Public Gardens. Then some real quackers. Read about Robert McCloskey here and here. Listen to him speak about his work as he's interviewed for the Horn Book many years ago here. Check all his books out of the library for a treat and a learning experience.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Books in the News(paper)

It's Book Business Friday. Of media sources which are not especially focused on books, the New York Times is probably the most important place for reviews of children's books. Their Children's Book Special Section is interesting to look at here. Check out the accompanying slide show of their Best Illustrated Children's Books of 2009 here. It's good to be aware those books which are picked out as being top notch. And below is a video about some books that made it on the Times best seller list--another important feature of the book/newspaper business.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


It's Real Kids Thursday. Driving a car is so grown-up and so fun. Kids love all kinds of riding vehicles, but it's a good thing they can't get a real driver's license. Maybe more sensible dogs should be driving, though.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


It's Writing Wednesday. In previous posts, we covered basic plot types. Here's another way of looking at plotting a picture book. Author Shutta Crum has info about picture book plot structures on the Reading Rockets website. The slant is on teaching children to write, but the material is really meant for an adult to grasp. There is a lot to think about here. Understanding and using plotting give us a roadmap for our stories so that the end result is more satisfying. Check out her website, too. She has lots of resources and links.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Quentin Blake

It's Illustration Tuesday. We are so darn lucky with the material available in the way of interviews and clips. Take Quentin Blake, for instance. He was the first Children's Laureate in the UK and is well known in the U.S. for his work with Roald Dahl. First, check out an excellent video on the Quentin Blake website here. Then, the first video below shows some teaching he was doing in which he demo's using different tools. In the second video below (kind of an amateur video, but quite well done) he's telling us about what it's like to do his work as an illustrator. Enjoy.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Marjorie Flack

It's Monday, Picture Books Past. Marjorie Flack (1897-1958) illustrated the classic, The Story of Ping. She also wrote and illustrated books about the terrier, Angus, like Angus and the Ducks. Another favorite book of hers is The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes. She won a Caldecott Honor for Boats on the Water. Many of her books are still enjoyed today because of her solid storytelling and gentle humor. Order up a bunch from the library to enjoy and to study their lasting strengths.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Star Power

It's Book Business Friday. When children's books take the leap to the movies, it's sometimes a big success, but certainly not always. In a recent article in Forbes, the top ten most successful characters from children's books (books for ages 12 and under, that is) are discussed here. Read the article, then look at the related slide show here. These films sell tickets, sell books, and sell merchandise. The trailer below seems like an oldie but goodie now. Smell the popcorn?

Thursday, November 5, 2009


It's Thursday, Real Kids Day. What's sweeter than affection between young children? Even if the parents set up that "Kodak moment," it's still nice. Sometimes we just want to see the world through a hazy lens and enjoy it. Some picture books capture that impulse, too.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Writers on Writing

It's Writing Wednesday. Below are three short videos on writing. The first has many authors' brief insights about getting the job done. The second is Steven King's advice to would be writers. The third is writer Martin Amis on avoiding cliches and being original. These folks (most anyway) may not be writing picture books, but they know writing and it all applies.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Mark Teague

It's Illustration Tuesday. Mark Teague is a very popular illustrator. What makes him so appealing? Maybe his humor, his lively scenes, and his charming use of color? Learn more about his background and career here. Read an interview with him and Jane Yolen here. Publisher's Weekly interviewed him here. Or below, watch him talk about his work. Then head to the library to enjoy some of his books!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Bank Street

It's Monday, Picture Books Past. There are several reasons to know about the Bank Street College of Education. 1) Its history--it was founded in 1916 to explore ideas of progressive education and it has been influential in theories and practice concerning children and their education. Check out their history here. 2) It's role in the "here and now" concept of picture book writing. Read about this movement in the mid-20th century here and here. 3) Its influential list of recommended books, "The Best Children's Books of the Year." See about it here and here. It's good to know these things, to round out our picture book knowledge, don't you think?