Friday, January 29, 2010

E-Book Deals, etc.

It's Book Business Friday. Calm...we must stay calm...breathe in...breathe out. The battle in the e-book reader world is heating up. Apple, Amazon, publishers, authors, illustrators, readers--they all have competing interests in this developing literary medium. How much is a digital book worth? How does that influence the value of a hardcover or paperback book? How much will our royalties be? What will the book of the future contain beyond text? Read about it here. And here.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Potty Time

It's Thursday--Real Kids Day. Potty training is a landmark in any family, pretty much marking the end of babyhood. Parents get really enthusiastic when kids look like they're getting the right idea. (No wonder!) Kids know it's a big deal, too.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

James Marshall

It's Writing Wednesday. James Marshall (here on Wikipedia) was loved for his humorous books with delightful pictures. Some folks (who happen to know a lot about children's books) got together to talk about James Marshall and humor in children's books. Here is a link to watch this discussion at MIT. It's long, so be prepared to settle in, but it's also quite interesting. It's a nice opportunity to see an important picture book creator discussed thoughtfully and with affection.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Debra Frasier

It's Illustration Tuesday. Debra Frasier has a batch of videos in which she talks about writing and illustrating. Enjoy watching two of them below. Look at her website here to see her books and canoe adventures. See the book she discusses, Miss Alaineus, on the Borders website here. Notice the Google preview to look through, too.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Carnegie Libraries

It's Monday, Picture Books Past. To quote the ALA site, "Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) may be best-remembered by his establishment of free public libraries meant to make available to everyone a means of self-education. In 1881, when he began the project, very few public libraries existed; he spent over $56 million to build 2,509 libraries throughout the English-speaking world." What a guy! Read more about him here and more about the Carnegie libraries here. He certainly was the most influential force bringing books to Americans one hundred years ago. And so many of those same charming and distinguished community library buildings are still in use today, with shelves full of picture books. Is there one near where you live? Try looking here.

Friday, January 22, 2010


It's Book Business Friday. How about a reminder of the categories of children's books genres, and what defines those catagories? There's an article here in which Laura Backes, from Children's Book Insider (see that site here ,) tells what's what. "Picture book" itself is an umbrella term. Since children grow and change so much during those several years of being picture book readers, the term includes many different types such as board books, concept books, bath books, story books, and so forth. Take a look. What age will your reader be?

Thursday, January 21, 2010


It's Real Kids Thursday. Climbing on a play structure may just seem fun and easy through the eyes of a grown up, but it can be a challenging experience to little ones. Human little ones, that is.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Page Turns

It's Writing Wednesday. In the Jan/Feb 2010 issue of the SCBWI Bulletin, author Sarah Blake Johnson wrote an article called "Turn...the ...PAGE!" She talks about the importance of page turn devices as techiques to encourage reader involvement and promote forward movement in our picture book stories. An accompanying piece has a chat with Allyn Johnston and Andrea Welch of Beach Lane Books. In it Johnston says, "...the page turn is at the heart of the wonder that is a brilliant picture book." Maybe that's something to put some more thought into! Read the article in the Bulletin if you can, and more ideas on this are here and here.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Henry Cole

It's Illustration Tuesday. Henry Cole is an illustrator, and sometimes author, of picture books. He uses his background to enrich the books he creates. Listen, below, to him telling how this works for him. Whatever our past experiences and interests, we can draw on that, whether it's in pictures or words. Check out his entertaining website here.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Lois Lenski

It's Monday, Picture Books Past. Lois Lenski had a long and productive career as a children's book illustrator and writer. Perhaps she is best known for her book, Strawberry Girl, a Newberry medal winner. She was also successful as a picture book artist and writer and created books like Cowboy Small and The Little Auto. She worked from the 1920's throught the 1970's. Read about this wonderful children's book creator here and here.

Friday, January 15, 2010

In The News

It's Book Business Friday. Though our focus is picture books, we want to know what's going on in the whole publishing world, so we have some clue how we fit in. Here are two recent articles of interest. The first, here, has more on the e-book developments, on NPR, where you can read it or listen to it. The second is in the New York Times about reissuing books from the past, in this case, the Baby-Sitters Club series, here.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


It's Thursday, Real Kids Day. Mud, wonderful mud. So squishy. So dirty. So fun.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


It's Writing Wednesday. Last Wednesday, here, we were thinking about writing in rhyme. Of course, rhythm goes hand in had with rhyme. In the video below, listen to Bill Martin read his classic, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?. He's all about the rhythm--so much so that he's really singing the text. We need to make the picture book words we write invite reading through their flow and rhythm. Eric Carle said that Bill Martin found the rhythm he liked first, then the words. Maybe we should try that!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Todd Parr

It's Illustration Tuesday. Do you know picture book illustrator and writer Todd Parr? You know those really colorful books he does? If you don't, you can start to meet him here. Look here and get a taste of the marketing he's involved in--it's impressive.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Rare Books

It's Monday, Picture Books Past. Old children's books may be personal or family treasures that remind us of people, places, or feelings from the past. Some may be more than nostalgic--they may be collectable or rare. The American Library Association has interesting information about old books called "Your Old Books" here. The Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of American, here, is another place for info on old books. Their convention is coming right up. Check it out here. A specialist in old children's books, Aleph-Bet Books, weighs in on the subject of buying old books on the internet here.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Ambassador Paterson

It's Book Business Friday. One way to promote the reading of children's books is through the National Ambassador for Young People's Literature. We have a brand new one this week--Katherine Paterson. Read about the position here and here. Read about her here and here. Jon Scieszka is retiring from the job. The video below shows him at work.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Spilled Milk

It's Real Kids Thursday. The book It looked Like Spilt Milk, by Charles G. Shaw, was first published in 1947. Some subjects are always good and a few book have such classic designs that, even years later, they still look as fresh as spilled milk.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Rhyme It Up

It's Writing Wednesday. How about having some fun writing in rhyme? We don't have to stress out over it and worry about what our ultimate end product will be (like a great picture book manuscript.) We can just make up some fun poems for starters. Try looking at the website of Kenn Nesbitt, Poetry4Kids, to see some very helpful thoughts on writing funny poems. Go look here. This page here is especially helpful. Check out some of his fun poems here. Have fun, shoot for a giggle.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Tea Time

It's Illustration Tuesday. Today we have two very successful English illustrators to check out. They both have very simple styles and make picture books for the very young. Below are videos with Eric Hill (learn more about him here) and Nick Sharratt (learn more about him here.) They do seem to be "Having Fun Making Books," don't they? We have to keep the joy in the process, too.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Margaret and H. A. Rey

It's Monday, Picture Books Past. Of course, when it comes to classic picture books, there's Curious George. There's an article here which gives the background on how George was created. Find out how far George has been developed here on the Houghton Mifflin site. For fun, (if you're Curious) check this out.

Friday, January 1, 2010


It's Book Business Friday. Happy New Year! It's time for an international outlook on books for children. "The International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) is a non-profit organization which represents an international network of people from all over the world who are committed to bringing books and children together,"so says the IBBY website here. Learn more about this organization and its Hans Christian Andersen medal. "Every other year IBBY presents the Hans Christian Andersen Awards to a living author and illustrator whose complete works have made a lasting contribution to children's literature." Read more about that here.