Friday, February 26, 2010

Weston Woods

It's Book Business Friday. Weston Woods makes audiovisual versions of picture books. The company was started in 1953 by Morton Schindel and it's now part of Scholastic. Read a brief history, and info about how books are chosen, here. See a sample of the many books they've made into video and audio versions here. There's a whole book about the company here. Watch a clip below to get a taste of what they do.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


It's Thursday, Real Kids Day. And Winter Olympics time. The fun of snow and the challenge of learning a new sport are combined here.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Vermont College of Fine Arts

It's Writing Wednesday. You've probably heard references to the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA program in Writing for Children & Young Adults. But what's the program? Who teaches there? What do the students do? Now would be a good time to find out here. And look here at their "Hunger Mountain" journal. And while we're at it, here is a list of some other writing programs that may have a similar focus. Have you been in one of these programs? What's it really like?

Ed Young

It's Illustration Tuesday. Artist Ed Young has illustrated over eighty books for children, including the Caldecott Medal winner, Lon Po Po. Look over his website here to learn more about his books (some of which he wrote as well) and read about his background. Enjoy an interview with him, and see lots of pictures, here, on the website Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. In the video below you can meet him as he talks about illustrating a new book, Shangahai Messanger.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Richard Scarry

It's Monday--Picture Books Past. Author and illustrator Richard Scarry created enormously popular books for young readers. Starting in 1949, he published many individual books with Little Golden Books, followed by the lively Busytown books with characters like Lowly Worm. For an overview, read his 1994 obit here and on Wikipedia here. For an interesting comparison of pages in the 1963 and 1991 editions of The Best Word Book Ever, look here, and see a peek at how changing values in society can be reflected in picture books over time.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The CSK Award

It's Friday--Book Business Day. Awards help increase sales--that's the book business. The Coretta Scott King Award has been honoring children's book creators for four decades now. Here's what the ALA website says about it: "Given to African American authors and illustrators for outstanding inspirational and educational contributions, the Coretta Scott King Book Award titles promote understanding and appreciation of the culture of all peoples and their contribution to the realization of the American dream of a pluralistic society." Read the background on the award here. See winners here.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Play Pool

It's Thursday, Real Kids Day. It's something everybody--old, young, brother, sister--can agree on. It's fun to play together in a baby pool. It just is.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Good Picture Books Thoughts

It's Writing Wednesday. Author Marilyn Singer put up a collection of opinions worth reading. She asked a batch of book people, "What makes a good picture book?" The answers are here. From this trove, we ought to be able to take away one solid good thought to work on to make our next manuscript better. Hmmm...but which one to chose?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Skippyjon Jones

It's Illustration Tuesday. Have you encountered Skippyjon Jones? I thought so. Illustrator Judith Schachner created him. The books have had great sales and therefore build on each other to become a publishing success story. Watch the video below and check out these other links, too, just to get a feel for the impact of success. Her website, the Skippyjon website, some merchandise, a reading festival, and Facebook. And it all began with the enjoyment of drawing her cat.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Leo Politi

It's Monday--Picture Books Past. Leo Politi won the Caldecott Medal in 1950 for Song of the Swallows. Though he is strongly associated with hispanic culture and Southern California, he was actually an Italian American who was born in Fresno. He would have been 100 years old in 2008 and here is a website about the Leo Politi Centennial. There's quite a bit of interesting stuff, if you poke around a bit there. Here's the entry about him on Wikipedia. Some of his books have been republished by the Getty Museum in LA. In his pictures and words, one can see his respect for children and his love of capturing their worlds.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Illustrator Submissions

It's Friday--Book Business Day. Sending submissions can be kind of like planting seeds in a garden. And a little advice from someone experienced can help. It's nice to check in with the helpful and entertaining blog, "Editorial Anonymous" for some sage advice on the book business. Here's a post about how illustrators should submit work to a publisher. Even if we aren't in that end of things ourselves, it's good to understand. And besides, we know the question's going to come up in conversation with other book folk, sooner or later, and we'll know just what to advise.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Don't Touch Me

It's Real Kids Thursday. Don't we all feel like this sometimes?
No, I'm not interesting! Don't touch me!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Black History Month

It's Writing Wednesday. On the Reading Rockets website, they say, "February is Black History Month and an ideal time to learn about and recognize the contributions and history of African Americans." They have a bunch of resources to help us enjoy and learn from some African American children's book writers and illustrators. Check out the list here and watch some of the video interviews that are available by clicking on the author's name. It's a great resource. As a sample, listen below to Ashley Bryan talk about pattern in story. (And, wow, when he does some storytelling, he can really sound like a chicken talking!) Then, Nikki Giovanni talks about writing for children (human voice only.)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

David Macaulay

It's Illustration Tuesday. David Macaulay is known for his richly illustrated informational books. Here are some nifty videos which give us a little insight into how he creates these books. Visit his website here to see all of his books and more.

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Horn Book

It's Monday--Picture Books Past. The first issue of The Horn Book Magazine appeared in 1924. It began as the newsletter of The Bookshop for Boys and Girls, an early children's bookstore in Boston, opened in 1916. See some charming pictures of it here. Both were started by Bertha Mahony Miller, here. The magazine soon became, and remained, the premiere place for the discussion of books for children and young people. An in-depth article about the early history, and many of the women who were major figures in the early days of the blossoming of children's books, is here. A great page full of links to articles and features of The Horn Book magazine is here. There's lots to enjoy!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Huffington Post on Books

It's Friday--Book Business Day. Ever looked at the Huffington Post? Well, one page that might be of interest is here, their central location for things that are happening in book publishing. (Read all about it right there! Yet another celebrity to publish a children's book! Steve Martin this time!) Check it out--there are interesting articles, news bits, and opinions to help stay up to date on the industry.

Thursday, February 4, 2010


It's Real Kids Thursday. Some kids have some extra challenges, but all kids are built to be explorers. They want to move and find out about their world. We can think about imagining the world from a child's viewpoint--all different kinds of children--to expand our ideas about what our picture books might be to different readers.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Poetry Foundation

It's Writing Wednesday. Now here is a website you want to check out. The Poetry Foundation is an outgrowth of Poetry Magazine, which was started in 1912 by a lady with vision and determination, Harriet Moore. The magazine struggled and survived for decades. When it got a huge whopper of a gift in 2003, the Foundation was established. There is lots for a writer to explore on their website. Here is their history and here is the children's poetry. Picture books and poetry--a great combination. Look around and enjoy.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Toon Books

It's Illustration Tuesday. Comics have been an ongoing love of children for decades, regardless of what adults thought. They've come an incredibly long way in the last 25 years. "TOON Books are the first high-quality comics designed for children ages four and up. Each book in the collection is just right for reading to the youngest child but perhaps more remarkable: this is the first collection ever designed to offer newly-emerging readers comics they can read themselves." That's from the website of Toon Books. They've just received a big honor--see that here. Check out this small and unique publisher here. It is a project of Francoise Mouly and her husband Art Speigelman (read about them here.) Listen to an extensive interview with them here that is conducted by Susan Raab.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

It's Monday--Picture Books Past. Judith Viost's Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day has been around a long time now--it was first published in 1972. So, it's a picture book from the past, but one that is still popular and found on many recommended reading lists as a "modern classic." It's been adapted and made into a play. (Look here to see the script--interesting in itself.) It's an "issue" book in the sense that it deals with a real problem children face and it can be the starting place for conversations. (See how a teacher might use it here.) And the book has a winning combination of language, humor, and characterization. Why do you think it has been so popular and what can we learn from it?