Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Words, Words, Words

It's Writing Wednesday. How about a place where words and etymology and usage--all sorts of topics related to global English today--reign supreme? Some brainy language lovers write the Macmillian Dictionary blog. Check it out here. Look at the weekly BuzzWord here. Get an entertaining world view on the raw material you use in your picture book writing and just enjoy the pleasure of words, words, words.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Molly Bang

It's Tuesday--Illustration Day. Molly Bang has thought a lot about pictures. She's written and illustrated many books, including three Caldecott Honor winners. A short bio is here. Her website is here. She says she spent years trying to understand pictures and how they can convey emotional content, culminating in her book, Picture This: How Pictures Work. See about it here and perhaps order a copy. Watch, below, a couple of appreciations of one of her best known books.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Monkey Business

It's Monday--Picture Books Past. There's an exhibition at the Jewish Museum in New York City called "Curious George Saves the Day: The Art of Margret and H.A. Rey." It has "...nearly eighty original drawings and preparatory dummies for Margret and H. A. Rey children’s books and documentation related to their escape from Nazi-occupied Europe." See a sample here on the museum's website and read an article about it here at the New York Times (their summary slide show is here.) Do you remember reading Curious George as a child? Why do you think he's a classic character?

Friday, March 26, 2010

E-Book Royalty Rates

It's Book Business Friday. The Authors Guild looks out for authors' interests in many ways. For one thing, they keep us aware of what kind of deals are being made and how we may be effected. Here is a recent letter to members about amendments to contracts regarding e-book rights. We need to know this.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


It's Thursday--Real Kids Day. We're going historical today with a film from the Library of Congress and modern with one from Brooklyn. Gardening is big and getting bigger in backyards and schoolyards.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Margaret Mahy

It's Writing Wednesday. We're going international today, to New Zealand. Read about Margaret Mahy, former librarian, now famous writer, here. She won the prestigious 2009 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Bubble Trouble. She talks about her writing here. One pearl from her is, "It is always a good idea to put a story aside for a little time before correcting it. Sometimes overnight is enough but, after the story is finished, I think one should probably put it aside for a month, and then revise again. One's judgement is usually restored by the break, and one can correct more incisively." So true, don't you think? Below, she talks about having her writing interpreted by others--readers and television producers. (If the screen is cut off a bit, and you want to see it full screen, try clicking on it again to go to YouTube.)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Books of the Week

It's Illustration Tuesday. Last week we looked at the Cooperative Children's Book Center for award winners here. There's another great way we can use one of their resources--the "Book of the Week" list they've compiled since 1997. Looking specifically at the list of picture books gives a great selection of books to read. But wait--there's more! By clicking on each title, we get a terrific survey of illustration styles. So many beautiful pictures and ideas for illustrators to study. Check it out here.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Baldwin Library

It's Monday--Picture Books Past. "The Baldwin Library of Historical Children's Literature in the Department of Special Collections at the University of Florida's George A. Smathers Libraries contains more than 100,000 volumes published in Great Britain and the United States from the mid-1600s through 2007." What a treasure trove! You'll find them here. Read one of the books here. Look around the website to explore more of the collection, too. See a couple of their many antique pop-ups below.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Bologna Children's Book Fair

It's Book Business Friday. The Bologna Children's Book Fair is a yearly international publishing trade event that's taking place this month. Explore the program without going to Italy here. Read an article in Publisher's Weekly here in which several book professionals discuss what they expect and hope to find there this year. Get a feel for the lovely city below.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


It's Thursday--Real Kids Day. Still wearing green today?
Perhaps the world would be a better place if we all spent more time in tap shoes and less time waving our arms about. Next stop--Riverdance.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Charlotte Zolotow Award

It's Writing Wednesday. To look for examples of picture book stories that are considered top notch, one place to check is the Cooperative Children's Book Center's annual Charlotte Zolotow Award winners. It's the major award for excellence in picture book story writing. This year's winner is What Can You Do With a Paleta? by Magaly Morales. There are also plenty of honor books and recommended titles here. These books would be well worth checking out from the library and studying. Not to mention fun, too!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Retro Pix

It's Illustration Tuesday. Flickr is an image hosting website-- basically a place to store pictures. All kinds of pictures. A great resource for illustration styles of the past can be found on a Flickr group called "Retro Kid" here. It's chock full of members who love illustrations from the mid 1940's to the mid 1960's which are targeted towards children. It can be a nifty resource for illustrators interested in drawing from the past for their own style. And it's a fun place to find all kinds of old children's books, advertisements, packages, toys, etc. from yesteryear. Check it out, and get in the mood, below.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Children's Literature in Academia

It Monday--Picture Books Past. One group of people who are most interested in children's books from the past are academics who study them as part of literature as a whole. It seems the field grew significantly in the 1970's. The Children's Literature Association (here) was established and colleges and universities added new classes in children's lit. Two journals on the subject are the "Children's Literature Association Quarterly" (here) and "Children's Literature" (here.) An example of an academic program is here. A conference is here. A professor giving a lecture on Sendak is here. It's another facet of the world of picture books.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

It's Friday, Book Business Day. Let's poke around a little at the mega-publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Here is some background on the company. Headquarters is here (notice how an iPhone app is front and center on this homepage.) Look at their many divisions here. Their handsome online HMH Spring 2010 children's catalog is here (including Clarion and Harcourt, too, if you keep turning the pages.) So take a look around and get to know this corner of the book business just a bit better. Below are a book trailer and promo piece from HMH.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Hugs, Snugs, and One Little Scream

It's Thursday, Real Kids Day. I could watch this stuff all day.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Classroom Themes

It's Writing Wednesday. How about jumping in and writing a new picture book story? But what to write about? If the well's dry, trying thinking the way a teacher of young children does. Most classrooms use subject themes (like dinosaurs, snow, or ocean life) at times. And they read books to go with those themes. Look here for a list of preschool themes for examples and inspiration. Click on any of those themes to find links to songs, books, art projects, and more. Take one of these themes, imagine a character, and put it together with a plot type here. It may start to click!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Sandra Boynton

It's Illustration Tuesday. Sandra Boynton has done so much...greeting cards first, then books, more recently music. Find out more via Wikipedia here or her autobiography here (look at the very bottom for her take on licensing, etc.) Her books are here. There's a feature on NPR here. The first video below is from Reading Rockets. Watch her being appreciated by a five month old in the second video below.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Leonard S. Marcus

It's Monday--Picture Books Past. Speaking of children's book history, we'd better speak of Leonard Marcus. He's the well known authority on children's book publishing history and he's written great books about our world of picture books. Check out his own website here. Treat yourself to a good read from one of his books. If you like to see him speak, try this link and look at the bottom of the page for the video.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Book Costs

It's Book Business Friday. So, how big a pickle is the publishing business getting into? Just how much does it cost to make a book? And how much does it cost to make an e-book? That's certainly relevant to the pricing of books (and the future of publishing) so the New York Times looked into it. They've got the inside information for us here. It's well worth reading! The graphic summary is here.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Seuss Landing

It's Thursday--Real Kids Day. We're having a Seussical week. Imagine your family takes you to Orlando, and as a break from Walt Disney World, you all go to Universal and end up at Seuss Landing. Here's what your home videos might look like.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Dr.Seuss, Again

It's Writing Wednesday. We are lucky! On Monday, we had a little Seuss time, but there's more to mine, and well worth your time. Below is the first of nine segments of a biography on Ted Geisel. The rest of the segments can be found here. It gives his personal life story, career highlights, and quite a perspective on children's book publishing's history, especially in the area of early readers and picture books. As far as his writing, it was interesting to learn what a careful craftsman he was. Watch all the segments--you'll enjoy it.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


It's Illustration Tuesday. Clifford is the big red dog created by Norman Bridwell and loved by children. The direct pictures and storytelling in these books make them entertaining and accessible and very popular. Watch the author illustrator tell about how he created Clifford. He also sensitively addresses how criticism (and feeling of accomplishment) affects creative people. It's nice. And take a peek here at how many Clifford books there are!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Seuss on Mulbery Street

It's Monday--Picture Books Past. Theodor Seuss Geisel was born March 2, 1904. Tomorrow his birthday is celebrated by folks all over the country participating in the NEA's "Read Across America" (here.) Go to Random House's "Seussville" here to read his bio and maybe try a couple of games in the Playground. His first book, published in 1937, was And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street. It was rejected 27 times. The last book published in his lifetime, Oh, the Places You'll Go!, came out in 1990. That's a heck of a career just in terms of length.