Friday, April 30, 2010

Children's Book Week

It's Book Business Friday. The Children's Book Council, here, sponsors Children's Book Week, here, which will be celebrated May 10-16 this year. There's an article in Publishers Weekly about it, here. The celebration has been going on since 1919. (As we recently mentioned here, and there's more info about that here.) It's all about raising the public awareness of the wonders of children's books. Good!

Thursday, April 29, 2010


It's Thursday--Real Kids Day. Tickling is a big item for kids. Parents can't resist, either. Everybody gets a little giggly and wiggly sometimes.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Multicultural Picture Books

It's Writing Wednesday. Have you written anything that falls into that broad category of multicultural literature for children? Or thought about doing so? Need some inspiration or ideas? An article for teachers in Instructor magazine, "How to Choose the Best Multicultural Books" has some quick author interviews and fifty recommended books to read. It considers what makes a good picture book that incorporates multicultural concepts. Native American, Hispanic, African American, Jewish and Asian based books are included. There's a lot of possibilities here.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


It's Illustration Tuesday. There's a lot of crossover between cartooning and children's book illustration. Some artists do both, like Roz Chast. Some artists, like David Small, are influenced by cartooning and have a style reminiscent of cartoons. Get the short version of the big picture on cartoons here. Take a look here, at the National Cartoonists Society to see what kind of hijinks those cartoonists are up to. And stroll around the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art here. (Watch out for banana peels.) Below, watch Jeff Smith draw some characters from his Bone comics for the folks at Scholastic. In case you don't know, he's huge. See here.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Walter Crane

It's Monday--Picture Books Past. Walter Crane, Randolph Caldecott, and Kate Greenaway are considered the most influential of the early illustrators of children's books. All from England and working in the later 1800's, they were influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement, contemporary watercolor techniques, and developments in printing. Their books were very popular in Britain and America. Read about Walter Crane here. See the illustrations for one of his books, The Baby's Bouquet, here. Next week on Monday's Picture Books Past, we'll look at Kate Greenaway.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Regina Medal

It's Book Business Friday. Since recognition helps the business of selling books, let's look at another noteworthy award in the field of children's literature, the Regina Medal. It's given by the Catholic Library Association for excellence. "Distinguished contribution to children's literature without regard to the nature of the contribution" is how they put it. That's broad, as is the list of recipients since 1959, which can be seen here. Lots of fine folks.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

How Toddlers Play

It's Thursday--Real Kids Day. Toddlers are well known for their style of playing together--they don't seem to be interacting much. They are engaged in "parallel play." They do their own thing, interact a bit, watch the other child some. At about age two, it's their stage of social development, as well as fun and interesting for them. More info is here, if you'd like.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Philosophically Speaking

It's Writing Wednesday. The theme in a picture book gives the story depth. Ever get a manuscript rejected because it was "slight?" Having a deeper meaning in our stories shouldn't make them ponderous--just more interesting and satisfying. In an interesting article, here, the capacity for children to think philosophically is discussed. Isn't it great that picture books are the starting place for teaching in these programs? Think maybe some of the people mentioned, who think children don't have the capacity for these deeper thoughts and discussion, have never had a really good conversation with a child?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


It's Illustration Tuesday. Oliver Jeffers has made a new book called The Heart and the Bottle. In the video below, he talks about his work as a picture book creator and artist. What's interesting, too, is how videos like this are used to spread the word about books. See how it has been placed here, here, and here, to create buzz. (And below, because after all, it is a good short video for those of us who care about picture books.)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Frederic G. Melcher

It's Monday, Picture Books Past. If you read much about the early days of children's book publishing and the library book world in the 20th century, you come across Frederic G. Melcher. He was a book man, through and through. The ALA's ALSC, here, calls him, "a great leader in promoting better books for children." Two articles, one by his son, and one from Library Journal, give portraits of him and insight into the field of children's books, here. Among other things, he was the force behind Children's Book Week (1919), the Newbery Medal (1922), and the Caldecott Medal (1937). Quite a bit, wouldn't you say?

Friday, April 16, 2010

New Imprints

It's Book Business Friday. Publisher's Weekly has an interesting article, "Opening New Doors," about the new publishing ventures which are growing at big and small companies, in spite of the recession. They talk about the strength of science fiction and fantasy, about e-books, race, and lots more. Check on it here. The article talks about Stacy Whitman and her imprint, Tu books, here, now part of Lee and Low. Read an interview with her here. It's a great follow up after the Publisher's Weekly piece. Check out another company-- here's a link to Gallery Books, also mentioned in the article.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Me and Me

It's Thursday--Real Kids Day. Picture when looking in the mirror was a new (and fun!) experience.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Serious Subjects

It's Writing Wednesday. We all love happy, silly, and playful picture books. But, of course, there's also a need for books dealing with more serious topics. After the earthquake in Haiti, Reading Rockets did a piece about books that take on bigger problems. Read it here. Eve Bunting is known for writing many thoughtful picture books on what she calls "tender topics." Below, she talks about books that end with hope. Maybe you have a book in you that could help a child understand and deal with difficult events or feelings. If you were going to write a more serious book, what would it be about? Who would the main character be? Think about it--the next step is just writing it down. Then rewriting. Then it's done.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

National Museum of African Art

It's Illustration Tuesday. There are so many places to go to be inspired. One of them is the wonderful Smithsonian Institution. But we don't have to go to Washington, of course. They have loads of resources on line. Thinking about African art as an influence on your own picture book art? (Or writing a story set in Africa?) They've got loads to see at the National Museum of African Art here. It "fosters the discovery and appreciation of the visual arts of Africa, the cradle of humanity." Beautiful...and so handy!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Robert Lawson

It's Monday--Picture Books Past. Robert Lawson won the Caldecott Medal for one book in 1941, and, in 1945, the Newbery medal for another. He was the first person to do that. He wrote both, and illustrated both. Same for another beloved book here. He was also the illustrator of classics like Mr. Popper's Penguins and The Story of Ferdinand here. He was a wonderful story teller with words and pictures. Especially the pictures--so elegant, expressive, and playful. A little bio's here.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Tasty Treats

It's Friday--Book Business Day. Let's jump over to a recent post on Betsy Bird's Fuse #8 blog in which she talks about going to the librarian preview for Simon & Schuster. The publishers showcase new books for such people to get interest going on their new wares. The post is interesting reading for several reasons--Betsy's entertaining writing, the many divisions of S & S, the lovely looking new books, and all those muffins we can imagine were sitting on the table that we weren't there to eat. It's here.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Sing Out

It's Thursday--Real Kids Day. Everybody's got a little song in their heart.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


It's Writing Wednesday. PEN is an international writers organization. "A global literary community protecting free expression and celebrating literature," is how they put it. Their website gives an overview here. PEN's Children's/Young Adult Book Authors Committee gathers here. A conversation with picture book stars Brian Selznick and Paul O. Zelinsky is here. There's a big festival of international literature here. There is also a newsletter, audio interviews, literary awards, and more. In other words, lots of stuff to entertain and educate writers about writing and issues of interest. Famous folks, too.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Vera B. Williams

It's Illustration Tuesday. Vera B. Williams is a writer and illustrator of picture books with an exuberant, colorful style. There's a bio overview here. Read an interview here. Enjoy a sample here. In the videos below she talks about how she approaches book design and illustration.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Louise Seaman Bechtel

It's Monday--Picture Books Past. Louise Seaman Bechtel began the first children's book department at an American publishing company. From 1919 to 1934 she headed that department at Macmillan and contributed considerably to the growth of the field. She was also an author, book reviewer, children's book collector, and dachshund lover. Read a biographical piece on her here, at Vassar, where a great deal of her papers are housed. Or on Wikipedia here. An award given by the ALA is named for her here. (It's a fellowship at the Baldwin Library of the University of Florida which we highlighted here.) A picture of her is here. Louise was one of the pioneers in the field of children's book publishing, so it's nice to know about her, don't you think? And here's a book about that world of early publishing.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Photo Op

It's Book Business Friday. Part of being an author or illustrator is becoming known and staying known. Self-promotion, of course. Here's something kind of interesting to be found in the School Library Journal under the heading "Your Photos." Perhaps if you're doing some event (especially at a school) that makes a good photo op, you might send a picture to them. The guidelines are here. Check out the magazine's homepage here to see how it works in situ (scroll down to nearly the bottom of the page--that's where I saw a picture of Caroline Arnold at the San Diego Zoo, doing a book signing, when I looked. Maybe there will be a different picture there when you check it out.) Every little bit of promotion helps people know about you and your books!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Crying Time

It's Real Kids Thursday. Sad, but true. Boo hoo hoo sometimes has a little ha ha ha in it.