Friday, February 27, 2015

PPBF: The Seven Chinese Brothers

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

The Seven Chinese Brothers,
by Margaret Mahy and Jean and Mao-sien Tseng
The Seven Chinese Brothers
Written by Margaret Mahy
Illustrated by Jean and Mou-sien Tseng
Scholastic, 1990
grades K-3, reading level 4.8


Themes:
Folk Tale, Siblings


Opening:
"Once upon a time, when Ch'in Shih Huang was emperor of all China, seven remarkable brothers lived together on a beautiful hillside. They walked alike, they talked alike, they even looked so much alike that it was to tell one brother from the brother next to him. All the same, each brother had something special about him. Each brother had one amazing power that was all his own."


Synopsis:
This folk tale mixes fact and fiction as it sets this magical family in the very real setting of the Qin dynasty. Seven brothers want to help repair a hole in the Great Wall. When the first brother is arrested and threatened with execution, the second takes his place. The story progresses as each brother in turn substitutes himself for the previous brother. Because of their incredible powers, like super-strength, iron bones, and fireproof skin, the brothers are able to cheat the executioner each morning. But it is the seventh son who is able to rescue the entire family and give the emperor's army their just reward.


What I Love:
I love Margaret Mahy's retelling. She is a master wordsmith and a mischievous storyteller. I always feel like the author is smirking as she spins a tale. The watercolor art is beautiful, fine contemporary illustrations with a definite nod to traditional Chinese design.




Bonus:
courtesy aliexpress
1. Celebrate Chinese New Year with crafts from Rachel on MalMal.
2. Order instructions for a Kirigami Great Wall of China from Amazing Pop-Ups.
3.  Cook up Emeril's Szechuan Style Spareribs from Food Network.
4. Spin a tale. Grace Lin twists this story into her own version, titled Seven Chinese Sisters. Read her website for ideas and activities, then try writing your own.
5. Professor David K. Jordan has posted a fabulous treasury of Chinese folk tales with explanations for English-speaking readers as well as a trove of links to Chinese history and culture.
6. Check out these and other Perfect Picture Books at your local library.

Reviewed by Patricia
Reviewed by Joanna
Reviewed by Vivian
Reviewed by Barbara

Reviewed by Diane
Reviewed by Penny



















Have you reviewed a Perfect Picture Book along this theme? Please leave the link in the comments below. Thanks!

Check out all the recommended titles for Perfect Picture Book Friday
for February 27, 2015 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Middle Grade Dreams 2015

Don't miss the buzz at SLJ's Teen Librarian Toolbox.
How is that middle grade novel coming?  Did you promise yourself this would be the year you'd write it? Have you plotted, researched, or drafted anything yet?

Deafening silence?

If you are serious about putting that book on paper, here are some resources to light the motivational fires.



CHAPTER BOOK CHALLENGE
March means another ChaBooCha is on its way. Join this dedicated group of authors who'll support you through 31 days of drafting your manuscript, start to finish. Writing tips, inspiration, and giveaways are the icing on top.
This year young authors can be eligible for giveaways by signing up for ChaBooCha Jr.


WRITING WORKSHOPS
If you live in the northeast United States, visit the historic Moland House for a day of writing and critiques with Debbie Dadey, Kay Winter, and Marie Lamba, at the Spring Into Writing Workshop.

You may know Nancy I. Sanders from her free online non-fiction tutorials. Nancy is a working author with useful tips on how to start a project and finish it, with the focus on making a living as a writer.
She has an audio workshop available, titled Writing A Middle Grade Novel in ONE Month.


READ READ READ
Nothing motivates me to sit and write like reading.
Win a copy of Jennifer Jacobson's Paper Things From The Mixed-Up Files of Middle-Grade Authors, or enter the Tricia Springstubb's Moonpenny Island giveaway on The Write Stuff.
A Fantastical Librarian has generously gathered highly anticipated MG for 2015. Ask your local librarian for more suggestions or pick up one of my recent favorites.

Savvy, by Ingrid Law
Hope Was Here,
by Joan Bauer
Liar & Spy,
by Rebecca Stead
The Mouse With the
Question Mark Tail
,
by Richard Peck

GETTING STARTED
Still don't know where to start?
Gather ideas with Gail Carson Levine's Writing Magic.
Use Shannon Abercrombie's 21 writing prompts from Start the Year Off Write.
Zero in on a killer plot with the Paper Lantern Lit video series.
Learn 4 keys to making the manuscript "un-put-down-able" on Writers Digest.
Revise your current work with Janice Hardy on Fiction University.


If you are more of a picture book person, don't miss last Wednesday's post, Picture Book Goals 2015.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Finishing Well

"I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than I was and began diverting all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me."
-J. K. Rowling







Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Picture Book Goals 2015

Lantern Festival
How is you children's book career coming? Did you make yourself a promise on January first? Have you drafted that manuscript yet?

On the eve of Chinese New Year, why not renew your promise to yourself?

If you are serious about pursuing picture books, here are some resources to nudge you in the right direction.


READ FOR RESEARCH MONTH
ReFoReMo is a new initiative by Carrie Charley Brown. Each week during the month of March, she will be examining new picture books from a writer's perspective. Participants will read the selections and guest posts, learning about picture book structure, using mentor texts, and more. Why reinvent the wheel? Learn from authors' and editors' publishing experience.

Sign-up by 3-1-15


KIDLIT WEEK ON SUB IT CLUB
Maybe you have procrastinated about writing your book. Maybe you're in the revision stage. Maybe you need the confidence to send it out into the world. Sub It Club has what you've been looking for. This week, Sub It Club is focusing on picture books. Learn how to make a picture book dummy, listen to an editor's critique, and maybe win some fabulous prizes.


NUTS AND BOLTS OF WRITING
Want an expert to guide you? Talented author Linda Ashman has written a valuable and comprehensive guide to getting started or getting finished with your picture book manuscript. I did a workshop with Linda and knew I had to own her book.

Buy the print version or download a copy on Linda's site.


HIGHLIGHTS WORKSHOPS
Don't know where to start? Get thee to Pennsylvania and attend the Highlights Foundation crash course on picture books. The staff are accommodating, the grounds gorgeous, and the teaching top-notch.

Register for the March 6-8 workshop or plan ahead for one of their specialized sessions later in the year.


Maybe you're still dreaming of someday. Tomorrow is the beginning of the rest of your life. Take the first step.




Friday, February 13, 2015

PPBF: Bearskin

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

Bearskin, by Howard Pyle and Trina Schart Hyman
Afterward by Peter Glassman
Bearskin
Written by Howard Pyle
Illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman
Books of Wonder, 1997
grades K-3


Themes:
Fairy Tale, Diversity


Opening:
"There was a king traveling through the country, and he and those with him were so far away from home that darkness caught them by the heels and they had to stop at a stone mill for the night, because there was no other place handy. While they sat at supper they heard a sound in the next room, and it was a baby crying."


Synopsis:
In typical Pyle fashion, a King hears a prophesy that the miller's son will marry his daughter. He is outraged, takes the baby, and hands it off to a servant to be destroyed. The huntsman's wife takes pity on him, but instead of going to live with seven dwarfs (ahem) he is put into a pitch-lined basket and set adrift on the river (sound familiar?). The baby is raised by a magical bear, but eventually seeks to make his way among his own kind. Bearskin, as he is now known, falls in love with the princess. With the help of three wishes, Bearskin makes a fool of his rival, vanquishes a dragon, and wins the hand of the princess, just like the wise man saw in the stars. An old-fashioned fairy-tale with golden-age sensibilities and modern illustrations. Not-to-be-missed.

What I Love:
A great pick for romantics  for Valentine's Day. I love Pyle's nostalgic writing style. I love this gorgeous edition with lavishly diverse illustrations by the late Trina Schart Hyman. I love Peter Glassman's afterward: "In creating new art for this century-old tale, Trina Schart Hyman, like Pyle before her, has taken the story to another level. In her illustrations, we are introduced to a fairy-tale kingdom in which people of different races live, love, work, and play together . . . inspiring all who visit this fairy-tale realm to strive to make our own everyday world more like it."






Bonus:
The poem for six o'clock,
from The Wonder Clock,
illustrated by Howard Pyle.
1. This story originally appeared in Pyle's The Wonder Clock. With twenty-four stories, one for each hour, illustrated by the author, it is sure to inspire a new generation of dreamers. Available from Dover Publications.
2. Find out more about Howard Pyle and his influence on a generation of artists at the Delaware Art Museum and the Brandywine River Museum of Art.
3.  Visit Peter Glassman's Books of Wonder in New York. You can see Trina Schart Hyman's Work at Books of Wonder, R. Michaelson Galleries, and Hofstra.
4. Celebrate diversity. Reinvent traditional fairy tales with a new spin, set them in modern times, in a different culture, with a diverse cast, as Bearskin does. Se where your imagination takes you.
5. Bearskin has an opulent picnic during his adventures. If, like me, the view from your window is unchanging white, then a picnic is in order!
6. Check out these and other Perfect Picture Books at your local library.


Fairy tales from around the world
by Trina's daughter Katrin Tchana
Reviewed by Jarm
Reviewed by Joanna

The Market Bowl, by Jim Averbeck









Reviewed by Wendy











Have you reviewed a Perfect Picture Book along this theme? Please leave the link in the comments below. Thanks!





Check out all the recommended titles for Perfect Picture Book Friday
for February 13, 2015 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

IF: Noise

Kicking myself that I didn't turn this sketch into a finished drawing in time for Illustration Friday deadline, but revisions are calling . . .There's always time to redo. Until then, consider it a work in progress.

Illustration Friday topic, "Noise" WIP

Hey kid lit artists! Are you tweeting on #kidlitart28? Join the mayhem. There are still 16 days to go!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Keys To Knowledge

"A capacity, and taste, for reading, gives access to whatever has already been discovered by others. It
is the key, or one of the keys, to the already solved problems. And not only so. It gives a relish, and
facility, for successfully pursuing the [yet] unsolved ones."
- Abraham Lincoln*

Presumably by Charles Hogeboom
Via Pratt Institute Libraries Collection



*Lincoln's Address before the Wisconsin State Agricultural Society, September 30, 1859