Friday, January 31, 2014

PPBF: Laundry Day

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

Laundry Day, by Maurie J. Manning
Laundry Day
Written and illustrated by Maurie J. Manning
Clarion, 2012, Fiction, ages 4-8
40 pages

Immigrants, Community, Kindness

"Shoeshine, mister?
'Scuse me. Shoeshine?"

These opening lines don't appear on the first page. And they certainly don't intrigue the reader like the opening illustrations (You'll have to wait until my copy arrives to see the scans of the first spread. Sorry.)

A turn-of-the-century shoeshine boy jostles among the city's crowds looking for work. When a red cloth falls from the sky, the boy decides to find its owner. Could it be a blanket? A scarf? An apron? Climbing the fire escapes and laundry lines, he questions everyone he meets. From the Irish triplets to the Rabbi, no one seems to know who the red cloth belongs to. Told in a mix of comic panels, wordless spreads, and dynamic illustrations, this energetic picture book will charm young readers from sunrise to sundown. Showing that no matter where we hail from, we can build a sense of community through kindness and concern for our neighbors.

What I Love:
Everything! Gorgeous. Surprising. Beautifully balanced wordless panels. Kid-pleasing comic style. Lush historical detail. Language fun with a brief dictionary in the back.


Thanks to Mel's Sweet Treats
1. Meet the author / illustrator in this interview from Laura Jacobsen.
2. Here is an imaginative clothesline craft from the Dimenna Children's Museum in NY.
3. There are plenty of  T-shirt cookies cutters available online. I like this one from CakeArt.
4. Lots of crafting going on here where Maurie showcases her illustrated stamps.
5. Build a sense of community by hosting a block party.
6. Learn a new language. Our library offers Mango as a free service.
7. Research an early 20th century childhood through the Library of Congress.
8. Visit your local historical society to find an attraction near you.
9. Celebrate diversity with this and other books for Multicultural Children's Book Day.

Check out all the recommended titles for Perfect Picture Book Friday
for January 31, 2014, available on Susanna Leonard Hill's excellent blog.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Revision Recap

Winner's badge designed by Meg Miller

As you probably know, I participated in Meg Miller's ReviMo this month. The event was, for me, an astounding leap forward. I made significant headway on several stalled manuscripts and even solved a serious ending-problem I'd been avoiding.

I'm convinced there were multiple factors which contributed to my success:
  • Purposeful preparation (I unearthed 6 old manuscripts and drafted 2 new ones to curtail writer's block (Thanks to Tara Lazar for teaching me how to prep)
  • My super-supportive family (including out-of-town guests. Thanks for understanding.)
  • An inspiring community of writers (Thanks, Meg and all ReviMo participants)
  • The members of my new critique group (M,R,and W!)
  • Revision-minded guest bloggers (Thanks to Ame, Miranda, Deborah, Linda, Shirley, Jim, Lindsay, Simone, et al)

In the spirit of continuing revision, I dug up this recommendation from the talented Lauri Meyers. Dated January 2013*, Lauri offered some feedback to readers of The Write Routine, Marcie Colleen's informative blog.

Regarding revision strategies, ask yourself

. . . what are the three strengths and weaknesses of your other ms?
 Try to write a question for each strength/weakness - how can I make this ms more gross? What would really make the reader cry?
Each morning focus on that question and make a list on a blank piece of paper of answers - like 7 things for each question. When you're done then you can open your ms and edit with your list in mind.

I can't wait to give these ideas a try during my round of revisions in February. Thanks, Lauri and Marcie.

How profitable was your ReviMo? What did you achieve? What obstacles did you face? How do you plan to overcome them in the future? I'd love to hear your successes and learn from your shortcomings. Why not share them?

*Find the original discussion here.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Multicultural Children's Book Day

Celebrate January 27, 2014

Congratulations to Mia Wenjen and Valarie Budayr for their initiative to promote diversity in books. To celebrate cultural awareness, several participants in Perfect Picture Book Friday chose books with cultural themes or subplots. Follow the link to see my review of Mice and Beans.

Check back this Friday, my PPBF Pick will continue the theme with a review of  Laundry Day, by Maurie J. Manning

JumpIntoABook lists useful resources and culturally focused reading lists. They also have a giveaway scheduled for this week, so make that your next stop!
In addition, Here are some of my favorite cross-cultural reads from 2013. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

by Uma Krishnaswami
by Candace Fleming

by Gary D. Schmidt
by Thanhha Lai

And these picture books
Grandfather's Journey, by Allen Say
Unspoken, by Henry Cole
Uncle Jed's Barber Shop, by Margaree King Mitchell and James Ransome
The Sandwich Swap, by Queen Rania of Jordan Al Abdullah, Kelly DiPucchio, and Tricia Tusa
A Child's Calendar, by John Updike and Trina Schart Hyman
Bearskin, by Howard Pyle and Trina Schart Hyman
The Serpent Slayer and Other Stories of Strong Women, by Katrin Tchana and Trina Schart Hyman


"If a book is well written, I always find it too short."
-Jane Austen

Available from the Literary Gift Co.

Friday, January 24, 2014

PPBF: Mice and Beans

I'm getting a head start on celebrating Multicultural Children's Book Day
 With today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

Mice and Beans,
by Pam Ryan and Joe Cepeda
Mice and Beans
Written by Pam Munoz Ryan
Illustrated by Joe Cepeda

Scholastic, 2001,
Fiction, ages 4-8, Grade level Equivalent: 2.7,
Lexile 440L, Guided Reading: L

Language Learning, Humor, Birthdays

"Rosa Maria lived in a tiny house with a tiny yard. But she had a big heart, a big family, and more than anything, she loved to cook big meals for them.

"In one week, her youngest grandchild, Little Catalina, would be seven years old, and the whole family would squeeze into her casita for the party. Rosa Maria didn't mind because she believed what her mother had always said: 'When there's room in the heart, there's room in the house, except for a mouse.'"

Abuela Rosa Maria has a list of preparations for her grand-daughter's birthday party. Every day she finishes one of the tasks, never forgetting to set a mouse trap in her kitchen. Poor Rosa Maria thinks she is very forgetful, because each morning the trap is missing and some small portion of the previous day's task has been undone. She hopes to finish in time for Little Catalina's party, while the mice have plans of their own.

What I Love:
I love the way the author sprinkles Spanish throughout the text, in a way that is easy for young children. It is a beautiful introduction to the language for monolingual readers. She includes a dctionary and recipe in the back. Besides the obvious benefits, this is a sweet, funny story, made even more so by Joe Cepeda's vibrantly quirky illustrations.

Use a heart pattern
to make these mice guys.
1. Pam's book includes a recipe for rice and beans, or you can try this version using yellow rice.
2. Brush up on your language skills at OnlineFreeSpanish or 123Teach Me, specifically geared for children.
3. Spoonful posts make-your-own felt mice hand puppets, that double as a Valentine's Day craft.
4. Delve into other books that explore cultures at home and around the world. Mia Wenjen has assembled a lovely collection of kids books which celebrate diversity.

Check out all the recommended titles for Perfect Picture Book Friday for January 24, 2014.
Thanks to Susanna Leonard Hill.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Mission Submission

As part of the plan to reach my goal of monthly submissions this year, I have officially joined the SubIt Club.

Heather Ayris Burnell created this community for both writers and illustrators, along with Dana Carey and Lisha Cauthen. Their goal was simple, to motivate each other to actually submit work.

badge design by Dana Carey
Last April I stumbled on the illustrator's postcard series. I was blown away by the wealth of information, the roster of participants I knew, and the sheer sense of determination they exuded. Little did I know this was a fledgling group, just beginning to carve their niche. But the dual focus on writers and illustrators kept me coming back. The sense of community gave me courage. And so on their one year anniversary, I have dared to commit. I hope you will join me in moving your career forward.

Stop by the Sub It Club blog, sign up for Facebook membership, and gain the tools to you need to get your best work into the right hands.

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Classics

"When you reread a classic you do not see more in the book than you did before; you see more in you than was there before."
-Clifton Fadiman*

Courtesy ChessGraphics

*The newsletter of the Friends of Arlington (VA) County Public Library

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Fresh Talent Needs Your Feedback

Courtesy Jo Rioux
It's been months since the last Fresh Talent post, where I highlight an illustrator you may not have heard of before. In 2014, I'd like to spend Saturdays a bit differently.

This year, you'll see

  • Fresh Talent - lesser known illustrators, or artists from other art fields who have something to teach us in children's books
  • Picture Book Influences - Illustrators of the past whose work informs my own
  • Where Are They Now? - interviews with Fresh Talent artists of the past, to see how they've grown and where their careers have taken them

Saturdays are for you, so I'd love to hear your suggestions. Which illustrators would you like me to spotlight? What other subjects would you like to see featured here? In what ways does studying other illustrators' work help you? Send me your ideas. I'd love to link back to you. Maybe I'll even start a pinboard for your Fresh Talent suggestions.

Here is a list of all the Fresh Talent artists we've featured, or you can click the "Fresh Talent" label at the bottom of this post. Thanks for stopping by!

Courtesy Lina Dudaite
Rebecca Evans
Jennifer Meyer
Jo Rioux
Mike Lawrence
Alice Ratterree
Beth Bogert
Elisa Kwon
Lina Dudaite
Neiko Ng
Erin Kelso
Catherine Borodacheva
Amanda Kastner
Julia Sarda
Courtesy Michelle Henninger
Emily Thon
Val Jones
Marcela Staudenmaier
Therese Cilia
Kim Kincaid
Iloria Falorsi
Leen Christens
Elina Ellis
Kei Acedera
Michelle Henninger
Aurelie Neyret
Renne Benoit
Mardi Speth
Kelley McMorris
Joie Brown
Katie Kath
Jane Heinrichs

Courtesy Beth Bogert 

Friday, January 17, 2014

PPBF: Tam Lin

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

Tam Lin by Jane Yolen and Charles Mikolaycak
Tam Lin
Written by Jane Yolen
Illustrated by Charles Mikolaycak
Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1990,
Fiction, grades 3-5

Folk Tale, Bravery, Magic

"There was once a strange, forbidding castle with ruined towers on a weedy piece of land called Carterhaugh."

This is a retelling of the ancient Scottish ballad, Tamlane. Jennet is the heir to a Scottish castle which has been put under a faery spell. On her sixteenth birthday, she goes to claim her birthright, and discovers a boy who was stolen by the faeries over a hundred years before, the doomed Tam Lin. Jennet must withstand the magic of the Faery Queen if she is to regain her land and save Tam Lin.

What I Love:
This book is classic late 20th century picture book gold. The hefty word count and stylized illustrations draw the reader again and again. Jane Yolen tells the harrowing adventure in vivid language.
"His hand still held hers, but his fingers had grown cold as snow."
"On Hallow's Eve Jennet stole away from her house. She wore a skirt and bodice as red as human blood."
"The queen and her troupe turned back through the mist and rode silently over the moonlight like so many shadows."
They just don't publish many picture books like this anymore.
The illustrations are by master picture maker, Charles Mikolaycak. His bold colors and limited palette set the mystic mood. His use of graphic black shapes is as magical as the story's events.
I cut my teeth on these feasts for the imagination. 25 years later, and I still love them.

Interior art by Charles Mikolaycak, rendered in watercolor and colored pencil

1.Read the original text of the ballad, on which the story was based.
By Jane Yolen and
Susan Guevara
2. Jane Yolen has written many collections of folk tales and authored many picture books. Why not start an evening tradition of telling tales by the fire? Try Not One Damsel In Distress, Tales of Wonder, or Once Upon a Bedtime Story.
2. Charles Mikolaycak designed the Scottish tartans for the clans featured in the book, and combines them into a third for the married couple. Design your own family plaid online or with crayons and paper.
3. A rose is the magical object which summons Tam Lin from under the Green Hill. In warmer climates you can plant a rose bush of your own. Here in Pennsylvania, I'll have to be content with a mini tabletop rose available from the local garden center.
Dress your little fey
in play scarves from Magic Cabin.
4. Get in the highland mood. Check out the library's collection of Scottish music, bagpipe and drum, or compositions by Scot William Wallace on CD.
5. This story would be great fun to act out. You'll need some fabric for kilts and mantles, a rose, a small bottle and a handful of dirt, and the animal costumes for the conflict with the faery queen. I recommend snake sock puppets, a yarn lion hood, and silk scarves for the fire. (tissue paper works well too)

Check out all the recommended titles for Perfect Picture Book Friday
for January 17,2014, available on Susanna Leonard Hill's excellent blog.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Making Mistakes

"Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep."
-Scott Adams*

Bookplate by J. C. Leyendecker

*Notes from Friends, newsletter of the Friends of the Staunton (VA) Public Library

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Happy Sketching!

Joanne Roberts, sketches on Canson 1557 cream paper Art Book
Happy birthday to me. I was able to grab a new sketchbook at Blick yesterday. It wasn't the kind I was originally in the market for, but I do love how the cream paper scans!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Congratulations Tomie Award Winners!

Winning entry by Akiko White
The winner of the 2014 Tomie de Paola Award has been announced and posted along with five runners-up. Congratulations Akiko, Nina, Alice, Anne, Jacob, and Lisa. Each of the illustrations for Sneeze are well worth viewing.

To see many more of the participants, go to the unofficial gallery. Thanks to Diandra Mae.

Of special note, is the second runner up, a beautiful entry by Alice Ratterree. I am so happy to have a reason to blog about Alice's work again. You can read a little more about Alice Ink here.

Tomie Award runner up, entry by Alice Ratterree

Which were your favorite sneezes?

Thursday, January 9, 2014

ReviMo Prep: A Bit Drafty

We all know Anne Lamott's advice on getting your first draft written. Then comes the (sometimes) harder work of rewriting it.

If you are planning to participate in ReviMo, you'll need a stack of manuscripts, right?

I've put aside six stories needing revision, from changing reader level to new endings. The new year is a great time to pull out those ms that have stalled and give them a fresh go. There's just one problem. I can't think of an easier way to fail than to plan to revise one of those stalled ms each day for 7 days! My easily-bruised ego will never survive! What a way to kill the New Year adrenalin rush!

Courtesy 123RF
I need some fresh manuscripts. I fully intend to give that stack I've been procrastinating over a hardy try. However, my goal this week is to come up with at least two completely rough first drafts. That way, when I hit a wall, there will still be an escape hatch.

How about you? What challenges do you face during the revision process?
How do you plan to conquer them?
Have you made a game plan to get the most of ReviMo?
What tricks do you use when you hit a dead end?

If you participated in PiBoIdMo, there's no better time to turn one of your fabulous ideas into a first draft.
If you are looking forward to ReviMo, why not dredge up some moldy manuscripts?
If you want to further your writing goals, then sit down, and don't get up until the bones are on the page.

Happy Writing!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Treasure at the Library

"I don't have to look far to find treasures. I discover them every time I visit a library."
-Michael Embry *

Bookplate by Lionel Lindsay

*Authors for Libraries, a program of United for Libraries

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Start the Year Off Write 2014

Logo design by Maple Lam
Want to improve your craft? Spend more time writing? Find an editor or agent?

Get in on a new challenge and kick start your career for 2014.


Shannon Abercrombie is hosting a 3-week-long  writing extravaganza with fabulous prizes. Don't miss your chance. Sign-up today at Shannon's site.

See you there!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014