NightLights

nightlights

Image Credit: Nobrow, Lorena Alvarez Gómez

Gorgeous.

NightLights is a new graphic novel about a magical girl who draws outside of the lines. Sandy has trouble fitting in; she’s a day-dreamer, a creative-type, and is misunderstood by not only her peers but her teachers.

Sandy has power. She takes the lights that appear in her bedroom and turns them into whimsical creatures. In her dreams she interacts with them and doodles them in the morning (and during class). Her classmates bully and tease her for having her head in the clouds until one day, a new girl named Morphie befriends her and tells her how good her art is. Interestingly enough, Sandy is the only person who can see Morphie but as she grows closer to the magical girl, she starts to feel uneasy.

Morphie is a greedy being; greedy for Sandy’s delicious & beautiful drawings. Even worse, Morphie begins to make Sandy question her creativity and independence; “And once you realize that you need me to tell you how brilliant you are, nothing will keep us apart!” she says.

nightlights-2

Image Credit: Nobrow, Lorena Alvarez Gómez

Morphie…is Sandy’s insecurity.

This story excellently explores the emotional difficulty of “not fitting in.” Sandy doesn’t think linearly; her mind blossoms with color and creatures and magic and so she has trouble in her rigid Catholic school. Insecurity slowly starts to creep in. As she battles herself, she finds strength by embracing her creativity (and even her insecurity and fear). This is such an important message for readers of all ages.

Alvarez creates a setting inspired by her hometown of Bogotá, Colombia (but dipped in colorful fantasy that rivals Miyazaki). NightLights works well as a graphic novel; each panel’s dialogue and illustration are well crafted. Her attention to detail and use of color is amazing! She weaves reality with fantasy to create a world that is both beautiful and terrifying. Readers will feel uneasy when Sandy interacts with Morphie & the twisted monsters she’s forced to create. They’ll also feel proud of her as she explores the beauty of her mind. I had a really great conversation with illustrator Erin Baker who pointed out the motif of “eyes” in this book. Sandy’s eyes are extremely expressive and the eyes of her fantasy creatures are fascinating and creepy.

There’s a lot packed into this graphic novel and I’m really excited for it to release in the United States. I hope you’ll check out NightLights!

Recommended for: 3rd Grade and up
Great for: Inner Strength, Insecurity, Determination, Power, Diversity, Community, Family, Confidence, Creepy, Fantasy, School Life, Daydreamers, Creative Thinking
Book Info: NightLights by Lorena Alvarez, 2017 Nobrow, ISBN: 9781910620137

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A Hat for Mrs. Goldman: A Story About Knitting and Love

a-hat-for-mrs-goldman

Image Credit: Schwartz & Wade Books (Penguin Random House LLC), Michelle Edwards/G. Brian Karas

 

Happy New Year!! 😀

2017 is going to need a heaping spoonful of kindness. Kindness and consideration for others. But it’s not just “consideration” that we need, it’s holding people in our hearts. There’s a difference there. A deeper level of connection.

In A Hat for Mrs. Goldman, we meet Sophia and Mrs. Goldman who are close friends and neighbors. Mrs. Goldman has cared for and loved Sophia since she was a baby, when she knit her her first hat. Because Mrs. Goldman is so busy knitting for everyone else, she doesn’t have a hat to keep her head warm and Sophia decides to do something about it! Though she only vaguely remembers how to knit (her speciality is making pom-poms), she determinedly works on a special hat for her friend. It turns out a little lumpy but it’s beautiful because it’s a gift for her friend.

What I like so much about this book is that it’s very honest; two good friends love each other and work to take care of each other. The story is simple but touching storytelling and charming illustrations make it a winner. Children will learn Yiddish words like keppie (head) and mitzvah (good deed) too!  I love that Sophia is Latino and Mrs. Goldman is Jewish but it isn’t dwelled upon; there’s a great message of community and love here.

a-hat-for-mrs-goldman-2

Image Credit: Schwartz & Wade Books (Penguin Random House LLC), Michelle Edwards/G. Brian Karas

 

Karas’ sweet mixed media illustrations are full of gorgeous pale pinks, browns and blustery blues and greens. The illustrations are very soft, which adds to the comfortable, homey feel of the story. Sophia, with her determined expressions, brown skin and no-sense side-ponytail is a great character for children to emulate; even though she gets frustrated, she keeps working towards her goal!

Edwards even includes a pattern for Sophia’s Hat at the end of the book (Edwards writes for Lion Brand Yarn) so that children can dive into knitting themselves. What a sweet book about friendship and knitting! I hope you’ll enjoy this one as much as I did.

 

 

Recommended for: All Ages
Great for: Friendship, Mitzvah, Love, Caring, Selflessness, Determination, Creative Thinking, Kindness, Relationships, Diversity, Community, Knitting
Book Info: A Hat for Mrs. Goldman: A Story About Knitting and Love by Michelle Edwards/Illustrated by G. Brian Karas, 2016 Schwartz & Wade Books (Penguin Random House LLC), ISBN: 9780553497106

Ben Clanton is Awesomerific!

Ben Clanton is one of the coolest author/illustrators in children’s literature right now. I found his book Rex Wrecks It! by chance in the picture book stacks of my bookstore and it quickly became one of my favorites. Lucky for us, he’s been very prolific in a very short period of time, so we have many great books to read from him!

We had a great time chatting for this interview. I hope you’ll enjoy it! You won’t be RAWRY you stopped by to read. 😉

 

AliaQ1. What are three words to describe yourself?

Ben: Kind, creative, and ambitious. That last one is always what gets me sorted into either Gryffindor or Slytherin even though I feel like a Hufflepuff.

Alia: Haha. Nice. Yeah I’ve been sorted as a Ravenclaw or a Gryffindor. I think I feel more like a Gryffindor but I’m not quite sure.

Ben: Hooray for a fellow Harry Potter fan! I’m far too fond of those quizzes. I take a new one almost every year.

Alia: Have you done the “Official” Pottermore one yet?

Ben: Yes, both the one from the previous Pottermore site and the revamped one. I was a Gryffindor the first time and am now a Slytherin (as much as that pains me to say).

Alia: Yeah I heard that happened to a lot of people and they’re kinda upset, lol. It’s totally understandable though. Identity crisis kind of situation.

Ben: I take some solace in that apparently Merlin was a Slytherin and he wasn’t such a bad guy.

Alia: True, true. I know some great Slytherins. Okay, next question, lol.

Ben: Haha! No promises I won’t steer the conversation back to HP.

Alia: HAHA! Well let’s see how you answer question 2. I feel like HP might have some influence. This is a big question…

Q2. Why picture books? Your art style is very approachable; you could illustrate really anything for kids…

Ben: Great question! And thanks! I do have an interest in exploring & making other sorts of books and content, but picture books are particularly dear to me for a number of reasons. For a start, the format allows for a great range of creative exploration. There are so many options with what you can do with the words and pictures in a picture book that other formats don’t provide. I feel like in chapter books, for example, the illustrations usually parallel the text. But in picture books, the illustrations augment the text or even contradict it. Also, with the picture book there is much less of an expectation that it will follow particular narrative conventions. So that out-of-the-box potential that picture books welcome is a big part of why I love them.

Also, I was a reluctant reader of words as a kid. Chapter books were hard; I didn’t read my first on my own until 4th grade. But picture books I could spend ages with. I loved reading the pictures. Still do! I’m a highly visual thinker.

I also love the general brevity of picture books. They are poetic in many ways. So much can be said in a picture book and of the format.

Alia: Yeah it’s obvious that picture books are what you enjoy creating. You put your heart into each one and it shows.

I’m also a very visual thinker so I’m drawn to the magic of picture books. I agree with you. Their brevity also leaves a lot for your imagination to fill in. A lot of people might say that chapter books do that (obviously they do) but picture books also have room for exploration. Kids know this magic immediately (and some adults). 😉

Ben: Just so! They welcome creativity, interaction, and the really good ones become like a friend that you want to spend every night with just before you go to bed. Something special about that time just before dreams and how you choose to spend those last waking hours. Some kids will form such a bond with a particular picture book that it might even see hundreds of readings or viewings.

Alia: Exactly. It’s a pretty special thing to find a book that you connect to!

Okay next question? 🙂

Ben: Sure thing! I could easily get stuck talking and thinking about the picture book format all day.

Alia: Oh man, me too! But onward!

Q3. Do you like ice cream and if so, what’s your favorite flavor and topping?

Ben: ‘Like’ is not a strong enough word. I don’t like ice cream, I love it!

Alia: Haha!

Ben: Caramel ice cream with hot fudge sauce is my favorite.

Alia: Oooh nice choice.

Ben: I spend so much time in ice cream lines I’ve come up with a few of my books while waiting in ice cream lines. 😉

Alia: Haha really?

Narwhal

Image Credit: Tundra Books, Ben Clanton

Ben: True story! My Narwhal and Jelly series for a start. And both of those characters have a love for waffles which I think might have been a result of the smell of freshly made waffle cones while I was standing in line.

Alia: LOL the smell went right to the creative side of your brain.

Ben: And stuck! Narwhal and Jelly both have a borderline obsession with waffles!

Your favorite flavor?

Alia: I mean, that’s a pretty awesome obsession if you ask me. So many possibilities.

My go-to ice cream flavor is probably chocolate chip cookie dough. I’m not big on sauces or toppings. Just give me the scoops.

Ben: Fair enough! And classic choice! I approve.

Alia: lol Thanks!

Q4. Congrats on your new baby boy, by the way. 🙂 Are you already thinking up stories to tell him?

Ben: Thank you! Lots of stories in the works but none that have been inspired by Theo as of yet. I’m sure there will be many, though! I can’t wait until he is old enough for me to share my stories with him and my favorite books.

Alia: Yeah that’s going to be fun. Some babies are so attracted to color and faces and books.

Ben: Adds a whole new level of specialness to making stories!

Alia: For sure! “My dad makes books” I mean…your coolness factor…

Ben: I wish I had been working on more board books now that I have a baby. But Mo’s Mustache will be coming out as a board book. Rex Wrecks It! too!

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Alia: OMG!!! I’m excited!

Ben: Haha! I’ve heard from other authors with kids that their kids aren’t overly impressed because it is just part of their lives. That’s okay with me as it is pretty great to have books be a part of everyday life.

Alia: That makes sense. Right! Your kid is going to grow up with so much richness. All the creativity and that’s great!

Q5. You REALLY like jokes and puns, don’t you?

Ben: I do! I so dearly do! Which, funnily enough, if you just met me on the street and had no idea what my job was, you wouldn’t begin to expect it. I’m generally a fairly serious person. But I do love to play with words and am overly fond of puns (both the bad ones and the good ones).

This is the point where I’m supposed to make a clever joke, but they tend to come to me at the most inopportune times.

Alia: Haha the best ones come organically. I really love how you integrate them into your stories. It’s really fun. I love corny jokes anyway so it’s perfect.

Ben: Haha! Yay! Kindred spirit!

Alia: Yay! I also read that you studied Anthropology? Me too!

Ben: I’m not surprised! I read that open letter you wrote to J.K. Rowling about her new writings involving magic and Native American peoples and it seemed to me you had a solid foundation in anthropological thinking. Told you I might steer things back to HP!

Alia: Ah yes!

Ben: But perhaps that is a conversation for another time as I’m sure we could both get stuck on that particular subject.

Alia: Well, thank you. I really enjoyed studying Anthropology and Native studies. Really enjoyed.

Haha you weren’t lying. 🙂

Yes, for sure.

Ben: I see in your profile photo that you’re holding a copy of Thunder Boy Jr.! Great book! J.K. should have consulted someone(s) like Sherman Alexie!

Alia: Yes! Such a good book. I love that book. I anticipated it for over a year before it came out and both Yuyi Morales and Sherman Alexie came through (of course). Sherman is amazing and yes, she definitely could’ve and should’ve!

Let’s talk a bit about your art, if you don’t mind.

Ben: Much less interesting of a topic. 😉

Alia: Haha! I mean, it’s a hot (and important) topic BUT I do really enjoy your art.

Q6. For Mo’s Mustache, did you really use a mustache as a brush to make the art??

VoteForMe

Image Credit: Kids Can Press, Ben Clanton

Ben: Haha! Yes, and according to my bio for Vote for Me! I’m nine feet tall and am President of the Universe. What is for sure true, though, is I used elephant poop paper for Vote for Me!. The mustache is admittedly a fib.

Alia: Oh man, I’m too naive, lol.

Ben: Hey, knowing me I might have actually done it!

Alia: Ah, so that’s why the art in Vote for Me! looks speckled but unlike your paint splatters. That’s neat. Yeah I could see you taking a mustache and crafting your own paintbrush. Cause why not?

Ben: Exactly! When I remake that book someday I promise to look into that!

Alia: Yes, please, lol. Or a sequel? *wink wink*

Ben: Haha! Perhaps! I’m finishing a sequel to Rex Wrecks It! called Boo Who? currently and I wasn’t sure that would come about. Wouldn’t say ‘no’ to another with Mo!

In regards to the materials/art question, I do like to use techniques and media that fit with the content of the book. For example, with It Came in the Mail (my latest picture book) mail ephemera plays a big role in the art.

Alia: Oh yeah! I’m really excited about that! Rex Wrecks It! is my favorite of yours.

That’s really cool and probably makes it more interesting for you.

I noticed that with the mail! I have some questions about it later for you! I have a few things I want to mention about your art, if you don’t mind.

Ben: Please! Have you noticed I can’t draw backgrounds? 😉

Alia: lol. You like to splatter paint and draw squiggles and stars?

But it’s actually pretty cool, I think. Some picture books can get too busy and I like how you focus in on what we need to see. In general, I love how your style is so simple but not really; it’s pretty complex. Just a few lines and a pop of color go a long way. You create really cool stories about relationships that are fun to look at. 🙂

Ben: Thanks Alia! Definitely some Mo Willems influence there for me. I like to focus on the characters and story and let the reader fill in the white space. To me this goes back to the question regarding the picture book format . . . less can often be more. That’s what I strive for! And the reader really does bring a lot to the book. It’s a collaboration. I’m not making the book alone.

Alia: Ah yeah I can see that! Definitely. It’s a conversation you’re sending out to people to continue.

Ben: And splatter paint is just too much fun! Also, as I can get somewhat tight when doing final art, it forces me to loosen up and go with it.

Alia: Oh man, it is! I just did a workshop with Hervé Tullet and one of the best parts was when he told us to lift the brush and DROP it on the paper. So fun!

Ben: I’m jealous! Hervé Tullet’s work is amazing! I’ve got to try that!

Alia: It really is! He’s so kind too and you should. It’s very freeing.

Q7. Would you rather have a dinosaur best friend who’s a master chef or a monster best friend who’s slightly better than you at basketball?

Ben: Haha! Tough one! This one requires some serious thought as both are great options. I think I’ve got to go with the monster best friend who is slightly better than me at basketball. I like a challenge! Even more than food! Which is saying something.

Alia: Yeah I agree this is a tough question, lol. Good choice though. You’d probably have more laughs with your monster best friend too (and maybe a few arguments).

Ben: Yes! I think so! Can you make this happen for me?

Alia: Umm I wasn’t expecting that question. Let me see who I can call…I’ll get back to you.

Ben: Figures! 😉

Alia: Haha! Okay Q8. I’m all about stories and characters that reflect our world. How do you feel about the push in the publishing industry to get more diverse characters, stories and authors out there?

Ben: I think it is hugely important! It has been great to see the increasing rhetoric and push to have more diverse books, authors, and industry people.

Alia: I think so too!

Ben: In addition to writing and illustrating books, I’ve been working as an editor-at-large for Sasquatch Books (their Little Bigfoot imprint) for about a year. We’ve had a number of conversations about this!

Alia: Oh wow.

Ben: And whenever I’m with fellow authors and illustrators it has come up a lot recently. We’ve all got to keep at it! Keep moving forward!

Alia: Definitely. It’s important for our children to see themselves in books and to learn about others (and each other). It’s how we build community. Books are important parts of development, yeah?

Ben: I was just trying to formulate something coherent along those lines!

Alia: Haha

Ben: Yes, way important! Books are such a great space for exploration!

Alia: Definitely. It’s the only space for exploration for some children.

Ben: True! For new topics and familiar ones and subjects that are uncomfortable.

Alia: Exactly. We need it all.

Ben: Yes.

AliaQ9. Seems like you’re pretty busy (yet amazingly organized). Any non kid-lit books you’re currently reading or strongly recommend?

Ben: Haha! There was a time I wouldn’t have had any recommendations outside kid-lit, but now I listen to a lot of books while illustrating. I’m big into science fiction and fantasy in particular. Recently I’ve been enjoying (?) or at least captivated by the Game of Thrones books. I’m finishing the fifth and will be impatiently awaiting the sixth and seventh. Haven’t watched any of the TV series yet! Red Rising series by Pierce Brown is gripping. And I’ve been listening to a lot of Brandon Sanderson lately.

Alia: Very cool. Oh man, I’m sure you’ll have strong feelings about the series. 🙂 I’m always meaning to listen to audio books but I never do…

Ben: I love audio books! I usually go through 2 or 3 books a week. It’s lovely!

Alia: I think I’m gonna have to try them soon.

Ben: But it has got to be the right voice actor. The wrong voice actor can totally ruin the experience.

Alia: Yeah I’ve heard that. There’s a science to it! Has to feel right.

ItCameIntheMail

Image Credit: Simon & Schuster, Ben Clanton

Q10. Your next book, It Came in the Mail, comes out June 21st (Yay!). Do you mind talking about it a bit? I’ve read it and it’s very sweet. Also what do you hope children take from it?

Ben: Thanks!! It Came in the Mail is particularly special to me. I’ve been working on that one for a long time. Since 2011 I believe. Might have even been 2010. I love mail! I love to get it and I love to send it! And I love the experience of opening a mailbox . . . there is always that ‘what if’ possibility. Perhaps there will be something special in the mailbox. Perhaps something extraordinary and life changing! I’m very good at coming up with elaborate daydreams involving mailboxes. It Came in the Mail is pretty much a love letter to mail! The story itself has evolved a lot since I first had the idea for it. My first take focused a lot on the dragon and became more or less about the pitfalls of having a dragon as a pet. Which was actually quite a fun take, but that wasn’t what I wanted the core of this book to be about. I wanted it to be about the mail and reciprocation. But I didn’t really have a specific message I was setting out to impart.

But I suppose what I hope is that children will be inspired by it to dream big dreams. And send mail! And, perhaps even pay it forward!

Alia: There’s something special about knowing that someone took the time to send you something, isn’t there? Waiting, anticipating or being surprised. I think children will enjoy it; there’s a lot packed in there for them to experience, learn and reflect on!

Ben: Thanks! I hope so!

TableSetsItself

Image Credit: Walker Childrens (Bloomsbury Publishing), Ben Clanton

Alia: You said that you’ve been working on It Came in the Mail for a while…and that you love mail. I think we can see that in your book The Table Sets Itself! It’s obvious that you lovingly spent time on those spreads with the postage stamps and envelopes and letters.

Ben: Haha! Yes! I have a feeling this won’t be the last time mail plays a big part in a book of mine. Even in Mo’s Mustache it all starts with receiving a package in the mail!

Alia: Oh yeah! “Huzzah!” He’s so cute (and frustrated). >_<

Ben: It can be tough being a little monster thing!

Alia: It really can. I’m sure your monster friend will tell you that during a game of pick up, lol.

Ben: Haha! He better not if he is beating me!

Alia: Haha! 🙂

You touched on it earlier and I’m wondering…(Q11.) Did you actually collect the old postcards & envelopes featured in It Came in the Mail and then draw on them?

Ben: Not all of them. Some of those were ones I found online free for commercial use, but many are ones I collected. I would frequent antique stores and thrift stores and seek them out. My wife’s grandmother has a treasure trove of old love letters sent in those classic airmail envelopes! And because of the history of the ephemera (and because drawing on them was a bit daunting) I actually drew on blank paper and scanned the images and combined them with the ephemera in Photoshop. Same for the burned paper in the book. Actually, I got in trouble with my wife over that. I work late and was inspired at two in the morning one night to burn the edges of paper for the dragon illustrations.

Apparently the smell of burned paper is enough to wake someone up in the other room! My bad!

Alia: Ah, I see. I guess that’s the cool thing about technology; you can use it to make so many great effects and art. I love those classic airmail envelopes! They’re lovely.

Haha well I’m glad you decided to do the burned paper. It adds something special to the story and design. I’m a night owl too so I understand completely.

Also, I like the bolder line you use in It Came in the Mail! It looks good and I feel like this book story-wise and art-wise is showing off how much you’ve grown as an author and illustrator.

Ben: Thanks! That is so good to hear! I feel like a bolder and more expressive line is working much better for me than my previous line work. With each new book I’m learning new things. Which can make it hard to look back at books I’ve done. So many things I feel I could do better now! But I suppose it will likely always be that way. Growing pains!

Alia: Yeah, we always look back and think about how we could’ve improved. But I think it looks great!

Q12. Is there any cool place in Seattle that you recommend and like to escape to to relax?

Ben: Seattle has a lot of great places! But I really love to be by the water. The Bainbridge Ferry or Vashon Ferry or really any of the ferry rides around here I find to be particularly relaxing and enjoyable. Great for being inspired too! Oh, and Molly Moon’s Ice Cream is pretty great. Grab some of that and head to the park. Maybe stop by Elliot Bay Books first or University Book Store.

 

 

Thanks Ben for taking time to chat with me! It was fun and I wish you the best of luck with promotions for It Came in the Mail! I can’t wait to see it on bookshelves! 🙂

If you’d like to learn more about Ben Clanton, check out his:

Website, http://www.benclanton.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/Clantoons

Twitter, https://twitter.com/Clantoons

 

 

Teeny Tiny Toady

TeenyTinyToady

Image Credit: Sterling Children’s Books (Sterling Publishing), Jill Esbaum/Keika Yamaguchi

Can you say “Modern Classic?” The story and art feel old in the best way. This book feels warm and happy, like sitting snuggled on Grandma’s lap as she reads you The Three Little Pigs and a slice of her chicken pot pie sits comfortably in your belly. Yup, Teeny Tiny Toady feels familiar…and EPIC.

The story starts in a super dramatic way; a big bad human picks Mama Toad up and traps her in a bucket! Cute little Teeny Toady rushes to get her seven big, burly, body-building older brothers to help her but they insist they can handle the situation themselves. The Toady Bros struggle to rescue their mother; every one of their attempts fail and of course they’re too busy to listen to their teeny sister’s suggestions! Before they know it, they’re in trouble too and Teeny must find courage & strength to become a Teeny Hero. There’s something to be said for brains over brawn and her Mama believes in her from the very beginning. 😉

TeenyTinyToady2

Image Credit: Sterling Children’s Books (Sterling Publishing), Jill Esbaum/Keika Yamaguchi

Esbaum’s rhyming text is delightful and sounds great when read aloud. She’s a very good storyteller; the pacing, drama, humor and characters are perfect. This story teaches an important lesson for little ones; have faith in yourself and even if you’re little, you can do big things! Yamaguchi’s digital illustrations are magical; lush greens, soft colors and warty chubby toad bodies fill the pages. The toads ARE.SO.CUTE. My goodness. I love how she illustrates and characterizes them; their expressions and personalities are great and feel inspired by Disney and/or anime (especially their eyes!).

One of my favorite spreads is when Teeny thinks up her plan; Esbaum’s text floats and curls from left to right alongside the swirls of leaves and color straight to Teeny’s brain! What a great story! You will fall in love with this family. Teeny Tiny Toady deserves a spot near your favorite fairy tales and fables.

 

Recommended for: All Ages
Great for: Fables, Lessons, Inner Strength, Creative Thinking, Determination, Rhyme, Family, Relationships, Siblings, Girl Power, Read-Aloud, Animals, Love
Book Info: Teeny Tiny Toady by Jill Esbaum/Illustrated by Keika Yamaguchi, 2016 Sterling Children’s Books (Sterling Publishing), ISBN: 9781454914549

Well, I’ll Be!! It Was Clear as Day for All to See!

I finally read the books Iggy Peck, Architect and Rosie Revere, Engineer (I know…I’m late) in anticipation of Ada Twist, Scientist coming this fall…and they’re awesome!

AdaTwist

Image Credit: Abrams Books for Young Readers, Andrea Beaty/David Roberts

Look at that pretty cover!

Because I love diverse books and because this book features a girl of color who loves science, I shouted for joy when this cover released!

BUT PEOPLE…ADA TWIST HAS BEEN IN THE SERIES ALL ALONG! (GASP)

And this is a beautiful thing. Today I noticed her sitting quietly and playing joyfully in Ms. Greer’s class along with Iggy Peck and Rosie Revere. We’re getting to hear Ms. Greer’s students’ stories! Here are the first two books in the series:

And now we get to learn more about Ada Twist this September!

I shared my delight in this “discovery” with the author of these books, Andrea Beaty, and she told me this:

“I wrote ROSIE REVERE, ENGINEER because I was curious about the shy kid with the swoopy hair in IGGY PECK, ARCHITECT. I wrote ADA TWIST, SCIENTIST because I was curious about the kid in the red polka-dot dress who stands scratching her chin and thinking while everyone does other things. I knew from that illustration that she was a thinker. David’s characters lead me to stories and then those stories lead him to complete the world which, in turn, inspires me. It’s fantastic fun!”

I love it! ❤ We continued to have a discussion about how the creative process of a book is multifaceted. She also said that art directors and editors play a big part in shaping how a story comes to fruition. I think it’s clear that lots of love has gone into this series and the response of families, students and readers around the world has been wonderful. People love these two creative kids and I can’t wait to meet Ada Twist!

Happy Reading!

 

Written and Drawn by Henrietta

Written&amp;DrawnByHenrietta

Image Credit: Liniers & TOON Books (RAW Junior, LLC), Liniers

“A box of colored pencils is as close as you can get to owning a piece of the rainbow.”

Written and Drawn by Henrietta is about the unpredictability of storytelling, going with the flow and letting your mind take you on a journey. Henrietta is just as surprised about what happens in her story as readers are! We get to follow her creative process and listen in on her discussions with her cat Fellini as she writes and illustrates an EPIC story.

This funny and clever book actually starts on the front endpaper. Henrietta shares wisdom about the power of books. Next we see her holding a shiny new box of pencils which she’ll use to create the title page of her story about a three headed monster with only two hats. Her protagonist “Emily” seems very stressed about the noises coming from her wardrobe and Henrietta even scares herself! Hahaha. Her story progresses and Huey, Dewey and Louie Bluie (the three headed monster) accompanies Emily into the wardrobe (It was made in Narnia, see…) where adventure awaits. Henrietta knows all the tricks to make an engaging story.

Written&amp;DrawnByHenrietta2

Image Credit: Liniers & TOON Books (RAW Junior, LLC), Liniers

Liniers’ writing and illustration are excellent. But when you read this book, you won’t think about him because he creates a loveable character who has complete control of the reins of this book. He’s mastered the “Kid Art” style of illustration and the pages are alive with bold strokes, gnarly teeth and wild colors. Henrietta is confident in her skill and it’s fun to see the story develop. TOON BOOKS are special because they’re comic leveled-readers. Many kids are into comics and graphic novels these days and I can’t recommend this TOON Book enough. I have my fingers crossed for another installment of Henrietta’s story. I hope your child will love this book and be inspired to create!

 

P.S. Be sure to read Liniers’ dedication. 🙂 It’s very sweet. AND this book is also available in Spanish!

 

Recommended for: Age 6 and up
Great for: Discussion, Humor, Clever, Friendship, Puns, Relationships, Storytelling, Suspense, Writing a Story, Storyboarding, Inspiration, Creative Thinking
Book Info: Written and Drawn by Henrietta by Liniers, 2015 Liniers & TOON Books (RAW Junior, LLC.), ISBN: 9781935179900

Flotsam

Image Credit: Clarion Books (Houghton Mifflin), David Wiesner

Image Credit: Clarion Books (Houghton Mifflin), David Wiesner

I’ve mentioned earlier how much I love a bold line and simple images that “pop.” Well, I also love DETAILED illustrations. David Wiesner is a master at storytelling through skilled detail. I love his book Flotsam and it’s very easy to see why this book won the 2007 Caldecott Medal.

Image Credit: Clarion Books (Houghton Mifflin), David Wiesner

Image Credit: Clarion Books (Houghton Mifflin), David Wiesner

This book is wordless. The lack of words encourage imagination and the illustrations have so much packed into them that you can come up with various interpretations of what’s happening. Keep staring at the gorgeous watercolor illustrations and you will find something new each time.

In Flotsam, a curious boy enjoys a day at the beach when suddenly, a huge wave knocks him over and washes up an old underwater camera. Inside he finds a roll of film, gets it developed and what he discovers is pretty amazing; a mechanical fish, a hot-air-ballon-puffin fish and more! Has he discovered the secrets of the ocean?? Each photo is even more fantastic than the first. Perhaps the coolest discovery is a portrait of every child that’s found the camera taking a photo with the portrait photo found before. I love this aspect of the book because we see children from all over the world and throughout time, who, like the young man in the story, discovered the wonders inside the camera. If you have a child with a vivid imagination, they will enjoy this book because it encourages fantasy and creativity.

Recommended for: All ages
Great for: Creative Thinking, Storytelling, Discussion, Diversity, Cultural Diversity
Book Info: Flotsam by David Wiesner, 2006 Clarion Books (Houghton Mifflin), ISBN: 9780618194575

Ball

Image Credit: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Mary Sullivan

Image Credit: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Mary Sullivan

This post is dedicated to my good friend Scott and his doggie Fuhlonnie (Yellow Dog) who recently passed away. She was a GREAT doggie and she loved her ball, right Scott?  🙂 So does the yellow doggie in this lovely book.

Ball has only one word in the entire book. Can you guess what it is? Yup, it’s “ball.” What makes this book memorable is how clever Sullivan is with her storytelling and how charming her illustrations are. The book is set up comic-book style so you have to follow the panels to read the story. It’s about a day in the life of an energetic and lovable dog who just wants someone to play ball with. The members of the family either have to go to school, are busy or are just plain rude! It’s quite a fun book; I chuckle every time I read it. I recommend the board book form of this book because it is very sturdy and in my opinion, looks the best stylistically. This book is great for toddlers, early elementary (could make for great storyboarding/creative thinking lessons) and for ALL dog lovers. Ball…ball?…ball!!

Recommended for: Toddlers, 1st graders and dog lovers  😉
Great for: Storyboarding, Creative Thinking, Discussion
Book Info: Ball by Mary Sullivan, 2013 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, ISBN: 9780544313613

Take Away the A

Image Credit: Enchanted Lion Books, Michaël Escoffier

Image Credit: Enchanted Lion Books, Michaël Escoffier/Kris Di Giacomo

I love a great endpaper (it’s all about the details!!). I open this book and there’s a neon green background with white ABC letters. Okay, I’m already hooked!  *__*

Take Away the A is by far my favorite ABC book. This book is CLEVER! It gets kids thinking about not only their ABCs but also the meaning of words. Escoffier takes away one letter from a simple word, that word magically transforms into another word and then he writes a silly sentence using both words. Then the illustrator, Di Giacomo, pairs the sentence with a charming illustration. The child reader is reading and simultaneously making connections between the sentence and image. If they have some trouble understanding the words, they can glance up at the illustration for help, especially since the format of this book is very formulaic. Some children are more visual learners and books like this are great for strengthening their reading comprehension!

As a bookseller, this was my go-to recommendation for children who are starting to feel more confident with their reading because it’s so fun and silly. The illustrations use muted colors and have a classic feeling to them. Teachers and parents can also use this book as a tool to get their kids thinking creatively! How about a Take Away the A inspired lesson where the students come up with their own silly sentences and illustrations? The possibilities are endless!

Recommended for: Beginning readers and up
Great for: ABC Learning, Inspiring creative thinking, Storytelling, Animals, Humor
Book Info: Take Away the A by Michaël Escoffier/Illustrated by Kris Di Giacomo , 2014 Enchanted Lion Books, ISBN: 9781592701568