Friday, November 29, 2013

Public Service Announcement: My favorite deals this Friday...

I'm not typically a Black Friday shopper.  I'm way too mellow for that.  We've been having a pajama day around here instead.


There are two deals that I had to pass along:

Right now John Green's The Fault in Our Stars is available for $2.99 on Kindle, and similarly cheap on iBooks and Google.  I read it twice through my local library, but at that price, I was able to have my own copy.  I'd prefer owning a paper copy, but for now -- I love this deal.

Also, I've been on a barely-moving, forever-long library hold list to read Allegiant -- the final book in Veronica Roth's Divergent series.  It's been driving me crazy to hear static about it while trying desperately to insulate myself.  But today it's on sale for $3.49 on Kindle and the reading has begun!

Happy reading on this long weekend!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

U2 Nelson Mandela Ordinary Love video by Mac Primo & Oliver Jeffers

Remember when I mentioned {here} that Oliver Jeffers did the cover art for U2's new single Ordinary Love for the upcoming Nelson Mandela movie?

Jeffers just revealed today that he also worked on the Ordinary Love video with Mac Primo.  You can watch the {Ordinary Love Video} on U2's Facebook page.

Lots of Jeffers' signature handwriting to enjoy... and, of course, there's U2.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Climbing Said Mountain

In between other projects, in the shower, in the car, and in my sleep, I've been working on a children's book project of my own this year, slowly crafting and getting it ready to send to a certain agent.  I go through ups and downs, periods of exuberance and periods of doubt.  I'm riding a wave of enthusiasm and determination this week.  Today I remembered this painting by Heather Smith Jones:

by Heather Smith Jones

It made me smile...and continue plodding upward.

Monday, November 18, 2013

14 Fun & Festive Picture Books for Thanksgiving!

Last November I created a wonderful list of Thanksgiving picture books.  We've been revisiting it this month with piles of library books.  There are so many good ones.  My very favorite, the one I can't wait to read every year, is Lisa Wheeler's Turk and Runt: A Thanksgiving Comedy .  It completely cracks me up.  As shallow as it may sound, humor gets the win almost every time around here.

I'm still celebrating Picture Book Month all November.  Come back later this week for my Winter Booklist.  I'm having so much fun pulling it together!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

18 Wonderfully Wordless Picture Books

Confession:  I make children's book art, but in my heart I am a lover of words.  So when I unknowingly cracked the cover on my first wordless picture book, I felt a little robbed.

Until I watched my kids.

They engaged the book with joy and intensity.  The absence of words allowed them, perhaps even required them, to bring more of themselves into the story.  Wordless picture books invite children to enter into a mystery and discover a story for themselves.  On their own time, in their own way.  The good ones teach storytelling in a way that words cannot.

I still prefer the magical pairing of perfect words with perfect art, but wordless books have cleared their own special spot on the bookshelf of my heart.  I love finding great ones.

Here are my current favorites:

1.  Yellow Umbrella by Jae Soo Liu

I call this one: The One That Changed My Mind.

Because it really did.  I was a wordless skeptic with an attitude until Yellow Umbrella turned a dreary, rainy afternoon into childhood magic.  The story opens with a single umbrella.  Soon it is joined by others, until there is a sea of colorful umbrellas moving together...on their way to school.  My boys requested it again and again, each time adding more of their own narrative to the pages.  One of the best parts of the experience is the CD of music created to enhance the wonder.  Don't read it without it.

2. Journey by Aaron Becker
I am completely in love with these illustrations.  Just released this August, I think big things are ahead for this book.  Journey is the story of a lonely girl who draws a red door on her bedroom wall and ushers herself into a world full of adventure, danger and delight.  It's like Harold , but different.   Aaron Becker created all this beauty with pen and ink and watercolor.  I'm obsessed with watching artists work.  If you are crazy like that too, you should check out Aaron's video about the making of the book {here}, watch the trailer {here}, or check out his website  <----- Isn't that a beautiful name for a website?  Sigh.

3.  Chalk by Bill Thomson
I passed over this book far too many times, having no idea that its pages held such a wonderful adventure.  One rainy day some children receive a special gift -- a bag of chalk.   As they draw on the pavement -- their creations come to life.  Which is delightful and magical, until one of them draws a dinosaur.  Joy quickly turns to terror as they run for their lives.  With some fast thinking and creativity, the kids solve the problem.  Few picture books have great endings; Chalk is one of the rare ones that's last page is as satisfactory as the first.  Thomson brings the story wonderfully full circle.  His hyper-realistic artwork enhances the wonder of the fantasy.

4.  Inside Outside by Liz Boyd

This simple book explores the joy of the seasons with clever cut-outs and graphic artwork.  Cut-outs have always intrigued me.  It's a quiet book, but even my eight-year-old was fascinated.

5.  Zoom  by Istvan Banyai

In Zoom, Banyai explores perspective and scale in a way that is endlessly amusing.  I smiled more with every page turn.  I may have even laughed a time or two.

6.  Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle
The tagline for this beautifully illustrated tale is "Friendship is a beautiful dance".   It reminded me that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  However you spin it, this book is adorable.

7.  Flotsam by David Weisner
If someone hasn't already (they probably have), I crown David Wiesner as the King of the Wordless Story.  He is brilliant.  And he'll appear on this list several times -- even with me withholding some of his best.  Flotsam is the enchanting tale of a boy who finds an ancient camera on the seashore.  The developed photos reveal the whimsical mysteries of the depths of the ocean.  I love this one so much, I used it as the inspiration for a Kindergarten storytelling workshop a few years ago.

8.  Wave  by Suzy Lee
Wave is a wonderful summertime book.  Suzy Lee captures the impertinent battle between a little girl and the ocean.  Lee's pencil drawings of the girl showcase her sass.  And the bold brush strokes of the ocean are the perfect counterpoint.

9. The Lion & the Mouse by Jerry Pickney

Jerry Pickney retells the fable of the lion and the mouse -- the story of a kindness returned.  Honored Caldecott winner of 2010, the amazingly detailed watercolors steal the show, followed closely by the regal lion and the determined mouse.

10.  The Red Book by Barbara Lehman

In bold colorful (Caldecott Honor) graphics, Lehman tells the story of a mysterious red book and the children who are connected through it.

11.  Sector 7 by David Weisner

In Sector 7 Wiesner transports us to the skies, to the factory where clouds are designed and exported.  A boy breaks tradition and rides the whimsy of his imagination, much to the chagrin of factory management.  Another Caldecott Honor book, Sector 7 is the excuse you need to stare dreamily into the sky, cloudspotting.

12. The Other Side by Istvan Banyai

The creator of Zoom created another masterpiece on shifting perspectives.  The Other Side encourages children to see things from an alternative viewpoint.  A great tool for philosophical discussions, and an inspiration for an art project exploring perspectives.

13.  Sea of Dreams by Dennis Nolan

Sea of Dreams is very reminiscent of Wiesner's Flotsam, in subject and style.  Nolan has a similar illustration style, and utilizes the same chemistry of reality and whimsy.  Sea of Dreams opens with a girl building a sand castle on the beach.  After she walks away, the magic begins...

14. Tuesday by David Weisner

Classic Wiesner.  A surreal book about flying frogs that will change the way you think of Tuesdays.

15.  Shadow  by Suzy Lee
A little girl and her imagination play with her shadow in the garage, until the shadows take on a life of their own.

16.  Museum Trip by Barbara Lehman

My boys love mazes, so Lehman's book reeled them into its world with a lost boy who finds his way through pages of mazes to be reunited with his class field trip.
17.  Bluebird by Bob Staake

In simple, cartoonish artwork Staake tells a deep and complex story of friendship, bullying and loss.  I'm impressed by the range of emotions such simplified artwork can evoke.
18.  Bee & Bird by Craig Frazier
The bold color palette and graphic patterns shine in this playful exploration in changing perspectives.

This list is not exhaustive, but hopefully a few will pique your interest and introduce you to the joy of wordless picture books.  There are many other fabulous wordless stories out there:  I'd love to hear your favorites.

During the month of November I am celebrating Picture Book Month.  {Subscribe here} to make sure you don't miss a post.  Also visit to join the festivities and to read daily content from industry professionals.