Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Year of the Rat... and Peter Rabbit

Chinese New Year begins on February 7, 2008. It is the year of the Rat. In ancient times the rat was welcomed as a "protector and bringer of material prosperity." The rat is actually the first in the horoscope cycle. They begin the sequence and recur every 12th year by the lunar calendar.

Today I brought home a board book from the library (in celebration of Chinese Culture) by Amy Wilson Sanger, titled Yum Yum Dim Sum. It's part of the "World Snacks Book" series of board books that I have fallen in love with. Tricycle Press in Berkeley has published them. My sister said she has checked out the Sushi book several times from her local library.

The hip artwork in this book is beautiful with bright mod colors and overlay collage... almost 3-dimensional. The paper mache food looks tasty! With simple rhymes, fun and catchy and the back cover has a glossary of all the foods mentioned. Dim Sum, Oolong, Siu Mai, Ha Gau ....mmm I'm getting hungry.

Back to the year of the rat... The other night, my son and I watched the Miss Potter movie. I thought maybe it would inspire me with my illustrations. Well, it turned out to be more of a sweet, romantic flick but it really inspired my son's art. I'm posting his inspirational drawing of Peter running and losing his blue coat with the brass buttons and his shoes "one amongst the cabbages and the other amongst the potatoes."

Oh, yeah, the rat! One thing that I did find amazing was that young Beatrix and her brother were allowed to keep a pet rat (amongst other rodents) in their bedroom! In those days I didn't think children from high society kept pet rats... especially girl children. Maybe that's why Beatrix Potter is the best selling children's author of all time!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Martina Josefina Catalina Cucaracha

Martina the Beautiful Cockroach A Cuban Folktale retold by Carmen Agra Deedy, illustrated by
Michael Austin and winner of the
Pura Belpré Honor Award, is the subject of today's post.

Beautiful Martina Josefina, Catalina Cucaracha has her own website. Don't you love that name? I could say it over and over, Martina, Josefina, Catalina, Cucaracha beautiful muchacha. Ah, the Spanish language. And Cubans speak Spanish fast!

Camen Agra Deedy says
in a Peachtree Press interview, "I've always loved the traditional version of this story. La Cucarachita Martina, or, Martina the Little Cockroach, is the Cuban folk tale, which tells of a tiny cockroach who goes a-courting—or, more accurately—sits on her balcony to be a-courted. As enacted by my marvelous storytelling mother, Martina was a true coquette, who drew many suitors before finding her perfect match. I loved the story so much that as soon as it ended, I was already begging, "Otra vez!" Again!" You can find the rest of the interview here.

Deedy blends Spanish words into the English text for both emphasis Caramba! and cultural identification, Abuela, mantilla, mi amor. I'm familiar with Daniel Moreton's La Cucaracha Martina, little buggy-eyed cockroach. It's sweet and humorous, but this version has a twist. Abuela tells Martina, "The Coffee Test never fails." Reluctantly at first, Martina pours coffee on her suitors shoes to find out their reactions. In the end she falls in love with a humble little mouse who has a Cuban grandmother and coffee test too. Michael Austin's illustrations compliment the humor in this tale. They're highly stylized. This book would make a super little movie. Nothing about it is static.

I have to catchup on some work tonight. A little Cafe Cubano and some rumba works like a charm. Taxes? Bring 'em on

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Jamie Sings

Last night I was reading some of my favorite blogs. Jules Interview with Sara Lewis Holmes was ab fab. Really, I was listening to the podcast of Sara reading her poetry and thinking about some of the people that inspire her. Then I thought, what if God created a composite man- one that had the musical talent of Lyle Lovett, the good looks and seductive qualities of Johnny Depp and (here's one Sarah didn't mention) the culinary skill of Jamie Oliver the Naked Chef? There's a man I'd like to meet. But what if it got all mixed up- like he looked like Lyle Lovett, cooked like Johnny Depp and sang like Jamie Oliver? Oh never mind......

My daughters loved Mary and the Mouse The Mouse and Mary by Beverly Donofrio and Barbara McClintock, as did I. I'm a sucker for stories that span a generation. Here is another recommendation. Anamaria at Books Together has a review and Eisha & Jules also reviewed it in a 7-imps picture book feature. I'm sure it's been reviewed on other blogs but I didn't locate the posts immediately, so please leave a link in the comments if you have reviewed it. So I'm turning the pages before bedtime, and as Mary grows up she moves into a house of her own and there's a large illustration of a mid-century modern home. Ok I subscribe to Atomic Ranch. We have a '70s ranch but it's nothing like those full color spreads in Atomic ranch I lust over. Now I have to have this book in my collection because I'm just borrowing it from the library. If I put that book under my pillow do you think that house would materialize sooner? Or maybe I'll dream about talking mice?????

Sunday, January 27, 2008


When I was taking courses for my teaching program we talked about desktop publishing and all the cool projects you could do with kids. We would make books for fundraising purposes or simply because it's very esteem-building for a child to see her work properly formatted in a publication.

And then there's Exactly.

"The fifty-six children's tales in this anthology were written by students at Raoul Wallenberg Traditional High School in San Francisco. Each author crafted an original story or fable designed to provide entertainment and life lessons to the next generation. The stories have been vividly illustrated by professional artists - in full color ..."

Who is 826 Valencia and how did they come about? Find out here. OK sign me up. I know she's only four so that gives us a few years to prepare. In addition to San Francisco there are chapters in NYC, Los Angeles, Michigan, Seattle, and Chicago.

Speaking of San Francisco, two of my most favorite books are Daughter of Fortune and Portrait in Sepia by Isabel Allende. I saw a link over at Writing Time to a video of Allende speaking about writing, passion, stories and feminism. She's marvelous and funny- note the part about Sophia Loren, but she's also politically savvy and passionate about empowering women worldwide.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Girl on Tour

I adore blogs because a simple idea can reach globally, create solidarity and inspire humanitarian endeavors. For example, The Girl in the Cafe, not the movie but the blog (weblog) There's a pretty good review of the film here if you haven't seen it. I was talking about this movie for days, so get on the tour if you haven't seen it.

"The Girl lives in London with a pirate, she is a wannabe film maker and screen writer with a Lawless Heart and a Bill Nighy addiction." -so says the self-described author. When I feel that travel-lust escapist fantasy coming on, I read through this site, click around the photos, I am woooshed away and return in a much better place.

I adore bloggers because they're so dang funny. Check out this post at 15 Minute Lunch. Look at that childhood artwork! We have some up on the fridge right now, but I'll never talk about it in the same way again after reading that post.

I adore blogging because I can pull a book off my shelf and share it with the world. Kid Size The Material World of Childhood is actually an exhibition catalogue of current and historical photographs. The catalogue discusses the changing traditions and assumptions about the objects (toys, furniture, utensils, playgrounds....) and requirements for a child's spiritual and physical development. It states that our relationship to the world builds up from childhood, through cultural experience, comparisons and realizations. Here are a few captions: Children at play reconstruct a firing squad in Palermo Italy 1960, A mother has turned the undercarriage of her snack-cart into a sleeping place for her baby, Peru 1964, Municipal kindergarten in Munich, 1928, or Small hands on tokyo: urban icons in contemporary Japan. The 1997 exhibition toured Europe, but I pull this book out from time to time and thumb through it over coffee.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Rain Rain Go Away

We're spinning in circles inside with all this rain. After four days of wet weather I'm thinking of Spring and Spring makes be think of birds. Birds make me think of Shirley Temple?????

Today music is my muse. My girls will dress up and flutter around as I write.
The notes I handle no better than many pianists. But the pauses between the notes- ah, that is where the art resides.
-Artur Schnabel

So let's wake up with Shirley and dance!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Obsessive Consumption

I just realized that I am always shopping. I buy something every day. It might be groceries or a book online, but I am Always shopping. Lately I've been shopping on etsy. Etsy is one of my favoite sites because I get so much inspiration from all the original hand made items. I was looking for self- published childrens books and unfortunately there are only 3 listed. Two of the books listed were Mister Toast books.

I don't have a Mister Toast book but my son has a Mister Toast plush toy that he sleeps with every night........(and he loves to party with Peter Rabbit while my son is asleep because we always find those two in odd places by morning!) Hmmm ....I think I Must have The Adventures of Mister Toast by Dan Goodsell!

My greatest discovery is the hand made zine "What did you buy Today?" by Kate Consumption. A 1 year subscription is $48.00 and it's full of awesome illustrations of all of Kate's daily purchases. I think its purpose is to make us feel less self conscious about how we shop to fill the void! I definitely need to get a subscription for my birthday....hint hint

As I was scrolling through the etsy items I also came across this mini book (Another Must have that I saved in my Favorites) Adventures of the Cloudpeople by Ruth Bleakley. She makes the most amazing doll-sized mini books, hand bound and hand painted.

There are so many truly creative authors and artists in this world and it always inspires me to see those who do.

Author Illustrator Sites

Here are some chunks of information for beginning writers of picture books. Kim and I are constantly in process of writing and illustrating. The love's in the process right?

Picture Book Analysis

Children's Book Council Author and Illustrator Sites

Writing for Children by Kristy Dempsey

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Cat

The Cat, Or How I Lost Eternity by Jutta Richter and illustrated by Rotraut Susanne Berner (see Jules post at 7 Imp's) - Wow what a title! I have to think differently about books that are translated. I'm certain Anna Brailovsky did a superb job or it wouldn't have won the Batchelder Honor Award. However language, of course, is an expression of culture so this book was of particular interest because my mother is German.

This is the culture of Freud, mastermind of psychoanalysis. I once had a class on Freud at SFSU co-taught by Michael Krasny (an excellent lecturer but Freud is not his forte.) I digress with Freud and Krasny who now appear inseparable in my image mind. The Cat, Or How I Lost Eternity is middle grade fiction, not a picture book which I usually write about. The clever illustrations mark each "spare and philosophical " chapter about an eight-year-old girl, Christine, who befriends an alley cat.

The cat is Christine's antagonist and they communicate telepathically. Here is another good review from the Goethe-Institut. The word for Eternity in German is
Ewigkeit. We know Christine attends catechism class; is Ewigkeit closer in meaning to immortality then perpetuity? Here is an eight-year-old moving beyond SELF prompted by a smelly old cat's philosophy of life. I won't get into the id, ego and super-ego or developmental child psychology because this is a blog about kidslit Thank God. But this book is just as profound for adults as tweens. And I plan to reread it for deeper meaning. The beauty of good literature!

"When the world returned, I was alone. As usual, Waldemar Buck was sawing up eternity- only this time, I understood the cat's fear that eternity wouldn't last.
I had learned one thing: Even if time stood still and the world went under, sooner or later both would reappear."

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Gift from the Sea

The January Carnival of Children's Literature: Book Awards is up over at Wizards Wireless. The carnival highlights medal winning books of 2007. Have fun going through it!

Two books inspired today's post: Out of the Ocean by Debra Frasier, and Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Yesterday was clear and sunny- a glassy ocean beachwalk day. Today is cool and gray- a morning to reread my dog eared copy of Gift from the Sea.

Out of the Ocean belongs in every child's collection. It reads like fiction yet contains a glossary and photographs of the flotsam found by the author (or child on her beach walks with her wise mother.) Debra Frasier has prepared a curriculum guide for this book and it's well worth planning out a lesson.

And then there is my beloved Gift from the Sea. From my Oyster Shell I imagine those special shells she collected sitting in a row on her writing desk. A mother of five children, a famous writer, wife, explorer and aviator, Anne Morrow Lindbergh was a remarkable woman. This comforting book is a near perfect read for modern mothers and just as fresh as it must have been when it was first published 53 years ago.

It was a challenge to choose a quote because this book is so seamlessly written. She writes, "One learns to accept the fact that no permanent return is possible to an old form of relationship; and, more deeply still, that there is no holding of a relationship to a single form. This is not tragedy but part of the ever-recurrent miracle of life and growth. All living relationships are in process of change, of expansion, and must perpetually be building themselves new forms. But there is no single fixed form to express such a changing relationship. There are perhaps different forms for each successive stage; different shells I might put in a row on my desk to suggest the different stages of marriage-or indeed of any relationship."

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The NO-NO Bird

I'm the no-no bird,
That's right, that's me.
I live up in
The Tantrum Tree.

I'm the no-no bird,
I won't say why
I stamp my feet
And shout and cry.

I'm the no-no bird!
I sulk and sing
No! No! No!
To everything!

Poem by Andrew Fusek Peters
Here's A Little Poem

Friday, January 18, 2008

Kimba Goes to Paris

Kimba the White Lion and Speed Racer were my first introduction to Japanese Anime which is so wildly popular now. What's so great about Pokemon? Can anyone tell me? My nephews have trading cards and games. Are they cute? What is Pokemon teaching our kids anyway- how to capture crystals or exotic animals and make them fight for fun? I never really got into gaming, probably because I read so much. That said however, anime is entertaining as a popular art form, and I really enjoyed Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away. It's Friday night how about anime and takeout sushi? BTW Check out the groovy sound bite in this Kimba clip.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Velveteen Principles?

As much as I like to celebrate birthdays, I also like to find a quite space to contemplate the passing years and get in a little transformative reading. Today I received a clever book by Tina Matthews titled, Out of the Egg. Not to be confused with the T Seuss Geisel honor book, First the Egg.

"Who will help me plant the seed?...Not I said the Fat Cat. Not I said the Dirty Rat. Not I said the Greedy Pig. Then I Shall plant it myself, said the Red Hen. And she did." The story follows a similar plot line as the old tale but with a twist. The Red Hen's chick wants to play with the offspring of the cat, rat and pig under the tree Hen solely nurtured. When Mum says no, chick takes initiative and asks if they would like to play. And they,... "played all day around and about the great whispery tree. And when it was time to go home... the Red Hen gave them each a green seed."

The contemplative moment: Our children have access to opportunities and knowledge forged by all previous generations. Go Green your children will thank you for it. The Fat Cats, Dirty Rats and Greedy pigs expect the goodies for nothing. Hard work will pay off in the end.

Tina Matthews' Japanese woodcut illustrations portraying scenes like the animals watching TV feet up on the coffee table pressing the remote control or pig throwing her hamburger bag (marked with an M ) out of the convertible, made me grin and examine them closely for hidden icons of our era.

How about The Velveteen Principles? I hadn't heard of this book before, but since I'm in a contemplative mood the title intrigued me. The Velveteen Rabbit is a classic written by Margery Williams and illustrated by William Nicholson in 1922 about a boy's cherished toy that desire and love make real. Real is the key word in, The Velveteen Principles by Toni Raiten-D'Antonio, a psychotherapist with a background in theater and television.

The Velveteen principles, A Guide to Becomming Real, Hidden Wisdom from a Children's Classic, is broken down into 12 principles with titles such as, Real is Honest or Real is Grateful. Each principle starts with a quote from the story and then moves into a lengthy explanation of how it applies to becoming our REAL selves. Personally I prefer the prose of the 1922 story.

The contemplative moment: "And then a strange thing happened. For where a tear had fallen, a flower grew out of the ground. . . . it was so beautiful that the little Rabbit forgot to cry, and just lay there watching it. And presently the blossom opened , and out of it there stepped a fairy."

Monday, January 14, 2008

Early Reader

My son Donovan is 4 years old, well .... almost 5 and he has started to read books on his own. Last week I went to pick him up from pre-school and his teacher informed me that he can read and sound out both long and short vowels.

I knew that he was trying to write words and sound them out but I didn't really know that he could read! So off we went to the library to pick out some exciting new books. His first choice : Skateboard Monsters by Daniel Kirk. An eye catcher with bright vivid illustrations of silly monsters.....not scary monsters, these are all friends. We have actually checked this book out more than once and everyone in our family has a favorite monster. Mine is Butch, my son's is Spike, my husband's is Corkscrew and his little sister's is Tilly (because she's the girl monster).

Daniel Kirk's illustrations are very pop and remind me of 80's pop artist Kenny Scharf (whose art I love) crossed with children's book illustrator David Kirk of Miss Spider fame. Hey, I wonder if Daniel Kirk is related to David Kirk...or is it just coincidence?

The book is almost lyrical with very cool rhyming words. It's lots of fun to read, perfect for 4 year old boys. And Yes! My son can read it, although I do wonder if he doesn't already have it memorized!

ALA Award for Kami and the Yaks

The American Library Association awards were announced yesterday and today I'm posting winning titles by small or independent publishers.

The debut book by
Bay Otter Press, Kami and the Yaks by Andrea Stenn Stryer and illustrated by Bert Dodson, won the
Schneider Family Book Award for books that embody the artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences. (ages 0-10)

A beautifully designed and illustrated book, Kami and the Yaks tells the story of a young Sherpa boy who braves a storm and communicates (because he is deaf) with his father that little "White Spot" is injured on the mountain. A rescue ensues and, "Kami proudly led the yaks, his father, and his brother down the mountain." A timely win with the death of Sir Edmond Hillary bringing recent attention to the region.

What is so great about Andrea Stenn Stryer's book is her dedication to the project evidenced by the curriculum she designed for teachers and parents. A lovely book!

The Cat: Or, How I Lost Eternity by Jutta Richter, Rotraut Susanne Berner, and Anna Brailovsky, published by Milkweed Editions, originally published in German as Die Katze, won a Mildred L. Batchelder Honor Award for the most outstanding children's book translated from a foreign language and subsequently published in the United States. No luck getting this book from the library here. It is available in some Midwest libraries. I plan to find a copy soon, and if anyone has reviewed this book please post the link in the comments or email a review to

Coretta Scott
King Illustrator Honor Award for, The Secret Olivia Told Me, by N. Joy, illustrated by Nancy Devard, published by Just Us Books. CSU Fresno has this title in their library but that's too far to drive. I see I'll have to make a little investment in some new books.

Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for the most distinguished book for beginning readers Honor Book, Hello, Bumblebee Bat, written by Darrin Lunde, illustrated by Patricia J. Wynne and published by Charlesbridge. I believe Becky has this book about the endangered bumblebee bat of Thailand- maybe I'll get her opinion. Is it great?

The Pura Belpré Award honoring Latino authors and illustrators whose work best portrays, affirms and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in children's books Honor Book for Illustration My Colors, My World/Mis Colores, Mi Mundo, written and illustrated by Maya Christina Gonzalez and published by Children's Book Press. I should have this in my hands from the library in a couple of days.

The Pura Belpré Award Author Honor Book, Martina the Beautiful Cockroach: A Cuban Folktale, retold by Carmen Agra Deedy, illustrated by Michael Austin and published by Peachtree. Ah ha! a new rendition of this story- I can't wait!

Friday, January 11, 2008

2007 Best of ...Too

The best books of 2007 bookworm carnival at Reading With Becky is now up! Here are my two personal favorites for young children. One is a Cybils finalist in the picture book fiction category, Knuffle Bunny Too. And the other, Orange Pear Apple Bear, which didn't make the Cybils list but it won Reading is Fundamental's best of 2007 along with Knuffle Bunny Too.

Why wasn't Orange Pear Apple Bear a Cybils finalist? I'll bet it was a toss up between, Orange Pear Apple Bear and Leaves by David Ezra Stein. While Leaves is beautifully executed and, like a toddler, expresses the the innocence and bewilderment of falling leaves- changing seasons, the sentiment is reminiscent of Milne and Shepard's Winnie the Pooh.

Orange Pear Apple Bear is entirely different. Besides being a big fan of Emily Gravett, whose website is awesome and I linked to it in a previous post, she has created a brilliant book in it's simplicity. Toddlers immediately understand what this clever bear is doing with recognizable objects (fruit.) A thinking child's primer of shapes, color, sequence and WORDS. There is a great interview with Emily Gravett at Seven Impossibe Things Before Breakfast. I hope this book wins some awards!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Late Night Post

Everyone is asleep and I was clicking around financial blogs instead of finishing the dishes. One click leads to another and I'm back at an art blog watching Mariee Sioux. Her lyrical poetry on the track Burried in Teeth, reminded me of the impact books like, Julie of the Wolves, Island of the Blue Dolphins, The Whale Rider or Sherman Alexie's writing have had on my psyche. The connection to nature, our bodies, myth and our ancestors is, like Lucky, the connection to ...our higher power. In my early adolescent angst I was Miyax, suffering, free, wild...
And now as I finish the dishes as everyone sleeps, I feel domesticated.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Interview With the Author Marilyn Kallet

My new favorite author, Marilyn Kallet has a wonderful children's book out called Jack the Healing Cat , illustrated by Sandra Van Winkle. My four year old son loves this book and there could be no better choice reading for fighting off our winter colds during the holiday break! Marilyn is the author of 14 books, including her latest, The Movable Nest: A Mother/Daughter Companion. I am a huge fan and decided to ask her a few questions for
inspiration...and what a Great Inspiration she is!

Please tell me a little about your childhood. Where were you born? Where did you grow up? Are you a Tennessee native?

I was born in Montgomery, Alabama, my mother's home, and grew up in New York, where my fatherwas raised. There was always a mini Civil War in the house, and my mother never forgave him for the transplant.

Where did you go to college?

I did my undergraduate work at Tufts University and at the Sorbonne, and my graduate work at Rutgers in Comparative Literature.

What was your first published book?

My first book was poetry, DEVILS LIVE SO NEAR, from Ithaca House, 1971.

Where do you get your ideas for your books?

Anywhere and everywhere--I've written lots of love poems and poems about family history, but also about race and history, about the Holocaust and my family (many of the older generation were caught up in Germany. Jewish identity is an important subject for me. JACK THE HEALING CAT was a true story, about our beautiful tabby and his positive influence on our little family.

How many books have you written?

14 books.

Do you have a favorite among them?
I like my recent poetry book, CIRCE, AFTER HOURS, from BkMk Press. It has a wide range of subjects.

What was the book you most loved as a child?

My mother used to read me the UNCLE WIGGILY stories when I was really little. I craved them. As long as my mother was reading to me, she was still with me. When I got a bit older, I was addicted to the Nancy Drew stories. I liked the smart, active girl hero.

What would you say is the most fulfilling part about being a children's author?

The response of children to stories is nothing short of miraculous. One of my colleague's has a son who kisses the pages of the cat book.

What inspires you to write?

Everyday life. I just try to stay alert. I also write from dreams and teach a course on dreamwork.

How do you feel about the importance of small publishing companies?

They are tremendously important to writers and to the quality of literature in general. They open doors for writers that may lead to the larger companies and a wider readership. The little presses take chances on us; they produce handsome, well-crafted books in which we authors have a voice.

Do you think it's important to choose a good title for your books?

Titles are crucial! They are the first thing to grab an editor's attention--and then to draw in the reader.

Can you briefly describe your latest book?

My latest book is THE MOVABLE NEST: A MOTHER/DAUGHTER COMPANION, an anthology of mother-daughter writings.JACK THE HEALING CAT is also new, as you know--a book for ages 1-6, about a cat that teaches a family gentleness and involves mutual rescue.

What made you decide to use the art of Sandra Van Winkle for your book? Can you tell me more about her and her work?

Sandra came up to me in the Fresh Market in Knoxville and asked me if I had any projects that needed illustration. As it happened, my first illustrator had bombed on this project. So I said, "Yes!"

Are there any children's authors that you admire?

So many! Let me mention Jeff Daniel Marion's HELLO, CROW--from Orchard Books. It's a poem and a story, a model of spareness.

What tips/advice would you give to aspiring authors and illustrators?

For writers--take a workshop or join a writing group, to get good feedback on your work. Illustrators need mentors too--

Do you think writing communities are beneficial to writers?

I think they are crucial to our survival. Writing is a lonely task. We need dialogue, feedback, support.

Where can we go to read more about you and any new books you may have coming out in the future?

I have a website, Please keep me posted on your work as well. With huge thanks, Marilyn.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Why Publish Independently

Today's post is a little different then my usual posts because it's about a business model I'm working on. Why publish independently? Here are two good reasons: you are looking for an alternative to the slush pile, you are resourceful and committed to your book project. I recently received a quote from a friend which I feel is applicable for getting your first book out.

"Hell, there are no rules here- we're trying to accomplish something." - Thomas Edison

OK that may be a bit simplistic. I realize there is A LOT that goes into writing and illustrating for children, but we all get the sentiment. It's January 2008. What are you planning to accomplish this year? Last year I decided to launch a publishing collective with my sister specifically for picture book writers and illustrators as an alternative to many of the print on demand self-publishing companies out there who aren't that interested, beyond their profit, in publishing full-color children's books.

The traditional publishing route is optimal, but the wait and rejection letters are tiresome. How will you build your portfolio and polish your skills? Large publishing houses receive a landslide of query letters and manuscripts. Many of them no longer accept unsolicited work. I came across an interesting interview at Goading The Pen with Rita Mills, Competition Coordinator of ABC Book Competition, about why she started the competition. According to Rita, "When an average of three children’s picture books out of twelve thousand submissions sent to traditional publishers are actually published, I would say that constitutes a need."

I have to agree with Rita. By all means work with a literary agent and submit your writing to large publishing houses. (We like to provide a lot of those resources.) They have monetary clout. However, we need to create alternatives and with strategic planning, collaborative efforts and business savvy it is possible to publish and sell picture books successfully with a small independent publisher.

That doesn't necessarily mean you will strike gold, but it does mean that persistence and collaboration help level the playing field.
If you need a little reminder about that 2008 get-your-book-published resolution, here are the words of the fabulous Dr. Seuss, from that most famous graduation gift, Oh, the Places You'll Go!

"Everyone is just waiting. Waiting for the fish to bite or waiting for wind to fly a kite or waiting around for Friday night or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake or a pot to boil, or a Better Break or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants or a wig with curls, or Another Chance. Everyone is just waiting. NO! That's not for you!... So... be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O'Shea, you're off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So...
get on your way!"

Thursday, January 3, 2008


We have after-the-storm clean up to do today. Literally, we had hurricane-like weather and were out of power nearly 24 hours. It has been cozy inside though, and I enjoyed writing a post over at Wizards Wireless about the Palo Alto Library.

This morning the sun is breaking through and I'm scanning my google reader. While reading the latest post at Wizards Wireless, I was prompted by the question, what are the names of the Mutts characters? I know that answer, Mooch and Earl, because my daughter received The Gift of Nothing by Patrick McDonnell for Christmas from my good friend Alison. This zen tale blew over my four-year-old, but I sure get it. I already have a snapped off Fairy Barbie leg to repair.

Next week is a reminder that I'm in the 40's club. What would I like besides a major lottery win? I'll take a cue from The Gift of Nothing and include this lovely poem previously archived from my friend Maria titled, Time Tested Beauty Tips.

For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.
For beautiful hair, let a child run his or her fingers through it once a day.
For poise, walk with the knowledge you'll never walk alone.
People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; Never throw out anybody.

Remember, If you ever need a helping hand, you'll find one at the end of your arm.
As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.

The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman must be seen from in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides.

The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mole, but true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows, and the beauty of a woman with passing years only grows!

Sam Levenson wrote this poem to his granddaughter.
Let me now share it with you all and give it to my darling daughters as a poem to keep in mind.
I found it in one of my favorite actress' biography - Audrey Hepburn - and I loved it.
To know more about this GREAT woman go to:

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Hans Christian Andersen

I just love Danny Kaye and posted this clip for our amusement. Check out the Hans Christian Andersen Center for some literary history. And as a quick follow up to JK's comment on my previous post about Garth Williams, I came across Leonard S. Marcus, Children's Book Historian, Author and Critic, and saw that Garth Williams is included in the exhibition catalogue titled, The Picture Book Made New: Margaret Wise Brown and Her Illustrators. That is helpful, but really he deserves a solo show. Perhaps we'll see one at The National Center for Children's Illustrated Literature?

Marcus' co-curated exhibit,
Children Should be Seen: The Image of the Child in American Picture-Book Art, and another upcoming exhibit at the Eric Carle Museum,Over Rainbows and Down Rabbit Holes: The Art of Children's Books, are coming to CA!!!!!!
Happy 2008!