Archive for June 2010

Cool Castles

If you aren't a regular reader of Kelly Murphy's blog (which you should be- she creates such amazing art), please head over there and check out this post!

It has photos of the REAL castles that inspired her gorgeous art in our two books together, Hush Little Dragon and Over At The Castle. So cool to get an inside peek at inspiration like that!


What I Like So Far (2010)

So, we're halfway through 2010 already (I know, I know) and Betsy over at Fuse #8 is venturing her Halfway-Mark Caldecott/Newbery guesses.

She's really good at doing this, so I'm not gonna be one to disagree. The Newbery is not my field of expertise (despite what I said in my last post- I have a LONG way to go!), but I do have major MAJOR love for this book:

The Night Fairy by Laura Amy Schlitz

The Night Fairy by Laura Amy Schlitz is simply LOVELY. If you haven't read it yet, please please do. I'll even guarantee this one! I'm going to read it aloud to my twins this summer- I don't normally read longer books to them (we still read picture books together) but I think it will make a perfect read-aloud. This book, to me, has Newbery (or at least Newbery Honor) written all over it.

What do I see for Caldecott contenders? I've already shared my love (I think? Did I blog this book? Or did I just marvel at it over on goodreads? I can't remember...) for Betsy's top pick, which is this:

Here Comes The Garbage Barge by Jonah Winter and Red Nose Studio

Here Comes The Garbage Barge is just smack-you-in-the-face awesome. I love Jonah Winter (Gertrude Is Gertrude Is Gertrude or You Never Heard Of Sandy Koufax?! ringing any bells?)- he has the best creative non-fiction voice in picture books today. And even if you put that aside, as I think they basically do, seeing as how the Caldecott is for illustration, the illustrations are a perfect complement to the text- they're innovative and intricate and just way, way cool. I hope it wins!

So, I may be playing favorites there, but I have a few others that have made an impression on me in a big way so far this year that certainly deserve mention as well:

Farm by Elisha Cooper

Insect Detective by Steve and Charlotte Voake

The Wonder Book by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Paul Schmid

A Giraffe Goes To Paris

My Garden by Kevin Henkes
(Betsy picks this one as an honor winner as well- I just love this new style of Henkes's!)

Ubiquitous by Joyce Sidman and Beckie Prange
(Don't miss the endpapers on this one- best endpapers EVER!)

I'm no art expert, but all of these brought me great joy to behold. And now I'll keep my eye out for the rest of the year...


What I'm Reading: Chapter Books

Before I wrote my first picture book, I had easily read thousands of them to my kids. I absorbed a lot about picture books and their structure simply by reading them. When I sat down to write my first one, it just flowed- I never sat there for a minute and wondered how to write it. Obviously, I'm still improving my craft and getting better at writing, but I had the basics down by osmosis.

A while back, I decided I wanted to write a chapter book that I had an idea for. I sat down to write it. It didn't flow. Not the first time I sat down, or the ninth, or the twentieth. I was so frustrated! And I didn't understand why until I came across this wonderful advice on Linda Sue Park's website. Read a thousand books of the genre you want to write in. I love reading advice that makes so much sense, it makes you feel stupid reading it! I'd done that with picture books, why not with chapter books??

So this is what I'm doing now- I'm reading! Chapter books, with some shorter, younger mid-grades thrown in the mix. And I'm discovering I really like this level of book. A lot. When you steer clear of the formulaic series, there are some really good books in it! I'm trying to make sure to get a good dose of everything: some fantasy, humor, reality-based, highly-illustrated, non-illustrated, girl books, boy books, old, new... I want to completely understand the genre before I sit back down and open up that file.

If you have any suggestions of chapter books you think are particularly good, please e-mail me or mention them in the comments!