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Saturday, August 17, 2013

This was the idea, and it was very quick. I may revisit it again, but it's a bit different. Remember if you want to print it out, save to your computer, then print from there! Have a wonderful weekend! A few quick things, and then I hope to get Nana's Gift done today and up at CreateSpace, second edition!

Friday reviews a day late!

Last weeks' computer crash has left me a little behind (and scrambling, I've lost all my documents I think). Reworking Nana's Gift in light of the positive reviews and seeing it in the Easy Reader sized format (nope doesn't cut it) and a week of 14 year old GISHWES festivities, so I will reserve the right to post book reviews ON or ABOUT.  In a few weeks, with the advent of school, I hope to be able to PRE-write somethings and post on time. Just not at this time, so apologies... I'll make it up by reviewing some wonderful books, okay? This week I had a personal connection with all the books, so I don't even make the pretense of being partial.

What Floats in a Moat?
Lynne Berry
illustrated by Matthew Cordell
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2013

Archimedes (Archie for short) the goat has an important date at the castle and has to figure out how to ford the moat. Skinny the Hen makes for a perfect sidekick for Archie's solution testing theories. Funny, funny, I loved the whimsy of the drawings, and the dash of science the book provides. I also like the problem/solution aspect of the book, and think most kids would delight at not only the silly but the serious of this book (cleverly disguised as silly).

Other books by Lynne Berry: Duck Tents (illustrated by Hiroe Nakata); The Curious Demise of a Contrary Cat (illustrated by Luke LaMarca); Duck Dunks (illustrated by Hiroe Nakata); Ducking for Apples (illustrated by Hiroe Nakata)

Other books by Matthew CordellJustin Case: Shells, Smells and the Horrible Flip-Flops of Doom (written by Rachel Vail); Bug Juice on a Burger (written by Julie Sternberg); Justin Case: School, Drool and other Daily Disasters (written by Rachel Vail)Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie (written by Julie Sternberger); Ollie and Claire (written by Tiffany Trelitz Haber); Forgive me, I Meant to Do It: False Apology Poems (written by Gail Carson Levine); hello! hello!

David Slonim
Roaring Brook Press, 2013

A tale of true friendship, I find this joyous and uplifting in a kid-way. It's set up more like a bit of a Chapter book, and I think younger kids would appreciate that (goodness knows me and everyone I knew wanted to be older than we were, though I've spent the last forty years backpedaling...) Patches is the perfect dog who doesn't always do the perfect thing, a valuable lesson in friendship and moving on from dissapointment. The art is loose and happy with fresh colors, the words simple. The ideas profound and complex.

Other books by David Slonim: How to Teach a Slug to Read (written by Susan Pearson); You Think it's Easy Being the Tooth Fairy? (written by Sheri Bell-Rehwoldt);  He Came with the Couch; Silly Tilly (written by Eileen Spinelli); I Loathe You; Look Out, Jeremy Bean! (written by Alice Schertle)

Bone by Bone
Sara Levine
illustrated by T.S. Spookytooth
Millbrook Press, 2013

This book would have delighted the nerdy kid in me and delights me now. Informative is understandable in yet a witty way, it's got visuals that are clear and fun, and loads of information to satisfy! I also liked the way it deepens the thoughts about our differences and similarities to other creatures in the world.

Other books by T.S. Spookytooth: Sally's Bones (written by Mackenzie Caldenhead); Mommy There's a Giraffe in My Room (written by Angela Lane and Patricia Stevens); The Small Bun: Blue/Band Phonics 4 (written by Martin Wadell); Bible Birds and Beasties (written by Leena Lane)

Jenny Craig's I Believe in Genevieve
Jenny Craig
illustrated by Wendy Edelson
Regenery Kids, 2013

I only review books I like and I was fully prepared to not care for this book. It's an old saw about people who become famous (and this happens in other arts as well) and write for children. But I love Wendy Edelson's art and wanted to at least see the book itself. It was not only engaging and well-written, I loved the positive information at the end. As a kid totally enamored of animals in general and horses in particular, the story interesting and the art just sparkles like jewels. I would have liked this for the art alone, Edelson is the kind of illustrator I just love, but the book itself is a wonderful addition to anyone's library and reinforces positive choices, changes and values.

Other books by Jenny Craig: Jenny Craig's No Diet Required; The Jenny Craig Cookbook: Cutting Through the Fat; Jenny Craig's What Have You Got to Lose: A Personalized Weight Management System; Simple Pleasures: Recipes to Nourish Body and Soul

Other books by Wendy Edelson: A Baker's Dozen: A Saint Nicholas Tale (written by Aaron Shepherd); Hannah and Hickory: From the Land of Barely There (written by Stephen Cosgrove); On This Night (written by N. Steiner); Pobble's Way (written by Simon van Booy); Over the River and Through the Woods (written by Lydia Maria Child); Saturn for my Birthday (written by John Mcgranaghan)

Razia's Ray of Hope: One Girl's Dream of an Education
Elizabeth Suneby
illustrated by Suana Verelst
Citizen Kid, Kids Can Press, 2013

Razia dreams of going to school and learning, though she's surreptitiously been learning to read from her brothers. How to convince her traditional family to allow her to go. A great view into another culture, I like very much that Suneby makes note of the changes that has occurred in  Afghanistan as well as showing Razia's dilemma without the judgment that could come with it. The illustrations are STUNNING, and have achieved that rare feeling for me--- I wish I'd done them. I think this an important book on many levels. Understanding different cultures, especially one we've been immersed in for the last twelve years, some of the trials facing others, and some great discussion about the world and the impact of education, each other, values and goals.

Other books by Elizabeth Suneby: It's a... It's a... It's a Mitzvah (with Diane Heiman); The Mitzvah Project Book: Making Mitzvah Part of Your Bar/Bat Mitzvah Life and Your Life (with Diane Heiman); Origami Fortune Tellers (with Diane Heiman, illustrated by Christine Archer); See What You Could Be: Explore Careers That Could be For You!

Other books by Suana Verelst: Next Week When I am Big (written by Jaenet Guggenheim)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

It's a logo!

My niece Holly Ingalls needed a logo for her professional blog. So I created one and it's a cute one I might add! Normally I have all kinds of jpegs snaps along the way of how I develop stuff, but my computer crashed this weekend and this and the coloring page were the things I'd not backed up (thank goodness they were the ONLY things). So I will unveil it and make a few points about what to look for in a logo. Though this one is a little bit involved, I think it's successful and will explain why below:

What makes a good logo? It has to read big as well as small. The image must hold up whether blown way up, billboard size or way down to letterhead size. It must have some kind of stickiness to it, something that's memorable. It could be the GRAPHIC nature like wave and colors of Coke or the swoosh of Nike or it could be an image that evokes a feeling whether nostalgic or some other "value", like Orville Redenbacker, Colonel Sanders or Wendy's. They have changed over the years, and now that they are more corporate owned, they're getting away from the image, but I would argue most people still remember those images and those connections and one of the reasons they feel the loyalty to the brand.

If you can relate the image to what you're selling that's wonderful, but not always necessary. Think Virgin. It's all over the place as to product, so the name is what's important, not what's being sold. It really depends on what you're gracing the marketplace with.

Holly had a specific thing in mind, and I like the colors of this (the colors of her blog, her idea) and the fresh feeling to it. She can use the lettering by itself, or the image alone and it would still hold (though I would suggest if she uses the text alone, she leave the thought bubbles) and I think it reads well together. It was very easy to do this, because she had a specific idea of what she wanted, so it was a pure joy, except for that whole computer crash thingie, to work with.

As to how I did this after losing it? I'd sent her the image before the crash so was able to recover it, though it was at such a low dpi. I show it in the smaller version so you can be the judge of whether it holds it's integrity and interest...

New project, different schedule, great review!

Good morning! So I made a decision over night, which will of course set me back a bit time wise. My marvelous friend Cheryl Johnson let see a copy of Nana's Gift (I wasn't lying when I said I couldn't afford my own work, lol). It's not bad, but I know I can make it better. Last Friday in talking to Createspace, they said it would be no problem to revamp and offer it at the 8 x 10 size, the thing that bothers the most. I'm taking the time to do it in the next few days, because unexpectedly, I have interviews and blogs and interest, and I want to do the very best I can do right now. Michael Strickland has another wonderful review of Nana's Gift, and it is one of my prompts. Young People's Pavilion, with Michael Strickland...

Any authors/illustrators interested in review can get in touch with Michael. Feeling great today!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Reviewtown, USA...

Down to Earth: How Kids Help Feed The World
Nikki Tate
Orca Book Publishers, 2013

Grade level 3-7. This is a more advanced book, with many details about food and farming from around the world. A book with bite sized pieces of information, readable, fun details, some of it the kind that kids are just tickled to know about. I love the fact it brings home the process of FOOD, to kids, from the tidbits from Dark Creek farm, to the more esoteric why food prices or the impact of chemicals in farming in language that a kid can digest. (Get it, get it?) I think making this kind of information available to kids is so important, but doing it in a kid friendly challenge, this one succeeds admirably.

Other books by Nikki Tate: Grandparents' Day (illustrated by Benoit Laverdiere); Double Take (Karen Brain's Olympic Journey); Venom (Orca Sports); Rebel of Dark Creek (Stablemates 1); The Racehorse (Behind the Scenes); Razor's Edge (Orca Sports); Keeping Secrets at Dark Creek (Stablemates); Trouble on Tarragon Island (Tarragon Island Series)

Making Contact! Marconi Goes Wireless
Monica Kulling
illustrated by Richard Rudnicki
Tundra Books, 2013

Engaging book on the life of Guglielmo Marconi starts as a young boy with admiration of Ben Franklin and ends with the man successfully completing the first transatlantic wireless communication.  The after math tells the next step, if there had been no wireless, all of Titanic would have perished, as it was Marconi's invention which hailed The Carpathia. Kulling skillfully writes of the journey from boy dreamer to grown achiever, in an easily readable style. I LOVED the use of color in this book, though sometimes I didn't care for the rendering of the figures. I thought the overall feeling of the illustrations, kind of old world really suited the subject matter. A good biography and great for the young scientist in the family.

Other books by Monica Kulling: Eat My Dust! Henry Ford's First Race (illustrated by Richard Walz); Les Miserables (based on Victor Hugo); Escape North! The Story of Harriet Tubman (illustrated by Teresa Flavin); Lumpito and the Painter from Spain (illustrated by Dean Griffiths); Mister Dash and the Cupcake Calamity (illustrated by Esperanca Melo)

Other books by Richard Rudnicki: A Christmas Dollhouse; Tecumseh (written by James Laxer); Viola Desmond Won't be Budged (written by Jody Nyasha Warner); Gracie, the Public Gardens Duck (written by Judith Meyrick); Gus the Tortoise Takes a Walk (written by Erin Arsenault); I Spy a Bunny (written by Judy Dudar)

Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library
Barb Rosenstock
illustrated by John O'Brien
Calkins Creek Books, September 2013

I loved this book. From the quirky muted illustrations to the story of a man's love affair with books. And a vital proponent of libraries in this country. I really wasn't familiar with the story of the Library of Congress, but what a pleasure, what a treasure! The author uses questions ("Guess what Tom saw in Paris?") to encourage audience participation and I could almost hear the chorus of responses from a young crowd. I very much liked the fact she also provided some context at the end of the book, about some of her personal recollections, some further events in Jefferson's life and the incongruity of Jefferson being a slaveholder and the writer of the Declaration of  Independence.

other books by Barb Rosenstock: The Camping Trip That Changed America (illustrated by Mordecai Gerstein); The Littlest Mountain (illustrated by Melanie Hall); Fearless: The Story of Racing Car Legend Louise Smith (illustrated by Scott Dawson)

other books by John O'Brien: A New World: Dissension; A New World: Takedown; Blockhead: The Life of Fibonacci (written by Joseph D'Agnese); True Lies (written by George Shannon); I Knew a Shy Fellow Who Swallowed a Cello (written by Barbara Garriel); Did Dinosaurs eat Pizza: Mysteries Science Hasn't Solved (written by Lenny Hort)

The Patchwork Garden
Pedacitos de Huerto
Diane de Anda
Illustrated by (illustraciones de) Oksana Kemarskaya

Tonia lives in the city with her Abuela and they plant a small garden.  Soon many children want what Tonia has, and together, they come up with a solution to make the children's dreams a reality. So many wonderful things to say about this book, I love the fact it's bilingual (I wish there were more). I love not only does Tonia come up with the solution, but the adults are a part of the solution in a respectful way. And I love the illustrations, when I think of illustrating when I first started out (Patricia Polacco, Maurie Manning) it's the tradition I find comforting, the skill, colors, handling of the subject is appealing. Another one that would be wonderful in a classroom.

Other books by Diane de Anda: The Monster in the Mattress and Other Stories (El Monstruo el Colchon y Otros Cuentos) Stress Management for Adolescents: a Cognitive-Behavorial Program; The Immortal Rooster and Other Stories (illustrated by Roberta Collier Morales); A Day Without Sugar (Un Dia Sin Azucar) (illustrated by Janet Montecalvo); The Ice Dove and Other Stories; Dancing Miranda (Baila, Miranda, Baila) (illustrated by Lamberto Alvarez)

Other books by Oksana Kemarskaya: Planet Earth Projects; The Secret Lives of Plants! (written by Janet Slingerland); The Legend of the Vampire (Legend Has It) (written by Thomas Kingsley Troupe); Goodnight Piggy Boo (written by Catherine Solyom)

The Apple Orchard Riddle
Margaret McNamara
illustrated by G. Brian Karas
Schwartz & Wade Publishing, 2013
Mr. Tiffin and his students visit an orchard and gets the lowdown on all things apple. While the kids explore the various features at the orchard (I liked the peeler myself), they ponder a riddle. McNamara is interested in how we process information differently and this informative book gently puts that forth. Karas' illustrations are fun, and very appealing (get it, get it?!) as they revisit their Christopher Award winning characters in this sequel.

Other books by Margaret McNamara: The Three Little Aliens and the Big Bad Robot (illustrated by Mark Fearing); How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin (illustrated by G. Brian Karas); The Fairy Bell Sisters #3: Golden at the Fancy Dress Party (illustrated by Julia Denos); George Washington's Birthday: A Mostly True Tale (illustrated by Barry Blitt)

Other books by G. Brian Karas: I like Bugs (written by Margaret Wise Brown); Throw Your Tooth On the Roof: Tooth Traditions from Around the World (written by Selby Beeler); A Place Called Kindergarten (written by Jessica Harper); Lemonade in Winter: A Book About Two Kids Counting Money (written by Emily Jenkins); The High-Rise Private Eyes #1: The Case of the Missing Monkey (written by Cynthia Rylant); Fractions = Trouble (written by Claudia Mills)


Thoughts and comments on today's reviews

I'm becoming quite the commentator; twice in two weeks. But there were some thoughts that occurred over all when I chose the books this week.

I have some strong thoughts on subjects, and I think some things should be examined. For instance we want children to read, but too often we HURRY through our books for children. This will affect my book greatly coming up (and Nana's Gift to a lesser extent). If one hurries through the book, it's a stumbly tumbly effort more frustrating than most. I know because I often as other people to read my work to me, so I can hear it. Part of it is they are trying to "get through" it. But I've noticed adults doing this with children.  Often times instead of engaging the story, they read through, rather pedantically, when the children are less interested or not invested, instead of becoming more connected to the story and characters, more often than not, people will hurry through or put the book aside. This is a message.

I LOVE the sounds of words, and try to write like music (wish I spoke Welsh, they do it naturally!). I do this deliberately, and hope when people (how's that for optimism) they take the time to savor the sounds, the rhythms, the stories, the characters, the events, the EXPERIENCE. I guarantee if you do, your audience will as well. Even if they audience is just you, but ESPECIALLY if it's a child.

We have got used to messaging. The popular message is school is stupid, a necessary evil, parents are stupid or incompetent. Smart people are geeks (and socially inept) and not as desirable. When you think of a lot of the things you value the very people who are denigrated are the ones who grow up to be the creative people. And just because you are one thing does not mean you cannot be another. We have lots of messages to kids, I personally think should be examined more closely, especially if they are receiving it via books or movies or social media. What is the story we tell them, and ourselves?

For so many education is a way out of poverty and provides opportunities. For the poor often, especially, and to get that education takes perserverance. I plan on another post in the future more in depth about this, but suffice it to say it was brought home when I found my grandmother on my mother's side had only completed sixth grade. Much of who she was (and I had a hard time with) made sense with that bit and another bit of information. The difference between my grandfather (on my father's side) who had similar circumstances and her, he read. He may have stopped his formal education, but he never stopped educating himself. I have to internalize and think on this more. I do believe her being a woman and the way we perceived education and grrls had something to do with it. But some of it was personality, no doubt.

So this week's batch of books are about SOMETHING. They are more educational. Some are for a bit of an older audience, who would probably want to sit down and savor the books themselves.

One book reminded me of my father who had lost his little finger in a cider press as a small child. Others made me think of my youth when I was excited to "know stuff". Always have done with that. I would much rather KNOW than not know, and it's only in fairly recent years, I've come to embrace the process of learning to know. Probably with the realization that KNOWING isn't an end product or even a destination, because it's one of the few moving goal posts I'm okay with.

I met a woman yesterday who will be heading up the local homeschoolers. I would easily recommend these books to her group of kids as well as to some adults, and thoroughly enjoyed this week's batch of books. Next week I will start mixing in the older books with the new books I've been reviewing, before the holiday books hit. I hope people enjoy them as much as I have, and find the reviews useful. Reading the books has subtly impacted how I'm approaching my work, and I readily urge people who are actively working in a genre to start this practice of read and review as well.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

“Cussy!” I'm not REALLY naming him...

This is the opening line to my midgrade, due date (hopefully) November 7th, of this year. It's the date of my elder daughter's birthday, and she's been one of my inspirations (don't worry second daughter, you are not secondary, I simply didn't want to wait til April!).

I'm actually proud of my beginnings and think I do them well. I also agree with the entire industry you need to do it well, especially with the competition out there. Grab them quick and try real hard to not let them go until the end of the book, no matter the age, one must be ruthless in your craft!

I agree with Les Edgerton in Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One & Never Lets Them GO you have to encapsulate your story in the opening, present the question part of the answer, doesn't talk down or gives up on our reader. And I think I did that with this opening line.

I grew up an "Agnes", and not caring for my name at all. I couldn't change it (it was my beloved grandmother's beloved mother's name and I was the one doing the beloving). It took many years to get a little comfortable with it (I am AGY, and that was one of the best things that happened to me, it's fairly unique, is easy to remember, say, and I think friendly). But having the experience of despite my name it had me thinking about it from an early age, and I play a lot with names in my work. Why not, I've been called every rhyme in the book (and some really weren't flattering, lol)

I had conversations with my cousin Susan and she felt she had to stand out because she felt a bit of the generic (and with a marvelous encouraging mother, she certainly did). I know I felt weird growing up, and people said that to me on a regular basis, I don't know if having a rather unique name furthered that along. 'Course if I'd been born a hundred years ago, my name was like the "Susan" of it's day so would have had a totally different experience with it.

Many cultures assign great power to naming, bordering on mystical. Adam named the beasts and the world, Native Americans and other cultures have "secret" names that embody one's true spirit.

I've had this conversation with people a number of times. We QUANTIFY everything. I think we have to, to maintain sanity. What we don't do often is to rexamine at regular intervals our labels. Once we label something most of us tend to really stop looking at it. But when we NAME something, especially individually, it provides connection, a new emotional resonance. It is the personal that creates empathy. Unless it's a perjorative name that we give to groups of something.

The really odd thing is I wrote this book and then decided to make sure, do the research because I didn't want to stop seeing or feeling because I'd done this. Often times I was spot on. And the name issue for people who farm was right on. 

This book is about a young grrl during the early seventies who's world is turned upside down. She has a hard time fitting in, with her authoritative grandmother, and is uneasy about her place in the world as well as the world itself.

I think you can tell a lot about her personality and needs just in those lines and it sets up some of the conflicts within. I hope the connections I made through this work seeps into the world, and it finds an audience. I also hope to do somethings I've not seen done in other books for this age group (though it's notorious that other authors and illustrator usurp me all the time, more than likely because it takes me so long to figure some stuff out, or I have to wait for the skill or the equipment to do the job). If you take the time to read the first chapter, I do hope you take the time to leave a comment on what you thought or share with me via Facebook or Twitter. I'm interested in knowing if this piques your interest, if you'd read further and any other thoughts you'd have....

The first chapter of Sara LeClere

Chapter one

I'm not REALLY naming him.
“Scoot, Cussed Cat! If Mimi catches you, she’ll swat you!” I scold Cussy away from the squabble of hens and chicks. He loves to terrorize them. I don’t think he’d actually hurt any of them. Not yet, anyhow, he’s still a kitten, and I can still train him.
I peek back to the lace-curtained parlor windows, then upstairs to see if my grandmother is nearby. Mimi would take to the broom if she sees Cussy heckling the poultry.
She’ll have a fit if she sees me outside without my coat and mittens, even though it is April first.
April fool’s— with the cold sunshine, sudden bursts of swirling wind and melting piles of snow, it does look like April hasn’t decided whether to stick with winter or head toward spring. I’m ready for spring. But Mimi is convinced it’s winter, and I will catch pee-neumonia.
And she’ll have my hide if she thinks I named a kitten.
She would say it was because she didn’t need us going all soft on the barn animals. There are no cats allowed in the house.
But I’m pretty sure it has to do with caring about stuff, and Uncle George not being here.
I think he should be doing the chores, here at home, making us all laugh, keeping Mimi, if not happy with me, at least not niggling at me all the time. I just keep my head down and try to help keep things moving along.
Thank goodness for now, Mimi is nowhere in sight.
“Quit it!” I say. I throw a handful of chicken feed at Cussy. Five of the larger hens flock him, squawking mightily. That gets him scrambling away.
“What did I do?” I hear Marcia’s voice behind me. I hadn’t heard her bike’s gravelly arrival with all the fluster of kitten and chicks. I stop and shake the rest of the feed to the ground, turning.
“Uh, not you; talking to an annoying kitten,” I say. “I was going to call you when I got through with my chores…”
“Beat you to it!” Marcia Canniless grins.
“I didn’t see you coming,” I hope it sounds like a statement and not like I’m pouting.
“Would help if you’re turned in the right direction… you have to be looking for me to see me, doofus!”
We live on a hill on a snake of a road not too far outside of Wattingham, Maine proper.  I twist in the direction Marcia came, looking past the barn and the outbuildings. I see both of Wattingham’s bridges. The Covered Bridge in the far distance near the mill and only trailer park and Stuttle’s halfway between us and the heart of town, where the schools, college and stores are. Stuttle’s Bridge is about a quarter of a mile away.
Standing like I am, now facing Marcia, on a clear day, I can see it no problem. But I hadn’t looked that way very often this vacation; I was too busy with chores, Marcia I’m sure with other stuff. Outside of a few ventures in town with Emily, I’d pretty much been stuck here, helping with the farm and stuff, like cleaning up and getting ready to plant the garden and taking care of the livestock.
Looking now, I can see the Canniless’ big house in front of the road to the University of Maine’s smallest college, a little further past Stuttle’s Bridge
Some people think Marcia’s stuck up. Probably because of that house or the way she tells them to call her “Mar-CEE-yah” or sniffing when she makes a point, or because her dad is Brahmin Boston.
I guess I’m used to her and I like to think she’s just particular. There’s nothing wrong with that.
Marcia flicks her hair back. It cascades like a river of gold. She cradles her bike comfortably between long blue-jeaned legs and with her Scandinavian cable sweater which brings out the blue of her eyes, she looks like one of those models in Seventeen or something.
Or maybe that other Marcia, from the Brady Bunch.
I blow some mouse brown, wayward strands of hair out of my eyes and swipe the rest of the kernels from my hands on my stained overalls. I bet I would fit right in on Hee-Haw.
The littlest of the chicks come tootling over for the crumbs. I can’t help but smile at their fuzzy fat bodies and twig legs.
“Want to get together later?” she asks.
“That was why I was going to call you!”
A nippy breeze shoots through my t-shirt, goosebumps freckle my arms, my spine spazzes with the chill.
“I thought we could get together for our Civics’ project, we haven’t decided on a topic,” I continued.
“Today?” Marcia’s gaze is already turned back to the road to the road to town. Her face scrunches. “It’s not till next week and Ruth hasn’t even announced it yet; plenty of time to figure something out. Anyhow, Mother told me I couldn’t hang around the house this afternoon. She’s got one of her ‘Pulling Strings’ meetings.”
I grimace. “What about tomorrow, then? I want to make a decent presentation.”
It’s true, Mrs. Ruth hasn’t assigned it yet. But Marcia and I always work together and Marcia usually puts things off, till I’m scrambling to finish whatever it is.
“I’m sure it will be, Sara. You’re a born brainiac and artist, just like you’re a born farmer! You can whip it out with your talent!”
“Maybe we can work on it here, then?” I really want to get a head start, and I hadn’t done anything fun or exciting all week. But then I like school, so I guess that counts for weird too.
“Naw, Emily will get in the way,” Marcia purses her lips, shakes her head. “Why don’t you come over later today anyhow? We can listen to my new Cat Steven’s album and maybe figure something out.”
The comment about my sister Emily stung. She can’t help being slower, even if she is two and a half years older than me.
But Marcia did have a point. Em likes to be in on everything. Though Marcia is used to Em’s differences, it is sometimes hard to not tick off one or the other of them. Marcia’s trips to my house had been dwindling, and I could count the number of times this year on two hands, including this one.
“I thought you said your mom was throwing you out for the day?” I shake my head.
Sheesh, Marcia must be in one of her “Mary-contrary” moods.
I’d rather not fight, so I turn my attention to Stuttle’s Bridge. I notice an orange and white truck lumbering over it. I concentrate hard, so she won’t see me getting annoyed. I hear the engine from here, as gears scrape into place like it is a bigger truck… like maybe one of those convoy trucks.
“Well yeah, but that doesn’t mean I have to make it easy for her! We can leave when she comes home and tells us to scram. Till then…”
“Oh,” I say. The truck rumbles by. Marcia and I watch it make its way past our hill to three houses down on the other side of the street. It turns into Mrs. Halliday’s driveway.
“You’re still going to help me on the project, aren’t you?” I ask as we watch a woman with dark hair get out of the truck.
“Of course, you goose! Who else would help you? I think Iris Minnow is available, ha, ha, ha!” Marcia mimicked Iris’s laughter.
Poor baggy clothes Iris, she’s forever giggling and smiling at her own secret jokes and mumbling to herself. She weirds even Bubby Huff so people mostly just left her alone. Yeah, I guess Marcia is my only choice.
I don’t reply. Instead I watch the woman knock on Mrs. Halliday’s door. Poor Mrs. Halliday had a stroke a few months ago and mostly stayed indoors now. Who is this other woman--- a nurse? Or could she be a relative?
It’s a surprise to see the door open. The woman turns around at the door and motions to the truck with her hand, beckoning someone to come. The door of the truck flies open and two children—a tall girl and a toddler spill out of its cab. They are the first Negro kids I’ve ever seen in real life.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

The wonderful Peggy Ehrenkranz has put up my interview on her blog. If you have the time and are so inclined, check it out and the rest of her blog!

This week's coloring page...

Thanks to Stephanie Lisa Tara and Nadine Hays I've got tropical on the brain. In the upcoming weeks, I'll be doing more freehand, interpretive imagery, for now because of Annie and the art I'm doing it will be more representative. Feel free to give me ideas of what you'd like to be able to color!

The view from here on reviewing

I figured this is a good point to talk about my reviewing process and thoughts. Another way to get feedback. First I review for myself. I do often try to choose friends' books, but that's not the biggest consideration.  But I learn so much from reviewing. And it forces me to stop, take the time to READ as well as process what I'm reading. I do come MOSTLY from an adult perspective (anyone who's talked with me knows this is true). But I also think about how a child may perceive it. I do choose things that I like, and will only review books I feel positively about.

Which isn't to say I don't have criticisms. In the case of this blog I understand most people don't really have tons of time to read or review. I have a slight learning disability so though I read voraciously, between my poor eyesight and very slight dyslexia (usually it doesn't impair unless I'm preoccupied or tired or some other upset) this too colors the way I choose and look (or not) at things.

My father was a paper engineer, so oddly enough it's one of the few things as a child that wasn't too dear to me. We had a closet I could go to and just pull it out. Do I wish I had that now. The joyous thing about that is I really did play and it's probably why I am a proficient draughtsman. When I had to pay for it, it of course became very dear, and now with the way our consumer society is, it's horribly dear.

And from the writing/illustrating perspective I've only had the one dreaded rejection calling my work "slight" and that was more than enough. Yet there's such a fine line between Slight which is offensive to me not only to offer, but also to take valuable resources to send out. I've in other fields where people who came from wealth or achieved it, who wanted to fulfill a desire cast that $20,000 piece of giggly sculpture (truly I couldn't walk by it without laughing and if I think on it too much, I still will laugh. I described it to a friend recently and we both ended up guffawing--- how can you take a tableaux water fall that looks like a tongue hit with Novocaine, a "pioneer" sitting on a horse that looks like a dog  and a raccoon cap that looks more like a bit of an asshat, seriously?) And yet very talented people couldn't afford to cast their sculptures even small ones. To this day I don't know if I should be offended or just keep on laughing, but it's a consideration.

When you get to a certain point in your submitting process, if you're good enough it really becomes a matter of finding the right editor, what the market will bear, and even sometimes who you know. It's one of the reasons I'm now self-publishing and am open to self published materials. And make no mistake the vast majority of what we all do is repetitive and an exercise in expression, but it's not a shift in consciousness or means by any measure of the word, so it comes down often to degree.

But the two things I was noticing in some of the books I was reading is how slight I believed some of the books to be. And some of the messaging was very subtle, but with my critical eye, I noticed right away because I'd sensitized to it thirty years ago.

One book was one recognizable line from an animal and the punchline was different one. Granted the author probably described the action very well for the illustrator. But to me, it was slight. What was being communicated was equivalent to my closet full of paper. Had no value because there was no context, and I guess it was a way to get humor across, but New Englander that I was raised to be, I want my books to multitask, even while not hitting me over the head.

And there is a LOT of messaging. One book had an interesting idea for a mashup, but looking through the book, there was a slightly subliminal message. The male characters were well developed and did and was LOTS of things. The female characters were beyond secondary, and most of them negatively drawn. Literally, because they didn't have dialogue, but the judgments were drawn about busybody females. This was written by a woman, illustrated by a man.

I chose the books I did deliberately, because they dealt with larger issues, issues of today and with people but the lesson wasn't that sledgehammer of pronouncement. More often than not there was wiggle room for humor, forgiveness and thoughtfulness within the books I chose. Lion wasn't evil. And The King of Little Things was a page turner to me, because though I "knew" where Lepp was going with the book, I really loved the joy, humor, and the unexpected he inserted in the story. And that's what good story is. Even when it's expected, it really isn't. You have to honor and surprise your reader.

I see a lot of books that have little nutrition in them. Talking to a few people about my book Annie, I realize it may not do well not because I haven't paid attention to detail (and anyone who follows me knows that's not the truth and is obsession really an unattractive quality like everyone says?) But because most people no longer read for pleasure. And there it is. We've dumbed books and hurried our lives and in order to love my book, people will have to love the words and hopefully the images. Savoring the thought, the color, the image, the word, the sound, the meaning THAT is one of the powers and beauties of  B O O K. It is why I do what I do, share what a share, and encourage what I do. I hope when people read my reviews, they know this is also a part of my process, not only for choosing the books (because I read books, and because of space and all kinds of considerations, I don't necessarily share).

If you write or illustrate the books, what really is your message to the world? Yeah, it's about money, and that is important. I looked recently at my other work Nana's Gift in hardcopy (THANK YOU CHERYL JOHNSON!) It's the wrong size. I will be redoing it before Christmas because I do love the book and it's worth the effort. But the personal as well as the professional message was there. (Now I have to make the technical message better, because I do believe in that Maya Angelou adage of when you KNOW better you DO better). Anyhow, I figured this might clarify a few things, and get off my bosom the gripe I've had coming for awhile. Slight is evidently a subjective thing (I KNOW, I KNOW, I DID REALLY KNOW THAT, lol). But I think it's time again in this dwindling avenue of a world to be critical of the CORRECT things, other wise we are being sold a bill of goods.

Room with a review... or two-or few

Lion vs Rabbit
Alex Latimer
Peachtree, 2013

A fun and funny tale on...bullying. Lion is used to being the big foot on the steppe, the tangle in the jungle, the sortee on the savannah... sorry, this one made me giggle. Without being overly pedantic, Alex brings the big cat to heel, and I could see little one squealing. Alright, I showed this to my fourteen year old and the delightful snorts and squeals of delight, and my own reaction, perhaps it's a book appreciated best by the young at heart. I really loved the quirky illustration style and the humor of this book.

Other books by Alex Latimer: Penguin's Hidden Talent;  The Boy Who Cried Ninja

Xander's Panda Party
Linda Sue Park
illustrated by Matt Phelan
Clarion Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013

Xander plans a panda party that changes with every new challenge. Starting with his initial idea for a panda party-- but he's the only panda and one panda does not a party make. A sweet, fun tale, Linda Sue tells in a swingy rhyme, and Matt Phelan's watercolors are expressive, joyous and perfectly fit the style of the words. The social story doesn't hit you over the head, and the author's note at the end talking about the characters and showing the logic behind the changes in the story is interesting, fun and thank you so much for feeding my inner geek!

Other books by Linda Sue Park: See-saw Girl (illustrated by Mou-Sien Tseng and Jean Tseng);The Single Shard; When My Name was Keoko; The Kite Fighters; A Long Walk to Water; Bee-Bim Bop! (illustrated by Ho Baek Lee); Project Mulberry; The FireKeepers' Son; Archer's Quest; Keeping Score

Other books by Matt Phelan: The Storm in the Barn (Scott O'Dell award, YALSA great Graphic novel for teens, ALA Notable); Around the World; I'll Be There (written by Ann Stott); The New Girl and Me (written by Jacqui Robbins); Rosa Farm (written by Liz Wu); The Higher Power of Lucky (written by Susan Patron, Newbery Award); Big George (written by Anne Rockwell); Spilling Ink (written by Ann Mazer and Ellen Potter); Flora's Very Windy Day (written by Jeanne Birdsall); Where I Live (written by Eileen Spinelli)

Whimsy's Heavy Things
Julie Kraulis
Tundra Books, September 2013

Julie's book feels nostalgic, but in a good way to me. A metaphorical, sweet story, the illustrations embody the title in a sensitive way. It's a thoughtful story that could be used to talk with children about depression and dealing with harsh life events, or as a simple story to uplift. This is one I will keep for my personal library as a lovely reminder of how process the more difficult in life.

Julie's BLOG

The King of Little Things
Bil Lepp
illustrated by David T. Wenzel
Peachtree, 2013

One of the advantages of reviewing books on my blog, I don't have to pretend any impartiality at all. I really loved the batch of books I reviewed, and in light of the ones I did not choose (the companion post to these reviews), I'm in deep thought about what is sent into the world and why. That's all well in good, I JUST. LOVE. THIS. BOOK. I love it on so many levels, I promise not to wax poetic about it, but will mention it in the other post and why it's so important. Suffice it to say, I hope this book does extremely well, I know children who sometimes FEEL as little as they are will most definitely delight and relate to this book. It's an important yet gentle reminder without the head bonking of a hammer to the noggin. Oh yes, and it's quite a delightful fun read, and the art sparkled for me. All of these books are keepers for me, they BELONG on my shelf.

Other work by Bil Lepp: Buck Meets the Monster Stick (co-written by Paul Lepp); The Monster Stick and Other Appalachian Trail Tall Tales (co-written with Paul Lepp); Half Dollar; Inept Impaired Overwhelmed: Tall Tales from West Virginia and Beyond; Team Up! Tell in Tandem: A "How To" Guide From Experienced Tandem Storytellers (co written with, Jonatha Hammer Wright, Charlotte Blake Alston, Judith Black and Jenny and Rick Carson); Mayhem Dressed Like an Eight Point Buck

I did something slightly different and will be doing it from now on (I may get ambitious on a rainy day and do this retroactively, but I do this now as good practice, honing my critical skills and as a service to get it out- or I don't get paid, so it'll have to wait, lol). If there's a blog, I will create another link in the other works or one specifically. I primarily do this for me (if you want to write something you should not only read it but know what's being offered is the way I feel about it). And when I started out, I wanted to know about process and all of it. Hence the links to the other things. So for my own sake if I ever want to come back and locate some of this info quickly (okay, just PRETEND the search engines need a tune-up!) or if someone is reading these reviews wants to know more about the books, the creators. Anyhow. Just so you know. The links to the tags under the titles go to the sites, the links in the lower are to the blogs, in case you want to get to know more about process....

Sunday, July 28, 2013


The sky, the stars, the sparkling jewel-strewn sea
These are a few things valuable to me.
The laugh, the cry, the pangful song
Keep me engaged, string me along.
Colors, sounds, smells, the world upon my skin
moving through time with a skip, an ooze or a spin.
I love it all, this place this space, presenting to my face.
I take my hippo soul, my clunking drain and look for the grace.
Agy Wilson 2013

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Magic Moccasins

I did a little side job this week for a friend's short story. I thought I'd post the in-progress for the cover, because I was quite pleased with the way it came out (that happens but rarely). I will also post a small detail from the other illustration. I hope it sells well for him. He's trying to get back home, and I'm being selfish. I want his herbal books to become available.

  and the snippet:

Friday, July 26, 2013

The view from here, REVIEW FRIDAY

Robot Rumpus
Sean Taylor
Illustrated by Ross Collins
Andersen Press, USA, distributed by Lerner Publishing Group, Inc. 2013

I have loved Ross Collins style since seeing it in a friend's book The Three Grumpies (was actually just talking about this and robots with a friend. Wonder if Ross will only take titles that has something that will rhyme with BUMP in it, sorry, silly thought for the day). His style is humorous, surprising and reminds me of Bill Hoest, whom I love as well. So I was already predisposed to the book. But reading the rhyming stanzas, though alone I laughed a couple of times out loud. I know a lot of children who enjoy having their funny bones tickled and this is the book with wiggly fingers, robotic or otherwise.

Other books by Sean Taylor: The World Champion of Staying Awake (illustrated by Jimmy Liao); When a Monster is Born (illustrated by Nick Sharratt); Robomop (illustrated by Edel Rodriguez); Huck Runs Amuck (illustrated by Peter Reynolds); Boing (illustrated by Bruce Ingman); The Grizzly Bear with Frizzly Hair (illustrated by Hannah Shaw)

Other books by Ross Collins: The Music of Zombies: The Fifth Tale from the Five Kingdoms (Tales from the Five Kingdoms) (author Vivian French); Dear Vampa; When I Woke Up I Was a Hippopotamus (author Tom Macrae); Medusa Jones; Beetle Blast (S.W.I.T.C.H.) (author Ali Sparkes)

Jack and the Hungry Giant: Eat Right with My Plate
Loreen Leedy
Holiday House, 2013

The book starts off as the traditional tale of Jack's beanstalk adventures, but veers off into good manners and healthful eating.  The cast of characters are engaging and a little quazy, it's a romp through the food groups and good choices. The illustrations are active and kid friendly and this is a book easily read by a child on his or her own, as well as with an adult. It's a great introduction nutrition and climbing beanstalks-- should the opportunity arise. So to speak.

Other books by Loreen Leedy: Crazy Like a Fox: A Simile Story; Follow the Money!; The Great Graph Contest; Seeing Symmetry; Subtraction Action: Look at MY Book: How Kids Can Write & Illustrate Terrific Books.

The Very Inappropriate Word
Jim Tobin
illustrated by Dave Coverly
Christy Ottaviano Books, Henry Holt and Company, LTD, 2013

Michael is a child after my own heart, a collector of words. Some of his observations on words are quite wonderful and easily capture one of the things I love about them. But when he finds an inappropriate word some quite different consequences follow. The illustrations fit the book like *$()%@)$# glove! A humorous and quiet exploration of words and their power, most definitely from the child's perspective. I truly loved this book, and can't wait to read it to my grandson, a collector of sounds as well as words.

Other books by Jim Tobin: Sue MacDonald Had a Book (illustrated by Dave Coverly)
Other books by Dave Coverly: SpeedBump (three books); How to get a Monkey Into Harvard (author Charles Monagan);

You Go First
Mercer Mayer
Tommy Nelson, registered trademark of Thomas Nelson 2013

Little Critters meets Inspired Kids, Mercer takes a biblical quotation and makes it come to life. In this book the quote is "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you" Matthew 7:12 from The International Chidren's Bible. A larger lesson than "just" for Christians, the story isn't priggish or pedantic or hit you over the head. The story closely mimics a child's real desire to be first and explores the idea in a gentle way. I have always loved Mercer Mayer's two styles of drawing, and Little Critters are so fun and appealing.

Other works by Mercer Mayer:The New Baby; Just Me and My Dad; a slew of Little Critter books; Me and My Little Brain (Great Brain, Book 3) (author John D. Fitzgerald); Frog Where are You? Boy, Dog, Frog); The Bravest Knight; East of the Sun and West of the Moon (I love this book)

Crafty Chloe: Dress-up, Mess-up
Kelly DiPucchio
illustrated by Heather Ross
Atheneum Books for Young Readers, Simon and Schuster, 2013

Chloe may be crafty but she has a dilemma. She promised two different things to her best friends at the same time. going through the process of resolving the dilemma, in creative way is a reassuring way for kids to see resolution is not always a clear path. I love that a part of Chloe's wrestle isn't just pleasing her friends, Leo and Emma, or even Grandma, but herself. And she does a great job of it. There was a delicacy to Heather's drawings that kept Chloe grounded.

Other books by Kelly DiPucchio: The Sandwich Swap (Coauthor Queen Rania of Jordan Al Abdullah, illustrated by Tricia Tusa); Grace for President (illustrated by LeUyen Pham); Gilbert Goldfish Wants a Pet (illustrated by Bob Shea); Zombie in Love (illustrated by Scott Campbell); Sipping Spiders through a Straw: Campfire Songs for Monsters (illustrated by Gris Grimly)

Other books by Heather Ross:  the Ivy Honeysuckle books (author Candice Ransom); Heather Ross Prints: 50+ Designs and 20 Prints to Get You Started (co author John Gruen); What Happened on Fox Street (Mo Wren) (author Tricia Springstubb)

Coloring page...

so speaking to the fabulous Kara at the Walker Memorial who had actually printed out the coloring page, she said there were a few issues to printing it. What she did and I suggest (sorry, I don't have a printer hooked up at the time or I would have pre-worked it out for you!) is to save to your computer, resize to suit and then print off. The advantage of such a thing too, is you can print of as many as you want, and resize as you want. Hope this helps if there's been any issues. I had fun doing this. I slightly went over my imposed limit (it was almost three instead of two hours). Anyhow for the dog and kitten lovers...

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Readings, Bloggings and REVIEWING...

I sometimes feel like I'm going in twenty directions at a time. Make that twenty five! I reviewed Stephanie Lisa Tara's lovely book I'll Follow The Moon on blog talk (and she credited me with helping her achieve #1 in edownloads in her category-- WONDERFUL!). Still learning Photoshop, nearly finished with Will Terry and Jake Parker's FABULOUS Visual Storytelling course (final critique to do), and I can see an improvement in my work, ALREADY and I'm STOKED.

I'm blogging regularly on eblog, and slowly building my readership. Reviewing books every week, adding a coloring page, and writing about my process of thinking, illustrating and writing.

I'm often also wondering if I should be Tumbling, Twitting, Wordpressing, Behancing, and Pinteresting and wondering further, when I'm supposed to have the TIME, lol, because I still write and illustrate BOOKS and make images for my various online stores (new venture is offering my images as downloads for people to put on their own favorite things, for dollars, on Etsy). Anyhow, I neglect this. But received another wonderfully nice review on Nana's Gift and thought I'd share here. Especially as I have no idea where to post reviews of my books...

In a related question. I'm thinking of publishing the blog I write on Eblog to my Goodreads, Tumblr and Wordpress accounts. I know different people catch different posts. Would it be offensive, or good sharing practices/marketing (how do you know who I am and what I do without the blog?) Please feel free to contact me with your thoughts here or on FB or through my Eblog,, I'll be publishing this post there as well.

ANYHOW, (and a mighty wooohoooo!) via Michael Strickland and the Young People's Pavilion:

In this heartwarming, touching, and beautifully written picture book by Agy Wilson, Darlee Sims is left at Nana's for the weekend and at first is not happy with it. But having fun with Nana, Pasha and Honey, Darlee learns about her family, and best of all herself. With wonderful illustrations that have a hand-drawn look, Nana's Gift offers a timeless message about intergenerational family relationships.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The dream kanji colored...

Coloring page, something different!

I got the Photoshop up and running WITH pen sensitivity. I'm excited, though this doesn't look like much now. It's going to take some time to master it, but when I do, watch out, I hope my work will be something to see! Anyhow, I did this in honor of my horse loving friends, and I hope they'll take a look, print it off, like it, whatever rocks their horse! The point to these is to not spend more than two hours on them, so I will be doing a lot more as I feel a bit rusty!

Feel free to comment, and let me know if you DO print it off, how it works out, (and feel free to share the finished product with me here on on facebook!)

REVIEWS!!!!! Friends-ala-pal-ooza!

My friend and children's librarian Nina Sachs has been holding F&Gs (fold and gathers for not in the know, they're used for corrections and advanced reviews) for me and I scored big time (two boxes full). I confess I picked out my friends (and some of them were Christmas and Halloween books, which I can't wait to review, but want to be a bit more timely about) and will review all 2013 books. Next week I will mix it up because it's great to see the new stuff, but there are so many WONDERFUL books, I want to keep interspersing the young and the old, because it's all GOOD!

You're Wearing That to School?!
Lynn Plourde
illustrated by Sue Cornelison
Disney/Hyperion Books, 2013

The illustrations are fun and delightful and remind me a little of Felicia Bond's adorable drawings.
I love the joy and whimsy of the main character Penelope (she's a hippo after my own heart as well as having a similar fashion sense) as well as the worry and caution of her best friend Tiny (he's the kind of conscience I have)! Plourde expresses so well the angst and concerns of a first day of school in a lively manner. I love the ending of this book as well!

other books by Lynn Plourde: Lost Trail: 9 Days Alone in the Wilderness (Donn Fendler co-author, Ben Bishop, illustrator); Thank you Granpa (Jason Cockroft, illustrator); Wild Child (Greg Couch, illustrator); Only Cows Allowed (Rebecca Harrison Reed, illustrator); Dino Pets Go To School (Gideon Kendall, illustrator); Pigs in the Mud in the Middle of the Rud (John Schoenherr, illustrator)

other books by Sue Cornelison: Bitty Baby Brave (Kirby Larson, author); Sofia's Dream (Land Wilson, author); We Share (Monica Bradford, author); Paulo's Wall (Rachelle Desimone, author); Tales of Beauty (L.L. Owens, author)

A Day in the Deep
Kevin Kurtz
illustrated by Erin E. Hunter

Sylvan Dell Publishers, 2013

For the burgeoning scientist or oceanographer, wonderful for homeschoolers this was such a fun read. The book comes with four pages of activities as well as more free activities online. Told in rhyme, it's a fairly quick read that journey's lower and lower to the depths of the ocean, descending all the way to 5,000 feet. The introduction to bioluminescence and the effects of being under pressure, the strange creatures adapting to their surroundings will intrigue kids, no doubt. I enjoyed Hunters illustrations, as the creatures could have been more fearsome, but her deft handling of light and color/contrast, it was a much safer journey than in the cage shown. I learned lots of new things, so I'm caught up on a few days of one of my life's goals: to learn something new everyday.

Other books by Kevin Kurtz: A Day in the Salt Marsh (Consie Powell, illustrator); A Day on the Mountain (E.E. Hunter, illustrator); Mortimer and the Powerful Sword

Other books by Erin E. Hunter: The Great Divide (Suzanne Slade, author); The Plateau: Voices of the Earth (Maureen Dudley, author); Warriors, Omen of the Stars #1 and 2

Bugs in my Hair!
David Shannon
Blue Sky Press, imprint of Scholastic, 2013

There seems to be a plethora of exclamation points in titles. This one is deserved (and from one of the original punctuationists!)Told with Shannon's signature humor and illustrations, it subdues the "ick" factor enough to move the story along. A common problem that receives scant attention, it's informative, funny, interesting, and best of all, defuses the "shame" of being a lousy person! A great service, this book, though I'm still itching, just like Mom!

Other books by David Shannon: No, David!; A Bad Case of Stripes; Too Many Toys; Jangles: a Big Fish Story; Alice the Fairy; The Rain Came Down; Good Boy, Fergus!

Community Soup
Alma Fullerton
Pajama Press, 2013

Kioni has a herd of goats  that goEVERYWHERE, like Mary and her lamb and are quite mischievous! It certainly makes soup day, when everyone should be collecting vegetables more of a challenge. Fullerton masterfully runs through the paces and emotions of tracking down the pesky, calico haired goats, her illustrations colorful and very tactile. Very different and visually appealing with her mixture of painted and reference materials, cloth and cut outs, I really liked the feel of the illustrations. And a recipe (and yes, I will be trying it, and I'm very biased as I love recipes in children's books!

Other books by Alma Fullerton: A Good Trade (Karen Patkau, illustrator); Libertad; In the Garage; Walking on Glass; Burn

Who Goes There?
Karma Wilson
illustrated by Anna Currey
Margaret McElderry Books, Simon & Schuster, 2013

Wilson is best known for her impeccable rhyme, and though this is a mixture of prose and rhyme, it still reads easily as a poem. Louis Mouse loves his home and is settling in for the winter, when an ominous Scritch, Scratch, tap, tap, tap, intrudes. I really love the BeatrixPotter-y feeling to Currey's illustrations, and the refrain just begs to be repeated by young listeners.

Other books by Karma Wilson: Bear Snores On (Jane Chapman, illustrator);  Bear Gives Thanks (Jane Chapman, illustrator); Bear Wants More (Jane Chapman, illustrator); The Cow Loves Cookies (Marcellus Hall, illustrator); Baby Cakes (Sam Williams, illustrator); A Frog in the Bog (Joan Rankin, illustrator); Never, Ever Shout in a Zoo (Doug Cushman, illustrator)

Other books by Anna Currey: When the World was Waiting For You (Gillian Shields, author); The Wishing Club: A Story About Fractions (Donna Jo Napoli, author); Dancing Magic (Silverlake Fairy School) (Elizabeth Lindsay, author);  Chick 'n' Pug (Jennifer Sattler, author); A Babysitter for Billy Bear (Miriam Moss, author)

Hey Charleston! The True Story of the Jenkins Orphanage Band
Anne Rockwell
illustrated by Colin Bootman
Carolhoda books, a division of Lerner books, 2013

I don't know if the bias is because it's an inspirational time, inspirational subject, or because it's similar in feel in my w-i-p, but I JUST LOVE THIS BOOK. I was not aware of some of the pre-history of jazz, and this story is wonderful history and read. I thought I'd filled my learning quota with the other books, but I learned a lot from this book as well. Great connections to music, giving, integrity, it recounts the story of Reverend Daniel Joseph Jenkins, an orphan himself, taking on the plight of orphans at turn of the century South Carolina. His giving resulted in hope, self-sufficiency and a new art form. I had never made the connection for instance between The Charleston, and with one of the original mash ups, African and band music born from repurposed Civil War instruments. Just WONDERFUL.

Other books by Anne Rockwell: Thanksgiving Day (Liz Rockwell, illustrator); Three Bears and Fifteen Other Stories; Big George: How a Shy Boy Became President Washington; In Our House; My Flowers are Growing; 100 School Days (Lizzy Rockwell, illustrator); The Gollywhopper Egg; Clouds (A Read-and-Find-Science book- Stage One) (Frane Lessac, illustrator)

Other books by Colin BootmanIn My Momma's Kitchen (Jerdine Nolan, author); Grandma's Pride (Golden Kite Honors) (Becky Birtha, author); Dad, Jackie and Me (Myron Uhlberg, author); Don't Say Ain't (Irene Smalls, author); A Storm Called Katrina (Myron Uhlberg, author)

Hopefully I'll have all my programs up and running by Monday, so will resume coloring pages. I'm sharing a bunch of my kanji designs which you can find at After Midnight Art Stamps (I think they still make them, but there's other images of mine there! Have a wonderful weekend all!