Thank you, Tara Lazar

The 7th annual Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo) came to a close yesterday and I’d like to congratulate everyone who took part in the challenge.

I’d also like to thank Tara Lazar, the PiBoIdMo founder and organizer. For those who don’t know, Tara spends countless hours each summer and fall lining up guest posts, contacting agents for prizes, organizing a Cafe Press store (where she donates all proceeds to Reading Is Fundamental – RIF), moderating registration, managing the PiBoIdMo Facebook Group, sorting out and awarding prizes, and probably a dozen more things I don’t even know about.

She does this all for us. PiBoIdMo is completely free. For everyone.

And while all of this work does give Tara’s books some exposure, that exposure doesn’t count for much unless we, the PiBoIdMo participants, take action.

So this holiday season, I encourage everyone to purchase at least one (or more) of Tara’s books, all of which are terrific favorites in my family. If not for yourself, then perhaps as a gift for a child in your life or your local library or school.

While I am a strong supporter of independent book stores (see yesterday’s post), I’ll make it easy for you:

Little Red Gliding Hood

(under $11 at press time)

little red gliding hood

Indiebound | Barnes & Noble | Amazon


I Thought This Was a Bear Book

i thought this was a bear book

Indiebound | Barnes & Noble | Amazon


The Monstore

the monstore

Indiebound | Barnes & Noble | Amazon


Normal Norman

(available for pre-order only, releases 3/1/2016)

normal norman

Indiebound | Barnes & Noble | Amazon


Two for You

See the four for you above.

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How to Buy a Picture Book (without Buying a Picture Book)

My first book comes out on Tuesday. Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast. You’re probably tired of hearing about it by now, so lucky for you, I don’t plan on talking about it in this post.

Today it’s how to support picture book authors and illustrators.

One of the best things you can do is buy their book(s).

But what if you’re not in the market for picture books at this time in your life, so the idea of buying one doesn’t really interest you? Maybe it doesn’t fit your budget. Or maybe you have an irrational fear of cute animals and anthropomorphic breakfast foods.
Book Shelf with Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast

Here are ten ways to support picture book authors and illustrators:

  1. Give the book as a gift. You probably know someone who might like it. Give it to her/him. Or donate it to your library.
  2. Request that your local library purchase a copy. This can be done in person or often in an online form.
  3. Reserve and borrow it from the library. Increased circulation of books is noticed by librarians. They are smart people.
  4. Review the book. On goodreads. On Amazon. On bn.com. Text reviews are even more valuable than just star-ratings.
  5. Talk about the book with librarians and booksellers. There are a lot of great books out there. Get this book on their radar.
  6. Talk about the book with friends. Or parents of your child’s friends. Or your child’s teacher. Or strangers on the street.
  7. Share the book on social media. Tweet about it. Blog about it. Post on Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram, MySpace, etc. about it. Share the cover image. If you see it in the wild, snap a picture and share that. And tag the author or illustrator (or both). We love that!
  8. Share the author or illustrator’s posts on social media. Follow them on social media sites and share with your networks.
  9. Read the book in public. Like at the park. Or in a restaurant. Or the airport.
  10. Make your own fan book trailer. And post to YouTube. If that’s your thing.

Note: I’m not the first to write a post like this. Here are a few other posts which have similar and more detailed info. Please check them out:

Also Note: These ideas can apply to any type of book, not just picture books.

Thanks for reading. And thank you very much for supporting picture book authors and illustrators, however you choose to do so.

My Top Read-Aloud Picture Books of 2014

Hi, friends! In case you missed it (and if you did, see Colby Sharp’s post right here), the authors and illustrators of the 2015 E. B. White Read-Aloud Picture Book Award & Honor books are all dudes. I read some excellently awesome Read-Aloud Picture Books last year myself, and I’d like to add some of those to the mix (in no particular order):

Josh Funk’s Top Read-Aloud Picture Books of 2014

  • Backhoe Joe written by Lori Alexander & illustrated by Craig Cameron
  • Baking Day at Grandma’s written by Anika Denise & illustrated by Christopher Denise
  • Cock-a-Doodle Oops! written by Lori Degman & illustrated by Deborah Zemke
  • Crankenstein written by Samantha Berger & illustrated by Dan Santat
  • Duck, Duck, Moose written by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen & illustrated by Noah Z. Jones
  • Edgar’s Second Word written by Audrey Vernick & illustrated by Priscilla Burris
  • Found written & illustrated by Salina Yoon
  • Frances Dean Who Loved to Dance and Dance written & illustrated by Birgita Sif
  • Froodle written & illustrated by Antoinette Portis
  • Gaston by written by Kelly DiPucchio & illustrated by Christian Robinson
  • Happy Birthday, Madame Chapeau written by Andrea Beaty & illustrated by David Roberts
  • I Am Cow, Hear Me Moo written by Jill Esbaum & illustrated by Gus Gordon
  • The Jacket written by Kristen Hall & illustrated by Dasha Tolstikova
  • Louise Loves Art written & illustrated by Kelly Light
  • Maple written & illustrated by Lori Nichols
  • Nana in the City written & illustrated by Lauren Castillo
  • Ninja Red Riding Hood written by Corey Rosen Schwartz & illustrated by Dan Santat
  • One Big Pair of Underwear by Laura Gehl & illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
  • Orangutangled written by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen & illustrated by Aaron Zenz
  • A Piece of Cake written & illustrated by LeUyen Pham
  • Sparky written by Jenny Offil & illustrated by Chris Applehans
  • Tap Tap Boom Boom written by Elizabeth Bluemle & illustrated by G. Brian Karas
  • There Was a Wee Lassie Who Swallowed a Midgie written by Rebecca Colby & illustrated by Kate McLelland
  • This Orq. (He Cave Boy.) written by David Elliott & illustrated by Lori Nichols
  • Uni the Unicorn written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal & illustrated by Brigette Barrager
  • Very Little Red Riding Hood written by Teresa Heapy & illustrated by Sue Heap
  • Viva Frida written & illustrated by Yuyi Morales
  • You Are (Not) Small written by Anna Kang & illustrated by Christopher Weyant

What are your favorite Read-Aloud Picture Books published in 2014?

Banned Books Week

A few weeks ago, my editor at Penguin sent an email to her authors (yes, I’m one of her authors, how cool is that?!?). She forwarded some information from her marketing team and asked us (her authors) to post our feelings about banned books week. So I decided to make this video:

Apparently I need to do a better read job reading emails all the way through. Here is what the email said (now that I read past the part where I was considered one of her authors):

Banned Books Week is September 21-27 this year. Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read without censorship organized by the American Library Association. During Banned Books Week, Penguin USA, Penguin Teen, and Penguin Kids will be engaging in the conversation around anti-censorship and the freedom to read, and we would like to invite all of our PYRG authors and illustrators to take to their social channels to support this cause.

As Penguin encouraged me, I know encourage you (all three of my readers) to join the conversation and support the cause. Share reasons why you support Banned Books Week on your social channels. Participate in one or both of the official #BannedBooksWeek Twitter chats being run by ALA. These are scheduled for Monday 9/23 from 10-noon EST and Wed 9/25 from noon –2pm EST.

And be sure to use the tag #BannedBooksWeek.

read

What’s your favorite Banned Book? What’s your favorite Band Book?

Flog Blop

Just kidding! It’s a blog hop! (I’m a rhymer). Thanks to my crit buddy, lofter pal, and splendid author Nancy Tupper Ling for tagging me. I’m gonna answer four questions (just like Nancy answered) about my writing process. Check out Nancy’s Flog Bop entry here.

What am I currently working on?

Boring! Instead of answering this question, I’m going to tell you what I’m currently working on. Lately I’ve been working on more picture books (rhyming? of course! you wouldn’t want it any other way). As always, I’m in the contemplative stages of some things that might not rhyme or might not be picture books. Maybe I’ll start my own blog hop (oh, wait, I already did that). Oh, also, I’m working on my ability to fly underwater. It’s not going well.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Differ. Differ? Differ??? Have you ever noticed that if you say a word over and over again out loud it starts to lose all meaning? I find when this happens it’s best to use a dictionary to explain the word. According to dictionary.com, differ has three definitions, so I’ll go with the third one: “to dispute or quarrel” (what does it mean when it says ‘obsolete’ before the definition? presumably, there is no place I can look that up). So how does my work quarrel with others? That question makes no sense. I refuse to answer nonsensical questions! NEXT!!!

Why do I write what I write?

One of my goals is that I hope that my picture books appeal to both children and adults. Not that this would make them totally unique – there are LOADS of picture books that I enjoy – but there are enough that my many many many kids might like that I’d rather not spend my time reading. I’d like to think that children will want their parents to read my books over and over (and dare I say over) again … and the parents gladly do just that after every request.

[do you think anyone will notice that I copied this answer from the last time I participated in this blog hop? They probably will now that I typed it here inside these brackets]

How does my individual writing process work?

Oooh, the last time I answered this question it was “How does my writing process work?” I like the new word. Individual. Perhaps this picture will explain it:

happy-cartoon-tiger

Well, I hope you’ve learned a lot about my writing process and I’ve answered all of your questions satisfactorily. Satisfactorily. Satisfactorily. Thanks for visiting! And thanks for passing this along, Nancy!

 

BLOG HOP DIES HERE

NESCBWI 14 Conference Recaps

If you know me, you’ll know that I’m pretty quiet, reserved, and shy. I don’t really like talking much, especially about myself. You’ll also know I’m pretty sarcastic.

Therefore, rather than talking about my experience at last weekend’s conference (May 2-4), I thought I’d share some of my friends’ recaps. So here they are:

If I missed your blog post, feel free to share it in the comments, or just post your own thoughts on the grand spectacle that was NESCBWI 2014.

Who’s ready for next year?

Think outside your

crayon box

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The PIXAR Generation (of Parents) … & Picture Books

What makes PIXAR movies so great? Lots of things, of course. Being the first to create fully computer animated films was cool. And the characters are very marketable and kid-friendly. Maybe the most important thing is that nearly all of the movies tell excellent stories. But what originally made PIXAR movies so different from other kid flicks?

pixar-logo

PIXAR movies entertain adults.

Lots of other studios have tried, some very successfully, to emulate this feature (pun intended). See this winter’s LEGO Movie.

This is my approach to writing picture books. A recent post on Writer’s Digest by Rick Walton discussed 10 reasons why picture books are not just for children, and without repeating every point, I’d like to say that I couldn’t agree more.

Some highlights include (I’m paraphrasing, but you should really read the article):

  • Picture book language is and should be somewhat advanced. Exposing kids to big words, whether they understand them at first or not, is a really good thing.
  • Picture books contain some of today’s best art by some of today’s best artists. And who doesn’t like art?
  • Picture books are great for bonding, family together time, sitting on Grandma’s lap. So when those advanced words come along, Grandma can tell you what a accoutrements means.
  • Picture books are short. Five or ten minutes and you’re done.

Not all picture books are meant to be enjoyed by adults. Some are meant to help kids learn to read. Some are meant to teach children lessons (although I don’t think that means they definitively have to be uninteresting to adults). And some tastes of children need to be fulfilled, regardless of whether a parent has interest.

Regarding the books I write – it’s my goal to try and entertain everyone:

from infant …

baby

… to ancient.

ancient

PS Don’t be offended by my use of the word ancient – I’m using my poetic license because infant and ancient are near rhymes. That’s what poetic license means, right? It’s like a get-out-of-jail-free-card, isn’t it?