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by PJ Gardner

Calling all storytellers! Early middle grade needs you!

If you’re like me when I first started writing HORACE & BUNWINKLE, my debut novel, the term “early middle grade” is relatively unfamiliar. We’re much more aware of upper middle grade and the way it helps readers transition into the young adult sphere. But early middle grade is a real thing with a similar goal, only in its case the transition is from Chapter Books.

So What Is Early Middle Grade and How Is It Different From Chapter Books?

Let’s do a break down of the basics.

Chapter Books

  • Age of reader: 5-10
  • Word count: 5,000 – 10,000
  • Subject matter: concentrate on the external events of the story, fewer characters, less character development, more straightforward story

Early Middle Grade Books

  • Age of reader: 7-11 (8-9 year olds being the ideal age)
  • Word count: 15,000-30,000
  • Subject matter: Bigger cast, more complex characters, who have emotional arcs. Complex stories.

The Sky’s the Limit

Early Middle Grade is where we start to lose young readers, and I think that’s directly tied to the limited number of books aimed at them. And that’s where you come in.

Writing for this age group is full of possibilities. Series like JUDY MOODY, DOG MAN and GERONIMO STILTON prove that kids love a book with a healthy mix of the written word and images. Graphic novels are another format that kids are excited about, which is great news for author-illustrators.

Humor and adventure stories are always popular. However, books like A BOY CALLED BAT show that there is interest in deeper, real life topics as well. Also, there is growing need and desire for diverse characters.

Keys to Writing Early Middle Grade

There are two major keys to writing for this age group—create believable characters and craft dynamic plots.

Believable Characters

As writers for young readers we know children are people, too. They experience heartbreak and joy and everything in between as much as any adult. The difference is they don’t always have the language to identify or process those emotions. Books are an excellent way of giving them that vocabulary. I truly believe the early middle grade years are the most critical time to do that.

The best characters are born from a respect for the emotional life of the reader. So, whatever your character is experiencing—whether it’s funny or sad—keep it real. Dialogue and inner thoughts are especially important in creating that believability.

Dynamic Plots

By seven years of age a child has already consumed countless hours of TV and video games, where they have encountered a wide variety of stories. This means they won’t be satisfied by or invested in a book that isn’t interesting and compelling. The plot should have twists and turns, highs and lows, and real stakes. It may not be life or death, but it should feel that serious to the characters.

But Seriously You Should Consider Early Middle Grade

It may seem like a huge jump to go from picture books to early middle grade, but it’s actually a natural step. It calls for the same kind of creativity and skill set, as well as the enthusiasm for storytelling.

Early middle grade is the perfect place to branch out. First, it’s an under-tapped market, and it’s a fantastic market. Seven to eleven year olds are hungry for good books and they are absolutely devoted to their favorite authors. At present there simply aren’t enough books geared to the 7-9 year-old crowd.

Unfortunately, picture books are in lower demand right now. If you’re an illustrator as well, it can be time-consuming, which drastically limits the number of projects you can do at any given time. And, let’s be honest, they have smaller advances, too. These are the reasons why I recommend diversifying.

While no one can predict what will happen in publishing I’m convinced middle grade in general, and early middle grade specifically, is about to hit a boom.

Personally, I love writing for this age group. And I love getting pictures of kids reading my book independently. That’s a huge deal and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.

I hope you consider being a part of early middle grade as well, because there will never be a better time to share your stories with older readers.


When PJ Gardner was a little girl growing up in Colorado she dreamt of being an actress or a dental hygienist or even Mrs. John Travolta. It didn’t occur to her that she could be a writer until she was a grown up. Her debut middle grade novel, Horace & Bunwinkle, has been published by Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins, and she’s thrilled. PJ lives in the scorching heat of the Arizona desert with her husband, sons, and Boston Terriers, Rosie and Rocky. She doesn’t own a pig because her husband says she’s not allowed to. Visit her online at pjgardnerswitzer.com.

by Steve Barr, Author/Illustrator and Founder of Drawn To Help

Children’s books provide a wonderful opportunity to escape from reality and get lost in a world of make-believe.

But did you know they can also help children heal?

It’s a process known as “pleasant distraction”.  Creative activities like art and music have been shown to reduce stress in young patients and play a powerful role in their healing process.

Drawn To Help, a small (but growing!) nonprofit takes professional cartoonists and children’s book illustrators to visit pediatric patients in hospitals. We also serve camps for kids with a wide array of serious medical challenges.

Every child Drawn To Help sees is given free drawing lessons and a packet of art supplies. They also get free books they can keep, and that’s where the children’s book community has really stepped up to help.

Most of the books that are donated to us go directly to the children.  But sometimes they’re given to hospital staff members who put them on library carts and take them from room to room, so even more kids can enjoy them.

These books that were given to us by Kelly Light and Tara Lazar were shared with patients at Wolfson Children’s Hospital in Jacksonville and helped bring smiles to lots of little faces!

Illustrator Steve Gray sent us a package of autographed books with original sketches inside the cover, and the children who received them went absolutely crazy over the fact that someone they had never met in person was thinking of them and wishing them well.

Dav Pilkey and his wife have donated boxes and boxes of “Captain Underpants” and “Dog Man” books that are signed as well, and those have touched the hearts of little patients deeply.

You can watch their faces literally light up when they receive these gifts.

Getting an autographed book from an author or illustrator they admire can bring such joy to children receiving medical treatment. This young patient copied drawings of Dog Man from one of Dav Pilkey’s books to deflect his attention from his chemotherapy treatment, and then he read the entire book from cover to cover.

Writers and illustrators have donated their time to work directly with the children. Blythe Russo joined our volunteers in Cincinnati Children’s Hospital to share her love of art and her drawing by being part of a regular program we host via Seacrest Studios. Children who can’t attend in person can watch the shows on the televisions in their rooms and call in to participate.

Original art has been donated to help with fundraising.  And when we’ve encountered kids who are seriously interested in growing up to become writers and illustrators, artists and authors have sent them helpful tips and information to encourage them to chase their dreams.

Nancy Herndon-Robinson sent an incredible amount of material to young Molly, explaining her processes and the preliminary work she does when she’s creating her work.

And now, in a time when Covid-19 makes it impossible to safely visit the children in person, Drawn To Help is expanding our digital outreach. We’re not only doing visits with young patients via Skype and similar programs, we’re also preparing a vast digital art activity library for them.

It will be given to caregivers on flash drives, and can be worn around the neck on a lanyard for easy access. And once again, people in the children’s publishing world have leapt to the rescue. They’ve given us permission to share a wide array of their coloring pages, mazes and other activities with the kids we serve.

Gifts of signed books continue to come in, and that’s great because we want to be fully stocked and “ready to roll” when we can safely return to the hospitals in person. But we can always use more, so feel free to contact us if you’d like to donate some and see them go to wonderful new homes.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you’d like to be a part of what Drawn To Help is doing.  You can shoot us a note at info@drawntohelp.com and ask any questions you might have.

And perhaps you’ll help us not only lift the spirits of children who need us right now, but also inspire and encourage part of the next generation of children’s book writers and illustrators.

Together, we can make amazing things happen!


Drawn To Help is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Contributions for the charitable purposes of Drawn To Help are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.

If you’d like to learn more about what Drawn To Help does, these links will help you find more information about us.

Visit the Drawn to Help website: drawntohelp.com. If you’d like to find out how you can get involved, please feel free to send us an email through our website.

Join Drawn to Help on Social Media Facebook Page: facebook.com/DrawnToHelp/

 

Every year I’ve had the pleasure of asking the Carle Honor recipients a salient question about picture books, the medium in which they have made a profound impact.

That tradition continues, although the annual ceremony will be reimagined as a virtual benefit on Thursday, September 24, and this year’s Honorees will be commemorated at Carle’s 2021 in-person event.

For the Virtual Benefit, picture book art by some of publishing’s most esteemed artists will be auctioned off, with proceeds benefiting the museum. Bidding begins in mid-September and will culminate in a live two-piece auction during the virtual benefit.

Please support the museum and its mission here!

Sign up for the Virtual Event. It is absolutely free to attend, but you must register to get the link.

In 2020, given our extraordinary circumstances, I’ve asked this year’s distinguished honorees a question we all may need answering:

How do picture books provide a safe space for children and their families navigating through difficult times?

Every Child a Reader
Angel Honoree
Represented by Carl Lennertz, Executive Director

The biggest benefit of picture books comes if parent and child read together. During these times, being together versus alone in one’s room is a huge plus and discussing a book’s themes brings the additional benefit of conversation and soothing voices. And even if one reads quietly in one’s room, pictures and stories take us away to another time and place. Books are love.

Raúl Colón
Artist Honoree

Picture books take the readers to another world. Or at least through some sort of journey. Especially wordless picture books, which make the mind enjoy the trip a little more. Now the observers have to decipher what they see in front of them. Bring some sort of coherence to all the visuals that remain in a certain order in their eyes. Once they’re lost in that visual adventure, they leave the physical space they find themselves in, and fly away to another place—the difficult times left behind, if only for a moment. However, the lingering effects of a good story may last for hours—or even a lifetime.

Patricia Aldana
Mentor Honoree
Publisher, Aldana Libros

My father was born in Guatemala in 1907 into a professional, military family of some means. In 1910 they lost their mother. And in 1917 the year he turned ten Guatemala City was almost completely destroyed by an earthquake, leaving my father and his siblings with nowhere to live.  They were sent to stay with their grandmother, herself dependent on her son in law, in a small city in the east of Guatemala. Suddenly they had no money. My father, at twelve, had to go and work as a timekeeper on the railroad—a company then owned by the United Fruit Company which used the trains to bring their bananas to the port on the Gulf of Mexico. My father was very bright, but he had to leave school. By some miracle there was an outstanding library nearby. It had the great books of the Western Canon from Shakespeare, to Cervantes, to Racine, to Tolstoy to Dickens. By going and reading in this library every day after work my father succeeded in passing his bachillerato, his secondary degree. He then went to medical school, became a doctor, and a surgeon. He was one of the best-read people I have ever known. Eventually he became the Surgeon General of Guatemala and founder and first rector of the Universidad del Valle de Guatemala. I think it is correct to say that reading saved my father’s life.

Sad to say, there were no picture books in those days. Today’s children have a treasure trove of such books.

Around the world IBBY (the International Board on Books for Young People) has developed the practice of bringing wonderful books to children in crisis, reading aloud to them, and giving them books to read to themselves. Following earthquakes in Japan, Chile and Indonesia; with refugee children in countries ranging from Afghanistan to San Salvador to the US border, to Syrians in Lebanon, to refugee kids in Toronto, our experience has been that this practice of bibliotherapy has a hugely beneficial effect on children who may have faced death, displacement and loss. Many are able to talk for the first time about the trauma they have experienced. They sleep better. They play better. They can laugh again.

How could this not work with children stuck at home by Covid-19? After all this is a traumatic time, too. Setting aside a special reading time, separate from all other activities for an hour a day; reading aloud from really good picture books; talking about the books; drawing pictures, singing—letting the child lead the way. This should be time away from media, schoolwork, and should be completely free from any kind of didacticism.

There are several essential things to keep in mind. The first and most important: Let the child choose the books. Have a pile of great books, vary them, but let them choose. In our experience children in dire circumstances may want books that are funny, or about love, or that are sad. Let them talk, let them interrupt, but make it the most fun moment of the day. And even with older kids starting the special books time by reading aloud—as long as it’s a book the child has chosen, can help to engage them. And let them talk about the books. Reading saves lives.

Congratulations to the Honorees and thank you for sharing your wisdom!


The Carle Honors Honorees are selected each year by a committee chaired by children’s literature historian and critic Leonard S. Marcus, who was central to the founding of the Honors. The committee recognizes four distinct awards: Artist, for lifelong innovation in the field; Angel, whose generous resources are crucial to making illustrated children’s book art exhibitions, education programs, and related projects a reality; Mentor, editors, designers, and educators who champion the art form; and Bridge, individuals or organizations who have found inspired ways to bring the art of the picture book to larger audiences through work in other fields. This year’s Bridge Honorees are Dennis M. V. David and Justin G. Schiller, founders of Battledore Ltd.

Visit The Carle Museum online at carlemuseum.org.

Poor, sad, neglected blog!

I’ve been whisking off to school visits and conferences, but I’ve not been too busy to blog. Too lazy, perhaps. And I have an avalanche of awesome authors and illustrators waiting for me to post about their books. I need a swift kick in the pantaloons.

Remember when Twitter was introduced, “they” dubbed it a micro-blogging platform? (“They” are always busy, have you noticed?)

Well, I’ve been micro-blogging. Here are some recent tidbits of #pubtips…

Don’t follow me on Twitter?

Let’s fix that, shall we? (Does that make us a “they”?)

And now, here are “they” who won recent giveaways here:

Cate Berry’s PENGUIN & SHRIMP DON’T DO BEDTIME
Amanda Sincavage

Tracy Marchini’s CHICKEN WANTS A NAP
Carole Calladine

Troy Cummings’ CAN I BE YOUR DOG?
Kara Newhouse

Congratulations, winners! I will email you shortly…

Narwhals are fascinatingly cool, and lucky us, there’s a whole buncha new books that feature these unicorns of the sea. One such hilarious take is Ben Clanton’s new _____ book series NARWHAL AND JELLY. I asked Ben to share the backstory of his most awesome underwater adventure…

Ahoy Tara,

I’m thrilled you like NARWHAL AND JELLY! Thank you!

NARWHAL: UNICORN OF THE SEA! started out as a PB, or actually a series of picture books. There have been a number of iterations, but ever since NARWHAL first swam into my brain I knew one book wouldn’t be enough for me.

I first got it into my head that I wanted to make a book featuring a narwhal after seeing the book POLAR OBSESSION by Paul Nicklen several years ago. The book has some absolutely stunning photographs of narwhals in it and my mind was o-fish-ally blown. I must confess before seeing Nicklen’s book I didn’t really know about narwhals. That such a creature which seems so fantastic actually exists caught my imagination. I started doodling little narwhals even more than monsters, dragons, robots, or my other usual favorite subjects.

However, my first attempts at writing a story about one of these little narwhals didn’t turn out so great. Most of my initial ideas centered around a narwhal getting lost at sea and separated from its pod. I finally realized I was trying to force too serious of a story on this narwhal when standing in line for ice cream (Molly Moon’s in Seattle). Something about the smell of newly made waffle cones in the air and thinking about how they look like horns (or perhaps a narwhal tooth?) flipped a switch in my head and it suddenly clicked for me that Narwhal is the sort of character that is as sweet and awesome as waffles and ice cream AND that Narwhal’s story should be too.

Jelly, who is a bit of a worrier and skeptic, wasn’t so sure about this new approach for a narwhal story, but that night I came up with three stories (“Narwhal,” “Narwhal’s BEST WEEKEND EVER,” and “Narwhal’s Pod of Awesomeness”) and made quick storyboards and even a mock-up. By the next day I had several more book ideas featuring Narwhal and Jelly. And then a flood of new story ideas by the day after that.

At the time, I just assumed that these stories would/should be picture books. That was the format I was most familiar and comfortable with, but after submitting to several publishers the feedback I received from pretty much everyone was more or less the same . . . the characters are great but the stories seem slight. It was Tara Walker (Tundra Books) that mentioned the stories when viewed together seemed to add up to more than the individual parts. She encouraged me to consider exploring the format and page count. I resisted this idea at first. I didn’t mind the books being light on plot. Actually, that was a part of the appeal to me and one of the reasons I felt they worked well. But as is usual for me with any suggestion Tara gives me that I don’t agree with (which is rare) . . . I eventually came to see she was right. So I tried combining a couple of the stories into a long picture book. It felt forced. It wasn’t until I started to add panels and bonus materials that i found a way to make three 32 page “picture books” into a 64 page ______ book.

This process took years in which I kept revisiting the format and what I ended up with . . . it doesn’t exactly neatly fit into the typical designations of “picture book” or “chapter book” or “early reader” or even “graphic novel.” I suppose “graphic novel for early readers” is the closest. Yet it is really a bit of a hybrid.

Somewhat ironically, even though Tara and Tundra Books had encouraged me to explore the format they weren’t entirely sure about the unusual one I had come up with, but I had been fully converted. I was sure this was the way to go. It took awhile but Tara and Tundra finally decided to take a chance on it.

And aren’t we lucky that they did!

Thanks, Ben and Tundra!

Tundra is giving away a copy of the first NARWHAL AND JELLY book, so leave ONE COMMENT below to enter. A winner will be randomly selected soon!

by Asia Citro, M. Ed, Publisher

Thank you so much, Tara, for the chance to introduce your blog readers to The Innovation Press!

We are a Seattle-area children’s publisher that’s a bit new on the scene. In fact, this year is our first “big” year; we’ve got ten children’s titles coming out in 2017.

As I’m sure you have all discovered, small presses tend to have a “type” when it comes to the sort of books they’re looking for and we are no exception. Right now we’re focused on the K-5 market, but anything goes as long as it fits in that range—picture books, chapter books, and middle grade submissions are all great. If you take a peek at our titles, you’ll start to get a sense for the sort of books we’re after. As a former classroom teacher, I have a particular affinity for books that teach in some way. We love titles that promote creativity, diversity, laughter, and learning. If you take a close look, you’ll find that almost all of our 2017 titles are hybrid texts (a mix between fiction and nonfiction).

Though we are newer, we have international distribution, so our books are in stores, shops, libraries, and schools all over the world. We also have foreign rights representation (seeing our books printed in foreign languages is the coolest!). Oh, and we’re a member of the Children’s Book Council as well as an SCBWI PAL Publisher. We also believe in making our books available to all children, so for every ten books we sell, we donate one to First Book (an amazing nonprofit that pairs educators and students in low-income districts with books).

We pay an advance as well as royalties to our authors. In addition, we offer a lot of publicity help and support and we involve authors as much as possible in the decision-making process for things related to their book (such as illustrator, title, etc).  If you have something you think might be a great fit, we’d love to see it! You can find our full submission guidelines here.

Thanks for getting in touch, Asia. While I have not worked with The Innovation Press personally, this new publisher looks like an excellent opportunity for aspiring kidlit authors.

If you have questions about The Innovation Press, please leave them in the comments and Asia will answer them.

by Kirsten Hess, Bookseller

14440841_1348278475191245_8005145897934685266_n-1It has been wonderful to read the posts in Storystorm this month, to get a peek into the creative processes that go into the many wonderful books that we carry in our shop, Let’s Play Books! Bookstore. We opened our doors three years ago in Emmaus, PA, in a one-room shop. This past September, we relocated down the street to a three-level building that more than triples our space.

Just as a number of writers and illustrators have been inspired by their own children, I became involved in children’s books through our daughter. Let’s Play Books! began as a non-profit in Delaware, Ohio, in 2010. I wanted to instill a love of stories in young children through books and theatre. As our daughter grew older and our family moved, Let’s Play Books! adapted and changed, culminating in the opening of the Emmaus shop in 2013.

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We try to set a fun and creative mood in the store—the kind of place children might perhaps find themselves in one of the books from our shelves. Because that’s what it’s all about—the story. Whether through pictures or words or the two combined. Stories of bugs or bunnies. Stories of discovery and mystery. Stories that make us laugh or cry. But in some way they all encourage a young reader to engage with herself and the world around her. We work to find books that stir the imagination and touch the soul.

This year's Newbery Medalist visiting the shop, pictured with Let's Play Books patron Annette.

This year’s Newbery Medalist Kelly Barnhill visiting the shop, pictured with book club participant Annette.

When a child visits our shop, we try to learn what type of story excites and interests him. Of course, tales of fantasy and adventure often rank high, as well as mystery and suspense, with young characters that kids can identify with on some level. We are also seeing an ever-increasing demand for titles, from picture and board books through young adult, that introduce children to issues our society is dealing with. Many parents want to introduce their children to subjects such as racial and cultural diversity, bullying, and getting along with others quite early. In the middle-grade years, LGBTQ and gender identity are topics not widely discussed until recent years, but are now accepted and sought out by young readers and their parents. At Let’s Play Books!, we strive to contribute to a culture of acceptance and inclusion through the books we stock and the authors that visit our shop. For us, a bookstore is a place of exploration and preparation as young readers grow into roles in the local community, as well as national and global society.

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Book clubs have become a big part of the Let’s Play Books! community. We have four levels of ARC (Advance Reader’s Copy) Clubs, in which children read, review, share and discuss books prior to their publication. We also have middle-grade Sci-fi/Fantasy, YA Grab-Bag, and four adult book clubs. The move to our new location enabled us to expand our adult offerings, now a growing share of our business.

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The new shop includes a Community Room, places to sit and read, play chess, build a puzzle or color and draw. The third-floor “Cattic” has become a popular space for events or to hang out with bookshop cats Garfield and Bernie. We also encourage writers and illustrators to settle in and work in the shop!

Thanks for including us in Storystorm!

Kirsten Hess
Founder and Owner, Let’s Play Books!
letsplaybooks.com
Facebook & Twitter @letsplaybooks

Image via midwestjournalpress.com

Image via midwestjournalpress.com

When I first thought of the title of this blog post, it was to be about all the books I have received from publishers the last few months—all the books I did not have time to properly write about, but I still wanted to acknowledge.

Then, after this week’s events, another meaning struck me.

Nathan Bransford already said it: Now we write.

There are stories inside you which will help ease the terrible confusion of the moment. Stories widen our world view, they introduce us to the struggles and triumphs of others, they increase our empathy and understanding. They lighten our hearts. They open our minds. We cannot see those stories now, deep within you. You have an obligation to summon them forth.

But I want to further the discussion. There are other things we can do besides read and write.

Volunteer for a cause in which you believe deeply. Volunteer for a cause that you want to know more about. Step up. Be a role model, a pillar of your community. Start small and aim big. Encourage others. Instill hope and stand for something good and decent in this world.  There is no greater call to service than right now, however you feel about this week’s outcome.

We can all make a difference.

changemaker(Recommended for kids: BE A CHANGEMAKER by Laurie Ann Thompson.)

rif-50-square-banner

Three years ago I visited RIF Headquarters in Washington D.C. to deliver a donation from Picture Book Idea Month. I was told an incredible story of how a RIF executive had just returned from one of the poorest areas of Appalachia. She visited a school with children who lived in run-down homes of five families each. Many more lived in tents patched together. These children had no books of their own. The books RIF provided would help give them a chance to succeed.

onebook

I wish I could recall the story in full. I was riveted listening about the sheer joy of the children. Many couldn’t believe the books were theirs to keep.

rif-infographic

Every year I have taken the proceeds from the PiBoIdMo Cafe Press shop and given it to RIF. Every year I wish it were more. RIF is a charity I believe in so deeply. I believe in the power of books and reading to transform lives.

So I am very honored to be spending the day with RIF tomorrow for their 50th Birthday Bash. In those 50 years, RIF has given more than 412 MILLION BOOKS to 40 MILLION CHILDREN. That is EXTRAORDINARY.

rifmillions

If you’d like to join in the festivities, we will be live streaming  on the web at rif.org/50 at 9:15am EST.

There is also a RIF 50th Toolkit with classroom activities and ways to celebrate.

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And remember, for just a small donation, RIF is able to provide a child in need with much-loved BOOKS.

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Thank you for reading…and for giving the gift of reading!

 

 

Hey, do you know what time it is?

yayoclock

That’s right, it’s yay o’clock!

And you know what that means, don’t you?

It’s time to meet the SUPER HAPPY PARTY BEARS!

SuperHappyPartyBears

Welcome to the Grumpy Woods!

Just kidding. No one is welcome here.

No, I’m just kidding again. That’s how these brand-spanking new chapter books begin. See, you’re already laughing three sentences in.

So let me present a more welcoming welcome.

The SUPER HAPPY PARTY BEARS are unlike anything you’ve seen in a chapter book series. Firstly, they are not some formula regurgitated in rainbow, written by an illusive nom-de-plume. No! These are the first books by up-and-coming author Marcie Colleen. In addition to this series, Marcie has the picture book LOVE, TRIANGLE releasing next year with Bob Shea (BOB SHEA, PEOPLE!!!) and THE ADVENTURE OF THE PENGUINAUT is blasting off soon, too.

Next, these books feature adorable, full color illustrations by Steve James. OMG, you do not know how SUPER HAPPY that makes me!

partyhatbears

I have a reluctant reader at home (I know, can you believe it?!) and the thing she dislikes about chapter books are the black-and-white line drawings. She clings to picture books and their boundless art. With SUPER HAPPY PARTY BEARS, which she has SWIPED FROM ME to take to the first day of school, she doesn’t even realize she’s reading a chapter book because every page features a color illustration. Not only that, but there’s a flip-book animation in the corner of every title. In KNOCK KNOCK ON WOOD, Bubs shimmies with a hula hoop.

So let’s get back to the story. Every morning in the Grumpy Woods, where the SUPER HAPPY PARTY BEARS live, the other residents don their cranky pants (really, a whole outfit).

crankypants

Mayor Quill and his devoted subjects relish their grumpiness. They thrive on it. And the SUPER HAPPY PARTY BEARS? They are ecstatic, dancing, blissful bears no matter what the forest folk throw at them. Nothing can dampen their desire to party. They just wanna bear hug everyone. They see the positive in everything. And you know, what a great attitude to share.

Now, even though the Mayor, Humphrey Hedgehog, Dawn Fawn and the others make their harumphs for the bears loud and clear, the whole party crew, from Littlest Bear to Big Puff, fail to notice. In fact, they worship Mayor Quill. This, of course, annoys the prickly politician to no pointy end.

Therein lies the humor. But that’s not ALL the humor! For parents reading along, there are clever asides and pop-culture nods.

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Meet Ziggy. Ziggy plays guitar. ‘Nuff said.

Then there’s the famous SUPER HAPPY PARTY BEARS dance.

partybearsdancepartybearsdancetwo

You wanna dance with me? Well, grab yourself a copy and shimmy, shimmy, shake!

Actually, you can grab TWO copies right here, one GNAWING AROUND and one KNOCK KNOCK ON WOOD, the first two books in the series from Macmillan’s new imprint, imprint. (So nice I said it twice.)

superhappybooks

Just leave a comment to enter. PLUS, if you TWEET, FACEBOOK, REBLOG or otherwise share this review, you gain an extra entry, WOO-HOO! Just leave one comment per each method so I can tally your extra entries.

This will be a PARTY TO REMEMBER! GOOD LUCK!

 

 

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My Picture Books

COMING SOON:

BLOOP
illus by Mike Boldt
HarperCollins
July 2021

ABSURD WORDS
illustrator TBA
Sourcebooks eXplore
November 2021

"PRIVATE I" SERIES #3
illus by Ross MacDonald
Little, Brown
2022

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