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Doing anything tonight?

Now you are!

It’s the annual Carle Honor Awards, virtually. Reserve your spot now!

The Carle is the international champion for picture books. They collect, preserve, and present picture books and picture-book illustrations for audiences passionate about children’s literature.

Every year before this prestigious event, I ask the Honorees a question about picture books and their influence on our lives and world. This year, the question came to me immediately:

In this challenging time, how can picture books and children’s literature provide a sense of normalcy to young readers?


Carl Lennertz, Every Child a Reader
Angel Honoree

“During these times, young people—and adults—need a place for quiet and escape, and what better place than on the pages of children’s books filled with beautiful pictures and intriguing words. What happier thing than to see kids playing together in a picture book, if they can’t otherwise, or to see a delicious strawberry and a hungry caterpillar? I do feel, however, that kids are much wiser than we give them credit for, and they know something big and scary is going on, and that they don’t always want to be treated like, what?, children. This is also a time to keep their minds open and engaged, not withdrawn. As a society, we need to keep moving forward with all forms of knowledge about history, current events, and, yes, how things need to change. We need the children to lead us, as we haven’t done a job at all about social injustices, hunger and health, the state of the planet and so much more.”

 


Justin Schiller and Dennis David
Bridge Honorees

“With picture books we experience a doorway to the imagination and the ability for children’s literature to guide the reader beyond the physicality of words where images take over to generate one’s own creative expression within the actual storyline. Maurice Sendak once told me that his artwork expands the text a hundredfold and the reader can interpret the story well beyond the actual meaning of the individual words. This also cultivates and enriches the experience beyond the physical pages of a book.”

 


Patricia Aldana
Mentor Honoree

“Picture books, especially when read aloud, talked about, reread, and available for picking up at will, and finding over and over again, are one of the greatest gifts a child can receive. [International Board on Books for Young People] IBBY’s work with children in crisis all over the world has shown us what a remarkably helpful thing it is for a child to have a caring adult sharing wonderful books with [them].”

 


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.”

 

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

Visit CarleMuseum.org for more about the museum and tonight’s event!

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.

♬ ♪ “Our house is a very, very, very fine house…” ♬ ♪

Good thing you can’t hear me singing. It’s not as fine as the house.

And it’s certainly not as fine as the house in A HOME AGAIN, coming in November from Two Lions!

A HOME AGAIN is a beautiful story told from a unique perspective—the home’s point of view! A family once roamed its cozy, lively rooms, but then they move out. How does the house feel? What will happen next?

Colleen, this blog is all about story ideas. How did you get this one?

I got the idea for my story when my husband and I became empty-nesters. I thought maybe we should downsize to a smaller house. When I mentioned it to the kids they were upset—which I didn’t expect. One of my sons said, “I can’t imagine driving by and not being able to visit our childhood home.” So I scratched my plans and started renovating their old bedrooms. As I thought about our conversations, I wondered if a house had feelings, how would it feel about us moving. That thought was the catalyst for the story. Once I started writing the words just flowed. In fact, I wrote the first draft on a return flight from New Orleans. While writing I tried to imagine the new family who would bring love back to the house. We had been on vacation with our friends, Michael and Walter, who had recently bought a new house. They were my inspiration for the new family in my fictional house.

The illustrations by Valeria Docampo positively glow with warmth! How did you feel when you first saw them?

I was over the moon when I saw the illustrations. Being an illustrator myself, I worried someone else’s work wouldn’t capture my vision. But they were more than I could have imagined. Valeria Docampo’s work is gorgeous and the feeling she portrayed through her imagery really elevated the story. I feel so lucky that my editor found such a talented person to partner with us on this project.

This book can certainly help children who are moving to a new home. How can other children relate to this  story?

I think of the house as a child learning about the world. Children can experience all types of loss—divorce, the introduction of a step parent, or even the loss of one or both parents. The story shows that even though situations may change, love in still possible.

I also wanted the story to speak to diversity and non-traditional families. The second family has two dads, but it is not the focus of the story. Children should see all types of families in picture books and accept them as normal.

Colleen, thank you for such a heart-warming story!

Blog readers, Colleen is giving away a copy of her book, which will be released with Two Lions on November 1st.

Leave one comment below to enter. A random winner will be selected next month.

Good luck!


Colleen Rowan Kosinski writes picture books and middle grade novels. Her picture books include LILLA’S SUUNFLOWERS, A HOME AGAIN, and LOVE MADE ME MORE (2022). Her middle grade novel is titled A PROMISE STITCHED IN TIME. For the last year she has been working as an editor at Reedsy.com and teaching classes on picture book writing. She is also involved in her local chapter of the SCBWI, and the Rutgers University Council on Children’s Literature. Colleen is a graduate of Rutgers University, as are her husband and sons. Her daughter followed the bright lights to work in the film industry in LA. Colleen works from her Cherry Hill, NJ studio with her canine assistant, Sage. Visit her online at ColleenRowanKosinski.com and follow her on Twitter @ColleenKosinski.

It’s no secret that I love fun words, so when I saw Kathy Doherty’s THE THINGITY-JIG, I had to take a closer look!

Bear is bored one night, so he wanders into people town and finds a discarded couch. But, to Bear, it’s not a couch at all—it’s a THINGITY-JIG—and he uses it not to sit, but to bounce and play.

Kathy has given her main character, Bear, the perspective of a child. The child reading the story can immediately understand the mindset of Bear—it’s exactly how a kid sees a plump, springy couch! (Much to Mom’s chagrin.)

This childlike perspective is echoed in the illustrations by Kristyna Litten. The huge moon lingers over bear, and he looks small yet determined to experience adventure in people-town.

Besides the wide-eyed wonder of Bear, the story uses onomatopoeia as a repetitive refrain. It’s not only fun to say “smack, wallop, whack,” but it signals to the reader new action in the story. Something big is about to happen.

Onomatopoeia is a delight to read aloud (which is what we do with picture books), bringing the action of the story to life.

When Bear endeavors to bring the couch home, he invents contraptions to do the work his tired friends are too snoozy to do. Kathy continues in the vein of THINGITY-JIG to introduce a…

ROLLY-RUMPITY,

LIFTY-UPPITY, and

PUSHY-POPPITY.

It’s a rolly-rockity group of Rube-Goldberg-like machines! What kid doesn’t love to invent and build? Bear keeps his curiosity alive throughout the tale.

And the ending—well, it’s both surprising and inevitable, which is how a good conclusion should be.

Put it all together and you get THE THINGITY-JIG, by Kathy Doherty and Kristyna Litten, released by Peachtree in April 2021.

Since I’m an idea person (you know Storystorm if you’ve spent any time on this blog), I asked Kathy how she arrived on her story concept.

When I’m asked where I get my story ideas, I say, “From reading piles of picture books…from everyday life…and from childhood memories.”

The idea for THE THINGITY-JIG sparked one day while I was walking in my neighborhood. I spotted a discarded couch. I thought back to my childhood when I’d jump on the couch when my parents weren’t looking. I could envision its gray nubby fabric and bullion fringe.

As I walked along, I played “what if?” What if a cub couldn’t sleep one night and wandered off into people town? What if he found a couch and had never seen one before? What would the cub do with it? What would he name it? What if he wanted to keep it? The more I played “what if?” the more the story took shape.

Thank you, Kathy! It’s such a fun book!

Blog readers, you can win a copy of THE THINGITY-JIG right here (if you don’t rush out to buy it immediaely).

Leave one comment below to enter.

A random winner will be selected soon.

(In fact, when I get back from vacation, I have a whole long list of winners to announce…)

Good luck!


Kathleen loves bringing kids and quality literature together. She’s a reading specialist and an educational specialist in curriculum and instruction. She’s written standardized test items for Pearson Inc. in alignment with the Common Core Standards. Her love of learning has led her to graduate from four different universities.

Nothing scares her. Kathleen has taught elementary school for over 30 years. A student once told her she’d make a great vampire because she’s tall and her teeth are sharp.

Kathleen was first published in TIME Magazine with a letter to the editor about Charles Schulz. Her work has also appeared in The Mailbox, Spider Magazine, Highlights Hello, Highlights High Five, and Highlights for Children. She’s won the Highlights Pewter Plate Award, the Highlights Celebrate National Poetry contest, and a letter of merit from SCBWI’s Magazine Merit Competition.

THE THINGITY-JIG received starred reviews from Kirkus Reviews and Foreword Reviews. Visit her online at kathleendohertyauthor.com.

by KT Johnston

Tara, thank you so much for having me on your blog to reveal the cover of my upcoming narrative nonfiction picture book, JUBILEE: The First Therapy Horse and an Olympic Dream! (February 1, 2022, from Capstone).

JUBILEE recounts the true story of Danish dressage competitor Lis Hartel, who was determined not to let polio keep her from riding again. She found that an inexperienced horse named Jubilee was just the partner she needed to develop a new way of riding—all the way to the 1952 Olympics!

I ran across Jubilee and Lis’s stirring story when researching my first book, RAILWAY JACK: The True Story of an Amazing Baboon (Capstone, 2020), which Amazon Editors have labeled “Best Nonfiction for Kids”. Jubilee hit all the notes for me: an animal who’d had a remarkable impact on an everyday person’s life, in a way that left ripples in society today. No widely-known celebrities; no heroic animal feats; just a life that any of us could be living.

Olympic dressage was not open to women in Lis’s day, but she didn’t let that deter her from aiming for the stars. I won’t say too much about the story, but here’s an awesome fact: the back of a horse will get you three feet closer to the stars.

Inspired by the horse who’d lifted her up, Lis pioneered the world’s first therapeutic riding center. Also inspired by Jubilee and Lis, riding as therapy was quickly endorsed by the medical field, and within a decade, centers sprang up around the globe. And there I saw the crowning element of their story, and knew I had to tell it: Jubilee’s ripples in society.

And now, I’m excited to reveal to you the cover of JUBILEE: The First Therapy Horse and an Olympic Dream!

In this tender illustration, artist Anabella Ortiz captured the partnership between Jubilee and Lis nicely. Lis’s hand is loose on the rein because her hands remained weak throughout her life, though gentle Jubilee didn’t need a firm grip regardless. Lis’s outfit and Jubilee’s braided mane and warm-up blanket indicate they’ve just finished in the ring. You can tell it has gone well by the calm look in Jubilee’s eyes, and the happiness and admiration in Lis’s. One of Jubilee’s ears is forward, alert to Lis, as always. Jubilee’s face is contoured nicely and you can visually feel the velvety softness of her muzzle. The twinkles in the title evoke the stars the pair reached for. …And wrapping the scene in ethereal warmth, “the summer sun beam[s] down like a spotlight on a stage.”

You can see a photo of an actual horseshoe Jubilee wore in the pair’s most famous performance at www.ktjohnston.com/Jubilee!

Any day now, JUBILEE: The First Therapy Horse and an Olympic Dream can be preordered through your favorite bookseller and added to your To-Read shelf in Goodreads.

Thanks for showing off your horse and rider, KT!

Blog readers, KT is giving away a copy of her first book, RAILWAY JACK: The True Story of an Amazing Baboon to a lucky commenter.

Leave one comment below. 

A random winner will be selected soon.

Good luck!


KT Johnston writes historical narrative nonfiction about ordinary animals from the dusty past who had an extraordinary impact on a person’s life, and in the process, left a mark on humanity itself. She aims her writing from accelerated younger readers through reluctant older readers, though her stories are for any age because true stories belong to us all. KT earned a degree in biology and conducted wildlife studies before settling into a more stationary corporate career. She and her husband live in Minneapolis and have two grown children. KT hopes to inspire children to be curious about our world and to find greatness in the humblest of its creatures, one true story at a time.

Follow KT on Twitter @KTDidz, Facebook,  and Pinterest @ktjohnstonauthor.

You can see more of Anabella’s work at anabellaortiz.com.

by Wendi Silvano & Lee Harper

Thanks Tara, for hosting us on your blog! We are excited to have our 5th book in the TURKEY TROUBLE series releasing August 1st from Two Lions Press (TURKEY GOES TO SCHOOL).

We thought it might be interesting to chronicle a little bit about how this series has evolved and how an author and an illustrator each have equally important roles in creating a picture book.

Wendi:

The series started with TURKEY TROUBLE (2009). Lee Harper was chosen to be the illustrator. I had never heard of Lee, and (as is common in picture book publishing) had no contact with him regarding the book. The editor and art director worked directly with Lee. In fact, I never met Lee in person (or talked to him) until after TURKEY CLAUS (the 2nd book) was out, and, by chance, we ended up doing a joint book signing in Salt Lake City while Lee was visiting schools in the area.

We have met one other time for a joint signing in Pennsylvania (after the 3rd book, TURKEY TRICK OR TREAT, came out) when I was presenting at the SCBWI Conference in New Jersey. Now we are Facebook friends and occasionally communicate by email (but never so I can tell him how to illustrate the TURKEY books).

People often ask if it bothers me not to have input on the illustrations, but I LOVE what artists can add to my stories if they have the freedom to work their own magic. The very best picture books are those where the text and the illustrations masterfully combine and interact to form something completely unique and magical. What would the TURKEY books be without the delightful and hilarious illustrations that Lee provides?! As an author, I must trust that the illustrator will stay true to the story, while bringing his or her own brilliance to the work.

I always work hard to leave room for the illustrator to use his or her own creativity to add to the story. What are some ways I do that?

I leave things unsaid: I don’t add details that will be in the art—no descriptions! (Just look at this delightful illustration Lee did with no suggestions on my part!)

I allow the art to advance the plot. (All I say in the text is “Then, he found it…” and I let Lee show what that idea is in the illustrations).

I use words and phrases that create room for the art to take over. (“Until…”, “but then…”, “And just when everything was good…”, “There was just one little problem…”, etc.)

I use sparse text that leaves opportunities for the illustrator to interpret and expand the idea. (How the animals “went” was Lee’s choice).

Those are just a few of the ways I leave room for the art. I hope they give you a few ideas of how you might do the same.

Even now, as we work on our 6th Turkey book together (TURKEY-TINE… due out in December, 2022), I just sit back and watch Lee work his magic. It’s delightfully fun!

Lee:

Thank you, Wendi. Though my primary goal as an illustrator is to stay true to your story, I love that you write in a way that leaves lots of room for creativity in the illustrations. This approach is a key ingredient to the special sauce that makes our collaborations work so well. Leaving room for me to add a layer of my own also makes it more fun, which I think comes through in the results.

When I begin thinking about illustrating your words, I ask myself which elements of a particular scene are necessary to propel the story forward. And, in the same way you leave things unwritten and let me ‘show’ the story in the illustrations alone, I leave things unillustrated and let your words stand alone to ‘tell’ the story. Your words and my illustrations share the work.

As an example of how that works, I’ll use the page in our new book Turkey Goes to School that reads:

Pig pilfered a cart filled with food. Turkey pushed it right into the serving line and began to parcel out pizza.

There’s a lot of action in these two sentences. I could illustrate Pig pilfering a cart with food, or Turkey pushing it into the serving line. But I decided to let your words alone do the work of telling that part of this sequence, and concentrate my illustration on the moment Pig and Turkey are parceling out the pizza.

So, I drew the main elements first: Pig and Turkey parceling out pizza. Next, I drew the lunch lady to show what Turkey was attempting to impersonate. (This is a recurring visual joke that permeates the series, which might be one of my added layers.) Lastly, I drew the children in the lunch line and a hint of the cafeteria serving station to set the location.

In this case I didn’t add any extra silliness because I thought the humor was in how thoroughly Turkey believes he looks like the lunch lady.

Wendi:

Something that has been especially fun with the Turkey books is seeing how the characters have evolved over the series. And it’s crazy, but it has happened pretty organically. In the first two books, Turkey’s farm friends are just there mostly in the background, but by the third book they have a much larger role, helping Turkey figure out his disguises and what to do with each failure. Their personalities have blossomed and each has their own individualities. This has happened a good deal in the art. If you get a chance, look at the Turkey books in order and notice how each character has developed over time. I will let Lee tell you more about that evolution (as it was a good deal his doing).

Lee:

I agree that the development of Turkey’s farm friends has been a process that has occurred very organically, and it is a little crazy.

After I’ve drawn everything essential to the story, I always ask myself, ‘how can I pump this up and make this even funnier?’ That’s when the little quirks of character that aren’t written into the story usually reveal themselves. Over time, these little quirks of character build up, and the character becomes more real to me.  Soon I can hear their voices in my head. Maybe it’s more than a little crazy.

In the original TURKEY TROUBLE, Turkey has a lot of personality as an individual, but the sheep all behave as sheep, the pigs all behave as pigs. I was still getting to know everybody.

In TURKEY CLAUS, the farm animals weren’t featured until the last three pages, when Turkey returned to the farm from the North Pole. But unlike the first book, there is now only one representative from each different type of farm animal which I think is the beginning of the farm animals all developing distinct personalities.

The farm animals evolved further in TURKEY TRICK OR TREAT when they become more anthropomorphized.  This is the first time we see them sometimes walking around on two legs. I began doing this simply because it looked funny. (One of the fun things about the entire series is we’ve been allowed to play very loose and easy with the reality rules.) Sometimes I actually do laugh out loud when I’m working. That’s when I know a drawing’s a keeper.

In TURKEY’S EGGCELLENT EASTER the farm animals become active participants in helping Turkey design and construct his costumes. I think this might be an example of something not written into the story that I added, but I never really know for sure. Wendi and I might have been thinking the same thing.

In our latest collaboration, TURKEY GOES TO SCHOOL, the animals are even more in on the plot and at one point Pig (who in my imagination is now Turkey’s best friend) and Turkey team up to appear to be a child with a backpack.

In our forthcoming book TURKEY-TINE, I’m thinking about showing the various animal’s houses as a fun way to reveal more of the farm animal’s individual personalities and pump up the humor. Another example of things growing organically.

OUR BEST ADVICE:

Wendi:
If you’re an author, try to leave as much room as you can for the illustrator to help tell your story, and trust his or her talents.

Lee:
If you’re an illustrator, stay true to the story, but don’t be afraid to take off and run with it.

Thank you, Wendi and Lee!

Blog readers, Wendi and Lee are each donating a copy of TURKEY GOES TO SCHOOL. Lee is also donating a sketch, and Wendi is donating a picture book critique (chosen at random from anyone who subscribes to her website in this next week).

To enter the giveaways, comment once below.

Random winners will be chosen soon.

Good luck!


WENDI SILVANO has always loved children’s literature, and is now delighted to take part in creating books like those she loved as a child. She is the award-winning author of 9 picture books, a dozen early readers, numerous magazine stories and a variety of educational materials. Her picture books TURKEY TROUBLE and JUST ONE MORE both won the IRA’s Children’s Choice Award, while TURKEY CLAUS was named one of the ‘TEN BEST PICTURE BOOKS OF 2012’ by YABC. She is the mother of 5, a former teacher and the owner of a menagerie of assorted pets. Her next picture book (Turkey-Tine) is due out in late 2022 from Two Lions Press. She lives and writes in Grand Junction, Colorado, where she is the Western Slope Local Area Coordinator for the Rocky Mountain Region of SCBWI. She is represented by agent Marie Lamba of the Jennifer de Chiara Literary Agency. You can find her online at wendisilvano.com.  Subscribe to Wendi’s website (find the button on the bottom of any page of the site) and be entered to win a picture book critique by Wendi. Winner will be notified by email.)

Follow her on Twitter: @WendiSilvano and Facebook.


Lee received his formal art training at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where he was the recipient of the Louis S. Ware European Traveling Scholarship.

Lee’s picture books have achieved many honors, including the Michigan Reads Award, a Book Sense Hot Pick, Great Lake Book Award, The Gift of Literacy Oregon Book Choice, Amazon Charts Top 20, International Reading Association-Children’s Book Council Children’s Choice title, and YABC Top Ten Picture Book.

His books have also been nominated for state book awards in Vermont, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Nevada, Florida (Honor Book), South Carolina, North Carolina, Nebraska, Arizona, and Washington.

Artwork from several of his books is included in the permanent collection of The Mazza Museum of International Art from Picture Books.

Lee has four children and lives on a small farm in Bucks County, Pennsylvania with his wife Krista, four sheep, eleven chickens, two dogs, two cats, two ducks, two pigs, and a family of barn swallows. (At last count) His favorite hobbies are bicycling, hiking, woodworking, and creating short films for his YouTube channel Stella’s Farm.

You can visit him online at Leeharperart.com.

by Deb Adamson

A CHRISTMAS EVE WISH FOR SANTA is the product of my love of all things Christmas, especially Santa. Just to illustrate, I carry a keychain that reads, Keep Christmas in your heart all through the year. I know the merry-making seed was planted by my mom who went all out during the holiday season. She created magical memories and traditions that stuck with me, and I hopefully have done the same with my own son!

A CHRISTMAS EVE WISH FOR SANTA wrote itself. And for me, that is rare. I am known to simmer with a manuscript, ruminating for weeks or sometimes months until I feel I have what I need to sit at the keyboard and see where the idea goes. But this book came to me in rhyme and rhyming ideas, for me, are oftentimes more intuitive.  I also have another Santa picture book manuscript ready for submission. And that one, written in prose most certainly did not write itself! I came at it from a completely different angle—a super, silly spin on Santa.

Ok, so all that said, I guess I must have a thing for holidays in general because in 2022 my newest board book, A THANKFUL THANKSGIVING, will be published by Cottage Door Press. And I’ve also got another fun witch/Halloween manuscript that I’m just polishing up.

Holiday manuscripts are often said to be a difficult sell to editors because these books have a shorter window during the year to make their splash. There are also so many great seasonal backlist titles to compete with. But it has been my experience through working with my agent, that there are editors who are always open to something new and some specifically request holiday stories. With A CHRISTMAS EVE WISH FOR SANTA, Amy Dean, the editor at Blue Manatee Press, loved the manuscript at first sight! She immediately took to the international flavor of the text. She specifically liked paying homage and offering well wishes to Santa on his annual journey as he heads out to treat children from different cultures all across the globe. She, like me, envisions this book as a keepsake—one that will be read during the Christmas season and especially at bedtime on Christmas Eve, year after year.

I can’t say enough about Anne Zimanski’s cover and her illustrations for this book. In fact, I can’t say enough about Anne Zimanski’s children’s book illustrations! I’m fortunate and proud to say this is my third book-pairing with Anne. She illustrated a nonfiction picture book biography I wrote as a pet-project—a fundraiser for The Florence Griswold Museum, my favorite local museum in Old Lyme, Connecticut. FLORENCE GRISWOLD: THE KEEPER OF THE ARTISTS was traditionally published in 2019. Anne also illustrated my recent board book, I MISS YOUR SUNNY SMILE, published by Blue Manatee Press in March of this year. Although I offer some illustration notes, she instinctively knows what I am envisioning, so when I see her initial sketches I am blown away by how she meets and exceeds my expectations. For A CHRISTMAS EVE WISH FOR SANTA, Anne created mixed media, watercolor and line, illustrations that depict a traditional looking Santa. The interior spreads show him zipping across the world on a snowy Christmas Eve in the glow of star and moonlight. Several spreads offer a glimpse of how families, draw from their own culture to prepare and welcome Santa on his big night.

Here’s the cover reveal! And I’m adding one interior spread because I just can’t help myself.

Isn’t Anne amazing?!

GIVEAWAY ALERT! Deb is giving away a virtual school visit for the holidays! It can be for your child/grandchild’s class, or your own class if you’re a teacher.

Leave one comment below to enter.

A random winner will be selected soon!

Good luck!


Deb Adamson has two books out this year by Blue Manatee Press—I MISS YOUR SUNNY SMILE (March 2021) and A CHRISTMAS EVE WISH FOR SANTA, (December 2021.) She has another picture book BING, BANG, PLING coming out with Blue Manatee Press (spring 2022). A THANKFUL THANKSGIVING will be published by Cottage Door Press (fall 2022), and more to come!

Deb also writes personal essay. Her homeschooling column was syndicated by Gatehouse News and her essays have appeared in various magazines. For a decade she has been teaching weekly, adult memoir classes. When Deb isn’t focused on writing, she’s happiest hanging out with her family, gardening and pretending to be a visual artist, capturing her flowers in a watercolor-sketchbook-journal that she shares with no one but her trusted- cat, Lumpy. Visit her at debadamson.com or on Twitter @DebAdamsonBooks.

Thank you, everyone, for your outstanding doggo photos! If we had to choose based on appearance alone, it would be a tough call. We loved Bear’s homemade floofers and Library Dog’s regal aura. But we picked our two winners randomly with random.org, and we are pleased to announce them: KENDALL and WILLOW!

Kendall (Jyn Hall)

Willow (Lyn Jekowsky)

Mike Boldt will BLOOPIFY them both! Congratuations to owners Jyn Hall and Lyn Jekowsky! I will touch base with you on Twitter!

And now, here’s a gallery of all the BLOOP-lovin’ doggos! What good boys and girls!!!

Ellie

Chili & Layla

Hank

Rosie

Library Dog

Maylo

George

CuzO

Bear

 

Today for BLOOP’s book birthday, illustrator Mike Boldt and I have cooked up something amazing.

This is Mike’s dog, Tula. And this is Tula on BLOOP:

You can win a custom BLOOP-IFED portrait of your fluffy bestie by illustrator Mike Boldt!

Mike will provide you with a high-quality digital illustration print.

We’ll randomly select one winner from Twitter and one from Instagram. TWO WINNERS! YEAH!

All you have to do is take a pic of your canine BFF with a copy of BLOOP, like this:

(That’s Rollie enjoying a good read.)

Then post it on Twitter or Instagram. Please include the following hashtags…

#BLOOP #HarperCollins #picturebook #BLOOPIFY

…and tag @taralazar on Twitter or @taralaser on Instagram.

Your mission lasts exactly one week!

You have until Tuesday, July 13th at Midnight PST to post your photo. Two random winners will be selected on Wednesday the 14th and announced here!

Let’s get BLOOPING!!!

Good luck!

 

by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow

Hi Tara! Thank you for having me on your blog today and hosting the cover reveal of ABDUL’S STORY, a picture book written by me and illustrated by Tiffany Rose (with art direction by Tom Daly).

ABDUL’S STORY is about a young boy who has many stories to tell about his community in Philadelphia. However, during writing period in his class each day, he never writes these or any stories because he’s ashamed of how he writes. His handwriting is sloppy. He misspells many words. Sometimes, he even writes some letters backward.

On top of these struggles, he also doesn’t see the stories of his community as being welcome because the stories read in his classroom are about people and communities that are not like the ones he knows.

Mr. Muhammad, a writer who looks like Abdul and tells stories like Abdul’s, visits his class and helps him to change his view. Abdul learns that the story he has to tell is valuable even if he struggles with writing, and even if his story is different.

The Story Behind the Story

The idea for ABDUL’S STORY came out of my work as a writer working in Mighty Writers community centers for kids. My main job was often to help kids see themselves as writers. I once taught a workshop for children, called “Get Published, Kids!” The goal was to help kids write stories for publication in magazines. There, I met a student (I’ll call him H) in this workshop who wrote one sentence in his writer’s notebook and told me he was done.

When I encouraged H to write more, he gestured to the other kids busily writing at his table with full pages in their notebooks and said, “I can’t be a writer like them.” H was only maybe six or seven years old at the time. It troubled me that a child so young could see himself as already incapable of doing something. The more I talked with him about his story, the more I realized that H lacked confidence because he couldn’t write neatly and had trouble spelling words. Still, I pushed him to write much more and to see value in the things he wrote.

At the end of our workshop session, H proudly showed his father the many pages he wrote that day. He did something he thought he was incapable of and was smiling from ear-to-ear. While that was gratifying, I thought a lot about other kids similar to H who don’t have empowering experiences with writing. What is a story that could help them?

Words of Advice for Aspiring PB Authors

My advice for PB authors is the same advice I would give to Abdul in my story and H: Remember that there is value in the story that you have to tell. Mine your experiences for the best material, and don’t dismiss your experiences just because they aren’t represented in books. Often the stories that are missing  are the best stories. Additionally, don’t underestimate yourself just because you need to grow as a writer. Keep trying. Keep doing the work. You never know what you might be capable of.

And now…the cover reveal!

ABDUL’S STORY releases March 29th, 2022 from Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster. Pre-order a copy today online or from your local independent bookstore.

And Jamilah will be giving away a signed copy of ABDUL’S STORY once it releases.

Leave one comment below to enter.

A random winner will be selected soon.

Good luck!


Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow is a Philadelphia-based educator and award-winning children’s book author. A curriculum writer and former English teacher, she has educated children and teens in traditional and alternative learning settings for over 15 years. Her picture books and middle-grade fiction center young Black Muslim protagonists and have been recognized as the best in children’s literature by Time Magazine, Read Across America, and NPR. Her books include Mommy’s Khimar and Your Name is a Song, an Irma Black Honor book. Her upcoming books include ABDUL’S  STORY (2022), HOLD THEM CLOSE (2022), and SALAT IN SECRET (2023).

Find Jamilah online at jamilahthewriter.com, on Twitter @jtbigelow, and on Instagram @authorjamilah.

by Courtney Pippin-Mathur

First off, thank you to Tara for hosting my cover reveal on her blog!

HAPPY DIWALI is my most personal book, yet it has been a first for me in a lot of ways.

It will be my third picture book, but it is the first one that I wrote with someone else. The story is about a small girl celebrating Diwali with her family and how she overcomes her initial shyness. It was inspired by my daughter Kiran, and her love of family celebrations but her nervousness of large groups of people.

Diwali is the Hindu celebration of good over evil, light over darkness. This book follows how my sister-in-law Sanyukta brings the joys of Diwali to our culturally- and racially-mixed family in the US.  Sanyukta has been involved every step, from writing the first draft (on the phone) to revisions, cultural notes, tips on how to draw a sari, or what should be on the endpapers. When we couldn’t meet in person, we would meet on Zoom. It has been an amazing experience to create a book with her! The photo below is our author photo in the book. It is from long ago but is our favorite picture together.

It is the first book in which every character except one (the main character) is an actual member of our family. I emailed or messaged each parent and asked for photos and tried to include every child in the family. Some might resemble the actual child more than others, and I did age down most of them, but it was a lot of fun!

Here you can see my daughter in her favorite lehenga, and how I drew it in the book.

Below is one of my favorite images from the book. In in, the kids are painting diyas. Every year Sanyukta creates a craft, my favorite is painting clay diyas because I can re-use them every year.

It is the first book where the (amazing) editor who acquired the book moved to a new publishing house during the illustration process. Thankfully, the book was left to another wonderful editor. The publisher and art director also moved to new publishing houses, but we were very lucky in that our new editor kept everything chugging along.

It is also the first book I worked on during the pandemic. It took me a few months after Covid first hit the US and everything shut down before I could draw again. Thankfully I had been allocated plenty of time.

Because it had been so long since I have seen many members of the family in the book, I keenly felt the loss of family gatherings as I worked and really look forward to them again soon.

I hope this book can be a thank you from me to my husband’s family for making me feel so welcome in their homes and for always including me in and teaching me about their traditions and culture.

The designer pulled an image from the interior of the book to make the cover.

Here is the color sketch:

And here’s the final cover!

On the front is my sister-in-law Sanyukta and her daughter Priya drawing rangoli. They do that every year to welcome the guests. On the back cover is a group image of the kids eating, which is one of my favorite things to do at Diwali!

Courtney, thank you for sharing this beautiful book and your family traditions.

HAPPY DIWALI will be released September 28, 2021 and is available for pre-order now.

Blog readers, you can win an original sketch of a character (Rajini) from Courtney’s book!

Just leave one comment below to enter and a random winner will be selected soon!

Good luck!


Sanyukta Mathur is a social scientist and studies how to improve the health and well-being of young people around the world. She is the author of various research publications; HAPPY DIWALI! is her first children’s book. She lives in Maryland with her family. 

Courtney Pippin-Mathur is the author-illustrator of MAYA WAS GRUMPY and DRAGONS RULE, PRINCESSES DROOL!. She lives in Alexandria, Virginia with her husband, three kids and one very energetic dog. She is hugely grateful to be part of a diverse and welcoming family who work hard to bring their traditions to the United States and to pass them to new generations. You can find more of her work at pippinmathur.com or on Instagram @pippinmathur

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My Picture Books

COMING SOON:

ABSURD WORDS
illustrator TBA
Sourcebooks eXplore
January 2, 2022

TIME FLIES
"7 ATE 9/PRIVATE I" BOOK #3
illus by Ross MacDonald
Little, Brown
April 2022

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