Tag Archives: picture books

A picture book intensive, of sorts.

I read 136 picture books this month, most of them for my role as a judge for the Cybils Awards. I’m so glad for this opportunity. I’ve read so many wonderful books, and I shout a big thank you to everyone who nominated books for this competition. If left to rely completely on my own efforts, I may have missed some of these treasures or taken another year or two to stumble upon them.

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(c) 2013 Photo by Carol Munro

Speaking of thanks, I owe the staff at my library a yummy treat of some sort for processing books I put on hold, notifying me of books that arrive through the Inter Library Loan system, checking them out, checking them back in, sending them back from whence they came. They. Have. Been. Busy.

 

Here are my favorites of books read during October (not all of these were Cybils noms):

  • AGAIN! by Emily Gravett, 2013, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division)
  • A HOME FOR BIRD by Philip C. Stead, 2013, Roaring Brook Press (Holtzbrinck Publishing Holdings Limited Partnership)
  • A IS FOR MUSK OX by Erin Cabatingan, illustrated by Matthew Myers, 2012, A Neal Porter Book / Roaring Brook Press (Holtzbrinck Publishing Holdings Limited Partnership)
  • THE BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO RUNNING AWAY FROM HOME by Jennifer Larue Huget, illustrated by Red Nose Studio, 2013, Schwartz & Wade Books
  • BEN RIDES ON by Matt Davies, 2013, A Neal Porter Book / Roaring Brook Press (Holtzbrinck Publishing Holdings Limited Partnership)
  • THE BLESSING CUP by Patricia Polacco, 2013, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division)
  • BRIEF THIEF by Michael Escoffier, illustrated by Kris Di Giacomo, 2013, Enchanted Lion Books
  • COUNT THE MONKEYS by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Kevin Cornell, 2013, Disney-Hyperion (Disney Book Group)
  • THE FAVORITE DAUGHTER by Allen Say, 2013, Arthur A. Levine Books (Scholastic Inc.)
  • THE HIGHWAY RAT by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler, 2011, Arthur A. Levine Books (Scholastic Inc.)
  • IN THE TREE HOUSE by Andrew Larson, illustrated by Dusan Petricic, 2013, Kids Can Press (Corus Entertainment Company)
  • JOURNEY by Aaron Becker, 2013, Candlewick Press
  • THE KINDHEARTED CROCODILE by Lucia Panzieri, illustrated by AntonGionata Ferrari, 2008, Holiday House
  • LEONARDO THE TERRIBLE MONSTER by Mo Willems, 2005, Hyperion Books for Children
  • LOCOMOTIVE by Brian Floca, 2013, Atheneum Books for Young Readers (Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing)
  • THE MARKET BOWL by Jim Averbeck, 2013, Charlesbridge Publishing
  • MOONDAY by Adam Rex, 2013, Disney-Hyperion (Disney Book Group)
  • MY COLD PLUM LEMON PIE BLUESY MOOD by Tameka Fryer Brown, illustrated by Shane W. Evans, 2013, Viking (Penguin Group)
  • ROSIE REVERE, ENGINEER by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts, 2013, Abrams Books for Young Readers (Abrams)
  • SOPHIE’S SQUASH by Pat Zietlow Miller, illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf, 2013, Schwartz & Wade Books
  • TOO MUCH GLUE by Jason Lefebvre, illustrated by Zac Retz, 2013, Flashlight Press
  • TRAIN by Elisha Cooper, 2013, Orchard Books (Scholastic Inc.)

My bonus for all this dedicated reading? Today I got my very own copy of TOO MUCH GLUE signed by Jason Lefebvre. Yay!

 

 

 

 

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Love it. Don’t love it. Ewww.

Whew! So far, 134 fictional picture books have been nominated for the Cybils awards. The nomination period for the general public is now closed, but over the next few weeks, professionals in the publishing industry will be making their nominations. Since October 1, I’ve read about 60 books (sincere thanks to the suddenly overburdened folks who manage and deliver books via the Inter Library Loan service), and I have a dozen or so on my short list. Some great books have been nominated, so I’m being very strict about how I evaluate which ones I’ll consider sending on to the final judging process. One little hiccup in the flow of the story, and sorry, not going on the short list. Fabulous illustrations but a story that’s ordinary? Sorry, no. A beautiful story but I just don’t like the art? Not getting recommended.

I compare my short list with the lists of the other four judges in my category. We agree on many books, but I’ve seen books on their lists and wondered, what are they thinking? I’m sure they do the same. This whole process has reinforced what I’ve known all along. It’s all subjective. We’re all judges, and we all have different tastes.

I submitted a manuscript to an agent yesterday. I LOVE this story I’ve told. It’s tender and funny and even a bit scary. It’s been rejected a half dozen times, and I got discouraged. I decided it wasn’t a lovely story. I decided it needed work – work that I put off doing. But I read it yesterday morning and LOVED it. So I submitted it. Everything is subjective. Maybe this agent will love it, too.

That’s my little bit of encouragement to my fellow writers. And here’s some more. Marcie Flinchum Atkins has another We’re All In This Together post on her blog. EW Clark, Sue Heavenrich, Vivian Kirkfield, Liz Parker Garcia, Alayme Kay Christian, Amie Rose Rotruck, Romelle Broas Guittap, Marcie, and I share some inspirational quotes for writers. Go take a look if you’re curious. Or need encouragement.

One more thing, I’ve been participating in Kathy Ellen Davis’s picture book reading challenge, 31 in 31. We pledge to read a picture book each day in October (yeah, not exactly a problem for me!) and post about it on her blog. Every five days, she has a drawing for a book. On day 15, I WON! Eagerly waiting for my copy of OVER AND UNDER THE SNOW by Kate Messner, illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal. Visit the blog to see what we’ve read and  get PB recommendations.

 

 

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Cybils judging has started!

Nominations began flooding in for the 2013 Cybils awards on October 1. Public nominations will be accepted until October 15. That means if you’re not a professional agent, editor, or publisher working in the kid lit industry, go here to find out how to nominate your favorite children’s books. After October 15, noms are open to the pros only.

I’ve been having a fun time judging the Fiction Picture Book category, and some gorgeously illustrated, beautifully written books are accumulating on my short list. I’m making notes about every book I read – what I love, what I don’t – to jog my memory in December when I have to whittled that list down to about five books. FIVE! Oh, give me strength. How will I decide? In January, the final round judges will begin the truly difficult work of choosing winners in each category.

Meanwhile, I’m doing well on my personal goals (which are to write a new PB manuscript each month, revise at least one each month, submit at least one each month, and read at least 10 PBs per week). I read 56 picture books in September, so I’m behind by only a hundred or so. Of those 56, here are my favorites:

  • BEAR HAS A STORY TO TELL by Philip C. Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead, 2012, A Neal Porter Book (Roaring Brook Press/Holtzbrinck Publishing)
  • FLORA AND THE FLAMINGO by Molly Idle, 2013, Chronicle Books
  • FROG SONG by Brenda Z. Guiberson, illustrated by Gennady Spirin, 2013, Henry Holt and Company
  • GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE BEARS AND THE 33 BEARS AND THE BLIIM AND THE FURNITURE AND LOTS MORE VARIATIONS by Allan Ahlberg, illustrated by Jessica Ahlberg, 2012, Candlewick Press
  • IF YOU WANT TO SEE A WHALE by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Erin E. Stead, 2013, A Neal Porter Book/Roaring Brook Press (Holtzbrinck Publishing)
  • KEL GILLIGAN’S DAREDEVIL STUNT SHOW by Michael Buckley, illustrated by Dan Santat, 2012 Abrams Books for Young Readers
  • LITTLE PIG JOINS THE BAND by David Hyde Costello, 2011, Charlesbridge
  • LUCKY DUCKLINGS by Eva Moore, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter, 2013, Orchard Books (Scholastic Inc.)
  • MOLE HAD EVERYTHING by Jamison Odone, 2012, Blue Apple Books
  • RED CAT, BLUE CAT by Jenni Desmond, 2012, Blue Apple Books
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(c) 2013 Photo by Carol Munro

Now, if I were a round two judge, and these books were the Cybils’ finalists, LITTLE PIG JOINS THE BAND would easily be my choice for THE WIN. (It doesn’t meet the rules regarding publication date, so, sadly, I can’t nominate it. Oh, and I must confess that I wrote a love fan letter to David Hyde Costello. Alright, love letter, since I think I used the word love about a dozen times. But it’s Little Pig I really love.)

I don’t care who you are or how old you are, go to your library or bookstore, find this book, and sit down to read it. Picture book writers and illustrators: you’ll learn something even if you think you already know it all. Slackers: think of it as a motivational handbook. Corporate ladder climbers: here’s your leadership training manual. I’m teasing, but seriously, get the book and read it. I already hear you thanking me for the recommendation.

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BEN RIDES ON with perilously big words. Good for you, Matt Davies!

I’m getting ready for Tara Lazar’s PiBoIdMo (30 picture book ideas in 30 days in November) by participating in a fun challenge created by Kathy Ellen Davis called 31 in 31. Participants pledge to read a picture book each day in October, then post about it on Kathy Ellen’s blog. It’s helping me meet my goal of 500 PBs read this year, and I’m getting leads on some very tempting, must-read picture books. Interested in taking the 31 in 31 or PiBoIdMo challenges. Click on the links to learn more.

I decided I wanted to share what I posted on the 31 in 31 blog today. Here it is:

My PB of the day is BEN RIDES ON by Matt Davies, 2013, A Neal Porter Book (Roaring Brook Press), 341 words.

The story and illustrations are terrific. I loved remembering how I felt when I got my first bike. Ben’s bike is stolen by a bully. You’ll thoroughly enjoy how the problem is resolved.

What I liked best about the book is Matt Davies use of L O N G words most PB writers shy away from — lots of long words.

Possession.

Devastated.

Explained, revolved, revenge. (All in one sentence!)

Peculiar.

Immediate investigation.

Whereupon.

Discovered.

Significant.

Extraordinarily. (Yes, really, the six-syllable, fifteen-letter extraordinarily.)

There are more. They’re used perfectly, so kids will get a pretty clear idea of what they mean, and they’re used in a story told in a way that kids will want it read again and AGAIN! (Nod to Emily Gravett. Look it up.) What a lovely way to teach kids new words. Three cheers, Matt Davies!

Read this book and ride the waves of emotion with Ben. Thoroughly enjoyable.

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Do I get a robe and gavel?

I read 27 picture books in August. I should have read 40. Wait. I’m way behind on my goal for the year, and to catch up I should have read 162. What’s a girl to do to get her butt in gear and reach her goal?

Voila! Cybils to the rescue!

I’ve been chosen to be a Round One judge in the Fiction Picture Books category of the Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards seventh annual competition. That means I’ll be reading and evaluating about 200 books nominated this year. It should help me catch up on my reading, don’t you think?

I’m honored to be selected, and I’m eager to put my opinionated self expertise to work. I can hardly wait to begin discussing favorites with the other judges.

Nominations will be accepted October 1-15. If you want to nominate a favorite children’s book, check out the guidelines and how-to details here.

If you’re curious about becoming a judge for next year, you can learn more here.

And now here’s what you’ve all been waiting for (right?) – my favorite reads of August:

  • ALL THOSE SECRETS OF THE WORLD by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Leslie Baker, 1991, Little, Brown & Company
  • COWPOKE CLYDE AND DIRTY DAWG by Lori Mortensen, illustrated by Michael Allen Austin, 2013, Clarion Books
  • EACH KINDNESS by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by E.B. Lewis, 2012, Nancy Paulsen Book (Penguin Young Readers Group)
  • EVEN ALIENS NEED SNACKS by Matthew McElligott, 2012, Walker BFYR (Bloomsbury Publishing)
  • GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE DINOSAURS by Mo Willems, 2012, Balzar + Bray (HarperCollins Publishers)
  • MINETTE’S FEAST by Susanna Reich, illustrated by Amy Bates, 2012, Abrams Books for Young Readers
  • THE MONSTERS’ MONSTER by Patrick McDonnell, 2012, Little Brown and Company (Hachette Book Group)
  • MY FATHER’S ARMS ARE A BOAT by Stein Erik Lunde, illustrated by Oyvind Torseter, 2012, Enchanted Lion Books
  • WHEN THE COWS GOT LOOSE by Carol Weis, illustrated by Ard Hoyt, 2006, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division)

By the way, if you live in or will be visiting Western Mass any time in the next 5 months, check out “Seriously Silly: A Decade of Art and Whimsy by Mo Willems” at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, Massachusetts. The exhibit will be on display through February 23, 2014.

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Boo!

Heads up. If fear is getting the best of you and your writing efforts, Marcie Flinchum Atkin’s latest post in her We’re All in this Together series may help. I’ve been busy, so I didn’t contribute my thoughts to the series this month, but click here to read what Robyn Campbell, Donna L. Sadd, Alayne Kay Christian, and Marcie have to say on the subject. (And check out Alayne’s blog for details about a writing contest in honor of Grandparent’s Day.)

What do I fear? That when I wake up tomorrow morning, I’ll realize it’s already December! 2013 is moving along so quickly I feel I have to keep one hand gripped to the chair lest I get flung into the deep, dark woods as the time train speeds on. I began to panicky about my goals for this year, feeling like I haven’t accomplished enough, but actually I’m doing pretty well. I’m staying focused, I’m getting new picture book drafts written, I’m submitting work, and the rejections I’m getting are kind and thoughtful and positive. The type of rejections writers like to get if they have to get rejections at all. But still. Ugh.

I haven’t been revising as much as I’d like, though, and I’m trying to catch up on my picture book reading goal (a little more than 500 by year’s end). I love so much of what I’ve been reading lately. Here are my favorites from July’s list.

DETECTIVE LARUE: LETTERS FROM THE INVESTIGATION by Mark Teague, 2004, Scholastic Books
KALI’S SONG by Jeanette Winter, 2012, Schwartz & Wade Books
MOUSE’S BIRTHDAY by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Bruce Degen, 1993, G.P. Putnam’s Sons
NAMING LIBERTY by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Jim Burke, 2008, Philomel Books (Penguin Young Readers Group)
TWINKLE, TWINKLE, LITTLE STAR by Jerry Pickney, 2011, Hachette Book Group (Little, Brown and Company)

Not a frightening book in the bunch. Read them for yourself!

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Favorite PBs Read in June

As of the end of June, I’m behind by 71 on my picture book reading goal, and it doesn’t look like I’m going to be too successful in catching up during July. There’s just so much else grabbing at my attention. (I never did understand the “summer reading” craze.) But I will try.

I’m attempting to read at least 530 picture books in 2013 – about 10 per week. I’d highly recommend this to other writers of picture books. I think it’s making a difference in my own writing, understanding the market, and in fueling the idea tank.

I read 28 books in June, and found six that I loved. Three are by Jane Yolen. I LOVE Jane’s writing. She and her work have been a huge inspiration to me.

006I first read PICNIC WITH PIGGINS (on the list below) some twenty-plus years ago. I was so struck by the writing I immediately read the jacket flap to learn more about this amazing author. She lived in my region! I went to the library the next day to find out more about her. “I think she leads a writing critique group,” one of the library staff members told me. WHAT? Holy moly macaroni! You mean I could join this group? Yep. And I did. Best thing I ever did in regards to my writing. I’m forever appreciative of the years Jane led that group. I learned so much from her and the groups’ other gifted writers (many of whom I pay tribute to in the photo at the top of this page).

So here are my June favorites.

  • BEFORE THE STORM by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Georgia Pugh, 1995, Boyds Mills Press
  • CHARLEY’S FIRST NIGHT by Amy Hest, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury, 2012, Candlewick Press
  • INFINITY AND ME by Kate Hosford, illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska, 2012, Carolrhoda Books (Lerner Publishing Group)
  • MIZ BERLIN WALKS by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Floyd Cooper, 1997, Philomel Books (Putnam & Grosset Group)
  • PICNIC WITH PIGGINS by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Jane Dyer, 1988, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Publishers
  • OLD ROBERT AND THE SEA-SILLY CATS by Barbara Joosse, illustrated by Jan Jutte, 2012, Philomel Books (Penguin Books)

Check them out. Let me know if you love them, too.

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