Wednesday, December 17, 2008

December Pick for the Older Sibling: Knuckleheads

Each month, Joan and I will choose a recommended read for the older sibling of your readertotz. We don't plan to limit this choice to a picture book. Maybe we'll suggest a beginning reader or even a novel at times. Ages between siblings vary much, so we'll aim to bring you a great variety of books.

Also, occasionally, we'll give away a book on readertotz and today is one of those days. Leave a comment here for a chance to win an autographed copy of Joan Holub's new picture book, Knuckleheads. One winner will be randomly chosen and notified via a post on this blog on Sunday night. Ready, set, GO!

Now I'm thrilled to share our first monthly older sibling pick! I just have to give Joan a BIG HAND for Knuckleheads!

~Lorie Ann

From Joan Holub . . .

So here's the story on the creation of Knuckleheads:

Have you ever noticed that every fairy tale has a bad guy that fuels the plot—a witch, a jealous queen, a hungry wolf? Their job is to give the main character a hard time. In essence, these bad guys are all the same--pure evil.

This core idea lead me to choose a mischievous, green witch as the connecting link between four mini-tales in Knuckleheads. The four tales are subtitled: Handsel and Gretel, Handerella, Nose White, and Thumbelina. Why the misspellings? Because the characters are quite literally hands--with the occasional inclusion of a nose (as in Nose White), a foot (as in Handerella’s step-sisters), or a thumb (as in Thumbelina.)

One of my favorite spreads is when Handerella and the Finger Prints dance hand-in-hand at the ball, spelling “LOVE” in sign language, even as things turn to toe jam for her two step-sisters.

Meanwhile, that green witch slips from one tale to the next,
pretending to be a queen or a stepmother or whatever evil character each tale requires, until she's eventually shown escaping out of the back cover of the book.

Inside scoop:
There are times when a typed manuscript simply cannot communicate what an author has in mind. One of those times is when a diverse group of characters speak in speech bubbles, as in the case of Knuckleheads.

So, to show what I intended, I made a dummy full of simple black and white sketches. I shared it with my critique group, including the fabulous Dia Calhoun and Lorie Ann Grover, who cheered me on. After much revision, I submitted the dummy to Chronicle Books. Fortunately, the editors there had been on the lookout for a project for an amazing illustrator--Michael Slack. When my dummy came in their door, they knew his beautiful, quirky, humorous style, which is reminiscent of early fairy tale books, would be perfect! (My rough sketch is on the left; Michael's illustration of that same page on the right. Can you guess which of the four mini-tales in the book this is from?)

Feel free to watch and listen to the video and podcast with your readertotz' older sibling!

Click on the links to find Knuckleheads at Powell's Books.

Joan Holub, Author
Michael Slack, Illustrator
Chronicle Books, 2008
Hardcover picture book
Ages 6-10 and up

~ Joan Holub, author


Katylovesbooks said...

Lovely illustrations and interesting scoop on this cool book, which I already have in my library collection.

I'm especially liking the inside information section you gals are including in your Readertotz posts.

Lorie Ann Grover said...

Thank you so much!

Julie Hannah said...

Hansel and Gretel, in answer to the inside scoop question. Enjoying the blog, girls!

Karen said...

That would be, uh, HanDsel, right?

Joan Holub said...

Good catch, Karen!

Thanks for your thoughts, Katy. We appreciate the feedback!

Hey, Lorie Ann and Julie!

Kairi said...

Looks to be a very funny story! Can't wait to read it!

Corey Schwartz said...

oh, very interesting. If I don't win, I'll have to put it on my amazon wish list :)

holly cupala said...

Knuckleheads looks fabulous! Yay, Joan!

Pasifik said...

interesting books for children!

Happy blogging,

Toddler Books

Joan Holub said...

Thank you so much for the kind comments, Kairi, Corey, and Pasifik! Hi Holly, it's nice to see a readergirlz diva here!

Congratulations to Karen, winner of the autographed copy of Knuckleheads! My husband selected the winner from the list of comments by randomly pointing. I'm going over to post a message on her blog to let her know.

Many thanks to everyone who dropped by!

Rhonda said...

The book looks fun! Thank you for offering this giveaway! rhonda (at) acedesignstudio (dot) com

Z-Kids said...

Just wanted to say, this book looks truly wonderful! Congrats!
(and congrats to Karen, lucky girl!)

Joan Holub said...

Thanks Rhonda and Bookie Woogie ZKids! I appreciate your kind words. Happy holidays!

Lorie Ann Grover said...

This was so fun! Thanks, Joan! I treasure my copy. It's on display in our home. :~)

Íñigo said...

Joan, I just found a copy of your Knuckleheads in a bookstore in Madrid (Spain). It looks even better on my bookcase ;)

Happy 2009!