Saturday, February 28, 2009

Apple Countdown Press Release

For Immediate Release
On sale March 1, 2009

by Joan Holub

readertotz co-founder and author/illustrator Joan Holub’s new picture book has just been released from Albert Whitman & Co.

Enjoy the simple fun of apple-picking as nineteen kids + their teacher venture forth on their class field trip to an apple farm, counting down from 20 to 1 along the way. Young readers will be swept up in this story, which teaches basic math concepts such as grouping and simple addition as well as instructions on how to pick an apple and apple facts.

“Twenty apples with our names,” says James. “I see a tag for me,” says Lee.
“Nineteen kids get on our bus,” says Russ. “I share with Mr. Yee,” says Lee.
“Eighteen miles till we’re there,” says Claire. “Eight miles, turn, then go ten,” says Ben.

“Until recently, I lived in Washington state—the state that grows the most apples,” says Holub. “I went on a class trip to an apple farm in eastern Washington one October--the month when most apples are picked. Picking and eating the apples was the most fun. We saw cows and ducks and learned apple facts, which I share in the book. For instance, did you know apples float because they are 25% air? Or that an apple has a five-pointed star inside, each point having 1 or 2 seeds, for a total of 5 to 10 seeds in every apple?”

About readertotz, Joan Holub and Jan Smith:

readertotz is a blog which showcases infant-toddler books as an important addition to children's literature.

Joan Holub is the author and/or illustrator of over 120 books for children (Knuckleheads; Bed Bats & Beyond; Why Do Cats Meow?), including a chapter book biography titled Who Was Johnny Appleseed? She began her career in children's books at age six, when she created her first book dummy, and she has since worked as an art director at a major publishing company.

Jan Smith is an illustrator from England, who has illustrated over fifty titles, and enjoys salsa dancing.

Apple Countdown
by Joan Holub, illustrated by Jan Smith
Albert Whitman & Company
isbn 9780807503980 / $16.99 / 32 pages / ages 5-8
Contact information:

Friday, February 27, 2009

Poetry Friday: An Icicle

Anyone still feeling winter? Enjoy the last glimpses with your totz!

Poetry Friday


Lives in winter,
Dies in summer,
And grows with its roots upward!

Catch the full roundup at Mommy's Favorite Children's Books.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Fear for Toddlers Incites Discimination

I just caught this from Little Willow and a story in Mail Online by Liz Thomas in the UK. Unbelievable!

"A disabled CBeebies presenter has been the victim of a disturbing campaign after parents complained that she was scaring toddlers.

They claimed that host Cerrie Burnell - who was born with one arm - is not suitable to appear on the digital children's channel.

cerrie burnell

...Incredibly, one father said he wanted to ban his daughter from watching the channel because he feared it would give her nightmares."

The article goes on to say that Cerrie has replied: "It can only be a good thing that parents are using me as a chance to talk about disability with their children."

Michael Carrington, controller of CBeebies, said: "Cerrie is warm and natural and we think that in time all mums and dads and children will love her as much as we do."

readertotz gives a shout out to Cerrie Burnell for withstanding the prejudice and continuing to do an excellent job!

Maisy's Fire Engine: Lucy Cousins


My girls and I have always been a huge fan of Lucy Cousins. In fact, I may have to dig out our all time fav to review soon. But, Maisy's Fire Engine recently came to my attention, and I wanted to share it first.

So, yes, boys love books about transportation. Girls may also find an interest in books about vehicles. But why not combine a book about a fire engine with an emotional story? This is exactly what Lucy has done! All totz will be engaged. Best of all, Maisy is at the wheel. Girl power!

As Maisy and Cyril check the fire engine, Little Black Cat is scared and flees to the roof of a nearby house. Through the fire fighters help, there's a rescue and then a fun ride together. All the action occurs in eight full bleed spreads.

With her trademark bright, flat colors and heavy black outlines, Lucy tells a simple compelling story for your readertotz. I'm a great lover of her simple lettering and bold backgrounds.

Maisy's Fire Engine

Inside Story

Check out The Maisy Fun Club for great activities with Maisy!

Maisy's Fire Engine
Lucy Cousins
Candlewick Press, 2002

Friday, February 20, 2009

Poetry Friday: Butterfly, Butterfly

I'm eager for spring! You? I did see the ladybugs are hatching. :~)

Poetry Friday

Butterfly, Butterfly

Butterfly, butterfly,
Whence do you come?
I know not, I ask not,
Nor ever had a home.

Butterfly, butterfly,
Where do you go?
Where the sun shines,
And where the buds grow.

Catch the full roundup at The Holly and the Ivy.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

February Pick for the Older Sibling: A Friend for Dragon

Before there was Captain Underpants, there was Dragon, the endearing star of three early chapter books by Dav Pilkey that began with A Friend for Dragon. It's rare and wonderful when a book tugs at both my heart and my funny bone. This is one of those books.

Dragon longs for a friend. After being turned down by several candidates he approaches, he's ripe for the practical joke a snake-in-the-grass plays on him. When an apple falls from a tree and hits Dragon on the head, the snake tricks him into believing the apple can speak. Not only that, the apple announces that it wants to be Dragon's friend.

"At last," said Dragon.
"A friend."

Dragon and apple have some good times together, but when apple is eaten by a stranger, Dragon is devastated. I felt a true sense of loss when this happened. Amazing that Pilkey could pull this off, but he does! I think my love for Dragon has something to do with the fact that he is so believably goodhearted and gullible in the way of many young children, which made me want to protect him from hurt.

Dragon buries his pal the apple and mourns him. Time passes and a new apple tree grows, bringing new friends to a delighted Dragon.

"He wished for a friend.
Suddenly something fell
out of the tree and hit Dragon
on the head.
It was an apple."

Inside Scoop:
True to form, Dav Pilkey created his bio as "adventures" in cartoon style, depicting himself as having artistic inclinations immediately upon his birth, much to the dismay of a hospital nurse. If your totz' siblings are eager for more, his site also has a variety of games and a text bio, which I particularly enjoyed.

A Friend for Dragon
Dav Pilkey, author-illustrator
Scholastic, 1991

~ Joan Holub, author

Monday, February 16, 2009

Jamie Harper: Yum Yum, Baby Bundt

Big sister and Baby Bundt are an appealing duo in Yum Yum, Baby Bundt, a sturdy new board book that's billed as a "Recipe for Mealtime." Its first two pages offer a list of ingredients for baby's lunch beginning with: "1 hungry Baby Bundt; 1 bib, washable; 1 high chair; Handful of toys; 1 plastic plate; 1/2 cup noodles with sauce;" and so on. I think this is an interesting format. When I was little, I loved make-and-do activities with steps to follow, and this is somewhat like that in concept.

This felt like a story the big sister was telling rather than a story told by an adult, something I appreciated. The interaction between Big Sis and Baby as she helps with feeding is light-hearted fun, and Sis often gets creative as shown in the illustration below.

Yum Yum may very well prompt your totz into offering to help with a younger sibling's feeding time.

Inside Scoop
A former pastry chef, Jamie Harper is obsessed with scrapbooking, as you can see at her blog. If you're like me and have a fascination with seeing the workplaces of authors and illustrators, you'll enjoy Jamie's photos and notes about her studio and how she works.

Yum Yum, Baby Bundt
Jamie Harper, author-illustrator
Candlewick Press, 2009

~ Joan Holub, author/illustrator

Friday, February 13, 2009

Poetry Friday: Valentine


Good-Morrow to you, Valentine!
Curl your locks as I do mine;
Two before and three behind.
Good-morrow to you, Valentine!

The round up is at Big A Little a!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Illustrator Interview: Rebecca Malone

I'm so pleased with the illustrations for my text of Hug Hug! Rebecca's (Becky's) work is absolutely beautiful. I had to ask her a few questions to share the answers with you. So listen in with your totz...

Becky do you want to share your technique?

Sure, Lorie Ann! I use acrylic paint for my illustrations. First, I prepare an illustration board by coating it with two coats of gesso. When that is dry, I put a light coat of cadmium yellow paint over the whole surface to make sure that no white peeks through in the final painting. If some yellow peeks through that's ok -- I think it gives a nice warm feel to the finished illustration. The yellow background also helps me to keep my lights and darks in balance as I'm working.

I transfer my sketch to my prepared illustration board by rubbing the back of the sketch with a soft pencil. I then place it right side up on the board and trace over it.

Next comes the fun part -- putting on the color! I usually use no more than seven tubes of paint -- two blues, two reds, two yellows, and a white. I find that I can mix up almost any color I need with just those few tubes of paint.

Do you have a favorite spread?

Hmmm... I think maybe the owls ("Hugs in the dark.") -- they were fun to paint. I liked thinking about how safe and snug the babies would feel sleeping all together with their mom on that branch, listening to the night sounds in the cool forest air.

Lorie Ann: That's my favorite, too! And yet, I also love the curves of these dear chickens:

hugs with a peck

Can you tell us about the final painting in Hug Hug!?

Ok, now that one really is my favorite -- because the two people on that spread are me and my son! The stuffed animal that you see there was originally sketched out as a stuffed kitty -- which is my son's bedtime snuggle pal -- but the publisher asked me to change it to a bear. Every time my son looks at that spread he says, "Why didn't you tell them that I sleep with a kitty, not a bear?" -- I have to keep explaining to him that the publishers don't even know that the picture is of me and him... !!

Lorie Ann: And now they do!

Would you like to scan a preliminary sketch to share?

Sure -- here is my original sketch for that last spread of the book ("Hugs while we sleep."). You can see that the original is quite different from the final -- I showed more of the boy's bedroom... there was a lot more detail. I think the illustration that ended up in the book is successful because it really focuses in on what is important -- the mom and the son and the loving hug that they share.

Lorie Ann: I agree!

How will you celebrate Valentine's Day?
I hope to spend the day eating lots of chocolates and inhaling the perfume from the many bouquets of flowers that my husband will buy for me (Mike, if you're reading this... hint hint!).

Who are your favorite people or animals to share a hug with?

That's an easy one -- my husband Mike and my son Ryan are my favorite people to hug and to get hugs from. As for animals, the two that live with us -- our old chocolate lab named Grizz and our new little kitten named Friendly -- are my favorite animals to wrap my arms around.

Anymore books in the hopper?

As of this writing, I have three books under consideration with an editor and am working on a fourth that I hope to have ready to submit within the next few weeks -- it's a counting book featuring an omelette! No hugging in that one... ;^)

Do you have any websites/blogs to share so everyone can see more of your work?

Yes, thank you for asking -- my website is -- if you check it out, you'll find more of my illustrations, some sketches, and even a few interior illustrations from "Hug Hug!".

Even Further Inside Scoop

Lorie Ann: Becky didn't know I had submitted a dummy to illustrate Hug Hug! But the publishing house felt her work was an even stronger fit for my text this round. Here's an illustration from my dummy. It always is so nice when the illustrator has the same vision. This was true throughout. Look at how similar our chickens are!

Many thanks to Becky for gifting my text with such beautiful art. Thanks to Little Simon for combining our strengths!

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! Randomly, I'll award a comment on this post on Valentine's Day with a copy of Hug Hug! Best to you each!

It's been so fun to see our work in Barnes & Noble this February. Woohoo!

Hug Hug!, by Lorie Ann Grover and Rebecca Malone, Little Simon, 2009

Monday, February 9, 2009

Mommy Calls Me Monkeypants: J. D. Lester and Hiroe Nakata

Cover Image

In Mommy Calls Me Monkeypants, J. D. Lester uses sweet rhyme to explore nicknames a mother bestows on her child. From Monkeypants to Snuggle-up, Splishy-splash to Polka Dot, your readertotz will be presented a logic for creative name calling done in love.

Hiroe Nakata's sparse watercolors illustrate each phrase. Refreshing white lines embrace most of the imagery while wide swathes of slightly variegated color provide simple backgrounds. The babies are most endearing in each spread.

Inside Scoop:
View more of Hiroe's work at:

Your readertotz will respond so positively to this board book, they'll be creating new nicknames for you!

Mommy Calls Me Monkeypants
by J.D. Lester, illustrations by Hiroe Nakata
Random House, Robin Corey Books, 2009

Friday, February 6, 2009

Poetry Friday: Playful

So, I'm still working on a poetry collection for a hotel in Cancun. I posted this poem from the work last week at my blog, but thought I'd share it here as well.

Full moon


The moon plays
hopscotch over the waves,
hide and seek
in the fluttering curtains,
and tags my daughter's cheek
with a glimmering kiss.

Lorie Ann Grover, 2009

Think of this poem as you kiss your totz tonight! Catch the full roundup at Wild Rose Reader.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Mem Fox: Time for Bed

It's the end of the day and nighttime has come. Little ones are getting sleepy as they're tucked into bed by their parents. Mem Fox's rhythmic, repetitive phrases ease toddlers toward the notion that bedtime has arrived.

It's time for bed, little sheep, little sheep.
The whole wide world is going to sleep.

A sleepy baby animal and its parent fill much of the visual space on each spread. The refrains and illustrations are equally cozy and are full of the kind of warmth that helps lull readers. At the end of the book a mom kisses her young one good night--a lovely and helpful cue to your little reader that her or his bedtime has arrived as well.

Jane Dyer's soft-hued watercolor art of animals such as cats, fish, and even snakes are a perfect fit for the story. This was originally published as a picture book by Harcourt, but it translates so nicely into board book size that it really could've been published as either one initially.

A classic, and one of my favorite bedtime books.

Mem Fox

You and your totz can enjoy one class's study of Mem Fox's books.

Mem Fox, author
Jane Dyer, illustrator

~ Joan Holub, author