Friday, April 30, 2010

More, More, More: Arbor Day Square by Kathryn Galbraith

Arbor Day Square

In honor of Arbor Day today, check out the beautiful book by Kathryn Galbraith, illustrated by Cyd Moore. Poetic language and gentle watercolors are paired together for this book which celebrates trees and the act of planting them.

When Katie settles into her new town on the prairie, all seems to be established, just like back East, but there are no trees.

"There are no trees on the prairie.
No trees for climbing.
Or for shade.
No trees for fruit or warm winter fires.
No trees for birds. Or for beauty."

The townspeople agree to purchase trees, and when the saplings arrive, it takes faith to believe the trees will grow and offer shade in the Square. But they do, even the dogwood in memory of Katie's mother.

Cyd's illustrations set the scene for this picture book of the past. Gentle colors reflect the bright sunshine of the prairie, while spot illustrations accompanying the 1/2 to 2/3 page spreads draw the reader into details which flesh out chosen moments.

Kathryn's text is the spare language of a poet. She closes the work with a conclusion of Arbor Day:


Year after year.

And the year after that."

Find this book and then plant a tree with your totz!

Arbor Day Square
by Kathryn Galbraith
illustrated by Cyd Moore
Peachtree Publishers, April 1, 2010

Poetry Friday: Me Love Poetry, Cookie Monster

How perfect! Happy Poetry Friday!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Babies Trailer

Oooooh! I can't wait to see this! Take a peek. It's going to be amazing.

See the official trailer here.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Let's Save the Animals: Frances Barry
Let's Save the Animals is skillfully designed so that large lettering tells a story about saving the animals, while brief, in-depth information, which is more appropriate for children slightly older than totz, is included in small type. This makes it easy for you to choose whether the smaller-type content is appropriate to share with your totz. Candlewick states the age as 4-7.

The illustrations are cut-paper images of each animal and simple collage landscapes with cut-outs and reveals. The forms are large and the animals are depicted in a somewhat realistic style that's not cutesy, but has graphic appeal. Unusual partial pages have been bound between full pages. For instance, an elephant's head turns as a half page between spreads that show the entire elephant; a rhino's grassland environment turns as another partial page to work with two rhino spreads.

It begins:

(In large type:)

I wish we could save
all the endangered animals in the world!

I'd save the African elephant,
stomping across the plains
and showering in the lake.

(In smaller type that a parent may or may not choose to share with totz:)
Humans are taking over the land where elephants live. Sometimes elephants are killed for their ivory tusks.

On the inside back cover, there are simple suggestions that empower young children:

I can help protect and save the animals
with these simple actions:

(In big type:)
Let animals sleep, feed,
and play on their own.

(In smaller type)
Disturbing animals in their natural habitats
can do more harm than good.

This is a beautiful book with a poignant, simple, deftly-delivered message.

Let's Save the Animals
A Flip the Flap Book
Ages 4-7

Frances Barry
Candlewick Press

Friday, April 23, 2010

Poetry Friday: Bow, Wow, Wow

Bow, Wow, Wow

Bow, wow, wow,
Whose dog art thou?
Little Tom Tinker's dog,
Bow, wow, wow.

Actually this is a puppy I babysat. :~) Happy Poetry Friday, totz!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

April Pick for the Older Sibling: The Solar Car Book

The Solar Car Book
A Complete Build-It-Yourself Kit
Just Add Sun!

This is so incredibly cool. Not only does it contain glossy, sturdy punch-out car parts, a real motor, axles, wheels, and all the parts to build a working model solar car, it also:
1. gives full, understandable instructions on how to assemble this solar car;
2. tells how to get your car to go in circles;
3. tells how to get your car to work indoors;
4. has pages of info about solar power, how cars work, and more science stuff, all written in a brisk, humorous style that appeals;
5. and includes a challenge issued by Klutz to try and beat the records Klutz set in various dashes and marathons when they tested their car.

Below is the back cover, showing the finished car. A friend who's very intrigued by solar cars, built the car and he noted that it must be placed in direct sunlight to work. He had fun putting it together and is now entertaining his family by running it around the driveway and sidewalks.

Once you remove the plastic encased parts on the cover, the spiral-bound book itself remains intact and usable. Well thought out. Kudos to Klutz!

The Solar Car Book
by the editors of Klutz, ages 8 and up

Monday, April 19, 2010

Zoo and Toys by Salina Yoon

Zoo (Little Scholastic)

Salina Yoon could very well be the master of the novelty book. Check out these two she created for Little Scholastic. I, myself, was excited to discover the surprises!

Picture four spreads that introduce colors. Each has an integrated, removable piece with a color and word of a color printed on it. Those in Toys are foil. In Zoo, the colors have a plush texture to match the plush lion on the cover.

After red, yellow, blue, and green are introduced in Toys, the final spread shows all the colors at once, colorful blocks. Orange, gray, brown, and black in Zoo, end with a colorful peacock. Now, take the colored pieces you removed, flip them over and construct a puzzle that duplicates the last spread. So smart!

One to two year old totz, will enjoy Salina's flat shapes that pop with intense color. Two to three year olds can solve the puzzles. These books will be engaging for years. Check them out!

Zoo and Toys
by Salina Yoon
Little Scholastic, 2010

Friday, April 16, 2010

Poetry Friday: Bell Horses

Happy Poetry Friday! I took this photo recently, then found this Mother Goose rhyme, then discovered those cute little horse socks are called Bell Boots. What do you know? :~)

Bell horses, bell horses,
What time of day?
One o'clock, two o'clock,
Time to away.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Dot and Dash Meet Their Friends: Emma Dodd

At 9 1/4 x 9 1/4 inches, this is bigger than your average board book. It has sturdy pages, bright colors, and flaps of varying sizes and shapes to find and lift. Dot is a spotted dog and Dash is a striped cat. The other characters in this particular book in the Dot and Dash series, are cleverly named Big (an elephant), Small (a mouse), and Tall (a giraffe). It begins:

Dot and Dash are ready to play.
"Small!" they call. "Are you ready to play?"

They open a small flap, but no one's home.
On the next spread, they open a 'tall' flap and are greeted by a giraffe.

I like the fact that this book teaches size-relation concepts within a simple story. Totz will be willingly pulled through this simple mystery story, which is perfect for this age. Where, oh where, is Small?

The Dot and Dash page at Scholastic's UK site offers printable coloring pages and a list of Dot and Dash books. Watch for the release of Dot and Dash in the US in May!

Dot and Dash Meet Their Friends, May, 2010
Author-illustrator: Emma Dodd

Friday, April 9, 2010

Poetry Friday: Come Out to Play

I only knew pieces of this. How about you? Have fun learning it with your totz on this Poetry Friday!

Come Out to Play

Girls and boys, come out to play,
The moon is shining as bright as day.

Leave your supper, and leave your sleep,
And come with your playfellows into the street.

Come with a whoop, come with a call,
Come with a good will or not at all.

Up the ladder and down the wall,
A halfpenny roll will serve us all.

You find milk, and I'll find flour,
And we'll have pudding in half an hour.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Photototz: Barbara Jean Hicks

How sweet to see Barbara Jean Hicks as a tot reading on her mother's lap! Lovely.

Be sure to check out Monsters Don't Eat Broccoli. Doesn't the cover just make you have to see what's inside?

Thanks for playing, Barbara!

Any other authors or illustrators interested in sharing a totz photo and your latest release, zip them to me at readertotzatclearwiredotnet

Monday, April 5, 2010

A Good Day by Kevin Henkes

A Good Day by Kevin Henkes is a delightful addition to the board book market. How refreshing to read a tale for the youngest reader that has a multilevel plot. Whether it is a bad day for a yellow bird, a white dog, an orange fox, or a brown squirrel, there is a solution around the corner to uplift everyone's spirits. I especially liked the bird who merely forgot his problem and chose to fly higher than ever. And then the bird's mishap is what touches a little girl causing her to announce, "Mama! What a good day!"

Kevin's thick-lined, realistic watercolors occupy the right side of the spread during the bad day litany. A striped page signals the story's turn and then all the illustrations sit on the left side, until the last page turn when text and image share a space together.

Subtle imagery placement, teamed with the tightest word structure, yields a beautiful board board. First released as a picture book, The New York Times Book Review called A Good Day, "a masterpiece, an almost perfect picture book." And maybe they were right, because maybe A Good Day is a perfect board book.

A Good Day
by Kevin Henkes
Greenwillow Books, 2010

Sunday, April 4, 2010

For the Older Sibling: Giveaway and interview with the editor and creative team at Aladdin paperbacks

The first two books in the Goddess Girls series, co-authored by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams are now in stores!

Athena the Brain (April 4, 2010)

Persephone the Phony (April 4, 2010)

Aphrodite the Beauty (August 3, 2010)

Artemis the Brave (December 7, 2010)

Aladdin paperbacks

Ages 8-12

It took more than two authors to create these books. It took a team. Authors Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams interviewed three of the wonderful people who contributed their time and talents to Goddess Girls: Editor: Emily Lawrence, Book Designer: Karen Paprocki, and Cover Artist: Glen Hanson.

Joan & Suzanne: Emily, what made you want to acquire the Goddess Girls series? Was it a gut feeling or something about the market or something else?

Emily: I’ll admit it – I’m a nerd. I took 7 (extremely useful) years of Latin! The idea of a fun, modernized setting -- but still mythically correct -- series about the Greek pantheon really appealed to me. And, my imprint, Aladdin, focuses on kid-friendly, commercial fiction for young readers so Goddess Girls was the perfect fit in a both a business and personal sense. It doesn’t hurt that the Percy Jackson movie released in the same season as the Goddess Girls, and interest in classical mythology is on the rise… We’ll just call that a hunch since I signed the series over a year ago.

J&S: What do you give a cover artist to help her or him illustrate a book? A synopsis of the book; the manuscript; a description of a scene you’d like to see depicted?

Emily: Glen Hanson, our amazing cover artist, was given an early draft of the manuscript to work from. Turns out that Glen is a HUGE myth fan as well (kismet, anyone?) and we didn’t need to direct him at all. He is also super talented and creative, so he came up with the elements you see on the covers – you’ll notice that Athena even has owl earrings! And, there was a long conversation about what were the correct columns to use on the MOA to be historically accurate. I find the best artists bring a lot of themselves and their ideas to a project, therefore enriching it for the better.

J&S: Karin, we think Glen is the perfect cover artist for Goddess Girls. You designed the look of the series and picked Glen as the illustrator. How did you find and choose him?

Karin: I stumbled upon his website one day and I was really impressed with the witty, sassy personality that came through the perfectly-executed characters. I bookmarked his site and came back to it when I received the first Goddess Girls manuscript. He seemed a perfect fit to create an appealing, slick, age-appropriate cover, and Emily and I were excited to see what he could do. Once I called him to discuss the project, I was pleased to find out that he was a huge mythology buff, as well as a genius with color. And he is truly a breath of fresh air to work with.

J&S: Glen, we were truly delighted with the cover illustrations for Goddess Girls. Your style fits the series to a “T”. You added so many fun details that are true to the actual myths, so we wonder if you have a personal interest in mythology or if you are just really good at researching these things?

Glen: Thank you. I’m so complimented that you both feel I did your book justice with my illustrations. Creating the covers was a complete joy because I’ve been obsessed with Greek Mythology since my early teens.

J&S: Can you briefly describe how you work from inspiration to sketch to final art? For instance, do you sketch on a digital pad or on paper?

Glen: I start by doing a rough pencil sketch on paper working out the basic design. I then refine the elements locking in the details, scan it in and send it to the art director and authors. Once they have approved the pencil rough, I trace it off onto good paper in pencil and hand ink the linework. That is scanned in and the image is colored in layers in photoshop.

J&S: Interesting! Thanks, Glen. Karin, is there anything else you can share with us about the process of designing this book?

Karin: Well, I have to say I really enjoyed reading through the manuscripts. I find the stories fun, light and full of appealing characters. The concept of the series is fresh and I have high hopes that girls everywhere with relate to the Goddess Girls (and appreciate their hunky crushes). I especially enjoy working on series’ for tween girls, and I was geared up to find some cute art/graphics, girl-centric fonts, and work with Glen’s gorgeous palette for this series. I think all the elements work very nicely together to marry the adorable cover image with the fun modern-meets-myth story.

J&S: How about you Emily? Anything else you’d like to tell us about your involvement in this series?

Emily: It was a new challenge for me to work with two authors (I’m sure Joan and Suzanne will talk more about this process at some point). While one author wrote one book, taking turns in the series, we needed to make sure their individual writing styles were consistent across the series, and that all the books related to each other. When editing, I kept an eye to make sure things were consistent in style, plot, and characterization/storytelling. Luckily, both Joan and Suzanne have a casual, conversational, and fun tone that shines through all four books. It helped that, while 1000s of miles apart, they worked closely together, reviewing and editing amongst themselves before it got to me – the open lines of communication between the 3 of us helped make this series shine in the end.

J&S: We appreciated how you kept us all on the same page :-). Glen, we have two more questions for you. First, we wondered what your studio is like.

Glen: My studio is set up with a large drafting table, lamp, drawing utensils, scanner, and a large computer monitor hooked up to my trusty laptop!

J&S: Anything else you’d like to share about your experience working on this series?

Glen: The Goddess Girls covers kind of dropped out of “Mount Olympus” for me because I have always loved Greek Mythology and have numerous books on the subject. Since I also work in animation quite a bit, my dream would be to be involved in a cartoon version of the series. I’m sending my prayers to Athena on that one!

J&S: From your lips to Zeus’s ears. I can absolutely see your illustrations in a tween graphic novel format, Glen. Our hopes go to Mount Olympus along with yours. Thank you again for your fabulous covers!

Goddess Girls giveaway! We're giving away 2 copies of Athena the Brain (#1) and 2 of Persephone the Phony (#2). Two winners (two books each) to be chosen randomly from those who drop a comment. Be sure to check back at this post on Friday to see if you won. (USA or Canada only.)

Three more days in the Goddess Girls five-day blog tour!

More giveaways, interviews, and blogs with some of our favorite book-bloggers:

April 4: Bookmuncher (Interview and book giveaway;

April 5: Readertotz, Suzanne’s Place, Joan Holub Author of Books for Children Expanded interview with the Goddess Girl team at Aladdin: editor Emily Lawrence, book designer Karin Paprocki, and cover artist Glen Hanson. Have you ever wondered why an editor decides to acquire a series? Here’s one editor’s take.)

April 6: Cynsations (Guest blog and book giveaway; Learn how we came to write the series, challenges we faced and how we solved them.)

April 7: Little Willow (Interview and book giveaway; We reveal more about our collaboration and inspirations, and our favorite books of all time.)

April 8: Zoe’s Book Reviews (Q&A and book giveaway. Q&A with both of us authors, our editor, book designer, cover artist, and Zoe herself!)

We hope you’ll drop by to help us celebrate, join the fun, and maybe win a book along the way!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Poetry Friday: Birds of a Feather

Birds of a Feather

Birds of a feather flock together,
And so will pigs and swine;
Rats and mice will have their choice,
And so will I have mine.

Happy Poetry Friday, everyone!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Photototz: Melissa Walker

Take a peek at Melissa Walker as a tot! Yes, that's she in her mother's arms. Today Melissa looks so much like her beautiful mother I had to look twice when she sent me this image.

Here's Melissa's latest release, such a fun read, I know you'll love it.

Anyone else want to play? Authors or illustrators? Send me your cover and pic to readertotzatclearwiredotnet Thanks, Melissa!