Friday, January 30, 2009

Inside the Industry: Working together respectfully ImageCover Image

So, recently Joan and I were chatting about the process of board book production. We thought it would be great to share from the author/illustrator's viewpoint what makes the experience excellent. Much of this we gleaned from my recent rocking time with Rotem Moscovich at Scholastic. She's been awesome to work with!

1. Like any submission, it's great to hear back in a reasonable amount of time regarding purchase.
2. During the rewrite process, it's essential that the text to be respected and collaborated on between the author and editor. Changes in text made without author permission can be so deflating.
3. Keeping the author in the loop as the artist is chosen is a nicety.
4. Offering early imagery samples to the author helps the writer grow with the publisher and artist's vision.
5. Requesting and clearing all color changes with the artist prior to printing is greatly appreciated.
6. Providing early copies to both author and illustrator, before the release, aids both parties in celebrations and marketing.
7. Full marketing efforts for the board book are greatly appreciated.

I imagine editors and art directors have mental lists on what makes a good collaboration from their point of view. Anyone want to share? Feel free to comment or email me. I'll collect the input and represent the flipside.

~Lorie Ann Grover, author/illustrator

Poetry Friday: Bell Horses

Feel the clock tick-tock-ticking? Do you know this nursery rhyme?

Poetry Friday

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

Catch the roundup at Adventures in Daily Living.

Lorie Ann Grover, author/illustrator

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Isabella and Craig Hatkoff, and Dr. Paula Kahumbu: Owen & Mzee, A Day Together

Visit a day in the life of two friends with your readertotz. Owen & Mzee, A Day Together is based on the true story of the baby hippo Owen, who lost his mother during the tsunami in Southeast Asia, and the giant tortoise Mzee, who befriended him. The work springs from the NY Times Bestseller Owen & Mzee: The Language of Friendship.

Peter Greste, photojournalist and broadcaster for the BBC, captured the love between these two unlikely friends through his beautiful photographs.

The board book contains varied layouts which keep the presentation fresh. Graphic edges along certain photos and text bring additional color and playfulness. The layouts build until the above closing full page spread. The work is well-paced for strong emotional impact.

Alongside the dear photographs, the focused and limited text expounds friendship. Friends may talk in their own language, go for walks, and swim. But like true friends:

"Owen eats what Mzee eats and rests when Mzee is tired.
Owen protects Mzee when he is scared.
And Mzee makes Owen feel safe."

Your heart will be touched, just as mine was, as you share this board book with your readertotz.

Inside Scoop
Orphaned off the coast of Kenya, it took a full day to rescue Owen who was named after the rescuer who had tackled the hippo at a crucial moment. Mzee means "old man" in Swahili, perfect for the 130 year old tortoise. The interactive website with a documentary will be a favorite of your totz.

Owen & Mzee, A Day Together
by Isabella and Craig Hatkoff and Dr. Paula Kahumbu
photographs by Peter Greste
Cartwheel Books, Scholastic, 2008

Lorie Ann Grover, author/illustrator

Friday, January 23, 2009

Poetry Friday: Shave a pig!

Okay, this just cracked me up this morning. Snuff is powdered tobacco, by the way. We debated about it on New Years Eve, actually. "What were they sniffing from those little boxes?" we asked.

And so we say to our readertotz, don't put things in your nose! Not even beans. Or peas. Or Hot Wheel wheels. Ever. Thank you.

Poetry Friday

Hairy Pig, Southern China

Barber, barber, shave a pig!
How many hairs to make a wig?
Four and twenty, that's enough!
Give the barber a pinch of snuff.

The roundup is at Laura Salas' blog!

Lorie Ann Grover, ~author/illustrator

Monday, January 19, 2009

Sandra Boynton: The Going to Bed Book

My first Sandra Boynton experience was a birthday card that said “Hippo Birdies Two Ewe.” It was accompanied by simple, whimsical illustrations of a hippo, birds, and two ewe. I’ve loved her quirky sense of humor and her illustrations ever since. (Okay, that “ewe” pluralization sounded odd to me as I wrote it just now, so I looked it up on wiktionary. Sandra is right—“ewe” can be pluralized with or without the “s.” Who gnu?)

A true small-size board book made of paper over board, The Going to Bed Book is goofiness at its finest. A crew of endearing animals on board a ship prepare for bed by going below to take a bath, brush their teeth, and so on. The surprise comes as the moon rises, when they all go upstairs for a bit of exercise before settling down to sleep. The rhythm never misses a beat and the last spread echoes the soothing, sway of a ship as "They rock and rock and rock to sleep."

Inside scoop:

According to an article in the New York Times, Sandra Boynton’s studio is located in a renovated barn beside her Connecticut home, which sits on 100 acres. With her first illustration sale at age 14 to a local newspaper, she bought two shares of AT&T stock!

Enjoy these videos of families reading this book. Take a look:

The Going to Bed Book
Sandra Boynton, author-illustrator
Little Simon, 1995

~ Joan Holub, author

Friday, January 16, 2009

January Pick for the Older Sibling: Mo Willems, My Friend is Sad

I LOVE ELEPHANT AND PIGGIE! Honestly. So, for your readertotz' older sibling, I'm excited to recommend My Friend is Sad by Mo Willems.

Restraining myself from commenting on any of his other award winning books, let's talk Gerald Elephant and Piggie, this generation's George and Martha by James Marshall.

When Piggie finds his friend sad, he goes to great measures to cheer him up. He dresses as a cowboy, clown, and a robot. Gerald fails to recognize Piggie so his sadness increases as he believes his close friend is missing all of these amazing encounters.

Piggie, who is impetuous and bold, has far more self control than I do. He never tells Elephant it was he all along. He merely tells him, "I am here NOW!" That is awe inspiring maturity. :~)

To the art. Every line of these characters performing in white negative space communicates emotion. Every beat, including the silent ones, are perfectly timed. Piggie looks to the reader with his irritation, and one can't help laughing. As Elephant sinks deeper and deeper in sadness, his mouth shrivels and the lines about his eyes increase. Mo's lines win my heart.

Inside Scoop
Mo began as a writer and animator for Sesame Street where he garnered six Emmy Awards. You can visit Mo Willems Doodles Blogspot. And watch this awesome video where Mo talks about his work. Take note: he loves Elephant and Piggie best, just like me!

And then check out Bookie Woogie's review of two other Elephant and Piggie Books. Bookie Woogie rocks!

For the Older Sibling
My Friend is Sad
by Mo Willems
Hyperion, 2007

Lorie Ann Grover, author/illustrator

Poetry Friday: A Cat Came Fiddling

Like "The Owl and the Pussycat," anything is possible! Enjoy this rhyme with your readertotz!

Poetry Friday

A Mother Goose Rhyme

A cat came fiddling out of a barn,
With a pair of bagpipes under her arm;
She could sing nothing but fiddle cum fee,
The mouse has married the bumblebee.

Catch the roundup at Karen Edmisten's blog!

Lorie Ann Grover, author/illustrator

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Inside the Industry: The first infant toddler book?

Joan and I were chatting yesterday, and we came up with this question:

Which board book do you remember as the first in the infant/toddler format?

I've thought through today and really think for me it's:

From 1940! Is this the first everyone else thinks of as well?

I won't review it just yet, but I would love for people to drop comments whether you agree or disagree.

Thanks for pausing to think and share!

Lorie Ann Grover, ~author/illustrator

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Jayne C. Shelton and Karen Katz: In Grandma's Arms

Written by Jayne C. Shelton and illustrated by the board book queen, Karen Katz, In Grandma's Arms is a delight for your readertotz' imagination. Join the main character as she sits on her grandmother's lap in their Storybook Chair. Through the power of books they explore the skies, the sea, landscapes, and fantasies. Always safe, because Grandma is there.

The text is set in curves and waves, reinforcing the feeling of travel or a journey. I find the language and rhymes in keeping with the child's voice, and they are fun to read aloud:

"We leap on a comet
And zoom through the stars--
Have lunch on a moonbeam,
Then blast off to Mars."


"On a carpet of magic
Just made for a ride--
With the wind in our faces,
We swoop, loop, and glide.

The work is illustrated with Karen Katz' stylized paintings of layered, flat patterns and round faces. With warm painted portions, a bit of cut paper, and sweet smiles, the images are sure to be welcomed as friends.

Inside Scoop
Aha! Digging around a little, I discovered on Karen's website that she has a love of Indian miniatures, Mexican ceramics, Chagall, and Matisse. But of course!

This was Jane's writing debut. She is a practicing psychotherapist.

In Grandma's Arms
by Jayne C. Shelton and Karen Katz
Scholastic, 2008

Friday, January 9, 2009

Poetry Friday: In Marble Walls

A Mother Goose Rhyme
An Egg

In marble walls as white as milk
Lined with a skin as soft as silk,
Within a fountain crystal clear,
A golden apple doth appear,
No doors there are to this stronghold,
Yet thieves break in and steal the gold.

Catch the full round up at Anastasia's!

Lorie Ann Grover ~author/illustrator

Monday, January 5, 2009

Butterfly Award!

Special thanks to The Bookworm's Booklist for this great award! Joan and I are happy to nominate:

1. Bookie Wookie

2. and their companion site Chicken Nugget Lemon Tooty

3. children's illustration

4. Just One More Book

5. and our big sister site readergirlz

Thanks to you each for having and maintaining these wonderful works. Have fun nominating your five favs!

Lorie Ann Grover ~author/illustrator

Todd Parr: The Okay Book

It’s okay to like this book. It’s definitely okay to like this book. Readers of The Okay Book will learn that it’s also okay to have freckles, wear different socks, and try new things.

The art is all bold black lines with bright, solid-color infills. They’re childlike in their simplicity, but the story packs a powerful message: You are okay as you are.

Inside Scoop:
Todd Parr says: “My overall message is to empower kids to feel good about themselves while learning about differences, reminding them to be kind, and inspiring them. The end. Love, Todd.”

At 6 ½ inches square, The Okay Book is a fairly typical board book size, but its interior pages are heavyweight paper rather than board.

Todd’s website lists twenty-nine books to his credit. The Peace Book is another of my favorites and I love the whole Otto the dog series, which is based on Todd’s pit bull.

If your readertotz can’t get enough Todd, you’ll also find his characters on TV at ToddWorld on TLC and Discovery Kids. Your readertotz might enjoy these clips from the show. I particularly enjoyed seeing Todd interact with kids during a school visit 1 2 3 (in three parts) on YouTube.

This review wouldn't be complete without a quick shout out to author-illustrator Laura Kvasnosky for introducing me to Todd Parr’s books during a critique session in Seattle about five years ago. Thanks, Laura!

The Okay Book, 1999
Todd Parr, author-illustrator
Megan Tingley Books/Little Brown and Company

Joan Holub ~ author/illustrator

Friday, January 2, 2009

Poetry Friday: The Golden An

Let's start the new year off with this dark, mysterious poem for Poetry Friday. Who could forget the Golden An? May your new year sparkle as much as it does. Riiiiiight.

Take the Golden An
in the tan van
and give to Dan
who'll take it to Fran.

Sesame Street

As for this new year, it's time we began. A shout out to the readertotz clan. (Sorry, I just had to. :~)

Catch this week's roundup at A Year of Reading.