Monday, March 30, 2009

Five Spring Fairies: Joan Holub and Kathy Couri

Just as flowers need seeds, earth, sun, and spring showers to grow, Five Spring Fairies is a book that needed an author, editor, and illustrator to see it truly bloom. I wrote the story--sowing the seeds in the earth--as a board book originally titled Five Fairy Babies. It's a countdown from five to one (with flaps and pop-ups), in which we see flowers eventually bloom:

Five spring fairies crown a queen.
One goes to make the leaves turn green.

Four spring fairies playing ball.
One goes to tell the rain to fall.

When I submitted it as a manuscript to Erin Molta at Little Simon, she showered it with her savvy marketing expertise--adding the word "spring" to let readers know immediately that it was about spring flowers as well as fairies. She also thought it would make a great pop-up book because we'd be able to see the fairies and flowers bloom.

She brought Kathy Couri on board as the artist, and her illustrations really shine. I'd first seen her work in The Night Before Easter, and I've adored her ever since.

We'll be giving a copy of this book away in our new weekly feature, Wednesday's Win, sometime in April.

Five Spring Fairies, 2008
Little Simon, publisher
Joan Holub, author
Kathy Couri, illustrator

Friday, March 27, 2009

For the Older Sibling: North of Beautiful

As we approach the end of March we recommend North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley for the teen sibling of your totz. With three starred reviews, this work will challenge you to talk about the concept of beauty with your adolescent.

Terra plans to leave her small town in the Northwest and escape to college, but she is under the thumb of her controlling father. As she searches to define herself with a facial birthmark, an accident places Terra in Jacob’s path, and the Goth boy tests her beliefs about herself, beauty, and life. With a visit to China, Justina's characters journey to find their own north of beautiful.

Justina is offering a Find Beauty Challenge wherein she will donate $10 for cleft palate surgeries for each video entry that defines beauty. Here's the one I created!

And here's Justina's:

Challenge yourself and distill your thoughts on beauty. Help totz around the world smile with confidence!

I asked Justina a few questions, and here are her answers:

Lorie Ann: Justina, NOB is our pick for teen siblings of totz. I myself have a brother ten years my junior. Are you from a family with a wide age span between children?

Justina: There's a 10-year age gap between my oldest brother and my little sister. Interestingly, my brothers (both older than me) share the same birthday.

Lorie Ann: How many totz do you have?

Justina: I have 2 amazing, wonderful, beautiful, not-so-small-anymore totz.

Lorie Ann: Are there any totz in your novel?

Justina: I snuck in a few totz in my novel: the first to appear is Jacob's little brother. I took inspiration for him from my son at that age, 3 or 4. Then there's a pivotal scene in the novel set at a Chinese orphanage filled with totz. One in particular had a life-changing impact on Terra, the protagonist.

Lorie Ann: Terra travels to China in NOB. Have you traveled extensively with your totz?

Justina: Luckily, my kids inherited a sense of adventure. I've been fortunate to be able to take them to Japan, Europe, China, Canada, and around the country here at home.

Lorie Ann: What discussions might you hope to engage between parent and teen as they read NOB?

Justina: I hope NOB sparks discussions about the meaning of true beauty, the elements of a good relationship, honesty and tough decisions, separating from parents, standing on our own.

Lorie Ann: Can you tell us a little more about the Find Beauty Challenge that is going to aid many totz?

Justina: I tie community service to every book I publish. So with North of Beautiful, I decided to host the Find Beauty Challenge, asking people to tell the world in a 90 second video what true beauty means. For every uploaded video, I'm donating $10 (up to $1000) to fund reconstructive surgeries for kids with cleft lips in the third world. The videos people have created are powerful statements about beauty. I'm inspired!

Lorie Ann: Thank you so much for your time, Justina. Here's to true beauty!

North of Beautiful
by Justina Chen Headley
Little, Brown, 2009

Poetry Friday: Springtime Outing, Korean

I was searching for a nursery rhyme this week for Poetry Friday and thinking about my novel currently being submitted for publication. It's set in Korea. So I thought to share a Korean nursery rhyme. I found this on Mama Lisa's site. Here's to spring with your totz!

Springtime Outing

Lily, lily, golden bell,
Pluck it, put it in your bill.
Bunch of chickies, hop, hop, hop!
Springtime outing, off they go.

Yoon Suk-Joong

Catch the full roundup at Julie Larios' site! The photo is from the Tisawee blog and the chicks are one week old. :~)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Welcome to readertotz Wednesday's Win!
Drop a comment for a chance to win this infant-toddler book, Little Penguin Finger Puppet Book. A random winner will be chosen and posted Thursday morning. Don’t forget to check back to see if you’ve won.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Baby Nose to Baby Toes: Vicky Ceelen

A photo-illustrated board book has to be really exceptional to grab my attention. I usually expect to find them from DK, so I was delighted to find Baby Nose to Baby Toes from Random House.

What is it that popped this work for me? Certainly the charming photos that compare babies to animals. Who can resist the tippy-top of a baby's head or a duckling's? Or the:

"Wrinkly, crinkly,
saggy, baggy,"

behinds of a baby and elephant! The pastel colors that frame both color and black and white photos are appealing. The varying viewpoints continue interest. How encouraging that both author and publisher were confident to include the photo of a baby nursing. It's refreshing to see truth shared without embarrassment.

But the text also enriches this work. From near-rhyme, to rhyme, to repetition, the ear is engaged as much as the eye.

Enjoy Vicky's contribution with your totz! You will ooooooo and ahhhhhh and have much to discuss together!

Baby Nose to Baby Toes

by Vicky Ceelen
Random House, 2009

Friday, March 20, 2009

Poetry Friday: Doctor Foster

Poetry Friday

I'm sitting in Virginia Mason Hospital this morning waiting for my father's heart tests to be completed. So I thought this was appropriate! Good health to you and your totz!

Doctor Foster

Doctor Foster went to Gloucester
In a shower of rain.
He stepped in a puddle
Right up to his middle,
And never went there again.

Catch the full roundup with Elaine at Wild Rose Reader.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Welcome to readertotz Wednesday's Win!

Drop a comment for a chance to win this infant-toddler fuzzy board book, Joan Holub's Somebunny Loves Me. A random winner will be chosen and posted here Thursday morning. Don't forget to check back to see if you've won.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Share a Story-Shape a Future

Being hard at work for rgz Operation Teen Book Drop, 09 (TBD '09), I'm so sorry to have missed Share a Story-Shape a Future and the collection of resources and ideas! But I'm very happy to see the content that was generated! Check out Share a Story-Shape a Future. Click on the image below to page through the awesome kit.

readertotz will look forward to participating in a great capacity next year! Brava, blogosphere, for this work to promote reading aloud!

~Lorie Ann

Monday, March 16, 2009

Little Bunny Finger Puppet Book: ImageBooks
Simple and adorable, Little Bunny is part of a series of 7-page chunky board books about 4.5 x 4.5 inches square--a perfect size for very small hands. A fuzzy finger puppet bunny pokes through each sturdy page, making this part toy, part book, and totally entertaining. I found Little Bunny in Barnes and Noble last weekend, along with Little Bee, Little Mouse, Little Puppy, and other books in this series. The kid in me was instantly captivated.

A wonderful addition to any Easter Basket or for springtime fun with your totz!

Little Bunny
Chronicle Books
ImageBooks Factory (United Kingdom)
Klaartje van der Put, illustrator

~ Joan Holub, author/illustrator

Friday, March 13, 2009

Poetry Friday: Crocodile's Toothache

Happy Poetry Friday! In honor of my new crown and visit to the dentist this week, I post a video of Shel Silverstein reading Crocodile's Toothache. Ha!

Catch the full roundup at The Miss Rumphius Effect.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Roly Poly Ocean: Kees Moerbeek

The flash bounced! It says Child's Play. Forgive the photos, but I couldn't find imagery on the web. Once I describe this work, you'll understand. Consult their website for purchase!

A book in a box? A Roly Poly Ocean? I was delighted to unroll this work!

Roly Poly Ocean simply unfolds over and over into one long showcase. Your totz will encounter an ocean, from surface to floor.

"Watch out for Crab's claws!
Manta Ray soars silently."

Kees Moerbeek's paper engineering is so well done and should withstand many unfoldings and foldings. With clean vibrant colors that pop, especially the red octopus, and your own adventure in a submarine, everyone will be engaged. No one has been able to walk past it without investigation in my house.

I wonder if the entire open work could be mounted on a wall? This book will probably end up hanging in my teen's room. In conclusion, beware of the big bite at the end! There's always a shark, right? Doodoo, doodoo. Doodoo, doodoo.

Roly Poly Ocean

Kees Moerbeek

Child's Play, 2008

Friday, March 6, 2009

Poetry Friday: An Apple

In honor of Joan's new release: Apple Countdown!

An Apple

An apple a day
Sends the doctor away

Apple in the morning
Doctor's warning

Roast apple at night
Starves the doctor outright

Eat an apple going to bed
Knock the doctor on the head

Three each day, seven days a week
Ruddy apple, ruddy cheek

Catch the full roundup at Picture Book of the Day!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Maryann Cocca-Leffler: My Dance Recital

Sigh...I wish My Dance Recital had been around when I was taking ballet and tap as a young child. I would have studied every detail of this book, over and over . . . and over again.

Each of its twelve interior pages is interactive, beginning with Mom and daughter heading for the recital. Between them, they're carrying a duffel bag, snack box, and hanging costume bag. Flaps on each lift to reveal what's inside. Next, we see the young girl-narrator in the hair/make-up chair. A rotating wheel allows us to see her in various stages of preparation for tonight's recital: hair straight, hair in rollers, curly hair, and best of all--curly hair with a crown. How fun! We open doors to see them getting costumed, then there's practice time, another group performs, and finally, the narrator performs:

We go onstage. The music starts.
I remember all my steps. I do a twirl...

With the action of opening this spread, a length of thread winds and unwinds around a 'spool' causing the narrator to actually twirl! I like the reassurance the text offers to readers here--that this young dancer remembers her steps on her big night. On the last spread, the narrator wears a lovely pink fabric-net tutu as she takes her final bow on the last spread. Maryann has beautifully captured the primary phases of a dance recital in this book that will delight young girls. Bravo!

A readertotz Exclusive -- Inside Scoop from Maryann Cocca-Leffler:

My inspiration for My Dance Recital came as I waited for my own daughter, Kristin, to perform at her dance recital. I sat for hours watching dancers flutter across the stage. I especially enjoyed the spontaneity of the tiny dancers, (when the audience were never sure what would happen next.) On this night, six fairy ballerinas prepared to come on stage. From behind the curtain the audience could hear crying, “Daddy, I can’t!” When the curtain opened there were six small dancers dressed in pink along with one large dad doing all the steps. The audience was in hysterics. (What we do for our kids!). I then shuttled backstage to help keep the dancers on task. It dawned on me that a Dance Recital is monumental occasion filled with make-up, costumes, laughter, nerves and lots of backstage waiting, not to mention unpredictable moments. I realized that the Recital event would make a great subject for a book.

Back in my studio, I began sketching. About the same time, I saw a blurb in the SCBWI Newsletter introducing a new novelty pop-up line at Random House called “Robin Corey Books”. I thought that the action of a dance recital would certainly make an interesting interactive book. I emailed Robin and told her my idea and asked if she might be interested. She said yes. Now it was time to get my idea into dummy form, so I could show Robin how I perceived the book. Having never done a pop-up, flap book before, I visited my local bookstore and “played” with all the interactive books, looking closely at the paper engineering. It became apparent that my dummy would be a very poor prototype. Robin assured me that if I can express what I wanted the book to do, a REAL paper engineer would make it happen. (That was a relief, seeing that I wanted my ballerina to spin!)

There were many steps between submitting the dummy and the printed book including, writing the text, sketches and finished art. Not to mention the back-and-forth’s with my art director and paper engineer to tweak the flaps and pop-ups. Now finally, My Dance Recital has hit the “stage”. Enjoy the performance!

My Dance Recital
Maryann Cocca-Leffler, author-illustrator
Random House, 2009
(Robin Corey Books)

~ Joan Holub, author