Are the green beans bad? They are if they make noise after midnight.
Are the green beans bad? They are if they make noise after midnight.
There are a few really good days being a full-time author/illustrator. Getting checks is nice of course. After all, the food doesn’t buy itself. But really the best days are when you get the book you worked on for a year or more for the first time. Seeing the final proof for the first time is also a good day.
This past week I’ve been busy working on the second picture book I wrote and will illustrate. The dummy is coming together, though it’s at that point where I spend a lot of time wondering if a particular page communicates the right story beat. I was concentrating so hard that my daughter and her friend snuck up to my studio and gave me a big “BOO! ” on Saturday. Twice to be exact. Each time I screamed out loud. My wife heard it from the front porch. Well, it is the season for scares.
But the other cool thing this week was seeing the final digital proof of the picture book I wrote and illustrated that will be released by Candlewick Press next Thanksgiving. The cover, the flap copy, the final art with final type…very cool to see. And I am looking forward to the first hardcopy proofs in a few months. You will hear me talking more about both books as they near release.
Now, back to work. But I better make sure my daughter isn’t sneaking up the stairs.
I had some energy to burn and I had been kicking this idea around. It’s part of a story. It’s kind of my version of pre-visialzing or development work. This will probably never be used for anything, but I managed to get it out of my head looking something like I wanted it to.
Click on the image to see it bigger.
A nice review of A Very Witchy Spelling Bee over on this great little blog. Take a few minutes and and give it a read — the blog AND the book! I’ve received many nice comments from kids who enjoy this book and teachers and librarians who have fun with it celebrateing the season AND introducing some spelling lessons. See it at Amazon and Indie Bound.
Here’s a spot image from the book I haven’t shown before.
When I got back from my trip I had a book waiting for me from writer AND artist David LaRochelle! What could be better than coming home to a new book?!
Arlo’s ARTrageous Adventure is a book with plenty of page turns. It’s a flip book. Or a flap book. More a flip-flop book because it has over 50 illustrations that become something else when you flip the flap. Or flop the flap. Or flap the flap.
It’s an adventure in an art museum where the art has plenty of surprises. The book features only about 50 words, but the art on display plays nicely (and not so nicely!) with the instructions about how to properly appreciate art. My favorite being the triangular sculpture that was inspired by a lawn gnome’s hat!
Track down a copy and share with any kid who is worried that Art is all serious stuff.
It’s that time a year again. Me out shilling books I’ve worked on for the Halloween time of year. But this time I’m not the only one.
The Huff Post picked out some of the Best Halloween books for 2013 and A Very Witchy Spelling Bee is on the list! Even though, you know, it’s not reallllly a Halloween book. It’s a spelling book. With witches. And pumpkins.
Happy Halloween indeed!
And thanks to illustrator Bob McMahon for spotting this and letting me know before my day even had a chance to get ugly! And now the day can’t get ugly.
Posted in kids books, Personal Appearance, picture books, writing fiction, tagged how to make picture books, picture book, word count in picture books, Writing for Children on September 17, 2013 | 6 Comments »
I am preparing to present a workshop on picture books later this month. I’ve been working on the presentation and one of the last issues is creating a reading list. I want some key examples that demonstrate not only the amazing history of picture books but also how they have changed.
I don’t want to write too much about it here but when you compare Make Way For Ducklings and Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, you can immediately see the changes. Picture books are often read by a child now, or a parent reads WITH a child. It’s not always just an adult reading to a kid. There are exceptions, but word count in a modern picture book rarely exceeds 900 words.
A friend asked if that meant the old books were ‘bad’.
No it doesn’t. There has been a lot of change across our culture in 40 some years. And the old books reflect the culture of the time. True, some don’t hold up well, but many do. You should accept them as being part of the time they were created in. You can’t watch a silent film from the 1920′s and expect it to look and feel like Star Wars. Most modern writers wouldn’t write a play in the vernacular and style of Shakespeare but the power, originality, beauty and craft of Shakespeare’s work is still recognizable today.
I’m not saying Make Way for Ducklings is Shakespeare but it’s a beautiful picture book that is amazingly well crafted and still holds a place in the market all these many years after it was made. It creates a world that is welcoming and charming. It can seem fantastical/fairytale like but it also resonates as nostalgic to a modern reader. How we perceive the book has changed. But the book is still a beautiful read.
Now don’t get me started on The Pokey Little Puppy…
I’m leading a workshop here in Portland in September for the SCBWI focused on picture books. I’ve spoken at SCBWI events in the past on particular issues. Last year at Illustrator’s Day in Los Angeles I spoke about electronic books and apps. But this September I’m looking at what makes current picture book market unique and examining some of the differences that make a picture book a picture book and not a comic book, graphic novel or some hybrid.
There will be one or two class exercises and plenty of examples. One section of the class with focus discussion on what I consider one of the best picture books of the past decade, Mo Willem’s Knuffle Bunny.
I’ve been refining the outline for the class for a few months and I’ve been thinking about all the workshops, c;asses and events I’ve attended through the years. What I enjoyed and what I found most insightful and helpful in my work.
I want an opportunity to look at the big issues involved in picture books. Issues beyond illustrative technique and basic story structure. Illustrative style alone does not make a picture book click. Something as stylistically elaborate as Maurice Sendak’s illustrations to something as deceptively simple looking as Mo Willems’ drawings can be effective. The focus on character is a more vital issue for a picture book. (Oh yeah, we will discuss that!)
I’m collecting some thoughts on the current market from editors, agents and art directors I work with to share. And whatever insights I’ve gleaned about the business (if any!) will be hung out for discussion.
Just as a feature film is more than just its script, a great picture book combines visual and literary devices to create a compelling experience that is greater than any of its individual parts. See you on September 28th!
There are a lot of wonderful books mentioned and yes, one of them is The Three Little Aliens and the Big Bad Robot, of which I have some experience.
But what amazed and scared me in equal parts while reading the blog are how many great picture books are out there that I haven’t seen before.
I try and stay aware of what’s being released, but I admit that over the past few years I have limited the time I read and watch the picture book market. This may seem counterproductive as I write and draw picture books for a living. But if I get over saturated I seem to freeze-up. I become too hyper-aware of every storyline and art style and trend so that when I sit down to work I feel like I’ve been on a roller coaster for 8 days. My negative side comes out – “Why write anything? It won’t be as good as such-n-such book.” Or I feel that I can’t paint as well as so-n-so and should never draw a picture again. Then I usually end up cleaning the house instead of working for a few days. At least this particular manic-state is a good way to get chores done.
Visit the blog for her run-down of Three Little Pigs themed books, but don’t be surprised to find yourself reading about all kinds of other books that you will want to check out too.