Posts Tagged ‘kids books’
As I mentioned before, I have a habit of talking about my books. Sales calls are an especially good time to launch into a long discussion of my books. “So you’d like to talk to me about buying Comcast’s digital package, let me tell you about my books…” And I can talk about them on this blog.
Earthling! went through a lot of changes before it was finally released. Below are two drawings from that process. One is an early piece of development art for the two main characters. This is a scene when they are trying to pick out which star might be the Sun that Earth orbits. It’s just hitting Bud that he’s a gazillion miles from home, and doesn’t even know where to start looking. Click on the image to see it bigger.
This is a quick sketch from my drawing book of an early spaceship school bus.
It was just yesterday that I was telling my cat, why doesn’t someone take Paddington Bear (he who has kept the rain hat in fashion these past 60 years) and re-boot him? I mean it’s sooo old, like all watercolor and pen line stuff. So 19th century. What we need is some computer stuff on that bear. And a modern setting.
Maybe the holders of the IP need some cash, so maybe that’s good news. Otherwise I guess we will all be in for a treat when this gets made. I can only think this is somehow inspired by the Seth MacFarlane R rated film about a grown mans teddybear who is foul mouthed and angry. It’s exactly like Paddington!
Honestly who knows if this is good or bad. I enjoy the early Paddington material. Maybe this will introduce more people to that. Right? Disney tried the ‘re-imagaining’ of Winnie the Pooh in a 2004 TV show. It had a girl detective and they all solved mysteries. And it was a disaster that is never spoken of.
What’s amazing is that the kids books from 50 or 60 years ago are still worth this effort. This book originated in 1958 and still carries enough mindshare to be valuable. So if it is timeless, why make it more timely?
Stayed up way too late last night looking at other people’s great artwork online. I despise the internet’s ability to offer concrete evidence that there’s always someone much, much better than you. Maybe thousands of people.
The cat woke me up at about 4 a.m. meowing. I ran down to let him out the back door. Yes it was dark. And yes I did step right into a puddle of cat vomit. Cats! So funny. So vomity.
Not sure what to pack for my daughter’s lunch. The no peanut butter sandwhich rule at her school is destroying my life. I think I’ll just pack two cans of Red Bull. The preschool teachers would need tranquilizer guns.
My daughter didn’t want me to leave her classroom this morning when I dropped her off. Tears were shed. By her. By me. I must be a rotten person for leaving her there. Right?
Spent the morning hoping an interesting email would come in. Got so nervous I had to run to the bathroom when one finally did arrive from an editor. It contained some helpful notes – once I read it. But seeing the name in the inbox pop-up caused me to worry about what it might say for most of the morning thus avoiding reading it and getting more nervous about it. Vicious cycles! So funny. Soooo vicious.
Walked the dogs. They don’t walk-well-on-leash. It’s my fault. And it’s my back that pays the price. Having 75 pound dogs pull you in circles is funny to see. Not to experience. It wasn’t raining when I left. I should have known better…
When I rushed to pick up my daughter at the end of the school day, she gave me an angry look and asked that I “Be gone!”. She was having so much fun she didn’t want to leave. (And I don’t think she has been reading any classical literature. I think BE GONE is just a great way to say ‘I really don’t want to see you.’). Kids! So funny. So unfiltered…
In-between I worked on books. Edited an manuscript. Helped my mom with some computer issues after she called me to tell me that I shouldn’t send her any emails because her emails weren’t working. I avoided cooking dinner by sending the brilliant We Should Eat Out text message to my wife.
Now its time to draw some pictures. Or write a blog post.Or go to bed. And yes, I will put the cat out tonight. And no, he is not on fire. I hope.
This week a favorite from the shelf. It’s never far from where I am working.
The Story of Everything, by Neal Layton. It’s a pop-up book that starts with the Big Bang. Really!
To me it represents the very best of picture books. It’s crazy-funny and the energy in the book is infectious. But infectious in a good way. Neal has drawn a lot of books. Of course Mammoth Academy is next on my Must Buy list. (You know Mammoths are my favorites critters)
Posted in animated features, animation, Batman, childrens books, comic books, Comic Strips, comics creators, Disney Feature Animation, Dreamworks, kids books, picture books, tagged animation, Feature Animation, kids books, picture books on April 16, 2012 | Leave a Comment »
To continue a discussion from last week, there have been quite a few feature films based on picture books. At first this seems an odd combination. A picture book is constructed to be short, clean, almost zen like. These days picture books books longer than 900 words are rare.
Some picture books are high concept and speak a cinematic language. For instance, as was brought up in the discussion, Chris Van Allusburg books have been turned into live action feature films. Jumanji (Jumanji 2 which was not based on a book, but an extension of the film), The Polar Express and Zathura are big spectacle, Hollywood films. Am I forgetting one?
And Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things are was another live action adaptation in the past few years.
Then you have The Dr. Seuss film library. The Lorax is the most recent animated adaptation, but I haven’t seen it yet. So I can’t make fun of it or tell you how wonderful it is. Each time they released a trailer it looked better to me. But they were making Seuss films way back in 1953. The 5,000 fingers of Dr. T is not based on a book (I don’t believe) but The good Dr. wrote the film himself. I’ve never made it through a whole screening. He was wise to stick with picture books.
For many, including myself, the best adaptation of Seuss is still the Chuck Jones directed, animated TV special from 1966. That Grinch is the one and only Grinch to me. I am too scared by the posters to watch the Jim Carey version.
Looking at even smaller scale origins for feature films you can find many films and TV shows/specials based on comic strips. The comic strip Peanuts by Charles Schulz has been turned into numerous films and of course the TV specials still air and draw huge ratings. They also adapted Li’l Abner into a film and a broadway play. The list of adapted comic strips is pretty long from Little Orphan Annie to Garfield.
And the list of comic books turned into films or TV shows…well you can research that yourself!
So feature films have looked for inspiration from picture books, comic strips, graphic novels and of course comic books for a long time. It shouldn’t be a surprise to see them continuing to do it. And these days having a title with some preexisting market awareness probably trumps a lot of original but unexposed ideas in Hollywood.
Over the weekend we stopped into the local Barnes & Noble. It was nice to see the store busy, if not exactly packed. The coffee shop was full and they had a nice selection of toys and games to go along with the books. The kids book section was well stocked. About 30% of the floor space was left to ‘classics’. Books originally released at least 20 years ago. So that limits how much floor space they have for new titles. They had a large display area of picture books, with covers out (YEAH!) and had a bazillion middle grade novels/illustrated novels. Vampires, nerds, monsters, kids investigating mysteries…it was completely overwhelming. I had no idea that there were so many of these type of books. After about 10 minutes they all ran together. Reading about a half dozen first pages also brought home the sameness of many of them. But most of them looked great. Beautiful art and plenty of funny character names…
I glanced at the picture books, but if I spend too much time I tend to get kind of depressed. A few of the things that really bug me jump out – overly cute stuff and books where the characters all lack expression. Characters have basically the same look on every page. A look of bemused detachment. The characters seem to suffer from some sort of post modern malaise. They stare into the woods, or at one another like sullen teenagers. Favorite topics revolve around losing ones mittens, or a hat, or wanting to dance or something equally wry. There’s something a tad disingenuous with them though. They don’t seem to capture much about the spirit of younger kids that I pick up on, but they capture plenty of ironic detachement.
But overall I was glad to see what appears to be a fairly healthy book store. We ended up buying a book/game combo thing for an upcoming birthday. My daughter wanted a DVD, but honestly, it’s easier to just order it on iTunes than have another chunk of plastic in the house, so they lost out on that sale.
But overall, the book store was still alive. That made me happy.
Posted in Green Bean Books, green beans, kids books, picture books, tagged book about green beans, green beans, illustration research, kids books, picture books, Spicer Brothers on December 7, 2011 | Leave a Comment »
Green beans are generally of a good nature and rather slothful. I catch these green beans just waking up, before they’ve had their coffee.
I’m currently illustrating a very funny book. I won’t give too much away until it’s at the stage I like to call ‘done’.
But I have been doing a lot of research on green beans. For instance, did you know that green beans are found in two major groups? Bush beans and pole beans. Yup. But that’s not exactly the type of research I am doing.
I am drawing a lot of beans and a lot of very mean, green beans. And that sent me to several local produce stores where I could figure out exactly where on a green bean, if you were, say, going to draw a face, it should go. There is a right place, and I found it. That’s actually the kind of research I get to do. I’m pretty sure there’s no Master’s Degree in green-bean-faceology, but if there was…
Research into these kind of things is a wonderful side effect of having this job. It’s amazing how all these odd, little bits of knowledge can add up. And wandering the Spicer Brothers vegetable aisles with my camera was fun too – “Pardon me for just a minute. I would like to photograph the artichokes before they wake up.”
Don’t let the beautiful sunset red of these radishes fool you. They are an angry vegetable and have a peppery sense of humor. Always ready with a spicy barb. Turn your back on them and they’re likely to heave a helpless potato at you.
Posted in 3 Little Aliens, aliens, Amazon.com, childrens books, picture books, Schwartz and Wade Books, The Three Little Aliens and the Big Bad Robot, tagged kids book aliens, kids books, Louisville Courier-Journal, one of the best picture books 2011, picture books, Schwartz and Wade Books, The Three Little Aliens and the Big Bad Robot on December 6, 2011 | 1 Comment »
The Three Little Aliens and the Big Bad Robot has been chosen as the best book ever printed by the Louisville Courier-Journal.
OK. Maybe not THE BEST BOOK EVER PRINTED. But one of the best children’s books for 2011. I added the BEST BOOK EVER part. But you know, in this day and age it’s all about marketing.
Below is the review and here is a link to the site so you can read it yourself and see that I am not making this up. (As my daughter often accuses me of doing about things like monsters, invisible sharks and potatoes that can talk)
It’s great that the book has found an audience that enjoys the story and the characters that Margaret conceived of. And I’m as pleased as an alien from Mercury that the Lousiville Courier-Journal liked it too.
The Three Little Aliens and the Big Bad Robot by Margaret McNamara (ages 4-8, 40 pp., Schwartz & Wade, $16.99). In this updated version of the Three Little Pigs, Bork, Gork and Nklxwcyz (Nickel-witz? Sorry, even book reviewers don’t know everything) are aliens whose Mama decides it’s time for them to find planets of their own. Stick together, she says, and watch out for the Big Bad Robot. Of course they split up, and, true to the source material, the third little alien builds the strongest house, the one where they all end up when the Big Bad Robot destroys the homes of the first two. Illustrator Mark Fearing’s aliens are great. His renditions of the planets are based on NASA photographs; although they aren’t named in the story, it’s clear the aliens start out on Mercury and bypass Venus (“too hot”) and Earth (“too crowded”) before Bork settles on Mars, Gork claims Saturn and Nklxwcyz makes his home on Neptune.
A nice mention of the next picture book I illustrated. The Three Little Aliens and the Big Bad Robot comes out in September.