Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Two nights ago, William Joyce's THE FANTASTIC FLYING BOOKS OF MR. MORRIS LESSMORE won the Oscar for Best Animated Short at the Academy Awards. It gave a lot of people in Shreveport, LA a reason to celebrate.
The winner of three Emmy awards for his ROLIE POLIE OLIE animated series, William Joyce also developed character concepts for TOY STORY and A BUG'S LIFE.
But children’s librarians, teachers, and publishers know him for his wonderfully creative children's books. Indeed, Morris Lessmore was inspired by the legendary Bill Morris of HarperCollins and the remarkable teacher/storyteller/writer Coleen Salley.
Here are just a few of William Joyce’s children’s books -- Picture Books published by HarperCollins:
|A DAY WITH WILBUR ROBINSON|
as well as DINOSAUR BOB AND HIS ADVENTURES WITH THE FAMILY LAZARDO, BASEBALL BOB, LIFE WITH BOB, BENTLY & EGG, THE LEAF MEN, SANTA CALLS, BUDDY, and SHOES by Elizabeth Winthrop; the Rolie Polie Olie series published by HarperCollins:
|ROLIE POLIE OLIE|
as well as SNOWIE ROLIE, SLEEPY TIME OLIE and BIG TIME OLIE; THE ART OF ROBOTS, written with Amid Amidi and published by Chronicle Books; the Guardians of Childhood series published by Atheneum, an imprint of Simon & Schuster:
|THE MAN IN THE MOON|
as well as NICHOLAS ST. NORTH AND THE BATTLE OF THE NIGHTMARE KING, and E. ASTER BUNNYMUND AND THE WARRIOR EGGS AT THE EARTH'S CORE! and last but not least, the hardcover edition of:
|THE FANTASTIC FLYING BOOKS OF MR. MORRIS LESSMORE|
which will be published by Atheneum with a release date of July 24, 2012.
Bill, I think it’s safe to say that everyone in the children’s book world is celebrating with you. Congratulations!
Friday, February 24, 2012
If you liked Marilyn Singer's TALLULAH'S TUTU, you'll love the sequel, as Booklist Online's 2/21/12 review points out:
"Although Tallulah is initially pleased when little brother, Beckett, signs up for ballet lessons, her mood sours when she is overlooked for the lead role of princess in The Frog Prince and he is cast as the frog. In the end, she helps Beckett rehearse and reaps an unexpected reward. This conveys Tallulah’s shifting emotions as a dancer and as a sister with equal perception and finesse. Full of light and grace, Boiger’s watercolor illustrations bring the characters to life in lively paintings. An appealing choice for ballet lovers and a fine sequel to Tallulah’s Tutu (2011)."
Published by Clarion/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, TALLULAH'S SOLO will be released on May 1, 2012.
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Come meet the five reincarnations of Zook in this trailer for Joanne Rocklin's new middle grade novel, THE FIVE LIVES OF OUR CAT ZOOK, about a family in transition.
Published by Amulet Books/Abrams, this warm and funny novel about family, love and loss, and the tales – and tails! – that heal will come out in April 2012.
Monday, February 20, 2012
We recently asked Darcy Pattison what kind of research she did to write WISDOM, THE MIDWAY ALBATROSS: SURVIVING THE JAPANESE TSUNAMI AND OTHER DISASTERS FOR OVER 60 YEARS. Here’s what she had to say:
|copyright Kitty Harvill, 2012|
When I write a book for kids--which is about all I do--you can bet that I am thinking about how to present the information to kids in several ways. Of course, I write a book. But I am also thinking about school visits. Why? Because it's a way to reach kids with information and stirring stories.
For example, my new book, WISDOM, THE MIDWAY ALBATROSS: SURVIVING THE JAPANESE TSUNAMI AND OTHER DISASTERS FOR OVER 60 YEARS is about the oldest wild bird in the world and how she survived the Japanese tsunami last year. The earthquake produced the tremendous tsunami on March 11, 2011. The tsunami struck the Japanese coast and killed thousands and damaged the nuclear plant there.
But it also sent a tsunami east toward the Hawaiian Islands, including the Midway Atoll. That's where Wisdom lives. She's a Laysan Albatross, a seabird with a wingspan of about 6 1/2 feet. Her nest was in the path of the tsunami.
|tsunami warning sign|
When I heard Wisdom's story, immediately, I wanted to know more. The story itself was compelling: A 60+ year old bird surviving the tsunami with her chick. But I wanted to know more.
I researched not only the earthquake and tsunami (See the Top 108 sites for educators about earthquakes and tsunamis), but also the life and times of Wisdom. She was first banded in 1956 and has had her band replaced about seven times.
To write her story, I had to create a timeline and timelines are great tools to use with kids to learn about chronological order, narrative arcs and more. The timeline had few entries at first, but slowly the picture of her life emerged and the story was written. It's a story of survival against amazing odds:
She has survived man-made disasters: plastic pollution, water pollution, long line fishing, and lead poisoning.
|albatross caught on fishing line|
She has survived natural disasters: predators, storms, hurricanes, earthquakes, and tsunamis, including the Japanese earthquake.
At over 60 years old, she is still laying eggs and hatching chicks (see her Facebook page run by the staff at Midway and follow the hatching of her 2012 egg). Among the birds of the world, this albatross, its ecology and life are amazing. It is a story of survival and hope amidst the difficulties of life. I write for kids and do school visits because I want kids to know stories like this one.
Friday, February 17, 2012
We recently learned that Emily Arnold McCully's new book, BALLERINA SWAN, written by Allegra Kent and published by Holiday House, has received a starred review in Kirkus Reviews. It will be coming out this April. In the meantime, here is the review of what Kirkus calls "an enchanting tale for all" --
A beautiful swan realizes her dream of dancing when cast in Swan Lake.
Sophie is a city swan who watches children in a ballet studio with great longing. She flies in and, after an initial rebuke, summons her courage to return. A new teacher and the students now welcome her as one of their own. Well almost. Sophie’s long neck gives her a naturally elegant line, but her webbed feet make turnout difficult. Then a choreographer creates a special role for Sophie in an end-of-year student performance, and she literally soars to fame as a swan princess.Kent was an acclaimed dancer with New York City Ballet, and in this, her first book for children, she captures the workings of a ballet class with both authority and tenderness. McCully, a Caldecott medalist, uses watercolors and pen-and-ink for delicate and detailed paintings. Sophie is imbued with a winning personality. In a series of close-ups, she displays her determination to hone her technique and style, a drive matched by that of the students, who show off some of the classicSwan Lake moments to great effect—notably the dance for the four cygnets.
An enchanting tale for all, especially for lovers of ballet. Read the story, play the music and applaud. (Picture book. 3-8)
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Here are two fan letters from teachers, both of whom became fans because of their students’ recommendations:
“A student bought me a class copy of your book at our school book fair last week, and I quickly put on hold the book I was reading to dive into yours. It was a great read and I wanted to let you know. I am a fifth grade teacher in the Chicago Public Schools and, while I teach all subjects, I am especially fond of Language Arts. I try to convince my adult reader friends that they really need to give YA books a chance, but they seldom take my advice.”
(Name withheld for privacy purposes)
“One of my students insisted that I read your book THE COMPOUND. I love to have students make recommendations for books, and this student was very persistent in making sure I read it. I now understand his passion; your book was terrific. Thanks so much for a great read that has very high interest for middle school students.
As the student and I discussed the book, we both believed that there would be a sequel since the truth of what happened to the father has left us hanging. It there a sequel on the way? We certainly hope so.
Thanks so much and I’m anxious to read more of your books. “
(Name withheld for privacy purposes )
And yes, Stephanie is, indeed, currently working on the sequel to THE COMPOUND.
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Balkin Buddies: In SHRINKING VIOLET, you write about a teenager becoming a radio broadcaster. Can you tell our readers a bit about your own experiences as a radio broadcaster?
Danielle: I have always had a deep passion for music, just like Tere in Shrinking Violet. When I was applying to colleges, one of the things that I loved about Emerson College in Boston was that they had a student-run radio station. While a student there, I auditioned and got a job as a producer, then later a DJ on the world music show, The Gyroscope. While attending college, I also interned at several top Boston-area radio stations. I did everything from answering phones to voicing commercials, to pulling music and writing ad copy. It was an awesome experience that I wouldn't trade for anything!
Balkin Buddies: What advice would you give teenagers who would like to be broadcasters?
Danielle: For teens who are interested in becoming broadcasters, I would suggest they crank up the radio and listen to the different stations not only for the music but at how important the DJs are to making a show successful. If your high school has a radio station, make sure to get involved in any part of the production that you can. Some stations even allow high school students to intern, so be sure to give your local stations a call to find out. And then of course when you are applying to college, you will find out that most of them have a radio station.
Balkin Buddies: Have you ever based a character on kids you met during school visits or Skype chats?
Danielle: I have never based a character on a specific kid I met at a school or during a chat. However, I have pulled from several different personalities. I like to pick up traits from people that I have met over the years and then mold those characteristics together to create someone new. I have been fortunate to speak at so many different schools with some amazing kids over the years. They have really taught me a lot and I hope the richness of their characteristics have blended well in the characters I have created in my books.
Balkin Buddies: Thank you, Danielle. We’re really looking forward to seeing the movie version of Shrinking Violet, which we understand is scheduled to air on the Disney Channel this Friday, February 17, at 8/7C under the title Radio Rebel.
Are you a teacher still thinking about having your class Skype with an author or illustrator? Are you wondering how it works and what the kids would get out of it? Here's a clip from a local news station describing one school's experience Skyping with Joe Cepeda.
Thanks, Joe, for sharing this with us.
For more information about Skyping with authors, visit Balkin Buddies.
Monday, February 13, 2012
Marilyn Singer's EVERY DAY’S A DOG’S DAY: A YEAR IN POEMS, illustrated by Miki Sakamoto and published by Penguin, will be published in March 2012. In the meantime, here is School Library Journal’s exuberant February 2012 review:
Simple verses about the seasons and the holidays, written from a dog’s point of view. Sakamoto’s bright, cartoonlike depictions of Buddy, Rosalie, Barkley, and Fizz are adorable and funny, and will surely elicit long and loud aws and giggles. In “Valentine’s Day,” Rosalie waxes sentimental about her owner, who “hugs me, gives me kisses,/and something good to gnaw./She has my heart already,/so I offer her my paw.” Wordplay abounds, as in the game “Keep Away”: “You see this stick? You want it, don’tcha?/You’ll race me fast to get it, won’tcha?” Events such as a grooming, beach visits, barbecues, and playtime are depicted. This read-aloud-size book pairs well with Jon Katz’s Meet the Dogs of Bedlam Farm (Holt, 2011). For older children, the poems and pictures present a structured overview of what a year may entail; younger children will just appreciate the poems in and of themselves
Friday, February 10, 2012
Emily Arnold McCully’s BALLYWHINNEY GIRL, written by Eve Bunting, reviewed in School Library Journal
BALLYWHINNEY GIRL, illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully, written by Eve Bunting, and published by Clarion (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), will be published in March 2012. In the meantime, here is School Library Journal’s February 2012 review of this Irish tale:
An evocative story in verse narrated by a young girl who witnesses the unearthing of a centuries-old mummified girl in a bog in Ballywhinney, Ireland. The muted green and blue hues and smudgy effects of the watercolor illustrations complement the marshy setting, while the lyrical narrative sets the melancholy tone. Frequent use of dialogue with sprinklings of Irish vernacular (“Jakers!”) brings the story to life. Readers will easily relate to Maeve, who, determined to be a part of the discovery, emphasizes to a policeman that she and her grandfather were responsible for the find, not the archaeologists who showed up soon after. Visible paint strokes expertly convey Maeve’s feelings of curiosity, confusion, and sorrow as she watches scientists uproot the body amid a media frenzy. The images of the mummy are subtly handled; readers catch a few glimpses of arms, legs, a face, and finally the body itself in a museum exhibit. However, Maeve’s musings about whether the Ballywhinney girl is content to be on display and references to her “dark, dead face” may still be upsetting to sensitive readers. Depictions of what the girl may have looked like when she was alive, paired with Bunting’s haunting text, humanize her and let the story end on a more positive note. An afterword provides information about the Irish wetlands where actual ancient bodies have been dug up. A perceptive portrayal of a potentially disturbing subject.