Celebrate by welcoming the newest member of our Monster family: “Are You My Monster?” – a board book companion for babies and toddlers!
Help Ethan compare his drawing to an assortment of amusing monsters. Do the colors match? Are their tails long or short? Are their nails pointy or round? Are their teeth big or small? Children will be thrilled when Ethan finds the perfect match – which turns out to be his beloved stuffed monster toy – just in time for bed.
“Little ones will enjoy the parade of silly creatures…while also learning colors and matching.The sweet ending shows that even those with sharp teeth and scratchy claws can be cuddly,turning the monster-under-the-bed trope on its head.” – School Library Journal
The release of The Day I Ran Away has given me some wonderful opportunities to connect with students. While I’m not sure it’s deserved, the students are usually a bit wide-eyed that they are meeting an author. In turn, I am inspired by their questions and their belief that they too CAN be an author! While I often receive a thank you after the visit, I don’t get to see the student’s stories. Until this year, when a unique opportunity was presented to me.
Denise Phillips, owner of Gathering Volumes and mother of 2nd and 4th grade students at Woodland Elementary in Perrysburg OH, was putting together a pilot Young Author program for the school and asked if I would be one of three (two authors and an illustrator) to speak to the 4th and 5th grade excel classes. In May I would return to hear the student’s stories and do an author signing at her store.
So in February one author spoke about getting ideas, I presented on picture book construction and creating a “page turner” and an illustrator talked with the classes. The students began writing…
Meanwhile, a second grade teacher was interested in having an author visit via Skype. When I “appeared” on the big screen in the student’s classroom their faces were priceless. They quickly positioned themselves on the floor so we could all “see” each other. In spite of a few frozen screen moments, it was a success with students asking great questions. The teacher summed it up:
Thank you for meeting with us Holly. The boys and girls were so excited to Skype! With all of the technology available to us, that is one thing they do not do. It was a lot of fun and your conversation with them was perfect! They heard things from a REAL AUTHOR that their boring, old teacher has said. 🙂
Then on May 6 I returned to Perrysburg where a wonderful day of celebration was planned for the young authors. Throughout the day 30 of the 40 students read their book to family and friends and then signed copies for their families and a party for all followed in the evening. It was a wonderful example of partnership between an independent bookstore and its community.
It was a treat to speak with these young authors and their families and to hear them read their stories. I was impressed by unique story lines, wonderful illustrations and soaring imaginations. While the future is uncertain in many ways, rest assured there will be wonderful stories to transport you, created by the next generation!
Laurie A. Jacobs, author of Silly Frilly Grandma Tillie, participated in the Project Sunshine Book Club on March 7 at a Manhattan hospital. Laurie channeled the silly playful spirit of Grandma Tillie and did an art project with the children. 25 copies of Silly Frilly Grandma Tillie were donated by Flashlight Press to the young patients.
Project Sunshine is a nonprofit organization bringing programming – recreational, educational, and social service – to over 60,000 children facing medical challenges in 150 major cities across the United States and in five international satellite sites: Canada, China, Israel, Kenya and Puerto Rico. For more information, visit http://www.projectsunshine.org.
Imagine a world where everyone can read…
World Read Aloud Day is about taking action to show the world that the right to read and write belongs to all people. World Read Aloud Day motivates children, teens, and adults worldwide to celebrate the power of words, especially those words that are shared from one person to another, and creates a community of readers advocating for every child’s right to a safe education and access to books and technology.
By raising our voices together on this day we show the world’s children that we support their future: that they have the right to read, to write, and to share their words to change the world.
It’s time to join the Global Literacy Movement.
David Parkins, illustrator of That Cat Can’t Stay (one of 10 books on the NY State Charlotte Award Primary list), was interviewed by Ms. Down’s students at Town of Webb School on the NYSRA Youth Book Blog. Here’s what he had to say:
Did you use pictures of real cats to draw from?
If I have to draw something I don’t know well, I would always gather lots of pictures of the thing so I get it right. It’s easy to do this nowadays with the internet. I didn’t need to research cats, though, because we have kept cats as pets for years. At one stage we had six, but right now we have just three: a big grey one (very like the big grey cat in That Cat Can’t Stay), a black one and a tabby who is quite old (about 19 years, I think) but very sprightly still. I see them all the time, so I sort of know how they look.
What about people?
Again, I didn’t need to research or gather reference for the people, because I have drawn so many over the years I just seem to know how to do it now. Sometimes, if I need to draw someone in a very difficult position, or they are, say, playing a sport I’m not completely familiar with, I may have to look that up. But I don’t think I needed to do that for this book.
Were any of the characters based on people you know?
No, I don’t know anyone quite like these characters. Although memories of how someone might have stood, expressions they may have had in certain circumstances, that sort of thing will have informed the drawing. It’s important to be a good observer when you are an illustrator. Always notice how your friends stand, what faces they pull, how they react to things. Then you will know how to draw people in similar circumstances. And you can always exaggerate a bit if you want to make it funny.
How long did it take you to create this book?
I didn’t get all that long to do this particular book. I think it took about three months to do the final art, but I was doing other work as well. If I had been able to sit and do just the book, and nothing else, it would have probably taken about six weeks. Add maybe another couple of months for the roughs and discussions, so perhaps five or six months in all.
Were you responsible for the use of white backgrounds and using text as part of the picture?
Sort of. I am given a manuscript, and I know how many pages I need to fill. Sometimes I decide which bit of text will go on which page, and sometimes a designer or editor will tell me (I think that’s what we did with That Cat Can’t Stay). Then I produced a set of rough pencil drawings that went with the text. After I had done that, it was the designer at Flashlight that had the great idea of changing the layout of Dad’s rants, so that sometimes it was boxed like a comic strip, and sometimes the words snaked around the page. She re-sized and re-positioned my sketches to fit, and then I used that new layout when I did the final art.
Did you like drawing for a children’s book?
I always enjoy doing pictures for children’s books. Well, nearly always. Except when I’m a bit behind with my work, then it just seems like work that has to be done. A bit like homework.
We liked the expressions on the character’s faces, esp. the Dad’s. How did you manage to get the expressions right?
Remember that thing about watching your friends’ expressions? I’ve been doing that a long time. But also, drawing is a bit like acting. You have to imagine what the person is feeling, and what that would make them look like. And I’ll let you into a secret: when I draw faces I am usually acting the expression that I’m drawing. I sit scowling as I draw a scowl, and grinning when I draw a grin, trying to feel what it is to be the person I’m drawing. When I was doing all Dad’s expressions, I think my wife must have thought I was quite bonkers.
Did you mean to have the Dad look harsh?
I didn’t want Dad to look harsh, exactly, but he had to look disapproving and completely determined. If he had not, it wouldn’t have been as funny when the rest of the family kept winning, and the cats kept staying. And in the end, we know he’s really an old softy, don’t we?
What is your favorite style of illustrating?
Such a difficult question. I have done quite a few children’s books, and each time I approach it differently. I always try to make the style of the pictures fit the text as best I can. My favourite style is the one that works best with the writing. But I know that’s not really a proper answer to your question, so I will confess that I do like to draw slightly cartoony characters with lots of energy and exaggerated body language and facial expressions. Like Dad, in That Cat Can’t Stay.
Do you like reading books?
I love reading books, but I always feel that I should be working and not sitting enjoying a book because I have so little time. So when I don’t have enough time, I love to listen to audible books. I do that while I work. I find I can listen while I am drawing without any problem, although I can’t if I have to think. So if I am working on roughs, and I’m thinking about the text I’m illustrating, I can’t listen at all. It distracts me. But once all that is done, and I’m just concentrating on the final drawing, I can listen to another book and it’s fine (I really enjoy Charles Dickens). Maybe drawing and listening occupy different parts of the brain.
David Parkins, November 2011
Just in time for Halloween, I Need My Monster is now available in a NOOK edition. Read it yourself or enable audio to have it read to you… but don’t get SCARED!