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Friday, May 23, 2008

Julia Denos!

I am thrilled to announce that in 2009 I will have TWO new picture books coming out from Abrams. The first, YOU KNOW WHAT? CHICKEN BUTT! is currently being illustrated by the extremely talented and extremely prolific Henry Cole (illustrator of one of my favorite books, AND TANGO MAKES THREE). When I was in New York earlier this month, I got to see his sketches and they are wonderful. Very funny stuff. Henry definitely knows chickens... and kids.

And now, drumroll please, I am excited to announce that we scored Julia Denos to be the illustrator for my other 2009 book, DOTTY! I am beyond pleased, because as soon as I first saw Julia's work, I said, "Yeah, her!" She has a beautiful drawing style and just the right ability to convey kids' emotional range, which is necessary for this book.

DOTTY is a story about a girl named Ida whose imaginary friend won't leave (even though Ida's classmates have outgrown theirs), and what happens when another girl discovers Ida's secret. A coming of age tale for 4-8 year olds, if you will. As well as a testament to the importance of keeping your imagination as long as possible.

I wrote DOTTY because when I was a kid I had imaginary friends, including a set of twins named SOTTY (pronounced SAH'-tee) and DOTTY. They were twin girls, but they were not the same age (a detail my parents found funny, though I didn't understand why at the time). I also had an imaginary pet sheep, so I sort of combined the two in this book. Plus, I had a bad summer camp teasing experience exactly like what Ida endures in DOTTY, so I drew on that. When kids ask me about writing fiction, I always point out to them that no matter how "made up" the story is, it won't work if the feelings you put in aren't real.

Julia Denos has a gorgeous portfolio that you can check out at her website. I selected the image shown here because it looks uncannily like one of my daughters. Julia was also interviewed by Jules and Eisha at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast last year, and you can check that out here (they included several of her most fetching images).

I can't wait to see what she does with DOTTY!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Talking to You Corded!

Check it out!

"I'm Talking to You Corded!", my slideshow on images of technology in children's books is on Slate's front page! If you've ever wondered why there is so little modern technology depicted in picture books, this is the article for you!

And if THAT weren't enough media exposure for this week, my review of FRONTLINE's "Storm Over Everest" (which airs tonight) is on pbs.org.

By the way, writing about Bob Shea's New Socks (image above) led me to correspond with Bob himself, which led to a fabulous book-swap-by-media-mail race. We're calling the race a draw to protect Bob's feelings... but we're ALL winners! Especially my kids, who loooooove Bob's books.

Researching this article, I also got to chat with one of my favorite illustrators, Marla Frazee, who looks like she and I should share hair products. I'm a big fan of Deva Curl lately, Marla. And of course, my pal Alison Morris, who is Da Source for all things kiddish and bookish. Thanks, guys!

All that and the cover of Slate - not a bad week!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

My Visit to Burgundy Farm Country Day School

This is my pal and fellow Children's Book Guild member, Jane Harrington, who teaches at Burgundy Farm Country Day School in Virginia and is the author of several great books including the terrifically named "My Best Friend, the Atlantic Ocean, and other great bodies standing between me and my life with Giulio" (lime green cover seen in the poster next to her):

She kindly invited me to visit her class for Poetry Month to discuss writing rhymed verse, writing picture books and writing in general. Her sixth graders were a well-prepared bunch in many ways. They had great questions, great ideas, and great snacks! Here are some photos of the class and the buffet they provided. Note that there are healthy options (grapes) and brightly colored fun-if-somewhat-less-healthy-but-what-the-hay options (sour skittles were a big hit):

SOOO, word to the wise, folks. If you invite an author to visit your class, be prepared in all ways! Read up, write some questions in advance, and break with the skittles. Oh, yes, and if your school has chickens (BFCDS does) and your visiting author has written about chickens, take her to visit them.

Your visiting author will thank you!

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