Let’s Get Busy with author illustrator Molly Idle

Molly Idle (@MollyIdle), author of Flora and the Penguin (@ChronicleKids), sequel to Flora and the Flamingo, a Caldecott honor book, stops by to talk about choreographing a wordless picture book, exploring emotional closeness between her characters, and the joy of intermediate impossibles.


Episode Notes
Molly Idle's homepage
John Cleese on creativity and cultivating the “intermediate impossible” as a means to arriving at originality
Kelly Light
Purchase Molly Idle’s books from your local independent bookstore

Purchase locally whenever possible.








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New from Nosy Crow and Big Picture Press

A new set of releases from Big Picture Press and Nosy Crow (both imprints of Candlewick Press) made their way to me. Check out these very awesome books!

Animalium by Katie Scott and Jenny Broom (September 9, 2014)

Animalium has an instantly classic feel and is a perfect match for those readers who seek opportunities to lose themselves in identification and classification of animals. I was a kid obsessed with annual trips to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. Had this book been written some 20+ years ago a copy of it would have undoubtedly been tucked beneath one arm with a pen and drawing pad in the other for my museum exploration. The illustrations are beautiful hand drawn studies of each fauna and the book’s oversized dimensions allow for a close study of the drawings therein. Also, the two-color endpaper illustrations of various class samplings may as well be printed as wallpaper for any young biologist’s bedroom walls, as they are quite beautiful to look at while at the same time offering up the chance for studying, tracing, or (gasp) coloring! 



Animalium by Jenny Broom, Katie Scott (Illustrated by)
On Sale Date: September 9, 2014
9780763675080
Ages 8 to 12, Grades 3 to 7
Big Picture Press
112 pages

Inside and Out: New York by Josh Cochran (September 9, 2014)

What defines a book? I’ve been thinking of that each time I unfold Josh Cochran’s two-sided panoramic beauty of an illustration of New York City. This double-sided “wall chart” (as advertised on the cover) certainly contains lots and lots for the eye to explore and showing the same scene from two different looks (one side is a view of a New York scene on the “outside”, the flip is an “inside” look within building, museums, and landmarks). All told, the illustrations fold out to be eight pages in length. While the outside image is straightforward and a mostly factual portrayal of NYC, the inside image has hidden a man hibernating with a book, a robot driven by a rat, King Kong in a room full of hot dogs, and a sea monster escaping from a boiling pot of water, among many, many other hidden sights. I’m fairly confident that I could look at the illustrations thirty more times and still discover secret images, which is something that I think makes this book really special.

Inside and Out: New York by Josh Cochran, Josh Cochran (Illustrated by)
On Sale Date: September 9, 2014
9780763675202
Ages 7 to 10, Grades 2 to 5
Big Picture Press
16 pages

The World of Mamoko in the Time of Dragons by Aleksandra Mizielinska (September 9, 2014)

The Mamoko books are very well-loved in our library for the great number of stories offered up in the sequential wordless spreads. In this newest installment, readers follow characters through a medieval story of witches, enchanted swords, threatening dragons, and some hilarious miscellany. A collection of characters are introduced on the end papers and a message to readers instructs to follow characters from page to page to see what happens to them throughout their day. The result is lots and lots of page-flipping, character searching, and giggled discoveries. Lots of fun offered up in a book that’s not only highly re-readable, but one that is hard to finish on account of wanting to tell the stories of more and more characters. Take a closer look at the spreads from all three Mamoko books at the Big Picture Press homepage (click here).

The World of Mamoko in the Time of Dragons byAleksandra Mizielinska, Daniel Mizielinski
On Sale Date: September 9, 2014
9780763675189
Ages 5 to 8, Grades K to 3
Big Picture Press
16 pages

Littleland Around the World by Marion Billet (August 26, 2014)

The friends of Littleland are off on a search-and-say trip around the world, making stops at some of the world’s largest and most iconic cities. Each spread includes a list of items to locate within the illustration that are native to or associated with the country. Items include a phone booth (London), a barge (Netherlands), a sleigh (Finland), a sitar (India), and lots more for a total of 135 items to find (8 per page) including each country’s flag. I love the way that this search-and-find book gives opportunity to talk to our youngest readers about objects that may be unique to different countries.

Littleland Around the World by Marion Billet, Marion Billet (Illustrated by)
On Sale Date: August 26, 2014
9780763675790
Ages 2 to 5
Nosy Crow
32 pages

Information Graphics: Human Body by Peter Grundy (August 26, 2014)

Grundy’s iconic graphic representations of parts and inner workings of our body offer lots and lots to explore in this book of facts. Full of all of the extraordinary things your body can do, readers explore the senses, reproduction, the heart, the brain, digestion, the skeleton, and the human factory (cell production, etc.). Age appropriate facts and tantalizing topics give just enough to make this human body book stand apart from others. Watch our for your journey through digestion! Rogers shares facts about feces and urine that are interesting and, well, let’s be blunt… it’s about poop and pee. What kid isn’t gonna want to pull over their friends to show and giggle away. 

Information Graphics: Human Body by Simon Rogers, Peter Grundy (Illustrated by)
On Sale Date: August 26, 2014
9780763671235
Ages 6 to 9, Grades 1 to 4
Big Picture Press
80 pages


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Let’s Get Busy with author illustrator Chris Haughton

Chris Haughton (@chrishaughton), author of Shh! We Have a Plan! (@Candlewick), Oh No, George!, and Little Owl Lost, stops by to talk about his recognizable style, transitioning from digital art to more traditional collage. and his work on Hat Monkey, an all new app for young children.


Episode Notes
Aaron Reynolds' homepage
Hat Monkey app
Petting Zoo - Animal Animations app (by Christoph Niemann
Purchase Chris Haughton’s books from your local independent bookstore

Purchase locally whenever possible.
Shh! We Have a Plan book trailer
Shh! We have a plan: Trailer from chris haughton on Vimeo.

Purchase locally whenever possible.
Purchase Hat Monkey from the app store.

Hat Monkey app trailer
Hat Monkey: Trailer from chris haughton on Vimeo.


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YOU’RE INVITED to paint with PRESS HERE creator Herve Tullet!

Clear your schedules. The Prince of PreSchool (aka Herve Tullet) is coming to play at a library (or museum) near you. Okay… okay. It might not be “near you” exactly, but since he’s coming all the way from France to play with our kiddos, I think it’s guaranteed the trip will be worth it.

Mix it Up! debuted on the New York Times bestsellers list this week, and all for very good reason. Tullet’s follow-up to the long-running NTY picture book bestseller Press Here encourages readers to play and to explore what happens when two or more colors mix together. It’s a color-mixing book that’s done so well, your may even catch your readers checking their fingers for traces of paint.

Here’s a press release from Chronicle Books that puts it better than I can:
With more than 140 weeks on the New York Times picture book bestseller list and 18 foreign editions around the world, Hervé Tullet’s Press Here has encouraged hundreds of thousands of children to press, shake, and tilt their books to experience the magic of a printed page that seems to respond to their command. 
With Mix it Up! Tullet brings that same sense of wonder and possibility to the alchemy of mixing and creating colors. Follow the artist’s simple instructions and see colors appear, mix, splatter, and vanish in a world powered by the young reader’s imagination. Tullet prompts plenty of giggles in addition to a profound understanding of colors in this satisfying companion to Press Here.
Oh! And some early praise for the book:

« “Great fun for paint lovers in places where paints can’t be used.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review
« “Rivaling an iPad for its sheer fun and interactive elements.”—School Library Journal, starred review
« “Tullet’s paintings show paint texture so lusciously it’s hard to remember that these are dry illustrations.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Here’s my review, in case you fancy a go.

And now… drumroll please…

Herve Coming to in the USA!
Known as “the Prince of Preschool” in his native France, Herve will be visiting the US and invites fans of all ages to create with paint and make a beautiful “floor mural” like the one below:

So, yeah. We should all totally go to this. Sounds amazing!


Los Angeles
October 11 - MOCA
October 12 - LACMA

San Francisco
October 13 - JCC of San Francisco

Washington DC
October 16 - Library of Congress

New York
October 18 - Guggenheim Museum
October 19 - Brooklyn Public Library

Herve on Display!

The Brooklyn Public Library main library is hosting an exhibit of original paintings that explore and explain his influences as an artist and book creator. The exhibit is the first of its kind for Tullet. It will be on display from October 2, 2014 to February 1, 2015

More info about the exhibit is available here.

Let’s close with a reprise of a video I shared earlier on this blog of Tullet previewing Mix It Up! with his readers.



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Let’s Get Busy with author Aaron Reynolds

Aaron Reynolds (@areynoldsbooks), author of Here Comes Destructosaurus! (@ChronicleKids), Creepy Carrots, Carnivores, and many others, stops by to talk about starting out on the stage, parenting as a monster, and what winning a Caldecott honor means for an author.


Episode Notes
Aaron Reynolds' homepage
Purchase Here Comes Destructosaurus! from your local independent bookstore

Purchase locally whenever possible.



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Kidlit Writing School with Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen

My pal and kidlit author, Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen (Orangutangled, Tyrannosaurus Wrecks, Duck, Duck Moose, Hampire) just announced an online course for those interested in writing for children.


I’ve cross-posted the information from her course here for your convenience.

Picture Book A to Z’s: Plotting in Picture Books
Class starts October 6, 2014

The Picture Book A to Z series is designed to be a collection of master level classes that cover all of the fundamentals of picture book craft. While each class is complete on its own, taken together, the series will teach you everything you ever wanted to now about picture books — and a lot more! In Fall 2014, author Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen is proud to offer the first in this series, a course on Plotting in Picture Books.

What You Will Learn

The ability to craft a strong picture book plot is one of the factors that separates unpublished writers from those who consistently sign publishing contracts to see their work in print. This course will teach you the essentials of creating compelling plots, starting with Arcs, Beginnings, and Climaxes — then literally taking you through the alphabet. Each topic will be explored in depth, both in the lessons and in the discussion forums and webinars. The writing exercises that are a part of of the course are designed to help you apply the lessons to your own writing seamlessly and immediately. By the end of the course, you will never look at plotting the same way again!

How the course is structured:
Lessons will be posted daily Mondays-Fridays during the four weeks of the course. They will remain online for four months (until February 28, 2015) so students can work at their own pace.
​​A weekly webinar will address topics related to the class. Webinars will also provide an opportunity for personal feedback from the instructors. They will be recorded and available for students to access for four months after the completion of the course.
Students will be able to interact with the instructors and each other via an organized, private message board hosted just for each class. This will be an excellent resource to form critique groups, to freely ask questions, and to support each other as you launch into your projects.​

Optional Add on Critique: Add an in-depth picture book manuscript critique with an hour-long Skype session with Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen at a special class-only discounted rate.

Bonus Critique: Register before September 20, 2014 and receive a free picture book manuscript review and 20-minute Skype session with Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, redeemable within six months of the course’s completion. In addition, you will be entered to receive a free written critique of a picture book manuscript (up to 1,000 words) from Agent Rachel Orr of the Prospect Agency.
Who Should Take This Class
Plotting in Picture Books is for writers of all levels. Beginning Writers will establish a proper and strong foundation for all future writing. Intermediate Writers and Advanced Writers will fine tune their skills to perfect their works-in-progress. Because each class is highly interactive, each student has many opportunities to get what he or she specifically needs from Sudipta and from the class community at large.

Click on the image captions to register for the course that’s right for you.
Picture Book A to Z’s: Plotting in Picture Books
$250.00 Registration - CLASS ONLY

Plotting in Picture Books PLUS 60 Minute Picture Book Critique
with Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen

$350.00 Registration PLUS Critique

About Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen
Sudipta is an award-winning author of over 40 books spanning almost every genre of children’s literature. She sold her first picture book in 2004. Since then, she has 18 picture books either published or scheduled for publication. At a time when the picture book market is considered “soft,” Sudipta has learned how to write manuscripts that sell — and it is that knowledge that informs her teaching philosophy. To learn more about Sudipta and her books, please visit her website.



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Let’s Get Busy with James Burks

James Burks (@JamesBurksArt), author illustrator of Bird and Squirrel on Ice (@GraphixBooks) book 2 in the Bird and Squirrel graphic novel series, stops by to talk about his path from ComicCon to kidlit, the effect of an animation background on visual storytelling, and creating characters who emote from the page.


Episode Notes
James Burks' homepage
Sketch Daily (as well as #SketchDaily)
Martin’s Misdirections (comic strip)
Purchase Bird and Squirrel on Ice from your local independent bookstore



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Let’s Get Busy with author Mac Barnett

Mac Barnett (@MacBarnett), author of Telephone (@ChronicleKids) and other bestsellers including Billy Twitters and His Blue Whale Problem, Oh No! (Or How My Science Project Destroyed the World), Extra Yarn, Battle Bunny, and the Brixton Brothers series, stops by to talk about how picture book writing is like playwriting, his time on the TEDx stage, and how his time as a summer camp counselor to a group of 4-yr-olds informed his skill at storytelling.


Episode Notes
Mac Barnett's homepage
Jen Corace's homepage
"Tiny Professors: How Kids can Teach Adults to Read" TEDxSonoma County talk by Mac
826 LA
Echo Park Time Travel Mart
Purchase Mac Barnett’s books from your local independent bookstore

Purchase locally whenever possible.



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Mix It Up! by Herve Tullet (Chronicle Books)

From Herve Tullet, the creator of Press Here, comes a picture book about mixing colors that breathes life into the printed word and reminds us of the importance of play and discovery.

Mix It Up! by Herve Tullet (September 16, 2014)
Mix It Up! opens with an invitation for readers to once again tap a dot to set the story in motion. After a collection of color swatches is tapped onto the page, Tullet affirms the reader’s “magic touch” and together Tullet and readers journey through an exploration of colors and experiments in mixing paints. 
The book starts out exploring the results of mixing the three primary colors, blue, red, and yellow. This is where the text starts to feel personal, as though Tullet is alongside you, a companion artist guiding you through some playful learning.

And then…
Notice that the text is conversational. Tullet checks up on the reader, encouraging him or her, rooting her on, sharing surprise and wonder with her. When the exploration proceeds, his voice becomes even more that of a teacher, a shared experience.
An aside here: I love the power with which Tullet’s approach draws readers in. Every reader, from the pre-reading to grown up, I shared this with all followed the directions to a tee as if not one person could resist playing along.
One of my favorite qualities to Mix It Up! is that Tullet left his paint drips, his fingerprints, his speckles, all of those little imperfections, right on the page. Not only is the book itself a celebration of play and exploration, it’s also a reminder that being messy is sometimes the very best way to discover and learn new things. Tullet’s inventiveness in the ways he has the reader mix different colors (tilt the book, shake the book, press down on the closed book, etc.) as well as his excited and encouraging voice throughout the story is a celebration of what books can reveal to us as much as it is a shared experience between Tullet and every child who picks up the book. 

Additional Resources:Herve Tullet's homepage
Herve Tullet introducing Mix It Up!
Purchase Mix It Up! from an independent bookstore near you.

Note: Review copies sent from the publisher.

Mix It Up! by Herve Tullet
On Sale Date: September 16, 2014
9781452137353
Ages 3 to 5, Grades P to K
Chronicle Books
56 pages


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Sharing our Dot Day Work with You!

We’re spending the week connecting with classrooms throughout the country in celebration of International Dot Day. Here’s a quick peak at some of the classes who we’ll get to meet this week.



In case I don’t get to see you, here’s what we’ll be sharing:

Kindergarten practiced writing letters and then decorated with some very colorful dots.



1st Grade made dots by sharing fractions of their own creations with their classmates in order to create something totally new.
(Sample shown above. Student work on the way!)

2nd Grade took inspiration from Herve Tullet’s Press Here to interact with readers through dots.



3rd Grade created and named all new paint colors thanks to inspiration from Peter H. Reynold’s Ish.




…and then they created special secret messages to share with our connecting classes based on an image we saw in Peter H. Reynold’s I’m Here.



4th Grade loved playing DOTS, the popular iOS game, so much that they created class awards with their own dot designs.



And 5th Grade made sets of trading cards to trade with the students in the classes we see throughout the week.


Happy International Dot Day, everybody!

- Matthew


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