Sunday, May 29, 2011


Artist Ryan Woodward animated a kid's drawing while having her talk about what she thinks aliens do. Really funny and very appropriate for me/my book!

Saturday, May 28, 2011


Thanks to Betsy Bird for another great drink night at the BEA! (this has nothing to do with spelling)

Thursday, May 26, 2011


“This makes books feel like an art installation,” he said. “We should care about them.”

This came from the NYT:
"After a number of inquiries, Mr. Kessler posted a sign on a chalkboard outside reading, “We have one book, but we’re not Scientologists.”

On Tuesday evening, Paula Faber peeked her head in, asking Mr. Kessler, “Did you ask them how they stay in business selling one book?”

“It’s sort of a new business model,” Mr. Kessler responded, cryptically."

The bookstore was open for the month of April in the West Village in NYC on Hudson St.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


I couldn't believe it when I read it. I'm still not sure... is it really true? Are people this uptight and do others really cater to ONE complainer? I have this issue at work. Why does one loud mouth (usually the annoying sort) get what they want when the polite kind people of the world do not? For example: we have a policy at the bookstore that the book can only be returned 2 weeks with a receipt. OF COURSE the loud, obnoxious people get what they want. THEY can bring a book back a month late and get a refund. THEY can spill coffee on the book and have a lame excuse and get store credit. THEY get what they want because no one feels like dealing with them. The kind, polite person simply says, "okay," when their book is 3 days past the 2 week deadline and leaves. I try hard to accomadate those nice people and make exceptions and do NOT make exceptions for the obnoxious ones. But most often the obnoxious type are the ones who get their way. They'll ask to speak to a manager and so on. Sad, but true.

But here's a good example in the publishing world (if this indeed did happen):

I read this on Mo Willem's blog. This is what he wrote:

"I was asked by the folks at the CBC which runs the Children's Choice Awards to make a funny little video filled with the kernels of wisdom I'd attained during my tenure as host. I had two. They involved me mispronouncing Judy Blume's name and wearing a tuxedo without pants.

The CBC was overjoyed when I handed in the film a month or so back.

The idea was to run the film at the start of the event, but the CBC folks were so excited they decided to post it on-line before the day before where, fortunately, it was seen by someone who was offended by authors mispronouncing Judy Blume's name and wearing a tuxedo without pants. It was pulled from the internet.

Faced with the question of whether it should run at the event as planned, was, however, an easier call. As an advocacy group for kids books and their creators, they had to choose between a video they liked by a former host or cave to a complaint. Obviously, they caved. The awards ceremony audience is, after all, filled with impressionable editors, agents, and publicists, some of whom are in the their early 30's. Exposing them to an author mispronouncing Judy Blume's name and wearing a tuxedo without pants could be traumatic."

To read the rest and to watch the short video go here.

Sometimes I just don't understand.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


I spoke on a panel discussion yesterday at the BEA. I had a good time. There was one thing that I said that definitely got a reaction I think. I said that I could write a picture book in about 5 min and could never do that with a nonfiction book because of the research. Then I heard a lot of shocked people in the audience. Then I added to that "I mean a rough draft." As usual, I never explain myself well. There's way more to it than that. Here's the thing: to do a picture book and do it WELL you need YEARS AND YEARS of PRACTICE. I think once you get to a certain level you can, in a way, write a rough draft on the subway if you wish. Now I'm just talking the rough, rough draft. I'm talking story arch, the basic premise, and so on--what comes out of your head initially. Some of the best stories may happen that way! But with nonfiction this isn't so. You can't do that because you have to go read a few nonfiction books on the subject first to get a feel for your subject. It's not so spontaneous. I wish it were.

I hope I've clarified my thoughts a bit. I wasn't saying anything to be arrogant or saying anything to bash one genre over another. They're just very different!

Saturday, May 21, 2011


I don't like to talk about myself on this blog (in a promotion sort of way) but I will just this once. I did my first radio interview last week on a local NPR show. I was super nervous! This is why I posted that stuff about not remembering material. I had to go back and read up on my book! Anyway, I think it all worked out. This is actually a great show. It's like a local This American Life. I highly recommend it. You can also get it of of iTunes.

Check it out here: Cityscape on An Alien Invasion

I also did a school visit yesterday. I think it went really well. As usual, the kids were great and the teachers and librarians and others were very supportive and wonderful. I live in two different worlds: there's me doing book work which is great and really confidence boosting and then I go to my part-time job where I am lately, being treated like dirt. It's a strange, strange thing! One of the people in charge is really condescending and impatient. I'm not allowed to sit down even though I am in pain all the time--it's 8 hours of nonstop standing in one place torture. It's awful! Ugh. I wish I could just make books!

Thursday, May 19, 2011


This painting hung on my bedroom wall as a when I was a kid. My parents said they finally had to take it down because it scared me.

They had this one hanging in the kitchen. This one didn't scare me. I liked looking at it and I think some of his art (the paintings without the tigers and lions perhaps) would work great as children's art. Although, I will say that it wasn't the lion that scared me in the painting... it was the person lurking in the shadows. I had an issue with people lurking in shadows, but I digress.

Now I love all of Rousseau's art and found this nice, short documentary about him.


I just watched a news piece about how the ipad is useless for little kids - especially toddlers - in terms of learning. It appears that the children are learning on them but when they are tested - like shown the word "cow" when they appeared to be spelling it on the ipad - they have no idea what the word is.

However, there is a use for it for some children and it seems to be working well:

I think the lesson here is that be observant and really sit with your kids to help them learn. And you never know what unexpected little gem might turn up.

Monday, May 16, 2011


So I'm a bad speller. Thank goodness for spell check. There are the rare occasions when spell check, of course, makes some mistakes and I don't catch them. For instance: I was writing to a very important big person in the bookselling world and spellcheck turned "public" into something else. It took out the letter "l." Eeek!

Anyway, I'm working on a new project. I just painted the cover for my idea (not the norm, but I wanted to) and I hand lettered the type for the cover and spelled the word Transparent wrong. I wasn't paying attention! I wrote "Transparant." I'm such a dufus.

You think that's bad? I hired my uncle to carve the title of my new book Balto

On the title page he spelled a word wrong! He had to carve the whole thing over again! OUCH.

I have to run to work but when I get back I'll post photos of the bad mistakes.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

LIAKA by Nick Abadzis

I love this book. This came out a few years ago and it's stuck with me. My mom works with autistic kids and she told me she wanted to give a book to a kid in middle school who has Asperger's. She said he was interested in animals. I suggested this book. I hope he doesn't get depressed by the ending! The art is great, the way the story is told is great, and I liked that there were little thoughts from the dog once in a while. If you haven't read this book do it! You'll also learn an interesting bit of history.

Below is the real Liaka:

Thursday, May 12, 2011


I have a problem. I've done quite a few nonfiction books by now and I have a confession to make. I don't always remember all the facts about them... especially the ones done a few years ago. I'm doing a local radio show tomorrow and a panel in a few weeks. I feel like I'm cramming for an exam! I become all Miss Expert when I'm working on something and then all the dates and facts go out of my brain just like when I was in history class way back when. I don't know if this is normal or not. Anyone out there have this problem? Should this stuff be sticking?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


I saw this photo on PW and thought it was great!

It's an independent bookstore called Fleeting Pages that has opened up inside a vacant Borders store in Pittsburgh. He he he!

Monday, May 9, 2011


I guess this has been playing for a while and I missed it in NYC. I hope to catch it next time. Just watching the trailer there are a few quotes that make me go "Huh?" One is obvious. The other is when a publisher says that people think little kids are eager for is escape and fantasy but what they really want is organization. Um... I sure wasn't! The one thing I really loved was using my imagination. I loved escaping. That's all my friends and I did when we were little. And that's all the kids who I babysat for wanted to do. What is she talking about? I fear that this film will just irritate the heck out of me but we'll see.

I also love how everyone in this bit seems to be sitting in the most wonderful studio environments... as if all authors and illustrators are rich! Ha!

Friday, May 6, 2011


There have been a few things at work lately that have been calling me to buy them. Not because of their contents but because of their packaging. The first is this head by McSweeney's:

I LOVE it! And on the bottom is the inside of the neck:

I'm sure it's the weird in me but I WANT IT! I don't care about the books at all. Now that's good packaging!

Another cool thing is this Gary Panter book:

The slip cover is really nice. I really go for nice, thick, shiny slip covers.

Then there's this:

Oooh yes! It's a lunch box with the best cartoon illustration on it ever! I'm not familiar with this hip hop artist - M.F. Doom - but I'm so tempted to buy it just because of the packaging. And it comes with cards! So cool. Someone should do this with a kids' book.

Lastly, there's this children's book called Imagine:

It's got fun lift-the-flaps and pages that elongate to transform an image into something else.

I found these great drawings done by kids that were inspired by the book Imagine! They fold and they you pull them open to reveal something else. This is a great art project for kids....

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


I think this is a great promo for school visits:

If I had my act together I'd put together a video like this. Maybe someday....

Monday, May 2, 2011

Graffiti artist Saber - painting US flag controversy

Saber was a contest finalist in Organizing for America’s Health Care Video Challenge.

And here comes Fox News....

Saber's explanation:

Saber's flag...

Looks a lot like Jasper John's flag, painted in 1945 - 1955.

Sunday, May 1, 2011


I ordered a flip book for myself. I'll let you know what it looks like in person when I get it!