Thursday, August 30, 2012


This week at the bookstore a customer asked me this: "I'm looking for books for a two year old with saws in it."

"Saws?" I asked. I laughed.

"My son is obsessed with tools... especially saws."

I saw that she was serious.

"Well, there's a great book that's a board book kind of thing that has removable cardboard tools..."

"Oh, that's too young for him. I need something older."

Too young I thought? She did say he was two, right?

"Even a book with a lawnmower in it..."

"Oh, I wrote a book about a man who mowed lawns... but it wasn't published."

"Too bad! I'd buy it right now!"

"My son isn't interested in truck books or car books he wants saw books. He reads the Home Depot catalog."

"That is hilarious. You know, I'm not so sure that a book like that exists..." I thought about DK doing a book all about dangerous saws: jig saws... hand saws... band saws... miter saws... circular saws... yeah, that would never fly.

All I have to say is, kids are are a strange breed.

Friday, August 24, 2012


Look at how big and scary these machines were and how close these guys got to them. The machines were also quite attractive...

Thursday, August 23, 2012


I've come up with a new title for myself: REGURISTORIAN

I'm not a historian. I'm not out digging up dinosaur bones and I'm not finding some dusty handwritten note penned by so-and-so. What I DO do is get all that stuff that the historians have dug up and regurgitate it for kids... make it fun... easy to read... and I take out the boring stuff. If need be, I do of course get source material but I mostly regurgitate. Right now I'm giving myself a pretty hard-core science lesson. I'm having a hard time understanding this material. It's not even necessary for what I'm doing but I wanted to educate myself. Perhaps you're wondering what it is that I'm reading about. I really do what to blab about it but I'm seriously paranoid that someone is going to gobble up my idea before I do it. I've been sitting on this thing for years and years. I swear, though, that this is the year that I go for it! I have to. It's in me and it wants to come out! But I'm so panicky that I've sat on it for too long and it's going to be done elsewhere. This is bad because I always tell beginners that they are crazy for worry about this stuff. Oh well.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Check out one of the first films ever made. This one is a reenactment of the Mary Queen of Scots Beheading.


Sorry... I laughed. 


Children's book break! I think these portraits are lovely so I thought I'd post them. They're by Alan Coulson. You can check out the website here.

Monday, August 20, 2012


It's pretty smart to shelve this new series:

 Next this super popular one:

They both start with "Captain," only Captain Awesome goes right before Captain Underpants. Thinking smart!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


I'm posting a few covers that I've encountered lately. First are the covers that caught my eye for good reasons. I think they're eye catching. Fun. I think kids will want to pick up these books:


This cover is a lot of fun. The yellow font is really bold and the font is an exciting and excellent choice. The comics in the background blend right in but at the same time jump out. I want to pick this one up. It says POW! to me.

This book's font is nice and crazy. It's reminiscent of the old comics, with the drippy type. And, of course, the cooky comic characters are great. I don't know what's happening on the cover but all sorts of craziness is going on. I want to know what it is! All sorts of wildness is a' happening. 

This cover utilizes only three colors: Black and white and pink, yet it does it so well. The title says HOW TO ROCK BRACES but the cover itself really rocks. It's loud but not too loud - it's fun at the same time. The lines in the background contain some edgy ones, some round, bubbly ones, and some long swoopy ones--that combination balances out this cover and the starburst containing the title really grab you. I want to know what this book is about. 

This cover is different from the others. It's dark and moody. What really works is the perspective of the drawing: the characters are coming toward the viewer. They're walking from the light into the darkness. The viewer will look closer and think: What IS that darkness? This technique makes the cover intriguing. And, if you look closely, on the left side you'll see that there is a shadowed figure lurking... and then on the right? That makes things even more intriguing. And you'll also notice that the orphans are ready for a fight. The font fits nicely. It doesn't compete too much with the art.  What's most important here is that the art causes a lot of intrigue and that's what works here. 

I love this cover. The font, colors, and art all match really nicely. It's goofy fun. It's obviously an election book... or something about saving an election from an evil doer. The cover has a lot of personality so I'd pick up this book. Anything with long, curly mustaches are good in my book!


Here we have the covers that I'm not so fond of. I think they're boring. The first one doesn't say anything about a "war" of any kind. It's a very stereotypical clip art school desk with a wooden kid in freeze frame. Boring! 

This one. Boring! There's no movement on this cover. The central figure is very small and still. The boldest thing on the cover is the author's name and the big yellow circle. I'd see this book and think, "Eh."

This book series looks like clip art gone bad... like what lemon things and glasses and bells can I throw on a white surface and make it stick. I'm not sure why a kid would want to pick these books up. The multi-colored type is really bad too. Blah.

On this cover I see keys and strings and whiteness. Boring. Blah! It seems that they tried to jazz it up by using brightly colored fonts in different colors with a bright circle, all matching the strings. This technique was used in the above lemonade books. It doesn't work. Blah. 

 Here we have a goldfish jumping out of a fish bowl that's the same color as the background and the tabletop. Bad idea. This, again, makes everything pretty boring. This says to me, "Don't read this book, it's all one color faded out blue and it's a snore fest." The odd thing is that the title says OUT OF MY MIND. This cover isn't displaying that all!

Friday, August 10, 2012


This book was first published in France in 2005. It's wordless. I really like the art:

The fox steals the chickens and his friends go after him...

Only the chicken was never in danger. The fox wanted to be friends. All's well that ends well!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


My pal Marc's new book just came out:

It's about co-creator of Batman, Bill Finger. What I love is hearing my fellow children's author's speak. For one, I get to see if I'm better than them or not... and two, I get to steal ideas from them. Seriously, though, I love Marc's talk! This was for an adult audience, obviously, but I really dig it:


In the kids' dept. at the bookstore the bathroom is locked. The bathroom is for KIDS ONLY! I haven't been in the dept. long but I had never heard an argument before... until now. This is how it went:

Can I get the key to the bathroom?

It's for kids' only. The adult bathroom is on the 3rd floor.

But I'm a children's book author.

The bathroom isn't for adults. It's for kids. You can use the bathroom on the 3rd floor.

But I'm an author. I've written three books.


Can I please use the bathroom? I have a kid. He's waiting for me downstairs. I'm in a rush. I have to go...


My coworker rolled his eyes and grabbed the key.

I made a face.

He said: I don't want a tantrum. I sensed a tantrum.

Oh. Okay.

Now... why is it that ANY person would think that they were special enough to use a bathroom that was reserved for kids only? Furthermore, why is it that a children's book author would think that they were special enough to use the bathroom?

UGH! I told my manager that I wanted to tell her that I was the author of 11 books and that I didn't give a damn that she wanted to use the bathroom. She laughed and said, "I know, right?"

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


Maybe you know this book or maybe you don't but it's written by Chris Colfer, who is one of the actors in Glee. Well, his name is on the front so let's presume that he wrote it. 

Now, imagine a scene where I am at a bookstore stacking large quantities of the above actor's books, over and over again. I was in the process of making a very lovely arrangement (you need to alternate the books - spine out, spine in, etc) when a shopper approached me and asked, "Have you been doing this a lot today?" "Uhhh..." I said. I honestly had no idea what she was driving at. Was SHE the one who was knocking over the stacks of books? Was SHE the one who was leaving them ALL OVER THE FLOOR? "Well have you found any sticky-notes in them?" "Sticky notes?" I really thought she was sounding a little batty. I'd already dealt with too much of it that day. Earlier the stack of books had already been knocked down (I saw the woman do it - she was wearing a very conspicuous hat) and then she came back to ask if she could help me re-stack them. I had no idea what was going on. "Sticky notes?" I asked. "It was on twitter today," she said. Chris Colfer tweeted that he hid notes in some of the books he signed... and since he did a signing here people are going to look here first. Fans are going to be going crazy." "Ooooh, so that's why the stacks keep getting knocked over and the books are all over the floor. The adults are doing it. They're looking for the post-it notes." The shopper suggested I leave a sign next to the books noting that there are no sticky notes in the books (since she already checked). 

Below is what was on twitter:

All I have to say is this: It may seem like a great thing to do and but it gives booksellers a really hard time! They don't want to have to go through piles of books that customers leave all over the floor because they're going crazy looking for a post-it note that they may or may not find! In this instance... NOT!

Thursday, August 2, 2012


I think it's very cool that Google is changing its logo daily and incorporating art into it.

This is especially true since magazines are using less and less original art and going for clip art or photography. So thank you google!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


For six months, I worked with other investigators to solve the mystery of the disks. We checked a hundred sighting reports, frequently crossing the trail of Project "Saucer" teams and F.B.I. agents. Old records gave fantastic leads. So did Air Force plans for exploring space. Rocket experts, astronomers, Air Force officials and pilot gave us clues pointing to a startling solution. Many intelligent persons--including scientists--believe that the saucers contain spies from another planet.

What is this from you may be wondering? Well, it's from a book called FLYING SAUCERS ARE REAL printed in 1950.

The copyright hasn't been renewed so it's free for all to read. How did I get to be reading it? The subject of my book, Betty Skelton--stunt pilot, race car driver, potential astronaut, etc.-- read this book and perhaps believed in men from outer space! Huh. Go figure. She said so in an oral interview done by C-SPAN. What I find so interesting about nonfiction is that you never know where it may take you. I learn so much. I also read about the Utah Salt Flats today and how when Betty was driving to beat the speed record she got much salt in her mouth and face because the car was an open cockpit and she was going over 300 miles per hour.

It's hard to write nonfiction because not everything is a neat package. You want your story to fit together like a nice puzzle but life doesn't always flow the way you want it to and it takes turns that you would rather it not take. But the cool part is all the discoveries--the fun and bizarre.