Celebrate Multi-Cultural Children’s Book Day.

I ran this post a few years back, but it is relevant now more than ever.

Saturday, January 27, 2018 is Multicultural Children’s Book Day.  Why not join the celebration by reading some great books that honor all kinds of cultures.  Here are some old and new ones from my collection:

1. THE PEACE BELL by Margi Preus (Illustrated by Hideko Takahashi (Henry Holt 2008): This story is inspired by the American-Japanese Friendship Peace Bell that was brought to America by a US Navy Peace crew who found it abandoned in a Japanese ship yard after the end of WWII. They later brought it back to Japan as an act of friendship and peace.  Another book by Margi is the MG historical WEST OF THE MOON, that takes place in Norway.  A wonderful introduction to Scandinavian culture and a riveting folktale.

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2. IN A VILLAGE BY THE SEA by Muon Van, illustrated by April Chu (Creston Books 2015): A beautifully illustrated and tenderly told circular tale of a Vietnamese fisherman and the family who waits for his return. This book has received numerous starred reviews and well-deserved accolades.

3. LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET by Matt DeLaPena just won the 2016 Newbery Medal.  Take a peek at this delightful story honoring Hispanic culture.

3. GRANDMOTHER THORN by Katey Howes ( Ripple Grove Press 2017) a wonderful picture book about stubbornness, perseverance and love.  Beautifully told and artfully illustrated, it is sure to be a favorite for years to come.

What are some of your favorite multi-cultural titles?


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Interview with Detective Wilcox about The Case of the Poached Egg.

Today I am meeting with Detective Wilcox, #2 Missing Food Investigator on the force at Ed’s Farm, to discuss the latest developments in The Case of the Poached Egg.

DBJ: Is it true Henrietta’s precious egg, Penny, was egg-napped on the eve of Farmer Ed’s Big Speggtacular?

DW: At 10:00 am on Tuesday Henrietta Hen reported the disappearance of her egg, Penny.

DBJ: Was it an egg-napping?

DW: It’s too soon to tell.

DBJ: Any suspects?

DW: I can’t comment on the specifics of an ongoing investigation, but I can tell you we plan on speaking with particular animals of interest.

DBJ: Do you think Penny’s disappearance has something to do with the Speggtacular?

DW: We’re exploring all possible angles.  

DBJ: Was fowl play involved?

DW: On a farm with over 100 hungry thieving animals, it’s always a possibility.

DBJ: Are those cheese donuts on your desk? I’ve never had one.

DW: Help yourself.

DBJ: Do you know how they came about?

DW: The cheese donuts? Some crazy children’s book author named Robin Newman came up with the idea. Now I’ve got to scramble if I’m going to crack this case. Let’s hope this case finishes sunny side up. Sunny side up, indeed.

About Robin Newman:  

Raised in New York and Paris, Robin was a practicing attorney and legal editor, but she now prefers to write about witches, mice, pigs and peacocks. She’s the author of The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake, A Wilcox & Griswold Mystery (Creston Books) and Hildie Bitterpickles Needs Her Sleep (Creston Books). The second book in the Wilcox & Griswold mystery series,

The Case of the Poached Egg (Creston Books), releases April 2017 (but is already available for pre-order at your favorite independent bookstore, Amazon and Barnes & Noble) and No Peacocks! (Sky Pony Press), flies onto bookshelves fall 2017. Robin lives in New York with her husband, son, goldfish, and two spoiled English Cocker Spaniels.

Website: www.robinnewmanbooks.com

Twitter: @robinnewmanbook

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/RobinNewmanBooks/339179099505049

 

 

 

 

 

 

April Chu: On Illustration, Art, and Picture Book Success.

I had the pleasure of meeting picture book illustrator APRIL CHU at the 2015 American Library Association Convention in San Fransisco (ALA).  We shared a table and signed books for our publisher CRESTON BOOKS. Since then, April’s books have been earning recognition for the beauty and distinct quality of her illustrations.  Here she is to talk about her process and how the books came to be.

  1. Tell us a bit about your background and art training.

I studied architecture at UC Berkeley and worked as an architect for over ten years before I decided I wanted to be a children’s book illustrator. I never had any formal art training, but I don’t think I went a day in my life without doing some sort of doodling.

2. What brought you to illustration?

I’ve always loved drawing but I didn’t know how to channel that into something I can do professionally. Then in 2009 I took a children’s book illustration course at the UC Berkeley Extension and I fell in love with the whole book making process. A few years later, I decided to pursue illustration seriously.

3. Two recent books you’ve illustrated – A VILLAGE BY THE SEA, and ADA BYRON LOVELACE AND THE THINKING MACHINE –  are with CRESTON BOOKS, which happens to be my publisher as well.  How did you end up working for Creston?

I met Marissa Moss at a book party that she was hosting. She had just started up her press, Creston Books. I brought along my portfolio and she thought I’d be a good fit for a manuscript she had just acquired called IN A VILLAGE BY THE SEA (Muon Van, author).   Village Cover (1)

I read the story and knew instantly that that was the project for me! After completing the artwork, Marissa offered me another book. This time it was an intriguing biography about the world’s first computer programmer, Ada Byron Lovelace. Working with Marissa and Creston Books has been such an amazing collaborative effort. I hope there are many more collaborations to come!

 

  1. The books mentioned have been earning a lot of praise and well-deserved starred reviews. How has that changed things for your career?

It has been great! I am usually working on my artwork alone and I only really get feedback from my editor and my husband. So once the book is released into the world, it’s such a relief and wonderful feeling when it’s welcomed with such warmth and positive attention. As an illustrator, the reviews and feedback definitely help me stay in the business.

5. I adore your illustration. They are so richly textured and three dimensional.  I feel like I can touch the drawings and everything will come to life.   Tell us a bit about your process.

Thank you! Before I begin sketching, I will read a manuscript many times so that I can do some initial brainstorming. For nonfiction stories like ADA BYRON LOVELACE AND THE THINKING MACHINE (Laurie Wallmark, author) there is usually some extensive research involved.    Ada Cover

After brainstorming and researching, I begin working on the thumbnail sketches, then the book dummy, and then the final sketch. This process can be quite lengthy with lots of revisions along the way. To create the final art, I scan the final pencil sketch into the computer and color the image digitally.

 

  1. What’s a typical work day? 

I usually wake up whenever my 6 month old wakes up, which is usually pretty early. I take care of her and then have a cup of coffee and something healthy for breakfast. I try to sneak work in while she naps which can be half an hour at a time or a few hours at time.

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My husband helps out when he’s home so I can get some extra work done, but usually I am pretty exhausted by then. Basically my work day currently revolves around my daughter! I am still getting used to the new mommy routine and I don’t really have a typical work day anymore.

 

  1. Any words of advice for would-be illustrators?

My advice would be to have a good website with a solid portfolio. And try to get your work out there and don’t be afraid to network! You never know who you are going to meet. It could lead to your next job.

8. What’s next?

I am working on my next picture book about America’s first female detective, Kate Warne. The story is written by Marissa Moss and the book will be published by Creston Books and released Spring 2017. Then afterwards I am illustrating a sweet story about a boy going on a fly fishing trip with his grandfather. This book will be published by Abrams and released Spring 2018. When I am not illustrating, I enjoy traveling and spending time with my family.

April Chu Headshot (2)Website: www.aprilchu.com

Twitter: @AprilChuART

One Witch, Some Noisy Neighbors, and a Real Estate Agent = Picture Book!

Today’s post is brought to you by my author friend and fellow blogger, ROBIN NEWMAN.

How did Hildie Bitterpickles Need Her Sleep come about?

The idea for Hildie Bitterpickles Needs Her Sleep started with my neighbor’s wonderful witch weathervane.  HildieWeathervaneI kept staring at it from my bedroom window, and I kept thinking what if a witch had some real estate problems. (Of course, I’m sure this is what normal people think about when they see a witch weathervane. They think about real estate.) And so began the story of Hildie Bitterpickles. At first, it wasn’t just Hildie. There were three witches: Hildie, Marge, and Blanche. The three were house hunting and their real estate agent found them a cozy cottage at the tippy top of a mountain. And sure enough, during the stormy season the house along with all its furniture, books, potions, brooms, spiders, cats, dogs, and of course witches, would teeter and totter, and in spite of the chaos somehow the house would turn out to be home sweet home. But the story was dialogue heavy with three witches and I had to say goodbye to Marge and Blanche. Little by little, I turned my attention to the kind of neighbors a witch would have. Naturally, they would be noisy, inconsiderate, and of course, fairy tale characters. And what if these neighbors were so awful, that even a witch had to hire a real estate agent to find her a new home? After about a year of rewrites with the most incredible critique group in the universe and beyond, the rest is pretty much Hildie Bitterpickles Needs Her Sleep picture book history.

HildieCoverFINAL

Hildie Bitterpickles Needs Her Sleep  (Creston Books) flies onto bookshelves April 12, 2016, and is currently available for preorder on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and at your local independent bookstore.      HIGH RES. 20140513_robin_newman_0051

 

Robin was a practicing attorney and legal editor, but she now prefers to write about witches, mice, pigs, and peacocks. She is the author of The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake, A Wilcox & Griswold Mystery, illustrated by Deborah Zemke (Creston Books 2015), about two hardboiled mouse detectives on the hunt for Miss Rabbit’s missing carrot cake. (Note the names of the animals have been changed to protect the good guys.) carrotcake_cover03

She lives in New York, among many noisy neighbors, and spends many weekends strangely obsessing about witch weathervanes.

Find Robin at:

Website: www.robinnewmanbooks.com    Twitter: @robinnewmanbook

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/RobinNewmanBooks/339179099505049

And be sure to check out the Hildie Bitterpickles Needs Her Sleep book trailer!

https://youtu.be/WDvzxiV0OwE

Hildie Bitterpickles Needs Her Sleep (Illustrated by Chris Ewald) is currently available for pre-order on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and at your local indie.

 Here are some fun pages that you and your child can print out to go with the story.

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 hildie_puzzle_blank

New Spring Picture Books from Creston Books

CRESTON BOOKS – the small publisher run by Marissa Moss in Berkeley, CA – continues to impress readers and reviewers alike.  Many of its books, my own WHEELS OF CHANGE included, have won awards.  The new spring list is out and it looks like another winner.   Check out these gems:

The Girl Who Saved Yesterday
Written by Julius Lester, Illustrated by Carl Angel                Yesterdaycvr

Julius Lester at his best, language so rich you can feel it on your tongue

When the girl, Silence, is sent by the trees to save Yesterday, she doesn’t know what her
task is, only that it is important. Returning to the village that cast her out, Silence recognizes her
purpose: to join the dead with the living in an act that celebrates their memory.

“The Girl Who Saved Yesterday reads like an ancient myth. At times I found myself getting
lost in the dreamlike text, but the joys of re-reading allowed me to dig deeper into the stunning
illustrations. A challenging, but ultimately very provocative tale with illustrations to match.”
– Martha Pettit, Folio Books
ISBN: 978-1-939547-24-8              Ages: 4 to 9

Hildie Bitterpickles Needs Her Sleep
By Robin Newman, Illustrated by Chris Ewald

Hildie Bitterpickles has the perfect home until a cast of noisy neighbors move in next
door. Who can sleep near a giant clomping on his beanstalk, children running all over their
shoe house or three blind mice who like to play with hammers and saws?     HildieCoverFINAL

“Bewitchingly funny, Hildie Bitterpickles’s story leaves kids howling with laughter while
sharing with them a lesson about how to solve our problems and get along with others.”
– Mr. Gilvarry’s Third Grade, Southold Elementary School

“This magical story teaches us all that it is better to face your troubles, rather than run
away from them. Young readers will delight as they recognize some noisy guest stars among
the pages, visiting us from classic fairy tales.”
– April Howe, Villa Park Public Library
ISBN: 978-1-939547-23-1        Ages: 4 to 8

Mira’s Diary: California Dreaming By Marissa Moss
Mira travels to 1864 San Francisco to confront her mother about changing history only to learn that things aren’t what they appear and much more is at stake than she could have imagined.
In the last book of the time-travel series, Mira explores the past of her familiar Bay Area,
discovering layers of history in San Francisco and learning the real reason her mother has
been working to change history. On the way, she meets Mark Twain and uncoversMiraCalifCvr the Watcher’s real identity.

“Readers will enjoy this enthralling glimpse of history.”
– School Library Journal
“An engrossing, diary-style blend of history, mystery, and time travel.”
– Publishers Weekly

ISBN: 978-1-939547-22-4    Ages: 8 to 13

 

 

Busy Busy by Lucy Scott

What do toddlers really do all day? Busy, Busy lets you in on the secrets of their imaginative world.
Parents may think their toddlers are simply playing or making messes, but really they’re building cities, going on exciting adventures, and creating masterpieces.

“Busy Busy captures in stunningly detailed illustrations the glory that is an energetic toddler. Kids will adore seeing what a mess the nameless busy, busy narrator can make in this quirky, fun book.”
– Martha Pettit, Folio Books                 BusyCvr

“In the delightful Busy Busy parents are sure to recognize their own child, whether she is an explorer, an architect, a master chef, or just plain tired.
– Jim Averbeck, author of One Word from Sophia
ISBN: 978-1-939547-25-5
Ages: 3 to 5

Please address any questions to Marissa Moss:
marissamoss@crestonbooks.co
Creston Books
PO Box 9369
Berkeley, CA 94709

facebook.com/crestonbooks

Twitter @CrestonBooks
http://www.crestonbooks.co

 

Easy, Old-fashioned Gingerbread.

Today I am posting a second recipe from my book WHEELS OF CHANGE – Creston 2014. ( the first one was for sugar cookies that appeared on 12-12-15).  Not many people seem to make GINGERBREAD anymore.  But I find the simple, spicy, and slightly sweet cake a great breakfast or tea-time addition.  It doesn’t need to be frosted and still has a satisfying  taste.

Mrs. Jackson’s Gingerbread :
1 C sugar
¼ lb. butter or shortening 2 ½C flour
¾ C boiling water 2 tsp baking soda
2 eggs 2 tsp ginger
¾ C molasses ½ tsp salt
1 TBSP white vinegar

1. Grease and flour a square cake pan. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl. Add eggs. Add water, molasses and vinegar. Stir until blended.
3. Add dry ingredients to wet mixture. Pour into prepared pan.
4. Bake 35-45 minutes. If a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out dry, it’s done.  

If you want to add a bit more sweetness, dust with powdered sugar.  OR, you can have a slice spread with apple butter. 2014-12-08 08.08.15

Enjoy the cake and have a very Happy New Year!  May 2016 be filled with sweet treats, acts of kindness, peace and prosperity, and many blessings to all of you!

Home Made Treats: Sugar Cookies

This easy and tasty recipe for sugar cookies is one of FOUR found in my MG historical WHEELS OF CHANGE.  You can make the dough ahead and roll it out when ready.  Break out the cookie cutters and gather the kids around for an old-fashioned taste of home.

EMILY’S SUGAR COOKIES                           sugar cookies 2
1/4 pound butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp cream or milk
1 1/4 cups flour
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder

1.Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Cream the butter, then gradually add the sugar, beating until light.
3. Add the egg, vanilla, and cream or milk, and beat thoroughly.
4. Mix the flour, salt, and baking powder together, add to the first mixture, and blend well.  Mix until a soft dough forms.  Refrigerate dough for at least 4 hours or overnight.

5. Roll dough onto lightly floured surface until 1/8 inch thick.  Use your favorite cookie cutters to make the shapes.  You can use the rim of a glass for circular shaped cookies.  You can also sprinkle colored sugars or cinnamon on the dough before baking.
6.  Arrange on cookie sheets 1 inch apart.   Bake for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned.

sugar cookies
Note: Recipes were adapted from the 1896 edition of the Fannie Farmer Cookbook and the Boston Cooking School Cookbook.