Darlene Beck-Jacobson Presents: A New MG Historical.

I am thrilled beyond words to announce the sale to CRESTON BOOKS of a new MG historical titled WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY.

author pic 1Marissa Moss at Creston Books has acquired Notable Social Studies Award winner Darlene Beck-Jacobson’s next middle grade, WISHES, DARES AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY. This novel in verse crystallizes a boy’s worries about his father, who is MIA in Vietnam, and how his family, new best-friend, and a bully unexpectedly help him find the courage to do the right thing, not just the easy thing. Publication is slated for Spring 2020; Liza Fleissig at Liza Royce Agency negotiated the deal for world rights. 

Here’s a blurb about the book: 

Eleven year old Jack misses his Dad who is MIA in Vietnam. It’s been months since he and his family had word of his whereabouts. The last thing Jack wants to do is spend summer with his grandparents. Mom believes it will be good for them all – Jack, his sister Katy, Mom, Gran and Pops – to be together while they wait for word about Dad. Keeping busy will keep them out of trouble and help them think of other things.

Jack expects the worst summer of his life. The first summer without. Without Dad, without friends, without his room and all the things that remind him of Dad. When Jack meets a girl named Jill – a girl with a brother who makes trouble for both of them – things they believe are turned upside down. Welcome to a summer of fishing, camping, bullies, and a fish who grants wishes. A fish that could be the answer to Jack’s problem. But when Jill makes wishes of her own, things don’t turn out the way they expected.  Every wish has a consequence.

Will the fish grant Jack’s biggest wish?  Will Jack be brave enough to ask? 

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Authors and Illustrators and Editors…Oh My:When Creating a Book is a Collaborative Effort + Free PB manuscript critique by PB Author Vivian Kirkfield.

I’ve always been a fan of collaboration. As a kid, I loved getting together with friends to plan a fun project. As a kindergarten teacher, I treasured the contributions from parents who brought a wealth of diversity and talent to school functions. It seemed natural to me that there would be a team effort when a book was created—with input from author, illustrator, and editor. But unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen.

In theory, the author brings her vision to the story with words. The illustrator adds another layer of vision. But some editors may fear if too much communication is allowed between author and illustrator, the author may try to influence the illustrator to do things her way. Although I understand that point of view, I also believe that there is so much good that can come out of working as a team.

At this point in my writing journey, I have multiple book deals. That is certainly something to cheer about. But it’s also given me the opportunity to experience different publishing processes. The first contract I signed was for SWEET DREAMS, SARAH (Creston Books, May 1, 2019). Sweet Dreams, Sarah: From Slavery to Inventor

I never saw early sketches, there was no collaboration between author and illustrator, and when the color layouts were finally shared with me, there were many changes that needed to be made for historical accuracy. I’m grateful that those changes have been made and the finished product will be stellar, but that is why a book that was signed in November 2015 isn’t launching until May 2019. Happily, for the other two books that also launch next year, there has been a level of collaboration which exceeded even my expectations. 

PIPPA’S PASSOVER PLATE (Holiday House, Feb 5, 2019) began as a Picture Book Idea Month thought back in 2013. cover on amazon

When one of my in-person critique buddies, author/illustrator Jill Weber, saw it at the end of 2017, she fell in love with it and brought it to her long-time editor in NYC who also fell in love with it and bought it on the spot. Jill signed on to illustrate and what followed was pure pleasure for me, although lots of hard work for Jill. She showed me early sketches—I loved each one. She shared early color illustrations—they were fantastic. And when the book dummy was complete, we shared a cup of hot chocolate at our favorite local meeting place while I got to flip through the pages to see Pippa Mouse and all the other characters come to life. Hurray for collaboration! 

When my agent sent FOUR OTTERS TOBOGGAN: AN ANIMAL COUNTING BOOK to the editor at PomegranateKids, she also sent some sketches from one of her illustrator clients. Essie had a feeling that Mirka Hokkanen’s style would be the perfect match for my lyrical text. And she was spot on right! The editor loved the partnership and signed Mirka to do the illustrations. four otters cover amazon

Mirka and I live 5000 miles apart and can’t meet for hot chocolate, but we were able to connect via Facebook messaging and email. And thank goodness for that, because Mirka, being a conscientious illustrator, did her research before she began drawing (sadly, not every illustrator does that). She uncovered a big problem. All ten of the endangered animals were supposed to inhabit the ecosystem of the Colorado Rockies. “No!” Mirka said. “Not the Golden Cheeked Warbler.” “Yes, it is,” I replied. “It’s found in Colorado Bend State Park!”

Now, wouldn’t you think that Colorado Bend State Park is in Colorado? I certainly did. But no. It’s actually in Texas.

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Thank goodness for Mirka’s attention to detail and for our ability to collaborate. We researched other birds and found the perfect substitute—the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher. Of course, we immediately let the editor know why we were making the change and he was totally fine with that. But how much better it was that we made the change before the publisher fact-checked and discovered my incorrect information.

Later in the process, Mirka sent me a sketch of one of the spreads and she questioned why I had peregrine falcon babies in a burrow. “Don’t they live on a high cliff ledge?” she asked. They certainly do, but the ‘bobbing beaks retreating to the borrowed burrow’ referred to the five burrowing owls from the previous spread, not to the six peregrine falcons who were circling overhead. 5 burrowing owls

If Mirka and I were not collaborating, she would have spent a lot of time refining her sketch and perhaps even crafting the block from which she would make the woodcut illustration. Or worse, if I didn’t get to see the book until it was almost ready to ship, expensive changes would have to be made. Hurray for collaboration!

Just a few weeks ago, I got to see the dummy for FROM HERE TO THERE: INVENTIONS THAT CHANGED THE WAY THE WORLD MOVES (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Fall 2020). Illustrator Gilbert Ford had a huge task…nine nonfiction picture book bios in one compilation book. The editor kindly asked me to comment on the PDF, but there was very little for me to say except how much I loved it! And although I haven’t seen any sketches yet for MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD: THE INSPIRING FRIENDSHIP OF ELLA FITZGERALD AND MARILYN MONROE (Little Bee Books, Spring 2020), I’m thrilled with the portfolio of Allenanna Harris, the illustrator who will be bringing that story to life. I know she will do a fabulous job and I look forward to the collaborative effort that will create a wonderful picture book for children.

Although this writing journey can be frustrating at times and disappointing at others, I always feel blessed to be on it. And lucky to have all of you as my traveling companions. I truly believe that we can turn our dreams into reality if we keep moving forward, help one another, and never give up. Our destination is within reach.

Vivian is giving away ONE PICTURE BOOK CRITIQUE to a random person who leaves a comment on this post. All commenters names will be placed in a hat and one winner will be drawn and announced on this blog on Thursday February 7, 2019. If you share this post on Twitter or FB, or reblog it, let me know and I will add your name twice to the hat.

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Vivian Kirkfield’s career path is paved with picture books. She shelved them at the library during her college years. She read them to her students when she taught kindergarten. And she writes them. She is the author of Pippa’s Passover Plate (Holiday House, February 2019); Four Otters Toboggan: An Animal Counting Book (PomegranateKids, March 2019); Sweet Dreams, Sarah (Creston Books, May 2019); Making Their Voices Heard: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe (Little Bee Books, Spring 2020); and From Here to There: Inventions That Changed the Way the World Moves (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Fall 2020). Vivian lives in the quaint New England village of Amherst, New Hampshire where the old stone library is her favorite hangout and her young grandson is her favorite Monopoly partner. You can visit her website at Picture Books Help Kids Soar where she hosts the #50PreciousWords Writing Challenge or connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Linkedin.

PB Author Laurie Wallmark Presents:Hedy Lamarr’s Double Life.

Best-selling Non-fiction PB Author of ADA BYRON LOVELACE AND THE THINKING MACHINE (Creston books), and GRACE HOPPER: QUEEN OF COMPUTER CODE (Sterling) has a new book about one of the most glamorous women from WWII era Hollywood, Hedy Lamarr. LAURIE WALLMARK’S  new book explores the brains behind the beauty of one of Hollywood’s most popular leading ladies.

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  • Horn Book:  “Lamarr … devised a new and improved system, the workings of which are explained in simple terms in Wallmark’s peppy text”
  • Kirkus: “The process of invention and inspiration are explained in a succinct and inspiring way”
  • Publishers Weekly: “Part picture book biography and part tech primer”

Darlene here with my review of the book:

HEDY LAMARR’S DOUBLE LIFE is an engaging and entertaining tale of the brains behind a Hollywood legend. I love how playing the piano inspired Hedy to invent a secure torpedo guidance system. This book gives clear and easily understood descriptions of frequency hopping and how her pioneering work helps us keep cell phone calls and texts private. My favorite quote: “Do good anyway…think big anyway…build anyway.”An inspiring message from an inspiring woman. 5 Stars

Laurie Wallmark
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Hedy Lamarr’s Double Life (Sterling, 2019)
Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code (Sterling, 2017)
Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine (Creston, 2015)

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?


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.

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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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