Picture Perfect Friday Book – a spin!

Perfect Picture Book Friday is STILL taking a break, but I had to share this! Maybe I can add it to the list on Susanna Hill’s blog later, or inspire someone else to write a review!

Author: Julia Donaldson
Axel Scheffler
Arthur A. Levine Books; Reprint edition, 2013
Age Level: 4-7
Themes: rats, thieves, animals, stories in rhyme
Opening: The Highway Rat was a baddie. The Highway Rat was a beast. He took what he wanted and ate what he took. His life was one long feast. His teeth were sharp and yellow, his manners were rough and rude, And the Highway Rat went riding – riding – riding – riding along the highway and stealing the traveler’s food.
Summary: (From Amazon) From the bestselling creators of THE GRUFFALO, Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler
Quick! Hide all your goodies! The Highway Rat’s coming, and he’s going to steal your snacks… He takes clover from a rabbit, nuts from a squirrel — he even steals his own horse’s hay! Can no one stop him? The creators of STICK MAN and A GOLD STAR FOR ZOG stand and deliver this fabulous new story of a wickedly loveable villain who gets his just deserts.

This find on the NEW bookshelf at the library made me gasp! I have become SUCH a big fan of their collaborations, that I keep my fingers crossed and hope they continue! But I don’t like being disappointed, so I tucked it in my bag to savor the excitement (and wouldn’t want to shriek in the library, though the children’s librarians would understand). On the way home I told myself, “Now, Julie, the chances of this becoming another favorite are slim (I am a good convincer!), it will probably be good, probably not great, just enjoy it for what it is.” It’s a good trick of mine, and useful for someone who enjoys going from a calm state to euphoria in seconds. And it worked again! Aww, man – I LOVE IT!!! I’m like a kid, I love the characters, the repetition, but as an adult I know the poem from whence it was inspired and so could enjoy it all the more! Hope you do too!

If you have a few minutes, listen to the kids reading this book HERE.

And for Anne of Green Gables aficianados – enjoy:

Read Aloud in Another Lingo

The other day my daughter and I were having a blast reading aloud a few board books brought home from the juvenile Spanish section (did I mention, my library is my second home). Not only can you find books there that have been translated, but a plethora of beautiful books you won’t find in the ‘regular’ section – some that would not have been translated because they are not politically correct enough for the American market. Yep, you heard right! You won’t find a board book about a boy on the playground who has an ‘accident’ at the bottom of the slide – and then later pees in the playground bushes. Some of the art has a different flavor too, a bit more abstract or grown-up, like in El día que olvidé cerrar el grifo (found a translation for the book description – sure helped!)

Great reasons for venturing into the world languages section! But what my 19 yr old (yes, you read right) and I had so much fun with was reading aloud in a language we don’t speak, outside of a restaurant, and trying to figure out what’s going on in the story. So I am including a few picks here to inspire you to do the same. The following was translated from German. Since we happen to speak German, we had fun translating it back!

Here’s one I am putting on hold, because researching always leads to something exciting!

Just a little something for your added enjoyment: http://vimeo.com/25215616


I just picked up this inspiring new picture book, and would like to suggest we ‘use it’ for today’s prompt: WORDLES

Author: Amy Krause Rosenthal
Serge Bloch
Chronicle Books, 2013
Age Level: 4 and up
Themes: word play, english language, homonyms
Opening: “A book of wordles? What is a wordle?”
Summary: (From my library catalog) Uses colorful illustrations to demonstrate examples of “wordles,” or wordplay phrases that sound alike but have different meanings, including “I see” and “icy,” and “I scream” and “ice cream.”

I find it inspiring not necessarily for incorporating more homonyms in picture book manuscripts, but to have fun with illustration ideas, as Serge Bloch does with energetic and flowing simplicity. For those who don’t follow regularly, I have been doodling together with the Doodle-in-May facebook group, now again in July (we are having way too much fun!), and this month we are lightening Alison‘s load by suggesting prompts too (check out the last one I suggested if you’ve never heard of Notan).  I like using pencil and paper, and recently I’ve been learning how to make use of my tablet’s simple app ‘S Note’.


Taxi crab

I love playing with the word prompt, with the rhythm and magic that a rhyme can offer too. Here’s a quick one done in Adobe Illustrator for robot (July 12) and though I could draw a robot doing many things, why not go with a wordle when the opportunity arises!


Adult Protagonists in Picture Books

Just because PPBF is taking a summer break I certainly haven’t stopped pouring over great picks. This week I came  across this beautiful award-winning book written by Lore Segal and illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky (published in 1985, reissued in 2005) and had to wonder, once again, why is it that editors shun adult protagonists? Are children really unable to relate to them? Why are some of my favorites still so popular? Any one have a title they’d like to add?

Doodle-A-Day 8

My last prompt, so I had to deviate. No ‘s’ today, but NOTAN. And don’t feel bad, I also hadn’t heard of this Japanese design concept involving the play and placement of light and dark as they are placed next to the other in art and imagery (definition from Wikipedia). Not until someone mentioned this book about it.

Another friend (Hi Lori!) bought it and decided to do some of the exercises with her aspiring-artist daughter. Which inspired me to get it from my library  – and I am fascinated! It strongly reminds me of my training in composition during my first year studying advertising design at FIT (we were not all fashion freaks there!). I had a wonderful teacher whose name sadly eludes me. She worked us hard, and I believe it paid off. But with this book I feel like I’m taking a refresher course, and I wanted to share it with the doodlers. For those in the know, yeah, it’s all about positive and negative space – the bare essentials.  I won’t attempt to explain more (watch video below!), but I’ll list a bunch of links at the bottom, in case you’ve been ‘ignited’!




A blog called Notan Drawing

Virtual Art Academy Notan Painting Lessons

Notan Expanding the Square


I’d like to thank Alison Hertz again, for helping me get back to doodling, and all the members on our facebook page, who inspire and encourage each other every day!

Doodle-A-Day 7 (and a book review!)

Doodle-A-Day prompt for July 7th is…..STORM. Another ‘s’ word. S looks a lot like 5, and I am suggesting 5 days worth, so. . . No, not really a good excuse, is it? Too late!

If you’ve got a hankering to join the doodlers – go to Alison’s blog HERE.

And a HAPPY BIRTHDAY wish for my sister!

Taken right after a powerful one swept over last week.

Taken right after a powerful one swept over last week.




Photo by Richard Ford, found at thephotoargus.com


This picture book is just right for this prompt!


Author: Linda Ashman
Christian Robinson
Houghton Mifflin, 2013
Age Level: 4-8
Themes: rain, friendship, grumpiness
Opening: “Rain!”
Summary: (From Amazon) One rainy day in the city, an eager little boy exclaims, “Rain!” Across town a grumpy man grumbles, “Rain.” In this endearing picture book, a rainy-day cityscape comes to life in vibrant, cut-paper-style artwork. The boy in his green frog hat splashes in puddles—“Hoppy, hoppy, hoppy!”—while the old man curses the “dang puddles.” Can the boy’s natural exuberance (and perhaps a cookie) cheer up the grouchy gentleman and turn the day around? Scroll down on the Amazon page under Editorial Reviews for cool info and pics, like alternative covers and preliminary sketches.

Why I like this book: Recently I went to talk to first graders about making picture books and I took this one along to help discuss how the pictures can tell or add much to the story, so that’s one reason! It’s chock-full of story-telling images. It is also just plain sweet! I am just discovering Robinson’s picture books and am in awe. (Click on his name above for more to look at too.) And I am strongly reminded of Gyo Fujikawa in these illustrations, whose work I also greatly admire. Visit this pinterest page to view some of Fujikawa’s work.

Click on this image for another review on storyteller John Weaver’s blog

For my fellow PB writers: Linda mentions this about the text on her site: “There are just 78 words in RAIN!, but the manuscript submitted to editors had more than 1,000 words. Feel free to take a look at the manuscript below. And check out my messy storyboard as well.” So head over by clicking on her name above!

Doodle-A-Day 6

SAD, not really, no. But illustrators need to work on facial expressions and postures that convey feelings, emotions.

And since I already had two words that begin with ‘s’. . . well, why not have a good cry.

To find out more on the doodlers, visit Alison’s post HERE.







AND a book suggestion: My Neighbor Is a Dog, by Isabel Minhós Martins and Madalena Matoso

The parent’s attitude made me sad, quite frankly! But it’s definitely a vibrant, well-designed book with quite the tale to tell!

Click here to read more at goodreads