Friday, December 19, 2008
Kids Heart Authors Day!
Kids Heart Authors Day is a new campaign to support literacy, children's authors and illustrators, and independent bookstores. What else could you want? Here's how it works: authors, illustrators, and bookstores from around New England can sign up to participate at www.kidsheartauthors.com. They will then be paired up and on February 14th, kids can show up to the bookstore nearest them to get signed copies of their favorite books and meet the people that created them. The events will take place from 10:00 a.m. til noon. More details are at the website, and we'll keep you up-to-date about Charlesbridge authors and illustrators who plan to attend.
Friday, December 5, 2008
Mitali Perkins talks about life between cultures
Check out this wonderful interview with Mitali Perkins, author of Rickshaw Girl, at Kabiliana, the fantastic blog about books by Valentina Acava Mmaka.
Posted by Donna
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Did Galileo Really Have a Dog?
This is a question children ask me over and over when I visit their classrooms to talk about the great scientist/inventor/- musician/astronomer/all-around Renaissance man Galileo Galilei. You see, there is a picture of Galileo with his dog "Luna" on the cover of my book, Galileo's Journal, which was published in 2006. Putting Luna there was not a frivolous decision, I can assure you. Galileo loved nature and, seemed to have a fondness for animals. In letters to him written by his daughter, Sister Maria Celeste, from her cloistered convent, there is communication about a small donkey kept on his property, as well as doves. And research showed that certain types of dogs were pets in Italian households during Galileo's lifetime. So we put Luna in the book and readers really connected with her. I always assure students that, while I don't know for sure whether he had a dog, Galileo was a gregarious sort of guy and liked companionship. So he might have had a dog like Luna. Kids seem to be okay with this reply.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
I Heart Your Blog
Now it is our turn to spread the blog love to others. The decision was tough and heart-wrenching, but we finally came up with seven (but not nearly all) of our favorites. All we had to do was write them a little love letter, post the links to their blogs, and voila! We heart these blogs:
Three Silly Chicks (For the silliest and funniest kids books around)
7 Impossible Things Before Breakfast (Reviews by grown-ups about kids books--but don't worry, these grown-ups are still a little childish--in a good way!)
Bartography (Of course we have to throw in a little nepotistic shout-out to our author of the upcoming book, The Day-Glo Brothers, Chris Barton. Yo what up Chris!?--that's was the shout-out part)
Guys Lit Wire (Wait, what? Guys read? Well according to this blog they do, and they do it a lot)
Poetry for Children (Helping to keep children's poetry alive and well. Thank goodness for this blog!)
Planet Esme (The coolest place for those who love kid's books, written by a professional readiologist!)
I.N.K-Interesting Non-fiction for Kids (This pretty much sums up half of Charlesbridge's back list)
Friday, October 3, 2008
Writing is a Gift
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
I am Moved to Write
Maybe he has a point. Every August, when we begin our long drive to
He is free to listen to music, or to the news, or to talk on the cell phone, none of which distract me. Once I have engaged my gears, the RPMs (rhymes per minute) keep accelerating and my mind drives full speed ahead.
Oh, I could see myself in a spiffy new car, with lavish leather reclining seats, climate control, quiet interior, mood lighting and a computer with satellite Internet connection.A limo is actually what I have in mind. Instead, we travel in my husband’s work van, loaded chock-full of luggage, 212 pounds of dogs and cat, and towing a sailboat. It happens to be a very nice, roomy vehicle, but its rigid suspension makes for a rather stiff and bumpy ride, and its lack of sound insulation creates a non-stop drone that resembles a ride in an old
But all of this is irrelevant, for I have entered a blissfully oblivious state, and the only sound I hear is the playful babble in my brain.
My facial expressions, I am told, range from agitated twitches to motionless, blank stares. Rob will sometimes try to talk to me, or take my pulse if I don’t respond. But when I do look at him, my expression is glazed-over and strange. He has every right at that point to demand: “Who are you and what have you done with my wife?’
But, he is a patient and supportive man. Rather than feeling abandoned, he spurs me on. And whether it’s his big heart, or strong instinct for survival, he always assumes all of the driving when I am moved to write.
And now I need to talk to my accountant.
Posted by Iza Trapani, author and illustrator of loads and loads of books, but most recently Rufus and Friends: Rhyme Time, our characters of the month (see the bottom of the blog).
While your here, join the poll at the right. And why not follow us? Next month, author Julie Danneberg will be posting here.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
G'day, mate! - a note from Cassie
My name if Cassie. I'm actually a character in an Aussie book called If the Shoe Fits. My wonderful author, Krista Bell, really captured me, I think. I love to dance. LOVE IT! But, the thought of dancing in front of an audience made me want to puke. But when I found out that the best dancer in the whole school--Jake (who is also very cute)--was also afraid, it gave me a weird kind of courage. I figured together we could help each other out. And we did! We even got chosen to be in the superstar dancer, Miranda Farren's, dance troupe. Teamwork really helps to make your dreams come true.
You know, living in Australia isn't so different than living in the United States, I think. Except, at Christmas, it's summer here. But, mostly the kids are just like the kids where you live. I love to dance just like loads of kids in the U.S. I worry about fitting in and wearing the right clothes, but I love hanging out with my friends. We do have different kinds of animals here, like koalas and platypus. If you want to get to know a little bit more about my country and the kids and animals who live here, try reading some of these books:
- Camel Rider (this one actually takes place in the Middle East, but one of the boys is Aussie and it's written by an Aussie--Prue Mason).
- Diary of a Would-be Princess
- Finding Home
- A Platypus, Probably
Hoo-roo! (that means 'see you later').
Friday, August 1, 2008
Before I retired and started writing children's books I was a school social worker in
And yes. Of course I remembered!
As a school social worker I found my work very satisfying and productive. And now writing books for children I find my work very satisfying and productive. I must admit though that writing books for children is LOTS MORE FUN! And for sure it has changed the way some children perceive me!
P.S. When I first retired I was asked if I would be writing books about children with problems. I'll list my last five books and let you decide:
Can I Bring My Pterodactyl to School Ms Johnson? Can I?! Please?!?!
The Witch Who Wanted To Be A Princess
Thursday, July 17, 2008
The Puzzle of Books
I am fond of doing crosswords. Nothing is quite like the burst of satisfaction I get after filling in that last square to make the puzzle complete. I particularly like the Sunday crosswords, which not only have a theme, but usually employ some sort of word play to “get” the theme-related answers. In many ways, writing a nonfiction book is like doing a crossword puzzle. There is a topic or theme that threads its way through the manuscript; there is the network of clues used to create the skeleton, or support, for the theme; and often there is a twist at the end, which creates the “aha” moment, providing the reader with fresh insight.
Just as book writers always have their antennae up for possible book topics, puzzle creators need to come up with potential topics for their theme clues. These can be common phrases whose meanings change with the addition or subtraction of a letter; famous names that can be turned into puns; switched word orders, and so on. When one of these lists gets long enough, they make a puzzle.
In the same way, after I choose a topic for a book, I begin to collect information. Some of that information never gets used. It may be tangential to my main theme, for another age group, or, if the book is short, it may not fit. Some may get saved for another book. But when I think I have enough information, I take what I have and sort it into its various main topics or chapters. My next step is always an outline. I plan my book, page spread by page spread. This provides me with the overall structure of my book. Nothing is ever set in stone. As I work, the details of the plan may change, and I may rearrange parts if it makes sense to do so.
One thing I like about crossword puzzles is the symmetry of the grids. Each puzzle has an overall pattern made by the black and white squares. Usually, one half of the puzzle is a mirror image of the other. One of the challenges for the puzzle creator is finding pairs of theme answers that have an equal number of letters so that they can be placed opposite one another on the grid. In the same way, the structure of a book has to be balanced. It doesn’t have to be exactly symmetrical, but it needs to feel as if each part has relatively equal weight. And just as there are many grids for the puzzle creator to choose from, depending on the requirements of the theme answers, the structure of a book can take many forms as well.
In solving crossword puzzles, everyone has his or her own technique. I start in the upper left and work my way to the lower right. One of my friends answers all the theme clues first and then fills in the other squares. I would like to do this, but generally I need a few hints, so I wait until I’ve filled in enough squares with the regular clues to figure out the key to the week’s theme. The puzzle title helps, but usually involves another level of word play.
When I write my books, I work like my friend, and start with the main themes and gradually add the smaller details. Just like working a puzzle, the completion of the manuscript goes bit by bit, with periods when I surge forward, and other periods when I sit stumped, until suddenly I see how a missing piece pulls everything together.
I am sometimes asked when I do school visits, “What is your favorite part of the writing process?” My answer is always the same: “When I am finished!” Just as I breathe a sigh of satisfaction as I fill in the last square of a crossword puzzle, I have that same sense of accomplishment when the last word is written in the manuscript. Then I know that everything is in its proper place and, hopefully, will cause my readers to say “Aha! I’ve learned something new.”
Caroline Arnold is the author of many books for young readers, including these from Charlesbridge: Wiggle and Waggle, Birds: Natures Magnificent Flying Machines, Did You Hear That? Animals with Super Hearing, Shockers of the Sea and Other Electric Animals, Super Swimmers, Who Has More? Who Has Fewer, and Who Is Bigger? Who Is Smaller?
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
ALA 2008, Anaheim, CA
As ever, ALA was a love-fest of books, librarians, authors and illustrators. We were lucky to host a few in our booth:
Pam Muñoz Ryan signs Our California in California! For the sequel, we'll have to find out what the strange purple Disney flowers were.
First comes love, then comes Eve Bunting autographing The Wedding and Baby Shower
Caroline Arnold and Mary Peterson wiggled and waggled for us.
Marjorie Cowley made us giggle with her tale of ancient Mesopotamia.
The AWESOME April Pulley Sayre signs Trout Are Made of Trees and The Bumblebee Queen.
Pam Turner proves there is life on earth--and beyond.
(no actual family guilt served). But if you're in Anaheim again, you have to go to this restaurant... it was so good, we went twice (not in the same night). It's called Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen and it's a short drive from Anaheim to Orange. The margaritas are fantastic, but you will be dreaming about the churros for ages to come.
The night we all look forward to all year long: the Newbery-Caldecott banquet. Two great books this year, with two endlessly entertaining authors (and illustrator). With us at our table were the members of the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award committee. We thank you very sweetly.
But this is why we were so proud to be at ALA this year: Hello, Bumblebee Bat was the recipient of a Theodor Seuss Geisel Award Honor.
Posted by Donna
Thursday, July 3, 2008
Pirates are good, okay?
The very first book I ever made was in 7th grade. It was a school project for one of my classes at Hunter Junior High in
The very first actual book I sold to a publisher was called Pirates in Petticoats, about women pirates. I was living in
Years later, I took two of those women pirates--Ann Bonney and Mary Reade--and wrote a ballad about them called The Ballad of the Pirate Queens which David Shannon illustrated and it is still in print.
Which brings me to now and to Charlesbridge.
I had often bemoaned the fact that Pirates in Petticoats went OP. But I knew it had been written by a 22 year old, one still learning how to write. I wanted to redo it. Once I thought of writing it for adults and calling it Buccaneer Broads. After all, most of the pirates didn't actually wear petticoats And I'd made up conversations between the pirates and their friends and enemies with abandon. (One did that back in the 60s in children's nonfiction.) I discussed this with the irrepressible Judy O'Malley, editor extraordinare who was--at that time--newly come to Charlesbridge. Among other things, I'd discovered Grania (Grace) O'Malley whom I hadn't put in the earlier book. I'd discovered that several of the pirates in my first book were probably simply storybook lasses, not real at all. In the ensuing years (Pirates in Petticoats had come out in 1963) much more had been written about women pirates.
Judy and Charlesbridge were intrigued. My granddaughter and her best friend went trick-or-treating as Anne Bonney and Mary Read the year Charlesbridge gave me a contract for the book (the next year they were "Thelma and Louise.") And I began to work hard on the research and writing.
Sea Queens will be out this year, in time for September 19, "Talk Like A Pirate Day." I plan to take to the airwaves, saying things like "Get off the poop deck!" and "Arrrrrrr" to anyone who will listen. I may even buy myself a parrot. Or learn to sail.
Posted by author Jane Yolen.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
World Enough and Time
It was a mild January afternoon in 2007. My husband Bill and I were rocking on the front porch, enjoying the last rays of a
“I’m just beginning the sketches for Plant Secrets and final art is due in November,” I replied.
He asked what my schedule was after that. I told him I had quite a while before my next project. I looked at him quizzically and said, “Why do you ask?”
“Our fortieth anniversary is next year. How would you like to spend it in
“Sounds great,” I replied.
He then said it would take a while to get there. In fact it would take months! He was proposing we go on a four month around-the-world cruise. I could hardly wrap my mind around such a possibility. I’m the type you might describe as a homebody. I love the life we are enjoying since my husband’s retirement and subsequent move from
On January 4th we boarded the ms Amsterdam in
During eight days in the Pacific we enjoyed ship life, lectures, shows, learning Tai Chi, making friends, and I even worked on sketches for my next book. Finally, “Land ho!” The South Pacific islands like, Tahiti, Moorea, and
We were anxious to get to our four ports in
Our itinerary included three ports in
Continuing on to
Although Hong Kong and
I can’t mention here all our ports, but we traveled through the Suez canal, into the Black Sea, to Sochi, Russia (where I practiced the little bit of Russian I knew) and Sevastopol, Ukraine, Istanbul, Turkey, Santorini, Greece, and finally to Venice for two days to celebrate our 40th in a romantic city. I had studied art in
Posted by author/illustrator Phyllis Limbacher Tildes
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Practicing What We Publish
Inspired by April Pulley Sayre's Trout Are Made of Trees, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, and in celebration of American Rivers' National River Clean Up, Charlesbridge staff made a day of it down the road at the riverside putting right what once went wrong and enjoying a beautiful day outside.
The Charles River, which begins at Echo Lake in Hopkinton, MA, snakes about 80 miles through eastern Mass before emptying into the Boston Harbor. It has a great history of industry and travel, and today is a major source of recreation--most notably the Head of the Charles Regatta held every October.
The river is home, or provider, for many native plants and animals... although not trout according to Richard, our DCR guide. Ah well, bass are made of trees, also. At Charlesbridge, we enjoy having the river, and the walking trail around it, right across the street. We don't just like to publish books about nature, we actually like nature!
Here, Erin wins the Deep Woods Off Award for going deepest into the foliage.
Even our fearless leader talks trash.
Editorial Director Yolanda LeRoy sifts through the muck and the mire.
After ridding our beautiful river of unwanted debris, we had a pizza picnic in the park by the river. And we picked up all our trash. Carry in, carry out!
Monday, June 16, 2008
Charlesbridge goes west
BEA is always a great show. There are so many different reasons to attend: introduce the new fall books that we're excited about, meet old friends and catch up on what's happening in bookstores and libraries around the country, meet new friends and business partners and hopefully impress the living dickens out of them with our books and gracious manners, visit with friends at other publishers and walk around their booths stealing ideas, have meaningful conversations with authors and illustrators (both on our list and not on our list), and travel to exotic locales like the Los Angeles Convention Center.
Meg and Taylor and I enjoyed L.A. so much, we think it's high time Charlesbridge opened a West Coast office. Here, Meg and I discuss the finer points of sales and marketing at our new beach front office space in Santa Monica.
And Taylor works on the new catalog cover.
The absolute best day of BEA (certainly no offense to the other days) is Thursday. That's the ABC New Voices luncheon. This year's speakers included the inspiring and delightful Cecilia Galante whose new book The Patron Saint of Butterflies is a fascinating story of two best friends, one of whom is devoted to their religious cult upbringing, and the other is not. We had the opportunity to meet Cecilia on Friday night at the ABC Not a Dinner and (Mostly) Silent Auction. Cecilia is a smart and funny new voice not to be "new" for long as she'll be most likely be turning up a lot.
The best part of Thursday, though, is that after the luncheon, we were free to go shopping in Hollywood as the booth was all set up and there were no pressing meetings to attend. Here, we found the footprints of homeboy Matt Damon at Grauman's Chinese Theatre.
This year we were ever so lucky to be accompanied by children's lit great Jane Yolen. Her new book Sea Queens: Women Pirates Around the World is new this July. Jane knew everyone, or, more to the point, everyone knew Jane. We were never wall flowers with Jane on our arm. The best part was when we made her climb the only hill in downtown Los Angeles to go to dinner at an Italian restaurant that shall remain unnamed. The doorman assured us it was walking distance. I suppose if you're really fit and looking for a challenge on an empty stomach. And, even though I did really love L.A., how come the entire city only exists on the inside? We could not find that restaurant for the life of us because it was tucked away inside some insidiously discreet hotel courtyard. And, don't ask for the water.
And, yes, we did work the booth also:
Posted by Donna... sorry.