Friday, November 17, 2017

E-I-E-I-O! Illustrating Old MacDonald Had a...Zoo?!

Iza Trapani stops by to chat about her process for illustrating her new book Old MacDonald Had a...Zoo?

The illustration process for all my books starts the minute I begin a story. My head fills with images, and I start doodling and storyboarding as I work on the manuscript. I find it really helpful to figure out the pagination, to know what text will go on each page. That way I can pace the story, see where I can cut words, change things around, and make sure to move the story forward from page to page. I sketch the storyboard on an 18” x 24” sheet of paper and layout all thirty-two pages of the book on it. Here is the entire storyboard:

My Five Favorite Scenes from Select

Select author Marit Weisenberg digs deep and narrows down her five favorite scenes from her author debut. Warning: spoilers ahead!!

Books That Make You Go "Hmmm..."

I got a chance to catch up with Monica Perez, Executive Editor of CharlesbridgeTEEN about her experience launching a new imprint with us at Charlesbridge. Check out to check out the books!

When the Charlesbridge team first started discussing a young adult imprint, everyone was excited. Up to that point, our house had published a handful of middle grade fictional titles, including the much-lauded Samurai Rising, which had pushed the boundaries of its age category. It seemed only logical to continue expanding into the teen and crossover markets. In terms of topics and genres, the sky was the limit!

Monica Perez (l) and Editorial Director Yolanda Scott (r)

Determination in the Face of Religious Extremism

Stephen Davies, author of Blood & Ink, ponders an increasing determination to stay strong in the face of religious extremism.

In February 2012 I was living with my wife and daughter in the arid north of Burkina Faso, West Africa. We had learned Fulfulde, the language of Fulani cattle herders, and were experiencing the normal joys and frustrations of cross-cultural living. For my day job I worked in a tiny, oven-hot recording studio, producing radio dramas in Fulfulde with local actors. In my free time I wrote adventure stories, mostly set in Africa’s Wild West, the Sahara Desert.

photo courtesy of Mark Gibson

The Joys of Research

Terry Lynn Johnson, author of Falcon Wild, discusses the best part of writing a new book: researching.

There are a lot of great things about being an author – fan mail, seeing your book cover for the first time, school visits, taking a selfie in a bookstore while madly pointing at your own name on a shelf – all amazing rewards after years of effort poured into a book. But a surprising perk, one that I hadn’t considered a good thing before, was the research you get to do.

The idea for Falcon Wild had been percolating inside me since I was twelve and read Hawkmistress by Marion Zimmer Bradley. I was obsessed with the idea of owning a bird of prey – something wild and free that comes back to your outstretched fist. What a feeling that would be! I was going to be a falconer! I spent months trying to convince my parents that it would be incredibly cool if we owned a falcon or two. For my efforts, I got a hamster. I named him Snickers and was content with that for a few years.

Fast-forward a couple of decades. I was still fascinated with the idea of forming a special bond with an animal. Instead of a bird of prey, I ended up with eighteen sled dogs. So when I wrote my first book about dogsledding, I needed very little research to portray that relationship accurately. But I’d never forgotten that first obsession with the art of falconry.

Writing Science Books for Babies in 3 (not so) Simple Steps

We asked author Ruth Spiro the not-so-simple question: What inspired you to write STEM books for babies?

Since the first two titles in the Baby Loves Science series came out in October 2016, this is the question I’m asked most often. Fortunately, it’s also the easiest to answer!

Back in 2010 The New York Times ran the article "Picture Books No Longer a Staple for Children." It attributed the drop in picture book sales to the choice some parents were making to bypass picture books for their very young children in favor of more “sophisticated” reading material. I was discussing the article with friends and wondered aloud, “What do these parents want, quantum physics for babies?”

Board Books – A Head-start for Babies

Author-illustrator Phyllis Limbacher Tildes reminisces on her motivation for creating board books for babies and her own personal connection to educational reading.

In my twenty-two years with Charlesbridge, I have been fortunate to have authored and/or illustrated twenty-three books. Perhaps the most gratifying have been my baby board books. What a thrill it has been to know that infants as young as two weeks old are introduced to an interactive experience with their parents through my illustrations and simple words.

Painting A New School Year for Charlesbridge

Illustrator Mika Song discusses creating the illustrations for her new book A New School Year: Stories in Six Voices.

When I first read Sally Derby’s poems in A New School Year I was struck by how familiar each character felt to me. My goal for the illustrations was to keep them simple and show the emotions in the poems.

A Tomorrow for Vivian

Author JaNay Brown-Wood, author of Grandma's Tiny House: A Counting Story, discusses adding her own shades of color to children’s literature and breaking down stereotypical walls.

I have always been a storyteller at heart. When I was younger, I’d make up stories using my Barbie dolls and teddy bears as the main characters. When I learned to write, I’d capture stories on paper. And when I learned to type, there was no stopping my fingers from creating a world on my computer screen. I write because I love to create and because I enjoy pushing the possibilities of my own creativity.

The Science of Writing and Illustrating a Biography for Children

Author and illustrator Mary Ann Fraser breaks down her scientific process for creating an educational biography for young readers. 

Recently I was asked to speak at a STEMposium about the creation of my latest book, Alexander Graham Bell Answers the Call. The book chronicles Alexander (Aleck) Bell’s childhood. I’m not an educator, but while preparing for my talk, I looked at the current science standards for elementary education and made a remarkable discovery — the process I use as an author and illustrator of children’s books is much like the method employed by scientists. Using Alexander Graham Bell Answers the Call as an example, the steps typically break down something like this:

1. First, much like a scientist, I posed a question. In the case of the Bell book, I asked, “How did Alexander Graham Bell grow up to become the inventor of the telephone?”