BE QUIET! An Exclusive Look at Ryan Higgins’ Spring 2017 Book

All Rupert the mouse wants is to star in a beautiful, wordless picturebook. One that’s visually stimulating! With scenic pictures! And style! He has plenty of ideas about what makes a great book, but his friends just WON’T. STOP. TALKING.
 
Children and adults alike will chuckle at this comedic take on bookmaking from acclaimed author-illustrator Ryan T. Higgins.
Ryan stopped by to answer a few questions about his Spring 2017 book, which is set to release April 4, 2017 from Disney-Hyperion.

Haven’t I seen these mice somewhere before?

Yes. They take over Bruce’s house in the next Bruce book, Hotel Bruce. Also, Dylan, you’re one of the few people to see my older work (from before I was published). I’ve been working with these mice, in some form or other, since I was a kid.

Where did you get the idea for this book?

I sketched up the first draft of this four years ago. I sat down to make a picture book without words and the characters had other ideas.

What makes this book unique?

I’m terrible at talking up my books… I suppose this book is different than most in that the characters take over. Approaching the 4th wall is not a new concept, but I don’t think anyone has done it before with a mouse wearing glasses and a mustache. I could be wrong, though. I’ll Google it later.

What are you working on now (besides your cool writing shed?) ?

Right. I’m personally building a studio in my backyard. I hope to be making books in it by this winter, but building buildings takes a long time. I still can’t think of the perfect name for the place…

Besides the carpentry work, I’m working on Bruce’s next adventure, but it’s top secret. I can’t talk about it — except to say it has a scene with a motorbike!

Anything else you’d like to share?
Nah. I’m pretty boring.
And now, here’s the cover…..!

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#pb10for10 Books I Need to Share

Honestly, this time of year is difficult for me. As I see other teachers setting up their classrooms and picking out which books to share with their class during the first few days and weeks, I long for a classroom to read these books to! (I do share them with my Reading Methods and Children’s Lit classes, though!)

So… if I still had a first grade classroom, I’d be sure to squeeze these books into my schedule within the first few weeks, because once I read them, I knew I needed to share them.

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Kelly DiPucchio Interview

Hey Kelly! Thanks for joining me here to talk about your upcoming 2016 titles!

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Photo credit by Tayer Marie

Tell us a little bit about One Little, Two Little, Three Little Children.

Thanks for inviting me, Dylan! One Little, Two Little, Three Little Children came to me out of the blue one day when I heard the opening lines of the book as a song in my head. I jotted down the lines and it didn’t take long before the whole song had pretty much sung itself. As sometimes happens, I got sidetracked with other projects and the manuscript remained tucked away in my computer files for nearly six years. One day I was scrolling through my saved documents and I came across the file. When I read it, I was touched by its simplicity and sweetness and I felt like it had a message the world needed to hear. I think it was only a few weeks later my agent, Steven Malk, sold it to Balzer + Bray. Mary Lindquist did a beautiful job illustrating the book and I’m very proud of the way it turned out. I hope it conveys the idea that families, no matter how they look or how they’re structured, are more alike than they are different.

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Tell us a little bit more about Dragon Was Terrible!

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Oh, Dragon. Where do I begin? He’s terrible. He scribbles in books. He plays tricks on the guards. And he even takes candy from baby unicorns. I had a great time writing this story. Some stories, like babies, come into the world with big voices and this was one of those stories. I don’t ever plan on using author intrusion in any given piece so it’s often a surprise to me when the narrator in my head ends up in the text. Greg Pizzoli illustrated the book and his art is hilarious. I think my favorite part is Dragon’s graffiti on the castle. I’m looking forward to sharing this book with kids this fall because it’s terribly fun.

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Tell us a little bit more about Everyone Loves Cupcake!

Everyone Loves Cupcake is the follow up to Everyone Loves Bacon published by FSG. While there are some similarities between the two stories there are a few big differences. The illustrator, Eric Wight, and I both agree that we think Cupcake might even be funnier than Bacon but I guess that’s up to readers to decide.

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And, there’s quite a buzz over your first 2017 release, Antoinette.

What can you share with us about that book?  Well, as you can tell from the title and the cover this companion book to Gaston features one of the poodle puppies. But Gaston fans needn’t worry because our favorite Frenchie makes several appearances in the new story. I felt a great deal of pressure writing this follow up book because I knew expectations would be high. I didn’t want to just retell Gaston’s story from a different point of view. I felt like the plot in the second book had to be unique and stand on its own four paws. Christian Robinson’s illustrations, once again, are exquisitely charming and elevate Antoinette’s adventure to a whole new level. I can’t wait to share the story with readers on February 14th, 2017.

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Have you always been into writing?

Hmm….not really. I have always been into reading. My interest in writing didn’t develop until I was in college, although I was always a fairly competent writer. I think most voracious readers naturally become decent writers because we’re subconsciously absorbing good storytelling skills with every great book we read.

What’s the most exciting part of your job?

Of course there are a lot of things I love about my job but most exciting for me would have to be seeing the art for a book for the first time. I’m always fascinated to see how an illustrator takes the words I write and then builds an entire world out of them.

What inspires your creativity? The magic beans in my coffee! Also meditation, other books, and nature. Even as a child I required a lot of alone time. When my appearance schedule is packed it definitely hinders my creativity. I’ve learned over the years that I absolutely need to create quiet space for my writing. I’ve never been the kind of person who could write in coffee shops or with music playing in the background. Ironically, even going to a writer’s retreat would be a creative road block for me. Only my dogs are allowed in my office when I’m writing!

What is one thing that readers don’t know about you, that only you could tell us? With the exception of picture books, I pretty much only read sacred texts and books about spirituality and the paranormal now.

If you weren’t writing books, what do you think you’d be doing? I’d probably be selling incense and essential oils in some bohemian crystal shop.

What can readers expect from you in the future, after Antoinette? I have a picture book about a brave raccoon coming out with S&S/Atheneum called Super Manny. It’s adorably and wonderfully illustrated by Stephanie Graegin. I’m also super excited about a new book I’m doing with Zachoriah OHora and Disney-Hyperion called Poe Won’t Go. It’s about a stubborn elephant who blocks the main road in town, causing an uproar from its citizens.

Anything else you’d like to share with readers of this blog? I’d like to leave your readers with this important advice from Cookie. It comes from my forthcoming title, Everyone Loves Cupcake.

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Jarrett Krosoczka Drops By

Hello, Mr. Krosoczka, thanks for joining me here to talk about what’s new with you!

Thanks for having me, Dylan!

Tell us a little bit about book number four of the Platypus Police Squad book that came out earlier this spring. Is this the end of the series?

Never Say Narwhal is the final book in the Platypus Police Squad series. I always envisioned these books as having a finite end to them, with the characters growing over the course of the series in a significant way. This is the book with the highest stakes for our monotreme heroes. All of the secrets that I’ve been building up over the series get spilled—some you’ve seen coming, some will be very unexpected. I turned up the volume on the action in this one, too. Plus…there is a narwhal!

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And, you just celebrated a book birthday with a new Jedi Academy book. Tell us about that.

Scholastic has signed me on the create new volumes in their Jedi Academy series. I’m a huge fan of Jeffrey Brown’s, so I’m entering into this with a reverence for what he started. There are elements from those first three books (journal and comics pages), but I also am adding my own elements. I can’t wait for you to meet my cast of Padawans. I created the final art for this book while listening to John Williams’s score of the movies.

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Are you surprised with all of the different ways people are celebrating School Lunch Hero  Day?

It is incredibly gratifying to see how widely School Lunch Hero Day is celebrated. It has far exceeded my hopes and dreams for the initiative. This was only our fourth year, and I saw things that blew my mind! My favorite things to see will always be the art projects that young artists make. This day is about gratitude and literacy, but it’s also about fostering creativity. That being said, this year I saw that one school brought in masseuses for the lunch staff! Another brought in an ice-cream truck for them! They work so hard with so little recognition, they so deserve this day.

What is one thing that readers don’t know about you, that only you could tell us?

If I drink too much coffee, my hand gets shaky and it ruins my ability to draw a clean line. However, sometimes I accidentally make some beautiful, messy lines when I’m over-caffeinated.

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If you weren’t writing/illustrating books, what do you think you’d be doing?

That’s an easy question. I’d be teaching. I taught at art centers and an art college for several years as I was getting my literary career going. I also worked at a camp for a decade’s worth of summers.

How did your career as an author/illustrator start?

I began submitting work to publishers in my junior year of college. I was eager. I was rejected around every corner, and that was a great education in the world of publishing. Two years later, I had my first contract for a picture book that I wrote and illustrated. That came six months after graduating Rhode Island School of Design. When the book was eventually published, I was twenty-three years old. Good Night, Monkey Boy will celebrate fifteen years in print on June 15, 2016!

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What can readers expect from you in the future?

A lot of stories told in words and pictures.

Anything else you’d like to share with readers of this blog?

Dylan Teut is an outstanding person, and you are very wise to be reading his blog.

Thank you, Jarrett , for joining me here!

Cover Reveal: Go Sleep In Your Own Bed!

I remember a time when I was in elementary school and I crept from my bedroom downstairs to mom and dad. I wasn’t feeling good. I was tired. I was cranky. And I just wanted to go to sleep. Dad brought me upstairs, turned on my light, and pulled back the covers. There, to my surprise…

lay my sister!

When you’re tired, cranky, and ready to collapse, there’s nothing better than falling into your own bed. To find an intruder there puts your hopes of snuggling in to a halt until they leave.

Candace Fleming and Lori Nichols, together, have woven together a tale of a chain of animals sleeping in the wrong bed. Using humor, plays on words, and the natural charm that flows from the work of these fine ladies, we have a great new picture book to which we can look forward.

I’m happy to share the cover of this new book here…

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Available Spring 2017 from Random House Kids.

From bestselling, award-winning author Fleming and beloved illustrator of the Maple books Nichols comes a giggle-inducing read-aloud starring a cast of comically grumpy barnyard animals. Sure to become a bedtime favorite. 
 
This funny and irresistible picture book feels like a classic in the making. When Pig plops into his sty at bedtime, he finds Cow fast asleep in his spot. “Go sleep in your own bed!” he squeals, and sends her packing. But when Cow finally snuggles down into her stall, she finds Hen sleeping there. So begins a chain reaction of snoozing barnyard animals being awakened and sent off to their own beds, until every last one is in just the right place. Young children will delight in repeating the refrain “Go sleep in your own bed!” and laugh at the antics of these hilarious—and very sleepy—farm animals.

Life Needs a Little Glam: Review of Mary Had a Little Glam by Tammi Sauer. PLUS A GIVEAWAY.

Mary had a little glam
that grew into a LOT.
And everywhere that Mary went,
she wasn’t hard to spot.

It’s not hard to notice that Tammi Sauer and Vanessa Brantley-Newton’s Mary Had a Little Glam is a spin off of a favorite nursery rhyme. There are a lot of these types of books on the market these days, but Tammi and Vanessa have created a spin off that does it quite well.

When it’s time to start school, little Mary literally puts on everything but the kitchen sink- including her curtain, and a bird nest in her hair.

And Mary wears it quite well. When she walks into her classroom, she notices that her classmates are missing something. From pink, to beads, to shine. Mary’s got a job, and she won’t sit still until everyone has a little glitter and glam.

But our characters reach a dilemma- recess time arrives and everyone realizes they’re dressed all wrong for such an activity.

It’s here readers learn that there’s a place for glam, and a place where you can kick off your shoes, strip off your fancy garments, and just have fun.

Because there’s glam, and then there’s taking a situation and making it glamorous and fun. And Mary does that.

Vanessa Brantley Newton’s delightful, multicultural illustrations pair well with the fun rhyming text written by Sauer.

This book is surely a must have for your library!

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GIVEAWAY DETAILS: Running through Tuesday, July 26 at midnight. To be entered to win, simply leave a comment on this blog post, or RT the blog post with the hashtag #MHGLAM . Be sure to tag Tammi in your tweets, too!

The Marvelous Thing: Interview with Gilbert Ford

Hey Gilbert! Thanks for joining me here to talk about your upcoming 2016 title!

Thank you for having me on your blog. :) 

Tell us a little bit about The Marvelous Thing That Came from a Spring.

The book is a non-fiction picture book about the invention of the Slinky. Although Richard James invented the toy, his wife, Betty came up with the name and was the marketing genius behind its success.

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What made you want to tell this story?

I still play with the Slinky as an adult. Whenever I’m stuck on an idea I pick it up and strum the coils. One day while I was doing just that, I was trying to think of a non-fiction picture book that hadn’t been done, and I was holding the answer right in my hands.

I was blown away by the illustrations in this book. Tell us a little about your process.

Thank you, that’s kind of you to say.

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I drew everything on the computer for this one. Then I designed parts of it like a paper toy: to be printed, cut out, and assembled into a diorama. I incorporated vintage toys, since the book is about a toy, and wanted to show that the models were real. But it was hard to guess the size of the art from the photo, so I included recognizable, found objects in the dioramas. I transformed a washcloth into grass, a cool whip cap into a trashcan, a pipe cleaner into steam, and a chalkboard into a starry night sky. I thought that by changing an everyday thing into something new, I would be teaching a child how to invent like Richard James, who turned an ordinary spring into a marvelous thing.

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Watch a video about Gilbert’s process for this book here. 

I see you have Soldier Song: A True Story of the Civil War coming in 2017. Tell us about that.

Soldier Song (written by the wonderful Debbie Levy) is very different from Slinky. With Slinky I could be clever and imaginative with the art. With Soldier Song, I was illustrating a very serious story where there was much sadness, but also some joy. I had to make myself really emotional for this book, jumping from highs to lows quickly to create the art. So I woke up at 5 Am in the dead of winter when I knew I wouldn’t be disturbed. I listened to Joanna Newsom’s YS album while I sketched because the songs were long and had emotional depth. I hoped it would rub off on paper. I also looked at propaganda illustration for symbols to represent war without showing blood.  I decided that the final art would be in complementary warm and cool colors, since the book dealt with the dualities of North vs. South, destruction vs. creation, and life vs. death. The medium, although digital, is designed to resemble old woodblock and silkscreen techniques. I’ll be talking more about this in December/January of next year.

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Have you always been into writing and illustrating?

I started out as a drawer when I was old enough to pick up a crayon and continued to draw my whole life. I was a storyteller as soon as I could talk, but I didn’t really begin writing until 2nd grade. By high school, I was winning awards in poetry and editing the school literary journal. Then I went to Pratt, but they only offered one creative writing class as an elective. (Now they have a creative writing department)  I would write friends long letters when I was first out of school, but discovered people were too busy to read them.

So I stopped writing.

I didn’t compose another story until I started illustrating books for kids. I enrolled in grad school at VCFA, and that reignited my love for writing all types of stories. Now I’m able to channel my efforts to a better audience! :) 

What’s the most exciting part of your job?

I like the part where I get to think up the stories. I often pace when I brainstorm, so if I’m walking in circles like a caged animal in my apartment, I’ll plug in my headphones and walk to Fort Greene Park, playing the story out in my head. I’ve lived in the neighborhood for 20 years, so of course everyone waves to me, but I never see them because I’m working.  I only see the story in front of me.

What inspires your creativity?

Pretty much everything! The people I meet. The artwork I see. The books I read. The music I hear. Theflea market a block away from me. I’m constantly rummaging.

What is one thing that readers don’t know about you, that only you could tell us?

I’m not sure I can draw a straight line. I also can’t spell. But those setbacks haven’t stopped me from trying to draw and write.

If you weren’t writing books, what do you think you’d be doing?

I also enjoy new technology and teaching. If only I could do all three!

What can readers expect from you in the future, after Soldier Song?

The next book out is called How the Cookie Crumbled, about Ruth Wakefield and her invention of the chocolate chip cookie. It’s another non-fiction I’ve authored, but where Slinky was told in a straightforward manner, the writing in this book is more playful. The story has an intrusive narrator with the voice of someone telling a tall tale. He gives the readers three versions of the story circulating and asks them to decide what really happened. I hope people like it!

Anything else you’d like to share with readers of this blog?

I’ll be promoting The Marvelous Thing That Came from a Spring this fall. If you’re in the NYC area please stop by one of the book events and say hi! When I’m not lost in thought, I’m actually quite social. :) 

Thanks for having me!

Please Be Nice to Sharks Tour: Guest Post by Matt Weiss

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I absolutely love my job. I am doing exactly what I said I wanted to do when I was a kid and was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up.  An underwater photographer is definitely not a normal job, but it has taken me all over the world and allowed me to earn a living doing what I love most.  The best part of my job, though, is when I am leading a trip and I get to show people the places and animals I derive so much pleasure from.   When you’re on a great dive with a group, and something unexpected shows up, like a sea turtle ascending from the depths of the ocean and looking you right in the face, you can feel the excitement of the group underwater. There’s nothing better than seeing a big smile on a guest’s face when we surface.

One recent memory comes to mind.  I was leading small group in Mexico and one my best friends from college was able to join the trip. She had seen my photographs, but had never experienced the underwater world herself.  It was a perfect day — 80 degrees both in and out of the water, a hundred foot visibility, and completely flat seas. After a quick snorkeling lesson on the boat, we hoped in. For about 30 minutes, we floated around and didn’t see anything, and then out of nowhere, completely silently, a 15-foot manta ray swam right next to us.  It’s a unique feeling, one that makes you feel very tiny, swimming next to a giant fish like that in the middle of the open ocean. I could tell by the smile my friend had on her face when we surface that she was hooked.  This was her first marine wildlife experience, but it wouldn’t be her last.

I tell this story because I hope that Please Be Nice To Sharks will give people a similar feeling that my friend had when she saw her first manta ray. I love sharks, and I think that if people see them, have fun with them and learn more about them, they will love them too.  I hope that if children understand that sharks are actually pretty cool and not monsters, they will care about them enough to be upset by the fact that they are being hunted to extinction. After all, we protect what we love.

Get your copy of Please Be Nice to Sharks! (Sterling) today!