Monthly Archives: January 2018

Coming Soon: 2018 Picture Books Part Eight

Yes, the more we roll on in to 2018 the more glimpses we get of books to look forward to…. Enjoy the latest round up, and be sure to look back on parts one through seven if you have not had a chance yet!


























Bub is Here! Interview with Elizabeth Rose Stanton

Hey Beth! Thanks for joining me here to talk about your 2018 picture book, Bub!

Always a pleasure to visit, Dylan!  


Tell us a little bit about Bub.

Bub is the quintessential middle child—except he’s a little monster.  Try as he might, he finds it hard to be seen and heard by his loud and distracted little monster family—that is, until he decides to take matters into his own hands…er, claws. Mayyybee there’s some magic, but, basically, Bub goes unseen to be seen! Bub is really for anyone who feels caught in the middle, and is as much for families as it Is for an individual child.


Tell us a little bit about your process.

Rather than a story idea, I usually come up with a character or characters first (by way of, what I like to call, procrastidoodling). Then the story flows from there. But I would have to say that Bub was a fair combination of character-idea and story-idea.


I had been toying with the idea of a misbehaving little monster family (and had been drawing a lot of little monsters), while at the same time was thinking about doing a story about a middle child. My editor at Simon and Schuster suggested I combine the two. . . and out came BUB!


Have you always been into writing and illustrating?

I studied art history in college, and then went on to become an architect. Getting married and having kids bumped me off my creative track for a while, but as soon as my youngest entered kindergarten, I dove into art (since at that point it wasn’t practical for me to return to architecture). I worked as a portrait artist and fine artist, and completed certification in scientific illustration. It turns out that all this, as well as my training as an architect, was great prep for building picture books!

 What’s the most exciting part of your job?

I’d have to say it’s coming up with the with the characters. It’s fun because it involves drawing and, at first, the sky’s the limit! When they appear on the page, I make lots of notes and keep drawing them until a story begins to emerge. The second most fun, once I have the story figured out (which I think is the hard part), is winnowing away at the text and fitting it and the preliminary drawings into a dummy. It’s like solving a challenging but fun puzzle.

 What inspires your creativity?

I’m not really sure. I think creativity is a combination of mystery and hard work. Things can be hard-thought, or come out of nowhere. But one thing I know is that it’s something I can’t seem to let go of, in spite of the ups and downs. One of my favorite quotes is from Maurice Sendak: “I do it because I can’t not.”

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

Well, since BUB is about being in the middle, here are two middle things:  One is, I’m not a middle child. I am the youngest. Second, my middle name, Rose, was actually my last name before I got married.  Sometimes I wish I hadn’t changed it. Beth Rose take up so much less space 😉


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

Playing the banjo.



What can readers expect from you in the future?

I recently signed a contract with Simon & Schuster for another picture book! Henny and Peddles will have a companion . . . COWIE. Yes, I’m back to farm animals. Cowie (who, by the way, is not a cow), will be released in early 2020.

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

Only to say thank you, Dylan, as well as all the other people like you who work so hard on behalf of children and children’s literature. You make the world a better place.


 More about BUB 

I Am Loved: Interview with Ashley Bryan and Nikki Giovanni

I am quite honored to have two literary individuals who I admire dearly on my blog today…. Ashley Bryan and Nikki Giovanni, who have recently collaborated on I Am Loved.


Thank you for taking the time to join me here at Mile High Reading!   

Ashley: Thank you!

Tell us a little bit about I Am Loved from your perspective.

Nikki: I love the morning light.  When I was younger I liked to write at night because the dog and my son were asleep and the house was quiet.  My father had a stroke and we moved back home to help my mother so my habits changed.  Now that everyone is grown or has transitioned, I am back to my lonely habits.

Ashley: The very title lifts the spirit. Anyone who sends the book to anyone else is saying something from the heart, to the heart. It’s a year-round Valentine!

Nikki, can you tell us a little bit about your writing process? 

Nikki: I think the most important thing is to observe.  I watch.  And reading is great.  I never seem to have enough time to read.  Even if it’s no more than the comics I read a bit of something everyday.

Ashley, can you tell us a little bit about your illustration process?

Ashley: First I read the text of the poem or story and absorb it.  Then I start sketching compositional ideas that the words provoke. And then I choose a composition, and another world of color enters it now, so I can make a complete painting to accompany the words.

Have you always been into writing / illustrating?

Nikki: I love images so I’ve always loved words.  I had the joy recently of challenging my class to how a word was formed and became a part of our everyday use.  They were surprised at how they used words that they had no idea where they came from or why we use them.  I would have loved to paint with paints but I had no talent.  I could paint what I saw with words, though and that gave me something to share.

Ashley: Yes, no question about that! From babyhood on!

What’s the most exciting part of your job?

Nikki:  Watching young people read and respond to my work.

Ashley: The challenge to create, which is universal.

What inspires your creativity?

Nikki:  I actually like people and cheer for our possibilities.  I am a space freak so the future means a lot to me.  I love that Ashley put a mirror on the last page so everyone could see Yes:  I Am Loved.  And that is the future.

Ashley: The joyous response of others to my work, my creations, is what inspires my creativity.

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

Nikki:  I can’t dance.  I can sing but I can’t carry a tune.  That doesn’t bother me so much as I can’t dance.

Ashley: I love gummies! Sour Patch Kids especially (he says with a great laugh)!

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

Nikki: I would probably be a chef and if I won a big lottery I’d create a create restaurant.

Ashley: I’d become an inventor of the book form if it weren’t existing, because I can’t imagine ever doing anything but writing and painting. So if there was no book form in existence to put writing and art into, I’d invent that.

What can readers expect from you in the future?

Nikki: I am working on a book with my friend Kaye Graham, The Wednesday Club, in which the mothers of sons get to discuss children books. We’ve see a couple of men talk about books that affected them, but Kaye and I are mothers and we thought it would be interesting to see how the mothers looked at the same subject.

Ashley: Ongoing work with creating books that will engage the children especially, but for all ages.

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

Nikki:  Don’t smoke.  No joke. You can’t go into space if you smoke because it changes how you can return to Earth.

Ashley: That they will find ways of creating – don’t let a day go by without creating something.  Whether with an instrument or writing or painting or other creative activity – but create every day!

COVER REVEAL: Eraser by Geisel Award winners Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant

I am honored today to reveal the cover of a new book by Geisel Award winners Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant….

Eraser is always cleaning up everyone else’s mistakes. Except for Ruler and Pencil Sharpener, none of the other school supplies seem to appreciate her. They all love how sharp Pencil is and how Tape and Glue help everyone stick together. Eraser wants to create so that she can shine like the others. She decides to give it a try, but it’s not until the rubber meets the road that Eraser begins to understand a whole lot about herself.

Inspired by a school essay their daughter Kate wrote in the third grade, the author and illustrator behind Theodor Seuss Geisel Award–winner You Are (Not) Small have created a desktop drama about figuring out who you are, finding happiness, and the importance of second, third, and maybe even fourth chances.


ERASER cover hi res.jpg

You can pre-order Eraser here!

Interview with Joseph Kuefler, Author/Illustrator of The Digger and The Flower, Coming Soon!

Hey Joseph! Thanks for joining me here to talk about what you’ve been up to!

Hello there. Thanks for having me. Boy…I’ve been up to quite a bit these days, which is why it took you so long to nail me down and get me here.


I’m juggling a few projects at the moment. In addition to working on my fourth book (also with Balzer + Bray), I’m illustrating two works for authors who are not me, which has been really fun. The first one that will hit shelves is a middle grade book set in the bayou. When my agent (Elena Giovinazzo) sent me the manuscript to gauge my interest, I thought I’d read through the first few pages and decide I didn’t like it. The opposite happened: I didn’t stop reading until the last page was turned. Naturally, I had to say yes. The second project is a picture book written by the lovely Beth Ferry. She’s such a wonderful writer. Seeing inside her process has helped me to grow as an author.


There’s other things in the works, but it’s probably too early to talk about those things.

Tell us a little bit about your 2017 book, Rulers of the Playground.

Rulers of the Playground is the story of two characters who decide to conquer the playground. Naturally, the playground isn’t big enough for the both of them, so they’ve got to work it out. After Beyond the Pond, I knew I wanted to create a book that used humor and physical gags. At the same time, like many people, I was processing the many things going on in the world—from global politics to personal developments in my own life. Somehow, that desire to tell a funny story turned into something with a slightly heavier subtext.

I began the book long before the results of the election seemed like the remotest possibility. The book has taken on a slightly more poignant meaning for me, but such an on-the-nose topic was certainly not our intention.


Tell us a little bit about your process.

Boy, my process is so different with each book. As an author-illustrator, I am afforded more luxury with respect to process. What has been consistent with my first three books is that they’ve all began with the imagining a moment of tension—a boy discovering his pond has no bottom, a boy deciding to claim the playground as his own, and—in my third book—an excavator running off to nature. From there I just work at the concept to build to and resolve the tension.

In some ways, the process is similar to sculpting marble. You keep chiseling away at something to discover the sculpture that’s been hiding within the block all along.


From there I illustrate. My illustration process isn’t wildly unique or groundbreaking. I begin with small and crude thumbnails of each page and refine them until I don’t hate what I’m looking at. Truly. I’m not sure how most artists feel, but, for me, I’m never truly pleased with my work. There’s always something I could have done better or an idea I never quite got around to executing correctly. But one must ship the work and move on. Deadlines are a great tool for combating one’s obsessive tendencies.

 Have you always been into writing and illustrating?

Certainly. I’ve been into the arts all my life. When I was young, I would fiddle with writing screenplays and would draw and paint all the time. Writing has played a less prominent roll in my life than the visual arts, but it’s now the medium and process I love most. I’m looking forward to tackling increasingly longer pieces of writing in the coming years. We’ll see what happens.

 What’s the most exciting part of your job?

Full disclosure: picture books are still a glorified hobby. I’m a creative director by day, which offers some exciting day-to-day things, but that’s not what this blog is about. The most exciting thing about making picture books is not having an authority to answer to. Alessandra (Balzer, my publisher) and I have an incredible working relationship. She let’s me chase my passions and ideas to whatever end excites me. Along the way, her only requirement is that it be incredible, and who can argue with that. There’s a creative freedom to the writing and illustrating of picture books one can easily find elsewhere. I work closely with big brands during the day, so coming home and being able to express myself freely is exceptionally exciting.

 What inspires your creativity?

The short answer is…everything. My brain constantly develops and process new ideas, it’s sort of the default state of my mind. Because of that, any sensory input gives me new ideas. Films, music, nature, walks, the overheard conversation—it all has the ability to spark something. This is both hugely satisfying and incredibly maddening. Creating is something I can’t turn off. There’s a downside to that.

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

Eeesh. A confession. You didn’t tell me we’d be confessing today.

I’m sure readers think the work just falls out of me. The truth is making picture books is hard…really hard. Maybe this will change when I’m no longer working a day job, but each book is a struggle. I’ve even developed a formula to predict how many times I will cry during each project. I call it my Formula for Tears. It’s pretty simple, actually. Take the page count of a project and divide it by ten. For Rulers that would be 48. That’s 4.8 times. Of course, you’ve got to round up. So 5 times.

 When I share this with kids during school visits they laugh. But it’s the truth. Making art is hard. It’s really hard when you aspire to create work of the highest caliber (something I’ve still failed to do).

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

If I wasn’t writing books, I’d be writing films or developing animated television series. Films are the great love of my life. My career continues to creep closer to that, so we’ll see.

 What can readers expect from you in the future?

More books, obviously. My fourth is a character platform and something I hope to create many books for. We’ll see if this proves true. I reserve the right to change my mind about that.

A few of my own middle grade books have been nagging at me this year and last. One is an adventure and the other is a quiet story of loss. I’m also in the very early stages of developing a few animated television series. Perhaps news of one of these projects being made real will find its way to readers in the future.

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

My third book, The Digger and the Flower, hits shelves in late January. I’m really proud of the book. I hope readers are too.