Posted tagged ‘Beach Lane Books’

Picture Book Month: It’s a Bear!

November 15, 2012

I was pawing through some books when I came across one of my all-time favorite bear books, Winnie-The-Pooh, written by A.A. Milne and illustrated by Ernest H. Shepard. I hold this book close to my heart. It has charming characters and many pearls of wisdom. If you’ve never read it, do it!

I can “bearly” contain my excitement when it comes to a good bear book. Bear Snores On, a winner of multiple awards, is one of them. It was written by Karma Wilson and illustrated by Jane Chapman. This book deserves a big bear hug! Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books in 2002, this delightful story is told in rhyme. As the bear snores on, little critters sneak into the bear’s cave. Each brings something to share, and soon they’re having a great time as the bear snores on. When the bear is awakened, he grumbles and growls then whimpers and moans because he missed the party. The critters are more than happy to share. As a new day dawns, the bear is wide awake, but his new-found friends snore on. Jane Chapman used whites and blues to depict the outside scenes. Scenes inside the cave are done in earth tones, giving an otherwise cold, dark cave a warm feeling – just like the book!

Another bear book I’d like to roar about is Baby Bear Sees Blue written and illustrated by Ashley Wolff. This charming book was published in February of this year by Beach Lane Books. Wolff does an excellent job of portraying Mama Bear and Baby Bear as loveable creatures. Each page turn shows Baby Bear discovering different signs and colors found in nature. The illustration of Mama Bear and Baby Bear admiring a rainbow is sweet, but I adore the double spread of Baby Bear and the butterflies! This is a perfect book to introduce and reinforce colors while enjoying a romp through nature with Mama Bear and Baby Bear. Four paws up for this one!

Cheers, Chairs, and ALL THE WORLD

May 25, 2012

The world is smaller than you think. Look around. More often than not, there is someone or something that sparks a light of familiarity from another time or place.

Last weekend we attended UW-Madison graduation and spent time celebrating on the Memorial Union Terrace, overlooking Lake Mendota. We sat in the famous “sunburst” chairs as we raised our cups to give cheers to the graduate.

“Mendota Blue” Sunburst Chair

This week I began book inventory in our school library. I reshelved the book, All the World, written by Liz Garton Scanlon and illustrated by Caldecott Honor medalist, Marla Frazee. There is one particular double-page spread I take special pride in pointing out to students. Marla Frazee created an illustration of a café with sunburst chairs and tables – chairs and tables exactly like those on the Wisconsin Union Terrace.

In this beautiful book, whether you know it or not, a familiar part of Wisconsin has been represented. It’s a small world after all!

Tasty Tidbits from a Conference

October 18, 2011

There is no better way to continue learning your writing craft than by surrounding yourself with dedicated writers, top-notch speakers, and tasty chocolate. These three ingredients are a writer’s recipe for success. (Well, maybe not the chocolate, but it sure helps.)

 Here are some tidbits from the SCBWI-WI Fall Retreat.

Andrea Welch, Tracey Adams, LeUyen Pham

Laura Ruby, Cheryl Klein, Marsha Wilson Chall

LeUyen Pham, an upbeat and talented illustrator, spoke on visual storytelling. In order to make a stand out picture book, an illustrator carefully studies the author’s story. Objects, size, and color choices work together to determine how the illustrations on each page are precisely placed to make the reader’s eye travel around the entire page.

Cheryl Klein, executive editor of Arthur A. Levine Books, presented a detailed talk on the principles of plot. It’s something all writers should study and know. Do yourself a favor and buy Cheryl’s book, Second Sight: An Editor’s Talks on Writing, Revising, and Publishing Books for Children and Young Adults. It’s well worth your time and effort.

Marsha Wilson Chall, an award-winning picture book author and instructor in the MFA program at Hamline University, talked about taking a second look at picture books. Look at the structure of a picture book. Look at the pacing and page turns. When you’re writing, keep these in mind and don’t forget to cut and trim any unnecessary words.

Laura Ruby is a multi-talented author who writes for adults, teens, and children. She talked about world-building – how she creates a unique world for her characters. She said when she can see that world and when she starts to hear the sound of the story, she knows it’s time to begin writing.  

Andrea Welch, senior editor at Beach Lane Books, spoke on how to make your picture book a perfect ten. Three things she looks for in a picture book manuscript are heart, humor, and irresistible characters. She likes a manuscript that captures her on the first read. She also noted that spare picture books are selling now – books between 300-500 words.

Tracey Adams, agent and co-founder of Adams Literary, shared tips from twenty years in the business. She mentioned that Margaret K. McElderry mentored her and was inspired by her. At times when she is questioning something, she thinks, “What would Margaret do?” Here are some things Tracey offered up to writers. Always be professional. Work with people you like and admire. Write what you know and love best. Laugh.

K.T. Horning, Director of the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, was our final speaker. She gave an excellent talk on “What We’ve Learning from Harry Potter” and how the Harry Potter books have influenced, not only our world of reading, but also the world.

There were also break-out sessions presented by fellow Wisconsin SCBWI members that were well-planned and filled with excellent information.

Writers and illustrators know how to have fun!

This conference left a good taste in my mouth and a yearning for more. What more can I say? Except… Take your chocolate to a writing conference today!

Chocolate and Writing Conferences

October 14, 2011

Attending a writing conference is like sinking your teeth into a piece of chocolate. You’ll find some are better than others, but they all offer something tasty.

As a writer, I highly recommend taking advantage of writing conferences. It’s a time to meet and greet fellow writers. It’s a time to keep up with what’s going on in the publishing industry and to connect with editors and agents. It’s a time to share experiences, to pitch ideas, and get feedback from those attending the conference.

Later today I’ll be on my way to the WI-SCBWI Fall Writing Retreat. The Wisconsin group is filled with extremely talented writers and illustrators. I consider myself very lucky to be able to connect with these delightfully fun and gifted people. On the chocolate scale, this group is “To Die For!”

The weekend lineup includes a variety of authors, illustrators, editors, and agents. I’m expecting to devour some tasty tidbits of information from each of them. Cheryl Klein, senior editor at Arthur A. Levine Books, will be there. Andrea Welch, senior editor at Beach Lane Books, will be there. And Tracey Adams, agent at Adams Literary, will be there. I’ll be on a chocolate high by the time the weekend is over. I’m not greedy. I’ll gladly share some pieces of tasty information with you on my Tuesday post.


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