Marketing yourself. Yeah, forget the hokey-pokey. We know what it’s really all about in this game. You poor authors and illustrators. Isn’t it enough that you sweat and strain to create the highest quality literature for the generation that will inherit the earth after we are dead and gone . . . and now you’ve gotta go and publicize your own book yourself?!? Who’s the yahoo who made THAT rule up? I feel your pain, and so in an effort to help you I shall direct you, today anyway, to someone who shows that the best way to bring attention to yourself is to be creative, low-key, and involve a lot of other folks. The author of Will Work for Prom Dress, Aimee Ferris (she of many names) has for the past few weeks been “posting daily photos of ‘mystery YA authors’ in their angsty teen best (showcasing a range of tragic teen fashion choices), as well as a few truly surly anti-prom shots on http://willworkforpromdress.com/ in anticipation of my upcoming book release on Feb 8.” She’s calling it the “Promapalooza” and promises that in the future weeks there will be serious cases of “Man Perm” an “Agent Week” and much much more. What she has up already is pretty impressive though. I’m not giving away who the cute gal in this photo I lifted from her site is, but I will say that she has a picture book out this year (and she’s definitely not me).
- New Blog Alert: One of my favorite children’s book illustrators is now penning one of my favorite children’s book blogs. Meghan McCarthy participates from time to time on the Blue Rose Girls blog, but I always secretly hoped she’d strike out on her own someday. She has one of the more distinctive personalities, and her penchant for what kids like gels with what I like. So it is that she has begun Children’s Books: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly and it does not disappoint. Between talking about the mounted heads of Dr. Seuss to comparative studies between YouTube videos utilizing Post-It Notes (I am SO stealing one of those for Video Sunday) Meghan is constantly interesting and never dull. Just like her books.
- Speaking of Blue Rose Girls, we’ve all heard of authors and illustrators talking about getting “the call” that told them they’d won a Caldecott or a Newbery. But an agent talking about getting “the call”? I’ve never heard of that one before.
- Well, geez. I was all set to tell you about Ward Jenkins and his crazy contest to convince enough people to “Like” his Facebook profile page for the upcoming picture book Chicks Run Wild. He said that if 300 people “liked” it he’d wear a chicken suit. The happy ending? It hit 333 as of this post. Didn’t need my help. Chicken suit-up, Ward my man.
- All sorts of folks have been sending in images of dads reading to their kids to James Preller’s Fathers Read blog. It’s not all just sweet pop/child booktimes, though. James tackles some serious questions in his posts between fathers and children who read. He also needs more photos, so if you’ve got a sweet or sly one that you’re willing to pass along, go to it.
- What film garnering serious Oscar buzz in theaters right now features a character that sports a tattoo with an image from The Giving Tree? The answer may surprise you. Thanks to Jules for the link.
- Now this . . . this is what I want for my birthday. An edition of this that anyone can find. I’ve always known that Louise Fitzhugh’s first children’s book that she worked on was Sandra Scoppettone’s Suzuki Beane. I knew the vague facts about it too. That it was about a young Beatnik, used a lot of slang, and was a kind of counterculture tongue-in-cheek answer to Eloise back in 1961. What I didn’t know was how freakin’ awesome the book is. Scribd has the whole thing online for you to read, and I highly recommend that you do so. Don’t stop at least until you get to Henry’s father or the image of the baby in the Yale shirt. I never realized how much Ms. Fitzhugh’s art reminds me of Jules Feiffer and Shel Silverstein before. God, I wish she’d lived longer. In any case, if I ever get a tattoo, at least I now know what image I’d like:
Thanks to BoingBoing for the link.
- I was having lunch with an author/illustrator the other day and we got to talking about all those childhood classics that we somehow missed when we were actually kids. I, for one, have no memory of reading Where the Wild Things Are or The Snowy Day or Winnie-the-Pooh or any of that. When it came to my independent reading at an older age I had a problem where if I got bored by anything (usually descriptions) then I’d start skimming until the dialogue started up again. Fun Fact: This reading technique renders some authors utterly unreadable. Susan Cooper, my twelve-year-old self owes you an apology. Some authors, of course, managed to snag my attention even through the descriptions and one such author was Sydney Taylor. I just adored All-of-a-Kind Family. Midwestern Episcopalian kid that I was, I had a very foggy grasp on what Judaism actually consisted of, so the books were informative to me. Marjorie Ingall gives them true respect in her Tablet Magazine piece We Are Family. I’d never given much thought to the series’ similarities to the Little House books, but Ingall makes a good point. Now where’s THAT television show, eh? And where’s the modern day All-of-a-Kind Family taking place in the 21st century? Write me that book, folks.
- There’s a new book out this year. It’s called Fortune Cookies. It is illustrated by Chris Raschka. It is written by A. Bitterman. A. Bitterman is the soul behind that legendary bookstore Reading Reptile in Kansas City, MO. He may also have the world’s largest collection of children’s book-related toenails and nose hair clippings. Don’t believe me? The proof is in the pudding.
- Travis Jonker continues in his unceasing efforts to re-jacket every Newbery winner starting with The Story of Mankind and working to today. Clare Vanderpool, you have been warned. Most recently he took his hand to Smoky, the Cowhorse. Be sure to check out his previous efforts (the covers are at the end of the post) as well.
- Children’s book reviewers online write so few critical reviews that I’ve come to read those bloggers that do offer dissenting opinions to books with slightly more respect than the rest. Last year I wrote two critical reviews of my own, which is pretty much par for the course. Mind you, I review for Kirkus so you can be certain that they weren’t my only critical reviews of the year. Author Elizabeth Fama has written a fascinating piece on Why Bad Reviews are Good that’s well worth looking into. Her close examination of how folks use Goodreads stars is particularly fascinating.
- Oh, Hollywood. Hollywood, I’m mad at you today. From Cynopsis Kids:
From Cynopsis Kids: Robert Downey Jr. will jump into The WABAC Machine and lend his voice to the genius dog Mr. Peabody , in DreamWorks Animation ‘s new CG animated 3D feature film adaptation of Jay Ward’s Peabody and Sherman , per Entertainment Weekly . Peabody and Sherman was a regular segment of Ward’s Rocky & Bullwinkle TV series. Slated for release in 2014, the Peabody and Sherman movie will be directed by Rob Minkoff (Lion King) from a script by Jeffrey Ventimilia and Joshua Sternin (both wrote for The Simpsons, Murphy Brown, That 70s Show, and the current Yogi Bear movie).
Interestingly enough it’s not that I’m mad at them for making a Mr. Peabody movie (though I’ve a nightmarish vision of what that will entail). No, it’s your casting. If EVER you should have hired John Hodgman for voiceover work, now was the time. He is the 21st century Mr. Peabody brought to life! Tell me you at least offered him the part.
Finally, from @kzookev comes the world’s worst idea for pup chow promotion:
As Kevin wrote, “Good idea. A dog food named after a dog that DIES!” Don’t criticize it, though. That might just lead to a new Where the Red Fern Grows Natural Pet Food Company or Sounder Brand Kibbles. Thanks to Kevin for the link.