|Rafe Martin, Author of Birdwing
I began telling stories professionally about the same time I started writing picture books-over twenty years ago. Foolish Rabbit's Big Mistake, The Rough-Face Girl and Will's Mammoth were where I began and each of those books still retains a special place in my heart.
Children's books remind us of real and important things-trusting the heart, following one's dreams, respecting oneself and all the many lives and life-forms with whom we share our planet. Children's literature allows us to speak directly to the imagination. There is nothing "kiddie" about that. And the imagination is quite reasonable, even rational. But its logic is not of the marketplace, but of dream. And out of our dreams comes our lives. If we dream well, we have the possibility of living well. Stories teach us to dream well. In stories, our deepest wishes and dreams have a chance of coming true.
|Adrienne Yorinks, Illustrator/Textile Artist
Quilt of States
ETC: What was the best part of working on, Quilt of States?
|N. E. Bode (aka Julianna Baggott)
Author of The Anybodies and The Nobodies
ETC:What inspired you to become a writer? And how do you inspire kids to read more and become interested in writing?
N. E. Bode: Oh, the world is filled with odd people. I'm regularly astonished by what we say, what makes us squawk with joy, what fills us with regret, what we tote around and what we let go. I feel compelled to write these things down -- the true things -- and then, for reasons unknown, my imagination takes over and I blow them up to all kinds of proportions. And then, of course, there are words themselves and metaphors and language of all kinds, and I love that aspect too.
I like to tell kids that everyone has a story to tell -- each and everyone of us has full, rich lives. And by the time we're ten or so -- knowing our way around our vocabulary -- we're ready to start telling some of those tales. We are all writers -- some are just so disguised they themselves don't even know they're a writers. Whether you take up the career path or not, writing is a hugely healthy exercise. I'm very interested in the kid who's shrugging in the back of the auditorium -- sometimes it's the shy kid, sometimes the troublemaker, sometimes the reluctant reader. They're always the ones I'm trying to convince that we need their stories, desperately.
As a young adult, I was introduced to the work of illustrator Maxfield Parrish, who greatly inspired my painting technique and color palette. Later I discovered N. C. Wyeth and Harold Pyle, contemporaries of Parrish who also influenced my art. The idea of my illustrating children's books came after I became a parent and was introduced to children's books with my daughter. I was intrigued with the work of contemporaries Chris Van Allsburg and Dean Morrissey.
|TRACIE VAUGHN ZIMMER, Author of Sketches from a Spy Tree
ETC: What's your favorite part about the book?
ZIMMER: I'd say that it's the weaving of the illustrations and the text. Andrew Glass' world is so complete that I gasped at some of the details that brought Maple Street to life. The picture where Anne Marie is sketching out her father's face in the poem "What She Sees" is an example. Also, the fact that we're both twins- me, identical, Andrew, fraternal- brought another dimension to the story. At least, I like to think so.
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TEACHER AND DISCUSSION GUIDES for Sketches from a Spy Tree Included
|Megan McDonald is a member of an extremely elite and prestigious group of children's book authors whose book sales have climbed into the millions. Her Judy Moody series, the middle grade blockbuster, is a hit among parents, educators and especially kids. With a book for every young reader, her body of work is vast and varied - ranging from sweet and charming picture books to gripping novels for young adults. In the first half of 2005, Ms. McDonald debuted five new books available from Candlewick Press, Greenwillow, and Simon & Schuster. With three picture books, a new Judy Moody title and a spin-off series, these new additions bring McDonald's total to 30 books for children and establishes this prolific and talented writer as a major force in children's literature.
Interview with Megan McDonald
|Meet Barbara Joosse
Author of Papa, Do You Love Me?
Like adults, many children cocoon themselves from a world that's busy, confusing and sometimes scary. Even the conversation of a well-meaning adult is often received as so much blah blah blah. How, then, can we touch a child?
By its very nature, a picture book offers refreshing possibilities. Because it's often read many times, a picture book can be absorbed slowly, at a child's own pace. When it's read just before bed, at the delicious interval between sleep and awake, a child's book-companion can accompany her into her private dream world. Finally, when a picture book is read out loud, the reader and listener are often wrapped in a hug, the child's ear just at your heart, with the book you share the seal of the hug.
The world portrayed in a picture book can be gentle or harsh, familiar or new, internal or external, but it must, I believe, always be hopeful. If the universal adult emotion is longing, the universal child emotion is belonging. A picture book should portray a world in which a child-in fact, this particular listener child-belongs.
|Meet Andrej Krystoforski
Illustrator of The Boy Who Loved Bananas
I was born in Poland at the time of World War II. My Mother always used to tell me stories from that time. I remember one in particular in which everyone in our hometown had to flee to their basements on a regular basis, from having heard sirens announcing that bombs were coming our way. It happened so often that everyone became somewhat accustomed to these constant scares. When my whole family gathered downstairs during one of these threats, with the sound of bombers roaring above, my parents realized that their few month old son, Andrej was left upstairs sleeping in his cradle. I was still fast asleep when my mother ran upstairs to take me to safety.
|Susan Jarema, David Pavane and the “Googols” celebrate their recent INDIE award for Canada’s Favorite Children's Music Group
ETC: Who are the "Googols"?
Illustrator of Russell the Sheep
Rob Scotton is one of Great Britain's leading commercial illustrators, whose work can be found on greeting cards, textiles, prints and stationery. He has also been transferring his fantastical two dimensional characters into stunning three dimensional products for gift companies around the world. Rob has been honored as one of the best designers in the gift industry.
Russell the Sheep is his children's book debut.
Author, The Old Country May 2005
ETC: Your book depicts the disruption of the "old country," and the way people have had to live since this kind of upheaval began taking place all around the world. Is this one of the ideas you had in mind when you wrote the book?
Gerstein: Yes, especially the disruption of minority groups that are the first to blamed, attacked and
scapegoated. The Crags stand in for the Jews, Bosnians, Kurds, Gypsies, and all the others. The book is also about how the world of fairy tales and magic was transformed and maybe destroyed in the last century by mechanized war.
As a kid, Eastern Europe was, for me, where the fairy tales came from, and where my father and grandparents came from. Then it became the place where World War II was being fought. In my book I try to combine those two different ideas of Europe.
|Meet Kristina Swarner
Illustrator of Before You Were Born
Retold by Howard Schwartz
I've wanted to be an artist since I was a baby, I think. When I was about three years old, my grandmother made me a little book. Each page had a nature stamp on it, and she wrote a caption under each one that sounded almost like a fortune cookie, for example, "Before long you will see a little frog in your yard." I owned picture books, but that was when I realized that you could actually make one.
When I was old enough to read, I found that my other grandmother had a cellar full of musty old children's books up through the 1950s. The cellar became the most enchanting place on earth to me. My grandmother would hunt me down on sunny days and make me go outside, but I just wanted to stay downstairs and look at books. I still love the smell of mildewed paper!
|Bettye Stroud, Author of
The Patchwork Path: A Quilt Map to Freedom
Before I became an author of children's books, I had the most wonderful career I could imagine: bringing children, books and reading together. I spent many years as a School Library Media Specialist and finally began writing for magazines and newspapers. Reviewing children's books for a highly-regarded multicultural journal gave me the idea of trying to write books of my own.
Illustrator of The Story Goes On
I had many pretend jobs before becoming a children's book illustrator, which included making and delivering sandwiches, washing dishes, cutting cheese and hams, witnessing and selling calendars. My most fun pretend job was working as a TV extra, where I convincingly played the part of a Japanese tourist in a famous fast-food chain advert, and a Japanese au pair in a British TV drama called "The Last Detective". Today I can proudly call myself a full-time freelance illustrator, which makes me very happy.
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|Meet Gail Giles
PLAYING IN TRAFFIC is not what I call a "fluffy bunny" novel; one of those feel good, nothing bad happens kind of books. It starts with the main character's feeling of doom and it gets tougher from there. My books tend to do that. Tough issues, good kids making bad decisions, things goings all kinds of wrong, and some kids making it out and some not making it. People ask if I was repeatedly bounced on my head as a child or toilet trained at gunpoint, but no, I'm a relatively optimistic person.
An interview with Stéphane Jorisch, illustrator of Jabberwocky
Q. What led you to choose Carroll's famous poem to illustrate?
A. The aspect of unseen danger and paranoia that I saw in "Jabberwocky" appealed to me. And before this, I had never illustrated poetry seriously. I also thought it would be a great challenge to illustrate a book for all ages, and it would allow me to interpret the poem with a little more complexity. So I was excited to be asked to participate in Kids Can's VISIONS IN POETRY series. Now that I have the beautiful printed copy in hand, it's a thrill and an honour to see my name alongside Lewis Carroll's on the spine.
Jerri Sueck is the author of Letters My Mother Never Read. This heartrending autobiography tells the story of how Jerri was orphaned at age 8, then passed through a series of temporary homes where she was alternately abused and neglected. Ultimately a triumphant story, Letters My Mother Never Read illuminates the plight of society's hidden children--those languishing in foster care.
READ AN INTERVIEW WITH JERRI SUECK