Monthly Archives: February 2016

Favorite Picture Book Revision Tips

Elizabeth Bluemle - February 9, 2016

The picture book writing class I teach annually through the Wind Ridge Books Writer’s Barn starts up again this week, and I have a mix of new and returning students. Because the picture book realm encompasses so many different kinds of forms, not just narrative storytelling, it’s always an interesting challenge to shape the class. I send out a questionnaire before the workshop begins, asking the writers to share their goals for the class and to articulate their primary challenges with writing. This year, I’ve heard a lot about frustrations with the revision process, completing projects, and accountability between classes.
Below, you’ll read many wonderful tips on the picture book writing process that several very generous published authors and illustrators shared with me a few years ago. I’d like to invite you author and artist colleagues to chime in with any tidbits you have found particularly helpful, especially on the topics of revision, staying focused, and knowing when a manuscript is ready to be pried out of your ever-editing hands.
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A Decade of Friendship and Reading

Josie Leavitt - February 8, 2016

When customers pop by the bookstore from their post-college life it’s always time to pull up a chair and really have a visit. I was lucky enough to have Allie and Shea come by first thing yesterday to say hello. Both these young women are 24 and are still best friends even though they live on opposite coasts. They always come by the store when they’re in town, but usually it’s just one of them. Having both together was a treat. Shea used to work for us and Allie said, “I grew up here.” They sat in the back with me for the first hour of a very slow Sunday. It was in this conversation that I learned more about what the store meant to them and I could easily see what great adults they’ve become. Continue reading

A ‘Valentine for Blobfish’ Contest

Kenny Brechner - February 4, 2016

Gene Luen Yang may be the new National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature but the 2016 Ambassador to Young People’s Science and Nature books is unquestionably the blobfish. No child looking at a blobfish can fail to assume that he has feelings, and that those feelings have been hurt. Whether headlining Jess Keating’s excellent new “pink is for everyone” themed Pink Is for Blobfish (Knopf, Feb.), or helping narrate Jessica Olien’s delightful The Blobfish Book (Harper, May), the blobfish clearly is the perfect ambassador to engage both children’s empathy and their interest in science.
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Worst First Line Winners!

Elizabeth Bluemle - February 2, 2016

Ah, ShelfTalker readers, you have been so patient awaiting the results of the Worst First Line contest. But see how many wonderful extra posts by Kenny and Josie you’ve gotten to read while checking the site for the spoils of victory? We feel that the capricious nature of our announcement date adds a little je ne sais quoi to the award proceedings.
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The Myth of Valentine’s Day Books

Josie Leavitt - February 1, 2016

Every year we usually order a paperback Valentine’s Day display. The display – and it honestly doesn’t matter which publisher it comes from – contains a mix of titles about love from the perspective of small animals, classroom Valentine’s issues, and often a book or two about familial love. These books are cute, often adorably illustrated and usually don’t sell all that well. Sure, you’re all wondering, well then, why do you keep ordering them? Excellent question. I think we’ve succumbed to the pressure of having a display for a lot of holidays, which, in theory makes good sense, but often times these are not the books people give for specific holidays.
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