Poured Paintings by Amy Shackleton

At first glance, the idea of painting by pouring sounds like an easy endeavor. And then... you watch Amy Shackleton's process. Wow.

Thanks to The Kid Should See This for the heads up - she posted about the poured paintings by New York artist Holton Rower (grandson of Alexander Calder).

The Missouri City Branch Library!!!

I am thrilled to be able to share these with you! Martha Steele used several of my coloring pages to create the most awesome wall hangings for her daughter's library - evah! They hang in the Youth Services section of the Missouri City library. Aren't they FABULOUS!!!?
(Click on the images to visit their corresponding coloring pages.

And here's the rocking library that houses them!

Coloring Page Tuesday - Easter Egg Checker

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     Do you think the Easter Bunny checks every egg to make sure it's absolutely perfect for Easter egg hunts? I do!
     CLICK HERE for more Easter images to color!

Click here to view the entire Coloring Page Tuesday collection.
     Click the image to open a .jpg to print and color. Send your colored image (less than 1mb) to coloringpages@dulemba.com and I'll post it to my blog! Click here to find more coloring pages.

     Learn more about my fun picture book Glitter Girl and the Crazy Cheese - click the cover.

Clump O Lump

These are pretty cool... stuffed animals you can zip apart to zip back together as brand new animals. They're even red inside. Kids have gotta luv that! Click the image to go learn more or watch the silly video...

Thanks to SwissMiss for the heads up.

The Hunger Games

Hubbie and I saw The Hunger Games last night and I'm happy to say - it didn't let me down! Rarely is a movie anywhere near as good as the book, but not only did I feel the movie was faithful to the story - I think they did a great job with it! So, I'm happy to recommend you go see it too!

Reading Tub

You can go to The Reading Tub for great reviews of kids books, or you can just climb into this...

Thanks to 100Scopenotes for the heads up!

And the winner is....

The winner of a signed copy of A LEAF CAN BE by Laura Purdie Salas and illustrated by Violeta Dabija is Yvona!!!! I've emailed her to share the good news.
     Be sure to stick around as I have several more giveaways coming up in the near future - including a SUPER BIG ONE which I can't wait to announce!

Coloring Page Tuesday - Easter Bunny at Work!

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     It's Spring! The pollen is turning everything yellow here in Georgia, which is a sure sign that Spring is here and Easter is just around the corner. I know this is a big holiday for you card-makers especially, so I'll get you going early with this hard working bunny. Gotta luv the bunnies!
     CLICK HERE for more Easter images to color!

Click here to view the entire Coloring Page Tuesday collection.
     Click the image to open a .jpg to print and color. Send your colored image (less than 1mb) to coloringpages@dulemba.com and I'll post it to my blog! Click here to find more coloring pages.

     Learn more about my fun picture book Glitter Girl and the Crazy Cheese - click the cover.

Good Books

I've read some books recently that I wanted to let you know about because they might be worth your time too!

by Loretta Ellsworth
     There's a rare disorder that makes some people unable to forget anything. That's exactly the situation in this book. Unfortunately, there are some things that Baxter would like to forget very much.
     I thought this was an incredibly inventive and interesting premise, and enjoyed this read immensely.

by Jessica Shirvington
     I read paranormal romance novels like candy and this was a fun one. It's got a kick butt female protagonist, Violet Eden, and two very alluring guys. Throw in a night club and a bunch of bad-ass angels and you've got a very fun read.
     The hardcover will be available this month, so keep an eye out.

Click the covers for more information.

A LEAF CAN BE by Laura Purdie Salas - Giveaway!

Today I get to share a beautiful new book with you called A LEAF CAN BE written by Laura Purdie Salas and illustrated by Violeta Dabija. Being a visual person, the illustrations were the first thing to pull me into this book, but the rhyming text is so charming (and educational - heads up teachers!), the book makes for a lovely and satisfying read. I asked Laura and Violeta about it...

Q. Laura, CONGRATULATIONS on the publication of your latest book A LEAF CAN BE... It seems like such a simple idea, and yet I know looks are deceiving. How did you come up with this story?

A.     I wanted to write a rhyming nonfiction picture book. I loved Castles, Caves, and Honeycombs by Linda Ashman—its simplicity and beauty. I wanted to create something that captured a bit of those qualities, too. I tried a few other topics, topics I already had nonfiction prose manuscripts about, but they weren’t right. They required vocabulary I couldn’t make work. And they were too complicated. I knew I needed to find a simple, elegant, topic. I needed to write about something kids could already connect with, but then show something new about it. Every kid knows leaves. I hope this book will make them nod in recognition but also make their jaws drop. It’s so amazing to me to see all the roles that leaves play. And I hope this book will surprise kids and make them look at leaves in a whole new way.

Q. Laura, I know this isn't your first book, but I'm sure my readers would love to hear about your path to publication for A LEAF CAN BE... and some of your other titles.

A.     Well, I love poetry, and I love nonfiction. I had several poetry collections making the rounds, but I wanted to try something different. I so admired the elegance and pared-down beauty of Castles, Caves, and Honeycombs and a few other books like that. So I decided to try this form. I had a few misses on topics, as I said above. Once I found the right topic, though, inspired by a single poem about Honduran tent bats that I had written for a previous poetry collection (Sing, Chatter, Roar, Buzz: Poems About the Rain Forest – Capstone Press, 2009), the manuscript fell into place quickly.
     I always struggle with matching topic to form to audience age. I’ll have a fun idea that needs to be a picture book, but the humor level is upper elementary. Or a topic I think works for upper elementary, but it has an element (like a spin on a fairy tale) that my agent or editor thinks makes it too childish.
     I was really happy with A LEAF CAN BE… when I finished it. For once, I felt the form, the information, the voice, and the intended audience age all worked really well together—yay!
     My agent and I sent it two places, both to editors whom had expressed interest in my work before. One editor passed, saying she had several other leaf/tree books already. The other, Carol Hinz at Millbrook Press, loved it and took it to acquisitions. They gave it a thumbs-up, and I started celebrating! This was the fastest I’ve ever had a trade book (a book I wrote first and then sent to publishers, rather than one I wrote on assignment) sell.
     And I’m excited to share that I’m working on the end matter right now for a follow-up book, which Violeta Dabija will also illustrate!
     As for my other books…An editor picked my first trade picture book poetry collection, STAMPEDE! POEMS TO CELEBRATE THE WILD SIDE OF SCHOOL (Clarion, 2011), out of the slush pile. I had been sending it out for a little more than a year. My new one, BOOKSPEAK! POEMS ABOUT BOOKS, also sold to Clarion.
     Gosh, I’m making it sound way too easy! All of this was after almost 10 years of submitting manuscripts to publishers. The acceptance of STAMPEDE was my 794th response in my submissions database. Some of those were magazine articles and such, but I sent out about 700 picture book submissions from 1996 to 2007, when STAMPEDE was accepted.
     My other 100+ books have almost all been written on assignment for educational publishers. I enjoy that and have written a mix of straight nonfiction, easy readers, poetry, alphabet books, Q&A—all sorts of different forms and formats.

Q. Laura, A LEAF CAN BE... will be a wonderful resource for teachers. Do you have any suggestions for them?

A.     Thanks! I’m really excited about the possibilities for LEAF in the classroom. I’ve had a number of teachers tell me they’re planning to use it as a mentor text in their classrooms. They’ll have kids research a topic of their choice and write about it following a similar format. I also think it would be extremely cool to have kids brainstorm and write about all the different things they themselves can be!
     I have a teaching guide for it here: http://www.laurasalas.com/pdfs/Leaf/Leaf_TG.pdf
     There’s a book trailer to introduce the book to kids:

     And in my online notebook of reviews at https://www.evernote.com/pub/salaslp/leafcanbe...reviews, I’ve put (with classroom ideas) in the title of those blog reviews that mention ways to use it in the classroom.

Q. Violeta (pictured), Your illustrations are just luscious. Do you mind describing your method?

A.     My method is very simple but it took me some years and a couple dozen books to get to it. In my first books I experimented with many techniques like gouache, colored pencils, watercolor, oil, digital… but none of them fully allowed me to get the desired atmosphere in my work. So I started mixing them and it worked. I love the delicate traditional feel and texture of the watercolor on paper. On the other hand the computer is a wonderful tool with endless possibilities when it comes to experimenting with color schemes. So I decided to take the best of both and it "clicked." I felt that's the way to go.
     Usually I start with a detailed pencil sketch on paper. I scan it into Photoshop, put in on a separate layer (that is going to be hidden at the end) and then the fun begins. Working with textures and colors is my favorite part of the process. I have a library of scanned watercolor textures I use for my work. My digital files are a crazy mess of countless layers often exceeding one GB (that's a lot). I’m most interested in getting the right atmosphere in a painting and I find Photoshop the perfect creative tool. Its features allow me to try out as many ideas as I want, play with rich, lush colors and sophisticated color schemes and easily add little touches and details.

Q. Violeta, Some of the text was pretty abstract. How did you figure out how to illustrate some of the more obscure text?

A.     Illustrating the more abstract text was the most challenging but also the most interesting part. In fact the most abstract text gives me the greatest freedom to explore my own ideas and bring a personal approach to the project. In everyday life I am continuously inspired by many things, it can be nature's rhythm and moods, textures, color schemes or photos. It's an amalgam of images that sit quietly in my mind and are waiting for the right opportunity to show themselves in my work. Usually one starts from the text and finds the best way to illustrate it. In case of a more abstract text I like to reverse this process: I "flip" through my mental images and choose the one I like and make it work with the text. The result is a very personal piece that reflects my world, my passion for color and beauty.

Q. Laura (pictured), do you have any special marketing plans for A LEAF CAN BE...?

A.     Oh, how I wish I could say I was putting together some fantastic contest that will have the whole world talking about LEAF. But I’m not (I’m open to ideas, though!). Really, my marketing is about creating materials for the book and trying to get the word out through teachers, bloggers, kidlit people (thank you, e!), etc. I am so not an entertainer that I don’t have any splashy launch party or anything going on. (Hanging my head in shame.)
     I feel fortunate that Lerner has very actively promoted the book. Violeta’s art is so eye-catching that Lerner used it on its corporate holiday cards and also on the cover of its rights catalog for the Frankfurt Book Fair this fall (do you suppose they’d like me to go in person?). Lerner made some gorgeous bookmarks and sent them to me, too.
     And I’ve given LEAF a nice online presence on my website (laurasalas.com) and created some postcards featuring art from it—they can’t help but be beautiful. I’m also going to approach arboretums and public gardens and state/national parks and forests about carrying LEAF in their gift shops. I’m about to start researching those contact names/numbers now. And I’m putting together an updated set of nonfiction-based school visit presentations. That’s about as exciting as it gets. Dang. I’m feeling a little inadequate now!

I think that sounds pretty good, Laura! Thanks to you both for stopping by! And here is more information on the other two titles Laura mentioned:

BOOKSPEAK! POEMS ABOUT BOOKS (Clarion, 2011): In BookSpeak!, 21 wild, wacky, and winsome poems showcase the magic on a single bookshelf. Characters plead for sequels, book jackets strut their stuff, and a raucous party starts when the lights go out at the bookstore! Just named a Finalist for the Minnesota Book Award!

STAMPEDE! POEMS TO CELEBRATE THE WILD SIDE OF SCHOOL (Clarion, 2009 – Finalist, Minnesota Book Award): 18 imaginative poems observe students in their natural habitat and reveal their unusual behavior, crazy communication, and healthy appetites. Whether they're in the classroom, on the playground, or in the cafeteria, school brings out the animal in all of them. And if you look carefully, you may glimpse the wild side of yourself!

website: laurasalas.com
blog: laurasalas.wordpress.com
website: violetadabija.com

Laura has kindly agreed to send one signed copy of A LEAF CAN BE... to one of my lucky commenters (on this blog post). As usual, please include your email addy (you can write it out - lala at lala dot com), and you must live in the continental US to win. You have a week to comment - the random drawing will be held, and the winner announced, next Wednesday. Good luck!

Conversation with Adele Geras, Vicky Alvear Shecter, and Tracy Barrett

If you're in the Atlanta, Georgia (USA) area, I highly recommend you drop by the Carlos Museum (Emory) on Sunday for this. See you there!

Conversation with Adele Geras, Vicky Alvear Shecter, and Tracy Barrett
WHEN   Sunday, March 18, 2012, 2 – 3pm
WHERE   Carlos Museum, Tate Room
EVENT TYPE   Arts and Cultural Events

The Carlos welcomes three outstanding authors of young adult literature for a conversation with readers. British author Adele Geras, author of Troy and Ithaka will (virtually) join Atlanta's Vicky Alvear Shecter, author of Cleopatra's Moon and Cleopatra Rules!, and Nashville's Tracy Barrett, author of King of Ithaka and Dark of the Moon, for a conversation about their fascination with the stories and people of the ancient world and about writing for a young adult audience. This event is free and open to the public. No registration is required.

Coloring Page Tuesday - St. Patty's Day 2012!

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     St. Patrick's Day is Saturday - don't forget to wear green! I hope the good luck of a four-leafed clover is with you this year!
     CLICK HERE for more St. Patrick's Day images to color!

Click here to view the entire Coloring Page Tuesday collection.
     Click the image to open a .jpg to print and color. Send your colored image (less than 1mb) to coloringpages@dulemba.com and I'll post it to my blog! Click here to find more coloring pages.

     Learn about my Cinderella story picture book, The Prince's Diary, click the cover.

Mac n' Cheese for 30 Days!

OMG - I can't believe I only just found out about this... The Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board created a website where they post a different Mac n' Cheese recipe every day - for 30 days. It's called 30 Days, 30 Ways with Macaroni & Cheese. I think I have my menu for the next month. I could LIVE ON mac n' cheese!!! (Which, by the way, in the south, is considered a VEGETABLE!!!!) This is what I call brilliant marketing. YUM!

Cleveland Road Elementary

Last week was a busy one, what with the conference and TWO school visits! On Friday I drove to Bogart, Georgia (just west of my alma mater - UGA) and Cleveland Road Elementary School. Gwen Bailey has set up a wonderful library environment for her students - and this one you see just as you walk into the school. Love that.
     The kids were awesome. Here is one group as viewed over my books...

     And one helping me do my demonstration drawing (so cute)!

     There were quite a few hearing impaired students at this school, so I had a translator next to me during all my presentations. (I had to learn to slow down.) I also got to wear some lovely necklaces which made it easier for some of the students to hear me. It was very cool, actually. These kids were taken care of!

     Several reporters from the school newspaper interviewed me and joined us for lunch. Did you know what you wanted to do at that age? These kids are already several steps ahead of the game. So good. Can you tell who the ham in the bunch was? :)

     I tell ya - a dedicated media specialist, teacher or librarian can make such an enormous difference to students. Gwen works hard for her Title One school. They have a smart board (love those!) and host several authors in a year. She applies for grants like crazy, so there's proof it can be done. And wow do her students benefit from her efforts. They are lucky to have her! Thank you Gwen!

Westmont Elementary School

One of the fun things I get to do as a children's book author/illustrator is speak to kids at schools. Last week I headed all the way down to Augusta, Georgia and Westmont Elementary. They have a wonderfully fired up media specialist, Missy Lewis. They are so lucky to have her. She's made the library a warm and inviting place and I swear she knew the name of every child!
     She also sent me to a decadent restaurant in the heart of downtown the night before - Boll Weevils. For dinner I had the best shrimp and grits EVER - seriously. And just check out the dessert case. Yum, I say.

     So, I already told you about their dinosaur, but here's some of the kids being a great audience...

     I had lunch with a group of excelling readers, which I always enjoy. I met some truly bright and enthusiastic readers - obviously something that is strongly promoted at Westmont.
     And I signed a ton of books (kept me busy!)...

     What a treasure it is to see children enjoying your books and knowing that, having met the author, they value them even more...

     I tell ya, if you ever doubt the impact an author/illustrator visit can have on young readers, this kind of says it all...

Thanks to Missy and the Principal and all the wonderful students I met at Westmont Elementary!

#KidlitPRChat is tonight!

Join @KatieDavisBurps @dulemba @storyconnection and faculty at #Highlights for #KidlitPRChat today, 6pmEST: Making the Web Work for You - on twitter. I follow using TweetChat.

UPDATE! CLICK HERE to read the transcript!

It's Read Aloud Day!

So grab a kid (or a grown-up) and read to them! (Click the logo to learn more.)

Springmingle 2012 Wrap-Up

Each year our Southern Breeze (AL, GA, MS) chapter of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (scbwi.org) holds our annual conference in Atlanta. It's called Springmingle and it's a high falutin' affair! First off, it's a great opportunity to hang out with friends and colleagues of like mind. This is a strange and frustrating business we're in, and it helps so much to be around peeps from time to time.
     I had the privilege of being Kirby Larson's (Newbery honor winner for "Hattie Big Sky") angel during the conference. But we were already buds, so she flew in a day early and we played. In Seattle last summer, Kirby showed me their countless book stores. In Atlanta (Georgia), we shopped and ate. Here's Kirby in front of the Vortex in Little Five Points...

Here we are sitting at the "magic table" in front of The Brick Store Pub (it was very windy) in downtown Decatur:

and ate at Gladys Knight's Chicken and Waffles...

Fox Brothers BBQ, and the Iberian Pig (with Vicky Alvear Shecter). We also visited Little Shop of Stories, of course. All said, I think Kirby got a great taste (ha!) of Atlanta. (CLICK HERE to read Kirby's wrap-up and see more pics!)
Here we are during the conference!
           Speaking of which... We had some excellent speakers this year: Greg Ferguson of Egmont, Kristin Daly Rens of Balzer & Bray (HarperCollins), Mary Kole of Andrea Brown Literary Agency, and Andy Runton of Owly fame. And of course, Kirby.
     I felt they imparted seriously valuable knowledge to our attendees - I learned new things as well (always). I even had a writing critique with Kristin that went very well. ;-)
     But mostly, I enjoyed hanging out with friends and celebrating their successes. Here's all the friends who published new books in 2011 (click to see it larger):

     Good friends are to the right: Janice Hardy (Darkfall); Vicky Alvear Shecter (Cleopatra's Moon); Heather Montgomery (lots of educational books - especially on snakes!); and Jo Kittinger (Dirty Third Street). I'm so happy for them! It's a good group of people in this children's lit-o'sphere! Love you all!