CILIP Carnegie and Greenaway Event

Friday, Librarian Jennifer Horan and the Youth Libraries Group Scotland (YLGS) hosted a fun event for us Children's Lit passionistas. Jen is part of the deciding committees who choose each year's CILIP Carnegie and Greenaway Award-winning books. These are the equivalents of the US Newbery and Caldecott, so they are a very big deal. How awesome to be a part of the process!
     It was a very organized affair, so we had to have tickets, show up on time, and be ready to focus on some wonderful books.
We were split into four groups - each went to a table with a librarian, where it became a sort of speed-dating affair. Each librarian talked us through four books in two sets. Here's Lisa Penman sharing Unplugged.
The first set covered picture books nominated for the Greenaway, such as these two which I especially loved:
We were asked to consider the books based on the YLGS criteria which included questions such as "Is the medium appropriate?" and "Is the style creative and distinctive" and so on.
The novels had a slightly different set of criteria. Our group also asked each librarian to read the first page so that we could get an idea of the narrative voice. Jen did an especially good job of course.
It was a large group of us, so was quite intense. Here are two of our new M-Lit students, Grace and Yi-Cing.
Dr Evelyn Arizpe was also there for the first half.
Of all sixteen books, we then voted on two in each category. Let me tell you, that was no easy task!! Happily, the two picture books that won were in my short-list, although the novels that won were not. You never know how things will turn out in a voting group like this, and its always interesting. I think we were all pretty pleased with the results though. It will be interesting to see which books end up winning the grand awards!

TRAILER: Crimes of Grindelwald

J.K. Rowling has a new movie out! I hope the movie is as good as the trailer! Click the image to watch on YouTube.

Chapbooks and Pocket Books - An Introduction

Good news - I am now a Graduate Teaching Assistant at the University of Glasgow! This semester I'm helping to teach "Texts for Children" and we had our first class on Tuesday. To open, we discussed the history of picture books. The very first ones were actually called Chapbooks. And while I've read lots about them and even seen photographs, I'd never seen one in person and so didn't have that tangible experience of what they felt like. So, off I trotted to the Special Collections Department at the University of Glasgow library to get a closer look.
Chapbooks were tiny publications made possible by the proliferation of the printing press, and they contained tiny engravings alongside condensed versions of fairy tales and folk tales. They were sold by street vendors for very cheap, and were not of a very high quality. As such, the fragile pages have been placed between the pages of larger blank books for archiving.
They're truly lovely.

However, because they are so fragile, I have yet to hold an actual chapbook, on its own, in my hand. I'll have to do more investigating as I believe these chapbooks are somewhat along the same lines as the modern-day zeen. Anyone know?
     It was a bit tricky looking these up in the archives without knowing exactly what I was looking for, but somehow, I hit the jackpot in asking for Lumden's Toy Books.
Shortly after Chapbooks came into being, John Newbery made his mark with pocket books. These were wee books that were a little higher quality with lovely illustrations and longer stories. I found this wonderful collection, a mini-library that was typical of what a child of the time would own.
The case held a collection of these Pocket Books. They were cute, colorful, and an enormous hit with young readers. Newbery even had the brilliant idea of offering giveaways with the books - a ball for boys and a pincushion for girls. Each had a red and black side. Parents were encouraged to put a pin into the red side for a child's every good behavior and a pin into the black for every bad behavior. When ten pins were on either side, a child was to be rewarded or punished accordingly. (Sounds a bit like today's Elf on the Shelf.)
The books were indeed charming. Here are the treasures stored in this one collection. Aren't they marvelous? I'll go into more detail about these precious treasures in some future posts, so stick around!

To read more about Glasgow's collection of Chapbooks, visit Read more about the Toy Books in particular at

Friday Links List: 28 September 2018

From Mary Pearson (via Cynsations): A Few Thoughts on Ageism in YA "Publishing a book at a young age is, of course, remarkable, but so is publishing a book at fifty."

From SLJ: Reimagining Our Futures: YA Authors On Feminism, Fairy-Tales, & Fantasy (pretty much exactly what my PhD is all about!)

At Cynsations: Harold Underdown on Line Editing !!!

From Terri Windling's Myth and Moor: On stories false and true (important!)

From Slate (via PW): The Secret Life of Libraries

From The Bookseller: Children's book market up 0.7% by value in 2018

From The Bookseller: 'Diary of a Wimpy Kid' to be translated into Scots! (You KNOW that's going to be GOOD!)

From Eliza Wheeler: My SCBWI LA National Conference Keynote

This is just COOL: Land of Legends - Wales

From Hillary Homzie at Tara Lazar's "Writing for Kids (While Raising Them)": Is Your Picture Book Actually a Chapter Book? Five Ways to Find Out - REALLY GOOD!

From The New York Post: This is where 'Wild Things' author Maurice Sendak created his magic

Christopher Cyr's WHO WILL BELL THE CAT?

Today, Christopher Cyr stops by to tell us about the creation of his new picture book WHO WILL BELL THE CAT?, written by the late Patricia C. McKissack for Holiday House. Enjoy!
e: What is your creative process/medium, can you walk us through it?
Scribbles, sketches and doodles are how I get my very first ideas out. Pencil on paper, I try to just express any spark of imagination or flash of fun that comes to mind.

I take those thumbnail sketches, refine them, and bring them to the digital world of Adobe Photoshop. That’s when I begin the magic. Working under my sketch I’ll build up tones using brushes sampled from my own watercolour paintings.
After the image has a full value study underneath I begin adding colors on top, injecting hue and vibrancy to the image until it has the exact balance I’m looking for.
When I’m completely happy I then go through the image painting textures and fine details and giving everything its moment in the spotlight. That’s the secret!

e: What do you think makes an illustration magical, what I call "Heart Art” - the sort that makes a reader want to come back to look again and again?
An illustration with undeniable charisma, the kind that draws you in again and again comes not from conveying a single idea. Or a single story. It comes from an image filled with ideas and stories, big and small. Every detail is a clue for your imagination to take and run wild.
e: Is there a unique or funny story behind the creation of this story?
This story was written by the wonderful, late, Patricia McKissack. Her words were a pleasure for me to bring to life. I was reminded of home where I grew up in rural Massachusetts when I imagined the old barn the mice lived in and I thought of all the cats that have sauntered through my life. I actually had a bell just like the one in the book hanging on a latch in my room when I was younger. The cat liked to play with the latch but did not like the noise of the bell. My thinking wasn’t too different from these mice it seems.
e: How do you advertise yourself?
I stay fairly active across social media. Tumblr (chriscyr), Instagram (@christophercyr), Twitter (@plaidcats), you name it! I always have my rep studio at my side as well promoting my work for me— the lovely ladies over at Studio Goodwin Sturges.
e: What is your favorite or most challenging part of being a creator?
For me, my favorite part is the reward of all the little challenging moments of puzzle-piecing throughout the creative process. I love having all these new ideas pop into my mind and seeing them all integrate together to create one space you really want to dive into. That fun of looking at my own piece of art and just admiring a world I’d love to visit is what I alway look foreword to most.
e: Is there something in particular about this story you hope readers will take away with them, perhaps something that isn’t immediately obvious?
I’d hope readers take away a sense of curiosity for whatever may be just behind the corner or scurrying behind a wall. I know I enjoyed imagining the big world of mice and I think the readers of this book might be inspired to imagine spending a day as a mouse too.
e: What are you working on next or what would be your dream project?
I’m working on a little of everything right now— other books, one-off illustrations, a game project that’s taken my fancy. I always want to be doing more and I don’t think I’ll ever slow down! My dream project would most definitely be something involving dragons, they’ve always been my favorite. Or maybe something involving food? Food and dragons, a perfect combo.
      My website is Thank you for this opportunity.

e: Thank you, Christopher!

Coloring Page Tuesday - Traffic

     Since moving to Scotland, I spend very little time in cars anymore. It's given me a rather humorous perspective on the idea of traffic.
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     I create my coloring pages to draw your attention to my books! For instance...
my latest picture book, Crow Not Crow - written by New York Times Best-selling author Jane Yolen and Adam Stemple.
     Kirkus calls it "a solid choice for introducing the hobby [birdwatching] to younger readers."
      Also, A Bird on Water Street is now available in Chinese!
     I create my coloring pages for teachers, librarians, booksellers, and parents to enjoy for free with their children, but you can also purchase rights to an image for commercial use, please contact me. If you have questions about usage, please visit my Angel Policy page.

It's Banned Books Week!

It's BANNED BOOKS WEEK! To celebrate, read something they say you shouldn't!
Click the image above to learn more about it.
In counter, BookRiot recently shared a list of 30 Children's Books About Diversity That Celebrate Our Differences. Now that's positive!

How Your Personal Color Palette Can Change Your Life

Recently, Stan and I went to a friend's new flat for lunch and to take pictures to help her advertise it on AirBnB. Olga purchased the flat just a few months ago and there were already some very cool features in place - orange shades, orange radiators (!!!), and some lovely tile and wooden floors. While we ate lunch, I set my artist's eye to pick out items that would go together to help stage the photos. My thinking was completely based on the lectures I give at Hollins University about Personal Color Palettes.
     As I looked around, I began to see particular colours repeated again and again in her favorite keepsakes. For instance, this poster by Daniel Richter.
This funny deep orange tin.
She'd also bought this fantastic fabric she'd had made into a bed coverlette.
We decluttered and then rebuilt the rooms, and as we did so, we decided which personal items would stay and go. For instance, out went the (very nice) flowered bed linens. They were busy and didn't fit in her color palette. Out went asundry items and in came some calming plants from the bedroom. I asked her to empty a wonderful big basket that picked up on the grey of the couch to go on the dining table - carrying the charcoal around the room.
Of course, the star was the orange. Olga had extra fabric from the bed throw. We wrapped a pillow in it (she's going to have official pillow covers made from it after our visit) to carry the orange through the flat from the shades, to the couch.
And into the kitchen where that funny orangey tin played a big role.
The whole idea of a personal color palette was a revelation to Olga (it's a revelation to everybody I share this with), and she grabbed her favorite dress to show me. It had orange and pink stripes, like the shades and the shirt she was wearing. I quickly pulled together some of her items to show her what I meant.
These are the colors that pull out:
What a groovy palette! The black and charcoal act as bases - colors for ground pieces like the couch and the dining chairs, which we swapped out from the larger wooden chairs as that black helped pull the color around the room. In fact, she had been thinking about painting the wooden chairs black and after our visit, is confident it will look great! The other colors will help her make purchases in the future. As long as she sticks to the same saturation level, these will always go together and give her flat a lively, colorful, cohesive look! She'd already been doing it subconsciously, now she can do it consciously!
So, Olga's flat is now advertised on AirBnB for rentals when she's out of town (click the image above to learn more), and she has a fun new way of looking at and decorating her world! What a creative and fun afternoon!
     Flat Photos by Stan Dulemba

VIDEO: Music for Elephants

Here's a feel-good video for your Sunday. A concert pianist has found great joy in playing music for blind elephants. The elephants obviously love it too! Have a gander at the Good News Network - click the image below.
Watch the full documentary HERE.

Little Free Libraries! A New One!

Did you know that there are now 75,000 Little Free Libraries in the world? Good News Network recently celebrated the milestone and talked about WHY WE NEED MORE!
     I'm proud to have TWO Little Free Libraries in the world with my artwork on them! There is the one I painted for a fundraising event for the Decatur Book Festival that sits in the middle of a park in Oakhurst.
It was even immortalized on the cover of THE LITTLE FREE LIBRARY BOOK: TAKE A BOOK • RETURN A BOOK by Margret Aldrich.
     And now there's a new one! Jacki L., one of my Coloring Page Tuesday followers, used my images (with my permission) to decorate a Little Free Library to share with her friends and neighbors. Awesome, right?

     I'm so proud to have a small part in helping to spread these wonderful libraries around the world!