Tuesday, May 26, 2009

One of My Favorite Picture Books

I discovered Orville: A Dog Story by accident. I might have been researching the publisher, Clarion, or perhaps I was wandering in the "K" section at my library. Either way, I lucked out. The supreme beauty of Haven Kimmel's Orville is its luscious blend of raw emotion and perfectly chosen words, the essence of a great picture book. And it doesn't hurt that it features a dog, another of my all-time favorite things.

Picture book writers desiring an example of a great first sentence need only look at Orville's. It hits you right between the eyes:

"He was so lost, and had been lost for so long, that when the early April thunderstorm blew in like a freight train, the dog lay down in the culvert, covered his eyes with his paws, and decided to never get up again."

Wow. It's poetry. It's raw. It's literary. And it doesn't stop with the first sentence. There's a great story there, filled with longing, conflict, and resolution. It's a novel in miniature, a love story. Published in 2003 and written for older picture book readers, Orville is not typical of today's lighter, bouncier, funny picture books. It's the kind of book I'd like to have written.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Children's Book Week

It's Children's Book Week! And to celebrate, I read some of my picture books to two of my favorite elementary classes. What great audiences they were! Thanks to Mrs. Arth, Ms. Alvis and Mrs. Caywood and all your great students (especially my two favorites)!

Keep reading and writing!

Monday, May 4, 2009

My Debut Picture Book

You asked for it! Okay, not all of you. But a few did. Okay two. Two of my friends. So here it is! THE EASTER BUNNY, my debut picture book, written and illustrated by my 10-year old self. (P.S. World rights still available. Call me.)

The first thing you'll notice is the unique cover paper. Made from recycled wallpaper sample books, this stunning volume seamlessly melds art and text. And it's sparkly.

Notice how the animal motif (bunny, tiger) builds on itself on the inside front cover. The title page is simple, yet classic in design, punctuated by a single flower in the top right corner. (And yes, I went through a period where I bubbled the dot above my i's. Cool, huh?)

Page 1. The problem

Page 2. The community gets involved

Page 3. Mole knows something

Page 4. Mole spills (!!)

Page 5. Mumble, mumble

Page 6. Quick! To your homes!

Page 7. The big finish

What I learned by writing and illustrating my own book? You don't have to start big. You just have to start. What will you write today?