Author: Mark Mitchell

Takahata’s Transcendent Fairy Tale

Based on a 1,000 year old fairy tale, The Tale of Princess Kaguya breaks your heart as it inspires you to love your life. The (originally called) Tale of the Bamboo Cutter has been the source of a number of different literary and media treatments in Japan. Ghibli Studio co-founder Isao Takahata took eight years to direct this animated feature version, completing it in 2013. I’ll call it a fairy — instead of a folk — tale since it tells of unearthly beings and dimensions: A moon sprite (let’s call her) is found by a kindly elderly couple. They take her in. We watch her grow swiftly from...

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A robust new world of illustrated children’s nonfiction?

“A nonfiction writer is a storyteller who has sworn an oath to tell the truth.” A great quote from Newbery Award winning children’s nonfiction author Russell Freedman.  Of course nonfiction has a very special place in literature and school libraries. It’s the bedrock of publishing. Last week’s post held up an effective example, the biographical picture book The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch by Chris Barton and Don Tate (Eerdmans Publishing.) Another Eerdmans title, The Right Word: Roget and his Thesaurus by Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet and the 2014 Caldecott Medal winning Locomotive, written and illustrated by Brian Floca (Atheneum Books...

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Picture books on the library conference floor

The hilarious picture book The Day The Crayons Quit, (Philomel) by Drew Daywalt and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers (mostly, he says, with his left hand) trounced the competition for this year’s Texas Bluebonnet Award.  (The image on the left is by illustrator Don Tate for another book, The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch by Chris Barton that you’ll see more about below.) Publishers consider the Bluebonnet one of the major children’s book awards. That’s because the Lone Star state embraces more school districts than any other (1,262 compared with California’s 1,187 in 2012.) Every year, 20 titles selected by Texas school librarians comprise the Bluebonnet Master List  —...

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The real Dr. Seuss

Yesterday elementary schools across the country pounced upon the National Education Association’s Read Across America Day and its patron saint, The Cat in the Hat — I mean, Dr. Seuss, aka Theodore Geisel. Three things you might not know about Geisel, whose March 2 birthdate the NEA commandeers evey year for its celebration of young readers and reading ed awareness: There really was a Mulberry Street and it was less than a mile from Geisel’s comfortable childhood home in Springfield, Massachusetts. For the poetic meter for his rhyming books, he mostly chose the same anapestic tetrameter used by the classic English poets. His picture book Horton Hears a Who!...

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Illustrators, earn your Raccoon Badge of Honor?

Vector art illustration — not just for business logos and T-shirt designs anymore.  Children’s book illustrators like Wendy Martin use it in their fine art creation and the books they illustrate for publishers of all kinds. The short video below catches a short dialogue between Wendy and I on this topic during last week’s Marks and Splashes group critique. (Wendy was our ‘guest critiquer’ for the session.) It links to a longer presentation by her about how she and some of her illustrator pals achieve lovely, painterly effects with this math/geometry-driven software. First brought out in 1986 as a companion to Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator application was...

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A Drawing Secret

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Richard Robinson Painting Instruction

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