Illustrators, writers, quite inspired, how do your stories grow? was the theme for the 2012 regional conference of the Houston Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) back in March. The weekend featured a most inspired and prolific storyteller-artist Dan Yaccarino along with editors, agents, and one art director, Susan Sherman of Charlesbridge Publishing.
Jennifer Rofe, a literary agent with the Andrea Brown Literary Agency discussed The “So What?” Factor. Susan Sherman showed Pictures That Make the Words Work and Dial Books for Young Readers editor Heather Alexander walked the crowd through a document used by the department heads at Penguin’s Young Readers Group to evaluate if a dummy/manuscript is a go or no go in The Hard Sell: How Publishers Sell Your Manuscript In-house and Out. This all before lunch.
Editors Jenne Abramowitz of Scholastic, Connie Hsu of Little, Brown Books for Young Readers kept us awake all afternoon in their talks on writing and book concepts. Kathleen Ortiz discussed author web sites.
For illustrators, this bracing counsel from Dan Yaccarino in his answer to a question from the assembly (and I’m paraphrasing): Don’t spend your time working for small presses or author self-published projects. Aim for the big houses, the major trade book assignments, the important work. ASAP.
InteractBooks contest winners created six new children’s books for the iPad
Congratulations to author Gwen Christie and illustrator Paul Wrangles of England for winning the 2012 Winter InteractBooks competition with their interactive digital book The Champion Hare.
CEO Ezra Weinstein announced the first place through fifth place winners (there was a tie for third place) for the winter contest in a live webinar broadcast.
See the recording with news about the 2012 spring contest and an upcoming class series on building interactive books for electronic tablets, using the new 3.0 InteractBuilder software.
Check out the covers of all the winning books on the InteractBook Facebook page.
Behold the “e-Future”
A couple of years ago editor and publisher Stephen Roxburgh put his thoughts together on the “e-Future” — for a talk, he was to give at the Austin SCBWI regional conference.
He’s updated it since then and in April Horn Book magazine featured his essay that offers a remarkable snapshot of the publishing industry at the crossroads.
If the topic of e-books interests you, you’re in for a great read.
Sis named 2012 Hans Christian Andersen book artist
In this interview by Takoma Park. Maryland librarian Karen McPherson, distributed by the Scripps Howard News Service, Peter Sis, the winner of this year’s Hans Christian Andersen Illustrator Award, talks about three phone calls that changed his life.
One was a collect call from Maurice Sendak who urged him to move to New York if he wanted a serious career as a children’s book author-illustrator. (Sis took his advice.)
A call from editor Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis at Doubleday led him to write and illustrating a book about growing up in his native Czechoslovakia.
From the McPherson interview: “Sis remembers that, in communist Czechoslovakia, ‘we couldn’t talk openly… We all started to think and talk in different layers — protective layers,’ he said. Those “layers” became second nature to Sis, whose books and other artwork now are noted for their layers of design and meaning.”
The third call came from the MacArthur Foundation to inform him that he’d been selected to receive one of the foundation’s “genius grants.”
Sis, who once made animated films and later illustrated for the New York Times, mentioned the three life-changing calls in his acceptance speech for the award.
The Hans Christian Andersen Awards were announced by the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair in March. You can learn more about the awards and this year’s other winners here. You might also enjoy this short audio in which Peter Sis tells interviewer Susan Viebrock how growing up in a communist state has informed his books, themes and artwork. You can listen to the audio here.
Sizing up Sendak
As news of Maurice Sendak’s passing settles down it might be time to reflect a little on his scruffy, straightforward, exquisite cartoon art and what it’s meant to two generations. Here are some resources to consider.
- The Horn Book has assembled this compendium of Sendak articles and interviews.
- If you haven’t already seen it here’s the loving New York Times Books Page feature that’s rich with biographic detail.
“Maurice Sendak, widely considered the most important children’s book artist of the 20th century, who wrenched the picture book out of the safe, sanitized world of the nursery and plunged it into the dark, terrifying and hauntingly beautiful recesses of the human psyche, died on Tuesday in Danbury, Conn. He was 83… ” the obituary leads off.
“…Roundly praised, intermittently censored and occasionally eaten, Mr. Sendak’s books were essential ingredients of childhood for the generation born after 1960 or thereabouts, and in turn for their children.”
- I enjoyed this CNN interview with novelist Gregory Maguire, author of Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West about Sendak, whom Maguire personally knew.
- The SCBWI International website has put up this page honoring him.
- The UK Guardian published this appreciation by author-illustrator Shirley Hughes. Readers’ comments under her essay amuse and provoke.
How has the art of Maurice Sendak affected you in your life?
What’s your PB Dummy Challenge?
Chances are you’ll see your issue addressed in the Picture Book Dummy Challenge series that’s been going on all year over at the #KidLitArt blog.
You’ll enjoy this latest process post by Aaron Zenz on that critical stage of producing the final art for your picture book.
Zenz shows how he’s willing to re-do a painting or try a new concept — sometimes more than once — if that’s what it takes to delight his editor, publisher, or client. The post is filled with ‘case studies’ and Zenz’s appealing artwork from these assignments.
Illustrators Bonnie Adamson and Wendy Martin do a great job riding herd on the #KidLitArt blog series. This could be a biased statement because I also guest posted for the series (PB Dummy Challenge Step 5, Creating Full-Sized Drawings for your Dummy Pages.)
But I can vouch with complete objectivity for the #kidlitart chats that Martin and Adamson host every Thursday night (U.S. Time zones) and are open to anyone on Twitter.
Each chat is based on a theme important to children’s illustrators. Each chart provides a fine opportunity to hunker down with your picture-making colleagues, published and aspiring. If you miss a live session you can always catch the transcript archived on the blog.
And the learning never stops…
Austin, Texas sure likes digital storytelling for children.
Registration has opened for Austin SCBWI’s Digital Symposium II: Nuts and Bolts of Success, a hands-on technology workshop for illustrators and authors of all techie levels. Set for Saturday, October 6, once again this year at St. Edward’s University’s Fleck Hall. Read more.
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Three cheers for Charisse Melliza whose illustrations appear in the newly released Mama and Asha by Carolyn Rohrbaugh (Shapato Publishing)
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