Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Paul Czajak (#LGBpodcast Ep. 135)

Paul Czajak (@PCzajak), author of Seaver the Weaver (@MightyPress), which is illustrated by Sean and Ben Hilts (@BrothersHilts), and author of the Monster & Me series, illustrated by Wendy Grier, stops by to talk about orb spiders, the slush pile on the shelf, and the problem with connecting with "just one kid".

Episode Notes
Paul Czajak' homepage
SCBWI - The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators
"The Slush Pile on the Shelf" blog post by Paul
Purchase books by the Paul Czajak from your local independent bookstore

Purchase locally whenever possible.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

BES Graphic Novel Nominees (2015-2016)

(The following was adapted/updated from my BES Graphic Novel Nominees post from April 23, 2014) 

It's time to celebrate year three!

The nominees in the graphic novel category of the Maryland Black-Eyed Susan (BES) Award were just announced! Voting will soon be closed for this year's nominees and our Maryland students will soon select the first recipient of our BES Graphic Novel Award for grades 4-6! 

As the committee chair for the BES Graphic Novel Award, I again struggle to articulate how proud I am of the nominees our committee members selected and how privileged I am to have worked with such a great group of teacher librarians in selecting these titles. (BTW, here are the nominees from 2013-2014 and 2014-2015)

We selected 10 graphic novels published within the past three years (2012, 2013, and 2014) that we felt were outstanding titles for students in grades 4-6. These are graphic novels we also consider to be must-haves for library collections and titles we feel will quickly earn the hearts of students and teachers alike. They represent a variety of genres including action/adventure, science fiction, nonfiction, and memoir. But more importantly, there are a testament to the great strength graphic novels possess in storytelling. We hope you and your students enjoy these titles as much as we do!

The 2015-2016 BES Graphic Novel Award Grades 4-6 Nominees are:

El Deafo by Cece Bell
Going to school and making new friends can be tough. But going to school and making new friends while wearing a bulky hearing aid strapped to your chest? That requires superpowers! In this funny, poignant graphic novel memoir, author/illustrator Cece Bell chronicles her hearing loss at a young age and her subsequent experiences with the Phonic Ear, a very powerful and very awkward hearing aid.

The Phonic Ear gives Cece the ability to hear sometimes things she shouldn t but also isolates her from her classmates. She really just wants to fit in and find a true friend, someone who appreciates her as she is. After some trouble, she is finally able to harness the power of the Phonic Ear and become El Deafo, Listener for All. And more importantly, declare a place for herself in the world and find the friend she s longed for.

Learn more about Cece Bell (@CeceBellBooks) at cecebell.wordpress.com.

BONUS: Enjoy listening to Cece Bell talk about El Deafo on the Let's Get Busy podcast by clicking HERE (Episode 114).

Lowriders in Space by Cathy Camper and Raul the Third
Lupe Impala, El Chavo Flapjack, and Elirio Malaria love working with cars. You name it, they can fix it. But the team's favorite cars of all are lowriders—cars that hip and hop, dip and drop, go low and slow, bajito y suavecito. The stars align when a contest for the best car around offers a prize of a trunkful of cash—just what the team needs to open their own shop! ¡Ay chihuahua! What will it take to transform a junker into the best car in the universe? Striking, unparalleled art from debut illustrator Raul the Third recalls ballpoint-pen-and-Sharpie desk-drawn doodles, while the story is sketched with Spanish, inked with science facts, and colored with true friendship. With a glossary at the back to provide definitions for Spanish and science terms, this delightful book will educate and entertain in equal measure.

Learn more about Cathy Camper (@cfastwolf) at cathycamper.com and Raul the Third (@raulthe3rd) at raulthethird.com.

BONUS: Enjoy listening to Cathy Camper (Episode 95) and Raul the Third (Episode 108) talk about Lowriders in Space on the Let's Get Busy podcast by clicking HERE.

Hidden by Loïc Dauvillier, Marc Lizano, and Greg Salsedo
In this gentle, poetic young graphic novel, Dounia, a grandmother, tells her granddaughter the story even her son has never heard: how, as a young Jewish girl in Paris, she was hidden away from the Nazis by a series of neighbors and friends who risked their lives to keep her alive when her parents had been taken to concentration camps. 

Hidden ends on a tender note, with Dounia and her mother rediscovering each other as World War II ends . . . and a young girl in present-day France becoming closer to her grandmother, who can finally, after all those years, tell her story. With words by Loïc Dauvillier and art by Marc Lizano and Greg Salsedo, this picture book-style comic for young readers is a touching read.

Learn more about Loïc Dauvillier at loicdauvillier.com, learn more about Marc Lizano at marc-lizano.weebly.com, and learn more about Greg Salsedo at salsedo.co/en/.

Dogs of War by Sheila Keenan and Nathan Fox
DOGS OF WAR is a graphic novel that tells the stories of the canine military heroes of World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam War. This collection of three fictional stories was inspired by historic battles and real military practice. Each story tells the remarkable adventures of a soldier and his service dog and is rendered with fascinating and beautiful detail, bringing to life the faithful dogs who braved bombs, barrages, and battles to save the lives of countless soldiers.

Based on the real-life roles of military dogs that served as Red Cross rescuers, messengers, scouts, search-and-rescue teams, sentries, and mascots, DOGS OF WAR captures both the adventure and the devastation brought on by war, as well as the celebrations of life and friendship between boys and their dogs.

Learn more about Sheila Keenan at sheilakeenan.com and Nathan Fox (@nathanfoxy) at foxnathan.com.

The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents Macbeth by Ian Ledler and Zach Giallongo
The Stratford Zoo looks like a normal zoo... until the gates shut at night. That's when the animals come out of their cages to stage elaborate performances of Shakespeare's greatest works. They might not be the most accomplished thespians, but they've got what counts: heart. Also fangs, feathers, scales, and tails, in The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents Macbeth. 

Learn more about Ian Lendler (@ianlendler) at ianlendler.com and Zack Giallongo (@Zackules) at zackgiallongo.com.

The Silver Six
A group of orphans on the run search for a new home among the stars. When a group of orphans discover they have a common connection, plucky heroine Phoebe leads them in a daring escape from their orphanage to an uninhabited moon. But their idyllic paradise is shattered when the powerful corporate boss who caused the deaths of their parents sends a relentless henchman to track them down. Now, with nowhere left to turn and tired of being on the run, these resourceful kids decide there's only one thing left to do: Fight back!

Bravoman: Super-Unequaled Hero of Excellence
It's Bravoman: Super Unequaled Hero of Excellence! This ultra-stretchy, Japanese-style superhero battles intergalactic octopus monsters, city-smashing giant robots, and armies of squawking crow-demons, all while trying to fit in some quality videogame hours on the couch. And did we mention the deadly ninja princess who wants to both date and kill him? Yikes! Bravoman Volume 1 collects over 130 zany strips from the Bravoman webcomic, plus bonus pin-ups, rough sketches, and plenty of creator commentary.

Learn more about Matt Moylan (@LilFormers) at lilformers.comDax Gordine (@D__Gee) at daxgordineportfolio.blogspot.ca,  and Joh Perez (@dyemooch) at dyemooch.deviantart.com.

Finding Gossamyr: Volume 1
In the world of Gossamyr, power is as simple as comprehension. A spell is a theorem and the theorem must be written in the air and proven for it to take hold. Denny's unique gift allows him to solve theorems that would drive anyone else insane, but he doesn't think of the world on those terms. He can only solve problems, not consider the appropriate answer for a situation. Fortunately, the children are befriended by allies who strive to send the stranded siblings home before dark forces can use the boy's power for evil. This beautifully bound hardcover edition of Finding Gossamyr collects the first volume of this critically acclaimed series, and is packed with 132-pages of gorgeously painted story, concept art, guest artist gallery, a beautifully illustrated map of the world of Gossamyr, and an exclusive short story created just for this edition. 

Learn more about David A. Rodriguez (@DaveARodriguez) at th3rdworld.com/book/Finding-Gossamyr and Sarah Ellerton (@artsangel) at arts-angel.com.

Phoebe and Her Unicorn
It all started when Phoebe skipped a rock across a pond and accidentally hit a unicorn in the face. Improbably, this led to Phoebe being granted one wish, and she used it to make the unicorn, Marigold Heavenly Nostrils, her obligational best friend. But can a vain mythical beast and a nine-year-old daydreamer really forge a connection? Indeed they can, and that's how Phoebe and Her Unicorn unfolds.

Learn more about Dana Simpson (@MizDanaClaire) at gocomics.com/phoebe-and-her-unicorn/.

Cardboard by Doug TenNapel
After Cam's down-and-out father gives him a cardboard box for his birthday, they fashion it into a man and it comes magically to life. But things spin wildly out of control when the neighborhood bully, Marcus, steals a scrap of the cardboard to create creatures that promptly disobey his orders and multiply into an unruly army. 

Before long, Cam and Marcus must put their differences behind them and work together to prevent a legion of cardboard monsters from taking over the whole town!

Learn more about Doug TenNapel (@TenNapel) at tennapel.com.

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(The following was adapted/updated from my Picture Book Nominees post from March 14, 2012) 

State book awards are as unique as the state awarding them, as is the process for selecting the titles. The Black-Eyed Susan Award has been given to authors each year since 1992 and the award recognizes outstanding literature for children in the categories of Picture Book, Grades 4-6, Middle School, and High School. Book nominees are selected in each category by committees of active and retired school librarians from throughout the state. The nominees are announced in March for the following year. Winners are student-selected in April of the following school year. 

Announcing the nominees now gives us a chance to familiarize ourselves with the books, start planning lessons and activities for the following school year, and earmark money from our book budgets to purchase the nominated titles. 

Personally, I really like scouring the list of nominees to see if an author of a nominated book could visit our school in person or virtually via Skype. 

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Brothers Hilts (#LGBpodcast Ep. 134)

Sean and Ben Hilts (@BrothersHilts), illustrators of Seaver the Weaver (@MightyPress), written by Paul Czajak (@PCzajak), as well as the critically reviewed The Insomniacs (@PenguinKids), written by Karina Wolf (@wolfandfox), stop by to talk about building visual literacy and art appreciation through picture books, admitting what your collaborator can do better than you (especially when it's your brother), and bringing the rhythm of repetition into the art to accentuate the story.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Tina and Carson Kugler (#LGBpodcast Ep. 133)

Tina and Carson Kugler (@tinatheatre and @CarsonKugler), creator of In Mary's Garden (@HMHkids), stop by to talk about "the witch's house", an artist who worked in found and recycled materials long before upcycling become trendy, and not trying to control the whole process.

Episode Notes
Tina Kugler's homepage
Studio Kugler
Blog post from Tina and Caron entitled "Mary Nohl's Property Still in Danger, No Known Progress"
Purchase In Mary's Garden from your local independent bookstore

Purchase locally whenever possible.
Mary Nohl House

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Best Book Ever [this week] - March 15, 2015

Five books reviewed in five minutes.

Changes: A Child's First Poetry Collection Poems by Charlotte Zolotow, illustrated by Tiphanie Beeke (Sourcebooks)
The first book is Changes: A Child's First Poetry Collection Poems. The poems are by Charlotte Zolotow, illustrated by Tiphanie Beeke, and this comes to us from Sourcebooks. Here is a beautiful, beautiful collection of poems from Charlotte Zolotow through all of the seasons and each one, I feel, is more perfect than the one before it. just perfectly capturing the way that poetry is supposed to capture a moment, invoke feeling in us, make us reflect, challenge us to think about something. These are just lovely. And I'd like to just read you one [poem]. This is called "You". 

I like shadows.
I like sun. 
I like you 
more than anyone. 

I like summer.
 I like the cold.
I'll even like you 
when you're old. 

I like work.
I like play. 
I like you 
every which way. 

Now if that doesn't start off this segment right, I don't know what does. One poem after the other, I feel, is just something so special that I want to share with all of my readers in my school. And I can't wait to see these poems in pockets for Poem in your Pocket in April. Excellent collection of poems by Charlotte Zolotow.

The Baseball Player and the Walrus by Ben Loory, illustrated by Alex Latimer (Dial Books for Young Readers)
Next up is The Baseball Player and the Walrus by Ben Loory. Illustrations are by Alex Latimer. This comes to us from Dial Books for Young Readers. And here is an outrageous story about a baseball player who decided he wanted to buy a walrus. And everyone was like, "No! No! No! It's going to cost you way too much. you're never going to be able to do it." But he wanted to be able tot take care of this walrus. And as the story goes on the baseball player hits some hard times and runs out of money and has to give up the walrus. But the real payoff here is what he ends up giving up for his happiness. And I think you'll really like it. The illustrations are wonderful cartoon style illustrations. Colors pop off of the page. And it's a walrus and a baseball player who's just sad and heartbroken over a walrus. You'll like this one. It's so fun to read aloud.

Ready Rabbit Gets Ready! by Brenna Malony (Viking Childrens Books)
The third book is Ready Rabbit Gets Ready! by Brenna Malony. This comes to us from Viking and the illustrations are done through photograph with posed figures. And Ready Rabbit is this lovely, kind-of-like sock bunny (really cute) who is maybe Kindergarten-age, getting ready to go to school, no less. And we keep running into, I'm sure you're hearing me filling through the pages as I'm talking about it to you about it, Ready Rabbit, every time mom says, "It's time to get ready," gets distracted by toys or by his imagination or by wanting to play something else, and its is just something that… I mean, I have a four-year-old and I'm relating to every single distraction that this rabbit is going through. The photos are just wonderful to stare at, to look at and to wonder, "how large are these miniatures?" And if you turn to the very back of the book you will see in Brenda's author photo that she has this Ready Rabbit, and it's only about maybe six inches tall. So to know that all of these are created on that scale, and photographs so clean on this white background… it just is something new to look at and something that I think a lot of kids will relate to when they are getting ready to go to school.

Edmund Unravels by Andrew Kolb (Nancy Paulsen Books)
Number four is Edmund Unravels. The words and pictures are by Andrew Kolb and this comes to us from Nancy Paulsen Books. And this… oh my word! The colors will pop on this. The graphic illustrations are deduced as much as possible to basic geometric shapes. And it's about a ball of yarn that wants to go see the world. And of course every ball of yarn starts with an and as Edmund unravels to explore new things we find the end of the beginning and, of course, the beginning is the end. As he goes and explores he gets smaller and smaller, and sort of the rest of the world becomes bigger and bigger until his family is able to pull him back at at a time when he needs to know that his family is around him. The pictures here are... my word, they're so pretty and they are so vibrantly colored. The book itself is almost eye candy. It's almost just to look at the colors just opened to any random page will make you smile. Lovely. Edmund Unravels. Make sure you check that out. What a great, unusual story taking an inanimate object and wondering what kind of journey it could go on. I feel like that is a conversation we could have with many, many readers.

Where Bear? by Sophy Henn (Philomel Books)
And the final book, the best book ever this week, is called Where Bear? And it's by Sophy Henn. And this just might be a perfect picture book. Where Bear? stars of boy and his bear, and the boy just continues to ask that reprised, "Where bear?" Where should you go? Where do you want to go as you're growing and growing larger? Where should your home be? And the boy searches all over to find "Is it a zoo? How about if we bring you to a toy shop? What about the jungle?" And no place is right. And so the boy keeps asking, "Well then where, bear?" And finally we find the just right place. But the other thing that works so well is not just the terse language in this book, but also the way that each background in this book is just a solid pastel color, a pastel and gray color. And we just see that boy and the bear, who are basically gray and white, black and white, right up front and right up close. They are the star of our book, and that's where our eyes will go for the entire book. It's a marvel to read. I think you're going to read and just sigh and be thankful that such wonderful books exist in this world. And that's why I'm calling Where Bear? by Sophy Henn the best book ever this week. Way to go!
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