Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween Reading

Here are three books I highly recommend for your Halloween reading!

"On the first day of Halloween, / my good friend gave to me: / a vulture in a dead tree."

The 13 Days of Halloween, written by Carol Greene and illustrated by Tim Raglin (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2009), is a Halloween twist on the classic Christmas carol "The 12 Days of Christmas." Children will love singing "The 13 Days of Halloween." And they will be tickled by the funny illustrations. The song is about what one friend gives another for the 13 days of Halloween, but the illustrations show a man ghoul courting a lady ghoul. And they show the hilarity that would certainly ensue with such gifts as "eleven bats a-swooping" and "four giggling ghosts"! The ending of this picture book is engaging. It doesn't reveal the thirteenth gift, so kids can have fun guessing what it is and making up their own ending to the song!

I Need My Monster, written by Amanda Noll and illustrated by Howard McWilliam (Flashlight Press, 2009), is simply stunning. It's a truly unique story: a little boy named Ethan absolutely needs the monster under his bed.

"The whole point of having a monster, after all, / was to keep me in bed, imagining all the / scary stuff that could happen if I got out."

His monster, Gabe, is gone for the week to go fishing and substitute monsters try to fill in for him. However, none of them are as scary as Gabe, so Ethan just cannot fall asleep!

The illustrations in I Need My Monster are amazing. They were drawn with pencil on paper, then rendered with digital acrylic paint that jump off the glossy pages quite nicely. Ethan is adorable and has a very expressive face. Plus, the interesting shapes, monsters, and perspectives in the illustrations (as well as the story itself) balance humor with a little bit of scary stuff for children.

Below are a few of the illustrations from the book, as shared by Howard McWilliam on his official website:

The monster under author Amanda Noll's bed is Gertie. The monster under Howard McWilliam's bed is Brompton. There is no monster under my bed, which probably explains why I have trouble falling asleep at night. :o(

What's the name of the monster under your bed?

The last of my Halloween reading was Horrid Henry's Underpants and Horrid Henry and the Scary Sitter, both written by Francesca Simon and illustrated by Tony Ross (and both published by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2009). I'd like to share a bit about Horrid Henry and the Scary Sitter because it contains a Halloween story.

Halloween is Henry's favorite holiday because it is a day devoted to gorging on candy and playing pranks on people. But this Halloween, Henry isn't allowed to go trick or treating as punishment for giving his younger brother Perfect Peter a scary haircut: one side of his head gets a big bald patch. LOL. But hey what was Henry supposed to do? He was dressed as a red and black devil and didn't want to be seen with Peter in his pink bunny costume!

How will Henry make sure that he still gets to fill his trick-or-treat bag? Read Horrid Henry and the Scary Sitter to find out!

[My copies of The 13 Days of Halloween, Horrid Henry's Underpants, and Horrid Henry and the Scary Sitter were provided by their publisher. My copy of I Need My Monster was provided by the author.]

Happy Halloween!

The winners of the Halloween book giveaway are...

Third prize: Petrufied

Second prize: Angelica Louise (Angel)

First prize: Bendrix

Congratulations!!! Please email me ( your contact details. :o)

Yay! =D

I have never been on any kind of "best" list, so I am really happy that Into the Wardrobe is part of the 100 Best Book Blogs for Kids, Tweens, and Teens. I'm especially thrilled about Into the Wardrobe being categorized under "Well-Rounded Book Blogs." Yay! =D

Thank you, Online School. I am glad there are people who enjoy reading this blog and find it helpful.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Halloween Giveaway for Book Lovers in the Philippines

Calling all book lovers in the Philippines - this is for you! I am giving away five books and all you need to do for a chance to win is leave a comment for this post.

Third prize:

The third prize is a copy of Defining Twilight by Brian Leaf (Cliffs Notes, 2009), a vocabulary workbook for students that uses words from Stephenie Meyer's Twilight. Now, I know what you are thinking, because I thought it too at first. "No more Twilight please!!!" And I was thinking this even though I love Twilight and am a fan of Stephenie Meyer's. We can only take so much, right? So why am I promoting this book? Because it's a pretty darn good vocabulary workbook. Words are presented (some examples are "sauntered," "chortling," "unequivocally," "furtively," and "proprietary") and the reader/student is directed to the pages where they appear in Twilight so that they can be read in context. The reader/student is encouraged to determine the definitions of the words using context clues. She can then check her guessed definitions against the definitions provided by the book. Many times the synonyms, antonyms, etymology, and morphology of words are also given. And of course there are multiple choice, matching type, and fill-in-the-blank vocabulary exercises to help the reader/student review the words and their definitions. All in all, six hundred words are discussed in Defining Twilight, and the entire workbook is in simple, accessible, and even fun and friendly writing. I honestly can't think of a better way to make vocabulary lessons enjoyable for pre-teen and teen girls.

Second prize:

Every parent's worst nightmare is up to his old tricks in the early chapter book Horrid Henry and the Mummy's Curse by Francesca Simon (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2009). (For more about Horrid Henry, click here to read my review of the earlier books in this series for grades 2-5 / ages 7-10.) It's actually really nice reading about, laughing at, laughing with, and rooting for a naughty little boy!

The second prize is a copy of Horrid Henry and the Mummy's Curse and a copy of Defining Twilight.

First prize:

The first prize is a copy of Defining Twilight and a signed copy of The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl (Graphia, 2007). That's right, a copy of The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl signed by its awesome author Barry Lyga. Signed I tell ya, SIGNED!!!

*calms herself*

Okay, so their adventures aren't really astonishing, but Fanboy and Goth Girl are likable, very interesting, and authentically flawed teenage characters that seem so real. I am sure teenage readers (as well as the teenager in older readers) will relate to their insecurities, problems, hopes, and dreams. Plus all the comic book geekery in the novel is exciting!

(For more about the awesomeness that is Barry Lyga's writing, click here to read my review of one of his other novels, Boy Toy.)

So there we have it, folks. Those are all the prizes. If you are in the Philippines, please leave a comment below. These are all great books for yourselves or for your children, nieces/nephews, godchildren, grandchildren, or students. I will randomly choose three winners and post their names / contact them on Saturday, October 31.

Good luck and Happy Halloween! =D

[Horrid Henry and the Mummy's Curse was provided by its publisher. Defining Twilight and The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl were provided by their authors. Thank you!!!]

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Cybils Update

Heeeeeey! Yes, I know, it's been awhile. Just been REALLY busy. I'm checking in today to share a link. Nominations for the Cybils awards are closed. Click here to see the complete list of nominees for the science fiction and fantasy category!

It's quite a list. Any of you have predictions for what will make the shortlist???

Monday, October 05, 2009 Puts a Spotlight on the Philippines

For the months of October and November, PaperTigers, a website on multicultural books for young readers, is featuring children's and YA books from and about the Philippines, as well as their talented authors and illustrators. I am absolutely thrilled that a spotlight has been put on Filipino children's and YA books!

I had the great privilege of contributing four articles to this latest edition of PaperTigers:

Click here to read my interview of author Carla Pacis.

Here to read a reprint of my interview with author Dorina Lazo Gilmore.

Here to read a reprint of my interview with author/illustrator Edna Cabcabin Moran.

And click here to read my fully revised review of "I Hate My Mother!": Magnetic levitation, a grain of rice & 3 women by Perpilili Vivienne Tiongson.

I'd also like to point out the special feature on illustrator Sergio Bumatay III. I especially like his illustrations for Naku, Nakuu, Nakuuu! (PaperTigers reviews the book and shares some of Sergio's illustrations from the book.) The man's work is FREAKIN' AWESOME.

Check out all this and more at PaperTigers! :o)

P.S. For all Filipinos in America, all Filipinos who grew up in America, and all who are half Filipino/half American, Happy Filipino American Heritage Month!

Saturday, October 03, 2009

The 2009 Children’s and YA Bloggers’ Literary Awards

It's now time for the fourth Children’s and YA Bloggers’ Literary Awards (the Cybils), so far the only book awards from the blogging community! The Cybils reward the children’s and young adult authors and illustrators whose books combine literary merit and “kid appeal.”

How are the winners chosen? Anybody may nominate any children's and YA books published in the contest year in English. This is where you come in! Click here to nominate your favorite books published between Oct. 16, 2008 and Oct. 15, 2009 in English. Nominations are already open and they close on Oct. 15, 2009. You may nominate one book per category. Here are the categories:

Easy Readers/Short Chapter Books
Fiction Picture Books
Graphic Novels
Middle Grade Fiction
Non-Fiction, MG/YA
Non-Fiction Picture Books
Young Adult Fiction

Panelists read the nominated books and determine a list of five to seven finalists for each category. The finalists are announced on Jan. 1, 2010.

For example, here are this year's panelists for the science fiction and fantasy category:

Panel Organizer: Sheila Ruth, Wands and Worlds

Panelists (Round I Judges), MG/Elementary:

Anamaria Anderson, bookstogether
Cindy Hannikman, Fantasy Book Critic
Brian Jung, Critique de Mr. Chompchomp
Eva Mitnick, Eva's Book Addiction
Charlotte Taylor, Charlotte's Library

Panelists (Round I Judges), Teen/YA:

Steve Berman, Guys Lit Wire
Gwenda Bond, Shaken & Stirred
Tanita S. Davis, Finding Wonderland
Nettle, The Muse, Amused
Sheila Ruth (see panel organizer)
Angie Thompson, Angieville
Samantha Wheat, Twisted Quill

From Jan. 1 to mid-February 2010, a different group of judges will read all the finalists and pick the winners. Here are the second round judges for the Cybils' science fiction and fantasy category:

Round II Judges:

Maureen Kearney, Confessions of a Bibliovore
Anne Levy, Cybils
Sam Musher, Parenthetical
Tarie Sabido (THIS IS ME!!!), Into the Wardrobe (THIS IS RIGHT HERE!!!)
Tasha Saecker, Kidslit

I am sooo grateful to be part of the Cybils this year. And I am sooo excited to read all the finalists and choose winners with the other judges. The winners will be announced on Valentine’s Day 2010. :o)

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Author/Illustrator Interview: Elizabeth O. Dulemba

Today, I gleefully grill Elizabeth O. Dulemba, author and illustrator of the English and Spanish picture book Soap, Soap, Soap / Jabón, Jabón, Jabón (Raven Tree Press, 2009)! (The book also has an all-English version.) In Soap, Soap, Soap / Jabón, Jabón, Jabón, Hugo's mother gives him some dinero and tells him to go to el mercado to buy jabón. Hugo takes the looong way to el mercado, gets into trouble, and forgets what he needs to buy. ¡Ay caramba!

Welcome to Into the Wardrobe, Elizabeth!

Who are your favorite artists, graphic designers, and children's book illustrators? How have they influenced your work?

The one I credit for planting the seed of the dream to illustrate children's books is Garth Williams. I used to devour his work as a kid. Other big influences while growing up were Chris Van Allsburg, Brian Froud, Maurice Sendak, and Paul O. Zelinsky. Of course, I always want to evolve as an artist so I'm always looking at variations on the style that has become mine. Lately, I've been soaking up the work of Diego Rivera and Thomas Hart Benton. All of these amazing artists have inspired me to reach for new things and experiment with new ideas.

The really fun illustrations for Soap, Soap, Soap were colored digitally. What are your thoughts on traditional art versus digital art?

When I went digital I grew wings, so I'm a huge fan. Coming from a background of graphic design, I never really learned how to mix colors, but with a computer I have the entire rainbow available to me. The downside is, I don't have an "original" piece of art in the traditional sense - only the printed page or prints. No matter what the medium though, they are just tools for the artist to achieve their vision. And the printed book IS the final goal.

What inspired and motivated you to write Soap, Soap, Soap? What's the story behind the story?

I illustrated Paco and the Giant Chile Plant ~ Paco y la planta de chile gigante for Raven Tree Press in 2008. It was an adaptation of the classic Appalachian Jack Tale, "Jack and the Giants" - originally "Jack and the Beanstalk." So, when Paco did so well that Raven Tree wanted me to do another book for them, it seemed only natural to stick with a Jack Tale. I looked through my own library (I've been a long time fan of Jack Tales) and came across SOAP. The story had to be completely overhauled for a modern, bilingual audience, but that's where I got to play.

I personally prefer the bilingual edition of Soap, Soap, Soap - because I am trying to learn Spanish! What do you think is the importance of bilingual children's books?

In Europe, it's common for people to speak more than one language. But in America we've been sheltered and cut off from other influences until recently. Our world has changed. Cultures, races and people from various backgrounds are more integrated than ever. It's unrealistic to expect everybody to speak the same language, eat the same foods, wear the same clothes and look the same - and frankly, who would want it? It's the mix that makes our world exciting and interesting. But it does require flexibility on everybody's part by learning other languages so that we can interact and function with all the people in our society.

Can you guide us through the creative process you used for Soap, Soap, Soap?

Once the manuscript was nailed down, I started doing character sketches. Lots of them. I drew and drew until Hugo showed up saying, "This is me!" I broke up the text and sketched thumbnail ideas of what the individual layouts would look like and then slowly built them up. Each spread got about three rounds: thumbnail, larger sketch (about 4" wide) and full size. Each version was bigger and more detailed. When I get to the largest version, I drew the elements separately - all wonky all over a page - then scanned them into Photoshop to arrange the compositions. Once all the final sketches were finished and approved, I went through and did flat color studies for all the pieces. That was for consistency so I could make changes easily before moving on to the next and final stage. I rendered the pieces in Painter, adding in all the highlights and shading and touching every inch of the canvas with texture and color. Voila!

What do you hope children will experience or take away from the book?

Ironically, a lot of teachers have been using SOAP to teach their students about general hygeine and hand-washing - very important in this swine flu season. I'm thrilled that I've created a book that encourages participation, repetition, and laughter. So, I guess what I hope they will take away from it the most is a smile (and maybe some Spanish vocabulary).

Soap, Soap, Soap certainly put a big smile on MY face, Elizabeth! And yes, I learned more Spanish words because of it.

I've watched a video of you during a school visit. I love your energy! How do you do it? Where do you get all that energy? What will your school visits using Soap, Soap, Soap be like?

Y'know, it's funny, I'm a bit of a hermit at home. But you put me on a stage and I become a complete ham. I'm quite comfortable working an audience to participate, react, and laugh. And I soak up the energy from a good audience like chocolate. It's an odd and unexpected facet of this career, but I love it.

I presented SOAP for the first time at the Decatur Book Festival when I opened for Judy Schachner and the tent was overflowing - wowsa! I read SOAP (with lots of audience participation), gave a quiz at the end (with rubber duckie prizes), then drew the rubber duckie from SOAP and did a Q&A. I received some wonderful compliments afterwards and plan to do some of the same things during my school visits (and three more festivals coming up this Fall). Of course, in schools I also include my slide show about my work method.

Honestly, if I wasn't a writer/illustrator, I'd probably be a teacher. So I adore the chance to share what I do with kids and adults.

What is it like to be the Illustrator Coordinator for the Southern Breeze region (Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi) of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (USA)? What kind of work do you do for this role?

It's a lot of fun, but a lot of behind the scenes work as well. My first event in my new position was a gallery show for our illustrators. It got picked up by the Southern Arts Federation to travel the South for two years as "Storybook Look: Illustrations by Southern Artists." That's a hard event to follow! We're about to have the other event I created - our 2nd annual Portfolio Workshop. Beyond that, I've set up a blog for our illustrators as an online critique resource and I help with the illustration side of the conferences and festivals. It's a big commitment, but it's been amazing. And I was actually awarded a scholarship to attend the SCBWI Summer conference in LA this past summer for my efforts - what an honor.

Your current work in progress is The 12 Days of Christmas in Georgia. Christmas is my favorite holiday and I love Christmas books. This sounds fabulous! Can you tell us a bit about it?

Sterling Publishers is doing one of these for each state and they're tons of fun for the lucky authors and illustrators who get to work on them. And it's given me the opportunity to explore my own state and discover new things - Georgia is pretty cool! Sketches are awaiting approval right now, so I will probably be going to final (color) art soon.

Having one of those books for each state sounds awesome!!!

What else are you working on now?

Right now my focus has been marketing to make sure SOAP kicks off in a BIG way. The next squeaky wheel is the Portfolio Workshop on October 3rd. But I'm also working on a storybook app for the iphone, writing a novel, and waiting for word on a new picture book I have with my agent - along with 12 Days. Lotso, lotso stuff.

Wow, a storybook app for the iPhone . . . and a novel? You are busy indeed! I can't wait to see what you have in store for us, Elizabeth. Thank you so much for stopping by Into the Wardrobe to answer my questions!