Friday, May 29, 2015

The Quiet Place: PB Review & Author Interview

by Sarah Stewart
Illustrated by David Small
Farrar Straus Giroux Books, 2012 
Themes: moving away, fitting in

“When Isabel and her family move to the United States, Isabel misses all the things she left behind in Mexico, especially her aunt Lupita and hearing people speak Spanish. But she also experiences some wonderful new things--her first snow storm and a teacher who does not speak Spanish but has a big smile. Even better, Papa and her brother Chavo help her turn a big box into her own quiet place, where she keeps her books and toys and writes letters to Aunt Lupita. As she decorates and adds more and more on to her quiet place, it is here that Isabel feels the most at home in her new country while she learns to adjust to the changes in her life.”

The Story begins 
April 5, 1957
Dear Auntie Lupita,
Here is my first letter in English. I am going to practice my new language by writing to you. Thank you for your letter in Spanish.

I love how Sarah Stewart shares the whole story through letters from Isabel. The illustrations by David Small add another layer of emotion through Isabel's expression and color tones.

Resources for Teachers: 
Activities and Discussion Topics

Sarah Stewart reads an excerpt from The Quiet Place. 
If you wish to watch the entire interview with her husband David Small, go to 
Meet the Author/Illustrator Team

Visit Susanna Leonard Hill's blog for a complete list of today's Perfect Picture: HERE!

Friday, May 22, 2015

My Pen: PB Review & Author Interview

by Christopher Myers
Disney Books, 2015 
Theme: imagination

“Acclaimed author and illustrator Christopher Myers uses rich black-and-white illustrations to bring a sketchbook to life, showing that with a simple pen, a kid can do anything!”

Favorite lines on the first spread
“Sometimes I feel small when I see those rich and famous people.
But then I remember I have my pen.”

I love the diverse stories Christopher Myers has illustrated. Here are a few.

Resources for Teachers
"Christopher Myers comes from a long line of creative storytellers. In this exclusive video interview with Reading Rockets, Christopher Myers talks about his Brooklyn neighborhood, his work, and how reading touches every part of his life."


Visit Susanna Leonard Hill's blog for a complete list of today's Perfect Picture: HERE!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Wherever You Go: PB Review & Author Interview

by Pat Zietlow Miller
Illustrated by Eliza Wheeler
Little, Brown and Company, 2015 
Themes: adventures and choices

“Join an adventurous rabbit and his animal friends as they journey over steep mountain peaks, through bustling cityscapes, and down long, winding roads to discover the magical worlds that await them just outside their doors. This book celebrates the possibilities that lie beyond the next bend in the road – the same road that will always lead you home again.”

The Story begins 
When it’s time for a journey, to learn and to grow,
roads guide your footsteps wherever you go.

Resources for Teachers: 

* Have a class discussion on urban vs. rural environments, or geography.
* Wherever You Go: Graduation Event Kit for ages K - 12

I love the positive vibe of WHEREVER YOU GO. So I was curious about the creative process.
Illustrator Eliza Wheeler’s posted “The WHEREVER YOU GO Illustration Journey” ( Great post! 
It appeared the author/illustrator roles were kept separate. I reached out to Author Pat Zietlow Miller to learn more.

Did you include any illustration notes in your manuscript? If not, when do you use illustration notes?

Pat Zietlow Miller:
Thank you for your question. You are right that Eliza Wheeler and I did not interact at all while she was working on the art for the story. So I was thrilled to read her blog post about the process, as well. I am not artistic, so I was fascinated to see exactly how she created something so beautiful.

I did not include any illustration notes in the text for WHEREVER YOU GO when my agent submitted it to editors. I purposefully wanted to leave it open to interpretation, and I knew it could be illustrated several ways.

So when Connie Hsu was interested in acquiring the manuscript, we talked on the phone about different directions the art could possibly take. Then, she and Little, Brown art director Patti Ann Harris put their heads together and found Eliza Wheeler and I had no further involvement until I saw her lovely sketches.

Sometimes, people hear that and are concerned. “But weren’t you worried the art wouldn’t be what you wanted?” they ask. And my answer is honestly, “No.”

I usually don’t see pictures in my head when I write, and I am more than willing to let a professional illustrator and art director take my story and make it even better by applying all the knowledge and expertise they have that I do not.

I have, on rare occasions, used an illustration note with my original story. But only when reading the text alone makes a plot point in the story unclear. And then, it’s more of a clarification like: (“The father is now hopping, too.”) rather than specifics about how the art should look.

Pictures books are collaborations, with each person bringing very specific skills to the project. So I trust what the other folks involved are doing just like they trust me. I wouldn’t want the illustrator to tell me how to write the story, so I wouldn’t tell him or her or her how the art should be. 

Thank you for sharing, Pat!

Enjoy the WHEREVER YOU GO Book trailer!

Visit Susanna Leonard Hill's blog for a complete list of today's Perfect Picture: HERE!