Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

Women Make Picture Books Too (2016)…

Friday, October 14th, 2016

Here we are again!  The leaves are falling, the kids are wearing sweaters, and it’s TIME TO THINK ABOUT WOMEN-ILLUSTRATED-PICTURE BOOKS!

For a number of years now, I’ve compiled a fall list of picture book illustrated by women (if you’re interested, you can leap-frog back through the lists). This is my small effort to combat the overwhelming number of mock Caldecott and end-of-year lists that tend to ignore so many amazing women artists (probably not unrelated to the fact that the actual Caldecott has historically been awarded to a disproportionate number of male illustrators).

And though last year Sophie Blackall took home the medal for Finding Winnie, and Ekua Holmes got an honor for Voice of Freedom:  Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement, there’s still a lot of work to be done.

I hope that these lists encourage my bookseller/ reviewer/librarian/teacher friends to look beyond the “big” books being promoted most loudly, and seek out the special gems that might otherwise fall through the cracks.  That’s my simple goal.

I’ll begin by posting a few 2016 books I love, illustrated by women artists.  These are by no means the ONLY books I’ve noticed this year, but I want to hear from you!  Just post your favorites in the comments below, and please don’t self-nominate. Tell me what book YOU love best, by some other talented woman.

And maybe, if you notice a beautiful book on this list you’ve never seen before, you should ask yourself how/why that is, and seek it out!

Okay, here we go…

Shy, by Deborah Freedman

Finding Wild, by megan wagner Lloyd, illustrated by Abigail Halpin

Twenty Yawns, by Jane Smiley, illustrated by Lauren Castillo

This is My Dollhouse, by Giselle Potter

The Airport Book, by Lisa Brown

A Hungry Lion, by Lucy Ruth Cummins

Du Iz Tak?  by Carson Ellis

The Littlest Family’s Big Day, by Emily Winfield Martin

The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles, by Michelle Cuevas, illustrated by Erin E. Stead

Henry and Leo, by Pamela Zagarenski

Before Morning, by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Beth Krommes

On Our Way to Oyster Bay, by Monica Kulling, illustrated by Felicita Sala

Thunder Boy Jr., by Sherman Alexie, illustrated by Yuyi Morales

Cloth Lullaby: the Woven Life of Louise Bourgeois, by Amy Novesky, illutrated by Isabelle Arsenault

The King of the Birds, by Acree Graham Macam, illustrated by Natalie Nelson


Orphan Island is coming…

Tuesday, August 16th, 2016

Publication is still almost a year away, but I just turned around the copyedits for Orphan Island, so it feels like it’s actually going to exist.  I’m still pinching myself.

If you’re so inclined, feel free to “like” this Facebook page, for updates, giveaways, and helpful Youtube videos for tips on harvesting squid ink, and other island-fun.

Or you can add Orphan Island to your Goodreads library!

Or you can just jump around and shout for joy with me.

I’m so so so happy about Orphan Island, which has provided a very different writing experience than any of my other books.  I’ve learned a lot since I began.


Friday, June 17th, 2016

I just saw these beautiful sketches over at Emily Hughes’ Instagram page, and couldn’t resist posting.  Aren’t they great? So curious to see what we end up with, for the final cover?

Oh, the things you’ll become…

Friday, May 13th, 2016

Recently, someone asked me about alternatives to “Oh, the Places You’ll Go,” as a gift for kids graduating from Kindergarten or Pre-K, and I turned the question over to my friends, who provided a variety of wonderful options.

But then I found myself wanting to write my own version. So here it is.  Rough and dirty.  The meter needs work for sure, and I’ll probably end up slashing and revising it, if I do anything with it at all, but I never post to the blog anymore, so I thought I’d do that.

Enjoy!  (and apologies if this isn’t to your liking).  I don’t mean it for everyone. It’s MY story, rooted in my current moment, which is specific to me.


Oh, the Things You’ll Become…
A book for your darling child

Oh, sweet darling child,
So winsome, so wild,
I look in your eyes and behold…

All the ways you will grow,
All the things you will know,
You’ll be tall. You’ll be smart. And so bold!

Your soft sleepy gazes,
Adorable phrases,
And generous smiles will please.

Each curious question,
And daring suggestion,
Will help you  dream mountains and seas.

Until… one fine day
You will glance down my way.
And my heart will be filled with such pride.

But you’ll grunt and then moan,
“Mom, just leave me alone!”
As you stomp to your room, where you’ll hide.

Oh, the things you’ll become!
Kinda mean. Kinda dumb.
At the same time standoffish and needy.

Of course I’ll still love you,
But I’ll want to shove you.
Because you’ll be whiny and greedy.

You might also smell.
As your head starts to swell.
You will torture your poor little brother.

When you don’t get a car,
You will tell us we are,
The most horrible father and mother.

Then we’ll sigh and we’ll freak,
We’ll feel worried all week
And we’ll anxiously, nervously pray.

We’ll stay up each night.
We’ll get tipsy and tight.
Though it  won’t take our troubles away.

You’ll move out, and we’ll write,
Now that you’re out of sight.
You’ll ignore us and turn off the phone.

And when we catch you,
You’ll have “things” to go do,
We’ll pretend to have “things” of our own.

But you know what, sweet child,
Though the ride will be wild,
We’ll savor each mile with you.

Because as you grow,
We’ll grow too, dontcha know?
We’ll be better for all we go through.

I refuse to pretend
That you’ll be my best friend
If you hate me sometimes, that’s all right.

Nobody will ever
Mean more to me. Never.
I’ll be here when you need a fight.

Oh the things you’ll become.
Kinda mean, kinda dumb.
Kinda monstrous sometimes, and I’m proud.

That you’re fierce and you’re real.
And you know how to feel.
You’ll be honest, and live life out loud.

Do YOU have a picture book in you?

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

For years I’ve been dreaming up a picture book class, and now it’s a reality!  Soooo excited about The Decatur Writers’ Studio.

“Picture books are perhaps the most inventive popular literary form we have, and that’s exciting!  You can do ANYTHING in a picture book, if you do it well enough.  But that makes it hard to know where to begin, and how to proceed.  Picture books aren’t just about telling a story or teaching a lesson. They’re about capturing a voice or character in a few short words, collaborating with visual space, considering the way children truly think, and sculpting words and sounds to leave a deep and lasting impression.  Picture books are poetry, even when they don’t feel like it.”

Join us for The Wild Rumpus!


Saturday, January 9th, 2016

I haven’t been blogging this year. It’s been a crazy time, with my new JOB (did I mention I have a job now?) and a book to write, and so on and so on.  Also, this winter I’m embarking on a big adventure– a group of friends and I are hosting a refugee family from Somalia.   So there’s a lot to do, always.

But it happens to be THAT weekend. The BIG weekend for kidlit folks.  ALA Midwinter.  So I dashed over here to get my own choices for the big awards on the record.

For Newbery… there’s no question in my mind but that Rebecca Stead deserves the medal again. I didn’t love Goodbye Stranger as much as When You Reach Me, but I thought it was the most unusual and well written middle grade book I read this year.  I’m especially interested in seeing more upper middle grade books in the world, and I felt like this book managed the true voice of that “tween” age deftly.

For Caldecott, my money is on Waiting.  I HATE that this is the case.  I think I’ve made it pretty clear how I feel about the lack of female illustrators being awarded the medal.  But I fell hard for Kevin Henkes’ newest book.  It’s just a perfect quiet picture book.  So, there we are.  I’d be lying if I said otherwise.

But of course there are any number of amazing women in the mix too, and I’d love to see some medal-love shining from Emily Hughes’ The Little Gardener.

Or Pamela Zagarenski’s The Whisper.

Or Sophie Blackall’s Finding Winnie.

And for Printz?  I don’t read a ton of YA, so I’m limited in my ability to evaluate, but the YA book I loved most this year was X, by Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon.  There was a special sort of magic to this book– it walked a line, including “edgy” material in a way that I almost felt my third and fourth grade boys could handle.  The tone is amazing, a sort of headlong dash.  I loved it.

So there we are.  I won’t make predictions, because the ALA evaluation process is so mysterious and bewildering, and  I’m ALWAYS WRONG.  But these are the books I’d be arguing for, if I sat on those committees.

And hats off to the people who do!

Now, what about YOU? What are your favorites of 2015??  Tell me why I’m wrong.


Monday, November 16th, 2015

I’ve been sick the last week, but I’m nursing myself with ginger and lemon and cayenne and meds, because I MUST get on that plane to Minneapolis.  I’d love to see you there!  Either at my signing at the Chronicle book, on 11/20 from 2-3, or at my panel that morning…

The Power of Passion Driven Research
Deb Perryman, Jennifer Vincent, Kate Messner, Laura Purdie Salas,  LeUyen Pham, and ME!
FRIDAY 9:30 AM – 10:45 AM in Minneapolis Convention Center, L100E

From baseball to ballet, Minecraft to marshmallows, favorite topics paired with authentic research opportunities unlock a love of learning in students. Two educators, three authors, and an illustrator share experiences with passion-driven research in and out of the classroom that promotes creativity, motivation, and engagement.

Women Make Picture Books Too, the 2015 edition!!!

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015

Is it that time of year already? September!  When the kids head back to school, the pools close, and LAUREL SNYDER REMINDS YOU ABOUT ALL THE AMAZING PICTURE BOOKS  ILLUSTRATED BY WOMEN!

As you may know, this has become a tradition for me.   Inspired by the historical gender bias of the Caldecott award, I first compiled my list (with YOUR help) in 2013. Molly Idle was on it (HUZZAH!), but though she took home an honor at ALA, she was the only woman on the 5 name list.    Hrm.

Then, last year, my list looked like this, but the Caldecott was a shocker!  SO MANY WOMEN!  Morales!  Castillo!  AMAZING.

It really feels like things are shifting in many ways, but that doesn’t mean we don’t need to keep thinking about the issue.  And that doesn’t mean many wonderful titles won’t still fall through the cracks.  Don’t ALL good books deserve “buzz?”

Especially for folks getting ready to mock-Caldecott, a list like this can help us look past the “big” books, and see the whole landscape.  This is not to suggest that the men  we adore aren’t adoration-worthy!  Of COURSE they are.   (It’s hard to imagine any unworthy title making it through the grueling process of Caldecotting.)    I only mean to say that women are worthy too, and somehow they get overlooked.

So help me out!  What are the women-illustrated books you love best this year?  I’ll start off with a few of my own favorites.  The only limits are that the book must be published in 2015, and it must be illustrated by a woman.  (Oh, and no self-nominating, please. If your book is awesome, rest assured someone else will think so too. Spread the love! Okay?)


(For starters, my son Mose nominates  NIMONA.)

NIMONA, by Noelle Stevenson


As for me, I like so many things. For instance…

MUMMY CAT, by Marcus Ewert, illustrations by Lisa Brown


HOME, by Carson Ellis




ONE WORD FROM SOPHIA, by Jim Averbeck, illustrations by Yasmeen Ismail


THE WHISPER, by Pamela Zagarenski


THE TEA PARTY IN THE WOODS, by Akiko Miyakoshi


FINDING WINNIE, by Lindsay Mattick, illustrations by Sophie Blackall


THIS IS SADIE, by Sara O’Leary, illustrations by Julie Morstad




BY MOUSE AND FROG, by Deborah Freedman


YARD SALE, by Eve Bunting, illustrations by Lauren Castillo


INTERSTELLAR CINDERELLA, by Deborah Underwood, illustrations by Meg Hunt


TREE OF WONDER, by Kate Messner, illustrations by Simona Mulazzani


NIGHT ANIMALS, by Gianna Marino


A FINE DESSERT, by Emily Jenkins, illustrations by Sophie Blackall


WAIT, by Antoinette Portis


SHARING THE BREAD, by Pat Zietlow Miller, illustrations by Jill McElmurray


DOUBLE HAPPINESS, by Nancy Tupper Ling, illustrations by Alina Chau


PENNY AND JELLY, by Maria Gianferrari, illustrations by Thyra Heder


WHEREVER YOU GO, by Pat Zietlow Miller, illustrations by Eliza Wheeler


SONG FOR A SUMMER NIGHT, by Robert Heidbreder, illustrations by Qin Leng


DOUBLE TROUBLE FOR ANNA HIBISCUS, by Atinuke, illustrations by Lauren Tobia


CHARLOTTE AND THE QUIET PLACE, by Deborah Sosin, illustrations by Sara Wooley


BRIGHT NIGHT, STARRY CITY, by Uma Krishnaswami, illustrations by Aimee Sicuro


SWAN, by Laurel Snyder, illustrations by Julie Morstad


JULIA CHILD, by Erin Hagar, illustrations by Joanna Gorham


IN THE CANYON, by Liz Garton Scanlon, illustrations by Ashley Wolff


BOO LA LA, WITCH SPA, by Samantha Berger, illustrations by Isabel Roxas


BEACH HOUSE, by  Deanna Caswell, illustrations by Amy JUne Bates


HANSEL AND GRETEL, by Holly Hobbie






ASK ME, by Bernard Waber, illustrations by Suzy Lee


THE GOOD LITTLE BOOK, by Kyo Maclear, illustrations by Marion Arbona


ORANGUTANKA, by Margarita Engle, illustrations by Renee Kurilla


ROLLER GIRL, by Victoria Jamieson


THE BEAR ATE YOUR SANDWICH, by Julia Sarcone-Roach


ARE WE THERE, YETI?  by Ashlyn Anstee


PIG AND PUG, by Lynne Berry, illustrations by Gemma Correll


SUCH A LITTLE MOUSE, by Alice Schertle, illustrations by Stephanie Yue


NINJA BUNNY, by Jennifer Gray Olson


ALPHA, by Isabelle Arsenault




A YEAR WITHOUT MOM, by Dasha Tolstikova


SNOOZEFEST, by Samantha Berger


POOL, by JiHyeon Lee


WHERE ARE MY BOOKS, by Debbie Ridpath Ohi


THE BLUE WHALE, by Jenni Desmond


BOATS FOR PAPA, by Jessixa Bagley




EARLY BIRD, by Toni Yuly




THE SPECIFIC OCEAN, by Kyo Maclear, illustrations by Katty Maurey


HUNGRY COYOTE, by Cheryl Blackford, illustrations by Laurie Caple


FINDING SPRING, by Carin Berger






THE FUN BOOK OF SCARY STUFF, by Emily Jenkins, illustrations by Hyewon Yum


RODEO RED, by Maripat Perkins, illustrations by Molly Idle


LENNY AND LUCY, by Philip C. Stead, illustrations by Erin E. Stead


P. ZONKA LAYS AN EGG, by Julie Paschkis


THE BEAR REPORT, by Thyra Heder




ENORMOUS SMALLNESS, by Matthew Burgess, illustrations by Kris Di Giacomo


IN A VILLAGE BY THE SEA, by Muon Van, illustrations by April Chu




PEACE IS AN OFFERING, by Annette LeBox, illustrations by Stephanie Graegin


SONYA’S CHICKENS, by Phoebe Wahl


VOICE OF FREEDOM, FANNIE LOU HAMER, by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrations by Ekua Holmes


WANGARI MAATHAI, THE WOMAN WHO PLANTED MILLIONS OF TREES, by Franck Prevot, illustrations by Aurelia Fronty


WHERE BEAR?  by Sophy Henn




IS MOMMY?  by Victoria Chang, illustrations by Marla Frazee


MAGIC TRASH, by J.H.Shapiro, illustrations by  Vanessa Brantley-Newton


STRICTLY NO ELEPHANTS, by Lisa Mantchev, illustrations by Taeeun Yoo


THE PLANS I HAVE FOR YOU, by Amy Parker, illustrations by Vanessa Brantley-Newton


MOM SCHOOL, by Rebecca Van Slyke, illustrations by Priscilla Burris


A NEST IS NOISY, by Dianna Hutts Aston, illustrations by Sylvia Long

What a week!!!

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015

Honestly, I’m not even sure how to recap this week.

See, I had to fly to New York for a conference, but since SWAN  was pubbing on Tuesday, I decided to stay for a few extra days, to hang out with my best friend (since second grade, to whom the book is dedicated), and  celebrate/lunch with my truly fantastic agent (who also happens to be one of my best friends at this point too).  I’ve never been able to do anything like that before.

And oh, it was wonderful!

We popped by Books of Wonder, to see the book in the wild.  A total thrill!  I’ve never done an event there, and always wanted to visit.

After that, I signed copies…

Then we had a ridiculous lunch and sipped a little bubbly, because WHY NOT?  Ooh la la!

We scooted a few subway stops, to catch up with my friend Kate Milford, at McNally Jackson, where she works (though you may know her better  for her amazing award-winning books or her adorable son, Griffin).

I signed MORE copies, but mostly I played “Rabbits” with Griffin, because I HAVE MY PRIORITIES STRAIGHT!


But I also bought a stack of books, of COURSE, because it was THAT kind of store, and I couldn’t resist the graphic novels shelf.

After a bit, I noticed that  my feet hurt (I don’t often dress up in heels), so we headed home to eat pizza, read comics, and watch TV in pajama pants, AS ONE DOES ON PUB DAY.  Oh, the glamour!

Now I’m home again, in Atlanta, cuddling with my kids, but I have to say, this has been an amazing week. I’m so grateful to everyone who has made it possible. Everyone at Chronicle, most of all. They’ve been truly incredible in their support and creativity and excitement for this book.  But I’m also so grateful to all the friends, librarians, booksellers, teachers, neighbors, bloggers, everyone everyone everyone who has written to say MAZEL TOV.

THANK YOU TO YOU. Seriously.  Nothing has ever felt quite like this before.  It’s been pretty special.  Like having an extra birthday.
I’m a lucky girl.

A Wild Swan…

Sunday, July 12th, 2015

Eeeep! Copies of SWAN are fluttering out into the world. Mr. Schu made this lovely vine when he got his copy.