Archive for November, 2013

Women make picture books too…

Sunday, November 24th, 2013

Last night I noticed that Geek Dad had posted his favorite picture books, and so I popped over to check out the list.  And was shocked to find that they were almost all by men.  This made me cranky.  But I figured, “Eh, he’s just one guy.”

Then, this morning, I noticed that the Goodreads  ”Best of” is also virtually all men. In fact, Flora & the Flamingo and The Little Book of Sloth are the only books entirely by women.

And that… is more complicated. Because WE made that list. We, the readers of the world.

Now, if there weren’t a ton of amazing 2013 picture books by women, I could maybe accept this. But there TOTALLY are.  Which begs the question… WHAT’S GOING ON?

Do men actually just make better picture books than women? Do men get better marketing and publicity budgets than women for picture books  Or… as I’m beginning to fear… do we, the (largely) women who buy and blog about picture books have a tendency to elevate books by men?

I want to make a list to post today, of the 2013 BEST PICTURE BOOKS BY WOMEN.  Help me out? What’s your favorite?

(and for the sake of clarity, I’m only including books with BOTH female authors and illustrators here.  Though obviously I’m in support of men and women working together…)

(also, I removed all self-nominated books, including my own. For the sake of setting some guidelines)

City Cat, by Lauren Castillo

Jane, the Fox, and Me, by Fanny Britt and Isabelle Arsenault

If You Want to See a Whale, by Julie Fogliano and Erin Stead

Dream Animals, by Emily Winfield Martin

How To, by Julie Morstad

Whimsy’s Heavy Things, by Julie Kraulis

How to Be a Cat, by Nikki McClure

Happy Birthday, Bunny, by Liz Garton Scanlon & Stephanie Graegin

Steadfast Tin Soldier, retold by Cynthia Rylant, art by Jen Corace

Octopus Alone, by Divya Srinivasan

Sophie’s Squash, by Pat Zietlow Miller, art by Anne Wilsdorf

The Wee Hours, by Stephanie Watson, art by Mary GrandPre

Mustache Baby, by Bridget Heos, art by  Joy Ang

Nino Wrestles the World, by Yuyi Morales

God Got a Dog, Cynthia Rylant, art by Marla Frazee

Flora & the Flamingo, by Molly Idle

My Blue is Happy, by Jessica Young, art by Catia Chien

Dream Friends, You  Byun

The Boy Who Loved Math, by Deborah Heiligman, art by Leuyen Pham

A Splash of Red, by Jen Bryant, art by Melissa Sweet

Wild, by Emily Hughes

The Story of Fish and Snail, by Deborah Freedman

Inside Outside, by Lizi Boyd

Fraidyzoo, by Thyra Heder

Vampirina Ballerina Hosts a Sleepover, by Anne Marie Pace, art by Leuyen Pham

Water in the Park, by Emily Jenkins, art by Stephanie Graegin.

Willow Finds a Way, by Lana Button, art by Tania Howells

Nora’s Chicks, by Patricia MacLachlan, art by Kathryn Brown

Once Upon a Northern Night, by Jean E. Pendziwol, art by Isabelle Arsenault

Read me a Story, Stella, by Marie Louise Gay

LIttle Red Writing, by Joan Holub, art by Melissa Sweet

Rock a Bye Room, by  Susan Meyers, art by Amy Bates

Whale Shines, by Fiona Robinson

Miss Maple’s Seeds, by Eliza Wheeler

Bits and Pieces, by Judy Schachner

If You Hold a Seed, by Elly MacKay

Cinders, by Jan Brett

How Big Were Dinosaurs, by Lita Judge

Gifts of the Heart, by Patricia Polacco

Downpour, by Emily Martin, art by Mara Shaugnhessy

Tallulah’s Toe Shoes, by Marilyn Singer, art by ALexandra Boiger

Hank Finds an Egg, by Rebecca Dudley

Tap the Magic Tree, by Christie Matheson

Peace, Baby, by Linda Ashman, art by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff

The Case of the Missing Donut, by Allison McGhee, art by Isabel Roxas

The Line, by Paula Bossio

Beatrice Spells Some Lulus and Learns to Write a Letter, by Cari Best, art by Giselle Potter

Ding Dong Gorilla, by Michelle Robinson, art by Leonie Lord

Please Bring Balloons, by Lindsay Ward

It’s a Firefly Night, by Dianne Ociltree, art by Betsy Snyder

Odd DUck, by Cecil Castelucci, art by Sarah Varon

What the Heart KNows, by Joyce Sidman, art by and Pamela Zagarenski

FOREST HAS A SONG by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, art by Robbin Gourley

FOLLOW, FOLLOW by Marilyn Singer, art by Josée Masse

Scaly Spotted Feathered Frilled: How do we know what dinosaurs really looked like?, by Catherine Thimmesh

I’d Know You Anywhere, My Love, by Lynne Tillman

Spark, by Kallie George, art by Genevieve Cote

Time for Bed, Fred, by Yasmeen Ismail

Once Upon a Memory, by Nina Laden, art by Renata Liwska

Deep in the Sahara, by Kelly Cunnane and Hoda Hadadi

Brush of the Gods, by Lenore Look and Meilo So

Penguin Cha-cha, by Kristi Valiant

Brave Girl, by Michelle Market, art by Melissa Sweet

Open This Little Book, by Jesse Klausmeier , art by Suzy Lee

Razia’s Ray of Hope, by Elizabeth Suneby, art by Suana Verelst

Is This Panama?  By Jan Thornhill, art by Soyeon Kim

Henri’s Scissors, by Jeanette Winter

Seriously, keep adding titles! We’ll make a Goodreads list later.

And I’d like to add that I’m a HUGE FAN of the books on Geek Dad’s list.  These are some of my favorite authors and illustrators too.  But the list is incomplete.

Let’s fix that.

Before the Journey…

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

Ready to have your mind blown?

So… I have this friend named Aaron.  We’ve known each other a long long looooong time. Since before I could write a full sentence or he knew not to stick his paintbrush in his ear.

Nowadays, he’s busy making the most beautiful wordless picture books you’ve ever seen. But years ago, before either of us had published a book, he and I tried to collaborate.

First, on a picture book that will never exist, called Lily and the Wily Corn Bears…

And then on Inside the Slidy Diner, which would become my first picture book, though with other art.

I guess the world just wasn’t ready for us *yet…

But Aaron found these old images on a CDRom today.  Isn’t that cool?

*in fact, Aaron DID do the cover of my adult anthology, Half/Life, but adult books don’t count. Everyone knows that.


RIP Charlotte Zolotow…

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

“Everything is the same color–one enormous listless gray world where not a breath stirs and the birds don’t sing.”

(the Storm Book)

I’m sad tonight. Charlotte Zolotow has died.

I’ll leave it to someone else to talk about Zolotow’s contribution to children’s literature.  I can only speak to how much she contributed to me, personally.

My grandmother loved her books, and I have a handful of signed first editions that she got for me.  They entered my life when I was just the right age for them.

Zolotow’s books were special to me. Different from other books.  Calm.  Complex,

I loved The Storm Book.

I loved Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present. Deeply.

“She likes birds in trees.”

But wow. I loved My Grandson Lew best of all.

I had a grandpa who died when I was little myself.  And I think Zolotow captured something in that book… the longing, the sense of loss, the vague memory.  But the presence of a life, as well as the absence of a death best online us casinos.

Somehow, I got that, as a kid…

Though as an adult… I see it differently.

(My Lew with Zolotow’s Lew)

So I am going to sit down tonight, and read CZ’s books to my kids, and think about the power of a good book at the right time.

Not a joke. Not a “hook.” Not a product. But a book.

The right book. Speaking in a clear true voice for the people who need to hear it…

Just the way a grandfather might speak.  With a crinkled eye, and a quiet laugh, or a wistful smile.

So that he can’t possibly be forgotten.

Not even when he’s gone.

we will remember him together
and neither of us
will be so lonely
as we would be
if we had to remember him

(My Grandson Lew)

The first review to go public is SCARY…

Monday, November 4th, 2013


Thanks, Publisher’s Weekly!

“Snyder returns with a story that, like her Bigger Than a Breadbox (2011), offers a relatable heroine and a touch of magic. When 12-year-old Annie Jaffin and her mother visit Annie’s estranged, dying grandmother in the shuttered Baltimore hotel she grew up in, the woman Annie encounters is angry and aggressive. After a strange storm, however, Annie wakes up 50 years earlier, in 1937, where she meets her grandmother as a curious, kind, and deeply isolated child. Molly spends her days cloistered away in her “Lonely Room” because of her asthma; she wished for a friend and has no clue that Annie is actually her granddaughter. Because Annie knows that Molly will live to old age, they escape Molly’s locked room via the fire escape and seize the day. Through their adventures, Molly’s eyes gradually open to the realities outside the hotel walls, while Annie worries about getting home and whether she’s changing the future for better or worse. Friendship, connection, and understanding are at the heart of this warm, introspective story about the events that shape a person. Ages 8–12. Agent: Tina Wexler, ICM. (Jan.)”

Books for Hanukkah???

Sunday, November 3rd, 2013

Okay, so I generally try to avoid the hard sell. But this seems to be the time of year when people actually really want Jewish book recommendations, for Hanukkah gifts…

SO at the risk of offending absolutely everyone, may I suggest that your kids might appreciate one of my own titles?

While waiting for the bus, a man tells Baxter the pig about the joys of Shabbat dinner. But before Baxter can find out how he, too, can join in the fun, the man has boarded the bus. Soon after, Baxter learns that he certainly cannot be a part of Shabbat dinner because he’s not Kosher. So begins one pig’s misguided quest to become Kosher. Will Baxter succeed or will his dreams of taking part in Shabbat dinner remain unfulfilled? Readers will cheer as a series of misunderstandings leads to a warm message of welcome and community.


Learning—and using—Yiddish is fun for the whole family, from the youngest mamaleh to the oldest bubbe and zaideh. Introduced to America as the mother tongue of millions of Jewish immigrants, Yiddish has made its way into everyday English. The sprightly, rhyming text follows a toddler through a busy day and is peppered from beginning to end with Yiddish words. Oy!—will everybody kvell when they hear their little ones spouting words from this most expressive of languages. Here are just a few that are included in this sturdy board book: bissel—little bit; ess—eat; kibitz—joke around, chat; klutz—clumsy one; kvell—burst with pride, gush; kvetchy—dissatisfied, whiny.

or perhaps

A family trip turns into an adventure of discovery for a curious and carefree sister and brother. While the two explore the natural wonders of the seashore, woods, and fields, their parents plant trees as an offering of thanks for all they have received. In Jewish tradition, this is called tikkun olam, or repairing the world. As the children settle down to sleep, they are lulled by the soothing sounds around them that become the refrain: “good night, laila tov”—the same comforting words in English and Hebrew that their parents recite to them every night at bedtime.


Of course, there are lots of amazing Jewish picture books I didn’t write.  And for those of you who really want a Hanukkah title, the very best one is, in my opinion, this gem:

Latkes are potato pancakes served at Hanukkah, and Lemony Snicket is an alleged children’s author. For the first time in literary history, these two elements are combined in one book. A particularly irate latke is the star of The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming, but many other holiday icons appear and even speak: flashing colored lights, cane-shaped candy, a pine tree. Santa Claus is briefly discussed as well. The ending is happy, at least for some. People who are interested in any or all of these things will find this book so enjoyable it will feel as though Hanukkah were being celebrated for several years, rather than eight nights.

And for those of you looking for something less Jewishly direct, may I direct you over here… to my own list of books about books for people of the book…

Just so you read!!!