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CREATORS | Children’s Books by Famous “Adult” Lit Authors

24 Nov

I recently discovered Brain Pickings and thought you might like this site as well. Here are some visuals and a link to a post by Maria Popova to whet your appetite for more from Brain Pickings.

Aldous Huxley

Gertrude Stein

James Thurber

Carl Sandburg

Salman Rushdie

Ian Flemming

Langston Hughes

Brain Pickings | 7 (More) Obscure Children’s Books by Famous “Adult” Lit Authors

Brain Pickings | 7 Obscure Children’s Books by Authors of Grown-Up Literature

ILLUSTRATORS | The 59th Annual NYT Book Review Best Illustrated Children’s Books :: 2011 Edition

4 Mar

Migrant, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault

ArtsBeat - New York Times Blog


The New York Times Book Review has announced its list of the 10 Best Illustrated Children’s Books of 2011. Artwork from this year’s winners will appear in the special Children’s Book section of the Book Review’s November 13 issue.

The judges this year were Jeanne Lamb, the coordinator of youth collections at The New York Public Library; Lucy Calkins, the Richard Robinson Professor of Children’s Literature at Teachers College of Columbia University; and Sophie Blackall, an author and artist who has illustrated 24 books for children, including one of last year’s Best Illustrated winners, “Big Red Lollipop,” as well as “The Crows of Pearblossom,” “Spinster Goose: Twisted Rhymes for Naughty Children” and “Are You Awake?” — all published this year. They chose from among hundreds of children’s picture books published in 2011.

The Book Review’s 10 Best Illustrated Children’s Books for 2011, in alphabetical order, are:

Along a Long Road,” written and illustrated by Frank Viva (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)

“A Ball for Daisy,” written and illustrated by Chris Raschka (Schwartz & Wade)

“Brother Sun, Sister Moon: Saint Francis of Assisi’s Canticle of the Creatures,” written by Katherine Paterson, illustrated by Pamela Dalton (Chronicle Books)

Grandpa Green,” written and illustrated by Lane Smith (Roaring Brook Press)

Ice,” written and illustrated by Arthur Geisert (Enchanted Lion Books)

I Want My Hat Back,” written and illustrated by Jon Klassen (Candlewick Press)

Me … Jane,” written and illustrated by Patrick McDonnell (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)

“Migrant,” written by Maxine Trottier, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault (Groundwood Books)

A Nation’s Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis,” written by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Kadir Nelson (Dial)

“A New Year’s Reunion,” written by Yu Li-Qiong, illustrated by Zhu Cheng-Liang (Candlewick Press).

Zhu Cheng Liang was born in Shanghai in 1948. He studied fine arts at Nanjing Art Institute and is currently deputy chief editor at the Jiangsu Fine Arts Publishing House. His achievements include an Honorable Mention by UNESCO’s Noma Concours for his illustrations in Flashing Rabbit-shaped Lamp. Zhu Cheng Liang lives in China.

Next year, The New York Times Best Illustrated awards will celebrate its 60th anniversary.

The New York Times | The 2011 Best Illustrated Children’s Books

RESEARCH | G&M :: On Books as Alien Devices

26 Dec

Another article (link below) from The New York TImes about kids’ books and technology presented the view that many parents prefer the tactility of books over ereaders. Ivor Tossell of The Globe and Mail suggests that some children prefer the tactility of a tilting iPad. What do you think?

Illustration for The Globe and Mail by Graham Roumieu


For some kids, a book is just an iPad that doesn’t work


18 November 2011

At the age of 2, Calvin Wang’s son seems to have learned a truism that is already ricocheting around the Internet: A book is an iPad that doesn’t work.

Wang designs interactive storybooks for the iPad. He was inspired, he says, by watching his daughter interact with a movable cardboard book. Since then, Loud Crow, his Vancouver-based firm, has turned an array of children’s picture books that take the pop-up concept into the digital age. Books such as Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit now respond to touch by moving, twirling, speaking and noise-making.

Having experienced the app, he says, his son is puzzled by the fact that creatures in the original cardboard books don’t move. “When he opens the book, the first thing he does is start tapping the creature in the book.”

Turning children’s literature into iPad apps is a new and potentially lucrative business; successful creators have seen products fly off the virtual shelves, and venture capitalists are showing interest. But traditional publishers face challenges entering this market: Interactive applications are expensive to make, difficult to perfect and tough to market in the App Store environment. And even children’s authors are asking: Does a product that blurs the line between a book and a game destroy the joy of reading? And is one more screen what young children need in their lives?

Adaptations of kids books have been around almost as long as the iPad itself, a device so entrenched in the public consciousness that it seems as though it has always been a fixture on the landscape even though it has been on the market only since April, 2010, a mere 19 months. The first to make a splash was an adaptation of Alice in Wonderland, simply called Alice. The creation of a laid-off journalist and a former financial-sector programmer, the $8.99 app took Lewis Carroll’s text and the iconic original illustrations from John Tenniel – both of which have passed into the public domain – and used the iPad’s innovative capabilities to turn them into tactile experiences.

When the iPad is flipped, Alice grows or shrinks. When the device is tipped, the queen’s crown teeters, or even falls off its pillow. Because the iPad can sense acceleration, developers could endow objects on-screen with realistic physics – the kind that young users find especially intuitive.

Chris Stevens, the app’s co-creator, says it hardly sold at all for the first couple of days. Then, he says, he released a YouTube video of the app, went to bed and woke up the next morning to see that 500,000 had seen it: This new medium’s potential had caught the public imagination. The app would later turn up in The New York Times and on Oprah.

“It was the right market to get some attention,” he recalls. “There was some excitement about the idea that the iPad might be the future of publishing.”

The Alice app would be the first of a bumper crop, mostly coming from the heady world of new-media app developers. It was one of the inspirations for works that followed, including Wang’s growing business in Vancouver. (This week, Loud Crow announced that it had snagged the rights to adaptPeanuts TV specials, including iconic entries such as A Charlie Brown Christmas, into the app format.)

But for all the hubbub, traditional children’s publishers are approaching the emerging market with caution.

One challenge is economics: Flashy, full-colour, animated interactive projects that run on high-end tablets are a different creature from eBooks, which typically aren’t interactive and can be read on a variety of devices, such as simple black-and-white Kindle or Kobo readers. The eBooks adhere to popular standards, making them relatively simple to make, whereas each children’s app is a unique creation that requires attention from authors, designers and programmers.

However, publishers can typically charge more for eBooks than they can for apps, which consumers are used to buying for less than $10. For instance, Loud Crow’s Peter Rabbit books cost $3.99 in the App Store.

“The interactive apps cost a lot of money, need to be updated frequently and the price point is incredibly low,” says Barbara Howson, vice-president of sales at House of Anansi and Groundwood books. All the same, Groundwood is currently working on an interactive adaptation of one title, Cybèle Young’s A Few Blocks.

“I think we’re in early days for kids books, in terms of demand and technology,” says Denise Anderson, director of marketing and publicity for Scholastic Canada. The publisher has embraced eBooks, with 400-odd titles already available in the format. As for interactive apps, few are currently available from the publisher, but she expects that to change within a year.

“Our mandate is to get books into the hands of children, however they’re delivered.”

So far, many of the interactive apps that have appeared in the marketplace have been adapted from books that are already cross-platform properties, such as Stella and Sam, a series of children’s books by Montreal author Marie-Louise Gay, which has been turned into a successful animated TV show.

For Gay, it’s important to distinguish between books and games – and the app, she says, is primarily a game. Where it comes to replacing books themselves with apps, she worries that the immersiveness of the technology can break up the shared experience of a child learning to read with a parent.

“You could actually put an iPad in a baby’s crib, and the pages will turn by themselves,” she says. Apps that read stories aloud and present interactive widgets threaten children’s ability to explore pages at their own pace, turning a social experience into an isolated pursuit, she says.

“That’s something that’s dangerous, because it’s like putting a child in front of a TV.”

That is a sentiment that has some support, even within the app world. The best interactive kids apps are the ones that actively depart from the source material, says Jason Krogh, the founder of Zinc Roe, the Toronto developer behind the Stella and Sam app, among others.

“The least successful examples take the book, put it on the screen, and they make hot spots so that when you press it, something happens,” he says. That’s why his firm is pushing interactive children’s technology in a new direction: letting kids tell their own stories. A new app called DoodleCast encourages kids to draw on the iPad screen, while making a real-time recording of what they’re saying aloud. After all, a child’s scribblings can be visually indecipherable, but its meaning comes clear as they explain it aloud.

“If you’ve ever drawn with a four-year-old, there’s always a narrative. They’re telling you about their day,” he says.

Kids books have gone through the looking glass, indeed.

Ivor Tossell is The Globe and Mail’s technology culture columnist.

INFORMATION BOOKS | Collective Nouns :: A Zeal of Zebras + Brian Wildsmith’s Animal Gallery

16 Dec

Who knew?


I came across these two extraordinary — and strikingly dissimilar in style — books today and they prompted me to do some more research about collective nouns.

Who knew that the English language had so many strange names for collectivities of animals?

Woop Studios — Miraphora Mina, Eduardo Lima (photo, below), Harriet Logan, and Mark Faulkner — have a contemporary graphic style that is extremely appealing. The words are engaging, too!

The cover of A Zeal of Zebras sets the tone for what’s inside. The Studio’s artwork captures the essential “animalness” of each of the collective nouns they cover in this gorgeous book.

I’d recommend A Zeal of Zebras as a gift for your graphically-minded friends — they’ll appreciate its bold style.

Woop is, I think, bent on becoming a repository for all of these, as they put it, “eccentricities of the English language.” Be sure to check out WOOP WORDS (link below) for more collective nouns.

From their website:

We believe that making a comprehensive A-Z list of collective nouns freely accessible will help those who share our fascination learn new terms and enjoy and share familiar. We hope that irrespective of whether you are browsing for fun or researching for homework that you will find these words, images and facts entertaining and informative. If you enjoy exploring this list you may well find our forthcoming book A Zeal of Zebras worth a look.

Some of the collective terms listed have real pedigree and lineage and can be found in JThe Oxford English Dictionary, ames Lipton’s 1968 An Exaltation of Larks or even The Book of St. Albans published in 1486. Some are of a more dubious and newer vintage than the original terms of venery. We make no apologies for being eclectic and hope that you will have fun with the words and enjoy our graphic interpretation of some of them.

Brian Wildsmith is, to me, the Eric Carle of England (though he resides in France). He liberated children’s picture books in the mid-sixties with his emphasis on minimal text and brilliantly conceived (art directed, really) page spreads with lots and lots of white space to let his images breathe on the page.

Wildsmith has never achieved Carle’s level of success because he refuses to repeat himself. I think his artistry is unique and superlative and underappreciated.

Trust the Japanese to know a quality artist when they come across one: the Brian Wildsmith Museum is located in Izu-kogen, south of Tokyo (link below).

Here are a few words about Wildsmith pulled from The Guardian:

Korky Paul on Brian Wildsmith

Brian Wildsmith’s work came out in the 1960s and he changed picture books. It was revolutionary stuff. One of his best books is The Hare and the Tortoise. He uses his own colours. He plays with scale, and his animals have characters: roosters strut their stuff, chickens are always eating, cats always sleeping.

What I like about his work is his wonderful use of white space; there are raggedy edges and extraordinary detail. He uses a mixture of media: watercolour, wash, then he works on top with chalk or pen. There is a lot of movement there.

My work is more spiky, but I love trying to create a fantasy world and to stylise it. Children’s books allow artists of all kinds to explore their own vision, how they see the world, and that’s what Wildsmith achieves so well. Exposing children to that teaches them that there are all sorts of ways of viewing the world.

Korky Paul has created illustrations for books including the Winnie the Witch series.




Click on the links below to find out more about these brilliant artists and their fact books for children that illustrate the strange collective nouns we use to name animals.

These two books are full of strange and fascinating collective nouns accompanied by rich illustrations drawn with flair and élan.

Though utterly different in style, both are highly recommended for kids of all ages.

Brian Wildsmith Museum of Art


RESEARCH | The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

4 Dec

When I was a student learning how to become a guybrarian, I took a number of children’s literature courses and was delighted when La Trobe University in Australia accepted my paper about Frances Hodgson Burnett for publication.

The Secret Garden was the original The Secret — a New Thought parable written for an adult audience one hundred years. The real secret of this garden is that it has, over the course of its long life, found its way into the hearts and minds of so many generations of children.


Few children’s novels have been analyzed as much as The Secret Garden. Critical readings of the novel have filtered Frances Hodgson Burnett’s story through the lens of sexual awakening, class conflict, feminist and post-colonial theory, primitivism, and paganism. This novel is more than a children’s book — part of The Secret Garden’s longevity and “classic” status is that it appeals to adults. Indeed, it is a summation of an author’s belief system deliberately aimed at readers of all ages. 

This study explores the author’s life through her belief system(s) and how she incorporated her ideas about life and death in her masterpiece, a “Beautiful Thought” fable that has endured because of its essential truthfulness in characterization and message.

Frances Hodgson Burnett

by Herbert Rose Barraud
carbon print on card mount, published 1888
9 5/8 in. x 6 7/8 in. (245 mm x 175 mm)
acquired, 1950
Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery Photographs Collection
NPG x5179

“Frances Hodgson Burnett in garden” courtesy of NYPL Digital Gallery Image ID: 1664096

The Looking Glass: New Perspectives on Children’s Literature > Forget the Devil and Keep Your Pink Lamps Lighted: The Metaphysics of Frances Hodgson’s The Secret Garden

RESEARCH | NYT :: On eBooks for Children

27 Nov

It’s nice to think that some things remain “sacred.”

For Their Children, Many E-Book Fans Insist on Paper

Published: November 20, 2011

Print books may be under siege from the rise of e-books, but they have a tenacious hold on a particular group: children and toddlers. Their parents are insisting this next generation of readers spend their early years with old-fashioned books.

Before nap time, Ari and Sharon Wallach read books to their twin daughters Ruby (in yellow shirt, left) and Eliana.

This is the case even with parents who themselves are die-hard downloaders of books onto Kindles, iPads, laptops and phones. They freely acknowledge their digital double standard, saying they want their children to be surrounded by print books, to experience turning physical pages as they learn about shapes, colors and animals.

Parents also say they like cuddling up with their child and a book, and fear that a shiny gadget might get all the attention. Also, if little Joey is going to spit up, a book may be easier to clean than a tablet computer.

“It’s intimacy, the intimacy of reading and touching the world. It’s the wonderment of her reaching for a page with me,” said Leslie Van Every, 41, a loyal Kindle user in San Francisco whose husband, Eric, reads on his iPhone. But for their 2 1/2-year-old daughter, Georgia, dead-tree books, stacked and strewn around the house, are the lone option.

“She reads only print books,” Ms. Van Every said, adding with a laugh that she works for a digital company, CBS Interactive. “Oh, the shame.”

As the adult book world turns digital at a faster rate than publishers expected, sales of e-books for titles aimed at children under 8 have barely budged. They represent less than 5 percent of total annual sales of children’s books, several publishers estimated, compared with more than 25 percent in some categories of adult books.

Many print books are also bought as gifts, since the delights of an Amazon gift card are lost on most 6-year-olds.

Children’s books are also a bright spot for brick-and-mortar bookstores, since parents often want to flip through an entire book before buying it, something they usually cannot do with e-book browsing. A study commissioned by HarperCollins in 2010 found that books bought for 3- to 7-year-olds were frequently discovered at a local bookstore — 38 percent of the time.

And here is a question for a digital-era debate: is anything lost by taking a picture book and converting it to an e-book? Junko Yokota, a professor and director of the Center for Teaching Through Children’s Books at National Louis University in Chicago, thinks the answer is yes, because the shape and size of the book are often part of the reading experience. Wider pages might be used to convey broad landscapes, or a taller format might be chosen for stories about skyscrapers.

Size and shape “become part of the emotional experience, the intellectual experience. There’s a lot you can’t standardize and stick into an electronic format,” said Ms. Yokota, who has lectured on how to decide when a child’s book is best suited for digital or print format.

Publishers say they are gradually increasing the number of print picture books that they are converting to digital format, even though it is time-consuming and expensive, and developers have been busy creating interactive children’s book apps.

While the entry of new tablet devices from Barnes & Noble and Amazon this fall is expected to increase the demand for children’s e-books, several publishers said they suspected that many parents would still prefer the print versions.

“There’s definitely a predisposition to print,” said Jon Yaged, president and publisher of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, which released “The Pout-Pout Fish” by Deborah Diesen and “On the Night You Were Born” by Nancy Tillman.

“And the parents are the same folks who will have no qualms about buying an e-book for themselves,” he added.

That is the case in the home of Ari Wallach, a tech-obsessed New York entrepreneur who helps companies update their technology. He himself reads on Kindle, iPad and iPhone, but the room of his twin girls is packed with only print books.

“I know I’m a Luddite on this, but there’s something very personal about a book and not one of one thousand files on an iPad, something that’s connected and emotional, something I grew up with and that I want them to grow up with,” he said.

“I recognize that when they are my age, it’ll be difficult to find a ‘dead-tree book,’ ” he added. “That being said, I feel that learning with books is as important a rite of passage as learning to eat with utensils and being potty-trained.”

Some parents do not want to make the switch for even their school-age children. Alexandra Tyler and her husband read on Kindles, but for their son Wolfie, 7, it is print all the way.

“Somehow, I think it’s different,” she said. “When you read a book, a proper kid’s book, it engages all the senses. It’s teaching them to turn the page properly. You get the smell of paper, the touch.”

There are many software programs that profess to help children learn to read by, for example, saying aloud a highlighted word or picture. Not all parents buy in; Matthew Thomson, 38, an executive at Klout, a social media site, has tried such software for Finn, his 5-year-old. But he believes his son will learn to read faster from print. Plus the bells and whistles of an iPad become a distraction.

“When we go to bed and he knows it’s reading time, he says, ‘Let’s play Angry Birds a little bit,’ ” Mr. Thomson said. “If he’s going to pick up the iPad, he’s not going to read, he’s going to want to play a game. So reading concentration goes out the window.”

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GUYBRARIAN PDF ARCHIVES >For Their Children, Many E-Book Fans Insist on Paper – NYTimes

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Converting MP3 files to “audiobook format” in iTunes

VPL LibGuide to choosing an eReader


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