Sunday, March 9, 2008

Welcome Natalie

I would like to welcome Natalie Rompella to the world of blogging by children's writers.

Natalie is a fellow Illinois-SCBWI member and, as you will see on her blog, attended the recent Richard Peck Retreat in Urbana. Stop by her blog to say "Hi!!!".

Jim D

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Thank You, World (a picture book reviewed)

It hasn't been often in my life that I've had the pleasure to listen to a picture book author and the picture book illustrator at the same program. Hmmm. Actually today might be the only time its occurred!

This morning I listened to the story behind the story for Thank You, World by Alice B. McGinty, illustrated by Wendy Anderson Halperin.

Alice shared that the story was inspired a dozen years ago by a refreshing breeze by a swimming pool on a hot summer day. She went on to speak of rejections and her manuscript spending time alone in a drawer. Acceptance came in the midst of working on their backyard shed (roof I believe). The project was quickly forgotten in the excitement. Sharing her good news consequently brought on comments on the order of "We're really happy for you, but what is the black stuff that exploded all over you?". And then her book was turned over to Wendy...

(For the record, Alice tells the story better and since I wasn't taking notes, far more accurately.)

Wendy shared a lot of what went into her idea to incorporate pictures from eight countries for each thank you. One of the countries chosen was Saudi Arabia, which she had a lot of problems researching. The interesting thing she learned when talking to someone at the Saudi embassy when asking how to picture a swing in their country was that they have Six Flags type amusement parks! The other amazing thing is that the pictures in this book were all done in crayon. Wow! And after listening to her crayon art lesson, I think this household is in the market for a couple of large crayon assortments. (For the record #2, our youngest child will be 21 in a couple months.)

The review:

Thank You, World takes us on a walk through simple day to day things that bind children from diverse countries together. The pictures are all coded consistently by placement and border color. China, for example, is in the lower right hand corner of the second page (of each two page spread) and has a green border. This will help the young children reading the book to easily match pictures to countries. The concept is simple, yet so well thought out both in text and illustrations. I highly recommend this PB.

I would like to add, Thank You, World for writers like Alice and illustrators like Wendy.

Jim Danielson

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Back from Richard Peck Workshop

Well, I'm back from the Richard Peck Workshop in Urbana, Illinois.

I'm exhausted and exilerated at the same time -- or is that impossible?
Answer: I found the workshop magical, so anything is possible!

Rather than trying to write a complete report tonight I'll share a little, and promise a second installment. One of today's highlights was a reading this morning by Richard from his work in progress. If you're a fan of A Long Way from Chicago and A Year Down Yonder, you'll be happy to know he's writing a third book with Grandma Dowdel. The reading was fantastic!

Prior to even knowing of the reading, Richard was presented a button calling for "Grandma Dowdel for President". He is pictured with Carol Grannick. (Richard neither confirmed or denied that Grandma Dowdel was considering entering the race.)

Richard with me at book signing time:

Esther Hershenhor (Illinois-SCBWI Regional Advisor), Peter Meyerhoff and Jenny Meyerhoff. Jenny is in the Class of 2k8. Her husband is also writing and possibly in the class of 2k?? ..............

I promise more pictures in the days to come!

Jim Danielson