Writing well involves community. A fabulous opportunity awaits you in just two-and-a-half weeks. The 2014 Minnesota Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators will hold their annual conference.
The first perk of the conference will be the wisdom you’ll gain; the second, the relationships you’ll develop.
If you haven’t signed up, it’s not too late. We can’t wait to see you there!
2011 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award
Starred review in Publisher’s Weekly Starred review in Kirkus Review
WHY BINK & GOLLIE IS A KEM GEM
KRISTI’S TAKE Kate, Alison & Tony have struck gold! And like gold, it’s all about the chemistry between Bink & Gollie. There’s nothing more LOL than an ODD couple, especially when they journey into the essentials of every friendship: compromise, support and adventure.
I admire the way Tony has taken the unspoken, yet opaquely obvious dissimilarities between Bink & Gollie to an extreme by taking the time to illustrate even the finest details of a well placed hair bow or an untied shoe. The size, tidiness and gestures are in constant contradiction. Even the incidental characters leap from the page, both from the eager dialogue Kate and Alison have written as well as from the distant gaze, mouthfuls of popcorn or curled fins that are sketched. This early reader fiction will delight readers of all ages, at all times. And for this, I am certain, as even my nine and 11 year old admitted to their fondness of BINK & GOLLIE, and believe me, it’s not cool to admit you love a book your capabilities have exceeded, unless, it’s truly a GEM!
Favorite line “It’s a compromise bonanza.”
ELISE’S TAKE While not catalogued in my library’s picture book section, the three stories in BINK & GOLLIE are picture books in the truest sense. Picture books celebrate a perfect marriage of image and text. Tony Fucile’s faux pen-and-ink illustrations don’t just give us these two loveable characters and their homes. They also carry us through scene changes (both real and imaginary), and all three times they complete the story with a wordless image.
While Fucile sets a high standard, McGhee and DiCamillo show they can keep up with the text’s witty back-and-forth dialogue. They rightfully leave all of the narration to Fucile’s linework and allow the girls’ personalities to shine through hilarious conversations.
Favorite lines “Hello Gollie,” said Bink.”Do I smell pancakes?”
“You do not,” said Gollie.
“Will I smell pancakes?” said Bink.
MARRAS’ TAKE Sweet synergy! The magic in this book came in threes: three phenomenal friends created three subtly silly chapters for three times the fun.
BINK & GOLLIE delivers distinctive characters that reach out and grab hearts through intentionally sparse, yet plump and lively text. Fucile’s illustrations capture DiCamillo and McGhee’s real-life essence and charm–compatible and interesting, because they are different. They ARE BINK & GOLLIE in Fucile’s BINK & GOLLIE world. Fucile comes to life in the observant, scene-watching fish, Fred. We, the readers, can enter the pages through Fred, too, for a sweet, unpredictable ride.
DiCamillo and McGhee prove how the savviest writers leave ample room for the illustrator. Through trust, they were able to give BINK & GOLLIE more of themselves than they ever could have imagined.
Favorite lines “Fish know nothing of longing,” said Gollie.
“Some fish do,” said Bink. “Some fish long.”
Award-winning Disney and Pixar illustrator Tony Fucile helped bring LION KING, RATATOUILLE, and THE INCREDIBLESto life. Both DiCamillo and McGhee are New York Times best-selling authors; and McGhee, a Pulitzer Prize nominee.
MICK HARTE is an example of Barbara Park’s great wisdom; she takes an awful outcome and creates a beautiful story about a fully dimensional 12 year-old boy. It is difficult to start a novel with the death of a boy, a sibling, a friend….unless, he’s a prankster. Mick’s trouble-making ways get you laughing from the start. His strong-will and propensity to tease kept me laughing, even though I was grieving right along with his polar-opposite sister, Phoebe. It is not until Phoebe shares her frustration about losing something that will never be returned, that I truly felt the weight of Mick’s death, right in the gut. But Barbara saved me, with utter wisdom, by suggesting that Phoebe, “Put him everywhere, why don’t you?”, just like God’s presence.
Barbara Park has aptly woven a story of past and present, through recollections of a boy’s relationship with his cowboy dog, Wocket; a mail carrier; a florist deliverer and a school assembly. MICK HARTE WAS HERE will stick with me, like printed letters in cement.
One of my favorite aspects of Barbara Park’s writing is her ability to observe, and then word those observations in such a way that each reader can relate. Even in harsh, unfamiliar territory, such as the painful, sudden loss of a young loved one, we have a companion in Park’s characters.
Having lost a dear friend at age 15, I experienced first-hand Phoebe Harte’s emotions and questions. Zoe Santos was also a reminder of the priceless sympathy of a best friend.
Phoebe’s story is not only helpful for young readers needing assurance that they’re not alone in their grief. Its insights are poignantly enlightening for those who have thus far remained unscathed by the death of a peer.
Favorite lines Zo picked up on the first ring. “H’lo?”
I didn’t say anything. She knew it was me, though. Me and Zoe sort of have a psychic thing going, sometimes.
“You okay?” she asked.
I took a shaky breath. “No.”
She came right over.
MARRAS’ TAKE When discussing favorite children’s books, my Black Sheep memoir friend, Davis, a drug addiction counselor, said his was the fictional middle grade novel, MICK HARTE WAS HERE. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the 1995 treasure was written by the author of the beloved JUNIE B. JONES series, recently deceased Barbara Park.
Park wrote this conversational story with such heart and humor, I’d swear narrator Phoebe Harte really was Park’s 13-year-old self. As a storyteller, Park knew and loved her audience. She tackled the complex subject of death candidly, yet compassionately, without being overdramatic or condescendingly romantic about the deceased person’s life. We felt Phoebe’s pain and we marveled in her hope. MICK HARTE WAS HERE is the perfect writer’s resource on how to be real. I can see why it was Davis’ favorite.
Favorite lines But I can still remember the exact conversation I had with Santa Claus when I was in kindergarten.
A New York Times Bestseller
2008 Rhode Island Children’s Book Award (Grades 3-6)
2008 William Allen White Children’s Book Award – KS (Grades 3-5)
2007 Boston Globe/Horn Book Honor Winner
2008 Great Lakes Great Books Award Winner
Winner of the 2007 Josette Frank Book Award (Bank Street College Book Committee)
Winner of the 2007 Sid Fleishman Award (SCBWI.org)
A School Library Journal Best Book of 2006
A 2006 Child Magazine Best Book of the Year
New York Public Library 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing
A 2006 Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year
A 2006 National Parenting Publication Gold Award Winner
A Book Sense Winter 2006-2007 Children’s Top Ten Pick
A 2006 Nick Jr. Family Magazine’s Best Book of the Year
A Miami Herald Best Book of the Year 2006
WHY CLEMENTINE IS A KEM GEM
KRISTI’S TAKE Clementine always has “great ideas popping into her head.” She’s like a balloon, exalted up, and then POP, life deflates and she’s back to square one. Sara Pennypacker brilliantly invites the reader to share Clementine’s ups and downs, by showing the reader how the precocious Clementine thinks, through detailed action that is followed by the protagonist’s reflection.
If I had to draw a balloon to depict Clementine, it’d be orange. The balloon would have a happy face drawn with “sparkle glitter paint” on one side and a sad face on the opposite side, drawn in permanent Red marker. Around the entire drawing would be a window for the reader to look through.
I am in awe of Marla Frazee’s ability to capture Clementine’s energy. Her fine-lined sketches convey curiosity with a wrinkle in a shirt, swirl of a lock and lift of a brow. She makes the impossible look easy. ELISE’S TAKE
CLEMENTINE felt like catching up with an old friend. I, too, had an oh-so-perfect neighbor girl, an “easy” younger sibling, an artist mom, and a dad who dealt with pesky animals* and their splat.
Sara Pennypacker’s descriptions give readers a colorful, hilarious view of Clementine’s world, and her daily, eight-year-old antics and frustrations.
Marla Frazee’s pen and ink drawings offer a visual treat on nearly every page. Her clean, graphic line carries Clementine’s energy through the story and, as with all of Frazee’s work, looks like she just whipped it up over breakfast.
This gem, just published in 2008, has the classic charm of a book that has already stood the test of time.
*Ours were cattle, not pigeons.
Favorite line “Then we just sat there together watching the pigeons flock back to our building for the night. We listened to them cooing above us, sounding like a million old ladies with secrets.”
MARRAS’ TAKE Spectacularful!
Writer friend Melissa quoted Clementine at a recent meet-up: “Someone should tell you not to answer the phone in the principal’s office, if that’s a rule.” Admiration spittle (mine) dribbled on my manuscript.
Sara Pennypacker created a believable, delightful protagonist in a universe where “Go for Wok?” leads to a sibling bonding ritual and magic marker heals hair disasters. Clementine’s thoughtful distractions amuse and disarm people of all ages–even her best friend’s older brother–a formidable feat for a third grader.
Marla Frazee’s wit and talent complements Sara’s. Her personality-packed illustrations lift Clementine to a whole new level of cute.
Favorite line “… I carried the kittens into the bathroom and looked around until I found them beautiful names. Flouride and Laxative went to live with people who answered the Free Kittens, Hurry! ad my dad put in the paper …”