February’s Winner (plus March’s Prize)

In January, I posted about a year-long giveaway called New Year=New Beginnings that I’m offering here on Frog on a Blog–a new prize each month for folks who comment on blog posts. With so much negative energy floating around in the world, especially in recent months, I decided I wanted to do something positive, something to show my gratitude to my followers, fans, and friends for their support.

January’s prize was a copy of my book The Peddler’s Bed.

February’s prize was an adorable plushie Curious George.

And the winner is…

Gabrielle Schoeffield

Congratulations, Gabrielle! Please contact me by clicking HERE. I need your address.

The prize for the month of March is a set of Pilot’s pens, a Night Writer 2-pack with LED lights, perfect for writing in the dark, and a must have for writers or travelers. I have a set and they work great. Warning: They’re super bright!

    

Comment on this post or any post during the month of March for your chance to win. For more information on how to qualify for prizes, click HERE.

Due to contest/sweepstakes regulations in other countries, this giveaway is available to U.S. residents only. I’m very sorry fans and followers from other nations. I still appreciate you! All winners are chosen at random.

Picture Book Personals (25)

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Picture Book Personals

Boy seeks fun and adventure in wondrous snow-covered neighborhood.

What Classic Picture Book Am I?

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Leave your best guess in the comments below. Find out the answer when the next Picture Book Personals is posted.

And the answer to last week’s Picture Book Personals is…

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

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Yep!

Picture Books At The Library 98

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I catalog hundreds of new picture books each year, and I read as many of them as I can. Unfortunately, I can’t review them all. But I can share them! Below are a few recent titles. (Summaries have been taken directly from the books whenever possible.) Check your local library or bookstore for availability.

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Learn your alphabet and your pasta as you follow along with an ABC circus that’s good enough to eat.

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A baby, misplaced by the stork charged with delivering him to his new home, embarks upon a wild journey across the world.

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Pax, a young boy, becomes worried when he has to leave his friend Blue behind. 

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Chee-Kee moves with his parents to a new land of opportunity, but doesn’t feel like he fits in.

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Tony was all white, large, sturdy, with wide gentle eyes and a ton of love.

My View Book Review: The Santa Corner by Jakie Rodriguez + Supporting Worthy Causes

Title: The Santa Corner

Author: Jakie Rodriguez

Illustrator: Bee L. Hannah

Publisher/Year: Mascot Books/2016

Back Cover Blurb: Santa is afraid he will not have enough presents to deliver to all the boys and girls, so he is asking for help. He is sending out letters asking children to collect toys they no longer play with. Gracie and Meghyn are ready to help, are you?

When Meghyn visits her friend Gracie’s house, she wonders why there’s a pile of toys in the corner and why she can’t play with them. Gracie tells her that the toys are in the Santa corner. Toys in the Santa corner are toys that kids no longer play with. Santa sends his helpers to pick them up in the middle of the night. They take the toys back to the North Pole, and they repair them too, if necessary. On Christmas Eve, Santa delivers the toys to children all over the world. Meghyn is excited to go home and start a Santa corner of her own.

I know it’s not Christmas, but what’s special about The Santa Corner is that it teaches kids, through a delightful story and sweet illustrations, to be generous and giving–qualities that can be encouraged anytime. And what young child wouldn’t want to help Santa if given the chance? Parents who want to cultivate a giving nature in their children, while at the same time, clear away the clutter of too many toys, will find the message of this book to be just what they need to succeed. Though not expressly stated in the text, parents might want to discuss with their kids how putting their toys in the Santa corner helps not only Santa, but also children who are less fortunate than they are. Creating a Santa corner is an excellent way to help others, and it can be started now.

I like to help others too. I often donate money or clothing to the Syracuse Rescue Mission, a local organization that’s working hard to end hunger and homelessness in our community. I donate to animal welfare organizations as well. And I’ve donated copies of my book The Peddler’s Bed to libraries and literacy organizations. There are MANY wonderful causes out there. I’m sure, just like Meghyn and Gracie in The Santa Corner, kids everywhere want to help others. Find a great cause that you and your children can support together.

Picture Book Personals (24)

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Picture Book Personals

Hungry larva seeks fruit, cake, ice cream, pickles, cheese, pie, sausage…and a remedy for an upset stomach.

What Classic Picture Book Am I?

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Leave your best guess in the comments below. Find out the answer when the next Picture Book Personals is posted.

And the answer to last week’s Picture Book Personals is…

Blueberries for Sal

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Good job, everyone!

Picture Books At The Library 97

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I catalog hundreds of new picture books each year, and I read as many of them as I can. Unfortunately, I can’t review them all. But I can share them! Below are a few recent titles. (Summaries have been taken directly from the books whenever possible.) Check your local library or bookstore for availability.

Note: All of these titles have very different, yet very lovely illustrations.

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Chick finds himself on a madcap chase through the barnyard as he attempts to protect his unhatched little brother from danger.

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There is magic in every tiny seed, and in this book, you become the magician by planting the seeds, watering them, and helping the  sun to shine.

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When his father doesn’t return from a fishing trip, a boy ventures out to find him in a blizzard.

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Little Tickles the bunny must save her siblings when they become trapped inside a hollow log.

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Bizzy declares that it’s Opposite Day, but Dill just wants everything to return to normal.

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In this never-before-published story by Margaret Wise Brown, it’s time for a little bird to fly away. But which direction is best, north, south, east, or west?

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Pip gets mad when Nico doesn’t want to play anything he suggests.

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Rhyming text takes readers through a child’s day, as she imagines what it would be like to be an acorn, a bird, a spider, and more.

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A brave rooster decides he must keep on singing, despite the law forbidding it and the punishments he receives.

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Samson the piranha’s dream is to eat in a fancy restaurant, but piranhas aren’t welcome there.

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Lily wakes up one morning with grumpy feet and it’s up to her friend Bear to cheer her up.

Interview Alert: Piotr Parda

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As much as I adore picture books, I’m don’t often become misty-eyed while reading them. But there are always exceptions, and author/illustrator Piotr Parda’s brand new book Graduation Day is one of them. Graduation Day is an incredibly moving wordless picture book about a young girl who takes something negative and turns it into something beautifully positive. It’s a must see!

Graduation Day is Piotr’s second book. Before that, he illustrated The Gentleman Bat, another lovely book, which was written by Abraham Schroeder. Both books were published by Ripple Grove Press, the publisher of my book The Peddler’s Bed.

I’m very pleased to share this interview with the talented Piotr Parda!

Did you know from a young age that you were going to be an artist? Did your parents encourage your talent?

Yes, my parents are the very first people in my life to remember how throwing a piece of paper and a pencil or a crayon into my crib while I was crying was better than any pacifier in the world. But then again most children, if not all of them, enjoy drawing and painting, sculpting, cutting and gluing, making up alternate realities, performances, happenings, scientific experiments, installations, mixed media art and other things done for no reason. Some lose this interest along with their baby teeth and some don’t (or do but find a secret passage back to these imaginative shenanigans). I must say I lost it many times and I still do occasionally. Luckily so far I’ve been able to find the “secret passage” but always with great difficulty.

My parents have been supporting me since the “crib incidents” and they still do with curious enthusiasm but without projected ambition. I’m very lucky that way. They were never pushing or demanding results or telling me things like “you will never be able to support yourself!” or “become a doctor like your cousin!” They just were there with me.

What or who inspires your art?

So many things! Things of reality and things of art and by “art” here I mean just things other people make or made in the past. I enjoy watching people working on something, solving problems, building. Whether it’s a cooking/travel documentary or home improvement TV show or something about scientific process. It doesn’t matter what it is as long as it’s something innovative. “The Joy of Painting” with Bob Ross? Yes please!

I’ve watched all episodes of ‘Mythbusters’ until they just started to focus solely on guns and explosions probably encouraged by the popular demand of the American viewers. I find human nature quite inspiring too, I guess…

To me the best fuel for the creative spark has always been the work of other artists and innovators. When it comes to motivation nothing ever worked better for me than being exposed to other people’s creations.

And finally and fairly recently this one book I can’t stop reading since I first found out about it: “The Invention of Nature” by Andrea Wulf. If a child asked me to tell her “everything about the world” this is the one and only book I would reach for except it might be a bit too irrelevant for a small child.

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Piotr At Work On A Page From The Gentleman Bat

How did Ripple Grove Press approach you to illustrate their first ever picture book, The Gentleman Bat?

The “approaching” was quite an intricate matter in this case. In 2006(?) Abraham Schroeder, the author of the book and friend, told me about his eerie idea for a story. When I heard he wanted to create a world full of anthropomorphic bats, wearing clothes, using contraptions, inhabiting mansions, dancing and being generally graceful, the first thing I told him was “it’s great but totally impossible to illustrate.” So we gave it a shot… We worked on our little project on and off for about eight years ending up with a few versions of the same story (each one unfinished) and hundreds of sketches and concepts. It was only after Abraham learned that his good friends are launching their own publishing business and love his story, we finally got a solid deadline and the prospect of having an actual book printed out. It was their first ever book to publish, so we thought it had better be done well!

Your illustrations in The Gentleman Bat are very different from your illustrations in your new picture book, Graduation Day. How do you decide what style of art works best for a story?

I think it extends beyond books. I’ve been “accused” of having created the most disparate and confusingly diverse body of work ever but I feel like every single idea deserves special technical considerations. It’s always interesting to come up with techniques that harmonize with the idea. Even subtle things make a great difference: a book about saving trees printed on recycled paper, a story about coal miners with illustrations drawn with coal or illustrations for a book about bees drawn with wax crayons. But sometimes I’m not even sure how to reconcile the fact of having to stay within the 40 page story book format. Why not a novel? Why not a puppet show? Why not an animation? A feature blockbuster? On the other hand having some parameters and limitations to work with provides a good balance.

The technique for “The Gentleman Bat” was the result of many discussions and negotiations with the author. It had to be of a specific style resembling the one used in the old-timey Victorian illustrations additionally inspired by an old Japanese woodblock print. “Graduation Day” was an independent project so I guess you might say this is the kind of “classic Parda” style Parda would be most likely to employ (but only for this particular project perhaps?).

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A Spread From Graduation Day

Why did you decide to make Graduation Day a wordless book?

It was a very simple decision. I wrote the story (with English words). The main character was the narrator. It was cute. Then I drew the pictures and read it again. It was HORRIBLE! The text had to go and a few additional images had to be squeezed in to complete the sequence and there it was! Can you imagine doing that while working with a writer? I always knew there was a reason the writers have to be good at what they are doing.

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A Spread From Graduation Day

Graduation Day is incredibly moving. Do you have a personal connection to the message of the story?

The primary inspiration came to me one late August while I was walking through my quite industrial looking neighborhood. There were all sorts of weeds sprouting from the cracks in the pavement. Some of them very tall and interesting. Yes, I know plants growing through concrete inspired many people already and made quite a few motivational posters in corporate offices everywhere but this time it felt as if I was looking at it with a fresh perspective. I thought the plants were beautiful in the way of their variety, diversity and versatility. It wasn’t really about brute force but flexibility and perseverance. It made me think about the crushing majority of humans living on this planet having no choice but to make things work with what’s around them. And if they manage to do it, they improve their worlds in a lasting way and against overwhelming odds. It’s much more powerful and long lasting than the top down brute force of an angry sledgehammer.

For an unknown reason the time of executing “Graduation Day” was quite an anxious period in my life. Sometimes anxiety just comes unannounced and yells “surprise!” The project took me about a year and by the time I was finished, and not without some amazing help and support, I learned how to manage anxiety. Strangely, managing anxiety turned out not very different from (spoiler alert!) putting a sunflower seed in your pocket.

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The Star Of Graduation Day From Many Angles

Would you like to illustrate more children’s picture books?

Yes!

Where can fans go to learn more about you and your art?

My potential fans but also those who dislike my art or are on the fence about it can follow the publisher’s website:

http://www.ripplegrovepress.com/

or just go to my site if only to witness the organized randomness:

http://PiotrParda.com/

I also participate in the Brickbottom Open Studios in Somerville, MA, along with countless other artists in the building every November one week before Thanksgiving.

Thank you, Piotr, for sharing a little bit of yourself with Frog on a Blog readers!

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Piotr’s “Mug Shot”

More about Piotr and his art process from his website: “Making things has always been something of a magical thing to me. Growing up in the former People’s Republic of Poland, I had to accept the fact that there are places I can never go to, and things I can never have. It meant that I had to imagine, draw and paint places I would want to go to, and build things I would want to have. So I drew and painted, built toys out of wood scraps and paper, “electronic” watches out of tin foil or a life size car out of four chairs and a blanket. To me making art still means making a world for myself to inhabit and enjoy. The world I build is not imitating or mimicking the reality. It is rather an addition if not an alternative to it. I don’t commit to one particular style or medium. Current creations reflect an instinctive urge to explore a particular field of interest that appears at one particular time. The process is open, dynamic and free of schedule.”

Picture Book Personals (23)

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Picture Book Personals

Little girl seeks lots and lots of blueberries.

What Classic Picture Book Am I?

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Leave your best guess in the comments below. Find out the answer when the next Picture Book Personals is posted.

And the answer to last week’s Picture Book Personals is…

The Story of Ferdinand

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Congrats if you got it right!

Picture Books At The Library 96

PB at the library 2

I catalog hundreds of new picture books each year, and I read as many of them as I can. Unfortunately, I can’t review them all. But I can share them! Below are a few recent titles. (Summaries have been taken directly from the books whenever possible.) Check your local library or bookstore for availability.

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A trio of stories in one book–Big Duck, Little Duck, and Porcupine lose their kite in a tree, make new friends, and build a lemonade stand.

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For one young boy, visiting the zoo for the very first times is an adventure.

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A baby hare springs up, up, and away into a flight of fancy as he follows a little girl through the clouds.

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When five hungry animals visit Sam’s ice cream shop, he whips up some amazing creations.

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A nurturing mama, a fearful baby, and a nest in a tall, tall tree–what could go wrong? HILARIOUS!

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Famous magician Monsieur Lapin has found the perfect assistant–Houdini the rabbit.

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Pablo the little lamb discovers something as white and fluffy as he is–his first snow.

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Herb the rabbit is tired of working for a magician and being pulled out of a hat, so he goes in search of a new job.

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Henri the caterpillar dreams of adventure, so he gathers up his courage and off he goes.

Why are Picture Books in Prison? 2.7 Million Reasons…

Looking for an opportunity to help kids? Read on!

Michelle Eastman Books

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The number of kids with incarcerated parents has increased nearly 80% in the last 20 years, according to data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics. More than 2.7 million children have a parent who is incarcerated, and parents of another 10 million children have been incarcerated at some point.  The experience can be profoundly difficult for children, increasing their risk of living in poverty and housing instability, as well as causing emotional trauma, pain, and social stigma.http://www.americanlibrariesmagazine.org/article/reading-inside

But, through programs like the Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa Storybook Project, some of that stress melts away when kids and parents are able to share a special book together. Through an audio-tape reading program wherein imprisoned parents/grandparents read books to their children/grandchildren on tape, family bonds are strengthened and literacy skills improve as parents encourage their children to read with them and in their absence. Read this touching NY Times…

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