Please welcome bilingual children’s book author Sonia Kermen to Frog on a Blog. Sonia recently published Enzo Le Petit Aventurier / Enzo The Little Adventurer, a book written in French and translated into English. It includes nine stories featuring different animals, and each story ends with a proverb.
As a mom of three children from different cultures, Sonia believes it’s important to communicate the importance of languages. She’s here today to talk a bit about how children’s books can help kids learn new languages.
Children’s Literature: A Natural Way to Learn New Languages
by Sonia Kermen
Children’s literature is a natural way to learn new languages. I have recently published a bilingual book for children entitled Enzo The Little Adventurer. These short stories are written to introduce children to new languages, educate them about the life of the nine zoo animals and instill in them the simple values of life. The ability to speak more than one language is a true richness in our society.
We live in a dynamic and globalized world in which our children must be understood and accepted in whatever country they find themselves.
They, therefore, must learn to understand the country’s language as well as its culture. As bilingual speakers, our children will discover a whole other world, a wealth of knowledge that will enable them to be at home on our planet. When I left France a few years ago and moved in 2008 to the United States with my children, my family and I had to face the joys and challenges of bilingual and bicultural living.
I found children’s storybooks to be a natural avenue for children to develop their bilingual skills. It is clear that the younger treasure learning other languages, the easier it is for them. Children become more open to the outside world, more expressive, and more adaptable in new contexts.
There are, of course, certain challenges in learning to speak more than one language: young children tend to start speaking a little later than average, because instead of learning one set of words, they are learning two or three. Their minds are assimilating information in several languages at a time. Nevertheless, bilingual living sets up children for success in the future, and the delayed speech is quickly overcome by an insatiable curiosity for the world.
Children’s books evoke a child’s imagination and creativity. The vocabulary is inherently repetitive, which facilitates the acquisition of new vocabulary words. Parents can naturally dialogue with their child about the stories in one language or in another. The readers can discover cultural differences in a safe context. Furthermore, children’s books are illustrated. Vivid color drawings help boys and girls follow the scenario and easily learn new vocabulary. Paragraphs are short to keep the child engaged.
It also must be noted that the simple values of life are best taught in a narrative context. Not only do bilingual books for children allow them to learn a new language smoothly, these books also can remind the readers about what is important in life. Narratives can teach simple values for living, such as patience, forgiveness, and that we are all born under a star. We remind the education and awakening on the animals of the zoo.
Children thus keep their innocence and naïveté. I find that these stories enable adults to rediscover their childhood and to pass on our wisdom to our children. Books enable children and parents to relearn proverbs that are less common in modern society. When children and adults read together, generations encounter each other and come to understand each other better. Through bilingual children’s books, adults and children learn to better love each other and to share their world.
After several years as blog coordinator, creating slogans, presentation videos, model of various marketing campaigns and teacher, the Breton Sonia Kermen, writer since the age of nine, now devotes herself to her passion with the writing of her bilingual children’s book with Enzo Le petit Aventurier / Enzo The Little Adventurer. She is also the author of the bilingual series Les Aventures d’Enzo / The Adventures of Enzo with the name of Sonia Colasse published in 2012.
Photo from Sonia Kermen’s website: authorandmodel.wixsite.com/soniakermen
For more information about Sonia and her books, please visit:
Thanks so much, Sonia, for sharing the importance of learning languages!
Readers, my public library has an entire section devoted to bilingual children’s books. Check your library to see what they have available.
It is a huge pleasure to welcome picture book author Danielle Dufayet to Frog on a Blog. Danielle is the author of three gorgeous picture books, two published last year and one officially out today via Albert Whitman & Company publishers! Happy Book Birthday to Waiting Together!
As Danielle’s books are some of my recent favorites, I jumped at the chance to learn more about her through an interview.
What inspired you to write your brand-new picture book Waiting Together?
Danielle: Deborah Underwood, The Quiet Book. It was so interesting and fun to read about all the different ways a kid experiences silence throughout the day. It made me ask: what else do kids (universally) experience throughout the day? The answer was “waiting”. For kids, being quiet is not always easy -neither is being patient.
Do you, as an English and a Public Speaking teacher, feel that teaching informs or affects your writing in any way?
Danielle: Actually, it’s the other way around. I found that I enjoy writing books that help kids feel self-empowered. From that, I designed my own public speaking course which focuses on leadership and self-empowerment. I like to emphasize self-love and positive self-talk. Those themes come out whenever I am teaching kids, if I have the opportunity.
You have two other gorgeous picture books already out in the world. For those who may not be familiar, please tell us a little about You Are Your Strong and Fantastic You.
Danielle: You Are Your Strong is about using our own resources for handling our difficult emotions (sadness, anger, worry and fear) with breath, positive thinking, self-distraction, etc. Fantastic You is all about self-love and self-compassion and forgiveness. In essence, it’s about how to treat ourselves as if we were our own best friend.
Just like your other books, Waiting Together has an eye-catching cover! How excited were you to see it for the first time?
Danielle: I was so excited! I loved that it was of a boy and his dog -which circles back to the end of the book. I love my illustrator’s work, especially her children -such sweet faces! I am very lucky to have Srimalie Bassani as my illustrator.
You’re also an artist, and I’ve seen some of your amazing art on your website. Do you hope to one day illustrate picture books, either your own or other’s?
Danielle: Thank you for your kind words! I love to paint big, colorful paintings that uplift the viewer. I enjoy expressing love and light and joy in my work and hopefully that’s what it brings to the walls. Illustrating books and painting large works are two very different types of art, but, yes, one day I may be inspired to illustrate my own book. After all, I wanted to be a cartoonist when I was young.
Your books are uplifting and encouraging, perfect to share with the children we love anytime, but maybe even more so during difficult times. Do you have any advice for kids or adults who may be struggling right now?
Danielle: My advice is to take one day at a time and to NOT be so hard on yourself. Do the best you can. Make time for self-care. Do things that bring you joy, always get a good dose of sunshine, fresh air and physical activity, watch your thoughts, for they become “things”. Practice being loving and gentle and kind to yourself and everyone.
Where can people go to learn more about you and your books, or to connect with you online?
Danielle Dufayet, born in Yonkers, New York, now lives in sunny San Jose, California, where she writes children’s books and paints. She also teaches English and Public Speaking (Self-Empowerment) to grades K-12.
Danielle read her first picture book (Little Raccoon and the Thing in the Pool) when she was 18 whereupon she was blown away by its simplicity, timelessness and transformative power. That’s when she knew it was her calling.
Thirty five years and a Master’s Degree later, she finally made her dream come true with TWO books out in 2019 – one about inner strength and the other about self-love/compassion, and a third book, Waiting Together, September 1, 2020.
Hooray for a GIVEAWAY!
To celebrate its Book Birthday, Danielle is giving away a copy of her brand new picture book Waiting Together to one lucky reader! Just leave a comment on this post by September 15 to be entered to win. The winner will be chosen at random and notified via email. Giveaway available to U.S. residents only.
I’m pleased to resume Picture Books At The Library with this 209th list featuring an eclectic mix of books that have been published during the first half of 2020. How many have you read?
I haven’t posted Picture Books At The Library since my library shut down due to the pandemic in mid-March. But now that I’m back to work in the library (I had been teleworking) and shipments have resumed from our vendors, I’ll finally be able to share new picture books again!
I may be back to work, but the library building is not yet open to the public. We’ve been offering curbside pickup for the past several weeks. And we’re still promoting digital services and resources, as well as online programs (the summer reading program is in full swing) and access to digital books, movies, music, and more. If you haven’t already, check your library’s website to see what kinds of offerings they have. Even during times like these, most libraries are working hard to serve their communities.
I hope that wherever you are in the world, that things are improving. And I hope you will soon be able to visit your library to check out a few glorious new picture books. There are many to choose from! My third hope is that if you cannot visit your library, that you can access many wonderful picture books digitally. It’s not quite the same as having that physical book in your hands, but it’s something, at least.
Stay well, everyone. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. And stay strong. We’re all in this together, and we’ll get out of it together, too! Until then, read some picture books to help you and your kids escape even for just a few moments. I can’t wait to share tons of fabulous new picture books with you. Even if you can’t get your hands on the books right away, keep a list, keep them in mind, and when your library reopens, they’ll be waiting there for you. See you soon At The Library!
I’m excited to feature multi-published children’s book author Sue Lowell Gallion on Frog on a Blog today! Sue is known for her Pug & Pig picture book series, as well as the Tip & Tucker early reader series. She has published in several children’s magazines, and she has multiple awards and honors for her work, as well.
(Cover of and interior image from Our World: A First Book of Geography by Sue Lowell Gallion, illustrated by Lisk Feng)
Sue’s newest book, Our World: A First Book of Geography, which was just released by Phaidon Press, is a must-see, beautifully unique, nonfiction board book! Sue is here to share five of her favorite original board books, plus more information about her own wonderful book.
Five Board Books to Expand Your World
by Sue Lowell Gallion
Board book sales have increased every year over the past six years. The variety of original board books is expanding every publishing season as well. I love studying and sharing these sturdy and chewable books with kids of all ages. Board books offer author-illustrators, illustrators, and authors unique creative opportunities.
Here are five of my favorite original board books published over the last year that show some of the options available in this format. An original board book is one that is first published as a board book, not a picture book reprinted in a board book format.
MERBABY’S LULLABY, by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Elizabeth Dulemba, Little Simon, 2019
I’m a Jane Yolen groupie, but even if I wasn’t, I’d put this “hush-filled bedtime rhyme from the bottom of the sea” on the same shelf as my all-favorite TIME FOR BED by Mem Fox and Jane Dyer (disclaimer: TIME FOR BED was originally published as a picture book .) Yolen’s dreamy words and Dulemba’s soft illustrations will transport anyone into an enchanting underwater world. There is a story arc in this 51-word poem that looks back at the merbaby’s day and ends with the merbaby being tucked into a shell bed.
There are no novelty elements here and none needed. The size of the book, about 5 inches square, is grabbable for little hands yet large enough to show off the art. Board books aren’t constrained to many of the parameters of picture books. Their size, shape, and number of spreads aren’t bound by the 8-page signature, which offers loads of flexibility. A book can have an odd number of spreads, and the number of spreads may change during the design process.
GOODNIGHT, RAINBOW CATS by Barbara Castro Urio, Chronicle 2019, originally published by Zahori Book, Barcelona, Spain, 2018
Chronicle Books says, “It is time to say goodnight, which means that each colorful cat comes home to curl up in the big white house. The youngest of readers will delight as each cat enters the house with the turn of a page, and one by one, the die-cut windows are infused with color . . . with reassuring warmth, charm, and an early-concept “colors” hook.”
Little Light-Blue Cat, Little Lime-Green Cat and 10 more cats gradually appearing in the die-cut square windows will fascinate any young child. Like any brilliant board book, the format appears simple. But it’s surely an effective bedtime book as each cat comes home to the big white house with conversational, calming text. The novelty element enhances the book. That’s key.
PLAY WITH YOUR PLATE, A Mix-and-Match Play Book by Judith Rossell, Abrams Appleseed, 2020
Here’s how Abrams introduces this intriguing book: “comprised of four mini board books, each making up a quarter of the plate. Mix and match the four sets of pages to make healthy food choices and create more than 4,000 mealtime combinations! By playing the various games suggested in the book, readers will also be able to hone their concepts of colors and shapes by creating plates with, for example, only red foods or triangles.”
This book combines different concepts in a format that is fun to fiddle with. The food choices range from sushi to mac and cheese in vivid colors and patterns and sturdy flaps. Here’s a great example to see some of the possibilities in paper engineering — and dream of novelty elements that just might work with one of your ideas.
BILL AIME LES VOYAGES/I LOVE TO TRAVEL by Alexx Sanders and Pierrick Bisinski, Gallimard Jeunesse, France, 2019
My daughter lives in France, so when I was visiting her last fall I also I went to every bookstore I could find to look at the children’s books. Publishers around the world are doing wonderful things with board books. Also, novelty board books can easily transcend language differences or also can be a wonderful tool to introduce another language.
This series has multiple flaps with graduated levels. It tells a story in French and English of Bill the rabbit, who travels throughout the world via different modes of transportation, from bike and bus to hot air balloon. Again, the novelty design fits the topic perfectly. It may be hard to get your hands on a copy, but I hope this gives you an idea of its appeal.
DREAM BIG by Joyce Wan, Cartwheel Books/Scholastic 2019
Scholastic’s summary: “In this dreamy oversized board book, little ones will find the courage and strength to achieve anything they want — all by dreaming big! With inspiring illustrations of female trailblazers and icons of history and simple, hopeful text, Joyce Wan creates a moving send-off for graduates of all ages. Included in the back is a simple guide to some of the bold dreamers who came before us who followed their dreams . . . and changed the world.”
Joyce Wan’s board books are some of my favorite baby gifts. This large-format board book with metallic cover embossing doesn’t have any novelty elements such as the lift-the-flaps in some of her other titles. But the size of this chunky book combined with Wan’s vibrant, rounded illustrations will appeal to the youngest on up. The last spread introduces 15 women spotlighted in the book and ends with “you!”
There are amazing choices in board book nonfiction now. I’m a huge fan of the board book series introducing STEM concepts and careers for all kids, such as Ruth Bernstein Spiro and Irene Chan’s BABY LOVES series with Charlesbridge and Laura Gehl and Daniel Wiseman’s BABY SCIENTIST series from HarperFestival.
OUR WORLD, A First Book of Geography, by Sue Lowell Gallion, illustrated by Lisk Feng, Phaidon Press 2020
From Phaidon: “A read-aloud introduction to geography for young children that, when opened and folded back, creates a freestanding globe. Children are invited to identify and experience the Earth’s amazing geography through rhyming verse and lush illustrations: from rivers, lakes, and oceans deep, to valleys, hills, and mountains steep. Secondary text offers more detailed, curriculum-focused facts and encourages readers to consider their own living environments, making the reading experience personal yet set within a global backdrop.”
(Interior images from Our World: A First Book of Geography by Sue Lowell Gallion, illustrated by Lisk Feng)
I’m thrilled to share my first board book here as well, which released July 22. My concept was to make a board book shaped like a globe, with a stand that would be easy for a young child to grasp. I came up with the concept during a workshop on novelty board books at our annual Kansas/Missouri SCBWI conference.
(Interior image from Our World: A First Book of Geography by Sue Lowell Gallion, illustrated by Lisk Feng)
The actual submission was a 56-word poem and a small dummy showing the die-cut half-globe shape, which evolved into this wonderful collaboration with illustrator Lisk Feng and the team at Phaidon. The book has evolved a great deal during the team’s work over the past year and a half, including the addition of secondary non-fiction text to broaden its audience, and the magnetic closure so the book can stand up alone.
Thank you so much, Lauri, for this opportunity!
Sue Lowell Gallion is the author of four picture books: Pug Meets Pig, Pug & Pig Trick-or-Treat, and Pug & Pig and Friends (spring 2021) — all from Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster — as well as All About Axle (Aladdin/Simon & Schuster). Gallion is also the author of three early readers (the Tip and Tucker series) with Sleeping Bear Press and is a frequent speaker at elementary schools and libraries.
Gallion was destined to write books. As the daughter of a third generation printer, she grew up immersed in the smells of paper and ink and the sound of printing presses.
When she’s not writing, Gallion likes to spend time with her grandsons and share books with children as a reading mentor with Lead to Read Kansas City. Gallion lives in the Kansas City area with her black lab mix, Tucker, who likes to hold hands.
Gallion’s represented by Liza Voges of Eden Street Literary. For more information, please go to www.suegallion.com.
I’m thrilled to feature multi-published children’s book author Kathleen Long Bostrom today on Frog on a Blog. I’m sure you’re familiar with many of Kathleen’s books. She’s the author of the award-winning Little Blessings series and several VeggieTales books, as well as lots of other books and magazine stories for children and adults. She and her books have received multiple awards and honors. Kathleen’s newest children’s book, Will You Be Friends with Me?, published just this month by WorthyKids, is a timely board book that celebrates friendship, differences, and diversity.
Kathleen’s here to talk a little about the connection between writer and illustrator, letting go and trusting the publisher and illustrator to help bring your story to life. Let’s hear from Kathleen!
Trusting the Process
by Kathleen Long Bostrom
My children were three, five, and seven when I began writing picture books in 1992. They’re all in their thirties now and two are about to be married. In other words, it’s been a long time!
Much has changed but one thing hasn’t: the questions I get asked. First and foremost is, “Do you illustrate your own books?”
The answer is an unequivocal, “No!” I can’t even draw a decent stick figure. Illustration is not my gift, although I’d love if it were.
I knew nothing about publishing picture books when I first began writing them, but I learned quickly. I discovered that it’s up to the publisher to choose the illustrator. People startle when I say that. “What? You mean you get no say in choosing? That doesn’t seem fair!” I felt like that myself at first, but I’ve learned to trust the process.
After four years and 250 rejections, my first book, What is God Like? (Tyndale House, 1998) was accepted for publication. I imagined a beautiful, jacketed hardcover book with colorful, double-page layouts. The design crew decided otherwise. The trim size ending up being 9” x 6” x 6”, which fit just right in little hands. The illustrations were not gorgeous; they were simple, childlike. And absolutely perfect! The illustrator, Elena Kucharik, was known for designing the popular Care Bears. For her books with Tyndale House, she created four charming children of different ethnicities. It was brilliant. This was back in the 1990’s when diversity in children’s books was not a priority (should have been). Over the years, many children told me, “I’m in the book!” A bi-racial boy. A girl adopted from China. My blonde-haired youngest son. I couldn’t have asked for more.
That book led to a series called Little Blessings, which ended up in 20 languages around the world, selling several million copies. This did not translate into millions of dollars for me! But I had the joy of knowing that my work was in the hands of children all around the world. From the start, I learned to trust the process.
My newest board book, Will You Be Friends with Me? (WorthyKids, July 2020) is another example. I sought to show how friends can be different in many ways. That’s what makes life great! I imagined one child speaking to another, trying to convince that child that their differences shouldn’t be a problem. But when the art team got to work, they decided on a device called “daisy chain.” One child in each spread moves to the next spread with a new child, and so on. At the end, all the children stand together, showing diversity and friendship and joy. Again, perfect! And timely, too.
With 50+ books published, most of those picture books, I can honestly say that only once have I not been thrilled with the illustrations and how the book turned out.
It’s a fabulous collaboration, author and illustrator. And children! I love it all.
And yes, I’m still learning. I hope that’s always true.
Kathleen Long Bostrom is a Presbyterian minister who has written more than 50 books, including the award-winning Little Blessings series, multiple VeggieTales books, and the upcoming board book version of This Little Light of Mine.
Her books, both for children and adults, have sold close to three million copies and have been translated into more than 20 languages including Chinese, Russian and Indonesian. In fact, Italian versions of her books may be found at the Vatican bookstore in Rome.
Kathleen and her husband Greg, and Ellie — her little empty-nest dog — live in Carlsbad, California. Kathleen is represented by Rachel Kent of Books & Such Literary Agency. For more information please go to www.kathleenlongbostrom.com.
I’m excited to feature children’s picture book author Yuno Imai on Frog on a Blog today. Yuno has recently published two very timely books. In an email correspondence, Yuno said, “I specialize in writing heartwarming stories that help children and adults cope with death. I know many people have lost their loved ones and are hurting right now due to COVID-19… I hope my stories will inspire or heal readers.”
Let’s learn more about Yuno and her two beautifully illustrated books.
Why do you like to write stories for children?
I believe children have limitless potential. They’re curious and open to learn. Through my stories, I hope to inspire my readers to exercise creativity and imagination.
I’m a fan of children’s books and what they represent – family time, creativity and imagination, opportunity to get a peek into a new world. Many stories are timeless and can be passed down to next generations.
I think of children’s books as art. As an author, it’s exciting to see how my ideas take shape as books and could potentially live over a century!
What inspired you to write your two beautiful picture books The Last Meal and Trevor and Me? And can you tell us a bit about each book?
Trevor and Me is about reincarnation and friendship that transcends age, nationality and gender. It’s based on my real life friendship with my elderly friend, Trevor.
The Last Meal is about last meal requests of death row inmates. Compassion plays a big role in this story.
They’re both heartwarming stories that help readers cope with death or develop a healthy understanding of difficult subjects. I got inspiration to write about death, because 1) I’m interested in the topic, and 2) growing up, my mom was very uncomfortable discussing it.
I realized that many parents struggle to find ways to explain death to their children, so I decided to write stories around difficult subjects.
“Food” is also a common theme in my stories as I’m a food writer and always intrigued by memories and feelings associated with people’s favorite food.
On your website, you describe yourself as a go-getter. How did this quality help you pursue publication? And what route did you take to publish your books?
Being a go-getter helps tremendously when it comes to pursuing your goals. Believe it or not, I’ve never had a regular 9-5 job. Being your own boss and managing your time requires discipline. I’m naturally driven and motivated, and over the years, I cultivated my professionalism and driven attitude.
Becoming an author is like a marathon. It’s an endless journey and there are always things you could do more. Being a go-getter helps you keep the fire going. 🙂
I chose to self-publish my children’s books, with plans to get picked up by publishers in the future. I initially looked for agents in the U.S. and UK, and reached out to publishers in Japan, but couldn’t seem to make it happen.
I believe in making your own dreams come true, so I decided to just go for it anyway.
It’s obviously a lot more work, but nice to take control of your own destiny in a way. Having physical copies has been helping spread the word — I’m currently in talks with Chinese publishers.
You have two different illustrators for your books, and both did a fantastic job! How did you find your illustrators?
I found both of my illustrators online.
It took me a good 2-3 years finding the right person — I asked my friends and colleagues for referrals, attended book fairs and Creator’s Expo in Tokyo, all while searching online.
After talking with countless illustrators, I had about 10 of them draw samples for me. Finally in 2019, I found two illustrators that could truly understand what was inside of my head, and put them onto paper.
Illustrations are a very important part of children’s books. I could not have done it without my illustrators and I’m so grateful for their talent and professionalism!
You are also a food & travel writer. How different is that from writing for children? Are there any similarities?
In my opinion, the whole message and purpose of writing changes, depending on who you write for. When I write my food and travel articles, my goal is to provide readers with useful information. I make sure to include the basic information, like any journalistic articles would. For children’s books, I focus on showing and telling a story, instead of just providing information.
How I approach writing, though are the same whether I’m writing an article for adult readers or children’s stories for younger readers. I love puzzles, so I write in sections and pieces and move them around like I’m playing puzzles.
Where can people go to find more information about you and your books?
You can learn more about my books and order them on my website and Amazon worldwide!
Is there anything else you’d like to share with everyone?
I really hope my stories will inspire, entertain or help you heal. I love getting comments and feedback about my books – please feel free to email or DM me on social media!
Yuno Imai is a Los Angeles based children’s book author and food & travel writer.
She specializes in writing heartwarming stories that help readers cope with death or develop a healthy understanding of difficult subjects. She is originally from Hamamatsu, Japan and came to the United States alone at 17, speaking very little English, and spent a year as a high school foreign exchange student in a small town in Kansas.
Yuno is passionate about inspiring people through her stories and also bridging Japan and other countries, especially America, where she calls her second home.
Please welcome picture book author Brigitte Brulz and illustrator Alyssa Brulz to Frog on a Blog. This talanted mother-daughter duo’s new picture book Aah! Blown Away, Crash!: An Alphabet Misadventure was published last month. I really like the bold, colorful art of this concept book, which works well to tell the tale of a little bird that crashes on a deserted island. Each page or spread highlights one letter of the alphabet and continues in order as the story progresses.
Brigitte contacted me about sharing a post in which she interviews her daughter with the hopes of inspiring other kids who may be interested in writing or illustrating and publishing their own books. And I thought it was a fabulous idea! Let’s hear from Brigitte and Alyssa!
Interview with 12-Year-Old Published Illustrator, Alyssa Brulz
Conducted by Brigitte Brulz
Aah! Blown Away, Crash!: An Alphabet Misadventure is a comical story told in alphabetical order with only one to three words per page about a bird who is blown away and crashes on a deserted island. Will he figure out how to get off the island? And who – or what – is following him?
Since there are less than 40 words in the entire book, the illustrations are crucial to telling the story of Aah! Blown Away, Crash!: An Alphabet Misadventure.
I am excited to share an interview with 12-year-old Alyssa Brulz, illustrator of this newly released picture book, which received a Readers’ Favorite Five Stars review.
Q: How did Aah! Blown Away, Crash!: An Alphabet Misadventure start?
A.B.: Aah! Blown Away, Crash! was started when my mom went to one of her monthly writer group meetings in 2017. Someone mentioned a challenge of creating a book similar to Oops, Pounce, Quick, Run!, with the words in alphabetical order. In response, my mom came up with a draft of Aah! Blown Away, Crash! She, my sister, and I created a “dummy” with paper stapled together. Since then, the book has changed quite a bit – both the text and the illustrations. Mom brought the dummy to her writer group. They suggested a few tweaks and some of them thought my mom should pursue getting the book published. By that point, she had published two picture books, Pickles, Pickles, I Like Pickles and Jobs of a Preschooler, so she was familiar with the publishing process. She didn’t want to do the illustrations, so she hired me.
Q: What was the illustration process like for Aah! Blown Away, Crash!: An Alphabet Misadventure?
A.B.: It took a lot of research – shadows, birds, islands, palm trees – to make objects look realistic while still being cartoonish. I used Affinity Designer for the illustrations, and if you have a careful eye, you might be able to see that most of the objects were actually made with simple shapes. My sister also helped by making the bird out of clay and pipe cleaners, so I could see how it would look from different angles.
Q: What did you enjoy most about illustrating it?
A.B.: My favorite part was working on the expressions. The only character in Aah! Blown Away, Crash! is a bird, whom we affectionately named Finch (even though he really isn’t a finch). Some of the expressions he made were absolutely hilarious to me. In real life, I love to watch the expressions on people’s faces when they’re excited, angry, sad, surprised, etc., so working with the body language Finch needed to have was super fun.
Q: What was the hardest part?
A.B.: I think the hardest part was that both my mom and I had our own opinions about how the illustrations should look, so it was a little challenging to create pictures that we were both satisfied with. We obviously figured it out and tried to go with the best option.
Q: What was something you learned?
A.B.: Just one thing? I learned A LOT, from how to use Affinity Designer more effectively to how to work with what you have to make something great. I watched some videos and did quite a bit of research while doing the illustrations to help me learn more.
Q: What other projects have you been working on?
A.B.: My 13-year-old sister and I recently published an activity journal titled Write, Draw, Believe: 75+ Faith-Building Activities for Christian Kids, which I had a ton of fun making. My sister was the ideas person, and I created most of the graphics for it. We hope other kids will really enjoy it. We plan on reaching out to various people, bookstores, and churches to sell our journals. Also, I have been writing a middle grade novel for a couple years now and am on the third draft. That project has been one of my favorite writing projects, and I hope it will eventually be published.
Q: What advice would you give to other kids who want to be published?
A.B.: I have realized that you really shouldn’t doubt yourself. Many people don’t think they can actually be published, but that is a myth. Try to use whatever talents you have and do your best, no matter what. Learn a lot. If you are writing, read and write. If you are illustrating, examine other illustrations and draw. For whatever you want to do, learn and take action.
Q: Where can people go to learn more about Aah! Blown Away, Crash!: An Alphabet Misadventure and your journal?
A.B.: Since I am not technically allowed to have my own website until I am thirteen, the best place to contact me or learn more about Aah! Blown Away, Crash! and the journal my sister and I created is my mom’s website. You can visit www.brigittebrulz.com under the Books and Journals tabs for more information. I also helped my mom create a teacher’s guide and other fun extras to go along with Aah! Blown Away, Crash!, which are available on her website under the Fun Extras tab.
Thank you, Alyssa, for showing others it is possible to be published even at such a young age!
Alyssa Brulz is a 12-year-old homeschooled student who knows the alphabet in English and in French. She used a computer program to create all of the illustrations for Aah! Blown Away, Crash!: An Alphabet Misadventure, which is her first published picture book.
Brigitte Brulz is a homeschooling mom, author, journal creator, and freelance writer. She offers free coloring pages, activity ideas, and more information on her website at www.brigittebrulz.com.
Thank you so much Alyssa and Brigitte! Your interview is sure to be an inspiration to kids everywhere who like to write and make art and who’d love to share their stories with the world.
Title: Will You Be Friends with Me?
Author: Kathleen Long Bostrom
Illustrator: Jo de Ruiter
Release Date: July 7, 2020
Format: Board Book
Summary: Celebrate the differences that make life richer and more interesting with this inclusive board book about a budding friendship.
Making friends is something all children do, but sometimes it can feel scary. They might worry that no one will like them or that they are too different to find a friend. In this sweet board book, the narrator lists all the ways children can be different from a prospective friend: “I wake early. You sleep late. My hair’s curly. Yours is straight. I say, ‘Now!’ You say, ‘Wait?’ Will you be friends with me?” Instead of worrying that these differences will make friendship impossible, the narrator decides that: “We’re all different. That’s okay! Life is much more fun that way.” Perfect for children heading to school or any child in a new situation trying to make friends, this encouraging book reassures readers that diversity is what makes friendship–and life–so interesting.
Author’s Site: www.kathleenlongbostrom.com
Do you have a children’s picture book coming out soon? I’d love to wish it a Happy Book Birthday here on Frog on a Blog! CLICK for more information.
Please welcome author Carolyn Leiloglou to Frog on a Blog! Carolyn’s debut picture book Library’s Most Wanted was just released in May by Pelican Publishing. As a public library employee for nearly thirteen years now, I’m a huge library supporter. During this uncertain time, with many libraries still closed, including my workplace, props go out to my coworkers for all the hard work they’ve done to bring library services to the community via digital means. Just because the building is closed, doesn’t mean the library’s commitment to the people it serves has been shut down.
But I’m not the only one who loves libraries. It’s clear that Carolyn loves them too! Let’s hear from her about how her library love has grown over the years.
I have a surprising admission. Even though I’m an author and my debut picture book, Library’s Most Wanted, is about libraries… I didn’t grow up a library patron.
I know, I know. You thought it was mandatory for all authors to spend their childhoods roaming the stacks at their local public library. It sounds very idyllic, but, alas, that was not my childhood.
I remember my mom taking me to the library once in fifth grade for a report on Vincent van Gogh. I’m sure we must have gone other times, but it was rare. More often, my mom would take us to a bookstore, allowing us to choose a book. I suppose that was easier than having to remember due dates or deal with library fines. As a mom of four book-misplacing kids, I can attest that it was likely cheaper.
But my relationship to the library changed in fourth grade. My classroom was right next to the school library, which we visited frequently. This was where I first found The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, which led to a lifelong love of fantasy. This was also the year I began writing my first novel, inspired by Redwall, one of my bookstore-trip selections.
It wasn’t until I had my own children that I became a regular library user. I’m fortunate to live in a large city that has a wonderful public library system. They are always trying to innovate and put together great programs, especially ones geared toward getting kids interested in reading and learning.
So when I started taking my own young kids to the library, I discovered this wealth of wonderful picture books I never knew existed. I had always wanted to write, and I assumed I’d write fantasy novels. But now that I was reading one picture book after another to my children, something magical happened. I started to think I could write them too.
Of course. What parent hasn’t thought that? And like most parents who have tried to write their own picture books, my first attempts were clumsy at best.
But I kept having kids (four total), and I kept reading picture books. And my wonderful library, with its consistently updated collection, allowed me to absorb the essence of what a picture book should be.
In fact, while books on writing craft are helpful, there’s nothing that can compare to the education that reading and rereading hundreds of picture books can give.
For years, we have had a library day—a day of the week where going to the library is part of our routine. We return books we’ve finished, pick up new books—I almost always have something on hold—and my kids roam the aisles, pulling random books off the shelves, looking for that next book that will capture their imagination.
And just like the library inspired me to write, I’ve seen that tendency sprout in my children. One of them writes daily. Another draws his own comics. The younger ones write stories and picture books. And because they’re constantly reading, they too, are getting an education in writing.
Right now—March 2020 when I’m writing this—we are living in an uncertain time. Because of the coronavirus outbreak, many libraries have temporarily closed their doors. But despite that, libraries continue to innovate as resources for their communities. Some libraries are offering no-contact, walk-up hold pick-ups. Others have abolished due dates and fines during this crisis. My own library has made it easier than ever to get a digital library card to check out audio and ebooks.
Having a public library is a gift that I don’t want to take for granted. Now more than ever.
Carolyn Leiloglou writes poems and stories for children which have been published in Clubhouse Jr., Ladybug, and Wildflowers. She is the author of the Noah Green Junior Zookeeper series, and her debut picture book, Library’s Most Wanted, released May 2020. You can find her on her blog, housefullofbookworms.com, where she reviews her favorite children’s books each month.
Hooray, it’s Giveaway time!
Carolyn Leiloglou and Pelican Publishing are giving away a copy of Library’s Most Wanted to one lucky commenter. Just leave a comment on this post by July 19, 2020 and you’ll be entered to win this beautiful picture book! A winner will be chosen randomly and notified on July 20, 2020. Contest open to U.S. residents only.
Hey, everyone! Are you looking for something for your kids to do for the summer? Check your local library’s website. Summer Reading Programs are going on now, all around the United States, even if your library is closed, because a lot of it can be accessed online. Your kids can enjoy entertaining and educational programming, crafts, and storytimes, as well as earn prizes for all the books they read. Take a look!
What is a picture book? So many things! It’s a window to the world, a mirror in which to see oneself, a mini art gallery, a door that leads to exploration, a tool for together time, a gateway to literacy, a generator of joy, even an inspiration for thought and creativity, and so much more.
Though I could argue that picture books are for everyone, that’s a post for another day. Because, first and foremost, picture books are for kids. In the midst of so much going on in our country and across the world right now–protests, civil unrest, the pandemic, and natural disasters–let’s not forget the children.
Note to authors and illustrators, books hold a lot of power. That’s something we don’t think about very often. But think about it now. If children see themselves reflected in the pages of a book, that means something. That tells the child, hey, you know what, you matter. All children deserve that.
To quote children’s author Jarrett Lerner from a recent Facebook post (https://www.facebook.com/jarrett.lerner), “We need to keep working for children’s literature that reflects, honors, and celebrates the lives of ALL young people.“
Years ago, there was a psychologist (I wish I could remember her name.) who said something like this: When children are born, they are blank slates. Everything they experience in their lives is written on the slate of who they are and affects who they will become. That idea has always stuck with me, and I try to keep it in the back of my mind when I write picture book stories. Good stories, both fictional and true, are important.
So, today, I’m sharing picture books that feature black children. When your libraries reopen, seek out these beautiful books and share them with your kids. Many libraries offer eBooks, too. Check your library’s website or call them to see how you can access their digital collection. Then browse the picture books there to discover more wonderful titles like these.
And Remember, Kids, You Matter!
Two of these lovely picture books were illustrated by the same artist. Can you tell which ones by just looking at the cover art?
Title: EVERYONE LOVES A PARADE!*
Author: Andrea Denish
Illustrator: Guilherme Franco
Publisher/Year: Boyds Mills Press/2020
I haven’t done a book review in a while, but with the sun shining, birds singing, kids playing outside, and the scent of spring in the air, I feel like celebrating. What better way to celebrate than to share a picture book that’s all about parades! Parades really are the epitome of celebrations, after all.
Author Andrea Denish’s brand new picture book EVERYONE LOVES A PARADE!*, officially due out on April 28, features nine of America’s most popular parades, including the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Tournament of Roses Parade.
Andrea’s fun rhyming text, combined with illustrator Guilherme Franco’s expressive and colorful art, makes this book a joy to read and share with the little parade enthusiasts in your household. Back matter offers more information about each parade featured, such as the fact that St. Patrick’s Day Parades in Boston and New York are the oldest parades in America, dating back to the 1700s, and that Chicago held the first official Pride Parade in 1970.
Reading about parades takes me back to my childhood home in Canastota, NY. Every year, my little hometown holds a Memorial Day Parade. My house happened to be on the parade route, which was the main street through town. We used to sit on our front porch, ready to watch the parade go by. But, the parade was so small that if you happened to run inside for a minute, you were likely to miss it.
There’s another parade that takes place in Canastota every summer, and that’s the Boxing Hall of Fame Parade or Parade of Champions, which is part of a days-long celebration of boxing (Canastota was the home of professional boxer Carmen Basilio), and ends with an induction ceremony on the last day. The festivities usually attract several boxing celebrities.
No conversation about books and parades would be complete without mentioning the Oz-Stravaganza! Parade, held in another little town (just 6 miles west of Canastota), Chittenango, NY. This town holds a weekend-long celebration every year, including the parade, to celebrate Oz creator L. Frank Baum, who was born there.
If you like parades and picture books, then I highly recommend you pick up a copy of EVERYONE LOVES A PARADE!* It is, in itself, a celebration of one of the most perfect examples of celebrations, the parade! 🙂
P.S. Did you notice the little asterisk at the end of the title? What could it mean? Read the book to find out. 😉
F&G provided by publisher
Kid’s book author, Brooke Van Sickle, has just launched her own publishing house and it’s pretty remarkable. BiblioKid Publishing is the children’s book publisher that donates 50% of its profits back to help fund literacy programs at low-income schools.
Brooke sat down to discuss the inspiration behind this cause and to let us know more about what to expect from BiblioKid Publishing in 2020 and years to come. Read all about it below.
Tell us a little about BiblioKid Publishing.
BiblioKid Publishing is a children’s book publisher who donates 50% of its profits to help fund literacy and reading programs at low-income schools. Right now, that’s through two national charities, Pencils for Promise and First Book, but we will eventually venture into more local and individual school fundraising opportunities.
Because we’re a huge advocate for a love of reading and education, BiblioKid likes to focus on that same purpose in our books. Our picture books always include humor and heart for the reader, and if there’s a learning component or moral, that comes second. Our mission is to always bring a quality book that kids will love first.
What made you want to start this company?
I’ve always been a proponent of education because I believe it’s the axis that leads us to chase our dreams and become successful. However, it wasn’t until I was substitute teaching for inner-city schools that I realized the great need for kids to have access to books and feel empowered to want to read.
And with education being the first thing that tends to be cut from government budgets, it takes people giving to these places to help keep them funded. I wanted to be one of those to give back to education, particularly through reading initiatives, and this was the best way to do that. With a traditional publisher, my royalties would have been too minuscule to have that opportunity.
What can we expect first from BiblioKid Publishing?
Our first book sets sail on February 25th called Pirates Stuck at ‘C’. This alphabet picture book is about a crew of pirates that find the perfect island for a treasure hunt. (Or so they think!) But as they start searching, all sorts of mishaps happen.
Daryll’s in deep water, Killian’s tangled in kelp, and Larry’s got a lobster clamped to his toe. And none of the pirates are having any luck finding treasure.
It should be a fun read for kids and parents to read together. Plus, there’s a free classroom guide for teachers to incorporate the book into their lesson plan.
Do you have any other books coming in 2020 or after?
Yes! We just announced the next book, Humans In-Training, which comes out in June about a puppy named Buster who has to train his humans. The illustrator, Stephanie Vanderpol has been creating some amazing scenes for this story, so I’m really excited for everyone to see it.
And the final picture book in 2020 will come out in September called Together in Our Castle. This is a touching friendship story that will give you all the feels. Plus, we’ve already got a line-up in 2021 of 4 new picture books and plan to open it up to even more authors, too.
If an author wants to submit to you, how would they go about that?
Great question! On the site, there’s a tab with our submission requirements. We’re always looking for children’s book illustrators and should open up to authors by 2021. The best place to stay informed when submissions open up is through my email list. (Plus, you’ll get lots of tips on how to write and publish a kid’s book!) Get signed up here and I’ll even give you my free “How to Write a Kid’s Book” guide.
Thank you so much for reading. To learn more about BiblioKid Publishing, visit their website here. You can also pre-order the picture book Pirates Stuck at ‘C’ before it debuts on February 25th and 50% of the profits will be donated back to help fund low-income schools.
Brooke Van Sickle is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) and Regional Webmaster for the Iowa-SCBWI region. She’s also a member of the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) and Midwest Independent Publishers Association (MiPa).
PIRATES STUCK AT “C”, published by BiblioKid Publishing, is Brooke Van Sickle’s debut picture book. She also has 2 more books expected in 2020. When not writing her own books, Brooke teaches other aspiring writers how to write and publish kid’s books at www.journeytokidlit.com.
Learn more about her on her website www.brookevansickle.com and connect with her on social @authorbrookevs.
Time For A Giveaway!
Brooke Van Sickle is generously giving away a hardcover, signed copy of her debut picture book PIRATES STUCK AT “C” to one lucky person who comments on this post by February 29th! If you share this post on social media, let us know in the comments to earn an additional chance to win.
The winner will be chosen randomly. Open to U.S. residents only.
These recent picture books couldn’t be more different in story or art style, and each one is worth checking out!
Which picture books were checked out most often from the Community Library of DeWitt and Jamesville in 2019?
There was a tie for the top spot between two wonderful stand-alone titles! That’s right, a movie or TV tie-in did not take the top spot this year! Shocking, I know! But also pretty awesome!
The Library’s top circulating books were The Color Monster : A Story About Emotions and Sophie Johnson : Unicorn Expert. Both circulated 20 times. This may seem like a small number, but when you consider that each book may be checked out for up to 3 weeks (21 days), that 20 times means the top books were checked out over and over for the entire year!
Circulated 20 Times:
Of course, there are a couple of movie and TV tie-ins in the Top 10. Paw Patrol is on the list again this year with a book that made the list last year, and, in fact, Real Rescue Dogs circulated one time more this year than last.
And Llama Llama–from the Netflix series, not the book series–is on the list as well.
The rest of the Top 10 spotlights a terrific mix of picture books featuring ever-popular characters, such as penguins, trucks, and dinosaurs. Two surprising, but well deserving, titles made the list too: Tomie dePaola’s Quiet and Brian Lies’ The Rough Patch. Check out all of the covers below.
Circulated 19 Times:
Circulated 18 Times:
Circulated 17 Times:
What are the top circulating picture books at your local library?
Take a look at the top circulating picture books at the Community Library of DeWitt & Jamesville in prior years:
I love picture books about dogs (I think I’ve mentioned that a time or two), so I’m super pleased to welcome author/illustrator Rob Biddulph to Frog on a Blog! Rob’s new picture book Odd Dog Out was just released December 3 by HarperCollins. Odd Dog Out features an adorable little dog who doesn’t feel like she belongs, so she sets off on a journey to find her place in the world. Rob’s stopped by today to share five literary dogs who have made an impact on his life.
Before we get to that, allow me to share three of my favorite dogs, one real, one literary, and one loved since childhood: my precious dog Java, Happy (from my book The Peddler’s Bed, illustrated by Bong Redila), and Sunshine (my stuffed dog in overalls, whom I received for Christmas when I was 7, and still have).
Now, let’s hear from Rob Biddulph, author and illustrator of Odd Dog Out!
5 Terrific Dogs In Children’s Books
by Rob Biddulph
Dingo Dog – Richard Scarry
Growing up, I loved reading anything and everything by Richard Scarry. His work has directly influenced me many times, particularly when I was working on Odd Dog Out. I tried really hard to cram as much detail into my artwork as he did in his. I love the idea that readers might spot something on the ninth or tenth read that they hadn’t noticed before. I would love trying to spot Dingo Dog, my favourite of his characters, as he zoomed through the pages of Storybook Dictionary or What Do People Do All Day?. He would always wear his white cowboy hat and drive his smart red sports car with sharks teeth painted on the front. I thought he was the coolest!
Snoopy – Charles M Schultz
One of my all-time favourites. He was, in turn, funny, selfish, wise, crazy and reckless. But, in my eyes, he was always loveable. I particularly liked his British World War I flying ace persona. I had a plush version of Snoopy that would sleep in my bed with me every night. In fact, I think I need to go up into my attic and see if I can find him. He must be lonely…
Odie – Jim Davis
I spent a large proportion of my childhood copying Jim Davis’s drawings of Garfield, Odie and Jon. I can still draw them perfectly now. When I speak to children on my book tours, I always advise them to have a go at copying their favourite cartoon characters from comic books or newspapers. Then I usually have to explain what a ‘newspaper’ is (!) but they eventually get the idea. I think that by working out how someone else draws a cat or a dog, it can really help when it comes to inventing your own characters. I always particularly enjoyed drawing Odie. That tongue! He’s just so loveable.
Dogger – Shirley Hughes
Dogger, the story of a little boy who loses his beloved toy dog at the school fair, is the first book I ever remember reading. In many ways, it has defined the art of storytelling for me ever since. I know from experience how difficult it is to squeeze a complete story arc into just twenty-eight pages, but Shirley Hughes somehow manages to take us on a journey through a huge range of emotions: happiness, excitement, worry, sadness and, ultimately, exhilaration. Rarely has the end of a story felt so satisfying. She also manages to throw in an element of mis-direction (we’re really not overly thrilled when Bella wins the bear) and hide a few visual clues as to what is going to happen within her wonderfully evocative illustrations. This makes the second read a very different experience to the first – something that is essential in a picture book that will, in all probability, be read night after night.
Fang – J K Rowling
Has there ever been a dog less appropriately named than this gentle giant? Well, actually, yes there has. Fluffy, the three-headed chap guarding the trapdoor leading to the underground chamber where the Philosopher’s (Sorcerer’s) Stone was hidden. I would have liked to have rehomed Fluffy. I think he just needed some love and affection.
After taking the world by storm with his first two picture books (Blown Away and The Grizzly Bear Who Lost His GRRRRR!), Rob Biddulph decided to blaze his own trail and is now a full-time author and illustrator. Rob Biddulph was the award-winning art director of Observer magazine.
When not working doggedly on creating his characters, he makes up stories for his three daughters and draws pictures to go with them. He lives and works in London, and his very first book, Blown Away, won the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize.
Thank you so much, Rob!
Happy Holidays everyone! And remember, picture books, such as Odd Dog Out, would make great Christmas gifts for the little ones on your list this year, especially dog lovers!