I'm so excited that I've finally managed to combine my teaching picture book reviews and other blog content here. As you can see my website is somewhat massive as I'm a bit of an overachiever and a compulsive creative. Over time I'll go back and copy some of the choicest blog bits here. Meanwhile, I'm going to start with some of my favorite picture book teaching reviews. I intend to include both teaching reviews and art tips here so do come on back and tell your friends!
Here's the text from the old site
I've been working really hard editing videos of people like Andrea Tompa from Candlewick Press and Brett Duquette from Sterling Publishing, Ashley Wolff and Yuyi Morales, Mary Kole and other picture book experts who I interviewd with specific questions related to course content for the Picture Book Academy's writing and selling children's picture books e-course. There are still some spaces left (course starts August 27th) so if you have a picture book in you somewhere or would like to learn a ton more about picture books in a fun environment - hurry on over to....
www.picturebookacademy.com before it's too late.
And now for today's Monday's with Mira Teaching Picture Books Review of Lucy Cousins' Hooray for Fish
Lucy Cousins is brilliant at writing and illustrating for very young children. In this video we explore her book Hooray for Fish where Lucy works her magic teaching young children language skills and the delights of the imagination while entertaining them with yummy lyrical language choices and bold graphic art. I hope you like it as much as I did.
And today's picture book is from the ever wonderful Elisa Kleven. Sun Bread, as you will see, is a type of myth making or creation story and would be especially delightful to read to children on a cold wet day. Just a quick note that I didn't include in the video, although the rhymes are not perfect, the book pretty much is. The reason for this is that Elisa never loses the rhythm or flow in her language so that the words sail along like a good story should. I hope you enjoy. This book is one of my current faves.
Today's pleasurable picture book review revisits the concept of postmodernism in this terrific unusual biography of Abraham Lincoln (and his friend) written by Deborah Hopkinson and illustrated by John Hendrix, published by Schwartz and Wade.
It's a longer story than usual story (and video - biographies usually have more text) but both the text and images are super clever in themselves and in their relationship. I hope you can put aside 15 minutes to sit back and enjoy me mangling a Southern accent with my mid Pacific neither fish nor fowl hybrid Australian/American accent as you learn about this terrific book and what this author and illustrator did to make it so good.
I also wanted to share that it's difficult to write a good publishable picture book biography. They're a hard sell in today's market unless they're done in really unusual and innovative ways as this book is.
Here are some authors who do it very well - Marissa Moss,Jeri Chase Ferris, Lori Mortenson, Kathleen Krull, Pam Muños Ryan, Nikki Giovanni, and Barbara Kerley.
If you have a passion for picture book biographies here are some tips for writing one:
Use an unconventional narrator or point of view.
Make it lyrical or full of fun idioms and vernacular language.
Focus in on one particular grand incident to create a narrative arc of how the hero of the story overcomes obstacles to achieve their greatness (see the Hero's Art Journey)
Find a fascinating character who has contemporary relevance and bring them to life e.g. Steve Jobs or Rigoberta Menchu (Nobel and other big prize winners are good but you could also write about someone really bad too like Joseph Stalin as a bully or some other deeply flawed character).
Here's the title of a Barbara Kerlin story that also acts as a primer on writing biographies - The Extraordinary Mark Twain (According To Susy)
I hope you've enjoyed today's free video review/lesson on picture book writing and illustrating, postmodernism, and biographies. Thank you Deborah and John for your wonderful book. Please share this series with anyone you know who is interested in picture books : )