Book review & Giveaway: Pick a Pup

I am so thrilled to be offering a Picture Book Giveaway today!

And a signed picture book at that. Yahoo!

Pick a Pup is brand new on the shelves from Simon & Schuster. A story about a little boy who is desperately trying to pick just the right dog. What kind do you choose? There are so many options! And in the end, the little boy finds just the right one...and how he does is just so charming.

My kids loved this book. A book with every kind of dog in it? A book about a little boy getting to choose any one? Bingo. And the illustrations are so fresh and whimsical. Retro even, which gives this book a real classic feel without being too stingy.

Jed Henry is a name you want to start paying attention to. This is actually his first illustrated picture book. And coming from someone who has illustrated a picture book (me!) that is pretty amazing. He's done such a wonderful job. This spread is my favorite:

He just illustrated a book that came out over Christmas that you may have seen, illustrated for none other than Mike Huckabee. And he has a few others up his sleeve too.

Jed happens to live in my same town, which is a huge bonus because I got him to sign my very own copy that I am giving away. (Don't worry, I bought myself a second one since my children actually started to cry when I told them I was going to give it to some one else). When my kids met Jed, they were so tickled. Have your kids ever had the chance to have one of their books signed by the author or illustrator? There is such a sense of magic when they do. My children get to see the process of book making because they are in the same room with me when I illustrate. But when Jed came over, and they got to meet the "owner" (as my 5 year old calls authors/illustrators) they get all excited. The next day after meeting Jed was full of drawing and writing books of their own at the kitchen table...having just been inspired by a real live illustrator coming to the house.

You want a signed copy? Just leave a comment below.

Here’s how you enter:

  • Leave a comment below
  • Make sure to enter in your email where it promts you so that I can send you a note when you win
  • Giveaway ends Sunday at 10pm EST
  • Winner will be sent this signed copy of Pick a Pup.

Good luck!

{COMMENTS CLOSED. Julie # 8 is our random winner! Congrats!)

Books You'll Love: Just Being Audrey

I mentioned a while ago that Julia Denos was coming out with a new book, Just Being Audrey. And it was released this week! I was so happy to get my copy in the mail. How sweet to have a picture book about Audrey's childhood, growing up years and beautiful life. She really was such a beautiful person and brought so much joy to the world we live in. I've loved her since my first time seeing "My Fair Lady." And then my next film I think I saw was "Wait Until Dark." Even as a child I was hooked.

Just Being Audrey takes a spin on her life that we often don't think about. We tend to think of Audrey Hepburn as the "je ne sais quois" icon of the 60's that swept our hearts away on her cruiser bicycle wearing Wayfarer sunglasses and her gorgeous smile. But this book takes you into her life deeper than that.  The story takes you to her childhood upbringing during WWII, where her family directly felt the affects of the war. She wanted so badly to be a dancer, but she was too tall, her neck was too long and her body wasn't shaped right. All the things that made her awkward in a leotard were the very things that made her delightful as an actress. The book focuses a great deal on Audrey's "becoming" and how she lived and loved throughout her life.

And of course, the illustrations are just delightful, capturing Audrey Hepburns free heart and whimical character.

You can view the video trailer here:


2011 Caldecott

It's official! The 2011 Caldecott Winner is announced!

I get so excited about this. Since I've completed my own offering to the world of children's books, I KNOW how much goes into these books. I've always been a sucker for a good picture book, and so it's no wonder that my heart literally skipped a beat when the winner was announced! I got this book when it first hit the shelves. It spoke to me immediately. I just love it! So here it is:

A Sick Day for Amos McGee

Oh I am so thrilled!

For a few reasons:

First, I absolutely love her style. LOVE. LOVE. LOVE.

Second, it's about old people and animals. I love old people. And I love animals. Especially elephants.

Third. Because it's about old people and animals, it's rather sentimental.

Fourth, this is her first (yes...gasp now) picture book she's illustrated!


Synopsis from School Library Journal:

Amos McGee, an elderly man who works at the zoo, finds time each day for five special friends. With empathy and understanding he gives the elephant, tortoise, penguin, rhinoceros, and owl the attention they need. One morning, Amos wakes up with a bad cold and stays home in bed. His friends wait patiently and then leave the zoo to visit him. Their trip mirrors his daily bus ride to the zoo and spans three nearly wordless spreads. Amos, sitting up in bed, clasps his hands in delight when his friends arrive. The elephant plays chess with him, and the tortoise plays hide-and-seek. The penguin keeps Amos's feet warm, while the rhinoceros offers a handkerchief when Amos sneezes. They all share a pot of tea. Then the owl, knowing that Amos is afraid of the dark, reads a bedtime story as the other animals listen. They all sleep in Amos's room the rest of the night.

{images from 36 pages}

I just love this book. It's so sweet, and the illustrations so quiet and tender. My children love it too, and laugh so tenderly at the funny illustrations.

So...go out and grab it before it's medaled, or wait a month and you'll get it with a big gold sticker!

Once again, so inspired. It's such an amazing achievement...and for her first book...I just still can't get over it.

Happy week everyone!!

Giveaway: Christmas is Here

Oh I am so excited for this giveaway!

Horray for another SIGNED Picture book from the lovely Lauren Castillo!

I mentioned this book last month as a new favorite Christmas book. Her work is so charming and simple and wonderful. I can't say I've ever come across another illustrator like her.

A little about Lauren: She graduated from Maryland Institute College of Art in 2003 and moved to Manhattan straight away. She knocked on some doors, and landed her first picture book (and my favorite of hers, actually) What Happens on Wednesdays. She now lives in Brooklyn, NY and is illustrating up a storm with CHRISTMAS IS HERE as her latest feature.

I first fell in love with her work when I noticed her buildings and cityscapes. Lauren has a way with illustrating architecture. It's almost as though the buildings come alive. These are some of my favorites:

And here are some winter scenes that I just love too!

So, back to Christmas is Here: I was so happy when I came across this Christmas Picture book, with text right from the Bible. What more do you need than that! You'll love this sweet interpretation of the Nativity story...and we love it too!

Lauren actually will be going to Romania very, very soon and will be giving 300 free copies of this book to orphan children along with her church group. It makes me so happy to imagine those children with an illustrated copy of the Nativity all of their own!

So when Lauren was willing to send me TWO signed copies of her books to giveaway, I was thrilled! tempted to keep one myself. But, 'tis the Christmas Season, and I'm feeling rather generous:) That, and my children have already loved up a copy of their own!

So, for the giveaway?

Giveaway instructions:

  • leave a comment making sure to enter your name and email where it asks you to
  • comments will be closed on Sunday Dec. 12th at Midnight EST
  • TWO winners will be chosen to receive an autographed copy of CHRISTMAS IS HERE
  • Winners will be contacted via email
  • I'll ship them out Tuesday the 13th to make sure you get them for Christmas!

Best of luck!

Children's Book Advent Calendar

I've been wanting to do this advent calendar for years...and I finally get to do it!  This will be our first Christmas home since having children, and I've wanted to have this be a family tradition of ours since I saw this idea from a neighbor of mine years back.

Children's Picture Book Advent Calendar: What is it?

24 Christmas Picture Books, all wrapped up and marked for each day leading up until Christmas. This way, we will be reading one Christmas story a night!

Now don't panic...getting 24 Christmas Books isn't as hard as it looks. When you can check out Christmas books from the Library for 3 weeks at a time, it makes it rather may need to renew one time in there, but it still makes for a lovely tradition! And inexpensive too!

And Book the Bible, so that lessens the load a bit. But you'd be surprised how many Christmas books you already have.  Really, I am sure you have more than you think you do. I think books on winter can even count too... And don't forget any Christmas Anthologies with short stories in there too.

Here's a list of a few of mine in there:

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

I'll Be Home For Christmas

The Polar Express

The 12 Prayers of Christmas

Christmas In the Manger

Christmas is Here

Christmas Day in the Morning

Snowmen at Christmas

A Wish to be a Christmas Tree

God Gave us Christmas

Who is Coming to Our House?

Olive, the Other Reindeer

Oh there are SO many Christmas books that I want to get my hands on....I have so many favorites that I don't even have own yet! But this year, most of the books in our Advent Calender we DO own (thanks to the need to have a few books for "research" when working on my book) but even the children, these books will be like new since they are all wrapped up.

These books are now in our open bookcase in the basement (thus the really lousy photo...sorry!) But this way, they are in plain visibility. Another good place is the hearth of the fireplace...or in your child's bedroom.

Anyways...I wanted to share in case anyone needed a good idea for an advent calendar this year. And the best part? It's either "rented" or a good reason to add to your already established Christmas collection.

Have any of you ever tried this one? It's a new tradition for us this year, and I think this one is here to stay!

Happy Christmas!



P.S. And don't forget! The Cyber Monday and Tuesday Sale in the shop ends tonight at midnight!

Books You'll Love: Christmas is Here

Ok! It's time to start reviewing Christmas Picture books! I can't wait. We have LOTS around here, and I have to tell you about my new favorite.

Just out this year, Christmas is Here is illustrated by one of my new favorite illustrators, Lauren Castillo. Maybe you've seen some other books of hers. This book is a favorite in our house. Her style is so fresh and different than anything else we have in the house, which is so attractive to me. My kids love her books, and will look at her illustrations so closely. Though they are loose and naive in a sense, the illustrations almost seem to move and come alive. I love it.

So, Christmas Is Here is super special because it is the text from the Bible! Straight from Luke, this is the story that most families read every night on Christmas Eve as they are acting out the nativity. I have never realized up until this point, that I've never seen a picture book depict the Biblical text before! And only the add-ins, or summaries. The first few pages are wordless, because it starts with a family walking past a live nativity, and the rest is the little boy imagining the first Christmas as it is being read aloud to him. So precious.

So, I see a Christmas Tradition starting: Reading this book at Christmas around the tree. We're starting our Christmas reading on the 1st, and I am so happy this is part of our collection!

This is a new favorite, because it's the story that we all know and share. It's also really dear to me, because the book that I illustrated, Christmas Goodnight coming NEXT Christmas, has some similarities that were fun to notice too.

You can get Lauren's book here .

And let me mention too, that Lauren is taking a trip  to Romania where she is giving away 500 books to orphan children this Christmas. It's even being translated in Romanian! But to help with the funds, Lauren is donating 100% of her ETSY shop sales to the cause. You can visit her lovely site here, and know that for every print you get, a child will be getting a picture book of the biblical story of Christmas!

Thanks Lauren for this wonderful book! Hope you all enjoy.

Giveaway: Dotty by Julia Denos

Do you remember the Picture Book post I did a while back about Dotty? It was I think the most popular post of that  month, and I had so many of you email me thanking me for the review, as well as people who mentioned that they loved it just as much and went out and bought it. Horray! I love that. Especially as an illustrator myself, I love sharing wonderful experiences that picture books offer!

So I thought to myself, I am just going to contact Julia (the illustrator) and see if I can't do a giveaway? What the heck...the internet is a nice and friendly world right?...and it doesn't hurt to ask.

Well, a few days after asking about it,  I got this sweet package in the mail with TWO autographed books complete with sketch of Dotty and set of 4 stickers. AH! I need to tell you that if I wasn't an honest person, I would be keeping them for myself!!! These are so precious! Really...this is one of my new favorite pictures books.

Dotty is the story of Ida who goes to first day of school with her imaginary friend Dotty. But it's just as well, since the rest of her class has imaginary friends too. As the year wears on, Ida realizes that the rest of the kids have "grown up" and think imaginary friends are for babies, and Ida is put in a tough spot because she still has Dotty. This picture book explores the emotions and playfulness of children with big imaginations, and has a VERY satisfying ending. You can read  more of my review here.

Julia is a darling person. I've follwed her blog for a while, and I think you'll just fall in love with her work! She's working on some really great books right now, and I can't wait to get hands on all of them.

Here's a little about her:

Julia is a recently married illustrator living in Quincy, Massachusetts just outside of Boston where she graduated with a B.F.A. in illustration from the Art institute of Boston at Lesley. She worked in a flower shop, followed by a children's bookstore where she was working when she landed her first job in 2007. Since then, she's illustrated 8 books for children, with several more on the way. Her 8th book, coming out in Janury looks delightful: what a dream to illustrate a Picture book on Audrey Hepburn!! So jealous.

She has a darling studio apt in Quincy which is gorgeous, with plenty of natural light!

She is just a darling person, and I've been so happy to get to know the person behind the books that my children love so much. You can get to know her a lot better here on this wonderfully thorough interview. Thanks so much Julia for this great giveaway!

Giveaway instructions:

  • leave a comment making sure to enter your name and email where it asks you to
  • comments will be closed on Sunday Nov. 7th at Midnight EST
  • TWO winners will be chosen to receive an autographed copy of DOTTY
  • Winners will be contacted via email

Best of luck!


Books You'll Love: Only a Witch Can Fly

Good morning!

I bring you a picture book I love...and know you will too. Taeeun Yoo, one of my favorite up and coming illustrators, illustrated this charming book: Only a Witch Can Fly. Just look:

It's just a charming halloween book about a young witch who desperately wants to fly, but doesn't know how.

Here's an excerpt:

If you were a witch, who had not yet flown

And the dark night sky held a round yellow moon,

and her moon shown her light on the silent broom

and the dark black cat beside you croaned, Soar,

would you too begin to cry,

because your longing to fly?

Only a witch can fly.

So perfect for Halloween! This book was nominated as one of the Top Ten Illustrated Books of 2009. And for a good reason. It's gorgeous!

This time of year has such wonderful Halloween Reads. I will try and post more soon. But this one is at the top of my list for sure! Enjoy!

**And just to let you know, this blog is getting a major fall cleaning and redo. So, it may be a little messy this week as we shift things around. Stay tuned!