Thursday, January 29, 2009

Being in the middle is RUFF RUFF RUFF.

Yesterday I received the “proofs” for Middle Child Blues, which means the illustrations are set, glossy on the page, with text in place. No folds or binding. Just flat sheets in a stack. It’s always a bit like Christmas when I get to see the illustrations for the first time. They arrived in a big white Fed-Ex envelope, and I wasn’t expecting them. A nice Wednesday surprise. Here is the illustration for the back cover. It will have the caption, “Being in the middle is rough.” From what I understand, Dave Catrow loves to draw dogs. And he does it so well. The dog in the middle here is a bit of a “star” in the book. He dances the watoosi on more than one occasion.

Tomorrow I get to see the cover image, and I'll be posting it for you to see.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Congratulations to the 2009 ALA Newbery, Caldecott, Printz, King, Geisel, etc. Award Recipients

ALA Awards 2009

John Newbery Medal:

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

John Newbery Honor Books:

The Underneath by Kathi Appelt
The Surrender Tree by Margarita Engle
Savvy by Ingrid Law
After Tupac & D Foster by Jacqueline Woodson

Randolph Caldecott Medal:

The House in the Night illustrated by Beth Krommes

Randolph Caldecott Honor Books:

A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever by Marla Frazee
How I Learned Geography by Uri Shulevitz
A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams by Jen Bryant, illustrated by Melissa Sweet

Coretta Scott King Author Award:

Kadir Nelson, “We Are the Ship”

King Author Honor Books:

Hope Anita Smith, “Keeping the Night Watch
Joyce Carol Thomas, “The Blacker the Berry”
Carole Boston Weatherford, “Becoming Billie Holiday”

Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award:

Floyd Cooper, “The Blacker the Berry”

King Illustrator Honor Books:

Kadir Nelson, “We Are the Ship”
Sean Qualls, “Before John Was a Jazz Giant”
Jerry Pinkney, “The Moon Over Star”

Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Author Award:

Shadra Strickland, illustrator of “Bird”

Michael L. Printz Award:

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

Printz Honor Books:

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Volume II by M.T. Anderson
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
Nation by Terry Pratchett
Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan

Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award:

We Are the Ship by Kadir Nelson

Sibert Honor:

Bodies from the Ice: Melting Glaciers and the Recovery of the Past by James M. Deem
What to do about Alice? By Barbara Kerley

Schneider Family Book Awards:

Young Children: Piano Starts Here: The Young Art Tatum by Robert Andrew Parker
Middle School: Waiting For Normal by Leslie Conner
Teens: Jerk, California by Jonathan Friesen

Mildred L. Batchelder Award:

Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit by Nahoko Uehashi

Batchelder Honor Books:

Garmann’s Summer by Stian Hole
Tiger Moon by Antonia Michaelis

Pura Belpré Author Award:

Margarita Engle for “The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba’s Struggle for Freedom”

Pura Belpré Author Honors:

Francisco Jimenez for “Reaching Out”
Yuvi Morales for “Just in Case”
Lucia Gonzalez for “The Storyteller’s Candle”

Pura Belpré Illustrator Award:

Yuvi Morales for “Just in Case”

Pura Belpré Illustrator Honors:

Rudy Gutierrez for “Papá and Me”
Lulu Delacre for “The Storyteller’s Candle”
Amy Córdova for “What can you do with a Rebozo?”

Alex Awards:

1. City of Thieves by David Henioff
2. The Dragons of Babel by Michael Swanwick
3. Finding Nouf by Zoe Ferraris
4. The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti
5. Just After Sunset by Stephen King
6. Mudbound by Hillary Jordan
7. Over and Under by Todd Tucker
8. The Oxford Project by Stephen G. Bloom
9. Sharp Teeth by Toby Barlow
10. Three Girls and Their Brother by Theresa Rebeck

Odyssey Award (audio books):

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Odyssey Honor (audio books):

Curse of the Blue Tattoo

Elijah of Buxton

I’m Dirty!

Martina the Beautiful Cockroach: A Cuban Folktale


Margaret A. Edwards Award:

Laurie Halse Anderson: “Catalyst,” “Fever 1793,” “Speak”

William C. Morris Award Finalists:

A Curse Dark as Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce
Graceling by Kristin Cashore
Absolute Brightness by James Lecesne
Madapple by Christina Meldrum
Me, The Missing, and the Dead by Jenny Valentine

Morris Award:

A Curse Dark as Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce

May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Award:

Kathleen T. Horning

Laura Ingalls Wilder Award:

Ashley Bryan, “Beautiful Blackbird,” “Dancing Granny,” “Sing to the Sun,” and “Words to My Life’s Song”

Andrew Carnegie Medal:

MARCH ON! The Day My Brother Martin Changed the World

Theodor Seuss Geisel Award:

“Are You Ready to Play Outside?” by Mo Willems

Geisel Honor:

“Chicken Said, ‘Cluck!’” by Judyann Ackerman Grant

“One Boy” by Laura Vacarro Seeger

“Stinky” by Eleanor Davis

“Wolfsnail: A Backyard Predator” by Sarah C. Campbell

Saturday, January 24, 2009

A Fabulous Visit to Syracuse Arts Academy!

Last Tuesday I got to visit Syracuse Arts Academy! Illustrator Will Terry and I were scheduled to do a joint assembly in the morning, then break into workshops throughout the rest of the day. As soon as we arrived there were huge banners with our names, welcoming us to the school. Then in the entry the children had made “books” out of cereal boxes and had created them based on the themes of our books. I was just sick that with all my equipment I had forgotten to bring my camera. Before students filed into the gym, we quickly hooked up my laptop to the school’s projector and got the screen image centered, etc. Then Will and I were introduced, to thunderous applause. Wow, what a treat.

Weeks earlier, Will and I had emailed photos back and forth and created a PowerPoint “How-well-do-you-know-Will-and-Kristyn quiz show.” In the assembly we had the students raise their hands and guess which one of us played piano as a child and which played cello, which one had seven kids, which one was addicted to chocolate (answer: both) and other trivial facts that we hoped would make us a little more personable. Then we talked about how a picture book is made, from both the writer and the illustrator’s perspective.

The rest of the day Will and I were in separate rooms, giving workshop presentations to students and teachers. I focused on the rhythm of my books and had the students use rhythm sticks to find the beat in various types of picture book verse. Then I had them create a “Swamp Symphony” of rhythms to my book, BEDTIME AT THE SWAMP. Some kids were splish-splashers, some were rumba-rumbas, bim-bammers, and BOOMERS, all with instruments that mimicked the chorus sounds. The kids loved the instruments and we had so much fun!

At lunch, we were able to sit at two “special” tables, and kids with all their homework finished entered a drawing to sit with us. I got to sit with about twelve students, and some of my favorite questions or comments were:

“You know how your books are kinda jazzy? Well my cousin’s name is Jasmine.”

“ Will you autograph my backpack?”

“What is your favorite animal?”

“How many years did it take you to write your books?”

“I’m writing my own book, about a walrus.”

I can’t tell you have terrific it was to have a school visit go so wonderfully. It’s due, in most part, to the staff who prepped their students for the event and got them excited. An author (and/or illustrator) visit to a school gets kids enthused about reading. And I’m so lucky to get to be a part of that kind of enthusiasm.

Play the video below to see Will at work. He is SO talented. (Go, Will, GO!)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Stuff Crows Do

I drove home one afternoon and there were some crows in the street in front of our house. We don't see crows around here all that often and it was a little peculiar. They just seemed to be taking a stroll.

This Crow (meaning me) is preparing for an assembly at an arts academy in Syracuse. There's a lot that goes into planning an assembly, like organizing pictures and animations in a PowerPoint presentation, arranging and packing up my rhythm instruments (I have nearly 100), getting my technical gadets ready, etc. Today I was able to puchase a remote control which will advance my PowerPoint slides in the presentation. This has been a problem in the past, when the schools had PowerPoint projectors and I had the laptop, but there was not a remote which would function with it. So I had to position myself next to my laptop and click, which isn't a terrible thing but not the ideal situation. Hopefully everything will run smoothly. I'm very excited to be presenting with illustrator Will Terry, who is extremely talented.

I was also asked to participate in a Young Writers Conference for Elementary School Aged kids in the Nebo school district in March. I've got some little nephews in that district so hopefully I'll get to see them. I've got two all-day assemblies in Ogden in March as well.

I had a lot of communication with my editor from Putnam last week. I was able to see the mechanicals for "Middle Child Blues." Mechanicals is a term for the illustrations layed out with the text in place, which once upon a blue moon was done in a mechanical, taped-up fashion. Now everything is computerized and digital, but the term "mechanical" stuck around. Or so I'm told.

Anyway, it was an absolute joy seeing the text with the pictures. I am thrilled to the core. But there were some little wording changes I needed to make. This has happened so far in all of my books. Even when the text is supposedly finished, there has always been an illustration that didn't exactly jibe with the text. Obviously it's much more involved for the illustrator to repaint an entire picture than it is for me to adjust the text. Still, it takes some time with word tinkering. Once I'm able to figure out a way to adjust the text while still keeping the flow of the rhythm, the book starts to really click.

I also worked with my editor on the "flap" wording, and we discussed a picture and text for the back of the book.

I'm waiting for word on another manuscript I've written, and am doing the "fingers crossed" thing that maybe there's a chance for another sale. We'll see...

My husband is packing his bags. He leaves early this morning to fly to Washington D.C., where he'll be doing security for the Presidential Inaguration. He was given the special assignment to fly out and be on the POTUS protection team. POTUS... The President of the United States.