How to publish for the CCSS

Ha ha, not really. I hope everybody is getting some use out of our latest newsletter, Nonfiction Notes from the Horn Book. I’ve been thinking about NF a lot since ALA, where I spent two solid days talking to publishers about what they were planning for the coming year(s). Along with inflicting upon the world […]

The Picture Book as an Act of Mischief

Strega Nona by Tomie dePaola

Poet Theodore Roethke said that poetry was an act of mischief. I’ve always liked that. But to my mind, even more than poetry it is the picture book that is truly an act of mischief. Mischief: “Playful misbehavior or troublemaking, especially in children.” “Playfulness that is intended to tease, or mock or to create trouble.” […]

Face Out: Picture Book Covers

Puss in Boots

A recent conversation about the current state of the picture book soon came around to the subject of book jackets. A senior art director in the group noted mournfully that as jacket designs have increasingly become the province of sales and marketing teams, covers have grown less representative of the books they trumpet. The disconnect […]

Making Picture Books: The Words

zolotow_my grandson lew

The beginning of a picture book comes before the pictures. In Margaret Wise Brown’s beautiful Goodnight Moon, it was the magic of her words, their simplicity and the music in them, that made Clement Hurd’s now-famous visual interpretation possible. Unless the writer is also an illustrator, the writing always comes first. Many fine writers can […]

Making Picture Books: The Pictures

cooney_miss rumphius

I don’t know exactly how I came to be an illustrator of books. Certainly much art throughout the ages has been in the form of illustration, although not necessarily in books. Since I was very little, I intended to be an artist of some sort. As I grew older, I wanted also a liberal-arts education […]

Design Matters

sciesz_hen

by Jon Scieszka Designed by Molly Leach [original print version] Design is an essential part of any picture book. It is the first aspect of a book that a reader judges. It is the framework for the text and illustration. It is the subtle weave of words and pictures that allows both to tell one […]

Over and Over

zolotow_overandover_222x300

“Once there was a little girl who didn’t understand about time.” So, with deceptive simplicity — for who, of any age, does understand time? — did my mother, Charlotte Zolotow, begin her book Over and Over, first published in 1957. As I write these words today, Charlotte is ninety-seven and I am fifty-nine. I see […]

Studio Views: Family Albums

Tools--Film

Photographing children is both exhilarating and exhausting. When I’m faced with a toddler’s classic meltdown, I wonder why I base my livelihood and sense of personal success on the whims of two- and three-year-olds. I wonder how I can capture natural, appealing photos in spite of runny noses, low blood sugar, and Barney. Hey, who […]

Studio Views: My Next Medium

Tools--Chris

My favorite medium, my ideal medium, is the one I haven’t used yet. Or, maybe, it’s the one that I’m contemplating using, toying with using, in my next book, Lordy! I think to myself, Lordy!, in my next book, I’m going to CUT LOOSE! In my next book. With my next medium. See, the thing […]

Studio Views: The Sculptural Quality

Tools--Etch

Etching in a nutshell: a polished copper plate is coated with a thin layer of wax (a ground). A sharp metal stylus (an etching needle) is used to scratch lines through the ground exposing the copper. Acid eats (etches) the lines down into the plate. The etched lines are filled with ink, and, under tremendous […]