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Oh happy day! My picture book of poetry on city ecology, HIDDEN CITY, is slated to be published in Spring 2018, and I have sneak peeks to share with all of you!

The talented Amy Schimler-Safford is the illustrator for HIDDEN CITY, and she’s been posting sneak peeks of her work on her blog. (Thank you Amy, for both the sneak peeks and your beautiful art!) So now, I present to you a roundup of her HIDDEN CITY art posts. From what I can tell, this will be a gorgeous book. Thank you so much to our publisher, Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, for making an excellent illustrator-author match.

In the coming days/weeks, I will be giving other updates and some poetry book reviews for Poetry Month. But, right now,  it’s all about the art. Enjoy!

http://amyschimler-safford.blogspot.com/2016/09/hidden-city.html

http://amyschimler-safford.blogspot.com/2016/12/farewell-to-2016.html

http://amyschimler-safford.blogspot.com/2017/03/another-sneak-peek.html

A Book Deal!

It’s official! My board book, tentatively titled STRIPE, SPOT, SQUIGGLE, has been purchased by The Creative Company. I am thrilled that it has found such a wonderful home! STRIPE, SPOT, SQUIGGLE features the lovely art of Miriam Nerlove and lots of sea creatures. Thanks to my agent, Anna Olswanger, who made this book a possibility.

 

Check out the latest issue of Publisher’s Weekly Children’s Bookshelf. There we are, down at the bottom in the Rights Report section! Click here to see the official announcement!

 

28954214OCTOPUSES ONE TO TEN, written by Ellen Jackson and illustrated by Robin Page, is a fun nonfiction book that explores the wonders of my favorite animal… the octopus! The core text is rhyming couplets that count up to ten using octopus facts. The couplets act as teasers to hook the reader’s interest in finding out more– and the fact paragraphs that accompany each couplet are engaging and clear. The backmatter is wonderful, and includes both more facts about octopuses and octopus craft activities.  The illustrations are colorful and  action packed. And, the information in the book is fascinating! Even if you’re already a fan of octopuses, you are likely to learn something new when you read this book.

 

In short, OCTOPUSES ONE TO TEN is a fabulous nonfiction book to read aloud, to give a child who is beginning to read nonfiction on their own, and to add to your library. I hope you find a copy, and enjoy it as much as I do.

Today is a day of worldwide action for #NODAPL in support of the water protectors. The easement to drill will be granted today. Wherever you are in the world, here are a few actions you can take today:

1) If you have an account in a bank that supports the Dakota Access Pipeline, divest! Don’t let your money be part of building the pipeline.

2) Send prayers and light energy to the water protectors. We have been told that they are felt, appreciated, and very much needed at this time.

3) Help support the medics that keep the water protectors safe. We will be sending both natural remedies and money for trauma kits this Friday. To contribute, please send donations to my paypal at sarahgtuttle@yahoo.com , and tell me if you want your money used for trauma kits or natural remedies. Our group has already sent over $7000 worth of donations over the course of 5 shipments to Standing Rock medics. Let’s see how much we can add to that effort this time!

For Poetry Friday today, I wrote my own version of “St. Patrick’s Rune.” (Thanks to Violet Nesdoly for hosting!):

 

On this day and in this hour,

I place a book with all its power,

between myself and the powers of darkness.

 

Here is a book with power:

 

A THOUSAND NIGHTS by E. K. Johnston — A young woman is motivated by love of her sister to survive in the face of a beast that thrives on fear. She is strong, and magical, and has the strength and will to fight tyranny. The prose is so beautiful that you want to read it aloud. The book is so wonderful that you can’t put it down– but you’ll wish you could, just to make it last a little bit longer. Also, it’s a completely reimagined version of the tale of Scheherezade, so it is set in an Arab fantasy setting. It acknowledges the presence of scientists in the ancient Arab world, and touches upon some of their works. And, the cover is pretty.

shy-slide01If you’ve been paying attention to the Mock Caldecotts that teachers are running this year, chances are you’ve seen a classroom that has voted for SHY to win illustration’s top honor in the United States. All those votes led me to be curious about why children love this book so much. So, I bought a copy. And, as usual, the kids’ recommendation is spot on. This book is heartwarming, beautiful, and an excellent example of how art can support and enhance text to create a successful picture book.

 

The first spread of the body of this picture book is fabulous. In it, Freedman uses the physical form of the picture book to illustrate the emotion and meaning of the text. Freedman calls attention to the gutter in the most eloquent ways, using both text and simple illustration. This is one of my favorite spreads in any picture book I have read this year. I love books that break the 4th wall. And, I love that this is a book that won’t work well on an e-reader. It requires the physical form of a book to make any sense. I could write a whole essay on this spread, but there are other good things I want to say about SHY. So, moving on…

 

Let’s talk about color selection. First, the dusky background and muted earth and jewel tones perfectly reflect the simple and warm text. But, more importantly, the entire plot of the book can be seen reflected in the background colors of the pages. For the most part, wherever Shy (the main character) is, the background is yellow. Wherever Florence (a very important character) can be found, the background is sky blue. And as the end of the book, when Shy and Florence are together… where Shy is, we get a green background for the very first time. Shy is no longer without a friend, and the colors explain it all.

 

The more I talk about this book, the more I love it. You should go find a copy, and experience SHY, by Deborah Freedman, for yourself. Happy reading!

Great Peace MarchI discover so many wonderful books every day, but sometimes the greatest comfort comes from a book I have treasured for most of my life. THE GREAT PEACE MARCH by Holly Near, illustrated by Lisa Deimini, enchanted me when I was a child. The lyrical words with their swaying rhythm, the gorgeous illustrations… they drew me in, so that I read the book over and over to myself. As an adult, this book is healing to read.

 

THE GREAT PEACE MARCH is actually a song written by Holly Near that was inspired by a 1986 march for Nuclear Disarmament.  As a picture book, it crosses the boundary of time with its enduring message of hope, unity, and determination to walk forward in the face of difficulty. There is no information about the specific peace march it refers to other than in the backmatter– which is just as beautiful and hopeful as the rest of the book.

 

If you are looking for a book to talk about social justice, racial equality, and environmental activism without digging into the complexities of a specific cause, or for a book that will help you cope in a tumultuous time, this one is for you.