Tag Archives: Newbery Honor Award

Author, Author!

20 Oct

This has been an exceptional month in author visits for me. In the past four weeks I have met and learned from three of the best in the industry. Conventional wisdom dictates that that aspiring authors read, study, and write in the genre they want to learn. For me, one of the best ways to learn has always been to go directly to the source, in this case the authors.

Lisa Yee visited the Joseph Beth Bookstore on September 21st. Lisa writes primarily in the Middle Grade/Young Adult genres. She is funny, witty, and full of life lessons. And her books mirror that. Although MG/YA is on the older end of the kidlit spectrum, there are many crossover skills for the picture book writer as well. Know your audience. Immerse yourself in their language, struggles, and joys. Identify what makes them tick. Give them what they need. Lisa’s new DC Super Hero series does all of that and more. Personally, my favorite things about her are her past Disney life and her huge Winnie-the-Pooh collection.

 

 

Pat Zietlow Miller was in Cincinnati for school visits on October 4th sponsored by The Blue Manatee BookstoreI was lucky enough to meet up with her and bookseller, Alia Jonesfor dinner downtown on Fountain Square the night before her school events. We had a great time together. We introduced her to Graeter’s Ice Cream and I got my squash signed, so win-win! Pat is the author of five picture books. I met Pat last spring at an SCBWI conference in Chicago. She is a wonderful speaker and an amazing person. Her first book, SOPHIE’S SQUASH, has a sequel which just came out this fall SOPHIE’S SQUASH GOES TO SCHOOL. Pat knows what it takes to be a friend and her children’s books resound with the message of friendship and dreams. Another one of my favorite Pat Z. Miller books is WHEREVER YOU GO. The positive message is so Pat!

 

Jacqueline Woodson is an author, poet, and winner of a the Caldecott Medal, a Newbery Honor Award, the Coretta Scott King Award, and an ALA Notable Award  in addition to many others. I was lucky enough to meet Jacqueline at Joseph-Beth this week on the 18th where she was talking about last year’s award winning BROWN GIRL DREAMING and her newest book ANOTHER BROOKLYN. Jacqueline is also the author of several picture books which I adore, one of my favorite being THE OTHER SIDE. Listening to her read and speak is such a joy. If you haven’t had the chance to hear her, you really need to treat yourself to a copy of her audiobook. The biggest piece of advice I took away from Jacqueline’s presentation is to empower yourself. 

 

So, off I go. With Lisa’s Supergirl, Pat’s Squash, and Jacqueline’s Brown Girl Dreaming I am fortified to take on my challenges and write, write, write. See you soon!

 

Mercy Watson

31 Jan

DSC08555In keeping with my Kate DiCamillo theme this week, I want to review her Mercy Watson series.  Kate DiCamillo, author of Newbery Honor Winner Because of Winn-Dixie, and Newbery Winner of The Tale of Despereaux also wrote this enchanting chapter book series for young readers ages 6-8.  The second book of the series, Mercy Watson Goes for a Ride was the winner of the 2007 Theodore Seuss Geisel Award.

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I’m glad I waited until I had all six books to read at once.  Although you don’t necessarily have to read them in order, I found it to be more fun to read like that because Kate DiCamillo builds on each character in each subsequent book.  Of course there is Mercy Percy, the butter loving – adventure loving pig, and Mr. and Mrs. Watson who would do anything in the world for their darling, dear, porcine wonder.  In the first book we are introduced to the Lincoln sisters, Eugenia and Baby, the Watson’s elderly yin and yang neighbors. Eugenia has an opinion on everything, and in her opinion pigs should not live in houses. She spends the next five books trying to convince everyone that her opinion is correct.  And then there’s Baby, who secretly likes Mercy Watson even though she always agrees with her sister Eugenia… it’s just easier that way.  Throughout the series we meet Ned and Lorenzo, the fire fighters who are called out for every crisis; Officer Tomilello who has the quirky habit of asking and answering his own questions out loud; Leroy Ninker, the little thief who really wants to be a cowboy and later becomes the reformed conession man at the drive-in theater who still really wants to be a cowboy; Frank and Stella, the neighborhood children who befriend Mercy; and Animal Control Officer Francine Poulet whose nose looks remarkably like a chicken’s beak.

Kate DiCamillo expertly weaves these characters in and out of the series always putting Mercy Watson’s love of butter at the center of her conflict and in every resolution.  How could one not adore a character who unabashedly follows her dream into wacky wonky misadventures?

Leave it to Chris Van Dusen to paint the story pictures so vividly on each page.  Each character’s personality and motivation is captured in their faces and their body language.  Chris Van Dusen extraordinary illustrations will leave you begging for more.  You might be interested in reading some of his other works as well.  Look for the Mr. Magee series of early readers and several other titles including The Circus Ship which looks amazing and is on my reading list!

You can learn more about Kate DiCamillo here. http://www.katedicamillo.com/index.html

You can learn more about Chris Van Dusen here.             http://www.chrisvandusen.com

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