Monday, February 28, 2011

Picture Book Marathon - Bonus Picture Book!

This book was written by my brother when he was in 2nd grade and (minimally) edited by me a couple days ago. This was another one of the in-case-of-emergency books.

Picture Book #27: Hoppy the Bunny

A long time ago, a little bunny lived on the edge of the woods. The bunny's name was Hoppy. Hoppy had four brothers and five sisters, whom he played with all day.

Over the woods and past the stream was the home of the giant Norcade. Norcade lived on a big mountain. He was scary, so the bunnies never went near the mountain.

Between the mountain and the forest there was a lake. In the lake lived eight swans. They loved the sun. Every day, Norcade came down the mountain and bathed in the lake.

One day, Hoppy was playing by the lake. The swans were swimming and the sun was shining. Then Norcade came down to bathe. He saw Hoppy.

Hoppy looked up. Norcade reached down. Hoppy ran away. Meanwhile, Norcade was fighting the eight swans. He was not doing very well.

The next day, Hoppy's brothers and sisters were looking for food when they saw Norcade. He had been injured by the swans. Hoppy's brothers and sisters bought him home. But Hoppy was scared so they threw the giant out!

In the meantime, a wolf was in the woods. The wolf was hiding behind Hoppy's house when Norcade came by. The bunnies saw Norcade. They started throwing rocks at him.

Hoppy was on a walk. Whenhe came back, he saw the other bunnies throwing rocks at Norcade and joined in. Norcade turned around and almost ripped Hoppy in two!

Luckily the wolf injured Norcade even more than the swans had. All the other bunnies jumped on Norcade until they pushed him over and he fell to the ground!

For the upcoming posts, I've decided to push everything back a day. So PBM wrap up will be posted tomorrow, and then the 7 Facts Award and Teaser Tuesday will be posted on Wednesday, because I don't have the time or energy to blog any more tonight, so.... yep.

Picture Book Marathon - The Finish Line!

I had this all set to be finished on Saturday so I could breeze through the weekend and get started with Assessments (which are this week). Except I couldn't think of anything on Saturday. And then I couldn't think of anything on Sunday. And I couldn't think of anything today, which I was extremely worried about because today is the last day of the marathon! So I decided to draw the cover of a book and make up a story to match it. Unfortunately, I'm really dissatisfied with my cover illustration (this last book just doesn't want to cooperate). But here it is anyway - Picture Book #26:

And here's the original picture I traced it from:

That's my puppy from about a year ago during Winter Break. The story idea for this is that the puppy (I haven't thought of a name yet) blends into the snow and the entire family thinks he or she is lost until he or she jumps through the kid's window and is found again. 

Also, today I got picked for the Seven Facts award by Allegra, which I'll post tomorrow with my regular Teaser Tuesday post. Later tonight I'll wrap up the PBM stuff and start introducing March's surprise. 

Anyway, I'm getting back to work now - I have Math and English Assessments tomorrow!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Save Los Angeles Libraries!

A few days ago, I wrote a post talking about how important bookstores are. After volunteering at the library today, I recieved a fact sheet about the cuts made to Los Angeles libraries, and I'm convinced that libraries are even more important.

Some of the facts I recieved:
- 160 library employees fired (July 1, 2010)
- serivce days cut to 5 (July 16, 2010)
- libraries closed on Mondays
- service hours cut from 41.5 to 34.0
- fewer story times, youth activities, adult programs and books
- additional cuts and firings proposed for library services, hours, programs, and staff  by Mayor and City Council of LA (October 2010)

Luckily, in the coming elections, Los Angeles has put an option called Measure L, which will increase the Los Angeles Public Library's share of city funds. Measure L will provide additional funds to:
- help restore 6-day services at all libraries and eventually 7-day services at 9 neighborhood libraries
- purchase books
- support library programs including after-school/summer youth, student homework help, adult literacy, and job search programs.

Additionally, here is a speech I found given by Philip Pullman about saving Oxfordshire libraries, which I found well-reasoned and expertly written.

I don't have anything for PBM right now - today was totally devoid of inspiration - but I'm going to try to get something up before I go to bed.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Picture Book Marathon, Day 25

Only one more day in the marathon! When I started, I never thought I'd be saying this, but I'm definitely going to miss it. I know that without the challenge of writing a picture book every day with the other couple hundred people participating, I'm not going to write many more picture books. I'm going to let myself be swept up in life and not try to find that extra hour or so to do something really fun and creative. That's one of the reasons I love having this blog. It gives me an incentive to be creative and to write every day. Of course, I always know that I can skip a day if I need, like yesterday. I wrote a book yesterday, but didn't have time to post it or to do an illustration. So here it is now, sans-illustration, which I'll post as soon as I draw it (probably tomorrow).

Picture Book #24: Untitled So Far
This one is a wordless picture book, and I don't have it mapped out page by page, but I have a story. A girl is out to dinner with her parents. There are multiple courses. The parents talk and talk, but she is really bored. Eventually, she falls asleep at the table. She begins to dream. In her dream, she sees a boy at the table next to her. He invites her to dance. They begin to dance in the middle of the restaurant, and then, since it's a dream, they dance in the clouds and among the stars. The story switches back out of the dream. She's still asleep. Her parents pay the bill and her father carries her out to the car. The end.

I don't really know how I would distinguish real life from dream, perhaps a different drawing style. When I first thought up the story, I thought she'd be around 6 and dancing with her father, but then I realized that the mother would be totally cut out of the story and she wouldn't fall asleep at the table if it was only her and her dad. So then I thought she would be around 14 or 15, but that seemed a bit old for this particular story, and I asl wanted to make it  as innocent as I could, so now I'm thinking she's around 9. Anyway, onto today's book.

By now I know that rhyming is far from my strongest part of writing. But it's so much fun that I keep coming back to it. I found out while doing the marathon that my two favorite types of picture books to write (as I'm sure you've figured out) are wordless and rhyming. So today's book is a rhyming lift-the-flap science book in disguise. You'll see.

Picture Book #25: Why? Why? Why?

Why does the rain fall?
Why does the sun shine?
Why is this so small? (holding something)
Why is it mine?

Why are you looking at me like that?
Why do you care?
Why are you wearing that ugly hat?
Why don't you like your hair?

Why am I in this place?
Why do I have to listen?
Why do I want to run a race?
Why do I have to sit still, then?

Why does my hair get into knots?
Why must I learn how to read?
Why does the doctor give me shots?
Why does a plant grow from a seed?

Why do my ears help me to hear?
Why do my eyes help me to see?
Why do I feel fear?


And then you go back through the book and lift up the flaps under most of the questions (the science-y type questions, anyway) and it has a little answer to the question. It would need a bit of research, but I think it would be really cool.

Anyway, that's what I've got! I also have something cool planned for March, but I'm not going to reveal that yet.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Friendsday Wednesday: Becoming Madame Mao with The Politick

On Friendsday Wednesday, I discuss books with friends or ask them to write a guest review of a book. For this Friendsday Wednesday, The Politick (of the blog Curious Sparkplug) wrote a guest review of Becoming Madame Mao by Anchee Min. This review is also posted on Goodreads (click here).

i really liked this book, the writing style fascinated me.

although we covered a bit of China's history with Mao Zedong in school, i was not very familiar with who he was exactly. and so, it was out of interest of Mao that i pulled this book from the school library's shelf.

not only did this novel help me to understand who Mao was, it also gave me insight on his own private life and habits.
yet, the text is not only about Mao. it is about his actress of a wife, Jiang Qing.

she was a strong and powerful woman in history, though one who was not quite as influential as others.
i think she was important because, through this book, i learned of her adolescent hardship and how that contributed greatly to her suspicious nature as she grew older. this is important because her life is one that can be studied with vivid intrigue. she never really knew who she was, and today there are many who share this trait. and even though she never held a firm grasp on her true spirit, she was able to fight for what she believed was right and to most importantly, hold her own.

i am not saying i agree with what she did throughout her career, but only that she was a strong figure that demanded her rightful respect.

she had trouble with love.

though she fell in love, she was not used to it and it scared her. this led to bitterness and a cold heart by the time she was married to Mao. it also left her heart nearly drained of affection by the time she birthed her first daughter.

Thank you for this review, Politick!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Picture Book Marathon, Day 23

I'm getting to the last few miles and my river of ideas is running a bit low. But the end is in sight! If I save up my rest days for Assessment Week (next week), I'll be done by Saturday, and I still have a few old books that I can post if I need.

Today's book is a bit silly and nonsensical, but I like it. It's charming in its own way.

Picture Book #23: My Hat is a Hat

My hat is a hat. It keeps my head warm.
It keeps my hair dry if I'm caught in a storm.

My shoe is a shoe. It goes over my socks.
It keeps my toes safe if I step on some rocks.

My bag is a bag. It holds all my stuff.
I fill it all the way up 'til my friends say "enough!"

My dog is a dog. She barks all the time.
But she's so cute  and I love that she's mine.
(some half-rhyme action going on here, but it just means I can't think of a good full rhyme)

Etc. for about 10 more stanzas. I don't think the story really has a point, but it's something I could imagine kids reading to their parents, rather than parents having to explain it to their kids.

Next week (probably Monday) I'll put up a poll to see which books people liked best, and which I should continue working on. I think I'm probably going to choose the top three winners and edit/ finish/ fix up those during March. Also, as soon as PBM is over, I'll get back to my regular reviews and whatnot. Right now I'm using every hour I can get.

Picture Book Marathon, Day 22 (again)

Today's idea is for a wordless picture book. I don't have it in my head all plotted out page by page, but in my head it's beautiful and soft, probably in watercolor by someone who can draw better than I can.

It follows the story of a little boy, from when he's 4 and 5 drawing with crayons on colored paper through when he's 9 or 10 drawing on printer paper with markers to middle school, doodling on notebook paper, and in high school, when he goes to art classes. This I think is the main part of the story, how he grows in these classes, graduates high school, goes through college, until he's an adult, a professional artist creating art all the time, giving some away, selling some, and then he grows older, (a wrinkled hand with a paintbrush,) and until he can no longer paint, but he sits in his house, surrounded by his creations. And he is content.

Teaser Tuesday, 6th Edition

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

I am doing a slightly different version of Teaser Tuesday. Since I go through books so quickly, I'm going to put a quote from any book I've read in the past week.

Actually, I've missed the past two weeks since I've been so caught up in PBM. So this Teaser Tuesday is for everything since February 1st.

"I'm not foolish enough to predict that silicon biology is impossible, but unless those creature defecate sand and live on planets with volcanoes constantly expelling ultramicroscopic silica, this element probably isn't up to the task of making life live. Luckily for it, silicon has ensured itself immortality in another way." - The Disappearing Spoon, by Sam Kean

"At the end of the hall there came a flurry of movement. Even without looking, Halli felt his shoulders stiffen, he sensed enmity suddenly in the room." - Heroes of the Valley, by Jonathan Stroud

"Georgette's mother said, 'I think you'd do better to get a cat instead of a child. Cats are less trouble,' which didn't do much to help Georgette in the feeling-loved department." - Cloaked in Red, by Vivian Vande Velde

"Had she intended for him to hear? There was no telling." -The Changeling Prince, by Vivian Vande Velde

"Jonathan wished he could talk to Jessica, even for a few moments. He wanted to explain that this was no big deal, really." - The Secret Hour (Midnighters #1), by Scott Westerfeld

"'Is that fun? Putting together the same puzzle again?'" - Instead of Three Wishes, by Megan Whalen Turner

"The tree branches were like a stepladder reaching upward, and I climbed frantically. Long after Kai and Karina had settled themselves on a wide branch far above the forest floor, I kept going, pulled by an urge  I did not understand." - A True Princess, by Diane Zahler

"Early in October, when the corn was cut and stacked and some of it was already threshed, a flight of pigeons came whirling through the air and alighted in the yard of Animal Farm in the wildest excitement. Jones and all his men, with half a dozen others from Foxwood and Pinchfield, had entered the five-barred gate and were coming up the cart-track that led to the farm." - Animal Farm, by George Orwell

"... he said to Finn, 'Take the Key out. We need to take care of it.'" - Incarceron, by Catherine Fisher

"The old woman was wrapped in a dark red nightgown, worn so thin that it shifted in the barely perceptible breeze that pushed past Dess and through the door. The woman's eyes were wide open, the whites glowing in the darkness, but her expression showed more curiosity than fear." - Touching Darkness (Midnighters #2), by Scott Westerfeld

"'Got your flashlight?' Jonathan said, one foot already out the window. 
... 'Yeah, right here.'" - Blue Noon (Midnighters #3), by Scott Westerfeld

Picture Book Marathon, Day 22

I don't have today's book yet, but I wanted to post the illustration for Dustin's book so that it can count as a book in the marathon. I feel like I'm going to need those rest days in this final stretch.

Picture Book #19: Jason and the Astronauts

A retelling of the myth Jason and the Argonauts. In this one Jason goes into space to find the Golden Fleet. All of the adventures from the original (the clashing rocks, the dragon, etc.) are going to be in here, but changed to fit the new story. 

I don't love the illustration, but I did it quickly (those spaceships are really just 1 spaceship copied and pasted).  However, I do like the simple color scheme with the blue, gray, and gold. If I redo the cover I want to keep those colors.

All the credit goes to Dustin for thinking of this idea, and all the blame goes to me for not getting the research together and just sitting down to write the darn thing. 

Until later, when I think of (and write) a book for today.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Picture Book Marathon, Day 21

Picture Book #21: The Tooth Fairy Only Likes Clean Teeth

Once upon a time, before toothbrushes were invented, the tooth fairy had a very busy life. She spent the night collecting teeth that children had put under their pillows, and the day cleaning and polishing and fixing them up. She barely had any time to sleep. She was very unhappy with this arrangement, so she was relieved when someone finally invented the toothbrush. She could collect pre-cleaned teeth, give them a little shine, and go to bed. She even had a little time to relax. But then one day, she started finding dirty teeth again. It was the teeth of the children who didn't brush their teeth. She was upset, but she didn't want to go back to all that hard work again, so she just left the teeth where they were. The children were so upset that they didn't get any money for their teeth that they (um.... did something?). But the tooth fairy was stubborn. She didn't want to carry gross teeth around, so she kept leaving dirty teeth where they were. Eventually, however, she collected so few teeth in a night that she had nothing to do for long periods of time. So she went around to all the children's houses and left notes that said, "If you brush your teeth, I'll take care of them when they fall out." In this way the children and the tooth fairy compromised, and they all lived happily ever after.

Gahh, what a weak ending. I wouldn't buy this book if I saw it in the store. It seemed like such a promising idea, and then I got to the middle and had no idea where to go from there. I'll probably go back and edit this one so it's actually okay.

I liked this idea because as a kid I absolutely hated brushing my teeth. I don't remember why. I don't think I had a reason. I just remember that I tried to get out of it whenever I could, saying that it was too late and I had to go to bed, or that I "forgot" or whatever. Then my brother got two cavities and then that scared me into liking  to brush my teeth for a while. And then a got a cool electric toothbrush and that was that. Anyway.

I don't really like the picture either. I like the way I drew it, but I didn't realize that it was really tiny and so when I enlarged it it was all weird and pixelated (like you can sort of see in the font). I'd like to re-do the drawing and make it a bit better. I think this whole picture book needs work. Perhaps after the marathon is over. Then again, perhaps not.

On Buying Books

Today, Shannon Hale, author of The Books of Bayern, Princess Academy, Rapunzel's Revenge, and many other wonderful books, posted this post on why it's important to keep bookstores. Also today, Kristin Cashore, author of Graceling and Fire, posted this post on why we should support independent businesses. I decided I had to find an independent bookstore near my house (and quickly). So I found one that was just a few minutes away, bought The Maze Runner by James Dashner, and put another on hold to buy later this week. It was a very nice little bookstore that I'd actually walked right by many times before and not known it was a bookstore.

I also put a button on my sidebar (you have to scroll down a bit, but it's there) that is a pledge to read the printed word. I'm not going to get a kindle or a nook or anything, but I'm going to stick just with regular old printed books. I've actually been opposed to buying a kindle for a long time, even though everyone says I should get one. I buy so many books that I'm constantly running out of space to put them. I have 4 separate bookcases in my room because every time I fill one up, I put another in. But I've tried reading on other people's Kindles and it isn't the same as reading a physical book. You don't get the book-ness of it, the feeling of the pages and the cover and so many other things I can't really describe that make a book special. When I see I book that I love in a bookstore, I take it off the shelf even though I know I'm not going to buy it because it's like a friend. When I look through bookstore shelves, I see so many books that I've read and enjoyed that I see on my own shelves every day and it's like they're all saying hi to me. I know all their stories and beautiful descriptions and characters. I'm obviously in love with books; I wouldn't have a book blog otherwise. But getting back to the point, books are special and stories are special. That is why we must keep the printed word alive.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Picture Book Marathon, Day 20 - Illustration

The boy looks a bit more serious than I wanted, but overall I'm very pleased with the way this turned out. I think that the most valuable thing I got from this marathon, even more than the creative process of writing a book every day, was really learning how to draw and how to use photoshop.

Picture Book Marathon, Day 20

Still working on Dustin's book from yesterday. I thought it would be a quick and easy book, but I think it's probably going to be one of the more work-intensive picture books (which, if you haven't guessed, isn't very much - a couple hours at most)

But I do have a couple lines from my promised monster book for today.
Picture Book #20: There's No Monster Under My Bed

There's no monster in my closet!
My closet's full of clothes.
If a monster tried to hide there,
he'd be so squished, he'd bump his nose!

There's no monster under the bed!
My bed is on the ground.
I won't even bother looking
'Cause I know he won't be found!

There's no monster outside my window!
There's just some little trees.
The leaves would tickle any monsters
And then he'd have to sneeze!

Etc. for another 4 or 5 places. I know my rhymes are getting worse and worse, so I'll stop here for now.
I imagine this book to be fun and full of bright colors. When I draw the cover later, I'm going to try to get that feel. Good luck to me.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Picture Book Marathon, Day 18

I didn't get a chance to write out my book for today, but I do have an illustration for it. I think it could be a really great book if I do it right.

Picture Book #18: The Monster Under the Bed

It's going to be about all the different monsters in this boy's room (under the bed, in the closet, outside the window) and how they keep him safe at night. I think it could turn out really well if I can write it right.

I used to think the monster under my bed was a snake. I would have to jump into my bed from a couple feet away so that it couldn't get my toes. But now I keep my typewriter (the one in my icon picture) under my bed, and it wards off the monsters. But because of that, I wanted to write a book  about nice monsters. Actually, originally this was going to be about all the monster traps he keeps in his room so that the monsters couldn't get in. And it was going to rhyme. I'm pretty sure I'm not going to do that, but if I don't like the way this one turns out, I might try both ways. Actually, that could count as another book....

Dustin: your book is coming next. It's going to be good. And then I'll write the second monster book.

P.S. Julie Olson, another Marathon participant, posted this book yesterday. I wish I could draw like this. I really do.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Picture Book Marathon, Day 17

So yesterday I hinted at a book for my friend Rachie. Today I actually wrote the book. She gave me the idea for the story, so it's dedicated to her.

Picture Book #17: Untitled So Far
for Rachie

Once upon a time there was a girl with a beautiful voice. Every time she sang, people would be so overcome by happiness that she became incredibly popular. But there was only one person who she cared about. He liked her songs, but he wasn't enchanted like everyone else. Then one day she got sick and lost her voice. She couldn't sing anymore, and soon people went back to the way they were before hearing her songs. Without all of the people around her all the time, for the first time since she started singing, she could act like herself. _______ noticed this and started talking with her more. He saw what a nice person she was. So when she finally got her voice and started singing again, he stayed next to her the whole time and made sure she wasn't so surrounded by people that she couldn't be herself.

"The End"

Until tomorrow-- there's a fun story coming up.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Picture Book Marathon, Day 16

Today I had about an hour to work on my picture book, and I had this great idea that I wanted to illustrate. I got so into illustrating that I ran out of time to write the book part, so I'm just going to post the few lines I jotted down beforehand.

Picture Book #16: Different is Good

Tall people can reach top cabinets.
Short people can squeeze into the best hiding places during hide-and-seek.
Fast people win races.
Slower people can race for longer.
Girls get to wear dresses.
Boys get to not care.

The cover illustration is a tracing of a photo from a couple years ago. I am in it, and Ben and Rachie (who I have a book idea for, but no book yet). The funny thing about this illustration was that I realized after drawing it that the people in it are actually not very different at all. But at that point I wasn't going to start over.

I got the title from a line the The Incredibles, where Violet says "Is different okay?" and the boy (Tommy? Tony? I always forget his name) says "Yeah, different is-- different is good." I'm not sure if that's the exact line because I'm not interested in getting my copy of The Incredibles to check. But it's something like that. Anyway...
Only 10 more to go!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Good News! Lots of it!

Well, first of all, I am insanely excited because Nathan Hale just posted this post on his blog. I don't know anything for sure yet, but I believe (and hope) that this means another Rapunzel book is coming out! I'm not sure if I've mentioned this yet, but I am a HUGE fan of Shannon, Dean, and Nathan Hale's graphic novels Rapunzel's Revenge and Calamity Jack. If you haven't read them, read them. Now. I wish I could post a full review, but I don't have the time or the focus to do that right now. So just take my word for it. You will love these books. I love these books. My brother loves these books. My 10-year-old cousin loves these books. So you can see why I'm excited that there will possibly probably be another one coming out soon.

[EDIT: I just found out that this assumption is incorrect, and that there will not actually be a third book... yet. Nevertheless, Rapunzel's Revenge and Calamity Jack are definitely both worth reading.]

The second piece of exciting news is that Matthew J. Kirby, author of The Clockwork Three, saw my review of it, and posted a link to it on his blog. I was linked to by the author. This is incredibly exciting because I sort of can't believe that 1) people are actually reading the stuff that I post, and 2) that my review was good enough to be linked next to sites such as Teens Read Too.

So that was my incredibly exciting and (to use a Scott Westerfeld term) happy-making night. Now, back to my English project (which I might post in a few days... possibly).

Picture Book Marathon, Day 15

So today I am cheating a little. When I first started the marathon, I dug out a bunch of old picture books I wrote when I was probably no more than 7 years old. I had an idea for today, about a girl with a beautiful singing voice, but I didn't get around to writing it, and I want to actually write the three from yesterday and this weekend also, so for today I'm transcribing a book called Zoop the Soup, written by my brother and me years ago. So, I technically didn't write this one during the marathon, but if I'm going to finish (and I really really want to finish), a couple of the books are going to have to be these old ones. Since this was written when we were younger, some parts don't make all that much sense, but I think kids will be entertained by the rhymes. I certainly was. (When I first reread this, I thought it was a bit silly and not a very good picture book. But the more I read it, the more it grew on me. So I'd advise reading this a couple times.)

Picture Book #15: Zoop the Soup
I have a soup. I tried to zoop the soup. The carrots are the real fast ones. The soup smells good.
(page turn)
Zoop the soup!
Please zoop the soup.
Woop, please zoop the soup.
Noop and Woop, please zoop the soup.
Moop, Noop, and Woop, please zoop the soup.
Kloop, Moop, Noop, and Woop, please zoop the soup.
Floop, Kloop, Moop, Noop, and Woop, please zoop the soup.
Koop, Floop, Kloop, Moop, Noop, and Woop, please zoop the soup.
(page turn)
Oh no! You never have to zoop the soup.
Flogaloop will zoop the soup.
Flagalopp will zoop the soup.
Fagaloop will zoop the soup.
Flopalop will zoop the soup.
Scabalop will zoop the soup.
(page turn)
Scabalop or any of the others won't have to zoop the soup.
Because Falogamadugacajugaglafloglowskosko will zoop the soup.
He is a double, triple, quadriple, octiple, tapiple, japiple, lapiple, octipiple octopus.
(page turn)
Wake up! Wake up!
]It's time for lunch.
I already zooped the soup.
(page turn)
Thanks to the zooper,
(page turn)

First of all, I have no idea what I was thinking with that 4th to last page. As my brother says, the only suspense in the story is the breath before the reader attempts that ridiculous name.

Also, you probably want to know what the heck zooping the soup is. Well, we have this little hand-blender that my mom uses to puree soups. And it makes a noise like zoop, zoop. So, that's where the name comes from.
Photo courtesy of

If I have to resort to using old picture books, again, I'll try to pick a better one next time. By the way, if you think this one is worth fixing up, please let me know.
Until tomorrow,

Monday, February 14, 2011

Picture Book Marathon, Day 14

Well, I didn't get a chance to write over the weekend again. I think I'm seeing a pattern here. I have three ideas, one for each weekend day and one for today, but I doubt I'll get around to all (if any) of them today.

I've noticed that when writing these, if I get an idea into my head, my brain refuses flat out to think of any new ideas until I've written the first one into something resembling a first draft. Luckily this wasn't the case this weekend, thanks to one of my best friends, who gave my the idea and title for one of the books and lent his name to the other.

My three ideas are:

1. A picture book for my mom- I sorta have a vague idea and a few phrases written down, but this is going to need a bit of shaping before I start to write. Since I'm trying to incorporate as many as my friends as I can into a book somehow, I wanted to write one for my parents as well. So this one will be for my mom, if I can get around to writing it. It'll sorta be a "how much do I love you" book. I remember reading a lot of those with her when I was little.

2. PigBen -  A spinoff of "Pigpen" from Peanuts. Ben is a little boy who has some problems with personal hygiene. He doesn't like taking showers, he doesn't like brushing his teeth, he doesn't like brushing his hair.  Finally he becomes so smelly that no one wants to be friends with him. Thanks to Ben for letting me use his name for this character. (P.S. The real Ben is actually a very clean person, and nothing like PigBen.)

3. Nigel the "different" Zombie - This is Ben's idea, but I'm taking it (with his permission), because he has no use for it. Nigel isn't like other zombies. He doesn't like eating brains. He thinks humans are nice. When the humans finally strike back at the zombies for all those years of brain-eating, Nigel manages to convince the humans that zombies aren't all that bad and the zombies not to eat the humans' brains. Somewhat a spin-off of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer with a possible song option.

I'd better start writing. After I finish my homework.

Friday, February 11, 2011


by Kazu Kibuishi
Start Date: 1 February 2011
End Date: 1 February 2011

Book 1: The Stonekeeper
192 pages (Paperback edition)
Published 1 January 2008

Book 2: The Stonekeeper's Curse
224 pages (Paperback edition)
Published 1 September 2009

Book 3: The Cloud Searchers
208 pages (Paperback edition)
Published 1 September 2010

Book 4: The City of Cielis
Will be published Summer 2011

These fast-paced and wonderfully illustrated graphic novels are quick reads that will keep you turning the pages and wishing for more. Since I've been writing picture books every day, I have an even deeper respect and appreciation for authors who can write graphic novels this wonderfully.

The story centers around Emily and her brother Navin, who after moving into their great-grandfather's house, find a mysterious amulet that gives Emily magical powers and lead them into a parallel world full of magic, heroes, shady characters, and quests. When their mother gets captured, Emily and Navin go to rescue her, each becoming heroes in their own right. However, the amulet seems to have its own agenda...

These books are quick reads - I finished each in about 45 minutes.  The end of every book will leave you wanting more, but there are only three books out so far. I don't know how many books are planned for the series.

I really like Kibuishi's artwork style. I have a few pictures of the main characters and a page from the beginning of the first book, before they leave the "real" world. Unlike the Bone books, Emily, Navin, and the other human characters are drawn in the same style as the creatures that only exist in the world of fantasy. I found it interesting that the characters in the fantasy world seems more real and stood out less than characters from the real world, such as the mother. They fit into their world so nicely, and I think Kibuishi's artwork reflects that really well.

I know I haven't been posting reviews, but I've been really busy with PBM and everything. I'm really going to try to stay on top of that. I may have to do an overall post with all the books I've read in the last few weeks with just 1 or 2 sentences for each. Yes, I think that's what I'll end up doing. 

Picture Book Marathon, Day 11

Although at this point I'm getting more and more ideas for my stories, I noticed that I'm staring to run out of  ideas on the form of the book. So far, most of my books have been wordless or straightforward narration. I want to use PBM to think of different ways I can express the story. So that's one goal I'm going to work toward for the rest of PBM. If you very nice viewers have any ideas, please comment and let me know.

So, today's book was inspired by my friend Marcella. She pretended to have read this book called "The Red Manilla Envelope" and told me a whole intricate plot summary, complete with government conspiracies and secret islands. She said someday she would write it for me, but today I decided to write my own version for her.

I like the general idea of the story, but I think  executed it badly. After PBM is over I'm going to go back to this story and see if I can tweak it until it turns into something I like.

Picture Book #11: The Red Manilla Envelope
For Marcella

Girl (Maddy) in post office points to manilla envelope
Takes envelope, hands over coins
Walks home with envelope – suburban neighborhood
Goes into house, gets out paper and pens.
Writing a letter (panels)
Looks at letter, smiles
(in single panel)
My name is Maddy. I am 10 years old and I live in the United States. I love to write and
(panel cuts off the rest of the letter)
Starts coloring the envelope (red)
She writes on the back of the envelope:
If you revive this, write a letter about yourself, put it in the envelope, and send it to someone. There is a box of addressing labels inside the envelope. Whoever receives this at the end of December, please send it to P.O. box
(panel cuts off the rest)
Walks to post office, morning
Puts stamp on envelope
Puts envelope into mailbox
Envelope in mail slot
2 pages:
Girl in NYC looks at it, confused, reads letter and back of envelope
Put envelope under her arm and walks through city
Enters apartment
Makes coffee (2 panels, shares page with previous)
Sits down at desk, writes a letter
Puts letter in envelope
Puts envelope in mail slot
8-10 pages of envelope w/ different people in different places, countries
winter, maddy, bundled up, walks to post office in snow
passes houses with xmas decorations
arrives at post office, walks in
Red envelope is in PO Box
Runs home (3 panels)
Asleep in bed, letters from around the world on her walls
(panel) envelope is on desk, covered in postage stamps

11 down, 15 to go!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Picture Book Marathon, Day 10

Finally I'm back on track. I wrote two picture books today, one that obviously has to do with stuff happening in my life right now, and one that's not so obvious and I actually came up with the idea for before it applied to my life.

But before we get to that, I have exciting news (to me anyway). My computer is all better! Apparently the mac store called while I was at school and said my computer was ready to be picked up. I'm so happy because I thought it would take at least until Sunday. I went straight from swimming (with my brother's carpool in the car) directly to pick it up. It made my day to have it back. But anyway, now getting back to PBM--

Picture Book #9: Mike and Millie
Millie was a very nice girl. She had a lot of friends. One of her friends was Mike. Mike was not a very nice boy. In fact, he was downright mean, but he pretended to be nice because he wanted to be Millie's best friend. But Millie saw that he wasn't as nice as he was pretending to be, so he stopped pretending and acted like the horrible jerk he was. Millie was furious at him, but being a very nice person, she didn't want to do anything mean. But when Mike started being mean to Millie, her friend Haley punched him.

Moral: Violence isn't always the answer, but you should stand up for your friends. Also, don't be a jerk. Seriously, don't.

Gahh, high school drama. I obviously changed some stuff for the book, but this is an event that recently happened to my friend "Millie". I was outraged when I heard, and although I wasn't going to punch "Mike", I was going to go yell at him. But "Millie" and I decided that since "Mike" lived on attention, It'd probably not be the best thing to do. I did a great illustration that I'm want to post without messing with it on photoshop first because I don't want to ruin it.
But you can't really see it cause scanning doesn't work with pencil drawings. So,

I don't like the photoshop tracing nearly as much as the original, but at least you can see it. 
[EDIT: I just figured out that you actually can see the pencil drawing much better if you tilt your screen back and look up at it, so I didn't have to do the tracing after all, oh well. It was fun even though I don't love the end result] 

And now, onto the 2nd book of the day.

Picture Book #10: When I Grow Up

Every day, Kacey went to her 1st grade class. This week, the kids in her class were talking about what they wanted to be when they grew up.
On Monday, Darren talked about how he wanted to be a doctor.
Kacey thought that being a doctor would be fun.
Teddy bear with band-aids in Kacey's hands, Kacey with doctor's kit.
But then she remembered that she didn't like being around sick people.
On Tuesday, Maya talked about how she wanted to be a teacher.

Kacey thought that being a teacher would be fun.
Stuffed animals in rows w/ paper in front of them, Kacey in front, teaching.
But then she remembered that she didn't like little kids. (Panel on side, 4 yr olds running around)
On Wednesday, Jack talked about how he wanted to be a detective. 
Kacey thought that being a detective would be fun.
Kacey in hallway with flashlight and dark coat, hallway is shadowed, clock in background reads 8:30.
But then she realized she didn't have anything to detect.
On Thursday, Jane talked about how she wanted to be a writer. 
Kacey thought that being a write would be fun.
Kacey sitting at desk with crumpled paper in wastebasket behind her - see cover drawing.
But she didn't know what to write about.
On Friday, it was Kacey's turn to speak. She stood up in front of the class, took a deep breath, and said, "I don't know what I want to be when I grow up, but right now I want to be a KID!"

I drew this cover when I was preparing for the marathon, before I got some photoshop strategies down (scroll down to see some of my other more pathetic photoshop works) and I was going to edit it after I wrote the story but before I posted it, but I kinda like it now. The more I look at it, the more it grows on me. (That and the fact that I can't really spare an extra half hour to edit this.) So I'm keeping the original for now, but if I end up changing it, I'll post that version too. Now that I have my computer back, hopefully I'll be better about doing the art for my picture books.

I thought up the idea for When I Grow Up as one of my pre-PBM qualifying ideas. When I actually started writing it this morning, I realized that it was more relevant that I had originally thought, because this week is placement testing week, and we've been asked to think a lot about what we want to do next year, which will dictate what we do the year after that and so on and so on for what seems like the rest of our lives. I just don't think that these tests can possibly be that important, but it is a bit of pressure. But I'm just taking tests for everything I can and deciding what I want later.  So anyway, that's the connection.

Well, that was an excellent way to procrastinate. Now, back to work.
Until tomorrow,


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