Friday, February 25, 2011

Book Rave

Four children's books to gush over!

We found Augustus and His Smile at the Library. 
Catherine Rayner  delivers words and pictures with finesse, striking design and line quality. I am in love! I practically left the house without my socks to buy my own copy. Well, let's be honest. I had socks on, but no shoes, and I did buy my own copy. Is there a rule against British-made books winning Caldecott awards, (because this one surely should have been in the line up)?

Three roars for Augustus and His Smile!

We found this on the same Library trip.

Who knew Pssst! by Adam Rex  would be such a hit with the 5 and 2 year-old crowd? I have been asked to read this multiple times a day for four weeks straight. And I'm not complaining. It's clever, funny, and the art is intriguing, with full color only in the spots of focus.  We had to buy a copy of this one, too. 

Hope for Haiti by Jesse Joshua Watson (my brother) is both gorgeous, and does something good. I love recommending this one, because money from each book purchase goes to relief efforts in Haiti. Plus, if you visit We Give Books and read this book online, Pearson foundation will give a copy of the book to kids in need. Isn't that awesome? 

Jesse has traveled to Haiti to get a better idea of what kind of relief efforts are being done, and to see what he can do to help. You can read more about it at his Hope for Haiti blog.

Here is one more beauty for you, newly released: 
The Lord's Prayer, illustrated by Richard Jesse Watson (my dad), 
with commentary by Rick Warren. 

See the endsheets? I love them. 

And I might be a little biased about this one - 
my girls modeling "forgive us our trespasses."

Throughout the book are glorious examples of contrast and light. 

What I love about this book is that it illuminates ancient words in a way that is fresh and deep. 

Reading the words and getting lost in the pictures is a meditation in itself. 
Richard writes about his illustration journey here.

What are your favorite children's books?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Three Gifts for the Muse

Time to pursue novel writing
is thin these days.
With mere minutes
of uninterrupted quiet,
I have developed the attention-span
of a beetle.

Do beetles have attention spans?
Can beetles write books?

And, the question we all really care about -
do beetles get published?

To help me find my happy
writing place faster
I've started a Word Jar.

I'm filling it with intriguing words,
snatches of conversation, descriptives that strike a chord
so that when I have a few minutes with a pen,
I can reach in and be transported.

That's the first gift to feed my muse.

My second muse gift?

Birds of a Feather

This is my newest word game for limbering up 
the writing and poetry muscles.
It's like Word Strings, but a little more structured.

Write down a word, 
pick another word with at least two letters 
from the previous word.
Continue till you have a happy, lazy cat feeling.

Here's my try at it:
       Logic, ledger, ledges, edges, adage, homage, homing pigeons.

       Whittle, whistle, Brussels, bringer, bridges, ridges, rustle, stinger.

If you feel like playing, share your word migrations in the comments. Fun!

And my third muse gift?

Speaking of birds of a feather,
my fellow Northwest inkwell-ers
(okay, nobody uses inkwells anymore; I use the term figuratively),
my writing and illustrating peers 
will be flocking to the annual Western Washington
April 16-17, 2011
in Redmond, Washington.

It looks to be a very sparkly
faculty of authors, illustrators,
top agents and editors in the business, including

Holly Black, E. Lockhart, Dan Santat
and Deborah Wiles, as well as

my brother, Jesse Joshua Watson.

This is the place to get the goods on
making books for kids and young adults.

I hope to see you there!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Hearts and Scribbles

I've been having way too much fun
with the girls' school valentine obligations.

We "mod podge"-d teeny fabric scraps onto card stock,
then cut the hardened paper into hearts.

Rather than do the candy thing, 
I made up some coloring packets
for their school pals.

I am so glad for my Christmas present - Faber Castell Pitt pens.
They have such a smooth and flow-y line, and are so much 
more convenient to use around the house than my beloved pen nibs and inkwell. 
Thank you, Mr. & Mrs. Claus!

Love Flunkey

Here's a new game for my wordy pals:

Word Chess

Start with a word. 
Change, add or subtract one letter to make a new word:

Keep changing one letter at a time 
until you can't make a new word. 

It's like CHESS, only without the chivalrous little guys you move around.

This is a fun solo game, but it is also fantastic with a partner. 
See who gets checkmated first!

Here's how I get from LOVE to FLUNKEY:


Play it:

*Can you make more words from FLUNKEY, 
changing, adding or subtracting one letter at a time, 
without repeating any of the previous words?

Tin Man, by Pip

Word Chess, Gauntlet Style 

Using the same rules, 
try to turn one word into a very different one. 

Here's CAT to DOG, one letter at a time:
Play it:

* Can you turn HEART into BREAK?
* Can you get LOVE to EVOLVE? 

Friday, February 11, 2011

Book Crimes and Free Gorillas

 I went to jail last night.

The warden's words:
"It's a book crime. 
Didn't you read the fine print 
when you signed up for your library card?
Accumulate too many overdue books, 
we lock you up." 

I woke up feverish, 
confessed all to my amused hubby, 
who reassured me it was all a dream, 
and the police have more important things 
to worry about than avid readers.  

It must have been my subconscious brewing. 
I've been dealing with escaped zoo animals lately. 
These are my Goodnight Gorilla Nesting Puppets.
Our nesting dolls were such a hit 
that I tried some for the birthday boy 
based on one of his top books:
Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann

I sketched some simple animals inspired from the book, 
trying for an arched stacking shape.

The bases are of sturdy felt.

Fabric scraps are cut to mimic the sketches:
(a soft gray flannel face for gorilla, 
patterned triangular pieces for armadillo's armor, 
green grass to contrast elephant's limbs).  

I top-stitched the big pieces, added touches
(fringed scraps for giraffe's and lion's mane and tail,
flannel patches for giraffe, mouse's stickie-outie ears, hyena's spotty pattern)

and embroidered faces.

Then, with right sides facing each other, tails and ears tucked in,
I sewed them together, turned them right side out
and pop! 
Standing, stacking puppets. 

My mom suggested I tie the banana to the mouse. 

The result? A slew of escaped zoo animals that stack from small to big.

My little gorilla is thrilled.


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