Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Hanging out at BookPeople



















This morning I visited BookPeople, Austin's local independent book store. I had a ball.

I used to visit bookstores all the time, mainly hanging out in the picture book section. But that was back in the day when bookstores had wall-to-wall displays of new picture book titles, and aisle after aisle of shelves filled with picture books.

Not to diss Dr. Seus or Goodnight Moon or Velveteen Rabbit. These are classics, well deserving of their permanent book space. But I already know about these books. Don't you? I like to visit bookstores to see the new stuff—picture books written and illustrated by contemporary authors and artists. But the newer books are practically gone in the large chains! At least in Austin they are. So what has this meant for books featuring brown characters? Nonfiction picture books? Those written and illustrated by locals? They're not in the chains either.

Recently, I went to Borders looking for a copy of Yummy and Bamboo People, award-winning books published in the past couple years. They told me they no longer stock books by smaller independent book publishers. What?

BookPeople, however, does. And best of all, they continue to stock picture books. Sure picture book real estate at BookPeople has shrunk. And — ahem! — they didn't even have any of my books stocked today (phooey, phooey, phooey). But regardless, they have best selection of children and YA books in town.

Here are a few books that caught my eye this afternoon:

























The Secret River. I bought this bad boy. Didn't even have to think about it. Leo and Diane Dillon have done it again.
























He Came With the Couch
is not particularly new, it published in 2005. But that's what I like about BookPeople, they stock the old, the new, and the classics. Such a funny story, very cool illustrations.
























Illustrator Sophie Blackall, she practically has her own section of the bookstore. I love Sophie's illustrations, we have similar styles in that we both illustrate our characters with really big heads. Last year I submitted my work to a publisher, and they rejected me, basically saying: "We know who you are, but you draw your character's heads too big." Then they went on to say that if I ever considered downsizing, they'd consider working with me. Hm, but look at Sophie, I think she's on to something. I'm not giving up my big-headed characters.

And there were so many books by local friends, too:



















Noodle & Lou
by Liz Garton Scanlon. I actually ran into Liz at BookPeople, so I could have gotten a picture of her holding her book. But we started chatting, and I completely forgot to ask. I feel kinda like a distant uncle to this book because I had the honor of reading an early draft.



















Chris Barton's Shark vs. Train and The Day-Glo Brothers. When I saw these books, I wanted to start waving my hands and announce, "Hey, I know this author! I know his wife! I know his kids! His chickens! His rabbit!" At least I think he has a rabbit. Anyway, it's been so much fun watching Chris' star rise and shine.

























Now this is fellow Texas Sweetheart Jo Whittemore's book. Not her newest book. But her new book before her newest-newest book. A book that actually releases. . . today! The book above, Front Page Face-off. Her newest book, Odd Girl In.
























Bethany Hegedus' Truth with a Capital T. I know so many dog-on cool people, I ought to be cool myself. Maybe I am, too.
























Hope for Haiti, written AND illustrated by Jesse Joshua Watson. I haven't had the pleasure of meeting Jesse in person, I've only chatted with him online. As my grandma would have said, "Jesse is good people."

There were many others that I was excited about—Audrey Vernick's Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten, Bob Staake's Look! A Book!, Kadir Nelson's Joe Louis book—but I had to leave the store before I spent all of my money.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Nice review; Black All Around!

Black All Around!, a children's picture book that I illustrated, written by Patricia Hubbell, received a nice review from the February 2011 edition of the Puget Sound Council for Reviewing Children's media. Interesting thing is, the review came 7 years after publication. I ain't complaining though, it's totally cool. Here's what they said:

"Graceful antidote to the still present ‘white is right’ mentality, the color black is celebrated in its fullest from a sleek black limousine to a shiny black beetle. A little girl is daydreaming in the moon glow with simple rhymes. Fun illustrations conjure up every beautiful black thing she can imagine until she drifts off to sleep. This was a Connecticut Book Award Finalist at first publication."

Black All Around! has received some of the best reviews and comments of my career, I'm happy. Great end to a busy week.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Book Fair


















My son's school had their Scholastic Book Fair today. He picked out many books, but I bought one for myself, too — For The Love of Basketball: From A to Z, written by Frederick C. Klein, illustrated by Mark W. Anderson.

I'm not into basketball at all. I don't play, I don't watch, I don't discuss it . . . ever. And I'm not familiar with the author or illustrator. But I LOVED the illustrations! Crisp, fun, spontaneous. And the illustration of Shaquille O'Neal, outstanding!

Interesting, though. I could not find one image of this book on the internet to post in this blog. No mention of it on Amazon, Goodreads, anywhere. Too bad, it's a great book.