Monday, November 19, 2012

What is it about Picture Books? PLUS a darling giveaway!

Read a terrific Guest Post by Lori Mortensen!

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November 19, 2012
What is it about Picture Books?
~with Lori Mortensen~
PLUS we're giving away one of her books!!
What Is It About Picture Books?
Lori Mortensen 

Ever since I was a little kid and excitedly checked out Where the Wild Things Are from the Gregory Gardens Elementary School library for a special birthday night reading, I've had a special place in my heart for picture books. Within a mere thirty-two pages, they manage to be funny, touching, clever, rambunctious, surprising, suspenseful, and memorable. 
When I was small, writing them was the farthest thing from my mind. I was short and shy, but whenever I opened them up, I was instantly drawn away into worlds far away from my ordinary home on Jennie Drive.
Later as a dance major in college, I spent most of my time sweating and spinning across the dance floor. But when there was a lull in the action, I'd find myself wandering around the children's section of the campus book store. As I paged through the picture books, I idly wondered how someone became a part of such a magical endeavor, but it wasn't really a question. Wherever authors lived, they lived far away from me and somehow it seemed as if only people who were born to the profession had the right to claim it.  

Come See the Earth Turn by Lori Mortensen 

So when did I begin writing? I was a  
stay-at-home mother of three when I was reintroduced to children's literature and secretly wondered-could I write a picture book? The idea was stunning, as if I'd challenged the laws of the universe. What did I have to say? What did I want to say for my children, and the child in me?  
Many years later, that's still the exciting reason I sit down at my keyboard and bring a story to life. When I sit down at the keyboard, the screen becomes a vacant world, that I fill as I please with characters, plots, and themes that take shape from my own thoughts, feelings, and motivations. Sometimes it's hard to get started, but once I do and I know where I'm going, there's nothing more exciting than wrestling with words on the page until they fall into their proper place
Cindy Moo  by Lori Mortensen 
What is it about picture books? They're a lot harder to write than they look. Picture books are so short, I'm sure many people pick them up and think they could knock one out in five minutes if they just had the time. The text is so short, how could it take any longer? Short as they are, however, the beauty of pictures books is how they pack so much into so little-character, drama, rhythm, rhyme, and meaningful undercurrents of theme. When they unfold across two eager laps in a chair, it's an invitation to share a new world together through extraordinary pictures and words. Some of my favorites? King Bidgood's Bath by Audrey and Don Wood; The Night Moon Fell Down, by Linda Smith; and The Recess Queen by Alexis O'Neil.  

Ringity Zingity.

What is it about picture books? I love them and I love writing them. There's nothing I'd rather do (although dancing comes close.) And if children ever think that any of my picture books such as Cindy Moo, In the Trees, Honey Bees!, Come See the Earth Turn - The Story of Leon Foucault, and my upcoming book, Cowpoke Clyde and Dirty Dawg are clever, awesome, or ringity, zingity, then I'd be delighted.   

Maybe one day, it'll be my book that's tucked under the arm of an excited child on their way home for a special birthday night reading.

In the Trees, Honey Bees by Lori Mortensen!

Lori Mortensen
is an award-winning author of over three dozen books and more than 100 stories and articles that have appeared in Highlights, Ladybug, Jack and Jill, The Friend,
and many other publications. Like a detective on the trail for a clue, Lori follows her writing interests wherever they lead her-sometimes to a fascinating French scientist who proved the earth turned (Come See the Earth Turn: The Story of Léon Foucault, Random House 2010) and other times to the remarkable insider activities of a honey bee hive (In the Trees, Honey Bees!  Dawn Publications, 2009, winner of multiple awards including the NSTA/CBC Outstanding Science Book for Students K to 12.) Her titles with Picture Window Books, Capstone Press, Stone Arch Books, KidHaven Press, and Marshall Cavendish Benchmark Books include early readers, biographies, American history, mid-grade nonfiction, and first graphic novels.  

For the past six years, Lori has also been an instructor for the Institute of Children's Literature helping hundreds of students explore the fascinating world of writing for children.
Her latest release is Cindy Moo, a rhyming picture book with HarperCollins (2012) featuring a spunky cow that sets out to prove that cows really can leap over the moon. This hilarious picture book will have readers of all stripes (and spots) cheering for its determined heroine. Look for her rhyming picture book Cowpoke Clyde and Dirty Dawg from Clarion next spring about a cowpoke determined to pop his dirty dawg in the tub. Of course, Dawg will have none of it.  

Rollicking verse with page-turn surprises makes this uproarious tall tale a rootin' tootin' read-aloud. To learn more about Lori and her books, visit her website at Visit her blog at Lori Mortenson's Blog!  and view her book trailers at YouTube.  

 Black Stripes
Meet the Spellbinders

Kim Bio Photo
Kimberley Griffiths Little is the recipient of the Southwest Book Award, The Whitney Award for Best Youth Novel of 2010, and the author of the highly acclaimed, The Healing Spell and Circle of Secrets, published by Scholastic Press. Look for her books at the Scholastic Book Fairs, as well Circle of Secrets
as two more forthcoming novels in 2012 and 2013. She lives on a dirt road in a small town by the Rio Grande with her husband, a robotics engineer and their three sons. Kimberley is a favorite speaker at schools around the country, presenting "The Creative Diary", a highly successful writing
workshop and has been a speaker at many conferences. Please
to download free Teacher's Guides and Book Club Guides. 

Follow me on Twitter 

 Carolee Dean
Carolee Dean has made numerous appearances as a guest poet/author at schools, libraries, poetry events, and teacher/library conferences. She holds a bachelor's degree in music therapy and a master's degree in communicative disorders, and she has spent over a decade working in the public schools as a Comfort Paperback Coverspeech-language pathologist. Her first novel, Comfort,was nominated as a Best Book for Young Adults, was named the Best YA Novel of 2002 by the Texas Institute of Letters, and was on the TAYSHAS (Texas Library Association) reading list. She conducts teacher trainings on inspiring reluctant writers including "The Secret Language of Stories" and "Random Take Me There CoverActs of Haiku."

To find teacher's guides, writing activities, and information about author visits, go to

 Follow me on Twitter 

Caroline Starr Rose
Caroline Starr Rose spent her childhood in the deserts of Saudi Arabia and New Mexico, camping at the Red Sea in one and eating red chile in the other. She's taught English and social studies to upper elementary and middle-school students in New Mexico, Florida, Virginia, and Louisiana. Back in New 
Mexico, Caroline now writes middle-grade novels and picture books full time.
May B


 October 27, 2012
6-7 p.m.
Alamosa Books
Albuquerque, NM

November 3, 2012
YALSA Literature Symposium 
"Author Research Panel"
Carolee Dean
and four other authors
St. Louis, Missouri

February 2, 2013
Montgomery Teen Book Festival
Carolee Dean
Kimberley Griffiths Little
Houston, TX


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Winner of The Southwest Book Award!

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