Welcome to Inkygirl: Reading, Writing and Illustrating Children's Books (archive list here) which includes my Creating Picture Books series, Advice For Young Writers and IllustratorsWriter's and Illustrator's Guide To Twitter, interviews, my poetry for young readers, #BookADay, writing/publishing industry surveys, and 250, 500, 1000 Words/Day Writing Challenge. Also see my Inkygirl archives,  and comics for writers (including Keiko and Will Write For Chocolate). Also check out my Print-Ready Archives for Teachers, Librarians, Booksellers and Young Readers.

I tweet about the craft and business of writing and illustrating at @inkyelbows. If you're interested in my art or other projects, please do visit DebbieOhi.com. Thanks for visiting! -- Debbie Ridpath Ohi

Entries in bookaday (59)

Tuesday
Jul212015

#BookADay: CONNECTING DOTS by Sharon Jennings (Second Story Press)

‪#‎BookADay‬: CONNECTING DOTS by Sharon Jennings (Second Story Press, 2015). Just finished this last night. Fell in love with Cassie, the main character, and how she and her relationships developed through the story. If you enjoyed Katherine Paterson's THE GREAT GILLY HOPKINS (one of my faves), you should definitely check out CONNECTING DOTS. But first read HOME FREE, which was a finalist for the TD Children's Literature Award and the Governor General's Award -- I only just discovered that CONNECTING DOTS is a companion book written after, am eager to read the first book.

Synosis: "After years of being passed around to various relatives, Cassandra Jovanovich has found a home where she feels she belongs. All she wants to do is forget her past and pursue her dream of becoming an actress. But her new friend, Leanna Mets, 'the most annoying person she has ever met,' wants to know how Cassandra became an orphan, and encourages her to write her story. Cassandra’s memories reveal how the death of her grandmother and the cruelty of the other adults in her life turned her into the distrustful, secretive twelve-year-old she is. But with friendship and the courage to continue her dream of acting, Cassandra might find a way to connect the dots in her life back together."

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More info: Donalyn Miller's Summer Book-A-Day Challenge | Archives of my #BookADay posts

Monday
Jul202015

#BookADay: EL DEAFO by Cece Bell (Abrams)

EL DEAFO by Cece Bell (Abrams, 2014). This has been on my To Read pile for a while, and I finished it on the weekend. TOTALLY lives up to all the hype. I've been a fan of autobiographical comics for a while (thanks to Rand Bellavia) and have become especially intrigued by graphic novel memoirs for young people.

Loved how the facts about how young Cece lost her hearing and coped afterward are deftly woven into engaging storytelling. Love the voice, the overall story arc, how the characters and relationships developed. Cece tells her story honestly, without self-pity, and a healthy dose of humor. Highly, HIGHLY recommended.

I hope to meet Cece in person someday.

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More info: Donalyn Miller's Summer Book-A-Day Challenge | Archives of my #BookADay posts

Saturday
Jul112015

#BookADay: KOALA HOSPITAL by Suzi Eszterhas (Owlkids Books)


KOALA HOSPITAL

Written and photographed by Suzi Eszterhas

Launches from Owlkids Books on Oct. 15, 2015
Juvenile: Age (years) from 7 - 10, Grade (CAN) from 2 - 5, Grade (US) from 2 - 5
ISBN-10: 1771471409 - ISBN-13: 978-1771471404

I picked up the f&gs for KOALA HOSPITAL at ALA at the Owlkids booth because (1) the author was there, looking so friendly and welcoming, and (2) the cover of the book was super-adorable.

I had no idea there was such a thing as a koala hospital until I read this book. Suzi Esterhas's photos are wonderful, giving a young reader a behind-the-scenes glimpse of how koalas are rescued, treated and then released into the wild. Text is engaging and fun, plus there's an excellent section at the end about the conservation of koalas, how young readers can help wildlife in their own neighbourhood, plus a Q&A and glossary.A portion from the sales of the book is being donated to the Koala Hospital in Port Macquarie, Australia.

More about KOALA HOSPITAL on the BNC Catalist

More about Suzi Eszterhas on her website and Twitter.

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More info: Donalyn Miller's Summer Book-A-Day Challenge | Archives of my #BookADay posts

Saturday
Jul042015

#BookADay: MINRS by Kevin Sylvester (Simon & Schuster, Sept/2015)

Appropriately enough, I began and finished Kevin Sylvester's MiNRS underground. It was soOooOooOOoo good that I missed my subway stop. Twice.

MiNRS is Kevin's upcoming action-adventure sf book for middle grade ... though honestly, I believe older readers will enjoy it as well. The premise: A 12-year-old boy and his friends have to survive in the mining tunnels after their new space colony are attacked during an Earth communication blackout.

Love the unexpected plot twists.

Loved the action and adventure, sense of real danger. The darker bits are part of what helps set this sf middle grade apart from others.

Love the main character, Christopher, and how his character develops throughout the story. Love the fact that he's just an ordinary boy (no superpowers, etc.) who has to use resources available to him to figure things out and learn how to be a leader.

Loved the depth of the character interactions and complexity of some of the relationships.

Loved the strong female characters.

Loved the fascinating tech/science behind the asteroid mining process.

Just ***LOVED***.

Can't wait until MiNRS comes out this September from Margaret K. McElderry Books/Simon & Schuster.

And Kevin: I want MORE, PLEASE.

Read about MiNRS on the Simon & Schuster website.

Find out more about Kevin and his work at KevinSylvesterBooks.com.

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More info: Donalyn Miller's Summer Book-A-Day Challenge | Archives of my #BookADay posts

Thursday
Jun182015

#BookADay: FAMILIES, FAMILIES, FAMILIES by Suzanne Lang & Max Lang (Random House Children's)

FAMILIES, FAMILIES, FAMILIES! by Suzanne Lang and Max Lang is a wonderful celebration of family love, no matter what the size or type. Adorable and goofy family portraits included nontraditional as well as traditional families. Published by Random House Children's Books this year.

Suzanne produces, develops and writes for children's television. Max codirected the film adaptation of The Gruffalo (!) as well as the Oscar-nominated adaptation of Room On The Broom.

Excerpt from a School Library Journal review: "The loud-and-clear message is that “if you love each other, then you are a family.” And imagine the many children who will be reassured because they have found a portrait of a family they will recognize as their own. A solid choice for most libraries."

More about the book on the publisher website.

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More info: Donalyn Miller's Summer Book-A-Day Challenge | Archives of my #BookADay posts

Tuesday
Jun162015

#BookADay: THE BLACKTHORN KEY by Kevin Sands (Aladdin/Simon & Schuster)

One of my favourite recent reads is THE BLACKTHORN KEY, a debut novel from Kevin Sands, coming out from Aladdin/Simon & Schuster this September. Wow. Really, REALLY loved this.

When people ask me for recommendations for good, new middle grade novels, I will not hesitate to list this book. It's a quick/easy read with suspense, humor, action and moving moments. Love the character relationships. PLUS there are secret codes, apothecaries and explosions. What's not to love?

Thanks so much to Simon & Schuster Canada for the advance reader's copy.

You can read a synopsis of the book here

I couldn't find a regular website for the author but he's on Twitter at @kevinsandsbooks and has a FB Page.

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More info: Donalyn Miller's Summer Book-A-Day Challenge | Archives of my #BookADay posts

Friday
Jun052015

#BookADay: CITY OF SAVAGES by Lee Kelly (Saga Press, 2015)

#BookADay: CITY OF SAVAGES by Lee Kelly (Saga Press/Simon & Schuster, 2015). I just finished this strong debut from YA author Lee Kelly; I *loved* the focus and development of the sister relationship throughout, and the dual-narrative works really well. Add a suspenseful plot with some unexpected twists, and it's a book that would make an excellent summer read, especially for sf fans.

Synopsis:
"After the Red Allies turn New York City into a POW camp, two sisters must decipher the past in order to protect the future in this action-packed thriller with a dual narrative.

It’s been nearly two decades since the Red Allies first attacked New York, and Manhattan is now a prisoner-of-war camp, ruled by Rolladin and her brutal, impulsive warlords. For Skyler Miller, Manhattan is a cage that keeps her from the world beyond the city’s borders. But for Sky’s younger sister, Phee, the POW camp is a dangerous playground of possibility, and the only home she’d ever want.

When Sky and Phee discover their mom’s hidden journal from the war’s outbreak, they both realize there’s more to Manhattan—and their mother—than either of them had ever imagined. And after a group of strangers arrives at the annual POW census, the girls begin to uncover the island’s long-kept secrets. The strangers hail from England, a country supposedly destroyed by the Red Allies, and Rolladin’s lies about Manhattan’s captivity begin to unravel.

Hungry for the truth, the sisters set a series of events in motion that end in the death of one of Rolladin’s guards. Now they’re outlaws, forced to join the strange Englishmen on an escape mission through Manhattan. Their flight takes them into subways haunted by cannibals, into the arms of a sadistic cult in the city’s Meatpacking District and, through the pages of their mom’s old journal, into the island’s dark and shocking past."

 

 

 

Wednesday
Jun032015

Three Questions with Joyce Wan: Advice For Young Writers and Illustrators, Goal-Setting and THE WHALE IN MY SWIMMING POOL (FSG)

Joyce Wan designed her first greeting card when she was in first grade for a city-wide greeting card design contest. The design won first place and was subsequently sold through a major department store chain. Twenty years later that design would inspire a design studio called Wanart whose products and books featuring Joyce's art are now sold world wide.

I first met Joyce at the SCBWI Summer Convention in Los Angeles, before I got my first children's book contract, and I so appreciated how welcoming and encouraging she was when I was such a nervous newbie. 

You can find Joyce on Wanart.com, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Synopsis for THE WHALE IN MY SWIMMING POOL (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015):

One sunny day, a little boy heads outside for a swim, but his pool is already taken. There’s a big whale in the water and it’s not budging! The boy tries everything to get the whale to leave. Nothing seems to work. Not fetch. Not tag. Not even offering his allowance. What’s a boy to do? A picture book about a boy who makes the best of an unusual situation. This colorful whale of a tale from the talented Joyce Wan is sure to inspire giggles from little guppies!

1. Could you please take a photo of something in your office and tell us the story behind it?

This is the shelf in my studio containing all the copies of my published books that I use for promotional purposes. I’m still amazed that my first book only came out in 2009. Now, 6 years later, there are 10 different books on that shelf with several more to come in the coming years. The road to getting published can be a long, hard one but once the ball gets rolling, a lot can happen in a short amount of time (I’m sure you can relate Debbie!). I feel blessed every time I look at this shelf.

2. What advice do you have for young writers and illustrators?

Keep a sketchbook or notebook with you at all times to jot down all your ideas. No ideas are too silly or simple. I did not submit my book YOU ARE MY CUPCAKE to publishers until a year after developing the concept. I kept worrying that the idea was maybe too simple. It has since gone on to sell over a couple hundred thousand copies and has turned into a whole line of board books with Scholastic. I often wonder how many wonderful ideas never see the light of day because the creators themselves didn’t give it a chance.

Another tip is to set regular, realistic deadlines for yourself. (ie: complete one drawing/painting every week or complete a rough draft of a story every month, etc.) I am a self-trained illustrator but I started my illustration career with my own greeting card business. What helped me develop a style and improve my drawing skills was I would set regular deadlines for myself (ie: 12 greeting cards every month). Not only did my drawing skills improve but I was able to make the overwhelming task of creating an entire greeting card collection seem more feasible.

I think creative people often feel overwhelmed and paralyzed by self-doubt and the emptiness of a blank page. THINK BIG, ACT SMALL, but ACT nonetheless-ONE STEP AT A TIME towards your goals.

3. What are you excited about right now?

I’m excited about wrapping up a few illustration projects including a new picture book series called PEEP & EGG by Laura Gehl and PUG MEETS PIG by Sue Gallion so that I can switch gears and get back into some of my own author/illustrator projects. The best thing about my job is that no two days are the same.

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For more interviews, see my Inkygirl Interview Archive.

Also see Donalyn Miller's Summer Book-A-Day Challenge | Archives of my #BookADay posts

Tuesday
Jun022015

#BookADay: This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki (Groundwood/House Of Anansi)

#BookADay: THIS ONE SUMMER written by Mariko Tamaki​, illustrated by Jillian Tamaki​ (Groundwood Books​/House Of Anansi, 2014). Bought this at The Beguiling Books & Art​ a while back after hearing it won the Governor General's Award for Children's Illustration. I found that the book perfectly captured the feeling of summer in both the text and illustration (the latter made me swoon) and there were so many "omigosh I have so felt like that" small and not-so-small moments of truth throughout.

From the publisher's synopsis:

"Rose and Windy are summer friends whose families have visited Awago Beach for as long as they can remember. But this year is different, and they soon find themselves tangled in teen love and family crisis. From the creators of Skim comes an investigation into the mysterious world of adults.

"Sure, Rose’s dad is still making cheesy and embarrassing jokes, but her mother is acting like she doesn’t even want to be there. Plus, being at the cottage isn’t just about going to the beach anymore. Now Rose and Windy are spending a lot of their time renting scary movies and spying on the teenagers who work at the corner store, as well as learning stuff about sex no one mentioned in health class.

"Pretty soon everything is messed up. Rose’s father leaves the cottage and returns to the city, and her mother becomes more and more withdrawn. While her family is falling to pieces, Rose focuses her attention on Dunc, a teenager working at the local corner store. When Jenny, Dunc’s girlfriend, claims to be pregnant, the girls realize that the teenagers are keeping just as many secrets as the adults in their lives.

"No one seems to want to talk about the things that matter. When the tension between Dunc and Jenny boils over, Jenny makes a desperate and destructive move and Rose's mother is galvanized into action. In the aftermath, nothing is completely resolved, but secrets have been aired, which means that things are at least a bit better for everyone. For Rose and Windy, the end of summer brings the realization that, while Awago Beach might always be the same, they have both been changed forever.

From Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki, creators of the multi-award-winning graphic novel Skim, comes a stunning and authentic story of friendship, illustrated with subtly heart-breaking moments and pure summer joy."

 

 

Thursday
May282015

#BookADay: SHADOW CHASERS by Elly McKay (Running Press)

‪#‎BookADay‬: SHADOW CHASERS by Elly McKay ( Theater Clouds on FB), published by Running Press. I love Elly's absolutely gorgeous paper-theater lightbox illustrations.

Synopsis: "Once evening paints the summer sky, shadows will come out to play. You must move fast, because as quickly as the wind blows, the shadows will be on their way. Chasing after our hopes and dreams may take many tries before we finally catch them. This magical nighttime story shows that the journey is just as remarkable as the destination."

Elly's new BUTTERFLY PARK just came out from Running Press!

You can find Elly on Etsy, on Twitter , on her website.

More about SHADOW CHASERS on the Running Press website.

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More info: Donalyn Miller's Summer Book-A-Day Challenge | Archives of my #BookADay posts

Tuesday
May262015

#BookADay: WON TON AND CHOPSTICK by Lee Wardlaw and Eugene Yelchin (Henry Holt).

Today's #BookADay: WON TON AND CHOPSTICK, written by Lee Wardlaw​, illustrated by Eugene Yelchin​ (Henry Holt).

Synopsis: "Won Ton cat's purrfect life with his boy is changed forever when the family adopts a (gasp!) puppy." More about the book, including a Teacher's Guide & Activity Kit. Lee was kind enough to answer Three Questions for me on Inkygirl.

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More info: Donalyn Miller's Summer Book-A-Day Challenge | Archives of my #BookADay posts

Monday
May252015

#BookADay: FOX AND SQUIRREL MAKE A FRIEND by Ruth Ohi (my sister!!), published by Scholastic Canada

 

#BookADay: FOX AND SQUIRREL MAKE A FRIEND by my awesome sis, Ruth Ohi (published by Scholastic Canada). This was a "Best Books" selection by the The Canadian Children's Book Centre and a "First and Best" Toronto Public Library Selection!

"Is there room for someone else in Fox and Squirrel's friendship? Fox and Squirrel are the best of friends. But when Yellow Bird comes along, he and Squirrel frolic high up in the treetops where Fox can't reach. Fox feels like Squirrel doesn't need him anymore. Can Squirrel help Fox see that there's room in their friendship for another?

The simple text and joyful art together deliver a heartwarming tale with a subtle but profound message about the strengths of friendship, loyalty, and acceptance."

More about my sister and her school visits: http://RuthOhi.com

More about the book: http://www.scholastic.ca/…/v…/fox-and-squirrel-make-a-friend

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More info: Donalyn Miller's Summer Book-A-Day Challenge | Archives of my #BookADay posts

Sunday
May242015

#BookADay | YOU NEST HERE WITH ME by Jane Yolen, Heidi Stemple and Melissa Sweet (Boyds Mill)

Heidi and Jane were kind enough to answer Three Questions for me earlier this year:

Three Questions With Jane Yolen: Advice For Young Writers, Books, Tea and YOU NEST HERE WITH ME

Three Questions With Heidi Stemple: Advice For Young Writers, Owls and YOU NEST HERE WITH ME

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More info: Donalyn Miller's Summer Book-A-Day Challenge | Archives of my #BookADay posts

 

Saturday
May232015

#BookADay | THE YETI FILES: MEET THE BIGFEET by Kevin Sherry (Scholastic)

Wednesday
May202015

#BookADay: NOW THAT YOU'RE HERE (Duplexity, part 1) by Amy K. Nichols

Donalyn Miller has announced her 7th Annual #BookADay Challenge! See this great post about Summer Reading as well more details about the challenge.

I just finished reading Amy Nichols's NOW THAT YOU'RE HERE (Knopf Books For Young Readers) and loved it. Amy and I met back in 2010 (I think it was 2010?) when we were both taking Krista Marino's YA writing workshop at the SCBWI Summer Conference, and I was excited when Amy announced that her debut YA was coming out from Knopf last December.

You can find out more about Amy and her work at AmyKNichols.com. You can read more about NOW THAT YOU'RE HERE on the Penguin Random House website.

The book trailer:

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More info: Donalyn Miller's Summer Book-A-Day Challenge | Archives of my #BookADay posts

Monday
Jan192015

Uncle Montague's Tales Of Terror, plus advice for writers and illustrators

 

Just finished reading Uncle Montague's Tales Of Terror by Chris Priestley, with wonderfully creepy illustrations by David Roberts. I've always been a fan of scary stories ever since I was little and I used to write a lot of scary, sinister short stories in grade school. My eighth grade teacher attended my I'M BORED book launch, which was a total (and wonderful) surprise, and apparently he was telling my husband about how many of the stories I wrote back then were very dark.

I don't read as much horror now but I do still love indulging in creating creepydark illustrations sometimes, just for the fun of it.

Speaking of illustrations, here's a fun interview on The Independent's children's book blog with illustrator David Roberts. Interesting that David says he doesn't think much about the age group when he's working on book illustrations. He says his work is more a response to the story. His tip for aspiring illustrators: "Don't be afraid of that vast expanse of white paper (or I guess these days you could say computer screen). Sometimes your mistakes can be good and you can always start again if you don’t like it."

Chris Priestly advises young writers to have at least a rough outline of their story. "Give yourself a decent start and plan where you are going. You don’t have to stick to it – but it will make your life easier and it will mean that you will be less likely to give up."

More info about Uncle Montague's Tales Of Terror on the Bloomsbury website

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For more: please see the archives of my #BookADay posts, which began when I participated in Donalyn Miller's #bookaday challenge.

Wednesday
Dec172014

#BookADay: ALONG A LONG ROAD by Frank Viva (Little, Brown Books For Young Readers)

#bookaday: ALONG A LONG ROAD by fellow Canadian Frank Viva (Little, Brown). Love the simple palette and gorgeous retro-style art as well as the glossy yellow road (you can't help but want to touch the pages) that runs throughout.

More about Frank Viva on his website and you can also find him on Twitter at @VIVAandCO.

More info about ALONG A LONG ROAD on the Little, Brown Books for Young Readers website.

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Find out more about Donalyn Miller's Book-A-Day Challenge on the Nerdy Book Club site, and you can read archives of my #BookADay posts.

Monday
Dec152014

Holiday Kidlit: DASHING THROUGH THE SNOW by Helaine Becker & Werner Zimmerman (Scholastic Canada)

Looking for some Canadian holiday kidlit cheer? Try DASHING THROUGH THE SNOW: A CANADIAN JINGLE BELLS, a new book written by my friend Helaine Becker, illustrated by Werner Zimmermann, companion to their #1 national bestseller, A PORCUPINE IN A PINE TREE. More info about DASHING on the Scholastic Canada site.

More about Helaine: http://www.helainebecker.com/

More about Werner: http://wernerzimmermann.ca/

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Also see my other #BookADay posts.

Thursday
Nov132014

Book I read: THE UNLIKELY HERO OF ROOM 13B by Teresa Toten

Just finished Teresa Toten's THE UNLIKELY HERO OF ROOM 13B. Wow, loved this book so much; it was one of those stories that made me laugh and cry at the same time. Wonderful voice. I also learned a lot about OCD. Highly recommended! I was also lucky enough to hear Teresa's inspiring opening keynote at CANSCAIP's Packaging Your Imagination and chat with her a bit afterward. SUCH a nice person!

Info: More about TeresaMore about the book (including an excerpt).

Wednesday
Oct152014

#BookADay: A HITCH AT THE FAIRMONT by Jim Averbeck, illustrated by Nick Bertozzi

#BookADay: A HITCH AT THE FAIRMONT by Jim Averbeck, with very cool chapter heading comic illustrations by Nick Bertozzi. Fun and satisfying read with some great twists, and I loved the fact that young Jack is an artist.  

Advice for new illustrators and writers from Jim Averbeck from his interview on Kidlit411.com:
"Grow a thick skin. Get great teachers. Challenge yourself. Value yourself. Put all of your heart into each story, but don’t put all of your heart into only one story. Surround yourself with creative people. And if you can manage to get hold of a trust fund, do so." :-)

Synopsis: "An intrepid boy teams up with Alfred Hitchcock himself in this rollicking mystery rife with action, adventure, intrigue, and all the flavor of film noir.

After the mysterious death of his mother, eleven-year-old Jack Fair is whisked away to San Francisco's swanky Fairmont Hotel by his wicked Aunt Edith. There, he seems doomed to a life of fetching chocolates for his aunt and her pet chinchilla. Until one night, when Aunt Edith disappears, and the only clue is a ransom note written... in chocolate?

Suddenly, Jack finds himself all alone on a quest to discover who kidnapped Aunt Edith and what happened to his mother. Alone, that is, until he meets an unlikely accomplice: Alfred Hitchcock himself! The two embark on a madcap journey full of hidden doorways, secret societies, cryptic clues, sinister villains, and cinematic flair."

More about the author: http://www.jimaverbeckbooks.com/

More about the illustrator: http://nickbertozzi.com/

More about the book on the S&S site: http://books.simonandschuster.com/Hitch-at-the-Fairmont/Jim-Averbeck/9781442494473
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