Monday, January 20, 2020

Multicultural Children's Book Day Review: Sissy Goes Tiny

I'm thrilled to be participating in Multicultural Children's Book Day this year! The first book I was gifted to review for the event is SISSY GOES TINY, written by Rebecca Flansburg BA Norrgard, and illustrated by Penny Weber. It is published by Audrey Press.

Description: 

Eight-year-old Sissy loves her life. She loves her toys, her Big house, and her Big backyard. But when Sissy’s parents decide they are going to live in a Tiny House on wheels and travel around the U.S., Sissy isn’t sure that she will like the idea of “living tiny.” But as she and her mommy and daddy learn about downsizing, repurposing, and how “stuff is just stuff” in a positive way, Sissy soon understands that living Tiny has BIG possibilities; possibilities for all sorts of adventures and learning.

My Review:

I have long been fascinated by the "Go Tiny" movement and those who have chosen to live that way. Sissy Goes Tiny gives beautiful insight into why a person or family might choose to change their lives so dramatically. In this book, Sissy loves her life. She loves her big room, and big house, and big yard. So she is a little alarmed when her parents come tell her they will be moving into a smaller, movable house that they can take with them wherever they decide to go.

I have to confess. I felt Sissy's alarm. I imagined how I would feel if, as a kid, I were asked to give up the place I loved, where I'd grown up. Honestly, I feel that alarm even as an adult. But I loved the way the book takes the reader through the process of going from Big to Small. It is about focusing on having fewer things, but more experiences. And that is definitely something I can understand wanting more of.


While I am not ready to go tiny myself, this book helped me to understand those who are. It helped me to understand why someone might choose to go tiny. And understanding how someone else feels creates empathy, which is always a good thing. Sissy Goes Tiny would be a great book for anyone considering the tiny life themselves, but it is also a great book for anyone who is interested in learning more about the tiny movement, or anyone who enjoys learning about the world around them. In other words, I think this book would be great for anyone.

I loved the unique topic (I haven't seen any other picture books on going tiny), I appreciated the diversity of having the central characters represented as a beautiful mixed-race family, and I definitely recommend you check out this fascinating story! #ReadYourWorld


~~~


In 2012, bucking societal exceptions and following her inner guidance, B.A. (Beth Ann) Norrgard shed her paralegal costume after 26 years in a downtown high rise and hand-built her tiny house.  She is a passionate advocate for others following their dreams and letting go of societal conditioning, and being free to live a larger life in a smaller space.  BA is a doer.  She has traveled over 14,000 miles with her house and writes about her minimalist, vegan life on her website, banorrgard.com

Rebecca Flansburg is the long-time project manager of Multicultural Children’s Book Day and Head Elf for Audrey Press. She is also an author, freelance writer, and blogger from Minnesota who writes about parenthood topics and being a solopreneur. She is mom to two humans and critter mom to way too many pets. Rebecca credits her quick wit and positive outlook on life for keeping her sane and successful. She is a member of Brainerd Writers Alliance and readers can also find her at BeckyFlansburg.com or on Instagram.

Penny Weber is a full-time illustrator from Long Island, New York, where she’s lived all of her life. She creates digital illustrations that mimic the look of watercolor and traditional painting. Penny attended the School of Visual Arts in New York City where she studied graphic design and illustration. In 2007 quickly signed with Wendy Mays and Janice Onken to be represented by WendyLynn & Company, (www.wendylynn.com). Penny has illustrated many books for the trade and educational market.




~~~
Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2020 (1/31/20) is in its 7th year! This non-profit children’s literacy initiative was founded by Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen; two diverse book-loving moms who saw a need to shine the spotlight on all of the multicultural books and authors on the market while also working to get those book into the hands of young readers and educators. 


Seven years in, MCBD’s mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves continues.

MCBD 2020  is honored to have the following Medallion Sponsors on board


Super Platinum


Platinum


Gold


Silver


Bronze


Author Sponsor Link Cloud

Jerry Craft, A.R. Bey and Adventures in Boogieland, Eugina Chu & Brandon goes to Beijing, Kenneth Braswell & Fathers Incorporated, Maritza M. Mejia & Luz del mes_Mejia, Kathleen Burkinshaw & The Last Cherry Blossom, SISSY GOES TINY by Rebecca Flansburg and B.A. Norrgard, Josh Funk and HOW TO CODE A ROLLERCOASTER, Maya/Neel Adventures with Culture GrooveLauren Ranalli, The Little Green Monster: Cancer Magic! By Dr. Sharon Chappell, Phe Lang and Me On The Page, Afsaneh Moradian and Jamie is Jamie, Valerie Williams-Sanchez and Valorena Publishing, TUMBLE CREEK PRESS, Nancy Tupper Ling, Author Gwen Jackson, Angeliki Pedersen & The Secrets Hidden Beneath the Palm Tree, Author Kimberly Gordon Biddle, BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 by Mia Wenjen, Susan Schaefer Bernardo & Illustrator Courtenay Fletcher (Founders of Inner Flower Child Books), Ann Morris & Do It Again!/¡Otra Vez!, Janet Balletta and Mermaids on a Mission to Save the Ocean, Evelyn Sanchez-Toledo & Bruna Bailando por el Mundo\ Dancing Around the World, Shoumi Sen & From The Toddler Diaries, Sarah Jamila Stevenson, Tonya Duncan and the Sophie Washington Book Series, Teresa Robeson  & The Queen of Physics, Nadishka Aloysius and Roo The Little Red TukTuk, Girlfriends Book Club Baltimore & Stories by the Girlfriends Book Club, Finding My Way Books, Diana Huang & Intrepids, Five Enchanted Mermaids, Elizabeth Godley and Ribbon’s Traveling Castle, Anna Olswanger and Greenhorn, Danielle Wallace & My Big Brother Troy, Jocelyn Francisco and Little Yellow Jeepney, Mariana Llanos & Kutu, the Tiny Inca Princess/La Ñusta Diminuta, Sara Arnold & The Big Buna Bash, Roddie Simmons & Race 2 Rio, DuEwa Frazier & Alice’s Musical Debut, Veronica Appleton & the Journey to Appleville book series  Green Kids Club, Inc.

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.

Co-Hosts and Global Co-Hosts

A Crafty Arab, Afsaneh Moradian, Agatha Rodi Books, All Done Monkey, Barefoot Mommy, Bethany Edward & Biracial Bookworms, Michelle Goetzl & Books My Kids Read, Crafty Moms Share, Colours of Us, Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes, Educators Spin on it, Shauna Hibbitts-creator of eNannylink, Growing Book by Book, Here Wee Read, Joel Leonidas & Descendant of Poseidon Reads {Philippines}, Imagination Soup, Kid World Citizen, Kristi’s Book Nook, The Logonauts, Mama Smiles, Miss Panda Chinese, Multicultural Kid Blogs, Serge Smagarinsky {Australia}, Shoumi Sen, Jennifer Brunk & Spanish Playground, Katie Meadows and Youth Lit Reviews

FREE RESOURCES from Multicultural Children’s Book Day


TWITTER PARTY! Register here!




Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Conquering Fears

Over the holiday break, my boys and I had a chance to do some rock climbing on a climbing wall. You pull on the harness. They clip you in. You choose "Easy," "Medium," or "Hard." And off you go.

It sounds so simple, and really, the wall isn't that high. But about halfway up, I caught a glimpse of the down. I had to refocus myself on simply finding the next handhold. Conquering my fears one step at a time.

Conquering FearsMy 13-yo got to just about the same point when he called down, "I think I have to come down!" He'd hit that same wall. But he didn't know how to get past it.
Now, I knew he was safe. He was buckled in. The rope and mechanisms would catch him if he fell. I'd already done it myself, and I knew he could do it. 

So I called to him, "Keep going! You're almost there. You can do this!"

And he did. He made it to the top. Pressed the buzzer in proof, then rappelled down to safety. Man, was that kid proud of himself!" He had faced down his fears and come out the other side as the conquering hero. There is something truly empowering in that.

Fear is a real thing. It can take hold of our minds and hearts, and can physically make us ill. It can keep us from doing the things we want to do, or from even trying to accomplish the things we want to accomplish. It whispers in our ears:

You aren't good enough.
That is too hard for you.
You should stick to what you know.

But those are lies. If we refocus ourselves, take things one step at a time, and stop thinking about those fears, we can conquer them! Maybe not on our first try, but if we keep trying, it will happen.

Sometimes we need outside support, and that's okay! That's why you should surround yourself with people who build you up. People who believe in you. People who can see things from a different perspective. Find those people! Search them out, then hold them close. I know it's made a huge difference in my life.

Conquering fears is hard. It can be scary. It can take time. LOTS of it! But I tell you what, that feeling you get when you finally make it is worth it.

Remember.

You ARE good enough!
Nothing is too hard if you're determined.
Learning new things is amazing!

What fears are you hoping to conquer?

Monday, January 6, 2020

The Art of Trying Something New

Good morning all my wonderful friends! I hope you had a fabulous weekend and a terrific holiday break, whatever you may celebrate.

With the new year (not to mention new DECADE), it's certainly a time of reflection. Looking back over the past ten years, a lot has changed for me. I moved from DC to Missouri, to Oregon, and now Utah. I began taking writing seriously. I signed with an agent. I sold a middle grade book. I broke up with my agent, and signed with another agent. I started writing picture books. I sold a picture book.

But life is way more than just books. I raised three kids from toddlers to teenagers (well, tweenager for the youngest). I struggled with feeling lonely and like a failure. I left my job of 15 years as translator. I watched my mom go through a stroke. I lost my last two grandparents. . . .

Life is full of ups and downs, and stress, and hard things. And while I used to turn to writing to escape it all, writing has become it's own kind of stress now that I'm published. It took me a while to realize I needed a new creative outlet, but I do.

In the past I've done scrap-booking. I've played piano and guitar. I had a brief stint at taking violin lessons. I've tried wood-carving, cake decorating, toll painting, and even photography. There are so many options. I certainly don't expect to become a master at any of these, but trying new things brings so much joy. It gets me excited. And just for an hour or two, it takes me away from the hard things of life.

Most recently, I signed up for a lovely webinar titled Watercolors with Jessixa Bagley, through Storytellers Academy. I haven't gotten to the watercolor part just yet, but it's been so fun (and humbling) to learn just what goes into an illustration.

Image result for laundry day jessixa bagley
Jessixa is the author/illustrator of many books, but we've been using a page from Laundry Day to have something to work on. Isn't it adorable?

She showed us the process of drawing and the tools to use (and how to use them). She taught us how to transfer a drawing from scratch paper to watercolor paper. And I can't wait to get to the watercolor part! 

Just for fun, I'll show you some of my attempts. First, to give a frame of reference, this is Jessixa's original drawing from the book that we were working towards:

Image result for laundry day jessixa bagley

She has us block in the basic shapes using bluelines. Did you know there was a pencil color called "Non-photo Blue"? I did not know this. But it's a shade that can't be detected by graphic arts camera film, or can be made to disappear by adjusting the contrast and brightness. Here is my attempt (covered with the mess of my transfer attempts from later on, so just ignore that). Hard to see, yeah?


Once we had the general shapes, we moved to more detailed sketching. I mean, mine could definitely be worse.


Next we used tracing paper to capture the main elements. Tracing is also a time to clean up your lines. Haha! Well, I did try.


And finally, we transferred the image to watercolor paper, and commenced with inking.


These efforts may not look like much, but that was a time-intensive activity! Major concentration involved, and all kinds of new appreciation for what goes into illustration. I haven't completed the course, but I've already learned so much. AND I've had fun doing it. Seriously, I highly recommend Jessixa's class. Check it out at the Storyteller Academy page.

But let's get real: I'm never going to be an illustrator (because frankly, I don't intend to put in the time to hone that ability . . . it just doesn't call to me the way writing does). But trying makes me happy. It relieves my stress. It makes me appreciate illustrators even more . . . and it makes me appreciate writing even more.

If you find yourself in a funk, don't be afraid to try something new! Maybe it'll be sketching and watercoloring, like I've chosen. Maybe it'll be dance. Maybe it'll be gardening or ice sculpting or baking macaroons. Whatever it is, allow yourself to be imperfect and just enjoy the doing. Because the art of trying something new is not about being or becoming an expert. It's about finding things that bring you joy. And who knows? Maybe you'll discover something that you do want to become an expert in. 😊

What new things are you trying lately?

Monday, December 16, 2019

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays!

This beautiful family illustration was done by Eri Miranda. You can find her HERE.

I will be busy spending time with my family for the rest of December, so I won't be posting here on my blog until January. My family celebrates Christmas, and here are some of our traditions:

  • We decorate a fake tree every year, and we collect ornaments everywhere we travel to remind us of all our adventures. 
  • We give cinnamon twists to our neighbors. 
  • We go to at least one Christmas event (this year it was A Christmas Carol, the musical). 
  • We drive around to see lights. 
  • We do a Lego advent calendar. 
  • We memorize the Christmas story from Luke 2 in the Bible. 
  • The kids get pajamas on Christmas Eve. 
  • And we have a big breakfast on Christmas morning before opening any presents. 


I'd love it if you'd share about the holiday you celebrate, and any special traditions you have!

Monday, December 9, 2019

Computer Animation (& Books!)

Today's the day! I finally get to share an animated page from HELP WANTED, MUST LOVE BOOKS! But before we go there, let's talk Computer Animation (& Books! . . . because of course). And I want to start with a story:

Many moons ago, I was at an auction to raise money for some youth camps. One of the offerings was an animated image done by Ira Baker (who happens to be THE GUY who works with Sandra Boynton on her very fabulous videos). Cool right??!

Well, at that time, I did not have a book out. I had a very recent book deal, but for middle grade. I didn't see how I could use this offering, but my husband is a visionary. Without telling me, he bid on it and won!

Ira and I chatted about ways I could use it, but I just didn't have the right project, and he very kindly let me put it on hold. Fast forward five years (yes, FIVE), and I finally had the perfect images from 
HELP WANTED, MUST LOVE BOOKS, my upcoming picture book.

I got permission from my publisher, Capstone, to animate a page, and sent Ira my ideas along with some of the images done by Courtney Dawson, the illustrator.

He was brilliant! 

I think I watched the clip he sent for a good half-hour on repeat. And guess what??! Not only will I be sharing that clip with you, today, but when I learned Ira also does book trailers for other authors, I convinced him to answer some questions about computer animation, book trailers, and more.  

On to the interview! (Like usual, I'm the one in bold green type.)

How did you get started working with computer animation?

I enjoyed animation as a child but never thought it could actually be a career path for me.  However, I was very into making videos which eventually led me to the BYU film department.  While there, I tried to get exposure to all aspects of filmmaking, and even became proficient in 3D animation. I was struck by how I could tell a story all by myself, and that story would be a simpler and “purer” representation of my ideas than I could achieve in live action. After college I went on to have a career as a video editor, but it was my new ability to create imagery through animation that proved to be the most valued skill to my clients. After a few years, I realized that I was rushing through my edits just so I could get to “the fun stuff.” I wondered “why can't I do the 'fun stuff' all the time?” So I made a few tweaks to my career path and became a full-time animator.

I love that you figured it out and made changes. So tell us more about the "fun stuff." What is your favorite project that you've gotten to work on? 

Sandra Boynton's TYRANNOSAURUS FUNK - Sung by Samuel L. Jackson.




Okay, I may have watched this video two or twenty times. I love Tyrannosaurus Funk so much! Samuel L. Jackson is amazing. His voice!! And wow, Sandra Boynton is a brilliant writer. How cool is it that you've worked with Sandra Boynton on so many projects! How did you get that gig?

I worked for a time with a company in Provo called Kaleidoscope Pictures who handled the film production for Franklin Covey. Kaleidoscope wanted to use a song that Sandra had written to illustrate one of the Seven Principles. I was the only person on staff at the time that had any animation experience, so the whole production fell on my shoulders. For one whole gloriously creative month, I lived and breathed 2D animation and became forever enamored with it's aesthetic and charm. When the animation was finished, we all held our breath and waited for Sandra's approval. She loved it! After a few years she wanted to do some animated projects herself and she called me up. We've been working together ever since.

Talk about being in the right place at the right time. I think it's so inspiring to see how giving something your best can lead to opportunities you never could have foreseen.

So I'd love to know more about the process of making a book trailer. When you work with an author to create a book trailer, how does the collaboration work? Does the author plan it, and then you carry it out? Do you help coordinate the content? Or something totally different? Tell
us about it!

Sometimes the author has very specific ideas, sometimes I'm given more free reign to tell the story as I see it. There's no right way to do it as long as we're both proud of the end result. The important thing is to keep the author constantly informed of my progress and showing him/her everything as it is finished.

Communication is so important! It makes all the difference. So how much new art do you have to create for a book trailer? 

Usually the animation is based on the book illustrations, because that's all that exists. I go through a lot of Photoshop work separating the characters from the background and then breaking the characters down into layers that can be individually moved. After that, I rig the characters so they can go through the full range of motions and/or expressions that each scene demands.

I usually approach each illustration as a frozen moment in time and ask myself “what events brought these characters to this exact moment in time?” and “what happens immediately after this moment?” Then I make the characters do what those answers suggest; always trying to infuse as much charm, personality and storytelling into the process. If the author and I disagree, I will make adjustments until the author is happy with the result.

So fascinating! As an author, I ask a lot of those same questions when writing. Story is so important. I love that it's at the heart of a good book trailer. 

What advice do you have for any future computer animators out there?

There are so many resources available now that I never had! You can take courses online and watch free tutorials on YouTube if the college route is not for you. The secret is to find a story to tell and then start making animation right away! Even if you don't fully understand the software, you can learn quickly as you go if you are passionate about your ideas.

Where can authors contact you if they are interested in having you create a book trailer for them?

You can email me at iratheanimator@gmail.com or follow me on instagram @iratheanimator.

Thank you so much for your time! Computer animation is such an interesting field, and I've really enjoyed learning more about what you do and especially how it connects to books and stories.

And so, without further ado, here is the page from my book that Ira animated:



Isn't it so fun! I love how the book flops and the hair bounces. Those details really make it shine! Thank you so much, Ira!

HELP WANTED, MUST LOVE BOOKS is available for pre-order now!

Monday, December 2, 2019

In the Hot Seat

Hi all! I hope you had a lovely weekend and Thanksgiving. Today, I'm in the hot seat over at Melissa Roske's blog as part of her Ask the Author series.

If you haven't visited before, definitely check it out! She uses the Proust Questionnaire, and some of those questions are hard! It's so fascinating to see how authors respond. And to try to figure out how YOU would respond.

In fact, if you want to come back and tell me how you would respond to any particular question, I would love that.

Have a lovely week, and be sure to come visit next Monday, December 9th. I'll be interviewing Ira Baker, the computer animator who works with Sandra Boynton on her super fun videos. He also does book trailers. So excited to have him stop in!


(just a beautiful picture of the Tetons to send you on your way to making it a wonderful week)

Monday, November 25, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to you all! The United States celebrates Thanksgiving on the 4th Thursday of the month (which means we're never certain when it is without a calendar), which happens to fall on November 28th this year.

I've read a lot about the troubling past of this holiday, and I'm super looking forward to Kate Messner's new series History Smashers, which starts with a tale about the Mayflower.

That said, Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to consider all the things we are grateful for. Gratitude is something we don't seem to have enough of in this world, so here are my top five things I'm grateful for:

1. My family.
(These people are my rock. They are there for me in all the best and worst and mediocre-est moments of my life. I would be lost without them).


2. A book coming out next year.
(I don't take this for granted at all. Getting a book published is tough. No matter what road you take. And heck, even writing one is a BIG DEAL! So much gratitude that I'm in a position I can both write them, and have the opportunity to have one published.)


3. My faith in God, and my beliefs.
(I don't talk about this much here on my blog, but my beliefs are my compass. They give me direction, and I'm who I am because of them.)


4. My friends
(IRL ones, writing ones, social media ones, ALL OF YOU! Wish I had a big picture with you all in it, but I don't. Sorry if you aren't shown, I still love you and am grateful for you!)


5. Cookies.
(Whoever invented them, THANK YOU!)


Happy Thanksgiving! And please tell me what you are grateful for! I'd love to hear. :)