Thursday, June 25, 2015

6 Bold Books: Graphics Gone Wild

from Space Race
Cole, Tom Clohosy. (2012). Space Race. London, UK: Nobrow.

Cosmos, Golden. (2012).  High Times: A History of Aviation. London, UK: Nobrow.

Lie, Bjorn Rune. (2012).  The Wolf's Whistle. London, UK: Nobrow.
from Mister Horizontal & Miss Vertical
Revah, Noemie. (2014). Mister Horizontal & Miss Vertical. Illustrated by Olimpia Zagnoli. Brooklyn, NY: Enchanted Lion Books.

from Professor Astro Cat's Frontiers of Space.
Walliman, Dominic. (2014). Professor Astro Cat's Frontiers of Space. Illustrated by Ben Newman. London, UK: Nobrow.

from A Long Piece of String.
Wondriska, William. (2010). A Long Piece of String. San Francisco, CA Chronicle Books.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015


South Bronx on the Map (M.A. Reilly, June 2, 2014)

             - Rita Dove

Back when the earth was new
and heaven just a whisper,
back when the names of things
hadn’t had time to stick;

back when the smallest breezes
melted summer into autumn,
when all the poplars quivered
sweetly in rank and file . . .

the world called, and I answered.
Each glance ignited to a gaze.
I caught my breath and called that life,
swooned between spoonfuls of lemon sorbet.

I was pirouette and flourish,
I was filigree and flame.
How could I count my blessings
when I didn’t know their names?

Back when everything was still to come,
luck leaked out everywhere.
I gave my promise to the world,
and the world followed me here.

Rita Dove from On the Bus With Rosa Parks. Copyright ©1999 by Rita Dove. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

8 New Traditional Tales: Books to Anticipate

I have spent the last few months ensconced in making ebooks filled with instructional maps and plans focused on teaching traditional tales such as fables, fairy tales, myths, and epics in picture book and novel form. The stories these tales tell are impressive and the language is memorable.  I'll be releasing all of four ebooks in July and they will be downloadable through iTunes (for free!). Some is work I have composed across the last three years and much of it has been used in K-5 classrooms in Newark, NJ. The remainder is new and with a group of teachers we will be using these materials while teaching this year.  Of course, the teachers and children will be changing and adapting the instructional maps as they work.  

Given the ebook form, I'll update as we go along. Maps need not be static. 

In this post I want to highlight a few upcoming books I think you will treasure.  These are all original traditional tales and I have my eye on them as I think about upcoming books to create.

sample page spread from the book “The Hunter’s Promise”, written by Joseph Bruchac and illustrated by Bill Farnsworth
from The Hunter's Promise. Illustration by Bill Farnsworth.

Bruchac, Joseph. (Sept., 2015). The Hunter's Promise: An Abenaki Tale.  Illustrated by Bill Farnsworth. Bloomington, IN: Wisdom Tales. 

from The Hare and the Hedgehog. Illustration by Jonas Lauströer. 

Grimm, The Brothers. (Sept., 2015). The Hare & the Hedgehog. Illustrated by Jonas Lauströer. Bargteheide: Minedition. 

sample spread from the book “Princess Rosie’s Rainbows”, by Bette Killion and Kim Jacobs
from Princess Rosie's Rainbows. Illustration by Kim Jacobs.

Killion, Bette. (October, 2015). Princess Rosie’s Rainbows. Illustrated by Kim Jacobs. Bloomington, IN: Wisdom Tales. 

Sadako's Cranes cover image

Loske, Judith. (Sept., 2015). Sadako's Cranes.  Bargteheide: Minedition. 

Miyakoshi, Akiko. (August, 2015). The Tea Party in the Woods. Tonawanda, NY: Kids Can Press.

from Jackrabbit McCabe and the Electric Telegraph. Illustration by Leo Espinosa.
Rozier, Lucy Margaret. (Sept., 2015). Jackrabbit McCabe and the Electric Telegraph. Illustrated by Leo Espinosa. New York: Schwartz & Wade. 

sample page spread from the book “The Green Musician”, written by Mahvash Shahegh and illustrated by Claire Ewart
from The Green Musician. Illustration by Claire Ewart. 

Shahegh, Mahvash. (August, 2015). The Green Musician. Illustrated by Claire Ewart. Bloomington, IN: Wisdom Tales.

sample spread from the book “Whispers of the Wolf”, by Pauline Ts’o

from Whispers of the Wolf by Pauline Ts'o.
Ts’o, Pauline. (October, 2015). Whispers of the Wolf. Bloomington, IN: Wisdom Tales.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Faint Music

Bass (M.A. Reilly, 2010)
Faint Music

Maybe you need to write a poem about grace.

When everything broken is broken,   
and everything dead is dead,
and the hero has looked into the mirror with complete contempt,
and the heroine has studied her face and its defects
remorselessly, and the pain they thought might,
as a token of their earnestness, release them from themselves
has lost its novelty and not released them,
and they have begun to think, kindly and distantly,
watching the others go about their days—
likes and dislikes, reasons, habits, fears—
that self-love is the one weedy stalk
of every human blossoming, and understood,
therefore, why they had been, all their lives,   
in such a fury to defend it, and that no one—
except some almost inconceivable saint in his pool
of poverty and silence—can escape this violent, automatic
life’s companion ever, maybe then, ordinary light,
faint music under things, a hovering like grace appears.

As in the story a friend told once about the time   
he tried to kill himself. His girl had left him.
Bees in the heart, then scorpions, maggots, and then ash.   
He climbed onto the jumping girder of the bridge,   
the bay side, a blue, lucid afternoon.
And in the salt air he thought about the word “seafood,”
that there was something faintly ridiculous about it.
No one said “landfood.” He thought it was degrading to the rainbow perch
he’d reeled in gleaming from the cliffs, the black rockbass,   
scales like polished carbon, in beds of kelp
along the coast—and he realized that the reason for the word   
was crabs, or mussels, clams. Otherwise
the restaurants could just put “fish” up on their signs,   
and when he woke—he’d slept for hours, curled up   
on the girder like a child—the sun was going down
and he felt a little better, and afraid. He put on the jacket   
he’d used for a pillow, climbed over the railing   
carefully, and drove home to an empty house.

There was a pair of her lemon yellow panties
hanging on a doorknob. He studied them. Much-washed.   
A faint russet in the crotch that made him sick   
with rage and grief. He knew more or less
where she was. A flat somewhere on Russian Hill.   
They’d have just finished making love. She’d have tears   
in her eyes and touch his jawbone gratefully. “God,”   
she’d say, “you are so good for me.” Winking lights,   
a foggy view downhill toward the harbor and the bay.   
“You’re sad,” he’d say. “Yes.” “Thinking about Nick?”
“Yes,” she’d say and cry. “I tried so hard,” sobbing now,
“I really tried so hard.” And then he’d hold her for a while—
Guatemalan weavings from his fieldwork on the wall—
and then they’d fuck again, and she would cry some more,   
and go to sleep.
                        And he, he would play that scene
once only, once and a half, and tell himself
that he was going to carry it for a very long time
and that there was nothing he could do
but carry it. He went out onto the porch, and listened   
to the forest in the summer dark, madrone bark
cracking and curling as the cold came up.

It’s not the story though, not the friend
leaning toward you, saying “And then I realized—,”
which is the part of stories one never quite believes.   
I had the idea that the world’s so full of pain
it must sometimes make a kind of singing.
And that the sequence helps, as much as order helps—
First an ego, and then pain, and then the singing.
Robert Hass, “Faint Music” from Sun Under Wood. Copyright © 1996 by Robert Hass. Used by permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

Thursday, June 18, 2015