Friday, February 28, 2014

Weekend Link: Jane Yolen, Jerdine Nolan and a Sparrow

Jane Yolen is a prolific writer--250 books worth! The following 10-minute interview is full of tidbits of wisdom worth every writer's time:

I fell in love with Harvey Potter's Balloon Farm by Jerdine Nolan (the illustrator is Mark Buehner, another favorite picture book creator of mine). Ms. Nolan is a brilliant story teller. Since it is still the last day of Black History Month, I thought this 3-minute interview about her book, Eliza's Freedom Road was apropos. It's also a great way to learn how to use non-fiction elements to tell a compelling fiction story:

And the last video (4 minutes) has nothing, it may seem, to do with writing, but I'll let you be the judge after you watch it. You may need tissues--boxes of them:

Have a great weekend and happy writing.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Weekend Links: Peter Brown on Writing and Illustrating

Peter Brown has written or illustrated some of my favorite pictures books, including Children Make Terrible Pets and Creepy Carrots (written by Aaron Reynolds). 

The following videos all feature Peter Brown talking about the techniques, inspirations and tools he uses in writing or illustrating a picture book. They are ranged from shortest to longest, but certainly not by most valuable. If you have the time, each video is worth watching:

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Weekend Links: It's All About Character

Skippyjon Jones and the Big Bones, by Judy Schachner. Published by Dutton Children's Books/Scholastic. Copyright 2007. WordCount: 1,129.
Analyzing characters in picture books is a great way to see what works and how you can apply it to your own stories. For example, one of my favorite picture book characters is Skippyjon Jones. 

Skippyjon's character is what creates the story. His "inner chihuahua" becomes the driving force behind the mischief he gets into and the mischief he gets out of: plot, conflict and resolution all hinge on Skippyjon's personality. 

The dialogue in Skippyjon books is brilliant in relaying Skippyjon's personality instantly to the reader. Here's a fun passage from Skippyjon Jones and the Big Bones:
"Oh, I'm Skippyjon Jones, and I bounce on my bed, cuz I love to eat pickles that tickle my head."
It's easy to see why Judy Schachner has had such success with Skippyjon. He's a memorable, relatable character who speaks to the heart of the child with a humor that speaks to the parent. 

The following videos, all around seven minutes or less, give further ideas on how to develop solid characters in your writing. Have a great weekend.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Weekend Links: Lane Smith and Molly Leach, Jon Scieszka and more

Here's a fun way to start your weekend with two of the funny guys of children's lit: Lane Smith and Molly Leach talk about cover design and other good stuff and Joh Scieszka...well, he's just Jon in his very fun, adorable way.

And on a more serious tone, here's a link to The Nuts and Bolt's Guide to Writing Children's Books (by Linda Ashman) that came highly recommended. I want to check it out myself:

P.S. Here's one more by Jon. Well worth the 14 minutes. He discusses boys for books and his organization, Guys Read. Anyone who wants to write for's worth the time to watch this.