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Fantasy & Sci-Fi Books for Kids


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Fun at the 2016 Orange County Children’s Book Festival

I had a fun time signing books, meeting authors, and making new friends at the 2016 Orange County Children’s Book Festival.

danpaley

Signing with Dan Paley at the Once Upon a Storybook booth

francesca

Author Francesca Rusackas and illustrator Priscilla Burris.

jennifergrayolson

With author/illustrator Jennifer Gray Olson.

messenger

Middle grade/young adult author Shannon Messenger.

occbf2016

Me in front of the SCBWI booth.

robertson

Illustrator Chris Robertson and his helpful if shy son.

rodolfo

Author/illustrators Frans Vischer and Rodolfo Montalvo.

berneger

Picture book author Marcia Berneger.

thing123

The Cat in the Hat had Thing 1 and Thing 2. They seem to have gotten busy and created Thing 3!


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Houses with Living Roofs

Apparently, green is the new black. Check out these gorgeous houses with living roofs, thanks to the mad geniuses at Bored Panda. How’d they ever get approval from the homeowner’s association?

“Scandinavians are serious about their green roofs. They’ve had them for a while now and it doesn’t look like they’re going anywhere. They even have a competition every year to determine the best green roof project in Scandinavia by the Scandinavian Green Roof Association! But there is a reason why Scandinavians like these green roofs so much… They are not only a beautiful feature for a house, but they also offer numerous social, environmental and financial benefits. They absorb rainwater, reduce winter heating costs, reduce summer air-conditioning costs, provide insulation, and are long lasting – just to name a few.”

#1 Hofskirkja, Iceland

Hofskirkja, Iceland

#2 Thjorsardalur, Iceland

Thjorsardalur, Iceland

#3 Skalholt, Iceland

Skalholt, Iceland

#4 Vatnajökull Nationalpark, Iceland

Vatnajökull Nationalpark, Iceland

#5 Renndølsetra, Norway

Renndølsetra, Norway

#6 Norway

Norway

#7 Saksun Village, Streymoy, Faroe Islands

Saksun Village, Streymoy, Faroe Islands

#8 Torshavn, Faroe Islands

Torshavn, Faroe Islands

#9 Church Of Funningur, Faroe Islands

Church Of Funningur, Faroe Islands

#10 Mikladalur, Faroe Islands

Mikladalur, Faroe Islands


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Put a Cuttlefish On It!

Not familiar with cuttlefish? Wikipedia offers some fun facts about these amazing cousins of squid and octopuses.

cuttlefish3

Fans of the TV series Portlandia are familiar with the expression “put a bird on it!” It’s a scientific fact that putting a bird on things spruces them up, and makes them pretty.

In celebration of my new picture book, LITTLE RED CUTTLEFISH, and in acknowledgement that cuttlefish are way cooler than birds, we’ve created the hashtag #PutACuttlefishOnIt. Some examples are below. A free cuttlefish.png download is available to help you Put A Cuttlefish On It.

You’re welcome.

Clinton
As do all presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton is considering a range of potential VP running mates. Never underestimate the appeal of a cephalopod! #PutACuttlefishOnIt

Gollum
“The rock and pool, is nice and cool, so juicy sweet. Our only wish, to catch a fish.” #PutACuttlefishOnIt

IronMan
Although it’s not mentioned in the Avengers movies, Iron Man has a pet cuttlefish. #PutACuttlefishOnIt

Sanders
This cuttlefish made an unexpected appearance at a Bernie Sanders rally. #PutACuttlefishOnIt

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier by the Kremlin wall to mark the Defender of the Fatherland Day in Moscow on February 23, 2016. The Defender of the Fatherland Day, celebrated in Russia on February 23, honours the nation's army and is a nationwide holiday. / AFP / NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA (Photo credit should read NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA/AFP/Getty Images)
Russian president Vladimir Putin is reluctantly #PutinACuttleFishOnIt.


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Interview with children’s author Kelly DiPucchio

Kelly DiPucchio insists she grew up on a farm in Michigan but her husband has serious doubts about her claim. As a child, Kelly had a pet goat and jumped in manure piles so you be the judge. Kelly is the author of over twenty award-winning books for kids including two New York Times bestsellers. Some of her titles include: GRACE FOR PRESIDENT, ZOMBIE IN LOVE, and GASTON. Kelly lives in a suburb of Detroit with one husband, two dogs, and three children.

dipucchiokelly

For what age audience do you write?

I write what I like to call everybody books which are picture books for all ages.

Henry: As all picture books should be. Well played.

Tell us about your latest book.

My latest book is called ONE LITTLE, TWO LITTLE, THREE LITTLE CHILDREN, illustrated by Mary Lundquist and published by Balzer + Bray. It’s very different from my more recent titles because it’s a short, rhyming book inspired by an old nursery song.

Henry: As the author of MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES, I like what you did there!

What do you hope readers will get from reading that book?

I hope the book conveys that children, mothers, and fathers all over the world are more alike than they are different, and that families, no matter how they’re structured, or how they look, want the same things: love, peace, and happiness.

Henry: Nice. This is true of monsters, too.

What aspect of writing do you find most challenging?

For me, the writing itself is a joy. What I find most challenging is struggling with feelings of inadequacy when it comes to networking and publicity. After being in this industry for nearly 20 years, you’d think I would have gotten over my insecurities, but at my core I’m still a shy, awkward introvert who often compares herself to her more gregarious peers.

Henry: It is something of a paradox that the solitary activity of writing, must be supplemented by promotion, which is done in front of audiences.

What is a powerful lesson you’ve learned from being a writer?

I’ve learned that we are the authors of our own life stories and it’s never too late to revise.

Henry: Just don’t “murder your darlings” in real life!

What has been a memorable experience that you never would have had if you had not been a writer?

I never would have had an opportunity to co-author a book with the Queen of Jordan and go to The Oprah Winfrey Show! (THE SANDWICH SWAP, illustrated by Tricia Tusa, published by Disney-Hyperion. 2010)

Henry: Umm, YEAH!! Did you know the current King of Jordan had a cameo guest role on an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation?

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

I always suggest that new writers join SCBWI, read and study picture books, find a really good critique group and have fun. I know it sounds ridiculously corny and cliché, but having a book published is more of a journey than a destination.

Henry: Good advice. Studying other picture books is doubly helpful. It hones your craft, and it can help you avoid duplicating an existing book. For example, I had a zombie book idea. Did some research, and, whadya’ know? You had done something similar already! Also, critique groups are invaluable.

Do you have any favorite quotes?

I keep a journal of favorite quotes but two that seem relevant with everything that is happening in the world today are both by the Sufi mystic, Rumi. “Raise your words not your voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.” And “Yesterday I was clever so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise so I am changing myself.”

Henry: Nice. I also like, “What you’re doing speaks so loudly, that I can’t hear what you’re saying.”

Do you have any strange rituals that you observe when you write?

I don’t know if I would call it strange, but I meditate before I begin writing any new manuscript. I also do some visualization exercises and I imagine the book is already completed. These two rituals really open a channel for me and allow the story to flow. Strong coffee and Pop-Tarts help too.

Henry: There is nothing strange about eating Pop-Tarts!

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

It would be to eat whatever I wanted and never gain a pound!

Henry: That tailors nicely with the Pop-Tarts response. That reminds me of a scene from the movie Defending Your Life.

What is your favorite creature that exists only in literature?

I absolutely adore Dan Santat’s Beekle. I love the character, the concept and the inspiration behind Dan’s unimaginary friend. Beekle is one of those brilliant ideas I wish I had thought of first!

Henry: Wait. Beekle’s not real!?

beekle

What would you like it to say on your tombstone?

ATTENTION VISITORS: Kelly DiPucchio has been relocated to a different department. Check your internal directory for a listing of her new assignment and location.

Where can readers find your work?

Readers can find me at http://www.kellydipucchio.com and on Twitter @kellydipucchio, Thanks for sharing your space with me, Henry!

Henry: Thanks for spending time with us, Kelly. I’m a big fan of your work!

 

 


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Octopus Hairpieces. You Know You Want One.

From

Peach octopus fascinator

“Western Australia-based artist Kirstie Williams creates beautiful octopus fascinators out of synthetic hair, paint, and glass eyes. Ringlet curls trail down from the cephalopod-themed hair accessory to form tentacles, creating an imaginative, realistic hair-octopus hybrid.

Her fascinators are available for purchase made-to-order at CuriousCephalopods on Etsy. Williams has generously posted well-illustrated instructions on making a larger wig version.”

Yellow octopus fascinator

Purple octopus fascinator

Blue and purple octopus fascinators

Wedding octopus fascinator

WIP octopus fascinator


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Fractured Fairy Tales: Little Red Riding Hood

My new picture book, LITTLE RED CUTTLEFISH, from Pelican Publishing, is an aquatic adaptation of Little Red Riding Hood. Clearly, this is not the first, nor will it be the last, fractured version of the story of a stylish but foolish young girl and the hungry wolf that eats her. Oops, spoiler alert. Below are some other terrific takes on this timeless tale.

LRCLittle Red jets off to take fresh crab cakes to her grandmother. Everything goes swimmingly—until a big, bad tiger shark attacks! Little Red has to use her cuttlefish defenses—camouflage, quick reflexes, and squirting an ink cloud—to outwit the shark, combining science and spunk. Gorgeous illustrations depict the reef and its adorable main character with lively detail.

The authors include information about cuttlefish and tiger sharks, addressing Common Core standards, as well as resources for further reading. This aquatically fractured fairy tale will tickle your cuttlebone and spark your curiosity.

 

 

NINJA RED RIDING HOOD by Corey Rosen Schwartz, illustrated by Dan Santat

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Wolf just can’t catch a break! Ever since the three little pigs started teaching everyone Ninja skills, huffing and puffing just hasn’t been enough to scare up a good meal. His craving for meat sends Wolf to classes at the dojo, and soon he’s ready to try out his new moves. A little girl and her tiny granny should be easy targets—right? Not if Little Red has anything to say about it! Kiya!

 

 

 

 

 

LITTLE RED GLIDING HOOD by Tara Lazar, illustrated by Troy Cummings

red3Little Red Riding Hood straps on ice skates in this fractured fairy tale! A figure-skating enthusiast, Little Red has worn out her skates and must win a pairs competition to earn new ones. But who will be her partner? The Dish is already skating with the Spoon, and Hansel has Gretel. You won’t believe what big eyes, sharp teeth, and furry paws her partner has . . . all the better to spin her with!

 

 

 

PETITE ROUGE – A Cajun Red Riding Hood by Mike Artell, illustrated by Jim Harris

red4When her grand-mère comes down wit’ de flu, this Cajun Little Red knows what she has to do. With her witty cat, TeJean, she sets off in a pirogue to bring Grand-mère some gumbo. Who should she meet upon the way, but that big ol’ swamp gator, Claude! Mean ol’ Claude may want to gobble up Petite Rouge, but she and TeJean have a better idea. Before long, they have Claude running back to the bayou where he belongs!

 

 

 

HONESTLY, RED RIDING HOOD WAS ROTTEN! The Story of Little Red Riding Hood as Told by the Wolf by Trisha Speed Shaskan, illustrated by Gerald Guerlais

red5OF COURSE you think I did a horrible thing by eating Little Red Riding Hood and her granny. You don’t know the other side of the story. Well, let me tell you…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BETSY RED HOODIE by Gail Carson Levine, illustrated by Scott Nash

red6Betsy is finally old enough to take cupcakes to Grandma all by herself—with the company of her faithful sheep, of course. And although wolves aren’t good for grandmas, Betsy lets her best friend, Zimmo, come along too. But will Zimmo’s wolfish instincts make Grandma the tasty treat instead?

 

 

 

 

LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD – A Newfangled Prairie Tale by Lisa Campbell Ernst

red7When Little Red Riding Hood sets off to deliver muffins to her grandmother, you bet that a big bad wolf isn’t far behind! Set on the midwestern prairie, this is a “Little Red Riding Hood” that will captivate youngsters with its feisty heroines and bold humor. Especially to be relished is the way the story line plays against the classic tale’s plot, with laugh-provoking lines that show true wit. As the dastardly wolf chuckles, appreciating his own schemes, the text soars, suspense builds and vibrant pictures bring out all of the fun.

 

 

 

LITTLE RED COWBOY HAT by Susan Lowell, illustrated by Randy Cecil

red8This Southwestern version of Little Red Riding Hood features a tomboyish main character, a wolf as sleazy as any streetcorner lothario and a distinct self-defense theme. Lowell’s (The Three Little Javelinas) outwardly tough Little Red wears a sheriff’s badge and shoots rattlesnakes with her slingshot. However, she’s intimidated by her aggressor, who steps from behind a cactus and blocks her path (“She didn’t want to talk to him, but she’d been raised to be polite”). Later, as Little Red flees the wolf in Grandma’s house, Grandma bursts into the bedroom with an ax (she has been chopping wood). Together the two frontierswomen chase the wolf away, and the tale ends on an up-to-date empowerment .

 

 

LON PO PO – A Red-Riding Hood Story from China by Ed Young

red9Not for the faint-hearted, Lon Po Po (Grandmother Wold), is a tale of a menacing danger and courage….(Young’s) command of page composition and his sensitive use of color give the book a visual force that matches the strength of the story and stands as one of the illustrator’s best efforts.

 

 

 

 

 

LITTLE RED – A Fizzingly Good Yarn by Lynn Roberts, illustrated by David Roberts

red10Little Red is happily taking a basket of ginger ale to his grandmother when he stops to gather apples in the woods. Who should grab his red cape, but none other than the wily wolf, who runs immediately to the grandmother’s house to devour her and wait for Little Red to be next! With a new, happily-ever-after spin on the story, the boy tricks the wolf into gulping down the entire ginger ale at once, which triggers the wolf to hiccup his grandmother out of his belly. Little Red gallantly overcomes the wolf and is the hero of the day!


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When is an Octopus Not an Octopus?

I’ve written two picture books that feature those delightful cephalopods, LITTLE RED CUTTLEFISH (Pelican, 2016) and HOW THE SQUID GOT TWO LONG ARMS. So, Gabe Pyle and the mad geniuses at Bored Panda had me at octopus imitating other animals.

“Check out these awesome animal illustrations by Gabe Pyle. There’s a snail, a monkey, a turtle, a sloth – pretty much most animals you can think of. But there are no octopuses. No sir. None at all.

Take a closer look however and you’ll suddenly realize that all is not quite what it seems. Is that flamingo really a flamingo? Is that T-Rex really a T-Rex (humor me here)? Or are they all actually octopuses pretending to be various members of the animal kingdom? No, that’s ridiculous…right? Don’t worry, you’re not going crazy, because that’s exactly what they are! Pyle is an industrial designer and illustrator and he and his wife came up with the awesome idea for a little bit of fun. See for yourself in the pictures below, and don’t forget to vote for your favorite!

 

Definitely Not An Octopus

Definitely Not An Octopus

Definitely Not An Octopus

Definitely Not An Octopus

Definitely Not An Octopus

Definitely Not An Octopus

Definitely Not An Octopus

Definitely Not An Octopus

Definitely Not An Octopus

Definitely Not An Octopus

Definitely Not An Octopus

Definitely Not An Octopus