Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Review of Holiday House, Part II

     I have selected 3 books published by Holiday House, Inc. from my local library.  All three are fiction chapter books.  The second book I am reviewing is WUV BUNNIES FROM OUTERS PACE- A Graphic Novel by David Elliott and illustrated by Ethan Long.
     Before I begin, I'd like to mention that lately I've been experimenting with peanut butter and jelly spaghetti.  Yes.  Boil some sweet potato pasta (10 min), drain.  Add a tablespoon of peanut butter and your favorite jelly(preserves for me).  Microwave for 10 seconds. Voila!  It's not delightful, but it's one of the many wacky things I do.

     Now, about WUV BUNNIES FROM OUTERS PACE.  The first page immediately held me captive.  I wanted to know more.  Space bunnies traveling in a spaceship that is the replica of a carrot?  It even smells like a carrot.  Now, that's great.

Pub Date: June 1st, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-8234-1902-9

Page count: 112pp

Publisher: Holiday House

     The wacky illustrations are well done.  They are in black and white.  They are done so that the reader feels as though he's getting a window glimpse into  Hercules Smith's (mc) world.  Cartoony pictures go well with a goofy story.  The story had me chuckling every other page. The jokes had me moaning and groaning.  There are some silly riddles, too.  Fun reading for boys ages 7-9. 
     None.  The graphics are similar to that of Captain Underpants - a book that boys love and parents like to censor due to the "disgusting" humor*.  WUB BUNNIES has no dirty underpants.  It is good clean comedic writing. 

Publishing Errors:
I didn't like that the binding seemed to chop off some of the illustrations. (Pages 6-7 and 26-27 are examples of some of the worst.) This hurt the reader’s viewing pleasure.

Children's Literature
…reminiscent of the "Captain Underpants" ... The short chapters with more pictures than words are ideal to draw in the reluctant reader, as are the last two pages filled with more jokes to share. The book and the jokes are full of groaners for adults but are perfect for their target age group... Reviewer: Chris Newsham
School Library Journal
… an overabundance of groan-inducing jokes… Additional attempts at quirkiness, such as having one chapter written in the Wuv Bunny language "prin1Xtsh" and another solely composed of "HAs!" come off as filler. The use of footnotes as glib asides, the standard cartoon artwork, and even the sense of awareness and revelry at how bad the jokes are show that there is nothing new here.-Joanna K. Fabicon, Los Angeles Public Library

Kirkus Reviews
…Elliott and Long milk this premise for all it's worth, dishing up a Captain Underpants-style mix of text and wild cartoons-the former well-stocked with authorial asides... this is all perfectly pitched to its audience and guaranteed to garner groans from the grown-ups.

* toilet comments, poor manners, and rudeness.

Monday, February 27, 2012

A Review of Holiday House, Inc. (Part I)

I will review 3 fiction chapter books published by Holiday House.  These are: THE BEST HORSE EVER by Alice DeLa Croix (2010), NORA AND THE TEXAS TERROR by Judy Cox (2010), and WUV BUNNIES FROM OUTERS PACE by David Elliott (2008).  I chose these chapter books from the local library.  My purpose is to learn about this publisher and get an idea of the type of stories and illustrations they are interested in. 

Holiday House is an independent publishing company.  It was established in 1935 and was the first publishing house, in the U.S.A., to only publish children's books.  John Briggs is the current owner and president of Holiday House.  He has tripled the number of books published each year (from 15 to 50). (http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com)

Holiday House does not require an agent for submissions. http://www.holidayhouse.com/index.php

Book by Holiday House Publishers:

The Best Horse Ever
by Alice DeLaCroix
Ronald Himler, Illustrator
Trade Binding | size: 51/2x81/4 | US $15.95 | ISBN: 9780823422548Themes:Animals/Fiction, Friendship
Recommendations: A, SLJ
Grade: THIRD | Age: 6 to 10 | Season: SPRING
Pub date: 2010-04-15 | Pages: 80
Summary: Nine-year old Abby acquires her first horse and almost loses her best friend because of it. Positives: The reader learns a few facts about the care of a pet horse. The illustrator Ronald Himler did an outstanding job with his pencil sketches.
     The beginning of the story was rather slow due to the wording. The words could have been     stronger to make Abby’s desire more vivid.
     I wasn’t endeared to Abby, but I liked her.
      Abby almost lost her best friend. The author should have expounded on this.
     Poor description of Mom: Mom was tall and thin-except for a few bumps here and there-and Abby was sure she would grow up that way, too.
Editorial errors:
     Slowly he moved a couple steps farther from her.
     They’re all waking up now we’re here.
     She had fed Griffin and made him happy. She had turned him out to run and graze and made him happy. (The repetitive "and made him happy" is disconcerting.)
 A review  by Kirkus Review : "Pacing uneven and conflict between best-friends forced." https://www.kirkusreviews.com/

Recommendation: THE BEST HORSE EVER is a book I might give to a child who likes horses, but I wouldn’t buy it. It’s not captivating.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Suffering Child

How can writers and illustrators empower suffering children?
   Using specific strategies and techniques taught to parents of at-risk children, authors can produce stories that will allow children to make connections to their suffering and be able to free themselves from it. 
The Connected Child  by Karyn B. Purvis, Ph. D., David R. Cross, Ph. D., and Wendy L. Sunshine is a must read for those who would seek to understand and help bring healing to at-risk children. The book helps adoptive parents work with children who have experienced early trauma and/or deprivation. There is also a website (www.empoweredtoconnect.org) which offers an online library of sources for anyone desiring to delve deeper into the science and techniques of empowering children on how to bring hope and peace into their lives.
"Empowered To Connect"' is a conference whose sole  purpose is to equip adults with the tools necessary to heal and bring hope to children with emotional or behavioral needs.  As conference attendees, my husband and I went to learn to love at-risk children in a way that would bring healing to them.  A way that would bring some normalcy into their developing childhood.  We learned that love was not enough.  What we needed was insight into how to break down the walls they had built to protect themselves from a hurting environment.  

How can I best connect to this child?
Our daughter and son-in-law, whose desire is to foster and adopt children, were there with us.  The fact that they were there with us made it a tremendous learning experience.  We shared our thoughts, on what we'd learned, during our breaks and in the evenings.  We discussed our roles in the lives of their future adoptive children.  How would we, as grandparents, be able to provide a nurturing atmosphere for their children?  Would we be allowed to be a part of their family life in the early stages of adoption?  (This is a time when the adoptive child or children need intense one-on-one with their parents.)  If you ever saw the original Helen Keller movie, The Miracle Worker, you may remember how Anne Sullivan struggled to teach the blind and deaf Helen Keller how to communicate and connect to her outside world.  Anne Sullivan ended up cloistering herself with Helen in order to do some intense healing and teaching.

The 3-day conference offered strategies for the main caretakers of at-risk children.  It provided the science of why some children lash out in disturbing violence or hide within themselves while in the loving arms of caring parents.   

I learned that children are affected with trauma even while being carried in their mother's womb.  They can also be affected by trauma of a difficult birth delivery.  I didn't know this.  I thought a child's behavioral or emotional need was impacted after birth while in the care of adults.  (Of course, this also can be a factor in hurting and stunting the development of a child.)
Even when provided with a nurturing environment, an at-risk child
 can have violent episodes, seizures, and seemingly refuse love.
   Is this a topic that children's authors should be interested in learning more about?  You bet.  Imagine the healing and hope your book could bring to a child and his family.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Using Daz 4 - Baby Digging

Cute Baby using a play shovel to dig in the sand.
     I downloaded Daz Studio Pro 4 (free for a limited time).  Then, I purchased Cute Baby, but in order to use it I needed to buy Millenium Baby 3.0.  For under $30.00, I purchased these two packages.  It's fun playing around with Cute Baby.  I added a diaper and t-shirt.  Next, I colorized both items with my color choices.  

Afterwards, I wanted to add lighting.  It needed to be strong enough to give the impression of outdoor sunlight.  You can see in the picture above, how light reflects on Cute Baby from two sources - direct sunlight from above and reflected sunlight from the ground.

     Placing copier paper over the figure, I traced the figure lightly.  Then, added hair and a play shovel.  The next stage is to trace this figure onto art paper, add a scene and miscellanious props.  I'll use ink and colored pencils to finish the product. Once the artwork is done, it's scanned into my computer where I use GIMP (a downloadable free product) to enhance the colors and remove any wayward pencil marks.

Finished illustration.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

An Inexpensive Substitute to Poser for Illustrators

For years now, I have wanted to purchase Poser 3-D Figure Design and Animation.  Illustrators use Poser models to model the human figure for their illustrations.  Why would I want to buy Poser?  Poser does almost instantaneously what takes me hours (if I'm lucky) or sometimes days to illustrate. 

For example, I wrote a story, about a mother and baby boy, called No Time For Bath.  The parent and child do some really active and crazy things in the story.  So, I need models of both persons to pose doing various activities.  To find a model of a woman and a child, I search Images on the internet.  I'm hoping to find a boy holding a shovel, a boy pushing against something, a boy hammering, etc.  The boy character in the story does all these things and more. 

On the internet, the images I may retrieve might be of a 6 year old girl hammering, a baby playing with sand, a 3 year old pushing a wheelbarrow.  The results can be so frustrating.  Also, the photograph lighting never seems to come from one location, children have different body types, different coloring, and their clothing may cover their body shape.  It's difficult to have a realistic character illustration look relatively the same in each pose.

So, this winter I scraped up the $200.00 I needed to buy Poser, but my son mentioned a program called Daz 4.  He said it was being advertised as free for a limited time.  With the help of my husband, I downloaded the program.  Sure enough, I was able to pose a female model in a variety of ways, set lighting, add hair, and clothes. 

Then, I went to the Daz 4 store and purchased Millenium Baby 3.0 and Cute Baby software.  For under $30.00 I had a posable model of a realistic baby.  I've started posing the baby in various positions.

I just started playing with a Daz Studio Pro 4 "child" this week. 
The boy image is clearly defined when I'm working with it.
I don't yet know, why it's a little blurry when I insert the
image into my post.
What's neat about the software is that it works with Poser, too.  (That's what it says on the software description.)  So, maybe one day, I'll buy Poser.  For now, I'm happy with Daz Studio Pro 4.  I think the next thing I'll purchase is poser crow software ( > $20.00) .  This model will work nicely with the crow character in book 2 of Adolfo and Athena.  Book 2 is called Adolfo - The Sequel.  ;)

Monday, February 6, 2012

How Do You Find Time to Write?

Yesterday, a blogger asked her audience, "How do you find time to write?"  Great question.  Here's my 2 cents worth. 

It seems that many women blog at night, when the baby's asleep, or the kids are at school.  Since I'm currently not working, I write my blogs, illustrate my stories,  and work on promoting my book during the day.  I get my excercise in, study my bible, and some chores.  This leaves me little time for writing stories. 

Like most women, I learned to multitask at a young age: fold the clothes while watching TV, make my lunch during commercial breaks, weed while drinking my coffee, etc.  So, when I received a laptop and later an Ipad, I was thrilled.  Now, I write on the couch while my husband watches all manner of uninteresting man shows.  We make conversation during commercials.  The cat even gets his daily petting.

Writing while the TV is on trains my concentration.  How? Well, I don't like violence, thrillers, or sports.  No war films(documentary or otherwise), too.  So, I focus, focus, focus.  Sometimes I cheat and use earplugs.

Occasionally, my boys will sit and watch manly shows with dad.  I'm there, the lone woman joining discussions on i.e. use of technical weapons, during commercial breaks.  Did I mention, my men can't seem to multi-task?  A good manly movie requires all of their attention.

So, I draft stories, rewrite them, read up on writing techniques, and even answer emails.  When my drafts are complete I move them to the day time pile.

Yesterday, during Super Bowl Sunday, I drafted a whole chapter for my story "Adolfo".  I even took a 50 minute walk.  I'm so happy!

Friday, February 3, 2012

A Diamante - "Thomas"


Tired, sleepy
Yawning, napping, snoring
Boy, bed, school, student
Bustling, learning, reading
Noisy, busy

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Liebster Blog Award

   I have just been given the Liebster Blog Heart award from Louise Nottingham.  This is fantastic (although I keep spelling it Leibster).  Hmmm...what shall I do now that I have won this "prestigious award"?

I guess I'll do what all award winners do - get back to work.  :)


(Oh yeah,  I need to give a speech.)

I would like to thank all the little people out there - like my husband and children.  If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't have the makings of any story.  Afterall, they are the ones that help put the Problem in each story.  Now, if only they helped with the Solution.

BOO !  BOO!  BOO !  BOO!  BOO!   BOO !   BOO!   BOO !   BOO!   BOO!  BOO !

(Oh, those little people are so finnicky.) 

Now, very quickly I will list 5 things about myself (because, I'm told, those are the rules).
1. I was born in Chile, South America
2. I was named after a North American actress.
3. I don't like speed -  as in fast cars, roller blades, bicycles.
4. I walk at least an hour every day.
5. I have a wonderful husband.

Well, times up.  I've had my 15 minutes of fame.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Brenda A. Harris after having received the Liebster Blog Heart Award.

"Dirty Nails" - A Lowku Poem

Dirty Nails

Dirty nails collect.
They cram and pack and store much,
Grease, dead skin, and yuch!

I need a manicure and some red polish!

 A Lowku is composed of 3 lines with 17 syllables in a 5-7-5 syllable per line pattern.  Lowku is concise poetry about nasty or unpopular subjects.