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Monday, April 20, 2015

My Rules For Being A Pretty Princess Blog Tour {author interview}

I'm honored to have the My Rules For Being A Pretty Princess Blog Tour stopping by today with author Heath McKenzie here to chat about his new picture book...

My Rules for Being a Pretty Princess
by Heath McKenzie
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Rules are meant to be broken in this laugh-out-loud picture book about staying true to yourself.

One little girl gets her greatest wish of becoming a princess – only to discover that the rules of royalty are no fun. She has to have perfect hair and eat daintily and dance gracefully — boring! So, she decides to make up her own rules... A delightfully subversive picture book that teaches girls to be themselves — clumsy dancing, crazy scribbling and all.

Praise for My Rules For Being A Pretty Princess

"This ironic take on the Cinderella story is one that will delight many readers." — Reading

"Funny and pointed; a fast, enjoyable read for both the youngest, would-be princesses and their male counterparts." - Kirkus

What three words best describe My Rules For Being A Pretty Princess?
slightly silly.

Grab a copy of My Rules For Being A Pretty Princess and answer the following:
favorite page?

Hmmm…this is a tricky one!
I think, after much consideration (because I do love pretty much every page in the book for one reason or another), I’m going to say the page where the title girl has cast aside her blue princess dress and is writing ‘my’ in big bolt red crayon next to ‘Rules for being a pretty princess’. That page really kind of sums everything up perfectly!

favorite illustration?
Again - obviously mighty tricky to choose! I do love the first tea party page! It was an awful lot of fun drawing all that food (though it did make me hungry for each thing as I drew it!)

flip to a random page and give us a 1-2 lines teaser:
I guess, the best thing to say would simply be ‘giant bouquet of roses and puppies!’

What inspired My Rules For Being A Pretty Princess? How did the story come to be?
The story was inspired by the impending birth of my first child! At the time, I didn’t know if it was going to be a boy or a girl, however, I felt that if it were a girl I was worried about all the nonsense I’d have to educate her about. (I was going to say ‘protect her from’…but education is totally the best defense!) I knew she’d come into a world of relentless body image nonsense from the media, magazines and tv shows and the online world constantly firing beauty myths and weight-loss garbage and body image junk from all angles! I was also inspired by an old Lego ad from the 70's. It shows a little red haired girl in blue jeans and a blue t-shirt proudly holding up a multi-coloured thing she’d made. There was no skew towards either gender, no pink, no language in the ad aimed at girls - it was just presenting a kid who happily made a thing! Nothing more! Which was the image I wanted to portray to a daughter if I had one. So ‘Pretty Princess’ was born out of all that - just trying to create a book that basically says you can be whatever you want to be! You can love whatever you want to love - there are no boy or girl colours or toys - just like what you like!

In the end, I did have a daughter and so far (she’s almost three now), she’s developed a lovely balance of interests. She certainly loves dancing about in fairy dresses, but often while also pretending to be a dinosaur or lion before going outside to dig in the dirt and jump in muddy puddles!

What are your top three rules for being a true pretty princess?
  1. Enjoy life! (It’s far too short to pass up any treats on offer at a tea party!)
  2. There’s much more to life than looking perfect!
  3. And of course, be whatever you want to be! If you want to be a fireman or doctor or artist or chef or nurse or lion tamer or circus clown - go for it!

What do you hope young readers will learn or walk away with after reading My Rules For Being A Pretty Princess?
I hope they walk away with an understanding that they can be and do and enjoy whatever they like - and still be a pretty princess at the same time (if they like!).

Fill in the blanks:
I’m really awesome at making apple pie.

I’m really embarrassed to admit I’m kind of afraid of whales! (they’re so huge and living in the bottomless, deep, dark ocean! Creeps me out!) On a visit to the Natural History Museum in New York it took a lot of courage to go into the hall with the massive whale hanging in it!

The last great book I read wasTo Kill A Mockingbird’.

If you were to bake a cupcake inspired by My Rules For Being A Pretty Princess, what would it look and taste like and what would you call it?
I’d naturally call it a ‘pretty princess’ cupcake - it would probably taste like chocolate (the cake bit atleast). And it would look something like this!

Thank you so much for stopping by, Heath! That cupcake looks AH-mazing!!

To learn more about Heath McKenzie, visit him here:

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Celebrating National Poetry Month with Changes by Charlotte Zolotow

From Celebrated Children’s Author Charlotte Zolotow Comes a Seasonal Poetry Collection, Gathered Together for the First Time!

Changes: A Child's First Poetry Collection
written by Charlotte Zolotow with illustrations by Tiphanie Beeke

Charlotte Zolotow (1915-2013) was a distinguished author and editor of children’s books, and one of the most important contributors to children’s literature. During the course of her career she wrote more than 70 books, many of which are picture-book classics, including the Caldecott Honor medalist Mr.Rabbit and the Lovely Present.

Now, for the very first time, and published on the occasion of her 100thbirthday, Zolotow’s most beloved seasonal poetry will be available in one collection— Changes:  A Child’s First Poetry Collection.

Illustrator Tiphanie Beeke’s resplendent watercolors work beautifully with Zolotow’s poems, which capture the beauty of nature at different times of the year. Children will follow along as the seasons change with each poem. There is spring with the business of nest-building, summer with its abundance of roses, fall with the tangy perfume of chrysanthemums, and winter with the frozen pond surrounded by whiteness.

Poetry and nature lovers of all ages will delight in Zolotow’s classic poems and Beeke’s lovely illustrations, making Changes a perfect poetry collection for every child.

 “Few writers for small children so empathize with them as does Charlotte Zolotow.” — Zena Sutherland, children’s literature reviewer and scholar

“Ms. Zolotow’s own picture books — she wrote more than 70 — were cleareyed explorations of the interior landscape of childhood by one who had obviously not forgotten what it felt like to dwell there.” – Margalit Fox, The New York Times

Friday, April 10, 2015

Won Ton and Chopstick Blog Tour {interview and giveaway}

I'm so excited to have the Won Ton and Chopstick Blog Tour stopping by today! Lee Wardlaw's newest picture book, told through haiku, is an adorable and amusing tale about Won Ton the cat and Chopstick, the puppy...

Won Ton and Chopstick: A Cat and Dog Tale Told in Haiku
by Lee Wardlaw
illustrated by Eugene Yelchin
Henry Holt & Co.
Won Ton has a happy life with his Boy, until…Ears perk. 
Fur prickles. 
Belly low, I creep…peek…FREEZE!

My eyes full of Doom.A new puppy arrives, and nothing will be the same.Told entirely in haiku and with plenty of catitude, the story of how Won Ton faces down the enemy is a fresh and funny twist on a familiar rivalry.

Praise for Won Ton and Chopstick
Young readers who fell in love with Won Ton in Wardlaw and Yelchin's first book, Won Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku, will enthusiastically welcome this new adventure, and those not yet familiar with the earlier book will likely seek it out. (Booklist)

A satisfying companion to Won Ton's eponymous first outing. (Kirkus Reviews)

In this charming sequel, a new puppy threatens the titular feline's idyllic experience in an enjoyable spin on the "adjusting to new baby" theme. (School Library Journal)

Each haiku is complete in itself, capturing the essence of cat...and together the poems create a whole tale of displacement and eventual mutual understanding. (The Horn Book)

* Will steal the hearts of readers young and old. (School Library Journal, starred review on Won Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku)

* [A] celebration of the child-pet bond. (Booklist, starred review on Won Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku)

* Perfect pussycat poetry. (Kirkus Reviews, starred review on Won Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku)

Won Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku
by Lee Wardlaw
illustrated by Eugene Yelchin
Henry Holt & Co
Nice place they got here. 
Bed. Bowl. Blankie. Just like home! 
Or so I've been told. 
Visiting hours! 
Yawn. I pretend not to care. 
Yet -- I sneak a peek. 
So begins this beguiling tale of a wary shelter cat and the boy who takes him home.

Sometimes funny, sometimes touching, this adoption story, told entirely in haiku, is unforgettable.

What three words best describe Won Ton and Chopstick?

Sibling Rivalry with Whiskers (Okay, so that was four. Math is my weakness.)

Grab a copy of Won Ton and Chopstick and answer the following:

favorite page?
The double-page spread in the section called The Banishment. I love the muted textured blues and greens Eugene Yelchin used to create the night; they offer an almost dewy chill to the illustration, emphasizing how lonely and vulnerable Won Ton feels. I also love the shadowed fence; it has a sinewy elegance—just like a cat!

favorite illustration?
The Banishment is definitely one of my favorite pages. So is the double-page spread called The Surprise. The stripe-y wallpaper is bright and cheerful and cute, just like Chopstick. And Won Ton’s expression is, well, if looks could kill! This illustration makes me laugh every time I look at it.

favorite haiku?

Hey, Pest! Heed my hiss!
My blankie. My bowl. My boy.
Trespassers bitten.

Why did you choose to write Won Ton and Chopstick through haiku? What do you love about the haiku form?

It simply made sense to me that if a cat were to speak human, he would do so in haiku. I love haiku for the same reasons I love cats: they are compact poems . . . they exist in the Now . . . they’re beautiful and elegant . . . they appear simple but are actually complex . . . and they say a lot in just a few words. Too bad haiku don’t purr!

Fill in the blanks:
I’m really awesome at napping.

I’m really embarrassed to admit that I spend more on clothes than on books.

The last great book I read was The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

If you were to create and bake a cupcake inspired by Won Ton and Chopstick, what would it look and taste like and what would you call it?

I would call it the Yin Yang. The cake would be dark chocolate, of course. The frosting would be dark chocolate on the yin side (with a kitty illustration) and cream cheese on the yang side (with a puppy illustration). The kitty and puppy would be hugging to form the traditional Yin Yang symbol. Meow, woof, yum!

Lee Wardlaw swears that her first spoken word was “kitty.” Since then, she’s shared her life with 30 cats (not all at the same time!) and published 30 books for young readers, including Won Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku, recipient of the Lee Bennett Hopkins Children’s Poetry Award, the Myra Cohn Livingston Award for Poetry, and the Cat Writers’ Association Muse Medallion. She lives in Santa Barbara, California with her family.
Win copies of both 
Won Ton and Chopstick and Won Ton!
Thanks to Lee and Blue Slip Media, I have a copy of each Won Ton book for one lucky winner.
-US only
-ends 4/18
(please read full rules below rafflecopter)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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