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You Must Bring a Hat!

Perfect Picture Book Friday

You Must Bring a Hat.pngYou Must Bring a Hat! (Sterling Children's Books, 2016) by Simon Philip and Illustrated by Kate Hindley is a humorous picture book about a young boy trying to get into Nigel's party. The doorman keeps coming up with more and more difficult requirements, like monocles for monkeys and pink tutus for elephants. The twist ending is fun.

This is Simon Philip's first book. Read more about the author here and see his other picture books here.

You can see a number of Kate Hindley's illustrations here and read about her and all of her books here.

A Unicorn Named Sparkle

Perfect Picture Book Friday

amy-young-art-a-unicorn-named-sparkle-cvr-500x621.jpgA Unicorn Named Sparkle (Farrar Straus Giroux, 2016) by Amy Young is darling. Lucy sees an ad for a unicorn for 25 cents and sends away for one. She names his Sparkle and imagines how he'll be and what she'll do with him. But Sparkle does not live up to her expectations. In fact, she's going to send him back. But . . .

I won't spoil the end for you. Suffice it to say, it's a cute story with a feel-good ending. The illustrations are fun, too. And now there's a series of stories about Sparkle. The newest one is A Unicorn Named Sparkle's First Christmas.amy-young-art-sparkles-first-christmas-cvr-500x621.jpg

Learn about the author/illustrator here. Discover more about Sparkle here and watch the hilarious trailer.

Button and Bundle Cover Release

Button and Bundle.jpgIt's especially fun to talk about an upucoming release when the book is written by someone you know. Even better when it's a critique partner! Introducing Button and Bundle (Alfred A. Knopf, 2019) by Gretchen Brandenburg McLellan and illustrated by Gillian Flint.

The Story Behind the Story in Gretchen's Words

Button and Bundle is a story very close to my heart. I was raised in a highly-mobile military family and moved more times than any young heart should bear. Some good-byes were tougher than others, but none as tough as saying good-bye to my first friend. We both loved dolls and made clothes and furniture and homes for them. After moving away, I can't remember ever playing with dolls again. I don't know what happened to my doll either. Button and Bundle is the story of what happened in my heart.

We can often mark the changes in children's lives by what they are playing with, as well as what they are ready to leave behind. Favorite toys are vehicles for rich imaginative play between young friends. When children are abruptly separated, they lose this unique world too. In Button and Bundle, Button honors and finds a way to keep alive the world she created with Bundle. Button is resilient, like I was, and moves forward to make a new friend and create new worlds. And she learns, like I did, that true friendship lives forever in the heart.

When I committed myself to writing for children, I was led by the beauty of the form of the picture book and a desire to give voice to the unheard child. I didn't meet myself in print until I was an adult and read a sociological text about growing up military. That experience was both a homecoming and an awakening, and I pledged to give this experience to others to the best of my ability. I pledged to represent the experience of the nomadic child, the Third Culture Kid, particularly the military child, in literature so they wouldn't have to wait as long as I did.

Yet my stories are for all children. In an interview in Children's Book Insider (March 2017), my editor was asked to describe a book that she knew right away that she had to buy. She responded, "I recently acquired a picture book text that I fell in love with immediately. It's the story of two little girls who are best friends, and one of them has to move away. The author managed to evoke so much emotion in such a spare, simple text that it blew me away."
Later, in an email to my agent she wrote, "From the moment I opened this submission, I knew it was a special one. As I began to read ... I knew this manuscript had everything I was searching for. It's incredibly sweet and gorgeously written, with just the right amount of sensitivity. I love the way the author honors very young friendship, and accomplishes so much in the spare text."

Button and Bundle is ultimately a story for those who understand the true meaning of friendship. I am humbled and glad that this story will be in libraries and bookstores as of February 19, 2019 and deeply grateful for my terrific agent, Karen Grencik, my amazing editor, Karen Greenberg, and her team at Knopf and my extremely talented illustrator, Gillian Flint, who brought my Button and Bundle to life.

Button and Bundle is dedicated to my first friend, and to first friends everywhere.

What was the timeline for your book from writing it to publication?

Button and Bundle's life on paper began in March 2015 when I wrote the first draft longhand. I work back and forth between longhand and the computer, printing each draft to read aloud, workshop and revise. I submitted what I was calling The Cheer-up Yellow Balloon to my agent a month later. Our search for the perfect editor and house ended with an offer from Knopf in August of 2016. I wanted to shout my news to the world, but had to practice patience until my contract and the illustrator's were signed. Knopf announced the sale in May of 2017 in Publishers Weekly. I got a sneak preview of Gillian Flint's sketches that July and her beautiful final art in October, 2017. It's always a huge thrill to receive the "folded and gathered" unbound pages of a new book. The F&Gs for Button and Button were in my hand in May 2018, and I got to hug the hardback book for first time in November 2018. Now I'm waiting to celebrate Button and Bundle's book birthday/release date on February 19, 2019 with small cakes and lemonade. I hope you'll celebrate with me too.

Author's Bio

Gretchen Brandenburg McLellan is a former elementary reading specialist who now devotes herself to writing for children and visiting schools as an author. She is an active member of SCBWI and writes chapter books and middle-grade fiction as well.

Gretchen grew up as a global nomad, daughter of a career Army officer, and lived on three continents. Gretchen had to leave many friends behind, but they lived on in her heart. She has settled in Camas, WA where she lives with her husband, cat and dog, stunt squirrels, marauding neighborhood chickens, and celebrates when her children and grandchildren come home. Children will find a home in her heartfelt books about community, courage and compassion.
When she isn't writing or teaching, Gretchen can be found reading, playing word games, baking, sewing, hiking in the woods, cross-country skiing and attending plays. Please visit Gretchen at gretchenmclellan.com for more information about her books, events and author visits.

She is the author of Mrs. McBee Leaves Room 3 (Peachtree, 2017), I'm Done! (Holiday House, 2018), When your Daddy's a Soldier (Beach Lane, 2020), and No Party Poopers (Little Bee, 2020).

A Big Mooncake for Little Star

Perfect Picture Book Friday

BigMooncake.jpgA Big Mooncake for Little Star (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2018) by Grace Lin is such a lovely book. It reads like a legend that has been passed down generation after generation.

Little Star's mama bakes her a Big Mooncake and lays it onto the night sky to cool. Little Star promises not to touch it until Mama says she can. But . . . in the middle of the night, all Little Star can think of is the Mooncake. She thinks Mama won't notice if she takes a tiny nibble. Then the next night she remembers how sweet and tasty that one bite was. And the next night, and the night after that . . .

Little Star is adorable. I like the repetition in the story. I love the bright art on a black background. I love the ending. The book is sweet and tasty! Read the dust jacket where Grace talks about what inspired this story--it's very cool.

Grace Lin is an award winning author. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon is a Newbery Honor book. All Grace's books are books for the child she was who didn't have books that represented her. You can hear more about the author/illustrator in this touching Ted Talk here.

The Quickest Kid in Clarksville

Perfect Picture Book Friday

quickestkid.jpgThe Quickest Kid in Clarksville (Chronicle Books, 2016) by Pat Zietlow Miller and illustrated by Frank Morrison is such a fun book.

Alta is pretending she's the fastest woman in the world. Although she knows "Wilma Rudolph--who grew up right in this town--is faster than anyone." Then a girl she's "never seen before comes sashaying my way like she owns the sidewalk." Worse yet this new girl has brand new shoes to strut in. Shoes like Wilma's. And her daddy "went uptown to get 'em." Alta doesn't have a "she-buying daddy." The girls commence to race and . . .

You'll have to see what happens yourself. It's a very satisfying ending.

I love the illustrations and I love the author's note at the end that tells readers about sprinter Wilma Rudolph, who survived polio, yet in 1960 became the first U.S. woman to win three gold medals at the same Olympics.

Read about the author here. And read about the illustrator here.

You Must Bring a Hat!

A Unicorn Named Sparkle

Button and Bundle Cover Release

A Big Mooncake for Little Star

The Quickest Kid in Clarksville

we don't eat our CLASSMATES

Be Quiet!

Natsumi!

The Wolf, The Duck & The Mouse

Bernice Gets Carried Away

Grandma's Purse

Dad and the Dinosaur

What Goes Up - a picture book

Hoot & Honk Just Can't Sleep

Bob and Joss Get Lost!

Night Animals

Leave Me Alone!

Wolfie the Bunny

The Water Princess

Who Wants a Tortoise?

Mrs. McBee Leaves Room 3

Pug Meets Pig

Normal Norman

Mother Bruce

Let Me Finish!

Snoring Beauty

A Hungry Lion or A Dwindling Assortment of Animals

Mr. Pusskins: a Love Story

Nightsong

On My Way to Buy Eggs

Quick and Cute - Number One Sam

Deliciously Funny - Monsters Eat Whiny Children

Hilariously Creepy - Creepy Carrots

Moving Story - The Stamp Collector

Cute Grandma Story - Silly Frilly Grandma Tilly

All that jazz - The Little Piano Girl

Sweet Sibling Rivalry - Flora's Very Windy Day

Twist, twist, twist - Carmine, A Little More Red

Delightful book - Sylvia Jean, Drama Queen