3 Picture Book Reviews from 3 Kids

We love picture books at our house.  I read them to myself, my kids, and even my adult clients.   (I'm a firm believer in bibliotherapy). So it's not hard for my kids to talk about picture books that resonate with them.  Here are three reviews of three picture books from my three oldest children.  Enjoy.
PictureSydney, 9 years old
 Sydney reviews a classic.

I like the book Leonardo the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems because it’s funny and has a good message. Monsters are scary and good at doing what they do. However, in this book, Leonardo is terrible at being a monster and scaring people. He tries multiple times to scare the “tuna salad” out of someone, but he can’t. He gets an idea  and he researches until he finds the most “scaredy cat kid in the world” and he gives him "all he's got" until the boy cries. But scaring people isn't as fun as he thought so he decides to be a wonderful friend instead of a terrible monster. This book makes me smile because in the end, Leonardo chooses friendship and is true to himself. 

PictureNaomi, 11 years old
Naomi reviews the 2015 Caldecott winner. 
The Adventures of Beekle, by Dan Santat is an amazing book. Beekle is an imaginary friend who is tired of waiting for a child to dream of him, so he goes on a daring adventure to the real world. He looks everywhere, but cannot find his friend. So Beekle sits in a tree and waits for his friend to come. After a long time, Beekle still hasn't found his friend. He starts feeling sad just as a little girl named Alice calls up to him from the ground. They become best friends.

I love this book. First, I like how Beekle imagines that his friend will be a boy, but in the end his friend is actually a girl. Second, I love the illustrations, and how the imaginary world is colorful, and so is the playground, but the rest of the real world is drab and gray. Third, I love the word choice and how the words are handwritten. I think that this book is brilliantly written.

My four-year-old brother also loves this book and wants to read it every day. The words flow very well, and the illustrations are detailed and original.

The Adventures of Beekle teaches us to never give up, even if something is hard. Beekle traveled long and far to the real world. After a long day of waiting, it seemed that he would never find his friend. However, Beekle persisted, and found a friend in the end. 

PictureJames, 13 year old
James reviews my current favorite. 

To read the rest of this review, go to Children's Book Academy.

Interview with Talented Author, Heidi Stemple

heidi and kirst
As the daughter of Jane YolenHeidi E. Y. Stemple has big shoes to fill; and she does it wonderfully.  I spent 4 days with Heidi atJane Yolen’s picture book boot camp. Her humor and wit are rivaled only by her gourmet cooking skills. And owling with her is an experience I’ll never forget! I’m thrilled to interview Heidi on Writer’s Rumpus.
Kirsti Call: You took a circuitous route to writing.  You were a private investigator, and a probation officer first.  How did you finally decide to join the family business and how have you used your work experience in your writing?
Heidi E. Y. Stemple: I had no intention of being a writer. My passion was in criminal justice. I thought of joining the FBI after college, but, instead, I interviewed with the Department of Corrections in south FL and they hired me. I worked for about 3 years as a Probation/Parole Officer in Broward County before quitting to work as a private investigator. It wasn’t until I was pregnant with my daughter (who is now 20) that I gave in and started writing, mostly out of boredom because I was very sick during my pregnancy. My first published story was a mystery story about a little girl solving a murder to help a kind ghost move on in the afterworld.
To read more of this interview, go to Writer's Rumpus.

Interview with Ben Clanton, Giften Author and Illustrator

ben clantonBen Clanton is a gifted artist, author, and one of my trusty critique partners. After touring his studio, getting personal doodles at a book signing, and showing Ben our backyard chickens, my kids are smitten with Ben and his books. It’s safe to say that the entire Call household is filled with Ben Clanton fans. It’s a privilege to interview him for Writers’ Rumpus. 
Kirsti Call: Did you always know that you wanted to be an author/illustrator?
Ben Clanton: I loved drawing and making cartoons as a kid but it never really struck me that it was something you could actually do as a job. I had much more practical careers in mind like professional basketball, being the next Albert Einstein, and/or becoming President of the United States. It wasn’t until college that I first got it in my mind that I would like to write a children’s book. And it was then awhile after that when I realized I also wanted to make the pictures for them.
KC: Of your published books, which is your favorite and why? 
BC: Always the next one! I actually find it kind of painful to look at my completed and
se coverprinted books. There are always so many things I want to change.The books in my head always look so much better. Too bad I’m the only one who can see them.  Growing pains! That said, of my published books, Something Extraordinary is probably nearest to my heart. It is autobiographical in a way. The wishes in it are all wishes I wish. 
To read more of this interview, go to Writer's Rumpus.

3 Things all Writers Need to Know

PictureCorey Rosen Schwartz, Me, Carrie Charley Brown, and Lori Grusin Degman
#1 Reading the types of things#1 Reading the types of things we write, makes us better writers.  

Author Denise Fleming, Agent Alexandra Penfold and Editor Orli Zaravicky each emphasized the importance of reading books in the genre that we write.  For picture books, the ReFoReMo challenge is the perfect way to learn how to read and study mentor texts to make our writing better.

Conferences are great for reminding us that we are not alone.  I connected with my writing tribe at the NJSCBWI conference just a few days ago, and I was reminded of these 3 essential things.
#2 Revision takes a long time.
To read more go to Children's Book Academy.

40 words

Birthdays have never really affected me...until now.  I’m turned 40 2 days ago and I thought it’d be fun to wax poetic on 40 of my favorite books, or 40 great writers or 40 ways to procrastinate when you have a writing deadline...but let’s face it, a list of 40 is just too long!

So here’s a 40 word poem.

40 Words

In my sentence of life

40 seizes a semicolon;

detaching the past from the future


40 exclaims authentically!

and questions unequivocally?

But I’d prefer that 40 pause.

An ellipse...

anticipating the page turns

of the rest of my life.
What is the metaphor for your age?