Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Reviews #126-130: early Favorites of 2014

We’re trying a new approach today!  We’ve read tons of 2014 titles already this year.  (Of course there are many more yet to see.)  Out of those that have crossed our paths so far in the first half of the year, here are some favorites, all in one post!  The kids are each going to pick one of the books to highlight... 

Dad:  Evie, why don’t you get us started.  What is your favorite book of the year so far?
Evangeline (age 6):  I like the pictures in this book.  I like how it’s 3D!
Dad:  This is “Jim Curious” by Matthias Picard.
Elijah (age 8):  Oh my gosh.  This book is so cool.
Isaac (age 15):  Dude.  It’s amazing.
Gracie (age 13):  Anything we say is not going to do it justice. 
Evangeline:  I need the goggles. (Puts on the 3D glasses)  Woah, it’s so cool!!!
Dad:  So tell everyone what it’s like to read a 3D book…
Evangeline:  The glasses make it look like this fish is swimming towards you.  It comes closer to you. The fish is coming out at my face!  Oh my word, can I touch this?  I want to stick my hand right under the fish… but it’s not working.
Lily (age 11):  Woah!  Woah!  I keep trying to reach out to grab it.
Dad:  What is the story about?
Evangeline:  It is about “under the sea.”  This guy is swimming.  
Lily:  The pages have a lot of action.  It’s like a movie.
Isaac:  It’s a visual spectacle. The art would still be cool even if it wasn’t 3D.
Evangeline:  It looks like you can try to stick your head into the pictures.  Like I can go under this water and swim with this person and look at this cool stuff.  For real. 
Gracie:  It feels like you shouldn’t be able to turn the pages – because it looks more like staring into a shadow box than a book. 
Evangeline:  But when you take the glasses off, it looks plain.
Dad:  Then when you put the glasses back on...
Evangeline:  KAPOW! 
Dad:  Ka-pow!  Kapoof!
Evangeline:  Not kapoof.  Only kapow.  Kapoof sounds weird.
Dad:  How would you feel if we ever lost the glasses?
Evangeline:  I’d be, like, (voice trembling) "I want to stick my hand under the fish, but now I can't!"
Gracie:  I would cry.
Evangeline:  Only the first half of this book is my favorite book.   At the end there is an underwater tornado.  And it makes me feel like, "Oh cwap.  This tornado is going to make me go into it."
Dad:  Cwap?  Can we say ‘cwap’ on Bookie Woogie?
Evangeline:  Yeah.
Dad:  I’ve never heard you say ‘cwap’ before.
Evangeline:  "Cwap."
Dad:  Now I’ve heard you say it twice.  Let’s wash your mouth out with some of this 3D water.
Evangeline:  It’s actually not wet.

Dad:  Okay Elijah, your turn.  What book do you want to share?
Elijah (age 8):  This book is about dinosaurs. 
Dad:  "The Greatest Dinosaur Ever" by Brenda Guiberson and Gennady Spirin.
Elijah:  One of the dinosaurs said it was the fastest.  One of them said it was the biggest.  One of them said ‘I’ve got armored plates.’  They all thought they were the best.  But I don’t know who was right.
Dad:  How did you do with reading all these dinosaur names?
Elijah:  Heheheheheh…  That’s the tricky part.
Dad:  Why don’t scientists just name dinos things like Bob… and Ed… and Poofer.
Elijah:  Poofer?
Dad:  I don’t know.  It’s better than… Leaellynasura.
Elijah:  All dinosaurs are named weird things.  Like, Spinosaurus.  Actually that’s the easiest name of all of them.
Gracie:  I saw that guy on Jurassic Park… that was freaky.
Lily:  (reading names beneath the pictures)  "Oviraptor..." Gasp!  It’s a chicken-lion-dragon!  You know those chicken-lion-dragon things?  Cockatrice!  Maybe that’s where they got the cockatrice myth from.  Gasp!  That makes so much sense. 
Evangeline:  I don’t like dinosaurs.  Every night I think about dinosaurs.
Dad:  Every night?  I didn’t know that.
Evangeline:  Yeah.  At night I think their heads are going to open and eat me.  But I do think it would be fun to ride a baby dinosaur.
Dad:  Elijah, would you like to have a dinosaur for a pet?
Elijah:  That probably would not be a good idea.
Gracie:  I don’t want him to have one.
Elijah:  I’d accidentally kill everyone with it.
Gracie:  Elijah walks around with a stuffed alligator, beaning people in the head.  Imagine what he would do with a real live predator at his disposal.  That would be horrific.
Isaac:  This book has very detailed art.  The illustrator has a very cool style - you can still see the pencil beneath the paint.
Dad:  This illustrator is one of my favorites.  As soon as I saw that he’d been tapped to do a book about dinosaurs, I thought, That is BRILLIANT!  Why has that never happened before?   Gennady Spirin.  Dinosaurs.  Of course someone needs to put them together.  It’s awesome.
Elijah: (singing to the tune of a Frozen song)  Gennady and dinos… they’re both so intense… put them together… it just makes sense!  Rat da dat, da da dada da doo... 

Dad:  Okay, Lily, pick a book!
Lily (age 11):  “Oliver’s Tree.”
Dad:  By Kit Chase.
Gracie:  This one is really cute.
Lily:  Oliver is an elephant, and he was playing with his friends, a bunny and an owl.  Oliver saw his friend in a tree, but he was too big to climb up with her.  So they try to find a tree that Oliver can climb.  One had bigger branches, but it was too high.  One was too small.  They found a perfect tree, but when he got in it, the branch broke. 
Dad:  Poor guy.
Lily:  It’s so sad -- he just fell on his face.  So Oliver sat on a tree stump and went to sleep.  Then his friends built a tree house around him, and when he woke up -- POOF!  A tree house. 
Kids: (singing to the tune of a Frozen song) Do you wanna build a tree house…
Lily:  I would totally live in a tree house if I could.  Yeah.  If it was big enough.  And if it had electricity.  Except for bugs… I wouldn’t like termites.
Dad:  Do you like climbing trees too?
Lily:  Oh my gosh.  I LOVE climbing trees.  
Elijah:  I do.  I’m just not good at it unless there’s a low branch to start with.  I’m not very tall.
Lily:  I miss that climbing tree at our old house.  I remember when our neighbor Gina came over, we would climb it.  And we would pretend we were cheetahs.  Okay that part was weird.
Dad:  How about the illustrations in this book?
Gracie:  Everything about this book is adorable.  Really cute.
Isaac:  I have nothing against cute things.  People who do are kind of sad.  I like “cute” -- I’m a happy person.
Evangeline:  I like the owl best.  Owls are my favorite animal.  If I ever meet the person who made this book, I would like her very much.  I would want her to draw me 100 owls.  I would want her to make me a tattoo of an owl.

Dad:  Gracie!  What’s your favorite book?
Gracie (age 13):  “Sparky” by Jenny Offill and Chris Appelhans.  I really do like the storyline a lot, but the pictures – the pictures are so, so cool.  
Elijah:  Everybody likes this book.
Gracie:  Sparky is a sloth.  This girl wants a pet, but her mom says she has to get one that doesn’t need to be walked or fed or given a bath.  So she was like, “I’ll get a sloth.”  And she seems to love him... even though he can’t do anything. 
Elijah:  I’d rather have a pet fox. 
Gracie:  She tries to play games with him, but he doesn’t move.  The sloth is... a dud.
Isaac:  He’s a very cool looking sloth though.
Gracie:  Kudos, Chris Appelhans. 
Isaac:  Thumbs up.
Evangeline:  He’s kind of weird.  He looks weird.  He looks like a weird koala bear.
Dad:  Would you want a pet like that?
Evangeline:  No. I feel like he would eat me.
Elijah:  It’s not a very cool pet.
Dad:  Poor Sparky!
Lily:  I like this book because it has “me” in it.
Dad:  You?  I never thought about it…  I guess that does look like you.
Lily:  She looks like me a LOT.
Dad:  Yeah… 'cause you have a flat head, and a big dark nose, and you lay around…
Lily:  NOOOOO… the GIRL.  Ha haha ha…
Dad:  Ha ha... oh, the girl, you say?
Gracie:  The girl is adorable.  You can totally see she’s fun and spunky.  But the sloth just… fails.  Fails.  He doesn’t do anything.  And the book has no resolution to it at all.  The end scene is the girl, just sitting, sad in a tree, trying to play tag with a sloth.
Dad:  You think she’s sad?  Her face is turned away from us.
Gracie:  I don’t know.
Dad:  Or is she happy to accept him as he is?  The sloth looks happy there.
Gracie:  He just ate a cookie, Dad.
Dad:  Ha haa ha hah…
Gracie:  I don’t know, maybe she’s not sad.
Dad:  Maybe *she* just needs a cookie.
Gracie:  I guess it’s not really a sad ending.  That’s a bad word to describe it.
Dad:  So what’s a better way?
Gracie:  It’s kind of like... Life.
Dad:  Oh?
Gracie:  It is!  You can try to really impress people, but it doesn’t always work out, and sometimes you just have to accept that.  And that’s exactly what happened with the sloth. 

Dad:  Alright, Isaac.  Give us another one.
Isaac (age 15):  “Rules of Summer.”
Gracie:  Oh, we love Shaun Tan.
Isaac:  I like Shaun Tan’s work a lot.  Everything he does is cool.  He could do realistic work, but he chooses to make it crazy, just for fun.  And I like that.  I’m attracted to the randomness.
Dad:  What’s the book about?
Isaac:  It’s about these two brothers.  The little boy is probably the main character, but they are both very important.  It takes place in this crazy world where anything happens. 
Elijah:  I was like, “What is happening?  What.  What.  What.  I don’t know what is going on.”
Lily:  Like, where the heck did they get a steamboat-rocketship-car-thing?  And a giant red rabbit?
Evangeline:  That is a humungous bunny. 
Isaac:  There are random rules set to the awesome pictures.
Lily:  So, don’t leave a red sock on a clothesline… or a giant red rabbit will magically appear?
Dad:  See, it’s a good thing you read it here first.  You don’t want to learn that rule the hard way.
Gracie:  I want to go to that park with the magic glowing trees.
Isaac:  My favorite picture is the kids standing on these water tower things with really long nets, and they are trying to catch the stars in a meteor shower. 
Evangeline:  They look like sky jellyfish! 
Isaac:  The pictures seem random, but by the end they tell a story. 
Dad:  And what do you think the story is?
Isaac:  The little boy is making lots of mistakes... 
Evangeline:  He drops all the stuff.  I don’t like how he disobeys all the rules in this book!
Isaac:  He feels sad about it, the brothers get in a fight, the little boy get's trapped and goes away, his brother comes along with bolt cutters and saves him.  Then they are happy and it all resolves.
Dad:  Did you notice the crows?  I read this book a ton of times before I noticed the crow on each page.
Isaac:  I did notice actually.  I didn’t realize it was on every page.  But I noticed it.  At first I thought they were representing “anger.”  Now I’m not sure.  It’s more “sad.”  Like an angry… sad... remorse-ish feeling.  A down-low feeling.
Dad:  Here’s my thought.  I think they represent memories.   The kid screws up and a crow is watching.  The kid screws up and a crow is watching.  Over and over. 
Isaac:  But why are there lots of crow at the end then?
Dad:  Because each time it’s a different crow.  And all the memories are building.  The crows are keeping track, keeping record of all the mistakes, like "strikes," building up, and there’s this big weight of guilt growing.  And eventually it destroys their relationship -- it separates them.  He’s swarmed by all the negatives he’s done.  Then the brother comes along and forgives him.  Forgiveness sets him free.  And after that, there’s no more crows.
Gracie:  Guys… pick up your feet.  It’s getting deep in here.
Lily:  Gracie, I’m never fighting with you again!
Dad:  So think of someone in the family you might have problems with… What if you keep score and let disapproval build and build?
Gracie:  Then you’re just going to have a house full of crows.
Lily:  All that guilt.
Dad:  And what fixes it?
Gracie:  Bolt cutters.
Dad:  Which represented…
Gracie:  Bolt cutters.
Dad:  Or…
Lily:  Forgiveness!!!  I get angry at people, but it only lasts like 5 seconds.
Dad:  So you are very quick to pull out the bolt cutters.
Lily:  Yes.
Dad:  Forgiveness is wonderful.
Isaac:  You need to let it go.
Gracie and Lily: (singing to the tune of the Frozen song)  Let it go… let it go… Getting rid of all my crows!  Let it go…  Let it go… Let forgiveness grow…
Isaac:  Now everyone is going to have that tune stuck in their head.
Dad:  Good golly.  This whole post has turned into a Frozen sing-along.

Jim Curious under the sea, by Evangeline

spinosaurus, by Elijah

Oliver finds a new friend, by Lily

come, Sparky, by Gracie 

catching meteors, by Isaac

And bonus!  Here are five more favorite 2014 titles:

The Adventures of Beekle
by Dan Santat

Some Bugs
by Angela DiTerlizzi and Brendan Wenzel

Lindberg: the Tale of a Flying Mouse
by Torben Kuhlmann

Big Bad Bubble
by Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri

The Glorkian Warrior Delivers a Pizza
by James Kochalka

Jim Curious
Author/Illustrator: Matthias Picard
Published, 2014: Abrams Books
Like it?  Here it is!

The Greatest Dinosaur Ever
Author: Brenda Z. Guiberson 
Illustrator: Gennady Spirin
Published, 2014 (oops! 2013): Henry Holt
Like it?  Here it is!

Oliver's Tree
Author/Illustrator: Kit Chase
Published, 2014: Putnam
Like it?  Here it is!

Author: JennyOffill
Illustrator: Chris Appelhans
Published, 2014: Schwartz & Wade
Like it?  Here it is!

Rules of Summer
Author/Illustrator: Shuan Tan
Published, 2014: Arthur Levine Books
Like it?  Here it is!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Interview #18: John Hendrix

Our family loves the books and art of John Hendrix.  His work involves a fun use of lettering which the kids and I all love.  Isaac in particular has enjoyed drawing with pen and ink lately and has been looking closely at John's illustrations for inspiration.  And we enjoy the times John posts online the drawings he makes in church!  We were thrilled when John took some time to Skype with us to talk about his work, and we're happy to share that conversation with you now!  Thanks, John Hendrix!  (portrait by Gracie)

Dad:  Alright, we have all five of the picture books John Hendrix has illustrated here in front of us. 
Gracie (age 13):  His books are incredible.
Isaac (age 15):  I really like his style.  I really enjoy doing inking and watercolor.  I’ve been looking at his artwork and trying out his style. 
Dad:  Which of these books shall we review?
Lily (age 11):  Abe.  Abraham.  I like it the best.
Dad:  You like Abe Lincoln Crosses a Creek?
Gracie:  That one is funny.
Lily:  It is a story from a long time ago.  It’s a real thing that happened.  Before Abraham Lincoln became all famous and stuff, when he was a kid he fell into a creek.  And his friend Austin pulled him out.  Because Austin did that, we had a president.  If he hadn’t, we would have a different history.
Isaac:  It’s about Abraham Lincoln crossing a creek.  And that’s it.  And you might think, well that’s not a very creative book.  But the story is cool because it accomplishes two things.  It’s telling a historical story.  But it also tells HOW to tell a historical story. 
Gracie:  I like that.
Isaac:  Like, sometimes you get to make up some of the details.
Gracie:  Yeah, an author doesn’t know every single thing about what happened.  But as long as the detail isn’t crucial to the story, you get to make that up.  When Abe falls into the creek the author says, “Austin pulls him out.  But we don’t know how.  He could have grabbed a branch… or a fishing pole… or pulled on his shirttail…”
Isaac:  “We don’t really know how, but we can just make that part up.”
Gracie:  And it’s cool because the author puts herself and the illustrator into the story as characters too. 
Lily:  John Hendrix showed himself as a character because he put his hand in the illustrations, drawing the illustrations.
Gracie:  He paints his own hand into the picture, painting the picture.
Dad:  What else do you like about his artwork?
Gracie:  His paintings are very detailed.
Lily:  The grass.  Every single piece of grass is drawn.  Every piece.  And even everything in the background is detailed.  Every single leaf on the trees.
Isaac:  And he’s very good at lettering. 
Gracie:  The lettering is pretty epic.
Isaac:  He intertwines the letters with his artwork.  They are put together, mixed together.
Gracie:  The lettering looks like a part of the picture.
Isaac:  There is a lot of variety in them.  Some letters are wavy, some are stiff, some are blocky.
Gracie:  They are all different fonts and colors. And they are all handmade letters.
Isaac:  He’s the master of lettering. 
Dad:  Great!  Any last words about his book?
Lily:  I HAVE WORDS!!!
Gracie:  HA ha ha hahh hah hah!
Isaac:  She’s been trying to get it out this whole time!
Gracie:  She’s been sitting in the corner, and she kept trying to say stuff, but either Isaac or I would talk.
Lily:  Ha ha ha!
Dad:  Give me your words, Lil.
Lily:  My words are:  I likey, likey.

And now for our interview with John Hendrix!

Lily:  Hello???
John Hendrix:  Hello!
Dad:  It’s nice to meet you!
John Hendrix:  It’s nice to meet you as well.
Dad:  Thank you for taking the time to chat with us.  We love your books! 
John Hendrix:  Thanks – that’s so nice.
Dad:  Who has a question for us?
Lily:  Why do you like putting lettering in the middle of your pictures?
Gracie:  It’s so cool.  Like, in the book "Rutherford B. Who Was He" your picture of George Washington has words behind him, words in front of him, a scroll going through his legs with words on it.
John Hendrix:  I love letters.  I love letterforms and typography.  I like drawing words that act like pictures.  Or putting them inside the same space so the characters almost encounter them like a new object.
Dad:  It’s almost like the lettering is another character itself.
John Hendrix:  Illustration, to me, is about words and images working together.  So if you put them into the same space, they do stuff that’s really fun and interesting.  Usually if you put words and images in a book together, people will read the words first.  It’s just the way we’re built as people when we read.  But I like putting words into pictures in such a way that you read them second.  Or third.  Changing the order or the hierarchy with which we view an image is very exciting to me.
Gracie:  When I try to do things with lettering, I have to keep drawing over and over again because it never looks right.  What is your process of making the letters and deciding how they look?
John Hendrix:  Yeah, drawing letters is just like drawing anything else.  They act no different than a teapot on a table – they have structure to them, and you have to practice drawing them just the same.  I would recommend getting a book that shows you a type sample – or a type specimen is what they are called – where it shows you every letter of the alphabet in that typeface.  Then just practice drawing them.  A lot of my letters look like the typeface called Clarendon because I practiced drawing it for years.  I went to school for both design and illustration, so I spent a lot of time looking at letters and tracing them and making my own letterforms.  Now it comes very naturally to me.  But only because I practiced so much.  Not because I had a special talent for letters.
Isaac:  Do you look at books now when you are trying to get inspiration for letters?  Is there something you go to?
John Hendrix:  With the Sarah Edmonds book, I looked at all the broadside posters from the Civil War to get type reference from those really chunky gothic letterforms.  Most every time I start by looking at type really closely and being inspired by what’s out there.  But I’ve also drawn enough type by now that I can invent my own, or I can go to type that I’ve used before. 
Isaac:  Since most of your books are historical, I was wondering what kind of process you go through with your research?  Is it hard?
John Hendrix:  Research and drawing are hard in different ways.  They are also fun in different ways.  The first part of research is when I do the writing -- like when I wrote about John Brown, I had to do a lot of reading about him before I could form my opinions. The next part of research is the REALLY fun part – the visual research – where I needed to find the uniforms and what the rifles looked like and what Harpers Ferry looked like.  Right now I’m writing about the Christmas Truce of WWI.  I make these huge notebooks… let me grab one.  So I make a book like this – here’s one of my character sheets where I can figure out what this soldier looks like.
Isaac:  Woah…  Cool…
John Hendrix:  And here are pages of uniforms and what the troops looked like in the trenches
Isaac:  Cool – very cool.
John Hendrix:  It’s a notebook that I use repeatedly throughout the course of the project.  It makes it a lot easier if I create something like that.
Lily:  Where do you find all those pictures?
John Hendrix:  I actually go to real libraries.  I don’t just search online.  The internet is a great resource of course.  But it's an advantage if you can find great books where the photos have not made it online yet.
Gracie:  So you said you think research is fun?
John Hendrix:  Oh yeah.  Research is really just learning about something.  Honestly, there is a nerdy part of me that loves getting all that detail through the research.  The other day I was drawing a second lieutenant’s uniform and I had to find out what their armbands looked like.  So I found this awesome thing on the internet which showed me all the different cuff sleeves for the different ranks.  My favorite part of making books is probably creating the images – the composing and the drawing.  But when you are drawing a guy, it's also fun to feel like, “Oh yeah, I got that totally right.”
Dad:  Is there a certain point during research where you call it quits though?  You could research every tiny detail, but at some point you have to move on to get the thing done…
John Hendrix:  Yeah, on some level the research is really there for me.  I don’t ever want the details to distract or to become a hindrance to the story.  The story is the most important thing.  People are reading the book for the larger narrative.  But I want to feel satisfied that I’ve done my best to recreate the scene.
Isaac:  Have you ever made a mistake?  Like, you drew something and later realized it was really wrong?
John Hendrix:  This is sort of related…  It’s not a research problem, but it was definitely an issue.   Abe Lincoln Crosses a Creek was my first book.  After it came out I was doing a reading, and a kid there said that in one of the images a character had six toes.  And I could not believe it!  But sure enough, in one of the pictures Austin had too many toes.
Lily:  Oh my goodness - I want to see it!
John Hendrix:  Now I’ve ruined the book for you.
Dad:  It’s nice to know there are little toe-counters out in the world.
John Hendrix:  That’s why they have continuity editors that count things like the number of buttons on Austin’s shirt.  We had to go through and make sure I got it the same every time.  Because there are kids out there that will count the buttons.  And the toes.
Lily:  When you were a kid, did you draw the same kinds of things as you do now?  Or did you draw something different.
John Hendrix:  I have a sketchbook I take with me to meetings or bring along when I know I’m going to be listening to someone speak.  And the stuff I draw in my sketchbook for fun is very much like the stuff I drew when I was a kid.  Robots and knights and ray guns and explosions.  Fun, fun things -- I just enjoy the act of drawing them.

Gracie:  Okay, so we saw on your website that you draw a lot in church.
John Hendrix:  Uh-huh, Ha ha…
Gracie:  I draw
a ton in church too.  It helps me concentrate. 
But when I was in Sunday School, some of my teachers would get really annoyed because they thought I wasn’t paying attention.  Did anything like that ever happen to you?
Dad:  And really, she was just taking picture-notes of the lessons.
Gracie:  I was taking picture-notes!
John Hendrix:  And they didn’t believe you…
Gracie:  Nope.
John Hendrix:  This is a common problem I’ve had.  Actually a lot of people are visual learners or visual thinkers – I certainly am the same way.  If I’m in a lecture, I listen much better if my hand is active.
Gracie:  I know, me too!
John Hendrix:  Or it helps me remember things better if I make pictures out of what I’m listening to.  And that can come off to others as being distracted or bored.  But you just have to be okay with it.  You may just learn visually and need pictures to help you store and categorize information.  So that’s not a problem.  You just need to be polite about it and say, “Oh, no – I’m really paying attention.  In fact, here, look at this amazing drawing I have of the thing you were just saying.” 
Kids: ha ha ha…
John Hendrix:  But listen, it’s happened to me ever since I was a kid.  In math class I would be drawing just out of sheer survival to stay awake.  But drawing does not look like a very supportive activity during a math class.  Church, though, is a great place to draw.  There is so much raw visual material in the Bible.
Gracie:  Yeah, during our Family Devotions, we draw pictures of the lessons.
Lily:  We can show you our sketchbooks.
John Hendrix:  I’d love to see them.  (The kids start showing pages... You can see some too: here)
Dad:  We started this probably a year and half ago.  I got everybody sketchbooks for family devotion time.  And rather than taking notes, everyone tries to come up with a visual representation to help us remember the passage.  They are fun to keep – and it’s easy to flip back through them and quickly recall the lessons we’ve had.
John Hendrix:  Ha ha, those are awesome – that’s great!  I like doing that too.  I’ll flip back through my sketchbooks and remember things very vividly because there are pictures associated with them, things that I would have forgotten otherwise.  So yeah – that’s awesome.
Isaac:  Does your faith affect your work at all?
John Hendrix:  Sure.  I think if you have any belief system, and it doesn’t affect your work, that’s a problem.  If your beliefs are something you compartmentalize into one place, and they don’t affect anything else, they’re probably not that serious.  So my faith is something that I take with me wherever I go.  The biggest way it affects my work is in interpersonal interactions with people.  The way I behave when I talk with people.  How I present myself when I’m with people in a professional context.  Occasionally it will mean turning down projects that I don’t think are great or that I don’t want my name associated with.  And of course it also impacts the kinds of projects I do choose to work on.  Actually, I sold a book to Abrams which will be out in April 2016… which seems forever away… 
Dad:  Yep.  That’s the publishing world though...
John Hendrix:  Yeah, it’s good.  But anyway, this book I sold to Abrams is about the miracles of Jesus. 
Isaac:  That’s cool.
John Hendrix:  The book follows Jesus’ life around and we see Him through the things He did.  So even the projects I choose have something to do with faith.
Dad:  We’ll eagerly be waiting for that book too!  Well, I think that’s all the questions the kids had prepared.  Thanks for the conversation.  We like your work a lot!
Isaac:  Yes, Thank-you!
Gracie:  Thank-you!
John Hendrix:  Thanks so much guys! I hope to talk to you again. 
Dad:  Bye-bye.
Lily:  He’s nice.
Gracie:  I like that guy.

crossing the creek, by Isaac

ALACK! by Gracie

on the other side, by Lily

Illustrator: John Hendrix
Author of "Abe Lincoln Crosses a Creek": Deborah Hopkinson
Published, 2008: Schwartz & Wade
Like it?  Here it is

You can flip through 7 of John Hendrix's "Drawing in Church" sketchbooks: HERE
You can see some of the Z-Kids' Family Devotions sketchbooks: HERE
You can see some of Z-Dad's Family Devotions sketchbook: HERE

Friday, January 10, 2014

Review #125: Charlotte's Web

The 3rd Annual 90-Second Newbery Film Festival is coming soon!  We attended the screening in Chicago last year and it was tons of fun!  Don't know what the 90-Second Newbery is?  I'll put some links at the bottom of this post.  But in the meantime...

For our entry this year, we decided to tackle one of the most highly favored novels in Children's Literature.  Charlotte's Web won a Newbery Honor in 1952.  Ten years later, Spider-Man made his first appearance.  Hey... why not bring the two legendary spiders together?  Why not re-imagine the "Charlotte" characters as costumed heroes and villains in the opening credits of an imaginary tv show?  Okay!  Let's do it!  

We're proud to present our Charlotte's Web / Spider-Man / Mashup:

And for an actual 'review' of the book, here are the lyrics to our song:

Charlotte’s web, Charlotte’s web
Making miracles with her thread
She spins a web that brings surprise
With her words she saves lives
Look Out!
Here comes Charlotte’s web

See that pig in the mud?
He will faint at the thought of blood
Will our Wilbur soon be dead?
Just take a look overhead
See there:
There’s hope in Charlotte’s web

From the farm to the fair
Meeting animals everywhere
He could get eaten any day
Danger’s never far away
That’s why
He needs Charlotte’s web

In the chill of night
With her own special twine
She in secret writes
To save the life of a swine

Charlotte’s web
, Charlotte’s web
Friendly, generous, lots of legs
The pig gets fame
While she’s ignored
Making friends is her reward

So pigs, whenever you are shakin’
She’ll come and save your bacon
Look out for Charlotte’s web!

To see all four of our own Newbery Videos, click here...
To learn more about the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival, click here...
To see the best of the 90-Second Newbery videos, click here...

Author: E.B. White
Illustrator: Garth Williams
Published, 1952: HarperCollins
Want the book?  Here it is