Monday, November 30, 2009

Review #51: The Book That Eats People

Dad:  So what are we reading here?
Lily (age 6):  "The Book That Eats People."  It's about a book that eats people.
Dad:  The book in the story is about this book -- the very book in our hands.
Lily:  Yeah.  It's the book that eats people.
Dad:  The book we are holding eats people.
Lily:  Yeah.
Dad:  And Lily, you said it's not a good book?
Lily:  Yeah.  Because it eats people.
Dad:  Oh.
Lily:  Actually, everything you could say about this book is "It eats people."
Dad:  Because that's the main point, huh.
Lily:  Yeah.  It's a book that eats people.
Gracie (age 9):  This book is about the book.  It's a book about itself.
Isaac (age 11):  This is a weird book to review.  Why are we going to review it if it wants to eat us?
Lily:  It's an evil book that eats people!  Beware of it!  You might find it in the library.  You should kill it.
Isaac:  Destroy it at first sight!
Lily:  We've got to stomp on it and destroy it and put it in a fire.
Isaac:  Or a paper shredder.  Where's a paper shredder?  We need to go to Staples and borrow their paper shredder.
Gracie:  The book tells you warnings and cautions.
Lily:  Like, put something heavy on it if it starts growling.
Gracie:  And don't read it with syrupy fingers.  Or a cookie in your pocket.
Isaac: (whispering)  Dad!  Pssst!  Dad!  What if the book realizes we just ate pizza for dinner 10 minutes ago?
Dad:  It can probably smell the food still on our breath...
Isaac:  Oh no.  I think my hands smell like cookies.
Dad:  So what is the story about?
Lily:  About the kids that the book ate so far.
Isaac:  It has eaten a whole lot of people.  Including Sammy.
Dad:  Sammy Ruskin.
Isaac:  At least it's not my friend Sammy Emmons.
Dad:  And who was that little cutie it ate?
Gracie:  Victoria.  She IS cute.
Isaac:  Way too cute.  She's so cute that she looks sort of evil.
Dad:  Tell me about the pictures...
Isaac:  The pages are done in all different styles.
Dad:  There are lots of collages.  You guys might have fun doing collages.  The illustrator made it look like things are taped in there... or like different papers are stacked on top of each other.
Isaac:  I don't know what I should say.  "Read the book" or "Don't read the book"?
Dad:  What is good about the book?
Isaac:  It's a good, great, awesome book with cool pictures.
Lily:  It IS a good book.
Dad:  What is bad about the book?
Isaac:  It could bite your hands off.
Dad:  So you are conflicted about whether to recommend it or not...
Isaac:  I recommend it very much.  Because we don't want it at our house one more day.
Dad:  We got this one from the library...
Gracie:  And this book is overdue, so we have to pay money.
Isaac:  We're paying money to have a book that is evil?  That's kind of weird.  They should be paying us because we kept it away for extra long.
Dad:  This is my very favorite book of the year, did you know that?  I think this is the best book of 2009.
Isaac:  What?  One that eats people?  And is evil?
Dad:  Yep.  I love it.
Isaac:  I don't believe it.  How could you?
Dad:  Now we've been having fun, but tell me really... do you think there is anyone that shouldn't read this?  Do you think it could actually scare kids?  Or do you think all kids would know this is just fun and silly?
Gracie:  If you are a kid who is very, very, very, very, very, very, very cautious about everything, then don't read it.
Dad:  What kind of kids would enjoy a book like this?
Gracie:  Goofy kids.  Me!
Lily:  I like this book!  Because it's a fun book.
Gracie:  It's a terrifying book.  In a good way.
Dad:  It's fun to be silly and scary sometimes, isn't it.
Gracie:  Yeah...  If only it didn't eat people...
Isaac:  Everyone, say good things about this book so it won't eat us.
Dad:  Do you have any words for the creators... John Perry and Mark Fearing?
Gracie:  Yeah.  If the book didn't already eat you guys, make more books!
Isaac:  It probably ate them already.
Dad:  Did it look like it wanted to nibble any of you guys?
Isaac:  It was staring at Lily.
Gracie:  Evie is plump.  We could feed her to the book.
Isaac:  Throw her to the beast!
Lily:  Let the book eat me.
Dad:  Let the book eat Lily?
Lily:  Yes.
Dad:  You are willing to sacrifice yourself?
Lily:  So he won't eat any others of you.
Dad:  That's so nice of you.  (kiss)  Awww... that was very kind of you, my little sweet girl.

collage of carnage, by Isaac

the zookeeper brought pizza and cake... but he was too late, by Lily

the book that ate Gracie, by Gracie

Author: John Perry
Illustrator: Mark Fearing
Published, 2009: Tricycle Press
Like it:  Find it

Monday, November 23, 2009

Review #50: Give Thanks to the Lord

Dad:  Happy Thanksgiving!  Today we're looking at "Give Thanks to the Lord."  It is written by Karma Wilson of "Bear Snores On" fame.  And guys, do the pictures look familiar to you?  Think of our very, very first Bookie Woogie review ever...
Gracie (age 9):  "The Dog Who Belonged to No One"!
Isaac (age 11):  Ah, that's it!
Dad:  Yep, Amy Bates illustrated this one as well.
Gracie:  The art is really sketchy and loose.
Dad:  I love how she's not worried about showing the sketches underneath the paint.  It's great... so scribble-y.
Lily (age 6):  They are mostly all warm colors.
Isaac:  It's all reds, yellows, oranges.
Dad:  What do those colors remind us of besides warmness?
Lily:  Fall.
Dad:  Even though the season is cold, all the warm colors make you feel cozy inside.
Isaac:  My favorite picture is the one with the hot chocolate.  The picture looks so warm and awesome.
Dad:  Notice how the kid in the front looks sharper, and all the other people behind him kind of blend into the background...
Isaac:  I know why!  If you look, there's all this white around the boy that makes him pop out.  It makes it easy to tell he's there.
Dad:  You can tell he's supposed to be the focus.
Isaac:  But you don't really notice the white unless you look hard.
Dad:  I've started doing that in my pictures a bit.
Gracie:  My favorite picture is the last one.  The mommy is carrying the little boy upstairs.  And he is hugging her.  And it looks like he is sleeping.  And he is happy.
Isaac:  What is your favorite picture, Lily?
Lily:  I like the one where the boy and the grandpa are full.  And the dog is licking the plate.
Dad:  Our Mom wouldn't be happy with the dog for that.
Lily:  That dog is on every picture.
Dad:  I never even noticed that.  Oop - except this one.  He's in almost every picture.
Gracie:  The dog is my favorite character.
Lily:  He looks like Marley.
Dad:  How do you know Marley?
Lily:  I don't know.
Isaac:  Commercials.
Gracie:  The pictures really matched what the story said.  She somehow managed to think of the most perfect way to show everything.
Dad:  So tell me about the story...
Gracie:  The story has lots of poetry in it.
Lily:  It's a poem.
Gracie:  And it had alliteration!  "Food and family and fun."
Dad:  What was the poem about?
Lily:  Thanksgiving.
Isaac:  Food.
Gracie:  Fall.
Isaac:  Food, pie...
Gracie:  Leaves.
Isaac:  Apple pie!
Lily:  They talked about being full.
Isaac:  Pumpkin pie!  Whipcream!  I never had as much whipcream on my pumpkin pie as that kid.
Dad:  Isaac, you are Food-Boy.
Isaac:  That's because I like all food.
Dad:  Speaking of pie, you made a pumpkin pie this year, didn't you Isaac.
Gracie:  Ahhhh, that was heavenly.
Dad:  It's like Karma Wilson sat down and said, "What comes to mind when I think about Thanksgiving."
Isaac:  Like, her ten favorite things about Thanksgiving.
Dad:  Her favorite things seem to be similar to our favorite things.
Gracie:  And the boy is putting olives on his fingers.  I love doing that!
Isaac:  I have a confession to make.  I can't stand olives.  They make me gag.
Dad:  The kids in the book pull a wishbone.  Do you guys ever do that?
Isaac:  I'm the unluckiest person in the world with wishbones.  I never win against Gracie.  Or anyone, really.
Gracie:  I always get the knob.  I always get the wish.
Dad:  And you guys played in the leaves recently.  This book has all the fun fall stuff we do!
Gracie:  This year I hid in our pile of leaves, then popped up and scared Elijah.
Isaac:  I dove off our hill and landed in the leaves.  Dad made this pile by the hill, so I ran and jumped off the hill into the pile.
Lily:  I love the hill.
Dad:  You guys are lucky to have a cool hill in the yard.  It's good for sledding in the winter and leaf diving in the fall.
Isaac:  The author was good at capturing Thanksgiving things.
Dad:  So you think this is a good Thanksgiving book, even though there aren't pilgrim and turkey characters in it?
Isaac:  There's a turkey in it.  Not a turkey running around.  But there's a turkey!
Dad:  Yum yum.  Poor turkey.
Lily:  I like this book because it's about God.
Dad:  Do you remember what we were talking about earlier?  Why isn't it called "ThanksBEING Day"?  Why is it "ThanksGIVING"?
Gracie:  Because it's "Giving Thanks."  The words are just backwards.  But who are you giving thanks to?  You have to be giving thanks to somebody.  And we are giving thanks to God.
Dad:  Yep.  The point of the day is not "thankfulness" itself.  Not just being thankful.  The point is the One to whom we give the thanks.
Isaac:  God.
Dad:  So did Karma Wilson get it right?
Gracie:  "Give Thanks to the Lord."
Dad:  So, what things do we have to be thankful to God for?
Lily:  He made my friends.
Gracie:  Our family.
Lily:  I'm thankful for my family because they take care of me and play with me and they are my friends.
Isaac:  Pretty much everything.  Thank God for everything.
Dad:  But give me some specifics.
Isaac:  Pumpkin pie.
Gracie:  I'm thankful for Bookie Woogie.
Dad:  So then, tell me what you think -- what does God have to do with Bookie Woogie?
Isaac:  He gave us the idea for it.  He gave us our brains.
Gracie:  He gives us the inspiration to make the pictures.
Dad:  Your creativity.
Gracie:  And He gave the people who made these books the ideas for their books.  So actually, He has a LOT to do with Bookie Woogie.
Dad:  Good conclusions!
Isaac:  This is a good book.  I like this book.

throwing leaves, by Lily

dog spies pumpkin pie on the table, by Isaac

leaf pile, by Gracie

Author: Karma Wilson
Illustrator: Amy June Bates
Published, 2007: Zonderkidz
Like it?  Find it

Monday, November 16, 2009

Interview #3: Aaron Reynolds

We've got another interview for you this week!  We're delighted to share a conference call style conversation that the kids and I recently had with Aaron Reynolds, author of "Joey Fly Private Eye."  It's been a lot of fun to put the kids in contact with creative folks, to let the kids pick their brains, and to simply talk about creativity together.  Thanks for engaging with us Mr. Reynolds!

The portrait of Aaron Reynolds is by Gracie, who I think can now (with 3 in a row) be declared our official Bookie Woogie portraitist.

And with that, we'll get started...

Dad:  So guys, tell me about "Joey Fly Private Eye."
Isaac (age 11):  The story is a about this fly who is a detective named Joey Fly.
Lily (age 6):  He's a good detective.  Joey kept saying, "We've got to have proof!"
Gracie (age 9):  The characters are all bugs.  Bug world!
Isaac:  Joey's sidekick is Sammy Stingtail who is a scorpion.  Sammy is really clumsy.
Lily:  He has a long tail and he keeps whacking, whacking, whacking everything!  Sammy is learning to be a detective.  But right now he's just cleaning up the office.
Dad:  Does the office get very clean?
Isaac:  It looks like a tornado went through the office because his tail keeps bumping into everything.  He'll pick up one piece of paper, but he'll destroy fifty three thousand things while picking it up.
Dad:  What kind of book is this?
Lily:  It's a wordy book.
Isaac:  It's a graphic novel.
Dad:  What is a Graphic Novel, for any of our readers who might not know...
Isaac:  It's like a comic book.  Imagine a book, but when you open it up there are comics inside.
Dad:  So how is that different from a comic book?  It's longer?
Isaac:  It's in a book - not a magazine.
Gracie:  This is also a funny book.  Puns!  Bug puns!  You know how some people say, "Life in the big city"?  Joey Fly on the beginning page says "Life in the BUG city!"
Isaac:  It's a mystery story too.
Lily:  It's a detective book.
Dad:  Have you guys ever read any mystery books before this?  We have a lot of Nate the Great books...
Isaac:  I've read Hardy Boys books too.
Dad:  Good job guys.  Now for our interview with Aaron Reynolds!  It's nice to meet you...  or, to meet your voice.
Aaron Reynolds:  It's good to meet your voices!
Gracie:  Guess what!
Aaron Reynolds:  What?
Gracie:  My dad's name is Aaron too!
Aaron Reynolds:  I know -- coolest name ever!
Dad:  This is the first time on Bookie Woogie that we're talking about a book we didn't read together as a group.  None of the kids could wait to get their hands on it, so we each read it on our own.  I'm assuming you guys liked "Joey Fly" since you devoured it?
Gracie:  I read it, like, five times!
Aaron Reynolds:  You did!
Lily:  I read it two times.
Aaron Reynolds:  That's awesome.  What was your favorite part?
Gracie:  My favorite part was when Joey was talking to the ladybug, Gloria.  And Gloria tells Joey, "She had a funny look on her face, like she'd just found a fly in her soup."  And then Joey says, "That hurt."
Aaron Reynolds: (laughter)
Gracie:  That's funny!
Lily:  Yeah, that's my favorite part too!
Isaac:  I just like the whole book.
Gracie:  Do you have a favorite part?
Aaron Reynolds:  Oh man... that's a tough one.  I think my favorite part is at the very end when Joey tricks the culprit into revealing herself.  I thought it was pretty sneaky of him.
Dad:  Earlier this week Isaac was trying his hand at writing a mystery story.
Aaron Reynolds:  Oh, cool...
Dad:  And he had a bit of trouble.  What was the main problem you were having?
Isaac:  I couldn't get all the clues to match up.
Aaron Reynolds:  Yeah, that's hard isn't it?  Mysteries are tricky.  I think it's harder than writing a regular story.
Dad:  Isaac had some good ideas for clues.  He knew how they would reveal the ending.  I think he just didn't know how to pace all the clues into a story.
Isaac:  I knew a few of the clues pointed to one person.  But I couldn't figure out how to get all the clues to do it.
Aaron Reynolds:  I have trouble with that sometimes too.  Sometimes I figure out the clues that lead up to the ending as I write.  Other times I jump to the ending and think backwards... I reveal the whole thing to myself in my imagination and then think about all the things that the crook might have missed or left behind.  I also don't want the clues to be obvious.  When you find a clue, I don't want everyone who is reading the book to go, "I know what happened!"  I also watch a lot of cool mystery movies.  And when I see other people who do mysteries really well, it gives me some ideas.
Gracie:  We watch Scooby Doo.
Aaron Reynolds:  Scooby Doo!  I love Scooby Doo.
Isaac:  Because you are writing the story and it is a graphic novel, do you ever worry about how the pictures are going to come out?
Aaron Reynolds:  That's a great question.  The guy who illustrated the book - his name is Neil Numberman.  He and I did not know each other until after the book came out, so we never worked together.  We never spoke once during the creation of the book.  So how the book looks was totally in his hands.  And I'll tell you guys a secret.  When I first saw his sketches of Joey, I hated them!
Dad:  Uh-oh!
Aaron Reynolds:  Ohhhh... I hated them.  I thought to myself, okay, the main character you've drawn for my book doesn't even have a mouth.  And he doesn't have pupils in his eyeballs!  How are you going to do a main character like this for an entire 98 page graphic novel?  How are people going to know how he's feeling?  I was a little worried about it.
Dad:  So did you see some actual pages?  Or just some character sketches?
Aaron Reynolds:  Character sketches.  It was when the publisher thought they wanted Neil to do the book, but they hadn't decided yet.  My editor wasn't showing me to ask "Is this okay."  Because I don't get to decide.  They decide.  But my editor did go back to Neil and told him how I was feeling.  So Neil made a sheet of the 50 emotions of Joey Fly.
Gracie:  Yikes!
Aaron Reynolds:  He drew 50 different little pictures of Joey feeling different emotions.  My editor sent that back to me and I was like, okay I'm sold.  If he can make this character work in 50 different expressions -- and in each one I knew exactly how he was feeling -- then I'm sold.  So yes, sometimes I do worry about the illustrations because I don't get a lot of control over it.  But you learn to trust these artists who are in the mix... they're usually pretty good.
Dad:  Ahh, those stinkin' artists....
Isaac:  I like Joey.  He's my favorite character.
Dad:  Actually, right before the interview, mere moments ago, I was telling the kids that I loved the fact that Joey only has a little tube for a mouth and pupil-less eyes.  I thought it was the coolest part of the whole book.  But see, that's another artist talking.
Lily:  Who is your favorite character?
Aaron Reynolds:  I really love Joey.  And I've also got a new favorite...  Now, you guys haven't even seen it yet, but I've looked at the sketches for Joey Fly #2 --
Gracie:  GAAASP!!!
Aaron Reynolds: (stunned pause followed by laughter)
Dad: (also laughing)  Wow - all the air just got sucked out of the room here.
Lily:  There's going to be another one?  Yeah!  There's going to be another one!
Aaron Reynolds:  Number 2 is already written, and Neil is illustrating it right now.  He's already done the sketches, and he's doing the final artwork right now.  He'd better be doing it right now... today!  And I'm already writing #3.
Dad:  Yay - We were wondering if there would be more.  That's good news!
Aaron Reynolds:  So my favorite-favorite character is from the second book.  His name is Harry Spiderson, and he's a brazilian tarantula.
Dad:  We're going to have to hide that from Mom...
Gracie:  She freaks out!
Aaron Reynolds:  Doesn't like spiders?
Gracie:  Nuh-uh.
Aaron Reynolds:  I don't like them in real life either.
Lily:  I'm not afraid of spiders.  And spiders are even half poisonous.
Dad:  Half poisonous?  Which half?
Lily:  The top half.  If they bite you.
Dad:  So is Harry a nice spider or a creepy one?
Aaron Reynolds: He's a good guy.  He's actually the customer that comes to Joey for help.  We think he's a bad guy at first because, you know, what do spiders eat?  They eat flies.  So we're a little worried about him at first, but he turns out to be okay.  He's a little dramatic though.  The whole story takes place in a theater, and he's the director of the theater company.
Dad:  Gracie, you were on the stage recently, weren't you...
Gracie:  Yes!  I was doing a skit at my drama camp.
Aaron Reynolds:  Very cool.  Very cool.  Before I became a writer I was an actor in Chicago.
Gracie:  And you write plays.
Dad:  Yeah, we did some looking online and found a few songs you wrote and some of the plays you were in.
Aaron Reynolds:  You did?
Gracie:  You had little red pointy horns!
Aaron Reynolds: (laughter)  You saw that, did you?
Dad:  You don't have horns in real life do you?
Aaron Reynolds:  Not in real life.  Ah, that's the bad thing about letting someone video you doing drama...  You never know when it's going to pop up.
Lily:  Gracie was a cowgirl.
Gracie:  Yeah, in my skit I was a wrangler.
Aaron Reynolds:  Cool.
Gracie:  I still remember all my lines.
Dad:  It didn't surprise any of us that Gracie took to drama pretty well.
Gracie:  Which one is your favorite?  Writing graphic novels, writing picture books, writing plays, or writing songs?
Aaron Reynolds:  You know I like them all.  They're all a little different.  Right now I really love graphic novels.  In a lot of ways it's like writing plays.  When I write a graphic novel, I don't write a story like a regular book.  I write a script.
Dad:  Yeah, we were wondering what that looks like... how writing a graphic novel looks different than writing a picture book.
Aaron Reynolds:  Gracie's script at drama camp probably gave the name of a character and what they say, and then the name of the next character and what they say.  And also stage directions that tell where you walk and how you move.  That's a lot like how it looks when you are writing a graphic novel.  It's just 100 pages of a script.
Gracie:  100 pages?
Aaron Reynolds:  You're right... the finished script is probably more like 60 or 70 pages once it had all the stage direction in it.
Gracie:  Was "Joey Fly" fun to write?
Aaron Reynolds:  It is fun to write.  But you know what, I'm writing the third one right now and I'm not having fun.  I'm having a hard time figuring out what I want to have happen.
Gracie:  You're writing it right now?
Aaron Reynolds:  Well, not right now, not while we're talking.
Lily:  Oh, you mean like in this part of the week.
Aaron Reynolds:  Yes.  These days.
Lily:  Gracie writes songs too.
Gracie:  Yeah, I usually only write Jesus songs.  Except once when we were at Disney World, just quick off the top of my head I made up a song about a kangaroo and a turtle which I do not want to sing right now.
Aaron Reynolds:  But now that you said it, I have to hear it!  Let's hear it!
Gracie:  It's embarrassing!
Isaac:  Sing it!
Lily:  Sing!  Sing!
Gracie:  It's embarrassing - no!
Dad:  Well, what if Mr. Reynolds sings you a little something?  Then will you sing for him?
Aaron Reynolds:  Oh my goodness.  Alright, I'm embarrassed too, Gracie.  Neither of us have to sing.
Gracie: (giggles)
Aaron Reynolds:  Sometimes we creative people are actually pretty shy.
Dad:  But it's fun -- we get to hide behind other characters, right?
Aaron Reynolds:  This is true.
Dad:  I was wondering what other graphic novels you like.  Are there any other ones that you take inspiration from.
Aaron Reynolds:  I love Babymouse.  Do you guys know Babymouse?
Gracie:  I LOVE Babymouse!  They're my favorite books ever!
Lily:  Me too.  But I also like Joey Fly.
Aaron Reynolds:  Well if I rate up there with Babymouse, then I'm very happy.  Because Babymouse is awesome.  There's also a series called Jellaby.  Have you seen Jellaby?
Isaac:  Yes!
Lily:  Yeah!  I love Jellaby.
Dad:  These guys are very into graphic novels.
Gracie:  Oh yeah!
Aaron Reynolds:  Owly?  Do you guys like Owly?
Gracie:  Yeeeeeah.  I love Owly.
Aaron Reynolds:  And there's a new series -- the second book just came out -- it's called Amulet...
Isaac:  Oh yeah.
Lily:  AW!  I love Amulet!
Gracie:  Whenever we get an Amulet book, everybody races to see who can finish it first.  And there's always fighting about who can read it first.
Aaron Reynolds:  Did you guys just get the second one?  It's so good.
Dad:  Yeah, we have it sitting right here on the table next to us... from the library...
Gracie:  We love, love, love Amulet.
Lily:  We already finished book 1 and book 2.
Aaron Reynolds:  Did you?  I got book 2 and just finished it a couple weeks ago.
Dad:  It sounds like Mr. Reynolds has the same taste in graphic novels as you guys.
Gracie:  Awesome!
Dad:  Anything else you guys want to say as we wrap up?
Isaac:  Thank-you for letting us interview you!
Lily:  And thank-you for writing Joey Fly.
Gracie:  It's a cool book.
Aaron Reynolds:  Oh, you're welcome.  I'm so glad you guys like it!  I can't wait for you guys to see the second one.
Lily:  I can't wait!

"She had a funny look on her face, like she had just found a fly in her soup," by Lily

Delilah, Flittany, and Sammy Stingtail, by Gracie

Sammy returns, by Isaac

Author: Aaron Reynolds
Illustrator: Neil Numberman
Published, 2009: Henry Holt
Like it? Find it

Monday, November 9, 2009

Review #49: Who Needs Donuts?

Dad:  So, what is this thing we hold in our hands?
Gracie (age 9):  "Who Needs Donuts"!
Lily (age 6):  I need donuts.
Dad:  It's like no other book I have ever seen.
Isaac (age 11):  This is, like, the best book ever.
Dad:  How would you describe it?
Gracie:  Crazy!
Isaac:  There are millions and millions and millions of things on every page.  If you could zoom in very closely you would see millions and millions of little people, and weird animals, and all kinds of stuff.  Like giraffes, two headed dogs, and half-horse-half-pigeons.
Gracie:  Is that a duck-dog?
Lily:  That's a duck-horse.
Gracie:  There's a tree in his pipe.  Who keeps donuts under their hat?  Who drives a car with their feet?
Dad:  Apparently those guys.
Gracie:  She's got shoes on her glasses.
Isaac:  This is so good.
Gracie:  There's a three-tailed dog with running shoes.
Isaac:  That guy is giving birds sardines.
Dad:  Birds?
Gracie:  They are horse-elephant-birds!
Isaac:  I see a guy with a horse head.
Gracie:  There's an elephant coming out of that guy's ear!  And it's loving this flying elephant.
Lily:  It's crazy!  There are lots and lots and thousand and thousands of details.
Isaac:  You could look at each page for three million days.
Gracie:  She's got a city in her grocery bag!  And there's a rhino driving that car!
Dad:  Crazy, crazy, crazy.  We'll never finish this review if we just keep listing all the details in the pictures.
Isaac:  I knew this was going to be a two-hour review.
Dad:  It's called "Who Needs Donuts?"  What about donuts?
Lily:  There are a lot of donuts.  Donuts, donuts.  Donuts, donuts.
Gracie:  This book is a crazy donut sensation.
Lily:  This is the story of Sam.  He wanted one thousand forty two million donuts.
Gracie:  So the boy named Sam goes to the big city to look for donuts, and he meets Mr. Bikferd who collects donuts for a hobby.
Isaac: Mr. Bikferd loves donuts just like Sam does.  They go hunting and find donuts together.
Dad:  Where does a person find donuts in the big city?
Lily:  He found them under people's hats.
Isaac:  They go to Mr. Bikferd's house...
Lily:  His storage place.
Isaac: ...and there are millions and trillions and zillion-gillion-fillions and billions and dillions of donuts.  And one giraffe.
Gracie:  Sam is happy.  Sam is freaking out.
Isaac:  And his eyes just look like donut holes.
Gracie:  All those donuts would be fun to play hide and seek in!  I would start eating and building forts out of donuts.
Isaac:  I would dive into the donuts and swim to the bottom.
Gracie:  Then an old lady comes up and is like, "Who needs donuts?  That's right.  Who needs donuts when you've got love?"
Isaac:  Sam thought they'd be happy forever.  Until their donut wagon broke down.  They had to find a phone so they could call the wagon repairman.  There's this person named Pretzel Annie, and she had a direct line to the repairman.  Literally.  There's just this big rope... this long line with telephones on it that goes to the repairman.
Gracie:  Mr. Bikferd and Pretzel Annie fell in love at first sight.
Lily:  He found love.
Gracie:  Love was more important than donuts.
Isaac:  Mr. Bikferd got married and opened a pretzel shop with Pretzel Annie.  They'll definitely have enough food for the wedding.  They'll never run out.
Gracie:  Yeah.  They'll just eat pretzels and donuts for the wedding.  They could make a donut cake.
Isaac:  Pretzels and donuts.  That would be awesome!
Gracie:  Sam wasn't happy because Mr. Bikferd was gone.
Isaac:  Mr. Bikferd gave all the donuts to Sam.  But Sam doesn't want to hunt donuts anymore because he doesn't have his friend.  Friendship was more important than the donuts.
Gracie:  Then the old lady from before goes to her house in the basement of a coffee factory.  And a bull from the pet shop... who would be selling a bull as a pet anyway???  A wild bull from the pet shop came and punched into the giant coffee tank.
Isaac:  And coffee pours into the basement of this old lady.
Lily:  And she started sinking, and she didn't know how to swim!  And the little boy didn't know how to swim.  But then he tossed the donuts in there and the coffee sucked into the donuts.  And then she was safe.
Gracie:  Then Sam's like, "I'm going home."  Because people are more important than donuts.
Lily:  Kids and grownups and people are all more important than donuts.
Dad:  Now, what kind of person do you think would be able to make a book like this.
Gracie:  He would have to be very imaginative and not get frustrated easy.  It would take a week to draw one little corner of the book.
Isaac:  If I tried to draw this I would explode after the first three hours of working.
Gracie:  Aghh!  But we do have to draw a picture like this!  For the review!
Isaac:  Oh no.  This will be my last Bookie Woogie.  Because I'm going to explode!
Lily:  I know why this book is just black and white.  It would take hours and hours to color it!
Gracie:  Oh, imagine!
Isaac:  It would take me three days and nights to just draw two pages!  Just two!  Who is this guy anyway?
Dad:  Mark Alan Stamaty.  Do you wish Mr. Stamaty would make another book like this one?  Or do we want to give him a break after this?
Isaac:  A break and THEN another book.
Dad:  Actually, this book came out in 1973.  That's before I was born.
Gracie:  That means he's dead!!!
Dad:  No, I don't thinks so.  He's still around.
Isaac:  Can he make another book like this?
Dad:  Maybe he's been working on one since 1973.
Isaac:  Oh for the love.
Dad:  I could imagine this book taking 36 years to make.
Isaac:  That's more than triple how old I am.
Dad:  Is there anything you want to say to Mr. Stamaty?
Isaac:  Good job on this book.
Gracie:  We all really think you should make more books like it.  We really like this one.
Isaac:  Unless you're still sick of making this book and you need a longer break.
Dad:  He probably did need all this time to recover.
Gracie:  People can learn stuff from this story.  You cannot love donuts more than your friends and family.
Dad:  Well, not just donuts...
Gracie:  Don't love "things" more than people.
Lily:  Once, by accident, I loved ducks more than people.
Dad:  Do you still?
Lily:  Nope.
Dad:  So you stopped collecting ducks and started collecting people?
Lily:  No!  I still collect ducks.
Dad:  But you also collect people now?
Lily:  No.  I love people.
Dad:  You collect ducks, but you love people.
Lily:  Yes!
Dad:  Ahhhhh, it's all coming clear now...
Gracie:  I think people will love this book.
Dad:  What's one word to describe it?
Isaac:  Can I do two?  "Very doodle-y."
Lily:  It's a really good book.  I don't know why.  If people read it, they'll find out why.
Gracie:  If you are addicted to donuts, you will probably explode with joy.

Lily and a donut pile, by Lily

Sam feeding some creatures, by Gracie

reception for the Bikferd wedding, by Isaac

Author/Illustrator: Mark Alan Stamaty
Published: 1973 Dial Press, 2001 Knopf
Like it?  Find it

Monday, November 2, 2009

Interview #2: Patricia Newman

I recently had the privilege of illustrating a wonderful book written by Patricia Newman called "Nugget on the Flight Deck."  As is typical, Author and Illustrator didn't have contact with each other during the book's creation.  We've emailed back and forth a bit since the project's completion, but we hadn't had a conversation -- until now.  I thought for Bookie Woogie's  One Year Anniversary, it would be fun for the kids and I to have a conference call chat with Mrs. Newman about our new book!

(Portait of Mrs. Newman by Gracie)

We've got a treat to start this post off...  A few months ago Mrs. Newman wrote to say that she was putting together a trailer for the book, and she wondered if one of my kids would like to narrate.  I taped both Isaac and Grace reading the script in order to give her a couple of recordings to choose from.  Well, she couldn't bring herself to pick one over the other, and she ended up making two versions of the trailer!  So before our review and interview, here are both the Isaac and Gracie versions of the trailer for your viewing (and listening!) pleasure:

Dad:  Alright guys, why don't you first tell our readers about Mrs. Newman's two books, "Nugget on the Flight Deck" and "Jingle the Brass."  One is about aircraft carriers, and one is about trains -- but how are they similar?
Isaac (age 11):  You learn all about this stuff -- these fancy words.  These books teach people about different words.  Jargon.
Dad:  Give me an example of pilot's jargon...
Lily (age 6):  A "meatball" is this light that helps a plane to land.  It tells the plane if it is too low and is going to bonk into the ship, or too high and pass over the ship.
Dad:  What about the names for the different jobs on a carrier?
Lily:  "Yellow Shirt," "Green Shirt," "Blue Shirt," "Red shirt," and "Grape!"
Gracie (age 9):  You'd think they would call it Purple Shirt, but it's "Grape!"
Dad:  Do you remember what job the Grapes do?
Gracie:  Fill the planes with gas?
Dad:  Woo!  Good memory...
Gracie:  I'm a lucky guesser, baby!
Dad:  Mrs. Newman is very talented.  It could have been boring writing about jargon...
Isaac:  But it's really cool!  She made "Nugget on the Flight Deck" into a story.  A really exciting, cool story.
Lily:  Nugget on the Flightdeck is about a little boy named Nugget.
Dad:  Now, do you think his real name is "Nugget"?
Gracie:  Nooooo.
Isaac:  "Nugget" is his name because he is a new recruit.  "New recruit" on the flight deck.
Gracie:  But his real name is "Filipino McGravy."
Dad:  Filipino?
Gracie:  Ha ha ha ha HA!
Lily:  The Lieutenant takes him around the ship.  And then they sail off in a plane!  Then another plane comes and they do a "dog fight."
Isaac:  A "dog fight" is an air battle.
Dad:  Yep - so there's another jargon word we learned.  Would you like to go up in a plane and have a practice dog fight?
Gracie:  I don't want to pull no G's!
Dad:  Ha, ha, ha...  Tell every one what it means to "Pull G's."
Gracie:  A "G" is the force that brings you back to earth.  Gravity.  A "G" is also me -- Gracie!
Dad:  So does "Pulling G's" mean I get to yank on you?
Gracie:  Gravity is pushing on you.  1 G is gravity.  So imagine 12 G's pushing on you!
Dad:  So if you are pulling G's that means you feel the force of gravity extra strong.
Gracie:  The force is with you!
  Good job guys!  Now it's time to share our interview...  And who are we talking to today?
Gracie:  Patricia Newman!
Dad:  Yes, Mrs. Newman.  It's nice to talk to you!
Patricia Newman:  It's nice to talk to you guys!  I have heard your voices once before...
Gracie:  (Giggle giggle)
Patricia Newman:  Do you remember when?
Dad:  Remember when you guys did the trailers....
Gracie:  I was talking about the book!  With Isaac.
Patricia Newman:  That's exactly right.  Thank-you for doing that.
Gracie:  You're welcome.
Dad:  Did you guys like reading for those trailers?
Isaac:  It was fun!
Dad:  We had to record it a lot of times, didn't we?
Isaac:  I kept sneezing.
Dad:  And there were a couple of tricky words that were hard to pronounce.
Gracie:  "Jargon."  I could never say "jargon."
Patricia Newman:  Well, I think you guys did a great job.  And I've shown the trailer to a lot of my friends, and they love it.
Gracie:  Yea!
Lily:  Can I talk too?
Dad:  Sure... you can talk.  What do you want to say, Lil?
Lily:  How did you learn about the plane stuff and the train stuff?
Dad:  Oo - Lily is launching right in with a question, right off the bat.
Patricia Newman:  The plane stuff and the train stuff...  Well, let's start with the "train stuff" since that book came first.  I live in Sacramento near a railroad museum.
Lily:  Awwww!
Patricia Newman:  I was walking around the museum one day, and I got an idea for a book -- but for much older kids, like a novel.  So I started to do some research.  I went back to the library that the railroad museum has, and I talked to a retired railroad engineer - a man who actually drove locomotives.  He took me on a tour of the railroad yard...
Gracie:  Sweet!
Patricia Newman:  And he started using all these cool words like "bending the iron" and "putting on the nosebag" and "eggs with headlights" and "on the plush."  And I thought those words sounded really fun.  So I put aside my long chapter book for older kids, and I decided to write "Jingle the Brass."
Gracie:  Cool.
Patricia Newman:  Then for "Nugget on the Flight Deck" I thought, "Well, train engineers have such cool sounding jargon - or lingo - or slang.  Maybe pilots do too."  So I called a friend of mine, Dennis Fitzpatrick, who was a pilot on board an aircraft carrier for the Navy, and he answered all of my questions.  He's taken off and landed on a carrier hundreds of times.  Plus, my neighbor across the street was an Air Force pilot, and he taught me a lot about flying.
Gracie:  Wow - you were lucky to have all those people near you.
Patricia Newman:  I was lucky.  But you know, if you keep your eyes open, I bet you'll find people that you can use as experts for your ideas too.
Gracie:  Do you like writing books?
Patricia Newman:  I love writing books.  I think it's a lot of fun.  But it's a lot of hard work too.  Sometimes when things are going really well, I make myself laugh when I write, and I think "Oh man!  I'm having the greatest time!  This is so much fun!"  But on some days I think, "Oh, this is just too hard...  I never want to do this again...  I'm going to stop..."
Gracie:  Does that mean you're not going to make any more books?
Patricia Newman:  Oh -- no!  In fact, I already have two more books that I sent to my agent.
Gracie:  Writing is hard work for us too.
Dad:  What if Mrs. Newman had quit?  We wouldn't have these great books, would we?
Gracie:  Aghhhhh!
Dad:  Does that encourage you to keep trying even if it's hard?
Lily:  Yep!
Patricia Newman:  I have a question for Gracie and Isaac and Lily...  What do you think it feels like to land a plane on an aircraft carrier?
Isaac:  Bumpy.
Gracie:  Bumpy!
Lily: (starts bouncing up and down)
Gracie:  It would hurt!
Patricia Newman:  I don't know if it hurts -- because pilots are strapped in pretty well with their seat belt harnesses...
Lily:  And their tight flight pants!
Patricia Newman:  But it is extremely bumpy.  I talked to one pilot...  do you guys know what a blender is?
Gracie:  Our grandma has one.  She makes awesome peach smoothies.
Lily:  Yeah!
Patricia Newman:  Well, I talked to one pilot who said landing on an aircraft carrier is like being in a blender.
Gracie:  That would hurt!  A blender has sharp knives!
Dad:  I don't think he meant painful -- probably just shaky.
Patricia Newman:  What things are moving when a pilot lands?
Gracie:  The plane.
Patricia Newman:  Do you know what else is moving?  The carrier is on the water, and the waves are rolling it back and forth.
Dad:  Yeah guys, it's not like landing in a parking lot.  The pilot is landing on a surface that is bouncing all over the place.  There are lots of exciting things about flying a plane -- even the landing!  So guys, do you have a favorite part from "Nugget on the Flight Deck"?
Gracie:  The words.
Dad: (laughing)  The words???  Hey now...
Gracie:  Yeah!
Patricia Newman:  Do you mean the pilot jargon?
Gracie:  Yes!  Jargon!
Patricia Newman:  I like those too, Gracie.
Dad:  How about you, Isaac?
Isaac:  Probably the jargon.
Lily:  Yeah, I like jargon too.
Isaac:  And the pictures.
Dad:  Ha, ha -- Good boy...   Now, I also love jargon.  It feels so close to nonsense, and you know I love nonsense words.  Why do you guys like the jargon?
Gracie:  Because they are silly words!
Patricia Newman:  What are some of the silly words in the book that you like?
Dad:  What about the word "Nugget"?  That word has special meaning for our family, doesn't it...
Gracie:  That's what we called Elijah while he was in Mommy's tummy.
Dad:  Yeah - that was our nickname for him while he was in utero.
Gracie:  We called him Nugget!  Nuggie, nuggie, nugget!
Dad:  And the kids also have a second blog - an art blog - with "Nugget" in the title...
Gracie:  Chicken Nugget Lemon Tooty!
Patricia Newman:  Chicken Nugget Lemon... what?
Gracie:  Tooty!
Patricia Newman:  Tooty?
Dad:  Ha ha... So there's some Zenz family jargon for you...
Patricia Newman:  Yeah, I guess so!
Gracie:  Did you ever get really worried about how the pictures were going to look because you weren't making them?
Patricia Newman:  I have pictures in my head when I write my stories, but they are not very detailed pictures.  So when I send my story to my editor, I trust my editor to pick out great artists... like Mr. Aaron Zenz...
Gracie:  Daddy!
Patricia Newman: ...artists who can make the stories come to life.  So I have a lot of faith in the illustrators who are assigned to my books -- I know they are going to do a great job.
Dad:  Do you kids have any particular memories of me working on this book?
Isaac:  I do.  You made me pose and keep changing poses for the very last picture.
Dad:  That's right - I forgot -- you did pose for that one.  So I could get the salutes right.
Isaac:  You had to keep moving me and making me put my hand up higher... then lower...
Patricia Newman:  Isaac, do you look like Nugget?
Isaac:  Uhhh...  Dad, do I?
Dad:  Not really.  Isaac is a blondie.
Gracie:  Everybody in the family is a blondie.  Except for Mommy and Daddy.
Dad:  I gave Nugget red hair because most of the book is full of gray and blue -- all those cold colors of sky and ship and water.  I was looking for every opportunity I could find to splash some brighter colors in there.  That was the reason for giving him red hair.
Patricia Newman:  Well I love his red hair.
Gracie:  Dad!  Is that why you made the outfits on the Red Shirt and the Green Shirt and the Yellow Shirt and the Grape so bright?
Dad:  They are bright.  Probably brighter than they would actually be in real life.  But yes.  That's to help add some popping color in there.
Patricia Newman:  I visited a school the other day...  I told the kids at the school that your dad used up 72 pencils and broke 161 pencil points drawing "Nugget."
Dad:  Yep.  That's become a quirk of mine...  I always save the broken tips from each project and count them up at the end.  I have little plastic baggies with the pencil tips from every project that I've worked on.
(Laughter from all)
Dad:  I label them -- I have a "Hiccupotamus" bag full of broken pencil tips, and I have a "Nugget on the Flight Deck" bag full of tips...
Lily:  And a "Howie" bag!  And guess what - he has this little wooden wishing well thing, and whenever pencil tops fall off he saves them.
Dad:  Yep - that's my spot for the tips from all my miscellaneous art that isn't for a specific book.  That one is filled almost to the top by now.
Patricia Newman:  Do you kids know which picture in "Nugget on the Flight Deck" is my favorite?
Lily:  Which one?!
Patricia Newman:  My favorite is the one where the aircraft is landing on the carrier.  It's still in the air, it hasn't quite touched down yet... but it's coming in, and everything looks a little crooked and it kind of makes my stomach feel queasy...
Gracie:  You mean the picture with the "meatball"?  The light?  The yellow light?
Patricia Newman:  Yep - the one with the meatball.
Gracie:  When we read the book earlier today I said, "What if the Grape Shirt was holding the meatball?"
Patricia Newman: (laughter)
Dad:  She thought that would be funny... a grape holding a meatball.
All: (laughter)
Patricia Newman:  That is funny.
Lily:  I'm going to make a picture about that!
Patricia Newman:  I'd like to see a picture of that too.
Gracie:  I have one last question.
Patricia Newman:  What's up, Grace?
Gracie:  Which is your favorite book?  "Nugget on the Flight Deck" or "Jingle the Brass"?
Patricia Newman:  Well, let me answer your question with a question, and we'll see if you understand what I'm saying.  Who is your father's favorite child?  Gracie, Isaac, or Lily?
(long pause)
Gracie:  I get it... (giggle giggle giggle)
Patricia Newman:  It's too hard to choose.  I love them both.
Gracie:  Hee hee hee hee...
Patricia Newman:  She's giggling...  I can hear her.
Gracie:  Thank-you for letting us interview you!
Patricia Newman:  You are welcome!  I'm really glad you guys called me today.  Thank you very much.
Lily:  Guess what.
Dad:  Oh, I guess Lily's not done yet...
Lily:  We got a new captain's bed.
Patricia Newman:  A new bed?
Dad:  Ha ha ha...  that's random.  Yep.  The girls got a new trundle bed.  We still have to put it together.  The boxes are sitting in our living room.
Lily:  It's called a "captain's bed"!
Patricia Newman:  Well if it's called a captain's bed, when you get on it at night, you'll have to say, "Permission to come aboard, Captain?"
Dad:  You can pretend you are on an aircraft carrier!
Patricia Newman:  Right!
Lily:  I want to be Nugget!  I'm a nugget!

Lt. Gutts and Nugget, by Gracie

suited up, by Lily

F/A-18 and carrier, by Isaac

bonus!  Grape holding a meatball, by Lily

Author: Patricia Newman
Illustrator: Aaron Zenz
"Nugget on the Flight Deck" published Fall 2009: Walker Books
Like it? Please find it!

Time for a Giveaway!

How would you like to win a copy of "Nugget on the Flight Deck"?  In celebration of the book's release and the 1 year anniversary of Bookie Woogie, we're giving away a copy -- hot off the press -- signed by both Patricia Newman and myself.  To enter, just leave a comment on this post between now and November 15, and we'll randomly select a winner!  Good luck!