Wednesday, March 30, 2011

In the News!

"We’re here at the Zenz home and things are pretty nutty.

There are six kids, the stuff Isaac carved with his collection of pocket knives, the book Lily is writing about a girl who follows a trail of nuts and falls into a mysterious hole, 57 ducks, a recipe for tuna fish potatoes, and...

Hang on.  It’s gonna get a little crazy."

Crazy indeed!  That last line, my friends, is a perfect summary of our life, presented to the masses in this past Sunday's edition of the Grand Rapids Press.

The newspaper powers-that-be decided to write a feature on Bookie Woogie, and it turned into a big profile of the whole family -- nearly two full pages worth.  Terri Hamilton did a beautiful job reporting, and Darren Breen took some priceless photos.  And that's not all!  The paper enjoyed what they saw here on Bookie Woogie so much, they've decided to start running our reviews in the Grand Rapids Press from time to time!

So if you'd like to get a behind the scenes peek into the lives and personalities that bring you this blog, this is a good place.  You can click HERE for the article, HERE for the gallery, and HERE for our first paper-published review...

Thanks to the Grand Rapids Press!  And thanks to all our many blog readers for your faithful visits here over the years!


Monday, March 28, 2011

Review #91: Clementine

We tend to focus our family group reviews mostly on picture books -- it's easy to pile everyone up on the couch and read three or four of them together in a single sitting.  But the kids do plenty of reading on their own as well.  So I've decided that from time to time we'll check in with the kids individually to see what books they've been enjoying for their own pleasure reading.  These will be books that I haven't read with them, so I will be learning about the stories right along with all of you!  Today Lily is going to share a book she recently finished:

Dad:  Alright, Lily.  Time for our One-On-One Bookie Woogie review!  Go ahead and tell me about your book.
Lily (age 8):  Well, it's called "Clementine."
Dad:  Do you remember who the author is?
Lily:  It is written by Sara Pennypacker.  And pictures by Marla Frazee.  The book is hilarious.
Dad:  What kind of girl is Clementine?
Lily:  She is a wild idea'ed person.  She's creative.  She's crazy.  She's a trouble maker.  And she memorizes shoes.  They live in the basement, so out the window they see all the feet.  And Clementine memorized every shoe of every person.
Dad:  Tell me about some of her wild ideas.
Lily:  I will tell you a few funny things.  And naughty things.
Dad:  Naughty?
Lily:  Naughty.  She tries to do good things -- to help people and to make them feel better.  But sometimes the things she does turn out to be bad.
Dad:  Gottcha.
Lily:  Yeah.  So, Clementine was doing art class with her friend.  I don't remember her name - it is hard to remember.  Margaret.  Margaret got some glue in her hair.
Dad:  Hmmm.
Lily:  I don't know how she got glue on the top of her head.  But sometimes I don't even know how I get frosting on my forehead... so...
Dad:  Things just happen sometimes.  You are messy too, huh?
Lily:  Margaret tired to cut the glue off.  But she cut some of her hair instead.  Then Margaret decided she wanted short hair like Clementine, so Clementine started cutting her hair for her.  She cut Margaret's hair... her beautiful hair.  Then the principle came in and saw them.
Dad:  Uh-oh.
Lily:  So she got in trouble.  Really big trouble.  Then they went to Clementine's house.  And they got out markers, and they colored Margaret's hair orange.  She wanted hair like Clementine.  They wanted to match.
Dad:  This is the same friend?
Lily:  Yes.
Dad:  Oh dear.  I'm surprised their parents still let them play together.
Lily:  So the next thing -- Clementine cut her own hair.  Margaret had been sad, so Clementine cut her own hair to make her feel better.  It was already short, but she cut her hair even shorter.  Then Clementine told Margaret that she could color her hair any color she wanted.
Dad:  Why?
Lily:  Because Clementine had colored Margaret's orange.  So Margaret colored Clementine's hair.  Bright green!
Dad:  Do any of your friends remind you of Clementine?
Lily:  Hmmm.  No.
Dad:  Who does remind you of Clementine?
Lily:  Me.
Dad:  I know!
Lily:  Tee hee hee!
Dad:  The way you are describing her sounds exactly like the kind of trouble you've gotten into in the past.
Lily:  When I was three I cut my hair.
Dad:  Yep.  You were hiding behind the chair in the living room, cutting your hair, and stuffing it into Mom's shoe.
Lily:  Hah ha ha!  Yeah.  I even cut my bangs too.
Dad:  Right down to the nub.
Lily:  It was NOT a good haircut.  I couldn't reach the back, so there was a strip of hair in the back that was long.  So it went around -- short, short, short, long.  But actually my hair was even.  Except for the long part.
Dad:  Yeah, evenly too-short everywhere!
Lily:  Okay... Now I'm moving to another thing.  Let's stop talking about this!
Dad:  Instead of talking about naughty Lily, you want to go back to talking about naughty Clementine again?
Lily:  Yeah.
Dad:  Well, tell me about illustrations in the book.
Lily:  They are black and white and really good.  They are detailed and cartoony at the same time, which I really like.  The pictures helped the story a lot.  I want to show you a funny part...  (starts flipping through the book)
Dad:  Oh dear.  I just saw a picture of her short hair.  That is very short isn't it.
Lily:  I know.  (Flipping, flipping)  That picture.
Dad:  So that's your favorite?
Lily:  Yeah.  She's yelling, and one eye is smaller and one eye is bigger.  It's my favorite because of her expression.
Dad:  So why do you think it's fun to read about Clementine's troubles?
Lily:  It would be kind of boring to read about a good girl just walking around her house.  But it is cool and funny to read about a mischief maker.  You can learn about all the things you shouldn't do.
Dad:  And who would like a book like this?
Lily:  Eight year olds.  Like me.  And people who have good imaginations.
Dad:  Thanks for telling me about your book, Lily!
Lily:  You are welcome.

Clementine's hair: orange, cut, green, & under a hat; by Lily

Author: Sara Pennypacker
Illustrator: Marla Frazee
Published , 2006: Hyperion
Like it?  Here it is

Monday, March 21, 2011

Review #90: Fairly Fairy Tales

Dad:  Today we are reading "Fairly Fairy Tales" by Esme Raji Codell and illustrated by Elisa Chavarri.  Although "reading" doesn't seem like the right word.  It feels more like "playing."
Gracie (age 10):  This book doesn't remind me of anything else.  It's pretty unique.
Isaac (age 12):  The book is about this little person...
Elijah (age 5):  Little person?
Isaac:  Ha ha - we don't know...  That's one of our questions.  Is it a little boy or a little girl?
Gracie:  It's a girl.
Dad:  I thought it was a boy.  I think the kid is drawn in a way so everyone can identify.
Gracie:  It's a girl.
Lily (age 8):  The book is about this kid that is going to bed.
Isaac:  But the little person doesn't want to go to bed.  So the mom reads all these bedtime stories.  But in each story the mom adds something.  So for the Cinderella book it goes, "Fairy godmother?  Yes.  Glass slipper?  Yes.  Pumpkin coach?  Yes.  Disco ball?"
All the Kids:  "Nooooo!!!!"
Isaac:  But then she says, "Well maybe."  And the book shows a big picture of what would happen if there was a disco ball in the story.
Gracie:  Cinderella has a gorgeous dress.  I love her boogie dress.  But the fairy godmother's outfit freaks me out.  And the prince looks like Elvis.
Isaac:  No - he looks like one of those Ken dolls.
Gracie:  He does!  Cinderella also has cool shoes.  There are fishes in her shoes!
Elijah:  You would have to break her shoes to feed the fish.
Dad:  You guys sure had big smiles on your faces while we read this book.
Gracie:  Well, we love it!
Dad:  You guys almost wouldn't let me get the words out.
Gracie:  We all wanted to shout the part that goes "Noooooo!"
Dad:  You enjoyed saying "No" to Dad without getting in trouble.
Gracie:  THAT is fun.
Elijah:  Even I can read this book!
Dad:  Yeah - you know where all the yeses and no's and maybes go.  And all you have to do is look at the pictures to plug in the rest.
Isaac:  I like the art in this book.
Dad:  This book would have been like a "game" for the illustrator, don't you think?  It's almost as if the author made a challenge: "the Red Riding Hood story... plus Shampoo! Ha, ha! What are you going to do with that?"  And then the illustrator had to come up with an answer.
Gracie:  That would be fun.
Isaac:  We could do that.  We should all do that.
Lily:  You could make a whole bunch of different ideas.
Isaac:  And then pick the best one.
Gracie:  Fun!
Dad:  Would this also have been a fun book to write?
Gracie:  Yes.  But I would think it would be better to illustrate.
Dad:  Like the writer is making the game, and the illustrator is playing the game.
Isaac:  Even if the author told her what to draw, it would still be fun.
Dad:  So should we try it?
Isaac:  Let's think of one.  Sleeping Beauty.  That would be a good one!
Gracie:  Thorn bush?
Dad:  Yes.
Gracie:  Castle?
Dad:  Yes.
Gracie:  Evil fairy?
Dad:  Yes.
Gracie:  Shopping cart?
Elijah:  No - ho ho ho ho!
Lily:  Hee hee heee hee hee!
Dad:  See!  That's just as fun, isn't it!
Gracie:  YEAH!!!
Elijah:  Shopping cart!  Shopping cart!
Dad:  You guys want in on the action now, huh?
Lily:  I'm going to do Rapunzel!
Dad:  Have at it.
Lily:  Tower?
Dad:  Yes.
Lily:  Hair?
Dad:  Yes.
Lily:  Prince?
Dad:  Yes.
Lily:  Baby's pacifier?
Gracie:  Pacifier!?!  HA ha ha!
Elijah:  I've got one!  Sleeping Beauty!
Gracie:  I already did Sleeping Beauty.
Elijah:  But I have a good one!
Dad:  That's okay.  He can do Sleeping Beauty over again.
Elijah:  Sleeping?
Dad:  Yes.
Elijah:  Princess?
Dad:  Yes.
Elijah:  Um...  Sleeping?
Gracie:  Ha ha ha!
Dad:  Yes again!
Elijah:  Spiderman?
Lily:  Hee ha ha ha!  What!
Isaac:  I've got one for Rumpelstiltskin.
Dad:  Okay.
Isaac:  Princess?
Dad:  Yes.
Isaac:  Little angry dwarf?
Dad:  Ha ha ha - it's already funny!  Yes.
Isaac:  Baby?
Dad:  Yep.
Isaac:  And..... llamas!
Gracie:  I have a new one.  Seven Dwarfs?
Dad:  Yes.
Gracie:  Magic Mirror?
Dad:  Yes.
Gracie:  Poison Apple?
Dad:  Yes.
Gracie:  Ballet slippers?
Dad:  Hmmm... maybe!
Gracie:  Hee hee hee!
Dad:  So what do you think?  Which is more fun?  Coming up with the funny thing... or drawing it?
Isaac:  I don't know!  They're both REALLY fun!
Dad:  Well now you guys can go draw your ideas.  Then you can compare the two sides!
Gracie:  This is fun!  It's classics with a twist.

Rapunzel's hair + pacifiers, by Lily

Rumpelstiltskin spinning straw into llamas, by Isaac

Sleeping Beauty + Spiderman, by Elijah

Snow White & Seven Dwarfs + ballet slippers, by Gracie

*** You can always click our pictures for larger viewing :)

Author: Esme Raji Codell
Illustrator: Elisa Chavarri
Published, 2011: Aladdin
Like it?  Here it is

Sunday, March 20, 2011

the Great Chuckling Duckling Giveaway winners!

In our last post, the Z-Kids and I took a look at my new picture book "Chuckling Ducklings."  You can see that conversation by clicking here.  Along with that review, we included a pretty hefty giveaway, and now the time has come to announce our winners!

Many, many thanks to everyone for your interest in both the book and the giveaway.  I really appreciate all the very kind comments you left!

Here's a reminder of the prizes...  From the first 100 comments left on that review, 1 person out of every 5 is winning an original sketch of the animal they've requested.  After 100 comments we're drawing from 1 in every 10.  In addition to all that original art, we are also giving away 3 signed copies of my new book Chuckling Ducklings!

First we'll share the winners of the sketches:

Comments 1-5 winner: Beth
A baby pig is called a PIGLET:

Comments 6-10 winner: Jennie
A baby lion is called a CUB:

Comments 11-15 winner: Ben Clanton
A baby goose is called a GOSLING:

Comments 16-20 winner: Heidi Noel
A baby kangaroo is called a JOEY:

Comments 21-25 winner: Andie and Jacob Miller
A baby orangutan is called a BABY:

Comments 26-30 winner: Jo-Ann
A baby owl is called an OWLET:

Comments 31-35 winner: Nina Crittenden
A baby frog is called a TADPOLE:

Comments 36-40 winner: Mary-Esther
A baby puffin is called a PUFFLING:

Comments 41-45 winner: Aubrie
A baby elephant is called a CALF:

Comments 46-50 winner: Reena
A baby fox is called a KIT:

Comments 51-55 winner: Heather Zundel
A baby panda is called a CUB:

Comments 56-60 winner: Anna
A baby penguin is called a CHICK:

Comments 61-65 winner: Megan
A baby cow is called a CALF:

Comments 66-70 winner: Jenny S. Morris
A baby raccoon is called a CUB:

Comments 71-75 winner: Amanda and Nolan
A baby giraffe is called a CALF:

Comments 76-80 winner: Mike R. Baker
A baby hedgehog is called a HOGLET:

Comments 81-85 winner: the Ophardts
A baby sea otter is called a WHELP:

Comments 86-90 winner: Taralazar
A baby platypus is called a PUGGLE:

Comments 91-95 winner: Melissa
A baby meerkat is called a PUP:

Comments 96-100 winner: Mike DeBrosse
A baby koala is called a JOEY:

Comments 101-110 winner: Wiley
A baby sealion is called a PUP:

Comments 111-120 winner: Bridget R. Wilson
A baby dog is called a PUPPY:

Comments 121-130 winner: Chris Kennett
A baby chinchilla is called a KIT:

Comments 131-140 winner: Jacelyn
A baby tiger is called a CUB:

Comments 141-150 winner: Joanna
A baby squirrel is called a KIT:

And now for the 3 signed copies of Chuckling Ducklings. has spoken again, and the winners are:

Ben Clanton!
Amanda and Nolan!

Congrats to all the winners!  (There were a few people I couldn't find contact info for... if you see your name here, but didn't get an email from me, please send me your shipping information.)  Many thanks to everyone who left comments.  And I hope you all get a chance to check out Chuckling Ducklings soon!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Review #89: Chuckling Ducklings

My first book, "The Hiccupotamus," came out 5 years ago.  Since that time I've had the pleasure of illustrating 10 additional books for other great authors.  Now at long last, I once again get to wear the author hat as well.  I'm happy to announce the recent release of "Chuckling Ducklings"!  The kids are excited to share the book with you from their perspective.  And we've got a Giveaway as well.  A super giveaway.  In fact, in the first round of entries, one in every five people will win something!  Be sure to read all the way to the end of the review for the details!  And now for a chat with the Z-Kids:

Lily (age 8):  This book is called "Chuckling Ducklings."
Gracie (age 10):  By Daddy Zenz!  It is adorable.  You have the cutest illustrations, Daddy.
Dad:  Well, thank-you my dear.  But perhaps you are biased.
Gracie:  I think it's the cutest thing I've ever seen.  Even if you weren't my dad, I would still say so.
Dad:  Aw, thanks.
Isaac (age 12):  Inside this book you'll find little baby animals.  The book tells kids about baby animals and their names in a cute, fun way.
Dad:  What are some of the baby animal names that most people would be familiar with?
Elijah (age 5):  A baby rabbit is a "bunny."
Lily:  A baby dog is called a "puppy," and a baby cat is called a "kitten."
Dad:  How about some surprising names?
Lily:  A baby llama is a "cria."  I didn't even know that.  I learned something.
Gracie:  I know all the baby names.  Because I memorized the book.
Dad:  Well, what about when I was first working on the book?
Gracie:  I didn't know a baby hare was called a "leveret."
Dad:  My absolute favorite word in the book is "puggle."  It might even be my favorite word in the world.
Gracie:  A "puggle" is a baby platypus.  Our new baby sister Maggie is a puggle too.  We called her Puggle when she was in the womb.  And, well, she also resembles a platypus.  Kind of.
Dad:  Ha ha ha...
Lily:  I like the picture of the cubs stacked up upon each other.
Gracie:  It's a cub tower.  They're adorable.
Isaac:  I like the baby raccoon cub.  He's awesome.
Elijah:  I like the tadpoles.  They look like they are playing tag and having fun.
Isaac:  I changed my mind.  I like the tadpoles.
Gracie:  Evie... there's an owl!
Evangeline (age 3): (gasp!)  Owl!
Isaac:  I changed my mind.  I like the baby eel -- the "elver."
Evangeline:  Owl, owl, owl, owl!  Owl!
Isaac:  I changed my mind again.  I like the big puffy bird.  I don't even know what it is.  Is it a vulture or something?
Gracie:  There are a whole bunch of birds boogie-ing by a tree.
Evangeline:  Owl!
Gracie:  Evie's favorite page is the one in the back.  The page that shows the heads of ALL the adorable baby animals from the book.
Lily:  It's like a chart.
Gracie:  "Giraffe -- Calf.  Goat -- Kid.  Goose -- Gosling."
Lily:  On the top it tells the kind of animal, and on the bottom it tells the baby name.
Gracie:  I like the chart too because you can see all the cuteness of the whole book together on just two pages.
Isaac:  The names are in alphabetical order on the chart.
Dad:  That way if someone is wondering, for instance, what a baby kangaroo is called, they can check the chart and see - "...H, I, J, K - Kangaroo.... Ah, it's called a 'joey.'"
Lily:  My favorite animal is the chuckling duckling.
Dad:  I know...  You are the duck girl!
Lily:  Yeah!
Dad:  What else is special about this book and you and ducks?  You and this book and ducks all come together somehow.
Lily:  I'm dedicated to it.
Dad:  Ha - you are dedicated to my book?  Or is the book dedicated to you?
Lily:  Ha ha ha hee hee... the book is dedicated to me!  I've loved ducks ever since I was little teeny two year old.
Gracie:  Even the lettering is fun in this book!  Most books have just flat sentences in columns.  But this book has bouncy lettering.
Dad:  Yep, that style of lettering was included in my initial mock-up pitch.
Gracie:  It adds to the fun, because the lettering does curves and jumps and is moving with the animals.  It's really active.
Dad:  How is "Chuckling Ducklings" different from "The Hiccupotamus"?
Isaac:  "The Hiccupotamus" is more cartoony and funny.  This one is more "educational" and "cute."
Gracie:  Hey Dad!  There's a purple hippo in this book too!
Dad:  I know.  I put him there.
Gracie:  A purple and pink hippo!
Dad:  Not very purple.  He's colored a bit more realistically.
Gracie:  Yeah, but he's cute.  And he's purple all the same.
Lily:  He's the Hiccupotamus' cousin.
Dad:  Do you have any memories from when I was working on this book?
Lily:  I remember going up into your office every morning to see all the pictures.
Dad:  Yes, I work at night while the house is quiet.
Isaac:  Every morning we'd go up there to see what picture you drew while we were sleeping.
Gracie:  I can remember you looking up baby pigeon pictures and trying to find a way to take the ugliest bird in the world and make him cute.  No offense to all you pigeon lovers.
Dad:  Many baby animals are not naturally very cute.  And some animals were more challenging to make cute than others.  The toughest was the baby pigeon.
Isaac:  Baby pigeons are the ugliest things ever.
Gracie:  Everyone... look up a baby pigeon on the internet.  You'll see why.
Lily:  It makes me want to throw up.
Gracie:  But Dad did a good job.  His baby pigeon is adorable.
Isaac:  Didn't you once have a crocodile in this book instead of the porcupine?
Dad:  Yep, but there was a mistake in the book.  I said that a baby crocodile was a "crocklet," but it wasn't true.  I had gotten some bad information.
Gracie:  What is it really called?
Dad:  A "hatchling."  And I already had some other hatchlings in the book - the baby tortoises.  So we swapped the crocodile out for a baby porcupine.  But it had been very cute.  It was a baby crocodile with a ton of baby mice sleeping on his head.
Gracie:  But you can't do a ton of little mice sleeping on a porcupine!  That would hurt.
Dad:  They'd get skewered.
Gracie:  Awwwwahhhh!
Isaac:  I remember when you did the endpapers.  You had to go to the store for colored paper.  And all the paper was bent!
Dad:  That's right!  I forgot about that.  All the yellow paper had big creases in it.  You and I went through every single piece to find the ones with the least amount of wrinkles in them.
Isaac:  And the ones we picked out still had a lot of folds in them.
Dad:  Fortunately it doesn't show in the final prints.  Also interesting, that was the first time I've ever used my colored pencils on colored paper.
Isaac:  And it worked out great.
Dad:  I figured it was safe to experiment with colored paper since it was just endpapers.  Now that I know how it looks, I'll have to do it again sometime.
Gracie:  I bet you would have loved to use colored paper on the pages with underwater animals.  The backgrounds are all blue.  I remember you coloring in all that water.  You were sighing, and you were only one third of the way done.
Dad:  It did take a long time.  But you're right - now that I know colored paper works fine, I'd probably use that instead.
Isaac:  How long did it take?
Dad:  It took one hour just for half a page of blue background.  So for a two page spread...
Gracie:  Four hours!?!
Dad:  Yep, four hours to lay down the blue, and then another hour to touch up the edges around where the animals and background met up.  So five hours just for the blue background.
Lily:  Wow.  I could not stand that.
Dad:  Colored pencil art is a lengthy process.  At least the way I do it.
Gracie:  You did the pictures with Prismacolor colored pencils.
Isaac:  They are better than any other kind of colored pencil.  But they are really expensive.
Dad:  Should we wrap this up?
Isaac:  Please, please buy the book!
Gracie:  So we can afford food!
Dad:  Ha ha ha... Every purchase of a book feeds a Z-Kid for a day...
Gracie:  Hey Dad, can you give us a new scoop on what your next book is going to be?  I already know what it is.  But can you give the readers out there a scoop?
Dad:  Well, "Chuckling Ducklings" is the first book in a series -- at least two more books are coming, hopefully even more after that.  This one was about baby animal names.  The next one is going to be about "daddy" animal names -- like bull, boar, and gander.  And paired with that book will be one about "mommy" names -- like doe, ewe, and hen.  So there's more animal fun coming along!  How's that for a "scoop"?
Gracie:  That's a good scoop!  I was talking like a reporter there.  Gracie Zenz, signing out!

bear cub, tortoise hatchlings, hummingbird chick, lamb, and duckling; by Lily

oyster spat and tortoise hatchling, by Isaac

humming bird chick, cub tower, and pinky; by Gracie

seal pup, by Elijah

Author/Illustrator:  Aaron Zenz
Published, 2011:  Walker Books
Like it?  Here it is!!!

Time for the Great Chuckling Duckling Giveaway!

It's not every day that your second authored book comes into the world!  To celebrate the release of "Chuckling Ducklings" and to thank our great readers, we're giving away some one-of-a-kind prizes.  To be entered, just leave a comment.  Easy-peasy!

Within that comment simply mention your favorite animal.  Each randomly selected winner will receive an original sketch by Aaron Zenz depicting a baby version of your animal!  Make sure your contact email is accessible (either by clicking the link back to your own profile page, or included in your comment.)  One entry per person/email.

We'll select a winner out of every 5 comments.  Yes!  One in five!  So... one person from comments 1-5 will win some original art.  One person from comments 6-10 will also win.  On and on, every five comments.  If by chance we get up beyond 100, at that point the count will continue on at one out of every 10 comments.

On top of that, we will randomly select THREE people to win a signed copy of "Chuckling Ducklings"!  The Giveaway will end on March 20 with an announcement of the winners.  Good luck!  Spread the word!

Update: see the winners here!