Where do my ideas come from? Sometimes it's hard to recall...
...though I do remember the exact moment of inspiration for my book Blue Chicken. While re-reading some favorite poems one day, I came to "The Red Wheelbarrow" by William Carlos Williams. You know the one — about a red wheelbarrow (naturally) and white chickens? Well, my illustrator-brain pictured both immediately. And then it started asking questions, such as — what was the setting? Were there other animals? Other colors? Hmmm...
If you have read Blue Chicken, then you know where my mind went next. Mr. Williams probably would not have approved. But I thank him anyway.
Happy Poetry Month!
Karlin Grey, the debut author of Nadia: The Girl Who Couldn't Sit Still, writes a weekly blog about picturebook writers and their first books. Today, she interviews me about my first book, Scribble. You can read the whole interview here.
To go along with Karlin's interview, here are a few images — along with many thanks to Karlin for allowing me to revisit Scribble!Read More
Inspired by the many wonderful teachers and librarians on Twitter who have "Be Brave" as a motto for their classrooms this year, I made this poster for downloading. A special thanks to all who have shared The Story of Fish & Snail with their students!
Suggested Reading, Picture Books About Courage: Sheila Rae, the Brave, by Kevin Henkes; Swimmy, by Leo Lionni; When Jessie Came Across the Sea, by Amy Hest & P.J. Lynch; Mirette on the High Wire, by Emily Arnold McCully; The Scar, by Charlotte Moundlic & Olivier Tallec; Brave Irene, by William Steig.
© Deborah Freedman
The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, ABFFE, will hold its Annual Children’s Book Art Silent Auction on Wednesday, May 29, at BookExpo America. This year's auction will include some special pieces created in memory of Maurice Sendak — and this is my tribute, above. You can learn more about ABFFE and this special event here.
© Deborah Freedman
It seems I decided by around age five that I wanted to be Maurice Sendak when I grew up. I penciled my name in right next to his on this book that he illustrated for Ruth Krauss in 1952, which is one of my most treasured possessions and has been with me always. Over the years I've become an obsessive collector of his work and words, which have taught me just about everything I need to know about writing and illustrating for children. I can think of no more to add to all that's been said about Sendak, or by Sendak, who died on May 8th at the age of 83.
"Hello, As you probably noticed, I went away forever. I am very experienced now and very famous. I am even a star.... I get plenty to drink, too, so don't worry.... If you ever come this way, look for me. Jennie" *
Dear Jennie, I did notice. And I will certainly look for you. Love, Debbie.
Some Wonderful Interviews:
- Fresh Air Remembers Author Maurice Sendak, interviews with Terry Gross, including the last one in September 2011.
- Tell Them Anything You Want: A Portrait of Maurice Sendak, a documentary by Spike Jonze and Lance Bangs. Excerpted here.
- Art Spiegelman Discusses Maurice Sendak, with a comic strip collaboration between Spiegelman and Sendak.
*As shared by Lynn Caponera, Sendak's assistant and longtime friend, who perfectly closed a memorial service for him at the Metropolitan Museum of Art last week by quoting this letter and sharing this image of his beloved dog, Jennie, "from his favorite book", Higglety Pigglety Pop! Or There Must Be More to Life.
E. E. Cummings
a wind has blown the rain away and blown the sky away and all the leaves away, and the trees stand. I think i too have known autumn too long...
illustration © Deborah Freedman
"... I became conscious that I was being haunted by a strange genius... Where he came from I cannot tell. At some time in his existence he must have wandered long in Alice's Wonderland... He was sincerity itself, and he had the simplicity of a child combined with the wisdom of old father William. No mortal could compare with him for ingenuity and inventiveness. He could do wonderful things with a piece of knotted string. There was one thing he lacked and that was a sense of humour; perhaps this was not a loss, for strangely enough it made him all the more humorous. It seemed wrong, however, to laugh at one so earnest, so guileless and free from cynicism, but at times he was irresistible. Fortunately, he was far too busy to care whether I laughed or not."
from W. Heath Robinson, My Line of Life, 1938 Illustration © W. Heath Robinson
Visit SurLaLune Fairy Tales to see more illustrations by W. Heath Robinson.
By Edward Lear
They went to sea in a Sieve, they did, In a Sieve they went to sea: In spite of all their friends could say, On a winter's morn, on a stormy day, In a Sieve they went to sea! And when the Sieve turned round and round, And every one cried, "You'll all be drowned!" They called aloud, "Our Sieve ain't big, But we don't care a button! we don't care a fig! In a Sieve we'll go to sea!" Far and few, far and few, Are the lands where the Jumblies live; Their heads are green, and their hands are blue, And they went to sea in a Sieve.
They sailed in a Sieve, they did, In a Sieve they sailed so fast, With only a beautiful pea-green veil Tied with a ribbon by way of a sail, To a small tobacco-pipe mast; And every one said, who saw them go," 0 won't they be soon upset, you know! For the sky is dark, and the voyage is long, And happen what may, it's extremely wrong In a Sieve to sail so fast!" Far and few, far and few, Are the lands where the Jumblies live; Their heads are green, and their hands are blue, And they went to sea in a Sieve.
The water it soon came in, it did, The water it soon came in; So to keep them dry, they wrapped their feet In a pinky paper all folded neat, And they fastened it down with a pin. And they passed the night in a crockery-jar, And each of them said, "How wise we are! Though the sky be dark, and the voyage be long, Yet we never can think we were rash or wrong, While round in our Sieve we spin!" Far and few, far and few, Are the lands where the Jumblies live; Their heads are green, and their hands are blue, And they went to sea in a Sieve.
And all night long they sailed away; And when the sun went down, They whistled and warbled a moony song To the echoing sound of a coppery gong, In the shade of the mountains brown. "0 Timballo! How happy we are, When we live in a sieve and a crockery-jar, And all night long in the moonlight pale, We sail away with a pea-green sail, In the shade of the mountains brown!" Far and few, far and few, Are the lands where the Jumblies live; Their heads are green, and their hands are blue, And they went to sea in a Sieve.
They sailed to the Western Sea, they did, To a land all covered with trees, And they bought an Owl, and a useful Cart, And a pound of Rice, and a Cranberry Tart, And a hive of silvery Bees. And they bought a Pig, and some green Jack-daws, And a lovely Monkey with lollipop paws, And forty bottles of Ring-Bo-Ree, And no end of Stilton Cheese. Far and few, far and few, Are the lands where the Jumblies live; Their heads are green, and their hands are blue, And they went to sea in a Sieve.
And in twenty years they all came back, In twenty years or more, And every one said, "How tall they've grown! For they've been to the Lakes, and the Torrible Zone, And the hills of the Chankly Bore"; And they drank their health, and gave them a feast Of dumplings made of beautiful yeast; And every one said, "If we only live, We too will go to sea in a Sieve,-- To the hills of the Chankly Bore!" Far and few, far and few, Are the lands where the Jumblies live; Their heads are green, and their hands are blue, And they went to sea in a Sieve.
Suggested Reading, Picture Books by Edward Lear: "A" Was Once An Apple Pie illustrated by Suse Macdonald, The Duck and the Kangaroo illustrated by Jane Wattenberg, The Jumblies illustrated by Edward Gorey, The Owl and the Pussycat (Visions in Poetry) illustrated by Stephane Jorisch, The Quangle Wangle's Hat illustrated by Janet Stevens, The Pelican Chorus: and Other Nonsense, illustrated by Fred Marcellino.
Bee! I'm expecting you! Was saying Yesterday To Somebody you know That you were due -
The frogs got home last week - Are settled, and at work - Birds, mostly back - The Clover warm and thick -
You'll get my Letter by The seventeenth; Reply Or better, be with me - Yours, Fly.
Suggested Reading, Picture Books about Emily Dickinson: Emily, by Michael Bedard, illustrated by Barbara Cooney; Emily Dickinson’s Letters to the World, by Jeanette Winter; The Mouse of Amherst, by Elizabeth Spires, illustrated by Claire Nivola; My Letter to the World, and Other Poems, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault; Poetry for Young People: Emily Dickinson, edited by Frances Schoonmaker Bolin, illustrated by Chi Chung; My Uncle Emily, by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter.
illustration © Deborah Freedman
Or, The Junkies, Part IV
Sybil said leave tomorrow; Petra is going in July. Daniel wants to take the dog! How come Benito doesn't go? Did Dirk also send you this? Why did Walter show up... How is Eric doing? Is Jerold leaving him? How come Shirley is acting that way?
Hey. Can you please contact me?
- by 10 Spammers
Or, The Junkies, Part III
Dadaism, I can't even start to think... No dance is innuendo, unkempt, A talk at elusive edge, To fit no faultfinding.
I explain a galaxy tugboat Or teach a capable, inaudible, Breadfruit some creek and blunder, Veritable, the congenital moon.
- By Eight Spammers
April is National Poetry Month. Celebrate with: ● Videos featuring the Children's Poet Laureate, Mary Ann Hoberman, from The Poetry Foundation ● The International Reading Association, lesson plans on "Composing and Performing Found Poetry" ● Activites from The Academy of American Poets ● Activities and more from Reading Rockets ● Interviews with 36 poets from The Miss Rumphius Effect ● 30 Poets/30 Days, new poetry on Gotta Book
Illustrations © Deborah Freedman
Illustration by Maurice Sendak, from Charlotte and The White Horse by Ruth Krauss.
More Reading Suggestions, in honor of the coming spring: Spring Is Here by Taro Gomi; Fletcher and the Springtime Blossomsby Julia Rawlinson and Tiphanie Beeke; The Odd Eggby Emily Gravett; Rain Makes Applesauceby Julian Scheer and Marvin Bileck; The Story of Frog Belly Rat Boneby Timothy B. Ering.
Or, The Junkies, Part II
I shall always share these quotes with you, To explain my barely overdone Digression, pronounceable.
Do cough by quarters; Go listen by pathology; Listen to the animals, and start as livestock.
Watch this lyricism, A murmurous lullaby, rolled, But by my caution - candyfloss.
- by Ten Spammers
From the International Reading Association, lesson plans on "Composing and Performing Found Poetry".
You know I love books! But the winter is long, and some things are worth watching. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_8yGGtVKrD8&w=350]
Jumpin' Jive! Listen to Cab Calloway and watch the truly amazing Nicholas Brothers (don't miss them from 1:32 to the end) in Stormy Weather, 1943.
GET UP AND DANCE! Chattanooga Choo Choo, more Nicholas Brothers, and Dorothy Dandridge with the Glenn Miller Orchestra, in "Orchestra Wives", 1942 The Little Colonel, Bill Bojangles Robinson and Shirley Temple, 1935 Puttin' On The Ritz, Fred Astaire in "Blue Skies", 1946 Singin' in the Rain, Gene Kelly, 1952
It's dark out It's dark out Although the hour's early; It isn't even five o'clock And yet it's dark all down the block Because the season's winter And the sun has gone to bed.
"From trickling trills to tongue twisters, Children’s Poet Laureate Mary Ann Hoberman reads from The Llama Who Had No Pajama." Watch and listen here.
Reprinted with permission from the author and illustrator Text © Mary Ann Hoberman, Illustration © Norman Hoberman