Jen is back after two years with a new list of board books that you will want to have on hand for baby showers, first birthday parties and more.
Picture book authors receive a lot of credit when their books come out. While they deserve every bit of attention they get, I wish that illustrators received the same amount of publicity. It is my hope that this post gives some equally well-deserving illustrators, their credits due. Picture book illustrators are constantly providing me with never-ending joy. Most of the time, this joy comes from their character's attitudes. Illustrators create wonderful bits of energy and feeling with their character's facial expressions and actions, which continually give me life.
Happy Mother's Day, Moms of the world! I wanted to write this post, because of 1) Mother's Day, 2) there aren't actually a lot of Mom's featured in Children and Teen Literature, & 3) of the ones that are, they are pretty BAD ASS.
Growing up, I got pretty lucky. Not only did I have a Mom who was constantly giving up her time, energy and kindness to others & myself, BUT I ALSO had many book mothers. These Mom's (like my own-i'm not trying to get in trouble here ;) ) were strong. They fought for their kids. They protected them, cheered for them and were their number one fans. In reading about them, along with my own mother's praise, I think I managed to get a pretty big head. I can hear you all saying, "nooooo". However, humor aside, I learned how to implement all of these women's qualities into my own life. I grew up knowing the kind of person I wanted to be and continue to strive to be like them.
The women I'm talking about are featured in the following titles:
Favorite Quote (relating to Moms):
"At night I would trace my fingers around the edges of each animal on the quilt before I went to sleep I told my mother stories about the animals on the quilt. She told me whose sleeve had made the horse, whose apron had made the chicken, whose dress had made the flowers, and whose babushka went around the edge of the quilt." (Patricia Polacco)
This whole story is about family (Patricia's to be exact), and their tradition of keeping a special quilt alive. The reason I picked the quote above, was because it encourages storytelling between a Mother and her child.
I think by now, you all (as readers of my blog) should know that I have a thing with Kevin Henkes' work. BUT REALLY. He writes families and growing up so beautifully.
Here is my favorite quote:
""Oh, pish," said her mother. "Your name is beautiful."
"And precious and priceless and fascinating and winsom," said her father.
"It's everything you are," said her mother." (Kevin Henkes)
I think the reason I picked this quote is self-explanatory. I love that not only did her mother say that her name was beautiful, but also that it encompassed Chrysanthemum herself. Heartfelt confidence boosters are always a plus in my book.
I'm sorry you all! I just love Kevin's work! In The Year of Billy Miller, Kevin splits up Billy's life into four parts-His Dad, Mom, sister and teacher.
The quote I love most is at the end of the book, but if you haven't read it, DON'T WORRY! I really don't think that this will give away anything.
"He scanned the crowd for Mama, and he saw her instantly. She was right at the foot of the stage. Their eyes connected, and he knew that she'd been watching him. She'd heard him, even without the microphone on. She was smiling and nodding. " (Kevin Henkes)
I love this, because of how in-tune their connection is with one another. I think it speaks volumes in how Mom's kind of just know what's going on with their children instinctively.
This story, while about Cat and Maya, actually features their Mother's heritage a lot. While her daughters learn more about it and Dia de los Muertos, their mother states:
“I was your typical, stubborn American teenager. I wanted to do things the ‘modern’ way. I guess after your Abuela died . . . a lot of old traditions died with her.” (Raina Telgemeier)
I love this intimate look at a Mom and how she explains why her daughters are just discovering more of her.
Man, oh man, J.K. Rowling KNOWS how to write Mothers. The two I am sticking with for this post are Lily Potter and Molly Weasley. Below, you will find explanations in the form of quotes or statements of why they are great Moms:
Let's start with Molly-
""No one's denying what he's done!" said Mrs. Weasley, her voice rising, her fists trembling on the arms of her chair. "But he's still-"
"He's not a child!" said Sirius impatiently.
"He's not an adult either!" said Mrs. Weasley, the color rising in her cheeks. "He's not James, Sirius!""(J.K. Rowling)
This is a hard quote, no one is denying that. It's hard because Harry finally has a father figure in his life-a parent that he never got to have...EXCEPT for the fact that Molly has been a mother figure to him, ever since they met. Molly feels the same about Harry as one of her own children. This quote puts on page, that struggle. The struggle of wanting Harry to have someone, but also not wanting to give up her motherly duties towards him.
And then Lily-
I can't find the exact quotes at the moment- but Harry survived so much because of Lily. Her love, gave him protection from the most evil being in his world-more than once. Her love placed a protection over her sister's home, so that Harry would be safe there AND gave him protection in the form of Professor Snape. The main reason why Harry is able to defeat Voldemort SO MANY TIMES, is because of her love. So as readers, we know that it has to be incredibly strong.
Oh Wonder, how you made me cry. Like Henkes' The Year of Billy Miller, R. J. Palacio saves her tear-jerker for the end of her novel, in this quote:
"“You really are a wonder, Auggie. You are a wonder.”" (R. J. Palacio)
Auggie's Mother puts so much of her love and joy into this sentence that it makes your heart swell.
I chose the graphic novel version of this title, because there are some really sweet illustrated scenes between Percy and his Mom.
However, here is a quote from the book:
"When she looks at me, it's like she's seeing all the good things about me, none of the bad. I've never heard her raise her voice or say an unkind word to anyone..." (Rick Riordan)
This also radiates love. It's especially cool to see Percy realize the way his mom feels about him. Sally Jackson had to deal with so much, being Percy's Mom, the mom of a Demigod. However, she did it with so much strength, while fighting to make sure Percy was safe and happy.
Natalie Prior in Divergent is similar to that of Lily Potter or Sally Jackson. She too gives up her life for her child, and just like Percy, Tris knew exactly what her Mother must have been thinking.
"My mother's death was brave I remember how calm she was, how determined. It isn't just brave that she died for me; it is brave that she did it without announcing it, without hesitation, and without appearing to consider another option." (Veronica Roth)
Tris gets to see her Mother for who she was, while figuring out what bravery REALLY means.
This is another I don't have an exact quote for. However, our main character Starr's Mother, Lisa, is a force to be reckoned with. She is a fierce protector like the other Moms I've mentioned, but also knows how to give her daughter freedom. She steps back and lets her daughter make her own choices- whether it's boys or deciding what message she wants to share with the world. She also keeps secrets for her. She knows when to step in and when to step back, and that's something that I really appreciated about her character.
Frannie Lancaster is the Mom in this book. Though she is actually a bit over protective at times (can you blame her, her child is dying of cancer), she always has Hazel's best interest at heart. When Hazel wants to go to Amsterdam to meet and author, Mrs. Lancaster accompanies her and Gus there!
""What can we do?" Mom asked again.
But she kept asking, as if there were something she could do, until I just kind of crawled across the couch into her lap and my dad came over and held my legs really tight and I wrapped my arms all the way around my mom's middle and they held on to me for hours while the tide rolled in." (John Green)
I love the quote above because it shows how much a simple hug or the act of holding, can soothe a child. Sometimes that is what they need. I felt like Hazel's Mom was always ready for a hug.
Ugh. Similar to the book or two above, this was a rough read. The Mom in it, Kat Hall, although very different from her child, still manages to connect with her. As Mia loves classical music more and more, Kat and Mia's Dad buy her her own cello. Kat praises Mia and roots her on and she is waiting for an acceptance to Juliard. She is her biggest fan and I loved that about her character.
ALSO, for those of you who can't or do not celebrate Mother's Day, I would recommend the following:
This is a beautiful story. Stella doesn't have a Mom that she can bring to her class's Mother's Day celebration, so she brings her Dads...and a few other family members. It is sweet, funny and gives another perspective on the Holiday.
Circus Mirandus is about a boy who was raised by his Grandfather. Now that his Grandfather is gravely sick, Micah will do whatever it takes to get a mysterious lightbender to give him a miracle. I chose this book to feature because I know there are a lot of kids out there, who are raised by their Grandparents. The relationship between Micah and his Grandfather was endearing and would be a perfect read for some of those kids, as well as others.
That's it for this post! I hope you have a wonderful Holiday with those you hold dear, whether it be your Mom, Aunt, Grandmother, the opposite (Dad, Uncle or Grandfather), or even a really close friend.
<3 Jen in the Bookstore
I was having trouble thinking of a way to start this post. The thing is, that last weekend was so, so special to me, and I didn't want to sell it as less than it was. I guess I will start by saying that prior to going to Portland, I thought that my weekend would consist of me barely seeing my host family & taking a lot of Lifts. That was not the case AT ALL. I began to realize that my trip was going to be different, when I was at the gate for my Southwest Airlines flight. I don't know how familiar you are with Southwest, but I had never been on a flight with them before. The only reason I was this time, is because Emily had arranged my flight for me. Let me just say that it was life-changing.
From the minute I got to my gate, I was inspired. There was free WiFi & a stand for you to charge your phone (this helped me with my Thirteen Reasons Why binge). There were also these interesting columns, that I would come to learn were for organizing yourselves in a queue to board the plane. WHAT?? YOU DON'T HAVE TO STRUGGLE THROUGH A MASS OF PEOPLE TO BOARD?? CRAZINESS. I will say that I started to worry when I heard the announcer say that there were no assigned seats... I freaked looking at my boarding pass like something was wrong. I found articles, that basically told me that my seat, was a terrible one to have (end of the B group).
My fears were set aside, when I was able to find a seat at the front of the plane, between two women. I didn't have to sit by a creepy dude (sorry to all the non-creepy dudes out there, but this is an actual fear I have. I am also sure there are many creepy ladies as well.), and was near the font, so I could get off the plane quickly. Also, let me just go back to the airline hosts for a second- outside of the plane (while you are waiting to board) and on the plane itself. They are amazing human beings! They are funny and put you at ease, real quick! They don't seem to hate their jobs, and genuinely seem to like people. Even if they don't, they are incredible actors.
I was also able to find a spot for my carry-on easily. THEN, when it came to the end of the C-group, there was a gentleman, who found a spot at the very front for his body, but didn't see a place for his carry-on AT FIRST. Amazingly, he was able to switch some other's bags into different containers (which nobody seemed to mind) and was able to fit his in, in three moves. No joke, EVERYBODY cheered for him. When the plane landed, he helped everyone in the vicinity, locate and hand them their bags. Way to go, stranger! Needless to say, this was an amazing experience. I really didn't mean to write 4 paragraphs, on Southwest, and maybeeee this should have been a YELP review, but it was such a great opening to my weekend and needed to be shared. Everyone worked together and although, it was a bit of organized chaos, it was so so great to see such kind people willing to help each other out. It was like being on that plane created an instant bond-comparable to what Emily Arrow does, every time she brings people together.
Smooth transition, am I right?? :) Emily surrounds herself with the best people. I always knew that, but somehow, it wasn't really ingrained in my brain, as it was when I entered Zoey Abbott's home. Let me start by saying that the only Lift I took the entire weekend was to get to Zoey's home. For those of you who don't know Zoey, she is a soon to be published illustrator, who also worked with Emily on Little Red Sled!
The minute I stepped into Zoey's home, she was in host-mode. I also want to say, that i had LATE flight. I didn't get to her house until a little after midnight. I was expecting to be shown to wherever I was sleeping and maybe see her in the morning? NO. Zoey wanted to know how my trip was, if I wanted wine (which she doesn't even drink), water, if I wanted to look at picture books...it went on and on. She was incredibly funny and so lovely to talk to. I also probably bored her to death with my Kevin Henkes story. I am not trying to diss on LA hosts, but it was so enlightening to see how pumped Zoey was to host and how she didn't seem to care what time it was. I don't think that would have happened where I live and I was so grateful.
The next morning, after sleeping in my OWN ROOM, I was treated to a homemade breakfast! I got to meet her adorable and intelligent kids and their awesome dog Carrots. After, Zoey drove her daughter, illustrator Alison Farrell (look for her book, Cycle City in 2018!), her son and I to an amazing little restaurant called, Por Que No? If you need a recommendation on what to eat there, I had their fresh jamaica, and a Bryan's Bowl with carne asada and chips. It was so delicious! I also loved that they had equality and "welcoming of all" signs posted everywhere. Furthermore, the thing that I keep telling everyone, when they ask me about my trip is that, they had an umbrella stand that said something to the beat of, "borrow an umbrella while you wait in line". That still blows my mind. In LA, those umbrellas definitely would have been stolen. It's a sad fact, but it's the truth. We have a Little Free Library outside of Vroman's and within the first couple months of it's existence, someone had vandalized it. The umbrella stand was just something that showed me a huge contrast between Portland and home.
After getting to see Emily & her life mate, Alex (for the first time in months) and meeting all these wonderful new friends (Kate Berube, Karyn Lewis, Diane Adams & her sister, Danielle Davis & Deborah Hocking), we headed to Green Bean Books, which is a treasure in itself. Here is a photo of most of us, outside the store!
We were tasked with the job of finding a book that best represented ourselves. I wish I could remember what everyone picked...the ones that I do remember, included: Hug Machine, The Lost House, Happy Dreamer, I Don't Like Koala, This is Sadie, Love Is, Lyle Lyle Crocodile, and Chester's Way.
Then we got a chance to discuss them all, in Green Bean Books' wonderful patio. Here are some of the wonders I encountered while out there:
I just loved that everywhere you looked, there was something beautiful to behold. Also, Earl is an amazing bookseller. There were times, I felt like I was being put to shame because of all the new books he has managed to read! He definitely knows what he is talking about. If you are ever in Portland, I hope you get a chance to talk books with him!
I would also like to take a moment to mention that all of the awesome authors that joined in this weekend, all have super cool books out, or will be out shortly. Please see the following works of genius:
- Kate Berube (inspired the Hannah & Sugar song)-My Little Half-Moon, out May 2nd! She also has the books, Hannah & Sugar & The Summer Nick Taught His Cats to Read
- Danielle Davis-Zinnia and Bees, a middle grade novel, out August 1st!
- Alison Farrell-Cycle City in 2018. It's too early for info/art for it yet, but follow her on insta to *hopefully* see some in the future!
- Ashlyn Anstee (inspired the No, No, Gnome! & Are We There, Yeti? songs)-Are We There, Yeti? and No, No, Gnome!, are available for purchase now!
- Deborah Hocking-The Great Henry Hopendower, out June 6th! She also has the non fiction book, Build, Beaver, Build! available for purchase now!
- Diane Adams (inspired the Two Hands to Love You, and Love Is, songs!)-Two Hands to Love You, Love Is and many more!
- Zoey Abbott Wagner (inspired the Little Red Sled song)-Twindergarten, out June 20th & Oregon Reads Aloud, available now!
We also got to go to a lot of other cool food places during the weekend, including Pip's Original Doughnuts (I would recommend their "The Dirty Wu"), Random Order Coffeehouse & Bakery (where I had the best chocolate cream pie) and Fire on the Mountain (in which I tried their El Jefe Challenge and failed miserably).
Do you see my little book and pencil, that I got from Green Bean Books in the photo above??
& NOW, ON TO THE REASON WE ALL CAME TO PORTLAND:
Emily's Manager Oanh & Karin put together an incredible launch for her 2nd album, Storytime Singalong Vol. 2! Here they are below:
If their faces look sad, it's because Emily is saying the most wonderful things about them on the other side of this photo!! #TeamArrow is a force to be reckoned with.
The launch was held at the Freemont Theatre and was just a perfect venue! Karin did so well with her choice! I'm going to try my best to explain, why this event meant so much to so many, including myself. Personally, I am so proud of Emily. She is only a little older than myself, and yet has created her own genre of music, her own business, is following her dreams and recently bought her own house. Seeing her perform her second album at the Freemont, was just the icing on the cake. I think everyone was a little teary at some point during the day. A lot of the authors present, had worked with Emily at some point and were hearing their songs live in front of a crazy big crowd. You can see it for yourself here:
It was so crazy, that at one point there didn't seem to be a clear pathway. If you haven't checked out Emily's second album, it has some wonderful songs on it. They are:
- Anything Can Be A Song
- Explorers of the Wild Song
- Hannah and Sugar Song
- Be A Friend Song
- Nana in the City Song
- We Are Enough Song
- No, No Gnome Song
- I Love You Already Song
- Don't Hide Your Magic Song
- Two Hands to Love You Song
And you can buy it now!
I know this post is incredibly LONG and that it seems like all I am saying is that PORTLAND IS AWESOME, EMILY IS AWESOME and ALL THESE AUTHORS AND PEOPLE ARE AWESOME. Let me tell you, THAT IS EXACTLY what I was trying to say. I just had so many words that I wanted to get out, in order to say exactly that. Could this have been edited? Probably. But hey, this is my blog. I want to thank you so much for reading and I hope that you get to hear these songs, read these books and visit this amazing city. I loved every second that I was there and with these people and won't forget it or them. <3
Jen in the Bookstore
**A special shout out again to Zoey for hosting me, Oanh and Karin for arranging this whole thing, Emily for getting me there, and Zoey and Deborah for making sure I only had to take 1 Lift the entire weekend. **