Tag Archives: Roaring Brook Press

My Snake Blake

Another Neal Porter/Roaring Press book that charmed me on the ALA Exhibit Floor a few weeks ago was My Snake Blake by Randy Siegel, illustrated by Serge Bloch.

You’ll also want to check out illustrator Serge Bloch‘s blog too!


The Galapagos, coming in September!

It’s no accident that the books I’m most attracted to tend to sprout from the same imprints. It’s down to about three or four for me. Such is the case with books from Neal Porter of Roaring Brook Press.  On the ALA floor, I was delighted to learn of Jason Chin‘s latest, due out September 18, 2012.

[Jason Chin’s previous book,  Coral Reefs,was among those featured at the most recent Society of Illustrators’ Original Art Show, and here at the Countdown. ]

Island has a firm foundation built upon the best science resources. It is above all a wonder-filled story of epic proportions.

title page spread from "Island"

Title page spread from “Island” [click to enlarge]

Opening page from "Island"

Opening page from “Island”

Jason Chin thrills the reader with the geological and biological processes that led to the Galápagos Islands we know today. He writes:

“…in order to create an engaging story, I have included events and details that are necessarily speculative. . . [but the] island formation, species colonization, and evolution described in this book are real… This story is based on science, but brought to life through my imagination…”

Marveling at how the islands themselves become the central book character brings to mind how my middle-school earth science teacher foisted James Michener‘s novel Hawaii onto my reluctant classmates. He insisted it was required reading in order to  intimately grasp the evolutional concept of violent volcano-formation-to-steamy-landforms; and its turbulence being analogous to the fictional (yet fact-based) generational saga that followed.

Telling larger-than-life story through stranger-than-fiction natural science. How glorious!

So much to see, so much to ♥

The American Library Association’s annual convention came and left Anaheim last week. It was a great opportunity to get a preview of  upcoming children’s book treasures.

. . . . . . . . . .

Spotted at the Macmillan/Roaring Brook booth:

Jacket of FROM A GOOD MOUNTAINAny book by James Rumford is an event! His early Peace Corps experiences imprinted a lasting curiosity about different cultures, and international themes.

From the Good Mountain: How Gutenberg Changed the World Concise text is written as a series of intriguing riddles, with corresponding illustrations rendered in the style of an illuminated manuscript. Example:

What was made of rags and bones, soot and seeds? What took a mountain to make?

For the answer, Rumford lures us to the fifteenth century, when books were made by hand, and a man named Johannes Gutenberg invented a way to print books with movable type.

[click any image to enlarge]


See more about his creation process behind the making of From The Good Mountain here.


At my recent UCSD Extension illustration class, we marveled at the variety of style Rumford applied to each of his books.

While experimenting with different media, he remains consistent and focused, in terms of technique, within the framework of each book’s own theme.

Jacket from "Silent Music", by James Rumsford

In Silent Music, Ali is a schoolboy with a yen to play soccer and listen to loud music. Sound familiar? No surprises there.

[click any image to enlarge]

from "Silent Music" by James Rumsford

Now consider that Ali is a contemporary Iraqi boy who lives in Baghdad, and has everyday acquaintance with most aspects of the war, and occupation.

from "Silent Music" by James Rumsford

Like his hero, the famed calligrapher Yakut, who wrote through the destruction of Baghdad in 1258 (“he shut out the horror and wrote glistening letters of rhythm and grace”), Ali turns to calligraphy, creating inked brush-strokes during the bombing of Baghdad in 2003. It’s Ali’s salvation.

from "Silent Music" by James Rumsford

“Writing a long sentence is like watching a soccer player in slow motion as he kicks the ball across the field, as I leave a trail of dots and loops behind me,” says narrator Ali.

from "Silent Music" by James Rumsford

In an eloquent ending, he discovers that while the word “war” flows easily, the pen “…stubbornly resists me when I make the difficult waves and slanted staff of saalam peace.

Rumford shows us how iconic Arabic calligraphy is, from rhythm of Ali’s life, the flow of his movements, his everyday environment, to his family’s garments, in loving detail.


In Tiger and Turtle, Rumford bathes his backgrounds with vibrant color and Persian textures (an abstract effect that almost smells exotic), setting the stage for his two characters, rendered simply with calligraphic brush strokes.

[click any image to enlarge]


And what are Rumford’s thoughts about future of the printed book?

Check out the author bio on the back flap of From the Good Mountain (coming 9/18/2012 from Roaring Brook Press/a Neal Porter book):

Back flap author bio, FROM THE GOOD MOUNTAIN

Check out Jama Rattigan’s interview with James Rumford here.
Jama also reviews Silent Music here.

An early preliminary jacket sketch for “Silent Music”


I’ll post more images of what grabbed my attention on the ALA Exhibit Floor over the next several days. Stay tuned…

A chance encounter between the photogenic Olivia and a lucky group of San Diego SCBWI members, on the ALA exhibit floor in Anaheim.

On the media, both art and viral

Erin Stead uses her book trailer to demonstrate the medium she used — woodblock printing, combined with pencil sketching — when preparing the illustrations for her Caldecott-winning book, A Sick Day for Amos McGee. Text was custom-written by her husband, illustrator Philip Stead, with Erin’s distinctive art style in mind. You can see both of them at work in their shared studio. The collaboration continued as work progressed.

cover from "A Sick Day for Amos McGee"

Youtube.com has become an invaluable media resource for promoting books. Some of us got wind of the Caldecott winners that way, via two irreverent-yet-highly-literate rodent children’s book reviewers from Rat Chat Reviews.

Here’s a book trailer for the Caldecott Honor book, Interrupting Chicken, written and illustrated by David Ezra Stein.

spread from "Interrupting Chicken"

Bryan Collier discusses art materials used in creating his  earth-toned multimedia collages for his Caldecott Honor book, Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave, written by Laban Carrick Hill.

front jacket from "Dave the Potter, Artist, Poet, Slave"