Good books aren’t always written by good people. For example, Roald Dahl was rumored to be a terrible racist, and Charles Dickens threw his wife of 22 years out of their house, even though her youngest children were 9 and 6. But in the case of these Ten Nerdy Chicks, we’ve got great books coming from greater people. Here’s a Picture Book 10 for 10 that combines some of my favorite books with some of my favorite people.
1. Ame Dyckman, Boy + Bot: One day, a boy and a robot meet in the woods. They play. They have fun. But when Bot gets switched off, Boy thinks he’s sick. The usual remedies—applesauce, reading a story—don’t help, so Boy tucks the sick Bot in, then falls asleep. Bot is worried when he powers on and finds his friend powered off. He takes Boy home with him and tries all his remedies: oil, reading an instruction manual. Nothing revives the malfunctioning Boy! Can the Inventor help fix him?
2. Audrey Vernick, Bogart and Vinnie: When Vinnie, a crazy-happy dog, gets lost while visiting a nature preserve with his family, he finds comfort in the company of Bogart, a big, lazy rhinoceros. Vinnie loves his new friend, but Bogart would rather just take a nap. A friendship soon blossoms-even if Vinnie’s definition of “friendship” is very different from Bogart’s-and when word of their unique situation spreads, Bogart and Vinnie are a worldwide sensation! But as soon as their fifteen seconds of fame ends, what’s left is a bond even Bogart can’t ignore.
3. Tara Lazar, The Monstore: The Monstore is the place to go for all of your monsterly needs. Which is perfect, since Zack definitely has a monsterly need. The problem? His pesky little sister, Gracie, who never pays attention to that “Keep Out” sign on Zack’s door—the one he has made especially for her.
4. Alison Ashley Formento, These Bees Count: How do bees count? The bees at the Busy Bee Farm buzz through the sky as one big swarm, fly over two waving dandelions, find three wild strawberries bursting with sweetness . . . As the children in Mr. Tate’s class listen, they learn how bees work to produce honey and make food and flowers grow. Bees count–they’re important to us all.
5. Courtney Pippin-Mathur, Maya Was Grumpy: Maya wakes up on the wrong side of the bed, tangled in her blanket, and in a crispy, cranky, grumpy, grouchy mood. She doesn’t want to color or wear her favorite shorts or go outside to play. What’s worse, she’s determined to share her grumpiness with everyone as she glumps, clumps, and thumps around the house. But when Maya growls at her grandmother, she graciously takes Maya’s mood in stride, and even has a solution: Gramma suggests a series of unusual activities that Maya will probably not want to do since she’s feeling grumpy—and then dismisses her own silly suggestions before Maya can reject them.
6. Joyce Wan, You are My Cupcake: A scrumptious board book, filled with sweet terms of endearment. This bite-sized board book is an ode to all the names we call our children: cutie pie, sweet pea, peanut, pumpkin. With a candy-colored palette and irresistible art with glitter and embossing, this is the perfect baby shower gift!
7. Kat Yeh, The Magic Brush: Combining a heartwarming family story, a magical adventure, and a multilingual primer on Chinese language, The Magic Brush tells the story of Jasmine, a young girl who learns Chinese calligraphy from her Agong, or grandfather. As Jasmine learns how to paint the characters for dragon, fish, horse, friend, and more, she and Agong are magically transported to the wondrous world they are creating. But when Agong passes away, Jasmine must find a way for their special paintings to live on. Could her baby brother Tai-Tai be the key?
8. Anne Marie Pace, Vamipirina Ballerina Hosts a Sleepover: Before Vampirina can host her very first sleepover there are a few things she must keep in mind: be polite and offer her guests food (like blood pudding); plan some games like scavenger hunt (but keep the clues simple so no one gets lost); and don’t forget to dance! Vampirina may be a little nervous at first, but by following a few simple rules she will host the Best Sleepover Ever.
9. Tiffany Mayro Strelitz, The Monster Who Lost His Mean: Everyone knows that the M in “monster” stands for MEAN. But what happens when a monster can’t be mean any more? Is he still a monster at all? One young monster’s attempts to live up to his name go hilariously awry as he discovers—with a little help from new friends—that it’s not what you’re called but who you are that counts.
10. Leeza Hernandez,Dog Gone: When a playful pooch goes a little overboard with a stuffed animal and gets in trouble, he decides it’s time to run away. But being a “dog gone” isn’t as easy (or fun!) as it looks, and soon the pup misses his owner and home. Luckily, even though he’s made a mistake, his human best friend is always waiting with open arms.
This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the New Jersey Society of Children’s Book Writers and illustrators conference in Princeton, NJ. I will be posting more from the weekend, but here are some quotes that really inspired me from (mostly) chicks at the conference:
“Listen—we writers are one. We all share a common goal—to tell the best story we possibly can. I strive to do that every day, and so do you. There is no divide.” Tara Lazar, author of The Monstore
“I get my ideas from living.” Peter Brown, creator of The Curious Garden, Children Make Terrible Pets and You Will Be My Friend!
“Reading books is fantastic homework.” Ame Dyckman, author of Boy + Bot
“Writing every day helps you build up a tolerance for it. Kind of like drinking every day.” Lauren Oliver, author of Before I Fall and the Delirium series
“Like moving deck chairs on the Titanic.” Simone Kaplan of Picture Book People, on trying to change only words in a flawed manuscript
“If you want to be big, think big.” Joyce Wan, creator of You are my Cupcake and We Belong Together
“We are in the golden age of children’s non-fiction.” Betsy Bird, librarian and blogger extraordinaire
“I’m on muscle relaxants.” ANONYMOUS
Do you have any quotes from the conference that inspired you?
In honor of PiBoIdMo (you do know what that is, don’t you?), have we got a treat for you. The fabulously nerdy and brilliantly fabulous Tara Lazar is joining us today for a special bonus interview. Let’s hear what this Nerdy Chick has to say…
I’ve known Tara for several years through NJ-SCBWI. Not only is she a great writer and a super person, she’s also as into shoes and fashion as I am. Tara’s first picture book, The Monstore is forthcoming from Aladdin in June 2013, with two more picture books following soon after. She has inspired hundreds of picture book authors with a program she created called PiBoIdMo or Picture Book Idea Month. Visit her blog (http://taralazar.com/piboidmo/)to read more about it… or to join up!
Thanks for joining us Tara! We’ll start off with a question we ask everyone: If you could give your middle school or high school self one piece of advice, what would it be? Baggy pants and permed hair is not a good look.
I remember that look! At least we can say it looked better on the chicks than the dudes! You’re a professional writer – can you share some of your favorite things to read? I love short stories. I subscribe to One Story and I buy the Greatest American Short Stories anthology every year. But I also read a lot of novels, both for adults and kids. I prefer quirky stories with a sprinkling of magic—nothing too fantastical or surreal, just enough magic so it’s still plausible. And who can forget picture books? I read at least two hours every day.
Wow. That’s a lot of reading, but everyone says reading makes us better writers. Since you are so well read, how do you see the books that are being published today as helping to empower girls to be smart (or, as we like to call it, nerdy)? When I was growing up, I only remember Judy Blume books as speaking to me directly as an adolescent girl. Now there are hundreds of books aimed at young girls’ unique experiences: having an autistic sibling, losing a parent, wanting to excel in a talent, being a super-genius, coming from a poor family, dealing with bullies… The choices are endless. There’s a book to ease concerns over every embarrassing and mysterious dilemma inside every girl. She can feel confident knowing she’s not alone, giving her the courage to be herself.
I agree. Thankfully, there are more books than ever for girls these days. Besides reading, what’s something you like to do that might be considered a little bit nerdy, but is actually really fun? Teaching! I love to teach new writers; I enjoy sharing my knowledge. I get a kick when I see their faces light up in an “aha” moment.
I also love studying rocks and minerals, Hubble space telescope images, literature of the 1920’s, and Discover Magazine. I wanted to be an archeologist when I was a teen. C’mon, discovering buried treasure for a living? Awesome!
Do you have a favorite achievements that you can credit to being a nerdy chick? I was on the high school physics team. We even had a cheer: P-H-Y-S-I-C-S, physics, physics, yes, yes, YES! (OK, I didn’t say it was a good cheer.) I also scored leading roles in my HS plays and directed the senior year play. I was a drama geek, too. This was BEFORE “High School Musical” and “Glee”, when it was really uncool. But I didn’t care, I loved it.
Hahaha! There’s probably a reason the physics club isn’t the cheer squad, right? Thanks again for showing us your nerdy side! And may this be the biggest PiBoIdMo ever!