Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Your New Travel Companion: Sailor Twain

I gushed about this earlier in the year, but Sailor Twain, First Second's free, serialized web comic is picking up speed. The last few pages have been extra lush and full of intrigue. AND THE WHOLE THING IS FREAKING FREE! And all online. Perfect vacation reading if you have a fancy phone or can't go ten paces without your laptop.

If you, like me, are a sucker for sea tales (or if Mark Twain was also your boyfriend in a former life) then you must go check this out.

Read it once for pure pleasure, then read it again. The whole thing is a lesson in mystery writing, draftsmanship, panel building, and just plain dreamy. There's even been two swear words, so I'm in heaven.

And you can have Mark Siegel's art in your house! They have four prints available at a ridiculously low price. I have 'Wounded Mermaid' and am thinking I need at least 'Don't Call Me Captain' and maybe something from an unreleased chapter to round out my collection.

The link section is full of smart bits like a widget showcasing other great artists who wow in black and white. And I can't WAIT to see what the 'Handwritten Love Letters' section yields.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

So Long Bound, Hello, Again, Cocoastomp and SCBWI TEAM BLOG!

I am eternally grateful to all the wonderful opportunities that came my way thanks to MSN Entertainment and WetPaint and the other Superfans. I hope they bring it back someday! Which is to say, as of tomorrow, the Superfan blogs are going down.

In the meantime, all is well at Cocoastomp. Did you read all the tweets rocketing in this weekend from ALA? I am so glad attendees did that, and look forward to providing tweets at the SCBWI International Summer Conference! Which is in a few weeks!!! The speeches for the Golden Kite Luncheon are nothing to sneeze at, you know.

The Illustrating Children's Picture Books Class is going swimmingly, too, and I wish you could all be in it.

To recreate a hint of the class, get yourselves these things:

1. Cupcakes
2. Fifty pounds of picture books
3. A few Horn Books
4. Art supplies to play with
5. Stellar guests like Julie Paschkis and Paul Schmid
6. Three hours, twice a week to explore all the amazing books that are out in the world plus time to envision and explore YOUR own picture book projects!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Over on Bound, Summer reads to knock your socks off.

The NBA does a dang good job of picking Finalists. Not talking about the Lakers. Plan your summer reading with the recent NBA-ers all listed on Bound!

I have soooo many of these still to enjoy, but I did just read TOUCHING SNOW (a 2007 finalist) and was amazed amazed amazed. So good.

In other news, the Superfans group on MSN Entertainment is being canceled as of June 30th, so if you liked anything on Bound, take a picture, the links will be kaput soon.

Cocoastomp isn't going anywhere (even if you might want it to since I've changed the blog layout/bg and it now look's a bit like a clown uterus.)

Previously on Bound: Post NBA Finals

National Book Award Finals, that is (the world doesn't revolve around you all the time, Kobe.)

Middle graders or teens that are looking for some amazing books this summer, look no further than the past couple years of NBA winners and finalists. These are beach reads that might make you forget the beach. Not usually light and fluffy, no, but often full of humor or mesmerizing plots—stories that will stick with you for decades. Most of the links below go to the paperback versions so they'll be nearly weightless in your beach tote or bike basket.

I just finished reading a 2007 finalist, "Touching Snow," and could not put it down. Part heartbreaking and part laugh out loud funny, a must read for all teens.

Some of the books below are even appropriate for younger readers or family read-alouds, like the 2005 winner "The Penderwicks."
You might find some outstanding illustrations in these books, too. The first ever NBA graphic novel finalist from 2006, "American Born Chinese," opened the gates for David Small's "Stitches," the heavily illustrated "Lips Touch" by Laini Taylor with art by Jim Di Bartolo, and Brian Selznick's "The Invention of Hugo Cabret."

Any of your favorites below you want to champion?

2005 NBA winner and finalists

2005 Winner - "The Penderwicks" by Jeanne Birdsall

"Where I Want to Be" by Adele Griffin
"Inexcusable" by Chris Lynch
"Autobiography of My Dead Brother" by Walter Dean Myers, art by Christopher Myers
"Each Little Bird That Sings" by Deborah Wiles 

2006 NBA winner and 

2006 Winner - "The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing" by M.T. Anderson

"Keturah and Lord Death" by Martine Leavitt
"Sold" by Patricia McCormick
"The Rules of Survival" by Nancy Werlin
"American Born Chinese" by Gene Luen Yang

2007 NBA winner and 

2007 Winner - "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" by Sherman Alexie

"Skin Hunger" by Kathleen Duey
"Touching Snow" by M. Sindy Felin
"The Invention of Hugo Cabret" by Brian Selznick
"Story of a Girl" by Sara Zarr

2008 NBA winner and finalists

2008 Winner - "What I Saw and How I Lied" by Judy Blundell

"Chains" by Laurie Halse Anderson
"The Underneath" by Kathi Appelt with art by David Small
"The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks" by E. Lockhart
"The Spectacular Now" by Tim Tharp

Monday, June 21, 2010

Previously on Bound: Kickass Books

"Kick-Ass" is out in theaters now. MSN gave it only 1 1/2 stars, but Rotten Tomatoes gave it 77% delicious. I'm hoping to side with the kick not ass side of things. The movie is based on a comic book series by Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr. which you can read 8 volumes worth of in Marvel's "Kick-Ass."

There's also a companion book out by the comic's creators and the movie's director, "Kick-Ass: Creating the Comic, Making the Movie."

Scott Pilgrim vs The WorldBut maybe you want to be REALLY COOL? Or maybe you just miss Michael Cera? There's a bit of movie rights news and movies in production all based on books that you could check out now:

"Scott Pilgrim vs. The World" comes out in theaters in August, but you can read Volumes 1 through 5 now.


"Incarceron" by Catherine Fisher is a hot new YA title that's just had its film rights bought at auction.

And Ally Carter's "Heist Society" has lots of big movie people names on board -- Shauna Cross is adapting it ("Whip It!" and "If I Stay") plus it is being produced be the ladies who did "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants." And I've ALWAYS preferred heists to pants, so, this'll be great!
Daisy Comes HomeTilly Lays An Egg

And for little kids, you may have had a chance to Tivo, but lord knows they'll replay such an episode as this: Martha Stewart with an audience full of chickens!?!? And not only in the audience, but two of Martha's guests for that episode included picture book creators with their feathered friends: Jan Brett ("Daisy Comes Home") and Terry Golson ("Tillie Lays an Egg") who has a Hen Cam!!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Who needs picture book boot camp this summer? Still a few spots left!

A good-for-you impulse buy is summer class tuition. 
Still a few spots left for my UW class THAT STARTS TOMORROW!!!
Take your picture book dummy ideas from flab to fab—
this class is open to writers and illustrators of all levels. 
Tuesdays and Thursdays June 15 to July 8.

Info and registration details here. We'll be on the gorgeous UW Seattle campus. The Quad couldn't be lovelier this time of year, you know. And if you sit outside the Music Building you can hear the music students practicing—and they don't suck, so it's almost a free opera/violin concert. And if you sit outside the Art Building someone may or may not have added an 'F' to the sign.

It will be a cupcake laden 6 hours each week (tomorrow probably the old standard of my Nana's chocolate chip zucchini in cupcake form with cream cheese frosting.)

Julie Paschkis and Paul Schmid are both on board as guest speakers. We'll be celebrating Eric Carle's birthday, too (he won't be there, but for sure some hungry caterpillars will be!)

I am tickled pink over the book report assignment we'll be doing tomorrow and cannot wait to share it!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Over on Bound, Nikki McClure brings us SUMMER!

She might be a super hip Mother Nature in disguise. All I know is I could listen to her talk/work for hours. Check out my Nikki McClure book event recap on Bound with her new loverly, "Mama, Is It Summer Yet?"

Previously on Bound: Nikki McClure Summer

Mama is it Summer Yet?Nikki McClure was in town yesterday signing copies of her new book, "Mama, Is It Summer Yet?" And it actually WAS a gorgeous, summery Seattle day in Ballard, the perfect weather backdrop to Nikki's book talk. You may recognize her amazing calendars and things available at, her gorgeous work with Chronicle or Sasquatch, or her equally gorg children's books with Abrams?

Nikki art demoNikki wowed the crowd demonstrating the art technique that has garnered her a cult following -- papercutting. Using plain, old pencils to sketch out her drawings, she then cuts with ordinary X-acto knives on acid-free charcoal paper. The end result is the opposite of plain or ordinary—plus, as a challenge to herself—she tries to make her cut image be one, connected piece! And Nikki loves making mistakes—the whimsy of the blade can alter her original drawing. But instead of feeling like things are ruined, Nikki feels free to go hog wild on an illustration by trying out new ideas because, hey, it already has one mistake! But those often become the strongest pieces, says Nikki.

Nikki and SummerFor more on Nikki, or if you want to feel good about the world, please go read this excellent, excellent interview Amy Baskin did with her last year.

All I can add is that "Mama, Is It Summer Yet?" is worth the endpapers alone and "All In A Day" by Cynthia Rylant is just as scrumptious.
Final, most important factoids:

1. If it isn't strawberry season, Nikki's preferred work snack is dried apricots or prunes with the pit still in them.
2. Some of her favorite kid books are hidden in "Summer" — see if you can spot "Blueberries for Sal" by Robert McCloskey, "Life Story" by Virginia Lee Burton or "Comet in Moominland" by Tove Jansson.
3. She's a bit of a force of magical, nature-y goodness to be around. If you have the chance to hear her speak in person, go go go.

Blueberries for Sal$$BLOG$$summer-with-nikki-mcclure - msn-SuperfanLife Story

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Previously on Bound: Fat Vampire Infomercial and The Naughty List

First, the HILARITY that ensues when you get Mac Barnett to open his yapper. Here he's flapping his gums on behalf of Adam Rex, for Adam's first YA novel, "Fat Vampire." Awesome, awesome, awesome. The book doesn't come out until August, but you'll want to memorize this fantastic infomercial.

So Many Boys
Second, the NAUGHTINESS of so many boys in "So Many Boys" out today from Suzanne Young. "So Many Boys" is the second in "The Naughty List" book series, here's a peek at the trailer for the first book:

The SUSPENSE that ensues when you get to read the first eight chapters of an amazing YA novel for FREE"Tell Me A Secret" by Holly Cupala.

The GOAL of soccer this week is World Cup fun! Celebrate with Pelé's new picture book, "For the Love of Soccer!" Illustrated by Frank Morrison.

And finally, THE END IS NEAR. At least it will be on Tuesday when "The Deathday Letter" comes out by Shaun Hutchison. Dead funny from the sound of things!

Tell Me A SecretFor the Love of Soccer!The Death Day Letter

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Over on Bound, an interview with THE Meg Cabot!

Don't adjust your children's book eyeballs, that is indeed, a bosom-y lady with a dagger. But it is also the cover of Meg Cabot's new book! Which you need for your summertime fun. It has vampires. And a dog named Jack Bauer.

A quick interview with Meg Cabot!

Previously on Bound: Meg Cabot Interview

Meg Cabot! Could she be more lovely? Author of "The Princess Diaries" series and a bazillion other great books has taken on the fanged and funky with "Insatiable." Sparkling wit, sweet characters, and pithy dialogue, "Insatiable" is for adults, but the older teens I know that have devoured "True Blood" will find this a refreshing and hilarious take on vamps. Meg is giving away free "Insatiable"s on her site (visit, you'll absolutely want to try to win!) and offering up some advice on how to help with the BP oil spill in her online journal.

InsatiableFirst, the publisher's flap for "Insatiable":

Sick of hearing about vampires? So is Meena Harper. But her bosses are making her write about them anyway, even though Meena doesn't believe in them. Not that Meena isn't familiar with the supernatural. See, Meena Harper knows how you're going to die. (Not that you're going to believe her. No one ever does.) But not even Meena's precognition can prepare her for what happens when she meets—then makes the mistake of falling in love with—Lucien Antonescu, a modern-day prince with a bit of a dark side. It's a dark side a lot of people, like an ancient society of vampire hunters, would prefer to see him dead for. The problem is, Lucien's already dead. Maybe that's why he's the first guy Meena's ever met whom she could see herself having a future with. See, while Meena's always been able to see everyone else's future, she's never been able look into her own. And while Lucien seems like everything Meena has ever dreamed of in a boyfriend, he might turn out to be more like a nightmare. Now might be a good time for Meena to start learning to predict her own future. . . . If she even has one.

Meg is my new book trailer hero. She has FOUR, count 'em, FOUR book trailers for this book! I dream her legions of fans will film their own episodes of the book's Insatiable soap opera (maybe using live actors or Barbies?) and Meg to curate on YouTube. A girl can dream, right? And if I watch any soap opera I want it to be one that Meg Cabot inspired.

Absolutely I agree with Seventeen and NBC's "Today" that this is a stellar beach read. The only problem is we have to wait until next year for the sequel (and I'm really bitter about this, but there are a few Cabot books I have not read yet to get me through the next few months.)

On to Bound's exclusive interview! It was a bit agonizing finding interview questions. Meg is one of the few authors that has a totally current website, an extensive FAQ section, plus an active blog and twitter account. So many questions I thought of I had to cross out! But I did, of course, get to ask about snacks:

Bound: I loved "Insatiable" and, although it is listed as a book for adults, many of my teen friends would eat this up. Your book giveaway contest is open to anyone age 13 and older, so would you say this is okay for older teens?

Meg: Yes! I'd say it is okay for 14 and up.

I read that you have another YA paranormal series starting next year, too?

It's called "Abandoned" and I'm actually just finishing up the first book right now, out next spring. It is very dark, much darker than my "Airhead" series—a modern retelling of the Persephone myth, you know GOD OF THE UNDERWORLD, so pretty dark.

You'll be at a big, public event in Orlando at the end of July, what is that for?

On July 28th I'll be at a big literacy signing. Hopefully it will be huge, with tons of people, and we'll be able to raise lots of money for the Readers for Life literacy fundraiser.

What's on your nightstand?

I'm actually reading "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" because I never read that and it is so popular right now, and I want to see the movie. But I'm also reading a lot of books that are going to be coming out—people have asked for blurbs. So I can't talk about those books yet, but I'll definitely be blogging about them in the future. And I'm dying to read Rachel Vail's latest, "Brilliant."

Do you have a favorite writing snack?

YumI do! Gluten-free chocolate chip cookies. I found this woman who makes me chocolate chip cookies and they're SO GOOOOD! Oh my gosh, and you know what I love? I also love miniature Heath bars, too. Yeah, it's a horrible snack because they aren't very healthy, but I LOVE THEM.

Thanks, Meg!!!

All the funny things I'm remembering from Twitter are from her, too! I keep thinking it is some comedian, but it is this lovely lady.

Meg Cabot tweets

Meg's site is a treasure trove of extras to round out your "Insatiable" reading experience—a playlist of great songs, a pronunciation guide, photos of all the great places/paintings/pooches/totes mentioned in the story, and coming soon, once the book has been out for a few weeks, a Deleted Scenes section! (I think there's still room for a button leading us to a mock-Insatiable episodes video page... Just saying.)

And her online journal is awesome. Check out what the grandmas of Florida are doing and find out how you, too, can help with the mess in the gulf.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Previously on Bound: Happy Donut Day!

Today is National Donut Day. And a little bird at Mill Creek University Book Store in Washington State told me that the Top Pot Donuts IN the bookstore is giving out a free donut with coffee purchase. Perhaps your local indie has donuts for the taking, too! If not, you can at least read about donuts. Here is a gorgeous, oldie but goodie cover from super Robert McCloskey and his "Homer Price." 


A few picture books that are delish:

Donut ChefArnie the DonutWho Needs Donuts?

"The Donut Chef"
by Bob Staake

"Arnie the Donut"
by Laurie Keller

"Who Needs Donuts?" by Mark Alan Stamaty

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Over on Bound, Guys Read and Why I Love David Lubar

I do.
I love Lubar.
A quick write up of the Guys Read Panel at BEA.

Previously on Bound: Guys Talk about Guys Reading

A highlight of BEA was hearing the Guys Read panel talk about their forthcoming, "Guys Read: Funny Business." I adore the book trailer and getting to see these guys in person was ridiculous fun.

The book is a collection of short stories from some amazing authors. The hope is boys who don't normally reach for a hardcover will find this book irresistible for many reasons. The first being all of the authors involved respect their readers.

Jon Scieszka defends the quintessential guy reader "...he's not stupid, he's just not engaged." And the goal of the "Funny Business" stories is to engage them without dumbing stories down or being sensational, "to go beyond kick-in-the-nuts humor."

But don't be alarmed if, like me, you adore nut humor. David Lubar got in trouble with his fellow panelists when, after all the assurances of the book taking the humor high road, he said, "I spent three weeks worrying about the fart joke at the start of my story stepping on the diarrhea joke later on." I LOVE THIS GUY.

And another reason guys might embrace this book? The stories are short. Lubar said "short stories are a hard sell, but this is what kids love. And reluctant readers are less daunted by the prospect of a twenty-page story versus a 200-pager..." Editor Jordan Brown believes short story collections are a great way to introduce kids to a lot of authors and hopefully get them interested in finding an author's longer works.

Here's what the panel had to say about two of the stories in the book:

YOU KNOW Jon Scieszka, former ambassador of kid lit. Trend-setting author. Expert barbeque-er. Jon co-wrote a story with the amazing non-male, Kate DiCamillo (of "Winn-Dixie," "Despereaux," "Tu
lane," "Mercy," etc. fame) a story Jon calls Dear Mr. Henshaw-esque. Jon and Kate wrote letters back and forth to each other, Jon as a young kid writing to author Kate. Kate played off of Jon's first letter and their story was born. Sounds like a ton of fun, right?

As does author/illustrator Adam Rex's story which takes place at a school where ALL the kids have discovered they have special powers. And they have all been whisked off to wizarding or dragoning schools. Except for Adam's main character who is painfully average and powerless.

It sounds like there will be more Guys Read editions covering Mystery, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Sports, Nonfiction, and Animal Husbandry. Can't wait!

Left to right, the illustrious bloke team at BEA: Jeff Kinney, Adam Rex, David Lubar. And Mac Barnett, Jon Scieszka, and Jordan Brown.

Jeff Kinney, Adam Rex, 
David Lubar
Mac Barnett, Jon Scieszka, Jordan