Time to Rhyme: Albert Whitman Celebrates National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month! Celebrate by checking out some of our favorite picture books written in verse. Getting kids interested in poetry can be hard, but the beautiful illustrations in these books will keep kids engaged while also exposing them to different kinds of poetry. Plus, they’re fun! Scroll below to see some of our favorites.

 

A Pirate’s Mother Goose

In this fun twist on classic Mother Goose rhymes everything has been given a pirate makeover! Whether it’s cats giving the first mate a fiddle or scalawags waltzing in the brig, this collection will inspire the pirate-poets in us all. Cartoon illustrations will have kids rhyming doubloon and buffoon whether they read them in the morning or the afternoon. For more, click here.

 

The Year Comes Around

Don’t want to rhyme all the time? Try The Year Comes Around. This beautifully illustrated book takes readers on a journey through the four seasons with a Haiku for every month. It’s a great way to introduce the traditional Japanese form of poetry to young readers, and it’s a perfect read year-round. Click here to find more.

 

A Funeral in the Bathroom

This Albert Whitman bestseller contains a collection of funny poems about school bathrooms. Children will be laughing all the way through these relatable moments as the bright illustrations take them through poems like “Flushophobic” and “There’s a Sock in the Toilet.” Clever rhymes make it a great choice for a read-a-loud story time. Listen for bathroom poems of your own after reading this one! Follow this link for more information.

 

Our Principal Promised to Kiss A Pig

Don’t miss this silly introduction to Shakespeare. In this Albert Whitman classic, the school principal promises to kiss a student’s pet pig, Hamlet, if all the students read 10,000 books by the end of the school year. Hamlet wants nothing to do with the bet, and it seems like he’s going to be safe until an author visits the school and the students quickly reach their goal. Will the Principal keep her promise? Told with pig-pun twists on classic lines from Shakespearean plays, this fun book introduces kids to poetry and Shakespeare at the same time. How’s that for a rhyme? For more, click here.

 

Nightlights

Want more? Check out Nightlights, an upcoming release from Albert Whitman. Read-along rhymes capture nighttime images for readers by describing the lights we see once the sun goes down. Perfect for bedtime or a summer camp-out, Nightlights is set to be published this August. For a preview or pre-order, click here.

 

Happy Poetry Month from Albert Whitman & Company!

Time to Rhyme: Albert Whitman Celebrates National Poetry Month

Author Insight with Kurtis Scaletta

Rooting for Rafael Rosales by Kurtis Scaletta is the story of two very different protagonists. Rafael has dreams. Every chance he gets he plays in the street games trying to build his skills, get noticed by scouts, and—someday—play Major League Baseball. Maya has worries. The bees are dying all over the world, and the company her father works for is responsible, making products that harm the environment. Follow Rafael and Maya in a story that shifts back and forth in time and place, from Rafael’s neighborhood in the Dominican Republic to present-day Minnesota, where Maya and her sister are following Rafael’s first year in the minor leagues. In their own ways, Maya and Rafael search for hope, face difficult choices, and learn a secret—the same secret—that forever changes how they see the world.

 

 

We were lucky enough to hear from Kurtis about his experience creating this story:

When a new book comes out I like to go back and look at the earliest file I can find, where it all began, the first words that became a novel. Though much of a book will change as I go through the phases of writing and revision, I always find the opening scene is intact. That very first dabble will be there in the finished book, revised but recognizable.

 
That is true for Rooting for Rafael Rosales. A lot of ideas were bouncing around in my head when I began writing that night (January 25, 2014): baseball in the DR, which I had been reading about; Spring Training, which I had wanted to write about since I went to Fort Myers in 2003; the way that fans watch sports with a feeling of personal destiny; and bees. I was thinking about bees.

 
From that jumble I had a vision of a girl sitting in a baseball stadium, completely apathetic about the game, thinking about the future of the planet, while a player who has been working his whole life for this moment takes the field. Both of them have valid feelings; but they have different experiences. I decided their lives would then intersect, however briefly, and both would be changed. That scene now opens part two, but it is in that scene that the book was born.

 
So although Rooting for Rafael Rosales has two distinct stories—the sports-obsessed island boy and the nature-obsessed landlocked girl—they have always bound up together. The inspiration is that moment where their lives intersect.

 

Rafael is very different from me, but I found a spark of familiarity in his ambition, his fear of failure, even in his occasional bitterness and jealousy, which he outgrows. Maya is more like I was as a child: solitary, dreamy, and sensitive. I found both these characters easy to love, and their stories unfolded naturally.

 

But bringing their stories together was a challenge. Past the first scene, how and when would Rafael and Maya meet? How would they change each other? That is where I did the most writing, cutting, rewriting, and cutting again. Even at the end I wonder if people will see this as two books mashed together, though it was always meant to be one.

 
However, I realize now one way their stories are the same. Rafael wants his father and friends to look at his skinny, undeveloped body and see the major league slugger he will become. Maya wants her family to look at her backyard garden and see that she is out to change the world. They are both children who want the respect given to adults, if not for whom they are at the moment, then for the adults they will become.

 
I didn’t think of it that was as I wrote but now see it in scene after scene: the way these two children ache to be taken seriously, especially by their fathers. And while this is true of all children, I think it is especially true of Rafael and Maya, that their dreams are larger than their bodies and their abilities. And that’s why I think the book ultimately works. That is why their stories resonate.

 
If I realized such themes before I set out to write a book, I could be more attentive to them. But the need to discover is what keeps me going, turning those first scenes into finished novels where so many other projects falter and fizzle. It’s what I learn about myself.

 

Thanks, Kurtis. To find out more about Rooting for Rafael Rosales, check out our website.

Author Insight with Kurtis Scaletta

Celebrate Easter and Spring with Albert Whitman

Easter is just around the corner, so why not fill your Easter baskets with something new to read? We have a selection of books about Easter and the cute animals associated with the holiday. Check out the list below for colorful picture books that are perfect all spring long!

 

It’s Easter Chloe Zoe!

Chloe Zoe is on another adventure and this time she’s looking for Easter eggs! Everyone is searching for the sparkling golden egg with a magic prize inside. Chloe Zoe notices that Mary Margaret doesn’t have any Easter eggs, so they decide to work together. But then, Mary Margaret finds the sparkling golden egg and Chloe Zoe gets upset! Find out what’s inside the special egg in this story about teamwork and friendship by clicking here. If you like this Chloe Zoe story, take a look at her other holiday adventures, too!

 

The Sheep Who Hatched and Egg

Lola the sheep loves her amazing wool, and so does everyone else on the farm. One day the weather starts to heat up and all the sheep need to get haircuts, and Lola’s haircut is horrible. Embarrassed, she runs away. As her wool grows back, she finds a surprise hiding in her wool and realizes she doesn’t have to be pretty or perfect in order to be extraordinary! The bright and whimsical watercolors and cute characters will keep readers engaged in this story about loving yourself. Click here for more.

 

What Am I? Easter

This fun and informative book helps young readers see all the things that make Easter special. Hints and pictures under flaps within the book make it an interactive reading experience. Perfect for young readers or a read-a-loud activity, What Am I? Easter is sure to be a hit. For more information, follow this link.

 

Next to You

This adorable picture book is meant to remind loved ones just how cute they are. The easy-to-follow text and increasingly darling illustrations will have kids and adults saying “awww” in an instant. The baby animals featured range from monkeys in a tree and kittens with a ball of yarn to a basket of baby chicks and a squirrel eating a doughnut. What’s sweeter than that? For more, click here.

 

Cock-a-Doodle Who?

Children will be fascinated by the striking cutouts and bright patterns in this picture book about farms and the animals and people that are found there. The illustrations are accompanied by simple text in verse. The compact size makes it a perfect fit for an Easter basket or on-the-go read. Find out more by clicking here.

 

Happy Easter! For more holiday picture books from Albert Whitman click here.

Celebrate Easter and Spring with Albert Whitman

Q&A with Patricia Bailey

Life in a 1905 Nevada mining town is not easy for any thirteen-year-old. For orphaned Kit Donovan, the main character in The Tragically True Adventures of Kit Donovan by Patricia Bailey, it seems downright impossible. When Kit gives up on her mother’s dying wish for her to become a lady, she becomes tangled with dangerous practices at the mine. Using a man’s hat and a printing press, Kit defies threats of violence and discovers that justice doesn’t always look like she imagined it would.

We were lucky enough to sit down with Patricia and talk about brainstorming walks, middle grade novels, and The Tragically True Adventures of Kit Donovan.

Q: What was your inspiration for your title?

A: I have such a hard time coming up with titles. Kit’s story was actually untitled the entire time I was writing it. When it came time to write the synopsis I knew I needed a title so I started freewriting about the story and bam! The Tragically True Adventures of Kit Donovan sprang from my brain and stuck.

Q: Do you have a regular routine while creating a book?

A: I wish. It seems like each story has its own way of coming into the world. The one thing that is consistent for me is that I take a lot of walks and just let the characters and the story roll around my head. Then I come home and scribble down all the ideas and lines of dialogue that came to me while I wandered. Other than that, it’s a bit of a free-for-all. Sometimes I write in the morning; other times I write at night. Some books I plot all the way through, while others don’t get plotted until I’m somewhere in the middle. Sometimes I revise as I go and other times I write it all out in one big push. I would love to be one of those people who has a systematic approach that works every time, but I’m not, so I try to just go with what I have.

Q: What’s the easiest and hardest part of creating a book?

A: I think the easiest part is coming up with the idea. Characters and voice come to me pretty fully-formed which is a great gift. The hardest part for me is accepting that what’s going to end up on paper is not going to be as clean and clear and wonderful as what’s in my head, and that I have to be okay with that. The distance between what I imagine and what gets down on paper in that first draft can be pretty discouraging. Working through that is always tough.

Q: Why write children’s books?

A: Because they’re the best. Children’s books are wild and funny, heartfelt and serious. They’re always about growth—physical, emotional, social—and about meeting challenges and facing new adventures. The voices are always clear and rich, the struggles are real and meaningful, and in the end there is always a glimmer of hope.

Q: What makes your book stand out?

A: I think the character of Kit makes my book stand out. She’s a fun character. Caring and outspoken and determined to do the right thing. I like that she’s starting to see the difference between what adults say is the right thing to do and how they actually act when push comes to shove, which makes her question how she wants to live in the world.

Q: Do you have any writing quirks?

A: I talk to myself—a lot—and I wander around. When the weather is decent, I walk the neighborhood sorting out ideas. When it’s raining or snowing I pace back and forth between my writing space and the kitchen. I’m also kind of picky about pens; they have to have blue ink and be just the right weight. And I need sticky notes. Lots of sticky notes.

Q: Are you working on any other projects?

A: Right now I’m working on a middle grade contemporary novel set in the Pacific Northwest. I’m also researching a historical novel set near my hometown.

Q:What books did you like to read as a kid? What type of books do you like to read now?

A: I loved all kinds of books as a kid, but my preference was fiction. I read all the classics: Charlotte’s Web, Mary Poppins, Anne of Green Gables, and, of course, everything by Judy Blume and Beverly Clearly. I adored historical fiction as a kid and read whatever the local librarian would give me that was set in the Old West. Now I read a mix of fiction and nonfiction, but find myself mostly reading middle grade and YA novels.

Thanks, Patricia! Find out more about The Tragically True Adventures of Kit Donovan on our website .

Q&A with Patricia Bailey

Q&A with Jolene Perry

Jolene Perry is the prolific author of young adult titles. Her latest novel, All the Forever Things, is about Gabriella, who has grown up in the funeral home her parents run. Gabe knows that death is a part of life and nothing is forever. Yet Bree, her best friend, has been a constant; it’s always been the two of them together against the world. But when Bree starts dating a guy—the worst guy— from that ultra-popular world, suddenly she doesn’t have time for Gabe anymore. Can Gabe and Bree figure out what a forever friendship truly means?

We were lucky enough to sit down with Jolene to chat about All the Forever Things, writing quirks, and setting a book in a funeral home.

Q: Do you have a regular routine while creating a book?

A: No regular routine, but I do love snacking on Pellegrino and dark chocolate almonds. So I do have a routine, it’s just a snack routine.

Q:  Do you have any writing quirks?

A: I draft fast, which means that I rarely have time to research. I don’t even pause, put my CAPS LOCK on, and yell at myself about things I need to add later.

I also write with my eyes closed. Like, a lot. This freaks out my family.

Q: What’s the easiest and hardest part of creating a book?

A: The easiest part about creating a book is the first draft. The hardest part is turning that rough draft into what you envisioned from the beginning, because that first draft is going to be a mess (at least it will be if you’re me).

Q: Why write children’s books?

A: I’ve taught in middle and high schools, and there is a newness to the world and what it has to offer when you’re dealing with so many first experiences.

Q: Are you working on any other projects?

A: I’m always working on other projects.

Q: What makes your book, All the Forever Things, stand out?

A: The friendship. The obsession with vintage. The cadavers. I love the funeral home setting of this book. I loved that the funeral home was in sunny California. The research was fascinating (touring funeral homes), and I think there’s this stigma around death, or this mystery, so writing in a world that lives in part of that mystery was super fascinating for me and something I’d have loved to read as a teen (and maybe now too).

Q: What was the process of working with your editor like?

A: I love working with my editor. You know you’ve found the right editor when the work is hard, but you’re excited about what their notes will do to your story.

Q: What books did you like to read as a kid? What type of books do you like to read now? 

A: When I was a kid, I read the classics and Stephen King. Now, I read from historical fiction and non-fiction, to sci-fi, to fantasy, to soul-destroying contemporary and everything in between. I’m currently reading Girls on Fire and The Martian.

Thanks, Jolene! Find out more about All the Forever Things on our website. For even more fun, take our quiz to find out which heroine you are from Jolene Perry’s four AW Teen novels!

Q&A with Jolene Perry

Celebrate Women’s History Month with Albert Whitman & Company

March is Women’s History Month! Take the time to learn about, remember, and appreciate women by reading about them! Albert Whitman has a huge selection of historical picture books showcasing women’s accomplishments. You’ll find everything from female athletes, scientists, and detectives to famous women that made a difference in our shared history. Check out this list for some of our favorite girl-power picks!

#1 Swimming with Sharks

Swimming with Sharks: The Daring Discoveries of Eugenie Clark

This beautifully illustrated book follows Eugenie Clark’s lifelong obsession with sharks. Her discoveries changed the way scientists thought about sharks, but her choice to pursue a career as a scientist changed the way society thought about women. This picture book shares the story of her entire life, but focuses mainly on her years of research from the 1940s to her death in 2015. Told in a narrative style, this true story will make all readers want to dive in for more.

#2 An Apple for Harriet Tubman

An Apple for Harriet Tubman

This story follows Harriet Tubman through her life as a slave working in an orchard up to her escape to the North. It’s a great start for teaching little ones about America’s past and the struggles of those who haven’t always been free.

#3 Dorothea Lange

Dorothea Lange: The Photographer Who Found the Faces of the Depression

Dorothea Lange traveled the country during the Great Depression to take photographs of those affected most. Her struggle with her own physical disability and her development as a photographer are told in this captivating picture book. Available now in hardcover, this story is great example of how women have made differences throughout history.

#4 Touch the Sky

Touch the Sky: Alice Coachman, Olympic High Jumper

Share the story of Alice Coachman, the first African American woman to win an Olympic gold medal in the 1948 games. Bright illustrations and lyrical captions will engage and inspire readers with the story of a woman who jumped over every obstacle to accomplish her dream. Photos of the real Alice Coachman are also included in this picture book.

#5 How Kate Warne Saved President Lincoln

How Kate Warne Saved President Lincoln

Most Americans know a lot about President Lincoln, but not so much about the detective who saved his life before his inauguration. Explore the adventures of Kate Warne, the nation’s first female detective, as she breaks down barriers for women and saves her president in this colorful picture book.

#6 Heart on Fire

Heart on Fire: Susan B. Anthony Votes for President

It may seem hard to believe, but woman have had the right to vote for less than a hundred years! Learn about Susan B. Anthony’s fight to give women the right to vote in Heart on Fire. Her daring (and illegal) vote for president in 1872 helped spark the movement for women’s suffrage across the country. This non-fiction picture book will remind all readers about the importance of the right to vote.

#7 Mary Walker Wears the Pants

Mary Walker Wears the Pants

Not only was Mary Walker a suffragist and one of the first female doctors in America, she also wore pants, something unheard of in her time! This picture book discusses the story of a Civil War hero who challenged traditional gender roles. Share this illustrated biography and inspire young readers to question societal norms.

What are your favorite stories about women in history? Visit our website to find more books about women!

Celebrate Women’s History Month with Albert Whitman & Company

Saving the Bees and Other “Green” Reads for Spring

April showers bring May flowers, but what else keep the flowers blooming? Bees! These little helpers stay busy all spring and summer pollinating plants and making honey. In recent years though, many bee species have been dying out. Though they may be small, they play a huge role the ecosystem and in our food production. Stay busy as a bee this spring with books about the bees and other stories about saving our planet from Albert Whitman & Company.

 

#1 Please Please the Bees

bees

Benedict the bear has been enjoying honey his whole life, but one day the bees go on strike! Rather than getting angry, Benedict decides to listen to the bees. Once he realizes he can help, he gets to work planting flowers, improving their hive, and learning to be a better beekeeper. Funny illustrations of Benedict drinking cups of tea with honey and bees holding strike signs will leave kids buzzing with laughter in this story of cooperation, listening to others, and doing your part. Follow this link for a preview.

#2 What’s So Special About Planet Earth?

whats-so-special

Ever wonder what it would be like to live on a different planet? Fun as that may be, it’s impossible for humans to survive anywhere else. This eye-opening picture book explains the differences between Earth and other planets in our solar system to show just how unique our planet is. Little ones will learn about the Earth’s atmosphere, the sun, and other planets. Take a look here for more.

#3 Polar Bear, Why is Your World Melting?

polarbear

Come back to planet Earth and get a picture of the rapidly changing Arctic. Through colorful illustrations kids will learn about the effects of greenhouse gases and ways they can help prevent the destruction of polar bears’ homes. Part of the Wells of Knowledge collection, this book introduces science in a fun way. Check out more by clicking this link.

#4 This Tree Counts!

thistree

One owl, two spiders, three squirrels, four robins…how many animals can a single tree provide a home for?  Find out with Mr. Tate and his class as they take a closer look at the tree behind their school. The students learn about the small ecosystem within the tree, but notice something seems to be missing. Told by an easy-to-follow counting pattern, this fun book will leave kids ready to investigate and appreciate nature wherever they go. Follow this link to see more.

#5 Rooting for Rafael Rosales

rooting

For older readers, this middle-grade novel shares the stories of Rafael and Maya. Rafael is growing up in the Dominican Republic and has dreams of playing baseball in the major leagues. Maya is living in present-day Minnesota and is worried about the bees dying and the harm her father’s company is doing to the environment. This novel switches between two different time periods and places, but weaves the stories together as Maya and her sister follow Rafael’s first year in the minor leagues. Maya starts rooting for Rafael because if he can make it, maybe she—and the bees—will be okay, too. For more, click here.

 

#6 Dig Too Deep

digtoo

For teen readers who like mystery, Dig Too Deep is a perfect pick. Liberty Briscoe’s life is turned upside down after her mother’s arrest (for political protest) means she must live with her Granny in Ebbotsville, Kentucky. Though she’d been there before as a kid, things have changed drastically. Coal mining has destroyed the tip of Mt. Tanner, and people, including her Granny, seem to be getting sick. Liberty starts an investigate and soon realizes there’s something suspicious going on. What will she do? Find out more by clicking here.

 

Want to find out more about our planet and how to save it? Follow these links for more books about the Earth and protecting our environment.

Saving the Bees and Other “Green” Reads for Spring