Brazilian Picture Books: My childhood

Albert Whitman author Ana Crespo shares some of her favorite childhood picture books from Brazil in this week’s #Fridayreads. Ana is the author of The Sock Thief (Spring 2015), J.P. and the Giant Octopus (Fall 2015), and J.P. and the Polka-Dotted Aliens (Fall 2015).

I love picture books. So, as you can imagine, I read lots of them. For now, I have a good excuse – a five-year old who loves them as much as I do. However, I don’t think I will have the excuse for too long, as the five-year old will soon move on to more wordily adventures.

Born and raised in Brazil, the books I read as a child were not the same ones you probably read. Throughout my childhood, my two favorite picture books were Flicts by Ziraldo (a renowned Brazilian cartoonist) and Chapeuzinho Amarelo (Little Yellow Riding Hood) by Chico Buarque.


Flicts tells the story of a lonely color. No one wants to play with Flicts because he’s different. Flicts travels the world looking for a place where he’s accepted, but finds none. He ends up in the moon. As Ziraldo tells it, “nobody knows, except maybe the astronauts” what color the moon is. On the very last page of the edition I have (but can’t find), Ziraldo says he met Neil Armstrong when the astronaut visited Brazil. After telling him about Flicts, Neil Armstrong confirmed, “The moon is Flicts.”


Chapeuzinho Amarelo is about a little girl who spends her days doing nothing, because she’s afraid of everything. “She was afraid of thunder. For her, worms were snakes. And she was never caught under the sun, because she was afraid of the shadow,” Chico Buarque writes. Eventually, Chapeuzinho Amarelo gets over her fears, thanks to a play with words that just works in Portuguese. So creative!

Because I grew up abroad, I have a lot of catching up to do when it comes to American picture book classics. The first time I read an Eric Carle book, for example, was in 2002. I had never heard of Lois Ehlert, Shel Silverstein, Leo Lionni, or even Dr. Seuss, until about a decade ago. And I am sure there are lots of wonderful authors and illustrators that I still don’t know.


Of the most recent American picture books, some of my favorites are Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown, The Dot by Peter Reynolds (and almost anything by Peter Brown and Peter Reynolds. What is it about Peters?).


I also love Stuck by Oliver Jeffers, and Mark Pett’s The Boy and the Airplane and The Girl and the Bicycle. The five-year old excuse loves My Lucky Day by Keiko Kasza, and The Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle.


However, I don’t read only picture books. I have a lot of catching up to do in other genres too. I love the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, and Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt. Angela’s Ashes is possibly my favorite book ever. I just finished reading To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, which I also enjoyed.


Before that, I went through some of Albert Whitman’s recent titles–Down from the Mountain, The Black Crow Conspiracy, Biggie, and The Poisoned House. I enjoyed all of them!

What’s your favorite childhood book?

Brazilian Picture Books: My childhood

#Fridayreads: Anne’s House of Dreams

It’s #FridayReads with metadata master and sales team all-star Caity Anast, who talks about her current reads:

Before Christmas, I decided to listen to Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery in the car. It is my all-time favorite book. Not only have I read the series, seen the TV mini-series with Megan Follows and Colleen Dewhurst, but I have also been to the Anne of Green Gables festival on Prince Edward Island. I love Anne and have always thought we would be wonderful friends. It has been more than 20 years since I have read the books, but I so enjoyed listening to the first story on audio that I decided to reread the whole series. Lucky for me, I have it on my bookshelf. I am nearing the end of Book 5, Anne’s House of Dreams. Even though I know what is going to happen, I still enjoy watching it all unfold. Every night, I look forward to getting into bed and traveling back to Avonlea or wherever Anne seems to be.


Every year for Christmas, my husband and I try to get a nice book for each of our children—a book that they will keep for a long time. I knew what to get my 9-year-old daughter immediately. She loved Wonder by R.J. Palacio (as did I, finishing it up near midnight on New Year’s Eve 2013), so when I saw 365 Days of Wonder: Mr. Browne’s Book of Precepts, I knew it would be perfect. As you can guess, there is a precept for every day. Some are from famous people and some are from readers who wrote to the author. My daughter has decided to read a precept a day, and together we read it at night before bed. One of our favorites is: “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.—Anne Frank.” (I love that they did not put a jacket on the book, but embossed it instead. Those jackets just end up getting in the way!)

Book of Wonder

I was having a more difficult time coming up with something for my son. He likes sports books, but I try to introduce him to other genres. When I was working at my daughter’s school’s book fair, I found the perfect book for him, Lincoln’s Grave Robbers by Steve Sheinkin.

Last year, he read Chasing Lincoln’s Killer by James L. Swanson for school and loved it. This past summer, we went to Springfield, Illinois, where we toured the Lincoln library, his home, and also stopped by the cemetery where Lincoln is buried. This story is a thriller based on the real events that happened in 1876 when President Lincoln’s body was stolen and held for ransom. My son has enjoyed it so much that he has read it four times. As soon as I finish the Anne of Green Gables series, I promised him I would read it, too.


#Fridayreads: Anne’s House of Dreams

Another #FridayReads with AW&Co Staffers!

It’s #FridayReads with Albert Whitman Staffers!  Today, metadata master and sales team all-star Caity Anast talks about her current reads:

I laughed when I read Annette’s post, because I too went through a period of very little “fun-for-me” reading when my children were babies (What to Expect the First Year doesn’t count as fun).

I nodded my head as I read Wendy’s post, because although I am not keeping track of books I’ve read on Goodreads, I do have my own personal list that I have kept since high school. It started with a pamphlet my freshman year English teacher passed out called “Excellence in English: The Honors English Program, York Community High School” that listed the core and supplemental readings by grade level. (A shout out to those great English teachers at York.) I highlighted the titles as I read them, and my goal was to read all the titles in the pamphlet.

high school pamphlet
(The ACTUAL pamphlet…I still have it…)

But I reassessed that goal after picking up Moby Dick for fun. I just couldn’t get through it. I mean how many times do you have to describe the whale? I get it, it’s big. I suppose if I read it for English class and had someone to discuss it with, I would have found it more interesting. But instead, I put it down and never finished it. That was the first time I had ever done that. I always felt it was my duty to finish a book. After that, I decided I didn’t have to read every book on that list, but I could refer to it from time to time.

The latest book I am reading is a recommendation from my dad, Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia. I’m not very far along into the book, but the setting is the Bellweather Hotel where a murder-suicide happened fifteen years ago in room 712. Now the hotel is host to Statewide, a high school music festival. So far I’ve been introduced to Alice and Rabbit Hatmaker, twins who are participating in the festival, and their chaperone and teacher, Natalie, who happens to be a former student of Viola Fabian, Statewide’s chairperson and mother of Jill, the best flautist in the state. It’s received three starred reviews, so it’s bound to be good. Booklist says, “Encore, encore.”


At the same time I am listening to an audio book in the car. I find this is a great time to catch up on what my kids are reading. It’s also a great way to find out the proper pronunciation of a character’s name. I am in the middle of because of mr. terupt (tear upt, not tur upt as I thought) by Rob Buyea. It’s a great story about a fifth grade class and their new teacher. Each chapter is told from the point of view of one of seven children in the class. You’ve got your brain, outcast, loner, mean girl, prankster, fat girl, and the new girl. I honestly can’t wait to get in my car each day to see what’s going to happen next.


Another #FridayReads with AW&Co Staffers!

AWC Podcast Series: Ghostwriting and a Pumpkin Head

We would like to expand upon last week’s podcast topic, ghostwriting, and here with us is Boxcar Children ghostwriter Theresa Golding to give us more insights into how she spins new stories for the eighty-plus-year-old-series.  Click below to listen to our conversation.

In addition to ghostwriting The Pumpkin Head Mystery and The Vampire Mystery for The Boxcar Children series, Theresa Golding is the author of including such books as Abby’s Asthma and the Big Race, Memorial Day Surprise, Kat’s Surrender, The Secret Within, The Truth About Twelve, and Niner.

Her books have been nominated for and received numerous honors including The Mark Twain Award, The Rhode Island Teen Book Award, The Georgia Book Award, VOYA Top Shelf Fiction, Society of School Librarians International Honor Book, PA State Library Association Top Forty Fiction, Keystone State Reading Award, YALSA 2009 Best Books for Young Adults, and Kansas State Reading Circle Recommended Reading.

AWC Podcast Series: Ghostwriting and a Pumpkin Head

Why I Love Working in Children’s Book Publishing

We recently exhibited at the Follett Library Resources/BWI National Sales Conference. We spoke with their sales reps from all over the country. This was the first time I’ve been to this event, and it was fabulous.  And although much smaller, it was remarkably similar to any number of trade shows we do throughout the year:  1) We had to set-up our table/booth at an odd hour and make it look pretty and inviting,

2) We spent hours on our feet talking about our books with people who love books, and

3) we spent time joking and working with our colleagues at other publishers. This third similarity is the real topic of this post. 

Sales and Marketing from Heinemann-Raintree, Capstone, Scholastic, Random House, PBS, HarperCollins, and Albert Whitman

On my first day in children’s book publishing, my young just-out-of-college self was told that no one works in children’s publishing by accident. I kept quiet, but my first thought was that I was there by accident. I hadn’t planned on this career throughout school. I didn’t fully understand that my boss didn’t mean that everyone in the business grew up thinking “I want to make and sells books when I grow up.” What she meant is that children’s book people are good people for whom books are not “widgets” and kids are not “end users.” This is true at every level, and in sales and marketing, in particular.

Children’s book marketing and sales people are – for the most part – friendly and hardworking. And we’ve all worked together in some form or another (for each other, with each other, for each other’s bosses, and so on). As such, it’s a very small and collegial community.

I’ve helped roll posters in other booths, and my colleagues have jumped in to hand out post-its to suddenly very long author signing lines. At the Follett event mentioned above, several of us almost set up a table for a latecomer. At large breakfast events or conference panels, I’ve seen large publishers help small publishers put freebies on the chairs. On “Newbery-Caldecott Morning,” fellow publishers are the first people in the winners’ booths with hugs and hearty congratulations. 

I’m told that this is not true in other industries – or even in the books-for-grown-ups world. And I don’t mean to imply that every person in children’s book publishing is a kind and benevolent soul – I’m not that much of a Pollyanna (despite my rose-colored glasses).  But the exceptions don’t tend to stay long and don’t reap the benefits of good relationships with other publishers.  I also don’t mean that children’s book publishers are not extremely professional and intelligent marketers – we are (after all) FOR PROFIT COMPANIES. That means that we create marketing plans, have proprietary mailing lists, keep company secrets, and in general, want to sell more books than the other guy. But fortunately, none of this means we can’t be friendly competitors.

Maybe it’s because we spend hours together in slow exhibit halls or hotel lobbies or airports. Maybe it’s because we’ve all worked in the same places at some point. Maybe we all know that most of our customers can and do buy more than one book. Maybe we know that we all really work for the kids. Or maybe my first boss was right and we’re not here by accident, we’re here because this is where the good people are….

Why I Love Working in Children’s Book Publishing