A Great Nephew and a Great Aunt: Landon and Penny’s Final Episode

poetry friday buttonThanks to my friend Buffy at Buffy’s Blog for hosting the Poetry Friday Roundup today. If you’d like to know more about Poetry Friday, click HERE for an explanation by Renee LaTulippe.

Ants may rule the hill, but they don’t rule here! Art by Landon

Hello loyal followers and friends. Did you notice the words “Final Episode” in the title of the post? I imagine some of you thought I meant final episode of 2017. But I actually meant final as in last. So putting together this post is bittersweet. You know the feeling you get when you make a tough decision? A decision that you think is for the best, but it’s still hard to make? I have that feeling to a big degree right now. In fact, I’m a little teary as I write this. Final sounds so…well…final.

I made this decision for a couple of reasons.

First, I feel that this series has had a great run so I decided…why not stop before it gets tired. Or before I get tired. 😀 Or before Landon gets tired. 😀 Or before our followers get tired. 😀 May as well stop while we all still love it, right?

Second, I devote a lot of time to the series. Besides the collaboration that Landon and I do one Friday of each month, I have guest collaborators the other Fridays. That means finding guests, scheduling the guests, and putting the posts together. I could certainly use more time for my writing and this will give me quite a bit more time. And Landon (believe it or not!!!) will be in high school next fall. We all know that means Busy with a capital B.

I made the decision and we’re moving forward. So enjoy, enjoy, enjoy! And if you miss the poetry and art collaborations, you can always “replay” any episode by clicking HERE. Between our collaborations and guest collaborations, there are 112 episodes for your reading and viewing pleasure!

And if Landon and I miss collaborating there could always be a sequel or special episode 😀

And for anyone who just happened to stop by for their first time today, let me tell you a little about A Great Nephew and A Great Aunt. My great nephew, Landon (now an eighth-grader) and I (his great aunt) collaborate. I write a poem which he illustrates. We started this collaboration in the fall of 2014 and had so much fun with it that I decided to invite others along. Landon and I collaborate one Friday of each month. The other Fridays I have guests sharing poetry and art in beautiful collaborations. I have created a page on my website to view all the episodes of A Great Nephew and a Great Aunt. Click HERE to visit the page and enjoy past episodes.

And now

. . . drum roll . . .

The Final Episode of A Great Nephew and a Great Aunt

Penny’s Poem

Before you take a look at Landon’s art, I wanted to make a few comments about it. Landon wanted to do something special for our last episode. He wanted to draw AND animate his illustration! He spent hours (and I mean hours!) getting the art just right for 3-D animation. It’s so wonderful and amazing that I don’t even have words. As usual he added his special creative touch by having Santa tip his hat to reveal a surprise. Not only that … he also included the special object that he’s hidden in his drawings throughout our series. After all, his art wouldn’t be the same without his trusty pencil…right?

Let’s have another

. . . drum roll . . .

Landon’s Art

So there you have it! The final episode of A Great Nephew and a Great Aunt. Thank you so much for following our series.  I’ve looked forward to hearing from our follower-friends every Friday. It wouldn’t have been the same without your interaction in the comments. ❤

Have a wonderful holiday season with family and friends!

Frankenbunny by Jill Esbaum + a GIVEAWAY!!!

Today I’m excited to have Jill Esbaum on my blog. Jill has written a slew of amazing picture books and Frankenbunny is her latest release. It is a delightful book that I have read many, many times since it arrived in the mail.

Jill has agreed to have a conversation about Frankenbunny. But first, the synopsis:

“You know monsters aren’t real, right?”
Brave is easy in the sunshine. Brave is easy near Papa. But can Spencer the Bunny learn to be brave ALL the time—even when his big brothers try their best to scare him?
Spencer the Bunny’s big brothers ALWAYS frighten him with scary monster stories. And the most terrifying beast of all is Frankenbunny, with his crusty fangs, flashing red eyes, and ginormous paws. But when Spencer discovers that his brothers made the whole thing up, he hatches a plan to turn the tables on them and conquer his own fears . . . forever.
Any child who has ever worried about a monster in the closet or felt scared in the dark will love this humorous story about learning to be brave.

And this nice snippet from Kirkus Reviews:

“A good choice for younger sibs terrorized by older ones or for kids who need a reminder that monsters aren’t real.”

Now for the inside scoop from Jill 😀

Penny: I’m impressed at how expertly you captured the universal childhood fear of monsters. Even though as children, we’re told they aren’t real, and logically we don’t “think” they are real…all it takes is a sibling (or a kid in the neighborhood or a kid at school) to raise doubts. I have three sisters and I can tell you that there were plenty monster stories creeping around our house. So I can relate.

Jill: Oh, man. Me, too! My older brother was soooo good at making me rethink truths … like the fact that I KNEW there was nothing in our basement at night that wasn’t also there during the daylight hours. But ask me to go down there alone after dark? No way! Not after the time he sent me down there for something, then flipped off the light, slammed the stairtop door, and called a spooky, “Wooooooo…” to freak me out. Forever after, I was afraid something would grab me down there, even in the daytime. When I HAD to go to the basement, I’d get whatever I needed (quickly) and be halfway back up the steps, congratulating myself for surviving, when it would occur to me that somebody/something could still reach BETWEEN THE STEPS to grab one of my ankles. My feet could not carry me up fast enough! I went around with skinned shins more often than not.

Penny: Frankenbunny is a genius title. When I think of bunnies, I think “cute and cuddly,” which is the exact opposite of monsters.  Because of that, the thought of a monster bunny seems unconventional and funny. It’s a title that drew me in and made me want to read the book and find out more. So how/why did you decide that the big, bad, crusty-fanged, ginormous-pawed, red-eyed monster would be a bunny?

Jill: Thanks, Penny. I’ve wanted to write a “scary” story for a long time. But every time I tried to write one with human kiddos, it got TOO scary. Finally, I decided to try one with the most harmless creatures I could imagine – sweet little bunnies. That’s when the title came to me. A bunny-monster, I hoped, would be terrifying to bunnies, but not so scary to kids.

Penny: One of the hardest things about writing for children is making the story relatable. These lines are some of my favorite lines in the book!

“Brave is easy in the sunshine.”
“Brave is easy around Papa.”
“Brave is hard in the dark!”

They’re perfectly placed in the story and are seriously relatable. Also they bring so much “heart” to the story. I’m curious. Did these lines come to you in early drafts, or did you find your way to them as you revised?

Jill: Thanks, Penny. Those lines didn’t come to me until many, many revisions into the story, when I realized it needed a framework, and yes, more heart. Honestly, I worked on this one for a couple of years before I got to a manuscript that felt right. Older versions were submitted and rejected. Rejection: the great revision motivator.

Penny: Along the same lines … “heart” is the thing that brings readers back to a picture book for multiple readings. It’s the elusive element that every writer strives for. Do you have a way of assessing your manuscripts for the “heart” factor? Or any tips for those writers who struggle with bringing “heart” to their stories?

Jill: Yikes, good question! Heart is a tough story element. It isn’t something you can just stick it in somewhere. It needs to be infused throughout the story. The best way to find a story’s heart is to really put yourself into your main character’s head. You have to feel the emotions s/he’s experiencing. Get your protagonist’s false belief/fear/yearning in line, and heart will arise organically.

Penny: The illustrations in this book by Alice Brereton couldn’t be more perfect. They’re incredible and fit the tone of the text to a tee. Most of the time the editor at the publishing house picks the illustrator. Was that the case with Frankenbunny? Did you see early sketches or did you see the art later in the process? What was your reaction when you saw the art?

Jill: Yes, my editor picked Alice to illustrate this story. When I saw her early sketches I was overjoyed – and, of course, trying to picture them in color. I could do that, sort of, by looking at Alice’s work on her website. She has an uncanny ability to capture whimsy and darkness simultaneously. Exactly what FRANKENBUNNY needed.

Penny: Now that you’ve all heard about Frankenbunny I’ll be you are thinking what I’m thinking . . . Frankenbunny would make a great Christmas gift for a child!! And speaking of books for children, one thing I’ve noticed since I’ve been immersed in the world of children’s books is that many people aren’t familiar with newer titles. I have friends that are constantly asking me for picture book suggestions for their children or grandchildren. In the spirit of the season, I thought it would be fun for you to spread some cheer by recommending current books by other authors that could be wrapped up and put under the tree … along with Frankenbunny, of course 😀
I know there are a bunch of great ones, so how about giving us five recommendations?

Jill: My current favorite is Creepy Pair of Underwear. For other favorites, just read back through my posts on my group blog, Picture Book Builders. 

Penny: Wow! If you read through Jill’s blog posts over at Picture Book Builders you will find plenty of book recommendations.
Thanks for coming by and telling us more about Frankenbunny, Jill.

Jill: Thanks, Penny. I always love visiting with you!

GIVEAWAY! Lucky readers! You can win a copy of Frankenbunny. All you have to do to be in the drawing is leave a comment below by midnight December 21st. (CST)
Those who enter must have a US address.

You can learn more about Jill Esbaum and her wonderful books on her website. http://www.jillesbaum.com/

A Great Nephew and a Great Aunt Guests: Janee Trasler and Miles

Ants may rule the hill, but they don’t rule here! Art by Landon

Thanks to Diane at Random Noodling for hosting the Poetry Friday Roundup today. If you’d like to know more about Poetry Friday, click HERE for an explanation by Renee LaTulippe.

Hello Friends! Just In case you haven’t visited before, let me tell you a little about A Great Nephew and A Great Aunt. My great nephew, Landon (now an eighth-grader) and I (his great aunt) collaborate. I write a poem which he illustrates. We started this collaboration in the fall of 2014 and had so much fun with it that we decided to invite others along. Landon and I will continue to have a new episode on one Friday of each month. The other Fridays are filling up quickly with guests sharing poetry and art in beautiful collaborations. I have created a page on my website to view all the episodes of A Great Nephew and a Great Aunt. Click HERE to visit the page and enjoy past episodes.

Today it’s my pleasure to share a creative collaboration from . . .

Fake-Aunt Janee Trasler and Her Fake-Nephew Miles

From Janee: Miles is the son of my friend (and super children’s librarian) Leigh. Miles is four years old. He calls me Andy Janee, which is his adorable version of Auntie Janee. My poem was inspired by a piece of art that Miles created at school.

Miles’s Art

Andy Janee’s Poem

The Collaborators

Miles Creating More Art

Miles reading…er…shaking one of Andy Janee’s books.

Many thanks to Miles and Andy Janee for sharing their talents with us today. They are a delightful pair!


Meet Janee: Janee is a children’s book author and illustrator. Her recent most books include the CHICKIES board book series from Harper Collins and two MIMI AND BEAR picture books from FSG. Janee is also a puppeteer and a singer in a trio. She lives in Grapevine, Texas with her imported husband, her domestic puppies, and her squeaky little guinea pig Nibbles. In addition to every coffee shop in town, Janee works at The Birdhouse, her studio in Covington, Texas, where once a month, you can also find her and her friends singing and playing music.

Website: http://www.trasler.com
Birdhouse: http://thebirdhouse-covingtontx.blogspot.com/

A Great Nephew and a Great Aunt: Liam and Penny

poetry friday buttonThanks to Lisa at Steps and Staircases for hosting the Poetry Friday Roundup today. If you’d like to know more about Poetry Friday, click HERE for an explanation by Renee LaTulippe.

Ants may rule the hill, but they don’t rule here! Art by Landon

Hello Friends! Just In case you haven’t visited before, let me tell you a little about A Great Nephew and A Great Aunt. My great nephew, Landon (now an eighth-grader) and I (his great aunt) collaborate. I write a poem which he illustrates. We started this collaboration in the fall of 2014 and had so much fun with it that we decided to invite others along. Landon and I will continue to have a new episode on one Friday of each month. The other Fridays are filling up quickly with guests sharing poetry and art in beautiful collaborations. I have created a page on my website to view all the episodes of A Great Nephew and a Great Aunt. Click HERE to visit the page and enjoy past episodes.

Today Landon’s younger brother, Liam, is collaborating with me. This is the first time for Liam and I to collaborate. Liam sent me a special request…via snail mail! As you can imagine, I was very impressed and excited when I received his letter expressing his interest in illustrating a poem. Liam did join in on a post that included all of my great nieces and nephews in October...thus the reference to the pumpkin pie/jack-o-lantern. But he’d never been the “feature” artist. When I received his letter, the November post had already been solidified and so I moved on to December. I’d already written a poem. In reading Liam’s request, I decided that he could interpret my poem without any trouble. Just the mention of cartoons and a funny twist seemed to imply that Liam would read my words and come up with a creative spin. And he did just that! I’m super impressed with his interpretation and his artwork! He did an amazing job! And the funny twist had me giggling!

Enjoy our collaboration!

Penny’s Poem

Liam’s Art

100% Cotton Candy Underpants! Ho! Ho! Ho! Very funny! And how I love that Santa wears polka dots! It was delightful to get a peek at his wardrobe.

Thanks to all of you for joining us today. I appreciate you coming by to read A Great Nephew and a Great Aunt! Come back next week when I’ll have guest collaborators.

A Great Nephew and a Great Aunt Guests: Tammi Sauer and Her Niece, Adalie

Ants may rule the hill, but they don’t rule here! Art by Landon

Thanks to Mary Lee at A Year of Reading for hosting the Poetry Friday Roundup today. If you’d like to know more about Poetry Friday, click HERE for an explanation by Renee LaTulippe.

Hello Friends! Just In case you haven’t visited before, let me tell you a little about A Great Nephew and A Great Aunt. My great nephew, Landon (now an eighth-grader) and I (his great aunt) collaborate. I write a poem which he illustrates. We started this collaboration in the fall of 2014 and had so much fun with it that we decided to invite others along. Landon and I will continue to have a new episode on one Friday of each month. The other Fridays are filling up quickly with guests sharing poetry and art in beautiful collaborations. I have created a page on my website to view all the episodes of A Great Nephew and a Great Aunt. Click HERE to visit the page and enjoy past episodes.

Today it’s my pleasure to share a creative collaboration from . . .

Tammi Sauer and Her Niece, Adalie

From Tammi: For this collaboration, I wanted Adalie to draw a picture to inspire my poem rather than the other way around. Seeing Adalie’s fun and festive picture of Bolt filled me with the Christmas spirit. Fa-la-la-la-la-!

Adalie’s Art

In case you were wondering, Bolt is a real tortoise. See?

Tammi’s Poem

Many thanks to Adalie and Tammi for sharing their talents with us today. What a merry and bright way to start December!


 

 

Meet Adalie: Adalie is eight and a half years old and is a full time third grader. She lives in Kansas with her dad, mom, little brother, two dogs, and, of course, Bolt.


Meet Tammi: Tammi Sauer is a full time children’s book author who presents at schools and conferences across the nation. In addition to winning awards, Tammi’s books have gone on to do great things. CHICKEN DANCE has been made into a musical and is currently on a national tour, NUGGET & FANG was a featured book at the 2015 Scholastic Book Fair, and YOUR ALIEN, an NPR Best Book of the Year, was recently released in Italian, Spanish, Korean, and French which makes her feel extra fancy. Tammi’s latest books are CARING FOR YOUR LION and TRUCK, TRUCK, GOOSE!

Website:  tammisauer.com
Twitter:  @SauerTammi
Blog:  picturebookbuilders.com