Review—The Muffin Man

9781632903648_int01From the Tangled Tunes series of Cantata Learning, “The Muffin Man” is a delightful storybook/music/CD combo package that sets the scene for the song story about “The Muffin Man,” who bakes and sells delicious muffins, and lives on Drury Lane. Bright, comical, stylized illustrations reminiscent of the 50’s and 60’s decorate each page of treasured song lyrics, encouraging children to imagine the tale themselves as they hear and sing along with the song. A funny brown dog named Cupcake accompanies the Muffin Man throughout his day, cleaning up stray crumbs and spills with hilarious efficiency, and shepherding the baker home from his shop when the day is done.
—Children’s Bookwatch

Magic E

owlRecently, I’ve been working on a series of books involving Magic E, an owlish wizard who knows a little word trickery. With a wave of his wand and a flick of his wrist, he changes the vowels sounds of words like pin, tub, can, and cap by adding an E to the end of them.

The book in this series are going to be outlandish stories with some fun word play. In one story, Magic E sends Tim the porcupine back in time—get it, add an e to Tim and you get time! In another, he teaches a cod to read secret codes. Chuck the Duck goes from being a dud to a cool dude, and Sam has his cap turned into a magical cape.

These stories really allowed me to let some of my goofiness out into the world. And to top it off, I once again get to work with the amazing Luke Flowers. He’s illustrated my retelling of The Muffin Man, and also worked on a few titles that will be coming out this summer. His work is incredibly fun, and from the initial sketch of Magic E, I can tell he’s going to capture the playfulness of this series.

Stay tuned for more.

The Muffin Man — Review

9781632903648_cvrMost adults know the muffin man by now, but many will have never heard the story in quite this way! Author Blake Hoena has given the intrepid baker and his beloved Drury Lane bakery a new daily routine, turning the Muffin Man into an early riser who makes a wide variety of muffins to tempt the passers-by. At the end of the day, the store is empty and everyone is happy. This cute picture book is written in such a way that every page can be sung to the melody of the classic children’s song; in fact, the book even includes a CD featuring a recording of the full song, complete with toe-tappingly catchy music. Illustrations by Luke Flowers are delightfully cartoony, full of bright colors, and young readers will be smiling along with the people in the book as they go through every page. This is a fun addition to the library of any young reader . . . Great for the preschool crowd.

—San Francisco Book Review

Can You Survive a Supervolcano Eruption?

9781491481080Taking a trip to Yellowstone National Park? Well, here’s a must read. Not because a supervolcano is ever likely to happen there again, but because it’s my newest title to hit the bookshelves.

Summary: A supervolcano has erupted! Its eruption is thousands of times larger than a normal volcano. Huge amounts of lava and ash threaten all life in the area. You’re a visitor to the park when the eruption occurs. Will you stay to monitor the volcano, or evacuate to safety? When YOU CHOOSE what to do next, the choices you make could mean the difference between life and death. Can you survive a supervolcano?

Ballpark Eats: Recipes Inspired by America’s Baseball Stadiums

9781623706470

Baseball is just around the corner, and that means ballpark food: hot dogs, nachos, and cheese curds. The recipes in this new cookbook aren’t mine, though, I plan to try several of them. But I provided the write ups on each of the ballparks.

Summary: Forget peanuts and Cracker Jacks! Americas Ballparks now offer a dizzying array of edible options. These make-like stadium recipes give young chefs and sports fans a culinary road trip at home. From the famous fish tacos at the Giantss AT&T Park in San Francisco to the mouthwatering Cuban sandwich at the Tampa Bay Rayss Tropicana Field, these diamond dishes are perfect for any seventh-inning stretch. Produced in partnership with Sports Illustrated KIDS.

The Adventures of Big Blue and the Capt’n

A project I had been working on this summer has finally come to fruition, and just in time for Christmas! The Adventures of Big Blue and the Capt’n, with Hari the Tiger, is a picture book I cowrote with Ben Young, a worldwide adventurer who has a deep desire to help educate people about the preservation of endangered species. He had an idea for two characters, both endangered animals: Big Blue, a blue whale, and the Capt’n, a green sea turtle. Their goal is to teach children about the endangered animals they meet as they travel the world. Ben asked for my help creating a story around Big Blue and the Capt’n, using some of his personal experiences. He’s been to Indonesia, where this story takes place. He’s also seen the animals and places mentioned in this book. In the end, I hope what we created helps make people more aware of the threats to some of the world’s most amazing and endangered animals.

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And YES, there will also be plush toys of Big Blue and the Capt’n for sale.

Available at http://store.discovery.com

 

What I’m Reading

So, for a third month in a row I have a “What I’m Reading” post. That’s a record, and I credit it with my recent use of public transportation. I won’t bother with all the cost and environmental benefits of taking the city bus, but I will say that my rides to the studio provide a great transition between rushing to the get the kids off to school and me sitting my butt down at my desk to work. My mind and body get the needed time to wake while I can indulge in one of my favorite hobbies: reading.

Last months reads:

  • The Vengekeep Prophecies by Brian Farrey (enjoyed this one so much that I ordered books 2 & 3 in the series)
  • A Hitch at the Fairmont by Jim Averbeck

Orange You Glad

With kids underfoot, jokes are aplenty in our household, whether we’re making up songs or sneaking up on each other or retelling a funny one we heard earlier in the day. We share a lot of laughter.

Admittedly, I tell a few stinkers—not fart jokes, but jokes that bomb. I get my share of eye rolls and “seriously!”s and patronizing smirks. But I’ve learned that without failure, there can be no success. This is very true of telling jokes and writing funny stories. So I keep trying.

My most recent attempts have been in my Jokes and Jingles series, children’s books that retell knock-knock jokes in song (AND graphic novel format). Here’s a sketch from Orange You Glad. It is the story of how Susie Loo goes looking for a snack and gets harassed by an annoying banana. It might be my favorite of the bunch—at least I think it’s the funniest.

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Boo Who?

 

I have been exercising my funny bone this fall with graphic novel adaptations of knock-knock jokes for my Jokes and Jingles series. The fun part about writing these children’s books?—the kids and I tell these jokes (and some weird variations of them) around the house.

Here’s is a sketch from Boo Hoo? I turned it into a story about a girl named Betty who is playing hide-and-seek with her friends.

JJ_BooWho_F16_tp_102315_Page_07I knew the publisher, Cantata Learning, was interested in creating easy-to-read graphic novels in a picture book trim size. So I suggested joke books, and I feels the knock-knock jokes turned out to be a perfect for this format. It’s easy to see and read the back and forth that sets up the punch lines.

What I’m Reading

Another month of riding public transportation: most days I ride the city bus with the boy to his school and then hop on the light rail to my studio. And another month during which I was able to tackle a number of books that have been collecting dust on my to-read pile.

  • Randoms by David Liss (Oct. Guy’s Read Book Club book)
  • Brooklyn Burning by Steve Brezenoff (a local St Paul author)
  • The Marvels by Brian Selsznick (since I read Wonder Struck last month)
  • The Night Gardener by Johnathan Auxier (this one was actually a Christmas gift two years ago)