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.

Blue&Book_Mock_Up

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.

JJ_OYGlad_F16_tp_102315_Page_09

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)

Chocolate Chimpanzees

Here is a little bit of silliness, a sketch from my song Chocolate Chimpanzees. It is part of a series of tunes based on letter blends, and this one is chock full of chuckles. Two chimps join a chicken on a quest for a treasure chest. They meet a chili eating chinchilla, a checkers-playing chihuahua, and a charango-playing cheetah while chasing after Charlie the chipmunk.

RSL_ChChim_F16_Page_06 Of the handful of songs I’ve written so far, this is my fave. The melody popped into my head one day, and the words just flowed. Not often is something as easy to write as this song was. Or as fun. Now I just need to wait for it to be put to music.

Knock Knock Moo!

Ever since I wrote my first graphic novel, Matthew Henson, Arctic Explorer, I have been fascinated with the format. Sure, some of that has to do with me reading Spider-Man and Batman comics as a youngster. And part of it is that I wish I was better a better artist because I’ve always wanted to draw my own comics. But it’s also because of the added element, the pictures, in telling a story. Sometimes, illustrations can present things is a simpler, more straightforward way than just words, especially when targeting young readers.JJ_KKMoo_F16_Page_07

So recently, I was given the challenge to create graphic novel joke books within a picture book trim and page book. Oh, and they were also to be paired with music. I thought knock-knock jokes would be a perfect fit, and then to the great annoyance of my kids, I began telling and retelling some of the classic knock knock jokes to them.

The above sample is a sketch from Knock, Knock, Moo!, a play off of the interrupting cow joke. Though the farmer in this book has more than just an annoying cow.

What I’m Reading

This year, the boy is in middle school, and not just any middle school. He was accepted to this cool charter school where all the learning is project based. Students take on more responsibility and feel more invested in their education because they develop projects based on their interests in order to meet necessary curriculum goals. I would have loved a school like that.

However, the new school means no school bus. So it’s public transportation for us. The boy was hesitant at first, but is loving it now that’s he’s comfortable taking a city bus. He’s realized that it allows him a little extra gaming time (on his 3Ds) before school, and I like it because it provides with some time to catch up on my reading.

And it’s been great. Here are the books I’ve tackled in the first month of riding the bus.

  • Guy in Real Life by Steve Brezenoff (a local, St Paul author)
  • Wonder Struck by Brian Selsznick
  • The Golden Specific by SE Grove (read the book 1 for our Guy’s Read Book Club, so wanted to read book 2 in the series)
  • The Last Wild by Piers Torday (Septs pick for our Guy’s Read Book Club)