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You can read more about our company at www.capstonepub.com.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Check out Capstone Connect

Art director Bob Lentz has shared some great photos of San Diego Comic Con International 2011 over on the Capstone Connect blog. Check it out!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Creative Memories

I am currently reading this fascinating book called, How To Think Like A Great Graphic Designer. The title is somewhat misleading because the book is not loaded with tips and tricks on how to become a design wonder, but instead, it is a collection of interviews with some of the best designers in the industry. The first question asked of each designer is, what was your first creative memory, which got me thinking about my own life and what some of my first creative experiences were.

My mom always had a card table set up in our basement that my dad had somehow shortened so it was my height, where an assortment of crayons, paper, watercolors, etc, were out and available for me to use. So much of my young life was spent around that table either by myself or with my friends. We made paper dolls, valentines, (which were a HUGE deal, we would start making them the day after Christmas!) and I also remember giving my friend a hair cut at that table. I think the scissors were removed for a while after that incident!

Anyway, it's interesting to think that such a simple thing like a table with some markers on it could have such an impact on my life and create such fond memories. I love these types of stories so now I would like to know, what are some of your first creative memories? We would love to hear about them!

Monday, July 25, 2011

This book is dedicated to . . .

This is my mom. She is a woman of many talents, like all good mothers are. But I will always associate my mom with her skilled sewing. She made me many dresses growing up. When MC Hammer and his pants were in fashion, she sewed me Hammer pants far wider — and therefore more superior — than any you could find in a store. She sewed fourteen sundresses for the flower girls at my wedding. And she sewed my daughter's baptismal gown.

My latest picture book, Ruth's Pink Pajamas, features a young raccoon who wants to wear her pajamas all the time — even when it is not appropriate. But to me, the story is as much about Ruth's mother as it is about Ruth. Like my mom, Mama Raccoon is savvy with her stitching. And in the end, she is the hero of our book.

Obviously, I see a lot of my mom in that mother raccoon. So when it came time to dedicate the book, the choice was clear. My dedication reads: To my mom, Marjorie, for more reasons than I could list. But maybe I should have added a line: To my mom, Marjorie, for more reasons than I could list . . . but especially for my Hammer pants.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Double, Double, Toil and Trouble: My experience editing four Shakespearean graphic novels

Warning: this post contains groan-inducing Shakespearean phrase usage.

Initially, we planned on using the original Shakespearean language for our Shakespeare Graphic Novels, new for Fall 2011. However, we realized something was rotten in the state of Denmark when the books were assigned a “Z” reading level; in other words, far beyond the age of our readers. So, with little time left before the books were due to be printed, it fell to this unfortunate editor to translate all four books into modern English. Woe is me, I thought. It’s only spring, yet now is the winter of my discontent.

Nevertheless, I refused to water down Shakespeare; our readers deserve better. No, I wanted these books to stand out from all other adaptations. It is I who should suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune — not librarians and students!

So, over the next few weeks, I pored over countless reference materials and play adaptations. While I became exceedingly well read, the process made me want to shuffle off this mortal coil; converting the text took about a week per book, or ~160 work hours total. But there was a method to my madness: we retained the Shakespearean language of five select phrases per book; they’re bolded in the text, then explained in straightforward detail in the back matter. This way, readers will get a taste of Shakespearean language without feeling overwhelmed, enabling them to enjoy the stories and be prepared to tackle the plays themselves when the time comes.

Please forgive me for the dramatics; while exhausting, the process was worth the toil and trouble when I saw these beauties grace my desk. Our illustrators turned in all-star performances. Brann, the books’ designer, understands that all that glitters is not gold; thus, he put in long hours to fill these books with shine and substance. Both of us have seen better days, but we’re recovering. Perhaps my fretting was much ado about nothing, after all.

This is the short and the long of it: three talented writers, several gifted illustrators, one burnt-out designer, and this weary editor strived long and hard to bring you these spectacular books. All’s well that ends well, as they say. Now if you’ll please excuse me, I have not slept a wink since this project began. I need a nap — a long one. Move over, Yorick.

- Sean Tulien, Editor

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

New stuff: Henry Helps!

Toddlers absolutely love helping. It's a fact. I'm pretty sure everyone knows that. Granted, their help isn't necessarily helpful in the true definition of the word, but getting toddlers and preschoolers involved in household tasks serves more than just putting them to work. It's actually the best predictor of their future success, according to a study done at the University of Minnesota. (Props to the awesome ECFE teacher who mentioned the study during parent time!)

I'm the parent of a very helpful nearly-three-year-old, so when I heard that, I knew that thinking up great ways for my kid to help was one easy way I could help instill important values in my child. Sam helps me bake bread (I measure the flour and let him add it a spoonful at a time, and we knead together until he gets bored). He mops and "flashes" the kitchen floor—I'm not sure what the "flashing" is accomplishing, but to him, it's an important part of the job. He sets the table. He shovels snow. He puts away his books. He puts the toppings on pizza and greases muffin tins and stirs (a lot). He even has his own special safe knife for chopping vegetables. Helping has not only given him confidence in his abilities, but it's also given us a great, fun way to spend time together and make routine parts of my life a little more interesting. 

Plus, it seemed like an awesome idea for a set of books. And thus, Henry Helps was born. It's a series of four books (with more to come) featuring Henry, a helpful little boy who loves being involved in his family's daily chores. Like all little kids, Henry loves to help. He helps with his baby sister. He helps with the dog. He helps his dad prepare dinner. And he helps his mom do the laundry. The tasks Henry completes are totally manageable for most little kids. But they're actual important parts of each process. Sure, it takes a bit longer to rely on a three- or four-year old to mash up an avocado for guacamole. And you might end up with more of a mess if your toddler is helping to give the dog a bath or sort clothes for laundry day. Your kid can't feed and burp a baby, but he can fetch a burp cloth or a bib for you. 

Becoming part of a home's rhythm is a very important part of a little kid's development. And creating a home rhythm is an important part of being a family. Check out all of the Henry books on our website.

Friday, July 15, 2011


"In every moment of time, two sides exist — one good and one evil. Each side has a story, and each its own point of view. One event. Two perspectives. The choice is up to you." And so begins each book in our BRAND NEW graphic novel series GOOD VS EVIL…!

In these four books, one action-packed story is told from two perspectives — the GOOD perspective and the EVIL perspective. Check out the interiors spreads below, and you’ll see that readers can follow the BLUE story along the top, the RED story along the bottom, or read them BOTH AT THE SAME TIME!

These dual stories, along with limited text, promote both VISUAL LITERACY and REPEATED READINGS. But don’t take my word for it! Check out what the experts are saying...

“I found myself rereading and reading for detail — both valuable behaviors. Struggling readers in particular are not good at this, and this story encourages this kind of effective reading behavior. In addition, the story's reliance on visuals challenges strong readers who are accustomed to relying on words rather than pictures.”
—Nancy Frey, Professor of Literacy at San Diego State University and author of Teaching Visual Literacy: Using Comic Books, Graphic Novels, Anime, Cartoons, And More To Develop Comprehension And Thinking Skills.

“Just because it’s nearly wordless doesn’t mean it doesn’t require a great deal of thinking, predicting, questioning, inferring, and monitoring. I can see a lot of great instructional correlations to this work.”
—Terry Thompson, Literacy Coach and author of Adventures in Graphica: Using Comics and Graphic Novels to Teach Comprehension, 2–6.

-Donnie Lemke, Managing Editor

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Best of Friends: Max and Zoe

When Max was introduced in 2004, he starred in early readers as a kindergartner. Well, Max is back in a new early chapter book seres. Now he is in second grade and shares the spotlight with his best friend, Zoe. Max and Zoe have a great friendship that many kids can relate to. They do everything together. From going to the library to playing soccer, these two are always busy. Each Max and Zoe story has a strong character education tie and is written at level.

For the last seven years Max has been a part of my life. I've had my good times and bad times with him, but overall we're on good terms, and I'm happy to be working with him again. :)

Monday, July 11, 2011

More Katie Adventures!

As the editor of Fran Manushkin's Katie Woo series, I am always excited to see what sort of adventures Katie will have next. Fran delights her readers with Katie's stories, and these latest four books are no exception. Here's a peek:

Katie Woo, Where Are You? The Woos are shopping at the mall. Mom is looking for a dress. Dad is looking at lawn mowers. And Katie is looking for a lost boy. But if she's not careful, Katie might get lost too!

Katie and the Class Pet: Katie loves taking care of Binky, her class's guinea pig. But the fun ends when poor Binky gets lost. How will she ever tell her class the bad news?

Katie Woo Has the Flu: Poor Katie. She is under the weather. Her tummy feels weird, she can't go to school, and she's stuck eating boring toast and soup. Being sick is the worst!

Katie's New Shoes: Katie's shoes are getting too small, making her toes hurt. It's time to go shoe shopping. There are lots of fun shoes out there, but only shoes with pizzazz will do!

Friday, July 8, 2011

"Houston, we have a problem."

After 30 years, NASA's space shuttle program is nearing an end. Atlantis launched from Florida this morning with success. I'll be honest, I'm not really a fan of space or space travel. It doesn't really excite or interest me. In fact, I got my worst grade ever in college astronomy (yes, I'm still bitter). However, I will never forget where I was when the Challenger exploded. And while I may never understand why someone would want to travel to space, I can still appreciate the significance of the program to our history and our culture. In fact, I may just have to rent Apollo 13 or Armageddon this weekend to celebrate.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


After a long weekend full of tons of family and friend-time, beaches, picnics, and ice cream, it's hard to come back to work. But work we must, and luckily for me, I've got lots of fun projects going on. Even better, finished copies of our Fall 2011 books are starting to show up in the office! While no one wants fall to come too quickly, at least there will be plenty of great books to keep us company when cold weather returns.

I hope everyone is enjoying summer!

Friday, July 1, 2011


I just got back from a wonderful trip to Chicago for the HOW Design Conference. What an amazing, exhausting and inspiring experience! It was a huge conference, with a couple thousand designers in attendance. There were over 30 speakers, including Gael Towey, Chief Creative Director of Martha Stewart Living magazine and her husband Steven Doyle, who designed the Martha Stewart Living logo (he carved the letters by hand, I should add, which is amazing!). I could go on for paragraphs about all of the great design work I saw, and the inspiring sessions that I attended, but instead I will leave you with a few photos.