Friday, July 29, 2011
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
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 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.
Friday, July 22, 2011
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
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 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!
“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.
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
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
Friday, July 8, 2011
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
I hope everyone is enjoying summer!