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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

So it's Leap Day...now what?

My children love to celebrate. We honor every holiday we can, especially if we can eat a special food with it. Any excuse to dine!

So I was sure there must be an official food for Leap Day (and hoped that it wouldn't be frog legs). I set to work, googling it, but came up empty handed. In fact, I didn't find any Leap Day traditions that would work for my family. So I have to come up with my own plan. I've asked some friends around the office for help and this is what I've come up with.

According to a few of my co-workers, this extra day should be spend goofing off and doing as we please, but the kiddos had school and we had work. Therefore our celebration is limited to an early evening affair. I think we will have to play a game of leap frog, followed by a dance party to the Kriss Kross classic, "Jump". According to editorial director Michael Dahl, leap day is a magic day so the laws of time do not apply. This means no one ages on this day, and more importantly, calories don't count. So it doesn't matter what we eat, as long as it is decadent and delicious.

I have to ask...do you have any Leap Day traditions? We are always looking for more ways to have fun. In the meantime, it's DANCE PARTY TIME!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Great Baby Gifts

I feel like I am surrounded by people who are pregnant. In a span of four weeks at work, three people are going to have babies. Crazy!

If you are in this same situation, I have some great gift suggestions for new babies and/or siblings. As a bonus, I can promise the books aren't miserable for the parents to read.

Little Boost Picture Books Henry Helps Toddler Books

Hello Genius Board Books

Monday, February 20, 2012

Return to Titanic in Publisher's Weekly

As an editor, it's easy to get attached to the books you're working on. Not only is it a huge time commitment, it's an emotional investment as well when you're involved in a project from start to finish. That's why I'm so proud of our Return to Titanic series, an extra-special, close-to-my-heart project (and not just because I'm obsessed with the movie - Jack and Rose forever!). Written by the wonderful Steve Brezenoff and illustrated by the talented Scott Murphy, these books are some of the most exciting I've worked on as an editor. Seeing all the great reviews the series has been receiving lately makes me feel like a proud mother. In fact, the first book in the series, Time Voyage, just got a great mention in Publisher's Weekly. Check out the full review here!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Awesome has a name: Zeke Meeks

I had the pleasure of working on our new Zeke Meeks series for the last year. This series is so ingenious and funny, it will bring you to tears. Yeah, funny even for a grown girl like me. (Please notice I did not called myself a grown-up, I'm not . . . yet anyways.)

I wanted to share the funky eureka process with everyone out there and unveil some of the little secrets of this project on the visual side.

Nine months ago I brought the first manuscript home and showed it to my daughters. We read it together and laughed hysterically. Now, my job was to output this great content correctly. Panic . . . terror . . . all of it started to set in. Part of our job as art directors or book designers is being the matchmaker between the story, visuals, and audience.

I looked for an illustrator for a month. No luck. One day I decided to post something ridiculous about my illustrator search on twitter: "Looking for an awesome illustrator for a chapter book that knows comedy & enjoys irony at its best.” (I thought it sounded smart at the time, really I did.) Many submissions came along, and I knew I had found the perfect match for Zeke in illustrator Josh Alves. Why? He understood cleverness and irony when it came to illustrating, and his style said Zeke all over it. I pitched Josh the project, he loved it, and was a shoo-in.

Now I had the awesome story and the great illustrator, but I still needed the design to glue the parts together. It was one of the most challenging and involved developments I've done. I produced more than 30 versions of the covers before Michael Dahl, back from one of his many trips, dropped a magazine on my desk with a post-it that read: "Cool inspiration for Zeke." It was a high fashion magazine. I stared at it, completely puzzled. Then I got an email from Michael explaining the magazine on my desk. It was a crazy idea, and it was perfect. I laughed, grabbed a piece of paper, sketched and doodled like a first grader, and that was that.

I simply asked myself, “What would Zeke say about his own covers?” I could hear a little voice inside my head. The coolest guy you'll ever meet. My hair looks awesome. Panic makes my eyes go big. (maybe too big, not my best feature.) No TV is scarier than a horror movie. I visualized the design entwined with the text, the branding, and Josh's illustrations. It was a total eureka moment.

This project was a full-throttle collaboration of the creative team, sales and marketing, and many other people. It was a super crazy process, but in the end it turned out exactly like Zeke Meeks—completely awesome!

One month after being released, these books seem to be flying off the shelves! Which it makes us all grin proud with excitement. If you get the chance to check them out at the your library or local bookstore, let us know what your thoughts are! We can't wait to hear from you!

Friday, February 10, 2012

February Is Holiday Heavy

You always remember Valentine's Day, but what about the 100th day of school, President's Day, and Groundhog Day? (I'll be honest —none of these seem that important until you have a child in school. Then every other day you have a letter about bringing something in for another event).

On top of all these special "holidays", it's I love to read month. (Seriously February, way to hog all the events.) My daughter has been talking about DEAR (drop everything and read ) time at school. Although she is a little crabbier since DEAR takes the place of rest/quiet time, I still think it's a great idea.

So even though this holiday heavy month might be tough on parents of school-aged kids (especially since these holidays don't come with any time off), do your best to enjoy each one and encourage more reading.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

New for Young Readers!

Check out this photo of some of our new books on the shelf at a local (Edina) Barnes and Noble store. There's Zeke Meeks at the top and Kylie Jean on the third shelf down.

We love to see our books out and about!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

How the Giants won the Superbowl

Want to know how the Giants won the Superbowl?
They had the support of the real-life Katie Woo!

Katie is author Fran Manushkin's great niece.
Luckily, she doesn't get in half the trouble of the Katie Woo in the books — so far.