Here’s one of my earliest books. I must have been leaving the graphic design to the book designer. Don’t you love the copyright? Enjoy.
And here’s “my dear and loving Winnie-thur-Pooh.”
Here’s one of my earliest books. I must have been leaving the graphic design to the book designer. Don’t you love the copyright? Enjoy.
And here’s “my dear and loving Winnie-thur-Pooh.”
One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia (2015)
by Miranda Paul, illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon
Plastic bags are cheap and easy to use. But what happens when a bag breaks or is no longer needed? In Njau, Gambia, people simply dropped the bags and went on their way….The bags accumulated in ugly heaps alongside roads. Water pooled in them, bringing mosquitoes and disease….Something had to change. Isatou Ceesay was that change. She found a way to recycle the bags and transform her community. This inspirational true story shows how one person’s actions really can make a difference in our world.
This New York Times Best Illustrated Book is a mostly true and completely stinky story that is sure to make you say, “Pee-yew!” Teaching environmental awareness has become a national priority, and this hilarious book (subtly) drives home the message that we can’t produce unlimited trash without consequences.
This fun and informative book introduces kids to actions they can take to help make the Earth healthier, such as making less garbage, repair-reuse-recycle, composting, planting a tree, or not wasting electricity or water—without being preachy or silly. Colorful graphics and simple explanations of electricity, carbon dioxide, global warming, renewable energy, and the importance of trees and water add meaning to the actions proposed.
The EARTH Book (2011)
by Todd Parr
With his signature blend of playfulness and sensitiviy, Todd Parr explores the important, timely subject of environmental protection and conservation in this eco-friendly picture book. This book includes lots of easy, smart ideas on how we can all work together to make the Earth feel good — from planting a tree and using both sides of the paper, to saving energy and reusing old things in new ways.
The Adventures of a Plastic Bottle: A Story About Recycling (2009)
by Alison Inches, illustrated by Pete Whitehead
Learn about recycling from a new perspective! Peek into this diary of a plastic bottle as it goes on a journey from the refinery plant, to the manufacturing line, to the store shelf, to a garbage can, and finally to a recycling plant where it emerges into it’s new life… as a fleece jacket!
I Can Save the Earth!: One Little Monster Learns to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle (2008)
by Alison Inches and Viviana Garofoli
Meet Max the Little Monster. He is a cute, furry green monster who is an environmental nightmare. Among other things, he leaves on all the lights, keeps his computer plugged in, blasts the TV, hoards his old toys and uses so much toilet paper it clogs the toilet until finally, his excessive ways cause a power outage. With no TV to watch, computer to play on, video games to play with, Max finds there is a whole big world outside that he can make a difference in the environment.
Compost Stew (2014)
by Mary McKenna Siddals, illustrated by Ashley Wolff
Kids everywhere are knowledgeable about the environment and climate change. Not only is composting becoming more common in households and residential gardens, but many school gardens feature compost piles, too. But how do you start a compost pile? What’s safe to include? Perfect for an Earth Day focus or year-round reference, this inviting book provides all the answers for kids and families looking for simple, child-friendly ways to help the planet.
Rachel Carson and Her Book That Changed the World (2014)
by Laurie Lawlor, illustrated by Laura Beingessner
In celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Silent Spring, here is a biography of the pioneering environmentalist. “Once you are aware of the wonder and beauty of earth, you will want to learn about it,” wrote Rachel Carson, the pioneering environmentalist. She wrote Silent Spring, the book that woke people up to the harmful impact humans were having on our planet.
On Earth (2008)
G. Brian Karas
Climb aboard a giant spaceship . . . the Earth! In glorious art, G. Brian Karas illuminates our Earth and its cycles and does a brilliant job of making the concepts of rotation and revolution understandable. As you travel, watch shadows disappear into night, and feel the sun on your face as winter turns into spring. All these amazing things happen because the Earth is constantly in motion, spinning and circling, gliding and tilting. As passengers of the Earth, our voyage never ends!
Common Ground: The Water, Earth, and Air We Share (1997)
by Molly Bang
A simple story of our planet’s natural resources with jewel-like paintings by Caldecott Honor author Molly Bang. Through the example of a shared village green and the growing needs of the townspeople who share it, Molly Bang presents the challenge of handling our planet’s natural resources.
The Tiny Seed (2009)
by Eric Carle
Eric Carle’s classic story of the life cycle of a flower is told through the adventures of a tiny seed. This mini-book includes a piece of detachable seed-embedded paper housed on the inside front cover. Readers can plant the entire piece of paper and watch as their very own tiny seeds grow into beautiful wildflowers.
The Curious Garden (2013)
by Peter Brown
One boy’s quest for a greener world… one garden at a time. While out exploring one day, a little boy named Liam discovers a struggling garden and decides to take care of it. As time passes, the garden spreads throughout the dark, gray city, transforming it into a lush, green world.
When the Wind Blows (2015)
Linda Booth Sweeney
When wind chimes start singing and clouds race across the sky, one little guy knows just what to do—grab his kite! But as the kite soars, the wind picks up even more, and soon he and his grandma are chasing the runaway kite into town. As they pass swirling leaves, bobbing boats, and flapping scarves, breezes become gusts and the sky darkens. Rain is on the way! Can they squeeze in one more adventure before the downpour?
The Snowy Day (1962)
Ezra Jack Keats
In this Caldecott Award-winning book, a small boy named Peter experiences the joy of a snowy day. First published in 1962, this now-classic book broke the color barrier in mainstream children’s publishing. The vivid and ageless illustrations and text, beloved by several generations of readers, have earned a place in the pantheon of great American children’s literature.
Giant Squid (2016)
by Candace Flemin, illustrated by Eric Rohmann
The giant squid is one of the most elusive creatures in the world. As large as whales, they hide beyond reach deep within the sea, forcing scientists to piece together their story from those clues they leave behind.
Sparrow Girl (2009)
by Sara Pennypacker, illustrated by Yoko Tanaka
Ming-Li looked up and tried to imagine the sky silent, empty of birds. It was a terrible thought. Her country’s leader had called sparrows the enemy of the farmers–they were eating too much grain, he said. He announced a great “Sparrow War” to banish them from China, but Ming-Li did not want to chase the birds away.
A Symphony of Whales (2002)
by Steve Schuch, illustrated by Peter Sylvada
Glashka can hear the voices of the whales in her dreams. . . but with that mysterious power comes great responsibility. When she discovers thousands of whales trapped in a rapidly freezing inlet, she knows it is up to her to gather the people of her town to help them. Based on an actual event, this inspiring story follows Glashka and her people as they come to understand the importance of all life.
Owl Moon (1987)
by Jane Yolen, illustrated by John Schoenherr
Late one winter night a little girl and her father go owling. The trees stand still as statues and the world is silent as a dream. Whoo-whoo-whoo, the father calls to the mysterious nighttime bird. But there is no answer. Wordlessly the two companions walk along, for when you go owling you don’t need words. You don’t need anything but hope. Sometimes there isn’t an owl, but sometimes there is.
Swan Sky (1988)
Despite the devoted attentions of her family, a young swan is unable to accompany them on the journey to their summer home.
Check out Tejima’s books!
Swallows and Amazons (1930)
by Arthur Ransome
The first title in Arthur Ransome’s classic series, originally published in 1930: for children, for grownups, for anyone captivated by the world of adventure and imagination. Swallows and Amazons introduces the lovable Walker family, the camp on Wild Cat Island, the able-bodied catboat Swallow, and the two intrepid Amazons, Nancy and Peggy Blackett.
I look at the shelf with my childhood books and see the world. By the time I was ten years old, I’d made friends with children living in Scotland, Africa, and Tibet, among other countries. Some introduced me to everyday lives that were both different and the same as mine. Others, showed me that not getting along with people who are different is a global problem.
Wee Gillis in Wee Gillis by Munro Leaf brings his lowland-highland family together…
Marcel in All Alone by Claire Huchet Bishop brings a French village together…
and fighting koala bears in The Bear Party by William Pene Du Bois get along when they dress up in costumes from around the world.
In Miss Happiness and Miss Flower by Rumer Godden, I felt Nona’s loneliness as she struggles to adapt to living with her English relatives, missing the life she knew as an only child in India. Together we built a Japanese dollhouse and navigated sibling relationships.
At a young age I absorbed concepts many adults still haven’t grasped. If all children grew up with these or similar books, we might live in a world in which all people are welcome and treated with respect.
Here are a few more books that made me who I am:
Post a comment with the title of a multicultural children’s book that made a lasting impression on you…or send me an email!
Some recent shots taken with my iPhone camera.
I didn’t know burgers ate grass, or anything else for that matter!
Since ancient times, Jews have celebrated the New Year of Trees on the 15th of the month of Shvat (February 10 at sundown in 2017). In Israel, the cold, rainy winter is coming to an end and flowering almond trees announce the arrival of spring.
Today, in Israel and the diaspora, TuBishvat has become the Jewish Earth Day and I’m pleased that Jewish educators are planning to include What On Earth Can We Do? in their Tu BiShvat and Tikkun Olam (repairing the world) programming.
In honor of Tu BiShvat, I’ve compiled a selection of my photographs and drawings of trees.
It’s been 15 years since Scholastic Inc. published Hanukkah: A Counting Book in English Hebrew, and Yiddish. In 2011, with over 170,000 copies out in the world (hardback, paperback, and board book), I felt it was time to create a book for older children. The result was Hanukkah Coloring & Activity Book.
Never satisfied, this year I created seven new activities that led to a cover redesign. Now children — and adults — will have even more fun learning key Hebrew words and symbols in the Hanukkah story. There’s even a tzedakah activity to encourage families to donate food and toys to those in need.
Back in 2004, I thought hard to come up with a family activity that would be in the spirit of playing dreidel and complement Hanukkah: A Counting Book in English Hebrew, and Yiddish. One card game grew to three as a way to teach numbers, colors, and Hanukkah symbols in English and Hebrew, the final product being Hanukkah Card Games.
After all my thinking, what did I discover? Playing card games on Hanukkah is an old Jewish custom!
“In all the communities they decreed not to play cards all year long except for Hanukkah and Purim when they allowed it.” —R. Yosef Yuzpe Kashman Segal of Frankfurt, 1718
This is the first of posts about the people to whom my books have been dedicated.
My dedication in The Kids’ Fun Book of Jewish Time reads, “Dedicated with love to my mom, my first and best editor.” This wasn’t a slight to my Scholastic and Jewish Lights editors, who were great, but my mom brought constructive criticism to another level. Accepting the criticism wasn’t easy, but it was what I needed to hear. “The pictures are great, but the text?” Growing up, my sister and I knew that showing homework to our mom — only double-spaced on a yellow legal pad — meant we’d have to rewrite it, at least once.
After we went to sleep, my mom worked late into the night copyediting hefty manuscripts, aided by cigarettes and coffee. As a freelancer, she worked on books by Joyce Carol Oates, Robertson Davies, Dick Gregory, and others. I knew she’d worked with Saul Bellow on The Adventures of Augie March on-staff at the Viking Press, but it wasn’t until a friend asked, “Have you edited any authors we might know?” that I heard her say, “Steinbeck.” Working with Steinbeck on East of Eden, she managed to sneak his dedication past Pascal Covici (Steinbeck’s editor and my mom’s boss), to whom the book is dedicated.
My mom’s library was arranged alphabetically, so my literary education began with Anderson and moved on to Austen, Bellow, Brontë, Davies, Dos Passos, Eliot, and on. Until her death at the age of 96, she was still reading books, The New Yorker, and The New York Times, and giving editorial advice to anyone who dared ask.
There have been days when I’ve come close to throwing my computer out the window. Like the day the mouse no longer moved the cursor. With a new lightweight laptop for travel and back-up, I wasn’t overly concerned. But when I turned on my back-up computer, its cursor didn’t move, either. Having been my own IT department for 26 years, I had a slew of solutions for earlier problems. None worked. So I brought both computers to the local repair shop. Of course, once there, they worked fine. Home again in my office, neither worked. It’s a good thing my blood pressure makes my doctor envious. After an hour wasted on the phone with tech support, I had a brilliant idea: I walked one computer to another room. Voilà! The cursor moved! The mouse had been trying to connect to both computers. Where were the days when mice didn’t have blue teeth? Give me back my Rapidograph, t-square, and triangle!
But, wait, isn’t that drop shadow cool? I change colors with a click and play with fonts. My design playground is huge. When I draw with a pencil on paper, I miss the “Undo” command. I can erase, but not bring back what I erased or save multiple versions. And, my digital photos aren’t dusty or scratched. Magic.
And the Internet. So much information waiting to be found. Online tutorials, forums for troubleshooting, and search engines make the impossible possible. At first, the Adobe Premiere Pro workspace made as much sense as the control board of a rocket ship. But, with tutorials, I found my way and created my first YouTube video for What On Earth Can We Do? Miraculous! And, before I forget everything, it’s time to make a video trailer for Follow the Yarn.
My photos will be on display through the end of December at True Bistro, an upscale vegan restaurant in Somerville, MA, so I’m dedicating this post to photography.
I’ve stopped thinking in 36’s. Frame by frame for almost 40 years, I counted the shots. I watched the numbers on the camera’s dial to know how many shots were left on the roll of film. Then, one day, poof! No more film. No more counting. I still tell myself, “Film is cheap,” but it doesn’t matter really how many shots I take. Oddly, I don’t take more photos than I used to. Factoring in the “delete” button, I may end up with fewer photos at the end of a shoot.
These days, I work in waves, bouncing between my book projects, freelance graphic design, and photography. Sometimes it takes a trip for me to pick up my camera, which helps me focus. That said, my iPhone is always with me and I use its camera almost every day. I’ve even sold photos taken on my iPhone.
In seventh grade I was among a small group of students plucked from art class to learn photography. Seth Joel came down from the high school to teach us. I’m not sure where the darkroom came from, but the school needed students to use it. That’s how photography became my passion, leading to taking a workshop with LIFE Magazine photographer Yale Joel and then studying photography at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD).
RISD wasn’t about practical photography. It was about art with a capital “A.” But not too abstract, which is what I was doing. Living in Providence, there wasn’t much in the way of nature so I found nature in cars and walls. My photos fell into groups: underwater, on land, and outer space, so I called my senior show at Woods-Gerry Gallery “Unreal Reality.” In 1981, I called an exhibition of the RISD photos at the White Gallery in Tel Aviv “Games of the Imagination.”
During my years in Israel, where I worked as a graphic designer, some portraits crept into my body of abstract work. Thinking my photos were actual landscapes, a question I heard often was, “Where did you take it?”
In New York, Maine, and Massachusetts, I continued to shoot walls and cars, leaving it up to the viewer to interpret my images. It’s only been the past 10 years that my photos have become more realistic, though still abstract. I continue to explore layers: reflections on glass, what’s inside, and what’s beyond.
Even with a realistic twist, my photos may make the viewer wonder what’s real or not, even though they are single exposures, not sandwiched together in Photoshop.
The star of Follow the Yarn is Batman Wilcox-Warren. The idea for a concept book about colors, that would also be a game, had been kicking around my head for a few years, but I hadn’t found a kitten to photograph. Then my friend Bob told me his family had adopted a kitten. My first question was, “Can I come photograph your kitten playing with a ball of yarn?”
A few days later, I headed down the street with my camera equipment and a ball of yarn. My new lens turned out to be slow for Batman, a fast kitten, but I managed to get the shots I needed to illustrate the book.
Working with photographs of a black kitten wasn’t easy. I kept the kitten black to contrast the different colors of yarn. At first my illustrations were solid black, but I realized tones and details would help define the kitten’s body. While I was at it, I gave Batman a pair of blue contact lenses!
White, the final color, was tricky, but when you look through the book, you’ll see my solution…and Batman doesn’t suddenly turn white, as in an early iteration.
Follow the Yarn is dedicated to Batman and Dipity. Now you know who Batman is, but who’s Dipity?
Growing up, near where my family lived, there was an egg farm. One day, we went to buy eggs and came home with a kitten! We named her Serendipity, which got shortened to Dipity, and, at times, Dip.