Thursday, December 30, 2021

Cosplay Inspiration - This Russian Bookstore Promotes Books and Reading With Some Incredible Images!

There's an article about this on Russia Beyond, "St. Petersburg bookstore ROCKS in promoting books" and they're right -

Check out the Bookstagram Images on - it's really inspiring. 

Here are just a few of the WOW ones!

They floated a bathtub in the Gulf of Finland!

Staircase to match

simple but so effective!

maybe even better than the book cover?

Enjoy checking out lots more on the bookstore's Instagram account.

And that's some inspiration heading into 2022!

Stay safe, and Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Monday, December 27, 2021

New Year Resolutions: Cal Newport Urges a Thoughtful Approach to Social Media So We Can Do Our Creative "Deep Work"

Cover of "Deep Work" by Cal Newport

Cal Newport's "Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World" includes a section about figuring out if your time spent on social media makes sense for the larger picture of what you're hoping to accomplish. 

And one example Cal gives is for a writer (after citing a number of really successful authors who aren't on social media at all.) Here's part of the math Cal lays out for a "less famous" writer:

"Imagine that our hypothetical author diligently sends ten individualized tweets a day, five days a week—each of which connects one-on-one with a new potential reader. Now imagine that 50 percent of the people contacted in this manner become loyal fans who will definitely buy the author's next book. Over the two-year period it might take to write this book, this yields two thousand sales—a modest boost at best in a marketplace where bestseller status requires two or three times more sales per week. The question once again is not whether Twitter offers some benefits, but instead whether it offers enough benefits to offset its drag on your time and attention (two resources that are especially valuable to a writer.)"
—Cal Newport, from page 197-198 of Deep Work

As we look ahead to a new year of creative work, it's well worth doing this math for each of us - with everything we spend our time doing.

My thanks to Lori Snyder for the book recommendation.

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Thursday, December 23, 2021

If We Removed Every YA Book Someone Might Object To...

The Pflugerville Library facebook post with the before and after view of just one section of their teen bookshelves. Happily, they didn't actually remove any of these books from the library. They just wanted to show what it would look like if they did...

In this Facebook post, the folks at the Pflugerville, Texas Library shared this striking photo, and wrote:

This is a before and after shot of what a single shelving unit in the library’s Teen Space would look like if we removed every book with content that could offend someone. Out of 159 books, there are ten left on the shelves. We removed books that contained profanity, teen drinking, religious content, racism, magic, abuse, sexual content, and more. But in taking away those books, we also removed examples of friendship, love, courage, creativity, faith, forgiveness, reality, resilience, humor, and history. As a public library, we seek to provide books and other materials that will interest the many people in our diverse community. We believe in giving our library guests the choice of what they check out and read. A book that one reader adores may be despised by another reader. And that’s okay. We provide the books. You get to decide which books you and your family check out.

So well done!

And cheers to librarians doing the incredibly important work of acquiring – and keeping on their shelves – books that can change young readers' lives for the better.

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Sarah Webb Lays Out the Many Roles of a Children's Bookseller

screen shot of Sarah Webb's Twitter post - the first in a thread where she lays out the many roles of a Children's bookseller. The photo shows Sarah (right) in front of the bookstore where she works part-time.

In this Twitter thread, author Sarah Webb responds to the reaction folks have been having to her part-time job as a bookseller. Sarah writes:

Lots of people have expressed surprise that I’m working as a part-time children’s bookseller. I don’t think they have any idea how skilled a job bookselling is.

So here are some of the things children’s booksellers do every day...

1/ We recommend books to grown ups for the children in their lives. Sometimes they know lots about the child or teen and their reading likes and dislikes, sometimes they just know the age. We do our best to find a book the young reader will love.
We do this by READING.
We read all the time - picturebooks right up to YA. We read reviews (for YA 
 reviews are a must). We listen to podcasts, read 
 , go to talks and events. 
We talk to children+teens about what they love to read.
We try to ring them their next fave book.

2/ To recommend books we need books in the shop so we order. New stock, classics, popular favourites,, comic books (I love comic books) - the best books we can find. 
Want a special, unusual book? We will try to order it in for you.
Takes a bit of extra time+ work but that’s ok!

3/ Some bookshops (like 
) offer a subscription service. Every month a book is carefully and individually chosen for a child or teen, wrapped and posted out. How cool is that? 
4/ We tidy the shelves, tables and displays. Create windows.
Christmas windows at the mo!

5/ We organise and run signings, events, Salons. All a bit curtailed at the moment but they will be back.
6/ Some children’s book shops run children’s book clubs, parent and toddler mornings.
7/ We support teachers - helping them pick class readers.

It seems important for those of us who create children's literature to better understand and appreciate the many roles played by the folks selling (and hopefully recommending) our books in stores.

So thank you, Sarah! And let's thanks all the other children's booksellers out there, too.

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Social Media Followings Don't Necessarily Translate To Book Sales

Elizabeth A. Harris wrote this really interesting article in the New York TimesMillions of Followers? For Book Sales, ‘It’s Unreliable.’

Screen shot of the New York Times article, featuring a photo of Billie Eilish

In it, Elizabeth explores both how publishers have been basing their publishing bets more and more on social media followings, and yet the evidence of book sales isn't aligning in the way those publishers expected.

The article opens with:

A book by Billie Eilish seemed like a great bet. One of the most famous pop stars in the world, Ms. Eilish has 97 million followers on Instagram and another 6 million on Twitter. If just a fraction of them bought her book, it would be a hit.

But her self-titled book has sold about 64,000 hardcover copies since it came out in May, according to NPD BookScan, which tracks most printed books sold in the United States — not necessarily a disappointing number, unless Ms. Eilish got a big advance. Which, of course, she did. The book cost her publisher well over $1 million.

The full piece is well-worth reading, and it's a reminder for all of us that racking up social media followers isn't necessarily going to lead to racking up the book sales.

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

SCBWI Signs Coalition Statement on the Attack on Books in Schools


Screen shot of the National Coalition Against Censorship web page "NCAC Leads Coalition Statement on the Attack on Books in Schools" The photo is of white smoke rising behind three piles of books on a dark background.

The National Coalition Against Censorship put out this statement signed by organizations, publishers and agencies, bookstores, and individuals. SCBWI was one of the many organizations who signed. Here's the full text of the statement:

In communities across the country, an organized political attack on books in schools threatens the education of America’s children. These ongoing attempts to purge schools of books represent a partisan political battle fought in school board meetings and state legislatures. The undersigned organizations and individuals are deeply concerned about this sudden rise in censorship and its impact on education, the rights of students, and freedom of expression. 

Nearly all communities have developed policies for both handling book challenges and allowing parents to influence their own child’s reading, but they must do so within the guideposts set forth by the Supreme Court, without infringing on the rights of other students. The law clearly prohibits the kind of activities we are seeing today: censoring school libraries, removing books–and entire reading lists–based on disagreement with viewpoint and without any review of their educational or literary merit. Some would-be censors have gone even farther, threatening teachers, school librarians, authors, and school board members with criminal charges and even violence for allowing students access to books.

Libraries offer students the opportunity to encounter books and other material that they might otherwise never see and the freedom to make their own choices about what to read. Denying young people this freedom to explore–often on the basis of a single controversial passage cited out of context–will limit not only what they can learn but who they can become. 

Books help students connect with characters whose stories reflect their own lives. They also widen their view of a changing world that embraces diversity and multiculturalism. But there is always resistance to change. So it is not surprising that most of the books that are being attacked address concerns of groups previously underrepresented in libraries and school curriculums: books about lived experiences of racism or of growing up LGBTQIA and experiencing bias, discrimination, hate and even violence.  

The First Amendment guarantees that no individual, group of individuals, legislator, community member, or even school board member can dictate what public school students are allowed to read based on their own personal beliefs or political viewpoint.

It is freedom of expression that ensures that we can meet the challenges of a changing world.  That freedom is critical for the students who will lead America in the years ahead. We must fight to defend it.

Full disclosure, I was one of the individuals who signed as well.

If you're curious to learn more about what kinds of books are being attacked, read Danika Ellis's excellent analysis over at BookRiot, All 850 Books Texas Lawmaker Matt Krause Wants to Ban: An Analysis

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Tell Me Another Story: The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation's 30 minute Free Documentary on Diversity in Children's Literature.

Tell Me Another Story: Diversity in Children's Literature is an awesome look at diversity in our industry from a who's who of luminaries, including Christopher Myers, Andrea Davis Pinkney, Grace Lin, Chieri Uegaki, Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie, Meg Medina, Jessixa Bagley, Pat Cummings, Shirin Yim Bridges, and with footage of Ezra Jack Keats, Pura Belpré, and W.E. DuBois.

Screen shot shows Author/Illustrator Christopher Myers in the documentary "Tell Me Another Story: Diversity in Children's Literature."

There are lots of great moments and insights, like:

“Children's literature was always a tool of white supremacy until it was challenged. It was a way of othering people who you were going to exploit.” —Deborah Taylor, Librarian and Youth Literacy Advocate.


"What you see, it leaves an imprint on you.... what you see and what you don't see. The books I had as a child, I didn't know why I wasn't in them.... I felt that erasure from early on. Books, they're this great opportunity to widen, widen the sense of possibility for children. How about seeing two mommies? How about seeing families that don't look like what you're used to seeing?  Just by showing the child themselves. You. You. You belong in this book. You deserve pages.” —Author and 2020 Ezra Jack Keats Writer Award Honoree Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie

Watch the free documentary here.

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Author Michael Rosen answers the question: "Why shouldn’t children’s writers talk of refugees, persecution and genocide?"

In this piece in The Guardian, Michael explains about his latest work, putting the choice to the rest of us who create works for children and teens:

"People ask me why write about such things for young people? One answer in my mind takes me back to the child who was hearing his father say, “They must have died in the camps”. That child was full of questions with no answers. Another is that children are not sealed off from migration and refugees. The media tell these stories, why shouldn’t a writer for children use his experience of framing things with a young audience in mind to talk of these matters too?"

Read the full article, "Why shouldn’t children’s writers talk of refugees, persecution and genocide?" here.

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Illustration Inspiration - The 2021 New York Times/New York Public Library Best Illustrated Children’s Books

Screen shot of the New York Times article, "The 2021 New York Times/New York Public Library Best Illustrated Children's Books" showing an interior spread from one of the ten winners, "I Am the Subway," written and illustrated by Kim Hyo-eun.

Since 1952, the New York Times has pulled together a rotating panel of three experts to look at EVERY illustrated book for kids published in the USA for that year. This year's judges, children's literature critic Catherine Hong; New York Public Library youth collections librarian Jessica Agudelo; and Caldecott medalist Paul O. Zelinsky (a member of SCBWI's Board of Advisors and a past winner of this honor), chose ten winners ”purely on the basis of artistic merit.”

Announced in the New York Times Book Review on November 12, 2021, The 2021 New York Times/New York Public Library Best Illustrated Children’s Books includes interior images – and there's a bonus article with interviews with the artists and views of them working in their studios!

The ten winning books are:

I Am the Subway
Written and illustrated by Kim Hyo-eun
Translated from the Korean by Deborah Smith

The Night Walk
Written and illustrated by Marie Dorléans

Time Is a Flower
Written and illustrated by Julie Morstad

It Fell From the Sky
Written and illustrated by Terry Fan and Eric Fan

The Little Wooden Robot and the Log Princess
Written and illustrated by Tom Gauld

¡Vamos! Let’s Cross the Bridge
Written and illustrated by Raúl the Third
Colors by Elaine Bay

While You’re Sleeping
Written by Mick Jackson
Illustrated by John Broadley

Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre
Written by Carole Boston Weatherford
Illustrated by Floyd Cooper

Keeping the City Going
Written and illustrated by Brian Floca

On the Other Side of the Forest
Written by Nadine Robert
Illustrated by Gérard DuBois

Congratulations to the winners, and what inspiration for the rest of us!

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,