Friday, May 22, 2015

[Blog Tour] 5 Questions with Kids Comic Authors: John Patrick Green

In support of Children's Book Week and comic books, I am delighted to be hosting a Q&A with John Patrick Green (author of Teen Boat).

JORGE/RAFAEL:  Thanks, John, for taking our questions.  Great to meet you.

QUESTION:  So Dave Roman says to you, "I want to do a comic about a teenaged kid who's also a boat."  How did you start to visualize that?  Did you go through many character designs before settling on the final version?

Answer: The inception of Teen Boat is kind of bizarre. Dave and I had been talking about obscure Saturday morning cartoons, and in a way I first challenged him to write Teen Boat when I questioned if a story about the angst of being a teen could also have the thrill of being a boat. I wasn't sure it could be done, but Dave insisted, and sometime later Dave came to me with the first eight pages. When we initially came up with the idea we joked that I should draw it in the style of HergĂ©, like Tintin. We thought it would be funny if this comic about an American teenager was drawn in a European style. But once I had the script, I didn't really think I could pull that style off, or at least sustain it for very long, so I just went with something that came naturally. I didn't do a lot of character sketches… I actually think I didn't do any, really, and just started drawing. I don't recall showing Dave what any characters looked like until the first few pages were done. The sequence in which Teen Boat transforms I did sketches, and Dave did some too, to help figure out how that would work, but for the most part I'd just come up with the look of the human characters on the spot when I got to a panel they appeared in. For the later chapters, and especially the second book, I did a few sketches of each new character. "Teen Bot" and "Copperface", two new characters appearing in the second Teen Boat book, "The Race for Boatlantis", and also the look of the city of Boatlantis itself, probably went through the most rounds of sketches before Dave and I settled on designs we both liked.

QUESTION:  Besides, "Teen Boat" you two also collaborated on "Jax Epoch."  Like us, you two are college friends.  So how does that collaboration work?  Do you get a fully fleshed script from Dave and work from that?
Answer: Dave's writing process has varied a lot on the projects we've collaborated on. Not just from project to project, but even within a project, Dave will give me the script in different formats. Sometimes he's drawn thumbnails of scenes, other times it's a text-only script. Occasionally it's just loose dialog and he leaves it all up to me how to break the text and action of a scene down into pages and panels. In many writer/illustrator partnerships, each person performs their role in order and in solitude. The writer writes the story, then when they're done, the artist draws the story. Collaborating with Dave is much more symbiotic, and we'll go back and forth between writing and sketching as a story evolves. With Teen Boat, sometimes I'd come up with a plot point, or even just a gag or a pun, and then Dave would construct an entire story around it. And Dave's a visual thinker, so he writes in a way that translates to images very well.

QUESTION:  You've spoken in interviews about your influences when you started (Garfield, Calvin and Hobbes).  Who are you're current cartoon influences?
Answer:  I'm crazy about Gravity Falls. It's got this style that reminds me of a lot of the visual influences from my youth, plus it's a great mix of comedy and mystery and sci-fi and horror. It's a bit "X-Files for kids" in a way, and while most episodes work on their own, it's doing a wonderful job of building up lore and continuity. For my latest project, it was really seeing Cecil Castellucci's and Sara Varon's Odd Duck that finally inspired me to put this idea that had been rolling around in my head for awhile down on paper, but some of the influences have been far less recent, like the original Curious George books and Tove Jansson's Moomin. The thing that is probably the most influential on me these days, though, is all the energy coming from the other comic and kids book creators I know, and especially the teachers and librarians that support all our work so much. It's hard not to be motivated to create something when surrounded by so much enthusiasm.

QUESTION:  What are you working on right now?
Answer: Currently I'm finishing up the pencil art for HIPPOPOTAMISTER, my first younger reader graphic novel as writer and artist. It's about a hippopotamus who leaves the zoo with his friend the red panda to see what it's like having different types of human jobs. It's coming out from First Second Books in Spring 2016.

QUESTION:  What's on your nightstand?
Answer: My keys, my alarm clock, and a Boba Fett bobblehead. But you probably mean what books I'm reading. I had been reading the print collection of the webcomic Super Mutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki, but it has disappeared. I suspect a gremlin took it in the night, like they do. So until it pops up again, I've been catching up on Yotsuba&!

Children’s Book Week, (May 4-10, 2015) – 96th annual celebration!
Children's Book Week is the annual celebration of books for young people and the joy of reading. It is the longest-running national literacy initiative in the country.
In 2015, official Children’s Book Week events – including appearances by beloved children’s book authors & illustrators, children’s open mic nights, read-alouds, book-themed costume parties, and much more – will be held in all 50 states. Photos from last year here. Event attendees receive complimentary Children’s Book Week posters and tote bags. You can see how the celebrations for 2015 are shaping up here.
Children’s Book Week is administered by Every Child a Reader (ECAR) and the Children’s Book Council (CBC) is the anchor sponsor. More.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

[Blog Tour & Giveaway] YA Review: Three Day Summer

Three Day Summer by Sarvenaz Tash, May 19, 2015. 304 pages. Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. Source: Blue Slip Media.
Michael is unsure about most things. Go to college? Enlist in the military? Break up with his girlfriend? All big question marks. He is living for the moment and all he wants is a few days at the biggest concert of the summer.

Cora lives in the town hosting the music festival. She's volunteering in the medical tent. She's like that, always the good girl. But there is something in the air at this concert and suddenly Cora finds herself wanting to push her own boundaries.

When Michael and Cora meet, sparks fly, hearts race, and all the things songs are written about come true. And all the while, three days of the most epic summer await them...
First Sentence:
"You. Are. A. Candy. Cane."

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Wish List Wednesday: Queen of Attolia

The Queen of Attolia (Queen's Thief, 2) by Megan Whalen Turner, January 24, 2006 (originally published in 2000). Published by Greenwillow Books.
When Eugenides, the Thief of Eddis, stole Hamiathes's Gift, the Queen of Attolia lost more than a mythical relic. She lost face. Everyone knew that Eugenides had outwitted and escaped her. To restore her reputation and reassert her power, the Queen of Attolia will go to any length and accept any help that is offered...she will risk her country to execute the perfect revenge.

Eugenides can steal anything. And he taunts the Queen of Attolia, moving through her strongholds seemingly at will. So Attolia waits, secure in the knowledge that the Thief will slip, that he will haunt her palace one too many times. what price?
When Eugenides finds his small mountain country at war with Attolia, he must steal a man, he must steal a queen, he must steal peace. But his greatest triumph, and his greatest loss, comes in capturing something that the Queen of Attolia thought she had sacrificed long ago...
Why: Even though The Thief started out real slow, my curiosity is piqued and I want to know what happens next. It must be good though because it is never checked in at my library.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

{Blog Tour & Giveaway} So You Want to be a Princess!

Since Meg Cabot inspired me to start blogging you can imagine how excited (try madly) I am to be participating in a blog tour for one of her books (From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess)!! This calm face and relaxed tone are hiding some crazy, flailing excitement!!

Throughout the Middle School Princess tour we were asked to talk about what we would do "If I Were a Princess!". So, the questions remains...what would I do!!

If I Were a Princess 

Seriously though, I do believe my first reaction finding out I was royalty of a small country such as Genovia would be something like Mia's (and ironically nothing like that of Olivia's)....

Yet, once the shock wore off I and the possibilities of what this power/opportunity could bring and how one could help others. Even though I have a couple, varying, ideas on what I would do I think I'll start with the library,

As a reader, or should I say devour-er of books, and supporter of public libraries, I would work to bring more funding to public libraries because they offer not just books for the borrowing but classes, computers and so many opportunities for residents to broaden the scope of their knowledge and learn something new. Libraries and librarians are pretty awesome!

While getting books and resources such as the library provides into peoples hands is important there are a few other near and dear to me things, too. Such as the Make-a-Wish foundation, because who wouldn't want to help them make children's dreams come true, and raising awareness/looking for a cure for FA with the Fanconi Anemia Research Foundation.

On a lesser serious note, I'm thinking an end to high heels or just any shoe that is not comfortable! Really, I would kick the person that created high heels because they really, in the grand scheme of things, are not practical in the least bit. That would definitely be one of the first royal decrees...that and bringing back the art of hand-fan conversations.

Come on, check out that fun! Doesn't it make you want to get a little sassy with a hand fan?!

Now that you've seen "What I Would Do if I were a Princess" you should check out my thoughts on From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess by Meg Cabot to see why I really enjoyed meeting the newest Genovian princess!!!


Thanks to Macmillan, one lucky (US) reader will win a copy of From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess by Meg Cabot and a paper tiara!

Comment and leave your email address to win.

Monday, May 18, 2015

All About Middle Grade Review: From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess

From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess ( From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess, 1) by Meg Cabot, May 19, 2015. 192 pages. Published by Feiwel & Friends. Source: publisher.
Olivia Grace Clarisse Mignonette Harrison is a completely average twelve-year-old: average height, average weight, average brown hair of average length, average brown skin and average hazel eyes. The only things about her that aren't average are her name (too long and princess themed), her ability to draw animals (useful for her future career as a wildlife illustrator), and the fact that she is a half-orphan who has never met her father and is forced to live with her aunt and uncle (who treat her almost like their own kids, so she doesn't want to complain).

Then one completely average day, everything goes wrong: the most popular girl in school, Annabelle Jenkins, threatens to beat her up, the principal gives her a demerit, and she's knocked down at the bus stop . . .

Until a limo containing Princess Mia Thermopolis of Genovia pulls up to invite her to New York to finally meet her father, who promptly invites her to come live with him, Mia, Grandmère and her two fabulous poodles . . . .

Maybe Olivia Grace Clarisse Mignonette Harrison isn't so average after all!
First Sentence:
Middle school has not been working out the way I hoped it would.
Are you a middle grade author, want your book to be spotlighted this year during the challenge on my blog? Than this post is just for you. All about Middle Grade Challenge

Sign up for the 2014 All about Middle Grade Reading Challenge.


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