Ballet Cat + a giveaway!

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by Bob Shea (Disney-Hyperion, 2016)

This post is brought to you in partnership with Disney-Hyperion.

Can you look at these covers and not smile? Impossible. They w a m – p o w you with sparkles and awesome and confidence and an difficult-to-beat title like Dance! Dance! Underpants!

But beyond the glitter and brilliant character design, these are stories with a lot of heart. These are friendship stories that get right at the gut of telling the truth and not disappointing the people you love and the silly disaster of wearing goofy-looking underpants.

They are fun, they are fresh, and they are for young readers who deserve great books.

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I can’t read these without hearing Bob Shea’s voice, and you can too if you check this fun thing out:

And you’re in luck! The fine folks at Disney-Hyperion would like to give these two gems to you along with a plush Ballet Cat (who is so cute!) from MerryMakers, Inc.

All you have to do is comment here by midnight PST on Friday, February 12th.

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File Feb 08, 6 00 57 PM BobShea Happy ballet-ing!

Bob Shea is the author of the first book about Ballet Cat: THE TOTALLY SECRET SECRET, the Dinosaur vs. series, and several other picture books, including DON’T PLAY WITH YOUR FOOD and UNICORN THINKS HE’S PRETTY GREAT. He and his wife have their own design studio in Madison, Connecticut.

The Totally Secret Secret

Ballet Cat and Sparkles the Pony are trying to decide what to play today. Nothing that Sparkles suggests–making crafts, playing checkers, and selling lemonade–goes well with the leaping, spinning, and twirling that Ballet Cat likes to do. When Sparkles’s leaps, spins, and twirls seem halfhearted, Ballet Cat asks him what’s wrong. Sparkles doesn’t want to say. He has a secret that Ballet Cat won’t want to hear. What Sparkles doesn’t know is that Ballet Cat has a secret of her own, a totally secret secret. Once their secrets are shared, will their friendship end, or be stronger than ever?

Dance! Dance! Underpants!

Ballet Cat is getting her friend Butter Bear ready for her big ballet debut. “Leap, Butter Bear, leap!” Ballet Cat prompts. But Butter Bear would prefer to just point her toe. When Ballet Cat keeps pushing, Butter Bear gets hungry, then thirsty, then sleepy . . . The bottom line is that Butter Bear would rather do almost anything to avoid making a big leap. Why? Because her bottom is covered in silly underpants! This second entry in the Ballet Cat series will have beginning readers rolling on the floor with laughter.

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Giveaway open to US addresses only. Prizing and samples provided by Disney-Hyperion.

12 Days of Picture Books with Penguin Young Readers

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Well, don’t ask me twice!

I’m excited to join forces with Penguin Young Readers to celebrate one of my favorite parts of the season: more time to read. Check out what they’ve come up with here, a site where you can create custom lists of favorites for all ages of readers. I’m a huge fan of this one, this one, and this one. And whoa, check the cover on this one!

And the good news for you is that Penguin is running a pretty spectacular series of giveaways over on Facebook. Go see!

Today’s feature (and Facebook giveaway!) is the wham-bam-what-just-happened Robo-Sauce, by Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri.

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Now, I’ve seen lots of books. And lots of design elements in those lots of books. And I have never ever ever seen something like this.

Here’s a thing that’s true: robots are awesome. Kids love robots. Now, if only there was something that would allow said kid to turn anything they see or touch or smell or feel into a robot. Good thing there is that something, and it’s called Robo-Sauce. (Recipe included.)

B A N G !

F L A S H !

B O O M !

It works.

It works so well that everything our hero touches turns into a robot. Everything, including the very book that he’s a part of. Really.

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Crazy, chaotic, and the most wacky and original thing I’ve ever seen inside (and outside) a picture book.

Don’t miss it! (Or the 12 Days of Picture Books with Penguin Young Readers!)

And for more behind the scenes of Robo-Sauce, check out Matthew Winner’s interview with Adam Rubin on the Let’s Get Busy podcast.

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How to Outfox Your Friends When You Don’t Have a Clue + an interview with Jess Keating

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by Jess Keating (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2015)

Heads up, email subscribers: my blog took a bit of a tumble so I’m reposting what was lost in the shuffle. Apologies, and thank you for reading!

Sometimes you meet people on the internet who are instantly your kind of people. And all of a sudden they aren’t a tiny square avatar, but a real friend who sends you ketchup chips from Canada and the best gifs to your email. They support you on this whirling road of publishing, and they make you laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh and you wish that Canada and California weren’t so far away.

Let me introduce you to my friend Jess Keating. She’s got great books and she’s a better friend, and I’m so happy to have her here today to celebrate her newest story in the My Life is a Zooseries, How to O

And also, it’s not just me. These guys liked her too . . .

“With her trademark kid-oriented wit and lighthearted touch, Keating leads readers through the daily emotional ups and downs of the typical just-turned-teenager who is trying to juggle hormones, parents, schoolwork, and, most importantly, her friends…A sweet reminder that being middle school girl is about far more than boys and makeup.” –Kirkus, starred review

So: here she is!

Hi Jess!

Hello, my dear Carter! Thank you for having me!

Can you give us some backstory on Ana? Is there any young-Jess-Keating wrapped up in her?

There is definitely a lot of young-me in Ana. I’ve always been an animal nut, and I was raised on Kratt’s Creatures, Crocodile Hunter, and Jane Goodall. Savvy readers might notice that Ana’s middle name is Jane—both she and her mother share this name to honor Dr. Goodall!

As a kid, it was my dream to live in a zoo, surrounded by strange animals. Obviously, my parents thought this would be rather hazardous, so instead they let me decorate my room to look like the rainforest. I even stuck plastic lizards and poison arrow frogs to my walls. Sometimes I even pretended I was David Attenborough, narrating my way through the day with a bad British accent.

Ana is also a giant nerd, who struggles with feeling like an outsider a lot. I think that’s something a lot of us share (particularly as teens and tweens), and I was no exception. It takes guts to share your passions, you know? I think Ana is also a very lucky kid, in that she’s surrounded by intelligent people who challenge her to pursue her dreams. We have that in common too.

Which do you most identify with: having untied shoelaces, missing a snorkel, or not having a clue?

Untied shoelaces!

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What’s your ideal writing scenario? Snacks? Tunes?

Yes to snacks! I’m a big fan of popcorn and chocolate chips. Together or separately, really. My awesome agent Kathleen Rushall introduced me to Songza, which I’ve found to be perfect for playing background music while I write. I listen to mainly movie scores and video game soundtracks.

I like to move around a lot as I work, so I have a standing desk that’s really just a wooden crate that props up my laptop. That’s about it! Oh, and Post-It notes. Millions and millions of Post-It notes.

Which came first, these characters or their scenarios?

The characters came first, for sure. I think once you’ve got characters you know well, especially their flaws, it’s really a matter of plunking them down with some challenges and letting them find their way. I’ve always had such a clear picture of Ana, Daz, and Shep, so they seem to run the show. With each book, I have a general idea of a setting I’d like to explore, but I like to give them some freedom in getting there.

But sometimes writing can surprise you! Characters like Sugar and Bella were much quieter in my mind, and getting to know them better as the series continues has been extra fun.

What has been your most favorite scene to write and edit? Just don’t spoil us too much!

I love writing funny scenes, embarrassing scenes, and downright awful ‘fight’ scenes between friends. There’s just so much juicy emotion in these!

My favorite scene to write in OUTFOX revolves around Ana doing a Superman impression. I won’t spoil it, but it’s a scene I’ve wanted to write since the beginning of the series!

Describe Canada in one word.

Home!

What gif best describes your feelings for this book’s birthday week?

Ahh, you know how much I love gifs! I have so many feelings, I have to give you two! Publishing a book is a funny thing—it never stops being exciting. With every new book, I feel like Bilbo going on an adventure:

And this week especially, I’m so thankful and humbled that we get to continue Ana’s story in a third book. It takes so many people to get the story in your head on a shelf, and the readers who pick it up are really the reason we do this. So, I have a lot of love for everyone who works so hard to make these books, and those who have been with Ana from the start. Hence, hobbit hugs:

What’s coming next for you?

I like working on several projects at once, so I’ve got lots to keep me busy! My first nonfiction picture book is coming out in February, called PINK IS FOR BLOBFISH. It’s all about challenging the notion that “pink is for girls”, showcasing bizarre, dangerous, and unique pink animals. I’m tickled pink for this one! (Sorry.) This book is part of a new series called “The World of Weird Creatures”, so I’m also working on the next one! I can’t share the title yet, but I’ve definitely never seen anything like it before. Hee!

I’m also deliriously happy to report that we’ve just sold my first picture book biography!SHARK LADY is all about the life of Eugenie Clark, an incredible female scientist who studied—you guessed it—sharks. She is one of the coolest ladies I’ve ever come across, and I’m so excited to share her story!

Thanks again for having me!

And!

The wonderful folks at Sourcebooks Jabberwocky are going to give away a complete set of Jess’s My Life is a Zoo series to a lucky reader! Head here to enter! (https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/54ca7af7194/)

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Good luck!

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About the Author:

Jess Keating is a zoologist and the author of the critically acclaimed How to Outrun a Crocodile When Your Shoes Are Untied. Jess is also the author of the playful nonfiction picture book Pink is for Blobfish (Knopf Children’s, 2016). She lives in Ontario, Canada, where she loves writing books for adventurous and funny kids. Visit Jess at jesskeating.com.

You can also find her at these places:

Website

Twitter

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Instagram

(And you’ll be so glad you did.)

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The Story of Diva and Flea + a giveaway

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by Mo Willems and Tony DiTerlizzi (Disney Publishing, 2015)

These duos, both Diva and Flea and Mo Willems and Tony DiTerlizzi: true friends.

I love a good young chapter book, and this one is a real treat. Friends in Paris, small animals that shouldn’t be so sweet to one another, ribbons and shaggy hair and flâneur-ing.

From the publisher:

Diva, a small yet brave dog, and Flea, a curious streetwise cat, develop an unexpected friendship in this unforgettable tale of discovery.

For as long as she could remember, Diva lived at 11 avenue Le Play in Paris, France. For as long as he could remember, Flea also lived in Paris, France–but at no fixed address. When Flea flâneurs past Diva’s courtyard one day, their lives are forever changed. Together, Diva and Flea explore and share their very different worlds, as only true friends can do.

I’m so excited to bring you an opportunity to win both a copy of this book and a friendship bracelet kit, because all great pairs need to wrap their love on their wrists. This prize pack is courtesy of Disney Publishing.

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Comment below by midnight PST on October 13th, which is The Story of Diva and Flea‘s book birthday, and you’ll be all set to celebrate your very best friend.

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Mo Willems, a number one New York Times best-selling author and illustrator, has been awarded a Caldecott Honor on three occasions (for Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!, Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale, and Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity).Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! was also an inaugural inductee into the Indies Choice Picture Book Hall of Fame. The celebrated Elephant & Piggie early-reader series has been awarded the Theodor Seuss Geisel Medal on two occasions (for There Is a Bird on Your Head! and Are You Ready to Play Outside?) as well as garnering four Honors (for We Are in a Book!, I Broke My Trunk!, Let’s Go for a Drive! and A Big Guy Took My Ball!).

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Tony DiTerlizzi, a number-one New York Times best-selling author and illustrator, created the middle-grade series The Spiderwick Chronicles with Holly Black, which has sold millions of copies, been translated into more than 30 languages and made into a feature film. He won a Caldecott Honor for illustrating The Spider & The Fly, and in 2014 he teamed up with Lucasfilm to retell the original Star Wars trilogy in a picture book featuring artwork by Academy award-winning concept artist, Ralph McQuarrie. He lives in Amherst, Massachusetts with his wife, daughter and dog, Mimi.

Bonne chance!

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Giveaway open to US addresses only. Prizing and samples provided by Disney Publishing.