The Mischievians

TheMischieviansCoverby William Joyce

published 2013, by Simon and Schuster

(I love that upside down A. I suppose that sucker is called The Letter Flipper Upside Downer. The Fontfiender. Or something.)

Impeccably designed with nods at its book-ness, the cover is distressed and worn like it’s been studied and loved and needed. It’s a book that knows it’s a book, so it looks especially, book-y.* Right?

But let’s start with this. You might know some of these guys:

breaker This is the latest offering from William Joyce and Moonbot Studios, a dazzling storytelling team. (Remember that book-loving Morris Lessmore?) But this one is mayhem and wordplay and maddening and glorious. You wouldn’t expect anything less, right? Mischievians1 The story starts on the endpapers where some kids are at their wit’s end and a spindly green arm yanks away a vowel. Awful. Naturally, their parents are blaming them. Wouldn’t you? But no. The peculiar looking Dr. Zooper sucks them into his laboratory, and introduces them to the encyclopedia that explains everything. Darn those Funny Bones. Did you know they find your ow-ding-ow-oh-oh so hysterical that they hide out until the giggles subside? Thanks to this encyclopedia of mischief-makers, I know that’s why they only show up a few times a year. They’re out there somewhere, chortling and waiting, plotting and howling. Jerks. Mischievians2 The Mischievians. Mischievians3 When the kids are zooped back up the chute, they have a monumental task. Document! Top Secret! Report and resist!

I don’t think it will take them too long. breaker How about you?

Thanks to Simon and Schuster, I have two copies to zoop over to you! Just leave a comment here by midnight PST on December 31. Maybe even tell me which mischief-maker is driving you most nuts? Is it the Remotetoter? The Stinker? The Lintbellian? You have my sympathies and my snickering.

Sorry about it.


*Other book-y looking books I love:

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (the original design!) by Newt Scamander (and J.K. Rowling)

Shaun Tan’s The Arrival 

The ridiculously brilliant Battle Bunny, by Jon Scieszka and Mac Barnett (That post from Julie Danielson at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast is a smorgasbord of awesome.)

And, of course, Greg Heffley’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. (With a huge nod to Jeff Kinney, obviously.)

Balloons Over Broadway

Housekeeping Alert!

I updated the look and layout of this little blog. New header! New Widget-y thingys!

If you are seeing this in a Reader or via email, click over and check it out! I also made updates to the About and Book Trailers pages, and added a link to Other Work. AND, the carousel of images at the top of the Home page holds 5 images, and will rotate through older posts. I love this, because it’s so hard to say goodbye to one favorite book when it’s time for another! Ahem….like this one:

by Melissa Sweet

I adore Melissa Sweet’s work. And now that I just lost myself in her website for a good while, I adore her even more! I imagine she’s just like her site: vibrant, colorful, and exciting.

And this book is PHENOMENAL. Really. I have always been a huge fan of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, and even wrote it into one of my defunct picture book manuscripts. That parade as a setting was a million times better than anything else that was in that book. Truly.

So three whooping cheers for a REAL book about this parade…a fantastic, beautiful, stunning book!

Melissa Sweet brings alive the work of Tony Sarg, the marionette engineer and puppeteer whose legacy bobs high above the street in massive helium creatures. Never heard of him? Me neither. But now I’m so thankful to know his story. It’s wildly creative and inspiring.

This. A flat, shiny title page. But doesn’t it look like you could plunge your arms directly into that shoebox diorama? Even though I know better, I still found myself running my fingers over the page, expecting to feel knots and bumps and holes.

In design, texture is used to create the appearance of a tactile surface. In the real world, you can touch and feel surfaces, and in graphic design, your eye reads the texture. Melissa Sweet’s mixed-media collages illustrate this principle beautifully.

Right?  I hope I’m not the only one whose paws have tried to flick off that button or lift the kooky puppet.

I love this gorgeous combination of painted illustration, torn paper, and a true to scale map of Manhattan.

Same here! The graphic panels combined with hand drawn typography and more paper scraps. A lot of story information is handled in the pictures and the way these textured graphics serve as both extra illustrations and extra words.

And in case you needed any more proof that Balloons Over Broadway is visually stunning, the inside back cover reveals the original New York Times ad for the 1933 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. Trust me when I tell you there is SO MUCH MORE within the pages of this book. I didn’t want to spoil all the surprises, but you are in for a real treat with this book.

RUN TO THE LIBRARY OR YOUR NEAREST BOOKSTORE! Seriously! I don’t like to yell unless it’s extremely important.

{Balloons Over Broadway received both the 2012 Robert F. Sibert Medal and the 2012 NCTE Orbis Pictus Award, which both recognize outstanding non-fiction for children.}

Want more? Read this interview with Melissa Sweet about her research for Balloons Over Broadway. And don’t forget her’s filled to the brim with treats!


So many beautiful things have been said in the last few days about the unshakeable and ever impressive Maurice Sendak. I don’t have many to add.

Just a thank you for respecting our childhood enough to hold up a mirror and reflect it back to us indefinitely. Even long after we have  become grumpy, frightened grownups.

An NPR Fresh Air interview soon after the release of Bumble-Ardy.

Lovely. Tender. Sad. Funny. Wholly inspiring.

I cry a lot because I miss people. They die and I can’t stop them. They leave me and I love them more.

Extra Yarn

Saturday. Burbank. Unwind Yarn. A genius author/artist combo in my neighborhood? One that I have proclaimed love for on multiple occasions? It was perfect.

{Cake pops wrapped in yarn. Adorable!}

And the dynamic duo: illustrator Jon Klassen, and author Mac Barnett.

{I have been to Mac’s website plenty of times, and only now realize the dapper man holding up the piano is HIM. Click over, am I right??}

I even met my Twitter buddy, Alyson Beecher!

…And heard Mac read Extra Yarn to the crowd. I mean, wow…his own words in his own voice…magical, really.

So…what the heck is up with this awesome book?

On a cold afternoon, in a cold little town,

where everywhere you looked was either the white of snow

or the black soot from chimneys,

Annabelle found a box filled with yarn of every color.

And she goes knit-crazy, wrapping her town with the color and warmth of this magic yarn. Remember the knit covered house in the picture above? Yeah. That happens.

I tried SO HARD to keep my cool while talking to Jon Klassen about design, really I did. He explained to me his reasonings for using white space and the puzzle of leaving room for the reader to create their own stories in the space left behind by both the words AND the pictures. We talked about texture and trailers and the differences in animating for the screen and designing for the book page. I managed to not faint and fall in it, thank-you-very-much. It was unreal.

But a notable design consideration in Extra Yarn is of course, color. Annabelle’s creations bring life to a drab, cold town.

Jon told us that he bought a $5 sweater from Goodwill, photographed it over a light table, and digitally colored over the photo-real stitches to get the look of the knits in Extra Yarn. Straight from the illustrator’s mouth: “Everything else I tried just looked stupid.”

Recognize that bear?

The archduke: the bad guy, out to get Annabelle’s yarn. Hearing Mac’s voice for the archduke? Also amazing.

What a day, what an event, what a book. See that?

Want it? Your own author AND illustrator signed copy of Extra Yarn?


Leave a comment here by Sunday, April 22 at midnight PST to win it! I’ll announce a winner on Monday, April 23rd. Good luck!