Monday, May 14, 2012

The Cook Prize

I was pleased and honored earlier this year to be asked to design a seal for a new award to be given out annually by the Bank Street College of Education, with support from School Library Journal: the Cook Prize. 
The Cook Prize is named in memory of two Bank Street teachers, unrelated but both with the surname Cook, Don Cook of the Graduate School of Education, and Michael Cook of the School for Children. The prize is meant to recognize and encourage excellence in picture books for children aged eight to ten that address STEM subjects: science, technology, engineering, and math. 

The inaugural prize goes to Melissa Sweet’s Balloons Over Broadway. This year’s honor books are About Hummingbirds, by Cathryn Sill and John Sill; The Honeybee Man, by Lela Nargi and Kyrsten Brooker; and Meadowlands: A Wetlands Survival Story, by Thomas F. Yezerski.
The final seal design incorporates an image of a tellurian (sometimes spelled tellurion) — a moveable model depicting the relationship between sun, moon, Earth, and Venus. I went to the image of a tellurian because I find such models beautiful; because they require skill and care to design and create; and because when done well, these relatively small objects give insight into much larger things and processes. So, too, with the picture books being recognized. 
(And, I hoped that drawing a tellurian in a professional capacity might allow me to justify buying one, maybe an early 20th century model from the Trippensee Company, and then I would be able to have that on a shelf in my apartment. Or maybe a later model with a midcentury look and a sun that lights up, and that could be good for mood lighting. It was hard to choose. In the end, however, I felt that I was able to do my work without actually owning either. This saved me somewhere between five hundred and a thousand dollars, but.)
The Cook Prize will be presented at Bank Street this week, on the morning of Thursday, May 17, along with the Irma S. and James H. Black Award. Paul Zelinsky will be there to speak in conjunction with the Irma Black Award presentation, and I’ll be there with brief remarks about the process of designing the Cook Prize seal, and to show you some ideas that you will be glad did not make it to the final design. Details are here. More about the Cook Prize is on the Bank Street Center for Children's Literature blog, here and here.
I’m glad I had the chance to play a small part in the life of this new award, which I think will be of real value. My thanks to Lisa Von Drasek at Bank Street and Jennifer M. Brown, Children's Editor at Shelf Awareness and a member of Bank Street College's Children' Book Committee, for the opportunity! 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Happy birthday, Martha Graham

Today is May 11: happy birthday, Martha Graham! And thank you to Anita Silvey for marking the day by highlighting Ballet for Martha at her Children’s Book-A-Day Almanac! You can read the review of the book on the Almanac here.  

Friday, May 4, 2012

Wild blue yonder

My hometown sources tell me that the Central Texas Air Show is on this weekend in Temple, Texas. I’ll be in the studio this weekend, in Brooklyn, drawing trains, but last year I was back in the old country when the show was on and I went out to see the planes and to do some sketching. It was hot, it was dry, the sun was beating down and the (simulated) B-25 bombing runs were setting off grass fires, but I enjoyed it all. The planes were fascinating, even to someone as temperamentally and experientially civilian as yours truly. (“Fly the Friendly the Skies” was the motto of none of these aircraft.) I left the air show with some drawings which I meant to post here. A year later, here are a few. Click to enlarge. Happy flying.

Nanchang CJ 5

Thursday, May 3, 2012

A Marty McGuire Book Club

Thank you to John Schu and Colby Sharp for launching an online Marty McGuire book club! To be a part of it, first read Marty McGuire and/or Marty McGuire Digs Worms! Then log on to Twitter on May 23 at 7:00 PM CST (Central! Time zone of my youth!) and then, ah, you know, you do whatever one does on Twitter. The hashtag is #martymcguire. A video on YouTube, here, will give you the details. 

Thanks again to Schu and Sharp, and best wishes to the book club!

Baby worms are cute, Annie tells her.
No. Veronica Grace shakes her head. “Baby horses and baby lambs and baby giraffes like we saw at the zoo are cute. Baby worms are gross.”

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

More Marty

It’s nice to be able to report two new reviews for Kate Messner’s and my Marty McGuire Digs Worms! 
School Library Journal reports: “The spirited youngster introduced in Marty McGuire returns…. Packed with eco-friendly ideas, this realistic, plot-driven early chapter book is a welcome addition to Earth Day or environmental units. The illustrations reflect the characters well, and the black-and-white drawings help to establish the mood. Readers of Annie Barrow’s “Ivy and Bean” stories (Chronicle) or Megan McDonald’s “Judy Moody” series (Candlewick) will enjoy Marty McGuire’s adventures.” 
And the Washington Post writes, here, that: “It’s hard to think of cafeteria composting as the topic for a good chapter book, but Messner and Floca pull it off. It’s the characters who make this book entertaining, whether it’s Marty’s wildlife rehabilitator mom or her inventive Grandma Barb, who thinks both worm slime and duct tape have essential uses.”

Thanks to SLJ the Post
Above: the great worm escape.