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Season's Greetings

When we moved to Germany we finally got high speed internet and I became a blog addict.  One of my favorite book blogs was Presenting Lenore ( which I read faithfully every day.  Imagine my surprise when I discovered that Lenore herself lived right in Frankfurt, just across the park from my apartment!  I contacted her through her blog and we became good friends - she is one of the reasons that leaving Germany was so bittersweet.  In honor of the recently published U.S. co-edition of Pocket's Christmas Wish, Lenore asked me to recommend some other Christmas picture books for her blog readers.  Here's the link: 

You'd think that by mentioning ten Christmas picture books I would have covered it all, but in re-reading my list I realize that I made a glaring omission.  I did not include any books that discuss Christmas celebrations in countries and cultures other than my own (well, there was an Australian wombat and a Finnish troll and an English stick, but still).  While I purposefully stuck to Christmas picture books (vs. other holidays celebrated at this time of year) there are many wonderful Christmas traditions and customs that take place in countries and cultures around the world and close to home. While they are all too often under-represented in children's books, here are some great stories to get us started.  I hope you will find many others to enjoy and explore.  

1.  The fabulous author/illustrator Tomie dePaola has said that his favorite holiday is Christmas.  I don't doubt it, considering how many books he's created that have to do with Christmas!  Two very special ones are The Legend of Old Befana and The Legend of the Poinsettia.  I love Old Befana, the Italian equivalent of Santa Claus, who brings gifts to children because she recognizes the spirit of Jesus within them.  Similar to the story of the little drummer boy, The Legend of the Poinsettia is a Mexican tale of the true meaning of giving.  Both are beautiful additions to a Christmas library.

2.  If you're looking for a sampling of Christmas traditions from around the world, look no further than Iza Trapani's Jingle Bells.  This delightful journey through Mexico, Sweden, The Philippines, Poland, Italy, Kenya, and the United States is a perfect way to start a conversation about international customs and cultures.

3.  Integrating dual cultural identities can be particularly difficult during the holidays.  In Yoon's Christmas Mitten, by Helen Recorvits and Gabi Swiatkowska, this subject is handled in a sensitive and straightforward manner, as a Korean-American girl tries to reconcile her family's Christmas celebration with that of her classmates.

4.  An African Christmas, by Ifeoma Onyefulu, is a fabulous photo essay of Christmas time in Nigeria.  It brings the holiday to life and allows the reader a glimpse into the Mmo masquerades of festival time.

5.  One of my favorite Christmases ever was the Christmas that I spent in New Mexico.  There was something so enchanting about their tradition of lining the streets with farolitos, candles in paper bags weighted with sand.  The Farolitos of Christmas by Rudolfo Anaya is a lovely depiction of this special New Mexican tradition.

Happy Holidays to all.  Wishing you peace and joy in 2011. 


Tue, December 21, 2010 | link          Comments

KidLit Authors Club

Since moving back to the United States, I've had the good fortune to join a wonderful group of writers called the KidLit Authors Club.  KAC is made up of authors from the mid-Atlantic states who have banded together to promote, market, sign, and sell their books at bookstores, schools, libraries, conferences, and festivals.  As an introverted author, this group format is a dream come true for book promotion.  I am already enjoying the support, advice, and camaraderie that this collection of writers has to offer.

I went to my first KAC event in Pennsylvania just over a week ago and I loved every minute of it.  It was a group signing at the Border's Express in Exton Square Mall, which was the perfect way to get my feet wet.  I had terrific time chatting with my fellow KAC authors, signing copies of Pocket's Christmas Wish just in time for the holidays, and meeting readers young and old.  Thanks to the lovely people at Border's Express in Exton for sponsoring such a nice event, and thanks to the members of KAC for making me feel so welcome.  

Here are some pictures from our KAC party: 

KAC Picture Book Authors 

KAC picture book authors Irene Breznak (Sneezy Louise), Ann Bonwill (Pocket's Christmas Wish), and Jeannine Norris (Tonight You Are My Baby)


KAC Authors 

KAC authors Cynthia Chapman Willis, Nancy Viau, Irene Breznak, Ann Bonwill, Ellen Jensen Abbott, Jennifer R. Hubbard, and Jeannine Norris (Cyn Balog was also at the signing but had already left) 

I look forward to many more events with KAC, including presentations at the NJSCBWI conference in June. For more information about this great group, check out KAC's website at






Tue, December 21, 2010 | link          Comments

Catching Up

It's been a while since I've updated my news (I blame an overseas move, house hunting, and a toddler, but it could just be good old fashioned procrastination) and I have lots to share.  Here are some highlights from the past few months:

- Caldecott winner Stephen Gammell will be illustrating The Frazzles!  The Relatives Came (by Cynthia Rylant and Stephen Gammell) is one of my all time favorite picture books, so I am over the moon and can't wait to see what he does with the story.  It is sure to be transformed by his brilliant artwork.  The Frazzles will be published by Holiday House in 2013.

- I don't want to be a pea! will have a US co-edition published by Atheneum (an imprint of Simon & Schuster).  Thrilling!

- I just received copies of four of the co-editions of Bug and Bear.  I had lots of fun "reading" the story in Portuguese, Finnish, and Danish (and actually reading the US edition from Marshall Cavendish).  The UK version will be out in February 2011 and the US version will publish in April 2011.  Not long now...

Stay tuned for more updates soon, including pictures from my first formal book signing and a Christmas filled guest post on the blog of my good friend, Lenore. 



Tue, December 21, 2010 | link          Comments

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