Another Peek

Thanks for all the amazing feedback on the last post! Here are two more peeks at my latest book, "How Does Sleep Come?" arriving at bookstores this September.  See more pictures HERE.


Book Expo America


This is a very big display at Book Expo, featuring my new book! The photo was taken by a friend, but I will be at Book Expo tomorrow.  Looking forward to seeing it in person.


Backwards into Outside, Over There

The last time I heard Maurice Sendak speak, was on NPR  several months ago.  He was not well, and he missed some of his dear friends who had recently passed.  But HE was still here. The stars were overhead and the earth was still in balance.  And now?  I often tell my students that no other picture book needed to be made after Where the Wild Things Are.  It's perfect.  It is the essence of childhood:  To be "naughty", to run away, to want to control the unknown scaries, and in the end to come home to a warm supper because, despite everything, you are safe and loved.

I grew up with the Little Bear books and they (along with the Garth Williams/EB White books) are part of my DNA.  In the Night Kitchen had a huge influence on me as did Wild Things.  And, whenever I am stuck for inspiration, I pull out my copy of Outside, Over There, a book in which he manages to stuff his love for the Grimm Brothers, El Greco and Mozart... not an easy task for a picture book. Sadly I never got to see any of the stage versions of his stories, but I have all the clippings.

Thank you, Maurice Sendak, for never forgetting what it's like to be a child, for your fabulous creations, your imagination, perserverence and for the Wild Rumpus.

Read more in NY Times
Listen to interviews on Fresh Air/National Public Radio
Tell them Anything, But tell them if it's True
Terrible Yellow Eyes

Illustration © Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are


The Best of Times


Today is the 203rd birthday of Charles Darwin and a reminder that life turns on the little things.

Darwin's epic voyage to the Galapagos aboard the HMS Beagle, nearly didn't happen at all.  Apparently the Captain of the Beagle didn't much care for Charles Darwin's nose and didn't want him to come along.  Luckily he relented and the theory of Natural Selection and Evolution was born, to the dismay of those who believe that the world was formed in six days.  Historian Rick Beyer explains it all here: The Lesson of Charles Darwin's Nose   

And, last week was Charles Dickens two hundredth birthday, and a reminder that stories happen when everything goes wrong.  
I've now sunk comfortably into the squalid world of orphans, prison ships, and all manner of unsavory yet unforgettable characters while re-reading Great Expectations and I'm having a hard time trading the cold, drizzly marshes of the midlands for my warm, dusty studio and its unrelenting deadlines...

Happy Birthday Charles & Charles!


Clever Maids & Grimm Brothers

I just finished reading Clever Maids, The Secret History of the Grimm Fairy Tales," by Valerie Paradiz.  It is the story of the iconic brothers who lived during the 18th C, a chaotic time filled with uprisings and revolutions.  Germany was occupied by Napoleon, and war was constant. It was also a terrible time for women who had absolutely no rights and could own nothing.  So when Father Grimm dies, according to the law, Mother Grimm loses everything.  The Grimm family tumbles into poverty and Jacob is packed off to law school to make something of himself and save the family.  Instead he discovers literature and resolves to uncover the folk/fairy tale legacy of his war-ravaged homeland.

Everywhere they go, Jacob and Wilhelm search for tales, and they gather most of them from women they meet along the way, although none of these women are credited in the final collection.  They also befriend other soon-to-be famous authors, like Goethe, who is also interested in folk tales and eventually writes "Faust" incorporating the same theme as most of the fairy tales:  women should be submissive, passive, pure or else very bad things will happen if they stray from the righteous path.

Before  reading this I had only the Terry Gilliam film about the Brothers Grimm to go on, which is a lot of fun, but has nothing to do with reality since Jacob & Wilhelm did not make the stories up, they only copied them down.

Grimm's Fairy Tales, illustrated by Arthur Rackham
Grimm Fairy Tales 

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