Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Goodnight Moon Goes High Tech!

Goodnight Moon has entered the high tech world.  Have a look!

Loud Crow Interactive, award-winning publisher of digital children's books, in partnership with HarperCollins Publishers, announce the release of Goodnight Moon, an interactive app for iPad®, iPhone® and iPod touch®. View the app here.

Written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Clement Hurd, Goodnight Moon is one of the best-selling children's storybooks of all time. More than 60 million copies of the book have been sold since it was first published in 1947.

Accompanied by narration and a piano soundtrack, Goodnight Moon features more than two hundred touchable objects, animations and hidden interactions to discover. Each spread is accompanied by an all new magnifying glass technology, which allows children to explore hidden objects and interact with the story on a whole new level, while also facilitating viewing of the book on smaller devices.

Other features include doodle box and photo booth for personalization, and stickers that can be earned through achievements. Goodnight Moon also includes educational elements such as word highlighting, individual words that are spoken at the tap of a finger, and three different modes to enjoy: Read to me, Read myself and Auto play.

Thacher Hurd, son of Clement Hurd, said:

My father would have loved this beautiful adaptation of Goodnight Moon. Loud Crow and HarperCollins have retained the quiet magic of the book while enhancing it with a lively array of interactivity.

Also available within Goodnight Moon are two educational books, Goodnight Moon ABC: An Alphabet Book and Goodnight Moon 123: A Counting Book. These interactive, educational apps feature letter and number tracing technology, counting and word guessing games, and various interactivities to help keep children engaged.

Goodnight Moon is available for purchase on iTunes® for $4.99. Goodnight Moon ABC and Goodnight Moon 123 are available through in-app purchase for $1.99 apiece, or both apps bundled for $2.99.  See for more details.

Read more here:

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Velveteen Rabbit's Off-Broadway Hop

A new version of the beloved children's book The Velveteen Rabbit has come to an off-Broadway Theater, The DR2. It stars Kristin Parker, Jim Stanek and John Curcuru. 

The Velveteen Rabbit pg 1.jpgThe new play based on the beloved children’s book opened on November 18. Written and directed by Kevin Del Aguila, The Velveteen Rabbit will play a limited engagement through January 27, 2013.

Stage Adaptation of Classic Children's Book The Velveteen Rabbit Begins Off-Broadway Run Based on the classic picture book by Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit is the story of a stuffed rabbit who longs to become real. 

With a little bit of nursery magic, three actors and a few props transform into a wise, old rocking horse, a cavalcade of mechanical playthings, a kind-hearted fairy and of course, a stuffed rabbit loved by a young boy.

The Velveteen Rabbit features scenic design by Lake Simmons and costume design by Patrick Johnson.

The new play is recommended for children age four through eight.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Here it is.  Holiday time again!   Many of you know that I lived in London for ten years.  It was a marvelous experience, and I love everything about the country, the freedom, the culture, the generosity of the Brits. 

It was, though, an odd feeling of an entire country not celebrating Thanksgiving.  After all, their beginnings were not steeped in felling trees for log cabins, constructing rustic and rudimentary villages and depending on the original inhabitants to teach them about corn and farming. Actually, at that time, the British government was the very reason why such an endeavor was occurring in this new world, but that's a story for the history books.  

Our Thanksgiving dinner in London then was held in the evening, after everyone came home from work.  The American community gathered in friends' homes for the traditional dinner.  In the early days of our time there, Harrods was the only place where canned pumpkin or fresh cranberries  (or any cranberries at all) could be procured.  Today they're both a staple in the supermarkets all year.

Always around our holiday table were some dear British friends and Canadian ones, too, who celebrate Thanksgiving on a different day in November.  The requisite jokes, "If you'd paid that tax on tea..." and so on were bandied about, all adding to the fun.  It is lovely remembering those days, those friends, those times. 

So, you ask, "How will you spend your Thanksgiving in Florida this year?"  The answer is simple--and surprising.  We will be with two of our three sons, one son's girlfriend and two dear friends from London, also living half of the year very close by in Florida and with whom we spent every Thanksgiving in Blighty!

And so the circle goes on and on, much to all our delight.  What a life!

Happy Thanksgiving to you all in the United States and around the world.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Read This Book Again!

Why, oh why do kids insist on having the same story read to them again and again?  With a sigh, we pick up the book for the hundredth time and begin to read.  "Don't we want to  read something different tonight?  How about this one?"  But, of course, we cannot dissuade our little one from repeating the same beloved book.  But all is not lost.  There are several excellent reasons why this repetition is amazingly important, crucial even, for a child's cognitive development.

Owl MoonRepeat to learn

Kids learn through repetition, so it’s not surprising that they tend to ask for the same books over and over — this is how their brains absorb the stories and language patterns within. In fact, a 2011 study of children’s language acquisition found that when kids were read the same book multiple times, they remembered and retained the meaning of a new word better than kids who read different books (all containing the same word). It’s likely that hearing the phrasing and structure of a story many times over helps children grasp and hold on to new vocabulary. It’s also exciting for your child to learn a book so well that she knows what’s coming and can anticipate or even repeat and chime in with the words — the same way we all love being able to know what’s coming and sing the words to a favorite song.
Repetition actually changes the brain: every time we practice a word, concept, or skill, neuro-chemicals are released and pathways between brain cells are strengthened and solidified. So when your toddler puts an old favorite in your lap and hunkers down to hear it for the hundredth time, she’s not just being particular — she’s exercising a built-in learning strategy that supports her growing mind.

Repeat for comfort

Little children are creatures of habit. It’s a principle that holds true not just for reading, but for other aspects of life too. The same fishy cup for lunch, the same walking route to the park … kids look for patterns and regularity to help them figure out how the world works, and they find comfort and security in rituals. This is especially important for younger kids, who are little scientists and feel reassured when they can predict what’s ahead.

Reading the same book over and over is soothing to your child, which is one of the reasons it’s a great activity as part of bedtime routine. Just as with other aspects of the evening pre-bed line up — like a bath or a bottle of milk — hearing the words of a familiar book helps your child settle in and relax, and it makes a great cue for sleep. Toddlers and preschoolers can be particularly repetitive in their reading taste, but even older kids who read on their own sometimes revisit favorites over and over.
Where the Wild Things Are
Repeat, and expand

Since reading the same books incessantly is developmentally appropriate (just bring the topic up with other parents of young kids for verification), it’s a good idea to follow your child’s lead. It's especially important when a particular book has become part of a sleep routine or some other transition point through the day. 

Frog and toad cover.jpgBut that doesn’t mean you can’t open up other possibilities as well. For example, before bed, set up the agreement that you read three books: two that your child chooses and one that you choose. This way you can put a book in the rotation that you enjoy reading. Don’t let this activity become mind-numbing for you. The more fun you have reading to your child, the more likely you are to do it frequently and with enthusiasm.

Make a plan with your child that respects her need for repeating tales, but also ignites up your own excitement (since she’s cueing off of you as well) — that way you can both look forward to snuggling in and cracking a book together.

Happy reading with your child or grandchild--over and over and over...

Heather Turgeon authors the weekly  Science of Kids column for Babble and her health and science writing has appeared in places like Salon, The Huffington Post, and The Daily Beast

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Children's Book, Magical Matthew, by Penelope Anne Cole

Magical Matthew, a lovely and thoughtful book by Penelope Anne Cole, was launched in October, 2012, by Guardian Angel Publishing. 

Magical MatthewIt is the story of young Matthew, a boy who realizes he has magical powers, is confused by them in the beginning, but then he tries to use them to do good.

Matthew's good friend, Lily, is a young girl who must use a wheelchair. One day as Matthew and she are talking, Lily notices some strange and wonderful occurrences around Matthew.  She thinks she needs to understand him better and decides to watch him closely.  The book ends on a happy and hopeful note and will leave the reader with a fine feeling about life in general.

Penelope Anne Cole
Magical Matthew, Ms. Cole's debut book, is about goodness and sharing and caring for friends.  This is a book that has a marvelous message for young children.

The artwork by Kevin Collier is whimsical and colorful.  The children's faces are joyful and full of life. The combination of Cole and Collier join to make a winning book for children and parents alike!

You can learn more about Ms. Cole, her books and what is coming next at:

Mr. Collier's work may be found at:

Monday, November 12, 2012

Samantha Bell--Artist for All Seasons

 It is my great pleasure to have as my guest today, Samantha Bell. She is a fine illustrator of children's books, and she works in many media, including watercolor. Sam was the illustrator who brought Bella and Britt to life in the Bella and Britt series, (Guardian Angel Publishing) for which I am eternally grateful!

As every writer of children's books knows, the written word is only half of the book.  Without the illustrator's talents, the book is not a book at all.  The illustrator brings it to life.  Gives it bones upon which to hang the story.  When I think of Britt and Bella, the words I wrote telling their story are not what comes to mind.  Rather, it is the girls themselves--the lovely, spunky, fearless girls that Sam's creative talent brought to the series.

NS  Please tell us about your earliest illustrating. School, even earlier? How did it happen?
SB  My very earliest illustrations were for a story I wrote when I was about seven years old. The story (or stories, rather -- it was a series!) was about the adventures of a cat named Kitty De Dums. I typed them up on half-sheets of paper and added an illustration to every page.

NS  Your illustrations are so lifelike. Do they come from models, your head, both?
SB   I'm all in favor of reference material! :) I find models for the people I illustrate and use reference photos for the other things in the picture. I love using models, because then the children who pose for me can literally see themselves in the books!

My typical process is this: After reading the manuscript, I work out a story board for each page, deciding what will be in each illustration. I do this with little scribbles, and I'm probably the only one who can tell
what the scribbles are supposed to be. From this, though, I know what I'll need for each illustration -- models, animals, objects, etc. -- and then go from there.
NS   What is a typical day like for an illustrator? Do you have a studio?

I'm not a full-time illustrator, but rather a full-time mom, so I don't think I ever have a typical day. With four children at home, my day might go like this: Wake up, work in some illustrating time, get the family up and going, run through the day's activities of schoolwork, appointments ,lessons, errands, housework, and meals (with a little illustrating time squeezed in again), get folks off to bed, and illustrate some more. I have some really good lighting in my studio, so I can work late at night if I need to. And my studio? A tiny room at the front of our house that used to
be the nursery for my youngest. We just call it the "art room", because sometimes my kids work on projects in there too.
NS   You illustrate animals so beautifully, too. Do you use some real animals as models?

SB  It's harder for me to work from life when illustrating an animal; that is, unless it's sleeping! So I find or take my own reference photos, coming up with a collection that shows the animal from lots of different angles so I have enough to work from.

 NS  The illustrations you did for the Bella and Britt series are so gorgeous. I feel that I know these girls as well as my own children. I am always amazed at how well you capture their personalities. How do you do it?
SB  It must be my models! When I meet with the girls, I take along my storyboard and tell them what I need them to do. They are so much fun to work with! They "act out" the story as I take a million photographs --they are so patient!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Guardian Angel Publishing October Releases!

Have a look at the October releases for Guardian Angel Publishing.  Congratulations to all the authors and illustrators! 

Every child at some point in his or her lives has a fear of monsters. Through charming, funny rhyme, see how one child conquers her fear of the monster in her room.

 What happens when the child finds out that monsters have fears, too?

Matthew has a secret. He fixes things magically. Matthew secretly uses his magic to fix things for his family and friends. Later, he expands his magical good deeds by fixing things in his neighborhood. Matthew’s friend, Lily, suspects something. Matthew must decide whether to tell her the truth or not.


A tiny burro shows up at a little boy's house and becomes a real asset to the family.  The day he disappears, they never expect to see him again until he prances in one dark spooky night.

An entertaining alphabet book with unusual animals doing zany things, aardvarks, komodo dragons, and many more incredible creatures. The comical illustrations will capture the imagination while building reading skills at many levels. Also included are activities for parents/teachers to do with children.

Rachel loves to doodle on walls, on her school books, and on her back pack. Anywhere Rachel can doodle she does, but it gets her into big trouble. She tries to draw and color in other places. She learns she can mix colors to make more colors. Suddenly, Rachel’s doodling becomes a lot more fun!

Find these and other great Guardian Angel Publishing titles at

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Not-So-Nice Tale of Tobermory Cat

Once upon a time, a ginger tom cat lived in Tobermory on the Scottish isle of Mull. The tourists loved him; a local artist even set up a Facebook page collecting photos of him lounging on walls, soaking up the sunshine. A Scottish publisher decided to commission a children's book about the Tobermory Cat, and asked a well-known author to write it. Everyone lived happily ever after. The End.

The Tobermory CatExcept it wasn't. The idyllic town of Tobermory – and an innocent ginger cat – have been drawn into an increasingly surreal copyright battle, which has rumbled on for months and become ever more vicious, featuring hate mail, "screams of abuse" over the telephone and cyber-bullying. And all over a cat that does not seem to care at all!

The dispute boils down to this: the local artist, Angus Stewart, says it was his Facebook page that made the Tobermory Cat famous, and that by writing a book about the cat, the publisher and the author are taking his idea.
The publisher, independent Edinburgh press,  Birlinn, says the cat has been known to locals and tourists for years. Local bookseller Duncan Swinbanks agrees. He says he's taken pictures of the cat, lying on the beach with a crowd watching it, dating back to before Stewart's Facebook page started.

Tobermory Cat"The idea was arrived at with no knowledge of [Stewart's] website," says Birlinn managing director Hugh Andrew, a visitor to Mull for 20 years. "I've published a lot of books in Mull but haven't done anything recently … I was thinking away in Tobermory when I was there last summer, and walking along the road I saw a huge ginger cat, with four or five people photographing it. I went to [local bookseller] Duncan [Swinbanks] and he said that's the Tobermory cat. I said let's do a children's book, and he was very enthusiastic. As I was going he said 'the cat's quite well known – there's a Facebook page'."

"This whole book was done because we're suffering on the island from the recession – our visitor numbers have fallen," says Swinbanks. "Hugh and I talked about this, and he said let's do a book on the cat."

Andrew approached author Mairi Hedderwick to write the book; she wasn't keen. He tried Debi Gliori, and she got on board. They decided to visit Mull for Gliori to meet the cat, get a feel for the place and, "as a matter of courtesy", to "go to see the people that were involved with the cat, and explain what was going on", said Andrew.

This included Stewart, and, as Gliori recounts in a lengthy blog post from late last week – the first time she has spoken out about the situation – the meeting did not go well.
"We would never have heard of the cat had it not been for the Facebook page. It was his idea. If he hadn't put in all the work into the Facebook page, nobody would ever have heard of the cat," she says he told her and Andrew. Andrew offered Stewart the opportunity to advertise his gallery and paintings on the back of the book, but he wasn't interested.

Time passed. Gliori had an idea for her story: all the villages of Mull have their own special cats, which draw visitors from near and far, except for Tobermory, because its cats aren't special. One ginger tom, however, wants to change this. "Ideas are 10 a penny. You can't copyright them," Gliori told the Guardian. "There was no stealing of ideas whatsoever."

Stewart turned to Facebook. "Dear Facebook friends," he wrote on a dedicated open page. "SHARE or LIKE any posts will REALLY HELP MY CAUSE – as it could virally create a MONSTER CELEBRITY CAT which can fight off any Edinburgh Publisher intent on taking all of my creative work. If Facebook can overthrow dictators it can pee on a publisher."

Then he named Gliori and Birlinn on Facebook for the first time. "Sadly this Tobermory Cat is shutting up shop … I honestly believe [Gliori] is taking my idea and title. There are half a million cats in Scotland and lots of towns – so their claim to have come up with the same idea and title independently of my existing work seems 'unlikely'. Their action means I will have no rights over my creative property, how it is used and deprives me of the right to earn an income from it in the future."

The post prompted an outpouring of fury on Facebook, where Stewart's supporters shared contact details for Birlinn and Gliori. The story was, as one put it, that the "corporate bastards are grinding down the individual", and plans were made to express the "disgust" felt to Gliori and to Birlinn.
The publisher received hate mail, and aggressive anonymous phone calls from members of the public. "It was scary for us," said Andrew. "There were screams of abuse to our intern and people in the office. I've had hate mail … We've had to get Amazon to remove defamatory comments. They set out to destroy the book, and I've had no real redress … To accuse us of theft, of plagiarism, is absolutely the most serious charge you can make about my business, and to Debi. It's absolutely devastating to our livelihoods if it sticks."

Gliori, meanwhile, was drowned in vicious Twitter messages. As she writes on her blog, "I became aware that my name was almost trending on Twitter. There were multiple mentions of it, and none of them good. Several people went further and got into my account and started firing off tweets to all my followers, informing them that I was a thief … Some of the tweets were nasty. Little fantasies of what the lovely Facebook friends of the Artist would like to do to me, if they got up close and personal … the 'friends' of the artist were massing on Facebook. They were leaving me messages. They knew where I lived. They were digging around on the internet, googling me, digging up whatever they could find.

Her illustrated children's book, The Tobermory Cat, has just been published, but Gliori is still shaken from her encounter. "I keep thinking I'm fine now, I'm over it, and I go out in public to do an event, and I'm thinking who's out there, who's going to stand up in the audience and do something horrific," she says.

Stewart has also just published a book, a collection of photographs of the cat.  He did not wish to speak to the Guardian – he is "being cast as some sort of bully and it is very dangerous stuff", he said in an email – but did point towards his numerous posts on the subject, in which he explains his reasoning.

Tobermory tallent
"I don't claim copyright of a real cat – that would be foolish," he has just written on a writers' forum on which writers have been expressing their outrage over Gliori's treatment for the past few days. "I claim copyright on my fictional work called Tobermory Cat and a fictional celebrity cat character entirely of my making. My star is not one cat, he is a construct, I use three cats, none of which has the given name Tobermory Cat … Their book is out, same ginger cat, same title, same car surfing antics, extracted details, the story of a cat becoming a celebrity cat – a graphic story, the prequel to my story but ending with a celebrity cat. If this book is the first of a series, they have occupied the ground. They brush me off, preferring to spend thousands on lawyers rather than supporting my work – but I try to secure the future rights or they will own the lot."

The nitty gritty details of this extraordinary story are being picked over endlessly online. Nicola Morgan, an author, former chair of the Society of Authors in Scotland and friend of Gliori's, points out that "there is no copyright on ideas or on titles, and that "creative people are creative not because of where they get their ideas but because of what they do with them". Other writers suggest that if the idea belongs to anyone, Saki might justifiably lay claim to the first Tobermory cat.

And the cat itself? It continues sleeping in the sun.