Released in September, Little Melba and her Big Trombone, is the story of Melba Liston, a little-known but trailblazing jazz musician who broke racial and gender barriers to become a famed trombonist and arranger. We asked illustrator Frank Morrison to take us behind the scenes for creating the art work used in Little Melba and her Big Trombone.
After reading the manuscript for Little Melba and her Big Trombone, I immediately searched for references that could help me bring the story to life. This included clothing from the time period and a trombone, which I have never painted before. I was fortunate enough to find a CD by Melba titled, “Melba Liston and her Bones” as well. After gathering all of my materials my studio begins to sound like a jazz session as I begin reading.
Amanda Boyarshinov is one of the creators of the blog, The Educators’ Spin On It, a site that makes everyday moments into teachable opportunities. She has a Master of Reading Education for grades K-12 and a B.A. in Elementary Education. Additionally, she has her English Speakers of Other Languages (E.S.O.L.) endorsement and has received her National Board Certification in Early Childhood Education. In this post, we’ve been given permission to share her steps on building a family theme Love Book Basket, as well as how to create an “I Love You” book.
HOW TO BUILD A FAMILY THEME LOVE BOOK BASKET
1. Choose a Book
Select themed literature that is appropriate for your child’s age. Younger children may enjoy shorter stories. Older children may like more detailed picture books. Consider both non-fiction and fiction text. Lee and Low Publishing Company sent me the 3 books to read with my children for this article. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.
Last fall, Tu Books released Killer of Enemies, a post-apocalyptic steampunk adventure by Joseph Bruchac. Readers were introduced to seventeen-year-old Apache hunter Lozen, a kick-butt warrior who kills monsters to ensure the safety of her family.
Set to be released next month, Joseph Bruchac has written an e-novella that’s a prequel to Killer of Enemies, titled Rose Eagle.
Rose Eagle is set in the Black Hills of South Dakota, where readers are introduced to seventeen-year-old Rose Eagle of the Lakota tribe who is trying to find her place in a post-apocalyptic world.
Summer is coming to an end, but that doesn’t mean the fun stops! With cooler weather comes fun indoor activities, like catching a great jazz show. We asked Frank Morrison, illustrator of our new picture book biography, Little Melba and Her Big Trombone, to share some of his favorite jazz numbers with us. Many of the artists below played or arranged with Melba Doretta Liston; others inspired Frank while he created his illustrations. So sit back with your cup of apple cider and let the rhythm carry you away!
John Coltrane: “Out of This World,” plus Coltrane’s albums The Inch Worm, Big Nick, and Giant Steps
Released in March, Summoning the Phoenix gives readers an inside look into centuries-old Chinese musical instruments and the more recently formed modern Chinese Orchestra. Children of all backgrounds show that traditional Chinese music can be enjoyed by everyone. We asked illustrator April Chu to take us behind the scenes for creating the digital illustrations used in Summoning the Phoenix:
1. Before I do any sketching at all, I will read a manuscript over and over many times. Sometimes I even close my eyes and just brainstorm ideas. This step is important to me because this is when all the initial images and emotions I get from a story start forming in my head. I also start doing research and compiling photos at this point as I did for Summoning the Phoenix: Poems and Prose about Chinese Musical Instruments. Researching is very important to me before I begin a project especially for a nonfictional picture book. In this case, researching on the Internet was not adequate since I needed to have a good detailed look at each instrument. Fortunately, the California Youth Chinese Symphony was kind enough to allow me to take photos during one of their practice sessions. I was able to get a firsthand look at how the musical instruments were played, what they sounded like, and what they looked like in real life. All those elements eventually shaped the final artwork.
Even though warmer weather seems like eons away, we’re already getting ready for the May release of Drift, our new YA coming-of-age fantasy from Tu Books imprint!
Tenjat lives on the shores of Hell, an ocean filled with ravenous naga monsters. His island, a massive Turtle, is slowed by the people living on its back. Tenjat is poor as poor gets: poor enough, even, to condescend to the shame of marriage, so his children can help support him one day.
But Tenjat has a plan to avoid this fate. He will join the Handlers, those who defend and rule the island. Handlers never marry, and they can even provide for an additional family member. Against his sister’s wishes, Tenjat joins the Handlers. And just in time: the Handlers are ramping up for a dangerous battle against the naga monsters, and they need every fighter they can get.
As the naga battle approaches, Tenjat’s training intensifies, but a long-hidden family secret—not to mention his own growing feelings for Avi—put his plans in jeopardy, and might threaten the very survival of his island.
In this post, Tu Books Publisher Stacy Whitman shares the process of creating the cover:
The cover of our new YA fantasy Drift was the first time we hit a wall in our attempt to put a person on the cover of the book. This world is a true high-fantasy alternate world, and the fact that the world is completely new makes it tough to depict visually. We came up against several roadblocks when pursuing our original design, which put the main character, Tenjat, front and center on the cover.
We’re so excited for the upcoming release of Rebellion, the final title in the Tankborn trilogy, which comes out this May! Here’s what to expect:
In the wake of a devastating bomb blast, severely injured Kayla has been brought to the headquarters of the organization that planted the bomb—and many others like it in GEN food warehouses and homes. Her biological mother tells her that Devak is dead and that Kayla must join her in the terrorist group, which is ramping up for something big. Now Kayla must pretend that she embraces this new role in an underground compound full of paranoia as she plots a way to escape and save her friends.
Meanwhile, Devak has emerged from his healing in a gen-tank, only to be told that Kayla is dead and his family has fallen from grace. Can he overcome his grief at the loss of his power to see the clues that point to Kayla being alive?
As Kayla and Devak overcome the multiple obstacles between them while trying to free GENs without further bloodshed, the Tankborn trilogy rushes to a thrilling conclusion!
In this post, Tu Books Publisher Stacy Whitman shares the process of creating the cover:
As we discussed in the cover reveal post about Awakening (book 2 in the Tankborn trilogy), we showcased two different characters on the covers of book 1 and book 2. Originally, I thought perhaps we should showcase Devak, Kayla’s love interest and the major trueborn character, on book 3.
Just released last month, our newest picture book, King For a Day, takes readers on a colorful journey through the spring kite festival Basant. From a rooftop in Lahore, Pakistan, Malik is determined to take his kite Falcon out and win the most kite battles to earn the title of “King of Basant.”
Illustrator Christiane Krömer used paper and fabric collage to create the gorgeous illustrations you see below:
I always take photos of the many stages. That way I can see what a picture looked like earlier on, experiment with many choices and then maybe go back to an earlier option. The fun with collage is that you can always push all the paper pieces and fabrics around until they are in the right spot. But there is also a big danger that all the 1000 loose pieces go flying, so it’s a good idea to have a photo that tells you exactly how it was when it looked good. I always have real fun to look at all the stages once the illustrations are finished. I hope you do, too.
We are sad to share the news that illustrator Sonia Lynn Sadler has passed away. Sadler is the illustrator of, among other titles, Seeds of Change, for which she won the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent in 2011.
Sonia was a passionate and immensely talented artist as well as a cheerful and kind person. She worked in many different types of media, as a fine artist, a designer, and an illustrator. Her words and artwork speak for themselves: here are a few quotes from Sonia from an interview she did with Education Insider in 2011:
1.) Zilombo is very ancient, a mythical creature older than dinosaurs, an incredible mixture of many beasts.
2.) Every time she hatches out of her mudball, she looks different and has evolved a new animal skill, usually to help her catch things to eat. When she hatches in England she can collapse her skeleton like a rat does and squeeze through the tiniest holes after her prey!
3.) She’s got teeth like a crocodile, skin like a hippo, a leap like a frog and swivel eyes like a chameleon. She’s got sharp talons, curled into leopard claws. She has the low jutting forehead of an ape and her nose is pulled forward into a muzzle, like a dog. She has rusty orange hair, that sticks up in a crest on her head Mohawk style, then bristles down her back like a lion’s mane.