Happy National Poetry Month! Today we’re celebrating by looking at one of my favorite forms: haiku. Just a few lines, less than 20 syllables, haiku often appear easy because they’re so short. But, as anyone who has tried to write a picture book can tell you, often the shortest forms are the most difficult!
Haiku (the plural of which is also haiku) originated in Japan. They are short poems that are traditionally 17 syllables, often in three lines. In his afterward to Cool Melons- Turn to Frogs!, Lee & Low’s picture book biography of Japanese haiku master Issa, author Matthew Gollub explains more about what makes a haiku a haiku:
Japanese poets [wrote] haiku for centuries. Traditional haiku describe a single moment in nature, something that the poet observes or discovers. As such, a haiku can refresh or enlighten us by calling to mind life’s passing details.
We’re so excited about the upcoming release of our new YA historical fantasyHammer of Witches! In this post, Tu Books Editorial Director Stacy Whitman discusses how she and the designer came up with the final cover:
Historical fantasy can be tough to market. You have to show that, despite being steeped in research and history, this is an exciting, awesome book. It should look different from all the contemporary books out there, but not old-fashioned. Because of the fantasy element, a photographic cover just couldn’t do this book justice, but for YA, illustration can be tough because you don’t want the illustration to make the book look like it’s for a younger audience. We needed an illustrator whose art had a more mature look, whose sensibility tended more toward something you’d see in the adult market than the middle grade market—and we found that illustrator in Andrew Mar.
Because the cover is illustrated, there’s a lot more leeway in terms of what we can pick to show. So we get to see an important moment in the story: a character moment where the main character, Baltasar, meets one of his primary companions throughout the book, Jinni (who is a half-genie). We know there’s magic happening–she’s floating, after all!–and we get to see how the author envisioned these characters rather than having to find a model whose looks fit the character or a stock photo that’s not quite right. We can also see that this is a historical setting from the view out the window, the characters’ clothing, and the items on the table. We even get some nice detailing in Jinni’s dress, and I love the expression on her face compared to Baltasar’s!
We’re getting close to the release of Awakening, the upcoming sequel to the YA science fiction dystopia Tankborn from our Tu Books imprint! Awakening continues the story of Kayla and Mishalla, two teen GENs (genetically engineered nonhumans) fighting for freedom and equality:
Last week, we were lucky to get some help revealing the cover of Awakening from some great book blogs:
One of our upcoming books that I’m most excited about is a new middle grade novel in verse called Etched in Clay, out this January. Etched in Clay, by Andrea Cheng, explores the life of Dave the Potter, an enslaved man from South Carolina who learned how to read and write. Dave is famous for inscribing his own poetry and thoughts on the pottery that he made – a very daring thing in light of the harsh anti-literacy laws for slaves in place at the time.
Author and artist Andrea Cheng used woodcuts to create the delicate spot art for Etched in Clay. Here’s how she did them:
The Lee & Low office is closed today because of the storm, and our thoughts are with everyone affected by Sandy and the rain, wind, and flooding that she brought with her.
Drummer Boy of John John illustrator Frané Lessac has shared instructions on how to make masks for Halloween and Carnival, but they work just as well as a Hurricane craft for those still cooped up and looking for something to do, as most things can be found around the house or replaced easily with household items.
Tonight is the Opening Reception for the Society of Illustrators Original Art Exhibit and we are proud to announce that two of our illustrators, Beth Lo and R. Gregory Christie, will have art from their Spring 2012 titles on display in the show. Below, Beth Lo shares a few shots of how her unique illustrations from Auntie Yang’s Great Soybean Picnic came to life, from a simple sketch to a ceramic plate.