News & Messages
I came home to find the mail carrier had left a box on our back stairs. It was much too light for books. Could it be...? Yes, it was. Bears! Bears made to resemble those in books. I've posed them in a matching bathtub in our breakfront next to a copy of Bears in Baths. The bears are made in Japan and only available there, but shall I say it, "unbearably" cute!
Wonderful news! Candlewick is making an offer for a second book about the Friendship Dolls, to be called Dolls of Hope. This is the one I mentioned back in 2012, set in Japan to tell the story from the viewpoint of a Japanese girl. My daughter-in-law Miwa has been invaluable in helping me with Japanese words and culture. I can't wait to see the cover for this one!
Great excitement! I received an Advanced Review Copy of my middle-grade novel Ship of Dolls. Artist Kelly Murphy has done a fantastic job with the cover. Japanese papers create the stylizied waves beyond the figure of a girl in vintage clothing holding a doll with bright blonde hair. A steamship rides the waves on the horizon while letters float toward in among the waves, symbolizing the dolls' journey to Japan.
The Candlewick Spring catalog has arrived with two pages showing my books! Bears in Beds will be released as a toddler board book in March. In April, Bears and a Birthday will be available in stores. David Walker's illustrations are as adorable and joyful as ever. I'm having so much fun with these bears. David is working on illustrations for the 4th book, Bears and a Birthday, sure to be just as irresistible!
Okay, the year is going entirely too fast! How can I not have written since October? There's been a lot of excitement here. I was amazed this month to have Bears in Beds chosen for a nationwide promotion by Toys-R-Us. My book is one among books by several authors which will be displayed on endcaps during a promotion this spring. I signed 1200 copies and can hardly wait to see them in the stores.
Can it be October already? I'm looking forward to meeting people and signing books at The Old Sugar Mill in Clarksburg on the Sacramento River on Sunday, October 6. It promises to be an exciting day filled with writers, crafts people and of course, wine sampling.
The latest on Bears on Chairs in Japan is that the little bears will be put onto stationery and envelopes! What fun! I've just signed a contract with the Japanese publisher for a mini-book version of Bears on Chairs to be paired with the little plush bears. And, also in Japan, the bears are to be put onto backpacks, tee-shirts, caps and many other items. This is so much fun! I'm to get samples of each and can't wait.
Bears in Beds has also been published in Japan and will soon be followed by Bears in the Bath. David Walker's illustrations for that third book are adorable as always. It's scheduled for publication next year in this country with Bears and a Birthday to follow.
I'm excited over a new project. One of my short stories was accepted for an anthology of short fiction by members of Novelist's Inc., an organization of published writers. Mine is the shortest and the last in the book, but it's in there, available soon at Amazon.com and
Barnes & Noble.com. Here's the cover captured from Amazon
This time of year is always exciting for the various writing conferences available. The SCBWI Golden Gate conference at Asilomar, near Monterey was great fun with humor as the theme. Every workshop rocked with laughter. My Candlewick editor, Sarah Ketchersid, was one of the speakers and I felt incredibly lucky to spend some time with her. Sarah brought brand new printouts of the artwork for my third bear book, BEARS IN THE BATH. As always, David Walker has created adorable bears. We talked about future projects and I came away with my head whirling with plans!
BEARS TO BE PLUSH TOYS!
It's such fun to learn that the Japanese publisher who bought translation rights to each of my bear books is working with a toy company to produce small stuffed bears that look like the bears in the books! So far, the plush bears will only be sold in Japan, but I'm hoping they'll make the trip to America. Here are pictures of the prototypes.
Great news! Bears on Chairs will be offered in Scholastic's February issue of the Honeybee Book Club for the youngest readers. The book will be available alone or packaged with books by two other authors as book and audio disk sets. My publisher surprised me with a package containing the Scholastic edition of the book and disk on my birthday, by happy coincidence!
My new website home page is up! Yay!
I hope you like it. My webmistress thought of having a dollhouse showcase each of the bear picture books in a different room. So we have Bears on Chairs in a playroom, Bears in Beds on an upper floor and Big Brown Bear in a bathtub anticipating Bears in a Bath, to be published in Fall, 2014. I've submitted a 4th book, Bears and a Birthday, and am keeping my fingers crossed!
I am so excited by a new project!
Candlewick has made an offer for a middle grade novel, with an option for a second book! They are about the Friendship Dolls of 1927 sent by American children to children in Japan. I learned of the dolls a few years ago when my daughter-in-law, Miwa, who is from Fukuoka, told me of Hanamatsuri, a girl's festival celebrated with displays of elaborate dolls. In researching Hanamatsuri, I learned of the Friendship Dolls. The book is finished now and in my editor's hands (or at least, her ereader) waiting for editing. The second book is my editor's idea and set in Japan, telling the story from the point of view of a Japanese girl of the time. I hesitated at first, but with help from Miwa on Japanese words and customs, I'm enjoying the story that is developing.
THE MAGIC OF WORDS: I was part of a read-in on the 25th at a local library. Writers were given lists of words and were to write a short story using 6 of them. What an interesting challenge! Somehow, while studying the list, certain words sparked the story impulse and a story evolved. I've always been fascinated with the way words come together to evoke emotion.
BEARS IN A BATH is now scheduled for Spring, 2014. I'm looking forward to David Walker's illustrations. They're sure to be adorable.
Trees are budding, tulips are up, daffodils are ready to bloom. What a wonderful time of year this is with everything just ready to happen!
Copies of the four books I sold to Unibooks in Korea arrived in October and are very cute with moveable parts. One even plays music, like a greeting card. More recently, I've been contacted by more editors at Unibooks and am working on several books. Some are for babies age zero to 18 months. Others are for preschoolers. Even more recently, an editor at a second educational publisher in Korea emailed me and I'm hoping to work with her, as well. These are very short books and great fun to do.
And BEARS IN CHAIRS, published in a Japanese version is featured in MOE magazine (a Japanese magazine reviewing picture books) as the 9th best picture book of 2011 in Japan. I'm absolutely thrilled, especially since my daughter-in-law Miwa is from Japan and has family in Fukuoka. The same publisher has already purchased Japanese translation rights to BEARS IN BEDS and will publish in July, 2012, a month before Candlewick publishes the book. David Walker's illustrations are adorable and I'm sure readers will love them even more than in the first book.
My editor at Candlewick called recently to go over the manuscript for a third book, BEARS IN BATHS. David Walker has agreed to illustrate. This one is going to be funny and cute and I can hardly wait to see it finished!
Where has the year gone? It's been a busy summer. I enjoyed meeting a lot of you at the Literary Festival in Stockton in September. Earlier this month, I gave a talk to a branch of the California Writer's Club and though most of the members were not writing children's books, all listened and responded with enthusiasm.
Candlewick recently emailed David Walker's adorable illustrations for the second book about the bears, BEARS IN BEDS, which will be published in Fall of 2012. Just last week, my editor called to say Candlewick will be publishing a third book, BEARS IN BATHS. Terrific news! I'm looking forward to working through whatever revisions are needed and eventually, to the published book.
Here's a link to a blog called The Beauty of Picture Books. They plan to publish an essay every day in November by someone connected to picture books and have put up a short piece I sent showing how children have responded with questions and insights when I've read my books to them. http://bit.ly/BeautyBlog18
AUGUST 2, 2011
The State Fair Author's Booth was fun as always this year. Wednesday was a little slow, but Saturday brought a steady stream of visitors so that time flew by! My thanks to those who stopped to talk and to look at the displays.
Kid's Speaking Group forming!
I'm really excited to be joining nine other Northern California authors of children's books forming a group to share ideas and information on speaking to schools, libraries and other gatherings. Our website is so new, it's little more than a place holder today (July 21, 2011) but will soon offer bios and speaking information for each of us. We hope you will stop by here: www.speakingofkidsbooks.com
We're also putting info on members' events into our websites and blogs. Here's the first one. If you're interested in art, consider DR. MIRA REISBERG'S ONLINE CLASS. She will use her thirty-plus years of experience as an award-winning art professor and childrens' book illustrator to offer "a play-full, delight-filled and nurturing, technique intensive, spirited exploration of art, creativity, art history and theory and personal growth." If you'd like to join this international online community, look for details here: www.herosartjourney.com
May 26, 2011
My bears are to be on Australian TV! This is such fun! The popular Australian children's TV program, Playschool, is planning a reading of Bears on Chairs during a future program sometime next year. If any of you happen to catch it, I'd love to hear from you!
April 3, 2011
It must be spring! Yesterday, I attended my first writer's conference of 2011. This was the Society of Children's Book Writer's Spring Spirit, a one day conference east of Sacramento. Speakers included agents and editors. One comment that particularly interested me was that poems for children are usually picture books today, rather than published as poems. Another startling comment was that Curious George would probably not be published as a picture book today because it has too much text. The speaker also mentioned that she's tired at the end of the day and is a lot happier when her child brings Goodnight, Moon for another reading instead of Curious George which will take longer to get through.
March 25, 2011Today was the second Read-a-thon of the year for a nearby elementary school. I read my books to five classes of kindergarten to 2nd grade students and as usual had a lesson in the way children think. The first page of BEARS ON CHAIRS shows only the four small chairs. I turned to the next page showing one bear on one chair. A boy demanded to know why only one chair? "That doesn't make sense," he said. "First there were four chairs. Why is there only one now?" The question led to an interesting discussion of perspective. And a reminder that reading to children is always fascinating and often surprising.
March 10, 2011
Yesterday I took part in a book fair at my granddaughter Carole's Montessori preschool where I read my two picture books and gave the kids an early glimpse at BEARS IN BEDS now scheduled by Candlewick for Fall 2012. Artist David Walker has finished the first sketches. The illustrations will be cuddly and adorable. Can't wait to see the finished artwork in color!
A boy of four going on five reminded me of the unexpected jumps children's minds can take. As always, I told the children how hearing the frogs from my front porch had given me the idea for a counting book which became One Frog Sang. Wide-eyed, the boy exclaimed, "You STOLE it?!!" After a startled moment, I explained that writers often take inspiration from life, but the idea is their own.
I learned new ways to applaud from first graders at the Arlene Hein Elementary School in February when I read to six classes as part of an all day Read-A-Thon. The children gave their guests special waves, for me a "Roller Coaster" wave where they all rolled their arms in unison (because the books were fun) and a "Superhero" wave where they all swooped their arms up and out (because I was a super guest). I'll be back to read to children on another all-year class track on March 25.
The State Fair will be coming up in July. I've signed up for two 8-hour shifts in the California Author's Booth with dates and times still to be set.
I've now sold four board books to Unibooks in Korea. In addition to I LOVE MUSIC, and IT'S RAINING, Unibooks will publish WHERE'S MY SOCK (on matching patterns) and DINNER TIME (on table manners). These very, very short books are challenging and fun to do. They're scheduled for release in Korea in September 2011.
Even more exciting news! Candlewick is going to publish my sequel to Bears on Chairs. Currently titled Bears in Beds, this one is a bedtime book. David Walker will again create the illustrations. It takes time for a book to come together, so we won't see it on the shelves for awhile. But it's wonderful to know the sequel is on its way. Reviews for Bears on Chairs have been terrific. A lot of bloggers have raved about it on their sites, two of them calling it a "soon-to-be classic." Let's hope so!
Also new! A publisher in Japan has purchased translation rights to Bears on Chairs. I'm eager to see a copy when it's published. I can't imagine how they will translate rhyme, but my daughter-in-law Miwa is from Japan and will be able to read a copy to me when it comes out.
I've just learned the two very simple board books I've been working on with an editor at Unibooks in Korea have sold and will be published in that country. The books are IT'S RAINING and I LOVE MUSIC! These are for the toddler program for two and three year olds learning English (and written in English), so they are very simple. Since the publisher believes in books as toys to encourage a love for learning and reading, I'm looking forward to moveable bits of art-work such as tab pulls, pop-ups and fold-overs. Of course, art takes time. The books won't be ready quickly.
Exciting News: Candlewick Press will release ONE FROG SANG in trade paperback next March. I'm looking forward to my frogs making another spring leap into print!
BEARS AND CHAIRS is still winning great reviews. A reviewer for LittleOneLit.com has me smiling. She not only lumped the book in with GOODNIGHT, MOON and PAT THE BUNNY, but called BEARS ON CHAIRS "a soon-to-be-classic sure to work its way into your nightly rotation." May those words fly from her lips to readers' hearts!
A reviewer who is also a primary school teacher commented that she would look for little bears to act out the story for her class on the first day of school. How I'd love to be a fly on that wall!
Recently, a reviewer commented that BEARS ON CHAIRS speaks to tolerance as well as friendship and sharing because Big Brown Bear is "different" (bigger) than the other four bears.
The first review came from Kirkus. Among other things, the reviewer says, "While the bears' solution is hardly rocket science, their cooperative approach will appear revolutionary to the book's target audience. Between the unerringly positive approach to a common early-childhood dilemma and the can't-miss-rhyme, this volume will likely find its place on many a daycare shelf."
School Library Journal reviewed the book in September, saying, "Parenteau's brief rhythmic text is bouncy and light, and ideal for reading aloud. Themes of sharing and compassion are introduced in developmentally appropriate, subtle ways, and the bears' discovery of their own resolution is a refreshing conclusion to the story."
BEARS was reviewed by Publisher's Weekly on July 20. In describing the "cuddly, optimistic bruins" with a problem, the reviewer says "Parenteau's rhyming text is simple enough for a preschool audience, and the lesson the bears model about sharing will be welcomed by many teachers and parents."
Powell's Book Store in Portland, Oregon, concludes, "The infectious rhymes and easy charm of this winsome read-aloud are sure to make little ones stand up and take notice."
The Cincinnati Public Library finishes a brief review with the words, "Silly fun for little ones ages 2-5."
ONE FROG SANG was featured in Scholastic's April '08 Honeybee class catalog. Scholastic also put the book out on audio. It's such fun to hear the book read aloud, with all the various frog sounds and a chime to tell the child reader when to turn the page.
ONE FROG SANG released by Candlewick Press in March, 07 received terrific reviews. A children's librarian blogging at Storytime Staples posted, "One of my new favorites, this picture book works well in a counting storytime theme or it may be used to emphasize phonological awareness in an animal storytime theme...perfect for an interactive storytime adventure with preschoolers."
Here are comments from Kirkus: “Children will love making the range of frog sounds presented in this entertaining counting story…Lyrical language is really the icing on the cake of this successful offering.”
And from School Library Journal: “Lively, poetic text invites reading aloud. Verbs are particularly well chosen; the frogs crouch, huddle and ka-plop. Children will enjoy finding and counting the creatures on each page.”
The San Francisco Chronicle called ONE FROG SANG, "A good story for frog-filled summer nights." The reviewer especially liked the eight bullfrogs under the bridge who boomed: Woomp, Woomp. Those were my favorites, too. I listened for awhile to bullfrogs under our bridge, trying to hear their call phonetically.
And I love this comment on the book from another reviewer: "A veritable swamp-phony."
I want to add a big thanks to my Candlewick editor Sarah Ketchersid for her work on both these books. Sarah draws me back when I want to send my story characters in too many directions, always reminding me that simplicity is best.
Comments: I love this website!
Name: Ardith Brockett
I love it, the colors and wording every little animal that moves it is all great
Comments: Love your books! Keep them coming. :)
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Text copyright (c) 2009-12 by Shirley Parenteau. Illustrations copyright (c) 2009-12 by David Walker.
Reproduced by permission of the publisher,
Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.
Website copyright © 2012 by Shirley Parenteau. All rights reserved. Website design & maintenance by Web Crafters.
Shirley Parenteau is the author of books for children including Bears in Beds, Bears on Chairs and One Frog Sang.