Monday, April 30, 2012

Picture Book Creation Part 2

Our best selling book continues to be Counting Train Cars.  We think it is because it rhymes and helps kids with numbers.  I am sure the trains don't hurt either.  Kids seem to love trains.

So for our next book we are going to go back to rhyming, our fist love :)  We are amateur book writers and are not really sure if there is a right way to do this, but we simply start with a premise and then write the lines.

For instance one of the sections in our upcoming Summer book (not even a working title yet) is about having a picnic.  We sit and talk about what you do at a picnic.  You grill, you eat, friends come, they bring covered dishes or desserts, etc.  Then we come up with the first line.  We tend to write in two or four line stanzas. No reason, it just seems to be the easiest for children to understand.

So the first line is.

A picnic in the park will taste great.

Then we start throwing out rhyming words for great.  Hate, state, mate, grate, plate.  That's it, plate!

Hot dogs and burgers to fill our plate.

That continues until we think we have caught the feel for what we are trying to do with the two or four lines.  Here is how this one has ended up so far (still editing).

A picnic in the park will taste great.
Hot dogs and burgers to fill our plate.
The neighbors will bring their favorite dishes.
Baked beans, chicken, brownies, and knishes.

Yes, knishes. Pronounced Kuh-Nishes if you have never come across them. They are basically giant dumplings popular in NYC and other cities up east. We think it is a fun word and something for kids to learn about. Could backfire if no one knows what they are, but Google is always close by if needed.

Here is one of the illustrations to go with this part. We are illustrating each line so it will be quite a few drawings.

So, let us know what you think. Do you write picture books? How does this differ from your process? If you have kids, writing a picture book can be a great game. Let us know how it goes with your crew.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

My Name Is ...

Parental note: This is not a silly poem. Please read alone before sharing the story with your children. It is suitable for children, but we think you may want to read alone first in case there are questions.
We normally write silly poems for kids, but sometimes things that are sad happen in life.  This week one of our sons called us and said he had made a friend over lunch. The animal shelter was having an adoption event in the city and he met the little guy in the picture below. This dog looks a lot like Jake. Jake was our dog for many years and is the name sake of our site and self published books. Our kids grew up with Jake and we are always bumping into dogs that remind us of him.
I asked my son what the dog's name was and he said, "they said he doesn't have one."  Well that is simply sad. Our son isn't at the point in his life where he can take care of a dog, but we all hope this little guy found a home and a name.
If you are looking for a dog please consider a rescue animal. We speak from experience that mixed breeds make great friends.  Please send this to others if you think it will help a dog get a new home.
My Name Is...
I am a little puppy and I don't have a name.
I am sitting on the sidewalk looking for a friend.
Someone who will pet me and wants to play a game.
Someone who is special and has some time to spend.

I try to look when they go past but I'm a little shy.
I try to be excited but my tail won't wag at all.
Some stop and scratch my ears but then continue by.
Some stop and say they like me, I wish they had a ball.

When I am playing I yip and jump and look so very funny.
When I am playing I make friends and they would do the same.
Then I am sure someone would say that's the dog for me.
Then I would have a home but better, I would have a name.
Copywrite C.M. Dixon 4-2012

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

No Green Teeth For Me

I would hate it if they were green,
So I brush my teeth to keep them clean.

I start with flossing all the gaps.
Gently in, then out it snaps!

Loading up the brush is tricky.
I didn't know toothpaste was sticky.

It feels so fresh when I am brushing,
But on the walls it's just disgusting.

I better hurry and wipe that down.
A messy bathroom makes Dad frown.

I brush them once then once again.
So much smoother than when I began.

A sip of water and I start rinsing.
I love the sound of all that swishing.

Mom says spitting isn't nice,
But here I get to do it twice!

I dry my hands and towel my chin.
Now its time to show off that grin.

Copywrite C.M. Dixon 4-2012

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Picture Book Creation Process Part One

We have self-published three picture books over the past year (see links to the right) and we are currently working on our next.  This is a hobby for us that we fit in between our real jobs, but it is a lot of fun.  We started from scratch with zero knowledge of how to do this and have made most of it up as we go.  There are certainly some web sites we have gone to for information, and the Amazon KDP guidelines have been helpful, but most has been trial and error.

Step one.  You need a book.  This is probably the most important step.  We write our books as a team and usually start with the writing first.  Sounds like common sense, but on our first book we painted the pictures first.  It is about Easter and the pictures were very important to the feel of the book so we started with the illustrating.  Probably not a great idea, but it worked for that one.

Our next book is a going to be a rhyming book about Summer.  We finally finished the writing part and now we are illustrating.  We primarily use Procreate on an iPad to create our illustrations.  It was good before the latest update and now it is great! One of us does most of the illustrating and has tried Sketchbook, but ProCreate seems to give us better results.

The Summer book will be in watercolor style.  Here is a sample of the artwork.

This style is much different from our previous books.  In those the art work was more of a pen and ink/marker type painting.  For contrast, here is an image from Dog Wants To Be Famous!

We think this change in style will give it a breezy Summer feel. 

So our process to date:
1. Complete the story and text
2. Start illustrating

These are the fun parts.  We'll share some more as we go through the creation process and then add info later on the less fun formatting and publishing process we use.

Here are some links to the art programs we use.

Let us know what you think.  Do you think children will like the watercolor style?  If you create picture books how does your process differ?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Pizza Night Poem

When dad declares pizza night the whole house agrees.
But my family loves toppings and I just like cheese.

My brother likes meat and prefers to have three.
He likes sausage and chicken but loves pepperoni.

My mom eats healthy and is always watching her weight.
She will only want veggies and try to tell us it's great.

Dad is the peace maker, "Half and half and we'll share."
He thinks all will be happy but then catches my stare.

I smile and remind him," I only like cheese."
"The toppings will ruin it just cheese, pretty please?"

We come to our senses and the family agrees,
On a perfect solution, half loaded, half cheese.

Copywrite C.M. Dixon 4-2012

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Review of Mary Had A Little Lamp

Author Jack Lechner and Illustrator Bob Staake created Mary Had A Little Lamp, and really hit the mark.  If you have been to our blog before you know we like silly books, but love silly books that make you laugh out loud.  This book will get that reaction if you sell it.  Reading picture books is a lot like community theatre so get into character and have some fun.

We think it would be fun to read Mary Had A Little Lamb with your little ones and then read this book right after.  That will help them get the joke and also give them an easy introduction to satire.  After all, doesn't every parent dream of having satirical children?

The story is about a little girl who has a pet lamp, and yes, it is sure to follow her everywhere she goes.  We especially liked how Mary was very independent and didn't let others make her feel different for having a pet lamp.  Everyone has their little quirks and she just happens to have a pet lamp. 

This book is a great example of why we love funny books.  Kids will like this book because it is funny, but if a child has different interests or knows kids that like different things then they can learn from this book as well.  It's OK to be a little quirky sometimes.

Have you read this book?  If you have, please leave a comment and let us know if your kids liked it.  If you feel you must rhyme your comment, we get it.  Quirky can be fun.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Can A Worm Become Another And Then Be It's Own Brother?

Today I went outside to plant Spring flowers and I was busy digging.
The garden was full of earthworms and one was wildly wiggling.

To my horror and thanks to my shovel, I saw where one worm was, was now another.
Don't worry said my friend, they both will live and one will become the other's brother.

I asked my parents and they sadly said no.
The head half will live and a new tail will grow.

The tail half will not grow another head.
Not two worms but still just one instead.

When planting be careful, and watch out for our slimy little friend.
The head can live if chopped in two, but it takes some time to mend.

Copywrite C.M.Dixon 4-2012

Friday, April 13, 2012

Free Children's Picturebook

Our picture book, "Counting Train Cars" will be free on Amazon all day Saturday April, 14!

We wrote this book because kids we know are fascinated by trains. Boys especially seem to like all of the different types of cars. This book is targeted to young children learning numbers 1 to 10.

Counting Train Cars

You can download your free copy on Saturday by following the link on the right side of this page under the "Our Picture Books" heading.

We hope you and your little ones enjoy it. If you do please leave a review on Amazon or leave us a comment here!

Woo. Woo. We can count to ten!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

National Poetry Month

Did you know that Jack Perlutsky is America's first Chlildren's Poet Laureate? He writes silly poems that kids love to hear read aloud. This is a great time to add some poetry to your child's reading list.

Our favorite is ...

"As soon as Fred gets out of bed,
his underwear goes on his head."

Kids are sure to giggle at this and other poems by this author. Find more information on his website at Sorry iPad lovers, but it is a flash site. :)

Happy Poetry Month to all!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Our favorite Easter picturebook memory

We have all had those special memories that take us back in time. Sometimes when we walk into an old home that has been turned into a restaurant or shop the old smells take us back to our grandmothers' homes. Smells seem to be a big driver of deja vu, but pictures also take us back.

The Easter book we remember most vividly from our childhood is A Surprise for Mrs. Bunny. This book is no longer in print and some of the older copies are pretty pricey so if you have it, hold onto it. We wish kids could still read it. The story is about little bunny siblings who decide to surprise their mom by coloring eggs. Rolly, Dolly, Trolly, Molly, Lolly, Wolly, Polly and Jolly all pick an egg and get busy. One of them is a little clumsy and accidentally mixes the dye. His egg turns out blackish looking and looks horrible next to the other pretty eggs.

Of course Mrs. Bunny loves them all, and the big surprise comes when a chick hatches from the ugly egg. Apparently that bunny also had trouble telling hard boiled eggs from fresh ones :)

If you get a chance to grab a copy of this to share with your kids you will love it. Does anyone else have fond memories of this one from their childhood? Happy Easter to all!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Review of 17 Things I'm Not Allowed To Do Anymore

First, on the funny scale, this is a very funny book. Kids will find a lot to giggle about in this book. We never learn the little girl's name who stars in this book, but we do quickly learn that she is both precocious and precious.

The book is written by author Jenny Offill as a list of things the little girl is no longer allowed to do for very obvious reasons. The illustrations add quite a bit to this book. Great job at using mixed media by illustrator Nancy Carpenter to match the tone of the text. Our favorite illustration is the dog's expression when his water bowl is being violated, but kids will find many funny pictures in this book.

From a parenting perspective, this book includes behavior that is not acceptable. We think it is great to read these types of books to teach children good behavior while having fun, and parents can use this book as an opportunity to help kids build their own sense of humor. 

When you read other reviews for this book you will see there are two camps.  Those like us who think children understand that funny books aren't real, and those who worry that children will try to imitate the actions shown in this book.  We think kids are smart, and they get it. Read this with your children and discuss why the behavior is unacceptable as you laugh at the ridiculous antics. We believe smiling and laughing are always a great place to start with kids.

Our favorite quote. "I am not allowed to set Joey Whipple on fire anymore.".  Read the book, it isn't as bad as it sounds :)

Let us know if you like this book, or if you know of one you think is funnier!

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Rhyming Question

Many good books have been written,
But the rhyming ones have us smitten.

Kids seem to agree and like the sing song,
Of a story that keeps time all along

Is it the rhythm or is it the rhyme,
That captivates them through story time?

What do you think about this post?
Please leave a comment for the host.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Easter Bunny's Assistant

This is a new Easter book by Jan Thomas. It is a very quick and simple story. The Easter Bunny is getting ready to dye eggs for the big egg hunt and this year he has a new assistant. Skunk tries to help, but has trouble not getting too excited.

Product Details

Kids who think embarrassing smells are funny will like this book. It may not be laugh out loud funny, but it is amusing and a good choice for Easter. The book includes instructions on how to dye Easter eggs so this would be a great book to read to your child a day or two before you color eggs.

Happy Easter to everyone! We hope you enjoy this book. Leave a comment and let us know how your eggs came out.