book trailer

The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes

A story as progressive as “The Country Bunny” is a perfect fit for PBS…

I always look to see if there’s any accompanying video content available whenever I make a book recommendation – an author interview, a book trailer, etc. – and I found a real gem while looking for video related to The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes this week.

Apparently, during the late ’70s and early ’80s, Nebraska Public Television and the Nebraska Department of Education developed a children’s show to promote reading called Once Upon a Time. The show revolved around a witch who loved stories so much that she locked Marion the Librarian in her tower until (to quote the theme song) “the witch is happy / And lets Marion go away.” So the show mostly involves Marion reading stories to kids each week from the witch’s tower- it’s like a mash-up of old locally-produced children’s shows (like Bozo the Clown and Mister Dress-Up) and the old PBS classic Reading Rainbow.

(There was an oddball Canadian kids’ show about reading – the weirdly sci-fi Read All About It – that I adored, even though its floating-head main villain, Duneedon, terrified me when I was younger.)

Once Upon a Time

This is how we got kids to read in the ’70s and ’80s…

Once Upon a Time is low-budget and a bit cheesy, but the 33 episodes are so earnest and charming that it’s hard not to feel a lot of affection for the show. I would’ve LOVED it as a kid. Plus Marion the Librarian read lots of really great books, including The Country Bunny, Make Way For Ducklings, Madeline’s Rescue, Horton Hatches The Egg, Stone Soup, and more. So, if you’re interested in checking out a nicely nostalgic public TV take on Du Bose Heyward’s The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes, here you go:

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Art & Max by David Wiesner

Take a look at how David Wiesner got started on “Art & Max”

Here’s a very cool video with David Wiesner, creator of Art & Max, one of my favorite picture books about art, talking about the origins of the book and how playing with different art media inspired his lovely, lizard-filled story about the creative process. The video not only offers up some interesting insights into how Wiesner works, but it also shows you some of the earliest images that Wiesner created during the book’s evolution. (Fun fact – In the early stages, Art was a bear, not a lizard.)

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The American Library Association announced the winners of their major 2013 book awards on Monday, and the award that always catches my attention is the Caldecott Medal, named in honor of nineteenth-century illustrator Randolph Caldecott. The award is presented to “the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children” from the past year, and former winners include such Building a Library favorites as A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka, A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Erin and Philip Stead, Flotsam by David Wiesner, and many, many more. This year, the 2013 Caldecott Medal was awarded to This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen.

This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen

That fish totally stole that hat and now he’s being rewarded?

I couldn’t be happier about this selection. I wrote a glowing review of Klassen’s I Want My Hat Back last year, and This Is Not My Hat continues the hat-swapping fun. It’s a hysterical read and absolutely gorgeous to look at. The ALA also named five Caldecott Honor Books for 2013Creepy Carrots!, illustrated by Peter Brown (artist of the great The Purple Kangaroo and Children Make Terrible Pets), written by Aaron Reynolds; Extra Yarn, illustrated by Jon Klassen (winning a Medal and an Honor Citation.. nice), written by Mac Barnett (author of the hilarious Chloe and the Lion); Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger; One Cool Friend, illustrated by David Small (creator of one of our favorite books ever, Imogene’s Antlers), written by Toni Buzzeo; and Sleep Like a Tiger, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski, written by Mary Logue.

We’ve read This Is Not My Hat, Creepy Carrots!, and Extra Yarn so far and definitely recommend them. We’re hoping to snag the rest soon, but I’m sure that, following the award announcements, their library hold lists exploded. BUT, if you’d like to sample this year’s Caldecott books before you get in line at the library, I put together this collection of book trailers and videos for all of the 2013 Caldecott honorees. First up, let’s take a look at the book trailer for the 2013 Caldecott Medal winner This Is Not My Hat.

Next, Peter Brown talks about how The Twilight Zone inspired his artwork for Creepy Carrots.

This fan-produced book trailer for Extra Yarn gives you a very cool, very thorough look at Jon Klassen’s fantastic artwork. [read the rest of the post…]

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Giants Beware

Q: Who would in a showdown – Claudette or Merida from “Brave”? A: The audience.

First Second Books published Giants Beware!, our favorite kid’s book of 2012, and no one can fault them for failing to create some great promotional material for Jorge Aguirre and Rafael Rosado‘s sublime graphic novel. I mentioned the book’s great downloadable activity kit in my review, but First Second also created two very cool book trailers for Giants Beware as well.

The first trailer is a dynamic movie trailer-esque preview of the book – the video is a montage of music and images that really sells how Claudette’s adventures read like a blockbuster animated movie.

The second trailer is interesting. It’s less of a trailer and more of a look behind the scenes at the creation of the book. Basically, it’s a three-and-a-half minute, real-time video of Rafael Rosado digitally inking a page from Giants Beware. There’s no commentary or narration, just some accompanying music as we look over Rosado’s shoulder while he works. While there’s a part of me that really would’ve enjoyed hearing Rosado talk more about his creative process, I found myself really sucked in by the video and this look into his studio. (You will either find this video fascinating or dead boring – fair warning.) Enjoy.

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When I Grow Up book trailer

We open on a tracking shot of a publishing executive giving Weird Al a million dollars to make the best book trailer ever….

While I was still reveling in my excellent recent purchases at a holiday book sale, I decided to go online and see if any of the titles I bought had book trailers available. Although, I should note right off the bat that, even though they’re growing in popularity, book trailers can be pretty hit or miss. Sometimes, they do a great job of stoking your interest in a title by using exciting, cinematic imagery or offering interesting insights from the authors. And, other times, they look like half-assed junior high AV projects that a student threw together in an hour in lieu of turning in an English paper.

Fortunately, three of the books I purchased this week – Along a Long Road by Frank Viva, The Trouble with Chickens by Doreen Cronin and Kevin Cornell, and When I Grow Up by Al Yankovic and Wes Hargis – all had very decent, very well-produced book trailers available, which I thought I’d pass along.

For starters, the trailer for Along a Long Road does a cool job of showing off Viva’s rich, stylish artwork and making it clear that the illustrations really were created as a single 35-foot-long piece of art (which still blows my mind).

Next, we’ve got the trailer for Doreen Cronin‘s The Trouble with Chickens. I will admit – when Cronin came on screen in a trenchcoat and fedora, I was worried that I was going to spend two minutes being really embarrassed for one of my favorite children’s authors. Fortunately, the cheese factor was gloriously low in this trailer. Instead, we get some solid interview time with Cronin where she really goes into detail about the crime noir inspirations behind the book. (She likens J.J. Tully the dog to Humphrey Bogart, which just made me love her all the more.)

And, finally, we get the trailer for When I Grow Up. This trailer is mostly just excerpts of Al Yankovic reading from the book, accompanied by slightly animated versions of Wes Hargis’ artwork, but I think that was a great choice for this preview. Weird Al has such a distinct and downright wacky reading voice that he’s a great ambassador for the book. If I was a kid and I heard Al’s narration on this trailer, I’d want to read the book ASAP.

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Bink & Gollie: Two For One

Having a best friend is awesome…

In my last post, I waxed on and on about Bink & Gollie: Two For One by Kate DiCamillo, Alison McGhee, and Tony Fucile, even though, pretty early in the article, I commented, “How can I possibly convey the depth of the warmth and humor in Bink & Gollie in a simple blog post?” (And yet I still tried. Was it passion or hubris? You be the judge…) So, for the sake of argument, let’s just assume that I failed in my attempt to really convey how endearing the two Bink & Gollie books are and you, as the skeptical blog lurker, need more empirical evidence to sell you on my recommendation. You need more evidence? No problem.

Below are two videos that, I think, do a nice job of showing off the quirky charms of Bink & Gollie. The first is a book trailer for the original Bink & Gollie, put together by Candlewick Press. The second video is a very cool, very home movie-esque clip of illustrator Tony Fucile reading Bink & Gollie to a group of children at a bookstore. It is not the most professionally-produced video ever, but I actually find it charming as hell. The camera moves all over the place, kids interrupt and ask questions, and Fucile does his best to read the story and explain his illustrations with unflappable good humor. The shaky-cam nature of the video and the iffy sound might make it hard for some to watch, but I find it to be a wonderfully real glimpse of a creator really connecting with his target audience. If these videos can’t sell you on Bink & Gollie, I don’t know what can.

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Midway Monkey Madness

How can you not adore a book called “Midway Monkey Madness”?

In my last post, I went on and on about how fantastic the DC Super-Pets chapter books from Capstone Publishers are, and I still really recommend them for any kid who loves superheroes and who’s starting to read on their own. (Even if they aren’t a junior comic nerd like my kid, they’re still very entertaining reads.) Plus, be honest, you have to love a chapter book series with titles like Midway Monkey Madness, Attack of the Invisible Cats, Salamander Smackdown, and Battle Bugs from Outer Space. (Am I right? I’m right, aren’t I?)

Plus I just discovered that Capstone makes a line of DC Super Hero chapter books that offer similarly designed, early-reader-friendly stories revolving around DC’s most famous heroes – Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, and Green Lantern. While I’m not willing to endorse them sight unseen, I’ve had such a positive experience reading Capstone’s Super-Pets books to my daughter, I’ll definitely be checking out their DC Super Hero chapter book line in the near future.

But, if you’re not into comic books, no worries. If you just want to learn more about these visually compelling chapter books, I’ve grabbed two videos that might interest you. One is a book trailer for the DC Super-Pets chapter book series and the other is a fun interview with artist Art Baltazar, talking about his career and the books themselves. Enjoy.

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I Want My Hat Back

Wait... I'm in a movie? Really?

Whenever I review a book, I normally check on two things before I post the review – I do a quick search to see if the book or author has an official website, and I do a quick search to see if there’s any video that relates to the book in question. I’m especially interested in the video because I think publishers and authors have been creating some very cool and engaging video content lately, ranging from book trailers, author Q&A sessions, read-aloud videos (which I’ve had problems with in the past), fan-made tributes, etc. Also, since I’m the world’s worst over-writer, I think the video is a nice break from my normal, cringe-inducingly large blocks of uninterrupted text.

So, after finishing my review of Jon Klassen’s I Want My Hat Back, I went looking for any accompanying video for the book online and found a strange little mix of the expected and definitely unexpected.

First, I found Candlewick Press‘ official book trailer for I Want My Hat Back, which is nicely produced, it’s very cute – it is an above-average book trailer.

Then I discovered a full-length animated version of I Want My Hat Back. At first, I’ll admit, this video confused the heck out of me. The video – apparently the work of an Italian animator – seemed maybe professional enough to be “official,” but, despite its obvious production value, there were a few red flags that outted it as a fan effort. See for yourself. [read the rest of the post…]

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Scaredy Squirrel

Scaredy hopes you enjoy his book trailers

I’m running a bit behind on my epic, three-part appreciation of the genius of Melanie Watt (click here for part one and part two), so, in the meantime, I thought I’d share a few Scaredy Squirrel-related videos to give you a taste of what you’ve been missing. (And, if you’ve already read Scaredy Squirrel, then enjoy this taste of… nope, the metaphor doesn’t work anymore. Just watch them and enjoy, OK?)

First, here are two very brief book trailers created by Scaredy’s publisher, Kids Can Press.

And, now, here’s a pretty good read-aloud video of the first Scaredy Squirrel book.

There are actually a lot of these kinds of videos on YouTube, videos of people reading children’s books aloud, and I have mixed feelings about them. On one hand, it’s nice to get such a thorough preview of the book and, particularly for picture books with a lot of verse elements, it’s kind of cool to hear someone else reading it aloud to get a sense of their rhythms and inflections (particularly if you’re not 100% sure if you’re reading it right – looking at you, In the Night Kitchen.)

On the other hand, most of these videos seem pretty lacking to me. There’s a read-aloud video of Watt’s Chester that I couldn’t stop screaming at – “You’re not reading like 40% of the text on the page! Why didn’t you read the jacket flap? Aren’t you going to highlight the illustrations? Are you trying to give me a heart attack???” [read the rest of the post…]

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As I described earlier, having an interrupting chicken in your child’s library can be a humorous and fulfilling experience. However, you DO have to make sure that you have the right kind.

For example, THIS is the perfect kind of interrupting chicken for your child:

THIS is not. (Be sure to wait until the end, though):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbGoGLOSPSE

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