Friday, October 8, 2010

Call Me Miss Controversy

Anyone take the New York Times? You may have seen this article then, recounting the decline in children's picture book sales and attributing said decline to pushy parents. The idea being, if you direct your preschooler toward more challenging chapter books, he will reward you with prodigal brainpower and prestigious college acceptance letters. Predictably, it's led to an online brouhaha with all sorts of accusations hurled and side-taking.

At the most recent writers conference I attended, the couple agents there who even considered representing children's picture books agreed that the market for them was tough, although I missed the session where they went into detail about it because I was at my son's swim meet. For whatever reasons--tough economic times, ambitious parents, "brilliant" children--this is not the time to put out a children's picture book.

However, I never pass up the opportunity to do something controversial or potentially financially-disastrous, so I'm pleased to announce the imminent arrival of Mia and the Magic Cupcakes. Yes, a children's picture book and my first collaborative effort. Joining me are Margo Engberg, proud proprietor of Pinkabella (the luscious cupcake stores) and artist Teri Sytsma. Three friends, three moms, one book!
In all our glory. 

It's one of the bummers in life that the best-tasting foods aren't always the best for you. Take cupcakes, for instance. Little Mia wishes her favoritest food would help her grow "big and strong," and when she receives a magical birthday cupcake, all her wishes come true. 

She thinks.

This gorgeous cover was designed by Kathy Campbell at Gorham Printing, the same designer responsible for the Mourning Becomes Cassandra and The Littlest Doubts covers.

We're hoping for a November roll-out. Believe me, you'll hear more about it!

And I thought, in honor of the still-alive-and-kicking children's picture book category, we could name some recent favorites. My kids, for example, at ages 11, 9 and 7, still enjoy the Skippyjohn Jones series. Who am I kidding? I love Skippyjohn. And Jujube. And Jillyboo! How about you?


  1. Since my little one is at the age where everything goes in her mouth, all our "picture books" are cardboard (or even fabric which she finds easier to chew on), the boardbook version of "Runaway Bunny", "Goodnight Moon" and "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" are the most read in our house. Personally, I'm a fan of "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" and "The Happy Hockey Family" (but this might not be considered a "children's book" by everyone).

  2. My kids still love picture books, and we usually have 20-30 checked out from the library at any given time. My daughter's teacher encouraged us to continue reading picture books even after she was independently reading chapter books. She said that because they are usually intended to be read to children by adults, the vocabulary is often much richer than in a lot of the chapter books. As someone who isn't very good at drawing, I'm always amazed by great illustrators. We love Mo Willems books, and I'm fascinated by how much expression he can convey with such simple drawings.