Life in Other States – A Texas Year and A New York Year

It’s clear that meticulous research and care have gone into Tania McCartney‘s and Tina Snerling‘s colourful fun books, A Texas Year and A New York Year.

These well produced picture books cover a year in the life of kids living in Texas and New York.

One of the things I love most about them is their theme of diversity – the way they reflect the lives and cultures of the people living in these states.

A texas yearA Texas Year and A New York Year feature ethnically and culturally diverse characters and diverse experiences.

The lively text and illustrations make these books a fun read for anyone with an interest in finding out about Texas or New York.

A Texas Year and A New York Year are full of information about the lifestyles and aspirations of kids living in these locations.

Readers will enjoy poring over the text and illustrations, taking in the fascinating detail.

They will be taken through a month by month account of what it means to be a kid living in New York or Texas, learning about special occasions and customs.

There’s everything from food, sport and school, to dancing, language, holidays and special occasions.

A New York Year - Front coverA Texas Year and A New York Year present great opportunities for discussions in the classroom or home about cultural diversity.

Each book has a location map with information about the state including its nickname, state flower, song, animals, and popular foods found there.

The content in both books has been produced in consultation with native advisors from the state including teachers and children.

A Texas Year and A New York Year offer young readers a fun and entertaining way to explore their own environment and the world around them.

 

Peas in A Pod – Picture Book Collaboration

Peas in a Pod is the latest quirky offering from talented writer/illustrator team, Tania McCartney and Tina Snerling.

Tania and Tina have created a harmony of colour and words, and they’re visiting today with their great tips on Picture Book Collaboration.

ABOUT PEAS IN A POD

Pippa, Pia, Poppy, Polly and Peg are very cute little quintuplets who do everything the same … eat, sleep, cry and sit … everything.  But one day the girls decide that they don’t like being the same.

FINAL COVERPeas in a Pod is a beautiful story that incorporates the closeness of siblings with the need to be an individual within that relationship.

It’s about finding your place in the world, and even though well meaning people (parents in this case) might encourage you to conform in order to fit in, it’s okay to be different. People are not the same, even when they look quite similar as in the case of Pippa, Pia, Poppy, Polly and Peg.

We are generally encouraged to conform because it suits someone else, but it’s not always the best thing for us as individuals, and that’s one of the reasons why I can see adults really loving Peas in a Pod too.

I love the gentle humour in the text and the way the vibrant illustrations lead young readers through the story, encouraging them make a stand, to be who they are, to be who they want to be.

I like the way the text doesn’t talk down to the reader, and the author uses some more complex words that add interest and inspire the reader to explore vocabulary. The illustrator’s use of colour and action tell a story that wonderfully complements the text.

Peas in a Pod is for readers aged 3-7. It is published by EK Books, and Teachers Notes are available.

Tania McCartney’s Five Tips on Collaborating with an Illustrator 

Authors and illustrators don’t always have the opportunity to work in close collaboration, so I feel really fortunate to be able to work with Tina directly on our books. I think it brings a seamlessness, a cohesion and that extra special something to the work we produce. If you’re going to have the privilege of working closely with an illustrator, lucky you! Here are my tips on how to make the collaboration shine.

  1. Tania headshot IBe willing to give your illustrator creative licence. Don’t be too precious about your text or how things should look. I’ve many times changed my text to suit the creative ideas of an illustrator—and the book has been all the better for it. I’ve also been more than delighted with illustrator interpretation—which is almost always even better than what I had in my head.
  2. Ensure open communication. While creative licence is good, illustrations also need to reflect story meaning and nuance. Most of the time, an illustrator will reflect text really well but occasionally something might be missed or misinterpreted. Or, as in my point above, it might even be improved upon! So communicate openly and well—and don’t be afraid to speak up if something needs tweaking.
  3. Tweaking, especially if illustrations are hand-rendered, is no mean feat. It can take hours or even days to redo something, so this is why keeping on top of communications is key and why you should only insist on changes if they’re absolutely central to the story. You could also ask your illustrator to show you images as they go along, to save on the possibility of any changes down the track. Once illos are complete, changing things at whim or for personal preference is just not on—it’s too much to ask of any illustrator.
  4. If you haven’t worked with this illustrator before, consider asking them for drafts so you can agree on a certain characterisation or scene. As you work with them more and as the book unfolds, you’ll more than likely find no need for any type of draft. Things become sort of organic.
  5. Give feedback and encouragement. It’s difficult for an illustrator to know they’re on track or that you’re liking their work if you say nothing. All illustrators want their authors to love their work! so giving feedback is a great way to open the dialogue and encourage a wonderful collaborative experience.

Tina Snerling’s Five Tips on Collaborating with an Author

Tina Snerling 360px1. Communication, communication, communication. This is key to a smooth and enjoyable collaboration. I understand many other illustrators communicate directly with their Editor/Publisher, but my daily communication is with the Author until our Editor becomes involved once drafts are completed. Tania and I can email up to 50 times a day discussing illustrations for a page!
2. Be open to feedback. This is a given for any Illustrator, but also an important point to remember when working with an Author as they may not always agree with your interpretation.
3. Understand your Authors own style. Having worked with Tania on numerous collaborations, I understand her style, and what my illustrations can do to enhance her words. If you are embarking on a new Author/Illustrator relationship, research the Author and understand their style to ensure your illustrations represent the Authors work in a way you both love.
4. Get a comprehensive understanding of the Authors intentions. As an Illustrator, it is my responsibility to portray the unwritten word, by discussing the manuscript in detail first with the Author, you can gain a deeper understanding of their words – this in turn ensures you represent the book cohesively.
5. Don’t be afraid to add your own flair. I love to take Tania’s words and add my own personal touches. Sometimes I can interpret the Author’s words in a way the Author may not have imagined, but they love it all the same – that is the magic of working in a collaboration!

OTHER BOOKS BY TANIA AND TINA

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Tania’s Picture Book Collaboration Tips – Celebrating Tottie and Dot

image031Today I’m so excited to welcome my very dear writer/illustrator and all round amazing creator friend, Tania McCartney who’s visiting to celebrate the release of Tottie and Dot, her new picture book collaboration with Tina Snerling.

Tottie and Dot is an important story about friendship and how to fix it when things go wrong.

Tottie and Dot live side by side. They drink marshmallow tea in the morning. Side-by-side. They water blooms in the afternoon garden. Side-by-side. They make speckled eggs for tea. Side-by-side. All is calm and peaceful until, one day, things change between Tottie and Dot. Who can create the prettiest, the bestest, the coolest house? And at what cost?

If you want to know more about Tottie and Dot you can read my review here.

Today, Tania is generously sharing some great tips about the collaboration process and how to make it work.

Tania’s Five Writing Tips – Author/Illustrator Collaboration

Tina Snerling and I are lucky creators. We get to work very closely together when we produce our books, and—to me—there is nothing more rewarding in the book production journey. Working in collaboration enhances any work, especially when both parties are willing to open their hearts and minds to collaborative possibility. Two minds are always better than one—and working with Tina so closely has allowed me to shift and change and grow my text, with new ideas, concepts and elements that might not have occurred had we put this book together ‘blind’.

Tina and TaniaWorking collaboratively absolutely makes for a more seamless book creation, where that delicate author/illustrator dance comes together in a truly cohesive way. Here are my top tips for a rewarding collaboration:

  1. image029Try not to be precious when you begin collaborating. Accept that the other party may have something really special to offer—some humour, a quirky addition, a plot twist, a new perspective. It’s not about who’s right or wrong—it’s about creating a new entity that takes seed in both image and text, but grows into its own creation. Allow the process to be organic. I have regularly changed text to suit Tina’s illustration ideas, and vice versa.
  2. If you are the author, let go of being the ‘primary’ creator. The books I write become as much Tina’s as they are mine. The nuance and meaning her illustrations add to the text are priceless.
  3. Set up a google doc spreadsheet and keep track of how the book unfolds. Tina and I put illustration notes in the columns and discuss the process as we go along. Listing the pages down the left hand side (including cover, inside cover, endpapers, half title, title, imprint, etc) really helps keep tabs on how the book is flowing, and if text needs to be moved to another page or if page imagery needs to be broken up in some way. You can also keep several versions of the spreadsheet so you can look back and see how things changed over time. Fascinating!
  4. image030I can’t imagine things turning sour (and you rarely hear of this happening), but if they do, it’s probably due to a battle of wills. For the sake of the book, agree to put the disagreements behind you, be prepared to compromise and if things are really bad, call on your editor or publisher to make the final choices/decisions.
  5. Keep communications open and strong and clear. This will minimise any drama, confusion, misinterpretation of text (rare) and—most importantly—the reworking of images, which can be immensely frustrating and time-consuming. Remember some illustrators like to storyboard, some like to create full mock ups, some create in full draft or go straight to final (exponentially easier if the illustrations are digital, like Tina’s, or the images can be manipulated digitally). If you spend time discussing imagery before it’s created, you minimise these issues. Of course, once the discussion occurs, you also need to let go of expectation and remember the illustrator may well throw out your illustration notes and—gasp!—create something better than you ever dreamed.

(Sep 2014, EK Books, $24.99, hard cover, 9781921966491)

Thanks for the tips, Tania. We look forward to seeing more wonderful books from you and Tina:)

Dee

 

 

Tottie and Dot Blog Blast!

Tottie and Dot blog blast webToday I’m so excited to be part of a very special event – a blog blast to celebrate the release of Tottie and Dot, Tania McCartney’s new picture book collaboration with Tina Snerling.

image029        image030

My review of this gorgeous book is below, but you can also hear great interviews, and do other fun things at the other fabulous blogs involved in the Tottie and Dot blog blast.  Just click on the BLOG BLAST picture above and it will take you to the blog schedule.

TOTTIE AND DOT REVIEW

image034Turning the pages of Tania McCartney and Tina Snerling’s new picture book, Tottie and Dot is like browsing through a candy store. It’s so vibrant and full of appealing surprises.

Tottie and Dot are two adorable little girls who live side by side in quaint little houses.

image032They share the same taste in many things, marshmallow tea, apricot sandwiches, and my favourite, speckled eggs. But one day, things start to change.

image037image038A competition springs up between them over who can create the prettiest house. They become more and more outrageous in their attempts to come up with grander and grander plans for their homes.

image033I love the way this book is symbolic of modern day consumerism – where people accumulate things not out of need but out of a desire to impress.

Tottie and Dot and their deteriorating friendship over things that don’t really matter will invite important discussions with readers at home and in the classroom.

image040Friendship, consumerism and the environment are all contemporary issues for children to grapple with, and they are woven into Tottie and Dot’s story in a colourful, non-confronting way.

Tania McCartney’s lyrical language makes this book a pleasure to read out loud.

image039Each girl’s house is shown over a series of exquisitely illustrated double-page spreads — Tottie on the left and Dot on the right. Tina Snerling’s enchanting illustrations are full of expression and telling detail.

image035Tottie and Dot is a delightful read that raises important themes to be discussed with teachers and parents. But it’s an appealing story in its own right.

It’s another beautiful creation from the team who brought us An Aussie Year.

image036Tottie and Dot is for readers aged 4-7. It is published by EK Publishing.

(Sep 2014, EK Books, $24.99, hard cover, 9781921966491)

image031The collaboration between writer and illustrator on this book is clearly a labour of love. Their close connection comes through in all the nuances, the perfect marriage between text and illustrations.

Tania McCartney is coming back to my blog this Tuesday to talk about the collaboration process and she has some great tips – so stay tuned.

I hope you enjoy Tottie and Dot as much as I did.

 

 

An Aussie Year – Writing Tips + Win a Mentoring Package

Today, I’m pleased to welcome my good writer friend Tania McCartney to DeeScribe Writing to celebrate her newest picture book, An Aussie Year.

WIN A MENTORING PACKAGE:  Leave a writing tip in the comment’s section on today’s post and you could win a mentoring package valued at over $100 including editor’s report and feedback on your first ten pages (double spaced) plus synopsis. The package also includes a free e-book on writing.

REVIEW OF AN AUSSIE YEAR

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Ned, Lily, Zoe, Kirra and Matilda take us on a journey through a year in the life of Australian children, from cultural celebrations to traditions and events, to our everyday way of life.

An Aussie Year is a picture book bursting with national pride.

One of the things I love most about this book is that it covers a diversity of cultures and traditions that make Australia the colourful and fascinating nation it is today.

I love An Aussie Year‘s lively, fun text and the vibrant illustrations. I think my favourite is the ‘May’ picture of Ned swinging from the Hill’s Hoist clothesline that is so much a part of my own childhood memories.

An Aussie Year combines so many important traditions of both the present and the past.  It introduces the reader to things they might not have experienced. It depicts the busy life we all lead today and introduces us to new possibilities and fun things to experience.

Ned, Lily, Zoe, Kirra and Matilda provide a ‘personal’ narrative, showcasing a variety of cultures and experiences.

The humour and colour of this book will delight young readers. There are so many things I learnt like apparently “when SANTA visits Australia, he goes surfing.” I’ll definitely be sure to look out for him this Christmas:)

An Aussie Year gives young readers the chance to absorb so many important things about Australia’s history and culture without even realising they are doing it.

An Aussie Year is a smorgasbord of vibrant images and lively information. I can see this book finding a place in many homes and classrooms.

Book Info

An Aussie Year: Twelve Months in the Life of Australian Kids by Tania McCartney and Tina Snerling

(Oct 2013, EK Publishing, $19.99, hard cover, 9781921966248)

Visit the An Aussie Year website (www.anaussieyear.com.au) to meet all the characters from the book, see updates and behind-the-scenes work. There’s also some Fun Activities for kids.

ABOUT THE CREATORS

photo Tania McCartneyTania McCartney is a book-obsessed author, editor, reviewer, photographer, traveller, mum of two and wife of one.

She simply adores words and paper—and would ingest them if she could (though she’ll settle for a good coffee).

She frequently flits around cyberspace but can also be seen visiting schools and libraries, running workshops, reading to kids or pushing tomes onto unsuspecting shoppers in bookshops.

Tania lives in Canberra, but would like to live inside a book. http://www.taniamccartney.com

photo Tina SnerlingTina Snerling is a designer, illustrator, artist, web designer, seamstress and mum.

She adores Paris, fabric, design and paper. She lives a very illustrated life—one day she’s creating children’s books, the next she’s creating websites (in between the washing and school lunches!).

She’s the type who has a notebook by her bed because most good ideas happen when you’re supposed to be sleeping.

She lives in Brisbane with her two gorgeous poppets and one gorgeous husband.

WRITING TIPS

Tania’s Five Writing Tips – Non-Narrative Creativity

When I first wrote the text for An Aussie Year—a faction book celebrating our Aussie childhood—I lamented the lack of a narrative storyline, which often allows more creativity in regard to text.

In the final stages of text editing, as the words were cut and honed for both brevity and relevance, I realised something. Creative word choice doesn’t have to give way when writing fact or faction. I’ll admit it’s slightly more restrictive, but there are ways to bring in delicious word-usage without compromising clarity.

??????????For the above January entry, I wanted to include the iconic Aussie tube icy pole, but instead of simply stating ‘we eat icy poles’, I instead tried to look at this treat from a kid’s point of view: January is hot. What happens to icy poles when it’s hot?

Recalling my own childhood, I clearly remember cutting these icy pole tubes from a sheet of frozen block colour, then snipping off the top and warming them in our hands before sliding the ice up the tube. Of course, like kids today, our hands invariably became sticky, and I wanted to evoke that feeling in the text …

Icy poles melt and make our fingers sticky.

When writing your own non-narrative children’s books, these tips can help make your text more effulgent:

  1. Think like a child. Imagine the scene from their perspective and write in a way that will evoke a feeling rather than stating a fact.
  2. Bear in mind your target audience; the younger the child, the more childlike your voice can be.
  3. Use evocative words within a clear sentence structure. Keep your information-intention in mind but then stretch it a little to include interesting word choice or out-of-the-box word placement, as shown in my icy pole example.
  4. Take time to choose content that resonates with your target age group. Sometimes this means being really ruthless and cutting sections or elements that may go over kids’ heads. This will allow you to spend more time making text extra shiny.
  5. Consider your text in a layout and design capacity. Perhaps your text can be creatively presented—swirling, coloured, differing typeface or font size. Visuals can positively enhance the way your text sounds.

WIN a Mentoring Package and Writing Ebook!

As I mentioned earlier, leave a writing tip in the comment’s section on today’s post and you could win a mentoring package valued at over $100 including editor’s report and feedback on your first ten pages (double spaced) plus synopsis. The package also includes a free e-book on writing.

You can also win great prizes at other participating blogs on the An Aussie Year blog tour. Here’s a link to the schedule http://www.taniamccartney.blogspot.com.au/2013/09/an-aussie-year-virtual-tour.html

I look forward to reading your tips. Good luck for the competition.

Happy writing:)

Dee

An Aussie Year Visiting Tomorrow – Drop in and Leave a comment and you could Win

An Aussie Year Virtual Tour FINAL jpgWIN a Mentoring Package and Writing Ebook!

Leave a writing tip in the comment’s section on today’s post and you could win a mentoring package valued at over $100 including editor’s report and feedback on your first ten pages (double spaced) plus synopsis. The package also includes a free e-book on writing.