13.8.19

New Edition of A Family is a Family is a Family

A Family is a Family is a Family is going into its SIXTH printing!



It makes me giddy to think of all those copies out in the world finding readers who might be looking for just such a book.

When the time came to write a dedication for A Family is a Family is a Family, I realised I wasn't sure who it was for. Or rather, it was intended mainly for children I might not actually know. And so the original dedication went out to the grandchildren I hope to meet one day. But as the book went out and found its way in the world I came to feel that I had also written it because it matters to me that what I do matters to my children. And so I asked Groundwood if as a special favour to me we could update the dedication as the book went back to the printer. Which is why it now says this.

A few links:

Groundwood has put together an educator's guide for the book. You can find it here.

The classroom poster is available for a printable download here. Plus a post on the Groundwood blog where I talk about my first classroom.

My interview with CBC about the book

Library copies searchable at WorldCat

Buy from Groundwood: hardcover or eBook 

Or from any of these folks:

Munro Books  McNally Robinson  Blackwell's  Book Depository
Amazon  Amazon Canada  Chapters Indigo  Barnes and Noble

7.8.19

Going to the Moon


I wrote a book about a little boy who goes to the moon, and for me, the hardest part was getting him out of the house. In the story the little boy walks through a moonlit field of bluebells and then into a mysterious forest. He finds a lake and a boat waiting for him at the shore. He gets into the boat and rows out to the middle of the lake and then (be still my heart) dives out of the boat and straight into the moon’s reflection and thus finds a way to reach his goal—the moon.


As a parent, I can hardly think of anything more horrifying than this part of the story. How did he get out of the house this late with only a cat to accompany him? Where are the responsible adults? What’s lurking in that forest? Why oh why didn’t I write a nice little story about a boy who stays in his nice little room and reads a nice little book about the moon to his nice little cat?

There were a number of false starts to this book. In one, the boy puts on his moon boots and blasts straight through the roof of his house. You can see a remnant of this idea in the moon boots included in those beautiful endpapers. But finally, I realised that the only way I could tell this story was to begin it when the boy had already left the house and stepped into this enchanted blue night. And I needed to remind myself that books still are the one place where we know our children can always be safe. And that in the magically safe space that those pages provide we have to allow them to be as a free and as bold as we would have wished to be as children ourselves.

The instinct, of course, is to protect our children. And one of the things I most love about the brilliant illustrations for this book is how the warmly lit house in the cool blue night so perfectly conveys this sense of home as a safe refuge. When it comes to my own sons, I want to be that porch light always burning. But I also know that we have to let our children and their imaginations run free and that once in a while we just have to let them go to the moon.

When the boy in our story finds a boat waiting for him, it could be the same boat that took the boy in Oliver Jeffers’ Lost and Found to return a lost penguin to where he needed to be. Or it could be the boat that the Owl and the Pussycat set out to sea in “for a year and a day.” Or else the boat drawn by Maurice Sendak to take Max to that place where the wild things were. This is the universal boat that conveys you to wherever that place is that you dream of being. And I do love that Ashley Crowley—who is also a parent—provided our particular boat with lifejackets! 


6.4.19

New York Times calls This is Sadie BEGUILING

Lots of things to say about the New York City Children's Theater production of This is Sadie. It was fantastic meeting Barbara Zinn Krieger, the company's Artistic Director and the author of the scenario for the show. And Stephanie Klemons who directed and choreographed the show was nothing short of amazing.

For now, though, let me just repeat my headline there: The New York Times called This is Sadie beguiling!


                       Laurel Graeber, NYT

Tickets on sale now. See it while you can!


https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/04/arts/nyc-this-weekend-childrens-events.html

3.3.19

New York City Children's Theater's Stage Show of This is Sadie

NYCCT invites you to experience a new dance/theater show, based on the book, This is Sadie.




Directed and Choreographed by Stephanie Klemons 
Scenario by Barbara Zinn Krieger
March 30 – April 21, 2019
Playing at Theatre Row, a program of Building for the Arts NY, Inc.
410 West 42nd Street
New York, NY 10036
Tickets*: $29.25 General Seating | $49.25 Premium Seating
Best for ages 3-8 
This is Sadie runs for approximately 60 minutes.

This is Sadie Storytime at The Strand
March 16, 2019, 11am
Strand Book Store, Union Square
Pre-school & younger, young elementary
FREE 
Sara O'Leary at STORIES BOOKSHOP & STORYTELLING LAB
Sunday, March 31, 2019 – 10:30 AM 
458 Bergen Street, Brooklyn, NY
FREE

10.12.18

Bookshops

Owls are Good at Keeping Secrets is now available in bookshops and online. I spent the past week in Toronto and there are now signed copies of the book available at Ella Minnow Books, Queen Books, Type Books, and the delightful Penguin Shop.

In the new year I will be doing events at La Petite Librairie Drawn & Quarterly in Montreal and Stories Bookshop & Storytelling Lab in Brooklyn.

I did an interview with Sonali Karnick for CBC Radio about the book that you can listen to here.

Scroll down for a profile of illustrator Jacob Grant. 

3.12.18

Creator Q & A with Jacob Grant

It was a real pleasure working with Jacob Grant on Owls Are Good at Keeping Secrets.  His art for this book is almost impossibly charming, and one of the things I most adore about it is how he captures small intimacies between parents and children in such a familiar way.

To celebrate our publication date this week, Jacob was good enough to answer a few questions for me and to share a glimpse at his work-in-progress, along with photos of his workspace and his family.

How did you end up working as a picture book creator?
As far back as I can remember, I've loved making art. I was constantly drawing through grade school, high school and eventually art school where I majored in graphic design. Graphic design proved to be a fine way to turn my BFA into a job with a paycheck, but was never satisfying as a creative outlet. So, I would draw in my free time. Nights and weekends were an opportunity to make something that felt meaningful. It was around this time that I thought it would be an interesting challenge to make a picture book, and maybe, just maybe, it could be my key to pursuing illustration as a full time job. That book was fairly bad. But I kept writing more stories and making more art, until eventually I made something a publisher was willing to publish.

What animal do you most identify with?
The noble and stubborn goat. When I was very little my parents lived way out in the country, and there they raised a small herd of goats. All of their names started with H, beginning with Heidi, and then Halley, and Harley, and Henny and so on. After my parents found a home closer to the city, they gave the majority of the herd to a neighbor, but two of the goats moved along with us. I was proud to have unusual pets like Heidi and Henny. To be honest, they didn’t do much besides loaf around and eat grass, but I adored them all the same.
Now whenever I see goats, at a petting zoo or otherwise, I always feel some affinity for them. I admire their curious and determined nature, their adorable desire to leap on top of objects, and their willingness to attempt eating just about anything. Nice beards even.

What are you working on now?
I recently finished the art for my follow-up to Bear’s Scare, which is currently titled, Bear Out There. In this new story, Bear ventures out of his tidy home and into the messy forest to help his friend Spider find a lost kite. As their search through the forest goes from bad to worse, Bear and Spider show readers that being a friend means being there for each other, no matter what. This new story will be on shelves in June 2019.
I’ve also just began illustrating a new picture book written by Susannah Lloyd, that involves mind-reading, a scientist, and farting elephants. It’s very serious stuff.

What was your favourite book as a child?
I adored many picture books as a child, but it’s difficult to pick one that would have been my absolute favorite above all others. I adored stories like Swimmy, Where The Wild Things Are, Gregory the Terrible Eater, and Stone Soup, (the version with the pigs). But after thinking more, the one picture book that feels especially significant would be the one that came from Jon Scieszka’s visit to my grade school in a semi-rural suburb outside of Cincinnati. The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales will always have a special stupid place in my heart.
                                        

What's the best thing about making books for children?
Children are simply the best audience you could ever ask for. Their curiosity and enthusiasm for the world around them never ceases to amaze or inspire me. Plus their books are loaded with art!  Do you ever think about how wonderful that is? That somewhere down the line we all agreed that children should be provided books that are brimming with beautiful imagery. For me, such a lush combination of words and images feels like storytelling at its finest.

Jacob's most recent books are Bear's Scare and Through with the Zoo. You can see more of his work here.



18.11.18

Owls are Good at Keeping Secrets | Book Trailer




Jacob Grant has made us this lovely trailer for our new book. Will be doing a little Q & A with Jacob here soon.

In the meantime, book is up for pre-order here from Random House (US), here from Tundra/Penguin Random House Canada, and here from Penguin Books Australia. Or from a fine bookseller near you.

2.11.18

Interview with New York City Children's Theater

Did an interview with the lovely people over at New York City Children's Theater this week about the upcoming stage show of This is Sadie. You can read it here. I'm planning a visit to NYC for opening week and so looking forward to seeing the show.

I managed to sneak in a plug for my book with Jacob Grant, Owls Are Good at Keeping Secrets, which is out next month. I think of it as the book that Sadie wrote.


I've been thinking about what a wild ride it has been since This is Sadie was published. One of the nicer things to happen was the fabulous notice the book received from Maria Russo in The New York Times


Reading this review for the first time was one of those rare moments when you can feel your life changing. So grateful to Julie Morstad and Tara Walker for making this book with me and to Jackie Kaiser for encouraging it into being.