Saturday, October 19, 2019

Friday, October 18, 2019

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Super Star Children's Book Reviews: Cursed

Welcome to the monthly children’s book review feature with a focus on diverse books here at Bird Meets Worm! My team of reviewers—Joan Charles, Laurie Young, Sarah Orgill—and I are so excited to be championing books celebrating everything from gender diversity, people of color, the LGBTQ community to ethnic, cultural and religious minorities, people with disabilities and developmental challenges to controversial topics, unique family situations and anything and everything I did not include. It is to say we take a rightfully broad view of diversity! We aim to shine a light on books that bring both familiar experiences to those who do not often see themselves represented in books and new experiences to those looking to expand their worldview. Here at Bird Meets Worm we believe in the power of story to build empathy and thus a better world for you and me and everyone. Look for a new review on the second Wednesday of every month.


Written by Karol Ruth Silverstein • Jacket design by Joyce White
Young Adult (ages 12 & up) • 336 pages
Charlesbridge Teen/Charlesbridge Publishing • 2019
ISBN 978-1-58089-940-6

I feel fairly confident in saying that few readers will have met anyone like the protagonist of Cursed—she’s pissed off. She has a mouth that would make a sailor proud. And she’s in pain. All. The. Time.

14-year-old Ricky Bloom has been diagnosed with a debilitating, degenerative disease; one that makes every step, and even the smallest movement, excruciatingly painful. One that she goes to great lengths to hide from her classmates at Grant Middle School. Yes, she’s still in middle school. T
o add to her humiliation, after her illness caused her to miss too many school days, she now has to relive ninth grade all over again.

Ricky is whip-smart and not above enacting an elaborate and highly successful plan for cutting school. In fact, she hasn’t attended class in six weeks. But the delicate balance she has created for herself is about to come crashing down and Ricky will have to face the fact that despite her disease, she will have to go to school.

This book is hilarious and moving and thought-provoking as the reader gets to see life through Ricky’s eyes and how she navigates the demands of ninth grade, while managing the challenges of a body that has its own demands. The voice is sharp, authentic and—be forewarned—rife with curse words, especially the one that starts with “F”. But you will understand her frustration and feel her pain, and want to shout those words, too, for Ricky.

Buy this book:

Barnes & Noble

Independent Book Stores

Reviewed by: Laurie Young

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Autumn Apple Picking

Do you love apple picking in Autumn?! Me, too! • © Jane Smith

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Lucky Cat Halloween

© Jane Smith • Lucky Cat Halloween

Super Star Interviews: Hilary Leung

Welcome to my monthly interview feature! I’m so excited to be interviewing all the fabulous artists, illustrators and designers I’ve meet over the years (both personally and virtually!) and sharing their artwork and experiences here on Bird Meets Worm. Look for a new interview on the first Tuesday of every month.

This month I’m so excited—with pumpkin spice on top!—to be chatting it up with the rock star Illustrator, Hilary Leung, who has a brand new picture book that released in September! Hilary is a Toronto-based designer & illustrator. He self-published his first picture book, The Legend of Ninja Cowboy Bear, and recently has worked with Story Planet, a non-profit that encourages young people to create and tell their stories. When he's not creating, Hilary can be found at home, playing with his two awesome kids. You can see more of his artwork here!

Love these bright primary colors!!

Q: Your rip-roaring, action-packed NEW picture book, Two Tough Trucks, just released! Congratulations!! (Psst! You can purchase it here!) Give us the full scoop on your new book—what’s it all about & how did it come to be? 

A: Thank you very much—I am super excited to finally be able to share Two Tough Trucks with the world! My wonderful editor, Celia Lee, slid this manuscript across my desk two years ago. My family and I are big fans of Corey and Rebecca's books and after reading their fantastic manuscript, I couldn't wait to get started.

Two Tough Trucks is about the first day of school and two new classmates have to learn how to work together. It's a perfectly paced story about teamwork and friendship. This project has a special place in my heart, because my daughter was preparing for her first day of school as I was preparing the final art for this book. 

A Mack and a Rig—coming together!

Q: I absolutely love your energetic, graphic style! Dish with us a bit about your creative process for the artwork for Two Tough Trucks—from ideas to thumbnails to sketches to finished artwork (you know, all the good stuff!).

A: My process starts with reading the manuscript, followed by messy doodles with pencil crayons or markers. Figuring out the main characters is my favourite part—anything is possible! When I'm happy with the designs, I'll snap a photo with my phone and trace the drawing in a vector program on my computer. I'll invest hours nudging the details in an attempt to recapture the freshness from my original analog sketch. After all the pieces are properly composed, I'll add a wood texture on top, and email the files to my talented designer, Doan Buu, and art director, Patti Ann Harris. 

These two buddies aren't just tough, they're adorable!!

Q: Your initial breakthrough into the world of children’s book publishing came when you and your friend, David Bruins, self-published The Legend of Ninja Cowboy Bear. How would you compare your experiences self-publishing with your experiences with traditional publishing? What have been the rewards & challenges of each? 

A: David and I learned a lot through self-publishing our first book and it was really rewarding. We were eager, nimble, and happy to troubleshoot problems on the fly. Self-publishing offered us total creative control, but we had to take care of the paperwork and sales. Also, the payment came much later.

Things move slower with traditional publishing, but the huge advantages include the wide distribution and receiving advance payment upfront. I'm also grateful to have the support of an amazing team.

Capturing all the feels for the first day of school!!

Q: Your characters are always emotionally expressive and easily relatable with their friendly shapes and stylings, especially in your board book series, Will Giraffe Laugh? What advice would you give fellow illustrators about: 1) designing characters, 2) conveying emotion visually and 3) creating artwork for the youngest of readers.

A: My best advice:

1) Stay loose, always experiment, and have fun. Designing characters is best part!

2) Use the full body to express emotion. Also, eyes can say a lot—take advantage!

3) Play-test everything. Kids are honest and will let you know what's working.

Q: Dish with us about who, what, where inspires you the MOST in your storytelling, both visual & verbal.

A: My kids are my biggest inspiration. The greatest gift of being a parent is revisiting life's joys through their eyes. I regularly ponder how to communicate complex ideas in fun and accessible ways. Plus kids say and do the darndest things, so there's an endless supply of inspiration!

Fun Fact: You'll find my kids' artwork in most of my books. 

Hilary & friends!

Q: Describe your most perfect Sunday.

A: My perfect Sunday would start with a calm and relaxing family breakfast after a restful night's sleep. Then we'd go for a hike in the woods with friends, sketch some wildlife, skip some stones, enjoy a picnic lunch, visit my parents, fly our dragon kite, work in a friendly game of soccer, and eat something delicious (like chicken with waffles). We'd naturally end our perfect day with bedtime stories from our ridiculously large pile of books at home.

Thank you so much, Hilary, for chatting it up with us here at Bird Meets Worm! Congratulations on Two Tough Trucks!