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"Winter" & New Kid Stuff

JANUARY 23, 2014
"Winter is for Snow" is a book that grew out of a picture. I'd created this image, in a rougher version, as a pro bono Christmas card for a hospice. I sent some cards out as a promo, and Rotem Moskovich at Disney (Hyperion Books) pinned it to her bulliten board- for five years. Meanwhile, Dolly's Bookstore in my little ski town wanted me to do a winter book - the tourists are always asking for winter books by local authors. Dolly's is a wonderful indy, Dolly being the cat. They have lots of everything printed and the smell of paper, fresh ink and chocolate fills the air- a chocolate factory is up front. They carry all my books. "Winter" is for Rotem, my editor, & Dolly's, my bookstore. Without further ado, here's what the NY Times Book Review had to say:

“Winter Is for Snow” is a tale of two siblings — a brother who loves the icy flakes pouring down outside their apartment window and a sister who is cranky about it all — by the prolific children’s book author and illustrator Robert Neubecker. These two start out like Desi and Lucy, disagreeing about everything. “Winter is for fabulous! Winter is for snow,” sings out the copper-haired brother. “Winter is for lots of clothes! And I don’t want to go,” deadpans his younger copper-haired sister. (Her blasphemy recalls a Carl Reiner quip: “A lot of people like snow. I find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water.”) These small urbanites argue back and forth in delightful, singsong rhyme, the brother joyfully throwing his arms up and kicking his legs out to add emphasis to his argument, which grows more elaborate with every page. “Winter is for glaciers, with walruses and seals,” he pleads, “diving in the icy sea for scaly, fishy meals.” Slowly but surely, he manages to dress his sister and edge her outdoors into a cityscape colorfully and whimsically depicted with a park jam-packed with people frolicking in an excellent variety of snow hats. Though she has resisted her brother’s — and winter’s — charms, even turning her attention to a beeping electronic device (at which point lesser brothers would have given up), we eventually see him pulling her along on a sled. And then, a little too easily, she finally changes her mind, declaring, “I love snow!” It’s nice to see her hardworking brother win the argument and to see them both out enjoying the fresh air. But she was such a good curmudgeon — I missed her old self a little when she was gone.

Nell Casey is the editor of “The Journals of Spalding Gray.”
The book also got a nice mention in USA Today, um, today...
P.S. You can buy the book at your local Indy, or order it from Barnes & Noble. Amazon is sold out for now.
I take these images from my originals, so I just toss some type on to let you know what the words are...

Anybody who's ever had a kid knows this one.

He works hard on her, and she comes around...

This is the cover image. Tanya Hughes, my designer, left the title off on the inside cover- it's just on the dust jacket- so all you get is this, slightly cropped. It's really great. Sophisticated.

  This is something completely different. When my Joey was small, she was learning to read with these little paperbacks with simple words and funny, badly drawn outer space creatures that had virtually no story or any real content. They were serviceable enough, I guess, but I wanted to do something more. So I devised a series of history texts using only a few words per page and involving a red dragon who pulls the kids into the computer and roams the internet for knowledge.
 I dummied up five books, Boom, Zoom, to the Moon, stuff like that, dropped them off with my agent, Linda Pratt of Wernick & Pratt, and she showed them around. No takers at first, but Linda was behind the project 100% and kept showing it even after I'd moved on to other books and other things.
 Then, as it turns out, Scholastic was looking for just such a project, and we had it in hand. I'm working with the delightful Jenne Abromowitz and she's a wonderful editor. We upped the reading level to level two- from about level 1/2... and I got to add more detail... It's still edited very simply and I try to show as much, more, information with the pictures as with the story.
The first introduces Red, the Time Dragon, and we chose the Middle Ages to start because, he's well, a dragon. It's distilled way down, but if you want to know where my information comes from, "A Distant Mirror" by Barb Tuchman & "A World Lit Only by Fire" From William Manchester are a good start. Marketing liked "Days of the Knights" for a title, but I preferred my own "Me de Evil?"
The second book is the incredible story of the Flying Cloud, a clipper ship, piloted by Eleanor Creesy, that set the world sail speed record from NY to San Francisco in 1853 and it stood for....138 years. My primary reference for that is "Flying Cloud" by David Shaw- an excellent adventure. 
Here's our first cover. The hardcover retails for $16, but the paperback- 6"x 9" goes for $3.99 and will be sold in schools. I'm very happy about that, I want these to be affordable for all kids.

Below, we see Red steering the ship. It often took two strong men to handle the wheel in a storm, and since Red is as strong as the Incredible Hulk, he got the job. Ellen guided the ship down the South American coast, around the Horn, and up through the doldrums with a sextant, a compass and lots & lots of math, pencil & paper...almost never in sight of land. There were storms, whales, mutinous sailers, and fish for lunch. And dinner. And breakfast. I have these two swabbies discussing the menu throughout the book....

The Doldrums were no fun at all... the legend goes that sailors could summon the wind by whistling... so Red brought them home... The first Red book will be released in February 14, and the second, Racing the Waves, comes out in the fall.

Another project that I'm working on, below, is "The Problem With Not Being Scared of Monsters" with Dan Richards & it's sequel, from Boyds Mill Press, Rebecca Davis, editor.

And last but not least, a little book that's in the development stage, just sent off to the publisher. Will they like it? We shall see...