Interview with Marit Menzin

July 10, 2014 at 8:45 pm (Interviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

MaritAlong with the story time kids, I had the opportunity to interview the author of Song for Papa Crow, Marit Menzin.

First, questions from the kids:

“What made you want to write a book like this one, about crows and singing?” – Justin, age 9

I love animals and nature, and I’m childlike in the sense that I always keep asking questions. I live in Lexington, Massachusetts where I see most of the birds featured in Song for Papa Crow in my backyard. The idea for my book came to me when I helped one of my children with a school project on birds. When I discovered that father crows take care of their offspring longer than most other birds, and that the whole flock would come to help a wounded crow, I asked myself: What would happen if a little crow was teased by songbirds for his unique song? And, what if in his quest to make friends he learned the other birds’ songs, but when he was in danger his father wouldn’t recognize his song? This idea is not farfetched, as I learned to my surprise that crows can mimic sounds made by animals and other birds, as well as sounds made by humans.

P1020327“What moral were you trying to get across?” – Ethan, age 11

When I wrote my story I wasn’t thinking about morals, but there are many morals that I subconsciously conveyed: Every child is special, and every child has unique gifts. Be proud of your family, and with who you are. It’s a good idea to tell your parents where you’re going, and whom you’re hanging out with so they’ll know where to find you. Your family loves you no matter what. Your family is the most important thing.

“My question is about Papa Crow. Will he always save Little Crow? That’s my question.” – Ayla, age 3

Yes. Papa Crow will ALWAYS save Little Crow when he hears his voice. For Papa Crow, Little Crow’s voice is the sweetest thing in the world.

“Exactly why did you make the singing scenes? And who did you write the story for?” – Ian, age 7

I made the singing scenes because the birds I see and listen to in my backyard inspired me. I also thought that it would be fun to research bird songs and rituals.

northern_mockingbird_glamour“Why did you make the mockingbird the rock star?” – Alex, age 9

Although Song for Papa Crow is a fiction picture book, the story line is based on true facts. The mockingbird is a great singer who can imitate the sounds of other birds, and is also one of the few birds that can be heard singing at night.

Questions from Anaklian Whims Blog:

What led you to Schiffer Books? (www.schifferbooks.com)

I heard of Schiffer Publishing from a local author I ran into when my art was exhibited at my local library. JungkeSml

What inspired your collage art? It’s a very unique way to illustrate.

I doodled and painted since my early childhood, and I experimented with different art media including oils, and pastels. But I only started developing my collage technique when I took classes with the Caldecott award-winning illustrator Ilse Plume at the deCordova Museum.

I see that you are a freelance collage artist. You do book covers for hire? What sort of cost would an indie author be looking at?

I designed the cover for my book. In general, a cover price can range anywhere from $150 to $4000 but an Indie Author could pay $250-$1000 depending on what she’s looking for and how much work is involved.

Do you have more kids’ books of your own in your future?

I’m currently working on the illustrations for a new book.

I see you do school visits. What would it take to get you to Texas?

I would love to visit Texas. You’ll have to add travel & lodging expenses to visit cost. For more about this author/illustrator, visit: http://maritmenzin.com/

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Song for Papa Crow

June 30, 2014 at 10:23 pm (Education, Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

songforpapacrowTitle: Song for Papa Crow

Author: Marit Menzin

Publisher: Schiffer Publishing

Genre: Children’s Picture Book

I was delighted to have Schiffer Publishing contact me to review a selection of their picture books.  There can never be too many children’s books here in the Klemm household, as kiddo devours them for breakfast, elevenses, lunch, dinner, and bedtime.  We’re readers. We read.  We’re also artists and we love admiring quality picture books.

As a homeschool mom of an aspiring birder, I couldn’t find Song for Papa Crow any more perfect.

This is a lovely story about how Little Crow loves to sing.  He sings his heart out and in the course of teaching children what birds of North America make what sounds, we also follow Little Crow on a a journey of self-discovery and why it’s a beautiful thing to be yourself.

Menzin’s collage art is gorgeous.  Kiddo and I adore all the rich colors.  We spend a good deal of time outdoors and it’s wonderful to see nature portrayed with so much texture even while confined to the pages of a book.

Of course, after every book, I ask kiddo what she thinks.  My three year old smiled broadly and responded, “I think it’s ridiculous.”  Ridiculous, naturally, being pronounced ridicooooolous and said for the sheer enjoyment of using the word.  Proven by the fact that she has asked for me to read “the Papa Crow one” at least twice a day since our first reading.

Now, a week later, I ask kiddo:

“Would you like to say anything about Papa Crow to our readers?”

“Yes,” she says decisively.

“What would you like to say?”

“Nothing at all, I just want it to be SEEN.”

Powerful words from a three year old, I think.  She’s right, we could talk about how awesome Papa Crow is all day, but when all is said and done, Menzin’s collages simply must be seen.

Songs for Papa Crow will accompany us to Story Time at Half Price Books Humble for the next two weeks (July 2nd & 9th).  We meet every Wednesday, all summer, at 10:30 am.  Though we typically read multiple titles, we tend to choose a favorite to feature each week.  We will also have a few Schiffer Kids Spring 2014 Catalogs for patrons of Story Time to peruse.  Snacks are provided.

I look forward to reading more from Schiffer Books as well as Marit Menzin.  The Klemms are officially fans for life.

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The Crows of Pearblossom

May 10, 2014 at 11:25 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Crows of Pearblossom

A Weekly Low Down on Kids Books

Title: The Crows of Pearblossom

Author: Aldous Huxley

Illustrator: Sophie Blackall

I first bought this picture book simply because I wanted to raise my child to be literary and it was written by ALdous Huxley. Naturally, a literary child should be raised on the works of Huxley, naturally.

The first time I read it to kiddo, I remember being a little creeped out. I’m not sure why. Maybe because I had mommy hormones and it took the mother crow at least 297 missing eggs before she got upset about her lost babies. Maybe because father crow didn’t swoop down and kill the rattlesnake right away. To be honest, I have no idea, but I do know my kid must have picked up on whatever I was feeling and furrowed her little brow.

Nevertheless, we read it all the time now. It makes its emergence in the spring and summer and gets tucked back into the shelf during the fall and winter unless we’re on a bird or snake kick. It’s not that the book itself is set in any particular season, the illustrations are just sort of sunny and Owl doesn’t wear shirts, so of course it must be somewhat warm out.

I adore Sophie Blackall.  I know I say this about a lot of authors and artists and people and things in general – but there just is no limit to how much a person can love and adore things.  That’s the marvelous thing about love and adoration, it is limitless and unending.

Obviously, her artwork is fantastic.  In addition to that, I think her ‘about the illustrator’ blurb in the dust jacket of the picture book is too adorable:

Sophie Blackall is the illustrator of Ruby’s Wish, the Ivy & Bean series, and many other picture books. Her father once arrived at a party as Aldous Huxley was leaving. They may or may not have crossed paths in the vestibule. She lives with her delightful children, an ambivalent cat, and several presumptuous squirrels in Brookly, New York.

Can someone please write something equally adorable for my author blurbs?  I never seem to know what to say for them.  Me – who writes endlessly and speaks just as often – has nothing to say.  Not in any concise and witty manner, anyway.

Back to Huxley, he apparently wrote The Crows of Pearblossom for his niece in 1944.  It wasn’t published until 1967 with Barbara Cooney as illustrator.

That edition looked like this and is now out of print:

original crows

Which means, if you see it laying around somewhere in a clearance rack or heap bin – snatch it up! It should not be cast aside.  It isn’t necessarily worth a whole lot, you can find copies on abebooks.com for $2 – $10, but out of print is out of print and you never know when you might be holding the last clean copy.  I like Sophie Blackall’s illustrations better, but the original work should be salvaged.

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Mr. Turtle and His Tree

August 9, 2012 at 1:03 am (The Whim) (, , , , , , , )

An Original Children’s Story by A.K. Klemm

There once was a turtle at the bottom of a hill.

He lived under a tree, where the air stood so still.

One day he looked to the top of that mound,

dreaming of what treasure could possibly be found.

 

Mr. Turtle started a journey to the top of that hill,

where he saw greener pastures and heard birdies trill.

Their song was so beautiful, every little note.

Mr. Turtle joined in, singing cheerily by rote.

Mr. Turtle was right about the hill and its treasure.

He discovered a wealth that no one could measure:

the songs of the birds and the music of sound

and he longed to show Tree of the beauty he’d found.

So he talked to the birds and asked them to bring

the breeze and the music by the strength of their wings.

 

 

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A Natural English Journey for Earth Day

April 21, 2012 at 7:50 pm (Events, Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , )

Title: Birds of Selborne

Author: Gilbert White

Publisher: Penguin Classics

Length: 96 pgs.

This pocket sized series of letters from naturalist Gilbert White about the village of Selborne should be a part of every environmentalist’s collection.  White studied at Oriel College in Oxford and then spent years travelling around England.  Birds of Selborne is a segment of The Natural History of Selborne, a work he published after he returned home from his travels.

I love these little books, its a branch off of the Penguin Great Ideas series, an “English Journeys” collection of which this is number 19.  Much of this particular edition is filled with White’s bird watching adventures, but also covers things about the trees and weather as well.  If you’ve ever enjoyed the work of Darwin’s Origin of Species or Henry David Thoreau’s Walden, Gilbert White is worth your while.

Tomorrow is Earth Day, don’t forget to check out your local bookstore and pick something up from the nature or gardening section to kick off your Sunday (after church, if you go).  Find a spot under some trees or in the sun to celebrate your Earth while you read.  Half Price Books in Humble will have Eco-friendly goodie bags to hand out to 50 customers, if you’re in the Humble area you should check it out.  If you’re in the Dallas area, there’s a tree planting event on April 28th: http://www.hpb.com/treeweek/

http://www.hpb.com/treeweek/

Read More About Earth Day.

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