I first “met” our October featured author for 12 x 12 in 2012, Dianne de Las Casas, last November when I became aware of the first annual Picture Book Month and became an ambassador (as I am this year). Like Dianne, I was incensed by the now infamous NYT article slamming picture books in 2010. I suppose 12 x 12 was my subconscious retaliation. Dianne took more direct aim by founding Picture Book Month.
Since then, I’ve been inspired not only by Dianne’s passion and commitment to the art and craft of picture books, but also by her marketing mind. She too is a contributor to Katie Davis‘ Brain Burps About Books, giving us her Take 5 Marketing Tips. I’ve learned loads from those little tidbits.
If this is your first exposure to Dianne, you’re in for a treat. Not only does she have a great deal to say about writing and promoting picture books, she is giving one lucky 12 x 12 participant a 30-minute social media and marketing consultation.
Picture Books Rock this World!
As founder of Picture Book Month, it is probably obvious to you that picture books are important to me. I began this campaign to give picture books the love and celebration they deserve. In fall of 2010, the New York Times published an article that declared the decline of the picture book. That article alone could have been my impetus to build a month-long celebration for picture books. But it was just the surface. There was something deeper. Picture books have touched my family in ways you can only imagine.
We live in the New Orleans area. On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina ravaged the U.S. Gulf Coast. We evacuated to Houston, Texas. My two daughters and I stayed in Houston for a year while my husband returned home to rebuild. Soleil was 15 at the time and Eliana was 5.
When we evacuated, we had to leave in a hurry and left everything behind, save for a week’s worth of clothes. The weeks following Katrina were emotional ones. We couldn’t return home – we were displaced. Being “displaced” doesn’t just mean being away from home, it means losing your sense of place and the security that a home provides. We felt like Max in Where the Wild Things Are. At first, being away from home was a big adventure but we soon came to miss everything familiar.
Fortunately, compassion was in abundance and people donated clothing, food, and toys. We were grateful for every gift but there was something missing – our book collection. At home, my daughters had shelves full of beloved books. Bonding over the shared experience of reading aloud, Soleil and I loved cuddling up with Eliana and reading picture books with her. But after the storm, we had not one single book.
So I began a letter writing campaign for books. Peter Reynolds, the author of The Dot and Ish, as well as numerous other books, was one of the first to respond with signed copies. Other books followed and soon, our new apartment in Houston became our home. I bought a bookshelf. We had books to put on them. In those days and months that followed the aftermath of Katrina, those books became our refuge. We found the comforts of home within the pages of books, especially picture books.
It has been seven years since Katrina and so much has changed. Since 2005, I truly dedicated myself to writing and now have 19 books published – 9 of them are picture books (and more are on the way)! Soleil works in graphic and web design, and Eliana is a 12 year old celebrity kid chef. My husband is proud of his girls and I’m sure there’s a picture book in this somewhere…
Picture books continue to rock my world. When Eliana was 6 years old, I gave her the book, Wow! It Sure is Good to be You! by Cynthia Jabar. The book said exactly what was in my heart every time I traveled away from home. I wrote notes in the book and glued pictures inside. To this day, when I read it, I cry… nostalgic tears. Just the other day, Eliana and I read Chloe and the Lion by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Adam Rex. We guffawed. And I mean we laughed until we cried… joyous tears.
Often, when I am in need of a gift for an adult, I turn to the venerable picture book. They are better at expressing emotion than any greeting card I’ve ever read. The picture book is 32 pages of joy, heart, healing, laughter, fun, security, thrills, and love.
During the month of November, visit picturebookmonth.com. Every day, you will find essays on the importance of picture books from such luminaries as Doreen Cronin, Chris Raschka, John Rocco, Jon Scieszka, Karma Wilson, Paul O. Zelinsky, and yes, even Peter Reynolds! Picture books will be celebrated around the world in blogs, in libraries, in schools, and in homes.
How important are picture books to you? Become a Picture Book Month Ambassador and wear the badge proudly on your website. Let’s show everyone that picture books rock this world!
November is Picture Book Month! Read * Share * Celebrate!
Dianne de Las Casas is an award-winning author of 19 books, a professonal storyteller, and founder of the international literacy initiative, Picture Book Month. She tours worldwide presenting revved-up author visit/storytelling programs, lively educator/librarian training, fun workshops, and inspiring artist residencies. Her picture books include The Cajun Cornbread Boy, Madame Poulet & Monsieur Roach, Mama’s Bayou, The Gigantic Sweet Potato, There’s a Dragon in the Library, The House That Witchy Built, Blue Frog: The Legend of Chocolate, Dinosaur Mardi Gras, and Beware, Beware of the Big Bad Bear. You can find her on Twitter and Facebook. You can also find Picture Book Month on Twitter and Facebook.
Participants – to enter to win the consultation from Dianne, you must be an official challenger and leave a comment on this post (INCLUDING YOUR FIRST AND LAST NAME) any time during the month of October for one point. On October 31st, l’ll put a check-in post on the blog. If you completed a picture book draft in October, you can let us know in the comments of that post for another point. I will draw a winner using Random.org and announce on November 2nd.Categories: 12 x 12 Featured Author, 12 x 12 in 2012, Authors, Brain Burps About Books, Giveaway, Goals, Guest Blogging, Picture Book Month, Picture Books, Social Media, Writing · Tags: 12 x 12 Featured Author, 12 x 12 in 2012, Author, Brain Burps About Books, Dianne de Las Cases, Giveaway, Goals, Guest Blogging, Julie Hedlund, Marketing, Picture Book Month, Picture Books, Social Media, Writing