A Photo for Greta shadow box

Getting emails from kids about my books is really just the best. Last week this photo from a second grader named Arden, who used A Photo for Greta for her book report, was sitting in my inbox. Her shadow box features hand-colored illustrations from the book, a light made out of coffee stirrers and foil, and a camera made out of electrical tape. Genius! Beautiful work Arden!

A lovely review of Greta from School Library Journal

"A bunny misses her photographer father when he’s gone on assignments. Sometimes she wishes she were the subject of his photo shoots. When he covers the circus, Greta imagines she is a circus performer. Then he photographs a country singer, and she plays the part in cowboy boots. When she aspires to have an important job like his, her father assures her that she already has the most important job–being his Greta. The short, sweet text offers young children reassurance as it follows the rabbit’s thoughts while she dreams of ways to be close to her dad. The acrylic paintings of an anthropomorphic rabbit family are reminiscent of those in Margaret Wise Brown’s Good Night Moon (HarperCollins, 1947) and verify the warmth of the narrative . . ."

–Carolyn Janssen, Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, OH

Thanks SLJ! Read more about A Photo for Greta here.

Two visits and a review

The past week has been a busy one! Here are a few highlights:

*On Father's Day I visited Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast to talk about the making of A Photo for Greta. A big thanks to Jules for having me! Read my post here.

*I had a lovely school visit in Newton, the first after taking some time off for maternity leave. It was a lot of fun to read my new book to a group of kids at last (I've read it during some Skype visits this spring, but this was the first time in person). When I tell kids about the book making process, I describe how I made a watercolor "test" of my palette in order to choose which colors I will use in the illustrations. I usually show them this palette, which I made for Francine's Day:

When I got home I was greeted by a sweet email from the organizer, whose son attended my talk. When he arrived home he pulled out his watercolors and made his own paint palette, then proceeded to paint all of his stuffed animals:

Such a talented artist, nice work Jared! I hope you will keep painting and visit the library often.

*Publisher's Weekly gave A Photo for Greta this lovely review. A snippet: "As she did in Disappearing Desmond, Alter displays notable sensitivity to children’s insecurities and doubts, while providing reassurance of their worth." Thanks PW!

*And lastly, Tilda is now eating butternut squash, which she prefers to feed herself. Next thing you know she will be applying to college.

Still not sure what to give for Father's Day?

I can help you there. A Photo for Greta makes the perfect Father's Day gift. After all, The New York Times called it a "paean to paternal love", what better recommendation do you need?

Okay, enough advertising. Happy Father's Day everyone! Hope you spend Sunday celebrating all the great dads you know. I will be celebrating the guy below with a beer tasting, Indian take-out, and letting him sleep in while I take the baby at 6 am (for once).

Review of A Photo for Greta from Publisher's Weekly

This review of A Photo for Greta just in from Publisher's Weekly. Thanks PW!

"Greta, a young rabbit, loves her father, a photographer who “travels all around the world taking pictures of very important people.” Admiring the framed pictures he’s taken of NASA astronauts, an Olympic gold medalist, musicians, and a winner of a gold-bunny “Oscar,” she wishes to be famous and photo-ready herself. So when her father is away taking pictures of a circus and a ballet, Greta dresses like an acrobat and ballerina, and her father takes her picture when he returns home. And when he’s photographing a country music band, a cowboy boot–wearing Greta plucks “a sad and lonely tune on her guitar,” because he won’t be back until after she is asleep. As she did in Disappearing Desmond, Alter displays notable sensitivity to children’s insecurities and doubts, while providing reassurance of their worth. Her acrylics have a comforting sturdiness, and readers who similarly take pride in their parents’ professions, even as they miss them in their absence, will relate both to Greta’s role-playing when her father is away and their tender time together when he comes home."

Greta in The New York Times!

Great news: A Photo for Greta was reviewed in this Sunday's New York Times Book Review, along with Grandma's Wedding Album (they called them both "heartfelt and personal" books about family photography). Yay! An excerpt:

"Alter’s paean to paternal love, strong despite the demands of the road, is at the same time a portrait of an only child who yearns for the limelight of her father’s attention. When Greta’s dad gives his daughter her own photo shoot, 'It was the best day she could remember.'"

A Photo for Greta is out today!

At last, A Photo for Greta is out in stores, hurray!

We've talked a lot in the past on Blue Rose Girls about the quiet birth of of a children's book, how you work at a story for months and years and when it finally comes out it can be a little anticlimactic. Trumpets do not sound unless you, yourself, get a trumpet to play. But today does feel kind of special. Maybe its because this is a personal book I wrote about my dad or maybe sometimes you just need to find a reason to celebrate. Or maybe I am just very excited to be back at work at last after many months of being at home with baby. But I am excited.

I've been working at redesigning parts of my web site, and just launched a page for Greta here. There you will find a curriculum guide, art activities based on the book, coloring sheets and some other goodies. There is also a handy new feature where you can click on thumbnails of the illustrations for a closer look. Take a look and let me know what you think! And stay tuned for a Father's Day book giveaway coming soon...

A Photo for Greta on the way

In a few short weeks my new book, A Photo for Greta, will be out at last! You might remember some of the paintings I posted as I was working on it last summer here , here, and here.

While the illustrations were done last summer, the book has been in progress for a long time. Its a story I've always wanted to write about growing up with a dad who is a photographer (which mine was). Here is a photo he took of me when I was about 4, which we used on the jacket flap:

I painted a version of it on the endpapers:

I've been putting together some promotional materials for schools (more on that soon) and some behind the scenes peeks of the making of the book on my web site. This weekend I made this little painting in progress "movie" out of photos of one of the illustrations. I hope it will make the painting process clear to kids who watch it...

On the road

After putting the finishing touches on A Photo for Greta, I am packing up my car and heading out for a week long road trip. I am a. very excited about this book and thrilled to have it finished after many years of developing the project and b. psyched for a long weekend and whirlwind road trip after many months of painting.

My car is packed and the first stop is New York. I'll meet with my publisher, drop off the art, and have a nice lunch. Then its back on the road and heading down to my hometown in Virginia to visit with my folks for a few days. My mom is doing me the very kind favor of looking after my plants next year while we're in California, so my car looks something like a greenhouse with 15 large leafy plants squeezed into the back of my Honda Coupe. I love my plants and couldn't leave them to wither.

Last stop will be DC on Saturday and Sunday, where I will join the BRG and lots of you (I hope) at ALA. If you are walking the floor or doing a signing or will be at the banquet let me know!

I'll leave you with some more Greta art: