We Art Boston

I am so proud to be part of We Art Boston, a fundraiser for the Emergency and Trauma Fund at Boston Children’s Hospital. Original illustratons from over 40 children's book artists will be auctioned off beginning October 10th.

On the 20th there will be a fabulous celebration on the Rose Kennedy Greenway in Boston, with art activities for kids, a stuffed animal portrait station, book signings, and book making station, among other things. Come by and say hello! I will either be signing books, manning the book making station, or sneaking my daughter's stuffed lamb over to get her portrait drawn...

Here is the piece I donated, from Abigail Spells

CCBC best-of-the-year list

Great news, ABIGAIL SPELLS has been named to the Cooperative Children’s Book Center Choice list. Hurray!

CCBC Choices is the annual best-of-the-year list of the Cooperative Children’s Book Center. The Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) is a unique examination, study and research library of the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

For more information and the complete list of choices, click here.

Survey for educators

Dear expert educators out there,

I am doing some research about where teachers and educators of all kinds go to access new lesson plans and material for their classes. Why do I need to know this you ask? I think Abigail Spells could be a really useful book in the classroom, both to generate excitement about spelling and give kids a place to practice what they've learned. So I'm compiling a list of teacher resources I might be able to team up with to get the word out.

SO. If you are a teacher or educator who works with young kids, where do you go to research your lesson plans? Are there any sites or other materials that have helped you develop spelling lessons and teach it effectively? Any great online resources that have been useful?

Thanks in advance for the help, I really appreciate it! You can leave a comment here, or email me at anna@annaalter.com.

Many thanks!

"It is a book of spelling wonderness."

Okay this has got to be one of my favorite reviews of any of my books. If you haven't seen this blog yet beware- you will get hooked! Bookie Wookie is a book review blog run by a dad and his 3 very clever kids. Their musings about various books are both hilarious and insightful. Click here to read their discussion about Abigail Spells.

Some drawings of Abigail and George by reviewers Gracie, Lily, and Isaac:

Happy Spelling Week and a blog tour!

This week 293 spellers will go to the Scripps National Bee in Washington D.C.! If you've seen the movies Spellbound or Akeelah and the Bee, you know how fascinating a real live spelling bee is. I went to one in Brookline when I was researching Abigail Spells and was totally riveted.

The stage started out like this:

Slowly whittled down to a small group:

And then to these two:

Everyone was on the edge of their seat til the very end. I wanted them all to win!

To celebrate all the goodness that is a spelling bee and the book I wrote to celebrate spelling, I will be blog touring all week in the kidlitosphere. Visit me at the below blogs to learn more about the book and I how I made it. Some will feature reviews, some interviews, and all will have book giveaways. Comment on their posts and you can win a free copy of Abigail Spells!

Monday the 25th: MotherReader
Tuesday the 26th: A Patchwork of Books
Wednesday the 27th: Katie's Literature Lounge
Thursday the 28th: Brimful Curiosities
Friday the 28th: Jama Rattigan's Alphabet Soup

Packing and drawing, packing and drawing

This spring has been the busiest I've had in a very long time; two books came out within a month of eachother, I'm planning my wedding in July, and moving from Boston to Northampton (children's book author Mecca) in a few short weeks- eek! Right now I am going back and forth between sketching for my new project Disappearing Desmond and packing all our belongings for the trip West. I am excited for all the change but also sad about leaving Boston, where I've made my home for the past 12 years. Boston has been good to me, sigh.

Anyhow, not much time for posting today, but I would like to invite everyone out to The Andover Bookstore on Saturday, where I will be reading, presenting about, and signing Abigail Spells. There will be fun activities for kids (a spelling scavenger hunt is in the works), snacks, and all sorts of great spelling fun. Come join me!

The Andover Bookstore
Saturday May 23rd at 11:00 am

The making of Abigail and upcoming events

Last week Abigail made her debut in bookstores, hurray! I am so proud of this book, and so excited that kids will be able to read it at last. For those of you that have been following the Blue Rose Girls blog for a long time, you will remember this book going through many stages... from picking Abigail's handkerchief color, to choosing color schemes and patterns, to making the paintings. I posted about making a jacket sketch, painting the jacket (also here), and finishing the artwork.

Now that the book is finally in bookstores, the work to get the word out begins. As I mentioned last week, I have just launched a web site for Abigail: www.abigailspells.com. Check out the "games" page to find video games with an animated Abigail, and the "free" page for wallpaper, activity sheets, coloring sheets, and a curriculum guide, all for free download.

If you'd like to learn more about the creation of the book, I have a number of events coming up this month where I will be presenting, showing artwork, and signing books. You can see a full schedule of where I will be here, but here are some highlights (all are free and open to the public):

This Saturday May 9th, I will be speaking about and signing both Old Red Shoe and Abigail Spells at Olivia Browning in Charlestown.
10:30-12:00 Preschool program and art activity
1:00-2:30 Grade school program and art activity

I will be celebrating the release of Abigail Spells at The Andover Bookstore. Come join me to learn about how the book was created, play spelling games and activities for kids.
May 23rd at 10:30 am

I will be signing Abigail Spells at Newtonville Books. Learn about the making of the book and see the original artwork!
June 27th Program will begin at 10:30 am

Events this spring

In case you are not on my mailing list (which you should be! sign up here), I thought I would let you know about some events this spring where I will be celebrating the release of my new books What Can You Do with an Old Red Shoe? and Abigail Spells. I invite you all to come celebrate with me! If you live in any of the areas below (or even if you don't) I would love to see you there.

*I will be returning to the Virginia Festival of the Book. This year I am offering a free event where I will present the process of creating a book to kids, run an art activity, and sign books. All are invited!

Saturday March 21st at 12:30
McGuffey Art Center in Charlottesville, VA

*I will be reading, signing, and presenting about my books at The River's Family Music Meltdown & Book Bash. This will be a fun event, co-organized by fellow author Jarrett Krosoczka that includes book readingss, music, hula hooping, and trapeze!

March 28th from 10-4, my presentation will begin at 11:40 am
JFK Middle School in Northampton, MA

*Come celebrate Earth day with What Can You Do with an Old Red Shoe?. I will give a presentation about how the book was made, read and sign books, and run a recycled art activity for kids!

April 22nd at 3 pm
Wellesley Booksmith in Wellesley, MA

*Celebrate What Can You Do with an Old Red Shoe? at the Wenham Museum in coordination with the exhibit Soul of the Shoe. Artists interpret how shoes are shaped by our culture; from Boston Celtics star Larry Bird's famous Converse high tops to fancy dance shoes that graced the stages of Broadway in productions such as Cats, The Wizard of Oz, and others. I will read Red Shoe and do a presentation about how it was made, followed by a craft activity.

April 23rd at 10:30 am presentation
Wenham Museum in Wenham, MA
Craft activity and booksigning 11:00 to 1:00 pm

*I will be selling my new books and prints at the RISD Spring Alumni Sale with Grace Lin! Free Abigail Spells coloring sheets and spelling activities! Come by for an autographed book or just to chat.

May 2nd from 10-4:00 pm
Benefit Street in Providence, RI

A Winsome Tale

Another Abigail Spells review, yippee! This more than made my day.

"This winsome tale demonstrates the value of friendship during the trials and travails of life. The announcement of the school spelling bee delights Abigail. With George’s assistance, she earnestly begins preparing for the big day, gleefully spelling out words at every opportunity. However, besieged by stage fright during the contest, Abigail makes a mistake. George’s stalwart companionship and his wise words provide the devastated Abigail the comfort she needs. Alter’s simply told text deftly conveys the genuine affection between the friends and treats Abigail’s disappointment with the gravity it deserves. The enduring message of the inevitability of setbacks and the necessity of gracefully coping—with a little help from friends—will appeal to readers struggling with their own challenges. Heavily pigmented acrylic paintings impart a quaint, old-fashioned feel to the tale, imbuing it with a classic timelessness; the double-page close-up of Abigail’s moment of failure is a portrait of shame and disappointment embodied. Quiet and unassuming, this sympathetic testament to friendship is a great addition to a child’s shelf."


First review for Abigail Spells

"Abigail, a young chicken, and her best friend, George, a bear, have all kinds of fun together. They like to cha cha, and George enjoys the stories that Abigail tells. But there’s one thing that Abigail does very well all by herself: spell. After Abigail hears about a school spelling bee, all she does is practice spelling. One of the neat things about this book is how it uses every opportunity to show Abigail spelling words—while brushing her teeth, eating her lunch—all of which might get children interested in spelling, too. When the big day comes, though, Abigail’s nerves get the better of her, and with a misspelling of “elephant,” she’s out. She is in a funk, and George despairs, until he tells her a story about two friends. What makes this different from so many happy-enders is that the story recognizes that defeat is part of life. The pictures, executed in acrylics and simple shapes, neatly capture both actions and emotions."