Category Archives: Jane Kohuth
Jane Kohuth began her love affair with children’s books before she could walk. At her preschool entrance interview, she introduced herself and her sister as Frances and Gloria — Russell Hoban’s iconic badger characters (she got in). She’s also a big fan of Scrabble and GRE analogies, but has found that writing for kids is the most fun of all. Jane has a degree in English and Creative Writing from Brandeis University as well as a master’s degree in Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School. She loves to write about sensitive kids and goofy animals, but will tackle most subjects as long as she can make the words sing. She has two books out from Random House Children’s, Ducks Go Vroom (Spring 2011) and Estie the Mensch (Fall 2011) and one from Dial/Penguin, Duck Sock Hop (May 2012). She is represented by the Prospect Agency. She frequently brainstorms with her husband, who, conveniently, has the sense of humor of a four-year-old.
From: Jane Says
May 15, 2012 at 07:35PM
Today’s Booklist says about Duck Sock Hop, “The rhymes here are rollicking, alliterative, webbed-foot-tapping fun, and debut illustrator Porter’s heavily lined, brightly patterned art extends the ducks’ sheer joy. The funniest thing about the art? Giant socks housing skinny duck legs. This begs for a shoes-off storytime with toddlers doing some wiggling of their own.”
Well, they read my mind. I’ll be holding a shoes off storytime and dance party launch for Dock Sock Hop this Saturday at 3 pm at Wellesley Books in Wellesley, MA. This event is free and open to everyone. We’ll have a wacky socks storytime, rock & roll on a real record player, sock crafts, and, snacks (because ducks love snacks).
And the NEXT sock hop will be just a week after that:
Saturday, May 26th, 11-1, Eight Cousins Bookstore, Falmouth, MA
Duck Sock Hop is officially out in the world! Today I talk to illustrator Jane Porter about her background, influences, artistic process, and what she’d do on her perfect day. To see more of her work, visit her blog.
When did you discover that you loved creating visual art? What kind of art did you do as a child?
I always loved drawing and painting and making things generally. I can remember painting dozens of tigers at playschool, and later I used to like making cartoons about our pet guinea pigs. I also made a series of concertina books for my sister – they were comedy guidebooks to our house, garden and neighbourhood generally.
I grew up loving picture books – particularly funny ones like Richard Scarry’s. So the idea of helping to create one is a dream come true.
I had a previous career as a magazine journalist/editor specialising in landscape architecture, horticulture and garden design. But later I felt a strong urge to do something more directly creative. I went and did an art foundation part-time at Wimbledon School of Art while still doing freelance writing, then went on to do a part-time MA in illustration at Kingston University.
After I finished the MA it was quite a while before I sent any work to publishers – I felt I needed to develop a little bit more, and at the time I was also doing a lot of art projects in schools which took a lot of time and energy. You can see some of them in the archive of my blog at http://www.maxwellandmyrtle.co.uk/whatsnew/ . But after exhibiting my work in two different shows at The Old Sweet Shop gallery and selling a lot of prints, I felt confident enough to send samples to publishers. I designed a concertina-fold flier, had some printed and did a big mail-out which resulted in getting an agent and a deal for two books with Hodder, as well as the chance to illustrate the wonderful Duck Sock Hop!
There’s an online interview in which I show some pages from a book which had a great influence on me as a child and still does – Modern Tales and Fables illustrated by the Czech illustrator Vaclav Sivko.
I also like to watch animals and how they move, and fill books with drawings to help get a sense of that movement.
Can you talk a bit about how you develop characters?
I always have an ideas notebook on the go, and try to remember how the world seemed to me as a child. I also think back to when my own children were little, and what sort of things they did and said.
I love using pen and ink in quite a loose way, and then layering it with unusual textures that I’ve photographed – anything from nested pastry cutters to an aerial view of Berlin. In Duck Sock Hop the sun is the gills of a mushroom. I keep a small camera with me all the time just in case I see something special.
A bit messy! Here is a picture. I stick ongoing work on the wall and now there are lots of layers like an onion skin.
What would you do on your perfect day?
It would involve taking out a rowing boat for the day and having a picnic with my family, ideally on an island with a swim after lunch!
Being able to spend all day drawing and making things, and calling it work. I also really like doing projects with children and find their ideas inspiring.
We were also interviewed together on the blog Literary Friendships, where you can hear about what we thought when we first encountered each other’s work, why socks are the clothing equivalent of ducks, what our favorite books as children were, and see photos of our matching kitties.
It seems auspicious that Duck Sock Hop launches during Children’s Book Week. And this week the ducks are on the move.
On May 1st (a little before this week, okay) we visited the blog Pajama Mommy, where I talk about connecting with kids’ books by talking with children’s booksellers and even children’s authors.
On May 6th we visited Seven Impossible Things along with Duck Sock Hop illustrator Jane Porter, who reveals how she created the ducks. She uses a stick for the ink lines! I happen to love dipping sticks in ink for drawing, so this makes me so happy. She also reveals what kind of ducks the Duck Sock Hop ducks are. I need to look them up now, so I can see photos. There’s lots of art work from the book, for a great sneak peek.
On May 7th (today!) we are visiting children’s writer Amitha Knight on her blog Monkey Poop: A Literary Weblog of Unparalleled Eloquence, where I count down all my other favorite duck books. Amitha also has a signed copy of Duck Sock Hop to give away!
On May 10th (Duck Sock Hop launch day!) we will be hanging out with children’s author Audrey Vernick at Literary Friendships, where Jane Porter and I talk about how Duck Sock Hop came to be. Audrey, too, will be giving away a signed copy of the book.
On May 12th we’ll be heading over to 5 Minutes for Books, where I talk about how working as a children’s bookseller helped me on my path to becoming a published picture book author.
From: Jane Says
May 03, 2012 at 04:53PM
Duck Sock Hop comes out next week and as part of the celebration, I’ll be giving away signed copies of the book on Goodreads, Cynsations, Monkey Poop (May 7th), and Literary Friendships (May 10th). A link to the Goodreads giveaway is below! Stay-tuned for links to the other giveaways.
From: Jane Says
April 28, 2012 at 01:07AM
1. If you have a publicist helping you set up events, that’s fantastic. If not, you can reach out to stores, schools, and libraries on your own. If you know local children’s librarians, ask if you can be a guest at story time or hold a full-fledged book event at the library. If you don’t know children’s librarians, get to know children’s librarians. It’s also great to know the folks at bookstores in your area. Connect with the events coordinator via email, phone, or a face-to-face chat. Bookstores have events on site and often can also provide books for you to sell at off-site events.
2. I was lucky to have been a bookseller at two stores, which in turn have helped me set up events at local schools where they have ties. But they do that for non-former-employees, too. Let the children’s buyers and/or events coordinators at bookstores know you’re interested in doing school visits. If you go through a store, though, those visits will generally be free to the school in exchange for them offering your books for sale to their students. The store will coordinate the sales. I’m still working on making more connections at schools, though. I’m going to try emailing school librarians and sending them my author visit brochure as a PDF.
2. Attend other author events. I got to see lots as an events coordinator, but I still try to go to support other authors, because I’m a fangirl, and because it helps me get ideas.
3. Plan your presentations well ahead of time, so you can pitch them! Have school versions and store versions, since the venues are a bit different. You’ll want your school visits to be more lesson-like (but still FUN). Have a page on your website that describes your various presentations. Have a brochure to give out, too.
4. Communicate with the place where you’ll be having your event! (Or communicate with your publicist so she can communicate with them for you.) Make sure they’ll have the technology, set-up, and supplies you’ll need. Find out when they would like you to arrive. If you want to bring food, make sure food is okay with them . . . .
5. Everyone has their own stye, but I find it very helpful to write up my presentations (especially the school visits) in detail. I write them up lesson plan style, which comes from my teaching days. And I practice. I really want to feel comfortable with my material. I find that if I know it, I can be looser, maybe improvise if I see a good opportunity come up, tailor to my audience.
6. Deep breaths. Maybe some soothing medication. When you get up there, and the kids are engaged with YOUR book, you’ll feel great.
I’ve been so very pleased that with my third book, Duck Sock Hop, I have a publicist helping me to set up some of my events. It feels odd, though, to let someone else be my go-between after being used to doing it all myself. It makes me feel important, but a little out of control. I think I need a lesson from my own ducks. Let go now and then and dance. Don’t be afraid to look silly. I don’t think it’s gonna happen, ducks. But at least I get to spend some time with you.
Tatnuck Booksellers, Westborough MA: Saturday, June 16, 10 AM
Wellesley Free Library, Wellesley, MA: Monday, June 18, 10:30 AM
Holliston Public Library, Holliston, MA: Tuesday, July 17, 11 AM
Westwinds Bookshop, Duxbury, MA: Wednesday, August 22, 10:30 AM
From: Jane Says
April 05, 2012 at 06:06PM
The Blue Bunny, Dedham MA: Thursday, June 7, 6:30 PM
From: Jane Says
March 28, 2012 at 09:47PM
Recently I received a present in the mail — a finished copy of my new picture book, Duck Sock Hop (Dial, May 10, 2012). We decided to greet the book in style, with a fancy sock box and some nifty sock to nestle in:
From: Jane Says
December 16, 2011 at 08:49PM
Hanukkah is almost here! It’s been lovely to see Estie the Mensch turning up on lists of recommended Hanukkah and holiday books:
I think it’s a great idea to include Jewish-themed but not Hanukkah-specific books on Hanukkah lists. Why not give a book a family can enjoy all year?
Here are a few of my favorite (mostly) more-recent Jewish-themed but non-holiday-specific picture books. Happy reading all year long!
The Princess of Borscht by Leda Schubert
One of the rare Jewish-themed picture books to take place in the here and now rather than during a mythical or historic Jewish past. This 2011 book celebrates the grandmother/granddaughter relationship, Jewish women, and traditional Jewish cooking.
The Friday Nights of Nana by Amy Hest
Shabbat is the holiday that comes every week, and this picture book, beautifully illustrated by Claire Nivola, is a quiet, atmospheric, satisfying story of a girl who spends Friday with her Nana, preparing for Shabbat dinner with her extended family. Another contemporary Jewish family in a picture book, yay!
What Zeesie Saw on Delancey Street by Elsa Okon Rael
A rich piece of historical fiction that illuminates the lesser known tradition of Package Parties among American Jewish immigrants on the Lower East Side. The rich illustrations and strong character development set this one apart.
Beautiful Yetta: The Yiddish Chicken by Daniel Pinkwater
A celebration of Yiddish and the meeting of different immigrant groups in America (Brooklyn, to be specific).