Thursday, December 16, 2010

GIFT OF THE MAGPIE's first review, and it's a doozie!



Author: Mason, Janeen

Illustrator: Mason, Janeen

Review Date: January 1, 2011


Pages: 32

Price ( Hardcover ): $16.99

Publication Date: January 1, 2011

ISBN ( Hardcover ): 978-1-58980-861-4

Category: Picture Books

Regina is a shoe-obsessed magpie. Max is into Regina, a smitten magpie. Max figures if he finds the right shoe, it will seal their fate together. He tenders a flip-flop. “That was funny, Max. What would I do with a shoe?” Ho ho, but no deal. Max next tries an old basketball sneaker. “The silence was deafening.” Regina, mortified, flees. Max, heartbroken, joins another flock. But that winter, in the gloom and cold, Regina takes to the hi-top, a cozy retreat. Come spring and the return of Max—voila, magpies in heaven. Mason has pulled a double out of her hat. The text is uncomplicated but sophisticated and poignant: Of the spurned sneaker, “ ‘It was the biggest shoe in the whole dump,’ he pleaded in a whisper.” And the artwork is an impressive display, as riotously colorful as a bowl of jelly beans, the lush two-page spreads shot through with the trills of the other magpies’ less fetishistic finds: huckleberries, sweet peas, sunflowers and grasshoppers. But they don’t hold a candle to Regina's magpie-enhanced sneaker for two. (Picture book. 5-9)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Jenna Huttula, from took this photo of a school of parrotfish looking over my shoulder!

In the last month I've been to Clermont, Florida, to speak to 1000 terrific kids at Cypress Ridge Elementary School, matted, framed, and delivered 12 pieces of original art to the Elliott Museum for an exhibit, drove to Tallahassee for a convening session of the Florida Council on Arts and Culture (where we reviewed 30 Cultural Facilities Grant Applications totaling $18.9 million in requests), celebrated the release of "Ocean Commotion: Life on the Reef" at a publishing party hosted by The Elliott Museum (where we sold about 100 books and people stood in line for hours to get their copies signed), went to the Miami International Book Fair, prepared Thanksgiving Dinner for 12, did my Christmas shopping, delivered original art to the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, attended the memorial service for the son of my friend, appeared at the Elliott Museum (again) for a calendar signing for Helping People Succeed (a charity that features local artists in this annual publication - all proceeds help developmentally disabled residents of Martin County), back to Fort Lauderdale to present at a one day workshop and exhibition opening at the Art Institute along with seven other Florida book illustrators, helped Penny move, went to a Christmas party, met with Tim Luke, "The Appraisal Guy" with Penny to talk about her Babe Ruth ball, attended a world premier opening of "The Academy" (an award winning musical written and produced by my friend, Andrew Kato), visited my mom in the nursing home a few times, attended a lecture at Harbor Branch given by the director of the Atlanta Aquarium and their whale shark expert, appeared at a booksigning and reading at Barnes and Noble in Jensen Beach for Parkway Elementary School, toured the fabulous aquaculture facility and appeared at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution (again) for a reading and book signing on their Children's Day, and all the while I've continued to work at my paying job: illustrating "Fish Facts" which is now over its deadline.

It's good to love what you do.