Sunday, January 31, 2010

BABYMOUSE Author Visit Covered in Kingwood (Texas) Observer

My recent visit to Bear Branch Elementary in Humble, Texas, was briefly detailed in the newspaper The Kingwood Observer:

Co-author, illustrator discusses his trade with Bear Branch students

Updated: 01.29.10
Matt Holm, co-author and illustrator of the “Babymouse” books which follow the adventures of a character named Babymouse, visited with students at Bear Branch Elementary to discuss how graphic novels are put together and what inspired him and his sister, Jennifer Holm, to put the “Babymouse” books together.

There's also a nice mini-slideshow of me drawing with the kids!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

BABYMOUSE author Matthew Holm at Humble, Texas, Children's Book Festival

I will be flying to Houston tomorrow for a week of school visits in the town of Humble, Texas. The whole thing will be capped off by the "Peace Love Books Children's Book Festival" on Saturday, January 30:

Peace Love Books
Children's Book Festival
Saturday, Jan. 30, 2010
10 - 3, Creekwood Middle School
Author visits
Book Fair
Face Painting
Kid Activities

Creekwood Middle School is located at 3603 West Lake Houston Parkway in Kingwood, TX. See you there next Saturday!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

BABYMOUSE: DRAGONSLAYER reviewed at Wordcandy


The Babymouse series, written by author Jennifer L. Holm and illustrated by her brother, freelance graphic artist Matthew Holm, are cute, silly, and unabashedly pink, making them an enjoyable alternative to the majority of superhero-centric graphic novels for young readers.

...If you substitute insane social climbing for Babymouse's overactive imagination, the plot of Babymouse: Dragonslayer has an awful lot in common with the last half-hour of the Lindsay Lohan movie Mean Girls. ... it's impossible to dislike a book that features this many Wordcandy-approved literary references plus a nearly-mystical "Golden Slide Rule" trophy, so we're calling this one another win for the Holm siblings' sunny-tempered series.

Manga won the battle for youth culture

In a long (and not kid-safe, as the case for much of web comics) discussion of web comics and their future, Savage Critics' Abhay writes this great passage, in reference to a typical (and typically bad) web comic:

It [the web comic] basically conforms to my most base prejudices of what to expect from webcomics visually. It kinda-sorta-almost-not-quite-not-really-okay-not-at-all looks like manga. It crudely imitates the surface elements of manga, but none of manga’s underlying intensity of craft. That seems to be the norm for a vast swath of webcomics; it’s to be expected: after all, manga won the battle for youth culture, for various reasons. (One reason: it showed up to the battle for youth culture, at all, in any way whatsoever.)
I'd say that's a fair assessment. We can expect Manga to heavily influence comics and other aspects of youth culture for this generation into the next, because it was a part of this generation in a way that traditional American comics weren't. Those (superhero) comics were part of the previous generation (mine), and while that generation didn't let them die out, they also didn't really share them with the new generation coming up. The comics--and themes--aged with us, and were not for the kids. Expect the next 20 years to be shaped by manga and (more importantly, I'm guessing) modern video games.

(Thanks to Newsarama.)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Libraries' lists of Most Popular books

Even in this modern digital age, the numbers authors get on actual sales, readers, etc. of their books comes in small amounts and exceedingly late. This is why we torture ourselves with sites like TitleZ.

So it's always great to get some insight into how things are really going out there (i.e., beyond the spare bedrooms where many of us sit inside all day and work, seeing no other living souls...). Ohio's Cuyahoga Falls Library just posted its lists of Most Popular Books of 2009. ("Most Popular" = "Most Checked-Out".) The books are grouped by category.

For instance, James Patterson's Run for Your Life was the most widely circulated Fiction book. Season's Eatings : a very Merry Garfield Christmas was top dog (cat) in the Graphic Novel category. (Interestingly, nine of the top ten Graphic Novels were comic strip collections. What does this bode for libraries in the future when the prognosis for newspaper comics pages looks exceedingly bleak?) Stephenie Meyers' The Host and young master Paolini's Brisingr were 1 and 2 in the Science Fiction category. And John Grisham's The Associate was the top Large Print title (in case you were wondering).

But enough of that ... on to the Kids' Graphic Novels!

Most Popular Children's Graphic Novels of 2009

1. Babymouse : heartbreaker.
Holm, Jennifer L.

2. Bone : old man's cave.
Smith, Jeff, 1960-

3. Bone : Ghost Circles.
Smith, Jeff, 1960 Feb. 27-

4. The best of Pokemon adventures : Red.
Kusaka, Hidenori.

5. Babymouse : skater girl.
Holm, Jennifer L.

6. Babymouse : rock star.
Holm, Jennifer L.

7. The best of Pokemon adventures : Yellow.
Kusaka, Hidenori.

8. Camp Babymouse. [6],
Holm, Jennifer L.

9. Babymouse : puppy love.
Holm, Jennifer L.

10. Babymouse : queen of the world!
Holm, Jennifer L.

Go, Babymouse! And go, Ohio readers! Keep 'em circulating!

Monday, January 18, 2010

"Graphic novels: Great reading for all ages" at Observer & Eccentric newspapers

Michigan's Observer & Eccentric newspaper group ran a nice little Introduction to Graphic Novels piece in their "Hometown" section recently:

Graphic novels: Great reading for all ages

Graphic novels appeal to comic book fans and novel readers alike. To some, the terms “graphic novel” and “comic book” can mean the same thing, but comics are normally much shorter than graphic novels. They only contain segments of a story released over time. Many graphic novels compile several issues of a popular comic book, such as Alan Moore's Watchmen and Neil Gaiman's The Sandman.

... For those interested in history, Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis is an autobiographical account of her childhood in 1970s Iran, while Art Spiegelman's Maus: A Survivor's Tale tells the Holocaust survival story of the author's father. Teens would enjoy Brian K. Vaughan's fantasy series Runaways, and younger children might like Babymouse, a popular graphic novel series following the antics of an imaginative mouse.

Blog reviews: BABYMOUSE 10, 11, 12

Here's a round-up of recent online reviews of some BABYMOUSE books.

From Bookworming in the 21st Century:

Babymouse The Musical (#10)
by Jennifer L. and Matthew Holm

... Review:
I have to say I love Babymouse. There's always a ton of references to either popular books or, in this case, musicals. Part of her day dreams involve "The Phantom of the Locker", Grease, and Annie. So adorable. I can see why these books keep flying off the shelf. They're funny, entertaining reads that kids can really relate to. Babymouse is the type of girl that always has bent whiskers and always ends up in a mess of some sort. Her catch phrase "Typical".

I like how the narrator of the story chimes in at times and has a conversation with Babymouse. These graphic novels are simple fantastic. This sibling team has created some of the best graphic novels I've read. I love the black, white, and pink theme in each book (or orange for the Halloween one!). I think Babymouse is a character anyone can relate to and that is why it appeals to kids so much!

Definitely a must-read.

Babymouse: Dragonslayer (#11)
by Jennifer L. & Matthew Holm

... Review:
Another fun adventure with Babymouse! There are a ton of awesome literary references in this graphic novel, including The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe and Lord of the Rings. Of course, Felicia Furrypaws is the Witch in that daydream. I have to say watching all of the fantasy daydreams was great fun. Again, you really have to laugh at all the daydreams that Babymouse has - what an imagination!

You're always rooting for Babymouse and she never seems to lack confidence for too long before bouncing back to her normal self. A great series for struggling readers and lovers of graphic novels.

And over at Comic Book Bin:

Babymouse #12: Burns Rubber
By Leroy Douresseaux

... THE LOWDOWN: With lighthearted writing by sister, Jennifer, and a loose, energetic sequential narrative art by brother, Matthew, Babymouse not only typifies how much fun comic books can be, but it also exemplifies the wide visual and graphic storytelling possibilities of comics. A Babymouse book is always a romp through the title character’s active imagination, but there is usually time for honest examples of teamwork, friendship, and hard work. Babymouse also learns to do unto others as she would have them do onto her. However, the stories are such a joy that the character building often seems like a mere bonus in this well-crafted kids’ graphic novel series.

POSSIBLE AUDIENCE: Children who read comics will like Babymouse, and the series is also a good way to introduce other young readers to the medium.

Friday, January 15, 2010

If I Ran the Comics Page

Well, not me, personally. I can think of fewer jobs that are more thankless. No budget, no space, and no ability to change ANYTHING? Sounds great! Sign me up!

But the Comics Journal and the Washington Post have weighed in on this:

The quote comes from Dave Astor, whose longtime beat was syndicates. Writing this week in The Comics Journal, Eric Millikin asked the former Editor&Publisher journalist the ol' "If I Were King" question -- here reframed with a Seussian twist. The passage read as such:

MILLIKIN: This is the Dr. Seuss "If I Ran the Circus" question: If you were running a newspaper chain or comics syndicate, what risks would you be taking? What do you think the industry ought to be doing that they're not?

ASTOR: If I were running a syndicate, I'd add more alternative-type comics and keep only the best "legacy" comics (which, as many cartooning fans know, are those comics whose original creator is dead - often long dead). The fewer "legacy" comics, the more slots there would be for talented creators trying to break into the business. I think a syndicate should have a mix of all types of comics, but, in general, the current mix is too tame and not modern enough to attract enough of the young-adult readers needed by daily newspapers.

And if I were running a newspaper chain, I'd publish dozens of comics in each of the chain's papers, have a staff editorial cartoonist at each paper, and let reporters do livelier writing. I'd also settle for a smaller company profit and smaller executive salaries in order to pay for those dozens of comics, pay for those staff editorial cartoonists, and not lay off reporters. Obviously, no corporate-type person would let me run a newspaper chain in real life!

Wishful thinking. I can't see any newspaper risking their remaining base by doing anything risky. I fear the majority of print papers will wilt into obscurity over the next decade, and comic strips (like news) will go mostly online.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Shaun Tan's "The Arrival" ... on stage!

This is just too awesome:

The Arrival | Red Leap Theatre
Photo - John McDermott

Every once in a while you see a show that is such a breath of fresh air that you feel aglow when you walk out of the theatre: The Arrival is that kind of show.

Although perhaps technically children’s theatre, based as it is on a children’s graphic novel by Shaun Tan, it is perhaps one of the best examples of truly universal theatre that I’ve seen in recent memory. This is a piece of dramatic art that can appeal to anyone and everyone, from the very young to the very old, and better still, language is no barrier.

It would be inaccurate to describe the production as entirely non-verbal as it contains a fair amount of voice work, yet it features virtually zero intelligible dialogue, and the majority of the storytelling is achieved through visuals and music. It is hard to adequately describe how this show is actually realised without reading off a laundry-list of the many and varied theatrical techniques employed by these versatile performers, such as mime, puppetry, shadowplay, acrobatics, and many forms of abstracted movement.
I think this would have to be the greatest traveling show ever. Instantly performable in any country. No language barriers. I hope hope hope it makes its way to this side of the Pacific.

(via Newsarama)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Friday, January 8, 2010

BABYMOUSE BURNS RUBBER reviewed at Book Trends

A lovely review (by 5th-grader Sara!) of BABYMOUSE BURNS RUBBER over at Book Trends:

Babymouse Burns Rubber is a classic tale of how a little fiction animal follows her dreams. Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm did a fantastic job with this book. This book simply has everything. It starts with a dream and then Babymouse nearly reaches her dream of driving in the Downhill derby. The book also includes the always important good deed.

... This book is filled with passion, adventure, and humor, all the ingredients to a great book. I personally thought this was an amazing book.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

More on "Cupcakes Take the Cake"

Cupcake blog (yes, there is such a thing, thank goodness) Cupcakes Take the Cake, which I discovered yesterday, ran a quick tease on BABYMOUSE: CUPCAKE TYCOON:

I don't really know what Babymouse #13: Cupcake Tycoon by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm is, aside from a comic featuring the recurring character Babymouse, and it's not coming out until September, but I'm intrigued! (Another one is called Babymouse Burns Rubber.)

Here's the description from Amazon:

The word is out. Kids love Babymouse—star of the popular, award-winning, hilarious, PINK graphic-novel series showcasing the trials and tribulations of elementary school. The sassy mouse with attitude to spare has charmed her way into the hearts of kids, parents, and teachers everywhere! The series has won multiple Children’s Choice awards, and one title was the first graphic novel EVER to be named an ALA Notable Children’s Book.

It's champagne wishes and cupcake dreams for Babymouse in Cupcake Tycoon. The school library is having a fund-raiser, and Babymouse is determined to raise the most money and WIN the GRAND PRIZE! Or . . . er, to help the school! The competition is fierce, but Babymouse will stop at nothing to get what she wants, even if it means outselling every last kid in school . . . including her nefarious nemesis, Felicia Furrypaws. The claws are out and the race is on in this absolutely PRICELESS Babymouse!


Well, gang, even though the on-sale date of BABYMOUSE: BURNS RUBBER (#12) is only days away (Tuesday, January 12), it's time to take a sneak peek at number 13:


Cover of Babymouse: Cupcake Tycoon

Yes, it's true: An entire Babymouse book dedicated to Cupcakes!

Kids: Don't try this at home.

Coming in September!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

How did I miss this blog??

Somehow, for the past FIVE YEARS, there has been a little blog that has evaded my attention on the vast internets: CUPCAKES TAKE THE CAKE.

Seriously. An all-cupcakes blog. They've been posting since December 2004. How did we not collide before now? I only found them because they followed me on Twitter.

I'd post excerpts or sum them up in greater detail, but—five years! There's a bit too much to sum up. In short: Cupcake news, cupcake bakeries, cupcake recipes, cupcake meetups, cupcake interviews.


Monday, January 4, 2010

BABYMOUSE BURNS RUBBER: First Review of the Year!

Came across the first review I've seen of BABYMOUSE BURNS RUBBER (which comes out next Tuesday!) over at Comics Worth Reading:

I’m late in checking out the Babymouse series, with this 12th book coming out this month. I had no idea that this girls’ adventure was so long-running or wide-ranging. The books look fun and approachable (and affordable!), with the title character having all kinds of fanciful adventures, told in pink-tinted art that looks like a school friend could have drawn it in her journal.

The narrator tries to keep Babymouse out of trouble, but her imagination leads her into mishap, as when she dreams of becoming a race car driver and decides to enter the soap box derby....

Plus, with so many books in the series, there’s at least one for everyone. The previous volume, Dragonslayer, for example, uses a fantasy metaphor to show how Babymouse learns to conquer her fear of math and become a valuable member of the mathlete team.

Thanks Jon Scieszka, the First National Ambassador for Young People's Literature

Very soon, Jon Scieszka, the great author and perhaps even greater first National Ambassador for Young People's Literature (hmm ... "first national" makes him sound like a bank ... oh well; better wording for the next ambassador) will pass on his sceptre and ambassadorial sash to a new candidate.

I don't envy that person; Scieszka set the tone for the entire shebang: fun, pomp and circumstance, theme music, and a knack for engaging the young readers and would-be readers of America in the mystique of the ambassadorship (they mostly came up with all of his accoutrements of office) and the excitement of reading. He emphasized that there is no "right" kind of reading, and that reading material that has often been frowned upon by the Powers that Be—magazines, comics, joke books, sports books, nonfiction in general—is just fine for kids, thank you very much.

So, thanks to Ambassador Scieszka for his reign, and good fortune on all of his future endeavors beyond the office.

ETA: See links to other tributes here!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Matthew Holm's Author Photos, Bio, and other Resources

Do you need resources to help promote an upcoming author appearance with Matthew Holm? Here are the basics:

Matthew Holm: Author Photo

Matthew Holm: Author Caricature (some people prefer to run with a slightly goofier picture!)

Matthew Holm: Author Bio

Matthew and Jennifer Holm: Joint Author Photo

Email Matthew Holm

Welcome to 2010! Time to Dream Big.

Greetings, future people! How are things in the distant year, 2010? Is food served in pill-form yet? No? Well, that's good. I'm rather fond of food. Never got the plus side of that Jetsons fantasy.

Anyhoo, to kick off 2010, fellow Portland kid litter Lisa Schroeder is launching a monthlong series called "Dream Big 2010." Guess whose essay kicks things off today? (I think mine is first because I turned it in somewhat on time.)

So go read my essay on Dreaming Big, go read all the other authors' pieces as they come out this month, don't forget to pick up BABYMOUSE BURNS RUBBER on January 12 (see how I worked that in?), and don't forget...

Keep Dreaming! Happy New Year!

(And for the love of God, don't eat food in pill form. That's just not right.)