Remember that scene in Return of the Jedi, when Lando Calrissian is flying the Milleneum Falcon out of the Death Star while it's blowing up all around them and they escape within an inch of their lives? That's been my last few months of work so, naturally, I've been neglecting this site to get stuff done.
So Dan, what's making you so busy?
Let's start with Chicken Dance, that little book from Sterling Publishing that is supposed to be released August 1st but has apparently already found it's way into Barnes & Noble bookstores....
First of all, EXCELLENT REVIEWS!
This one from Kirkus (the toughest reviewers of the bunch)...
Kirkus Reviews 2009 July #1
CLS Basic Picture Books
A duck-and-chicken rivalry turns foul in this outrageous offering. Barn animals compete in a talent show to win Elvis Poultry concert tickets; after all, the King's "top bird." For chickens Marge and Lola, practice proves fruitless: Bowling squashes them flat, juggling sets feathers on fire and flying leaves the duo disoriented and "up to their wattles" in the haystack. The bullying ducks taunt them along the way. "Don't bother, drumsticks. Ducks win every year." During the night's grand show, the chickens' typical squawking and flapping leaves Elvis impressed with the dynamic divas. The zippy narative features punchy dialogue and witty interactions; creative wordplay abounds ("Let's bawk and roll!"). Droll delivery soars high, advancing the story line to its playful conclusion. Santat's rich ink-and-acrylic designs provide a humorous context through animated expressions. Elvis, in his signature sequined white suit and dark shades, dominates his double-page spreads. Utilizing shadow and depth, warm colors provide the backgrounds for the energetic antics. Fly the coop to enjoy this hilarious adventure. (Picture book 4-8) Copyright Kirkus 2009 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Then there's this one from Cookie Magazine...
Santat's delightfully expressive character designs add tons of comedic value to an already quite silly tale of a barnyard talent show. There are plenty of chuckles to be had over the course of this eminently likable book, but the highlight comes when the two lead hens go through a trial-and-error (with a bit more focus on the "error") process of perfecting their act. —Ages 3 to 6
Chicken Dance Tammi Sauer, illus. by Dan Santat. Sterling, $14.95 (36p) ISBN 978-1-4027-5366-4
Move over, Susan Boyle: the next talent-that-comes-out-of nowhere is a pair of chickens named Marge and Lola. They're determined to win tickets to see a performance of their idol, Elvis Poultry. But they'll have to place first in the barnyard talent show—outscoring acts that include a trio of goats that eat a tractor onstage and cows that jump over the moon—and humiliate their snotty duck rivals. “Get some floaties, chickens!” shout the ducks after the chickens test their swimming prowess with unsuccessful results (“They totally sank”). With snappy banter (“We're on,” says Marge as their turn on the stage arrives. “We're doomed,” replies Lola) and tightly constructed storytelling, Sauer (Cowboy Camp) pulls off the neat trick of both embracing and spoofing the against-all-odds genre. Totally in sync with his collaborator, Santat's (Always Lots of Heinies at the Zoo) sculptural, mixed media pictures exude an old-fashioned, theatrical drama that lifts the many jokes—visual and textual—into sublime silliness. Ages 4–7. (Aug.)
The author of Cowboy Camp (2005) offers here another clever picture book filled with broad humor aimed at young listeners and their parents. Chickens Marge and Lola, desperate to see Elvis Poultry in concert, decide to enter the barnyard talent show where tickets are the grand prize. Competition is stiff: the goats eat a tractor, the pigs form a pyramid, the cows jump over the moon, and the ducks surf a wave. The talent-less chickens resort to bawking, flapping, and shaking—which doesn’t impress the judges, but does earn them a spot onstage as dancers for their idol. Santat’s computer-enhanced acrylic-and-ink artwork comically extends Sauer’s droll text, especially the depictions of Marge and Lola’s attempts at bowling, juggling, tightrope walking, and swimming; also noteworthy is the flamboyant Elvis, wearing sunglasses and a white, gem-studded costume. Filled with fowl puns and intertextual references to children’s culture, and reminiscent of Mary Jane Auch’s poultry picture books such as Beauty and the Beaks (2007), this should please all ages.
I'm a stranger to the all around positive reviews. This is a new thing for me.
Hi Five everyone!
Meanwhile, Sterling Publishing, Tammi Sauer, and I have been busy assualting everyone's senses on Facebook with Chicken Dance promotion and it seems to be grabbing folks attention.
Stuff like this...
and this.... aaaaand (sadly) this.... Tammi was a huge hit at the ALA conference in Chicago. I was told Sterling gave out 100 copies of the book in under an hour. What else is going on you ask? I've got a Dan Gutman book I have to turn in my next week. Here's a piece...
Then there's Nanny Piggin's with Little Brown.....
Lastly, OH NO is due next week.... Here's a lay in for a special retro movie poster that will be on the back of the jacket. (The type is not final by the way)
The deadlines are all being met and I'm very satisfied with the work quality by the way (for all of you who read the Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast blog the other week and heard me wallow in my own self pity)
This has clearly become the year of the middle grade chapter book for me.
So what's up after this?
Well, not to throw a wrench in the entire thing but I'm off to Comic Con on Thursday to hang out with some children's book and comic book pals. Expect some silly pictures to evolve from that.
After that, for the first time I'll be critiquing manuscripts and will be a judge of the portfolio competition at this year's SCBWI Summer Conference in Los Angeles. I hope to see you all there doing "the Bellyache"
Then, it's a mad dash to work on the second Booby Chan book with Arthur Levine Books and, my pal, Lisa Yee (wich will be due in mid November)
NOTE: Lisa and I recently were judges in Cheryl Klein's Thomas Bowdler Fiction Contest seen here.
ALSO the fine folks at Arthur Levine Books buckled me down and gave me a due date for The Domesticated Four! (it's a season that rhymes with 'wing')
Now do you see why I'm so quiet?
See why my hair is so gray?
On top of all that, my house should be completed with construction in about three weeks and that kid of mine? Still sucks at sleeping...
OK I'm sweating with nervousness just knowing what I have to get done. I've chatted with you all long enough! I gotta get outta here! I- BAM! (Dan's head explodes)
...Oh No. Oh Man. I knew it.