Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

Archive for the tag “Picture book”

Airport Moments

Cover of "The Terminal (Widescreen Editio...

Cover of The Terminal (Widescreen Edition)


I’m sitting here in the middle of a two hour layover at an airport that could use a serious makeover.  There is a pervasive nuance of worn out and drone in this place.  It’s not that I’m a world traveler and have a large repertoire of airports to pull out from experience to offer up comparisons, I’m calling it as I see it.  Plus, having caught a flight out of an especially aesthtic airport this morning (Portland–PDX–Orgeon progressive at its best),  it’s a real let down to spend excess time in a rundown terminal.  I shall not name it, except to say it’s in the Southwest and it’s hot out there.  Real hot.  Like I hope I have a covered tarmac to the plane because it’s heatstroke weather hot outside. (I didn’t–I nearly melted like a candy bar left on the dashboard)

Being between flights there is not much to do.  On the other hand, there is plenty to do in the people watching department.  My writer’s mind is storing all sorts of vignettes as I pretend I’m occupying myself with my laptop (well, I guess I am–this post is proof).

First Moment:
People-mover walkways never cease to amaze me.  Why do people walk on boring airplane motiff carpet when they can be transported on the rolling terminal sidewalk?  A fave is to stride aboard and walk with purpose, as if I am a Person Of Importance. Slow movers ride the right side as I power-walk down to my place of destination. The scenario:

“Sylvia checked her voice mail quickly, before reconfirming her flight and gate number.  Securing her phone into her purse, she mentally rehearsed her opening remarks  once again, allowing spots of applause and appreciative chuckles within the time frame.  Her thoughts were hampered by the incessant recording “the sidewalk is ending–please watch your step.”  Wait, that could be a metaphor.  Life is like a moving sidewalk in that we simply step on and roll through life and if we aren’t careful we can end up stumbling at the end.  Sylvia decided she would work it into remarks.”

Second Moment:
How does someone end up working behind an airport Burger King counter?  I pondered this as the cashier rang up my purchase. Did she think at fifteen that she would be handing back, “Have a nice day” with someone’s change when she was 32?  Would she go back, if possible, and say, “Girl, listen up to the counselor. You had better sign up for geometry, take that Biology II class, and don’t forget to study for your vocabulary test on Wednesday, otherwise you will be still wearing that zip up fugly polyster uniform when you get out of high school.”  She maybe took the wrong Frost path.

Third Moment:
“Look at this, no hands.  It’s self-propelled.”  This comment is directed to the woman in the airport courtesy wheelchair. The attendant grins widely as he walks alongside her.  She looks over at him like he’s popped a lugnut off his hubcap and his sanity is seriously wobbling.  Then, she smiles and they both share a laugh before he grabs a hold of the handle and continues pushing her towards her flight.  My thought: “Cool.  Way to make a rainbow in the middle of day.”

There are many more micro-moments: the guy in a ponytail, too tight plaid bermuda shorts and too small Calvin and Hobbes t-shirt and no visible carry-on luggage (hmmmm…), the grandma next to me reading her e-reader (who says Greys don’t do tech?),  the anxious bumped passengers waiting to get their name called off the short list (reactions range from resignation to disgruntled subdued rants shared on phones).

I remember watching a movie with Tom Hanks and Catherine Zeta-Jones a few years back, The Terminal,where due to circumstances beyond his control, Hanks ended up living at the airport, all the while harboring a passion for Jones, who is a stewardess.  I would not want to live at the airport, at least not this one.

Eve Bunting wrote a picture book, Flyaway Home,  about a father and young son who choose to live at an airport instead of the streets.  Both the movie and the book showed how airports are made for short visits and not lengthy stays.  Wait–my flight is finally being called.  I’m bound for home, or will be home soon enough.  Airports, are best suited for destination portals, and people watching.  Home addresses they do not make.


#3: Picture Books Are for Any Age!

“What do you write?” is a question often traded at a writer’s conference.  My answer is usually an embarrassed “everything.” It’s true.  I write middle grade, YA, adult, poems, non-fiction, plays, book reviews–I like to write!  My favorite genre, the one I no doubt have spent the most time on, is picture books.

There is something incandescently, transcendentally, most amazingly wonderful  when it comes to experiencing a picture book.  They are even better when shared with a child.  I don’t mind reading them on my own.  Oh, picture books are only for kids?  Is that a bona fide rule?

Moving on with my Cricket List: Musings of a Voracious Reader, I decided to tackle my #3: Picture Books.This is a tough one because it could go on from here until next Tuesday because I have so many favorites.  I could probably start entire blog about picture books.  So instead of a list I am posting thumbnail covers of picture books read, admired, reread, find timeless, find amazing, and want to share with the world. Barnes and Noble supplied the images.


Click, Clack, Moo Tacky The Penguin If You Give A Mouse A Cookie The Day Jimmy's Boa Ate The Wash The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales Sheep In A Jeep Book Cover Image. Title: On the Night You Were Born, Author: by Nancy  Tillman Book Cover Image. Title: The Story of Ferdinand, Author: by Munro  Leaf Book Cover Image. Title: Make Way for Ducklings, Author: by Robert  McCloskey Book Cover Image. Title: The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Author: by Eric  Carle Book Cover Image. Title: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, Author: by Judith  Viorst Book Cover Image. Title: The Quiet Book, Author: by Deborah  Underwood

 Goodnight Moon (Board Book) Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You? Happy Birthday to You! Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys and Their Monkey Business Chicka Chicka Boom BoomOpposites Frog and Toad All Year (I Can Read Book Series: Level 2) One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish Harold and the Purple Crayon (50th Anniversary Edition) The Runaway Bunny   Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel  Corduroy  Guess How Much I Love You Moo, Baa, La La La! The Little Engine That Could Mouse Paint I Am a Bunny It Looked Like Spilt Milk Little Bear's Friend (I Can Read Book Series: A Level 1 Book) Leo the Late Bloomer Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear? Blueberries for Sal (Picture Puffin Books Series) Stone Soup Little Gorilla Lap Board Book Harry the Dirty Dog Good Dog, Carl (Classic Board Books Series) Prayer for a Child Whistle for Willie

Tree Is Nice Andy and the Lion Windows with Birds The Snowy Day

This is only a thimble’s worth in the sea of picture book reads.  I stopped at page 15 of Barnes and Noble’s picture book list.  Feel free to browse on your own.  And  make sure to pop a couple of picture books in your basket when shopping at your local library or bookstore.  Picture books are forever.

Beary Wonderful Books

Recently I attended a SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) writing conference. There is something so energizing about them.  Everyone who is attendance is somehow connected with writing or illustrating books for children, which means this is a gathering of grownups, a room full of adults whose main concern and occupation is celebrating the wonder of presenting the world so that it appeals to children.

I have attended other types of writer conferences, and learn much from them–yet, they are so much more serious in tone.  Writing is a serious business, of course, of course, and I do take my writing quite seriously.  But, there is something about attending a SCBWI conference that is delightfully different.  There is this celebratory exuberance, this uncontainable joy that cascades over, around, and through the conference.  We are all gathered together because we know how to celebrate like a child.  We all take delight in the unexpected rainbow.  We sing the praises of butterflies and dragonflies and kites that flit upon the summer’s breeze.  We are all grown-up, but haven’t forgotten the wonder of childhood. We’re talking a fun-filled work and learn weekend.  I like it.

The main reason for attending the conference is to learn all about the business end of writing for children: submitting manuscripts, understanding the trends, listening to expert advice and soaking up valuable insights.  There is also the anticipation of connecting with other writers, and maybe even an author.  This is how I rediscovered Jesse Bear. 

On the first day, as we selected seats, made polite small talk, and exchanged introductions, I glanced around at name tags and stopping at one I thought “Hmm, that name sounds familiar.”  I then realized I was conversing with the Jesse Bear author!  These books are sweet, gentle reads that embrace the warm fuzzy moments of childhood.   Nancy White Carlstrom, is the author of these delightful books, and  each read is like receiving a hug of reassurance that the world through a child’s eyes is ever so pleasant.

During the break I took the opportunity to ask Nancy a few questions, which she graciously answered.

CM: What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in the publishing world?

NWC: Picture books are more quirky and loud. Those are getting the attention in the market place.

We then talked about how quiet stories, like Jesse Bear, (and the ones I like to write) are not in the forefront like they once were.  Newer books focus on characters who tend to be naughty, loud, or even angry.  Most certainly, these books are entertaining, yet Nancy and I both agreed there are times when a child needs a gentle read, a quiet time book to settle down.

CM: Why is a successful author like you attending the conference?

NWC: I have several novels I never finished.  I’m going to be submitting books I want to write now and need to know what the market is doing.

In the few minutes we had between sessions we traded concerns, tidbits, and comments about the current status of the children’s book market.  Sitting together the next morning and continuing our conversation we even discovered we had mutual friends.  That six degrees thing kind of sneaks up on a person now and then.

Overall, I came away with quite a bit from this last conference.  One big takeaway is the encouragement I received from Nancy’s example of a pro sitting with the novices. She showed me that even when the trends don’t go our way, we as writers shouldn’t get discouraged.  Getting our writing published and appreciated is an important part of the creative process; however, more importantly Nancy demonstrated to me we write because writing is what we do.


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