Monday, February 23, 2009

UNIT: Parades

Happy Mardi Gras Day! Everybody loves a parade!
A perfect setting for community.

From 1903 thru 1954 a parade called a Mardi Gras celebrated the end of the summer season on Coney Island.
Now the Summer Solstice, the first day of summer, is celebrated at the Mermaid Parade. It is the largest art parade in the United States.

Here are other kinds of parades:
Carnival in Brazil
Chinese New Year
Easter Parade
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
New Orleans Mardi Gras
New York’s Village Halloween Parade
Pride Parade

New York City’s mayor loves MERMAIDS ON PARADE, he sent Melanie a note. Click on image to enlargen.

More books about parades
”Pippa At the Parade”
”Easter Parade”

Image: detail from MERMAIDS ON PARADE published GP Putnam’s Sons

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

COMMUNITY / Public Library * Interview

A librarian's love of books is sincere, they are not involved with bookstore sales and numbers. Librarians just love books, books we might never hear about. They believe we will love these books too.

Libraries promote free choice about what to read and are for everyone, rich and poor. I did not own many books growing up in the Bronx and borrowed books from the Classon Point Branch.

After visiting many libraries to give programs in neighborhoods of all five boroughs, I clearly see that the library is vital to children, especially those with two working parents, or economically stretched parents. It is vital to all kinds of people. The library is a haven of knowledge, a gateway to building self-esteem; they create exposure to what the world is about and bring communities together for a higher purpose: learning.

Two librarians from the Brooklyn Public Library Central Branch Youth Wing, David Mowery and Deloris McCullough, talked about what was needed on their bookshelf. I listened. That discussion gave me the idea for my book, MERMAIDS ON PARADE. Here is more of what they have to say:

Q: Why is the library an important part of a community?
A: People rely on the public libraries for the vast array of programs and services for all ages and the increased use of libraries in this economic downturn.  Libraries themselves are suffering because of our changing economy, but our institutions have grown and prospered throughout harder times in history, primarily due to the support of their patronage. 
Q: Why does the library invite picture book authors and illustrators to give programs?

A: To promote literacy and foster a love of reading and books. 
Q: What is the impact on young readers when they meet the authors and

A: For many young readers, these encounters bring books to life in a unique setting with the added bonus of having their gift copy of the book signed by the author or illustrator.  
Q: How do you know what subject matter is missing on the bookshelves?

A: Through our Collection Development practices and policies, librarians, and customer requests from materials lacking in the collection. 
Thank you so much, David and Deloris.

Image L to R : During the MERMAIDS ON PARADE book launch-art exhibition at Superfine, BPL's David Mowery is having fun with Tim Travaglini, my editor at Putnam, and NYPL's Betsy Bird.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

COMMUNITY / PS 58 Residency 2/11/09

The Brooklyn Heights Blog writeup about my residency.

I continued my author-illustrator residency with the second graders in the art room and felt welcomed the moment I arrived at the school.

Our art project is to create a community out of recycled objects.

First, the students viewed two picture books I illustrated. For examples of global community and recycling, IT’S MY EARTH, TOO, an early ecology book published in 1992. And A CITY IS, about urban community, their community, with illustrations of brownstone Brooklyn and New York City.

The old cereal and tissue boxes, milk cartons, and water bottles the students collected would be transformed into what they see around their neighborhood. Everyone started painting background colors on their new buildings.

The girls got very involved.

So did the boys.

Dedicated art teacher, Megan Driscoll, shared her great ideas which helped the project flow beautifully.

As the paint dried we all sat together again. I talked about the themes of A CITY IS: Observing the big picture as well as the details. Nature. And Silence painted as birds-eye views and silent characters.

Here is my work in progress made from a cracker box, bread package tags, paper towel roll, address labels, magazine tearsheet, and a cocktail umbrella.

Thanks to Joan Bredthauer, Jane Rothberg and Regina Rosario for their assistance.

Friday, February 6, 2009

COMMUNITY / Schools: PS 58 Residency 2/4/09

Update: Brooklyn Heights Blog writeup about my residency.

The best part of being a picture book author and illustrator is meeting the children who read my books. My residency started in the newly renovated library at PS 58, located in a neighborhood called Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, one mile from my home.

First and second graders saw a powerpoint program about MERMAIDS ON PARADE. It was clear that these students really like books. The room exploded in cheers and happy dancing when they recognized places from their community. Photos of The Brooklyn Public Library Central and Coney Island rose to rock star status for these young Brooklynites. What cool kids! All the students I met received a signed copy of A CITY IS.

Speaking of cool kids, part of the session included PS 58 third grader, Stella Branstool. Stella wowed us with hula hoop tricks she performed marching with the Superfine Dinettes during the Mermaid Parade. You can find Stella in MERMAIDS ON PARADE on the boardwalk holding a mermaid doll. Stella's Mom and Dad who own Exit 9 on Smith Street were there and said that they march in the parade too.

I am returning to PS 58’s art room for two more sessions with second graders. We will create communities using recycled objects.

I'm sending a big shout out of thanks to Angus Killick, father of Theo, PS 58 second grader, for inviting me to present. Angus is some great guy. He helped renovate the PS 58 library into state of the art. Bravo!

Dear PS 58, I am looking forward to seeing everyone again. Hugs from your neighbor, Melanie

From L to R : Giselle McGee, Principal; Melanie Hope Greenberg; Jayme Perlman, Assistant Principal; Maureen Vadala, librarian.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

COMMUNITY/ Interview with the Mazza Museum

Image: Melanie Hope Greenberg and Anne Rockwell at the Mazza Museum in 2002.

Many people behind the scenes in the picture book arts community work alongside the authors and illustrators.
The Mazza Museum: International Art from Picture Books was founded in 1982 at the University of Findlay in Ohio and is the first and the largest teaching museum devoted to literacy and the art of children’s picture books. 

I was fortunate to be a keynote speaker and workshop presenter at the Mazza Museum in 2002. That’s where I met my author, Anne Rockwell of GOOD MORNING DIGGER. We dedicated our book to Mazza’s curator, Dr. Jerry Mallett. The Mazza Museum also collects my picture book art. Their beautiful 2009 calendar includes one of my illustrations, "Balancing On Stars". I’m honored. 

Image: "Balancing On Stars" copyright Melanie Hope Greenberg

Ben Sapp, Director of the Mazza Museum, was kind enough to let me interview him. 
Q: Why is it important to create a museum specifically for picture book art?  
Mazza: For too long the art in children’s books has been considered to be a “poor cousin” to illustration…which, indeed, itself has been considered to be a “poor cousin” to “fine art.”  Of course, this is ridiculous and it became time to relegate this art to its true value. That is, to equal any art in quality, form and design.  How unfortunate that in the past much of this art was lost to history since it was considered “disposable” art…of no use after the book was published.  
It is our belief that our children deserve the best of all art and fortunately throughout modern history the “fine art” in children’s books have provided just such an experience.Therefore, it was high time to recognize these wonderful artists of children’s books and elevate their achievements to the height of all wonderful artists.  

Q: Who are some of the picture book artists in your collection?  
Mazza: We own the art of over 500 wonderful artists of children’s books. From the historical of Randolph Caldecott, Walter Crane and Kate Greenaway to the contemporary of Maurice Sendak, Marcia Brown and Wendell Minor.  
Q: How many original artworks are in your collection?  
Mazza: We now own over 4,000 original artworks in our collection.  
Q: What does the Mazza Museum do to support young students?  
Mazza: The Mazza Museum offered school tours for every grade level with optional art activities following the tours. There are also story times each month for the preschoolers. On the first Sunday of each month from October to April, we offer a literacy festival for the family called Funday Sunday. There are story stations, art projects and many other fun activities for the young child and their parents or grandparents. In the summer, we have a week- long art camp for those children who have completed first grade to fifth grade where they learn to make a picture book.  
Q: When is your 2009 Mazza Celebrity Art Auction of original children's book art?  
Mazza: The auction will be held during the week of our Summer Conference on evening of July 15.  The Dr. Jerry J. Mallett Institute is an endowment set up so that the Museum will be around for many years to come.  Not only will it be around, but so will the many educational programs that if offers.  You will be able to view the artwork online and place a bid online.  
Thank you so very much Mazza Museum. 

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Local Bookstores

The main idea for a story is called a THEME. A theme I often use in my books is COMMUNITY. Community is the coming together of people. I've illustrated books about the global community and the local community.

Let's explore the people behind the scenes who work hard alongside the authors and illustrators. Bookstores are important to a community because they provide a place to see and buy books, open our minds to the world around us, and they hold community events which bring people together.

A big shout out to these local stores where you can find my books!


Stores who wish to be added to the list can contact me at my website.

* EDAMAMA CUTE CUTS 568 Union Ave Unit B Bklyn NY 718.338.3663
* SUPERFINE 126 Front Street Brooklyn 718.243.9005