Sunday, January 15, 2017

Happy Birthday, Kate McMullan - January 16

Happy Birthday, Kate McMullan - January 16

Is your family or classroom of young students as excited as we are for Kate and Jim McMullan's next book, I'm Smart!?

Every January since 2010, my family has baked a birthday cake for Kate McMullan based on a picture book from her I'm...Machines at Work series. This year, with the new book not arriving until June and all the other books from the series already featured in birthday celebrations, we decided to revisit I Stink, the book which started our family on a journey to celebrating over 300 author and illustrator birthdays.
CLICK HERE to pre-order the book!
Our first I Stink cake was baked and decorated in 2010. I found a video, that I didn't know existed, of my oldest two children reciting the ABCs of garbage from I Stink. In the background I am putting the finishing touches on the cake.

Now in 2017, I am blessed to have all four of my children still excited about this book. It made me happy to watch their teamwork (and occasional disagreement) as they baked and decorated I Stink Cake 2.0!
We read I Stink before we started baking.
(I wonder how many times I have read this book to them?)
Everyone took turns adding ingredients to the mixing bowl to make the cake batter.
I can't believe this is the little guy from the video above.
My oldest daughter loves watching Cake Boss on TLC. All those episodes she has watched paid off as she knew exactly what to do.
After the cake was baked she made the frosting. She used a cake recipe and a frosting recipe from the Cake Boss himself.
I helped only a little. I drew the garbage truck on the cake with a toothpick which helped guide my son as he cut. (Thankfully, he still has his 10 fingers!)
She said, "Dad, we need a crumb coat." 
I said, "I don't know what a crumb coat is. But, OK."
Thumbs up for the tan-colored frosting.
My oldest daughter taught all her siblings how add frosting to the cake.
Once again, all those Cake Boss episodes helped.
Next, we needed black and gray frosting. Black food coloring exploded all over my son's hands so I took over to prevent another huge mess.
The little ones made sure the frosting tasted good!
They looked at the photo from 2010 and said, "Our cake will look better than that, Dad."
She added white frosting for the eyes. 
And black frosting for all the details.
My youngest son brought the cake to life by adding the eyes.
Oreo cookie wheels were added last. This was the second set of Oreos because my youngest daughter licked the frosting off the first set of cookies!
I Stink Cake 2.0!
Happy Birthday, Kate McMullan!
Did you know that I Stink and I'm Dirty! is now an animated TV show for kids? Check out The Stinky and Dirty Show on Amazon Video!  Watch the first show here:

A history of our I'm...Machines at Work cakes:

2. Follow Kate McMullan on Twitter
3. Other Happy Birthday Kate McMullan Posts - Happy Birthday Author
5. Text Interview - Library Media Connection (2012)
6. Audio Interview - Just One More Book (2007)
7. Just One More Book (2006) Podcast about Nutcracker Noel by Kate and Jim McMullan
10. I'm Fast Book Trailer  -YouTube
11. Buy Kate McMullan Merchandise - CafePress
12. Kate and Jim McMullan at SouthHampton Arts 2013 - YouTube
13. Stinky and Dirty TV show - Amazon
14. I'm Brave Trailer - YouTube
15. Behind the Scenes at the Stinky and Dirty Show - Animation World Network

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Happy Birthday, Laura Rankin - January 16

Happy Birthday, Laura Rankin - January 16

Happy New Year! Welcome to our first author/illustrator birthday celebration of 2017! Thank you for reading our blog and we hope you join us throughout the year to learn more about many new picture book creators. This week we are celebrating, Laura Rankin, who my family met at the Chesapeake Children's Book Festival in Easton, Maryland. This year's festival is scheduled for June 17th! We highly recommend attending if you are in the area.

Laura Rankin is the illustrator of over a dozen picture books including A Balloon for Isabel by Deborah Underwood, Rabbit Ears by Amber Stewart, and Tiptoe Joe by Ginger Foglesong Gibson. Laura began making books at the age of five and she still has many of those books which were saved and treasured by her mother. (Wernick and Pratt Agency). Laura graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a degree in speech and drama. Her illustration career began when she drew courtroom illustrations for a television news station in Buffalo. She was frequently assigned to court cases that were a far cry from topics she would later tackle in her children's books. (Seacoastonline). After the courtroom illustration assignment, she worked for The Buffalo News as an editorial illustrator for fifteen years. (A Maine Writer).

In 1991, Laura published her first picture book, The Handmade Alphabet, a book inspired by her stepson who is hearing impaired. As a child he understood others through lipreading, but later at the age of eighteen he learned to communicate using sign language at Gallaudet University. She said, "I watched him find a new wholeness, because at last he had a language in which to express himself." (The Handmade Alphabet, jacketflap.)  In 1992, Laura was awarded a Boston Globe-Horn Book honor award for illustration for The Handmade Alphabet. Then in 1996, Laura received an honorary doctor of fine arts degree from Buffalo State College for her contribution to society and the deaf community.  (Buffalo News).

Laura Rankin illustrates books for other authors but she has written and illustrated many of her own including Fluffy and Baron and Ruthie and the (Not So) Very Busy Day. Her latest book is, My Turn, released November 2016.

The Handmade Alphabet was the book our family chose to be the focus of our author birthday celebration. This book is a series of illustrations for each letter of the alphabet. The close-up drawings of hands making each letter in sign language clearly show a child how to position their fingers. Included in each illustration is something that begins with the letter shown. For the letter B, a hand is surrounded by floating bubbles and for the letter G a glove is worn on a hand.
We give this book a thumbs up.
My son and I read The Handmade Alphabet during breakfast. Then, I asked him to write down our long last name on a piece of paper.
V is for VanRaepenbusch. 14 letters!
We came up with a plan for our entire family to spell out our name in sign language and then take a photo of each letter.  We decided that I would go first, then Mom, followed by all the children. My daughter used the list during our photo shoot to make sure no letters were missed.
E is excitement!
My wife helped photograph our hands for each letter.
Making the letter P is a little tricky.
My wife and I each posed for one letter and then all four children posed for three letters. I printed all the images, glued them to a piece of paper to spell out our last name, and placed it in a frame. My wife said, "This would look great in my classroom."
She took our handmade alphabet to her school where she uses sign language every day. After my wife sent me this picture I thought this project idea might make a great end-of-the-year gift or Teacher Appreciation Week surprise for the special eduction teacher in your child's school.
Be sure to check out Laura Rankin's latest book, My Turn:

1. Artist Profile - Wernick and Pratt Agency
2. Interview - Under the Green Willow

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year + Top 10 Birthday Celebrations of 2016!

Today, we brought 2016 to a close by celebrating Margery Cuyler's birthday (December 31). My boys built the BIGGEST, BEST SNOWMAN and I read the book. Afterwards, I starting thinking about our author and illustrator birthday celebrations of 2016. Below, I have highlighted the top 10 viewed celebrations. Our family hopes you had a great year and we wish you the best in 2017!

A castle good enough to eat.

A visit to the National Aviary.

Art and a huge mess with pipettes and blue ink.

Gum-like pink slime!

Chocolate Wolfie the Bunnies for Easter

Snappsy Sock Puppets with Tongs for his Mouth!

Watching Five Trucks at the airport.

Paper Collage and a Leap Day story!

A birthday celebration at church.

Homemade crayon bandoliers.

A few more favorites:

"I LOVE DANGER" t-shirts and a daredevil helmet.

A life-size snowman.

Happy Birthday, Steve Johnson - June 20
A salamander hunt.

Bling, bling! Bedazzled shoes.

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