Wednesday, April 1, 2015

This Day in History: Reaching the North Pole

Keep On! The Story of Matthew Henson, Co-Discoverer of the North Pole chronicles the 18 year journey to reach latitude 90° North. After thousands of bitter-cold miles, African-American explorer Matthew Henson, Admiral Robert Peary, and four Inuit men complete the last leg of their grueling journey on April 6th, 1909.  They reached the North Pole.

School Library Journal calls this a "strikingly illustrated illustrated picture book" which "tells of the life of a man whose achievements were, until recently, largely overlooked."  Many know the story of Robert Peary's 1909 expedition, but few realize that Matthew Henson, was more than Peary's assistant. He was vital to the expedition. Henson was born just after the Civil War when few opportunities were available for black people. This brief biography brings life to a great but under-recognized figure from America’s past, perfect for ages 6-10.   

Celebrate their discovery on April 6th by visiting your local library and sharing it with the young reader in your life. Read on for more information.

Peachtree will be releasing a Paperback version in the Fall! 

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Saturday Afternoon Picnic with Susan Stockdale

photo via
Welcome to our new illustrator guest post series, Saturday Afternoon Picnics! And welcome to Susan Stockdale, author and illustrator of Spectacular Spots, and our very first guest blogger!

In this series, we'll turn the blog over to your favorite Peachtree illustrators. They might take you on a studio tour, share an exclusive illustration, or do something completely different!  

So pour yourself a glass of lemonade, sit back, and learn all about Susan Stockdale's process of creating the illustrations that Horn Book called “eye-pleasingly dramatic” and Kirkus called "a feast for the eyes."


Illustrating Spectacular Spots
a guest post by Susan Stockdale

What kinds of animals have spots, and why do they have them? To hide more easily? To warn enemies to stay away? To recognize animals of their own kind?

I wrote and illustrated Spectacular Spots, a companion to my book, Stripes of All Types, to answer these questions and to introduce young readers to the behavior of all kinds of spectacular spotted animals. Spotlighting (pun intended!) animals with spots allowed me to paint intricate patterns - my favorite activity. Painting patterns calms and soothes me. Looking at repeating patterns also helps me feel a sense of order in a chaotic world.

The illustration process for all my books is the same: create many sketches of each animal; select the one I like best; create a final drawing; submit it to scientists to confirm it is factually correct; revise if necessary; and paint the image in acrylic on paper. Here are two Spectacular Spots illustration progressions:
I looked at reference photos like this...

and began drawing the owls. At first, I focused on the babies and showed the mother owl flying in the background before a full moon.

Then I moved the mother owl to the foreground and showed her flying diagonally, as seen in this sketch.

Here is my final drawing, in which I changed the text from “spotted owl” to “swooping owl.”

Here is the final illustration.

Holstein Cows:

I created many sketches of the spotted cows in a pasture. I liked this one best.

Next, I decided to make the illustration more engaging by having the cow with the larger face look out at the reader. I had fun embellishing the tufts of hair on top of the cows’ heads in this final illustration, in which I changed the text from “spotted oxen” to “grazing cattle.”

Matching Game:
Pattern recognition is important for developing critical thinking skills and math comprehension. At the end of my book, I invite readers to match the spotted patterns to the 19 animals featured in my book.

Shapes that repeat,
what a visual treat.
I had fun with this book,
using spots as my hook!


Thanks so much to Susan for giving us an inside look at her process! (Aren't those owls just precious?) Spectacular Spots is on sale now! Visit your local library or bookstore to pick up your copy. And don't forget to visit Susan at

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Guest Blogger Round Up for New Titles!

It couldn't be more appropriate timing than March for our new titles to debut on some of our favorite guest bloggers' sites.

Mary Ann Cappiello interviewed author illustrator Susan Stockdale on The Uncommon Corps blog highlighting how Susan researches, writes, and illustrates Nonfiction for the very young.  Susan consults with specialists such as the reptile scientist at the National Museum of Natural History. She also likes to visit the animal subjects in their natural habitats whenever possible, so in addition to Steve Jenkins, Peter Sis, Matisse, and Degas, Mother Nature is the inspiration to her books.  

Read the full interview here, and find Spectacular Spots at your local library here

John Schumacher, better known as Mr. Schu of Watch. Connect. Read. interviewed author illustrator Julie Paschkis on her latest book P. Zonka Lays an Egg.  We love the sentence starter format and the use of videos!  Who else wants to visit Seattle now? 
Read the full interview here, and find P. Zonka Lays an Egg at your local library here

photo credit Jama's Alphabet Soup
Jama of Jama's Alphabet Soup also featured Julie Paschkis for a "chat, a cluck, and a kulich."  Not only does Jama share beautiful spreads from inside this new book, but also some delightful peeks into the egg decorating party that started it all! 
Make sure to scroll all the way down for the Easter Coffee Cake Recipe!!!

Shannon of Gidget Girls Reading absolutely brought this book to life with the help of her daughters; artwork featured below.  

You SHOULD try this at home! In fact, here is the How To Egg Party Guide written by Julie herself!  

Thanks for reading, blogging, and following along. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Julie Paschkis' Unconventional Guide to Throwing the Best Pysansky Party

Author illustrator Julie Paschkis created a simple (and colorful) guide to hosting your very own pysanky party, just in time for Easter!  Read the book P.Zonka Lays an Egg, host an Egg Decorating Party, and make the most beautifully authentic decorated eggs.  Are you the P.Zonka in your group of friends? Or, are you more of a Gloria?   

Julie  Paschkis' Unconventional Guide to Throwing the Best Pysansky Party

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

New Book Wednesday: P. ZONKA LAYS AN EGG by Julie Paschkis

Welcome to the very first New Book Wednesday!
Stop by every Wednesday to get the scoop on our Spring 2015 titles.

This Wednesday we're talking about P. Zonka Lays an Egg, written and illustrated by Julie Paschkis.

P. Zonka and her daydreaming ways are getting a lot of attention. If P. wasn't such a head-in-the-clouds type of gal, I'd be worried the fanfare might make her a little vain. (Read the STARRED reviews here: PW, Kirkus, SLJ)

P. Zonka Lays an Egg is a bright, beautiful celebration of individuality and imagination. But the coolest thing about the book is what inspired it.

Have you ever heard of pysanky?

In short, pysanky is an egg decoration technique, stemming from ancient Ukrainian tradition, closely associated with Easter.
The sun was the ancient Ukrainians’ supreme god, but the only creatures able to approach the life-giving star were birds. Hoping the winged creatures could fly high enough to intercede for humanity, Ukrainians inscribed wishes and requests to the heavens on birds’ eggs.

These richly decorated eggs are called pysanky.

The pysanky were made as gifts for honored family and friends—talismans meant to bring happiness, fertility, and protection. Each of the elements and colors carried symbolic meaning.

☼ The sun represented happiness, growth, and good fortune.
{Flowers signified love, charity, and good will.
h Waves, ribbons, and belts meant eternity.
 Birds, hens, and roosters symbolized fulfillment of wishes and fertility.

Red was the color of love and joy, while pink meant success.
Yellow represented resurrection and spirituality.
Green was the sign of new life, of prosperity and wealth.
Blue encompassed courage, strength, stability, loyalty, and health.

So, what do pysanky have to do with P. Zonka?

Every year, Julie Paschkis’ sister, Jan, and brother-in-law, Greg, throw a big neighborhood party where friends and family make pysanky and eat traditional Ukrainian food to celebrate spring and the Easter season. 

P. Zonka Lays an Egg came out of this experience. (Get it? Pysanka...P. Zonka?)

Want to know more about pysanky, Julie Paschkis, or how to throw your very own pysanky party? Stay tuned!


Friday, February 6, 2015

#FreeBookFriday: P. ZONKA LAYS AN EGG by Julie Paschkis

We took January off from #FreeBookFriday to give ourselves the chance to stop and smell the roses. Then we remembered—just in time for February—that there aren't too many roses around in winter.

This got us thinking about all of the things we're looking forward to about the warmer months ahead: Hiking (without the parka!), going to Braves games, picking strawberries, and spending rainy days curled up with a good book.

Everything about spring feels new and fresh and hopeful, doesn't it?

The world emerges, full of color, from the dreary, monochromatic winter, and we can't help but wonder at the beauty around us. That feeling is exactly what P. ZONKA LAYS AN EGG, today's #FreeBookFriday, is all about. We could tell you more...or we could let the [STARRED!] reviews speak for themselves. Enter to win your copy below!

★ ★ 

"A tale of the dividends of daydreaming, beautifully enhanced by colors and designs that shout 'Spring!' to a winter-weary world."

“A lyrical and lushly illustrated allegory about creativity and taking time to notice beauty.” 
Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“Vibrant watercolor illustrations … burst from the pages to draw viewers in to share P. Zonka’s delight with the colors and patterns of her world.” 
School Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

New Year, New List

Guys! It's 2015!

A New Year always brings two things: well-intentioned [but doomed] resolutions and fantastic new children's books.

We’re thrilled to announce our Spring 2015 list, which is filled with award-winning talent, mischievous cow-folk, daydreaming chickens, and migrating toads!

NEW Picture Books:

Illustrated by Caldecott Honor Book winner Molly Idle, Rodeo Red is a rip-roaring story of sibling rivalry with a cheeky Western twist.

Julie Paschkis, inspired by traditional Ukrainian pysanky, weaves an original folk tale celebrating individuality and imagination in P. Zonka Lays an Egg.

Toad Weather’s lyrical text by Sandra Markle and stunning paintings by New York Times bestselling illustrator Thomas Gonzalez explore a remarkable natural occurrence that, when the weather is just right, happens each spring in rain-soaked Philadelphia.

In Kashmira Sheth’s Sona and the Wedding Game, a young Indian girl learns about her culture when she’s tasked with stealing the groom’s shoes at her sister’s wedding.

NEW Middle Grade:

Each quirky poem in Random Body Parts poses a puzzle in verse (with a sly nod to Shakespeare) and provides hints for uncovering the answers—all of which are biological.

NEW additions to your favorite series:

Love Stanley? William Bee’s hat-wearing hamster is back! Stanley the Farmer invites young children to the farm where they’ll explore processes, colors, and machines in a sweet, simple world.

Spectacular Spots, the charming companion to Stripes of All Types, features bright, beautifully detailed paintings of spotted creatures and their habitats.

A complex narrative of endings and forgiveness, Some Kind of Magic marks the finale of Adrian Fogelin’s award-winning Neighborhood novels.

Check out our full Spring 2015 catalog here, and stay tuned for giveaways, interviews, and more! 

Spring is going to be good, guys. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Some Free Resources Out There...

Beneath the Sun  (library) was just named "Highly Commended" by the 2015 Zolotow Award committee, administered by the Cooperative Children's Book Center, recognized for "outstanding writing in a picture book for young children."  

But what are some ways to use a title like this in the library, classroom, or home?

In addition to your favorite bloggers (like Two Writing Teachers, who include Beneath the Sun in their 10 Math and Science Topic Choice Mentors for read alouds and writing prompts) and Pinterest searches, the Peachtree website and blog shares some great resources, too.

We've shared a Teacher Guide for Beneath the Sun as well as Melissa Stewart's other titles When Rain Falls  and Under the Snow. (Check out all of our Teacher Guides here.)  If you really want the book to come alive, consider doing a Readers Theater, script available here.

Stewart also shares a wealth of fabulous activities on her Science Clubhouse Website for teachers, librarians, booksellers, and homeschoolers, including a Teacher Guide and Mini Video Lesson. Speaking of your favorite bloggers, check out Stewart's Celebrate Science Blog for innovative resources for teaching science and tips for writing nonfiction. She's on Pinterest, too, and shares plenty of teaching ideas and resources for using the title in the classroom.

What are you favorite bloggers and resources?

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Spring 2015 Preview of Titles

President & Publisher, Margaret Quinlin, hosted a little Afternoon Tea/ Preview at to share our exciting Spring 2015 Frontlist.  Original artwork was on display, our editors spoke about select titles in a Round Robin format, and special guest illustrator Thomas Gonzalez shared his storyboarding process for future release Toad Weather with guests.

For those of you who could not make the trip to Atlanta and who won't be making the trip to Chicago for ALA Midwinter, check out all the highlights from Peachtree Friend, Elizabeth O. Dulemba!

Monday, December 15, 2014

DIY: Cardboard Car

With the holidays fast approaching, you're bound to have two things in abundance: empty boxes and rambunctious kids.

Put them both to use by making cardboard cars to take into Stanley's Garage!


-   1 large box
-   Colored duct tape and/or hot glue
-   Construction paper and/or paint
-   4 Paper plates
-   2 Solo cups
-   Wide colored ribbon


  1. First, cut off the bottom and top flaps of the box so that it fits over your child's head. 
  2. Glue or tape two paper plates on either side of the box to make wheels. 
  3. Glue or tape your two Solo cups on the front of your box to make headlights.
  4. Finally, cut two strips of ribbon and attach them to the front and back of the box to make straps. Measure them so that the box hangs from your child's shoulders.
  5. Give that car a custom paint job! You can finger-paint it, glue on construction paper patterns, or even make designs from your colored tape. Be creative! 

Beep! Beep! You're ready for the open road!