Blog Tour: Sticks ‘n’ Stones ‘n’ Dinosaur Bones
All right, folks. I don’t usually do straight up blog tours and the reasoning for this is simple. There are a fair number of them out there and how do you choose which ones to feature? But today’s book is kind of special. As you may know, I’ve a soft spot in my heart for independent publishers and self-published titles. Today, we’ve a little bit of both. Sticks n’ Stones n’ Dinosaur Bones was originally self-published by creators Ted Enik and G.F. Newland back in 2013. Enterprising souls, they sent it to me then and I rather liked its apology-free mix of fact, fiction, and rhyme. This year, the book has been picked up by Schiffer Publishing. Here’s the description:
The first book in the Unhinged History series is a ripping yarn—full of adventure and deceit—that brings to life the best-known public spat in all of paleontology: the bitter rivalry between Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh. This frenzy of discovery and one-upmanship—known today as the Bone Wars—was a gold rush–like scramble to find the most and “best” dinosaur fossils, thus bringing to glory to their respective home-base universities. Lively and witty rhymes plus wonderfully demented illustrations reveal how the paleontologists’ infamous rivalry began, and how—despite making genuine and lasting contributions to the field—their mutual obsession with outdoing one another spun out of control.
I was a fan of the book back in 2013 when I first ran across it and always felt vaguely sad that I didn’t get a chance to review it. I’ve made up for that crime today by hosting Day 2 in the book’s all new blog tour. Thanks to Ms. Voss, Mr. Enik, and Mr. Newland for allowing me to provide a home for it today.
Welcome to Day #2 of the “Sticks ‘n’ Stones” Blog Tour
To celebrate the release of “Sticks ‘n’ Stones ‘n’ Dinosaur Bones,” written by Ted Enik and illustrated by G.F. Newland, blogs across the web are featuring exclusive content about this humorous tall tale and giving away chances to win a copy of “Sticks ‘n’ Stones ‘n’ Dinosaur Bones.”
Ted gave an interview about the book, the Unhinged History series it belongs to, his background as a successful children’s illustrator, and his plans in children’s books.
Q: How did you get the idea for “Sticks ‘n’ Stones?”
A: Truth is, I learned about the rivalry between two early American paleontologists from a documentary about it on PBS. I originally considered developing the story into a “Monty Python”-like screenplay, but when Rob Herrera (my illustration agent and publishing partner — http://pixelmousehouse.com/books/ ) suggested I work on my own picture book manuscript, the idea to swap screenplay for kids’ book hit me as I was drifting off into a nap. A real “aha!” moment.
Q: This book is a part of your series, Unhinged History books, https://unhingedhistory.com. Can you tell us about that series? What are the others about? Will all of them be written in rhyme?
A: Yes and yes! The Unhinged History series deals with both science-y and historical real events. “Unhinged” is in the title because, even though the books’ premises are rooted in reality and the bare bones (ha) of the plot are laid out factually, things grow irreverent pretty fast. I’ve been calling the storytelling “tall tales.”
The second in the series, “The Bathysphere Boys,” due out next spring, is about William Beebe and Otis Barton’s deep-sea exploration trials and successes. The third will be about a pair of intrepid women, and I doubt we’ll run out of historical stories to turn into silly-serious picture books.
Yes, if I get my way they’ll be written in rhyme. `Cause that’s really the weird kind of writer-guy I’m.
Q: Why did you write Sticks ‘n Stones in rhyme? Can you talk about rhyme in children’s books today?
A: I think rhyme establishes a playful voice from the very first few lines of a book. I don’t need to work up to introducing an “Okay, the fun part starts now” turning point. Rhyme says fun right away. I also believe rhyming builds vocabulary, and contributes to instilling in children a lifelong love of words.
For decades, the writers’ grapevine said that publishers wouldn’t look twice at kids’ books written in rhyme. The good Dr. Seuss was a one-man Mt. Rushmore, and no one could touch him. So the message to writers was don’t bother. Happily, that’s no longer the case. Kids’ books in rhyme are back. Seuss is still the Rhyme God, and we who similarly word-clang do so respectfully at his feet.
To get on a soapbox a moment, I believe some writers (and children’s book editors) do kids a disservice by being … How to put this? … Casual? Lenient? About rhyming poetry for kids. I see jerky, off meter, and lazy. “not quite precise” rhymes out there a lot. My feeling is, if a writer is going to attempt it, learn your craft, exercise your chops, and don’t shirk the work. But I know I’m rather obsessive about not writing down, or – in rhyme’s case – writing sloppy, for children. Okay, rant over.
Q: Do you believe there is a need for more entertaining science books for children? Why?
A: No longer a need. With the advent of STEM and STEAM, plenty of new, well-written, inspiring and entertaining history and science books for kids will be coming on the market from now on. No question.
Q: This is the first children’s book you have authored, but you have illustrated many children’s books. Can you tell us about the books you have illustrated and the medium you use in illustration? Will you be focusing more on writing or illustrating in the future? Do you plan to illustrate your own books?
A: As an illustrator, I stayed Old School; pencil, ink, and watercolors all the way. Not entirely by choice, though. Years back, when digital illustration was growing in popularity, my agent at the time urged me to swap the hand for the mouse. Not wanting my work to look dated and be passed over, I bought the proper instruction manuals and intended to learn the new tools. But, mixed-blessing-ly, he got me so much steady work, I never found the downtime. Soon the rage cooled off, the pendulum swung back to center, and all styles of artwork were again in demand.
I was always a writer. All my college degrees are in one sort of writing or another. What drawing and painting ability I have is a raw gift that I honed by hard knocks and experience. Frankly, and it’s always difficult and presumptuous to assess one’s own talent, even though I’ve been illustrating pretty much non-stop for nearly 30 years, I ain’t great. Will never be among the tops. Taking a long sober look at things, I think I have something more original, (ahem) exceptional, to offer as a writer. Vee shell zee…
You want to see great, look at the brilliant work of my “Unhinged” partner, artist G.F. Newland, https://www.gfnewland.com.
Oh. And no, if things work out, I’d prefer to collaborate with G.F. and other illustrators on future books.
This first book in Ted Enik and G.F Newland’s “Unhinged History” series is a ripping yarn – full of adventure and deceit – that brings to life the best-known public spat in all of paleontology: the bitter rivalry between Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh that became known as “The Bone Wars.” Lively and witty rhymes plus beautifully demented illustrations by Newland reveal how the paleontologists’ infamous rivalry began and how their mutual obsession with outdoing and ruining one another spun out of control.
About the Author
Ted Enik has worked as an illustrator for most of the well-known New York publishing houses, applying his versatility to both original art as well as classic and current children’s book characters, including the Magic School Bus, the Eloise books, and the popular “Fancy Nancy I Can Read” series. This is the first picture book Ted has authored. It was first published in 2013 by Pixel Mouse House, New York, and honored as a Finalist in the American Book Fest’s 2014 Best Children’s Nonfiction and a Finalist in American Book Fest’s 2014 International Book Award for Best Children’s Nonfiction. Learn more about his books at unhingedhistory.com and his illustration at tedenik.com.
About the Illustrator
G.F. Newland is a part-time illustrator and the systems administrator at the School of Visual Arts, New York, NY. His doodles have found their way onto buttons, bags, posters, and T-shirts, and have been published by Scholastic, Hachette, and Pixel Mouse House. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and a pet fish named Enki. Visit his website at gfnewland.com.
Schedule of Blog Tour
November 6: Can You Read Me a Story?
November 7: A Fuse #8 Production
November 8: Books My Kids Read
November 9: Rockin’ Book Reviews
November 10: Kid Lit 411
November 11: Shelf Employed
November 12: Frog on a Blog
Filed under: Uncategorized
About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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