I Ate a Cicada Today

  •    Targeted Audience: Preschool, Lower Elementary (Ages 3-8)
    •    Genre: Fiction Picture Book with CD
    •    Author:/Illustrator/Singer-Songwriter:  Jeff Crossan
    •    Publisher: Big Bound Books LLC
    •    Publication Date: September 1, 2014
    •    Binding: Hard Cover
    •    Dimensions: 10″ x  8″
    •    Printing: Full Color
    •    Length: 32 Pages
    •    Retail: $17.99
    •    ISBN: 978-0989522205

    Pull up a seat! You’re on a blog tour of a funny, new hardcover picture book with CD written and illustrated by Emmy-Nominated country songwriter, Jeff Crossan.

    A Long Time in the Making
    Jeff Crossan got the idea for this book when a cicada hit him in the mouth in the parking lot of a restaurant. While eating dinner with his kids, Jeff started jotting down rhymes on a napkin for a song. For years that song set untouched, until one day when Jeff decided to pair it with a picture book. I Ate a Cicada Today is the result.

    Catchy, Silly Song and a Whole Lot of Imaginative Fun
    I Ate a Cicada Today pays tribute to the silliness in all of us – especially the youngest readers. Follow along in the book as you listen to the song on the CD. The book offers 16 rhyming wonderfully absurd, mini stories about animals. “I ate a cicada today.” “I peppered a leopard today” and “I hid a giant squid today.” On the CD you’ll hear Jeff sing the song while playing acoustic guitar. There’s a short spoken verse for each two-page spread as well, and all of it is absurdly funny.

    Fun, Colorful, Comic-Like  Illustrations Add to the Humor and Delight of the Story
    Jeff’s crisp, clear cartoon like illustrations of bugs and other animals really pop off the pages, against the white background. The illustrations are just as silly as the song, and you and your child will love reading and studying the images as you listen along on the CD. I love the fact that Jeff uses a combination of his many talents in this one project – songwriting , singing, illustrating and a keen sense of humor. That’s not an easy task!

    Why You’ll Love This Book

    As an author myself, who penned a book that is recorded on CD with music, and has visited thousands of children on author visits, I can tell you how important it is for young readers to listen as they learn. Teacher s and librarians talk to me about this on every visit. The goal with the youngest children is to keep their attention and encourage them to want to learn to read themselves. There’s no better way to accomplish this than with making reading super fun.

    I Ate a Cicada Today is the perfect, silly song/book to get your child hooked on reading. It’s cute, funny and so entertaining, plus Jeff’s voice is clear and smooth and you’ll appreciate the fact that he doesn’t rush through the music. What an ideal book to bring with you on car trips, so you can listen to the CD and sing along.  Your child will likely be interested in learning more about the bugs and animals in the book, and will maybe even be inspired to make up silly verses of his or her own.

    About the Author
    Jeff Crossan is an award-winning, Emmy nominated songwriter. His hits include the number one country tune , “You’re Gonna Ruin My Bad Reputation,” which received a BMI Million Air Award. A graduate of the University of Richmond with a degree in journalism, he is a former newspaper reporter/ photographer, music journalist and syndicated radio show writer. For several years, his cartoons appeared in the Presbyterian Voice. .I Ate a Cicada Today is his first children’s book. Jeff lives in Franklin, TN with his wife, son and daughter.

Goodnight Songs: Illustrated by Twelve Award-Winning Picture Book Artists

Targeted Audience: Preschool & Lower Elementary (Ages 3-6)
Genre: Picture Book with CD
Author: Margaret Wise Brown
Illustrators: Jonathan Bean, Carin Berger, Sophie Blackall, Linda Bleck, Renata Liwska, Christopher Silas Neal, Zachariah OHora, Eric Puybaret, Sean Qualls, Isabel Roxas, Melissa Sweet and Dan Yaccarino
Composers/Singers: Tom Proutt and Emily Gary
Publisher: Sterling Publishing
Publication Date: March 4, 2014
Binding: Highest Quality Hard Cover
Dimensions: 10″ X 10″
Printing: Full color
Length: 28 Pages
Retail: $17.95
ISBN: 978-1454904465

A Welcome Invitation Indeed!
Smart Books for Smart Kids is honored to be the first on a thirteen-stop blog tour for a very special book that celebrates the literary artistry of the late Margaret Wise Brown. When I was invited to review Goodnight Songs,  I immediately ran to my 21-year-old daughter, Rachel’s bedroom to grab Goodnight Moon off the bookshelf and hug her two well-worn Runaway Bunnies, which she fondly called her “Runaway Bunaways” since she could first speak. Now she is a senior in college far away from home, but the memories I have of cuddling up with her in bed, when she was a child, and reading Margaret Wise Brown’s picture books over and over again are priceless. Now with a new generation of young readers  Goodnight Songs, offers them a chance to cherish yet another of this celebrated author’s works, more than 60 years after her death.

The Story Behind The Book

Amy Gary, the Editor of the Margaret Wise Brown estate, amycropprovides a wonderfully informative introduction to the events that led up to the making of this book. Margaret died in Paris while on a book tour in 1952 following complications from appendix surgery.

While visiting Margaret Wise Brown’s sister, Roberta Rauch, Amy discovered that Margaret left behind a cedar trunk full of unpublished manuscripts typewritten on onion skin paper, held together by rusted paper clips, with handwritten notes in the margins. What Amy found in that trunk was that Margaret had written numerous songs for children before her death and had signed a contract to write and record these songs and create radio and TV shows for children featuring music and stories. Soon after that, while in France on a book tour, Margaret completed The Green Wind, a collection of poetry; many of these works are included in Goodnight Songs, and all but three of the twelve songs in the book have never been published before.

A Beautiful Collection of Poetry Set to Music on CD
Margaret Wise Brown’s poetry has been lovingly transformed into twelve lullabies, which have been recorded on CD (included with the book). The songs were composed and sung by folk artists, Tom Proutt and Emily Gary. You’ll find a most creative array of themes for these songs, with lyrics about balloons, boats, goats, bears, the man in the moon, spiders, a wooden town, a donkey nighttime, sounds, a mouse and more.

As for the original music itself, well it’s delightfully soft and soothing as lullabies should be. It will make you want to hold your child – just before bedtime – in your arms in a rocking chair and take in all this book has to offer. The CD is a perfect accompaniment to the outstanding visual aspect of the illustrations. In the Musician’s Note in the back of the book, Pratt and Gary share a bit about what inspired them to compose the music and how they used the instruments to create special sounds to complement the lyrics.

Extraordinary Illustrations by 12 Award-Winning Artists
I dare you to choose a favorite illustration in  Goodnight Songs; you simply won’t be able to do it. Each lullaby is illustrated by a different award-winning artist, and every picture is completely unique, using different mediums and styles. Just take a look at the book cover (by artist Isabel Roxas) to get an idea of the real treat you’re in for when you flip through the pages inside. What a terrific idea it was to use an entire team of super talented artists to make each song come to life – each in its own original way! In the back of the book are bios of the illustrators with small images of the pages they created in the book, so you can place each artist with his or her illustration. The artists also provide wonderful quotes about what inspired them to create their pictures.

A Keepsake That Will Endure (Or Why You Should Buy This Book)

Goodnight Songs is a book that is meant to be treasured and kept on your child’s bookshelf next to Goodnight Moon and Runaway Bunny for years to come and eventually be passed on to the next generation. When you first look at the book, you’ll know just how special it is. And now that you’ve learned how much work and love went into making this title – with so many talented people involved in the process – you can really appreciate it as a work of art. It’s truly amazing to think that Margaret Wise Brown’s words from so many decades ago, can be shared with the world in such a beautiful way for the first time today.  One of the many educational benefits to reading this with your children as they listen to the CD is that they will eventually learn to follow the written words along with the lyrics.

I really cannot think of a better way to get your little one settled down at night than with Goodnight Songs. Retailed at only $17.95, this song book and CD treasure is an incredible value. What a lovely tribute this book is to one of America’s most beloved children’s book authors!

What do you suppose Margaret Wise Brown would think of  Goodnight Songs if she were still with us today? Well, I think we all know the answer to that.

About the Author
Born in Brooklyn, NY in 1910, Margaret Wise Brown was a prolific writer who penned hundreds of books and stories during her life. She is best known for Goodnight Moon and Runaway Bunny, which are both still in print after all these years, as are many of her other titles, even though she died over 55 years ago. Her love of animals was often depicted in her stories, which she wrote in rhyme or with repeated word patterns. She often used one or two sophisticated words in her stories to challenge young readers. She was known to write constantly and even talked of dreaming about stories, writing them down immediately upon awakening. She told stories in a manner that she thought children would most like to hear them and also mentored illustrators to draw through the eyes of a child. Following her untimely death in 1952, and after more than 60 years later, her legacy lives on.