Take Away the A: An Alphabet of a Book!

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Cover image courtesy of Enchanted Lion Books

Take Away the A: An Alphabet of a Book

  • Targeted Audience: Pre School (Ages 0-3)
  • Genre: Fiction, Picture Book
  • Author: Michaël Escoffier
  • Illustrator: Kris Di Giacomo
  • Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books
  • Publication Date: September 12, 2014
  • Binding: Hard Cover
  • Dimensions: 8″ x 12.5″
  • Printing: Full color
  • Length: 56 Pages
  • Retail: $17.95
  • ISBN: 978-1592701568

 

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© Copyright – Inside spread courtesy of Enchanted Lion Books

Quite Possibly the Most Original Alphabet Book Ever

I’ve reviewed so many alphabet books that I’ve lost count, and I’ve seen all sorts of creative ways to teach the ABCs too. Yet here before me is another alphabet book – a Junior Library Guild Selection at that. Sure, I know what you’re thinking…There cannot possibly be a clever new way to write a book about the ABCs! I’d have thought the same thing. However, as soon as I looked at the book’s cover I instantly knew that my favorite children’s book author/illustrator team, Michaël Escoffier and Kris Di Giacomo, created this new alphabet book, and I was certain I was in for a special treat. Once you read it, I’m sure you’ll agree that this quite possibly is the most original, clever and adorable alphabet book you’ve ever seen.

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© Copyright – Inside spread courtesy of Enchanted Lion Books

 ABCs + Word Transformations = Learning

Each letter of the alphabet is presented on a two-page spread, and a short sentence presents a word with the featured letter of the alphabet subtracted. In other words, when just one letter is taken out of a word, it transforms into an entirely new word. “Without the N, the moon says moo.” “Without the P, the plate is too late.” Not only can little ones learn their ABCs, but they are also introduced to word recognition and word association. It’s truly an ingenious, humorous and creative way to encourage the youngest children to love books, recognize the alphabet and want to learn to read.

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© Copyright – Inside spread courtesy of Enchanted Lion Books

Lovely, Humorous Illustrations

With Kris Di Giacomo as the illustrator of Take Away the A, you know the artwork is going to be exceptional. She has an unmatched ability to work humor into her illustrations, and there are always a lot of adorable details to study in her enchanting work. Her style is playful and engaging and you’ll absolutely love her choice of colors and the way her illustrations look on the sturdy matte paper they are printed on.

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© Copyright – Inside spread courtesy of Enchanted Lion Books

 Why You Must Buy This Book

As long as babies are born, there will be a need for alphabet books. Take Away the A goes beyond teaching the ABC’s with clever wit, charm and a few carefully selected words. Author Michaël Escoffier is a master at coming up with incredibly original ways to educate and entertain children, and he never disappoints them. Add to that the creative brilliance of Kris Di Giocomo, who masterfully depicts in her art what Escoffier is saying with his words. These two creative geniuses both understand that reading is an art in and of itself, and that  any adult who is reading with a child, is entitled to be just as entertained by the book as the child himself.

About the Author AVT_Michal-Escoffier_6408.pjpeg

Michaël Escoffier was born in France in 1970. Raised by a family of triceratops, he discovered his passion for writing and telling stories at a young age. Take Away the A: An Alphabet of a Book is his fourth title published with Enchanted Lion Books and illustrated with Kris Di Giacomo. Michaël lives in Lyon, France, with his wife and two children.

KrisphotosmallerAbout the Illustrator

Born in Brazil, Kris Di Giacomo is a popular children’s book illustrator who has lived in France for a long time. After a brief stint in the United States, she moved to France, where teaching English to young children and discovering French picture books were the triggers that led her into illustration. She has illustrated over 25 picture books, a few of which she has written as well. Take Away the A: An Alphabet of a Book  is her fourth title published with Enchanted Lion Books and written by Michaël Escoffier.

 Buy Take Away the A

Read my interview with Kris Di Giacomo

Read an article about Enchanted Lion Books in Publisher’s Weekly

Complete your collection of books by this extraordinary author/illustrator team

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The Day I Lost My Superpowers

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Me First

brief-thief

Brief Thief (My Favorite Picture Book of 2013)

Visit Enchanted Lion Books for many more great titles.

 

 

 

 

Enchanting the World One Picture at a Time: Interview with Illustrator Kris Di Giacomo

KrisphotosmallerAfter receiving a copy of Brief Thief to review at the beginning of 2013, I was instantly smitten with the writer/illustrator team of Michaël Escoffier and Kris Di Giacomo. Together these two have collaborated on many picture books (Published in French and/or English). Yesterday I reviewed their most recent title, The Day I Lost My Superpowers (Enchanted Lion Books) only to discover this title is equally as wonderful as Brief Thief  and Me First!

Today Kris answers my questions about working with Michaël and shares insights into her successful career as a prolific illustrator of children’s books, and as an author. I think you’ll agree that her work is so outstanding, it is as if she magically steps inside the mind of a child before illustrating each and every book.

After being born in Brazil to American parents, how did you end up living in France?

My Dad worked for an international company that moved its families around every so often. I don’t have any memories from Brazil (we left when I was just a few months old) but my childhood memories are trimmed with snow capped mountains, forests, cows and the glistening Lac Léman in Lausanne, Switzerland where I lived until I was 9. We then spent 4 years in Maryland before being moved to Paris where I ended up staying. It always sounds strange to me when I say I’ve lived here for 27 years now!

What a lovely and eclectic combination of home towns! How did you get started illustrating children’s books?

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© Copyright by Kris Di Giacomo – The illustrator presenting her work to a class visiting an exhibit in a library

After attending The Parson School of Design in Paris, I taught English to children here in France and somewhere along the way decided I wanted to do a bilingual picture book for French speaking children learning English. Around the same time I met someone who was also interested in illustration and we embarked on the adventure together. He was very encouraging and played a big role in helping me find my way as an illustrator.

How did you meet Michaël Escoffier? AVT_Michal-Escoffier_6408.pjpeg

Through the friend I mentioned above. They had met on-line to work on a comic book but it turned out Michaël had more children’s stories than comic scenarios up his sleeve, and so our friend sent him my way and it just took off naturally from there. The first story he sent me was about a giraffe with his neck in a knot. We published it shortly after and that was the beginning of our enduring relationship with the publishing house Kaléidoscope in Paris.

9780823428137_p0_v2_s260x420If that friend only knew at the time just how successful a team you two would become! How many books have you and Michaël done together?

We were just together in Bordeaux visiting children in their schools and we were asked the same question, so we counted; 16 so far. And more on the way!

 

I’m thrilled to hear that, as you two work such magic together in picture books. 

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© Copyright by Kris Di Giacomo – Children acting out Brief Thief in a puppet theater

When I got to the end of Me First! I laughed out loud. You and Michaël have an extraordinary talent for working together to make picture books that are wonderfully unique, charming and funny, in a way I simply cannot put into words, and with fantastic surprise endings. How do you two do this?

51WCmadQWfL._SX300_Michaël has a real knack for coming up with great ideas! I myself am mystified by the process he must go through to invent them. When he sends them to me I choose the ones that speak to me immediately and that I feel I will be able to enhance with another level of humor visually. I try to be on the same brief-thieflevel when I do the pictures and bring an extra chuckle to the story. We are in contact via email during the creative process and share feedback frequently to try to obtain a coherent result. It’s great to have that complicity while meandering through a project and to have someone to turn to along the way.

Brief Thief was my favorite picture book of 2013. Your illustrations are incredible in that book! What inspired you to choose a lizard for your main character?

BriefThiefThe lizard was already written into the story when I got it from Michaël. I asked him if I could change it to a chameleon because I thought it would be more fun to draw with those funny buggy eyes. I get such a kick out of animals and I love to try to transpose their uniquely fabulous qualities in my drawing while also humanizing them in a way that draws us into their character.

© Copyright – Image from Brief Thief courtesy of Enchanted Lion Books

Image 9I just finished reading The Day I Lost My Superpowers and was grinning from ear to ear.  You managed to take the topic of superheroes and turn it into a completely original picture book, both in words and pictures. What was the inspiration for your unique illustrations in that story?

I’ve already done a few picture books with little girls as the main characters so the casting process was a bit longer for this book. Once you’ve already done something once you want to look for renewal the next times and that can be a fun exploration process.

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© Copyright by Kris Di Giacomo – Children reading the book Tous les monstres on peur du noir (Michaël Escoffier) in the dark in the “Monster” part of an exhibit in a library in Paris

What medium do you use for your illustrations?

I always start with pencil and paper but the final images are digital files that combine all the elements I’ve thrown together along the way. I use a bit of anything and everything, scan it all in and then put it together using a computer. I would love to make originals using only traditional techniques on a single piece of paper but it’s hard to go back once you’ve gotten used to the vast options open to you using computer techniques. It’s a bit-by-bit building process, which suits me.

What illustration project is next for you?MyDadBigStrong

Right now I’m drawing a Sloth Named Paco for Michaël. Next up is a 6th book in a series called Prune which I do with the author Séverine Vidal. Enchanted Lion has me exploring the life of E.E. Cummings for 2015 and there may be a “sequel” to “My Dad is Big and Strong But…”

I look forward to reading those titles! What advice do you have for an artist who wants to really stand out – like you do – in the great big world of children’s book illustrating?

Hmmm… Explore, play, enjoy! Look around at what others are doing. There is influence and inspiration all around us. Challenge yourself and keep trying new things, for the fun of it! And find someone whose feedback helps you go further with your work.

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© Copyright by Kris Di Giacomo –  Signing “My Dad is Big and Strong But…” at the Book Expo America in NY 2012 with Claudia Bedrick from Enchanted Lion Books

Kris, thank you so much for sharing your journey with us. It’s apparent you’ve found your calling in life, making children (and their parents) smile with your extraordinary books and illustrations. You are truly an inspiration – the ultimate example that great success can come with exceptional artistic talent. I hope to be among the first to read any and all new books both you and Michaël have written and illustrated.

Readers, visit Kris’ website to learn more about her spectacular work. Be sure to read my review of The Day I Lost My Superpowers here. Check out many more awesome titles by Enchanted Lion Books.

 

 

 

 

The Super Trio Are at it Again

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The Day I Lost my Superpowers

  • Targeted Audience: Pre School, Lower Elementary (Ages 3 -8)
  • Genre: Fiction, Picture Book
  • Author: Michaël Escoffier
  • Illustrator: Kris Di Giacomo
  • Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books
  • Publication Date: April 7, 2013
  • Binding: Highest Quality Hard Cover 8.75″ X 12″
  • Printing: Full color
  • Length: 32 Pages
  • Retail: $16.95
  • ISBN: 978-1592701445

Note: This title will be not be published until April, but you’d be smart to reserve a copy now.

Expect Nothing But the Best from This Duo Trio

The celebrated writer/illustrator team of Michaël Escoffier and Kris Di Giacomo has created 16 picture books together and lucky for us, they’re still going strong.  The Day I Lost my Superpowers is the third title these two have published with Enchanted Lion books. And you can’t help but wonder if this title, like their two others published by Enchanted Lion – Me First! and Brief Thief – was written as much for parents as it was for their kids; it’s that entertaining. After reading all three of these titles, it’s only natural I find myself expecting nothing but the best from this trio – Escoffier, Di Giacomo and Enchanted Lion.

Not Your Every Day Superhero

This is a story in the voice of a very little girl with a cape and a mask (and a pacifier) who spends her days polishing her “superpowers” to fly, go through walls, speak to animals, breathe underwater and even become invisible. Sure she has some challenges, but what superhero doesn’t? No matter what the reality may be, in her heart, she’s superhuman and darn proud of it. But one day, everything goes wrong for his little whipper-snapper and she realizes she needs her mommy just as much as if she were just a little human girl and not the superhero she truly is. Image 10

Why I Adore This Book (and Why You Will Too)

From the cover of The Day I Lost my Superpowers to all the pages within, the protagonist exudes personality in the most delightful of ways. This little girl is anything but prissy; she’s not afraid to try courageous things or get a little bit dirty. She’s determined and creative and  just a little bit naughty too, just like you expect a toddler to be. All of us can relate to her wish to be superhuman, and when you combine the pure imagination of this loveable child with the subtle humor in the carefully crafted but clever words of Escoffier and adorable illustrations of Di Giacomo, what results is a purely enchanting, entertaining and heartwarming story you can’t help but love.

What This Book Teaches

The Day I Lost my Superpowers teaches readers that using their imaginations is the most wonderful part of being a child. They also learn that life’s experiences will not always go their way, because that’s simply part of being human. Sometimes all they really need is their parents to be there to kiss them and make them feel all better.

Read my interview with illustrator Kris Di Giacomo.

AVT_Michal-Escoffier_6408.pjpegAbout the Author

Michaël Escoffier was born in France in 1970. Raised by a family of triceratops, he discovered his passion for writing and telling stories at a young age. The Day I Lost my Superpowers is his third title published with Enchanted Lion Books. He lives in Lyon, France, with his wife and two children.

KrisphotosmallerAbout the Illustrator

Born in Brazil, Kris Di Giacomo is a popular children’s book illustrator who has lived in France for a long time. After a brief stint in the United States, she moved to France, where teaching English to young children and discovering French picture books were the triggers that led her into illustration. She has illustrated twenty picture books, a few of which she has written as well.

Be Sure to Buy These Titles Too

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Me First

brief-thief

Brief Thief (Made my Best Picture books of the Year List for 2013)

Me! Me! Me!

Me First

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When I saw the names of the author and illustrator on this book, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. They’ve collaborated on numerous children’s titles including one of my all-time favorites, Brief Thief.

  • Targeted Audience: PreSchhol, Lower Elementary (Ages 3 -8)
  • Genre: Fiction, Picture Book
  • Author: Michael Escoffier
  • Illustrator: Kris Di Giacomo
  • Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books
  • Publication Date:August 27, 2013
  • Binding: Highest Quality Hard Cover 9.9″ X  8″
  • Printing: Full color
  • Length:24 Pages
  • Retail: $14.00
  • ISBN: 978-1592701360

Ranking High on the Cuteness Factor

Author and illustrator, Escoffier and Di Giacomo, know how to get a picture book right. Just like when I read Brief Thief. I was grinning from ear to ear when I got the last page of Me First. It’s just so darn charming! And every parent on earth can relate to this story. It’s about a duck family with four offspring who constantly fight over which of them is going to go first. Sound familiar, parents? But at the end, there is a surprising and humorous twist. It’s subtle, and adorable and it’s funny!

En Français

The books this duo write are first published in French and then translated into English. And I am so thankful for that,  so all English speakers can enjoy them too. They symbolize all that is right with picture books – originality, great artwork, a subtle message and plain and simple, they’re charming and entertaining! I hope this pair keeps on publishing picture books. They’re the kind you keep on your home library shelf and never get tired of reading over and over again!.

 

brief-thiefWhen you buy Me First go ahead and get Brief Thief too. You can thank me later.