Kidlit County, Little Elliot's Neighborhood

Merry Christmas, Little Elliot!

Well, whether you like it or not, it’s Christmas time. Some of us love Christmas! And that’s great! But for others, Christmas can be difficult. Maybe you had a hard year, and it’s challenging to get into the spirit of things. Maybe you lost a loved one or can’t be with the ones you love. Maybe you don’t celebrate this holiday, and you are so tired of hearing about it every waking moment of the day. In any event, I feel you, and so does Little Elliot. He just wasn’t into it this year either.

Our holiday schedules are often packed with Christmas plays and movies, sitting on Santa’s lap, tree lighting ceremonies, sledding and playing in the snow (if you live somewhere like that), ice skating, eating a ton of baked goods while drinking hot cocoa, shopping, shopping, shopping, and more shopping. THIS IS WHAT YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO DO BECAUSE IT’S CHRISTMAS…right? All that can be fun, but the joy we garner from these things is fleeting. We can still walk away feeling like we’re missing something important.

Now, I know there have been ten thousand books instructing us about “the true meaning of Christmas,” and I suppose this book could be lumped in with them, but let’s set Christmas aside for a second. I think many of us are looking for real meaning in our lives the whole year round. And sometimes, we just don’t know what it all means. We make lots of decisions based on what we hope will make us happy. In America, often those decisions are material based. Again, I know I haven’t come to some sensationally unique perspective when I say that life is about the connections we make. We are all out there looking for each other, searching for love, friendship, camaraderie, mentorship, family. And when we go through the motions of what we’re “supposed to do” and don’t find what we’re looking for, it can leave us feeling disconnected. And during the holidays, the stakes seem even higher because it’s “supposed” to be a time of great joy.

But though this world can be big and disappointing and scary, there are real miracles happening everyday. People do find each other despite their tough situations. I wrote this book because life has shown the cynic in me that despite all the loss we can experience, there’s so much healing that a kind gesture can accomplish. Sometimes the thing that we are missing is a person we don’t even know. They’re a stranger who lives far away in a different world, a different life, than your own. And somehow the universe conspires to unite you through one chance moment, and it could spark a whole new reality.

In this book, Little Elliot experiences his own little miracle (which just happens to be on Christmas). Somehow, he finds the person he needs, who also needs him. And who do we thank for that? Santa? Their individual determination not to give up hope? The wind? I don’t know, but I’m so grateful when it all works out.

OK, I’ll stop with all the mush! I know everyone loves a good Easter egg (no matter the holiday), so here are a few you’ll find in Merry Christmas, Little Elliot:

In this little crowd, you’ll find my nephew, nieces, and puppy!

Yes, that is Macy’s in the background. I’m not trying to promote them per se, but they are pretty iconic when it comes to Christmas in New York. Also, it’s just an awesome doorway. What can I say, I wanted to draw the cool lamps.

“Who is Freya?” Freya is my adorable niece, so she gets things named after her. The same train is featured on the opening spread in the toy filled window (if you squint you can see her name).

Also, what is perhaps my favorite part of the book is hidden! Take a peek under the dust jacket for a little surprise. It will add a little more meaning to the story as well.

Macmillan made a limited run of these sweet Little Elliot Christmas ornaments which they distributed to select indie bookstores nationwide for them to give away free with purchase of Merry Christmas, Little Elliot (while supplies last). Check with your indie to see if they have any left!

If you would like a signed copy of Merry Christmas, Little Elliot (or how about the whole series!), you can place an order with the Eric Carle Museum Shop. I will stop by to personalize and sign them, and the Carle will happily ship to (almost) anywhere in the world! Conveniently, they’re having their Holiday Sale today, 11/23 through Sunday 11/25 (use coupon code HOLIDAY to get 15% off or 30% off for members). I will also be at Books of Wonder in NYC on December 1st at 1PM, if you would like your books signed in person.

And one more thing: Macmillan is having a Merry Christmas, Little Elliot sweepstakes from from 11/19-12/10. Enter here to win your very own Little Elliot collection!

That’s all for now, friends. No matter what you do or don’t celebrate, I hope that you’re enjoying life’s small miracles today and every day.

xo Mike

Click here to read reviews for Merry Christmas, Little Elliot!

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Kidlit County, Little Elliot's Neighborhood

Merry Christmas, Little Elliot Tour!

Hello Friends!

Little Elliot and I are hitting the road again with our new book, Merry Christmas, Little Elliot! Check out this list of cities where you can join us for book reading events. Please visit my events page for more details!

Can’t make an event, but still want signed books for the holidays? You can place an order at any of the stores I’ll be visiting, and they can ship anywhere in the U.S.! You can even call and ask for personalization, and I’ll take care of it when I’m in town.

Hope to see you soon!

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Kidlit County

WHAT IF…

Today is a special day. I got to illustrate this book, and now it is in the world.

While I turn the pages of What If…, I remember making macaroni portraits in preschool. I remember decorating cookies for Christmas with my Mom. I remember sneaking out my paint set when I wasn’t supposed to and spilling paint on the carpet. The paint and easel were taken away from me for a while, but I was just as happy using my crayons instead. I remember eating French onion soup and drawing on placemats at my favorite restaurant with my Mema, with markers that she had just bought for me. And I remember other times, when I didn’t have those markers, I would just make mountains out of creamer cups, and portraits out of spaghetti and meatballs. I remember being lonely, and playing make believe. If I didn’t have friends to play with, I would line up my stuffed animals and perform for them. I sang all of their favorites. I would build pillow forts and Lego castles for us to live and dream in. We would run wild through the backyard, through bushes and trees, to another world where whatever we thought of was possible.

I remember creating my whole life, from childhood to adulthood. I’m so grateful to be able to create, and to encourage others to create. There were times in my life that I felt like my art was all I had. If life was too scary, I could create a beautiful world to escape into. If I felt silenced, I could cry out through my drawings. If I felt lost, I could paint something to give me hope. I have always felt the need to make something.

I also remember making friendships. Real ones. The kind that last a lifetime, no matter the time or distance apart. I remember making friends with Julia in college. We would take turns pointing at the sky or at our lunch and challenging each other to list what colors the other would use to paint it. When we weren’t making art side by side, we were talking about it. If we weren’t talking about art, we were dancing. This book is dedicated to her, and to my friend, Sarah Jane. She and I were studio mates for many years. We were each other’s support when our art or our lives fell apart. She has always been there to pick up my pencil when I threw it on the floor. When I was full of doubt, she gave me hugs, handed me that pencil, and led me back to my desk to say “yes, you can.” Julia and Sarah Jane have very different artistic styles than me, but we speak a common language. They understand the necessity to create.

And I remember making friends with someone through laughter and song, someone who would become one of the most important friends of my life, Samantha Berger. Today, I want to thank her for sharing this story with all of us, and for giving me this beautiful journey to run mad with in my studio. Her words and my pictures have come together to make this book, our song of resilience and creation, one of my most favorite things that I have ever created.

I’m still relatively new at making books, but so far, it’s been my experience that you don’t really realize or understand the depth of what you’re making until you’ve finished making it. Some say our book is about art. It is. But it’s about much more than that. Some say it’s about survival. It is. But it’s about much more than that too. It’s about being you. It’s about putting yourself into the world, even when it seems like the world doesn’t want you. When something precious is taken from you, which unfortunately is inevitable in this life, you are forced to ask yourself, “who am I now?” I find great comfort in Samantha’s words:

“If I had nothing, but still had my mind,
There’d always be stories to seek and to find.”

We all want and need our lives to mean something. Meanwhile, this world wants and needs you to put something good into it. What can you create to make it better? It doesn’t have to be art or words. Solutions come in many forms. It can be a program or a formula. It can be a building or a cake. It can be a cure, or a blanket, or a community. It can be a thought. It can be a kindness.

What If… you made something that changed the world for the better?
What If… everyone did?

Keep dreaming.
Keep making.

Love,
Mike

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For more information, resources, and to order, please visit my site. 

For further reading about the making of What If…, check out our blog tour:

WHAT IF…We Told You the Story Behind the Story?

WHAT IF…Mike Curato Used Mixed Media to Make a Book?

WHAT IF…We Used Our Creativity to Overcome Obstacles?

WHAT IF…Two Best Friends Made a Book Together?

WHAT IF…We Revealed our New Book Trailer?

 

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Kidlit County

What If…We Had a Blog Tour? (and a Real Life Tour)

We’re just days away from the release of What If…!

Samantha Berger and I are so excited for this book to finally be out in the world on April 10th. While it’s par for the course for authors and illustrators to promote their work, we also genuinely have a lot that we want to share about our experience making this book! We want to share some stories about the story. The ups! The downs! The all arounds! Join us this week as we make daily appearances on some of the best kidlit blogs out there. You will even have a chance to win a free copy of What If…

3/26 Nerdy Book Club: WHAT IF…We Told You the Story Behind the Story?

3/27 7 Impossible Things Before Breakfast: WHAT IF…Mike Curato Used Mixed Media to Make a Book?

3/28 Pragmatic Mom: WHAT IF…We Used Our Creativity to Overcome Obstacles?

3/29 Kidlit Frenzy: WHAT IF…Two Best Friends Made a Book Together?

3/30 Watch Connect Read: WHAT IF…We Revealed our New Book Trailer?

We are also happy to share that we’re hitting the road to read with you in person! Here’s a list of public events where Samantha and I will be reading, creating, and signing. We hope you’ll join us!

For more information, reviews, and to order your copy, visit my site!

 

 

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Kidlit County

What If…We Went on a Tour?!

My new book, WHAT IF…, comes out this spring, and I have the privilege of going on tour with its author, the amazing, the brilliant, the fabulous Samantha Berger! We hope that you can make it to one of our public events! Visit my events page for more information. Also, stay tuned for more news about our blog tour and book giveaways!!!

What If…is a story about how the power of creativity and self expression can triumph over any obstacle, written and illustrated by two real life best friends. Available April 3rd from Little, Brown. Read more about the book, check out sample illustrations, and preorder your copy today!

 

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Kidlit County, Uncategorized

Stories of Old

Last weekend, while I was home visiting my family, I unearthed a gold mine in my old closet: folders full of my illustrated stories from elementary school!!! Genres covered: comics, ghost stories, who done its, royal intrigue, historical fiction, myths, and modern retellings of classic fairy tales. I also found some brilliant reporting covering plays and computer room news, as well as editorial illustrations, for the school paper.

I thought these were lost forever. It is a great joy that they have been found. Here is a selection I’d like to share with you.

“Will Somebody Play with Me?” This is a comic about a naive fox who goes looking for a friend to play with, only to fall in with a conniving snake. He’s rescued by my good friend, Ricky Raccoon, who you may know from What’s Your Favorite Color!

“Sarah’s Fight” Princess Sarah’s insane murderous uncle won’t kill the King and take over the kingdom on her watch! But, at what cost!?!?!?

“Riches and Royalty” Did you know that, in England, the aristocracy can literally be at war with each other? I forgot, until I read this! Twist: The American reporter who goes to cover the story discovers that she’s the long lost Princess of Lacen! Wherever that is!

“Columbus and the Stowaway” A charming story starring everyone’s favorite benevolent instigator of mass genocide, Columbus, and the pick pocket who would save his life and become his adopted son (and somehow, later on, an English lord).

“Rumplestiltskin: The Real Story” Inspired by Jon Scieszka & Lane Smith’s The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs, Rumplestiltskin is an innocent good Samaritan who comes to the aide of an ungrateful girl destined to become Queen. Spoiler alert: he ends up in space.

“Bat Woman” I tried my hand at rewriting a DC classic, and I gotta say, I nailed it. As in, Lee press-on nailed it. Favorite line: “THAT SHOULD TEACH YOU NEVER MAKE FUN OF A GIRL, ESPECIALLY ONE THAT’S A CRIMEFIGHTER!”

“Who Did It?” I used to watch a lot of “Murder, She Wrote,” which bears out in this murder mystery featuring my 6th grade classmates. The detectives don’t really do so much sleuthing as just knowing all the right people who tip them off.

“The Halloween Haunt House” in which a group of friends go into that spooky looking house on the block on Halloween, and an essay on the distinction between good and bad ghosts. “Before you go to bed tonight, think of all the ghosts watching you!” Umm, no thanks!!!

An essay about “My Room” and the cycle of life. Bonus points to my English teacher for the educational side note.

“Why the Moon Shines at Night” This is actually quite touching. It’s a myth about an ugly boy that everyone hates. When they try to kill him, Artemis takes pity on him, makes a stairway to the heavens, and lights the moon to guide him to safety.

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