Welcome to Picture Book House, a blog about parenting with picture books!
I began PBH with the intention to write reviews of picture books that would be accompanied by the occasional parenting anecdote.
So at first, I wrote reviews about the books my kids asked me to read “again! again! again!” and included little vignettes about how we engaged with the stories.
Only the best books (meaning books that my kids cherished–books that even by the time they were two they had mostly memorized (i.e. A Sick Day for Amos McGee) made it on the blog.
But fairly early on, I realized that I was doing more than writing reviews.
This was personal.
In these books was us, defined by what we read when we are going to bed, eating breakfast, feeling scared, happy or sad. They were influencing how we learned and how we played. They were revealing our interests and reflecting our imaginations.
In fact, it dawned on me last summer, I don’t just love picture books, I parent with picture books.
And so the books we read at PBH–the books I tell stories about on this blog–have had a profound impact on my children.
In Children’s Literature: A Reader’s History from Aesop to Harry Potter, Seth Lerer writes: “The history of children’s literature is inseparable from the history of childhood, for the child was made through texts and tales he or she studied, heard, and told back. Learning how to read is a lifetime, and life-defining experience.”
In other words, to quote Tom Hanks in You’ve Got Mail: “You are what you read.”
Well, we are, at least.
The books included on this blog are part of our very beings. We know we need to read Big Snow when the first flakes of the season start to fall. We know we need to read In Grandma’s Arms if we are missing Mimi or Yaya. We know what to read when a thunderstorm booms and we are scared, why to read when we are too excited to sleep and need to settle down, what to read when we want to learn about colors or numbers, animals or space. We are the little girl and the mother in My Garden, and our yard is the yard in and then it’s spring. And of course there is a children’s poem for pretty much everything we do, too.
On this blog, I write about picture books that we simply can’t live without.
My name is Abby Nies Janowiec. I am a former high school English teacher, and I have a Master’s in literacy from UW-Madison. I am also a member of SCBWI.
Blog Cover Art
Thank you so much to Lisa Papadopoulos for her beautiful artwork made specifically for the the Picture Book House Logo.
Lisa and I grew up across the street from each other. As kids we spent our days outside playing Anne of Green Gables/”Olden Days,” or inside writing (me) and illustrating (her) picture books. We dream of someday creating more works of art together.
Here is a little bit more, from Lisa:
For the last nine years I have worked as an art educator in a public community school district teaching courses in a variety of media, such as darkroom and digital photography, drawing, painting, and ceramics. I am lucky to have had wonderful teaching experiences. My students have become a great inspiration to me as an artist, offering a creative freedom I would not have otherwise been connected or exposed to.
Today, I often dream of becoming a working artist. I enjoy painting and ceramics, and also specialize in the realm of drawing and illustration, particularly with the human face and figure. I find the work of Norman Rockwell absolutely fascinating, and often see myself inadvertently mimicking a similar approach to his expressions. Over the years I have occasionally worked as a caricature artist on the side, and I have created many figurative designs for a local yoga studio in my area.
When creating illustrations, I typically start with pencil, ball point pens, or charcoal. I then choose to incorporate ink, printmaking techniques, watercolor, oil or acrylic paint, or colored pencil. When my pieces are finished I usually photograph the artwork and make minor alterations using Photo Shop on the computer.
This year I am hoping to develop more illustrative work, inspired by the young faces of the children I currently teach. In addition, I have an adorable pug and cat (Bobby and Sophia) who are a constant animation in my life. They are just waiting for me to draw them.
I look forward to sharing my illustrations with you at The Picture Book House and discovering new creative avenues for my work to grow.
Check back soon to see more of Lisa’s illustrations!