Perfect for Valentines of All Ages: “Worm Loves Worm”

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Hey you. Yes, YOU. The sorry so-and-so who’s forgotten it’s Valentine’s Day and is now scrambling to find a last-minute present for your boo.

Why don’t you skip the tacky bodega carnations and dusty CVS chocolates this year, and go with a gift that really means something? Why don’t you head on down to your neighborhood bookshop and pick up a copy of Worm Loves Worm?

This book, written by J.J. Austrian, and illustrated by this guy, is a thoughtful, poignant, adorable celebration of love in all its wormy splendor. Its simple, cheery illustrations and sweet, inclusive message have won the book heaps of praise, including a spot on The Advocate’s “21 LGBT Picture Books Every Kid Should Read” list, and today’s great write-up in the New York Times Sunday Book Review:

J. J. Austrian and Mike ­Curato’s “Worm Loves Worm” … brilliantly explores the idea of love between two beings, regardless of gender (or species) and despite societal pressures.

Curato’s spare but sure silhouetted images and Austrian’s straightforward text are a perfect match to deliver the simple story of two characters who just want to declare their love and commit to each other.

And of course, the story of Worm holds tremendous personal significance for Mike and me, which my hubby explains with touching eloquence in his own writing about its release:

Throughout our lifetimes, each of us will be criticized for something that we cannot change (in other words: for being yourself). During those times, it’s paramount to remember what is most important in your life. For me, love is what is most important. Some people see the love that I have for Dan as being “different.” I beg to differ. In Worm Loves Worm, no matter the opinions and criticisms of others, Worm and Worm hold fast to what is most important to them: each other.

Sure, a few angry wormophobes have been upset by this book. For them, its depiction of G-rated affection between sexless garden-dwellers, and the image of spritely cartoon insects throwing their friends a party, crosses a line. (The objections usually go something like: “I have no problem with the wormos personally, blah blah blah. I’m just worried that the wormos are trying to EAT MY BABIES.”)

But if Worm comes with any “agenda,” it’s nothing more sinister than the wish to offer a positive lesson in open-mindedness, acceptance, and love.

Though marketed as a children’s book, Worm Loves Worm is a story about eschewing rigid categorization. So, whether it’s for a dear little one, or a grownup sweetheart, this book’s heart-tugging, family-friendly message makes it the perfect Valentine’s Day gift for loves of all ages.

Now get out there and grab your Valentine a copy before this holiday is over!

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Little Elliot, Big New York Times Review

This Sunday, a glowing review of Little Elliot, Big City will appear in a little publication called THE NEW YORK TIMES! Here’s a snippet:

“The author-illustrator Mike Curato, making his picture book debut, beautifully renders the images in rich earth tones that are soft and smooth, calling to mind ‘The Sweetest Fig,’ by Chris Van Allsburg … “

So yeah, that was Mike being compared to one of his idols in the Sunday Times book reviewYou know, NBD. Be sure to read the rest here.

Seriously, though, what an honor for Mike. I know I keep saying it, but I am SO DAMN PROUD of him!

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“We’ve all been there.”

Update: We just found out that Little Elliot also made Amazon’s list of the 20 best children’s books of 2014! So much excitement here!

Who Has Two Thumbs and His Own “Little Elliot” Tote Bag?

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This guy.

Apparently, the Little Elliot tote bag, a promotional giveaway at this year’s Book Expo America, was a huge hit. From Publishers Weekly’s “ShelfTalker” blog (emphasis mine):

“Savvy booksellers paced themselves on the number of galleys they took. Mostly there was talk about how to get a particular tote bag. I missed my chance, but for some reason many people asked me about it, as if I had a magical power to make them appear at the Macmillan booth. So cute, but alas there seemed to be a limited number that were given out Thursday and then gone. This was actually a really smart move on the publisher’s part. Everyone, and I mean everyone, wanted this bag. And it just gets you ready for the book, which is equally good.”

I guess being married to Mr. Little Elliot himself has its perks.

You can read the whole BEA wrap-up here, and Mike’s own take on his first BEA experience here.

“Little Elliot, Big City” Book Trailer

As I may have mentioned before, my hubby Mike is a very-soon-to-be-published author and illustrator of children’s picture books. Nearly two years in the making, the first installment of his Little Elliot series is set for release on August 26th. It’s all very exciting, and the buzz is already building as Mike begins this summer’s ramp-up to the big release. Here’s a little sneak-peek at his debut title, Little Elliot Big City, via this beautifully done book trailer from Mike’s publisher. It’s amazing. And so is Mike.

 

Mike’s Big Book Deal

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Greetings, Danned visitors! I realize some of you may already know about this, but I just had to take a little blog-space to share some incredibly exciting news (and to shamelessly brag on my amazing and soon-to-be-famous boyfriend).

Earlier this week, Mike, who has long aspired to be an author-illustrator of children’s books, announced to the world that he’s landed his very first book deal! After considering several generous offers, he’s agreed to a three-book hitch with Henry Holt Books for Young Readers. (Apparently, a three-book deal is quite the coup for a first-time author). Here’s the official press release as it appeared in Publishers Weekly:

Laura Godwin at Henry Holt has bought world English rights to three picture books by debut author-artist Mike Curato, featuring his character Elly the Polka-Dotted Elephant; the books are scheduled to come out annually beginning in fall 2014. Curato, a graphic designer living in Seattle, won the Portfolio Award at the SCBWI winter conference earlier this year. Brenda Bowen of Greenburger Associates brokered the deal, which Godwin won at auction.

Yep, that was in PUBLISHERS WEEKLY. You know. No big.

Needless to say, Mike is elated beyond words. I believe “in a surreal trance” best describes his state of mind over the past few days. This is basically the realization of his lifelong dream, so yeah, he’s in a pretty good mood. I know I’m far from alone when I say I could not be more thrilled for him, and I am SO EFFING PROUD OF HIM.

This is a journey Mike’s been on since long before we knew each other, of course, stretching all the way back to wee Mikey’s first pre-school art classes. Indeed, his dream of becoming a great illustrator was one of the very first things I learned about him. Not long after we met, I noticed that every bookstore visit with Mike included a lengthy browse in the children’s section. He told me of his then-stalled efforts to break into the business, showing me the sidelined mock-up he’d pitched to at least one major publisher. And with a look at his exceptional work, it was quickly apparent to me that Mike is a serious, out-of-my-league talent who is destined for great things.

Since then it’s been quite a ride for Mike professionally. In the four years we’ve been together, he’s gone from freelancing as a graphic designer, to heading up the design team of a Seattle tech company, then back to freelancing, to anxiously pouring his heart into the launch of his own specialty wedding-invite business. But amidst the all-around craziness of life, Mike still made time here and there to perfect his art, and to kindle his simmering aspirations.

Late last year, after illustrating an author-friend’s self-published debut title, Mike put together a successful and spirit-boosting exhibition of his recent work, enthusiastically (and appropriately) hosted by Cupcake Royale in Seattle. The show featured a series of charming new portraits of one of his best-loved characters, Elly the Polka-Dotted Elephant. Naturally, the pairing of delectable sweets and enchanting images like this one proved irresistible to local admirers. Seattle was in love.

Things really began to take off for Mike when he attended the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) winter conference in New York earlier this year. On little more than a long-shot whim, he entered the conference’s Portfolio Award competition, and was, to his own amazement, awarded first place. His win was immediately followed by an overwhelming barrage of solicitations from agents, editors, publishers, and other folks in the biz eager to snap up this emerging talent and his adorable little elephant. In an exhilarating instant, Mike had been discovered, and was tagged as a rising star in children’s literature. It was now simply matter of choosing the right agent, and locking down the best book deal.

Mike has since teamed up with the fabulous Brenda Bowen, who, in their short time together, has become his tireless advocate, deftly brokering the extraordinary book deal we’re now celebrating.

At this point I would say, “and the rest is history,” if only that remotely resembled the truth. But the reality is that most of the story here has yet to be written. A lot of craziness is about to come Mike’s way (believe me, I’ve seen some of the book-deal deets, and this publisher has big plans for little Elly), but truly wonderful things lie ahead for him as well. This is just the beginning of an exciting new journey for Mike, and I feel privileged just to be along for the ride.

So congratulations to you, my love Mike! I can’t wait to see you achieve your dreams, to share in your upcoming adventures, and to watch the world fall in love with Elly!

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