A Place at the Table…

Tea Party from ELLA SARAH GETS DRESSED

I am honored to be the first to write a post for our group blog, and I have chosen to begin by saying a bit about our group and its history.

This critique group originally grew out of a Children’s Book class taught at the Seattle School of Visual Concepts in 1994. Meg Lippert was also in the group at that point, but Julie Larios left in 2000, and I was then asked to join. Since that time there have been quite a few celebratory events around the table; Julie Paschkis has made it onto the New York Times Best Illustrated Books list a few times, Laura Kvasnosky has won a Geisel Award, and I have received a Caldecott Honor. Meg left us in 2010 to follow other pursuits and we miss her dearly. Julie Larios has rejoined the group and we are moving on.

We meet once a month, taking turns hosting. We start by laying out or reading whatever current project we are working on, and follow with updates on any back-burner items. All items are open for comments and input.

We have an implicit understanding that it’s okay to say we don’t like something as long as we articulate why. After all, one shouldn’t join a critique group expecting to avoid criticism. And, it’s okay to like something too, as long as we articulate why. We have lengthy discussions about writing and picture-making. Then we break for lunch.

To be in a monthly critique group is a good way to discipline yourself to keep your nose to the Kid-Lit grindstone. To be part of a group that knows your strengths and your weaknesses, and that those two categories are often interchangeable, is invaluable. To be working with people whom you admire, respect and trust, is something I am eternally grateful for. The fact that we all are good cooks is just darned good luck.

Here’s to beautiful and satisfying books and food–and sharing them around the table!

–Margaret Chodos-Irvine

7 responses to “A Place at the Table…

  1. thanks for sharing this. I am currently creating a children’s book with a friend. We are at the stage of looking for a publisher and as this is our first venture into the exciting world of children’s literature we are a little daunted by the process. I think it would help us greatly to join a group to share our thoughts and ideas and get feedback.

    Look forward to more posts🙂

  2. Yay! Thank you all for starting this blog. I look forward to following along. Cheers!

  3. Congratulations on your exciting new blog! I’m looking forward to keeping in touch through your posts–discovering along with you what’s working well for all of you as you continue launching new book projects, as well as how you troubleshoot whatever glitches cross your paths. So lovely to join with you again around the virtual table! Meg

  4. Lovely! Makes me think of my daughter’s favorite book Dancing In The Kitchen and mine One Monday Morning.

  5. I’m so excited about your new blog, gals! I’ll be looking forward to your posts.🙂

  6. When we sat down to dine together in Yashiro our family adopted the Japanese phrase, “itadakimasu,” for ” I (gratefully) receive.” So I am so happy to be able to read this invitation to join your conversation.

  7. The blog is great, glad to be following along now. Thanks for the talk at the SCBWI meeting the other night! I didn’t submit, but it was very helpful and insightful to hear your thoughts and critiques which we all can apply to our own work.

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