Around the World in 50 weeks goes to New Jersey – Book Launch

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It’s around the World in 50 weeks Monday and today we spotlight a region from the USA, the State of New Jersey, in a new picture book released last week.

HIDDEN NEW JERSEY, is written by Linda J. Barth and Illustrated by Hazel Mitchell. This stunningly illustrated book gives a look into the history, sites, flora, fauna and unique facts about the state of New Jersey in the USA. Aside for a field trip, this is probably the best way to teach young children about the state and get them inspired about learning history and a love for their locality.

Linda J. Barth clearly knows and loves her native NJ. Her research must have taken a long time and she offers a captivating, fun and fascinating experience for children to learn from. I found myself immediately caught up in the fun of finding the hidden objects on each page. The amount of factual information and illustrative detail on each page almost challenges a high school history book, but oh, so much more fun! My favourite double-paged spread is about Delaware, where you need to search for: a horseshoe crab egg, East Point Lighthouse, a horseshoe crab, an eel and a teapot (Hazel, being British, just couldn’t resist slipping in the teapot!). The accompanying rhyme for these pages is:

Hungry Birds have flown a long, long way

From way down south to the Delaware bay.

They carefully land on their spindly legs

To chow down thousands of horseshoe crab eggs.

Hazel Mitchell’s fabulous illustrations could each be a painting.  They bring alive the nuggets of facts and the rhyming stanza on each page, and entice the reader to pore, observe, find and turn the page eager for the next colourful discovery. This isn’t a picture book to read to a class, but I can see kids lying in twos and threes on a library rug looking at this book for hours.

Hidden New Jersey is a history lesson bathed in beautiful art, a place to learn some common and rare facts about America’s fourth smallest state.

Hazel Mitchell, the illustrator is not native to New Jersey, nor, indeed, to the USA. She was born in the equally attractive northern county of Yorkshire in the British Isles, but appreciates the beauty of the coastline in the NE of the USA, amongst other things! I felt I wanted to share a little more with you about the illustration of this book, so I asked Hazel a few questions about developing the artwork for this project and put in a request for some extra illustrations from the book to slip in here for your delight. I shall be doing an extended interview soon with Hazel on my Wednesday Illustrator’s post.

Could you share the process in brief?

When I received the manuscript from the publisher I then went through and made written notes on what I would draw, which I sent back and we talked about. Then I went online and looked at hundreds of photos and made some initial sketches. Unfortunately there wasn’t time to visit all the places! Luckily my hubby is from NJ, so he helped :-). The sketches were approved by the publisher and then I drew the finals in pencil at about 150% larger than the finished size. Then I scanned them in at high res, and coloured them digitally in photoshop. I also had to produce the cover art, the title and verso page art and all the hidden objects (which I also had to hide). I got to choose what would be hidden, so that was fun!

Did you talk at all with the author in this process or just the art editor?

No, I worked solely with the art director.

What gave you the idea of hiding items in each illustration?

There were 2 books before this one (Hidden Ohio and Hidden Michigan, so this book followed the same theme.)

What was the greatest challenge in this book for you?

Researching all the different places! I didn’t know that NJ was SO diverse.

What was the most interesting new fact for you that you learned in the text?

I was amazed to learn that the coast of New Jersey has the most American Holly in the USA.

Do you think this has national as well as local appeal? And are there plans to do other regions?

Absolutely – all USA school children have to learn about each state as part of the curriculum, so it is totally relevant. I am sure there are more plans, but each book so far has been by a different author and illustrator, so it may not be me. I would definitely like to do Maine though! Watch this space.

                                                             The Hook
                                                                The Gateway
                                                          The Salad Bowl

Hazel can be found on her website and blog  and do view the trailerAlso readers can hookup with Hazel Mitchell on FB and Google+.

Now I know you are all keen to rush out and buy the book, but for one lucky, random commenter on this post (before Friday 10th Feb. 6:00 PM EST), Hazel will be sending you a signed copy of Hidden New Jersey. I wish Linda and Hazel great success with this vibrant, education children’s book!

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30 Responses to Around the World in 50 weeks goes to New Jersey – Book Launch

  1. What a lovely interesting post. I have never heard of the Horseshoe crab. Have visited New York only a couple of times and very briefly passed through New Jersey, oneday I hope to return. I have to say it was no surprise to me to see Hazel being honoured here, being a friend and amazing illustrator. This book by Linda and Hazel is beautiful. I love Hazel’s equisite whimsical colour and effective detail. I should be so lucky to have a book illustrated by such an illustrator… *sigh*. I look forward very much to the Wednesday post with Hazel and am so pleased she allowed us to drool over these beautiful illustrations. Thankyou Joanna.

  2. Joanna says:

    I learnt MANY new things reading this book, Diane, its a treasury of interesting facts about New Jersey, and a feast for the eyes!

  3. I have so enjoyed watching the build-up to the release of this book, with Hazel’s tantalizing posts on Facebook. It’s a joy to see more information about it, and about Hazel’s process. (And since I have family roots in Yorkshire, that’s an extra plus!)

    Thanks so much for this post today, and for giving us a glimpse into Hidden New Jersey!

  4. Read this earlier this morning on e-mail (shouldn’t’ do that) and am finally commenting. I really enjoyed the review of “Hidden New Jersey.” I really like the idea behind this series. And, I was happy to hear there was a book “Hidden Ohio.” Will check it out at the library. Hazel’s illustrations are so much fun. They certainly will engage children in looking at every detail! I certainly did. Oh, to have her as an illustrator. Beautiful work Hazel. Have read the autism book you illustrated and plan to review it some time soon — have the best parent book and I thought your book would be a perfect companion to review with it. Enjoyed the interview!

  5. Joanna says:

    I think in looking at these three illustrations, you can probably guess some of the things that Hazel hid on each page. I have pored over the pictures quite a bit the past couple of weeks, and I am still spotting new things. I do hope Hazel gets to illustrate ‘Hidden Maine’! I look forward to your review on the autism book Hazel illustrated, Pat.

  6. I really enjoy hearing how illustrators work. I think I need to look closer. I’ve never been good at finding hidden objects. I like these book series, too. Thank you Hazel for sharing your work and process. So very kind of your Hubby to provide input too. 🙂

  7. Rebekah says:

    I can’t wait to get this for my 3 year old. I love being about to teach him about our wonderful state and having fun at the same time!

  8. mark Canevaro says:

    Looks like a great kids book…this will be a great addition to Goodnight New Jersey.

  9. I have several good friends who are now living in New Jersey, I have a feeling they’d love this book! Wonderful interview, as always. And wow – the illustrations – just wow. Blown away.

  10. Greetings!

    As a native New Jerseyite I am thrilled to see such a beautiful tribute to my home state. I particularly love, the salad illustration! NJ produces 3rd in the country for cranberries and 2nd for blueberries; the latter of which are the ‘size of baseballs’ (really!) when purchased from the many roadside farm stands in the southern part of the state. Delicious!

    NJ often gets a ‘bad rap’ because the northern part of the state is highly industrial. This section of the state (affectionately termed as ‘north Jersey’) is part of the “drive-thru” down the interstate (the Turnpike), which extends from Maine to Florida. Some folks never get off the interstate to realize that the ‘Garden State’ is indeed half-filled with gorgeous pines and oak trees with a beautiful and historic shoreline.

    Besides having the third highest per-capita income in the US, NJ is the home to more scientists and engineers than anywhere in the world. Its greatest resource is its location; sandwiched between Philadelphia and New York City making it easy to travel between both locations via comfortable and affordable mass transit. Day trips into NYC for a show and dinner are common for NJ residents from all over the state. It takes about 4 hours to drive from one end to the other. I’ve done the drive from Cape May to north Jersey stopping in Atlantic City along the way.

    Just a quick correction to this blog post which states that NJ is the third largest state. It is in fact, the 4th smallest state after Rhode Island (the smallest), behind Delaware and Connecticut. California is the third largest state. 😉 But New Jerseyans like to think big!

    Looking forward to seeing the book when it is released.

    Janine Gregor
    Join me on Facebook

    • Joanna says:

      Janine, it was fun to read thoughts from someone so passionate about New Jersey. I really appreciate the correction and shall go back and alter this in the post. I want to visit for the Blueberries alone. The book was released last week and is available on Amazon.

      • So very sorry not to have realized the book launch had occurred. I’ll certainly check it out on Amazon.

        I do recommend the blueberries! When I am in the supermarket here in Florida, I always look to see where they came from on the carton and most times I do see that they are from south Jersey farms. So I buy a few!

        Thanks again for writing the book. It looks wonderful.


  11. clarbojahn says:

    Thanks so much for this delightful post. I go to the New Jersey Shore almost every summer to the ocean for a week of fun and relaxation. Yes, I want a copy for myself. lol. So much fun to have a hide and seek book about the hidden value in N.J. Can’t wait till I get my copy. 🙂

  12. Joanna says:

    Clar, I confess that I am going to comment on other pages on the blog tour to try and win a copy! 🙂

  13. clarbojahn says:

    I am so lucky to have won a copy! Thanks so much! You have made my day. I really wanted one and haven’t had the time to order it from Amazon. My address is 39919 Thomas Mill rd. Leesburg VA 20175. I hope putting my address here is good enough for I don’t know how to find your email address. Mostly I check my comments each day and hope you do too. Thanks again. Clar

  14. Pingback: Illustrator Interview with Hazel Mitchell | Miss Marple's Musings

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