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When I began sketches for the illustrations of Angela Johnson’s euphoric poem A Girl Like Me, I spent a lot of time thinking about hats. The cowgirl hat mentioned in the second verse of the poem was easy enough to visualize, but what of the 

A Girl Like Me
Text © 2004 Angela Johnson Illustrations © 2020 Nina Crews • Millbrook Press • ISBN:9781541557772

A Girl Like Me

A Girl Like Me  I am so pleased to have illustrated this wonderful poem by Coretta Scott King and MacArthur Prize winner Angela Johnson. A celebration of the power of girls that encourages them to embrace their dreams and more! Text © 2004 Angela Johnson Illustrations 

Mystery Beans Make Magical Squash!

Mystery Beans Make Magical Squash!

Back in 2006, I came across a short article in The Park Slope Courier about a young boy who planted some mysterious beans. The article went on to describe how the boy and his father had come across a seed packet in a local hardware store, but they had not been able to identify the plant. There was a picture of the fourth grader holding up what looked like a four and a half foot long string bean. That and the headline were enough to inspire me to write my own version of Jack and the Beanstalk.

Park Slope's Own Jack and the Beanstalk

The book came out five years later in 2011. In the years since, I have shared the newspaper clipping with school groups up and down the East Coast without knowing the identity of the plant. A couple of weeks ago while visiting PS41 in the Bronx,  the mystery was solved. As I prepared to begin my presentation, I showed the school librarian, Mrs. Mazzanti, the newspaper clipping and she exclaimed. “It’s a cucuzza!” Latin name: Lagenaria siceraria.

It is a squash, not a bean and originated in Italy. Mrs. M kindly printed out some photographs of her cucuzza plant, the pollination process and some of her kitchen preparations with the vegetable. She told me it tastes like a mild zucchini and makes a delicious soup. Now to track down some seeds of my own and get planting!

cucuzza 2 cucuzza 1 cucuzza

Cucuzzas also have their own website! Click here to see more.

One Hot Summer Day
© Nina Crews 1995, Greenwillow Books, HarperCollins, ISBN:9780688133931

One Hot Summer Day

 • Junior Library Guild Selection 1995 It is summer and it is HOT. Dogs pant. Women carry umbrellas for the shade. But the running, dancing narrator is busy. Drawing. Teasing her shadow. Eating Popsicles. Here is a perfect book for all seasons: If you are 

A good book for a hot summer day
Hot Summer Day ©Nina Crews 1995, HarperCollins Publishers

A good book for a hot summer day

August in New York City – “Dogs pant. Hydrants are open. Women carry umbrellas for the shade.”  Those words were written over twenty years ago during another hot, sticky New York summer and come from my very first picture book, One Hot Summer Day – now in print for 

BELOW – paperback edition!
© Nina Crews 2006 Nina Crews Studio Paperback Edition

BELOW – paperback edition!

BELOW is now available as a print-on-demand paperback!

Last fall, I got the news that one of my favorite books, BELOW, was going out of print. I’ve had other books go out of print before and I have always felt disappointed, but rarely surprised. This time I was surprised. BELOW had been named an ALA Notable book and a Junior Library Guild selection. Sales were never big, but steady, and the book was always a hit when I read it aloud to school groups. I was also in the midst of facilitating a big order for a school visit when I learned that no reprints were forthcoming.
Below jacket

My editor encouraged me to look into keeping the book available through print-on-demand services – she worked with other authors who were doing so. I knew self publishing was getting easier and better. I did some searching for a service that offered good quality and reasonable pricing. Soon, I was ready to take action. The original art was finished digitally, so there was no need to scan the existing book as is sometimes done with reprints. I did need to digitally rebuild the layouts and the type, but overall it was pretty simple to create new production files for print. The paperback looks great. Good color, crisp type and very much like the hardcover original.

BELOW can now be ordered retail through Barnes and Noble; Amazon and wholesale through the Ingram Book Group.

Buy a copy or two!!

The Neighborhood Sing-Along
©Nina Crews 2011 • Greenwillow Books HarperCollins • ISBN:9780061850639

The Neighborhood Sing-Along

• Bank Street Children’s Book Committee – Building Blocks Selection for Children Five & Under Playground songs and classroom songs, silly songs and sweet songs, wake–up songs and bedtime songs…  Nina Crews brings her energetic style of illustration to this collection of thirty-four perennial favorites. 

Liar, Liar!

Liar, Liar!

©Nina Crews from The Neighborhood Sing-Along 2011 I have just returned from Sheboygan Wisconsin. Spent a day talking about my books at the Mead Public Library and leading an art workshop at the Kohler Art Center. Spent two evenings talking shop with other authors and 

The Neighborhood Mother Goose
©Nina Crews, Greenwillow Books, HarperCollins Publishers ISBN:9780060515737

The Neighborhood Mother Goose

• ALA Notable Book 2005
• Notable Children’s Book in the Language Arts (NCTE)
• Texas Library Association 2×2 Reading List 2005
• New York Public Library 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing 2004
• CCBC (Cooperative Children’s Book Council) Choice 2004
• Parenting Magazine Books of the Year 2004

Every day, children the world over sing, shout, and celebrate Mother Goose rhymes. And now there’s a new reason to cheer: Nina Crews has added her own remarkable, jazzy style of illustration to a collection of forty-one favorite verses.Whether it’s Jack jumping over a candlestick (atop a cupcake), Georgie Porgie kissing the girls (at the playground), or a fine lady riding a white horse (on the carousel), this exuberant treasury is sure to be read and enjoyed over and over again.

BUY THIS BOOK!

Climbing the Beanstalk

Climbing the Beanstalk

Jack and the Beanstalk © Nina Crews. Published by Christy Ottaviano Books, Henry Holt Books for Young Readers. I am so pleased that my retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk will be published next week! I started thinking about the story way back in 2004