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Jim Carrey – “How Roland Rolls” Jim Carrey’s book, “How Roland Rolls,” taught kids the lesson of humanity and won an award in 2013.

Funnyman Jim Carrey made the good times roll with the children’s book “How Roland Rolls,” published in 2013.

The book tells the story of a wave named Roland who thinks he is just a wave and is afraid that his life will be over the day he hits the beach shore.

Teaching kids a valuable lesson of humanity and a sense of belonging, the book won the Gelett Burgess Children’s Book Award in 2013.

Pharrell Williams turned his hit song “Happy” into a children’s book.

Pharrell Williams put smiles on kids’ faces everywhere when he turned his hit song “Happy” into a children’s book.

But the producer and songwriter isn’t the first celebrity to pen books for young readers.

Here are six others who have written for children:

Whoopi Goldberg – “Sugar Plum Ballerinas” Whoopi Goldberg released a book series for children inspired by her friends and family.

“The View” co-host Whoopi Goldberg penned a children’s book series called “Sugar Plum Ballerinas” in 2008.

Inspired by her own friends and family, the series tells the tale of six little girls from different backgrounds that attend a ballet school in Harlem.

The personal book series includes the names of her daughter, granddaughter and Hollywood friends, S. Epatha Merkerson and Debbie Allen.

LL Cool J – “And the Winner Is…” Rapper LL Cool J wanted to teach kids a valuable life lesson with his book titled “And the Winner Is…”

Ladies Love Cool James wanted the kids to love him when he penned a children’s book part of the series Hip Kid Hop titled “And the Winner Is…” in 2002.

The book, published by Scholastic, teaches the lesson of having good sportsmanship to third- to fifth-graders while with the story of a young basketball player who learns the importance of both winning and losing gracefully.

The book received rave reviews and gives a little extra treat to readers – a CD of original recordings by the Queens-born rapper.

Madonna – “The English Roses”

Madonna’s children’s book, “The English Roses,” was a huge success in 100 different countries.

International superstar Madonna added author to her extensive resume when she published “The English Roses” in 2003.

Illustrated by Jeffrey Fulvimari, the picture book follows the lives of five London school girls who become friends after getting over their differences.

The book was a huge success and was published in more than 100 countries in 30 different languages.

Will Smith – “Just the Two of Us” Like Pharrell, Will Smith turned his hit song “Just the Two of Us” into a book for kids.

Will Smith’s “Just the Two of Us” became an anthem for parents when it was released in 2005.

Smith used lyrics from his hit song to create a children’s book that its publisher, Scholastic, called an “ode to fatherhood” — painting positive images of a bond between father and son.

Artist and illustrator Kadir Nelson’s vibrant paintings can be found in the book for PreK to third grade readers.

President Barack Obama – “Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters”

President Barack Obama found the time to write a children’s book back in 2010.

On top of holding meetings with world leaders and running the United States, President Barack Obama still managed to find time to write a children’s book, “Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters,” in 2010.

Illustrator Loren Long used the likeness of First daughters, Malia and Sasha – and First dog, Bo – as the cover art for the book.

The publisher, Knoph Book for Young Readers, described the book as “a moving tribute of thirteen groundbreaking American and the ideals that have shaped our nation.”

sburt@nydailynews.com

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Jim Carrey is by far, one of the most versatile and talented actors of our time — effortlessly transitioning from comedic to dramatic roles without missing a beat.  As a grandfather to a three year old boy, Carrey now has another amazing credit to add to his already impressive resume…children’s book author.Jim Carrey children's book

Carrey is the author of How Roland Rolls, a beautifully illustrated story about a wave named Roland who contemplates his own mortality.  What might seem a heavy topic for kids, Carrey has found a way to make the concept relatable and comforting for kids and adults.  Carrey’s daughter Jane, a musician, singer and songwriter, collaborated with her dad, writing several songs for How Roland Rolls ebook which will be released this November.

I recently got the chance to speak with Carrey while he was on the set of Dumb and Dumber To, and he was as funny, friendly and inspiring as ever.  Take a look…

You’ve accomplished so much in your career and now you have a new first — children’s book author.  How long has this been a dream of yours and what was the inspiration behind How Roland Rolls?

Jim Carrey:  I’ve always loved relating to kids.  I have one of those personalities that kids gravitate towards.  I always think of myself as a man child to a certain extent. This story came to me because I had a lot of these heavy thoughts when I was a kid.  I had a lot of fears about mortality and where people were going because my mom was sick.  I never really got those questions answered but I was always asking the questions.    When I was growing up, there were two things going on.  I wanted to make my mom feel better because she wasn’t feeling well a lot of the time.  And my father was very funny and very childlike and really a wonderful man and I remember that moment where I looked up at him in the living room when he held court.  And he was one of the funniest guys on the earth.  Everyone would walk out of my house saying “Oh that Percy.  He’s insane.  He’s just wonderful,” and then I took over and we were like a tag team.

I was two people – I was entertaining people in the living room and trying to find out the meaning of life in my bedroom.  And kids don’t get credit for having those thoughts and they do.   They really do wonder about creation and so it was my way of relating to them on that level.  And also, it’s not just for kids.  I have certain beliefs about what we are that there’s a larger self.  That makes you feel a lot more secure than being a part of a tiny individual fighting the universe.

With this book, you are collaborating with your daughter, when did you sense with Jane that she had was incredibly talented too?

Jim Carrey:   Jane is very subtle.  She is at the very end of the spectrum from me style wise but she’s very much like me in many, many ways. As far as her style goes, I used to drive around in the car with her and I’d play this game where I’d try to come up with the harmonies for songs and I’d sing out loud and I was pretty out there and she would sing very very quietly in the passenger seat and you could hardly hear her.  And then one day I just realized, I heard her a little bit and I went, “Wow.”  She was still a little kid and this was a very well formed kind of musical lick she was doing and I was going “Wow, she has actual moves, she’s an actual singer.”  When she was in her early teens, she started writing these songs and they were so deep and so lyrically interesting and the finesse in her work and her songwriting, her melody writing is incredible.  She’s an amazing talent and it makes me so proud because these things keep coming up from generation to generation.

You are the master of expressions can you tell me how you were able to share your zany expressions that were featured in the book with illustrator Rob Nason?

Jim Carrey:  Well we were on Skype a lot.  I did the initial drawings and then every couple of days we’d get on Skype and I’d say he needs to have more expression and more joy.  It’s a thing I call “Boing.”  People get confused when I say “boing.”  Boing can be the holy spirit.  Boing is the force. It’s enthusiasm.  It’s that energy that makes you bigger than life and a geyser of joy.  The only way to explain it to him was to show him the expression myself. It all comes from a feeling.  Rob’s paintings are amazing. His images are cinematic.  They are incredible and they are way beyond what I expected.  I’m so proud of it.  Now that the book has come out, all the kids are putting their funny faces up on the website and not only the kids, but the adults too.  That’s the fun part too.

The book is dedicated to your grandson Jackson.  What did he think of the book?

Jim Carrey:  He loved it so much.  I watched him have the moment that I had with my dad.  When I was in the studio with Jane recording the songs.  She was holding him on her lap and I was being Roland and I was singing the songs which will all be on the ebook in November and I saw him on her lap looking at me with the funniest look on his face like “Oh my gosh.  Grandpa is crazy.”  But I felt that moment.  And sure enough a week and a half later, he heard “Keep on Rollin’” once and Jane suddenly heard him singing upstairs and he had his plastic guitar and he sang the whole song.  We got it on videotape. He knew the whole song.  And he had been bitten.  It was wonderful.

How Roland Rolls recently won the Gillett Burgess Award for excellence in children’s books.  How exciting is it as a first time author to recognized by such a prestigious organization?

Jim Carrey:  It’s such an honor.  It’s been one of the great thrills of my life. This whole experience really.  The greatest part about it is knowing that people are going to sit down at the end of the day with their kids to read a story is just a thrill beyond what I can tell you.  And the kids will love the character and look at the ocean next time and go “There’s Roland.”

Visit the How Roland Rolls website to find out more about Jim Carrey and his latest role…children’s book author!

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Summer is a wonderful time to explore your community, spend time together as a family, and discover new books you didn’t have time to read earlier in the year. The Gelett Burgess Center provides our annual list of award-winning titles in an effort to help parents, teachers and librarians navigate the thousands of books published each year, getting to the best books straight away.

Here are some fun resources from this year’s winners

1. Tyler Makes Pancakes – By Tyler Florence

Tyler Florence takes food seriously, and he thinks both you and your children should know where the food you are putting in your mouth come from. That’s why he created the Tyler Makes series where each book explores the ingredients we use to make the food we love. Check out this video with Tyler and award-winning illustrator Craig Fraizer as they discuss the new book series.

2. Eric Delabarre’s Saltwater Taffy

Eric Delabarre has written a swashbuckling children’s adventure story called Saltwater Taffy. First of all, the book makes for perfect summer reading, so get your copy today! In addition, the author is sponsoring an essay contest inspiring kids to get their creative juices flowing with ideas for the sequel! Check out the contest here.

3. Summer is for Discovering Nature

Gelett Burgess Award-winning author John Fusco wrote Little Monk and the Mantis, a beautiful book about a boy, a bug, and the birth of a Kung Fu legend. The stunning illustrations by Patrick Lugo make us wonder just what do you and your kids know about the amazing Praying Mantis? There are many resources about mantids available, but first check out author John Fusco’s video here.

Enjoy your summer!

Your Friends at the Gelett Burgess Center

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The Gelett Burgess Center realizes the incredible role books play in a child’s development, and this is why we devote our time and energy to finding amazing titles each year to share with Librarians, Educators, Bookstores and Parents. The books we select represent a talent pool that is inspired to explore new boundaries in children’s literature. We know this is true because incredible children’s books live and breathe truth, and they are the ones that stay with children throughout their entire lives.

Do you remember the first book that touched you in some way? Recall those memories and let that energy guide you as you share books with the current generation.  Whatever role you play in a child’s life, express your love of books with them any way you can. Continue searching for the children’s titles that touch you, even as an adult, and let those be the titles you share.

It is with great pleasure we announce the winners of the Gelett Burgess Center, Book of the Year recipients. Many hours have been spent interviewing readers, reviewing new releases, and sifting through bookshelves in order to find the perfect match for our organization. We recognize the creative energy, outstanding talent, and the collaborative nature of creating children’s books. It is with this understanding we offer our thanks and congratulations to the teams responsible for producing this year’s list of winners.

First Place: Snutt the Ift: A Small but Significant Chapter in the Life of the Universe by Helen Ward

Taking readers from a desperately lonely place to the soaring heights of wonder and excitement, Snutt the Ift provides unparalleled emotion and depth of character. Helen Ward’s beautiful story is partnered with sensational illustrations that invite readers to discover a strange new world. The Gelett Burgess Center is honored to name this outstanding children’s picture book as our Book of the Year.- view more

Honor: Little Monk and the Mantis: A Bug, A Boy, and the Birth of a Kung Fu Legend by John Fusco

Little Monk and the Mantis invites children to experience the peaceful teachings at the heart of Martial Arts. With careful attention to detail, John Fusco’s passion for eastern philosophy and historical teachings comes shining through in this tale of perseverance and self-discovery. Children will be enthralled by the masterful storytelling and energetic illustrations that transports readers to another time and place. – view more

Honor: Red Knit Cap Girl by Naoko Stoop

With illustrations remarkable in their innovation and simplicity, Naoko Stoop’s Red Knit Cap Girl offers readers an opportunity to open their eyes and marvel at life’s mysteries. Childlike curiosity and sense of adventure are the true protagonists of this story, weaving children though a tale of discovery and natural beauty. Highly recommended for the child who always asks, “why?” – view more


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The Gelett Burgess Center is pleased to announce the selected titles for our 2012 Gelett Burgess Children’s Book Award season. Special care and attention was taken this year in selecting titles from a wide spectrum of the publishing community. Librarians, Educators, Bookstores and Parents will find titles published by large multinational publishing conglomerates, as well as rural small presses. It is our deeply felt conviction that a quality children’s book needn’t be created out of fame and fortune, but a love for the creative process.

Please take a moment to view our 2012 selections, and stay tuned for our Book of the Year awards which will be announced July 9th, 2012.

View the 2012 Gelett Burgess Children’s Book Award winning titles for 2012 here.

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Each year the Gelett Burgess Center produces a comprehensive list of what we deem the most unique children’s books on the market. With over 40 classifications, books are selected in 4 distinct groups: Lifestyle, Arts and Letters, Society and Culture, and Education. This list is promoted throughout the year as publishers and authors participate in activities, providing articles for the Center website and newsletter, and providing lessons and activity content based on the books.

This year’s list proves to be quite an eclectic selection of multi-cultural, informative and creative titles by independent and mainstream publishing companies. For a complete list, go to the foundation’s website at www.GelettBurgessCenter.org.

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