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Sunday, April 19, 2015

James Ransome's Watercolor Method

I recently stumbled across this video by James Ransome creating the cover illustration for his book LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS. I shared it with a student, but I think the world should see!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Friday Linky List - April 17, 2015

From The Guardian: Growing up I thought Filipinos weren't allowed to be in books - by Candy Gourlay

From Publishers Weekly: Bologna 2015: The Hunt for Something 'Special'

From IrishCentral: Why the real story of the Irish Famine is not taught in U.S. schools - interesting and relevant!

From Futurebook: Are publishers getting the #authorsay message? Interesting.

Here's more on the topic at Grumbling, but not quitting: what authors really think of publishers

From The New York Times (and linked by well, everybody): Her Stinging Critiques Propel Young Adult Best Sellers. Guess whose slush pile is about to get a little deeper...

From Shelf Awareness: Sunday on NPR's Weekend Edition: Chantel Acevedo, author of The Distant Marvels (Sunday, April 12th for your archive search)

From School Library Journal: Despite Citywide Cuts, West Philadelphia Alliance for Children Opens 18th School Library Wow - just wow.

From BuzzFeed (via PW): For National Poetry Month: 48 of The Most Beautiful Lines of Poetry

From PW ShelfTalker: Coloring Books Are All the Rage - Of course I'm interested!

From The New York Times: When the World Went Pop

From The Guardian: Improbably libraries: unusual places to bury your head in a book

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Ashley Wolff's COMPOST STEW!

I'm thrilled to have back my friend and fellow professor at Hollins University, Ashley Wolff. Her wonderfully environmental book, COMPOST STEW, has just been released in paperback, and she dropped by to talk about it's creation. Take it away Ashley!
COMPOST STEW has just released in paperback in time for Earth Day 2015! CLICK HERE!
In order to heighten the "recycle, reduce, and reuse" message of this alphabet book, I used as many actual recycled objects in the collage artwork as I could. I was able to include real coffee grounds, tea bags, eggshells, nut shells, insects, seaweed, newspaper, mineral powder, and laundry lint.

I dressed the children in origami clothing made from the pages of the Old Farmer's Almanac along with the produce pages from a local grocery store flyer. Luckily I snagged 14 copies of that flyer, since I needed the same section showing narrow, green stripes again and again!
My favorite page is the last one, where Mary Mckenna Siddal's wonderful verse gives down to earth composting advice, and my border shows a snippet of every element that went into this Compost Stew! (Click to see a larger version in a new window.)
     Ashley Wolff has illustrated and written dozens of books. She is always trying out new media if she thinks it will serve the story. Collage was perfect for Compost Stew. Read more about her at

     Here's a photo of Ashley on the beach with seaweed. She's always so creative, one of her fave things to do is to collect little things that wash up on shore and make Beach Faces out of them!

And I love this last Beach Face with her sweetie, Tula. (R.I.P.)

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Coloring Page Tuesday - Ibis

     "Save Our Wetlands." In anticipation of Earth Day, Mr. Ibis has a lovely long beak, perfect for writing letters to his Congressman about being kind to his wetland home.
     Sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Please check out my books! Especially...
my debut novel, A BIRD ON WATER STREET - winner of ten literary awards and honors. Click the cover to learn more!
     When the birds return to Water Street, will anyone be left to hear them sing? A miner's strike allows green and growing things to return to the Red Hills, but that same strike may force residents to seek new homes and livelihoods elsewhere. Follow the story of Jack Hicks as he struggles to hold onto everything he loves most.
     I create my coloring pages for teachers, librarians, booksellers, and parents to enjoy for free with their children, but you can also purchase rights to an image for commercial use, please contact me. If you have questions about usage, please visit my Angel Policy page.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Game of Chairs

Sesame Street has created a parody on the Game of Thrones. If you are a fan (of GOT), you'll catch all kinds of silly references to the series. Who will win the Game of Chairs? Joffrey, Daenerys, Tyrion or Cersei? Ned Stark oversees the contest... Read more about it at Cult of Mac or click the image to watch on YouTube:

Friday, April 10, 2015

Friday Linky List - April 10, 2015

From Write For Kids: How To Figure Out What Editors *Really* Want by Jane Choate

From School Library Journal: 5 Things Libraries Can Learn from Starbucks and Lego

From Publishers Weekly: The Case for Libraries - When it comes to books, libraries and publishers should be in it together, argues a leading marketing expert.

From The Guardian: 100 Great Children's Picture Books - Highlights from 1922-2011

From Read It Forward (via Shelf Awareness): 9 Beautiful Libraries with the Best Reading Rooms

From The Hollywood Reporter (via Shelf Awareness): George R. R. Martin Developing New HBO Series - centering on a TV writer in 1949, "Captain Cosmos"

From USA Today: Maya Angelou stamp quote isn't hers? 89-year-old "Children's author Joan Walsh Anglund told The Washington Post Monday night that she originated the sentence... It appears on page 15 of her book of poems "A Cup of Sun" published in 1967." OMG.

From Digg (via my hubby): How To Draw Like Disney's Best Animators

What's Your Story Time Fail? Check out Obama's "Bee incident" at 100 Scope Notes

From Publishing Talk: Lucy Coats, Contributing Editor to the Children's Publishing issue of Publishing Talk Magazine, reports back from this year's Bologna children's Book Fair - quite thorough!

At Bazaar: Why I Wear The Exact Same Thing To Work Everyday

Thursday, April 09, 2015


GUEST POST by Harold Underdown

     I started working in children’s book publishing in the late 1980’s. Back in the day, there was no Internet with a million websites competing for our attention, no email, no blogs, no YouTube videos. It was a challenge for aspiring children’s book writers and illustrators to find out about the publishers to which they might want to send their manuscripts or art samples. On the bright side, publishers were still open to unsolicited submissions and researching agents wasn’t an additional necessity. To find information about publishers, writers and illustrators had to send a SASE for submission guidelines. They could also send away for their catalog or perhaps pick one up at a conference. The SCBWI compiled a limited market guide. There was little else.
      And there was Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market, an annual burden for young assistants like me, because we were the ones who were charged with filling out the survey they sent out to publishers in order to have comprehensive and current information. But for the writers and illustrators, it was a god-send—updated information on a wide variety of publishers, both book and magazine, as well as features, conferences, and more.
      Today, the challenge for artists and writers isn’t gathering information, it’s filtering the over-abundant information available via the Internet. Submission guidelines and more are available from publisher websites; so are PDFs of catalogs. Databases such as Publishers Marketplace track all kinds of information, including agents’ reports on their deals. The obsessed can track down editors and agents in interviews and personal blogs, dig out nuggets from the discussions on the the excellent "Blue Boards" on the SCBWI site, do 140-character online pitching on Twitter via hashtags… Where do you stop?
      Fortunately, Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market is still around to help illustrators and authors make sense of it all. I have been working with them for the past year to make CWIM better, and I might be biased by the relationship, but I had been recommending the book for years and years before that on my own. Yes, you can hunt down tons of information online, but why take the time when it’s compiled for you in one place? I’ve got some more information on it on my website:

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Earth Day is coming!

And you know it means the world to me! Each Earth Day I make my Earth Day images (like the one to the right) available to you and your civic groups for t-shirts to wear while doing your volunteer clean-up activities, handouts, or posters to drum up attention for the important day. You can buy my items through my Zazzle Store. Or you can download the coloring pages and use them as you see fit. All I ask in return is that you share some photos with me of the images being used. It's my way of giving back and I love to know that I'm helping out in some small way!

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Coloring Page Tuesday - Squirrel ABC

     Little squirrel is learning to read - how exciting!
     Sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Please check out my books! Especially...
my debut novel, A BIRD ON WATER STREET - winner of ten literary awards and honors. Click the cover to learn more!
     When the birds return to Water Street, will anyone be left to hear them sing? A miner's strike allows green and growing things to return to the Red Hills, but that same strike may force residents to seek new homes and livelihoods elsewhere. Follow the story of Jack Hicks as he struggles to hold onto everything he loves most.
     I create my coloring pages for teachers, librarians, booksellers, and parents to enjoy for free with their children, but you can also purchase rights to an image for commercial use, please contact me. If you have questions about usage, please visit my Angel Policy page.

Monday, April 06, 2015

Support Our Libraries!

These days libraries aren't just about books, they are about endless resources. Common Craft recently released a video about what our modern libraries do... (Click the image to see the video at School Library Journal.)

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Happy Easter!!

Want to fill your Easter basket with something other than chocolate? Download some of my FREE Easter coloring pages - click here. Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 04, 2015

SCBWI Crystal Kite Member Choice Awards

Voting is now open for the SCBWI Crystal Kite Member Choice Awards. This is a prestigious honor for books, voted on by their local peers. You must be an SCBWI member to vote - and the books available for your vote depend on the region with which you affiliate.
     A BIRD ON WATER STREET is votable in the Southern Breeze region of SCBWI. If you're a member, I sure hope you'll consider voting for my book. Although there are some other amazing titles in there, like... CURSES AND SMOKE: A BOOK OF POMPEII and HADES SPEAKS - both by my friend Vicky Alvear Shecter. (Click the titles to read her interviews.) AW, NUTS! - a debut picture book by Rob McClurkan - who stopped by my blog to talk about it. WANDERING WILDEBEEST - a book of poems by Irene Latham, which I featured recently. DEATH BY TOILET PAPER by Donna Gephart, who also stopped by recently. I AM JAZZ - the transgender picture book that received so much press - by the very young Jessica Herthel. Lori Nichols debut picture book, which has led to a busy career - MAPLE. And SEVEN STORIES UP by Laurel Snyder.
     In other words, there are several books I'll be rooting for. Whichever your favorite - I hope you'll go VOTE!!

Friday, April 03, 2015

Friday Linky List - April 3, 2015

From My Modern Met: 16-Year-Old's Wildly Fruity Self-Portraits - awesome!

From The Atlantic: Three Classic Fairy Tales Examined Through the Lens of Architecture

At Bologna Children's Book Fair spurs new comic-related book news

From Debbie Ridpath Ohi at Kidlit Artists: 10 Things I've Learned Since Getting My First Picture Book Contract

Libraries Without Borders has created The Ideas Box: A Portable Multi-Media Kit for Refugee and Vulnerable Populations. Very cool!

From BuzzFeed: 31 Quotes From Children's Books That Will Inspire You At Any Age

At Publishers Weekly - Bologna 2015: Early Impressions from a Busy, Sunny Fair

At LitReactor (via PW): Festival to Premiere Library Made Entirely of Books

From Gizmodo (via PW): Pin-Sized Book Reminds Us of Life's Little Pleasures

From Fast Company: Graphic Design Legend Massimo Vignelli

David Fickling Books (UK) is open to unsolicited submissions for a short time

At Flavorwire (via PW): The New Censorship: Clean Reader and the Dystopian Future of Reading

From Hypable (via PW): Lionsgate announces 'Hunger Games' attractions coming to Dubai Theme Park - huh?

From the Scottish Book Trust: 10 Beautiful Bunny Books for Easter

From BBC: Culture: The 11 Greatest Children's Books

From The Telegraph (via PW): Six novelists who didn't publish until they were 40

Thursday, April 02, 2015

International Children's Book Day!

Is today! From the IBBY site:
Since 1967, on or around Hans Christian Andersen's birthday, 2 April, International Children's Book Day (ICBD) is celebrated to inspire a love of reading and to call attention to children's books.

Each year a different National Section of IBBY has the opportunity to be the international sponsor of ICBD. It decides upon a theme and invites a prominent author from the host country to write a message to the children of the world and a well-known illustrator to design a poster. These materials are used in different ways to promote books and reading. Many IBBY Sections promote ICBD through the media and organize activities in schools and public libraries. Often ICBD is linked to celebrations around children's books and other special events that may include encounters with authors and illustrators, writing competitions or announcements of book awards.

The sponsor for International Children's Book Day for 2015 is UAEBBY.
CLICK HERE to learn more about it.

Kevan Atteberry's BUNNIES - Guest Post

I am thrilled to have my friend, Kevan Atteberry on today to talk about his new picture book, BUNNIES!!! (Yes, that's three exclamation points.) I featured his book trailer on Sunday, but Kevan is here to tell us more about the story behind the story. Just in time for Easter! Take it away Kevan...
     Creating BUNNIES!!! was either magical or lucky. I'd been illustrating other people's picture books for years but I'd yet to sell a book that I had penned.
           For the past several years I've been creating a monster-a-day for the month of October. It started out as an exercise in creativity. It was challenging to come up with something completely from scratch every day. I posted them daily on Facebook so I could be held accountable. And boy was I held accountable.
     In 2012, when October wound down, I began participating in PiBoIdMo—an organized challenge to come up with one new picture book idea a day for the month of November. I was thumbing through images of mine at one point during the month and landed on this one.
     It was a monster I created and posted on October 20 of that year. It was a particular favorite of mine and the comments (about 100) were split on whether the monster was going to eat the bunnies or if he was excited to see them. And that got me thinking it might make a good story, so I added it to my list. Then in mid December, I pulled out my PiBoIdMo list, and began writing Bunnies!!! It came very quickly, I wrote it in no more than an hour, storyboarded it in a couple more hours and over the next couple of days, developed the characters and dummied it. The monster character was considerably different than the inspiring illustration, and considerably different than what he would eventually look like in the book. Here is a couple looks at the way he developed into the monster in the book. His name is Declan.
     When I showed the dummy to my critique group, they were initially speechless. They thought it was ready to go out the door right then and there. But we tweaked it some and a week or so later when I brought it back with the minor revisions—no more than two or three words—I felt it was ready to send out. I landed my amazing agent with this book and she had multiple publishers interested in it right away. It sold shortly in a two-book deal. That's why I call it lucky or magical. The time it took to write it, dummy it, critique it, get an agent, and sell it was only about six or seven weeks. Unfortunately, it set a pretty high bench mark going forward.
      And some working sketches of a page in the book. There are 3 versions from the 6 or 7 dummies and the finished piece.
     One technique I incorporated in creating the illustrations for BUNNIES!!! was to create all the characters in one file at the same time. This helped in maintaining the consistency of the character throughout the book.
     This file was about 36" tall.
      And here's s a look at my messy studio where fun stuff happens.
Kevan is an illustrator/writer living in the Seattle area. He has been drawing since he was knee-high to a crayon. He has designed and illustrated many things including award-winning children's books. His biggest claim to fame is creating Clippy the paperclip helper in Microsoft Office which still annoys millions of people every day. Visit him at


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