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Friday, July 29, 2016

Friday Linky List - 29 July 2016

From Ursula K. Le Guin's Book View Café: The Big Book of Earthsea - reveal of the upcoming book illustrated by Charles Vess

From The Atlantci: Where Books Are All But Nonexistent (book deserts)

From Wheeler Studio: Tell Me a Tattoo Story

From Nevada Today: Books in the home as important as parents' education level

From The Telegraph: Lauren Child's 14 favourite children's books

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Faculty Catch Up: Ruth Sanderson

Today I'm thrilled to have renowned author/illustrator, and Co-Director of the Writing and Illustrating Children's Books MFA and Certificate programs at Hollins University, Ruth Sanderson at dulemba.com. She has a fantastic new book to share...

THE GOLDEN KEY
by Ruth Sanderson

      Reading "The Golden Key" close to forty years ago instilled in me a profound desire to some day create pictures that illuminated this evocative text. Over the years, when people have asked, “If there was one book you’d like to illustrate, what would it be?” —my answer has always been "The Golden Key" by George MacDonald. I loved the story, and the version I had was illustrated by Maurice Sendak with beautiful, dream-like pen and ink pictures. There were only 6 plates in the book, however, and I wanted to do a fully illustrated version.
     After I became a working author/illustrator I tried to edit down the story to fit a picture book format, but it didn’t feel right. The story is simply too long and complex for a picture book. So my "dream project" was put on the shelf for thirty years.            
     In 2007 with Brian Selznick's Invention of Hugo Cabret I became aware that artists were challenging the standard format of books for children. A few years later when thinking wistfully about how The Golden Key could absolutely never be made into a picture book in this climate of shorter and shorter texts, it occurred to me that this very long story might be easily broken into chapters, as it alternates between the two characters' points of view. I also felt that 8-12 was a more suitable age group for this unusual story than that of a younger picture book audience.
     In contemplating the style and medium to use, I felt that scratchboard would be perfect to convey the story's mythic quality and dramatic light and dark imagery. In my spare time between other book projects In 2011 I started to create some of the key scenes that I wanted to include in the story. My favorite scene is Tangle descending the stairway into the earth, and I always felt this was like Persephone descending into Hades.
      I split the story into 9 chapters and created a dummy that paged out to around 224 pages, carefully planning room for over 45 illustrations. Some are wordless spreads, some are single pages, and some are vignettes that wrap around the text. I wanted to create the look of a fully illustrated novel. It is really a very long picture book for an older audience.
     One thing that will set my version apart is the fact that, as a picture book illustrator, I decided to add elements that were not expressly stated in the text, that would “expand” the story and add an interesting subtext. This subtext was created as I mused on the object and meaning of the golden key itself and the fact that MacDonald places the key in Fairyland. I have framed the story with wordless pictures, one before the text of the story starts and one right after it ends. I have always been intrigued by the fact that the golden key seems to magically appear at the base of a rainbow in Fairyland. I imagined that perhaps a fairy might be put in charge of placing it there. And perhaps that fairy might arrange for a particular person to see the rainbow and seek the key. Or perhaps in "flitting from place to place" lest anyone should find the key, she notices a boy with a spark of desire for something beyond our normal human grasp.
     Therefore, in the first illustration, before the text begins, the creatures in Fairyland watch the boy as he listens to his great-aunt's stories. One fairy is sitting on a tree stump with the golden key. I imagined her observing his spark of interest in the key.
      After showing a close-up of this conversation between Mossy and his great-aunt at the start of the text, I added another wordless spread with the fairy flying off with the key, implying that she was going to hide it for the boy to find.
      And sure enough, he could not resist dashing into Fairyland that evening when he sees the rainbow, a "grand sight, burning away there in silence, with its gorgeous, its lovely, its delicate colors, each distinct, all combining."
                 At the end of the story, in the picture where Mossy and Tangle climb into the rainbow in the distance, the fairy flies off with the key in the foreground, indicating that their story is over, but another story is about to begin. The final wordless illustration shows the fairy bringing the key back to the base of the rainbow in the forest, looking back toward the reader—an invitation for the next person to seek the key.
                 George MacDonald considered Fairyland to be a symbol of the imagination, and he invited each reader to interpret his stories after his/her own sensibilities. I invite readers to interpret my pictures in the same light. For me, imagination is the Golden Key.            

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Book Characters Blooming at Hollins

A treat here at Hollins University every summer is how children's book characters pop up everywhere. It's the invention of Ashley Wolff (one of our faculty), and she keeps making new ones, so you never know who you might run into. Like...
Ferdinand

Olivia

Madeleine

Miss Rumphius

Wilbur
and more - like Tinkerbell, Pippi Longstocking, Minna, the Very Hungry Caterpillar, etc...! Clifford gives you the full idea of how these fit into the beautiful landscape here at Hollins. He has a prime position on the quad:

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Coloring Page Tuesdays - Reading Bench

     It's time for summer reading. Read, read, read everywhere you go. It's a contagious act.
     CLICK HERE for more coloring pages!
     CLICK HERE to 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 six literary awards. 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, July 25, 2016

Francelia Butler Conference

Every year at Hollins University, students put on the Francelia Butler conference to celebrate the woman who made the world take children's books seriously. It's a one-day conference with visiting scholars, academic and creative readings by students, and this year - the first awarding of the Margaret Wise Brown Award for Best Picture Book, which went to Phil Bildner for MARVELOUS CORNELIUS.
Although my favorite part of his acceptance speech was when he shared this fabulous graphic: Teach/Learn. I always say teaching is learning!
Each year a theme is chosen to decorate the conference. This year's theme was "Stranger at the Door" - which led to some wildly creative decorations. Teachers - pay attention!


The Hogwarts door was especially creative - just some cardboard squares and VOILA!

Doors were everywhere!
Even the podium was decorated as a door - to a Hobbit Hole!
Each year there's an auction to raise money for future events. I snagged an original linocut by Ashley Wolff - woot! (Not a print - the actual linocut!)

And each year I listen to the speakers while I draw custom thank-you and congratulations notes for friends, faculty, and students. Here are some of this year's batch.
You may see some of these again as coloring pages...
     Even nicer this year was the more conscious inclusion of our illustrators. Awards were given and the gallery show was impressive. We are so proud of our students here at Hollins. They do a great job!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

VIDEO: David Zinn

I love these public art pieces by David Zinn! Go have a gander - click the image to watch on YouTube.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

More horses at Hollins

One of the highlights of having my friends Vicky and Aliya visit me at Hollins, was sharing the horses with them. The barn sits at the high point of the University - with the most amazing view.
We first went by on Friday to pet fuzzy noses out in the field...
and in the stable. Aliya and Vicky were able to get up close and personal with Tucker.

Then we went back on Saturday. This time, I pulled Holiday out of his stall and they actually got to brush him. I've shared with you how much I love grooming horses. (I could care less about riding them.) It was so nice to be able to share my personal form of meditation with my friends!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Faculty Catch Up: Ashley Wolff

Ashley Wolff teaches Creating Picture Books for Children here at Hollins University in the MFA in Writing and Illustrating Children's Books and Certificate in Children's Book Illustration programs. And I'm happy to share she had a new book come out this year while we were apart - IN THE CANYON written by Liz Garton Scanlon. Today, Ashley dropped by to share her creative journey with us...

Welcome to the Grand Canyon
by Ashley Wolff
​     One the “Seven Natural Wonders of the World”
      It’s about 270 miles long, up to 18 miles wide and a mile deep, Its walls contain rock layers that reveal a timeline of Earth’s history.
     To make In The Canyon as good as it could be, I had to explore the Grand Canyon. I took my excellent and intrepid little sister and in we went!
​ from RIM to RIVER…
​ and back!
      The main character of In the Canyon, written by Liz Garton Scanlon, speaks in the 1st person voice. She begins her narration like this:
​ “Here’s a map, some boots, a pack, a walking stick, a sandy track.”
​ I always enjoy working with a model and I found a lovely girl in San Francisco named Willa.
I spent a few hours with Willa taking pictures, and then used those to draw from while illustrating the book.
     She gazes at the reader from the jacket, inviting you to join her In the Canyon.
      As soon as you dip below the rim of the canyon you enter a vast, deep bowl that has no direct route to the bottom. The trails are constantly zig zagging down the steep walls. Occasionally you can spy the river, way down deep.
      My sister Peri, seen from a few switchbacks above, with many more to go. The Colorado river, bright green, is crossed by 2 bridges. One is visible here.
      ​If it is a cool spring morning on the rim, it is full, hot summer at river level. Along the way are blooming cacti and yucca, birds, lizards and curious squirrels.
      ​I can't get enough shots of the blossoming Beavertails.
​ “Here’s a footstep, dusty red, another one and more ahead.”
      Signs like this one are a regular sight. To do this rim to river to rim hike one must be very fit and prepared for a lot of heat and exertion.
      Some people choose to travel by mule. Mules are chosen from Tennessee and Missouri. They are used for pack supplies to Phantom Ranch and pack mail out of the canyon and later promoted to trail mules.
      I used a photo of a family, gathered under an overhang, as inspiration for this illustration.

      ​“Now here’s a tiny slice of shade, a yummy lunch, some lemonade. And a lizard, still as sand, his head all speckled, body tan.”
      ​Finally, we're at river level, where the deep shade around Phantom Ranch is most welcoming. Time to recharge and load up on water and salty snacks for the hike back out. Peri and I made it back to the rim by nightfall, a 16 mile roundtrip.
      ​But the child in In the Canyon is luckier. She gets to spend the night, camping by the river.
      “Here’s the dark and here’s the shine, and here’s the moon—it’s like it’s mine. To tuck inside me way down deep, Grand and wild, mine to keep."
      I'll come back to the Canyon someday, no doubt with enough overconfidence to descend to the bottom and back in one day as I did with Peri.
      After all, I have what it takes: "a map, some boots, a pack, a walking stick, a sandy track.”

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