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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Moonbeam Gold Medal - literally!


I am not even believing what arrived in the mail Monday! An actual MEDAL - my Gold Moonbeam Children's Book Award MEDAL. It was forwarded to me along with a lovely free-trade bracelet, stickers to put on my books, and a note from fellow pickle, Audrey Litner – the one who came up with the great tag line for A BIRD ON WATER STREET: "When the birds return to Water Street, will anyone be left to hear them sing?"
     Never at a loss for words, she also included the lovely quote:
"La reconnaissance set la memoirs du coeur." by Jean Baptiste Massieu
     I think it translates into "Recognition is the heart of memories" or some such. Does anybody have a clearer translation? Audrey?
Answer! Marcy says it means "Gratitude is the memory of the heart!
     At any rate, as if I wasn't feeing special enough!
     Having never won a medal before, I had to wear it around the house. Let me tell you, that sucker is heavy and it kept hitting my tummy. ("Heavy medal" - Ha!) I don't know how the important people do it!! It certainly won't let you forget it's there. Wowsa - what a hoot!
     THANK YOU to my fellow pickles at Little Pickle Press!!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Coloring Page Tuesday - Stocking Elf

     Elf in a stocking - is he stuffing it full of treats? I hope so!
     CLICK HERE for more Christmas coloring pages! I have Hanukkah images too - CLICK HERE. And be sure to share your creations in my gallery so I can put them in my upcoming newsletters! (Cards, kids art, and crafts are welcome!)
     Sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Please check out my books! Especially...


THE 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS IN GEORGIA! Makes a GREAT teacher gift! Click the cover to learn more!
     Don't live in Georgia? Check with your local bookseller - Sterling has a version for each state.


Monday, December 15, 2014

I'm featured on the Cybil's Blog!!!


I recently answered some questions as "Featured Blogger" for the Cybils - Children's and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Awards site. I was so honored to be nominated for this, and so appreciate the interest! CLICK HERE to go have a read!! I hope you enjoy!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Madison LOVES books!

Wouldn't it be lovely if everybody loved books as much as Madison does? What an inspiration she is! (Click the image to read the article on Vox, "If everyone loved reading as much as this 8-year-old does, the world would be better," and see the video.)

Saturday, December 13, 2014

MIX IT UP by Hervé Tullet - GIVEAWAY!

Well, I wasn't able to get Hervé Tullet on, but his new book is getting a ton of praise and deserves every drop of it! MIX IT UP! is absolutely BRILLIANT! And it's not just for kids - it's a great introduction to color and color mixing. Heck, I want to use it in my Design class at Hollins University next summer. It's that good. It's also interactive...
Remember PRESS HERE? (also by Hervé) - watch THIS VIDEO:

MIX IT UP! also has you interacting with the book in ways you never would have thought of (in France, it's called "Couleurs"):

CLICK HERE if the embedded video gives you any issues.
Truly, this is such a fresh approach to what a book can be, and presented in such a pure form - simple color! I think the man might be a genius. CLICK HERE if the video doesn't work for you.


GIVEAWAY!
Despite not getting an interview, Chronicle has agreed to give away a free copy of MIX IT UP! to one of my lucky followers. Must live in the US or Canada to win. Enter below:

Friday, December 12, 2014

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Eric Kimmel's HERSHEL AND THE HANUKKAH GOBLINS - Guest Post and Giveaway!


Some books become classics and need to be shared again and again. Such is the case with HERSHEL AND THE HANUKKAH GOBLINS written by Eric Kimmel and illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman. Trina is no longer with us, but I’m thrilled to have Mr. Kimmel here today to talk about the book…

Q. Mr. Kimmel, Hershel of Ostropol is so clever he even tricks the King of the Goblins. Tricksters fare strongly in so many classic tales (and in many of your books). Did you shape him after any in particular?
A.
I didn't have to do much shaping with Hershel. He comes fully formed. Hershel of Ostropol or Hershele Ostropolier is a traditional Jewish trickster character. He's based on a person who actually lived during the early 19th century. His character contains a number of subtle nuances. He's not just a poor guy trying to earn a living. He's a Jewish man living in Czar Nicholas I's Russia. All of Russia's czars were Jew-haters. Nicholas was one of the worst because he saw himself as a "reformer." Among his "reforms" was a program for drafting Jews into his army. Drafted soldiers served 25 years. They were as good as dead. Most never saw their homes or families again. Nicholas added an additional 6 years of service for Jewish recruits. He stuck this number at the beginning so they would go into the army at age 12. Even worse, Jewish community leaders were responsible for providing a certain number of recruits. They automatically sent off orphans and the children of the poor. If there weren't enough 12 year olds, they sent even younger children. They weren't above hiring kidnappers to fill their quotas. The Russian writer Alexander Herzen writes of encountering a convoy of 8, 9, and 10 year olds on a march down a road in winter. Even the hard-bitten sergeant was moved by their plight. He confessed to Herzen that these children were useless to the army. They should be with their mothers. Nearly all would get sick and die. What was the point?
      The point was sheer oppression. Hershel lived in a world where everything was stacked against him. If he survived, it would be through his own wits. That's exactly how he gets through those eight nights with the goblins.

Q. You have been writing children’s books for 40 years! How many books have you created in total, do you know?
A.
I recently was asked to do a count, which I hadn't done in years. I was surprised by the number. It's 106 separate titles. But they're short. And they have pictures.

Q. What drives your passion for children’s books?
A.
I was a voracious reader as a child. I still am. I was hopeless at sports. Books were my friends. I could lose myself in the world of books for hours. A great deal of that passion comes from the joy and adventure that books gave me. I want to share that with children. Secondly, I despise the way reading is taught today. We don't learn to read so we can pass tests. We learn to read so we can read books. Explain to me how you can have a reading program without a well-equipped library and a trained librarian. Most schools today think they can do it. I think they're fantasizing. It's not enough to hand a child a book. You have to hand the right book to the right child at the right time. That's what makes a reader. That's why we need teachers, librarians, and parents who know and love books themselves. Don't worry if you weren't a reader as a child. You can start now. As I used to tell my children's literature classes at Portland State, "Don't worry about doing all the reading in this class. Your problem will be doing the reading for your other classes because you'll find these books so interesting and wonderful that you won't want to read anything else." That's how I feel today.

Q. The text for HERSHEL AND THE HANUKKAH GOBLINS was copyrighted in 1985. What was the industry like back then and how has it changed?
A.
It was another world. The industry has vastly changed…and not for the good. The industry was much more stable. An editor could expect to spend her entire career working for one publisher. She could develop authors who might be with her for decades. Not every book had to be a best seller. Editors had the freedom to publish a book because of the quality of the manuscript; because it filled a need; because they saw promise in the author. Margery Cuyler was my editor for Hershel and Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock when she was at Holiday House. I wrote some of my best books with her. I followed her to four different publishers over 25 years. She was my editor at Amazon when she retired last year. I miss her terribly.
      I don't think that kind of relationship is possible these days, although there are a few exceptions. Holiday House is one. Editors acquire manuscripts. They rely on agents to do most of the editing. Their jobs hinge on acquiring books that make money. A couple of losers and they're gone. So is the author. The flip side of that is if a book is successful, the agent may offer the next manuscript to other publishers and go with the one who offers the most money. There's no loyalty and nothing long-term. The publishing industry has become like the movie industry. You're as good as your last film.
      Margery made an interesting comment when I saw her in February. I had come to New York to accept the National Jewish Book Award for Hanukkah Bear and we had a chance to get together. Margery said: "In retrospect, I don't think Harry Potter was such a blessing. We had this tiny little industry that was off in a corner. Nobody knew we were here and no one bothered us. Harry Potter proved there were vast amounts of money to be made in children's books. The people who run media companies like to make vast amounts of money. Children's books suddenly began to catch their attention. That's when our world began to change."
      I think she's right.

Q. Trina Schart Hyman illustrated this book. Did you know each other? Were you blown away by her illustrations?
A.
We knew each other in passing. We had been introduced at a reception hosted by Cricket Magazine. She was wearing a pair of antennae on her head. We became close friends after having dinner together one night at a conference. She was one of the most remarkable, wonderful people I've ever known in my life. A true artist; totally dedicated to bringing all her talent and skill to whatever project she undertook. Trina wanted to illustrate the story from the start. She grabbed it when she was art editor of Cricket Magazine. The story first appeared in Cricket in December, 1985. As Trina told me later, she was getting so tired of drawing knights and princesses. Hershel was a bit of a rogue, a welcome change, and the goblins were pure fun. She confessed that she fell a little bit in love with Hershel as she drew him.
      Was I blown away by the illustrations? Who wouldn't be? And to have Trina write to me, saying that she felt this was the best work she had done in years! That was one of the high points of my career. I seriously don't think anything else ever equalled it.
      What would Trina think of developments in publishing today if she were still alive? I can tell you: not much. She would easily have a profitable career drawing covers and interior art for endless fantasy series if she wanted to do it. She had no equal at that. She owned the brand. But Trina was not about brands. She was about art, integrity, creativity. She despised computers, digital art, and illustrators who had not mastered their craft and were cruising along on hype. Toward the end of her life she spent a lot of time painting with artist friends. They would sit in a studio and just paint. I don't know where those paintings are. I imagine Trina's daughter Katrin has them. I've seen some of them. They're scary, disturbing; not at all what you'd expect. That was her real art and what she took the most pride in.
      I could go on and on. Let's just say I was honored to have known her and to have her consider me a friend. (Although I think she liked my wife Doris better.)

Q. Are there any subjects for a book that you haven’t covered yet and feel the need to?
A.
I have a lot of stories I want to write. Unfortunately, I can't find much of a market for folk tales and story picture books for older children. Editors have told me to keep the text young and short. Aim for a reader between 3 and 6. No stories about children in foreign countries. No folk tales. That pretty much leaves me out. Margery is convinced that market will come back. I'm not so sure, but I'm willing to wait and see. Meanwhile, I'm working with smaller presses. A small book is better than no book at all.
      No matter what happens in the future, I'm fortunate in that I've had a great career and that I've written books that have given children lots of pleasure. A few, like Hershel and the Anansi stories, are finding a second and even third generation of readers. It's not how many books you write. What matters is how good they are. As I often tell children when I visit schools, Harper Lee only wrote one book in her entire life. As long as that book is To Kill A Mockingbird, you don't have to write anything else.
      I like to think I've written a couple that might almost be that good.

Thank you so much for being so candid, Mr. Kimmel. It's been an honor to have you drop by.

GIVEAWAY!
Holiday House has kindly offered to send a free copy of HERSHEL AND THE HANUKKAH GOBLINS to one of my lucky followers. Must live in the US to win - enter below.

Illustrations © 1989 by Trina Schart Hyman Used by permission of Holiday House.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Bird on Water Street is an Academics' Choice Award Winner!

Lovely things keep happening to A BIRD ON WATER STREET! I just heard that ABOWS is an Academics' Choice Award Winner! I'm so flattered! This is a review highlight:
"This thoughtful book would be perfect for my 6th grade class. I'm just about done with it and don't want it to end. Dulemba has made her characters believable, real, and enjoyable. Coppertown is a symbol for all things industry. I'd use this book to help my students learn about the pros and cons of industry as it relates to nature and family life. It could also be read during 19th century American studies as it relates well and brings the human stories into play when talking about the effects of industry on nature, family and the economy. I highly recommend this well written book!"
YAY!!!! THANK YOU!!!!!

A BIRD ON WATER STREET TEACHER'S GUIDE!
     If you're a teacher and you'd like to use A BIRD ON WATER STREET in your classroom, there is a free teacher's guide with talking points available - CLICK HERE or the image to get to it on the Little Pickle Press website.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Coloring Page Tuesday - Sleeping Mouse

     All the holiday hub-bub can just wear a little mouse right out! How are you getting in the holiday spirit?
     CLICK HERE for more Thanksgiving coloring pages! And be sure to share your creations in my gallery so I can put them in my upcoming newsletters! (Cards, kids art, and crafts are welcome!)
     Sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Please check out my books! Especially...


THE 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS IN GEORGIA! Makes a GREAT teacher gift! Click the cover to learn more!
     Don't live in Georgia? Check with your local bookseller - Sterling has a version for each state.


Monday, December 08, 2014

John C Campbell Wrap-up

My last time to teach "Creating Children's Picture Books" at the John C. Campbell Folk School (because we're moving to Scotland) could not have gone better!
     On the way up to Brasstown, North Carolina on Wednesday, I had lunch with Doris Abernathy and Dale McKay Wagner (A BIRD ON WATER STREET is dedicated to Doris), and some of their friends in Blue Ridge, Georgia. We were celebrating their birthdays which all occur around the same time, including Doris' 87th birthday on Thanksgiving! Thanks indeed! Gads, I love her silly.
     Then, on to the folk school... I had an especially inspired group of five students - the perfect size for the classroom. This was our view (that white thing on the hill is "Brasstown" in big letters like the Hollywood sign in California):

     Truly, all my students were engaged, inquisitive and highly participatory, taking my advice, and offering great advice to their fellow students too. Their manuscripts were promising and they made fantastic progress during class. It was an absolute treat for me!
     Add to that, Thursday night was wreath-making night. An enormous amount of greens and berries from all over the grounds was collected and piled up in the community room, where we were given straw wreath rounds and pins to assemble unique creations. By the end, our hands were covered with sap, lemon and lime juice and cedar. They smelled so good! They served hot chocolate and played Christmas music. What a way to get in the Christmas spirit!
     All the creations were gorgeous, and they use them to decorate the school for the holidays and for the Fireside Sale on Sunday. Here I am with one of my students and the two wreaths we created hanging above us, and then me with three of my students and more wreaths:



     Even nicer, Harold Underdown donated a copy of his latest, 2015 Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market, to become part of the permanent collection in the writing studio at John C. - the "Orchard House." Wasn't that generous of him? I hope to have him on soon to talk more about this great resource.
     Sadly, I had to miss the Fireside sale on Sunday. I needed to get home for Stan's Christmas work party Saturday night (way fun!). But I really wanted to pick up some Alpaca socks from a local vendor - Bedford Falls Alpaca Farm. I'd purchased some a few years earlier and worn them to death, so I arranged to meet him at his farm after the closing ceremony. What a gorgeous place it was, with all those fuzzy adorable alpacas everywhere! Have you discovered alpaca socks? They are like pockets of joy for your feet. SO COZY! And you can get some too!
     Then I headed to lunch with some life-long friends in Murphy (we met when Stan and I lived up in the mountains)... Hi Toni, Lisa, Deb and Lynne - love you guys! We ate at Doyle's, a restaurant with a great view of the Murphy Christmas parade - in the pouring down rain! It was still fabulous.
     All said, good-byes are hard, but I'm so grateful to have such great friends and experiences to miss!

Sunday, December 07, 2014

The Art of Richard Thompson


The Art of Richard Thompson.
Richard Thompson has been called a “cartoonists’ cartoonist.” Find out why in this warm and moving portrait.
Click the image to watch the video on Vimeo. Worth your time!

Post PiBoIdMo Guest Post


Today I head over to the Picture Book Idea Month for a post-PiBo guest blog post called "Track Ideas and Let Them Simmer." It's a quick summary of how I keep track of ideas and keep them working for me. A peek into my process.
     Other authors and illustrators will be talking all week - you may want to read them too. They are:
     Dec 1 - Vanessa Brantley-Newton
     Dec 2 - Cece Bell
     Dec 3 - Timothy Young
     Dec 4 - Michele Wells
     Dec 5 - Laura Gehl
     Dec 6 - Carol Gordon Ekster
     Dec 7 - Me
     Dec 8 - Laura Zarrin
     Dec 9 - Deb Lund
     So go to the Picture Book Idea Month blog and git reading!

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Jennifer K. Mann's TWO SPECKLED EGGS - interview and giveaway!


I am thrilled to share TWO SPECKLED EGGS by debut author and illustrator (on the same book), Jennifer K. Mann. I adore this book. Who hasn’t had a Lyla Browning in their life (or been a Lyla Browning) - that girl who was a little too smart, a little too geeky, perhaps a little too creative? I know many writers and illustrators who can relate to that! Jennifer is visiting today to answer some questions about her new book…

Q. First, Jennifer, CONGRATULATIONS! This is your first book as author/illustrator and only your second picture book (the first you illustrated - Turkey Tot by George Shannon). How’s it feel?
A.
It feels amazing! I’ve dreamed about being published for a long time, and now to see my dreams and my effort in the form of a book, in bookstores, in kids’ and grown ups’ hands---I think every author/illustrator knows the feeling of that first book. The excitement that comes with each step toward publication is so much fun, like being a kid again!

Q. Your path into children’s books certainly hasn’t been direct. How did this passion take hold of you?
A.
I’ve always loved to draw, and that is why I became an architect. But something was missing for me in that kind of drawing, and I didn’t realize it until I had kids and started reading beautiful picture books with them. I knew then that I wanted to make that kind of art!

Q. The story of TWO SPECKLED EGGS feels so familiar. Is it based on true experiences?
A.
Yes! I have two photos of my own 7th birthday party. I am all dressed up, and so are my friends. In one photo we are all squealing with delight at someone’s performance during a party game, but I can also remember feeling unhappy with that part of that party—girls out of control! In another, we are all seated on the sofa. There is a girl I don’t recognize—who is she? Had I invited her? How did she fit in with the rest of the girls? I remember too that I sometimes felt alone at my own birthday parties. It seems that birthday parties rarely go just the way the birthday girl, or boy, wants them to.


Q. How long have you been creating art and illustrating?
A.
I have been an artist my whole life, but more of a dabbler than anything. I have been a printmaker since college, and I also love to paint in miniature (mostly birds---not sure why) on little collaged scraps of paper. (You can have a look at my tiny collage bird paintings on my website). Even while I worked as an architect, I took art classes on the side, and secretly wished I had gone to art school instead of architecture school. When I recognized my desire to make books for children, I shifted gears and really focused on learning how to make narrative art that would delight kids and adults.


Q. Your journey will inspire so many of my readers. How did you break into the children’s book market?
A.
The short response is: desire, diligence, grit, patience, and a little bit of luck! I think it helped that I developed a thick skin as an architect!
      The long response is: I happened to mention my early interest in picture books to just the right person in about 2004, and he gave me the best advice ever: join SCBWI! So I did. And I enrolled in a terrific UW extension course in illustrating for children taught by the wonderful and talented Brenda Guiberson. I had some early ideas, worked on them lot, sent them out to editors, and received many kind but firm rejections. (but most were personal rejections, which I learned was code for “Keep Trying!”) I also took advantage of every SCBWI workshop and critique and portfolio show that I could, while studying very closely stacks and stacks of picture books. I analyzed my favorites, and tried to figure out just how those masters did what they did. Finally, after a lot of hard work, I had a dummy that felt like a book! That dummy helped me win the Grand Prize in the SCBWI Western Washington Portfolio Show, and then the SCBWI Don Freeman Award. I took that dummy to the portfolio display at the SCBWI New York conference, where it got some nice attention. Soon after, I signed with my wonderful agent—Holly McGee at Pippin Properties. My story and dummy went down a bit of a winding path and remained unpublished for a few years. But in the meantime I illustrated TURKEY TOT by beloved author George Shannon, published by Holiday House, and I wrote and illustrated TWO SPECKLED EGGS! And now, I am so pleased to say that that dummy, the first one that felt like a book, will be published this spring--my second picture book as author and illustrator. It is called I WILL NEVER GET A STAR ON MRS BENSON’S BLACKBOARD, and will be published June, 2015, by Candlewick Press.

Q. What is your illustration method?
A.
For these first three books, I developed a technique that allowed me to achieve the look of collage, without the permanence of glue and paper—because I don’t like commitment, I guess!
      So, here’s roughly how I do it: I don’t necessarily start with thumbnails, but I tend to go back and forth between thumbnails and full size sketches—I have to switch scales depending on the problem I am solving. Once I have worked out sketches of all of my spreads, I draw the individual elements of a spread in ink or pencil smaller than full scale so that I am forced to stay nice and loose. I scan them, enlarge them to full size, and print them on watercolor paper. Then I paint each little bit, and scan it all back into Photoshop. This is when I pretend I am using scissors and glue, but I use Photoshop to cut out each element in a spread, and collage it all back together, moving elements around, changing scale and composition until it feels right. Sometimes I incorporate photographs, or textures that I have scanned or created in Photoshop. Ultimately I delivered digital files for my final art. However—I am working on a new project with Candlewick that demands a somewhat lighter hand and more tender style, and it just may be traditional pencil and paint—we’ll see!




Q. How are you celebrating the release of TWO SPECKLED EGGS?
A.
I’ve had not one but two terrific book launch parties—one here on Bainbridge Island at Eagle Harbor Book Company, and the other in Seattle at Secret Garden Books. Suzanne at Secret Garden made the most delicious Silver and Gold Cake (Ginger’s favorite) and my friends gladly put on their party hats and pecked at the cake for me, just like Ginger and Lyla. I made a Silver and Gold Cake for the Eagle Harbor Books party, but it wasn’t nearly as scrumptious as Suzanne’s. And of course I made sure that all kids who came to my book parties took home some malted milk eggs—not as ubiquitous these days as they were when I was a child!

      Right now, Two Speckled Eggs is being celebrated in an exhibit of children’s book artists at the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art. My work is hanging alongside that of Julie Paschkis, Nikki McClure, and Woodleigh Marx Hubbard. What an honor to be featured alongside those amazing artists in this beautiful new museum!
      By the way, I thought I had invented the Silver and Gold Cake, but if you look it up, it exists outside of my kitchen! But the recipes I found had no coconut or pineapple—a travesty. So if you want to try to make Ginger’s favorite Silver and Gold Cake, find a great recipe for a light and fluffy pineapple layer cake, and then make Seven Minute Icing (my childhood favorite) with coconut in it, and Voila! (This is Jennifer's good luck mug.)

Q. I wish you much continued success and look forward to seeing more from you! What's next?
A.
I WILL NEVER GET A STAR ON MRS BENSON’S BLACKBOARD, will publish this June. This is the story of Rose, who’s a little dreamy and rather messy. She’s also an artist, and she finds it a little tough to get on her teacher’s right side.
      And, I am currently working on a new book with Candlewick, tentatively titled SAM AND JUMP. It is due out early spring, 2016. It’s a sweet and tender story of a little boy who leaves his beloved stuffed bunny behind on the beach one day. I’m excited to take a new approach to the illustrations for this book, much less Photoshop, more pencil and paint, I hope!

GIVEAWAY!
Candlewick has kindly agreed to send a free copy of TWO SPECKLED EGGS to one of my lucky followers. Must live in the US to win. Enter below:

TWO SPECKLED EGGS. Copyright © 2014 by Jennifer Mann. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Friday Linky List - December 5, 2014

At Brain Pickings: The 13 Best Children's, Illustrated, and Picture Books of 2013

At PW's ShelfTalker, Elizabeth Bluemle shares "Hatbox Holiday"

At The Atlantic: 'Voice' Isn't the Point of Writing

From the Decatur Patch: Helen Ruffin, Creator of Georgia Reading Bowl, Dies. Celebrate the life of one who instilled a passion for reading in our state's children!

From PWs ShelfTalker, Josie Leavitt writes Should Adults Read YA? (The answer is YES!)

LOVE these shoes! (From Modcloth)

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Mike Wohnoutka's LITTLE PUPPY AND THE BIG GREEN MONSTER - Interview and Giveaway!


Mike Wohnoutka has a new book out and I’m thrilled to have him on dulemba.com today. His latest is called LITTLE PUPPY AND THE BIG GREEN MONSTER and it will melt your heart as surely as the little puppy melts the monster’s heart. I’ve always loved Mike’s artwork anyhow - especially in JACK’S HOUSE, MAMA’S LITTLE DUCKLING, and THE 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS IN MINNESOTA (I did the Georgia one). Let’s get a peek at his process...

Q. Mike, I love to study your work. I think I see you working with under paintings in scarlet or other colors. Am I seeing right? What is your method?
A.
Yes, I always start my paintings with an orange/sepia tone under painting. This helps me figure out the lighting situation. It’s much easier to do this by using all the values of just one color. This technique also adds continuity and warmth to the overall painting.


Q. Your use of light is always so warm and friendly - how do approach that?
A.
Thank you. I’ve always struggled with color. I was told once by a fellow artist to approach painting thinking about values rather than colors. This approach has helped immensely and has made me a more confident painter. It keeps me thinking about what’s being hit by light and what’s not. This gives the painting a lot of volume and I think it gives a warm and friendly feeling too.

Q. I also admire how you switch up the viewers point of view. Again, how do you approach that?
A.
I took a film history class in college. I loved learning about Alfred Hitchcock’s process of creating films. He was one of the first directors to change the point of view of the camera to add tension and create suspense. When I work on the sketches for a book I like to think of myself holding a camera moving around the scene looking for the best angle and view to show each scene in the story. I’m also thinking about zooming in and out.

Q. LITTLE PUPPY AND THE BIG GREEN MONSTER is such a sweet story - what inspired it?
A.
After illustrating 20 books by other authors this is my first book as both illustrator and author. It’s hard to say exactly where the idea for this book came from, because it evolved through many, many different versions over five years. But there is no doubt that watching my two young kids navigate their way through the maze of making new friends has influenced the story. Also, I’ve realized since finishing it, that it may have been somewhat inspired by my inattentive father!


Q. I have to tell you, the puppy reminds me a little bit of my dog, Bernie - an overgrown beagle or short foxhound - we’re not sure. But with the same markings. Is Little Puppy a real dog in your world?
A.
My first roommate out of college had a dog named Ryder. She was a very small basset hound. Everyone thought she was a beagle mix. The look of the puppy was inspired by her, but definitely not her personality. She was a very mellow dog. She definitely didn’t have the energy the Puppy in the book has.

Q. You’ve got quite the bibliography of books at this point. Do you work with a particular publishing house?
A.
I do not work with one particular publishing house. I’ve been working consistently with four different houses. I would be happy to stick with just one publisher, but when I’m asked to illustrate a book, my decision to take on the project has more to do with the story rather than the house.


Q. How do you advertise yourself (or do you need to)?
A.
I have a website (www.mikewohnoutka.com). When I was first starting out I would bombard publishers with samples of my work. I would also go to every SCBWI conference. I don’t do those things nearly as much any more. One thing I do, which I feel is extremely helpful, is I try to go to New York as often as I can. Meeting with publishers and putting a face to your work, making those personal connections, is a wonderful way to promote yourself. My first trip to New York in 2006, to show my portfolio, was one of the best things I ever did for my career.

Q. How are you celebrating LITTLE PUPPY AND THE BIG GREEN MONSTER?
A.
I had a launch party at the Red Balloon Bookshop in St. Paul, MN. I also, painted a 10 foot tall monster on their window. (Click the image to see a larger version in a new window.) It was a roaring good time.

Q. What’s next in the pipeline for you?
A.
I recently finished the illustrations for the second book that I am the author of. It’s a story that was inspired by my son, Franklin, starting school and how difficult it was, not so much for him, but for me! It’s titled DAD’S FIRST DAY and is scheduled to be published Fall 2015 by Bloomsbury. Also, the MOO! board book is also coming out on November 4th!

Thanks so much for stopping by!


GIVEAWAY!
Holiday House has kindly agreed to give one free copy of LITTLE PUPPY AND THE BIG GREEN MONSTER to one of my lucky followers. Must live in the US to win - enter below:

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