My New Office

Like many of you, I am now working from home. Certainly, this is nothing new for me! But my new work space is. We have a lovely balcony in our wee flat and it has become program central!

VIDEO: I Will Survive

If you're a teacher, and you've had to suddenly move all your classes online like I have, this is worth your time!
(I had to wait a few days for the internet to be able to handle loading the video, but I'm glad I kept trying!)

Friday Links List and Illustrators' Treehouse News - 27 March 2020

From The Conversation: Why children’s books that teach diversity are more important than ever and Why It's Time to Take Children's Books Seriously

Perry Nodelman is sharing his Essays about Children's Literature for free online!

From Ohio State U: Rudine Sims Bishop: 'Mother' of multicultural children's literature

From We Are Teachers: The Big List of Children’s Authors Doing Online Read Alouds & Activities

In times like these, I wish we had something like The Society of Authors in the US: The SoA is the UK trade union for 11,000 writers, illustrators and literary translators, at all stages of their careers. We've been advising individuals and speaking out for the profession since 1884.

From Brightly: Bookish Ways to Keep Kids Entertained

From The Independent: All the rage: Why we need angry girls in children’s books more than ever

From YouTube: Authors reading their books aloud!

From BookRiot: Dolly Parton's Imagination Library

Audible has a ton of free audiobooks available!

From SLJ: Publishers Adapt Policies to Help Educators

From PW: Coronavirus Updates: Impact on Children's Books Links to lots of free resources!

From Fantasy Glasgow: Nicholas Stuart Gray, Down in the Cellar (1961)

From CGSociety: Chaos and Humor Working From Home

From Cynsations: Guest Post: Mark Mitchell on Linear Perspective in Illustration IMPORTANT READ!

From CGSociety: Announcing the Winners of the Andromeda Design Contest - GREAT images!

Do you know about Krita? (A Photoshop-like crowd-sourced project)

Do you know about Blender? (An open-source 3D program)

From Children's March Newsletter with publisher interviews

From ABC: Forgotten Mary Poppins illustrator finally recognized after international search reveals rare original drawings

From Muddy Colors:
The Three-Headed Gryphon by Justin Gerard
Ron Lemen on Retooling for the Future
Greg Ruth on Art in the Age of Quarantine

From Hazel Terry's The Art Room Plant: Concertina Hole Books II

From Winthrop University: Preparing for Remote Learning

From Publishers Weekly Children's Bookshelf:
From Bookish: Virtual Learning and Engagement Resources for Educators and Parents

From the NYT: Scientists Identify 69 Drugs to Test Against the Coronavirus


I have been a fan of Tiny T. Rex since the first book, so am thrilled to finally have the illustrator, Jay Fleck here to talk about the second book in this hit series, Tiny T. Rex and the Very Dark Dark!
e: What was your creative process/medium for creating the just right little Tiny T. Rex character, can you walk us through it?
I think I came up with the name "Tiny T. Rex" before I even first drew the character. I seem to have a knack for drawing things that look cute and the name was catchy. So I took out a pencil and drew a little t-rex with a big head and eyes, with a little body and of course tiny arms. I tried to keep the shapes pretty simple with nice, pleasing lines and gave Tiny an endearing look that would make people smile. Then I took that initial pencil sketch and refined it digitally.
e: What was your path to publication?
I created the character and my agent loved it. I drew up a mock book cover that she incorporated into a book proposal that she sent out to publishers. As the project moved further along I was then paired up with an author, Jonathan, and he wrote a couple of different stories based on my Tiny illustrations. Chronicle really liked Tiny and signed us to a two-book deal.
e: Is there a unique or funny story behind the creation of Tiny T. Rex?
When I originally came up with Tiny T. Rex I actually envisioned a big group of tiny t-rexes with little backpacks parachuting from the sky. Something about that image, strange and unexpected but also super cute, it was just interesting in my mind. I wanted to make a book around the concept of tiny t-rexes parachuting to earth but I don't think there would have been any interest from publishers.
e: What do you think makes an illustration magical, what I call "Heart Art” - the sort that makes a reader want to come back to look again and again?
To me "Heart Art" would be anything that a reader can connect to on a personal level. Tiny might make someone smile - a pretty big connection in and of itself. Or it might go deeper, they might see themselves in Tiny's big personality. The way Tiny keeps at something, the grand plans, desire to help others, or just the way Tiny's eyebrows turn upward in an endearing and hopeful way. Any connection a reader has to the characters or story, a hook that draws them in and makes them come back, that would be "Heart Art".
e: How do you advertise yourself (or do you)?
I post on social media quite a bit. I also have work posted on third-party, print on demand sites that sell my art prints. Over the last couple of years I've started attending art fests, which is a really satisfying way to interact with people on a more personal level.
e: What is your favorite or most challenging part of being a creator?
It can be challenging to create something, a little piece of you, and put it out there for the public to scrutinize. I try to just be happy with my own work and not worry too much about how it will be received. If I feel secure in what I'm doing, in what I'm creating, it shows in the quality of the final product. I have to trust my instincts.
e: Is there something in particular about Tiny T. Rex you hope readers will take away with them, perhaps something that isn’t immediately obvious?
I think it's pretty universal that TINY is cute with the big bobblehead and little body, and I'm so happy that that alone makes people happy, but there's also a larger message to the character and stories that hopefully people pick up. Sure, Tiny's very sweet and huggable but there's something to say behind that adorable facade.
e: What are you working on next or what would be your dream project?
As cheesy as it may sound I feel like everything that I've been able to do since I started my illustration career 5-6 years ago has been a dream project. I was a computer programmer that had a very abrupt career change. It was all very surreal and sudden, and even now feels a bit like a dream.

Coloring Page Tuesday - Social Distancing

     Try some fun solutions to social distancing - and stay well!
CLICK HERE for more coloring pages.
     Remember, I create my coloring pages to draw your attention to my books! For instance, I'm celebrating the new illustrated (by me) edition of A BIRD ON WATER STREET! My debut novel won me "Georgia Author of the Year!"
Booklist said it's "A book deserving of a wide readership, recommended for all libraries."
If my news and images add value to your life, won't you please
Just love this one image? Consider a one-time donation...

     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.

Bringing the outside in

With being stuck inside so much right now, it seems only fitting to bring some of the beautiful outside in right now. Flowers make me happy. I hope they make you happy too!

VIDEO: Neil Diamond sings Wash Your Hands!

Neil looks GREAT! And he's sending such a great message, with one of his most unforgettable songs! Click the image to go have a listen on Twitter.

VIDEO: Happy Cows!

This will put a smile on your face! According to Cow Signals, "65% of Dutch cows graze in the summer. Many tourist join the first 'coming out'. Happy cows!"

Glencairn Gardens

Saturday, my friend Paula and I went for a walk around Glencairn Gardens.
We met at Fountain Park, did air-hugs from six feet away and walked with a considerable distance between us the whole way. And boy were we Chatty Cathies! You'd think we hadn't spoken to another person in weeks. Feels that way! At any rate, the azaleas are in bloom and this is why I moved back to the south...

There were a good number of people at the gardens, all keeping a safe distance from each other.
Although, the turtles certainly didn't care about social distancing.

There was a group of women who had obviously gathered for a 'social distancing party'... their pop up chairs were six feet apart and they were definitely looking at the good side of things, dancing and being silly. It made me happy to see them! (Kinda wish I had introduced myself!)
Truly, the gardens are at their peak right now.

I'm glad I didn't miss them!

Friday Links List and Illustrators' Treehouse News - 20 March 2020

From Nicola Morgan: Write it down – your diary will be valuable (and could win prizes!)

From The Bookseller: Shortlists for CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals revealed

From PW: How Kids' Lit Is Responding to the Coronavirus and
Authors Launch Digital Children's Book Festival

From Shelf Awareness: Amazon Prioritizing 'High-Demand' Items, Hiring 100,000 Workers

From The Bookseller: French publishers bring in measures to help indie bookshops

From Patreon: Decameron Project is creating communities and writing stories

From the LA Times: Stuck at home with kids? Amy Adams and other celebrities will read you a story

From Muddy Colors:::
What Now? Create! and
What Color it That?

From Intagram's Deathburger:: Neon Rising for free The year is 2020, the world recovers from the TPAW! (Toilet Paper Atomic Wars) and Confinement is Mandatory. Entertainment is a precious resource... no more:. DOWNLOAD THIS FREE ONLINE GRAPHIC NOVEL!

From PW: The Fanatic: Their free Graphic Novels newsletter

From CommArts: The Rise of Social Entrepreneurship

From the BBC: Will this be how we do make-up in the future?

From Reycraft Books: They are looking for submissions from underrepresented communities

From the Society of ILlustrators: Women in Comics (Currently closed to the public, but will hopefully open again soon!)

From The Art Room Plant: Concertina hole books - positively brilliant!

Jessica Ciccolone

From Twitter: Here's a great thread about doing your PhD VIVA remotely!

From The State of South Carolina: Covid-19 Educational Materials

From Humanity in Action: Here's an interesting webinar series that has to do with our local Catawba nation: Rights and Resistance: the Ongoing Fight for Indigenous Sovereignty

A high-school student created this up-to-date Coronavirus data tracker

From Twitter: South Carolina school buses are being equipped to become wi-fi hot spots for students who live out in the country

Guillaume Perreault's SLEEP, SHEEP!

Hi Guillame, Your publicist sent me a copy of Sleep, Sheep! and I just adored it! Sometimes you just need a silly read-aloud and this book absolutely fits the bill! (Guillaume visits all the way from Gatineau, Canada!)
e: What was your creative process/medium for Sleep, Sheep!, can you walk us through it?
Sleep, Sheep! felt like a bedtime story for me, so I wanted to create a look which embodied calm and softness yet being funny and witty. I opted for a hands-on aproch to get this soft look I was looking for. Pencil came to my mind since i had just finished another book with that medium a couple of months before. It's a great simple tool to create a cozy atmosphere! The grain of the pencil, the paper, the boldness or subtle traits of a line as well as the ocasional mistake or smudge gives a pencil drawing such life. A digital illustration, while I like and use them a lot, would not have given justice to the flavor and tone of the book. The colors, however, were applied digitaly. This was an artistic choice as well as a time saver since I am VERY picky with my color choices! The tones of mint, yellow, green and red-ish present althrough the book again empasis on this soft and calm look I tried to acheive. But as you can see I had so much fun with the facial expression, composition of the illustrations and body language of the characters, this breaks a bit the zen look of the book and jolt It with life and funny situations.
e: Is there a unique or funny story behind the creation of Sleep, Sheep!?
Well, during the sheep drawing session I was having a bit of a lack of inspiration and I did'nt want my sheeps to be all similar or bland. So I contacted a couple of my buddys and just asked them to name me a random piece of clothing, a job, a disguise, whatever come to their mind and I used it to draw my sheeps! So I ended up with a scuba-diver sheep, a Jimmy Hendrix sheep, a bowl hat sheep, a scraf sheep and so on! I actually really enjoy to spark up my work with silly idea from my entourage!

e: Fabulous! What do you think makes an illustration magical, what I call "Heart Art” - the sort that makes a reader want to come back to look again and again?
I think art that has heart in it speaks for itselft. I mean, when you feel the illustrator had fun and truly commited to the piece you just know it, and that is simply what a good illustration, or any piece of art for that matter, is. And by commited I dont mean working sweat and tear on a piece. That might be the case for some artist but for my own experience when I giggle while I am drawing and everything seams easy and fluid on a drawing session, well, I know this is a good piece. You can tell when an illustrator did'nt really enjoy himself, wasnt in a good mood or maybe could'nt work as he really wanted. And that's true too if you feel the artist worked ''too'' hard on something, that's harder to describe but it's just something you feel. So, I would wrap up with feeling the excitement or fun beind the work and feeling the illustration felt right to the artist.
e: I so agree! How do you advertise yourself (or do you)?
I dont really advertise my work. I have of course a website, but that is mainly an easy way to show my work to potential client. Instagram and facebook are good ways to promote... but then again I would say that with all of the paid content and flood of distraction in there it's quite hard to get your message across. I usually use it as a way to announce a new book, show a work in progress or basicly for fun. If you put too much effort on those things you end up with less time to actually get the work done. I do however get some work from editor or creative director which tumble into my work of those platfom. So, I would'nt say it's useless, you just have to find your own balance or the social media platforms.
e: What is your favorite or most challenging part of being a creator?
The most challenging part for me is the lack of supervision I would say. I am my own boss, of course my clients and editor provide some sort of supervision, but this still leaves me to plan my own schedule and make sure I get things done on time. I dont have anyone who really tells me to get to work, so I constantly have to push myself and avoid wasting my time which is really really easy to do when you have no supervision, believe me! Answering email, getting back to client and overall managing the business side of things is also a pretty big challenge but you get used to it and find ways to deal with it. Apart from that I cant really complain; creating a book meant for children is such a privilege! Knowing you take some part in their education, personal life, or plainly entertaining or mezmerazing them is awesome!
e: Is there something in particular about Sleep, Sheep! that you hope readers will take away with them, perhaps something that isn’t immediately obvious?
There isnt something really specific I would say... but I just hope they enjoy the book! I mean, have fun with it, find it funny, point out silly details and crack a smile once in a while. I think everyone deserves to relax and enjoy themself and that is somthing I am to acheive with all of my work even if the subject might be harsh or serious, I always find a way to squeze in a bit of humour.
e: What are you working on next or what would be your dream project?
I am currently creating my third book of my graphic novel serie for kids The Space Postman. Le facteur de l'espace, in it's original language published by La Pastèque. For those who dont know, the books are about the story of Bob, a space delivery man which is quite clumsy and not-so-adventurous I would say. Things never go according to plan with Bob and even the simplest delivery poses quite a lot of chanllenge when you are in space! This next chapter should be done by 2021 and talks about some of the challenges of communication and human (or alien!) interaction.
Thanks so much!