VIDEO: Black Lives Matter

This is a powerful short film that everyone should see. The creators were featured in CommArts HERE. As they say "Set to Michael Kiwanuka’s song “Black Man In A White World,” this short film urges everyone to keep the spirit of the Black Lives Matter movement alive." and:
Background: At first, our aim was to target anybody not speaking out against racism. But as time passed, we noticed a drop in people showing up to protests, and people posting regular content on social media again. We were even reading articles about corporations and influencers hopping on the Black Lives Matter bandwagon while it was still “relevant.” That’s when we finessed our end line to be “Join the movement, not the moment.” To speak directly at people taking their foot off the gas pedal. We wanted to light a fire under people to keep fighting as hard as we have been for the last three weeks. Our goal was to show people, especially White people, that as much as we want to believe equality came in 1964, it’s far from the truth. We want people to confront their privilege, understand it and do something about it. Silence is violence.
Click the image below to watch at the CommArts website, and tell me if it doesn't give you shivers. Join the movement, not the moment!

A Walk Along the River

One of the things that has been lacking in my life during this busy online teaching and PhD studies, is nature. So, the other day, Stan and I headed down to the Riverwalk - a lovely path that winds along the Catawba River...
I had been there once or twice before with friends, but Stan hadn't seen it yet.
I find it ironic that I come across thistles here in South Carolina. It reminds us of our Scotland home.
The woods are a bit like an enchanted forest too.
The path is usually pretty busy with families and doggies, but wasn't too bad when we went. (Masks are now required in our city, although we didn't see very many.)
We actually found a spot that meandered down to the water with a wee little beach. It was too tempting - we stripped off our shoes and went wading. OMG, it felt so good! Here's Stan...
Afterwards, and still barefoot, we found a quiet bench in the shade where I shot this quick video. Because part of what makes this whole trip so wonderful is the sound of rushing water. Click the image below to go visit on Youtube:

Friday Links List and Illustrators' Treehouse News - 10 July 2020

From SCBWI: FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC: Sticks and Stones and the Stories we Tell Ten BIPOC authors and illustrators discuss how they have used the negative expereince of racism to fuel their artistic and includsive initiative at on July 16, 1:00pm - 2:15pm PDT (4:00pm EST)

From Kare 11: A walk to the store: 9-year-old who witnessed Floyd death writing book Judeah Reynolds said she waited all day for her cousin to walk her to the store for snacks. On their way to the store, they saw George Floyd's killing.

From BookBub:
     The 100 Most Iconic Book Quotes
     15 Epic Books Like 'Dune'

From Twitter: When a virtual author visit goes bad

From The Federation of Children's Book Groups: Stranger than fiction – Publishing The Rules, a book about preparing for disaster, in the middle of a pandemic – Tracy Darnton (Blog Tour)

From Library Journal:
     Resources for Cultivating an Antiracist Mindset
     Put Your Nose in a Book: Masks, Library Style

From NPR: This Book Teaches Kids 'How To Solve A Problem' Like A Rock Climber Would

From Good Morning America: Exclusive premiere of the trailer for Disney’s ‘The One and Only Ivan’

From Professional Book Nerds: A Social Justice Conversation with Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal, July 16, 3:00pm EST - click here to sign up Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal, New York Times bestselling co-authors of I'm Not Dying With You Tonight, are taking part in a special free virtual event led by the Professional Book Nerds podcast hosts.

From Publishers Weekly:
     Children’s Institute 2020: Indies Introduce Debut Authors Ten authors of books chosen by booksellers as their favorite summer/fall middle grade and YA debuts read from their works in a lunchtime panel
     Maurice Sendak Foundation Teams with Apple TV Plus


From School Library Journal (SLJ):
     17 Magical and Mind-Bending Sci-Fi & Fantasy Titles for Teens | Summer Reading 2020
     Fuse 8 n’ Kate: Owl Babies by Martin Waddell, ill. Patrick Benson

From The Guardian: Final Terry Pratchett stories to be published in September

From Instagram: Make way for Ducklings - IRL!

From The Bookseller: Hodder embarks on a Scottish road trip with 'Outlander' stars

From the AIGA: The Design Collective Taking on Structural Racism in the Industry “Design to Divest” started as a group offering pro-bono work to activists, but it's shifting into something bigger

From the AIC: The outstanding organization Postcards for Voters has just published postcards featuring the art of AIC member illustrators!

From the Mazza Museum: Artists Monthly - interviews with creators beginning with Caldecott-award-winner Chris Raschka - see the schedule here

From The NYT:
     In Paris, Haute Couture Face Masks for All
     Issue Archives: NYT Magazine Covers
     The Hardest Part of Writing is... (fantastic commentary by cartoonist Grant Snider)

From CBC: How do you price a work of art? Veteran illustrator Anita Kunz has advice for a younger generation From Muddy Colors:
     Drawing with Jim Lee (demos)
     Why Horror is Good for You and Even Better for Your Kids
     Near Future with Donato Giancola A walk through the Smithsonian American Art Museum's now defunct Corcoran Art Gallery that merged with the National Portrait Gallery creating an impressive collection of diverse art.

From SCBWI Carolinas: 2021 Calendar Illustration Contest!

From The Far Side: Gary Larson (of The Far Side Cartoons) is drawing again!

From We Need Diverse Books: Cover Reveal: Ancestor Approved edited by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Do you know about the Print and Pattern Blog? If you're into textile design, it's one to follow

From the Louvre: Tour the Louvre Online

From CommArts: Black Lives Matter: This is a powerful short film that everyone should see. The creators were featured in CommArts HERE. Click the image below to watch this public service film at the CommArts website, and tell me if it doesn't give you shivers. Join the movement, not the moment!

From The Art Room Plant:
     Amber Jensen
     Katia Shumkova IV

     Matias Krahniv

From the Chronicle of Higher Education: 5 Ways to Connect With Online Students

From the NYT:
     ‘Maybe I Shouldn’t Have Come’: U.S. Visa Changes Leave Students in Limbo - This is horrendous for the students, but also for the university systems in general. International students are oftentimes the ones paying FULL tuition, which helps fund the scholarships and grants to American students who wouldn't be able to afford college otherwise. This is a completely thoughtless and damaging decision that will hurt America in so many way for years to come.
     A Teacher Held a Famous Racism Exercise in 1968. She’s Still at It. The day after Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, Jane Elliott carried out the “Blue Eyes, Brown Eyes” exercise in her classroom. Now, people are returning to her work.

From The New Yorker: How to Confront a Racist National History "I think art has an enormous function here, as it should, in simply helping us to see things from another perspective."

From 1947 Film That Eerily Predicted How People Would Use Smartphones


Nonfiction takes on an exciting new twist in this creative and imaginitive new book, WANTED! CRIMINALS OF THE ANIMAL KINGDOM, illustrated by Susan Batori. She stopped by to tell us more about it, all the way from Hungary!
e: What was your creative process/medium for WANTED! CRIMINALS OF THE ANIMAL KINGDOM, can you walk us through it?
Well, my creative process is the same for almost all of my books. The very first step is to search the web for reference photos for the characters of the book. This book was special because it includes non-everyday animals. These guys are not ususally found in storybooks. Then I started to draw the characters. I work in Photoshop digitally I just rarely do pencil sketches. The next step of my process is to design the pages. Things get in place at this stage. Together with the art director, we already knew that almost every page would look like an investigator's desk with mug shots, rap sheets, notes, post-its and so on. So I worked on this for a while. After the sketches were accepted there only one step left: the coloring. And tadah, the book was finished.
e: You chock each spread so full of information in such an interesting and engaging way - was the layout your idea, or your art directors? (If yours, how did you come up with it?)
When the work starts with a publisher I always get the comp pages in pdf with the illustrations notes and with the texts. I need to know how much text will be put on the pages and how much space will remain for the illustrations. In this case the art director, Marie Bartholomew, showed me her idea about the layouts. I just added a few things: the sheriff badge, the magnifier, the pencils or the handcuffs which made the scene a little funnier. I prefer if I can design the pages but this was an amazing collaboration because Marie and her team were very open to my ideas. It was a pleasure to work together.
e: What was your path to publication?
In 2012, I was approached by Good Illustration Agency that they would like to represent me, because they liked my portfolio which were on, where artist can feature their works. I was happy to say yes. There is a great connection between us and it's very good to work together. They are like my family. From then I got more and more job offers from different publishers all over the world.
e: Is there a unique or funny story behind the creation of WANTED! CRIMINALS OF THE ANIMAL KINGDOM?
Yes, I thought first that one of the character of the book are not a real one. I thought this was only invented by the author (Heather Tekavec) I've never heard of the Satin Bowerbird, who collects only blue things. There is always something new to learn. Haha!
image via Wikimedia Commons, © Joseph C Boone

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?
Yeah, I know this kind of art. It comes from the heart, can be made without effort. There are no rules, limits or boundaries that are hinder into the work. I feel completely free when I create and this can be felt by the viewer. It feels like my soul is holding the pencil.
e: Oooo - I love that! "It feels like my soul is holding the pencil." Wow. How do you advertise yourself (or do you)?
I think I am extremely lucky because my agency do it for me. I have an Instagram and a Facebook account too where I can communicate with my followers and I can advertise here the books I illustrated.
e: What is your favorite or most challenging part of being a creator?
That is interesting because the favorite and the most challenging part of being a creator is the same for me. Being alone in my studio. Once I feel it is so good to work alone and another time it is the opposite. I worked as an art director earlier in a team, so I miss that a little bit but this kind of life is very magical. Oh, actually I'm not completely alone, I have a coworker, my cat, Kamilla. :)
e: Fuzzies make good employees! Is there something in particular about WANTED! CRIMINALS OF THE ANIMAL KINGDOM you hope readers will take away with them, perhaps something that isn’t immediately obvious?
Our world is beautiful and unique with these particular and funny species and our duty is to protect them because we are richer by them. I do hope children will discover this message in the book.
e: What are you working on next or what would be your dream project?
I am working on a very funny book right now. It is a story about a bear and a woodpecker. My upcoming work is about the friendship of a whale and a little penguin. My dream project? Anything which is funny and the main characters are animals. It's easy to make me happy. :)
e: Thank you, Susan, for sharing your joy! I look forward to seeing more of your work.
Thanks again!

Coloring Page Tuesday - Butterphant!

     I wanted to give you something pretty and fanciful this week - a cross between a butterfly and an elephant: a Butterphant! Because, we could all use a little magic right now. Click the image to open the full-sized coloring page.
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.

Happy Birthday America! Love Has No Labels

This is an important message about what we are celebrating today and what we need to be celebrating every day. Click to watch the PSA (public service announcement by the Ad Council at CommArts:

Video: Making Mouseworks

I am having so much fun making videos for you; and since Procreate records my process when I work on my iPad, I can share even the silly doodly stuff that I do just for fun! The latest is a peek inside piece inspired by one of my students (who also loves peek-inside art) - it's mousies at work. You can watch me make the image on my Youtube channel (please subscribe!).
And the artwork is also available for sale on items at Redbubble (on t-shirts, mouse pads, iPhone cases, you name it),
and of course, face masks too!

Friday Links List and Illustrators' Treehouse News - 3 July 2020

From Library Journal:
     Stacey Abrams: Libraries Must Tell the Story of America | ALA Virtual 2020
     How to Make the Most of Zoom for Every Kind of Event

From SLJ:
     7 Graphic Novels That Offer Powerful Mirrors & Windows for Teens | Summer Reading 2020
     So I Guess Now I’m Someone Who Talks About Boobs, a guest post by Laura Zimmermann (author of My Eyes Are Up Here)
     37 Picture Books That Celebrate #BlackJoy | Summer Reading 2020

From The Guardian: 'The fascists were upset': radical Austrian fairytales published in English for first time

From Myth and Moor: The sídhe and the sìth

From PW:
     2020 Virtual ALA Youth Media Awards Celebration: A Photo Essay
     United Nations Publishes Coronavirus Picture Book by Intern
     People of Color to Publishing: We’re Not Okay
     A Beacon of Light: Spotlight on Christopher Vogler
     #KidlitForMasks Spreads Awareness
     Sale of Book-Themed Masks to Benefit Binc

From the AALBC (The African American Literature Book Club): Bookstores in the United States that Specialize in Black Literature

From Shelf-Awareness:
     Happy 15th Birthday Little Shop of Stories! (my old bookstore)
     Absolutely 'Metal' Bicycle Book Deliveries in Edinburgh's Old Town
     ALA's All-Day Book Awards Celebration

From BYU: 33rd BYU Symposium on Books for Young Readers, July 16—August 13, 2020

From NPR: Mermaids, Werewolves And Witches: Welcome Summer With These 6 New YA Novels

From Brightly: Julián Is a Mermaid: A Heartwarming Lesson in Identity and Unconditional Love I interviewed Jessica Love HERE.

From The New Yorker: The Unruly Genius of Joyce Carol Oates

VIDEO: The Great Realization

From BookBub: 13 Science Fiction and Fantasy Novels with Shocking Twists

From Will Terry: Illustrators. Stop Starving; Start Thriving. "Discover how you can turn your art skills into your own thriving career in illustration." I know Will and am sure this is going to be fantastic!

Do you know about Thinking With Type? If you're in Graphic Design, it's worth following!

From Muddy Colors:
     A Note of Gratitude to Milton Glaser
     How to Constructively Critique

From Picture Hooks: From Seed to Table – a Picture Hooks Competition FREE TO ENTER!

From CG Society: Pursuing a Career in Animation - Industry Deep Dive

From PW: The Fanatic - July Graphic Novel Newsletter

From Urban Sketchers: Drawing Attention - July Newsletter

From ShopMatter: Introductory Ethic for Designers GOOD!

My friend Mark Braught recently updated his website and online portfolio

From The Mazza Museum: Mazza Artist Mondays is going Monthly! Join Mazza Museum Director, Ben Sapp, Mazza staff members, and a special artist once each month via Zoom webinar! This special virtual Q&A is your opportunity to listen in to interviews with your favorite artists, ask questions of your own, and join in for a special draw-along at the end. This free, monthly event is open to everyone!

From CommArts: Everyday Experiments - I want one of THESE! A speaker with visuals!

From The Guardian:
     Tom Gauld on the new normal for shopping – cartoon
     Children’s books roundup – the best new picture books and novels

From Sexism, Sexual Harassment, and the CBLDF

Do you know about Bear Tree Media? They make icons!

Do you know about this drawing app: Tayasui Sketches Pro?

From The Art Room Plant: Natalia Shaloshvili

Do you know about Adobe Aero: Augmented reality. Now a reality. Introducing Adobe Aero, the most intuitive way to view, build, and share immersive and interactive AR experiences.

From Inside Higher Ed: A Dozen-Plus Ways You Can Foster Educational Equity

Maribeth Boelts and Angela Dominguez's - KAIA AND THE BEES

Did you know that you can keep bees on an urban rooftop? That's where Kaia's father keeps his bees. His daughter, Kaia wants nothing to do with them, though... well, maybe. Creators Maribeth Boelts and Angela Dominguez dropped by to talk about their new book KAIA AND THE BEES...
e: What did you do to research illustrating this book? Were you into bees before working on it? If not, have you gained a new appreciation for them?
I had an appreciation for bees prior to illustrating the book. When I lived in San Francisco, I had a friend who was an urban beekeeper, and I helped her cultivate the honey a few times. My first time I could definitely relate to Kaia. Being on a rooftop surrounded by thousands of bees was frightening! Similarly to Kaia, once my fear subsided, I became fascinated with their world. These experiences are what drew me to illustrate Maribeth’s charming story.
MB: When you agreed to illustrate this story, Angela, I was so excited, not only by your prior incredible illustrating but also your experience in urban beekeeping. And you’re so right—bees can be scary, even with protective gear on and the steeliest nerves steeled. My family and I were beekeepers for years, and while the experience was so enthralling and the learning curve steep, there were definitely times when my trepidation got the best of me. Beekeeping taught me to love and respect bees and do whatever I could to protect them.

e: What was your creative process/medium? Can you walk us through it?
I do all of my sketches on tracing paper in pencil. Then I move into Photoshop to clean up the sketches and plan out how the images will relate to the text. This is one of my favorite stages because this is when you’re planning out how all the images will relate to one another and the overall flow.

Once the final sketches are approved, I start on the final artwork. I used to work traditionally, but now I work half digitally and half traditionally. With all of my books, I like to incorporate a handmade element in the illustrations. I began these specific illustrations with colored pencil on illustration board, then added more digital color on top in Photoshop.
MB: So interesting, Angela! I started this story by talking to kids about their nearly universal fear of bees while on school visits. Their responses, and my own experiences with both beekeeping and the occasional fearful feelings that would arise, lead me to sit down and race through the writing of a rough draft. My first drafts are written quickly—a character, a problem, some basic bones of a beginning, middle, and end. This is the hardest stage of writing a story! Do I have enough scaffolding to start the real building?
AD: If I feel like the answer is yes, then the next stage is my very favorite. I take that messy, loose rough draft and begin to shape, cajole, and expand it into a story. It usually has way too many words when I finish, but I have enough to work with and will spend weeks, sometimes months, fine-tuning and tweaking it and making sure the text matches the illustrations.
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?
I am always drawn to artwork that has great character expressions and has energy in it, whether it’s through color, texture, composition, or a bold line. It makes the artwork feel alive.
e: How do you advertise yourself (or do you)?
I am naturally an introvert, but as an illustrator and author, it’s a must. I promote myself a few ways. First of all, I keep my website and blog updated. Second, I share good news on social media including Twitter, Instagram, and occasionally Facebook. Third, I love to visit schools and participate in events. I’m lucky to have a booking agent who handles most of these events. As of late, I’m creating videos and participating in virtual meetings. Those are a little less rewarding than the in-person events, but I love that I’m still able to talk to kids and readers of all ages.
MB: As a fellow introvert, I couldn’t agree more with the need to still promote and share news—not just of our own “book babies,” but those of other writers and illustrators, too. I do a lot of school visits, and as a former teacher, I’m perfectly comfortable and in my element in front of a group of young readers and writers. In fact, I love school visits! I also share news on my website ( and Twitter (@maribethboelts). I’ve Skyped with students for years and have created a few videos as well, but I am eager (so eager!) to work with students in person again. For Kaia and the Bees, I hired Blue Slip Media to help with promotion and will do so again as the experience was spectacular.
e: What is your favorite or most challenging part of being a creator?
I love interacting with the audience. Hearing kids’ opinions and suggestions is just so much fun. Their responses can be delightfully unexpected.
MB: I’ve been writing for children for nearly thirty years, and I love that there is still such mystery in it—why some books “catch” and make a child request repeated readings or view it as a favorite while other books receive a ho-hum. It’s that mystery, that absence of a prescription, that keeps me returning to my desk over and over again. Does this little seed of an idea have the potential to become a good book in the hands of a child?

e: Is there something in particular about Kaia and the Bees you hope readers will take away with them, perhaps something that isn’t immediately obvious?
There are many things that I love about Maribeth’s story. I love that Kaia and the Bees depicts overcoming fear in a realistic way. Kaia doesn’t magically become fearless; she has setbacks and at the end is still a little afraid. However, she finds her inner strength and wisdom to overcome that fear. I also love that Kaia and the Bees is inclusive. It depicts a realistic urban community and a contemporary family without being a plot point.

MB: Thank you, Angela. For many children with a fear of bees, the worst thing that can happen is a sting. I knew I had to be very honest with children and let Kaia face her fear and get stung, because facing fear doesn’t mean that the thing we’re afraid of will magically disappear. Sometimes we face a fear and our worst-case scenario actually does happen. And that’s where bravery comes in, which Kaia exhibits in a nuanced way at the end of the story.

e: What are you working on next, or what would be your dream project?
I recently wrapped up two books that I authored and illustrated that will be coming out in 2021. The first book is the third in the Stella Díaz series, Stella Díaz Dreams Big, and the second book is called I Love You, Baby Burrito. Both are published by Roaring Brook, an imprint of Macmillan. I’m working on a new picture book I wrote called Tengo Hambre and the fourth in the Stella Díaz series. I will also be illustrating another picture book this fall that I’m thrilled about. More news on that later!
MB: I love all your happy publishing news! I have a picture book coming out from Candlewick Press entitled The Purple Puffy Coat and an early reader from Random House, The Gingerbread Pup. Currently, I’m working on a middle-grade book and have a picture book manuscript being submitted.
e: Wonderful—I can't wait to see them! Thank you for a lovely chat, and I hope I can experience bees the way you both have someday!

KAIA AND THE BEES. Text copyright © 2020 by Maribeth Boelts. Illustrations copyright © 2020 by Angela Dominguez. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.