PhD Talk

All of the PhD Researchers in the University of Glasgow School of Education are given the opportunity to talk about their progress at some point during their studies in the Postgraduate Researcher-led Seminar Series hosted by Dr Cathryn Lido. Two of us speak for 30 minutes each at a once a month gathering. It's a great chance to collate one's thoughts, see if the research is holding together well, and gain valuable feedback from the vast range of experience from fellow researchers and faculty who attend the talks. I attended all of them during my first year of study and it gave me a solid idea of where I wanted to be at this stage in my research. This past week, it was my turn to talk about my own research to date (I'm officially half-way through my studies). My supervisor Dr Maureen Farrell gave me a lovely introduction.
I talked about my journey on my thesis topic "Tricksters, Witches, and Warriors: Rewriting a Patriarchal Narrative in Children's Fantasy Literature." I talked about the break-throughs I've made, along with some misdirections, such as realizing the Wild Man (which I illustrated) isn't actually a trickster.
I discussed how women warriors are a natural evolution in trying to write empowered female protagonists and how many female tricksters are actually known as witches.
My second supervisor, Dr Bob Davis was extremely complimentary of my talk. (I have wonderfully supportive supervisors.)
Fellow researcher and American Krissi gave the second talk of the day on her fascinating work with elderly social support. In fact, there were three Americans running the show that day - Krissi, Cathryn, and me.
Friends in the audience took photographs for me - thanks to Maureen, Jen Chou (sp?), and Yaxi, who gave my talk a big thumbs up.
Thanks guys!

Friday Links List - 18 January 2019

From Chronicle Vitae: How To Teach A Good First Day of Class

From BrainPickings: Rebecca Solnit's Lovely Letter to Children About How Books Solace, Empower, and Transform Us

From Shelf Awareness: AAP Sales: Huge Jump for Trade Titles in November (and LOOK at the Children's Books!)

From The Art Room Plant: Semen Bukharin is a school janitor who decided to entertain the children by making snow paintings for them as he cleared the paths - this is PURE creative JOY!

From SLJ: Engaging Young Citizen Activists

From Book Riot: Goodnight Moon is Overrated and Other Controversial Kidlit Opinions (with suggested alternatives)

From TES: How reading could reduce anxiety

From The Bookseller: Bluemoose reveals plans to publish only female writers in 2020

From The Guardian: Publishers failing to improve racial and regional diversity, survey finds

From Shelf Awareness: Soucebooks Expands Children's Publishing Division (this is the publisher of my novel, A BIRD ON WATER STREET)

And more from PW about Sourcebooks' new imprints

From SLJ: Author Bill Konigsberg Calls for Continued Conversation in Response to Hatred and Bigotry

From The Atlantic: Fairy Tales for Young Socialists: A collection of political fables from late-19th- and early-20th-century Great Britain offers striking allegories that remain pertinent today.

From Brain Pickings: A 100-Year-Old Holocaust Survivor on How Books Save Lives

From The Scottish Book Trust: Great Books By Scottish LGBTQ Authors

From Scholastic Parents: 10 Books Celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. for Early Readers


You may recall the hit CODE NAME VERITY by Elizabeth Wein that was a Printz Honor Book, an Edgar Award-winner, and was shortlisted for a Carnegie, among other awards. Well, Elizabeth is still following those WWII Aviator women with her new book, A THOUSAND SISTERS. Elizabeth lives in Scotland and I get to hang out with her every year at Jane Yolen's Wayside, so it's my great pleasure to have her here today to talk about her latest book. Take it away Elizabeth!
A Thousand Sisters wasn’t the hardest book I’ve ever had to write, but it is definitely the one that made me work the hardest. It’s a project I wouldn’t have thought of tackling on my own, but I got pushed.

Here’s a very abbreviated peek at how the book came together over nearly four years.

January 2015: Editor Kristin Rens at HarperCollins contacted my agent, Ginger Clark, with the question: “Would Elizabeth ever be interested in writing a nonfiction book about the Night Witches (or any other nonfiction for young readers, for that matter)?”

To which I responded with an unguarded, “WHY YES. YES SHE WOULD.”

March 2015: HarperCollins makes an offer for my services.

April 2015: I start reading MANY BOOKS.

I knew who the Night Witches were – Soviet women who flew World War II bombing missions in flimsy bi-planes made of balsa wood and fabric. But I didn’t know much about how they got the job. My early reading made me aware that I was going to have to include a small-scale history of the Soviet Union if this story was to make any sense at all to a Western reader.

The last time I worked on a non-fiction project of this scale, it was my PhD thesis. For that, I did my academic research in the Bodleian library in Oxford, whose catalogue at the time was kept in handwritten leather-bound books. Nostalgically anticipating the work I’d be doing for my new assignment, I foolishly bought a supply of index cards.

I took a bunch of notes on a few of them and then recycled them.

June 2015: At this point, I’d learned that the Night Witches were only a small part of the picture. I knew that the story I wanted to tell had to include three different Soviet women’s aviation regiments, and I needed to focus on one pioneering woman, Marina Raskova, the celebrity aviator who brought them together.

July 2015: Sitting on a picnic bench below the Cape May Lighthouse, I made the first of many calls to Kristin, and discussed the way to structure the book.

Nothing that got proposed in this conversation actually made it into the final draft.

August 2015: The contract is signed!

September 2015 – September 2016: I worked on writing something else (The Pearl Thief, my most recent novel with Hyperion, published in 2017) – all the while reading and taking notes on the Soviet Union.

November 2016: I decided to go to Russia with someone I met on Twitter.

No lie –YA author Amber Lough, who was also researching a historical project about Russian military women, suggested we travel together. The travel arrangements got made in about three weeks, and Amber and I met in real life for the first time in a hotel in St. Petersburg. The entire city was under a blanket of snow two feet deep. For me, the highlight of this research trip – though not technically research itself – was visiting Marina Raskova’s grave in the Kremlin Wall.
December 2016: With a draft due in about six weeks, I’m finally ready to write. My laptop expires after about 10,000 words.

Fortunately I’d saved the partial manuscript on a memory stick, and for the next month I continued to work on an object dubbed “Frankenpooter”: constructed by my IT-genius son, it consisted of a $70 android tablet, an external keyboard, and an external hard drive. It was impossible to connect the keyboard and a power source at the same time, so I had to work in two-hour increments: type like crazy till the battery died, then switch plugs and charge up again.
I bought myself a new laptop for Christmas.

January 2017: About a third of the book is handed in on time.

February – December 2017: Probably the most productive year of my life, as I completed the proposed “Night Witches” manuscript – now called A Thousand Sisters – and wrote two other books at the same time.

January 2018: We realize A Thousand Sisters is about 150 pages too long for middle-grade non-fiction, and…

February 2018: …Much to everyone’s relief, Kristin manages to bump it up to her young adult list.

April – October 2018: Editing, tightening; pulling in an expert reader; finding and choosing appropriate photographs for illustrations; organizing and checking the endnotes; copyediting; creating an index and maps; creating the cover.

Although I wrote and researched the book, there is so much that I had help with. A team of researchers at HarperCollins tracked down and got permissions for the photos, created the index, cross-referenced my notes with the correct page numbers, and fact-checked details like crazy.

November 2018: The first professional review comes in the day after we finish correcting the final map image.

Which leads us to:
January 22, 2019: RELEASE DAY!


Elizabeth's writing spot for A Thousand Sisters - her daughter's flat (at the time) in Salisbury in the attic of a building built in 1666 with a view of Salisbury Cathedral!
And Elizabeth in a Lysander.

MerBaby's Lullaby!!!

My new board book, MERBABY'S LULLABY written by Jane Yolen for Simon & Schuster has just made its first appearance in the wild at the Mile High Reading Blog! I'm thrilled to have my book in such fine company - woohoo!!!!

Coloring Page Tuesday - Reading Polar Bear

     Polar Bears like to cuddle up in ice and snow when they read a good book. Where is your favorite spot to read?
CLICK HERE for more coloring pages.
If you use my coloring pages often, please...

Just love this one image? Consider a one-time donation...

CLICK HERE to sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week.

     I create my coloring pages to draw your attention to my books! For instance...
my latest picture book, Crow Not Crow - written by New York Times Best-selling author Jane Yolen and Adam Stemple.
     Kirkus calls it "a solid choice for introducing the hobby [birdwatching] to younger readers."
      Also, A Bird on Water Street is now available in Chinese!
     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.


Along with drawing Tricksters for my PhD, I've also been drawing Witches - as I feel that many/most witches are indeed Tricksters, just labelled negatively by a patriarchal society - PAH! Recognize any of these? (Ninevenn isn't finished yet.)
I need lots more witches - help me remember them all - name some witches in my comments! :)


I've been drawing representations of Tricksters for my PhD. I started sketching some of these out during my MFA, so I've wanted to do these for a long time. Of course, there are tons of Tricksters, so this is just a small start. But I feel like doing these will pull my illustration side into my studies. Do you know the stories behind these Tricksters?

Friday Links List - 11 January 2019

From The Guardian: 'Leading the entertainment pack': UK print book sales rise again

From The Bookseller: Indie Bookshop Numbers Rise For Second Consecutive Year

From Brightly: The Most Exciting Young Adult Books of 2019 AND The Most Exciting Middle Grade Books of 2019

From PW: Wondering Where Publishing Is Headed? Ask Its Future Leaders. "Yap also wants writers to be able to afford to just be writers, and nothing else. He points to midlist authors who receive book contracts that don’t provide them with enough income to earn a living, but who could write more than one 300-page book a year. “We’re here because some of these people are amazing writers, and their publishers, for whatever corporate reasons, aren’t going to pay them enough to live on,” he says. “And that’s something I’d like to change. Books should be more diverse, and midlist writers should have a way to make a living doing what they love and not be forced to take these jobs that they hate.”

From The Picture Book Den: Learning from Reflecting Realities and Reading the 1% by Chitra Soundar

From PW: The disturbing article "New [Author's] Guild Report Finds More Declines in Author Earnings" (Still think we get rich doing this?)

From Forbes: INTERESTING!!! 7 Publishing Insights Revealed By Last Year's Top 100 Bestselling Books

From PW: Looking for a job? Here's a good way to do it. If B&N doesn't offer this woman a job, they're insane: "What I Learned from Visiting B&N Stores: An author and reader makes some recommendations that she hopes can improve the retailer's fortunes"

From The Bookseller: Helen Oxenbury pays tribute to 'gargantuan' John Burningham (her husband)

From For Reading Addicts: High School Transforms Hallways Into Iconic Book Covers - FANTASTIC!!!!


I flipped over If DaVinci Painted a Dinosaur when I first saw it. So I'm thrilled to have its creators, Greg and Amy Newbold, here today to tell us more about it!
e: What is your creative process/medium as you tried to tackle all the various art styles in Da Vinci, can you walk us through it?
As with our previous project If Picasso Painted a Snowman, one of the big challenges with If da Vinci Painted a Dinosaur was to capture the essence of each artist’s signature style. This involved researching each artist and breaking down the things that make each one unique. I asked questions like “how did they draw or paint differently than other artists?” or “what materials or techniques did they use?” I then tried to create a piece of art that would feel like they might have painted it. I worked in acrylic, oil, ink, pastel, colored pencil, cut paper, hand cut rubber stamps and digital for this book.
      Try as I might, it was impossible to truly mimic the styles of all these different artists. That was OK. I knew that a fair amount of my own style would inevitably filter into the work. My goal was to show the diverse styles of all the chosen artists in a fun way that is relatable to kids. None of these artists ever painted a dinosaur; so it freed me up to create my own interpretation. Some pieces, like the card playing dinosaurs feel pretty close to my own style. Others like Hokusai’s wave homage were much closer to the original.
e: What was your journey to publication?
I wrote If Picasso Painted a Snowman and took it to a writing workshop several years ago. At the workshop, many of my fellow writers were teachers and librarians. They told me they loved the manuscript and would use a book like this at their schools. I was much encouraged, but as I submitted the manuscript to a few agents/publishers, not everyone had the same opinion. I shelved the manuscript and began working on other projects. Greg was approached by Tilbury House Publishers to illustrate another book for them. As Greg learned more about the types of books Tilbury published, he suggested my manuscript to them. They said I was welcome to submit to them (THP has open submissions). I sent a query letter and the manuscript, and Tilbury was interested. After Greg did a sketch dummy to go along with the manuscript, we were offered a contract.

e: Is there a unique or funny story behind the creation of this story?
Two things stand out to me in connection with If da Vinci Painted a Dinosaur. First, I never intended to do a sequel. When Tilbury asked us to consider one, I was tempted to say no. However, as Greg and I discussed it, I realized I was grateful someone believed in the concept and wanted a second book, and I also knew there were many artists I had not covered in the first book. Greg and I brainstormed different concepts and settled on dinosaurs. I had wanted to have Leonardo da Vinci in the first book, but for various reasons he was omitted, so it made sense to make him the headliner of the second book. I knew right from the beginning that I wanted Greg to parody The Vitruvian Man and Mona Lisa. The second thing I think of with the dinosaur book is the picture of dinosaurs playing cards. I saw pictures of dogs playing poker hanging in the recreation rooms of my friends' basements when I was growing up. I thought that they were 1970s paintings that people hung in their homes because they thought the painting were funny. As I joked with our publisher about including one of these paintings in the dinosaur book, he burst into laughter. We decided to do some research and learn more about the artist. It turns out that the artist (Cassius Coolidge) was born in 1844 and did many of his paintings in the late 1800s and early 1900s. I was surprised to learn that, and it made me want to include him in the book.
Greg: The Chinese brush painting in the book just about ruined me. Qi Baishi is one of China’s best-known artists and I doubt I did him any justice, but I did choose an actual Chinese dinosaur and attempted to paint in his style. What I didn’t really realize was that you don’t just sit down and learn Chinese brush painting in a few days. I practiced for as long as I reasonably could over a period of a few days and then attempted to do a painting. Well, it was a disaster. I would get a part of it looking good and then destroy it with a muffed stroke. I finally resorted to painting multiples of each element. I then choose the best of each element and pieced it all together in Photoshop. There are probably parts of about fifteen or twenty different attempts combined to make the final Painting. Then there was the Chinese lettering. I didn’t even want to attempt that, so I asked my friend Yong Chen to create the lettering, which he graciously and expertly did for me. In the end, I am pleased with the illustration, but it doesn’t actually exist in real life outside a pile of mediocre attempts.
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?
Art is a two-part experience. First, I think every piece of art by necessity contains a bit of the creator. A piece of his or her soul is injected into whatever art he or she creates. That said, I think the goal of every artist should be to allow a portion of your soul to connect with the viewer. The second and equally critical factor in this art success equation is the viewer. There needs to be a connection through which the intent of the artist is conveyed to the viewer. The more people a piece resonates with, the more universally successful the piece may be judged. What makes great art special is that magic moment when the humanity of both artist and patron commune through a painting.
e: How do you advertise yourself?
I began my career pounding the pavement around town, showing my portfolio to whomever in the industry would have a look. I took feedback and started getting projects. I tried to network with as many people as I could. Now I advertise in illustration directories, online through my website and other portfolio sites and send out direct emails to past and potential clients. I’ve been at this for quite a while now, so a lot of my work comes from repeat clients and through word of mouth, even random Internet searches. I also post regularly on my Instagram and Facebook pages, which has yielded a fair amount of sales in recent years. I think the best form of advertising is just being visible and doing good work.
e: What is your favorite or most challenging part of being a creator?
Being an independent creator has its share of challenges and benefits. First off, I get to do what I love which is draw and paint all the time. The process of creating never gets old to me. I also enjoy solving problems to meet my clients’ visual needs. It’s great when you deliver a piece and the reaction is that the art surpassed expectations. That moment when a painting turns out just like you hoped it would is always great.
      I love having the flexibility to work different hours than most people. I still treat it like a full time job, which it is, but not having to ask if you can leave to be at a child’s event or take an afternoon to run an errand is nice.
      Downsides include, not having a regular paycheck and having to provide all the other things an employer might, such as health insurance, etc. can be a bummer. Overall though, I think the positives are worth the sacrifice.
Amy: I think my favorite thing about being a creator is being able to share with others all the ideas and stories that are in my head. The most challenging thing for me is creating something when I am not feeling inspired or when I feel short on creativity. I have learned that I do not have to wait for inspiration in order to create something. Although it’s great when inspiration comes, creativity is more likely to be the result of hard work.
e: I think this book will be such a nice introduction to fine art for students, but is there something in particular about Da Vinci you hope readers will take away with them, perhaps something that isn’t immediately obvious?
I hope readers find themselves in the back pages of the book. As I have heard from readers, I realize that many people struggle in their lives, and I hope as they read about the artists in the book, they will feel a connection. When that happens, I think it frees them to share their own creative vision. For example, one person contacted me to let me know how much it meant to a student she worked with to read in If Picasso Painted a Snowman that Claude Monet didn't like school. It helped that student realize that she had worthwhile talents, even if reading challenges made school difficult for her. The artists in If da Vinci Painted a Dinosaur are from so many different backgrounds. Andy Warhol was bullied. Frida Kahlo struggled for years with painful physical injuries and disabilities. Some of the artists were immigrants. Some grew up facing racism. Some lost family members. Others didn't begin pursuing painting until their later years. I hope readers will find art they relate to, and artists they can be inspired by, and that this book will give them the courage to pursue what they want to in their lives.

Greg: Our hope with this book is that it encourages and gives permission to be creative. When our son was in preschool, all the art projects were pre-cut and there was only one “right” way to assemble them. This stifled his creativity. We want to show that there are unlimited ways in which you can express yourself through art. I think that art teachers will like it as a way to open the door to creativity to their students. We love getting photos back from kids who have made their own dinosaurs. Creativity is amazing when there are no limits placed on the student.
e: What are you working on next or what would be your dream project?
I feel pretty blessed to be able to do what I consider my dream job every day. It’s always challenging, but ultimately rewarding. Next up is book three in the series, so that will be even more fun. The new book will be the familiar format but with different artists and a new subject.

Amy: Right now we are working on finishing the third book in this series. I have some non-art related picture books I would love to see published, but I think a dream project for me would be to either get a YA novel published, or to publish a book of poetry with my own pen and ink drawings.

e: Wonderful! I can't wait to see the third in the series! Thank you for sharing, Greg and Amy!

Coloring Page Tuesday - The Nightingale

     I'm hoping to do several fable and fairy-tale inspired coloring pages this winter. This is the first drawing from Hans Christian Anderson's The Nightingale.
CLICK HERE for more coloring pages.
If you use my coloring pages often, please...

Just love this one image? Consider a one-time donation...

CLICK HERE to sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week.

     I create my coloring pages to draw your attention to my books! For instance...
my latest picture book, Crow Not Crow - written by New York Times Best-selling author Jane Yolen and Adam Stemple.
     Kirkus calls it "a solid choice for introducing the hobby [birdwatching] to younger readers."
      Also, A Bird on Water Street is now available in Chinese!
     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.

HOLLINS NEWS! Picture Book Trends: A Curated Reading Workshop

I am thrilled to announce that this summer I will be hosting a Curated Picture Book Reading Workshop at Hollins University in the beautiful Appalachian Mountains of Virginia. If you're a teacher, librarian, parent, or picture book passionista, this workshop is for YOU! Here are the details, also available at the HOLLINS WEBSITE:

Picture Book Trends: A Curated Reading Workshop
Instructor: Elizabeth Dulemba
Wednesday, June 12 – Sunday, June 16, 2019

Are you a teacher or librarian overwhelmed by the prospect of picking out the best new picture books for your young readers? Are you a creator who needs to stay on top of today’s picture book marketplace? If so, let this expert guide you on a curated reading journey. Over the course of five days, award-winning children’s book author and illustrator Elizabeth Dulemba will work you through the picture book submissions for the annual Margaret Wise Brown Prize and other best-sellers, covering current themes and trends, and pointing out the written and visual tricks that make them popular, successful, and beloved. By the end of the week, you will have a solid grasp of the current picture book landscape to better prepare you to recommend books to others or create them yourself. Workshop limited to 12 participants.

Self-celebration Day in Edinburgh

When I finished the sketches for my latest picture book, ON EAGLE COVE, I felt like celebrating! It was a lovely day in Edinburgh, so I went for a walk-about. The holiday crowds have mostly dispursed, so navigating the sidewalks is easy. I stopped into several of my favorite shops, including Waterstones. I just love the energy of a good bookstore. There, I found their table of classically Scottish picture books. I'm happy to claim several of these creators as friends now.
And I enjoyed one of the best views of the castle in the city, from the third story balcony in the coffee shop:
Harry Potter remains a constant draw here, especially since Edinburgh is J.K. Rowling's home too (although I have yet to see her in person):
After leaving Waterstones, I stopped Hotel Chocolat to indulge in a magnificent cup of hazelnut hot chocolate (with soymilk) - so good! Then, on my way home with a smile on my face, I was reminded of how fun it is to live in a city where you tend to see the oddest things. Case in point, it was about 38° and this woman was carrying a surf board! Don't ask me why. (I asked her about it but couldn't understand what she said. Yes, the Scottish accent can sometimes indeed seem like another language altogether.)
OH - and I'm still taking photographs of gloves - the latest in front of Stac Polly. What a nice way to celebrate an accomplishment with a lovely day in Edinburgh!

On Eagle Cove - First peek!

I finished the pencils for my newest picture book, ON EAGLE COVE written by Jane Yolen, over the holiday. I was a drawing fool! Here is a sneak peek at my sketches, although many of these clipped papers are several sheets thick, so you can't see all of my drawings, of which there are LOTS:
This is the second book I've done for Cornell Lab Publishing Group. The first was CROW NOT CROW written by Jane Yolen and Adam Stemple. I love working with Cornell and getting the opportunity to draw BIRDS - in this case EAGLES! Be looking for this book in 2020!

Ninon Pelletier's THE SILENCE SLIPS IN

With a New Year, our thoughts tend to turn to self-care as we set resolutions of how to become a better form of ourselves in the months ahead. Here steps in Ninon Pelletier's THE SILENCE SLIPS IN by Alison Hughs for Orca Books. It's a lovely reminder of how to find peace within ourselves, even in the midst of life's distractions - a wonderful introduction to mindfulness for kids. Ninon stopped by to talk about her peace-inducing images...
e: Hi Ninon, Thanks for visiting all the way from Montréal! What is your creative process/medium, can you walk us through it?
I work with charcoal and pencils, I realize all the final with these, I scans and it is in photoshop that I will select the parts I want to change in color

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?
Unfortunately, I do not have the recipe because otherwise I would win all the pice of illustrations! :) But, on the other hand, I know the importance of white and texture in an image and the balance between the illustrative details and the more airy funds in which they gravitate so that I can slip in...
e: Is there a unique or funny story behind the creation of THE SILENCE SLIPS IN?
In fact it's not happy at all, I realized the artwork when my mother entered the hospital definitively, this book allowed me to immerse myself in places where I felt well, where I felt happy.
e: I'm so sorry, Ninon. It sounds like your book brought you some peace.
     How do you advertise yourself?
I have an online portfolio on the website of the association of illustrators of Quebec and I must admit that Facebook gave me some job opportunities. I also have a blog that I have been updating for ever ten years.
e: What is your favorite or most challenging part of being a creator?
When I start a new book project, I have to imagine characters and the sets, it requires all my concentration, in this period, I isolate myself, I work in silence and I see almost no one, for 2-3 weeks I am a real hermit!
e: Is there something in particular about THE SILENCE SLIPS IN you hope readers will take away with them, perhaps something that isn’t immediately obvious?
To contemplate a beautiful landscape is appeasing, as it is precious, it is a great wealth that one must protect.
e: What are you working on next or what would be your dream project?
I feed on illustrations projects. I need them, thanks to editors and texts of the authors I can travel, learn and grow while working by drawing, that's what I always wanted to do. On my work table, I have 3 beautiful book projects to illustrate very different from each other, one humorous, the other spiritual and the last fantastic.
e: We can't wait to see them! Thank you, Ninon!