Illustration Friday: Quiet

     Lula wanted to be a famous chef with her very own restaurant. But her Aunties Zelda, Tippy, and Dink, were notorious witches, and they were determined that Lula would be the wickedest witch of them all.
     The Aunties made Lula read stacks of books on magic spells and potions. "You can make people do anything you want," they said, "or turn them into toads!"
     "How boring," Lula thought and studied cookbooks instead.

     A snippet from my picture book dummy "Lula's Brew." Reading is usually quiet time, but you've got to wonder how relaxing it would be with witches looking over your shoulder!

Imagine it! Children's Museum of Atlanta

     I had the pleasure of reading "Glitter Girl and the Crazy Cheese" to a crowd of little ones and their parents at the Imagine it! Children's Museum of Atlanta yesterday. The museum is so fun for kids - there are all kinds of activities for them to expend their energy. The parents seemed to appreciate a moment to sit. The children colored Glitter Girl print-outs while I did a demonstration drawing. It's so fun to watch the responses - sometimes I'm not sure who's more interested, the children or the parents. 'Twas fun.
     It was my last speaking engagement until the SCBWI Southern-Breeze Fall Conference in Birmingham. I can focus on just writing and illustrating for a few weeks - a good thing!
testing, testing

It's Talk Like a Pirate Day!

To learn more about the guys who cooked up this crazy idea, go to Talk Like a Pirate.

In honor of International Talk Like a Pirate Day, I share some jokes:
*What do you call a pirate that skips class?
-- Captain Hooky!
*How much did the pirate pay for his peg leg and hook?
-- An arm and a leg!
*What kind of socks does a pirate wear?
-- Aarrgghyle!!
*What happened when Red Beard fell into the Blue Sea?
-- He got marooned!
*Why couldn't the young pirate go to the movie?
-- Because is was rated "Aarrrrrr"!!

Some Pirate Lingo (repeat out loud - loudly):
"Ye landlubber!"
"Shiver me timbers!"
"Ahoy Matee!"
"Avast, ye scurvy dogs!"
"Walk the plank!"

A Pirate song:
Drink up me hearties! Yo ho!
Yo Ho! Yo Ho! A pirates life for me!
We're rascals, scoundrels, villains and knaves;
Drink up me hearties! Yo Ho!
We're devils, black sheep, and really bad eggs;
Drink up me hearties! Yo Ho!

And a coloring page, "Pirate Treasure"!
Click the image to download the jpg (300k).

Barnes & Noble - Northpoint!

     Just got back from a fabulous book signing at the Northpoint Barnes & Noble. What a well loved store!
     The red hat ladies were coming later, so for the kids that morning, we had a pink hat party. Katie (the regular storyteller) started storytime, then handed them over to me to read Glitter Girl and draw, while Shannon (the Community Relations Manager, or CRM) and her soon to be replacement, Dan, handed out the 84 glitter cheese sammies I made. (That was an adventure – my kitchen is still sparkly). There weren't many left over.
     Then it was time to color. The kids were so cute as they laid about the stage coloring Glitter Girl. Obviously, they are comfortable in this store. (It's a very loyal crowd.)
     It was so fun just hanging out:
If you're in one of the pictures (Hi!), please leave me a note!
     Cindy (the children's department head and a bookselling legend in her own right) had me sign an enormous stack of books. She said she'd already sold more than that before my visit - thank you Cindy!

     I tell you, I have yet to meet somebody who works with children's books who isn't passionate about them. It's a different kind of animal I think. The nice thing about the Northpoint store is how much a part of these kids lives' it is. It's cozy and personal and the obvious passion of a loyal staff and neighborhood. You guys ROCK!

Jacketflap is Groovy

"Glitter Girl and the Crazy Cheese" will be a featured book on Jacketflap for two weeks. I am loving this site!

Also, my Glitter Cheese Sammies recipe has been posted to Cooking up Reading - a site that lists recipes connected with your favorite children's books. What a great idea!

On that note, I'm making a bunch of Glitter Cheese Sammies for my book signing at the Northpoint Barnes & Noble (one of the top 25 B&Ns in the country!) this Saturday. I'll be reading Glitter Girl for their pink hat party. Can I tell you what a silly job it is to find a pink hat? The one I found is a magenta hip-hop jobbie. Hm.

Illustration Friday: Farm

I did this illustration for a magazine a few years ago, definitely "farm" related.

Also, here is a coloring page you can download,
right click the image:

On another note, my blog is now included in a mega blog at If you're trying to break into children's publishing, this site is a fabulous resource, check it out!

Southern Breeze 15th Anniversay Logo

I was happy to hear that my logo design for the 15th Year Southern Breeze Anniversary was the winner and will soon adorn book bags to be sold at the Fall Conference in Birmingham. Most of all, I was glad to contribute something useful to my local branch of the SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) that has been so supportive to me.

Barnes & Noble Edgewood!

     My first book signing at one of the "biggies"! Today I read from "Glitter Girl and the Crazy Cheese" to an enthusiastic, young audience. The first thing we saw when we arrived, was a sign with balloons in front of the store, another just inside, another in the kids book section and yet another on the storytelling stage! John McGee, the Community Relations Manager, did me up right! He made announcements in the store as storytime grew closer (so fun to hear your name announced over an intercom - even though I could see John standing there doing it - heehee). He sang a song with the kids, read a book, then turned the stage over to me. My feather boa always goes over big with the little ones, especially when I tell them it's magic. Of course, I left a trail of purple feathers. John had me sign several copies of Glitter Girl for the store and add "autographed copy" stickers. Very cool. What a sweet children's area.
     I have to say, even though Barnes & Noble is a big chain, I get the feeling that each location is very much its own entity and that the Edgewood store is really trying to become much more than "just a store," but a real resource for their community. Everybody I met there is passionate about books, and obviously proud. It was very, very groovy.


     Here we go! Today kicks off the first annual Decatur Book Festival!
     My favorite independent book store, Little Shop of Stories, tied in with the Atlanta Journal and Constitution and the Georgia Center for the Book to pull together an amazing cast of authors and illustrators. It's a free event starting tonight with keynote speaker, Arianna Huffington.
     Saturday brings lots of fun activities for kids, starting off with a parade led by the Cat in the Hat. I'll be speaking on two panels. The first at 11:30 am is called "Cheese and Peas" - Cheese for my book "Glitter Girl and the Crazy Cheese" and Peas for Danny Schnitzlein's book "The Monster Who Ate My Peas." The second will be at 4:30, a panel of illustrators including last year's Caldecott winner, Chris Raschka! I am honored to say the least.
     Sunday I'll be giving a drawing demonstration at Little Shop of Stories and Carmen Deedy and Alan Gratz will have the stage. The entire event finishes off with the fireworks that were rained out on July 4th. It's going to be amazing, and free! So don't miss it!
     I'll post my experiences here, so check back to get the play by play!

Lunch with Chris Raschka, two time Caldecott winner!
     What a nice guy! Chris Raschka has been writing and illustrating picture books for sixteen years and has experienced every kind of success there is to be had in this industry. I talked to him about his history, his life as an illustrator in New York, his experiences with the different publishing houses, and the stories he shared about the good company he keeps from his years in the biz. He was very thoughtful and kind, a true gentleman.
     He struck me as very European looking, or is that because he's from New York? Either way his look seems to fit his art, which to me has a European feel with its graphic shapes and sense of high design. I find his work both whimsical and cutting edge. It's hard to believe I will be on a panel with him tomorrow, I am humbled but excited.
      This is the cover of his Caldecott winner, "The Hello, Goodbye Window."

     Okay, this one's going to take a bit to recall properly and pull together. I had a great time, but I'm exhausted too! In the mean time, there was a great article in Sunday's AJC (Atlanta Journal and Constitution) by Staff writer Jennifer Brett (who interviewed me behind the stage): ARTICLE.

     Ohmigosh. Okay, let's see if I can relay the whirlwind of Saturday. What a spectacular day!
     I am sorry we missed the parade. Supposedly all the children were in it . . . with kazoos!

     We arrived in time to see Chris Raschka's presentation. He read several of his books and drew his two cats - which the kids just roared with laughter over.
     Then it was Danny's and my turn. Danny sang a song and read his wonderful book, "The Monster Who Ate My Peas." It's one of my favorites to read to kids too.I read "Glitter Girl and the Crazy Cheese" and did a drawing demonstration (click the images to get a closer look). The crowd was huge, and I have to admit I was a bit nervous, although it might have been the microphone. It's so strange to hear yourself . . . amplified! Gads, the kids were fantastic. They screamed so well and I never get tired of seeing all those smiling faces. It was so fun!
     Afterwards we signed books, gotta luv it.
     Several friends dropped by for the event including illustrator buddy Liz Conrad and newly published author/illustrator Ami Blackford.
     Next, I was interviewed by Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPTV) for an educational video they're creating. They fussed over me to get the microphone right - bizarre! Never done THAT before! The interviewer sat to the side of the camera and asked questions, this is during the interview.
     In between events we hung out at LENZ, a marketing firm downtown (they created the fabulous event poster) who set up a VIP rest area in their offices for the authors. Thank you Lenz!
     Back to the children's stage we watched Deborah Wiles talk about her books, including the award winning "Each Little Bird That Sings" and "Love Ruby Lavender." Then we stayed to hear my friend Kelly Milner Halls talk about "Tales of the Cryptids" with the illustrator Rick Spears. Kelly has such a great voice and weird sensibility, she was a joy to listen to!
     And it didn't stop there folks! At 4:30 I was on an illustrator panel with Chris Raschka, Mike Lester, and Michael Montgomery! Just before we went on, I had the pleasure of meeting yet another great in our business, Bill Mayer. Turns out he lives just around the corner and will be illustrating Danny Schnitzlein's new book, "The Monster Who Did My Math."

     After a quick rush home for showers and a sandwich, we headed back to the courthouse for a VIP party where we hung out with our bud, Karin Slaughter and met Natalie Dupree. (Stan told her she taught him it was okay to be messy in the kitchen!) We also hung out with some of the amazing organizers of the Decatur Book Festival, Daren Wang, Bill Starr, Alice Murray (of the AJC), Tom Bell (freelance writer), and Joe Davich (Georgia Center for the Book), and of course, Diane Capriola of Little Shop of Stories.
     Wow. So it was amazing, and I do mean AMAZING!! It was a huge success, more people showed up than anybody expected, but it all went smoothly. I'm smiling, but exhausted, and we're not even done yet. In fact, I need to go grab a shower (it's Sunday morning) so I can see Carmen Deedy at 12:00 and give a drawing demonstration at Little Shop of Stories at 1:30. To be continued! . . .

     Tired! Oh so tired, must . . . be . . . lively!
     Carmen Deedy opened this morning with a wonderful story about a beautiful cockroach. She really is a master storyteller, completely engaging and so animated. Everybody adored her.
     Stan and I walked around a bit before my next gig. It was a little overcast, and while still crowded, it was a little quieter than Saturday. Very nice actually.

     At 1:30 I headed to the Little Shop of Stories activity tent to do a drawing demonstration. Here I am with another talented storyteller, Rob Cleveland. He is also director of development of August House, a publisher dedicated to folklore and storytelling. Since he MC'd many of the panels, I got to talk to him quite a bit, what a nice and dynamic person.
     Shortly after this picture was taken, the skies opened up and dumped a river on us. I heard someone comment, "I'll bet they're complaining over at the adult author venues." At the children's stage, everybody was soaked, smiling and jumping in puddles.
     Mary Ann Rodman and Hester Bass were quite brave as they continued their presentation through the very loud storm. Nobody wanted to leave! Hester read her new book, "So Many Houses," and Mary Ann read her latest, "First Grade Stinks." Mary Ann won the Charlotte Zolotow award (best picture book text) for her book, "My Best Friend."
     They did move into Little Shop of Stories to do their signing. The store was packed and everybody was soaked, but still having a good time. Parents were reading to their kids all over the store. Art Roche did a cartooning demonstration in the front room - standing room only! Meanwhile, I mingled with friends Elizabeth Lenhard (and family), author of the "Chicks with Sticks" series, and Alan Gratz (and family), author of "Samurai Shortstop," and new friends, Lauren Myracle, author of the "ttyl" books, and Vicky A. Schecter, author of "Alexander the Great."
     The rain finally stopped and Lauren, Elizabeth and Alan continued their YA panel on the children's stage once again.
Update: Elizabeth wrote a nice bit on the festival and included a great pic of the four of us and her baby "La la" hanging out before their gig on her BLOG.

It was very interesting hearing their different approaches to writing and writing styles, as well as how they often pull the familiar into their stories.
     And that was the wind-up for the day. We headed home to relax a bit before going out for a quiet and celebratory dinner, then found ourselves at Cafe Lily just in time to enjoy the fireworks over downtown Decatur (they had chairs set up out front). What a show. What a great capper to an incredible weekend.
     The organizers did an amazing job. Most I mentioned above, but I have to give a special call out to the people at Little Shop of Stories. I don't think anybody expected the crowds that showed up, especially for the children's events, but there wasn't a single hiccup. Diane Capriola, Dave Shallengberger, Terra McVoy, and thir cast of supporters pulled off an event that can only be described as MAGIC.

Illustration Friday: Safe

Okay, I did this a long time ago for a candy packaging company. Maybe you've seen him on the candy isle at your local store? I have a good excuse for not doing anything new this week though, it's the weekend of the Decatur Book Festival - first annual - and I'm running around like a chicken with my head cut off. I'm going to blog my experiences as the weekend progresses, so check it out HERE.

Btw, "Lifeguard" can be downloaded for coloring by clicking HERE!