Dylan Hears a Who!

I really don't know what to make of this, but I have NEVER heard Seuss like this before!! Click the image to go hear "Green Eggs and Ham," "The Cat in the Hat," and such, sung by Dylan. Hmmm. Thanks to Fuse #8 for the ... fascinating link.


     I've gotta figure out how to add an accent to the "a" on my machine - hm.
     So! I have been going crazy for the last few months. When I started taking Spanish Lessons at the Latin American Association, I also started listening to the local Latino station for a feeble attempt at immersion, 105.7 (say it with me like a radio announcer - "cientos cinco puntos siete"!), (you can stream the station online, btw) and there was this one song that I completely flipped over. Unfortunately, my Spanish was so . . . green, I had no idea who it was.
     Well, I've come a long way, baby, and today I finally figured it out. And now there are two FAB songs: "Bendita Luz" and "Labios Compartidos" by Mana (accent on the second "a")!
     Okay, so they are not new, and certainly not news, but they are new to me - and I LOVE them!! The lead singer, Fher Olvera has a voice highly reminiscent of Sting back in the Police days (turns out The Police were one of their influences - ha!), slightly grindy, very sexy. Add to that a great beat, interesting chord changes, and awesome harmony, and you have ¡Mana!
And you can hear them for yourself - in fact, the two songs I mentioned are their two #1's right now. Snippets play automatically when you visit their website. The site takes a bit to load, even on high speed, but stick it out. It's worth it.
     I dare you to not totally love these guys, especially the gals. What a VOICE!! Ahhhhh.....

Note: To the person who keeps leaving notes in Spanish on my blog - I hope you read this! I'm getting closer to being able to understand what the heck you're saying to me! :)

The Wee Free Men - Crivvens!!

     Well, I think that's what they say - I haven't seen it in print.
     Believe it or not, I am going to recommend you bypass reading the "Discworld Novels: Wee Free Men, Hat Full of Sky, and Wintersmith," written by Terry Pratchett, and go straight to the audio versions by Stephen Briggs.
     Stephen Briggs is a genius as he switches from voice to voice without missing a beat. And these aren't just any voices, the Wee Free Men shoot off an Irish brogue so thick, they're a bit hard to understand, hilariously so. "Sheep" are pronounced as "ship" and such. The personality Mr. Briggs brings to these characters is so vibrant and entertaining, you've got to HEAR them to get their full impact.
     Expect to laugh out loud throughout the reading as the wee free men do what they do best: "Drink! Fight! Steal! Drink and fight! Fight and Steal! Crivvens!"
     I'm on the second book and have been laughing my way all the way through. You've just got to HEAR the Discworld Novels!!!!

Illustration Friday: Communication

I did this illustration a few years ago for a magazine called "Signews." It accompanied a short story by Penny Warner for the hearing impaired community. She wrote several short stories involving these characters. Here, they receive phones to text message each other. If you look closely, you can see a hearing aid in the girl's ear too. It's definitely all about "communication!"

The Mysterious Missy and Snuffles

My favorite poster from the Childrens-Writers Message Board has finally started a blog. Her latest post about where rejection letters come from is a perfect example of why I love her so. Even though I've spoken with her for years on CW, I still know precious little about our mysterious Missy. She supposedly has a book for adults published, but refuses to give up her pseudonym - I wish she would, I'd love to read it. And while she doesn't have a children's book out yet, from the teensy hints she drops, I believe she's close. Boy, will that be something. Anyhow, check out her blog, but don't drink anything first lest you blow it out all over your computer screen in raucous guffaws.

On another note, estoy inferma. I am mucho sick-o, and this mucho suck-o's. I can't seem to kick this thing and long for the day when I can actually breath through my nose again. Gaads. Anyhow, I can't focus very well, so I'm a bit light on my postings lately (oh, except for the ugly irritable rant I removed the other day). Please send healthy vibes my way, and take your Vitamin C. You don't want to catch this . . . achooooo!

The Edge Chronicles and Such

     I just got back from my very favorite independent children's bookstore, Little Shop of Stories, where Paul Stewart and Chris Riddel were talking about their series, "The Edge Chronicles," and signing books like crazy.
     Diane (store owner) set up a "Boys Action/Adventure Reading Club" and the whole lot of six to ten-year-olds turned out to hear these talented creators.
     What an intelligent and adorable (don't tell them I said that) crowd! Most had read all of "The Edge Chronicles" and were moving on to the "Farflung Adventures." I waited in line, feeling very . . . tall, to get my copies signed as well. I talked to a few of the kids, but kept quiet for the most part. This was definitely THE KIDS' event!
     I finally read the first in "The Edge" series for the occassion and completely understand the obsession. Poor "Twig" is thrown into adventure after adventure, most taking him to the edge of death. I cried when the Banderbear . . . well, I won't spoil it for you.
     Paul talked about all his travelling adventures which inspired so many of Twig's while Chris drew a Banderbear.
     Oh how I coveted that drawing. Little Shop of Stories has quite the collection at this point (they have a few of my drawings as well) and they're trying to figure out something special to do with them.
     Anyhow, if "Fergus Crane" is anywhere near as fun as "The Edge Chronicles," I've got some great reading ahead of me! Wippee!

Keene State College - Parliament of Owls

     Okay, Matt Phelan posted his, so I'll share mine too.
     A few months back, Blue Rose Girls posted a request for Owls to celebrate Keene State College's 100th Anniversary in 2009. They are gathering 100 Owls to mark the occasion, and put out a call to children's book illustrators.
     I couldn't resist. One, it's a great cause; two, owls are so cool; and three, my owl will be hanging alongside owls drawn by many of my illustration heroes.
     So, I created my "Wise Reader" and had a giclee made. (Since I work digitally, a giclee is as close as I get to original art.) My owl has already flown north and will be included in the collection. I'm thrilled.

Danish Bunny Steeplechase!

Yes, you read it right folks! (I bet Boing, Boing is so jealous they didn't think of this.)
Hit "Play" and say "boing" every time one jumps, it makes it much more fun.
(This is also a test to see if I can add YouTube videos to my blog - if it doesn't work, you can see it HERE.)

Illustration Friday: Crash

     I'm pulling an image from my first picture book, "The Prince's Diary" (Shen's Books 2005). It was named No.1 2006 Valentine's Day Pick by Book Sense!
     Here, a carriage crashes into the hole the Prince dug in the driveway. His blind date, The Lady Prescott, is horrified and flips her mushroom casserole into the air.
     See my dog? He's called "Rover" in the book, but that's "Bernie" in real life! (He's also a little chubbier.)

Art Pad! Go Play:

     Remember when this was the best you could get from THE best graphics programs on the THE most powerful computers? Well, now you can go doodle with style on a website! So groovy, you gotta try it! (Click the image.)

     Oh, I couldn't resist. I tried to actually draw something. The cool thing is, you can go back and "play" your drawing! I couldn't figure out how to save the animation in a way to link to it unfortunately. If you come across this one in the "fantasy gallery," it's mine.
     Y'all send me some of your creations!!

Tag - I'm so Weird!

I've seen this floating around, and now I've been tagged by Gail Maki Wilson. I don't always do these, but sharing "6 weird things about myself" sounds pretty fun (the "rules" are below). I've done some crazy stuff in my life (I only play a mild-mannered children's book illustrator on the internet.) So, here I go:

1) I used to hang-glide. Yup. It's why I moved to Chattanooga (great town!). I started lessons in college, scaping together money to camp in the l.z. (landing zone) and leap off the small training hills. I eventually moved up to jumping off the mountain. For years I drove up to Chattaboogie in my '78 Landcruiser (great vehicle!) until I finally moved there. I loved the reactions from the tourists around the launch, "It's a GIRL!"

2) I like to rock climb. I first took it up towards the end of my hang-gliding days and discovered I loved it. It's not as hard as you'd think, it's more like a big puzzle you have to figure out as you go up. We have indoor climbing walls here in the big city, and I've been a few times, but I need to go more to help research my new novel.

3) I make bread. It's really not that hard to do, it just takes time, and since I work at home, I'm here to keep an eye on it. I love to knead the dough. It's like you can hear the ghosts of the generations of women who have made bread before you. It's the one thing that pretty much ties all female history together.

4) Hubbie and I went on Safari in Africa for our honeymoon. Trip of a lifetime that. So beautiful, so strangely familiar. You can see pictures here.

5) I am a Francophile. I took French through high-school. I was an exchange student in college (took French at the Sorbonne). I've visited on three other occassions. I'd love to live there some day, at least part of the year. Of course, since I started learning Spanish, my language skills are just getting really confused.

6) Okay, this is obscure. Numbers and letters have always had gender and personalities to me. They just came to me that way from day one. I have no idea if this is normal or weird.

So here are the rules:

Each person who gets tagged needs to write a blog post of their own 6 weird things as well as clearly state this rule. After you state your 6 weird things, you need to choose 6 people to be tagged and list their names.

Don’t forget to leave a comment that says “you’re tagged” in their comments and tell them to read your blog for information as to what it means. That means you may find a short message from me at any time soon in your comments.......

And I'll tag:

Illustration Friday: Sprout

     Funny theme this week, and it happens to go with the picture book I'm currently illustrating, "Paco and the Giant Chile Plant," which will be released by Raven Tree Press in June, 2008.
     I'm so happy to be working on this bilingual story (it's the reason I'm finally taking Spanish lessons).
     Here, Paco has planted his chile seed when suddenly the ground rumbled and grumbled and a chile plant shot into the sky.

Hans Wilhelm - his OPs are BACK!!

     Wow. Technology changes our world once again.
     Hans Wilhelm has brought back all of his out-of-print picture books, but this time they are on his WEBSITE to be downloaded and enjoyed by all, for free!
     He is quoted in Publishers Weekly as saying, "It is entirely logical. Books seem to go out of print faster and faster these days, often for reasons beyond our control and not always because they aren't selling well, and it is a pity that many powerful books are no longer available. I thought there is no reason why my out-of-print books should collect dust on a shelf when I could keep them alive. So I'm taking them out of retirement so that they can continue to give joy and pleasure to millions around the world."
     What a great idea! And what a great thing that our modern technology can open such wonderful opportunities to those who hadn't seen his earlier works.
     Good books never have to die! Ain't technology grand?