El dia de los ninos ~ el dia de los libros

     Today is El dia de los ninos ~ el dia de los libros! What's that? The Association for Library Service to Children names it as such:

     El día de los niños/El día de los libros (Children's Day/Book Day), known as Día, is a celebration EVERY DAY of children, families, and reading that culminates every year on April 30. The celebration emphasizes the importance of advocating literacy for children of all linguistic and cultural backgrounds.

or more appropriately:

     El 30 de abril es una fecha muy significativa para los niños. Se celebra el día de los niños y de los libros. Esta celebración se conoce como El día de los niños/ El día de los libros, y celebra la alegría y las maravillas de la infancia y la importancia de los libros en nuestra vida.

     In celebration I'm reading Paco and the Giant Chile Plant ~ Paco y la planta de chile gigante at the Decatur Library today along with a Mariachi Band - can't wait! ¡Si, Celebremos!

We had a muy divertido time yesterday. The auditorium was decorated to the hilt thanks to the efforts of the Decatur librarians and Joe of the Georgia Center for the Book. Patricia took tons of pictures for me to choose from, although I must admit I make a lot of silly faces when I'm talking to kids. She was good, she got every one of 'em! (And no, I'm not going to share - you'll just have to catch me in person one day!) I really do love sharing stories with kids - they ask great questions and offer hilarious input. So even though this first picture is blurry, I love the joy in it. I let the kids come up on stage with me, so they were all over the stairs and we had a great time. Rosebud the vaca ended up being yellow this time (she's turned into a cow of a different color). Here are some of the brilliant gals who answered my Spanish quiz questions correctly at the end - they all got sombreros! Yo y mis tres amigas!

Great review for Paco!!

     Wowsa! What a great review - I'm thrilled! Click the logo to read the whole thing, but here's the round-up:

     What a wonderful story. The author did a fabulous job taking what most of us assume is just a Spanish-added version of a classic story and truly making it her own. She did a masterful job blending Spanish into the story, offering repetition in English and Spanish together. As good as the story is, I could turn the pages just to look at the illustrations, too. On one page, el gigante terrible is reaching out to the reader!
     Everyone will enjoy this new ending to a classic story. The illustrations, combined with well integrated Spanish, make this a must-read for elementary-aged children.
     Buy. This is a wonderful book and a nice twist on a classic tale. The illustrations are exceptional and children (especially young boys) will see themselves in Paco: curious, drawn to magic, and a hero.
          - The Reading Tub

Coloring Page Tuesday - Latino Book Month!

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     Did you know that May is Latino Book Month? Yup. It kicks off with El dia de los niños ~ El dia de los libros on April 30th. And of course Cinco de Mayo is May 5th. It's a great month for all my events with my new picture book Paco and the Giant Chile Plant, and it's a great month to celebrate all things Latino!
     So enjoy this serape, sombrero and maracas - add color and make them picante!
     Click the image to open a .jpg to print and color. Send me your colored version (less than 1mb) to coloringpages@dulemba.com and I'll post it to my blog!
     For more coloring pages, go here.

     Learn morea about Paco and the Giant Chile Plant ~ Paco y la planta de chile gigante - click the cover.

Paco Fiestas (Parties) - Woohoo!

     I am going to be way busy this week with LOTS of speaking engagements and parties (rough life, I know). But add these to my regular work, and I'm gonna be one busy gal!
     What's going on? Glad you asked! *ahem*
     May kicks off Latino Book Month and there are lots of ways to celebrate all things Latino!!

Wednesday, April 30th, 4:00pm: Celebrate El dia de los niños ~ el dia de los libros at the Dekalb Public library with me, Paco, and a Mariachi Band!

Thursday, May 1st, 10:00am: Mami y Yo at the Latin American Association.

Saturday, May 3rd, 10:00am: Barnes & Noble Northpoint (Alpharetta, Georgia) - a pre-Cinco de Mayo Party with Paco!

Saturday, May 3rd, 1:00pm: The Reading Tree (Alpharetta, Georgia) - storytime with Paco!

and the biggie...
Sunday, May 4th, 3:00pm: Kick Off Fiesta for Paco!! at Little Shop of Stories NEW location, still on the Decatur Square just east of Atlanta, Georgia, now to the right of Starbucks. We'll have Latino music, food, games and giveaways, so it will be a great segue into Cinco de Mayo! View the full invitation HERE.

If you're nearby, I hope you'll drop by!

Cedar Valley Arts Festival

     I've just returned from what I've added to my top ten list of speaking engagements. If you are an author or illustrator and you are ever asked to speak at the Cedar Valley Arts Festival in Cedartown, Georgia in Polk County - GO. But look up two words in the dictionary first: family and community. Cedartown is included in both their definitions. A wrong turn ended up taking me right down the entire length of main street, and I couldn't have imagined a more perfect little town - pure Americana.
     The Arts Festival was set up in a lovely, recently renovated, and well maintained park filled with tall trees, cool shade, and a winding walking path that led me in a circle through just enough booths filled with interesting things for everybody to enjoy. Families were everywhere, some playing catch in the central area, others supporting their children in the chorus or dance routines. And all the support was overlapping because this is a small town where everybody knows everybody – the comeraderie and casual ease which exists in an atmosphere like that was obvious. There is a saying that it takes a village to raise a child, and Cedartown definitely has that village feel.
     The stage was set in the middle of the new water fountain (turned off for the occassion) and surrounded by ampitheater-like seating. The pictures don't do it or the crowd justice - there were tons of people standing under trees all around the stage. And as my presentation went on, the crowd increased exponentially. I wore the sombrero for shade - although I don't know why hats are thought to keep you cool! I read Paco with all its fun voices. We played telephone, which worked this time! (Paco is an adaptation of Jack and the Beanstalk, and I talk about how stories change as they are handed down from teller to teller.) I quizzed the children on the Spanish words introduced in Paco and gave away sombreros and maracas. And then we drew Rosebud, pink this time, in all her vaca glory.
     I loved sharing Paco with this crowd, especially since 47% of the town's population is now Latino. And they have been embraced by their community. The schools are eagerly rising to meet the needs of their Latino students and gushed about what a perfect fit Paco was for their students.
     Smiles were everywhere and everybody was so gracious. It was such an enjoyable day, I didn't want to leave. But home was an hour and a half away and my doggies awaited. I wish I could have stayed much, much longer.
     Thanks to Ahren Lee for inviting me, Kris of the Rome Barnes & Noble who so generously ordered a ton of my books, and to all the volunteers of which there were many, especially those from the Cedartown Junior Service League. Any time you want me back - I'm there with bells on.

Illustration Friday: Wrinkles

I love witches with all their wrinkles and warts. They're so much fun to draw!
This is a snippet from my dummy "Lula's Brew."

I'm the Highlights Illustrator of the Month!!

     Wow! I had heard Highlights Magazine did this sometimes - but I never thought I'd be recognized, especially on the first piece I ever did for them!! Look what arrived in the mail today:

     What a fantastic surprise!! Talk about making my day, my week, my month!! The plaque is a lovely pewter plate which reads:

Highlights for Children
Illustrator of the Month
Elizabeth O. Dulemba
"Egg Drop Soup"
April 2008

     !!! AND they want to send out a press release in my area. AND this after receiving the nicest thank you note from the author of "Egg Drop Soup," Heather Tomasello.
     How much love can one person feel? I'm feeling a lot!! This is going on my Woohoo! table at the TOP of the stairs where I can see it every day.
     Thanks so much to the creative minds behind Highlights Magazine, I'm flattered beyond words.
     Here are the illustrations I did to accompany "Egg Drop Soup," which came out in the April 2008 edition:

     I'm working on the December cover right now - and oh so happy to be doing so!!


     A question came up on one of my message boards about business cards. Well, I don't hand out business cards, I hand out bookmarks. Several people liked that idea, but had questions and I thought it would be good information to share on my blog.
     Here are my two latest bookmarks:

     (Click a bookmark to open a version you can print and cut out!)
     I created these in Photoshop using my own art. The one on the left lists several of my books, while the other just promotes one book - Paco and the Giant Chile Plant. The one on the left I had printed at Kinkos - eight up on their 11"x17" cardstock (which kept the color pretty accurate - don't use their gloss stock). Here's what my .pdf file looked like:

     What you may not be able to see here is that I extended the size of my bookmark 1/8" around all outside edges here and placed crop marks where they should be cut down. (Kinkos can do this.) This guarantees I won't have white space showing around the edges and is the most efficient use of paper. I didn't have anything printed on the back for this round.
     Kinkos does a great job, but ends up being more expensive per bookmark. (And they are only as good as the person helping you, so they require a lot of hands on.) So, I searched out another printer for bulk. I've just started using a local printer, Claxton Printing.
     My main reason for not wanting to go with one of the large online printing companies like VistaPrint or others, is that I wanted to be able to see a proof - maybe even swing by to have a look if I needed it quickly. (I also like to support local businesses.) Another advantage is that I didn't have to set up the file for them. I just sent them one bookmark design (as a .pdf with the image extended 1/8"" all around) and they took it from there.
     They did a great job on my Paco bookmarks, and I got 500 bookmarks for about the same price I used to get 200 at Kinkos.
     (I also added information to the back of the Paco bookmark in black and white which you can also download by clicking the image to the right.)
     I tend to prefer a bookmark about 2 inches wide, although my heights have varied. However, I've found the shorter bookmarks easier to deal with in my purse. I also think, in the future, I may stick with a bookmark that shows several books - that way I can put it with any book I sign (I always give a bookmark when I sign a book), and it advertises my other books. But in the mean time, I've got about 400 more Paco bookmarks to give away!
     The main thing with bookmarks is I'm trying to let people know about my books and drive them to my website where they can download free coloring pages, word find puzzles, computer wallpaper, etc. Hopefully, they'll visit again and again and still be around when my next books come out!

I've been tagged...

Author/Illustrator Barbara Johansen Newman over at Cats and Jammers Studio tagged me for a fun game. Here's what I was told to do:

1. Pick up the nearest book.
2. Open to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people and post a comment to the blogger who tagged you.

(You can also do the PB version - go to page 23 and just write the text.)

So, if I follow the directions to a t - the nearest book to me is one I'm using for research on my second novel, "Ducktown: Back in Raht's Time" by R.E. Barclay. It details the history of, you guessed it, Ducktown, Tennessee and some of it is purty derned funny. Let's see how this turns out:

pg. 123 Okay, I got creative on the sentence picks - didn't want to bore you. But this is pretty good:
Raht defended the quarterly paydays on the grounds that they tended to reduce lost time from payday celebrations and carousals, and that the fewer times the money was brought to Ducktown the less the chances were of hold-ups along the lonely stretches of the copper road.

Hmm. So I'm gonna tag:
Kerry Madden
Sarah Dillard
Kim Norman
Paula Pertile
Karen Lee

Coloring Page Tuesday - Earth Day!

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     It's Earth Day - and our planet just wants some love. What do you do to help save our resources every day? Change to flourescent light bulbs, recycle, cut down on catalogue subscriptions? It all helps.
     Click the image to open a .jpg to print and color. Send me your colored version (less than 1mb) to coloringpages@dulemba.com and I'll post it to my blog!
     For more coloring pages, go here.

     Learn about my bilingual picture book Paco and the Giant Chile Plant ~ Paco y la planta de chile gigante - click the cover.

Check out these great coloring jobs from Ms. Vieira's students all the way over in Portugal!! Thanks so much for sending them in!

Alabama Book Festival - Roundup

     I'm back - what a fun book festival that was! And despite poor weather forecasts, it couldn't have been more beautiful.
     The Alabama Book Festival is held in Montgomery, in Old Alabama Town every year. Old Town is a collection of Antebellum houses, buildings and cabins which have been restored to their original glory. There are some true gems in the collection, and they make for charming venues to be steeped in southern literature. Thanks to Jay Lamar and Nancy Griggs for inviting me and putting together such a fabulous affair. I drank sweet iced tea, wore a hat (okay, a sombrero), and felt my southern roots down to my toes.

     I arrived Friday to participate in a get together for all the authors and illustrator (me) in the historic Young House Restaurant, where the children's book people found each other immediately. I had the great pleasure of hanging out with R.A. Nelson ("Teach Me"), Jay Asher ("13 Reasons Why"), and Loretta Ellsworth ("In Search of Mockingbird") quite a bit. In fact, Loretta and her sister Monica were staying at my hotel, so we got to spend some great time together. (They got more pics which I'll post later if our eyes aren't closed in them . . . ) I also met Jennifer Echols ("Major Crush") and got to hang out with friend Deborah Wiles ("Each Little Bird That Sings") for all of five minutes! Honestly, I think this is what I enjoy most about these events - the chance to spend time with fellow creators.
     Or maybe it's the chance to truly connect with a child.
     After my gig at 11:00 (on what had to be the cutest stage ever in front of the old print shop), I gave a mini-drawing lesson on how to draw "Rosebud" - the vaca (cow) from "Paco and the Giant Chile Plant." I had about a dozen "students" who all did a great job. The little girl in the picture is Lauren - she got to keep the cow I drew, bought a book for me to sign, and gave me a big hug before she left. Things like that make you feel so, so good.
     The drive from Atlanta wasn't bad either - just over two hours, and it gave me the chance to enjoy "Dragon's Keep" by Janet Lee Carey on audio all the way down and back. I still have a bit left to listen to, so I need another trip. Wait, I have one! I'm off to the Cedar Valley Arts Festival next weekend - hope to see you there!

Alabama Book Festival!

Well, I'm here in Montgomery. I speak tomorrow at the Alabama Book Festival - children's stage, 11:00am (I think). If you're in the neighborhood, I sure hope you'll stop by and say hello! I'll blog thoroughly upon my return.

Illustration Friday: Primitive

Kids can turn pretty primitive when you try to get them to do something they don't want to do . . . like go to bed. Here's an illustration from "Ready for Bed" coming out this June from Free Spirit Publishing. It walks a parent through language that works when trying to get Jr. to bed. It's part of the ParentSmart series written by Stacey Kaye.

Coloring Page Tuesday - Dinosaur

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     I knew a lot about dinosaurs when I was a kid (don't all kids?), but not so much as an adult. And a lot of what they know about dinosaurs has changed since I was young too. So without a lot of research, I must admit I've invented a brand new dinosaur for this week's coloring page. This is an "Aspotosaurus" for your coloring pleasure. (Get it, get it? An A-SPOT-o-saurus . . . *sigh.* Yeah, you probably do.)
     Click the image to open a .jpg to print and color. Send me your colored version (less than 1mb) to coloringpages@dulemba.com and I'll post it to my blog!
     For more coloring pages, go here.

     Learn about my bilingual picture book Paco and the Giant Chile Plant ~ Paco y la planta de chile gigante - click the cover.

Nuestra Vida and Univision 34!

     Recently, I had the great pleasure of reading "Paco and the Giant Chile Plant ~ Paco y la planta de chile gigante" for the first time to an all Latino audience! It took place at the Chamblee Library and was part of the Nuestra Vida program hosted by Univision 34 here in Atlanta. It was also the first time I truly tested my new Spanish skills.
     I've been taking lessons at the Latin American Association for over a year now, and the teachers, staff, and friends I have made there have become such an enormous part of my life, I actually dedicated Paco to them (and my husband of course).
     But even with all my studying, I am nowhere near fluent, so I was very nervous. However, as usual with events like this, it quickly becomes all about the kids and their families and I leave my nerves behind.
     And it was about families. Nuestra Vida had become a big event in the lives of the families attending, a day to spend time together (not just an excuse to keep the kids busy).
     They all loved Paco and laughed in all the right places - it's actually a really fun book to read aloud what with all the different characters and exclamations. They "oohed" over my demonstration drawing . . . or maybe I should say "mooed" - I chose to draw the cow which I have named Rosebud. And they were incredibly appreciative when we gave away the drawing and a copy of Paco. Here I am with the family that won the book - they were such sweet people and their oldest daughter was quite the budding artista.
     And even though most of the kids' first language was English, their parents' first language was Spanish, so I ended up speaking a lot of it. They were very patient with me, and I only received the "what the heck are you talking about" look twice, so I thought I did alright.
     The most exciting thing about the event was at the end. We handed out coloring pages and word find puzzles ("Sopa de palabras"). I about cried when I looked up from all the kids busy coloring to see all their parents concentrating on the word find puzzle. I made it bilingual and had never thought of it as an actual literacy tool, but there it was. Wow.
     (Download the coloring pages and word find puzzles yourself from my Paco activity page.)

     SOAP BOX:
     I think we sometimes forget what a rich mix of people it takes to make America - the America I am so proud of. Especially in a city the size of Atlanta, there are so many different cultures and backgrounds, I am thrilled to be tapped into one small portion of that mix - it makes my city and my life so much more meaningful and interesting. And I hope, in my little way, that by sharing my love for the diversity and different ideas people bring to our country that they feel just a little bit more welcome.
     Why? Because, I come from immigrants too. Granted, from way back, as does my husband (3rd generation Polish), and most Americans for that matter. But so many people were and are so desperate to fit it, and move beyond societal prejudices, they slough off their cultures when they arrive. My maiden name is Oberholtzer (the "O." in my name). It's an incredibly ethnic name with NO history or tradition attached (beyond a town in Bavaria where we think the name was derived). I so wish my family had held onto our culture. It was a part of my identity to which I now have no connection. Of course, I'm also part English, Scottish, maybe a bit Cherokee, and who knows what else. But again, with no real connections. How sad.
     I hope that by showing my appreciation for the cultures coming into our country now, people will remain proud of them and realize what a treasure they bring, and keep them. We are a melting pot after all, and I find melting pots much, much more interesting than the alternative.
     OFF SOAP BOX. You may now return to your regularly scheduled blog...

illustration Friday: Fail

     We may not get it right the first time, but we tend to figure it out eventually.
     This is another illustration from "Ready for the Day" written by Stacey Kaye, illustrated by Yours Truly, Free Spirit Press, June 2008.

The Edge of the Forest, March/April 2008

     Do you know about this great online magazine on children's literature? Go check it out! This issue includes:

Coloring Page Tuesday - Mermaid

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     Why a mermaid today? I just felt like drawing something swirly. Enjoy!
     Click the image to open a .jpg to print and color. Send me your colored version (less than 1mb) to coloringpages@dulemba.com and I'll post it to my blog!
     For more coloring pages, go here.

     OMG, this just cracked me up!! Look what CherylAnn Boothe made for a friend's daughter (turning 1 year old). Recognize the mermaid? Seems a shame to let a 1 year old dive into such a piece of art, but well, I'd be right there with 'em - it looks yummy! Fantastic CherylAnn - thanks for sharing!

     Learn more about my fun picture book Glitter Girl and the Crazy Cheese - click the cover.

Wow, wow. Look at what Lorraine made for her granddaughter! And thanks to her friend Keziah for sending it in!

There's more! Kristi sent in a photo of her family working on a poster-sized version of my mermaid for her daughter's birthday party. Makes me smile!

Atlanta Tornado

You've probably already seen this floating around the internet, but I wanted to keep it in my "online diary" so I could look at it again. It's really an amazing photo, by Shane Durrance, of the tornado that hit Atlanta a few weeks back. Driving close to town there are still so many blue tarps on roofs and huge trees down in people's yards. Crazy enough, hubbie and I slept through the whole thing.

Illustration Friday: Save

     From my new book from Free Spirit Publishing (written by Stacey Kaye, illustrated by Yours Truly, June 2008), here's the illustration featured in their new catalogue (check my post below).
     Dads always know how to save the day!

My Books are in the Free Spirit Catalogue!

     I just received my copy of the Spring/Summer 2008 Free Spirit Publishing Catalogue and guess what I found? Yup! The first two books in the ParentSmart series (I'm the illustrator), "Ready for the Day" and "Ready for Bed," written by Stacey Kaye! (A few of the illustrations are in my portfolio if you'd like a closer look.)
     The listing mentions their June 2008 release, but I thought I'd give you a peek and let you know they're coming!!!
     Free Spirit specializes on materials to help children learn good social skills or deal with difficulties in life - a great company to work with. This series in particular teaches good parenting language - a big help for new parents. And did I mention it's a series? In fact, I'm diving into illustrations for the third book right now! The books aren't on the website yet, but you can learn more about Free Spirit by clicking on their logo!

Mo Willems at Little Shop of Stories

     Yup - that's him, right there, speaking to a packed house at Little Shop of Stories (probably the last big event before they move to their new location).
     Turns out Mo is VERY sensitive to camera flashes, so I didn't get any pictures with him (didn't want to stress him out over the possibility my flash might not be off). But wow, is he "flashy" (sorry) with the kids - he's so funny! Okay, maybe us adults were laughing just as hard, maybe harder. Mo shared his latest pigeon book - and only three days old we now know that . . . Pigeon Wants a Puppy!! (This has been a big, big secret.)
     Several writer/illustrator buds showed up and we waited a LONG time to get our books signed. I like to wait until the very end when things have quieted down a bit when you can get a chance to actually talk with the creators - and I did!
     Mo is super nice (and obviously patient) and actually asked to see Paco! Wowsa. We talked about our creative communities and how people in this biz tend to hang out and how nice they usually are. 'Twas nice. Hope to run into Mo again as the circles in this biz just seem to get smaller and smaller. What a great time!

International Children's Book Day!

     It's International Children's Book Day today. What's that? Well it's hosted by the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) and they describe it thus:
     "Since 1967, on or around Hans Christian Andersen's birthday, 2 April, International Children's Book Day (ICBD) is celebrated to inspire a love of reading and to call attention to children's books."
     Click the image to go learn more!

Coloring Page Tuesday - Apple a Day

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     I can't believe I haven't drawn an apple for you to give your teachers yet. Yesterday I visited an apple orchard, Mercier's, to ask questions about growing apple trees (research for my novel), and now I have apples on my mind. So, here's an apple for you, for your teacher, for the worm . . .
     Click the image to open a .jpg to print and color. Send me your colored version (less than 1mb) to coloringpages@dulemba.com and I'll post it to my blog!
     For more coloring pages, go here.

     Learn about my bilingual picture book Paco and the Giant Chile Plant ~ Paco y la planta de chile gigante - click the cover.