Y'know how I hide my dog Bernie in all my books? Well, here he is...sleeping. He was like this for an hour. (Hubbie caught the shot on his iPhone.) Wacky pooch. He does this all the time, but how does he breath?

Endpapers - ahhhhhh

     I adore endpapers. It has nothing to do with the fact that I worked at a children's clothing company for many years and had to create fabric prints...nooooo.
     Endpapers are a way to segue into a story from a different angle than just telling the story. They are an opportunity to introduce elements or themes the reader should pay special attention to. And they can be flat out beautiful. Unprinted endpapers to me are a missed opportunity and oh so sad.
     So I was thrilled to read Shelftalker today and find out that there is an online collection of endpapers at Drawger. Got an hour to kill? Ahhhhh.
     So here are some of the endpapers I've created for my books...

Chile pattern from Paco and the Giant Chile Plant:

Bunnies from Ready for the Day!

and a list of ingredients for a witchy brew from my dummy, Lula's Brew:

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Illustration Friday: Balloon

Well, this piece would have been perfect for this week's theme, but I already used it for "Wind." So, I'll offer up a sketch I did recently as an optional coloring book cover for a client. He didn't choose this one, but I may have to color it one day when I have time. To see the one the client did choose, click here.

Buy local, buy books this holiday season!

I wish everyone a warm and happy Thanksgiving holiday!

Tomorrow is Black Friday and Holiday shopping will officially begin. Please consider the impact your purchases have on your favorite industries and your community this holiday season. Indiebound is campaigning to encourage us all to buy books this year. I know I am!

Video Book Review - Wondrous Strange

     Welcome to my very first Video Book Review! Today I'm reviewing "Wondrous Strange" by Lesley Livingston and relating it to other good reads to give you an idea of what it's like.
     Now I know the sound isn't too great (gotta work on that), but for a first run, I hope it's not too bad. Leave me some comments and let me know what you think!

Coloring Page Tuesday - Thanksgiving Raccoon!

     Sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted and to view more coloring pages - click here!

     Know what the best part of Thanksgiving is? The leftovers of course! (Or so our happy Raccoon thinks!)
     What are you thankful for this year?
     Click the image to open a .jpg to print and color. Send me your colored version (less than 1mb) to and I'll post it to my blog!
     For more Thanksgiving-themed coloring pages, go here.

     Learn about my Cinderella story picture book, The Prince's Diary, click the cover.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

My Highlights Cover!

     Look at what my kindly post master dropped off for me today!! I created this over the summer, when the holiday season seemed oh so far away. My cover for Highlights Magazine (December issue) - wippee!

Teachers - want to win books!?

     The Apple is giving away 35 autographed copies of Jack of All Tails by bud, Kim Norman, for your school. You must be a teacher to enter, but you only have 9 days left - so git hoppin'! (Click the logo above for details.)
     I interviewed Kim on her blog book tour when the book first came out - read more HERE.

Illustration Friday: Opinion

     Another one from Ready for Bed! One of the secrets of proper parenting language is to offer choices. Let children feel powerful by giving them a chance to have a say - express an opinion.

Learn about proper parenting language and the power of choice in, Ready for Bed and Ready for the Day - click the covers!

Nikki Giovanni - Authors on Tour

     Y'all know I am a total addict of listening to Authors on Tour, right? Well, I just heard one of the best visits to the Tattered Cover Bookstore ever.
     Nikki Giovanni, multiple award winner and author of Rosa, which won a Caldecott Honor and the Coretta Scott King Award, talked about her picture books Lincoln and Douglass: An American Friendship and Hip Hop Speaks to Children. I encourage you to go check it out!
     Wow, would I love to meet that lady someday.

Oppose the Orphan Works Act!

They're doing it again - trying to sneak it through congress during the lame duck session. Please, contact your congressperson (click below) and don't let this go through unopposed. This bill would be devastating to our creative careers. There are some big companies set to make a lot of money off this bill. We have a tough fight. Please help.

Coloring Page Tuesday - Storytime Fishies

     Sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted and to view more coloring pages - click here!

     Storytime is the best time of day, even under the sea!
     Click the image to open a .jpg to print and color. Send me your colored version (less than 1mb) to and I'll post it to my blog!
     For more coloring pages, go here.

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

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Savannah Children's Book Festival - What a Blast!

     Wowsa! What happens when you create an entire festival celebrating only children's books? You get tens of thousands of excited readers and dozens of wonderful children's book authors, illustrators, librarians and teachers, all ready to have a great time. And that's exactly what we did!
     I drove to Savannah Friday afternoon (listening to "Eighth Grade Bites" by Heather Brewer) arriving a bit early and realizing that I had totally packed wrong. I thought it was supposed to be cold and rainy! Not even close. It was hot and humid. I rushed out to buy a short sleeved shirt (so I wouldn't melt during my engagements the next day), and ended up taking a lovely walking tour of downtown Savannah. It really is a stunning city with all those grand oaks dripping with Spanish moss, and all the gorgeous Victorian homes. The Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD) made a proud showing as well - with locations all over the city. Must be a rough life for professor Daniel Powers, one of the illustrators in our upcoming "Storybook Look: Illustrations by Southern Artists" show.
     Upon my return to the hotel, I caught up with Joe Davich, my host from the Georgia Center for the Book, and Katie Davis, author/illustrator extraordinaire - we met at Kindling Words last year and it was such a treat to be able to hang out and get to know each other better!
     Friday night the Festival organizers, Janet Langford and Christian Kruse, put on a true southern BOIL. Can I just say, no shrimp will ever be able to live up to this high standard again? They were truly the best I'd ever had. Katie, Joe and I met up with other visiting speakers including the keynote, Mo Willems.
     The best part of the party was when Janet invited us to draw on the walls of the children's section in their library. I used to get in trouble for that sort of thing! And I can't believe I didn't take a picture of my "Read more Booooks" cow - but I hope you'll get a peek next time you visit the Live Oak Public Library!
     There were threats of rain for Saturday, but it started out positively gorgeous with a nice breeze to dispel the heat. The Georgia Center for the Book tent was ideally located near the fountain in Forsyth Park. Joe and Bill Starr, my other host, put together a display of a recent children's art contest and our little home for the day looked charming. Volunteers from READ IT LOUD! arrived throughout the day and we staggered between me sharing Paco and the Giant Chile Plant and them reading stories. And we had a constant crowd! Christian guessed there were about 25,000 attendees, so there were plenty of people to enjoy every speaker.
     Of course, the best crowd occurred when the skies decided to open wide and rain on our parade. Everybody ran for cover and we were suddenly packed to the gills under our little tent. One of the RIL volunteers finished reading Glitter Girl and the Crazy Cheese (he did such a great job I learned a few things!) and we went ahead with my third reading of Paco for the day. We were having so much fun that when one of the festival heads came by to let us know the festival was officially over due to the rain, everybody insisted we continue with the story and drawing Rosebud! What a wonderful, enthusiastic audience - it just doesn't get any better than that!
     Here's why I love speaking at festivals - along with a crowd of people who love books, I get to hang out with fellow author/illustrators and make new friends. We're very lucky, most of the people in this industry are just so danged cool.
     Twelve of us ended up going to dinner and we had a BLAST!! I'll try to do my best here. I never met the first woman on the left, but going around the table from the left are: Joe Davich, Georgia Center for the Book; David Biedrzycki, author/illustrator of "Ace Lacewing: Bug Detective" and others, and his wife, Kathy; Michelle (Mikki) Knudson (uber-groovy chickie!), author of "The Library Lion," a new novel in April, and lots more; Yours Truly; Debra Ghigna, author and wife of Charles Gigna, poet, a.k.a. "Father Goose" (what a great couple!); Mike Thaler, author/illustrator of "The Librarian from the Black Lagoon" series; none other than Miss Rosa, from "Mornings on PBS Kids"; Donald Crews (peeking in there), award-winning author/illustrator of "Freight Train" & "Truck"; and Katie Davis, author/illustrator of such classics as "Kindergarten Rocks" and the new "The Curse of Addy McMahon"!

     *Whew*! Can you imagine better dining companions? We had a rockin' good time and landed on the candy store across the way afterwards to load up on home-made pralines you would not believe! Truly, children's book people are so intelligent, interesting and fun, I made some great new friends!
     Anyhow, a few of us straggled down to breakfast the next morning (we weren't hungover or anything, noooooo), where I was able to catch up with my new BFF Katie again, and Michael White and his family. Michael illustrated "The Library Dragon" by Carmen Deedy who was supposed to be there but came down with a last-minute flu bug and couldn't make it. (Hope you're feeling better Carmen - we missed you!)
     The promised cold snap had finally arrived so I decided against the walk along the river and headed back home, in hopes that I'll be invited back to speak at the fantabulous Savannah Children's Book Festival another year!
     p.s. - I was terrible about getting pictures, but I know others did, so I'll post more as they come in!
     Update: Here they come! Here's a slide show from Savannah Now (they caught me sharing a dummy for my forthcoming book "Soap, soap, soap! ~ ¡Jabón, jabón, jabón!):

More great pics and a write-up on Katie Davis' Blog!

Yeah! Janet sent me a picture of my cow on the wall of the children's department in the Live Oak Library!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Illustration Friday: Pretend

     It's always easier to get something done when you pretend you're doing something else! This is also from Ready for Bed!, part of the ParentSmart/KidHappy series.

     I'm off to speak at the Savannah Children's Book Festival - hope you'll stop by!

Coloring Page Tuesday - Storytime Bears

Sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted and to view more coloring pages - click here!
     What is your favorite time of day - storytime? Yeah, that's what I thought.
     Click the image to open a .jpg to print and color. Send me your colored version (less than 1mb) to and I'll post it to my blog!
     For more coloring pages, go here.

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

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

This image was made into a logo for Share a Story, Shape a Future!

Look what Colleen made!

e's news - november 2008

     I just sent out my latest newsletter which you can view in full HERE, but here are some of the highlights:

Hi Y'all!
     Christmas is coming and the goose is . . . tightening it's belt. It's important that you spend your money thoughtfully this holiday season. Buy locally and from industries you'd like to strengthen. Books make fantastic gifts - dollar for dollar they are one of the best entertainment values available AND they promote literacy and give back long after the holidays are over.
     I hope you'll consider my books when shopping. (Click on a cover to learn more about each title.)

     If you order through my local independent bookseller, Little Shop of Stories, I can personalize your copies and add a bookmark. (Click their logo to send them an email.) I also have tons of free stuff you can download on my website to include with your gift!


     I'll be at the Savannah Children's Book Festival this coming weekend (November 15th) speaking at the brand new tent for the Georgia Center for the Book and Read it Loud - an organization that encourages parents to read to their children.
     I'm honored to be a last-minute addition to the incredible line-up of speakers this year. (Click the banner for more info.) The festival is FREE to the public, so I hope you'll stop by!

     Planning for our Illustrators' Showcase, now called "Storybook Look: Illustrations by Southern Artists" is going well. My art has been picked up (leaving blank spaces on my studio walls) and they are scheduling venues now. If you're interested in hiring the show for your gallery, library, or venue, visit the Southern Arts Federation for more information.

     I'm currently working on my first picture book as author/illustrator, "Soap, soap, soap ~ Jabón, jabón, jabón" and about to dive into the fourth book in the ParentSmart/KidHappy series. More information soon!


Paco and the Giant Chile Plant has been awarded a Bronze Medal in the 2008 Moonbeam Children's Book Awards. Woohoo!

     I often listen to audio books while I'm illustrating and I've just finished THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins. I can't recommend it highly enough.
     It presents a believable and engaging scenario set sometime in the future (at least 100 years as it's after a war we have yet to fight). It's a reality show to the death, a game invented by the Capital to keep down the losing side. Part game show, part love story, part survival story, both boy and girl teens (and adults) will love this book.
     I love audio books, but I kind of wish I had read this one rather than listened to it, as it's one of those books you can really curl up with and disappear into.

I also talk about school visits and coloring pages. Like what you see? Want to subscribe? Sign up to receive e's news HERE.

Need A Grant?

     I know several teachers and librarians follow my blog (thank you!) so I thought you might like to know about this. From School Library Journal:
Here’s an easy way to gain $1,000 for school library books. The National Education Association Foundation is sponsoring the Books Across America Library Books Awards to help schools that serve kids in economically disadvantaged areas—and the application process is a breeze.

     Click the image above to read the entire article and find links to sign up. The deadline is November 20th - so don't wait!

NY Times '08 Best Illustrated Children's Books

     The New York Times has made their big announcement - their top ten picks for best illustrated children's books of 2008. Kadir Nelson's work is pure genius of course (above), but what do you think of the rest? See the slide show HERE.
     I find the high-design, almost editorial looking choices interesting but I'm not sure I'd pick them as top ten. What do you think?

Illustration Friday: Wise

     Why do parents always seem so wise? How can they already know all the new things their kids discover?
     This is an illustration from Ready for Bed!, part of the ParentSmart/KidHappy series written by Stacey Kaye, illustrated by Yours Truly, Free Spirit Publishing. Click the covers to learn more:

The Evolution of Identity (for illustrators)

     Swing back to my graphic design days today. This is a great display of how some very familiar logos/brands have changed and evolved over the years (thanks to for the heads up).
     This may seem off topic, but it's really not. When I talk to illustrators about self-promotion I often tell them to think of themselves as a brand. I encourage them to buy "theirnamedotcom" as their website rather than something unrelated, cutesy, or hard to remember. I tell them, "You just became the next Xerox, the next Coca-Cola."
     It's important that your artwork feed into your brand as well. In other words, have a recognizable style that only you can create. That way when a publisher or art director has a particular look in mind for a new project, they think of you and only you.
     Coming from a graphic design background (as I did), I used to think the opposite. "Isn't it good to show you're flexible, that you are capable of many different looks and can help a publisher with different needs?" The answer is no.
     There are plenty of illustrators out there who can mimic other looks - it's part of the job description for many in-house illustrators (they called us "wrists" or "hands"). Picture books are not the same thing as graphic design/in-house illustration - far from it. Publishers want something that stands out, something that will jump off the shelves as different and new (and wonderful of course).
     But after that kind of background it can be hard to find your own look or style (it took me years of experimenting). Sure, you can successfuly pull off lots of different styles, lots of different looks, but how do you find your look? How do you find what makes your work unforgettable? I have some ideas:

     1) Illustrate like crazy. No way around this one. The more art you create, the more your media preferences and style will slowly percolate to the surface.

     2) Become aware of the decisions you make unconsciously - certain colors you tend to use more than others (your personal color palette), angles of light you use by default, ways you tend to draw the human form. These will all tip you off to your own style. And once you recognize your patterns, you can play off those decisions by using them on purpose or consciously manipulating them.

     3) Master your way of working. If it's not done well, it will not impress.

     I had to struggle through all this as well and it flat out takes time. So, if this is your path as well - it's time to get to work! :)

Interesting, somewhat related read: An Interview with Marshall Arisman