Coloring Page Tuesdays - Sleigh Bells

     Sleigh bells ring, are you listening?
CLICK HERE for more HOLIDAY-THEMED 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.

A Walk in the Scotland Countryside

In my last post, I talked about our recent visit to Penelope and Robert's Broomhill House. As part of our mini-holiday adventure, we took a lovely through the local countryside. We put on our sturdy boots, our woolies, and lots of layers to set out in the cold, clear day. We walked along winding, rocky paths and saw amazing views.
We passed walls of bushes and vines, including SLOE berries as in 'Sloe Gin Fizz'.
And we saw LOTS of SHEEP!




When Stan stopped to tie his shoe, Sweep and Pippa wanted to help.
It was such a gorgeous day for a right and proper walk-about. The sky was a perfect cyan.
And wee lochs reflected it like mirrors.
On the way back to the house, we cut through the neighbor's pony field. They do this a lot, but the doggies were a bit intimidated by the horses who were very curious about them. We got the doggies to the other side and I got to pet wonderful fuzzy pony noses. JOY!
They all had their thick, fuzzy winter coats on, so sweet and furry!

Back at the house, we had lentil soup and salad, and Robert played piano for us (he's a fantastic jazzy piano player). We had a great time bonding over that wonderful kitchen table again, until it was time to catch the train back to Edinburgh. What a wonderful mini-holiday. Thank you again, Penelope and Robert! I'm so grateful!!!

Penelope and Robert's Broomhill House

We went to visit friends Penelope and Robert in Selkirk this weekend. Selkirk is a little town in the Borders (between Scotland and England) at the end of the trainline in Tweedbank. They're in the process of retiring and decided to move to a house in the countryside, and what a lovely house it is! Welcome to Broomhill House.
Most of the home was built in the late 1700s or early 1800s. They're not quite sure. Here's Penelope in front of the house, with a nice shot of the house with the stunning view of rolling Scottish hills beyond.

Of course, most things around here were built back then, so it's not a matter of extreme importance, and like so many other structures, the house is a mish-mash of additions over the passage of time. Here's Sweep at the door to the old stable. Penelope cleared inches of deep mud off of these lovely cobblestones - what a treasure she found!
And here's Robert at the door of yet another mystery space that could easily be turned into another fun guest room.
The house was once a Dower Cottage - where a mother-in-law would have been sent to live when the new wife moved into the 'big' house.
Persoanlly, I wouldn't mind being the Dower Mother in such a lovely abode. Here's the view out the kitchen window over the large wooden table around which all of life centers in this happy home.
P&R are both avid gardeners and they've already made considerable progress on the property even though they haven't been there a year. Along with rambling and extensive grounds, there is an enclosed garden surrounded by rock walls that keep the wind out.
It's winter, so most of the garden is asleep, but the gardner in me can see what it will soon become. Already the hedges are being reclaimed, dead trees removed, new trees planted, fruit trees pruned, and rock walls rebuilt.
Behind the garden is a lovely stream (they don't have 'creeks' in Scotland - only 'rivers' and 'streams'). Stan played with Sweep in the very cold water.
And while they fed us amazingly well during our visit, it was only the beginning of the produce the land will soon be providing, from various fruits for jams and chutneys, to vegetables, to cider (in the works), and the occasional rabbit who gets too obnoxious with the beloved vegetables or bird-feeder. Bird-watching is a wonderful past-time at Broomhill.
One of the most interesting features of the house is the Gin gang out back (the round roofed building).
It's one of only six left in the country and is registered and protected. These days it's where Robert chops wood for the fireplaces. In its hey-day it's where a horse would go in circles to grind grain on a center stone. Pigeons love to perch in its impressive rafters.
Connnie and Kevin (who also came to visit) suggested it would make a lovely spot for yoga if P&R ever want to open the house for retreats. (I, of course, thought it would make a wonderful writing retreat destination.) Every room in the house has a bathroom. I took full advantage of the lovely tub.
Sunday we took a lovely hike through the pastoral surroundings - more on that in the next post! Meanwhile - THANK YOU P&R for a lovely weekend!!!

VIDEO: Storyline Online: The Elves and the Shoemaker

I adore this book, especially the art by Jim LaMarche, who was obviously inspired by my hero, Garth Williams, who also illustrated the story in The Golden Book of Elves and Fairies. Enjoy this sweet story read by Chrissy Metz at Storyline Online:

Children's Book Creators' Lunch

I recently had the happy pleasure to attend my second gathering of children's book writers and illustrators Holiday Luncheon that happens each year at Zizzi's in Edinburgh. We all crawl out of the woodwork, away from our studios and anti-social lifestyles to come together and enjoy holiday poppers, silly jokes, and catch up with what everyone's been up to over the past year. I'll not begin to name everyone, but we're all published and working children's book creators, so it's fun to talk shop and celebrate achievements. For me, I've found my peeps. So nice!

Anna Desnitskaya's GINA FROM SIBERIA

I love working with smaller publishing houses who obviously have very good taste. Their books can get overlooked, when they shouldn't! Take, for instance, GINA FROM SIBERIA from Animal Media Group. It's a soft story about immigration through the eyes of the family dog and will make a great segue or introduction read before dealing with heavier books on refugee topics such as THE JOURNEY. I think the book fills a hole. And it is beautifully illustrated by Anna Desnitskaya who visits today all the way from Russia!
e: What was your creative process/medium for Gina from Siberia, can you walk us through it?
Anna:
Authors - Jane [Bernstein] and Charlotte [Glynn] - found my portfolio on the internet and asked me to illustrate the book. I was really exited: it was my first experience with a client from US so it was a very interesting offer for me. Jane and Charlotte sent me the text, I made a sketch of the whole book layout as my proposal, and so we started to work. The working process was like that: I would draw a sketch and then send it to the authors. Sometimes they would totally agree, and sometimes not. Following their comments I would draw the final illustration, which we would discuss with Jane and Charlotte.
e: You live in Russia! What is the picture book market like there for an illustrator like you?
Anna:
Well, picture book market in Russia is not as big as in Europe or in America, but we have some very good publishing houses and I'm happy to work with one of them - Samokat Publishing House. I have some successful book projects in Russia, so I receive enough offers to choose what I’d like to illustrate.
e: Is there a unique or interesting story behind the creation of Gina from Siberia?
Anna:
Yes, this book is based on a real story that the authors heard from their friends who had immigrated to the USA from the USSR in the 70s with their dog named Gina. Even with the episode when Gina was dressed like a baby in a train had actually happened!
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?
Anna:
For me it's a very deep dive into a story you are illustrating - to find information and details which readers may not even ever notice - but you know it for yourself, and these details make a picture really special. I always try to find a lot of materials, photos etc. for the illustration.. The more real life is there behind the picture, the more lively it actually is.
e: How do you advertise yourself?
Anna:
First of all my Publishing house does this for me - thanks to them my book is being published abroad, they send my illustrations to competitions (this way I was awarded the Golden apple at the Bratislava biennale the last year). Besides I send my illustrations to different competitions by myself. And of course I use my instagram https://www.instagram.com/anyadesnitskaya/ and behance https://www.behance.net/anya_d accounts to promote myself.
e: What is your favorite or most challenging part of being a creator?
Anna:
The most challenging part for me is the very beginning of a book project - when I should figure out how it will work. It feels like my brain is boiling! My favorite part is to color illustrations in Photoshop listening some podcasts or an audiobook during my work.
e: Is there something in particular about Gina from Siberia you hope readers will take away with them, perhaps something that isn’t immediately obvious?
Anna:
I think the authors and me, we see this story from different angles - I'm from Russia, where Gina's journey begins, and Jane and Charlotte are from New York, the final destination of her journey. I hope this difference made our book more deep and real (speaking of the "heart art"!) But neither me nor Jane and Charlotte are immigrants while Gina is building a kind of a bridge between us. So I hope our readers will look at the story with Gina’s eyes like we did.
e: What are you working on next or what would be your dream project?
Anna:
At the moment I'm working on the book about the Transsiberian railway and the cities it connects. It's a challenging but rather interesting task, I hope it will be finished before the next summer.
e: I can't wait to see it!

Coloring Page Tuesday - Doggie Gift!

     What do you hope to receive this holiday season?
CLICK HERE for more HOLIDAY-THEMED 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.