Coloring Page Tuesday - Talk Like a Pirate Day 2018

     Tomorrow is Talk Like a Pirate Day! So, don yer costumes, matees, and go ye in search of treasure - ARRRR!!
CLICK HERE for more 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 BIRD ON WATER STREET in Vietnamese!!!

The good news just keeps coming!! My award-winning novel, A BIRD ON WATER STREET is now available in Vietnamese as well as Chinese and English! What a wonderful thing!
What do you think, do you have a favorite version?

VIDEO: The Wonky Donkey

Have you heard all the hullaballoo about THE WONKY DONKEY over at The Guardian? A grandma read it to her grandson and the video went viral.
It's also available with a song... (beware, it will get stuck in your head).
It's been made into an animated version as well! (If you watch this too, you will never get the song out of your head. Trust me on this...but it's so FUN!!!!)

1" Art for the House of Illustration

I've been participating in The House of Illustration Drawing a Day Challenge , although I only just today got the chance to actually upload my images to my Instagram Page - DulembaDraws. So, I thought I'd share the collection so far here as well:
Keep an eye on my Instagram page to see them go live each day (I hope to be able to get them up each day now that I'm back in town.) If you'd like to follow along online, these are the tags on Instagram and Twitter: #JohnVernonLord #DrawingaDay @illustrationhq

John Steven Gurney's FUZZY BASEBALL

I love featuring my fellow faculty at Hollins University. Today, John Steven Gurney stops by to talk about his newest graphic novels. He's so clever and funny, I know you'll enjoy learning about them! So, take it away, John!
e: Is there a unique or funny story behind the creation of this story?
John:
There were a few inspirations for Fuzzy Baseball. When I wrote the first drafts of the story my son was just learning to play baseball, and it was hard finding picture books about the sport that were funny, but also true to the rules of the game. A lot of great silly baseball books, and many nostalgic books about great players from history, but I couldn’t find any that had a sense of humor, and where the elements of the game advanced the plot. Another inspiration was memories of growing up a Philadelphia Phillies fan in the 1970’s, and watching them always lose to the Cincinnati Reds, but also experiencing them win the 1980 World Series. I had similar experiences rooting for two hometown teams later in life; the Mets in 1986 and the Red Sox in 2004.
I was sketching some animals playing baseball, and the concept for the story started there. I first wrote Fuzzy Baseball as a picture book, and I shared it with my writers’ group, lead by authors Jesse Haas and Michael Daley. Over the course of 10 years I kept submitting it to publishers, revising it after rejections, shelving it, and reimagining it, and resubmitting it. It evolved from a picture book to a chapter book to a graphic novel. It definitely got the most encouraging rejection letters (no contradiction there) as a graphic novel. As it kept developing, I really felt it needed to be a graphic novel/picture book hybrid. Finally, I found a company that specialized in exactly that genre, Papercutz, and they wanted to publish it as soon as they saw the dummy.

(Click the image above to see it larger in a new window.)
e: What is your creative process/medium, can you walk us through it?
John:
My process was to draw each of the illustrations in pencil, then paint monochromatically with grey watercolor. I scanned all the illustrations and finished them in photoshop. I added the word balloons and type, and arranged the panels on the spreads. Then I added the color in layers, with one layer for the unifying “shadow” colors, and another layer for the “local” colors. I would add texture and further shading in the local color layer. Finally, I would create another layer to paste on the team logos and uniform numbers.

(Click the image above to see it larger in a new window.)
e: Is there something in particular about this story you hope readers will take away with them, perhaps something that isn’t immediately obvious?
John:
I’m hoping that the younger readers have fun, and learn a little bit about the game, and the older readers enjoy the jokes and references.

(Click the image above to see it larger in a new window.)
e: How do you advertise yourself?
John:
As of late I do not advertise for illustration work, but I do advertise for school visits and caricature gigs. It seems to me that posting regularly on Instagram and Tumblr is as effective as any current illustration advertising vehicle.

(Click the image above to see it larger in a new window.)
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?
John:
My idea of what makes an illustration magical is, as you put it, to have heart. When I graduated from Pratt Institute my portfolio had a lot of cynical humor pieces. I wanted to be a social satirist. I have found its easy to poke fun at something, but harder to make someone care about something. Humor is still the major connective tissue in my work, but the challenge is to create a scene with characters that can earn the viewers affection, as well as make them chuckle. I also like to work with contradiction; to go against expectations a little bit. In Fuzzy Baseball there’s a snake on the Fernwood Valley Fuzzies who happens to be a nice guy (cold-blooded but warm-hearted). On the villainous opposing team, the Rocky Ridge Red Claws, the players all look like feral and nasty beasts, but there is a sweet, dewy eyed giraffe on the team who is holding up a “trade me!” sign in the team photo.

(Click the image above to see it larger in a new window.)
e: What is your favorite or most challenging part of being a creator?
John:
I love being a creator, to illustrate my own stories. The biggest challenge is the un-evenness of work. It either all comes in a once, and your scrambling to meet the deadlines, or you have a month where nothing comes in and you struggle to pay the bills. It would be an ideal life if I could just space the work evenly throughout the year.

(Click the image above to see it larger in a new window.)
e: What are you working on next or what would be your dream project?
John:
My latest book, “The Bossy Pirate”, is coming out this October. Its an early reader about a young boy and his friends pretending to be pirates, and the scenes alternate between them all playing in his bedroom, and sailing on an actual pirate ship. But, emotionally, the story is really about learning not to be too controlling, and to allow others to contribute ideas during play (or life).
Right now I am working on the sequel to Fuzzy Baseball, “Ninja Baseball Blast”. The Fuzzies travel to Sashimi City to play the mysterious Ninjas. It’s a silly romp, and an affectionate parody of many familiar Manga cliches.
e: Great - can't wait to see it!

CROW NOT CROW - my copies!!!

Look what arrived in the mail yesterday - my creator copies of CROW NOT CROW - WOOHOO!!!
I can tell you the UPS guy was not happy, however, as we live on the 3rd floor (called the 2nd in the UK). I think this is 50 copies! SO exciting to finally see them finished and in person! :) e
UPDATE: Gail suggested I should 'Crow' about this and who does it better than Mary Martin?

Coloring Page Tuesday - Books as Home

     From conference logo to coloring page... I created this logo for two reasons - first for Dr Evelyn Arizpe to use at the recent IBBY Congress in Athens, Greece, and second for you to share with your young readers. Because a good book can be a home-like comfort.
CLICK HERE for more 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.

Cambridge Picture Book Conference Wrap-up

I'm on the train back to Edinburgh after a wonderful weekend and conference in Cambridge. The conference was called Synergy and Contradiction: How Picturebooks and Picture Books Work held on the beautiful campus of Homerton College.
There was an impressive showing of some of the top scholars in Children's Literature Academia in attendance. The keynote was given by Perry Nodelman, author of Words About Pictures: The Narrative Art of Children's Picture Books - a book I've been using in my Picture Book Design course at Hollins University since 2013. In fact, I own two copies - one on each side of the pond. So, it was lovely to finally get to meet this man who has made such an impact on the field. For his keynote, he talked about Fish in Children's Literature - how they are used to represent people and human emotions. It was a topic that he obviously had a lot of fun investigating and set up the weekend with a running joke about fish!
The guest lecturer was Pam Smy, creator of Thornhill. She gave a fascinating talk about her process behind creating this masterpiece - four years worth of work!
I especially enjoyed the bubble diagram she created of the things that mattered most in her life while she was creating the story. As someone with my fingers in several different pies, I may have to try to make one of these myself. It seems a good way to make sense of how things can connect in your life.
Besides these key lectures, there were a few panels, such as the one I was on with Pam, Vivian French, and Karen Coats (more on that later). Another was a panel of publishers, refreshingly from various small houses. Laura Little of the new publishing program at Bath University moderated the discussion with Greet Pauwelijn of Book Island; Holly Tonks, Commissioning Editor at Tate Children's Books; and Sam Arthur from Flying Eye Books. I'm used to panels with BIG publishing houses, so it was interesting to hear the challenges these smaller houses face.
Between these talks, there were several break-out sessions to choose from. I especially enjoyed the talk by Miki Yamamoto about new takes on Little Red Riding Hood. Despite thousands of attempts to tell the story in a new way, it seems there are still more clever new ways to do it, and she shared several. In this slide, the forest leading from Red's house actually runs along the back of the wolf, which you don't realize until you turn the page and find Read hiding behind tree trunks, which are actually the legs of the wolf. Very cool!
I also enjoyed the talk by fellow artist, Stella East who discussed "The two primordial characteristics of language" words AND images. (She has a description of her talk HERE.) This slide especially pointed out how we have developed as an icon-driven, symbolic-language driven species. I hope to write more on that subject myself.
There was also a panel of illustrators who shared some of their work. I especially loved this one.
In fact, that was one of the delightful things about this conference - the mix of academics and practitioners building bridges between craft and criticism, art and analytics. It ended with a panel of three of the top academics in the field, Perry Nodelman, Maria Nikolajeva (head of the Children's Lit program at Cambridge), and Kristin Hallberg of Stockholm University, moderated by Clémentine Beauvais.
One of the most interesting questions turned out to be seemingly the most simple, although it's been surrounded by debate for years - "Is it 'Picture Books' or 'Picturebooks'?" It was decided that it was partially geographic, imminently imperfect, and in the end, didn't really matter all that much which version one uses!
     As with any conference, one of the main reasons to attend is to connect with people - put names with faces - and share what we find fascinating and exciting with each other. And that we did, in spades. I was able to represent the University of Glasgow. But I was also shocked at how many attendees had connections to Hollins University as well. Truly, our world of children's lit is a small one and I look forward to the next chance for us all to gather!

Bicycles in Cambridge

One of the delightful surprises of visiting Cambridge has been the proliferation of bicycles. Unlike Edinburgh, Cambridge is very level, which makes it ideal for bicyclists, beginners to advanced, to get around easily. As a result, they are everywhere, sometimes locked up, sometimes not, but almost always with a lovely, big basket on the front. How nice!




It makes me want to be on wheels!!!

VIDEO: Gloria and Oprah

Oprah has a new weekly podcast called Super Soul Sundays. I was introduced to it via this fantastic interview between Oprah and Gloria Steinem on Good News Network. This is truly a special talk, worth your time. Click the image to go watch. PS - I so enjoyed the interview, I downloaded Gloria's new book My Life on the Road and I highly recommend it! It was a wonderful, interesting, and inspiring story!

Cambridge!!

I arrived in Cambridge at about 3:00pm and checked in at the IBIS hotel, which is literally next door to the train station - couldn't have been any easier! I'm rooming with Dr Karen Coats of Illinois State University. We teach together at Hollins and are on a panel this weekend at the Synergy and Contradiction: How Picturebooks and Picture Books Work Conference hosted by Cambridge University. We caught up at the cafe in front of the hotel that overlooks a wonderful open square.
As it was our first day in Cambridge, we walked around and played tourist. The nicest part was the welcome of the bells from Greater St Mary's Cathedral! It seemed that every corner we turned revealed something else that was just wonderful.


This bizarre clock has become quite famous in Cambridge - this bizarre creature forwards the wheel that forwards time.


They don't feature unicorns down here, but the emblems are just as grand and gilt.

Very, very old buildings are everywhere, and some are just so charming - I have way too many photos to share!

And of course, the gargoyles are splendid.

There's also a park similar to The Meadows in Edinburgh.

And there are hidey holes everywhere, like this sweet pub that is obviously well-known with the locals.

Truly, every street was another beautiful surprise.

Of course, I had to take a photo of the local Waterstones...

I must admit, I am in love with this town!!! More soon!