Hollins U - Pot Luck

We had one last pot-luck party on Friday night for those who hadn't left our Hollins bubble yet. It's a chance to clean out our refrigerators (there are always lots of pickles at this party), and to have one last hoorah.
We get very silly at this party, singing songs...
trying on other people's sunglasses (dang, Ellen, that's a strong prescription!...
...and there are lots of hugs going around.
Ruth wore her new necklace we gave her as a stepping down gift.
And the students enjoyed one last fall-apart with smiles all around.
Some of us go to Hollins every summer, but others come only every other year, and some even less than that if they are only visiting speakers, so it's always a bittersweet affair. I don't like goodbyes, who does? But it's also a chance to reflect on what an incredibly awesome summer term we had and how lucky we all are to be a part of the bubble of joy that we call Hollins University! I look forward to next summer!

Kristen Nobles at Hollins U

We're not done yet! At the very end of the semester, when everyone's portfolios are ready, we invite a big name Art Director or Publisher to come in, give a talk, and do portfolio reviews. This year I was thrilled to have Kristen Nobles of Page Street Kids (Publishing), who I'd had speak at an SCBWI Illustrators' Day in Atlanta almost a decade before. Kristen was formerly an Art Director at Chronicle and then at Candlewick (for 16 years) before becoming Publisher of the children's imprint at Page Street.

     Kristen gave the perfect talk on illustrators becoming writers - something our students really needed to hear. There's a trend right now for publishers and agents to prefer author/illustrators over one or the other, mostly because it's easier to work with just one person, partly because agents don't have to split the royalties (which are already low), and partly because editors can help get a text into good shape. Good to know!

     Kristen also talked about what they're doing at Page Street Kids. With her background, they're already creating some very impressive titles.

     The next day while everyone was packing up, Kristen gave very thorough reviews to five of our students (graduating or recently graduated). I take notes during the reviews so that the students don't have to focus on anything other than listening, so I get to hear everything she said, and wow, did she give some good advice!
     If you're looking for an Art Director/Publisher to come speak to your region, I highly recommend Kristen! Although, considering she was seven-months-pregnant, you may have to wait a bit for an opportunity!

Coloring Page Tuesday - Peace and Love

     I made this card for our new Chair of the Illustration side of the program at Hollins U, Mary Jane Begin, because she is a very centered and spiritual person - a good friend to have near!
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     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!
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Hollins U - Graduation PAR-TAY!

After the graduation ceremony, we all gather to enjoy the gallery show displaying the graduates' works, but also work from students still going through the program. Such as work from Ashley Wolff's Drawing class (charcoals, mechanical animals, and landscapes):

Works were displayed from Ruth Sanderson's Media course (including cut-paper, colored pencil, and our very first two-week long digital intensive with John Gurnery):

(The graduates took both my Picture Book Design course and Mary Jane Begin's Portfolio course, which were gathered under the Graduates display, shown in the previous post.)
     All of the students show up to celebrate the graduates, knowing they will be in their shoes in a short time. It's also a wonderful time for me to get to know them, rather than waiting until they're in my class!

Previous students often show up to the party as well. Here's new graduate Monica with recent graduate, and my first MFA student, Lucy.
Everyone has a wonderful time mingling, eating food and hugging with love and exhaustion.

And we can't forget the graduate support heroes who make our lives so comfortable and dreamlike during our Hollins summers - I'm so glad Joanna Schroeder and Cathy Koon were able to stop by to help us celebrate this year!
We faculty are one proud bunch at this affair! Here's Karen Coats, Delia Sherman, Lisa Fraustino, Hillary Homzie, Mary Jane Begin, and me:
What proud Mama Bears we are! CONGRATULATIONS to ALL!!!

Hollins U - GRADUATION!!!

This year we had four graduates from the MFA in Children's Book Writing and Illustrating and Certificate in Children's Book Illustration programs: Akiko, Anna, Monica, and Andrea. Here are their shows, in order:

They each received a beautiful, hand-painted certificate by our very own Ashley Wolff.
We also celebrated one of the founders of our program, Ruth Sanderson, who stepped down from Co-Director position this year. She's still teaching, but it was a profound moment that came with lots of love and PREZZIES!
After the ceremony, we went to the gallery show where each graduates work was featured. Here I am with our new Chair, Mary Jane Begin, and graduate Akiko.
Here's Monica next to her artwork.
We also displayed the macquettes my students made for my Picture Book Design course.
It's bittersweet teaching one of the last courses students have to take. Just as I'm getting to know and love them, they leave. Of course, we hope we've prepared them well to chase down their dreams with skill and determination. I will forever be a fan of every one of them!

SCBWI-BI Longest Serving Members - ME!

Although I just moved back to the states, before I left Scotland, I wrote an excerpt for the SCBWI-British Isles chapter about being a long-time member of SCBWI, the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (since 2001). Well, even though I'm no longer in Scotland, the feature just went live. The experience I share in the feature, however, is universal and, I hope, will inspire readers no matter where they reside. Click the image below to go have a read.

Hollins U - reaching the end

You may have noticed that my blog posts are a bit out of order this week. The last week at Hollins is always complete chaos, and I have to admit, even I fall behind in the thick of it all! Be assured it's for a good reason, as some of the most magical moments happen at the very end of our intense six-week program...
     For instance, my students presented their completed book dummies on the last day of class - always a treat. And they did such a good job on their dummies, I was so proud of them! Akiko did a retelling of The Country Mouse and the City Mouse. Anna did an adaptation of an unpublished manuscript Jane Yolen kindly let's us use called Tea With an Old Giant. And Monica did an adaptation of The Owl and the Pussycat.
     We also did a final perusal of the artwork that everyone agreed ticked the boxes to be called 'Heart Art'. The final pieces are different every year and I was thrilled to see one of my own pieces made it through this year. (They voted on it before they realized it was mine - no, really!)
     I squeezed in one last lecture to the Hollins Summer girls - these are high school students looking at Hollins as their prospective next step. I talked to them about writing and they were a great audience, as usual. (Photo posted with their permission.)
And then, we had graduation! Coming next!

Hollins U Faculty Reading

Each year we have a faculty reading, at which each of us shares a recent or old project - picture book texts, dummies, novel snippets, academic outtakes, plays, you name it. Here's Ashley sharing a draft picture book about a wildfire - not only is it stunning, the world badly needs this book!
Hillary shared an hilarious picture book text about pinkies.
Karen shared an academic piece about race in children's books that needs to be shared more widely.
MJ shared her picture book draft about her grandmother's experience coming to America and working in the mills.
And Sharon shared her classic, Something Beautiful, that has been in print for over 20 years now!
I shared the illustrations (cover and interior) for the new edition of A Bird on Water Street which will be re-released this coming November.
     I really need to stop sitting near the front at these things, as you can't get a grasp of the crowd - the hall was full - so nice! And at the end, we faculty sang "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" for the students. Surely, somebody got a photo of that? Please share!

Friday Links List - 26 July 2019

From The University of Minnesota: a GREAT review for Merbaby's Lullaby!

From SCBWI-British Isles: ME! SCBWI-BI LONGEST SERVING MEMBERS Elizabeth Dulemba

From Perry Nodelman: "After years of procrastination, I’ve finally managed to put together a web page for myself. I’ve included a long list of links to downloadable PDF versions of many of my publications about various aspects of children's literature, including essays and other pieces that first appeared as long ago as the 1970s and as recently as last year. The website is here: perrynodelman.com And the list of available PDFs is on the page called “Essays about Children’s Literature”"

From Architectural Digest: This Tiny Traveling Bookstore Wanders the French Countryside

From PBS American Masters: Ursula K. Le Guin

From Prepare to be a Pioneer: Diverse Faculty Retention Tips

From The New Yorker: Why J.M. Barrie Created Peter Pan

From SLJ's 100 Scope Notes: Gallery: The Art of the Picture Book Barcode 2019

Interesting new blog! Design of the Picture Book

And from The Paris Review: Sorry, Peter Pan, We're Over You (Considering I spent most of this summer singing the Broadway version of Peter Pan with my fellow faculty, I don't agree!)

From Chronicle Vitae: How to Start Off Right in Your New Job Relevant to me right now!

From Muddy Colors: Hands and Feet

From The British Fantasy Society: British Fantasy Awards 2019

From Forbes: The Best Fantasy Novels Of All Time

Brightly is giving away 30 Children's Books!

Also from Brightly: 10 Binge-Worthy Middle Grade Series

From PW: Refugee Novel Arrives on U.S. Shelves After U.K. Success This novel was all the talk when I was in the UK!

From The Guardian: Story time: the five children’s books every adult should read

From The Bookseller: Call for community libraries to be included in PLR payments Would be good to have this in the USA too!!! (Basically, authors would get a royalty every time their books are checked out - just like musicians get royalties when their music is played.)

From Science: Most Wikipedia Profiles Are of Men. This Scientist Is Changing That. THIS is why I volunteer for the Women in Red project!

From The Good News Network: Tom Hanks Becomes Mr. Rogers in Newly Released Trailer for ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’ Click to watch the trailer!

Cards 2019

It's the very end of the summer semester here at Hollins University and I have completely lost track of what day/time it is. It's always absolute chaos at the finish line! But! I did manage to get my cards done. I always make a batch of hand-made cards for my students and fellow colleagues. I missed getting photos of a few of them, but here is the bulk. They're all personalized to the person they're for. If you know them, I wonder if you can guess which card goes with who? (Click the image to view larger.)