Friday Links List and Illustrators' Treehouse News - 28 Feb. 2020

Do you know Homestuck? One of my students turned me onto it.

From SLJ: Zetta Elliott Discusses the "Difficult Miracle" of Black Girl Poets

From the Bologna Children's Book Fair - moved due to the Coronavirus outbreak

From The Bookseller: Simon Cowell partners with HCG on new children's series also Bologna Book Fair delay 'a real blow' to trade as coronavirus hits Italy and Children's reading comprehension falls without storytime, Egmont study reveals

From Seven Miles of Steel Thistles: Strong Fairy Tale Heroines: a series!

From The British Library: Check out their new website, Discovering Children's Books: Explore centuries of stories, poems and illustrations with Discovering Children's Books. For children, teachers and book-lovers of all ages.

From Publishers Weekly: Dan Brown to Make His Picture Book Debut and Schwartz and Wade to Get Separate Imprints at Random House

From Shelf Awareness: Cool Idea of the Day: Writers Advice Booth

From Kidlit Artists: School Visit Advice from the Back Row - by Robin Rosenthal - featuring several friends! :)

CONTEST: Collective Arts Brewing - craft beer label contest

From Ashley Wolff (fellow Professor at Hollins U): Beachcombing with a purpose

From Twitch: Justin Gerard is Making Monsters - Watercoloring "Totem of the Rat King"

From Muddy Colors:
and Muses vs. Pirates
and Quotes I Have Loved
and How Does an Art Director Pick an Artist?
also Study Painting Sith Greg Manchess
and Month in Covers: January 2020

From CGSociety: Online Tutorial: Adrian Lambert: Houdini Terrain Workflow

From SLJs Fuse #8: 2020 Books from Newbery Winners (so interesting to see what illustrations they choose for the covers of these award-winning authors!)

From Eye on Design: “Decolonizing Means Many Things to Many People”—Four Practitioners Discuss Decolonizing Design

From Their February Newsletter

From The Art Room Plant: The Art of Megumi Inoue

José Sanabria
and Amanda Cobbett's handmade lichens - amazing!

From MICA: Turning Ageism into Activism

From Photographer Ken Rockwell: How to Change the White Balance of a JPG

From Bookshelf: Viz Collects Rare Artwork for Junji Ito's Twisted Visions

From CommARts: Turning Ageism into Activism

From The NYT: Jeff Bezos Commits $10 Billion to Address Climate Change

From The Guardian: Fail productively… how to turn yourself into a super-learner


I have long admired Chris Haughton's work, and the wonderful color palette his books create. So, I am thrilled, thrilled, thrilled to have him here today to talk about his newest book, DON'T WORRY, LITTLE CRAB!
e: Hi Chris - welcome! What was your creative process/medium for DON'T WORRY, LITTLE CRAB, can you walk us through it?
For this book and all my books I begin by coming up with a very basic story. Some sort of perilous situation or dramatic events which make the reader want to turn the page. I then try to draw that. I create various pieces of art by hand and kind of combine them all together in the best way I can. Most often that means using the computer. I like getting the facial and body expressions by doing very small, rough sketches.
     Immediate artwork tends to have more emotion so I often do very sketchy images.
      I use collage to work out poses to make sure they are the simplest they can be. I just try to make everything very simple and clear so that it can communicate well to the youngest children.

e: I love all your books and the wonderful color palette that has developed as they have. Are you a color geek (like me)?
Yes! I am definitely quite geeky about color! The funny thing is when I started as an illustrator the thing I was most uncomfortable about with my illustration was colour. I pretty much just used black and white! When something needed to be color I just tweaked a black and white image into blue and white or purple and red or something like that. I just didn’t think in colour at all. After a while after working in screen printing and doing other sorts of design work I realised that you can choose colours arbitrarily and it will not affect the reading of an image. A tree doesn’t have to be green and brown. It can be red and blue and read just as well as a tree as long as it is tree shaped. That realisation was a major breakthrough for me. Because then I could choose whatever colours enhance the story. I can create atmosphere with colour and highlight what needs to be highlighted on the page.
The colour themes to each book came from choosing not to print with ’text black’ with my first book. I was told by my editor that the book will be printed in 5 colours. CMYKK cyan, magenta, yellow and two blacks. Myself and my art director, Deirdre McDermott were keen to make the book as colourful as possible, so instead of using the text plate as black, as is usual, we made it another colour, green. That then makes the book have much richer colour combinations than what is available for normal CMYK printing ...and for no extra cost. Deirdre is very clever! For the subsequent books we just used a different colour each time. It’s quite nice because it differentiates the books from each other and also differentiates them from other books in the bookstores… it gives them their own ‘look’. None of this was planned from the beginning… it was a lucky stroke of luck!
e: What a happy stroke of luck that was! What was your path to publication?
I studied graphic design in art college. I worked in design briefly, in a music venue, but I was always more interested in illustration. After a year of traveling and living and working in Hong Kong and elsewhere, I moved to London and, whilst doing part time jobs managed to get some illustration work. I worked as a full time freelance illustrator for newspapers and magazines and advertising. After five years of this I tried to create my first picture book story. I was interested to find an outlet for my illustration work outside of advertising and media. What I love about print media is it is communicating messages to a very wide audience, but often this message is an advertising message or one that I didn’t fully agree with. So I wanted to use this medium to communicate in other ways. I went to the Bologna Book Fair to try to find a publisher, I didn’t really realise that it isn’t really the place to find publishers at the time. I found a great publishing house called Borim Press there and they agreed to publish my first book. So my first book was actually only available in Korean for the first two years. It looked likely that it was never going to be translated into English. I again went around the publishing houses and found Walker Books.
e: Is there a unique or funny story behind the creation of DON'T WORRY, LITTLE CRAB?
Usually I begin a story with two images. A before and after image. In this case the first page is the anticipation of the large wave coming, and then the following spread is the splash of the wave. The page itself IS the wave. The waves come relentlessly one after the other as the pages turn and turn. This is dramatic device… will the wave hit poor little crab? Will they jump in? Actually, the starting point of this book was unusual for me because it was inspired by watching crabs at the beach. All the other books have been me trying to imagine the situations. I was in Mexico on the Pacific coast where the waves were enormous. I was just lazily watching these crabs over an afternoon and after a while you can begin to see their personalities. You can see some are more nervous than the others. It was like a silent comedy watching them when a very big wave comes. They all freeze and brace for the impact. That’s where this story began.
e: I love that! 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?
As my editor and art director, Deirdre McDermott says it's all about the 'emotional resonance'. We need to be the main character and feel what they are feeling. When you look into their eyes you feel their predicament, that emotion transfers to you and so you have this emotional response. We feel for a helpless character in a perilous situation, we identify with that. We want to help or want the character to be helped. What elevates this though is if it is then exaggerated, or twisted slightly into a more fantastical realm. If we see this helpless character but the character is clearly just a few shapes of cut paper it makes us on one hand identify, but on the other hand laugh at ourselves for being sucked into such an absurd emotional response. We are laughing, not at the story, but at ourselves. This is really useful in portraying a scary situation, the fantastical element makes it less threatening, as we are being made aware that we are not seeing a real situation. That allows us more poetic license.
e: Good answer. How do you advertise yourself (or do you)?
I don’t really do that besides posting every so often on Instagram or Facebook. I am very lucky in that Walker Books and Candlewick Press are so great, and all the bookshops they work with are so great and generous in getting my books out there. It's so wonderful to walk into bookshops and see my books on the display. Or see adults reading them to their children. I am so grateful. It makes me so happy.
e: What is your favorite or most challenging part of being a creator?
I used to not really enjoy the ‘coming up with the story’ part of the process. It was very difficult for me as I was more of an illustrator with very little experience as a storyteller. I found it excruciating! When I was in primary school we often had to write an essay and then draw a picture on the other side of the page for homework. I hated the writing part but I looked forward to getting that out of the way so I could turn the page over and do the drawing. That’s how I felt with doing my first picture books. Not much has changed in thirty years! Now though, the writing and ideation is (sometimes!) my favourite part of the process. It is the part that is unpredictable and exciting. You begin, and have no idea how it will turn out. In comparison the illustrating is quite predictable.
e: Is there something in particular about DON'T WORRY, LITTLE CRAB you hope readers will take away with them, perhaps something that isn’t immediately obvious?
I like the Anaïs Nin quote at the beginning of the book ‘Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.' That would be a great message to take, I wish I would heed it more myself! I like to have a quote for each book I do. Something that encapsulates the dilemma at the heart of the story. I would like to think this is something that can add another layer to the story. Perhaps it is a bit wordy for the young child but for the adult it adds something more and maybe it is something that can be chatted about between the adult and the child after reading the book. Whether you are a child or an adult or Anaïs Nin or even a small crab, we all have fears. And we all have a need for courage. I like that these stories can be so universal. That’s what makes picture books so special. It allows a vehicle for even very young children to understand and make sense of the world. You don’t even need language!
e: What are you working on next or what would be your dream project?
I am working on a book about monkeys at the moment. In a way it is the opposite story to DON'T WORRY, LITTLE CRAB! It is the story of three monkeys who are told: “Whatever you do, do not go down to the mango tree, there are tigers down there.” You can probably guess what happens.
      The crab book is about a limiting fear and the monkey book is about a dangerous fearlessness! I remember talking to Jon Klassen about this because his first two 'hat books' are also a similar story told from a different point of view. I am now wracking my brain trying to see if I can retell any of my other stories from an opposing angle as it has been such a fruitful way of coming up with a storyline! The monkey book ends with something like an action film sequence ...which is so much fun to draw.
      In the longer term I am working on two non-fiction book ideas. About evolution and about communication. They have been taking me years to make. When I was young I used to love to look at pictures and infographics and maps and diagrams. I want to make books that I know I would have loved to read as a child…. and books I want to read myself as an adult. Luckily, or perhaps unluckily (!) as I've said, I haven’t changed much in the last thirty years!
e: Can't wait to see more! Readers - click the image above to watch the book trailer at Chris' website.

DON'T WORRY, LITTLE CRAB. Copyright © 2019 by Chris Haughton. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA on behalf of Walker Books, London.

Coloring Page Tuesday - Ribbon Dancer

     I was feeling all flouncy and flown when I drew this Ribbon Dancer for you!
CLICK HERE for more coloring pages.
     Remember, I create my coloring pages to draw your attention to my books! For instance, I'm celebrating the new illustrated (by me) edition of A BIRD ON WATER STREET! My debut novel won me "Georgia Author of the Year!"
Booklist said it's "A book deserving of a wide readership, recommended for all libraries."
If my news and images add value to your life, won't you please
Just love this one image? Consider a one-time donation...

     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.

Nahoko Uehashi's THE BEAST PLAYER

My reading habits are determined by how deeply I can focus at any given time. For the PhD, I have to be pretty darn focused to read some of the densely academic tomes required for my research. But at bedtime, I prefer something lighter. That's when I read for fun.
     Enter, The Beast Player written by Nahoko Uehashi and translated into English by Cathy Hirano.
Not only is it a 2020 Michael L. Printz Award honor book for best young adult novel. This is a beautifully written, scene-rich story of a girl who finds a way to connect with the magical beasts in her world. I can't share much more without giving away too much, although I will recommend it highly. That said, the ending left me hanging in such a way that I immediately got online to see if there was a sequel in the works. HA! Little did I know...
     The story of Erin and her harp has been a long-beloved story in Japan, where it originated. Not only are there four books in the series, it has also been turned into a Manga version, and an anime series. CLICK HERE to read about it's extensive reach into Japanese culture. Happily, you can watch the English-dubbed anime version online at Crunchyroll, which I hope to do soon. All I can say is, how lucky are we Americans that we get to immerse ourselves in this world that Japan has been enjoying for quite some time now. (Much like The Witcher from Poland.) Although, we still have to wait for the sequels to get translated. PAH! I need to learn Japanese.

Henry Holt sent me a review copy, which I thoroughly enjoyed!

My TED Talk hits over 1 MILLION VIEWS!!!

Holy Mackerel!!! My TED Talk, "Is Your Stuff Stopping You" just hit over ONE MILLION VIEWS!!! I never would have thought it would be that popular when I gave it. I am humbled and in awe, and oh so grateful to those who it resonated with.
     Of course, my talk is not for everyone. It is a talk based on my lifestyle, one of privilege and opportunity. Of that, I am very aware. But it's also a talk about figuring out what really matters to you in your life. I gave it at a moment of extreme transition in my own life, and from reading the comments, it's helped others transition in their own lives as well. Reading the comments is eye-opening. Some are mean and nasty, of course; but so many more offer sincere thanks for touching them at a point in their lives when they needed to hear it. Those comments make me very happy.
      As the viewership has grown, I stopped to reflect on my talk at 400,000 views, and at 600,000 views. And here at ONE MILLION VIEWS, I'll do it once more. For I am now living a lifestyle with a very small footprint... in America. We have one car, a 5-minute commute, and a wee one-bedroom flat in a small town where we can walk to several sweet restaurants. I teach at a university where many of the students are first-generation, and I feel like I'm really giving back. So, is it enough?
     Well, I'll admit, I have found the parameters of my down-sizing, as we could use a little more space than we have right now. Many of the negative comments under my talk tease that I keep claiming I'm not a minimalist, and I'm not. Although, I'm no pack-rat either. I'd like a guest room to invite friends to come stay. And I'd like room enough to throw parties for all my new friends and students. (Not possible right now.) I miss a garden, getting my fingers in the dirt. Although, so far, the one car is actually working!
     All said, I don't know what my life will physically look like over the next few years. I need to finish my PhD (I'm on track but look forward to it being behind me). So, right now, we're sitting tight as we figure out our next move (literally) to a house or apartment or... I have no idea. All I do know is it feels like I'm back in the chrysalis, waiting to bloom once more. I wonder what form I will take. I'm pretty sure I still have some big things in me that need to come out. Dear Readers, I hope you'll stick around for them!

Click here to read through my entire journey with TED.

I am not a purse person

I have finally come to this conclusion - I am not a purse person. I've tried to be from time to time over the years. And certainly, many women have tried to convince me that I should be a purse person. But the fact is, I am a backpack person. I see no reason to be carrying separate bags around when I so often need to have either my laptop and Wacom tablet, iPad, or an actual drawing pad with me. OH, and BOOKS, of course! For the last five years as a student in Scotland, this was my backpack - a good, sturdy Swiss Army backpack.
It is faded, a strap was sewn back on, and it's beat-up. But it served me through four universities (Edinburgh, Glasgow, Hollins, and Winthrop) and on three land masses (North America, England, and Europe). It has carried my aspirations for an MFA and a PhD, as well as aspirations for the students I now teach. It has carried brilliant tomes from academics around the world, as well as beautifully illustrated picture books. It has also carried soup (in a slightly leaky thermos) and therefore, now has a faint odor of curry about it.
     Yes, it was time for a replacement. I tried a purse for a bit, but I kept going back to my trusty backpack because I kept needing to carry large, creative things around.
     This past weekend, partly in celebration of my hubby's birthday, we hit a local outlet mall. He got a new wallet (which in many ways can be equally as significant), and I finally got a new backpack.
It's a step up from my old one, solid leather and much more 'adult' looking. But it too will carry brilliant things from art to notebooks to books that I will use to create and share. And so I look forward to at least another five years (maybe more!) of my life as a backpack sort of gal.
     I suppose it's somewhat ironic considering my TED Talk (which just hit ONE MILLION VIEWS!) about not needing stuff. But maybe that's exactly the point. We keep with us the things that matter most, the things that help us survive and find joy. In my world, that means the means of my creation, inspiration, and exploration. And so, I embrace my identity as a backpack person. And if I see you soon, I bet I'll have it with me!
     How about you? Are you a purse person or a backpack person?

VIDEO: Catfish Kingdom

In honor of Black History Month, stories like these are coming to the surface... This is the story of Mississippi farmer Ed Scott Jr. He was the first African American catfish plantation owner in the U.S. and fought against land robbery and discrimination to take back what was his. #BlackHistoryMonth This is worth your time. Click the image to watch the animated short on Twitter.

Friday Links List and Illustrators' Treehouse News - 21 February 2020

From Nathan Bransford: Clear out the clutter around your verbs

From SLJs Fuse #8: Feminism and Representation in Fables: An Interview and Cover Reveal with Natalie Portman

The Oregon Coast Children's Book Writers Workshop is back (despite what the site says, they are back in the US and gauging interest!

From Brightly: Diverse Books for Tweens and Teens Written by Own Voices Authors

From SLJ: Now in Color and with a Few Well-Chosen Words, Owly Returns

From Forbes: Local Bookstores Have A New Weapon In The Fight With Amazon

From Nonfiction Fest: Questions I'm Frequently Asked About Writing Nonfiction for Children by Don Tate


OPPORTUNITY! From The Bookseller: The Bookseller and AoI open search for unrepped illustrators

From Cerebus: Wally Wood's 22 Panels That Always Work!!

Do you know the work of Nico Delort? (Thanks for sharing, Josh!)

The Center for Cartoon Studies has a Children's Book Residency in 2020 Exploring Jewish Themes and Content

From my University of Glasgow: Resilience: Thoughts and Tools for Showing Up in Life

From Muddy Colors: THE MAGIC OF ‘MAGIC: THE GATHERING’ (AN ARTIST’S PERSPECTIVE.) and Ophelia by Howard Lyon (with a demo video!)

From PW: Bologna 2020 Debuts Comics Award Winners, Comics Corner

From Ruth Sanderson: Winter Book Sale (This is my friend at Hollins U.)

From PW: Fall 2020 Children's Sneak Previews

From BrainPickings: The Measure of a Life Well Lived: Henry Miller on Growing Old, the Perils of Success, and the Secret of Remaining Young at Heart


I love this charming book, THIS IS A WHOOPSIE, about how accidents happen (and how that's okay) by Josh Shipley. It's one of his 'This is a ...' series. He stopped by to share more about it.

e: Hi Josh! What was your creative process/medium for THIS IS A WHOOPSIE, can you walk us through it?
It’s just basically emotional eating. That and deadlines. What else is there to process? Kidding. The thing is, I have two children and two dogs — both sets of which need a lot of attention, food, water and cuddles to make sure they’re growing properly. So that means I mostly illustrate at night when the house is finally quiet. The creative process itself is a very strange and weird and wonderful friend of mine. I don’t know if my process looks the same each time, but there are elements that it always shares. Coffee being a staple. Creatively, I feel like I’m a bit of an unreliable faucet of sorts. One day it is on full blast and I can concept and create and draw and imagine effortlessly. And other days (usually when I REALLY need it to be working for me) it’s just stopped up. A trickle at best. So I’ve learned to trust it. To draw and create on the days that it flows—and to honor and respect the days that it just doesn’t.
      As far as mediums go, I grew up mostly with traditional drawing mediums (pencils, crayons, markers, charcoal) and now my go-to is digital. I have an iPad pro and an apple pencil to do most of my drawing and doodling. I’ve found the key is to use a matte finish screen protector on the iPad so it feels more like paper. Not as slick. I always get a little tired of digital after a while and so I sometimes will do an overly elaborate and ambitious pen and ink project or a pencil drawing mostly just to prove to myself that I still got it.

e: Ha! I can relate. What was your path to publication?
I actually got hired on at Andrews McMeel Universal (Andrews McMeel Publishing is a division of them) as a graphic designer for the book publishing group there. They publish really wonderful books and are the talent-house for some of my all time favorite cartoonist (Gary Larson’s The Far Side and Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes to name a few). And it was while I was working for the publishing division that I met and made friends with book editors and designers and creators. At the time, Andrews McMeel Universal did not publish books for the younger age groups…but the people I had befriended in their book group were always encouraging of sharing and creating ideas and illustrations for various things and ultimately that led to a connection to a publisher that was interested in THIS IS A TACO as a book series.
e: Is there a unique or funny story behind the creation of THIS IS A WHOOPSIE?
Well after the creation of THIS IS A TACO and it’s success, Andrew (the author) and I wanted to do another book in the series. We both really like moose as animals. The word is fun to say and the animal is fun to draw. Win-Win. Originally the moose was a girl and her name was Daisy. She was very clumsy, thus the moniker “Whoopsie-Daisy.” Andrew and I both just loved the “whoopsie-daisy” nickname so much. Anyway, we get through a majority of writing the book. I’m doing character designs. Daisy looks adorable...and then one of us realizes that female moose don’t have antlers. Only the males have the big giant antlers. The set up of these books are it’s supposed to be factual narration about the animal—and so when we realized this, we did a pass with keeping the story as is, but taking the anatomically incorrect antlers off of daisy. She just looked like a big horse. Like a poorly drawn horse. And so, we reluctantly changed the gender and just made the male-moose have the nickname of “whoopsie.”

e: Oh wow! 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?
I think there is so much magic to be found in being really intentional. Whether it is the attention to detail or thinking through lighting or considering how to bring a certain concept to life—if an artist is really intentional about how he is handling/treating/creating his or her illustration work I think it shows. Sometimes for me is discovering hidden aspects of a drawing. Other times it’s marveling at how much consideration an illustrator put into the book as a whole (such as what the endpapers are designed with, and how the spine is treated…). It’s the thing that touches on an emotional chord. Whether it’s the book itself, or what the artwork is depicting—if you feel something when encountering it, it’s well done. For me personally, anything that evokes a sense of wonder does it. Anything that makes me go “wow” means it’s working.

e: How do you advertise yourself?
I’m actually really terrible at advertising myself. I’ve always felt like I was born a little older than I should be…and so I’m not really good at or interested in social media much. I do post some of my work online on behance. You can find it At this point this blog is doing 99% of my advertising…and I must say I’m very happy with the results. It’s doing a great job.

e: Ha! What is your favorite or most challenging part of being a creator?
I think sometimes the most challenging part of being a creator is actually finishing your creation. Seeing it through to the end. Often times I just want want to throw my hands up in the air and just yell "ahh, you get the idea!” and move on. But actually sticking through something and finishing is worth it. (Ignore all of those stacks of unfinished drawings behind me. They’re unimportant.)

e: Is there something in particular about THIS IS A WHOOPSIE you hope readers will take away with them, perhaps something that isn’t immediately obvious?
I think we set out to make THIS IS A TACO really funny...and we stumbled onto a fairly good emotional core for the book. The idea of taking back your identity—of not letting anyone tell you who you are or what you like. Going after you want. Writing your own story. It all felt good. With THIS IS A WHOOPSIE, we wanted to expand on the emotional complexity of this idea of a main character having a conflict with the book he/she is in. So whereas Taco was more defiant and steadfast in him just being an a-typical squirrel, we made Whoopsie more insecure about himself. Gave it more of an attempt for him to struggle with WANTING to be like the moose described in the book—but failing at it. Ultimately, it lands in an emotional space for readers where there is something about defining yourself by groups—and defining yourself as yourself. So just self-acceptance and validation of your own life’s narrative become the core take away for readers.

e: That's awesome. What are you working on next or what would be your dream project?
Well I’m currently illustrating the third book in this series THIS IS A FLYING RAT and I am really excited about that one. It feels like its hitting a good mark with both humor and a good emotional core. It should be published this fall (2020).
I have always thought about trying out a graphic novel. Like fully and completely. They are just so impressive to me. It is an ENORMOUS amount of work and illustration effort and I’m not fully able to comprehend the amount of time and effort it must take to create one. I have always been incredibly impressed with graphic novels and the amount of decision making that goes into them. What moment do you choose to illustrate? How do you plan for dialog? How much of these choices live with a writer vs an illustrator? It’s all fascinating to me.

e: I agree! Please share if you ever do one!

Coloring Page Tuesday - Must Love Dogs

     Love is still in the air - especially love for doggies!
CLICK HERE for more coloring pages.
     Remember, I create my coloring pages to draw your attention to my books! For instance, I'm celebrating the new illustrated (by me) edition of A BIRD ON WATER STREET! My debut novel won me "Georgia Author of the Year!"
Booklist said it's "A book deserving of a wide readership, recommended for all libraries."
If my news and images add value to your life, won't you please
Just love this one image? Consider a one-time donation...

     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.