Fall Colors!

I've so enjoyed the changing colors this fall. I wanted to share a few stunners with you. For instance the reds:

The orange:
The red and orange:
And the yellow, this is when I fall in love with Gingko Trees!
Even pink - the camelias in South Carolina are in full bloom right now. Wow!
I've also come across some really interesting fungi. I'm hoping some of you can tell me what these are. The first one looked more like undersea coral rather than a mushroom.
And this one grew so fast, the fallen leaves became embedded in it's folds. It was a bit hard and weeped sap (I'm guessing). What is this!?
I hope you enjoy my photos as much as I enjoyed taking them!


I hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving, even if it was a quiet, safe one. At Camp Dulemba, it was just the two of us, but we feasted well. I've bragged on my husband's cooking skills a lot here, he really shone this year. Rather than a turkey, we had lobster tails. In lieu of a bird to carve, he roasted a whole head of cauliflower with brussel sprouts.
Rather than sweet potato casserole, we had stuffed sweet potatos for lunch, and then sweet potato rolls with dinner.
And rather than gravy, Stan made a cranberry~jalapeno relish that was out of this world. Of course, he followed it all up with pumpkin pie, that was traditional, and so, so very yummy.
     So what am I thankful for this year? So many things... I'm grateful to be working, for my wonderful students, to have a roof over my head and food on my table. I'm grateful to be reaching the end of my PhD, and I'm grateful for some personal issues that are finally looking more positive. I feel like we're ready to head into 2021 on solid ground and with good things ahead! I wish the same for you and those you love.

VIDEO: TED Countdown Video

This is a beautifully designed/animated, but sobering video about where our planet currently stands with Climate Change. The news isn't good, but it's important to know, and there is hope if we change. We must change.

Friday Links List and Illustrators' Treehouse News - 27 November 2020

From On the Bookshelf: Mini Maldon Books (adorable doll-house version of a bookstore)

From... well, everyone: Penguin Random House to Buy Simon & Schuster By the way, I think this is a BAD idea. We are now down to FOUR companies that handle most of the publishing in the US.

From Bookbub: 15 Gorgeous Fall Table Decorations Inspired by Books


From PW:
     Coronavirus Updates: Impact on Children's Books
     Oxford Announces 'Words of an Unprecedented Year' for 2020
     Call and Response: Social Justice Books 2020-2021

From Brightly: Books That Celebrate Diverse Holidays and Traditions

From She Knows: The Best Children’s Books By Native & Indigenous Authors & Illustrators

PARTICIPATE - SUBMIT TO the: Bologna Children's Book Fair (12 -15 April 2021) Illustrators Exhibition

COMPETITION: York County Storm Drain Art (open until Jan. 8, 2021 - $200 award)

CONTEST: Check out the Astra International Picture Book Writing Contest (Astra is the new house headed up by children's lit scholar Leonard Marcus)

SCHOLARSHIP: 12x12x12 Scholarship Program for budding children's book writers

PARTICIPATE: From The Bookseller:

PARTICIPATE: From the State of Illustration: Annual Illustrators' Survey

From PW: S&S to Launch Two Graphic Novel Lines for Young Readers

From Print & Pattern:
     CHRISTMAS 2020 - cath kidston
     BOOK COVERS / GRAPHICS - here design

From Bobby Chiu (on Youtube): Queen's Gambit Speedpainting & How I learned to paint

From Muddy Colors:
     Painting and Drawing Hands
     How to Reference a Murder Bot
     30-minute Illustration School
     The Art of Rythm of War (great demo photos)

From The Art Room Plant:
     Gil Scott Heron II Print-making at home
     Ryan Sonderegger's WHAT WEASLEY WORE
     Lito Leaf Art

A reminder if you want to be in the children's book biz, you should subscribe to PW Children's Bookshelf (it's free!)

From 100 Scope Notes: Vote for your favorite book cover in The Undies Award

From Brightly: How to Help Teens Choose the Right College Amid the Pandemic

From Clean Technica: Solar Panels + Agriculture: You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet

From the NYTimes: Zillow Surfing Is the Escape We All Need Right Now I now have a name for my habit!

From EAB: Undergraduate international enrollment is down 14%. Here’s how you can respond

Pippa Goodhart and Nick Sharratt's YOU CHOOSE

I am thrilled to have two amazing talents from the UK visit my blog today. Pippa Goodhart is an author and the creator of the fantastic blog, Picture Book Den (chock full of good advice). And Nick Sharratt is one of the most beloved children's book illustrators in all of the UK. They're both incredibly kind and generous people, so I'm thrilled to have them both here today to talk about their newest series, YOU CHOOSE.
e: Pippa, thank you for dropping by! What was your creative process behind YOU CHOOSE, can you walk us through it?
Nick will no doubt answer your question about what was behind the creation of You Choose, but of course that came from me some time before he was involved. I have three daughters, and when they were young they loved browsing through catalogues, choosing things. I realised that it didn’t matter to them that they knew they weren’t going to actually get those things; it was the choosing that was the fun part. So I came up with what was at first called ‘A Book For Browsers’. My agent couldn’t see the point of it. Nine publishers turned it down because ‘it doesn’t tell a story’. Then I sent it to Random House, and an editor who had young children of her own instantly understood that the whole point was that the text didn’t tell a story. It opened up possibilities for the child audience to play with in whatever way they liked. She asked me if I had an illustrator in mind, and I dared to admit that I was hoping for Nick Sharratt. So she rang him, there and then as I sat in her office! And suddenly You Choose was on its way.

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?
'Heart Art’ is going to be different for everyone. Thinking back, I can vividly remember certain book images from my own childhood - Laura (Ingalls Wilder) angrily bounding the paddle in the butter churn, wonderfully drawn by Garth Williams, and then there’s the rescued Spanish Civil War puppy, Leon, in the book of that name by Helen Griffiths, illustrated by Victor Ambrus. Those images have stayed with me for more than half a century, instantly recallable. Why? I think because I wanted to be that feisty, slightly rebellious, girl whose Pa understood her frustrations. And, oh, I longed to find an abandoned puppy! Those particular images spoke to particular child me.

e: Garth Williams is one of my favorite illustrators too!

e: Nick, I’ve been a fan of your work for so long! It’s so kid friendly and accessible and was a real treat to see some of your work in person at Seven Stories when I was studying in Edinburgh. What was your creative process/medium for You Choose, can you walk us through it?
As I remember it, once the book was given the go-ahead, there was a lot brainstorming to sort out what the contents would be and think about the essential things to include in each spread. Long lists were made! Pippa came up with the themes and I had to decide how to present each of theme: a series of vignettes or a single detailed scene. Pencil roughs followed.
When it came to artwork, I will always remember this book as the very first one that I coloured up digitally, and what a baptism by fire it was!
I’d already created a few books with digitally coloured artwork, but for those books I’d worked with a computer technician who coloured my scanned hand-drawn artwork to my exact specifications. ( I always draw the black line manually, with a pencil, and then I scan in the drawings.) You Choose was so detailed there was no way I could instruct someone else to colour it, and I didn’t have the dexterity—or patience—to do it manually with acrylic inks (which was how I was artworking other, simpler picture books at the time) so I had no choice other than to do it on the computer myself. I’d never done any digital artwork in my life, so I took a short course in photoshop at a local computer college and launched in.
     A friend had told me that it would take about a day to colour in each picture, which was not the case at all- it ended up taking me about a fortnight per spread! At the very start I only had a little laptop and I didn’t even have a mouse, so I was doing it all with my finger on the touch pad. Madness! Anyway, I learned by my mistakes, discovering new things every day and my computer skills improved in leaps and bounds. When I finally finished the book there was a massive sense of achievement, although it took a me a long time before I could face another project of such complexity!
e: Wow - there's nothing like trial by fire! You’ve been a working pro for so long, do you remember your original path to publication?
Loved drawing as a toddler. Loved art at school. Was the class ‘artist’ all the way through primary and secondary education. Took art O’level and A’level and went to art school: a foundation year in Manchester and a degree in graphic design in London. (This was in the days before there were specific courses in book illustration, which is most likely what I would have studied if I’d been able.)
      After college, There were about ten years of doing editorial illustration for magazines, primarily, along with some work for educational text books. My breakthrough into the children’s book world came when a designer from the trade department at Oxford University Press saw my work in the educational department, resulting in my first picture book commission. That started the ball rolling.
e: I'm so glad they found you! (Although, I'm sure someone would have!) Is there a unique or funny story behind the creation of You Choose?
Pippa was at a talk I gave at a Federation of Children’s Book Groups conference. I showed some slides of the highly detailed drawings I liked to do as a boy, and as I recall, that’s what made her think I might be good for a busy book like You Choose. When I was a teenager I loved to create really intricate pictures, along the lines of ‘Where’s Wally? but by and large, my book illustration style at that time was quite simple.
Pippa has her own stories about getting You Choose off the ground. (Above)

e: Nick, 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?
There were two distinct kinds of illustration that appealed to me as a boy and could be defined as ‘Heart Art’. There was the realistic style as exemplified by the Ladybird books, where the skilfully painted pictures were so lifelike I could step into the scenes. To me (and to entire generations of children brought up on Ladybird books) those images were quite simply ‘real’, it didn’t properly compute that they had been created by an artist. Although I must have done, I don’t recall actually reading the words in a Ladybird book - I spent my entire time absorbed in the pictures (I’d often just open a book at random and lose myself in whatever scene I stumbled upon.) They’re etched in my mind for ever and just the thought of them still triggers a visceral reaction.

Then there were the more stylised illustrations which came to life in a different way, in that the pictures drew me in and the characters lived and breathed in my mind, but, as a budding artist, I could actually see and appreciate how the drawing had been done - that the artist had used a pen, or a crayon, or a brush, and had chosen to make certain marks and use graphic devices to imbue the imagery with character and personality, and - most satisfyingly for me - a sense of fun. The book illustrations that I encountered and enjoyed most (by the likes of Michel Foreman, David McKee and John Vernon Lord) were exuberant, witty, and joyfully colourful, and there was a clarity of intent there too - the style wasn’t so sophisticated that it was a challenge for me to interpret. Ultimately I loved these pictures more than ‘real’ illustration, because of the extra thrill of comprehending that an artist had magically created the world on the page in front to me.
e: GREAT answer! How did you find your illustrative voice?
I never once imagined that I could make images like the ‘real’ pictures in the Ladybird books, but I was hugely inspired by the stylised illustrations. They influenced my own drawing style as a boy and the memory of those illustrations influences my work still.
e: What is your favorite or most challenging part of being a creator?
The most challenging and ultimately rewarding part for me is the continual fiddling with the words or the rough drawings to find exactly the right tone for what it is I want to say. And the thing is, I’m hardly ever sure what it is that I want to say, so I don’t know what I’m looking for until I find it!

e: Is there something in particular about You Choose you hope readers will take away with them, perhaps something that isn’t immediately obvious?
We are discovering different ways that You Choose is enjoyed and put to use all the time. See this blog for BookTrust.

Photo of Nick's "Studio" at the 20-21 Visual Arts Centre in 2015
e: What are you working on next or what would be your dream project?
Well, another You Choose book would be lovely! In the meantime I have quite a few picture books in various stages of development. It’s sad not to have been doing actual book events during this strange year, but it has given me a bit more time for pondering and dreaming up new ideas.

e: I have a feeling you're going to come out the other side with a whole stack of new books to share - I hope so! I can't wait to see them. Thank you both for sharing!

Coloring Page Tuesday - Turkey in a Mask

     Be safe for those you love and those who love you—wear masks and keep your social distance.
CLICK HERE for more Thanksgiving-themed 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.

Video: Rachel Tiep-Daniels Interview

Bobby Chiu has been sharing some wonderful creator interviews on his Youtube Channel. This latest is with Rachel Tiep-Daniels.
Rachel Tiep-Daniels is a multi-talented Production Designer who is currently working at Kuku Studios. As a kid, Rachel knew she wanted to be an architect or a cartoonist when she grew up. After studying Computer Animation at the Art Institute of Ft. Lauderdale, she found a way to combine those two professions and now helps to build and create animated worlds for feature films like “Trolls”, “Kung Fu Panda”, “Boss Baby”, “The Croods”, and many more! In this interview, Rachel talks about her love for learning, her process for building worlds using different software, and her experience working as a Production Designer.
Click the image to watch on Youtube.

Video: Terri Windling, "The Power of Story: re-creating the world through fantasy", Glasgow, 10 May 2019

Remember when I told you about the Symposium on Fantasy and the Fantastic in Glasgow? Well, Terri Windling's wonderful talk is now available online from the new Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic. Click the image to listen.

Friday Links List and Illustrators' Treehouse News - 20 November 2020

From Brightly: The 22 Best Children’s Book Quotes

From Brain Pickings: Literary Witches: An Illustrated Celebration of Trailblazing Women Writers Who Have Enchanted and Transformed the World

From Book Riot: Books About Supernatural Teens

From Moms: Explaining Democracy To Children & 8 Books That Help

From PW: Callender, Miri, Choi, Payne and Payne, and Yu Win 2020 National Book Awards

From Woman's Day: 20 Children's Books by Black Authors Every Family Should Own

From powerHouse Books: powerHouse Books moves publishing headquarters to Industry City

From Terri Windling's Bumblehill Studios: Bumblehill Press Well, here's MY reading list for the next few months! :)

From 12x12x12: 2021 Scholarship Program - Two weeks left to apply!

From Library Journal: Managing COVID-19 Fatigue

From BookBub: 18 Cozy Reading Nooks to Burrow in This Fall

From LA Times: In Burbank schools, a book-banning debate over how to teach antiracism

From The Bookseller: Mairi Kidd made Seven Stories c.e.o.

From SCBWI Carolinas: Humor in Illustration: Adding Comedy to Your Craft by Ashley Belote

PARTICIPATE - SUBMIT TO the: Bologna Children's Book Fair (12 -15 April 2021) Illustrators Exhibition

COMPETITION: York County Storm Drain Art (open until Jan. 8, 2021 - $200 award)

CONTEST: Check out the Astra International Picture Book Writing Contest (Astra is the new house headed up by children's lit scholar Leonard Marcus)

SCHOLARSHIP: 12x12x12 Scholarship Program for budding children's book writers

PARTICIPATE: From The Bookseller:

PARTICIPATE: From the State of Illustration: Annual Illustrators' Survey

From CommArts: Call for Writers

From Diamond Books: Mad Cave Studios Inks Exclusive Distribution Deal With Diamond (COOL art!)

From Publishers Weekly: The Fanatic (PWs Graphic Novel newsletter)

From Random House Graphic: This month's Graphic Novel newsletter

From SLJ: Your Moment of Zen: Children’s Literature Adaptations on Apple TV+

Do you know about Amplifier Protest Posters?

From Make Art That Sells: Go to the site to download your FREE copy of our gorgeous Giant Cyber Sale guide. Now with journaling and interactive pages!

From Muddy Colors:
     Choosing Style with Jesper Ejsing
     A Personal Ink Sketch Challenge
     Passing that Torch with Justin Coro Kaufman
     30-minute Illustration School Breaking Down Color - Episode 1 by Ron Lemen
     Emily Hares Strangehollow

From Print and Pattern:
     2021 Print & Pattern Design Scholarship
     Christmas 2020: Paul Farrell
     Designer for Hire: Gail Myers

     Christmas 2020 - Dolly Pepper Studio

From The Art Room Plant:
     Izumi Hashiguchi

     Ed Fairburn

     Marion Barraud

From John Oliver: Season 7 Finale (Start watching at about 10:58 for a very satisfying segment about saying good-bye to 2020 - with explosives)

From The Chronicle of Higher Education: Ready to Be an Ally for Black Academics? Here’s a Start

From EAB: Uncovering the hallmarks of anti-racist institutions: Thought leaders we are reading, listening to, and following right now

From the NYTimes: Surviving Weed-Out Classes in Science May Be a State of Mind (Seems true for all classes, including art)

From The GoodNewsNetwork: Arkansas Schools Install Solar Panels to Save Millions On Energy and Pay Teachers More - we should all be doing this!

David Wiesner's ROBOBABY

There are a few people I credit with making me want to get into picture books, who I consider my heroes in the industry. Well, David Wiesner is one of those people. When I saw Tuesday (1991), I was gobsmacked. I fell in love with the story, the art, the format. Picture books are such an unusual and unique art form, and I was hooked. We actually spoke together at Highlights many years ago. So, you can imagine how thrilled I am to have David here today to talk about his latest picture book, Robobaby!
e: Hi David, welcome! Thank you so much for years of wonder and congratulations on your latest book. Is there a unique or funny story behind the creation of Robobaby?
Robobaby grew out of the work I did for my app, David Wiesner’s Spot (Only available on an iPad. Now only 99 cents! Search for it with that full title, otherwise you’ll get Eric Hill’s Spot apps).
There was a limit to what could be in the app. There was so much about the robot characters and their lives that I still wanted to explore. I quickly realized that a book was the best place to make that happen (what a shock, right?).

e: Of course! What was your creative process/medium for Robobaby, can you walk us through it?
Each book I do grows out of an idea, most often a visual one. The sources of the ideas are all different and the visual connections and inspirations I bring to that idea are also all different for each book. But the basic process is similar.

Like most, I begin in a sketchbook. My stories grow out of my drawings. I don’t write an outline. I look at what is happening on the page and let the drawings lead me places. I try not self censor - if something seemingly random appears, I welcome it. My subconscious is part of the process.

I then begin to put these drawings into a thumbnail layout to see how they look in book form. I work from the beginning or from the end or from the middles out, rarely from page one to page thirty-two. Alas, this writing/drawing process can take from not-so-long to very-long. I never know how long it will take, but there is that Aha! moment for each book I’ve done when the story falls into place.

More recently I have taken to working at full-size before the story is all there. I like to having more room to draw. These drawings are rough. All the world building and character design happens after there is a story It is tempting to get caught up in that fun stuff, but the story is the hard stuff, and avoidance will get you nowhere!

When the story is basically there, I begin to make a more detailed dummy. The way the pages are designed and laid out are the language of telling stories in picture books. The rhythm from page to page, the mix of single page images, to multi-panel images, to double-page spreads is key. The use of borders and full bleed images play a part. All these elements define the experience of reading the pictures. The story affects how I design and the design affects the telling of the story.

Robobaby went through this process. Here are some of the sketchbook drawings - the first are quick thoughts about scenes:
Then some page ideas:
Then a more complete sequence:
Here are some dummy drawings - as I said, these are very rough, but I don’t need to make them more detailed. I know what is happening:
They start to get a bit more realized:

When the story is pretty much where I want it to be, I work on the character design and world building. The drawings get more precise and detailed:

The story still might shift and change throughout this process, up until I begin to paint. Painting is the last step. It took me just over a year to paint the art for this book. They are done in watercolor. No ink lines.
e: What was your path to publication when you were first starting out and how often do you have new books? David: In my senior year at RISD I was offered a job to create a cover for Cricket Magazine by the great Trina Schart Hyman. Here is a link to the story on my website if you want the whole thing: http://www.davidwiesner.com/work/the-beginning/.

That job led to textbook work from Cricket’s publisher, Open Court Publishing. I also got textbook work from places like Houghton Mifflin. I did some early readers (pre-sep art! Gag - read about it here: http://www.davidwiesner.com/work/be-afraid/ )

I got an agent and began to do lots of book jackets (with seriously mixed results). I did a couple picture books for other authors. But I had a portfolio with images that I really wanted to find stories for. No editor or art director I saw had any. Frankly, they didn’t know how to react to them. A couple examples:

I realized that if I wanted to see those stories I would have to write them myself. I sold my first story three years after I graduated art school. I spent about four years working on it. I would work on my contracted jobs and then go back to “my” book. I had no deadline and I was going to put everything I had into it. The book was Free Fall, and it was the most satisfying thing I had done up to that point. It was also the best thing I had done. Others recognized that too. I knew this was the path I would stay on.
After that I only did one other book for another author (Eve Bunting’s Night of the Gargoyles).
Writing my own stories was what I was meant to do. I am very fortunate to have found an editor and publisher who allow me to do that.

That portfolio piece above eventually became June 29, 1999 (in 1992):
e: What a story! What is the most challenging part of being a creator?
Some stories take time, and a lot of effort, to uncover. I can only keep working, drawing, until the story reveals itself. That can be challenging. Each day I have to sit at my desk and put pencil to paper (it’s not going to happen any other way!). At the end of the day I may be no further along than I was when I started. And yet I have to come back the next day and do it again. And then again. But I have done it before, so I believe that if I keep drawing, a story will eventually develop.
e: With so many Caldecott’s under your belt (no pressure!), how do you come up with the ’next big idea’?
I just follow my ideas where they take me. I’m not looking for a “big idea”, I’m looking for a good story - not an easy thing. And I know when a story of mine is really good or just pretty good. I’m not going to spend two or more years making a book I’m not in love with.
e: One or two years, wow! What are you working on next or what would be your ultimate dream project?
I never talk about a project this early on! As for dream projects, I’ve already been doing them. The story dictates the form. I did the app and I did a graphic novel because that’s what those stories wanted to be. Each time I let the story lead me where it wants to go. That’s the dream isn’t it?
e: Indeed! 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?
Wow. I will have to think about that more.
e: I'll ask again! David, thank you so much for sharing! I wish you much continued success!