Just Thinking - November

I'm excited that Miyazaki, creator of Studio Ghibli, is coming out with a new film. There's a wonderful article about him at the New York Times.

I'm sad over the loss of non-fiction writer April Pulley Sayre. I met her years ago at a children's book event. She was a star in our field and one of the best writers of non-fiction period. She will be missed. Read a lovely write-up about her at Cynsations.

I love this art made out of trash by Sugarfox - gorgeous!

I love this quote from Gandalf from Lord of the Rings, “So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All they have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to them.”

This article about the benefits of remote learning reminded me of all the online access the University of Glasgow was working towards. They were years ahead of where we are in the US, and that was before the lessons of the pandemic. With the new money funneling into universities for smart classrooms, I hope hybrid options become a priority.

Coloring Page - Dancing Elves

Since I'm not sending out as many coloring pages these days, it's been especially fun for me to create new Christmas images for you! Here are some Dancing Elves.
CLICK HERE for more Christmas-themed coloring pages
     Remember, I create my coloring pages to draw your attention to my books! Especially... THE 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS IN GEORGIA! Click the cover to learn about this state-themed picture book, now available as a board book too! Makes a GREAT teacher gift!
     Don't live in Georgia? Check with your local bookseller - Sterling has a version for each state.

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     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.

Happy Thanksgiving!

This year, I am grateful for my wonderful students, for my wonderful friends and husband, and for all the developments in vegan offerings that allow me to have my favorite foods without the bad stuff in them. Speaking of which, at Atlas Obscura, I came across this awesome recipe from the 1660s for a Marlborough Pudding (Pie). It's basically an apple pie held together with a whiskey-laden custard. It sounded so good, I had to try it. I replaced the heavy cream with soymilk/olive oil, the sherry with sake (it's what we had around!), and the butter with pseudo-butter, and put the excess mixture into a separate bowl for cooking, and TA-DA!
It worked! And it's yummy! But very sweet. I think I may serve it with sour cream to cut the sweetness. Balance, it's all about balance!
     I hope you have a lovely Thanksgiving!


We're nearing the end of the semester at Winthrop, so students are finishing up their BIG end-of-semester projects. For the Fine Arts students, that means they are exhibiting their works in dedicated display spaces. For me, this means seeing some of their amazing work for the first time. For instance, today.
     Kalah (pronounced "Kayla") celebrated the opening of her show "Gateway to Halak" today. It's a projection art piece that moves with subtle motions. For instance, on the first wall, a forest of sci-fi-looking plants invite you down an interesting path. (Click the image to see this one in motion on Instagram.)
On the second wall, the ice-cream-looking items slowly drip, almost like lava lamps. While the spiral-shapes slowly seem to rotate.
But my all-time fave was the third wall. Here, windows open to a magical forest where bioluminescent flowers glow from purple to pink, and vivid dust motes (or fireflies) slowly dance through the scene. The photo does not begin to do it justice. (Click the image to see it in motion on Instagram, although the window frames aren't in that one.)
      You enter the room and stand in the middle of all this mesmerizing motion to a soothing and soft music sound track. The room would be amazing to do yoga in, or to meditate. It is soooo relaxing. I keep going back to experience it again and again. Talk about some Creative Thinking!
     All I can say is, if you are an art buyer, this is some work you should seriously consider. It is sticky, sticky, sticky, as in, I can't stop wanting to experience it! To see more of Kalah's work, go to:
Her Website
Her Instagram Page
(Here's Kalah with her work - all shared with permission.)

Amalia Hoffman's MASHA MUNCHING

From Dr. e: I think young readers will get a real kick out of the fun and simple humor in Amalia Hoffman's charming new picturebook, Masha Munching. She stops by today to talk about the thinking behind her creativity. Welcome, Amalia!
Masha Munching
by Amalia Hoffman

     At the time when our society becomes more diverse, our children need to read books that portray children with disabilities and children of different backgrounds. Such books may include stories about single parent families, same sex couples who are raising kids, and children of new immigrants families.
      This is an exciting time for our young readers to embrace the richness of diverse neighborhoods and cherish cultures different then their own.
      In Judaism, there’s a concept called, “Tikun Olam,” which in Hebrew means, “To mend the world.” Tikun Olam tells us that it is possible for every individual to make the world a better place and heal what is wrong.
      We authors and illustrators are fortunate because we were given wonderful tools to make the world a better place: our stories, essays, books, and illustrations. Creators of children’s books are naturally close to young children and thus, have a wonderful opportunity to bring fresh ideas to children’s literature.
      In my picture book, My Monsterpiece (Yeehoo Press, 2021), a child narrator is caught up in his/her bias of what they were taught to believe is a terrible monster.
      As the story evolves, the child comes to the conclusion that overcoming prejudice can bring about understanding, acceptance and friendship.
      In my board book, All Colors (Schiffer Publishing, 2019), patches of different textures and hues create friends of different colors.
      In my picture book, Masha Munching (Yeehoo Press, 2022), a young goat who ends up at a French bistro persuades a snobbish waiter to visit her home and see “how much fun eating on the farm could be.”
      Prejudice is usually embedded in children at a very young age and often is inherited from the adults in the child’s life. Since young children can’t read, parents and caregivers read the stories to children and so, authors and illustrators can also change the adult’s attitude and perspective.
      By opening the doors to stories that feature children with disabilities, different ethnic foods, holidays or even different hair styles, our children are being better prepared to be responsible citizens who, in their future, will care not just about their own kind but also about others. Young readers of all countries, religions and race will turn to be curious adults who will be able to grasp wider horizons and open up their mind to be curious about what’s happening outside of their limited world.
      As an author, illustrator and storyteller, I feel fortunate because I can utilize my skills to help create a better and more joyful world.

Picture Hooks Festival of Illustration

I was thrilled to be invited to speak at this year's Festival of Illustration by dear friends Vivian French (author) and Lucy Juckes (agent). They run PictureHooks, the organization that was one of the driving forces behind my decision to move to Scotland for my MFA and PhD. "Picture Hooks provides opportunity and development for emerging picture book illustrators." I've been a long-time supporter and fan, so it was an honor to be included in this year's line-up.
     I gave a talk about Color Theory and finding your personal color palette. I was joined by several friends. Astrid Jaekel talked about collage and shared some wonderful new work from when she was stranded in the US at the beginning of the pandemic. Jonathan Gibbs, my MFA professor, shared his wry humor and wood carving skills. Other speakers were David Melling, illustrator and animator; Dr Sheena Calvert, artist and philosopher; Stephen Fowler, Senior Lecturer in Illustration at Worcester University; Stephen Fowler, artist, illustrator and printmaker and a Senior Lecturer in Illustration, Art & Design Communication at Worcester University; Tamlyn Frances, agent; Alice Sutherland-Hawes, agent; Philippa Milnes-Smith, publisher of such authors as Chris Riddell and Lauren Child; and a crew of folks who helped put the event together. (Special thanks to Siobhan Clark who put together the videos and was key to the event's success.)
     Visit the PictureHooks website and subscribe to learn about their future events.

Candice Ransom's ONLY MARGARET

My dear friend Candice Ransom has written about one of the most illustrious graduates from Hollins University (where we both teach during the summers), Only Margaret: A Story About Margaret Wise Brown". She stops by to tell us about her creative journey.
“Writing Only Margaret: A Story About Margaret Wise Brown.”
Candice Ransom

      How long does it take to have a nonfiction picture book published? Two years? Five? How about nineteen? From the spark of the idea to the book in my hands, Only Margaret: A Story About Margaret Wise Brown, was a long journey.
      In 1998, I bought the adult biography Margaret Wise Brown: Awakened by the Moon by Leonard Marcus. I read from it every night for the next eight years, fascinated by this woman who became a pioneer of modern picture books. One night in 2002 as I closed Awakened by the Moon yet again, I heard a voice in my ear: Tell my story. I knew it was Margaret. I can’t, I said. But she insisted.
      So began my journey. By 2005, I had enough research to write my picture book biography. My story made the rounds and was rejected, yet I continued researching and revising. At times I wanted to quit, but Margaret wouldn’t let me. Years passed. I persisted with my story.
      What kept me going? Learning. Each time I revisited the research, or found new research, I learned more about Margaret. Learning has always kept me sane. During last summer’s lockdown, I bought a five-dollar yard sale school bus bench, parked it on my front porch and opened Porch School. Enrollment: one depressed pupil.
      Porch School started each day by choosing the day’s necessities: a journal, snacks, and books. That summer I reread T.H. White’s The Sword in the Stone, about young Arthur who is tutored by Merlyn. “The best thing for being sad,” Merlyn advised Arthur, “is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.”
      My Margaret story had taught me so much. How Margaret staved off her own depression by writing stories for young children. How she stayed indominable during a time when picture book writers were dismissed by “serious” writers. How she never gave up. How she wouldn’t let me give up.
      I dug through my notes once more and found a funny anecdote told by a man who’d known Margaret as a boy. I read it and thought, Only Margaret! In a flash, I had a new focus for my picture book. I revised it one last time . . . it was finally acquired.
      Margaret is quiet now, but at night when I close my eyes, I still see the young blonde woman striding the streets of New York, trailing fur coats and her snappish Kerry Blue terrier, new ideas sparking from her fingertips. Our long journey is over.
      I opened Porch School again this summer and am already researching a new nonfiction picture book. There is so much to learn.

Just Thinking S'more...

I like this quote: “Believe in yourself and there will come a day when others will have no choice but to believe with you.” – Cynthia Kersey

I love this quote: “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” – Jack Canfield

So sad to read that we've lost one of our great illustrators, Jerry Pinkney.

I like this story from The Guardian: Why Shouldn't Children's Writers Talk of Refugees, Persectuion, and Genocide" by Michael Rosen

I love this article with picture of folks just reading around New York City in the 60s/70s. It's very peaceful. :)