THE GRUDGE KEEPER, released!

No one in the town of Bonnyripple ever kept a grudge.
No one, that is, except old Cornelius, the Grudge Keeper.
Ruffled feathers, petty snits, minor tiffs and major huffs, insults, umbrage, squabbles, dust-ups, and imbroglios–the Grudge Keeper received them all, large and small, tucking each one carefully away in his ramshackle cottage.
When a fierce wind blows through Bonnyripple, the residents are forced to rescue Cornelius and deal with their various disputes . . . 

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A picture-book that I illustrated, THE GRUDGE KEEPER (written by the talented Mara Rockliff), was released on April 4th, 2014. It’s such an exciting moment to see the book all put together, in real life!

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Boxes of books to be signed!

Check out this wonderful interview about the writing and illustrating process with Mara and me on Peachtree Publisher’s blog, here:
The Making of The Grudge Keeper

A few peeks into the process:

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Sketches for the large cast of characters.

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Thumbnail layout of the book.


Here are a couple of the sketches paired up with the final page spreads from the book:

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Three cheers to Mara Rockliff’s wonderful story, and to Peachtree Publishers for all their amazing work bringing it to fruition!

For more info about the book, visit Peachtree Publishers online.

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Buy ‘The Grudge Keeper’ HERE

 

 

 

‘OUR BABY’ book announcement

I’m so excited about the announcement of a new picture-book I’ll be working on later this year with my editor for MISS MAPLE’S SEEDS, Nancy Paulsen. The story, called OUR BABY, written by Varsha Bajaj, celebrates a baby elephant’s birth. The text is so sweet, and is bound to be a great new baby gift!

I’ve been paying special attention recently to photos and articles about elephants, and also got a pass for our nearby zoo so that I can sketch them up close. They are fascinating and intelligent creatures, it’s going to be fun spending more time learning about and drawing them. When I was young, one of my favorite Disney films was DUMBO. I’m looking forward to re-watching that for inspiration! I’m trying to collect elephant reference, so please feel free to share any links to articles, photos, or videos that you come across!

DUMBO eliza wheeler

I’m also especially looking forward to working with Nancy Paulsen again — her feedback is always so incredibly thoughtful, and she’s extremely supportive of the creative process. Nancy and I have been working back and forth since the publication of MISS MAPLE’S SEEDS to nail down my next book, and have worked through several story ideas. She’s been patient with my slow pace when it comes to the writing process, and it helps me to know she understands that a great book doesn’t happen overnight. She’s both honest and encouraging (a great combination).

Nancy sent me a random email one day asking, “Have you drawn any elephants?”  I hadn’t, but was eager to give them a try! So I made this sketch in response. The wrinkles and folds are going to be so fun to develop further!

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A huge thank you to Nancy Paulsen for giving me this opportunity, and to my wonderful agent Jen Rofé for working out all the project and contract details!

 

 

ZENO and ALYA Cover Artwork

I created artwork for the cover of a sweet and emotional middle grade novel, The Desperate Adventures of Zeno and Alya, by author Jane Kelley, released earlier this Fall.

The book goes between two characters’ stories: Zeno, a newly orphaned parrot, and Alya, an 11-year old girl struggling to recover from leukemia treatments. Jane Kelley’s story is beautiful and heart-felt, and I wanted the cover artwork to convey the emotional quality of the story within.

 

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The book design, by Ashley Halsey, is so lovely.

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A little behind-the-scenes, here’s the original rough thumbnail and then the sketch.

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Thumbnail Sketch

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Full size sketch

This was another project that came out of my 2012 SCBWI winning trip to New York, where I had a portfolio consultation with Liz Szabla, editor in chief at Feiwel and Friends, an imprint of Macmillan. As my husband and I were looking for the address on my way to the meeting, we stopped to take pictures in front of the famous Flatiron Building.

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Standing in front of the Flatiron Building (and the Macmillan offices) in January 2012

We continued to search everywhere for the Macmillan address all around the buildings nearby, and I was getting flustered that we couldn’t find it anywhere. We finally realized that Feiwel and Friends was actually inside the Flatiron Building. I was delighted to be able to enter and do business in this iconic New York spot!

Working on the artwork with Liz Szabla and creative director Rich Deas was a joy and a breeze.
Thank you to Jane Kelley and Feiwel and Friends!

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More about the book:

An orphaned African grey parrot who can speak 127 words. A girl so sick, she has forgotten what it means to try. Fate––and a banana nut muffin––bring them together. Will their shared encounter help them journey through storms inside and out? Will they lose their way, or will they find what really matters?

Here is a story that will remind readers how navigating so many of life’s desperate adventures requires friendship and, above all, hope.

 

 

CODY book announcement

I’m happy to be able to announce a new middle grade book series that I’ll be creating illustrations for called NOT EVEN CODY and CODY AND THE MEEN KIDS, by author Tricia Springstubb with publisher Candlewick Press. I’ve always admired the artistry of Candlewick books, and they’ve been one of the publishers I’ve hoped to work with for many years. I’m so thrilled that time has come! Here’s the official Publisher’s Marketplace announcement:

CODY character sample sneak peak

CODY character sample sneak peak

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Eliza Wheeler’s illustrations for Tricia Springstubb’s NOT EVEN CODY and CODY AND THE MEEN KIDS, about a brave, tender-hearted girl who’s always ready to help others out, to Elizabeth Bicknell at Candlewick, for publication in Spring 2015, by Jennifer Rofe at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Tricia Springstubb has created super lovable characters in the CODY books, and it’s been fun bringing them to life with the black and white chapter illustrations.

Tricia is also the author of the picture book Phoebe and Digger,  and the middle grade books Mo Wren, Lost and Found and What Happened on Fox Street. Visit Tricia here: www.triciaspringstubb.com

book-cover-phoebe-and-digger-tricia-springstubb  book-cover-mo-wren-lost-and-found  book-cover-what-happened-on-fox-street

 

Monday Inspiration

My dad is an elementary art teacher and was recently reading from a book to his students with advice from Maurice Sendak to young artists. He sent me some of the quotes, and I couldn’t help but share them here:

An illustration is an enlargement, an interpretation of the text, so that the reader will comprehend the words better. As an artist, you are always serving the words. You must never illustrate exactly what is written. You must find a space in the text so that the pictures can do the work.  Then you must let the words take over where words do it best. It’s a funny kind of juggling act.

As an aspiring artist, you should strive for originality of vision.  Have something to say and a fresh way of saying it.  No story is worth the writing, no picture worth the making, if it is not a work of the imagination.  ~Maurice Sendak

Here’s to a week filled with  imagination.

Inspiration this Week

Friends shared three links with me this week that were inspiring:

 

16 Quotes About Writing for Children (Article on Mental Floss)
http://mentalfloss.com/article/51869/16-quotes-about-writing-children

One that especially resonates right now is from Margaret Wise Brown:

“In this modern world where activity is stressed almost to the point of mania, quietness as a childhood need is too often overlooked. Yet a child’s need for quietness is the same today as it has always been—it may even be greater—for quietness is an essential part of all awareness. In quiet times and sleepy times a child can dwell in thoughts of his own, and in songs and stories of his own.” 

16 quotes writing for children

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The Pixel Painter, by Josh Bogdan and Ryan Lasko (Video on Vimeo)
http://vimeo.com/70748579

A sweet 8-minute documentary on Hal Lasko (Grandpa), a 97-year-old who spends all his time creating paintings on the computer.

pixel painter

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Adrift, by Simon Christen (Video on Vimeo)
http://vimeo.com/69445362

Breathtaking footage of fog rolling over San Francisco. Video meditation at it’s best.

Adrift

 

Project News: WHEREVER YOU GO

Exciting news! I’ll be illustrating a new picture-book
by Pat Zietlow Miller called “Wherever You Go”, with Little Brown Books!

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When I saw this announcement in Publishers Weekly Rights Report yesterday, it was extra exciting to scroll down to see illustrator friend and fellow mentee Brian Won’s picture sitting right there next to my own. Awesome, Brian!

I’ve just learned that Pat Zietlow Miller is from Madison, Wisconsin; it’s so cool to be working on a fellow Wisconsinite’s story. She has a new book coming out in a couple weeks, SOPHIE’S SQUASH with Schwartz & Wade (Aug 6, ’13), illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf.

Over a year ago, in January 2012, I went to New York on the SCBWI prize trip to meet with publishers. There, I met editor Connie Hsu and art director Patti Ann Harris at Little Brown Books. After our meeting I couldn’t wait for the opportunity to work with these amazing women, and I’m really thankful to them for choosing me to work on this sweet book.

Outside the Little Brown offices in January 2012

Outside the Little Brown offices in January 2012

 

 

 

 

Doll Bones

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I’m not sure there’s anything more exciting to an illustrator than the moment you get to see your artwork in the final printed book. Better yet, a stack of printed books! I’m so grateful that Simon and Schuster chose me to illustrate Holly Black’s fabulous new middle-grade novel.

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You can’t see it in these photos, but the cover has this silky matte finish, with the title and doll in gloss. It’s a great effect!

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In the acknowledgements, Holly writes:
“Thanks to Eliza Wheeler for her creepifyingly beautiful illustrations.”

Awesome!!

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And when we were at Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon, I had to document DOLL BONES sharing the shelf with illustrator friend Andrea Offermann’s work on GHOST NIGHT, by Cornelia Funke.

Powells_dollbones with ghost night

I’ll be excited to read the book again since I know the revision process was still underway after I had finished the artwork. My mom said she had to read it during the daytime, because it’s a little too scary at night. But my 9-year old niece says, “It’s not so much scary as it is creepy.”

To learn more about Holly Black, visit her website.
To buy Doll Bones, click here:

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