Happy Book Birthday WHEREVER YOU GO and THE UNMAPPED SEA

Today was the official release of not one, but two books that I worked on over the past two years:

The first book is WHEREVER YOU GO, written by author Pat Zietlow Miller.  I’ll be traveling to Madison, Wisconsin to celebrate this book’s release in May. For those in the area please join Pat and I on May 15th at Books & Co. Bookstore, and/or May 16th at Mystery To Me Bookstore.

A special thank you to Pat for creating the words, Connie Hsu and Leslie Shumate for editing and story directing, and Patti Ann Harris for art directing.

If you missed the book trailer for WHEREVER YOU GO, check it out HERE.

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To order a copy of WHEREVER YOU GO, visit your favorite Indie Bookseller, Barnes and Noble, or online retailer, such as Amazon.com.

 

INC 5_coverThe second book is THE UNMAPPED SEA, the 5th book in the INCORRIBILE CHILDREN OF ASHTON PLACE series by Maryrose Wood. I had such fun working on the cover and interior illustrations. Maryrose is truly a talented writer — these books are witty, playful, and lovable. I will admit that in each of my several readings of this manuscript, I got a little weepy at the end.  I wish I could have been in New York for the book launch to celebrate with Maryrose.

A special thank you to Maryrose for her writing, Donna Bray for her editing, and Dana Fritts for her art directing (and incredible patience!).  This is a dream team!

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“No party is complete without a dance. Tonight we shall be doing the Sea Sway.”

Along with THE UNMAPPED SEA, we’re also celebrating the release of this series in paperback (which sport my new cover illustrations!).

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Today I came home to the absolutely sweetest and totally unexpected surprise:

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AWWWW — Maryrose, thank you!!

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To order a copy of THE UNMAPPED SEA, visit your favorite Indie Bookseller, Barnes and Noble, or online retailer, such as Amazon.com.

 

 

 

CODY Book Birthday & WHEREVER YOU GO Trailer

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Page 1 of CODY AND THE FOUNTAIN OF HAPPINESS

Today!
In the life of children’s book creators, many things are beautiful:
A book’s birthday.

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Happy Book Birthday to Tricia and Candlewick!

If you’re looking for a positive book with sweet writing and diverse characters for a 7-10 year-old, this is your book!
MORE INFO

A brand new book trailer.

My husband, Adam, created this beautiful video for a new picture book I illustrated, WHEREVER YOU GO (coming April 21, 2015), by Wisconsin author Pat Zietlow Miller. Thank you, Adam!

MORE INFO ABOUT THE BOOK

Some New Things

It’s hard to imagine two months have already passed in this new year of 2015! With a new year comes new things. Here’s an update on what a few of these things are for me:

Picture Book Builders Blog

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I’m excited to join a handful of children’s book writers and illustrators on new blog that’s solely dedicated to discussions around picture-books. For each post, the blogger chooses a picture-book or a quality of picture-books to discuss. DSantat_Beekle_CoverWe cover a range of picture books, from new to old, well-known to little-known.  So far I’ve written about: ‘The Steadfast Tin Soldier‘ (Andersen/Rylant/Corace), ‘The Little House‘ (Burton), ‘The Spider and The Fly’ (Howitt/Diterlizzi), ‘The Arrival’ (Tan), and Dan Santat’s newly Caldecott Medal-donned book ‘The Adventures of Beekle: an Unimaginary Friend’.

Check it out at picturebookbuilders.com

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On April 21, 2015 the picture-book I illustrated comes out called WHEREVER YOU GO (Little Brown), written by Pat Zietlow-Miller, author of SOPHIE’S SQUASH (which received SCBWI’s Golden Kite award last year!). We were thrilled to get a star and absolutely sweet review from Kirkus:

“A rabbit’s cross-country bike excursion introduces the open road . . . through an animal kingdom of forests, treehouses, country cottages, bustling seaside villages, glimmering cities and mountain overlooks. The sunshine-hued, delicate artwork embraces both the panoramic vastness of the countryside and the definitive details nestled in its valleys, meadows, towns and treetops. Each double-page spread invites readers to stop and look closely at the lichen hugging the tree, the bending roses, the bouncing musicians, the twinkling carnival, the romantic dinner parties, the ships’ many sails, the cactus’ sharp needles, the wisps of clouds on a mountain ridge . . . Children, thanks to captivating artwork and rhyme, will want nothing more than to ride his handlebars, bouncing and merry.”

Here’s an interior spread from the book:

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Another book coming out in May 2015 sporting my illustrations is an early middle-grade called CODY AND THE FOUNTAIN OF HAPPINESS (Candlewick), written by Tricia Springstubb, which is the first in a series.

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For whimsical Cody, many things are beautiful, especially ants who say hello by rubbing feelers. But nothing is as beautiful as the first day of summer vacation, and Cody doesn’t want to waste one minute of it. Meanwhile, teenage brother Wyatt is moping over a girl, Mom is stressed about her new job as Head of Shoes, Dad is off hauling chairs in his long-distance truck, and even camp has been closed for the summer. What to do? Just when all seems lost, Cody bumps into a neighborhood boy named Spencer who is looking for a runaway cat. With a new friend and a soon-to-be-found cat, Cody is on her way to the fountain of happiness.

Tricia Springstubb’s writing is playful, musical, and endearing. Through the process of illustrating this book I found myself grown attached to lovable Cody and her friends and family. There are over 30 black and white interior illustrations in the book. Here’s one of them:

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After over a year in the making, I’m eager for these new projects to go out into the world and be shared with everyone!

 

Happy Book Birthday SPIRIT’S KEY!

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Today I was able to attend Edith Cohn’s book party for her debut middle-grade novel, SPIRIT’S KEY, at Children’s Book World in West Lost Angeles. It seems a rare opportunity to have the author and artist who worked on a book living in the same city, and it was a special experience to finally meet Edith in person and celebrate this book together.

There was a great crowd, raffle prizes, a reading, and dog-bone shaped cookies–what better way to spend a Saturday afternoon?

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A packed house!

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Edith and a professional voice-over artist reading a scene from the book

20140913_150247One thing I learned from Edith was that she was asked by her publisher, FSG, what kind of  cover she wanted, and she said that she liked the cover of DOLL BONES–which is why they approached me to do the artwork for this book! I’m so glad they did.

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Andrew Arnold at MacMillan Publishers did such a fabulous job with the book design work! I’m enjoying finding all the details he used for the jacket and throughout the book. Special thanks to Andrew for choosing me to work with him on this project.

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Decorative element for the chapter openers.

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This map was a fun new challenge for me. I totally loved it.

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So sweet Edith mentions me in the acknowledgements

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Awwww . . . shucks!

Congratulations to Edith, and SPIRIT’S KEY!

To learn more about the book, visit Edith’s site: www.edithcohn.wordpress.com

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SCBWI 2014 Summer Conference

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Each year I go to the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrator’s National summer conference, and each year I promise myself to type up notes and blog about the experience. And each year (up until now, huzzah!) this promise has gone un-kept. By now I’ve got a pretty good handle on how this happens — and I think other conference-goers can probably relate. This event is four straight days spent with 1200+ fellow writers, illustrators, publishers, agents, and SCBWI staff. It’s a social, informational, and inspirational whirlwind. SCBWI’s director and MC, the hilariously love-able, Lin Oliver nailed it when she said:

“This is what happens when a bunch of introverts get together and feel comfortable with each other.”

It’s the best kind of social+professional interaction. In fact, it’s come to the point where these events nearly match Christmas for me. I’m giddy and excited to geek out with hundreds of other children’s book, well, geeks for four days straight.

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But, as we know about introverts, even small social interactions involve rest and recovery periods. I’ve come to terms with the fact that it takes me a whole 7 days after the conference to recharge (the entire first day involves lying face-down on the bed). A lot of that time is spent catching up on deadlines, emails, and binge-watching some tv series (usually involving bridal gowns, or food, or the 90’s). It also involves thinking “I gotta type up those conference notes while it’s all still fresh,” yet not having quite enough energy to take action. But this year I did it! It’s two weeks later, the dust has settled, but it’s still fresh on my mind.

The event highlights for me:

  • my conference buddies, Debbie Ohi and Kimberly Gee
  • meeting author Pat Z. Miller!
  • the keynote speakers
  • juicy breakout sessions, during which I always seem to collect new tips on craft, and get insight for my stories in progress
  • seeing my agent, friends I’ve made from conferences past, and the SCBWI mentor/mentee group–we eat, we drink, we bond
  • meeting new friends, and collecting cards at the illustrator’s social
  • the Monday Illustrator’s intensive: all about inspiration this year

 

 

Featured as “10 children’s illustrators to watch”

I woke up to a super cool thing today . . . one of the greatest children’s book bloggers out there, Julie Danielson (of the Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast) was asked to compile a list of the “10 Children’s Illustrators to Watch” for BookPage. Guess what? She thinks I’m one of them! Woohoooo!!
Thank you, Jules!

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She said: 10 illo to watch_crop2

The illustrators on this list are fantastic – it’s an honor to be considered part of the company:

Aaron Becker
Christian Robinson
K.G. Campbell
Angela Doninguez
The Brothers Hilts
Theodore Taylor III
Molly Idle
Greg Pizzoli
Duncan Tonatiuh
and also
Hoda Hadadi and Birgitta Sif

 

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!

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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.