THE POMEGRANATE WITCH…new release!

 A new book that I illustrated, written by Denise Doyen, came out last week; THE POMEGRANATE WITCH. It’s here in time for the fall season coming up, and is such a fun romp between a group of neighborhood kids from the suburbs, and the old Pomegranate Witch who guards a legendary pomegranate tree.

This release kicked off with an awesome starred review from Publisher’s Weekly!

“Luscious rhymes and an atmospheric eeriness immerse readers in a neighborhood battle: five children versus the witch who guards the tempting pomegranates that hang from a tree on her property: “Its unpruned limbs were jungle-like, dirt ripplesnaked with roots,/ But glorious were the big, red, round, ripe pomegranate fruits.” Wielding tree branches, rakes, and badminton racquets, the children mount an assault in what is quickly dubbed the Pomegranate War, but hoses blasting water, a scattering of walnuts, and the thrashing tree itself foil their efforts. On Halloween, the witch’s sister, the Kindly Lady, invites the town’s children over for cider and celebration—but could the two women be one and the same? Working in ink and watercolor, Wheeler (Tell Me a Tattoo Story) contrasts the rich red of the pomegranates with washes of pale, sickly green, saturating the pages with a sense of otherworldly magic. And yet: Doyen (Once Upon a Twice) leaves many hints that the Pomegranate Witch is less a malevolent presence than a woman who happily plays that role in the children’s imagination-fueled games. Delicious. Ages 5–8. Agent: Jennifer Rofé, Andrea Brown Literary. (Aug.)”

Some peeks into the book: 

Delight yourself with a copy of your own, or ask your library to order one!

Buy THE POMEGRANATE WITCH at your local indie bookstore
-or-
Order from Barnes and Noble here
Order from Amazon here

THIS IS OUR BABY BORN TODAY book birthday!

My new picture book, with author Varsha Bajaj and Nancy Paulsen/Penguin Books, came into the book world today! THIS IS OUR BABY, BORN TODAY celebrates the birth of a baby elephant. Over the course of one day the jungle family and friends rejoice the baby’s arrival. The book is set in the lush wilds of India and is a tribute to all little ones getting their first warm welcome into the world.

I’m so excited to share more about this book, its author, and the process of creating the illustrations later this week on the Picture Book Builders blog.

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A box of real books arrives!

So far the reviews have been lovely:

Kirkus Reviews
When a baby elephant is born, “wrinkled and gray,” not just the herd, but the whole world rejoices, from morning to night. From the proud Mama to the grand Aunts, from the “fertile and firm” Earth to the ancient Banyan tree, everyone and everything around the new baby elephant joins in celebration and care for the Baby “who warms the hearts of the world today.” Glowing with warm golds and greens and shadowed with deep blues and greens, the gorgeous artwork lushly illuminates the day of an elephant’s birth as it is cared for by its family and surroundings. The expressions on the elephant faces are sheer joy to behold; the elephant smiles are realistic and yet radiate affection. Seemingly simple, this gentle rhyming story works on two levels: the playfulness of the young elephant and its friends ensure that young children will be able to see themselves in the story, and given the depiction of the natural scenes, at least some young readers will become fascinated with the lives of elephants as well. An author’s note at the end provides background from the Indian-American author’s own life and also draws attention to the present-day need to protect elephants from poaching and the loss of habitat. The soft cadence of the rhyming verses and the joyous pictures of the elephants will make this a bedtime favorite. (Picture book. 2-5)

Publishers Weekly
Bajaj (Abby Spencer Goes to Hollywood) traces the first day in a baby elephant’s life, an event celebrated by family members, other animals, and even elements of nature itself. The soft, gently repetitive text quickly establishes a soothing message of love and acceptance: “These are Aunts,/ caring and grand,/ who circle the Baby/ born today.” (There’s a hint of “The House That Jack Built” to the episodic structure, minus the cumulative aspect.) Bajaj focuses on a female-centric cast of elephants, subtly referencing their matriarchal societies, and glancing mentions of monkeys and peacocks give a fuller look at the book’s Indian setting. Working in pen, ink, and bright watercolors, Wheeler (Wherever You Go) evokes a lush environment of towering banyan trees and dense vegetation, helping create another personified character in the setting (“This is the Lagoon,/ calm and waiting,/ to bathe the Baby/ born today”). It’s an intimate and celebratory look at the early days of an elephant’s life, and a reminder that human births are pretty special, too.

9780399166846Buy THIS IS OUR BABY, BORN TODAY at your local indie bookstore
or
Order from Barnes and Noble here.

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Published by Nancy Paulsen Books
Aug 02, 2016 | 32 Pages | 9 x 10 | 3-5 years | ISBN 9780399166846

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!

SpiritsKey Invitation

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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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!

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!

 

 

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

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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.
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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

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Join Me: Pasadena LitFest 5/11/13

All those in the Pasadena area, please stop by to see me at the Pasadena LitFest this Saturday, 5/11/13!  I’ll be reading Miss Maple’s Seeds for the kids at 10:30, then signing at the Once Upon A Time bookstore booth.  Here are the details:

10:30-11:00am: Readings & Activities with Children’s Book Authors & Illustrators! 

Fabulous Children's Book Authors!

Authors and illustrators of gorgeous new children’s picture books will share their work with the little ones!
Bethany Barton reading This Monster Cannot Wait!
Eliza Wheeler reading Miss Maple’s Seeds
Paul Rogers, illustrator of Wynton Marsalis’s Squeak, Rumble, Whomp! Whomp! Whomp! hosting a children’s art activity!
(Octavia Butler Stage)

Signing hosted afterwards at the Once Upon A Time bookstore booth:

11:15AM  Signing at the Once Upon a Time Books Booth

Bethany Barton (This Monster Cannot Wait!)
Paul Rogers (Squeak, Rumble, Whomp! Whomp! Whomp!)
Eliza Wheeler (Miss Maple’s Seeds)

http://litfestpasadena.org

Hope to see you there!