Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Gratitude

Getting ready to travel to Virginia to see my family for the holidays, I had a lovely (if not busy) time making ornaments, buying gifts, and decorating a tree. It's been especially sweet introducing Tilly to these traditions. She really seems to be getting the idea of gift giving... just a few days ago she handed me an empty brown shopping bag and declared "I got you a present!"


These sweet moments stand in stark contrast to the recent tragedy, which I can barely name without melting into despair. It's shadows keep rising to the surface when I least expect them. We are beyond lucky to walk this planet, live this life, love our children, family, and friends. The improbability of it all is almost too much to bear. May the coming year by fill us all with love and gratitude.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Friday, December 07, 2012

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

RISD Holiday Art Sale this Saturday

I'll be selling books and prints (and possibly ornaments if I can finish them in time!) at the RISD Holiday Art Sale this Saturday at the Rhode Island Convention Center from 10:00-5:00 pm. Come say hello and do a little shopping if you're in the area!


Friday, November 23, 2012

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A thousand readings

I've been collecting, reading, admiring, and creating children's books for a good long while now. Until recently, I thought it a relatively easy task to pick a picture book up and determine if it will capture the attention of a child and offer them something of value. I'd flip through the pages, take in the illustrations, and read through it quickly to look for flow.

But becoming a mom has turned all that on it's head. I now read Tilly's favorites over and over, day after day, morning, noon, and night. Soon into those kind of repeat readings, the true quality of the writing becomes plain as day, and the book takes on a different feel. Some books that I first found sweet, I've come to dread slogging through. I trip on their clunky turns of phrase, mouthful of syllables, and jarring jumps in plot. I find myself editing them as I read.

Then others just glide off the tongue and virtually read themselves. It's made me realize how important it is for children's book creators to spend a lot of time reading to children, at some point in their career.

Here we are reading Peter Rabbit (best done in a lion suit).


And here are some of our other favorites; Tilly never tires of them and neither do I.


  

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Childrens book art events in Western MA

If you find yourself in the happy valley of Western Massachusetts anytime soon, there are a couple worthwhile stops to make. Yesterday marked the opening of the yearly celebration of children's book art at the Michelson Gallery. Sadly I wasn't able to make the opening as in past years, but the exhibition is looking fantastic!

Also, the Eric Carle Museum is marking it's 10th anniversary with an exhibition from their permanent collection:

Iconic Images: Ten Years of Collecting for The Carle November 6, 2012 - March 10, 2013

To celebrate its 10th anniversary, The Carle is mounting an exhibition, Iconic Images: Ten Years of Collecting for The Carle, which will draw on its permanent collection of more than 10,000 illustrations. Visitors will have a chance to see examples from the extraordinary collection the Museum has been able to build in a relatively short time thanks to the generosity of artists, artists’ families, and collectors who want their artwork preserved and shared. Artists on view will include Leo Lionni, William Steig, Ludwig Bemelmans, Maurice Sendak, Margot Zemach, Petra Mathers, Arnold Lobel, Rosemary Wells, Ashley Bryan, Simms Taback, Jerry Pinkney, and Trina Schart Hyman.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Voting day

I hope you all stayed safe in the storm last week. We were very lucky out here in Western Massachusetts and had not much more than some heavy rain and wind. My heart goes out to our neighbors in New York and New Jersey who have suffered so much loss.

It is with a strong feeling of community and concern for our collective future that I headed out to the polls this morning. I've been as wrapped up in this election as anyone, even more so after the storm, which reminded me how important it is to have leaders with a strong sense of social responsibility. It felt so good to walk in to our local elementary school, cast a ballot, and collect my sticker.

With Tilly starting day care this week I have more time at my desk than I've had for a long time and there is much to catch up on. But I am far too nervous to write today. So instead I'll fill my work time with small tasks... until tomorrow, when hopefully all the ballots have been counted.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Halloween on the way

I've long had dreams of coming up with super creative costumes for my kid when the time came, but it would seem that we are still at the age where Tilly would likely tolerate a costume for not more than ten minutes before pulling it off and taking it apart to examine it. So this year I'm afraid I will have to settle for admiring other's crafty projects. Oh Happy Day! has been posting a number of adorable costumes in recent weeks. In particular I thought this one was sweet, based on The Red Balloon. I had the book as a kid and was totally fascinated. Do you have any big plans for your trick-or-treater?


Monday, October 01, 2012

Recent sketches

Wilbur:



Henry:



Fernando:

Friday, September 21, 2012

Furball Friday

(with guest toddler)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Thank You Thursdays

Thank you notes from the kids I meet during school visits. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Unplug

I often read this blog for bits of inspiration. This weekend she posted a great quote from one of the hackers responsible for some big time sabotage. A condition of his bail required that he not be able to use the internet. Here is what he had to say about the experience.

It's so hard to imagine life without the internet. How long do you think you could last? Do you think it would make you more creative? I don't think I've gone more than a few days since day one. Although the way he describes it makes me want to try for longer:

"Things are calmer, slower and at times, I'll admit, more dull. I do very much miss the instant companionship of online life, the innocent chatroom palaver, and the ease with which circles with similar interests can be found. Of course, there are no search terms in real life – one actually has to search. However, there is something oddly endearing about being disconnected from the digital horde.

It is not so much the sudden simplicity of daily life – as you can imagine, trivial tasks have been made much more difficult – but the feeling of being able to close my eyes without being bombarded with flashing shapes or constant buzzing sounds, which had occurred frequently since my early teens and could only be attributed to perpetual computer marathons. Sleep is now tranquil and uninterrupted and books seem far more interesting. The paranoia has certainly vanished. I can only describe this sensation as the long-awaited renewal of a previously diminished attention span.

For it is our attention spans that have suffered the most. Our lives are compressed into short, advertisement-like bursts or "tweets". The constant stream of drivel fills page after page, eating away at our creativity. If hashtags were rice grains, do you know how many starving families we could feed? Neither do I – I can't Google it."

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Thank You Thursdays

Thank you notes from the kids I meet during school visits. 

 My new bio.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Hello!

My, what a summer! I've missed being at my desk these past few weeks and am happy to be back to blogging.

A few links for you:

The Foundation for Children's Books has a fabulous new web site!

An amazing milkshake recipe I'm dying to try.

And some artwork I've been admiring by artist Geninne:

(I just bought this fabric by her for curtains!)

Friday, August 17, 2012

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Thank You Thursdays

Thank you notes from the kids I meet during school visits. 

Best spelling of "prettily" ever. Or it might be "perfectly". Either way.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Gone fishing

Off the cape for a little family down time. More soon!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Thank You Thursdays

Thank you notes from the kids I meet during school visits. 

This drawing arrived after a spring school visit in Newton. I love the owl's feet and that it says "ALTER!" at the bottom.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Back from L.A.

It's been such a busy summer! I've just returned from the lovely wedding of children's book editor Alvina Ling. Here I am with the gorgeous bride and author/illustrator friend Grace Lin (fellow Blue Rose Girls):


We rented this cute house in Venice Beach for the weekend:


From there we explored the area a bit, including the beach in Santa Monica, where Tilly saw shells for the first time:


It was a whirlwind trip, ending with a book signing at Pages Bookstore in Manhattan Beach. Here we are with our lovely host:


Thanks for the great time L.A! Now back to summer here in Happy Valley. Next up: blueberry picking and a trip to the cape!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Thank You Thursdays

Thank you notes from the kids I meet during school visits. 

A great note from a kid in a class I visited this spring. So glad my message got through!

Friday, July 06, 2012

West coast book signing

Come join me for a book signing in L.A.! Grace Lin and myself will be reading and signing our books, doing a drawing demonstration, and answering any questions kids have about how to make a book at Pages Bookstore in Manhattan Beach.

Hope to see you there!

Details:
Sunday, July 22nd
1:00 pm
904 Manhattan avenue
Manhattan Beach, ca 90266
pagesabookstore.com
t: 310-318-0900 (if you can't make it, call & order a signed book!)

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Summer

First plane trip with a toddler:


First haul of pick-your-own at our CSA:



First visit to a local beach:

Friday, June 22, 2012

Friday, June 08, 2012

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

On my desk

Recently I joined a book club, thinking it would be good motivation to start reading books for an adult audience again. Sadly, I haven't finished one. My reading time is so limited now that I'm a mother, there is only room for books at the top of my list. That is, children's books.

Here are a few I've had on my desk lately. Since I've been writing in a new genre (chapter books), I've been trying to read up on some new ones, as well as review old classics. Most recently Winnie-the-Pooh has been on my nightstand. I had forgotten how utterly hilarious those books are, what genius. I can't wait to read them to Tilly when she's older!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Fernando

Friday, May 25, 2012

Furball Friday

My boys have been teaching Tilly how to share.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

In the studio

Much of the past year has been spent at my computer, writing and plotting and organizing myself. In the past few months I've set up my studio again and begun to paint. It's a little makeshift at the moment, but the view is great:


Some character sketches for my new project:

Monday, May 21, 2012

Tattoo

Last week I received a most unusual email. A woman named Angela in Atlanta got a tattoo of one my illustrations. Oh my gosh and not a small one either. I'm so honored! Long live hula-hooping cats!

(photo posted with permission- thanks Angela)

Monday, May 14, 2012

Join me this Saturday

This Saturday afternoon I will be giving a talk for kids at the Meekins library in Williamsburg, MA about how a children's book is made. If you live in the area, come join me! The talk is ideal for grade schoolers, but all are welcome. There will be a drawing activity for the kiddos and books for sale!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Good-bye Maurice

In case you haven't heard the sad news, Maurice Sendak passed away yesterday at the age of 83. The Juniper Tree will remain one of my most treasured possessions and his work such a profound inspiration. I got to hear him speak once in Cambridge and to shake his hand briefly afterwards. I'm not one to push my way through a crowd usually, but that day I did to get the chance to meet him.

From an interview with Terry Gross on NPR:

"I have nothing now but praise for my life. I'm not unhappy. I cry a lot because I miss people. They die and I can't stop them. They leave me and I love them more. ... What I dread is the isolation. ... There are so many beautiful things in the world which I will have to leave when I die, but I'm ready, I'm ready, I'm ready." - Maurice Sendak