Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Hope Anita Smith

My friend Hope, recently won the Coretta Scott King Honor award for her book Keeping the Night Watch. An incredible follow up of her first book, The Way A Door Closes, for which she won the Coretta Scott King New Talent Award, (and many other awards I can't all list here.) Needles to say, Hope is a master at what she does. Both books are a series of powerful poems that tell the tale of a family trying to stay together after the father leaves. The second book deals with the same family trying to accept the father back into their lives after he decides to come home. Not only is Hope an amazing writer and an amazing poet, but then she decides to illustrate her next book, Mother Poems, herself. (This beautiful book is coming out on march 31st.) And illustrate she did. On a recent visit to NY, she showed me her master piece. The ripped paper collages are wonderful, expressive, and full of emotion. I am in awe. Hope Anita Smith is full of surprises and definitely one to watch!


Thursday, February 19, 2009

More Bella and Bean

This was the shelf at the Union Square Barnes and Noble last week. The pink book in the middle at the top is Bella and Bean. Two shelves down, in the middle is Hugging Hour. Happy, Happy!
Back to the matter at hand. Bella and Bean, is a book about two friends. Bella wants to write poetry, Bean wants wants to play. Bella gets grumpy about being interrupted all the time, Bean tries to coax her to come out. They end up having a very fun and productive day.
Here is the first page of the book, (the one Esme Codell wants to rip out!)
Most of the story takes place outside the window of Bella's tree cottage. One location and a lot of dialogue. For an illustrator, that's not the easiest kind of manuscript to visualize. I was fortunate though, Rebecca interweaves the dialogue with inspiring poetic words that take the reader into Bella's creative little mouse head, a whole new and infinite location to explore.

Friday, February 13, 2009

BELLA AND BEAN by Rebecca Kai Dotlich

I haven't even remotely recovered from Hugging Hour being out, and BAM, out comes Bella and Bean, written by Rebecca Kai Dotlich. As soon as I was sent the manuscript, I knew I wanted to illustrate this book. I did the illustrations partly in pencil partly digital. We are getting great reviews! Read A Year of Reading: BELLA AND BEAN by Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Also read Planet Esme. This is fun! (Wait until you catch me after a bad review).

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Pictures of the Hugging Hour party

It was great, many people showed up and the juice and 300 waffles were gone in no time.

Friday, February 6, 2009

What comes first, Story or Character?

Sometimes one, sometimes the other. I recently bought a sewing machine. When I finally set it up and gathered some old left-over pieces of fabric, this character came out. I guess when you wing it without a pattern or clear plan, weird things happen. Luckily in my world weird is good. In fact the weirder the better and more inspiring. Who knows, maybe this guy will end up in a new story some time soon.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

SCBWI Winter Conference

Another children's book conference came and went. As always, I'm inspired. Inspired and excited that I am part of this industry. The key note speakers were great. It was more than a treat to see and hear Richard Peck again. He is our giant, our very own children's book giant. the agents panel was very informative and the agents featured, came over as very human and accessible, (not at all like Ari Gold from Entourange)
But, the ending key note speaker was the absolute highlight for me. Jack Gantos was replacing Julius Lester, who couldn't be there. I had never heard him speak before. He was eloquent, inspiring, very new england, and very very funny.