Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Bologna, Bamboo, Bookworms, and More

I do love this time of year, when everything begins to bloom, and we are gifted with occasional beach days. I've been doing plenty of spring cleaning with my girls and reveling in getting the garden into some sort of shape. Many of the plants we put in last year are beginning to thrive, including the BIG bamboo we planted. If all goes well, I'll be able to use the bamboo sheaths for my woodcut barens one of these years. (And then, I can write off the cost of the bamboo planting and containment, yes?)

Along with my non-virtual spring cleaning, I'm realizing it's time to dust the cobwebs off the blog as well. I've been cocooned in my studio making books and pictures. I did find my way out to visit the Bologna Children's Book Fair, which was mind boggling in all of the best ways. See photos below of my two purchases from the show. First, Mare, a stunning large format picture book with the most amazing watercolors I have seen in...I don't know how long. (My iphone camera does not do these justice, but you get the idea, at least.)

Second, how could I resist Il Piccolo Teatro di Rebecca? It's not brand new (2011 publication), but it is unbelievably intricate and beautiful. Yes, those are all diecuts. 

Both books are from Rizzoli. In fact, I spent an inordinate amount of time at the Rizzoli booth examining all of their amazing offerings. I also enjoyed a lively dinner with my agent Elena Giovinazzo and fellow pip Isabel Roxas. The balance of the week was spent in Siena with my husband where we researched old (OLD!) maps...so expect to see those make an appearance in some form at some point.

The third book in the Zoe series, Zoe's Jungle, will be arriving in May. I'll have more about that soon, including a trailer that is almost finished. For now, here is the springtime-colored cover with Zoe in action!

In August, I Feel Five will be published by Candlewick. This is my first book with Candlewick and also my first book with a male protagonist. Meet Fritz:

Finally, in December, The Best-Ever Bookworm Book will be published by Little, Brown. This one was written by Alice Kuipers, and I really enjoyed having the opportunity to illustrate such an imaginative story. It's also been very gratifying to try a completely new illustration style. There will be plenty more about this one in the months to come, including some posts about the process (which was unlike anything I've undertaken before). Here's a sneak peek of the cover:

I am looking forward to being on the faculty of the Book Passage Children's Conference in June (here in Marin County, CA). I'll be doing a pajama night at Diesel (also in Marin) on June 6th. Otherwise, I am digging into 2015 titles including the second book in the Best-Ever series, a Christmas themed book with the characters from I Feel Five, and a new book for Scholastic. Happy Spring!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Update: Humboldt County Children's Author Festival and More

I kicked off last week with a visit to Sun Valley School here in Marin. I was very impressed with the student questions. They had so many! I really enjoyed spending a morning with them in their beautiful school.

Then, I headed north to take part in the Humboldt County Children's Author Festival. The festival began at the Morris Graves Museum of Art where participating illustrators' original work was (and still is) on display. Over the next two days, I visited three schools, all of which were fantastically prepared. There were banners! Buglette costumes! Vegan potluck lunches! But most of all, the students were engaged and inquisitive and EXCITED. I was in heaven. I also met a lovely array of authors and illustrators. The volunteers who put this event together deserve loads of praise; it is so valuable to all involved. I have included photos below, although I am sorely remiss about taking as many shots as I should (especially at school visits where I tend to be somewhat distracted until the projector, laptop, and remote are all behaving). Thankfully, there are LOTS of photos on the official Facebook page.

And the festivities continue—in a week and a half, I will be in Las Vegas for the Vegas Valley Book Festival.

In other news, I am looking forward to the release of three new books in 2014. I am also looking forward to starting a quarterly newsletter. More details about the books and the newsletter to come soon!

The art show at the Morris Graves Museum of Art
My art
An entire bulletin board of Buglette dreams!
A character inspired by my presentation, drawn on the spot!
More pigs, drawn during my visit. (I am fond of them all, but I especially like the guy with the belly button.)
The Carson Mansion, after our banquet dinner

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Zoe's Room!

It's release day for Zoe's Room (No Sisters Allowed)! This story began nearly four years and three bedrooms ago. Our eldest daughter had a very elaborate bedtime ritual that involved building, jumping, singing, and creating mayhem of various sorts AFTER we put her to bed. All of this activity helped her to wind down from the day, and also, I think she reveled in having her very own space—a place where she was completely in charge. Needless to say, there were more than a few hiccups when we moved her baby sister into the room. It became very clear that the eldest was not going to give up her nighttime activities without a fight. She saw no upside to the situation. At that point, her little sister was a curiosity at best, and more often, a nuisance.

Four years later, they are still sharing a room, albeit a different one (we've done some moving around). In a funny case of life imitating art, their new room has a slanted, beamed ceiling and is in a house overlooking the water, not completely unlike the room I created for the book. Here's the room in its rarest state (clean).

These days, they chatter away at bedtime, have created new elaborate rituals, and I don't think either one is happy to go to sleep when the other one isn't there. I've watched the relationship between the two develop from one of indifference into true friendship and love (with plenty of sibling bickering to keep things interesting, of course). The moments when my eldest began to see her little sister as a real person were powerful and amazing to witness and were my inspiration for this story. Following are links for the trailer as well as some fun Zoe and Addie activity pages from Scholastic:
Zoe's Room trailer
Zoe's Room activity pages

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Upcoming appearances

Hello all! I'm popping in for a quick update about appearances. With SNIPPET now released into the wild and ZOE'S ROOM coming soon, I will be out and about for the following events:
1. Sausalito Public Library, (Sausalito, CA) May 3rd at 7:30 pm. Amy Novesky and I will speak about picture books and our careers as authors (adult event).
2. Books, Inc. (Marina store, San Francisco, CA) on May 18th at 11:00 am: Story time reading for kids
3. The Reading Bug (San Carlos, CA) on May 25th at 11:00 am: Reading and activity for kids
4. Book Passage (Corte Madera, CA) on June 29th at 4:00 pm: Children's event! Amy Novesky, Deborah Underwood and I will be presenting our latest picture books.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

The beauty of my job...

...is that I can spend hours doing this and legitimately call it work. The house is overflowing with colorful snails in anticipation of events for SNIPPET. I'll be posting my Bay Area schedule soon.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A Snail is Born

Today is the official publication date for SNIPPET THE EARLY RISER, my new picture book. The reviews so far have been very positive, including a fun review from Michael Ian Black in this week's New York Times. The NYT review is a first for me, and as a previous NYC dweller who religiously pored over the NYT Book Review every Sunday, it is an especially lovely gift.

In the past, I've blogged about the inspiration for my books (or more accurately, the "special" kind of crazy that is my thought process), and once again, I am back to ramble. The idea for this book was born 3 years ago when my early risers were having quite an impact on my life. (And my coffee consumption.) It's rough on both sides of that fence, though. Yes, there was adult sleep deprivation, but think of the poor kids -- what a monumental job it is to rouse a large, immovable lump from bed.

I started to think about characters. I wanted to use animals—lazy animals. Sloths? Pigs? My sketchbook has many pages of options, but as soon as I began sketching snails, I knew I had my characters. Just think of the difficult job a poor young snail has in trying to coax sleeping parents from their impenetrable shells!

After the character decision was made came the fun of thinking about snails and their daily lives. They do present some unique challenges, given their lack of hands, arms, and legs. What does a young snail do for fun? That was the question. One day as I was hiking, I found my answer. (I actually went home, grabbed my camera, and went back to take this photo...so excited was I about the idea...and so certain that someday, I would want it as evidence.)

It was abundantly clear to me that the snail who left this trail had either eaten too many fermented leaves or was simply having fun, expressing himself—doing snail donuts, shall we say? Making drawings? Clearly, he was not in a hurry to get anywhere. Perhaps he was daydreaming as he wandered about. As soon as I began to think of snails as creative creatures, the story took shape.

Many thanks to the people who shepherded this story on its road to publication: Mary Kole, Joanne Taylor, Michele Burke, and Sarah Hokanson.

Please visit my website to view the trailer and learn more about the book.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Firsts for October

Continuing on with my lists of new happenings and "firsts" from the previous month:
1. First time on the "other side" of an SCBWI conference. I participated in the debut picture book author panel along with Sue Fliess and Sandra V. Feder at the Northern California SCBWI Fall conference. I had a blast.
2. Our first Halloween in Pacific Palisades where the home decorating began in early October and has become more over the top by the day. Even my husband, who has never decorated before, could not resist a full-scale effort in the front yard. Needless to say, the anticipation level in the house has been HIGH.
3. I'm working on the images for my first book that will NOT be done with watercolor and pen/ink. While I've always maintained that I like the built in constraints of watercolor, I have to admit that I'm revelling in the possibilities. And to that end:
4. First time I've used acrylic paint for a book.
5. First time I've used collage for a book.
6. First time I've used (gasp) my computer for a book.
7. First time one of my books will be at Barneys New York! Beginning in November! Go Zoe!
8. First time my six year old's piano skills have exceeded my own. I am in awe of how quickly kids learn at that age.
9. First time I've gone to the beach in late October and wished I had worn a swimsuit. (Ah, Southern California...will I ever get used to you?)
10. The final first is a secret, and shall remain so for at least a little while longer. Stay tuned. :)