This past weekend, I had lunch again with my new illustrator pal, Jeff Newman. To refresh, I first saw Jeff's work mentioned on an illustration/cartooning blog I read called Drawn!, so I checked out his site and book, HIPPO! NO, RHINO!. It was all really fresh, really great stuff. I then realized he was pretty close to where Julie and I live (Jeff's in Milwaukee), so I emailed and we arranged to meet for lunch at a halfway point in Kenosha, WI. The meeting point was the Brat Stop (that's "brat" like bratwurst, the sausage, not "brat" like bratz the apple-headed dolls), a good and slightly weird bar/restaurant just across the state line. The Brat Stop was our spot again on Saturday. I was an hour late due to some unexpected traffic jam and construction, and Jeff patiently waited it out.
I don't get the opportunity to bump heads with many other kids book illustrators, so it's great to hook up like this. Jeff's finishing up his next author/illo book, THE BOYS (with Simon and Schuster, spring '09), and I asked him to send a finished pic to include here:
He's also got some sweet stuff on the horizon (Jeff's blog post on it here)--illustrating a pic book for author Aaron Reynolds (Chronicle) and a pic book for author Joseph Bruchac (Dial). I saw some early studies for the Reynolds book and it looks awesome.
Good on ya, Jeff! Here's to more books. And more brats.