Monday, March 29, 2010

Moving Day

Dear Readers,

This is not much of a blog post, but I'm only here to let you know that the url for my blog will soon be changed. This is all terribly boring, but you see, my blog is supported by Blogger and is currently uploaded via FTP. This allows me to publish to my own website with my own url. For reasons I simply cannot understand, Blogger is dropping support for FTP publishing. So my blog will, soon, be something like Instead of the existing

Like I said, this is all just awfully boring and I do apologize. I only wanted to give fair warning that I'll soon be making the switch.

While we wait, here is a sketch of a big sheep on a bicycle being chased by 12 small sheep on tricycles.

More soon,


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

TROUBLE at Warren Newport Public Library II

Julie and I forgot to bring our camera to the reading on Sunday. But luckily, WNPL's graphic artist, Nancy Matson, was on the scene and snapped some terrific pictures. Thanks, Nancy, for handing these over!

This one really captures the vibe of the day. Really nice, warm Moms and Dads there having fun with the kids.

I love this little guy. I had no idea anyone ever took me so seriously.

Monday, March 15, 2010

TROUBLE at Warren Newport Public Library

This past Sunday (March 14) I was a guest at Warren Newport Public Library in Gurnee, IL. Yours truly stood before a nice-sized (!) crowd of kids and parents to read TROUBLE GUM, talk pigs (my favorite thing to anthropomorphize) and do some drawing and what not. In a nutshell, I told the kids about how the pig is probably my favorite animal to draw. Because pigs are intelligent and funny, and just easy to hang human characteristics on. Then, I asked the kids what their favorite animals were, and I'd try to draw 'em. One by one, I fumbled through big (giant sketch pad on an easel, for all to see) sketches-on-command of a lion, a koala, a panda, a horse, and an ostrich. It was lots of fun.

The kids also had paper and could draw the same animals to play along. I asked if they would leave some of their drawings with me so I could share on the blog. A couple of the kiddos were kind enough to part with the following beauties.

Anika Agashe, 4 1/2 yrs old. I love this interpretation of Ruben from TROUBLE GUM. Complete with hand-lettered title type treatment in the corner!

Anika Agashe, 4 1/2 yrs old. Sweet renditions of a lion and a koala. Thanks, Anika!

Spencer, 5 yrs old. Spencer rocked this awesome cheetah, even though I didn't even draw one myself.

Spencer, 5 yrs old. Another very cool one of Ruben. Thank you, Spencer!

And thank you to Patty Sawin at WNPL for helping pull this together. I had a blast.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Top Ten (February 2010)

Yes, I am slow in getting this list out. Yes, it matters not cause it ain't like anybody's biting nails in anticipation here.

1. GRANT WOOD, NORMAN ROCKWELL. In prep for my current book work (my 2nd author-illustrator picture book), I've decided to go with an old school rural backdrop (a la Virgina Lee Burton). Buried in my subconcious for rolling hills, small towns and humble living, were these two painters. Wood's take, a slightly high brow one. Rockwell is the obvious everyman. I was surprised at how much and how well I responded to seeing this work again. Wood, is neat and surreal about it. Rockwell takes a sometime knee slap approach. I don't like it too much when he got silly with the rubbery faces. But wow, what a painter! And I do love an artist who makes for the people. I like it when you find something years, years later that you thought you never liked, and now you like it.

2. DEAR GENIUS: THE LETTERS OF URSULA NORDSTROM. Julie gave me this for Valentine's Day. A must read for any author, illustrator, editor, agent (or aspiring all of the above) working in the world of children's books. I will be long affected by this book. What an amazing peek inside the world of children's book publishing in a very turning-point time of the 50's, 60's, 70's. And by a central turning-point player, legendary kid book editor, Ursula Nordstrom. Responsible for groundbreakers and classics like and from Margaret Wise Brown, Maurice Sendak, E.B. White, and many others of this golden era of books. I would've liked to have known her. One cool, hip, sweet, hard (when need be) lady.

3. ABIDE. Another gift from m'lady. This shirt (an obvious tip 'o the hat to Shepard Fairey's Obama poster) pays homage to one of my all-time favorite movies, The Big Lebowski.

4. DRAWN! I've been following this illustration and cartooning blog for years. The contributors always have something very worthy to share. And I like that it's Canadian.

5. AVATAR. I know. How boring, to come here and talk up Avatar. But I did like it. The plot was, at times, very Hollywood formula, but what I most responded to was Pandora. I love Pandora. I want to go to Pandora and plug into an Avatar and hang with the Na'vi and be one with nature and fly giant bird-dragon things.

6. CRISPIN. My first Avi novel. Avi being, for those not in the know, the one-named versatile and beloved kids novelist. I was reading this in anticipation of seeing him speak at kid lit pal, Esme Raji Codell's bookroom. Alas, it didn't work out with the babysitter and I missed it. But I'm glad it made me read CRISPIN.

7. CHARLOTTE'S WEB. I'm now reading several books mentioned in DEAR GENIUS. And I started here. When I was a kid, the movie (1973, animated) left a huge mark on me. It was deeply saddening. I only watched it once. That really says something when something can move you like that. Reading it really took me back there. Beautiful, beautiful book with beautiful, beautiful classic pen/ink work by Garth Williams. And yes, (spoiler alert!) I cried when Charlotte died.

8. OLYMPICS. There's something comforting about the Olympic Games. Watching countries from around the globe come together and play nice (that's the idea anyhow). And many of the things they do (both summer and winter) are, well, insane. I also very much enjoyed watching Neil Young play out the flames at the closing ceremony. With a song he wrote, allegedly, for his car.

9. ANDERSON'S BOOKSHOP CHILDREN'S LITERATURE BREAKFAST. Every year, local bookstore Anderson's hosts an awesome breakfast inviting hundreds of Chicago-area educators, librarians, and book lovers, as well as Illinois-based authors and illustrators of books for children. They also always have wonderful speakers. Highlights this year were Fran├žoise Mouly and Richard Peck.

10. ROMY WALKS! Romy has initiated Phase I of walking sequence. Meaning she is now standing up independently and attempts to move forward and then...plunk. But she confidently walks hand in hand with her Mama or her Dada or with both. It's new and exciting to us and to her, as she constantly demands to "walk!".