Tuesday, May 25, 2010

State of the State

I'm almost done with illustrations for my second written/illustrated picture book (it's about sheep). So close, so close. What's that they say about "close"? Only counts with hand grenades and horseshoes? Is that how it goes? And what weirdo came up with that?

Here's what my desk looks like when I work on one picture book followed immediately by another one. I have another lined up right after this. What will my desk look like then?

I'll let you know.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Children's Book Week, The Book Stall

While Romy's napping, I'm gonna attempt to post some pics from the panel discussion last Saturday at The Book Stall as part of Children's Book Week.

Distinguished panelists (L to R): Me, Aaron Renier, Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Janice M. DelNegro. I showed some early JUSTIN CASE character sketches I worked on with my editor, Liz Szabla, and Rachel Vail, JUSTIN's mighty scribe. Apparently no one was comfortable enough to sit directly in front of me.

One more like before, sans J.M. DelNegro.

Afterward, we signed some books. Fastest hand in the midwest.

There would've been more pics, but our photographer, my lovely wife Julie Halpern, was mostly doing her best to keep up with our 18 mth old, who, at one point, burst into the panel to greet Aaron Renier.

Special thanks to Robert McDonald from the Book Stall and the folks at the Children's Book Council and Macmillan who helped me get in on this! Lots of fun.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Top Ten (April 2010)

Top ten things I was into, month of April.

1. TREME. The new HBO David Simon drama about post-Katrina New Orleans. And also just about New Orleans. Brill-i-ant. A big focus is the tremendously fascinating distinctive music and culture of New Orleans, which I knew only a little about. Julie and I visited New Orleans shortly after Katrina for an ALA conference (the first large event scheduled in the city after the storm). Perfect time and place to film and write about. Awesome cast, real musicians, sweet cameos and top notch writing. Love this show.

2. WHEN YOU REACH ME. I'm usually late on stuff like this. But ain't it cool to be late to the party? For those not in the know, this took the Newbery for '09. Being married to a school librarian, I just noticed it laying on the floor one day and gave it a read. Really cool. Sort of a new-school mystery. I like how it was all twisted up and the characters and writing were not all babied down. Nicely done. I don't read a whole lot of middle-grade fiction. And I don't review books. Can you tell?

3. CROW QUILL. I have held a grudge against these nibs for many, many years. Hunt 102, crow quill. It may have been my first experience with pen and ink. College. A self-teach session. I promptly broke a couple of the nibs by bearing down too hard. (Amateur.) Ink in the face. Never went back. But lately, I've decided to change up my line for the art I'm currently working on. Still loose, but fine, fine and fine. Nothing heavy here. Took another stab at the crow. I ain't mad atcha.

4. THE BOYS. This is my pal Jeff Newman's newest opus. This pic book came out in late February, but I had not seen Jeff or a finished book until recently when he handed over a signed copy. This dude's a dang talent! Congrats, Jeff.

5. SKYPE. Seeing as my folks (and most of the fam) live about halfway across the country from me... seeing as they don't often get to see their one and only grandbaby... seeing as this whole web cam thing has been around for..how long?... it was about time we got plugged into the internet streaming video phone thing. How cool is this? Not to sound like a total n00b (did I use that right?), but it really is the next best thing to being in the same room. Thank you, Oprah.

6. ORIGINAL WEDDING BAND. Last month, I lost my wedding band. (Not, like, cheesy cover music wedding band. I mean my wedding ring.) Julie's and mine--matching white gold with Mark Twain inscriptions. I was seriously, seriously bummed. Losing something that small, you really feel like you'll never find it. And it wasn't like I took it off. Somehow, at some point, it slipped off. And to get a replacement, it ain't the same (plus the cost has more than doubled in the last 7 years!) Anyhow... long story short, I found it! What a relief. Like a part of my soul that got clipped out, just got spliced back in.

7. CHILI MANGO JELLY BEAN. This new flavored bean from Jelly Belly is an absolute new fave. Spicy and sweet. It is currently in second to my reigning champion bean, the Black Licorice.

8. TUBE W/C PAINTS. After being completely loyal to my ¢heapo pans, I finally bit the bullet and paid up and bought a full pallette of tube watercolors. Now... I did not rock out with the Winsor/Newton Artists', but I'm at the next best place. And I like it! Full disclosure: I still am using some of the pan. Don't hate.

9. ELVIS COSTELLO, SNL. I do not recall how I stumbled on this musical moment in time last month. Apparently, in 1977, Saturday Night Live needed a last minute replacement for the Sex Pistols. Elvis Costello and the Attractions stepped in. I guess they wanted to play Radio Radio and were told not to (since that song is kinda giving the finger to "the state"). They agreed, it seemed, and started up with another tune. But seconds in, Elvis cut it off, shouted back to the band and they pounded out Radio Radio instead. I don't know if any of this is true, I was never much of a fan, but I thought it cool.

10. HENRY IN LOVE. I really like where Peter McCarty is going with his newest picture books. Sparse. Experimenting with line and with background elements (loose v. tight). Drawing focus to certain areas with intense attention to detail. JEREMY DRAWS A MONSTER is another of similar appeal. Cool.

Friday, May 14, 2010

JUSTIN CASE drawings, pt III.

The third and final installment of favorite drawings from the all new JUSTIN CASE: SCHOOL, DROOL, AND OTHER DAILY DISASTERS. My latest, greatest, collab with author Rachel Vail. Speaking of Ms. Vail, head over to her excellent interview just posted with Publisher's Weekly. Find out how JUSTIN came to be!

Now for some drawings (click on images to zoom in)...

Lastly, a little reminder to please come out this weekend to The Book Stall in Winnetka. I will be on a panel of authors (Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Matthew Cordell, Aaron Renier, and Janice M. Del Negro) talking about JUSTIN CASE and children's books in general. I mean, they aren't talking about JUSTIN CASE. They are talking about their books.

Here's the info:

Saturday, May 15, 11am

811 Elm Street
Winnetka, IL 60093
(847) 446-8880

I got a new haircut yesterday, special for the occasion. Julie said I was looking, "fluffy". So you'll come, you'll get a look at my new haircut.

See you there!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Plugging JUSTIN CASE and books May 15

Saturday, May 15, at 11am, I will be on a panel of distinguished kid book authors discussing, what else? Kid books. For those in the Chicago area, or willing to drive long hours to get there, here is the full press release for the event:

In celebration of Children’s Book Week, The Book Stall at Chestnut Court welcomes a quartet of authors: Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Matthew Cordell, Aaron Renier, and Janice M. Del Negro for a panel discussion about the joys and challenges of creating books for children on Saturday, May 15th at 11 am. This event is co-sponsored by The Children’s Book Council , who will be giving away free canvas tote bags (containing books and classroom materials provided by The Book Stall) to audience members as long as supplies last. The authors will be signing their books. This event is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Robert McDonald, The Bookstall at Chestnut Court, robmc1002@yahoo.com

www.thebookstall.com 811 Elm Street, Winnetka , IL 60093, 847.446.8880

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

JUSTIN CASE drawings, pt II.

To continue the showcase of my newest book with author Rachel Vail, JUSTIN CASE, here are a handful more of my favorite drawings within. From a whopping total of 60 pieces in the book. Click on images to zoom in.

"What's on the end of that stick?" you might ask. Poop.

One more batch to come!