Happy World Penguin Day!

I’m celebrating my favorite flightless birds by sharing the cover for my upcoming picture book LOVE, MAMA!

When Mama goes on a trip, her baby penguin Kipling knows she’ll return home soon—yet he still can’t help but miss her. After all, Pillow Mama won’t read, Picture Mama won’t laugh, and Snow Mama is too cold to cuddle.

But when Kipling receives a special delivery from Mama, he knows that no matter where she is, he is always loved. Soon, Mama comes home, and Kipling ends the day where he belongs—right in her arms.

LOVE, MAMA is being published by Roaring Brook Press, and will be in bookstores in early 2018.  I can’t wait to share it with you.

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To preorder, ask your favorite indie bookseller for ISBN 978-1-62672-949-0.

Roaring Brook Press, mackids.com

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Writing Challenges 2016

2016 is already 3 months gone, but I’m still catching up. As they say in New England, I’ve been wicked busy so far this year.  I wanted to give a little shout out to two writing challenges that I have found really helpful.

Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 writing challenge is a paid subscription program, but the cost for a year of membership has been worth it in terms of both manuscripts completed and connections I have made with other writers and illustrators. It’s a wonderful writing community that spans absolute beginners to published authors.

Last year I did not manage to complete 12 drafts, but I did complete 8, which is pretty wonderful. This year I doubt I will make the magical 12 number either, but I continue to write new drafts, and revise last year’s, all while trying to complete the illustrations for the 2 book dummies I am working on.

The second is ReFoReMo, run by Carrie Charley Brown. Reading For Research Month challenges participants to read 100 picture books in a month. Last year ReFoReMo sparked a new habit of deeply researching books related to manuscripts I am working on, for use as mentor texts, or just to see what is already out there. This year I did not even try to keep up the reading pace during the month of the challenge, and instead, I plan to spread out my catch-up reading over the next couple of months.

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It’s hard enough to find enough time to write, and read, and make art. So why participate in these challenges?  For me, there is something about being part of a culture of productivity that spurs me to produce more. So time spent on these writing challenges, and reading blog posts, isn’t time wasted if it leaves me inspired and motivated to get back to the drawing board.

 

PiBoIdMo 2015

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Gearing up for my fourth year of PiBoIdMo. (Wow. How is that even possible?) I unearthed my 2013 PiBoIdMo sketchbook and found some surprisingly interesting ideas hidden in there, that I had forgotten about. Going to dig out my notes from the other two years so I am ready to go November 1!

Thundermist Community Health Center Donor Wall

I recently had the opportunity to design a donor wall for Thundermist Community Health Center in Wakefield, RI. The organization has just opened a gorgeous new building, and the donor wall as designed by the architectural firm was not going to work in practice.  I was asked to create a design that fit the distinctive design of the new building, which made use of multicolored acrylic panels inset into the walls in squares and rectangles, in a sort of randomly-scattered-yet-balanced placement. It also needed to fit into an entry space that had existing door opening hand plates, and make use of existing materials.

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Here is the end product. Acrylic Lumicor strips in a randomly-staggered-yet-balanced arrangement, with brushed aluminum hardware and donor name plaques. The Thundermist staff wanted the name tags scattered randomly as well, with plenty of room for new donors.

This project was very different from a lot of my recent illustration, and challenged me to brush off my old urban planning design skills and think mathematically. It was a lot of fun to work with this great community organization and help them materialize their vision for this donor wall.

A Garden of Picture Books

Spring is coming, at least theoretically. Here in the Northeast we are still shivering in our winter coats and looking longingly at the small patches of dead grass that have begun to appear. There is still about a foot of snow on top of my garden, but I am dreaming of green growing things.

Some of my favorite books about gardening, gardens, the cycle of seasons, and the cycle of life are (in no particular order):

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The Curious Garden

by Peter Brown

The Curious Garden is magical and gorgeous and features acts of guerrilla urban gardening. Kids relate to Liam’s mistakes as he learns to tend his accidental garden and his joy as it spreads. Knowing that the book was inspired by the true story of the High Line, an elevated garden built on reclaimed freight tracks in New York, just makes it more magical.

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Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!

by Candace Fleming, illustrated by G. Brian Karas 

Reading Muncha! Muncha! Muncha! aloud is a treat. Adult gardeners will relate to Mr. McGreely’s escalating attempts to keep the bunnies out of his vegetables. Kids will root for the adorable (and persistent) bunnies. This book is just fun.

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Sophie’s Squash

by Pat Zietlow Miller, illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf

Sophie’s Squash is not a gardening book, though it does celebrate a love for vegetables. It is a warm and wonderful introduction for young children to the cycle of loss and rebirth with the seasons.

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Linnea in Monet’s Garden

by Christina Björk, illustrated by Lena Anderson

Linnea falls in love with Monet’s waterlilies, and the reader falls in love with Monet’s garden through her enthusiasm. Lyrical text and whimsical illustrations blend with reproductions of Monet’s paintings. I love the movie made from the book even more than the book itself, which is a rarity. It is a quiet story, but it inspires and engages kids.

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The Gardener

by Sarah Stewart, illustrated by David Small
Set during the Depression, a young girl brings seeds with her to the city, where she creates a secret rooftop garden in hopes of bringing joy to her uncle. Lydia, like Liam, is determined to transform her environment bit by bit.
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Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt

The same duo that created Over and Under the Snow, one of my favorite nature picture books, now brings us a book timed perfectly for the spring thaw.
And of course, there is The Upside Down Garden!