Sunday, March 11, 2018

Favorite Picture Books of 2017

Out of the hundreds of 2017 picture books my son and I read these ones stood out the most. They are the books that made us laugh so hard Sam snorted milk out his nose. They are the books that spontaneously inspired profound discussions. They are the books with illustrations that took our breath away. So without further are the best of 2017.

Sam’s Top 5 Favorite
Tyranosaurus Rex vs. Edna – Douglas Rees and Jed Henry
Read the Book Lemmings! – Amy Dykman and Zachariah O-Hora
What the Dinosaurs Did at School –  Refe & Susan Tuma
Through the Window – Taro
The Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse – Mac Barnett, and Jon Klassen

My Top 5 Favorite
Out of Wonder – Ekua Holmes – Kwame Alexander
Mighty Moby – Ed Young, Barbara Dacosta
The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet – Carmen Agra Deedy and Eugene Yelchin
Letters to a Prisoner – Jacques Goldstyn
The World is Not a Rectangle – Jeanette Winter

Saturday, March 3, 2018

An Anniversary Illustration

When Mae Suramek, entrepreneur and founder of Noodle Nirvana, approached me requesting an illustration for her parent's anniversary I responded with a very enthusiastic"YES"even though the deadline was only two weeks away which can to be tricky as a mother working a full time day job.

The day Mae sent me the photograph of her parents from the 1970's I knew instantly that this was going to be a fantastic illustration. The colors, the motion, the classic white suit and gorgeous flowered dress, and most of all their body language, a clear expression of love, tenderness, and joy, these factors combined provided the best subject material an artist could ask for. I couldn't wait to get started.

I began that very afternoon, bringing loose scraps of paper and a mechanical pencil to the park. As my 6 year old son played on the playground I drew. A young girl looked over my shoulder as I sketched and said, "That's good. Your good. Let me know when you're done so I can see how good it is." And then scampered off to join the others on the playground.

My favorite part of an illustration is when I get to decide on what colors I'm going to use. I spread pieces of scrapbook paper across the floor looking for the ones that jump out at me and beg to be included. I usually tend to go with more earthy and neutral tones, but this piece called for bolder and brighter colors. 

Thank you Mae, for trusting me with this project. They were a gorgeous couple 46 years ago and they are a gorgeous couple now. It has been an honor. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Valentine's Day Literary Bracket

Happy Valentine's Day! It's been a long time since I created one of these brackets, so I decided to do one in honor of today. Since there are many different forms of love out there I focused on 4 different categories: siblings, guardians, friends, and colleagues/partners in crime. I left romantic relationships out of it seeing as they get enough attention already.

Frog &Toad - Frog & Toad
Wilbur & Charlotte - Charlotte's Web
Offred & Moira - The Handmaid's Tale
Leisel & Rudy - The Book Theif
Pooh & Piglet - Winnie the Pooh
Diana Barry and Anne - Anne of Green Gables
Ruth & Idgie - Fried Green  Tomatoes
Amir & Hassan - Kite Runner

Jean Valjean & Cossette - Les Miserables
Mrs. Frisbee & Timothy - Mrs. Frisbee and the Rats of NIMH
Dodola & Zam - Habibi
Atticus Finch & Scout - To Kill a Mockingbird
Alana & Hazel - Saga
Myrtle & Zeek - The Pinkish, Purplish, Bluish Egg
Serious Black & Harry - Harry Potter
Man & Boy - The Road

Hazel & Fiver - Watership Down
Arthur & DW - Arthur
Jane & Elizabeth - Pride & Prejudice
Baudelaires - Series of Unfortunate Events
Jamie & Tyrion - Game of Thrones
Meg & Charles Wallace - A Wrinkle in Time
Josh & Jordan - The Crossover
Fred & George - Harry Potter

Partners in Crime
 Sherlock & Watson - Sherlock Holmes
George Milton & Lennie Small - Of Mice & Men
Frodo & Sam - Lord of the Rings
Rorschach & Nite Owl - Watchmen
Hamlet & Horatio - Hamlet
Don Quixote & Sancho - Don Quixote
Caveman & Zero - Holes
Calvin & Hobbes - Calvin & Hobbes

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Favorite Reads from 2017

The time has come to recap! This was a great year for poetry and graphic novels for me, but I failed to read as much fiction so instead of splitting my favorites into genres as I usually do, I have chosen to feature the top 9 books that made a significant impact.

They are listed below in no particular order:

Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline: 7 Basic Skills for Turning Conflict into Cooperation - Becky Bailey

Saga - Brian Vaughn
           Fiona Staples

Tell the Wolves I'm Home - Carol Rifka Brunt

When I Grow Up I Want to be a List of Further Possibilities - Chen Chen

Mother May I - Tina Parker

Out of Wonder - Ekua Holms
                      Kwame Alexander

Where's Halmoni - Julie Kim

Maus - Art Spiegelman

Milk and Honey - Rupi Kaur

What were your favorites of 2017?

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Picture Book Oscars of 2017

What an excellent and wonderfully diverse year it's been for picture books! After reading hundreds of picture books from 2016 I am eager to celebrate my favorites and the favorites of my 5 year old son.

First category...

Best Child Appeal (Based off my 5 year old's favorites)

The Not So Quiet Library – Zacharia O'Hora
Dragon Was Terrible – Kelly DiPucchio and Greg Pizzoli
Super Happy Magic Forest – Matty Long
Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea – Ben Clanton
Ninja: Attack of the Clan – Arree Chung

And the winner is....

Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea

Best Illustrators

There is a Tribe of Kids – Lane Smith
The Singing Bones – Shaun Tan
Return – Aaron Becker
When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons –  Julie Morstad
The Nutcracker – Niroot Puttapipat

And the Winner is...

When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons – Julie Morstad

Best Humor

A Hungry Lion or a Dwindling Assortment of Animals – Lucy Ruth Cummins
Best Frints – Atoinette Portis
My Favorite Pets: by Gus W. for Ms. Smolinksi’s Class – Jeanne Birdsall and Harry Bliss
We Found a Hat – Jon Klassen
The Thank You Book – Mo Willems

And the winner is...

We Found a Hat - Jon Klassen

Best Male Protagonist

Thunder Boy Jr. (Lightning) from "Thunder Boy Jr.
Inspector Flytrap from "Inspetor Flytrap"
Oskar from "The Not So Quiet Library"
Dogman from "Dogman"
Dennis from "Be a Friend"

And the Winner is...

Thunder Boy Jr. also known as Lightning!!!

Best Female Protagonist

Little Red from "Little Red and the Very Hungry Lion"
Flora from "Flora and the Peacocks"
Roz from "The Wild Robot" 
Little Dee from "Little Dee and the Penguin"
Blanche from"Blanche Hates the Night"

And the winner is...

Little Red!!!

Best Nonfiction

The Secret Subway – Shana Corey and Red Nose Studio
Beetle is Shy – Dianna Aston and Sylvia Long
Animals by the Numbers – Steve Jenkins
Are You an Echo? – The Lost Poetry of Misuzu Kaneko
Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson’s Super-soaking Stream of Inventions – Chris Barton and Don Tate

And the winner is...

Animals by the Numbers – Steve Jenkins

Best Fiction

School’s First Day of School – Adam Rex and Christian Robinson
The Not So Quiet Library – Zacharia OHora
They all Saw a Cat - Brendan Wenzel
We Found a Hat – Jon Klassen
Return – Aaron Becker

And the winner is...

The NOT so Quiet Library!!!

And finally here is the list of honorable mentions...

The Hueys: What’s the Opposite – Oliver Jeffers
A Family is a Family is a Family – Sara O’Leary and Qin Leng
The Cookie Fiasco – Dan Santat
The Airport Book – Lisa Brown
Playground – Mies Van Hout
Swap – Steve Light
A Beginner’s Guide to Bear Spotting - Michelle Robinson
Silly Wonderful You – Sherri Duskey Rinker and Patrick McDonnel

Coyote – Maria Gianferrari and Bagram Ibatoulline

So many fantastic books. If you have any other recommendations for me of books I might have missed please let me know! I would love to read them. 

Friday, December 23, 2016

Graphic Novels 
Total: 31

1. 100 Bullet Series - Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso
2. Blue is the Warmest Color - Julie Maroh
3. Anya's Ghost - Vera Brosgol

Total: 9

1. Ocean at the End of the Lane - Neil Gaiman
2. The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
3. Birds of Opulence - Crystal Wilkinson

Total: 7

1. Singing Bones - Shaun Tan
2. Nearly Perfect Photograph - Chris McCurry
3. When Green Becomes Tomatoes - Julie Fogliano and Julie Morstad

Juvenile Fiction
Total: 7

1. Winnie the Pooh - A. A. Milne
2. Sideways Stories from Wayside School - Louis Sachar
3. Coraline - Neil Gaiman

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Graphic Design is Tough Work!

Whew! I can't believe my last blog post was all the way back in March! I've been crazy busy over the past couple of months. For those of you who may not know, I joined a nonprofit organization called Grow Appalachia as an Americorps member. We're working on this terrific project called Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). Our goal is to provide free meals and fun educational activities to kids in Berea all summer long.

One thing that I really appreciate about Grow Appalachia is that they value my skills as an artist. My first week on board they put me to work designing a new logo for SFSP. After several sketches I finally came up with the idea to do a silhouette of children marching in a parade since our motto for this program is "Your Summer Vacation Destination!" 

After designing the logo I jumped right in to designing flyers and banners and signs to help spread the word about SFSP. For the first time ever I feel like a legit graphic designer, and let me tell you what! It is tough work! I had to make draft after draft after draft for every task at hand. The flyer was especially difficult because it required me to condense a ton of information on a single 8x11 page format.

I've also made plenty of mistakes. For example, I accidentally sent the wrong draft of the SFSP flyer to Berea Printing Services and spent over $90 of Grow Appalachia's money to print hundreds of copies of the wrong flyer! That was a rough day.

I may have learned some hard lessons on this job, but every bit was worth it. My knowledge about graphic design and Photoshop has tripled since I started working here. I made myself learn tons of little technical quirks that I've avoided for a long time, like making transparent backgrounds and enlarging images for printing huge banners and posters. All things that will help me in the future as a free lance illustrator. 

Anyways I just wanted to give a big shout out to my fellow co-workers at Grow Appalachia. Their encouragement and constructive criticism helped make my work the best it could possibly be. I've learned so much and I am incredibly grateful for this experience. 

I'm so excited for next week when we actually start providing meals and activities to kids all throughout Berea!