Friday, February 27, 2015

Perfect Picture Book Friday - Louise Loves Art

 Happy Friday!  Here is this week's picture book.

Title:  Louise Loves Art

Written and illustrated by: Kelly Light

For Ages: 3-7

Opening:  I love art!  It's my imagination on the outside.

Brief summary:  Kelly decides to create an art show with her "piece de resistance" as the spotlight.  Her little brother Art adores her and she adores him.  This is their story

Why I love this book:  This book reminds me so much of my own childhood.  I used to get huge thick stacks of white paper and just draw and draw and draw.  I love all the characters in this book, including the cat.  It is a joy to read, and my  3 year old son loves it too!  Immediately after reading it he wanted me to draw a picture of a cat.


Create your own art show!

1.  First spill your art supplies across the table and get to work.  Use crayons, markers, pencils, paper, scissors, glue, whatever suits your fancy!

2.  Once you've finished tape the artwork throughout the house.

3. Give your friends and family a tour of your homemade art museum!  Explain each piece.  Ask for comments or questions.

4.  Take a bow, and thank the audience for coming!

Thank you for joining me for Perfect Picture Book Friday.  For more fun activities and picture books please visit Susanna Hill's blog here.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Good Things are Happening

Despite the miserable weather and feeling stranded in our tiny apartment, lots of fun, exciting things are happening lately.
  • I got some extremely helpful feedback from editor Alyson Heller.  She helped me finally write an ending to my "Look at Me!" manuscript that I can feel proud of.
  • I'm having a blast doing character sketches for "Look At Me!"  It's fun to see them actually coming to life.
  •  I am now being followed by some of my favorite authors and illustrators on Twitter including: Aaron Becker, Steve Light, and Brian Won!
Life is good people!  I think I might just survive this winter without going insane!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Favorite Picture Books from 2014

I am not a critic, or editor, or librarian, but I am an eccentric lover of picture books and read more of them in a single month than the average person reads in a year.  Lately I've spent a lot of time in the "New" section of our library and read over 100 of the marvelous selection of 2014 picture books.  There are so many fantastic books and it about killed me to narrow them down to the top 15, but somehow I managed and here are the results.  I've grouped them in 3 categories: my favorites, my 3 year old son's favorites, and our mutual favorites.  I'd like to thank all the brilliant and inspired authors and illustrators who have brought so much joy in to our home!  Thank you so much for all your hard work and divine creativity!


1.  Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker
     Written by Patricia Hruby Powell
      Illustrated by Christian Robinson

      Recommended For: Ages 8 and up
      Style: Nonfiction, biography
      Why I Love this Book:  The words were lyrical, the story was  inspiring, and the illustrations were unique and powerful.  

2.  The Lion and the Bird
     Written and Illustrated by Marianne Dubuc

     Recommended For:  Ages 3-7
     Style:  Sweet, simple, few words.
     Why I Love this Book:  The illustrations really spoke to me in this one.  It was very whimsical and heartwarming.

3.  Flashlight
     Written and illustrated by Lizi Boyd

     Recommended for:  ages 3-7
     Style:  Wordless
     Why I Love this Book:  It's unlike any picture book I've read before, using the flashlight to tell the story.  Brilliant.

4.  Nana in the City
     Written and illustrated by Lauren Castillo
      Recommended for: ages 3-7
      Style:  simple and endearing
      Why I Love this Book:  It captures the exact way I used to feel about big cities when I was a little girl.

5.  Queen Victoria's Bathing Machine
     Written by Gloria Whelan
      Illustrated by Nancy Carpenter

      Recommended for:  ages 5 and up
      Style:  Nonfiction, Rhyming
      Why I Love this Book:  It is so delightfully humorous for a nonfiction book.  The illustrations and words are hilarious!


1.  Hooray for Hat!
     Written and illustrated by Brian Won

     Recommended for Ages: 3-7
     Style:  Simple and fun to read aloud
     Why I Love this book:  The repetition and simplicity of this book makes it easy for kids to participate and say certain phrases along with you.

2.  Quest
     By Aaron Becker

    Recommended for Ages:  3-7
    Style:  Wordless
    Why I Love this Book: Not only are the illustrations gorgeous, they really spark the imagination.

3. Five Trucks
    By Brian Floca

    Recommended for Ages:  3-7
    Style:  Informational 
    Why I Love this Book:  Because my son LOVES it!  Like so many other kids he is fascinated by various trucks and their functions.

4.  Camp Rex
     By Molly Idle

     Recommended for Ages - 3-7
     Style:  Simple, few words
     Why I Love this Book:  The colored pencil illustrations and expressions on the character's faces are brilliant.  Fantastic work.

5.  Have You Seen My Dragon
     By Steve Light

     Recommended for Ages:  3-7
     Style: Counting, numbers
     Why I Love this Book:  There is so much to look at on each and every page spread.  My son and I could spend hours looking at all of the lovely little details.


6.  Shh!  We Have a Plan
     By Chris Haughton

     Recommended for Ages:  3-7
     Style:  Simple, few words, humorous
     Why I Love this Book:  This is another fantastic read aloud book and got both my son and I laughing out loud.  

7.  Flight School
     By Lita Judge

     Recommended for Ages:  3-7
     Style:  Simple, humorous
     Why I Love this Book:  The illustrations are just so adorable and the characters are so likable!  

8.  Out of the Blue
      By Alison Jay

      Recommended for Ages: 3-7
      Style:  Wordless
      Why I Love this Book:  It is such a sweet story, and I almost had tears in my eyes toward the end.

9.  This is ORQ
     Written by David Elliott
     Illustrated by Lori Nichols

     Recommended for Ages:  3-7
     Style:  Humorous
     Why I Love this Book:  It's delightful to read aloud with a cave man accent and the story is very heartwarming.

10.  The Adventures of Beekle the Unimaginary Friend
       By Dan Santat
       Recommended for Ages: 3-7
       Style:  Simple, sweet
       Why I Love this Book:  The illustrations are gorgeous!  It's the kind of book I wouldn't mind reading again and again.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Perfect Picture Book Friday - Hooray for Hat

Happy Friday everyone!  I am especially excited about this week's picture book.  

Title: Hurray for Hat!

Written and illustrated by: Brian Won

Suitable for ages: 0-8

Opening: When Elephant woke up, he was very grumpy. The doorbell rang. elephant stomped down the stairs. "Go away! I'm grumpy!" There was a present at the doorstep1 Elephant unwrapped the box.

Brief Summuary: Elephant is grumpy, but a mysterious, wonderful hat shows up on his doorstop and he spreads the joy of the hat with all his animal friends who are also grumpy. 

Why I love this book:  I love the message behind this book.  It's amazing what a simple gift can do to cheer someone up.  An act of kindness is all it takes to turn a frown into a smile.  Also my 3 year old son LOVED this book!  After reading it 3 times in one sitting he insisted that we act the book out.  

Make your own fabulous hat! The crazier the better.

What you'll need
A hat (obviously)
construction paper
any odds and ends around the house you think might make marvelous hat decorations!

Just let your imaginations run wild. My son wanted to follow the book's hat as closely as possible so we made a little crown and feather, but the hat is yours so you can make it any way you want!

For more awesome picture books and fun activities visit Susanna Hill's Blog for Perfect Picture Book Friday!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Character Sketch

I am finally returning to an old manuscript that is very near and dear to my heart.  It's called "Look at Me!"  The main character, Jake, is an imaginative rambunctious boy and full of energy. This is my first character sketch of him.  I can't wait to see how he will grow and develop as the story comes to life.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Perfect Picture Book Friday - Digger Dog

Title - Digger Dog

Written by - William Bee

Illustrated by - Cecilia Johansson
Suitable for ages - 1-5

Topics/themes - Construction trucks, dogs, dinosaur bones.

Opening - Digger Dog loves to dig up bones.  The bigger the better.

Brief Synopsis - Digger Dog sniffs out a gigantic bone buried under ground.  He digs and he digs, but the ground is too hard and the bone is too deep so he has to keep getting bigger and bigger "diggers" to help him finally reach his bone.

Activities - Sensory bin!  Fill up a plastic bin with rice and bury objects in the rice for the kids to find! Funnels and construction trucks are highly entertaining with this activity.  My son can entertain himself for hours playing with this.

Why I Like this Book - My son has asked me to read it to him every night for the past week ever since we discovered it at the library. He LOVES this book.  It's got construction trucks, dogs and dinosaur bones in it!  What preschooler wouldn't love this book!  One of the best things about this book is at the end the pages unfold to reveal this gigantic spread of a huge tyrannosaurus rex skeleton beneath the bone the dog just found.  My son's eyes got so wide when I unfolded this for the first time and he insisted that I leave it open for him to look at for a long time afterward. Any book that causes such wonder and excitement in my child certainly has my stamp of approval!

For more awesome picture book recommendations go to Susanna Hill's Blog for Perfect Picture Book Friday!

Wear the old coat. Buy the new book.

With my husband in grad school and me being an illustrator/stay at home mom, things get pretty tight around here financially.  No more eating Ben and Jerry's every night.  No more eating out every week.  No more going to the movie theaters.  These days we make homemade ice cream, take coupons to the grocery store, and get our movies from Redbox.

However there are certain luxuries that we simply cannot bring ourselves to cut. Board games, beer, and books.  We are totally okay with wearing secondhand clothes and eating Mac and Cheese, but these are non-negotiable.  We have to have them.

I love this quote by Austin Phelps. "Wear the old coat.  Buy the new book."  That is literally what Keith and I are doing here.  Haha!  So anyway I decided to go ahead and illustrate it since that's what I do.  This is my life, and I'm okay with that.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Happy Groundhog Day!

This is the result of not being able to fall back to asleep after my son woke me up at 3 in the morning.  I love it when I can turn insomnia into a productive thing.

For more Groundhog Day fun head over to Susanna Hill's blog where she is holding the Punxsutawney Phyllis's 10th Anniversary Birthday Bonanza!!!  Here is the link Unfortunately my brain creativity at 3 in the morning was not active enough to write a poem for the contest, but there are many wonderful entries by truly talented writers and illustrators you won't want to miss. Happy Birthday Phyllis!