Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Well, It took me much longer than expected yet again. But at least it's done! Shown with and without proposed text.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Cover Sketch

The sketch for a quick piece I'm hoping to have done for tomorrow...It's an imaginary bookcover illustration for my imaginary middle grade fantasy novel...

Friday, August 20, 2010

Bug Summer

I finally finished this piece I've been working on for over a week. I really can not justify taking so long on one illustration...I'm soooo slowwwww. Working digitally should really go faster and I know it was because of a lack of focus on my part. But anyway...this illustration was for the prompt "Having Summer Fun." I decided to to a piece inspired by my childhood with my sisters, both of whom have always been my best friends. I even incorporated the puppy version of one of our family dogs and the house I grew up in. Oh, the memories.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I Love Kidlit: Old Coyote

It's been a busy week for me (my husband had a week and a half off in between starting a new job) so I've basically been on vacation as well. I've neglected my blog but I decided to jump on to post a brief installment about another of my favorite books.

Today's feature is Old Coyote illustrated by Max Grafe. This is a perfect example of one of my favorite types of picturebooks---elegant, sophisticated, and emotionally compelling.

Max Grafe's work is often printmaking related, an influence that comes through in his mixed media illustrations that recall the unexpected textures inherent in mono prints. The subdued color palette and simple compositions add a sensitivity to what is ultimately a story about the harmonic cycle of life and death. It's a heavy theme here given delicate lightness and grace. The writing is poetic and dignified and the whole book experience is perfectly paced, quietly moving from begining to end. But beware...it may leave you a bit bleary eyed...in a good way.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

I Love Kidlit: The Arrival

Today's installment is Shaun Tan's masterpiece of graphic narrative, The Arrival.

Side story:
I first stumbled across this book back in October of 2007, while browsing the book kiosk in Boston's South Station. It was the morning and I was waiting for one of my friends to come into town. What struck me first was the binding; brown with a beautiful worn typeface. It had so much character. Everything about it was calling out to me. I picked it up and leafed through the pages. Instantly, I was speechless. I was in love. I knew I had found something special. It HAD to be mine. But I was torn: I didn't want to lug it around with me all day while I roamed the city. So I reluctantly decided to wait until my return to the station that afternoon to purchase it. All day long I thought about this book. I worried that someone would snatch it up in my absence. When I got back to South Station later that day I prayed it would still be there. Lucky for me, it was! And I purchased it straight away.

It quickly became my absolute all-time favorite picture book. Ever. It's brilliant in every way. I could go on and on about my love for the main character's metaphorical immigrant experience. I could gush for days about the beauty of the soft sepia toned illustrations. But instead I'll just say that it is a touching, unique yet universal story that truly succeeds in allowing understanding and empathy for an experience everyone can identify with in on some scale. We truly become one with the character, seeing a strange and magical world through the eyes of a stranger. It is a satisfying and mystifying experience.

The inherent bizarreness, confusion, and magic of entering an unfamiliar world lies intricately and meticulously detailed within these pages. An obvious labor of love on the part of Tan, who is one of the geniuses of contemporary picturebooks. His work never fail to challenge the audience to participate in the story. He challenges the limits of "children's" books and offers complex yet approachable ideas that I believe strengthen young readers visual literacy.

If you haven't held this book in your hands, go do it. I dare you not to love it as much as I do.

Monday, August 2, 2010

I Love Kidlit: The Serpent Came to Gloucester

Today's selection is M.T. Anderson's lyrical masterpiece, The Serpent Came to Gloucester, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline. The book narrates the 1817 instance of a reported sea serpent spotted of the coast of Massachusetts from the eyes of a local boy. I adore the poetic song like refrains that set a mysterious and haunting tone, complemented perfectly by illustrations inspired by 19th century maritime paintings. Ibatoulline succeeds in creating a beautiful and believable environment while still retaining a warmth that makes this world inviting and his characters friendly. It has a realistic feel but his people are just stylized enough to make them relatable. And even under the threat of a massive beast lurking in the water, he manages to keep us feeling safe. He is truly a master of his craft. It serves to remind me how to successfully draw from historical references to inform and inspire a befitting look and feel to a story.

From a design/visual standpoint, this is one of my top three children's books of all time. Beautiful pictures, intriguing story, good use of pacing the between single and double page spreads, elegant and unobtrusive typeface and spacing, integrated endpapers--the entire package is a work of art. Candlewick Press truly delivers standout picturebooks. One of my favorite touches is that removing the dust jacket reveals the hidden cover made to look like a distressed old book. I love little surprises like that.

This is everything I admire in well-told and well-crafted kidlit.