Thursday, March 22, 2012

Critique Group Marathon

Aargh! This is a picture of my critique group after the first, whole novel critique, which we call a marathon, for my new mid-grade novel, Haven Keep. Okay, the photo was doctored a bit for fun. It is historical fiction set in 1717 where pirates and colonial settlers vie for control over the sheltered coastal town of Kentville, North Carolina. I'm using alternating viewpoints of two very different boys, a pirate and a colonial, each struggling to find a home where they can realize their dreams.
In this critique session, the whole manuscript is given to members of our critique group four to six weeks ahead of the scheduled "marathon." Everyone reads the work and make in-line comments as well as an overview of suggestions. We make a day of it, including lunch, and have a bit of fun to go with the criticism. Thus the picture.
Fresh eyes give invaluable suggestions for working on the next draft of the piece.
Aargh! Now I'm off to do another draft. With their help it will be even better.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Super Pig -- Going Somewhere

Last week I challenged a school class of first and second graders to make a super pig built on a line drawing of a pig. Anyway that they chose to make their pig super was fine.

To play fair, here is my super pig. And she's going somewhere.

She has helium balloons to take her into the air.
She has pogo shoes so she can leap up, and up, and up.
She has propeller shoulder pads to let her fly to great heights.
And most important of all, she has a book--that can take her anywhere.

Already she's soaring away!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Gingerbread Man Comparison

Check out my For Parents, Teachers, and Librarians section on my web site, I've just posted a comparison of nine different versions of the Gingerbread story. From my years as a librarian doing storytimes for children and my studies in children's literature, I've picked my favorites, the ones the young children will love. And I admit I had a reason--the necessity of a gingerbread story to go along with a special ornament.

Monday, October 12, 2009


FLYing, Illustration Friday's topic this week, is perfect.

For this is the week that our illustrator's group called "ART FLIES" sends out our first group promotional mailer.

"ART FLIES" stands for ART For LIttle eyES.

We're a group of illustrators specializing in art and
illustration for children.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Wrapping Paper Bears

Shapes Shapes Shapes!
They can swirl in your head, swim behind your closed eyes, and appear in snowdrifts and shadows. The shape of the great white seabears --so sleek yet so powerful-- fascinates me, both in its positive and negative space. And as I was wrapping a gift to a friend in some boring blue wrapping paper, I wondered how polar bear profiles would work wrapped around my gift. So I designed my own polar bear wrapping paper. You can decide if it works. Anyhow, it was fun.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Enjoying the Process

Sometimes, it's easy to get caught up in the product. One more polar bear picture. One more portfolio piece. One more pen and ink sketch. One more dummy.
But all it takes is a day painting with a child who has no interest in the product, only interest in the glorious process: the smell of the paint, the feel of the brush, the squish of red between two fingers or on the floor. It reminds me of the pure joy of art--the process.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Checking Out the Competition

Of course, I had a brilliant idea for a picture book about polar bears. (All inspiration feels brilliant until I try to put the stellar idea into 32 pages of text or art. Then the idea changes progressively to excellent, good, fair, bad, impossible.)
And so, like all author/illustrators who also happen to be librarians, I began checking out what polar bear books were out there. Why work on a story that has already been done? It's better to try something unique.
The first picture book I found was Winston of Churchill:One Bear's Battle Against Global Warming by Jean Davies Okimoto and illustrated by Jeremiah Trammell. The wry delicate illustrations depict a bespeckled, cigar-smoking bear leading a protest against global warming. There are clever references to Winston Churchill that most children will miss, but adults will enjoy them and can share them with kids.
While more didactic than my idea, the cheerful bears and delicate illustrations with one especially lovely morning scenic will please readers and get the message across.
One down--it won't compete with my idea.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Bears in my sketch book

And it's no wonder that my sketchbook is filling up with bears. Here's a cub I saw.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Everywhere Bears

I see polar bears everywhere---in snowdrifts, in the clouds, in plastic bags lying on the counter. You see, I just returned from a fantastic vacation, photographing polar bears in Churchill, Manitoba, “The Polar Bear Capital of the World.” For four days we eased along the tundra in Tundra Buggies and captured thousands of polar bear pictures. It was breathtaking getting so close.

So, here's one of the thousand.