4.02.2016

VOTE FOR ME!


WARNING! In this post I wax nostalgic and get a wee bit (MEGA) reflective. My apologies in advance!

I had the realization the other day that the start of April is a sort of anniversary for me. It was April 1, 2012 that my very first children's book VOTE FOR ME! made its debut. It is strange to think that I have now been a published author/illustrator for four years. Somehow that seems like not very much time and a lot at the same time. In these past four years I have written and illustrated 8 books (3 of which have yet to come out) and illustrated another 6. But of all my books I think VOTE FOR ME! will always be of particular importance to me.


A big part of its importance to me naturally has to do with it being my first book. So much hope, excitement, and anticipation surrounded both the making and release of this book for me and I still can feel the echoes of those emotions. Interestingly, I think it remains my best read aloud to this point (I do have a couple of books in the works that will give it a run for its money, though). And yet it is also the book I have the hardest time looking at because I have learned so much since making VOTE FOR ME! and feel I could do a much better job making it now. In fact, I do hope to someday re-illustrate and redesign the book. I take some courage from the fact that Eric Carle re-illustrated THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR several times (um, not to compare myself to Eric Carle). I'll need to have quite a bit more success I think before a publisher would be willing to do a new version of VOTE FOR ME!, but maybe someday.


What would I do differently if I was to illustrate the book today? The book is already quite design-y but I'd push that even further. I would go with a thicker and more dynamic line and use different textures. I'd also design the characters differently and I'd hand letter the text. Story-wise there isn't a whole lot I'd change, but perhaps that independent mouse might be replaced by a bird? ;)


I actually remember struggling with what creature would represent the 'independent' in the book. I decided upon the mouse because I could make the joke about the 'big cheese' and because a mouse seemed like a good choice to represent the little guy. Little did I know that four years later an independent would be making a serious run for president.

There are, of course, many things that could be said about this current election. I don't intend to say much here on my site. But I am amazed (or perhaps not really all that amazed) how much more aptly VOTE FOR ME! reflects the current political discourse than it did four years ago.

I feel so very fortunate to be able to write and illustrate children's books. It is a dream job. I often have moments where I go 'I'm doing this for a living! People read my books? People buy them?!' Thank you to all those who have and continue to support, encourage, and inspire me. You rock! Thanks for making my first term amazing. The second term is going to be even better! 4 MORE YEARS! ;)


VOTE and VOTE OFTEN! (Please!)

1.29.2016

REX ENDPAPERS

I've been working on a companion book to REX WRECKS IT! called BOO WHO? recently and came across an old file today with these endpaper concepts in it. I'd entirely forgotten about these!




The blue check pattern is what we ended up going with. Decided to keep it simple. :)

1.05.2016

HAPPY 2016!


I'm way excited for 2016! This year is to be full of new adventures for me and for my family. The biggest thing being that I'm going to be a dad! Still can't quite believe it. Also, I'm likely moving yet again, but sticking in the PNW. Why must Seattle be so expensive?!

I have two books coming out this year IT CAME IN THE MAIL and NARWHAL: UNICORN OF THE SEA (A NARWHAL AND JELLY BOOK). Fingers crossed that they find some (many?) friends. 2016 also marks my fourth year as a published author/illustrator. VOTE FOR ME came out in April of 2012! 4 MORE YEARS! That is my writing slogan. Thank goodness I'm not limited to two terms.

Lots of fun projects in the works this year with dinosaurs, ghosts, robots, sea creatures, and mutant potatoes starring in my latest endeavors. And then for some strange reason I've been drawing oodles of mermicorns to kick the year off. I'll take it as a sign that it is going to be a magical year. Hope yours is!!

12.30.2015

2015 BOOKS BY BUDDIES

2015 was a great year for books! Recently I posted some of my favorite picture books. These are some brilliant books by critique group pals of mine . . .


This book is a star! I'm in awe of Jen Mann. 


A fun debut by Josh Funk! GO LADY PANCAKE!!


BUNNIES!!! is a seriously great read aloud or I should say reread aloud because it is definitely one that kids will want to come back to.


I'm afraid I couldn't find a high-res image for Digger and Daisy. Dana Sullivan is a critique group pal of mine and he had a couple in this series come out this year.


BOATS FOR PAPA has gotten a lot of praise and attention and for good reason. This is an impactful and well told debut by Jessixa Bagley.


NIGHT OWL follows EARLY BIRD, both books will be cherished by the youngest readers.


Another excellent MONSTER book by Paul Czajak! It's got my vote!


If I missed anyone let me know and I'll be sure to edit the post!

12.13.2015

SOME OF MY FAVORITE PICTURE BOOKS OF 2015

2015 has been quite the year for picture books! It is tricky to pick favorites but these are some of mine . . .
ACE DRAGON LTD. by RUSSELL HOBAN & SIR QUENTIN BLAKE

I think this one might very well make my all-time top ten list. For starters it has a dragon who wears wellingtons. Brilliant! This book is hugely humorous (SPOILER gold being spun into straw to save the day!), adventure packed (a couple of battles, a moon landing, and some fire-filled stunts), and has a real classic charm to it. This is the sort of book I aspire to make.

THE DAY THE CRAYONS CAME HOME by DREW DAYWALT & OLIVER JEFFERS

This book is hilarious! Clever, fun, and a perfect follow-up to the first book. Pea Green crayon or, er, I mean Esteban has got to be my favorite. He's pretty much my hero.



GOODNIGHT ALREADY! by JORY JOHN & BENJI DAVIES

This is a fantastic read-aloud sort of picture book. Lots of fun, great pacing, and the illustrations . . .        I'm officially a big fan of Benji Davies. The Storm Whale is also a new favorite of mine.


IMAGINARY FRED by EOIN COLFER & OLIVER JEFFERS

I like that while 32 pages is still the standard picture book length there is an increasing amount of picture books that step outside it. The text and illustrations in this 48 page picture book work perfectly together and I wouldn't have minded in the least if it had been still longer. The simple palette added a classic element and worked brilliantly for making the imaginary and magical stand out. Also was a fan of the half-tone dots. 


LOUIS I KING OF THE SHEEP by OLIVIER TALLEC

I've been a fan of Olivier Tallec ever since I first came across the Rita & Whatsit books. His sketchy lines say so much and his distinctive style I find hugely appealing. This book manages to tackle some big concepts in clever ways and is one I find myself returning to frequently.


LEO: A GHOST STORY by MAC BARNETT & CHRISTIAN ROBINSON

Christian Robinson . . . I'm thoroughly charmed by his work. His color palette for this book with the blues, blacks, and grays fits fantastically with the tone of the story and despite such a limited palette the illustrations are playful and have an energy to them that is both nostalgic and new. As ever Mac Barnett's text sets the illustrations up so well. I'm completely taken with this book.


UNDER A PIG TREE: A HISTORY OF THE NOBLE FRUIT by MARGIE PALATINI and CHUCK GROENINK

This one caught me by surprise. It isn't often that a non-fiction-ish book grabs my attention, but the running joke in this book works so well and sets up some fantastic illustrations.


RUDE CAKES by ROWBOAT WATKINS

This book has it happening on so many levels. Great concept, full of fun randomness, and so funny that the helpful message of the book avoids being didactic. 


SPECIAL DELIVERY by PHILIP C. STEAD & MATTHEW CORDELL

I already had a soft spot for special parcels and sending mail and then this book came out just as I was finishing my book IT CAME IN THE MAIL . . . and now I might be a bit obsessive. Great read-aloud, genius-level interplay between text and illos with perfect page-turns, and the RANDOMNESS of it all puts it into a special category for me. This is one I can't to read with my kids some day. This is the sort of book that lives on for years. A classic in my mind and I bet for many others.


THE LITTLE GARDENER by EMILY HUGHES

I've gotten lost in these illustrations on a number of occasions already. Add a story line that speaks to the power of small acts to make a big impact . . . this book is a winner. Inspiring and captivating!

Still need to get some presents for kids (or adults) for the holidays? Or for yourself? I don't think you could go wrong with any of these titles. There are also a number of brilliant books that critique group pals of mine have come out with this year. My next post will focus on those! Book love!