Borrowing Bunnies is here,
Last year went by so fast! Much of the time was spent settling into our new home here on the coast of Maine. I have a brand new studio converted from the space above the garage and in between wielding paintbrushes and screwdrivers I’ve been busy with book deadlines. So the months passed by too quickly and here it is, 2019 already. It’s amazing to have a purpose built studio (just big enough for me) and even better to be able to walk to work after years of working inside my house (even if that’s only 20 paces!). The poodles love the new studio and Toby can’t wait to run out and up the stairs in the mornings. You can see the whole process here. … Studio Photo Album.
2018 began very nicely indeed with ‘TOBY’ receiving the Dog Writers Association of America’s MAXWELL medal for best children’s book 2017. I traveled to New York to receive Toby’s medal at the awards night which was held at The New Yorker Hotel. Alas Toby is still much too fearful to attend. He stayed home and kept Lucy company. He would have been in good company, because it was the Westchester Dog Show and the hotel was full of pimped pups. Toby is very proud of his medal! Find out more about DWAA here … https://dogwriters.org/
In late winter I escaped the cold Maine winter in exchange for the spring of Scotland and England. I took part in what I can only describe as a children’s lit. pilgrimage. Organized by Kindling Words West, which is a retreat group for published children’s writers and illustrators. (Check out their website at https://kindlingwords.org/). We journeyed from North to South (and back again). Some of the stops included CS Lewis’ house, Oxford - for our share of Pullman and Rowling sites, Beatrix Potter’s houses in the Lake District (both of them!), The Children of Green Knowe house and Lucy Boston’s home, the Wind in the Willows museum … and much, much more! Incredible! Finishing the whole shebang with a week in a (haunted) Scottish Castle for R&R and writing time. A fantastic trip by KWW. I came back inspired and ready to work. See full album here … UK KWW 2018.
In mid summer the third in the series of Fairy books illustrated by me, ‘How Do Fairies Have Fun In The Sun?’ written by Liza Gardner Walsh, was published by Maine’s Down East Books. It’s a sweet book full of encouragement to children to get out and about in nature. More details here … Summer Fairies.
Even more good news for fairies! The fourth and final installment is underway on my drawing board and will be published in Fall 2019. You will have to wait for more details, but it’s sure to be loved by fairy fans old, young and everywhere.
Also in the summer ‘Farmers Market Surprise’, a count and seek book, (written and illustrated by me), was published by Kane Miller books. It’s a sweet story about an aardvark and a kangaroo who love to go to their local farmers market and shop organically and sustainably. I had much fun illustrating this one. More details here …. Farmers Market Surprise.
I’ve been out and about at book stores and festivals this year, certainly one of the highlights was taking part in the wonderful ‘WORD’ literary festival in Blue Hill, Maine which takes place every October. If you have not encountered this literary feast, take a look at the WORD WEBSITE. Take a trip to this beautiful town in Maine next year - hear amazing speakers and peek at E.B White’s house as you go by! It’s a special event, which was made even more so for me by a great elementary school visit and then a drawing session with talented and enthusiastic children at the beautiful Blue Hill library. Next year I will go as an attendee!
As well as bringing the spring, 2019 sees the publication of a new book from Newbery Honor winner Cynthia Lord - ‘Borrowing Bunnies’ published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Cynthia fosters rabbits and their babies on a regular basis, she is really, REALLY amazing! The book tells the story of two particular bunnies that I was fortunate enough to sketch when they were with Cynthia. Photographer, John Bald, (Cynthia’s husband), supplied the beautiful photographs and I was lucky enough to be asked to do spot illustrations to compliment the words. A must for all bunny lovers and just in time for Valentine’s Day, available on Feb 12 or pre-order online or at your bookstore. More details here … Borrowing Bunnies.
Yes, I am looking forward to spring! But here and now, in the deeps of winter, with the wind blowing up the hill from the sea it’s hard to imagine green things ever growing again. For me it’s time to hunker down in my attic studio and bring the fall fairies to life. I will be out and about in book stores and festivals and schools during 2019 and hope to see you somewhere on the road. Please say hi if you see me. So, stay warm if you’re in a cold region … and cool if you are in the tropics!
Toodles from Pooh-dle Corner!
Fall is coming quick to Maine. It seems amazing that the summer has come and gone so quickly, but there it is. We've been stacking wood, fitting a new propane stove and insulating. The leaves are tinging red and yellow, birds are gathering, the garden is giving up it's last thrust of produce and it's time to think about submitting dummies. Well, it is in this house anyway!
Submitting is something I haven't been doing much of lately. The last two months I have been deep into finishing the final illustrations for the next two chapter books in the '
' series for Kane and Miller by Anastasia Suen. Each book has 23 black and white illustrations and colour covers. You can buy the first one on line
In fact I was so deep into them that I even forgot to blog! Wowser!
So, that is why I am thinking about submitting dummies ... I have several hanging around, and they are no good loafing around on my desk, it's out into the world they go. It's back to the CWIM to research likely publishers and fingers crossed on interest and not rejections. But, hey ho!
The hurricane passed us by uneventfully (Irene). Power off for a bit, but nothing horrible. Poor Vermont, they had a rough time, we were lucky. I will be glad when hurricane season is over, although all we get usually is humidity and a deal of rain. I don't mind rain, but if I wanted humidity I would have stayed in South Carolina.
I did make time to visit the Camden Book Fair and listen to some excellent authors and illustrators. It was nice to take a few hours out. Here's who attended ... I got some fabby signed copies!
How many do you know? Spot Toni Buzzeo, Jeannie Brett, Chris Van Dusen, Stephen Costanza, Cynthia Lord and Melissa Sweet amongst others.
The beautiful harbour and library in Camden, Maine.
All of which gave me some great inspiration for my own work. It occurs to me that this is the first time since October 2010 that I haven't been illustrating a book for someone else. It has been fantastic, and it has been a little frustrating ... working on my own projects has been limited. Hence no submissions. This week I have been reviewing and rethinking. There are new stories I would like to work on. Heck, I would love to get back to the MG I started back last summer! It's funny though, the plot has thickened and evolved in the time since I last looked at it. Who knows. But then there is the early reader that came from some sketches I did, and that graphic novel and that other picture book ... always, always so many projects and so little time.
Right now I owe it to the work I did on the PB's to at least show them around. Before a new book swallows me up ... Book 4 in the cheerleader series may be on my desk before Christmas ... I am looking forward to visiting with my cheerleader girlfriends again and finding out their new adventures ... but in the meantime, it's good to have some 'me' time.
It's been a great year so far! Still have 4 months to go!
Thanks for visiting with me.
On the beside table:
Writing it Right - Sandy Asher
Picture Writing - Anastasia Suen
Terrific Connections with Authors, Illustrators and Storytellers - Toni Busseo and Jane Kurtz
Happy Birthday Hamster - Cynthia Lord/Derek Anderson
Pete the Car Rocking in My School Shoes - Eric Litwin/James Dean
Skippyjon Jones Class Action - Judy Shachner
Burned - Ellen Hopkins