Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Cratchit Christmas

Illustration by Trina Schart Hyman for A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens
God bless us, every one.  
Happy Christmas to all!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Sweet Serenity

"The love of learning, the sequestered nooks,
And all the sweet serenity of books."

-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Iris Bookplate
Thanks to Jonathan Shipley

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Songs for a Machine Age winners!

Congratulations to the winners of the Songs for a Machine Age contest. 
Here is the winning image.
Winning art by Rhea Ewing

Gorgeous, right?  That's what illustration does:  It tells a story,  introduces you to a character,  sets the scene, fulfills the vision of the author, and displays the creative mind of the artist.   It is so much more than a sum of its parts.  Just like the steambeast itself, come to think of it.

My piece was named a runner-up!  My thanks again to Heather McDougal.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Steambeast Unveiled

Steambeast festival design,
By Joanne Roberts

As promised, here is a concept of what Heather McDougal's steambeast might have looked like at the annual festival.  Its central core is a sphere.  It is composed of brass, copper, vellum, and other materials.  I enjoyed playing with the mechanical parts -- trying to reinvent them in an organic way.  The mythical steambeast is supposed to redesign itself as something totally new and inscrutable each year.  I wanted a beautiful form whose purpose was not readily identifiable. Thanks, Heather.  This was a good exercise, not to mention loads of fun!
Look for Heather's debut novel, Songs for a Machine Age, published by Hadley Rille (Ingram, dist.).

Sunday, December 2, 2012

PiBoIdMo Accomplished

A BIG thank-you to all who could make PiBoIdMo such a smashing success in 2012. I made my goal of 30 ideas in 30 days,  more than doubling that number.   Congratulations to all the participants.  I hope you made your goal too.
As a newbie, I had no idea what to expect.  The whole artistic community was very supportive.  I am blessed to be part of such an industry!  So here's to December, when I can finally unleash my inner critic on the list of ideas.  That's IF he promises to behave himself.

There's more to come on Tara's blog . . .

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Beth Bogert, Illustrator

Just a quick note to say Beth's page from 5/20/12 has been updated.  Check out her new site.

If anyone notices any other broken links, please contact me.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Booklist Status Update

Eeek!  I just looked at my calendar.  The end of November is here and I'm a little behind on my reading schedule.  Back in March, I challenged you all to read along with me as we devour 50 books in 2012.  I've been so focused on writing, reading, and drawing picture books this month that I let my book list slide.  I counted 43 to date, so my plan is to get back on track by finishing the books below before month's end.

Tales for the Third Ear,
by Verna Aardema,
art by Ib Ohlsson

Chancey and
The Grand Rascal,

by Sid Fleischman,
Art by 
Eric von Schmidt

The Dagger Quick,
by Brian Eames,
cover by
Amy June Bates

Rain Is Not
 My Indian Name,
 by Cynthia 
Leitich Smith
Cover art by Lori Earley

If you have a reading goal for this year, why not take the time to evaluate and get back on the wagon, or the bookmobile, as the case may be?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Clockpunk SkADaMo

I promised to post a few more sketches from my November SkADaMo attempts.  Here are three clockpunk contraptions.  I actually used my sketch-a-day to refine some designs I was working on for my entry in the Songs for a Machine Age contest.  I'll post my final design next Tuesday.

Clockpunk contraption
by Joanne Roberts

clockpunk beast and friends
by Joanne Roberts

Bug Buggy
by Joanne Roberts
Interestingly, James Gurney also posted some concept sketches today for a steampunk digging machine he designed back in the 80's.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Reading in the Loo

"Even now, if I visit a strange bathroom in which someone has been inconsiderate enough not to have provided books to read, I'll read the label on the toiletries."

-J. K. Rowling

Bookplate of Herman Wardwell Liebert
for books in his bathroom.
Thanks to Lew Jaffe

Friday, November 23, 2012

SkADaMo Revealed

When I agreed to participate in SkADaMo, I wasn't prepared to scan my sketches every day.  My computer equipment is from the Dark Ages.  When I realized other participants had been posting their drawings, I began the arduous process of digitizing my work, but there was something else I wasn't prepared for.  I wasn't prepared for the emotional punch in the stomach that I received when I thought about actually letting my peers see my sketches.
I had been happily cruising along in my PiBoIdMo notebook, alternating lists of ideas with doodles to get the creative juices flowing.  I had rehearsed my new battle cry: Silence The Inner Critic.  Up to now, it had been working.

As I paged through the first dozen drawings, my critic resurfaced.

He cried, "Ewww, not that one!"

He shouted, "You can do better than that!"

He fairly screamed, "Aren't you embarassed?"
I have agonized these last nine days over putting pencil to paper.  I have struggled with wanting to experiment, to stretch myself, to enjoy the process versus being willing to allow myself to be exposed as anything less than polished.

My solution is simple, but not easy:
When my Inner Critic shouts, his voice is drowned out by a murmuring chorus.

I hear Robert Weinstock mutter, "Embrace your lostness."

I hear Deborah Freedman whisper, "Occupy til there is no more shouting and it is quiet."

I remember Kelly Light telling me not to sink into the pit of self-doubt.

I obey Debbie Ridpath Ohi when she says take a deep breath, stop obsessing, and eat chocolate.

And I hear all the voices of all the talented book-making, book-loving people like Tara Lazar who support each other on the journey to Becoming.  This is what I am thankful for this November.

sketches by Joanne Roberts

Monday, November 19, 2012

Every Great Literature

"Every great literature has always been allegorical - allegorical of some view of the whole universe."

-G. K. Chesterton

University Society Editorial Board
Boys and Girls Bookshelf, 1920
Thanks to Educational Technology Clearinghouse

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Lucky's 24 Hour Garage

Lucky's 24 Hour Garage
Hyperion Books for Children
On our last trip to the library, our youngest brought home Lucky's 24 hour Garage, by Daniel Kirk.  OK, I admit it.  I would never have picked up this book without a little prodding.   It appeared interesting enough and has a great retro style, but I'm a fairy tale kinda gal.  Yikes!  I have never been more wrong about a book.  I love every inch of Lucky's 24 Hour Garage, from the cherry red gas pumps to Angelo's navy blue hat.
Art courtesy Daniel Kirk from Lucky's 24 Hour Garage
   Many of you may be familiar with Daniel Kirk.  His picture book illustrations for Chugga-Chugga Choo-Choo and My Truck is Stuck!, both by Kevin Lewis, brought him national acclaim.  But back in 1996, Mr. Kirk authored and illustrated this little beauty.  His meticulous research shows in the lavishly painted spreads which seem to have a warm incandescent glow.  The reader is introduced to an increasingly interesting cast of characters even as he (or she!) is immersed in urban America, 1939.  The author manages to exude nostalgia without getting one bit sappy.  And the lilting text on the final page leaves me with a satisfied sigh.

In an industry that is begging for better "boys" books, this gem is sure to fit the bill.  But don't overlook its charm for all ages and genders.

So my apologies to Daniel Kirk.  I should have known better.

Daniel Kirk also made an appearance at the Lititz Kid-Lit Festival last weekend, hosted by Aaron's Books.  Check out this report from Erik at ThisKidReviewsBooks.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Fairy Country

"You can cover a great deal of country in books."

- Andrew Lang

Available from
on Zazzle

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Lina Dudaite

Lina Dudaite, Lithuanian artist and graphic designer, is a fresh face in the world of children's book illustration.  Her portfolio is overflowing with fairy tale characters.  Lina's quirky sense of humor is a perfect match for many publishers.  Her muted colors and unique sense of design bring a fresh energy to these ancient tales.

Information about her is scarce.  It seems she got some much deserved attention at the Bologna Book Fair for her work on The Seagull and the Cat Who Showed It How To Fly.  We  look forward to seeing Lina's work in American bookstores very soon.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Nothing Like A Picture Book

by Mary Lyn Ray
and Marla Frazee
Thank you Tara Lazar for getting Emma Ledbetter as a guest on your PiBoIdMo blog.

". . . there’s nothing in the world that sticks with you like a picture book. Think about your favorite book when you were little. Why do you still remember it? The most special of special characters, voices, stories—they all contribute to this warm little nugget of childhood that you’ll carry around with you forever. You can’t create that by hitching a ride on the big, flashy, commercial, book-selling train of the moment. You create that by pulling your inspiration directly from that spot, by reigniting that spark from your childhood and writing from your heart."

This was the invaluable advice from Emma Ledbetter, editorial assistant at Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an Imprint of Simon & Schuster.

Bedtime For Frances
By Russell Hoban
and Garth Williams
She edits all kinds of books, but I think it's appropriate for Picture Book Month to focus on the books from our past which made an impression, subtle or dramatic.
Crafty Chloe
by Kelly DiPucchio
and Heather Ross

Here are three of her favorites and below you'll find three of mine to help you celebrate Picture Book Month.

"Stand Back",
Said the Elephant,
"I'm Going to Sneeze!"

By Pat Thomas
and Wally Tripp
The Most Perfect Spot
By Diane Goode
The Quiet Place
By Sarah Stewart
and David Small

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Dracula and His Legacy

"We learn great things by little experiences."  

So wrote Bram Stoker in his book, The Jewel of the Seven Stars.  Today is the anniversary of the author's birth and I thought this quote apropos for encouraging us during a month of concentration on the picture book craft.  Whether you're participating in PiBoIdMo or SkADaMo or even NaNoWriMo, Dracula may provide a needed jump-start.

If you've never read the original Dracula, I highly recommend you pick up a copy, but you may need to sleep with the light on.  Take a break from today's cheap vampire imitations.  Sink your teeth into writing that transcends its era.  

In honor of PBM, you may want to peruse the lavishly illustrated Hildebrandt picture storybook or a graphic novel version, like the one from All-Action Classics. 
Art by Greg Hildebrandt

I also recommend Ben's drawing books.  
All-Action Classic #1
Ben Caldwell
Art by Bill Halliar
  His comic book meets animation drawing style keeps my tweens busy for hours.  Fantasy Cartooning is a fun reference for drawing all your monster ideas!

The Adventure of
the Sanguinary Count
 or Sherlock Holmes
vs. Dracula

Just for Fun, why not try Loren Estleman's entertaining The Adventure of the Sanguinary Count, which pits Dracula against consulting detective Sherlock Holmes.
Fantasy cartooning
by Ben Caldwell

If you're interested in Bram Stoker and his writing, check out the Rosenbach Museum, featured last March on BookishAmbition.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Our Bookish Homes

"Reading makes emigrants of us all. It takes us away from home, but more important, it finds homes for us everywhere."

 -Jean Rhys

Bookplate of author E. K. Rossiter
Courtesy Pratt Institute Libraries

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Picture Book Month

November has been declared Picture Book Month.   Dianne de Las Casas, along with Elizabeth DulembaKatie DavisTara Lazar, and Wendy Martin, have worked tirelessly to promote the health and well-being of the picture book.  Check out the why's and how's of picture book creation, dissect a picture book, borrow a stack from the library, or just read one to your favorite person.  Any way you celebrate, you can't lose when you dive into the pages of a picture book.

Read Share * Celebrate!

Logo art by Joyce Wan

Here are a few more links to get you started:

Buy picture books.
Attend a workshop.
Read books on picture books.

Friday, November 2, 2012

SkADaMo 2012

Call me crazy, but I've signed up for another November challenge: SkADaMo!

SkADaMo and its logo are copyright Linda Silvestri.
Linda is a talented illustrator who challenged herself  last November during PiBoIdMo.  She wanted to do more than just write her picture book ideas, she wanted to keep herself sketching.  Linda has invited us to join her in her quest for daily sketchiness.  

I read about the informal event by way of Jennifer Bower, talented in her own right, who has combined Picture Book Idea Month and a Sketch A Day as a way to boost her creativity.  I became familiar with Jennifer's work during KidLitArt Chats on Thursday night.  Isn't networking great!

Sketch every day this month.  Tweet it, post it, blog about it, or just enjoy four weeks worth of verbal and graphic brainstorming.

Now if you'll excuse me, it's time to let the creative juices flow.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

PiBoIdMo, November 2012

Picture Book Idea Month starts tomorrow.  Don't forget to sign-up at Tara's blog, Writing for Kids (While Raising Them).

Kudos to Ward Jenkins for this year's banner art
and Tara Lazar for her inspiring event!
If you're planning to participate in NaPiBoWriWee in 2013, there's no better way to prepare than with the challenge that sparked its creation.

We'll try to keep you posted on our progress.  Why not let us know how you're faring?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

That's What I'd Do

Today That's What I'd Do is released nationwide.  The song lyrics by Jewel provide the text while the illustrations are painted by Amy June Bates.  Normally I would shy away from a children's book written by an entertainer, but any picture book with Bates's artwork is worth picking up.

That's What I'd Do
Words by Jewel, Pictures by Amy June Bates
Amy's artwork is always brilliant, but she admittedly experimented with style and technique to match the poetic flow of the text.  The results are noteworthy. (Pun intended.)  We can't wait to see what she'll be illustrating next!

Here's a spread from That's What I'd Do
 To view
Amy Bates's website
Amy's portfolio at Shannon Associates
Amy's blog

Notice the placement and size of the author's name.  More on my thoughts about author billing.

The Dog Who Belonged to No One,  Abrams Books For Young Readers, 2008
Written by Amy Hest, Illustrated by Amy Bates

Friday, September 14, 2012

Oh, No!

I love a good story, especially one which demands to be read aloud.  And of course, great illustrations will make me loyal to a book I've never even read.  Amazon is promoting Oh, No!, written by Candace Fleming and illustrated by Eric Rohmann.  That proves even the big box bookstores recognize a winner once in a while.

Oh, No! by Candice Ransom, illustrated by Eric Rohmann
Oh, No!
Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann, 2012
This picture book is scheduled to be released on September 11, 2012.  You may recognize Candace Fleming as the author of  Muncha!  Muncha!  Muncha!, Madame LaGrande and Her So High, to the Sky, Uproarious Pompadour, or The Fabled Fourth Graders of Aesop Elementary School.  Her book Amelia Lost was awarded the Golden Kite last March.

I have loved Eric Rohmann ever since I first bought The Cinder-Eyed Cats in 1997.  His first picture book, Time Flies, was a Caldecott Honor Book.    In 2003, he won the award itself for My Friend Rabbit.  As an accomplished printmaker, Eric is sure to take our breath away with his beautiful illustrations.

Take note,  both creators are listed with equal billing on the cover.  What's next, children's book authors' names bigger than the title ? (compare to any adult novel cover and you'll see what I mean.)

Learn more about Eric and Candace at the Children's Literature Website.  And be sure to see Candace's "For the Press" info on her own website for a funny story!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Artistic Pursuits, Summer 2012

Some art I viewed in person this summer.  Inspiring!
Woman with a Parasol
Madame Monet and Her Son
Claude Monet
A Dessert, 1814
Raphaelle Peale

Pavement, Cairo, 1891
John Singer Sargent

Eleanora O'Donnell Iselin, 1888
John Singer Sargent

    A Lady Writing, c. 1665
 Johannes Verneer