Monday, December 28, 2015

Writers's Potential

Winston Churchill once said, “Continuous effort–not strength or intelligence–is the key to unlocking our potential.” I believe he’s right. Over the years, the writers I’ve seen succeed were the ones who refused to give up.

-Kristi Holl

Dandelion bookplate,
Courtesy the Bilingual Librarian

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Merry Christmas Wishes

May your days be merry and bright.

Illustration by Doris Ettlinger, available from Etsy

May you enjoy the blessings of Christmas all year long.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

#illo_advent 4 Calling Birds

Christmas Countdown

Four Calling Birds, by Joanne Roberts

Thanks to Linda Silvestri for HoHoDooDa inspiration.

Monday, December 21, 2015

#Illo_Advent 5 Golden Rings

Christmas Countdown

Five Golden Rings, by Joanne Roberts

Five Golden Rings

#illo_advent and HoHoDooDa

Combat Writer's Block

"When I get writer’s block, I think it’s my subconscious telling me there’s a horrible problem somewhere in the story and I have to fix it before I can go on. So I start by asking myself where it was that I stopped enjoying the story."

Bookplate of  C. C. Ralph,
discovered on Pinterest

Friday, December 18, 2015


For our 22nd anniversary. You're the best Christmas gift I every got.

Love you, Hon.

HoHoDooDa, #illo_advent

Monday, December 14, 2015

Picture Books Contain Power

"We know each reader brings to a book their own personal experiences, but I don’t think we can ever fully predict how they will react to a story. Therein lies the power [of picture books]."

Thursday, December 10, 2015

IF: Wet

Better late than never. Illustration Friday, HoHoDooDa, and #illo_advent

Illustration Friday theme WET,
graphite on paper by Joanne Roberts

Elf revenge. Wondering why he has a punch bowl on his head? Take a peek at last week's Illustration Friday offering.

Thanks again to Linda Silvestri and the other HoHoDooDa participants.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

HoHoDooDa 4 & 5

Woefully behind for #illo_advent and HoHoDooDa. So I cheated. I drew the little giggly elf on Wednesday to practice his expression. But I like him so much more than the one in the final drawing I posted on Thursday night, that I decided to give him his own spot at no. 5.

Bring Out the Christmas Decorations
Graphite on paper, by Joanne Roberts

Thanks for looking.

Elf with the giggles, by Joanne Roberts

Don't forget to visit the other sketchers making merry for HoHoDooDa.

Special thanks to Linda Silvestri for designing this challenge.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Powerful Plot Twists

"Look for events, developments, and twists that work in two or more ways at once, or that have multiple implications, meanings, or consequences. These can be among the most powerful elements in any piece of fiction."

Bookplate courtesy Model's Own

*Via D Biswas, Amlokiblogs

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Kittens Beneath The Tree

Napped all day instead of drawing. These kittens ought to be napping. I have a feeling this is what will happen to our gifts this year.

HoHoDooDa 3
Graphite on paper, by Joanne Roberts

I am keeping up on HoHoDooDa, but when will I catch up on the missed days? How are you faring? 

Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?

HoHoDooDa 2

A lumpy snowman for HoHoDooDa and #Illo_advent. Check them out. I am seeing some amazing art in my feed. Who are your favorites?

Friday, December 4, 2015

PPBF: Santa Claus, #1 Toy Expert

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

Santa Claus,
The World's Number One Toy Expert,

text and art by Marla Frazee
Santa Claus, The World's Number One Toy Expert
Written and illustrated by Marla Frazee
Scholastic, 2005
Ages 4-7

Christmas, Humor

"No one knows more about kids than Santa Claus. He is the number one kid expert."

Santa knows kids. Santa knows toys. Santa knows wrapping, and planning, and playing. He loves his job. Santa Claus, The World's Number One Toy Expert gives a humorous peek into Santa's world. But there are no elves or gingerbread villages here. This book is a light-hearted look at a hard-working guy who knows when to take a break. It follows Santa through the process of choosing the perfect gift for each child. Then there's just one more important gift to discover. This isn't a typical three-act picture book. Nor will you find an insurmountable problem. After all, Santa tackles this problem every year!

What I Love:
Well, Marla Frazee! But there's more. I love Marla's fresh imagining of Santa Claus. I love the subtle message of play in your work and sacrifice for others' happiness. To me, that captures much of the gift-giving part of the holiday. Page after page of lively, lovely art will make this a traditional read in your home. My favorite touches include the thoroughly diverse children, the illustration of Santa reading to his stuffed animals, the child who wasn't quite happy with his gift . . . yet, and the wrapping paper endpapers. Why not slip a copy of this charming picture book into someone's stocking this year?

Find these toy-themed cookies and more
courtesy The Adventures of Sweet Sugarbelle
1. For a Toyland Christmas, try the Playmobil advent calendar.
2. Rather make your own advent? Wrap picture books and read one a day like these from Striped Armchair, or get creative and stack books as a Christmas tree, like the one from My Little Bookcase.
3. Build Santa's village with the annual Lego winter sets. Include a toy workshop like the one in the book.
4. Check out these amazing toy themed cookies by Sweet Sugarbelle. She even gives you directions to make your own, if you are adventurous. Wouldn't Santa eat these up on Christmas eve?
5. Visit a local toy museum like The Strong, National Museum of Play, The Marx Toy Museum, or The Classic Toy Museum in California.
6. Learn the history and evolution of Santa Claus on The History Channel.
7. Check out these and more Perfect Picture Books at your local library.

Reviewed by Penny
Reviewed by Joanne and Beth

Reviewed by Julie
Reviewed by Laura

Reviewed by Joanne
Reviewed by Erik

Have you reviewed a Perfect Picture Book along this theme? Please leave the link in the comments below. Thanks!

Check out all the recommended titles for Perfect Picture Book Friday
for December 4, 2015 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

IF: Punch

It has been awhile since I posted to Illustration Friday. In keeping with the holiday season, I envisioned some elves with a bit of punch. This grog is spiked with Tabasco instead of spirits.

Graphite drawing for IF: PUNCH,
by Joanne Roberts

Linda Silvestri usually runs an informal drawing challenge in December called HoHoDooDa. What's a crazy-busy holiday season without a drawing challenge, right? So I've decided to throw my pencil into the ring. And for extra stress, I plan to tweet the drawings for #illo_advent, too. Sound like fun? Why not join us!

Leave your URL or Username in the comments so I can follow along on your creative journey. Don't forget to stop by Linda's blog to "register". Follow her with #HoHoDooDa. And keep an eye out here and @BookishAmbition on Twitter. S'cuse me. I have some catching up to do.

Thanks. Happy December!