Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Narration Is About Gesture*

"You really can accomplish a lot if you are willing to get up out of your chair, change your environment, and act out scenes in your book."
Will Terry**

The Dance Teacher, bookplate by Elita Viliama
Via Pinterest

*also a quote from Will.
**Via Tara Lazar

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Cultivate Your Artistic Pursuits

"Courage...[is]...making choices that move you toward your goal despite the fear. As an artist, I have to cultivate practices that create fear that fear doesn't paralyze me."

Technically not a bookplate, but a great motif to make your own.
Ancient Tree from

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Big Plans, Small Steps

"Dream big and make plans to move toward them, but appreciate the journey along the way."

—Jennifer Chambliss Bertman*

Girl looking out to sea bookplate
Can anyone identify this artist's signature?

Friday, June 8, 2018

PPBF: Carousel Cat

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

Carousel Cat, by Robert J. Blake
Carousel Cat

Written  and illustrated by Robert J. Blake

Philomel, 2005
Ages 4-8, 40 pp

Cats, Summer, The Jersey Shore!

I want to tell you a story about a cat.
Just an ordinary cat, until the day it did an extraordinary thing.

The Carousel Cat centers around a stray orange cat and a carousel operator for a shabby merry-go-round on a forgotten stretch of boardwalk. The operator, named Dan, and his friends, the strong man and the fortune teller, meet every day to have lunch and ride the carousel until the boardwalk attractions are forced to close. When the cat disappears and a fire breaks out, Dan and his friends rush to the rescue, but it may be the cat who is the hero of the day.

What I Love:
I was initially attracted to this book because it was immediately clear the illustrations were based on Asbury Park, New Jersey, less than a half mile walk down the boardwalk from my cousin's place. But the detailed illustration style drew me in and the fun adventure story kept me coming back. You don't have to be familiar with the surroundings to enjoy the summer vibe and the colorful charaters in this story.

Blake's normally realistic painterly style is replaced with a different approach: highly detailed illustrations paired with black and white drawings which appear ripped right from the artist's sketchbook. The mix of detail and energy draws readers into the story to pore over every page.

Perfect to kickstart your summer reading.

Download and color a Jersey postcard from USA Printables

1. Imagine yourself in the story: visit the revitalized boardwalk at Asbury Park or stroll through the quaint Victorian streets of neighboring Ocean Grove, New Jersey.

2. If you aren't on the east coast to ride ten of the oldest merry-go-rounds in the US, you can check the interactive map of registered rides on for a carousel near you.

3. Instructions for a preschool-level paper carousel craft can be found on Pinterested Parent or try the more complicated spinning merry-go-round centerpiece on Oh Happy Day!

4. Shindigz offers suggestions for boardwalk themed games, food, and decorations to host a spectacular summer party, or for a simpler carnival theme, view the party pics on Hostess With the Mostess.

5. Check out these and other Perfect Picture Books at your local library.

Reviewed by Laura

Reviewed by Wendy
Reviewed by Jarm
Reviewed by Maria

Reviewed by Julie
Reviewed by Joanne

Hilarious emergency preparedness
with Scaredy Squirrel

More boardwalk adventures in
Mira Forecasts the Future

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 Friday, June 8, 2018 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Cure For Artists' Block

"Make a mark on the page. And then make another one. And another one. And another one. That's the way you start."
Chris Riddell*

Violin ex-music bookplate by C. Gladys Muñoz

*Via Your Creative Push

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Resistance Is Fertile

"Just because you meet resistance doesn’t mean you should quit. It just means you need to update your plan."*

Book and flower vase bookplate by Max von Esterle
Via The Museum of Applied Arts

*Via WritersVillage

Friday, May 25, 2018

PPBF: Pocket Full of Colors

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

Pocket Full of Colors,
a picture book biography of Disney artist Mary Blair
Pocket Full of Colors
The Magical World of Mary Blair, Disney Artist Extraordinaire 

Written by Amy Guglielmo and Jacqueline Tourville
Illustrated byBrigette Barrager

Atheneum Books For Young Readers, 2017
Ages 4-8, 48 pp, ATOS 4.3

Art, Biography

Under a wide blue sky,
on a red dirt road,
in a lemon-yellow house,
there lived a girl named Mary.

Other children collected marbles or dolls,
but Mary collected colors
of every shade and every hue.

This streamlined biography introduces readers to Mary, a little girl who loved to paint and collect colors in her heart. It follows her to California and a short stint at the Walt Disney Studios, where she was misunderstood and restricted. It briefly notes she worked as a successful artist in New York. Then culminates with her creation of the It's A Small World attraction for the 1964 World's Fair.  An author's note is included.

What I Love:
I have long wanted to write a picture book biography of Mary Blair. Naturally, someone else's doesn't match the vision and scope I imagined for my own book. Regardless, I bought this sight unseen when it was released, knowing the admiration the creators had for Blair's legacy.

While the illustrations certainly reflect the vivid, midcentury style of the subject, the text is straightforward, flooding the prose with a multitude of color names and almost treating the colors as a character, yet not quite as original as Mary Blair herself. The story hits the tips of a few icebergs in Blair's life, like her transformative trip to South America and her marriage to watercolorist Lee Blair.

I think this is an important biography which may lead readers on a journey of discovery to find the whole story and will, I hope, inspire female creators to persevere in marketplaces where they are underestimated.

1. Discover more about Mary Blair's art, influence, and merchandise on her official website and on Oh My Disney. You can also catch film of Mary herself sketching and painting in the Disney film Saludos Amigos. See also the post on Phyllis Loves Classic Movies.

2. Mary Blair has been featured in a beautiful short film, "Mary," by the students and staff of Gobelins, was inducted as a Disney Legend in 1991,  and even received her own Google doodle.

3. The Art of Education has compiled a half dozen ways to teach color theory to kids, a perfect compliment to the subject of this biography.

4. I love this School of Decorating article on helping kids choose a color scheme. I think some of the advice goes for any kind of kid-centric decision-making.

5. PinupGirl Clothing has exclusive use of Mary Blair fabrics. I am sure there are plenty of mom's who would love to get ahold of these prints for kids, too.

6. The artist's most enduring legacies may be the original It's A Small World attraction at Disneyland or the seven-story mural at the Contemporary Resort outside the Magic Kingdom. Read about the history and creation of It's A Small World on Designing Disney and at The Enchanted ManorDesign Observer and Cheapskate Princess have posted beautiful images of the mural. Just one more excuse to visit the Happiest Place on Earth if you're in Anaheim or The Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando.

7. After a hard day of play, treat the kids to a viewing of Disney's Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, or Cinderella. See if they can spot Mary's name in the credits and have crayons  and colored papers handy to duplicate her crazy, color-saturated backgrounds and designs. It's like a museum visit in your living room.

Concept art for Peter Pan
Concept art for Alice in Wonderland
Concept art for Cinderella

8. For further reading, check out the reprint collection of Mary's work for Little Golden Books or The Art and Flair of Mary Blair, by John Canemaker.

9. Check out these and more Perfect Picture Books at your local library.

Reviewed by Pat
Reviewed by Leslie
Reviewed by Kirsten
Reviewed by Joanna

Reviewed by Julie
Reviewed by Joanne

And two more reviews from Wander, Ponder, Write:
The Flying Girl,
Aida de Aeosta biography 
Miguel and the Grand Harmony,
A Coco story

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 Friday, May 25, 2018 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.