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Here you will find doodles, ramblings and goings on from my life as a writer and illustrator of books for children.
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1. Other than the Infamous Dodo Bird, What do you Know About Mauritius?

The Huffington Post has this write up and series of videos about the island: here .

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2. The True Size of Africa

I spent some time this summer at home (California) before heading back to our new place of residence- Mauritius, which  is part of Africa. Before leaving friends kept saying " be careful!"- referring to the ebola outbreaks in Africa. It is over 1,600 miles from here to mainland Africa and here is a relative scale map of Africa. Here on Mauritius, you are not allowed into the country if have been to one of the effected countries within the last 60 days- even Mauritian citizens are kept out- everyone is, until you have cleared the 60 days. The U.S., Europe- no place I know has such stringent rules. 


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3. Waking Brain Cells Review of STAR STUFF: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos

Here is the link the the review- which I am grateful for. :).Thank you Waking Brain Cells!












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4. The Balance of Things



I'm packing up the house this week -back into the 10 suitcases we moved in with- and then some...Tristam seems to have accumulated the most stuff- lots of found objects, toys and artwork he made. The kitchen came in second with a big coffee maker (which Fred has named Giselle) and additional pots and pans etc. 

Last night as I was closing the windows I said "hello" to the gecko residing in each room and wondered if we could take them with too- especially the one in the bedroom. That one is small and I actually leave the window open a bit longer at night in that room to make sure it has enough bugs to eat. I know that the minute we move that poisons will be set out for them and that will be that. When we moved in we had a pretty bad pest problem- the house was crawling with bugs. One day we noticed the gecko poisons removed all of them. Since that day, the bugs have been minimal to nonexistent. People here can't understand why we don't allow the previous poison spraying and poison traps to be in in our living space, and we cannot understand why you would poison your natural pest control...I imagine that we will go through the same process at the new house, but I'm hoping not as bad because we will be away from the sugar cane fields (YAY!!). 

I'm still considering how to capture at least the bedroom gecko to take with us. 


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5. Early Book Art


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6. Road Trip to the East, Lunar Eclipse, Birds and an Upcoming Move


Yesterday, Fred I headed out to explore the east of the island a bit. Most weekends, we spending catching up on work- especially right now. Fred is busy with solar projects and I have 3 books in the works- 2 that I am illustrating and 1 that I am both writing and illustrating. So, yesterday, we decided that we would take a rare day off and drive to Blue Bay. We stopped at a favorite restaurant in Belle Mare where we watched birds and enjoyed the warm breeze. Then drove the coastal road to Blue Bay. We were puzzled when we got to Blue Bay- or what the map and signage said was Blue Bay- because it was far from the pristine marine environment we expected. Instead, a crowded garbage covered beach with a trailer blasting techno music . Maybe there is another part of Blue Bay? Anyhow- the drive was beautiful and Mauritius is bigger than what I had imagined before. I'd like to go back to some of the villages and towns we drove through and spend some time. 


Last week we missed the lunar eclipse here, but caught it later via the internet. 



Here is a moor hen that hung out with us in Belle Mar yesterday. Watching birds is one of our favorite things to do and yesterday's feathered visitors did not disappoint 



Great news! This week we bid adieu to Piton. This is the view out of our window- a sugar cane field. I can't complain too much- I have this sugar cane field to thank for giving up sugar. It was a great motivator for sure. In the distance - that building that looks like the set of the Walking Dead is actually a college. During the days there is constant activity in the sugar cane field- fires, overloaded trucks that look like they will tip over and motor bikes driving through constantly. We are moving to a quieter area closer to friends and the ocean. We are ocean people and I look forward to the briny smell and fresh breezes. Piton was a good place to start out here, but we're over it. The new place is the same distance to shopping and Tristam's school and will give us a new setting to explore. Shaking things up again- it's a good practice to be in. 

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7. RSA Shorts - The Power of Quiet

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8. Susan Cain: The power of introverts

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9. NEW SLJ News Letter Featuring STAR STUFF: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos

What trip to open up my e-mail and find a newsletter from Kirkus and scrolling down and first seeing an image of Neil Gaiman talking about his graphic novel adaptation of Hansel and Gretel and scroll down more and see my book STAR STUFF: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos! 

Here is the article that featured the STARRED books :))






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10. Thoughts From a Speck in the Indian Ocean



 Something that didn't occur to me until recently- surprisingly- is how much being an introvert shapes my experience of the world. The picture above is of me with in Belgium when we were expats there. We lived in the country near Waterloo and our neighbor had rabbits and pigeons. It was a heaven of sorts for me- a quiet rural existence- not a lot of noise and activity. 

Flash ahead some forty some years and I move to Mauritius with a very different culture- loud, ueber social, constant activity and people  and noise everywhere- a big challenge to an introvert. 




So, I am learning to do things like go to private beaches and collect shells or read or do yoga. I hadn't realized how much a part of me this thing of being quiet is. I tried at first when we got here to take on the task of integrating, but it became more of a situation of being overtaken. So, I backed away- I think that's the process - you try on a new thing and see how it fits and if now you try a different way...




You find the things that comfort you. My case- watching birds, sketching, food (ULTRA rare organic strawberries ), finding alone time...connecting with the ocean...



Here I am 15 years ago (when I first me Fred). I worked out ways of connecting with California (which is home in my mind) . I bought surfboards and headed out into the waves. It was magical...working on creating that here on this speck in the Indian Ocean. 

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11. ReaderKidz Interview about STAR STUFF: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos

This Friday Stephanie Greene- the wonderful author of the Princess Posey books  : ) will post an interview on the process of making the book. Here is their announcement about it. 




Here I am with Tristam when we were still remodeling our house taken  about 7 years ago. We would walk to the house in the evenings (we lived in a nearby apartment) and pull out the telescope my parents bought for me years before and search for things in the sky that are very far away and some very long ago. I don't think he really understood, but he memories are pretty great of that time. 

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12. Star Stuff: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos from Roaring Broo...

In searching for STAR STUFF: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos- I came across this by ttmp :) 

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13. Poem



It's no accident that we all lie nestled together in the curves of the universe. We are tugged by the forces of celestial tides. Time folds in on itself and outward again in gladness as we spin around, each of us an utter miracle in the sea of tiny white stars.

-Jamien E. Morehouse

Thank you to Sharon Lovejoy for the poem :) 

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14. STARRED review (number two!!) for STAR STUFF: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos this one from Kirkus!

Continued floating :)

STAR STUFF: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos has earned a second starred review! This one from Kirkus. Here is an excerpt: 


"Young Carl Sagan looks endearingly like his grown-up self, with expressive dark eyebrows and a cheerful look of inquiry, in this warm account of the life of the notable scientist.

Sisson captures an important moment in young Sagan’s life. In a library, where he has been handed a book on stars, “Carl’s heart beat faster with every page he turned.” The next double-page spread offers a vertical orientation and a gatefold opening skyward, as if Carl himself were soaring into space... Sisson’s economical narrative and lighthearted illustrations convey Sagan’s regard for the power of imagination and his generous approach to knowledge..."

And here is a link to the full review. 




And here is a picture of me with an early story board a couple of years ago for the book attending a meeting got my wonderful critique group back in California. 

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15. Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos STARRED Review from SLJ (School Library Journal)

Floating :) And no, I don't know this wonderful woman who gave the review. 




And excerpt from the review:


Told in narrative format, this beautifully designed and illustrated picture book gives readers a glimpse into the childhood wonderings Sagan experienced as he looked at the night sky and imagined the possibilities. ....  A gorgeous, informative offering for biography and science collections.–Maggie Chase, Boise State University, ID
A link to the full review here

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16. Bill Moyers Put Together a Nice Summary of Climate Change Science

That you can see by clicking here

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17. What I Did on my Summer Vacation Part Three




There was lots of work revamping my new website- which is scheduled to launch before October 14th. Our talented friend Robin Chilton helped with a mini-movie- which, thanks to his creativity and vision is going to be pretty awesome :)



Going to my favorite yoga studio on the planet with my favorite peeps as much as possible. 



Working on new projects and reviewing books. Loved the one on the table there - a new one coming out in December written and illustrated by the incredible Floyd Cooper

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18. What I Did on My Summer Vacation Part Two


Enjoyed a bit of sun on our deck back home in California, watched pelicans dive for fish pulled weeds, trimmed massive vines invading the garden and planted new things. 




Clean up and properly stored some old friends I haven't used in awhile and probably won't in the near future ...I'm going to take up paddle boarding here in Mauritius. 


Here is a picture of the one made by Shannon McIntyre for me back in 1998- my first surfboard. I took this photo from the water in 2001 and it hangs in may parents' home. 

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19. Walter Dean Myers

I had the great fortune of being able to meet this inspiring man - a rare person that made people think and created empathy and understanding. Sad to hear of his death.  

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20. Percolating ....More Soon.

Back in the States for a little bit- finishing up some projects, checking in on the house, visiting family, just got back from L.A. and the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators Conference (it was great)- saw so many friends and made new ones, was inspired , laughed, laughed and saw Judy Blume- so great... now I'm in a mad rush to finish off some paintings before Fred gets here for a few days. He is at the White House tonight- no kidding...black tie. He looks goods thanks to the most charming tailer, Joseph

I'm doing a whole revamp of the website for the arrival of...




STAR STUFF: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos- looks gorgeous doesn't it??!! Can't wait for copies to get here- this is my wonderful editor, Katherine Jacob's desk in the Flatiron Building in NYC. 

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21. Interesting TED Talk on Parenting

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22. Status Report

Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the bus sky, is by no means a waste of time. 


                                   -Sir John Lubbock, The Use of Life


Here I am- back over on the other side of the world again for a short while. I'm connecting with my peeps and rereading the entire Calvin and Hobbes collection. I go out into the garden (which can only be watered on Tuesdays and Fridays) and I put my hands in that gorgeous soil that we have been working on improving for a few years now and I pull some weeds and I trim some things back and find a perfectly beautiful tomato there- the best tomato. 

There is much to do in a short time. Lots of appointments and business meetings and sorting and tossing...rethinking and shopping and retooling to head back to my other home on the exact opposite side of the world. 

Fred was in town for only 4 days. They were a good four days. We watched sunsets, went for walks...talked a lot and ate copious amounts of sushi and visited with friends and family. Now he's somewhere in the atmosphere heading for Dubai and then onto Mauritius. 

I'm joining him in just a short while. I am relishing being home for a little bit- before I head back and continue making a new home in a new place with a new language and culture and all that come with that. Adventure. It's good to be roving and learning and creating. 

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23. Dream Recipe



Beginning new dreams of faraway places...reading books about Africa and elephants. Tonight I went outside in the dark - we were fogged in. A  sound softening fog....gentle. 

The image above can be found in Isol's Dream Recipe book. 

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24. What I Did on my Summer Vacation Part One



 Attended the SCBWI Annual Summer conference in Los Angeles for inspiration and to meet up with friends and colleagues .



 Ate oysters on the half shell, excellent sushi, kale, brussel sprouts, ate salad (dark green gorgeous organic salads) and haas avocados...things I have been unable to find in Mauritius.




Did some serious California connecting with  friends and attended as many hot yoga classes as possible. 

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25. Being with Jane Goodall

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