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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. My Interview with Kirkus about STAR STUFF

I had the privelege of being interviewed by the wonderful Jules Danielson from Kirkus and Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast (I am a huge fan of hers btw). Here is the interview

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2. Watching Clouds Pass By

Such a long absence (again). I have been loving island life for the first time since getting here since we moved away from the sugar cane fields. 

Many mornings I go to the beach, since we live so close now, and I hop onto a stand up paddle board and head out into the inlets around this little island in the middle of the Indian ocean. Last week there was a particularly calm day and as I was navigating the bay out here, a stingray jumped out of the water just in front of me. It was nothing short of thrilling being out in these gorgeous turquoise waters under the billowy tropical clouds. 

My afternoons I work. I have a book I am writing and two that I am illustrating and I head up into my studio and close the door for a few hours and focus. 

We have found a way to do hot yoga here now too (if you remember I was missing that quite a lot before). There is a building that was used as an office during the construction of the houses in our developement and Fred and I cleaned it up and brought in some heaters and a fan. We call it Hot Dodo Studio. 

Right now we are having a ball over here- working hard, but for the first time, playing and relaxing. It's a good balance- I'm sure it won't last, but it is delicious right now and I am enjoying every minute of it. 

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3. Happy Carl Sagan Day!

This is the first time in 3 or 4 years that I haven't been seeped in the world of Carl Sagan and recently I have been revisited my notes and photos from that time and remembering just how fun and interesting it was to learn about this man and his life. 

The book above is a book that I think is a likely candidate for the one that Dr. Sagan talks about in Cosmos- the one he read his local Brooklyn library when he was a kid. The wording in this is so very close to his description of the event- don't know for sure of course, but I think it is likely in any case. My friend Sharon Lovejoy had it in her book collection and reading it was a thrill because I imagined the young Carl reading it from cover to cover in one sitting. The language is beautiful and so similar to how he went on to speak, I wonder if it was a formative in his way of thinking about science - the prose has a lovely poetic cadence to it. 

Studied the Voyagers one and two and it eventually became clear that these would carry the narrative in a perfect open ended way- just like they carry the golden records. They became a representation not only for humanity and the Earth, but of Carl Sagan's big picture thinking and his ability to inspire. And even better, they actually left our solar system and entered inter-stellar space in time to include that event in STAR STUFF: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos. 

As I was working on the book and looking around the internet and talking with people, I began to realize how Dr. Sagan's legacy continues. His ability to inspire I think was his greater gift- that inspiration shows up in having inspired generations to become explorers not only in science, but in a huge variety of fields and from all walks of life. So many random strangers I talk with smile broadly with the mention of his his name- they are remembering the feeling that they got from reading his books or watching him on tv- something that opened up their imaginations. 


 (Isn't this so awesome? I got it for my editor.) 

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4. Carl Sagan Day Coming Up!

As we ramp up to Carl Sagan Day on the 9th, here is an image from a version of the dummy (there were many) for STAR STUFF: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos and an image from my dad's stamp collection with some commemorative stamps from the 1939 World's Fair. 

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5. My Mommkin Interview

Mommkin is this awesome blog about creative moms. I am honored to be featured in this piece that was published yesterday

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6. Diwali Mauritius

This last Thursday was Diwali here. I was unsure of what to expect. We were told to put out lights in front of the house and to break and old dish and buy a new one. People go from house to house giving "cakes" which looked like different shaped doughnut holes and giving thanks. As we drove to dinner that night we say "chistmas lights" on houses and one cars and temples. The picture above (and sorry for the half image there- that's the window of the truck as we drove by)is of a temple on the way to Grand Baie. We had a meal at a South African joint- with a great view of the bay. Later that night there were fireworks and when we got home we say the best ones from people in the neighborhood firing them off. It's a happy, festive holiday- I love any holiday where people give thanks to each other and I like the lights.  

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7. 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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8. 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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9. 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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10. 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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11. Early Book Art

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12. 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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13. RSA Shorts - The Power of Quiet

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14. Susan Cain: The power of introverts

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15. 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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16. 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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17. 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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18. 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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19. Being with Jane Goodall

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20. 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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21. 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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22. 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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23. Bill Moyers Put Together a Nice Summary of Climate Change Science

That you can see by clicking here

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24. 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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25. 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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