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ALICE POPE BLOGS LIVE FROM THE CONVENTION FLOOR AT THE HYATT GRAND CENTRAL, JANUARY 30-FEBRUARY 1
Statistics for The Official SCBWI 10th Annual New York Conference Blog
Number of Readers that added this blog to their MyJacketFlap: 8
|Team Blog, hard at work.|
From left to right: Martha Brockenbrough
, Jolie Stekly
, Lee Wind
, Jaime Temairik
and Suzanne Young
. Err... Suzanne (not pictured) is doing research on her new book dealing with invisibility, and although she's not visible in the photo, she's blogging away!
We had a great time blogging the 14th Annual SCBWI Winter Conference! We invite you to read the posts from the sessions you were fortunate enough to attend, get a glimpse of the ones you missed, and think about the moments and insights that are still resonating for you. Share your take in comments.
And we hope to see YOU in Los Angeles for the 42nd Annual SCBWI Summer Conference, August 2nd-August 5th, 2013. Illustrate and Write On,
Lee, Jaime, Jolie, Martha and Suzanne
SCBWI Team Blogps - thanks to Emily Jiang for the top photo!
pps - illustrator students - there's a scholarship you can apply for to attend the summer conference. Find out more here.
ppps - for published authors and/or illustrators who are interested in switching children's book genres, you can apply for a Martha Weston Grant to receive an all-expenses paid trip to the Summer Conference.
Author/Illustrator Arree Chung tells us about his conference weekend:
Illustrator (and now writer/illustrator) Sara Woolley tells us about the impact the weekend has had on her:
By: Martha Brockenbrough,
Blog: The Official SCBWI 10th Annual New York Conference Blog
(Login to Add to MyJacketFlap
, matthew kirby
, Floyd Cooper
, David Ezra Stein
, autograph party
, Mo Willems
, Shaun Tan
, Arthur A. Levine
, mark teague
, Margaret Peterson Haddix
, Jane Yolen
, Add a tag
Almost the moment Mo Willems' keynote speech ended, people started lining up to get their books signed and we kid you not, the line ran the length of a football field (that's 100 yards, for those of you unfamiliar with the sport, or 91.44 meters if you're Canadian).
It's no wonder people are so excited to have their books inscribed, when you share the room with the likes of Julie Andrews, Mo Willems, Shaun Tan, Jane Yolen, Tomie dePaolo ...
We could and should go on, but we'll let the pictures speak for themselves.
|Shaun Tan fans standing in a queue (do they say that in Australia?)|
|Mark Teague and Floyd Cooper|
|Meg Rosoff and David Ezra Stein|
|Lin Oliver and Theo Baker|
|Tomie DePaola and Jane Yolen|
|Margaret Peterson Haddix and Matthew Kirby|
|Arthur Levine is a full-service editor. Here, he's opening |
the book to the right page for an inscription.
Andrea Yerramilli and RaChelle Lisiecki share with us how the New York SCBWI Conference went for them...
Kelly Thrasher-Brooks is a first time conference attendee!
Don't let the pigeon drive the bus, but do let Mo Willems give the closing keynote at a conference weekend full of icons and inspiration!
Mo has six Emmys, Three Caldecott honors, three Geisel medals and as Lin says in her introduction, "He is the phenom of our business"
He cautions us that writers are filters, not spigots. "Be a filter, don't be a spigot." So here are a few of the filtered
highlights of Mo's keynote:
"We're not trying to make stories that are going to be read, we're trying to make stories that are going to be read a millionty billionty times."
Three of his 9 tips:
*Be succinct. 'Nuff said.
*You may own your story's copyright but you don't own its meaning
"I've dreamed that everything I write will change the world for the better." If you're just dreaming of being published, dream bigger.
Always start your illustrations in the middle (to kind of warm up) and save the cover and opening spreads for the end (when you're in the zone and it's flowing) - because those are the first ones people will read!
Mo is funny, irreverent, insightful, sharing advice and stories, showing
us the difference between a hook and a story - while people are crying/laughing, laughing/crying - telling us which is his most personal book, the truth about 'write what you know' (don't do it - write to discover what you don't know), giving us a bunch of great illustration tips and career tips, and so much more...
And perhaps most magically, this is the filtered line that's resonating for me...
"Your job is to be [through your books] some child's best friend."
and on our feet, cheering!
Mo is amazing!
|What a finale!|
Julie Andrews is one of the world's most beloved entertainers. She's Mary Poppins. She's Maria. She's the Queen of Genovia. She's also a tremendous writer whose books include MANDY and THE LAST OF THE REALLY GREAT WHANGDOODLES.
Along with her equally successful daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton
, she has created The Julie Andrews Collection
, a series of books designed to nurture a child's sense of wonder.
Together, the mother-daughter team has written 27 books together, including THE VERY FAIRY PRINCESS series, which became a No. 1 New York Times bestseller.
They gave a warm and wonderful presentation to an entirely packed house (indeed, it's standing room only in the back). Here are some highlights.On how Julie Andrews got started
Julie's first published work was a "happy accident" forty years ago. She was playing a game with her kids that required a forfeit if you lost. Her stepdaughter asked her to write a story.
"I began to develop a little idea I had, and I got so carried away with the story, it turned into my first middle-grade novel, called MANDY," Julie said.
Their first collaborative work
She and Emma first wrote together when Emma was just five.
As Emma explained it, her parents had just divorced and were living on opposite coasts. She and her mom wrote a book and brought it to her dad, who illustrated it and bound it. The book became a symbol of their permanent connection. Later, they revisited the story and worked it into a book called SIMEON'S GIFT, illustrated by Gennady Spirin.On their writing process
Julie talked about the process of writing DUMPY THE DUMPTRUCK, the first picture book they wrote together. "The learning curve was very steep," she said.
Now, though, they're experienced enough that Emma teaches children's writing (including through the online Children's Book Hub
As they collaborate, they have learned to lean into each other's strengths. And if someone feels really strongly about something, she's probably right.
"This requires mutual trust and respect," Emma said. And it's not just because they're mother and daughter. "A great deal of it we've learned through the collaborative process."
Julie and Emma work with an outline. "We feel that structure gives us greater freedom."
They also write every line together. Emma types ("very fast," Julie said). She sends the day's work to Julie for review. They used to think they had to be in the same room to work, but their schedules made that difficult. So now they use Skype or other chat software--very early in the morning, before Julie has had her hair and makeup on (but she does stop to spritz herself with perfume).On the challenges of writing a series
Consistency is important.
"With Dumpy, I had the idea of always beginning with a fanfare of sorts, heralding what's to come very much the way an overture might," Julie said. They had to find fresh ways to do that every time.
They also had to keep characters and their abilities consistent. For example, is Dumpy magic or is it just a coincidence when his lights flicker at a crucial moment in the story? That's a question left up to the reader to decide, and they had to make sure what Dumpy did in book six was consistent with what he did in books one through five to sustain this interest.
They even keep the architecture of the house consistent across books.
"It can be harder to track that you might imagine," Emma said. (She used spreadsheets to track.) And it helps having two sets of eyes on things.
Even so, they do try to leave space for surprise. "We've ... learned the value of flexibility and keeping our options open," Julie said. Reader satisfaction
They had much to say on this, but one excellent point was Julie's--that an ending has to be satisfying and surprising at the same time.But there's good news!
"The better you know your characters, the more they start to inform your ideas," Emma said. So it gets easier as you go.
In 2011 we lost one of our own—Bridget Zinn. At 33, Bridget had just sold her first book to Disney/Hyperion, and she was also bravely fighting cancer. I was lucky enough to be friends with Bridget, but we all feel her loss. Her agent Michael Stearns had a beautiful post about her passing, along with a video that really captures her beautiful spirit HERE.
|Bridget and her husband, Barrett Dowell|
|(left to right) Cyndi Koon, Suzanne Young, and Bridget at their "rockstar lunch." |
But now is the time to celebrate for Bridget. Her first book, POISON, is due out from Disney/Hyperion on March 12th, and we invite you to help us spread the word. From now until Monday night we are running a contest for you to win Bridget's book! But first, here's the description:
So now for your part: When you share this blogpost, write your own, or tweet the hashtag #poison—
come back and comment on this post. On Monday at midnight, we'll select one lucky winner to receive an ARC of Bridget's amazing book POISON!
I hope you take the time to help spread the word and support our dear friend, an amazing spirit, and our fellow writer--Bridget Zinn. Thank you.
Pre-order POISON:IndieBound B&NAmazon Powell's Books
|Grabbing titles before Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton's Keynote!|
Margaret Peterson Haddix is an award-winning author of more than thirty books for kids.
Margaret takes the stages in such a vibrant manner, opening with, "Someday I'll be able to say, 'I once opened for Julie Andrews." (Julie Andrews will give the next keynote.) Pretty cool.
"You don't get to be an author without a certain amount of persistence."
Margaret questions what the doomsday-ers might have said when storytellers decided to write the story down, or when the printing press came about.
"Kids need our stories. I think that it's hardwired into all of us...Kids need stories to help them be empathetic to others...It's the stories themselves that matter, not the manner in which they read them."
"Kids are trying to make sense of the world, and they use stories to do it."
Margaret used to tell her daughter stories, reminiscing, and telling her events from her own childhood. During one rambling story, her daughter became quite angry with her and yelled at her mom to get to, "and then one day."It took Margaret a while to realize what her daughter was screaming for was plot.
When Margaret starts to think she's going on too long in a scene, she asks herself if what she's writing matters, and her internal editor starts telling her to get to the and then one day
She worries about people who are asked, "When are going to write a real book?" at a vulnerable time in their writing life. What if some books have not been written because a writers confidence was taken away from the question?
When looking back at books that mattered to her as a child, Margaret asked what it was about those books that made them so great. Those were the elements she wanted in her own books. Those books had:
- adventure not found in normal life
- cliff-hanger chapter needing
- spunky main characters
- characters that felt like friends or the friends she wished she had
Making this list helped Margaret know what she wanted in her own work.
When revising it's not a bad idea to imagine the reluctant and picky reader that might be looking for any reason to put your book down. "You want your book to be so great that even the most finicky reader will eat it up."
"Fail big if you have to, but go try trying."
"Tell the story you're afraid of. Tell the story that surprises you. Tell the story you care about more than anything else because that's what kids need."
The winners and honorees were announced for the Art Showcase Awards. The portfolios were judged as a whole, and the grand prize winner will be flown back to NYC to meet with art directors. Here’s the list with samples of their work:
And the Grand Prize Winner is……
The judges had a tough time deciding between all of the outstanding portfolios. Congratulations to all the winners!
The first attendee that can come tell me how this picture relates to Julie Andrews WITHOUT USING THE GOOGLES gets a latte or a cookie on me. Today only, unless you want me to mail you a latte.
|Jane Yolen onstage presenting the grant she established for Mid-List authors|
Jane starts by speaking about being a re-starter, and what to do if you're a midlist author (after defining what a 'midlist' author is!)
Even with Owl Moon and the How Do Dinosaurs series, she says
"I still get lots of rejections. It goes with the territory."
Even with over 300 books published, she herself has 30 unsold picture book manuscripts!
"All of us, we writers and illustrators are in this together. And when we get somewhere, we must give forward, and give back."
Jane teamed up with SCBWI to say to published mid-list authors, "We honor you. We recognize you. We are still paying attention to your work. And we want to help..."
And so she gives back, with her Jane Yolen Mid-List Author Grant.
The two honor winners are...Barbara Shook Hazen
and the WINNER isValiska Gregory!!!
|Valiska onstage being cheered on for winning the Jane Yolen Mid-List Author Grant|
We'll be profiling the honorees and winner on SCBWI: The Blog in the coming weeks! You can find out details (and how to nominate a mid-list author you know) for the 2014 Jane Yolen Mid-List Author Grant here
Since 2008, SCBWI has hosted an invaluable LGBTQ&A at their national conferences. Hosted by Lee Wind (I’m here. I’m queer. What the hell do I read?), the LGBTQ&A is a great place for writers and illustrators to talk with editors, agents, and authors about issues and the current market for stories with gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, gender non-conforming or questioning youth characters and themes.
This year the panel was honored to welcome Jane Yolen, (author of over 300 books for children and teens), Bruce Coville, Ellen Hopkins, and editor Michael Strother. In the opening remarks, Jane was asked about her book SISTER LIGHT, SISTER DARK where she offered insights into the matriarchal society in the story. She was followed by Bruce Coville who when talking about AM I BLUE? said that some people didn’t think humor had a place in LGBTQ. But Bruce pointed out that laughter could be an entry point on the topic.
It was a great segue into Ellen Hopkins’s comments about normalizing through books. There was a heart wrenching moment when she talked about the struggle of some kids and teens, about suicide and depression because of bullying or confusion or lack of acceptance. And Ellen said that until we get to a place where kids are no longer killing themselves, we as authors need to keep writing about LGBTQ topics. Normalizing through books.
The panel got into a discussion on craft, and Jane told the attendees that their characters should come about organically. Let them tell you their story. Michael, an editor at Simon Pulse, told the group that it’s important that their characters have other attributes, and that they’re not just gay. Make them real, fleshed-out people.
Towards the end, a great Q&A session helped the large group of attendees get specific answers to their writing questions. It was comfortable and exciting, and writers and illustrators were able to stay after to talk privately with the panel.
For more information and book recommendations, visit:
The guy that put the I in SCBWI (no, really!), that dynamo Tomie de Paola, is here today to present the award in person!
Tomie explains the origin of his award, he adorably describes it as coming out of a vodka fury. If you aren't here, you are missing a fantastic speaker and personality, but I can make you feel less left out...
You know Tomie has a SCBWI Master Class DVD
? It's worth every penny, you'll want to play it again and again. AND you all need to get Barbara Elleman's biography of Tomie
, actually, go ahead and buy every
available Barbara Elleman book you can.
This year's assignment was to do a black and white illustration from one of three novels. Tomie explains how difficult it is to make a good black and white illustration, and then gives some group critiques to the 320 entrants. If you haven't visited it, the Unofficial TdP Gallery blog is SO AWESOME
. Check out the gorgeous work everyone did, kudos to them all for doing an assignment on a deadline, and big thanks to Diandra Mae
for making the site!
Here're the works he liked very much, and that's what the award is, whatever Tomie likes best. It's wonderful to hear what he likes about the pieces, this is a little master class all by itself, guys, and another reason to attend the conference in person. There are so many hidden opportunities to have your mind blown at events like this. But I digress, here are the honors:
Brent Beck, Anni Matsick, Bradley Cooper, Stephen Ingram, Sarah Dvojack, Alice Ratagerry (sp?), Andrea Lawson
And the winner is....
Sandra Ure Griffin!
Tomie's next assignment will come this fall, get your butts in your chair, everybody, and... hold on to them?
Lin starts off the Sunday of the conference with introductions and applause for the amazing staff of SCBWI that makes conferences like this one happen!From Right To Left: Joshua Smith, Brandon Clark, Gee Cee Addison, Kayla Heinen, Kim Turrisi, Sarah Baker, Sara Rutenberg and Sally Crock
|Our conference was the No. 1 trending subject on Twitter today...|
|Until Shaun Tan spoke. No one's bigger!|
Jennifer Besser is the publisher at G.P. Putnam’s Sons, an imprint of Penguin’s Young Readers Group.
She and her team publish everything from picture books through young adult. She’s the editor of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series, and has also worked with Jonathan Stroud, Brian Selznick, Ann Martin, Laura Godwin, and John Rocco, among others.
She talked about her editorial process and vision, outlining what appeals to her when she’s reading submissions.
She also read from books she’s edited, including Rick Riordan’s much-beloved THE LIGHTNING THIEF. (It was the first book she acquired—“I thought it was special, terrific, wonderful, of course.” But she had no idea how huge it would become.)
She gave us a lot of great perspective on the craft and business of writing books for children.
There’s a lot of word of mouth in children's books--from kid to kid, from librarian to kid. "In the adult market, the book comes out and it hits or it doesn’t. In the kids’ book market, there are many more avenues," she said.
She gets submissions from agents. Editors spend time building relationships with agents, and this is a vital part of her process. “You want to see all the good stuff,” she said.
If an editor likes a submission, they bring it to an editorial meeting. Putnam has these once a week. At this meeting, they talk about why they think it’s special and what vision they have for it.
They do financial paperwork on sales projections, how much they’re going to pay the author. "It’s best guess at how it’s going to perform in the marketplace," she said.
They don't have an acquisitions board. The president of company wants publishers to design their own lists. “It’s great because it makes us that much more nimble," she said. "It's one less meeting.”
In picture books, she likes humor and things that are slightly irreverent. She also likes books with a lot of heart. "Anything that feels unexpected," she said.
Her advice to aspiring writers: "Read. Read. Read. Read everything. Read often. Read every genre, even stuff you don’t like. Know the marketplace. Know your competition. All of that informs your writing."
Putting great books into the hands of young readers is something Alexandra Penfold has been doing for the last decade, and now she’s doing it wearing a new and very dashing hat.
Alexandra’s career trajectory is a bit different from most editors, she was a business major in school and did a bunch of different internships including interning for the writers' office of All My Children
. From there, Alex enjoyed working with Tracy van Straaten, who at the time was in publicity at Simon & Schuster. And Tracy’s awesomeness inspired Alex to jump into a career in children’s book publicity at S&S. Alexandra then transitioned into the editor role at S&S with Paula Wiseman
, and for eight years she had a blast there.
Now she’s a newly minted agent at Upstart Crow Literary
and her afternoon session is excited to hear what she’s looking for as she starts to build her client list of picture book makers, and middle grade and YA authors.
Alex wishes there was a magical formula to tell us what makes an irresistible book, but there isn’t one.
Which is bad news, but because there’s no magic formula, good news! Alex doesn’t like to poopoo any genre or category, she's open to being surprised by books she never imagined she’d acquire or represent. The only exception to that is high fantasy, she’s still not into it, no matter how much Tolkein her husband reads to her, sorry, Bilbo.
Alex explains to the group the ins and outs of acquisitions from an editor’s point of view: an editor is putting their reputation on the line every time they bring a book to an acquisitions meeting. It's an investment on all levels and as an agent, Alex will still only represent books she loves wholeheartedly and will fight for.
One of the many lovely tips Alex left us with was the paramount importance of great characters in your work, knowing them inside and out. If you see Alex this weekend and want to get into a heavy discussion, just ask her if Scarlett and Rhett eventually get back together after The End of
Don't forget to follow Alexandra Penfold on Twitter @AgentPenfold
|We, his audience, listening with a growing sense of wonder |
Shaun Tan grew up in the northern suburbs of Perth, Western Australia, and currently works as an artist, author and film-maker in Melbourne. Books such as The Rabbits, The Red Tree, Tales From Outer Suburbia and the acclaimed wordless novel The Arrival have been widely translated and enjoyed by readers of all ages. Shaun has also worked as a theatre designer, feature film concept artist, and wrote and directed the Academy Award winning animated short The Lost Thing. In 2011 he received the prestigious Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award in Sweden for his body of work. His most recent publication is The Bird King.
Shaun prefaces by saying that ultimately the truth of what he wants to say is in his actual work.
He shares flashes of insight...
the truths that I'm most interested in are the ones you can't speak about directly
we work in little bubbles, bumping into each other
he's interested in migration, crossing borders, transitions, the idea of a strange encounter, like in his amazing book, "The Arrival"
we forget our everyday world is really exotic, we see it so much we're sort of blind to it - the dark side of familiarity, where we stop appreciating the ordinary.
He reads us one of his stories, "Eric" (from "Tales From Outer Suburbia")
The room is captivated, and there's a huge AWWW... at the end.
Now he's discussing the themes of the story and how he followed the thread, saying
Again, some things can't be communicated directly.
He's talking (and showing slides) of other artists who captured seemingly unimportant things and found the beauty (and stories) in them, photos of his own studio that reveal much about his process, and images of close-to-his-home domestic scenes that inspire him. (We're seeing paintings and drawings, and even his sketchbooks!)
He's speaking now of exploring otherness and showing sketches he's done from museums of things foreign to him, saying:
"Drawing is the process of figuring out why I like things."
The most delicious part of his talk are his captioned illustrations that crack us up, explaining a 'typical' day. One drawing reads "stumble across my own consciousness in the kitchen - what time is it?"
It's whimsical, mystical and fascinating, just like Shaun!
There's so much more, and this moment still resonates from Shaun's keynote:
"I know a story is good when I can't entirely explain what it's about"
Want to hear more of Shaun's remarkable thoughts? You can check out our pre-conference interview
, and his great website
, and see some of his sketches yourself in his new "The Bird King and other sketches" but it was a delight to be able to hear him in person.
We're even getting a preview of his current work in progress...And we end with a standing ovation!
Julie Scheina is a senior editor at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. Little Brown publishes around 135 books a year.
What Hooks Me is such a broad topic, so Julie plans to talk about four common aspects of the books she loves: voice, character, world building, plot and pace.
Voice is the hardest to pin down. Many vaguely say, "I know it when I see it." Julie likens it to knowing when an instrument is in tune. Great books can reach beyond genre through a great voice.
The one-on-one connection with a reader has with the voice is key.
Examples of a picture book and novel with great voice:
|Betty Bunny Loves Chocolate Cake by Michael B. Kaplan |
Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Introducing memorable characters, ones that will stick in your mind, is key to a great book.
A character's personality should not be flat, or one note. A character shouldn't be perfect. Great characters are unique and special in some way. They're not cliche.
A great character is one we like to talk and think about.
Examples of memorable characters:
Isabelle in Fortune's Magic Farm.
|Fortune's Magic Farm by Suzanne Selfors|
Violet from Iron Hearted Violet.
|Iron Hearted Violet by Kelly Barnhill|
The world tells us what the character's life is like? Some of these worlds become like another character in the story.
Some questions that should be asked about your world: Why are we here? Is it necessary? What makes it unique? How does the character's view interact with the world?
A few of Julie's favorite world building authors/books:
|Princess Academy by Shannon Hale|
|Fathomless by Jackson Pearce|
Plot and Pacing
The Golden Compass by Phillip Pulman
So once you have all these things, then what? Plot shows how your characters are tested. The key is balancing conflict and development, and the pace needs to move along at a reasonable clip.
A great question to ask yourself about each page of your book? What happens here, and does it need to?
Bitter End by Jennifer Brown
The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi
|Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn|
Nancy Siscoe is a senior executive editor with Knopf Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Random House. She publishes everything from picture books to young adult fiction--and she described what sounded like a dream publishing experience for writers.
"We really do think of ourselves as an author-driven imprint," she said. Knopf is looking for books that stand the test of time, not what’s cool now. “We’re all about the great writing.”
Her list includes such wonderful books as AN ANNOYING ABC by Barbara Bottner, illustrated by Michael Emberley, LAWN TO LAWN by Dan Yaccarino, CHOMP by Carl Hiassen, JUMP INTO THE SKY by Shelley Pearsall, THE BRIDES OF ROLLROCK ISLAND by Margo Lanagan, and THE MONTMARY JOURNALS by Michelle Cooper.
Knopf is a small imprint within the much larger Random House. They only publish about 60 books a year. Of these, Nancy edits 12 to 15 herself, lavishing each with attention. “We take time with each one,” she said.
Her taste is varied. She loves mysteries, historical fiction, and books about how things work. No matter what the category, what really hooks her are characters and voice. With books she truly loves, the characters feel like part of her family. (She told us a story about a trip her family took to Venice, and her mother pointed out the favorite church of a character as though he were a real person.)
She's looking for storytelling approaches that feel fresh.
With each category, she mentioned what she was looking for. With pictur books, she loves stories that blend personal details with universal themes. Dan Yaccarino’s ALL THE WAY TO AMERICA is a good example of this.
She also looks for compelling characters and would love to find one who could be a recurring character. She looks for real kid concerns and kid emotions. How does this reflect a child’s world and a child’s point of view? She often sees books where an adult “wants to teach a kid manners. But these aren't for her: “I’m not into bibliotherapy.”
Nancy also talked about her middle grade and YA titles, making everyone in the room yearn to be on her exclusive and wonderful list.
View Next 25 Posts
|Isabel Warren-Lynch speaking at her "What Hooks Me" Session|
Isabel Warren-Lynch has worked in children's books since 1980 starting as a designer at E.P. Dutton where she passed by the original Winnie-the-Pooh in the lobby every day. In 1985 she was introduced to mass market formats and became the Art Director at Grosset & Dunlap. In 1991 she returned to trade publishing at Random House as the Art Director for Crown Books for Young Readers. Her job has grown over the last 20 years and she now oversees a group of 11 designers work on over 300 books a year on the Random House imprints including Knopf, Delacorte, Wendy Lamb Books, Ember, Bluefire and Dragonfly. As Executive Art Director, she has worked with the best editors and some of the most exciting authors and illustrators in the business.
Isabel wants us to consider emotional connection through illustration.
When you're going through portfolio after portfolio, there has to be some emotional connection to pull you in.
She's showing us some images that grabbed her early on - among them Garth Williams (like the ones for Charlotte's Web) and E. H. Shepards' "Winnie The Pooh" and Maurice Sendack ("Higglety Pigglety Pop! or there must be more to life") - and unpacking how each composition lets us know what the story is about at heart.
|How he could take two of the ugliest animals "...but the love you see there."|
And now she's sharing what's new that she LOVES. Among the examples are"I Was A Rat" by Philip Pullman, a MG illustrated by Kevin Hawks,
|How something could be sweet and funny and sad all at the same time...|
and Leo and Diane Dillon's ilustrations of "The People Could Fly" by Virginia Hamilton.
|How the composition is like dance|
She's discussing subtleties of expressions, foreshadowing, interactions between characters, body language and position, hair, clothes, movements, muscles, shapes, economy of line...
She worked on Barack Obama's Of Thee I Sing: A Letter To My Daughters, illustrated by Loren Long, and tells us the story behind that book and its remarkable illustrations.
|An interior spread|
Isabel discusses how to best present your work as an illustrator (she's sharing that last night at the portfolio review she collected many dozens of postcards!) She's holding up examples of smart promotion and explaining why she liked them. She's also talking about how book dummies reveal your understanding of pacing and layout, answering if you can you carry through a story and characters.
Before you submit, visit the publishers' websites and look at their books - and ask yourself, could I see my illustration style sitting next to their books?
There's an eager Q&A, and from that this comment that summed up Isabel's session nicely:
"It can be beautiful beautiful beautiful... but we're visual storytellers. It has to tell a story."