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Viewing Blog: Elizabeth O. Dulemba, Most Recent at Top
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coloring page tuesdays, news and events, blog book tours, reviews, illustration and promotion, and general weirdness from a children's book author/illustrator.
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26. VIDEO: Freddie Koehler's HOW TO CHEER UP DAD

This is a fantastic book trailer for Freddie Koehler's HOW TO CHEER UP DAD - it looks to be a fantastic book as well! Click the image to watch on YouTube.

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27. Pre-Fringe in Edinburgh

It's August and that means FRINGE in Edinburgh. Don't know what FRINGE is? The official website says

" The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the largest arts festival in the world and takes place every August for three weeks in Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital city.
      Every year thousands of performers take to hundreds of stages all over Edinburgh to present shows for every taste. From big names in the world of entertainment to unknown artists looking to build their careers, the festival caters for everyone and includes theatre, comedy, dance, physical theatre, circus, cabaret, children's shows, musicals, opera, music, spoken word, exhibitions and events.
      In 2015 there were 50,459 performances of 3,314 shows in 313 venues, making it the largest ever arts festival in the world.
     It also includes the Edinburgh International Book Festival and a whole host of street performers.
     You may recall, Stan and I went flat hunting in the middle of FRINGE last August, so this marks our one-year anniversary here. (And how we found our wonderful flat when nearly everything in the city is rented-out is beyond me!) While the festivals may be the bain to long-term residents of Edinburgh (who often use this time to rent out their homes and go on holiday), we are still enthralled by this magical event that brings over 2 million people to our humble home for one month.
     That said, the crowds will be daunting and overwhelming, so it was lovely to enjoy the new venue at St. Andrews Square before it gets crazy.
One of our fave local musicians, DaveBeMac was playing at the pop-up gin joint surrounding the monument. Click the image to hear him play slap guitar on YouTube.
Truly, we're looking forward to a month full of energy and entertainment when one of the best things to do in Edinburgh is just walk around and enjoy the sights, the sounds, the food, etc., etc., etc.!

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28. Friday Linky List - 5 August 2016

At Muddy Colors: Jack Davis (1924-2016) with an interview with Stan Lee

From 99U: The Future of Design (and how to prepare for it)

From 99U: You're Never Too Young (or Old) to Mentor

From Studio With a View: Storytime in the Dome

From emu's debuts: Pat Zietlow Miller (Sophie's Squash) on It takes a village ... to write a book

From The Telegraph: The strange life of Beatrix Potter - how rabbits (and mushrooms) set her free

From 99U: The Braggart's Dilemma: How to Promote Yourself Without Being a Jerk

From Muddy Colors: Kinetic Sculpture - Gads, these are beautiful!

From Bottom Shelf Books: Willems Shakespeare presents: Hamlet (starring the Pigeon) (Mo Willem's Pigeon plays Hamlet)

From Minh Le Books: Hamilton: Now starring Elephant and Piggie

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29. Bethan Woollvin's LITTLE RED

I've been quite excited Bethan Woollvin's LITTLE RED from Peachtree Publishers - Bethan Woollvin's LITTLE RED. It's become a great companion piece for teaching alongside Molly Bang's PICTURE THIS. So I am thrilled to have Bethan here today...


e: What is your creative process, can you walk us through it?
Bethan:
My creative process can vary depending on what project I’m working on. With picture books I usually start by generating ideas. I try to do an exercise where I think of as many ideas as I can in three minutes which brings out all sorts of wild ideas.
      When I have an idea, I then begin to work on loose sketches which is my favourite part of the process. At this stage, I’m probably still working in a sketchbook creating my characters and their world. I would then move out of my sketchbook and onto larger paper where I would start to experiment with different materials and book dimensions. Its not long before the idea then begins to take shape, and starts to feel like a book.
     Once my characters are just right, I then begin thinking about colour which is such an important part of my work. I usually work with around three colours, for example - with Little Red I used red, black and grey. When I have drawn out rough sketches of all my spreads which often takes a great deal of planning, I can jump into my final artwork. This is then one of the quickest parts of my creative process. I actually generate the final artwork quite quickly as the looseness and bold line are key in my artwork. Then the final stage of my artwork is scanning it, and cleaning it up on photoshop.
e: What was your path to publication?
Bethan:
My path to publication started on my illustration (BA) course at the Cambridge School of Art. My class were given a 6 week book project in the second year of our degree. The brief was quite loose, so we were encouraged to find a text, or a competition to give it some structure. I chose to make a book for the Macmillan Childrens Book Competition. I only had six weeks, so I didn’t have enough time to create my own story from scratch, so I used a pre-existing text, Little Red Riding Hood. I had never illustrated a story, nor illustrated for children, but I really enjoyed it! I submitted my picture book to the prize, and a little while later I was told that I had won the prize! I worked on Little Red with Macmillan on its journey to being published, which it finally was on the 24th March.
e: What is your favourite or most challenging part of being a creator?
Bethan:
I think the most challenging part of being a creator is having an ‘off’ day. As an illustrator you rely on your mind and hands to work together to create artwork, but sometimes that doesn't happen. It can be really frustrating to set aside time to illustrate and you just aren’t feeling very inspired! If I am ever suffering from a creative block like this, I have found the best thing is to go get inspired. Inspiration can come in all forms, but I like to go to museums or new exhibitions, as it really helps to go and learn about something new. Having enough ‘me’ time is important too, a lot of creatives juggle freelancing with other part time work. Although it’s really tempting to spend all of your spare time making things, you’ll run out of creative juice if you don’t have a movie day every once in a while!
e: What do you think makes an illustration magical, what I call "Heart Art” - the sort that makes a reader want to come back to look again and again?
Bethan:
I think my definition of ‘Heart Art’ is about the relationship between the text and illustrations. The text gives us the story, but the images can be used to tell us more of the story and in a really exciting way. An example of this would be from Little Red:
      The text reads ‘And he made a plan’, but the illustration tells you more.
      I think this makes it more exciting for the reader, encouraging them to engage with the story and pick up the visual clues that complete the story. Sometimes these cues aren’t noticed at first, so the reader finds something new when they come back to read it again.

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30. I'm HOME!

Welcome home! Home these days is Edinburgh, Scotland. Stan met me at the airport and had this sweet sign lit up in the doorway of our flat waiting for me. He's also been plying me with chicken soup, sandwiches and noodle casseroles to recover from the massive jet-lag.
     I would blame my exhaustion on the insane flight... My flight to New York was delayed and finally cancelled due to bad weather. I quickly figured out I was going to miss my connector flight to Edinburgh so got rerouted through London. It only added a few hours onto the journey, although my luggage is still in the US somewhere. I did see a cool thing in London - undergraduate artwork being represented on signage around the airport called "Talentspotting" - it included work from an illustration student from the University of Edinburgh.
     But really, I'm recovering from six weeks of running on adrenalin.
     Our Hollins University program is wonderful and intense. The students are so dedicated to growing and learning, they don't sleep much. When we don't have classes, the schedule is packed with lectures, get-togethers, personal work, and critique groups. As a teacher, that means I'm ON 24/7. (I sleep, but I get insomnia from thinking about it all.)
     If you've met me, you know I'm a very social person. But I love what a friend (hi, Aliya!) recently claimed. She said, "I'm a very friendly introvert." Me too! I have to have my down time to refill my coffers and I didn't get much of that this summer. So, I am seriously exhausted.
     That said, I have so much to DO! School starts back on 19 September and in that time, we have visitors coming, FRINGE is in full swing. I need to finish my dissertation reading for my MFA, slick up my PhD proposal, and do artwork for four book dummies I'm working on - one which has some publishing interest. So, I will give myself two days to be a brain-dead potato before I return to some kind of normalcy. I hope to be back to full swing soon. Wish me luck!

UPDATE! My luggage has been located and should be delivered sometime today - woohoo!

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31. Coloring Page Tuesday - Tom Boy Reader

     I was one. Were you? Trees, grass, ditches, woods, I read everywhere! Shorts, bandages and a good book. Ahhhhh, now that's a proper tom boy summer.
     CLICK HERE for more coloring pages!
     CLICK HERE to sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Please check out my books! Especially...
my debut novel, A BIRD ON WATER STREET - winner of six literary awards. Click the cover to learn more!
     When the birds return to Water Street, will anyone be left to hear them sing? A miner's strike allows green and growing things to return to the Red Hills, but that same strike may force residents to seek new homes and livelihoods elsewhere. Follow the story of Jack Hicks as he struggles to hold onto everything he loves most.
     I create my coloring pages for teachers, librarians, booksellers, and parents to enjoy for free with their children, but you can also purchase rights to an image for commercial use, please contact me. If you have questions about usage, please visit my Angel Policy page.

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32. Graduation at Hollins University!

This year we had five graduates in the Certificate in Children's Book Illustration program from Hollins University. A few will be sticking around to continue on to the MFA in Children's Book Writing and Illustrating, but a few will sadly be leaving us. That said, nobody ever truly leaves here, they keep coming back, every excuse they can drum up. It's one of the wonderful quirks about Hollins.
     The ceremony kicked off with opening remarks by program head Ruth Sanderson, and then a lovely slideshow. Ashley Wolff did the commencement speech this year and created a funny poem featuring each student.

Then the crowns and diplomas were handed out. The crowns have become quite the coveted item at Hollins! Here are our graduates with the faculty (minus Lauren Mills, who had to depart early). They are from the back, left to right, Ashley Wolff, Mark Braught, Yours Truly, Ruth Sanderson, Kathleen Lorenzo, Martha Failinger, Kary Keppol, Marilyn Mallue, and Lucy Rowe.
After the official ceremony, we had a small reception in the gallery space where everybody enjoyed the students' work. It was a nice crowd and friends and family came in to cheer on the new graduates.

We took photos of each of the graduates by their gallery display:
 
 
We are so proud of our new graduates. They all worked so hard. Some of it was because of the assignments, but most of it was because the students were so incredibly driven to get as much growth out of the program as possible, and boy, did they! They found their creative voices, discovered new passions, and most importantly, learned to love the journey of creating. I couldn't be happier for them. And I hope they'll stay in touch!

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33. VIDEO: Dover's 75th Birthday

Dover recently celebrated their 75th birthday. And while the video is rather dry, it is a fascinating history. Click the image to watch on YouTube.

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34. Last Day of Class

Thursday was our last day of Picture Book Design at Hollins University. Students presented their dummies - the culmination of six weeks of struggles, lost sleep, and exploration. Here I am with all of my students. From the left, Kathleen, Kary, Me, Rebekah, Jennifer and Martha.

We began the day finishing up presentations. Each student gave a 20-minute presentation on an illustrator they admire and are inspired by. Among them were Melissa Sweet, Keith Negley, Cynthia Rylant, etc. Then, after lunch, we munched on bad-for-us snacks and read our final dummies to each other. It was a true moment of victory:
Jennifer read The Owl and the Pussycat

Martha read When Nana Dances (a manuscript donated to our program by Jane Yolen)

Rebekah created an adaptation of Red Riding Hood, now Blue

Kary created our first same-sex Owl and the Pussycat. First she presented her mini flip-book while Martha coaxed a funny smile out of her. (These guys truly bond over the intense summer term.)

And then she shared the full-sized dummy. (Covers were not required to be in color although some students took them there.)
Finally, Kathleen shared her version of When Nana Dances
     Even when they choose to do the same stories, it's amazing how wildly different they turn out. Just goes to show how individual illustrator voices can truly define a story.
     Next, was graduation! More soon...

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35. Friday Linky List - 29 July 2016

From Ursula K. Le Guin's Book View Café: The Big Book of Earthsea - reveal of the upcoming book illustrated by Charles Vess

From The Atlantci: Where Books Are All But Nonexistent (book deserts)

From Wheeler Studio: Tell Me a Tattoo Story

From Nevada Today: Books in the home as important as parents' education level

From The Telegraph: Lauren Child's 14 favourite children's books

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36. Faculty Catch Up: Ruth Sanderson

Today I'm thrilled to have renowned author/illustrator, and Co-Director of the Writing and Illustrating Children's Books MFA and Certificate programs at Hollins University, Ruth Sanderson at dulemba.com. She has a fantastic new book to share...


THE GOLDEN KEY
by Ruth Sanderson

      Reading "The Golden Key" close to forty years ago instilled in me a profound desire to some day create pictures that illuminated this evocative text. Over the years, when people have asked, “If there was one book you’d like to illustrate, what would it be?” —my answer has always been "The Golden Key" by George MacDonald. I loved the story, and the version I had was illustrated by Maurice Sendak with beautiful, dream-like pen and ink pictures. There were only 6 plates in the book, however, and I wanted to do a fully illustrated version.
     After I became a working author/illustrator I tried to edit down the story to fit a picture book format, but it didn’t feel right. The story is simply too long and complex for a picture book. So my "dream project" was put on the shelf for thirty years.            
     In 2007 with Brian Selznick's Invention of Hugo Cabret I became aware that artists were challenging the standard format of books for children. A few years later when thinking wistfully about how The Golden Key could absolutely never be made into a picture book in this climate of shorter and shorter texts, it occurred to me that this very long story might be easily broken into chapters, as it alternates between the two characters' points of view. I also felt that 8-12 was a more suitable age group for this unusual story than that of a younger picture book audience.
     In contemplating the style and medium to use, I felt that scratchboard would be perfect to convey the story's mythic quality and dramatic light and dark imagery. In my spare time between other book projects In 2011 I started to create some of the key scenes that I wanted to include in the story. My favorite scene is Tangle descending the stairway into the earth, and I always felt this was like Persephone descending into Hades.
      I split the story into 9 chapters and created a dummy that paged out to around 224 pages, carefully planning room for over 45 illustrations. Some are wordless spreads, some are single pages, and some are vignettes that wrap around the text. I wanted to create the look of a fully illustrated novel. It is really a very long picture book for an older audience.
     One thing that will set my version apart is the fact that, as a picture book illustrator, I decided to add elements that were not expressly stated in the text, that would “expand” the story and add an interesting subtext. This subtext was created as I mused on the object and meaning of the golden key itself and the fact that MacDonald places the key in Fairyland. I have framed the story with wordless pictures, one before the text of the story starts and one right after it ends. I have always been intrigued by the fact that the golden key seems to magically appear at the base of a rainbow in Fairyland. I imagined that perhaps a fairy might be put in charge of placing it there. And perhaps that fairy might arrange for a particular person to see the rainbow and seek the key. Or perhaps in "flitting from place to place" lest anyone should find the key, she notices a boy with a spark of desire for something beyond our normal human grasp.
     Therefore, in the first illustration, before the text begins, the creatures in Fairyland watch the boy as he listens to his great-aunt's stories. One fairy is sitting on a tree stump with the golden key. I imagined her observing his spark of interest in the key.
      After showing a close-up of this conversation between Mossy and his great-aunt at the start of the text, I added another wordless spread with the fairy flying off with the key, implying that she was going to hide it for the boy to find.
      And sure enough, he could not resist dashing into Fairyland that evening when he sees the rainbow, a "grand sight, burning away there in silence, with its gorgeous, its lovely, its delicate colors, each distinct, all combining."
                 At the end of the story, in the picture where Mossy and Tangle climb into the rainbow in the distance, the fairy flies off with the key in the foreground, indicating that their story is over, but another story is about to begin. The final wordless illustration shows the fairy bringing the key back to the base of the rainbow in the forest, looking back toward the reader—an invitation for the next person to seek the key.
                 George MacDonald considered Fairyland to be a symbol of the imagination, and he invited each reader to interpret his stories after his/her own sensibilities. I invite readers to interpret my pictures in the same light. For me, imagination is the Golden Key.            

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37. Book Characters Blooming at Hollins

A treat here at Hollins University every summer is how children's book characters pop up everywhere. It's the invention of Ashley Wolff (one of our faculty), and she keeps making new ones, so you never know who you might run into. Like...

Ferdinand

Olivia

Madeleine

Miss Rumphius

Wilbur
and more - like Tinkerbell, Pippi Longstocking, Minna, the Very Hungry Caterpillar, etc...! Clifford gives you the full idea of how these fit into the beautiful landscape here at Hollins. He has a prime position on the quad:

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38. Coloring Page Tuesdays - Reading Bench

     It's time for summer reading. Read, read, read everywhere you go. It's a contagious act.
     CLICK HERE for more coloring pages!
     CLICK HERE to sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Please check out my books! Especially...
my debut novel, A BIRD ON WATER STREET - winner of six literary awards. Click the cover to learn more!
     When the birds return to Water Street, will anyone be left to hear them sing? A miner's strike allows green and growing things to return to the Red Hills, but that same strike may force residents to seek new homes and livelihoods elsewhere. Follow the story of Jack Hicks as he struggles to hold onto everything he loves most.
     I create my coloring pages for teachers, librarians, booksellers, and parents to enjoy for free with their children, but you can also purchase rights to an image for commercial use, please contact me. If you have questions about usage, please visit my Angel Policy page.

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39. Francelia Butler Conference

Every year at Hollins University, students put on the Francelia Butler conference to celebrate the woman who made the world take children's books seriously. It's a one-day conference with visiting scholars, academic and creative readings by students, and this year - the first awarding of the Margaret Wise Brown Award for Best Picture Book, which went to Phil Bildner for MARVELOUS CORNELIUS.

Although my favorite part of his acceptance speech was when he shared this fabulous graphic: Teach/Learn. I always say teaching is learning!
Each year a theme is chosen to decorate the conference. This year's theme was "Stranger at the Door" - which led to some wildly creative decorations. Teachers - pay attention!


The Hogwarts door was especially creative - just some cardboard squares and VOILA!

Doors were everywhere!
Even the podium was decorated as a door - to a Hobbit Hole!
Each year there's an auction to raise money for future events. I snagged an original linocut by Ashley Wolff - woot! (Not a print - the actual linocut!)

And each year I listen to the speakers while I draw custom thank-you and congratulations notes for friends, faculty, and students. Here are some of this year's batch.
You may see some of these again as coloring pages...
     Even nicer this year was the more conscious inclusion of our illustrators. Awards were given and the gallery show was impressive. We are so proud of our students here at Hollins. They do a great job!

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40. VIDEO: David Zinn

I love these public art pieces by David Zinn! Go have a gander - click the image to watch on YouTube.

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41. More horses at Hollins

One of the highlights of having my friends Vicky and Aliya visit me at Hollins, was sharing the horses with them. The barn sits at the high point of the University - with the most amazing view.

We first went by on Friday to pet fuzzy noses out in the field...
and in the stable. Aliya and Vicky were able to get up close and personal with Tucker.

Then we went back on Saturday. This time, I pulled Holiday out of his stall and they actually got to brush him. I've shared with you how much I love grooming horses. (I could care less about riding them.) It was so nice to be able to share my personal form of meditation with my friends!

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42. Friday Linky List - 22 July 2016

From GalleyCat: The Fascinating Work Habits of 18 Famous Writers

From Muddy Colors: Textures and Hands

From DesignContest: 5 Must Watch TED Talks for Designers

From Publishing Perspectives: 30,000-Euro Global Illustration Award Debuts at Frankfurt Book Fair

From Illusalon: Global Illustration Award

From The Federation of Children's Book Groups: Guest post from Steven Lenton: Becoming a picture book illustrator

From 99U: Why Every Creative Needs to Be a Great Storyteller

From Muddy Colors: Why All Storytellers Should Tell Children's Stories

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43. Faculty Catch Up: Ashley Wolff

Ashley Wolff teaches Creating Picture Books for Children here at Hollins University in the MFA in Writing and Illustrating Children's Books and Certificate in Children's Book Illustration programs. And I'm happy to share she had a new book come out this year while we were apart - IN THE CANYON written by Liz Garton Scanlon. Today, Ashley dropped by to share her creative journey with us...


Welcome to the Grand Canyon
by Ashley Wolff
​     One the “Seven Natural Wonders of the World”
      It’s about 270 miles long, up to 18 miles wide and a mile deep, Its walls contain rock layers that reveal a timeline of Earth’s history.
     To make In The Canyon as good as it could be, I had to explore the Grand Canyon. I took my excellent and intrepid little sister and in we went!
​ from RIM to RIVER…
​ and back!
      The main character of In the Canyon, written by Liz Garton Scanlon, speaks in the 1st person voice. She begins her narration like this:
​ “Here’s a map, some boots, a pack, a walking stick, a sandy track.”
​ I always enjoy working with a model and I found a lovely girl in San Francisco named Willa.
I spent a few hours with Willa taking pictures, and then used those to draw from while illustrating the book.
     She gazes at the reader from the jacket, inviting you to join her In the Canyon.
      As soon as you dip below the rim of the canyon you enter a vast, deep bowl that has no direct route to the bottom. The trails are constantly zig zagging down the steep walls. Occasionally you can spy the river, way down deep.
      My sister Peri, seen from a few switchbacks above, with many more to go. The Colorado river, bright green, is crossed by 2 bridges. One is visible here.
      ​If it is a cool spring morning on the rim, it is full, hot summer at river level. Along the way are blooming cacti and yucca, birds, lizards and curious squirrels.
      ​I can't get enough shots of the blossoming Beavertails.
​ “Here’s a footstep, dusty red, another one and more ahead.”
      Signs like this one are a regular sight. To do this rim to river to rim hike one must be very fit and prepared for a lot of heat and exertion.
      Some people choose to travel by mule. Mules are chosen from Tennessee and Missouri. They are used for pack supplies to Phantom Ranch and pack mail out of the canyon and later promoted to trail mules.
      I used a photo of a family, gathered under an overhang, as inspiration for this illustration.

      ​“Now here’s a tiny slice of shade, a yummy lunch, some lemonade. And a lizard, still as sand, his head all speckled, body tan.”
      ​Finally, we're at river level, where the deep shade around Phantom Ranch is most welcoming. Time to recharge and load up on water and salty snacks for the hike back out. Peri and I made it back to the rim by nightfall, a 16 mile roundtrip.
      ​But the child in In the Canyon is luckier. She gets to spend the night, camping by the river.
      “Here’s the dark and here’s the shine, and here’s the moon—it’s like it’s mine. To tuck inside me way down deep, Grand and wild, mine to keep."
      I'll come back to the Canyon someday, no doubt with enough overconfidence to descend to the bottom and back in one day as I did with Peri.
      After all, I have what it takes: "a map, some boots, a pack, a walking stick, a sandy track.”

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44. Faculty Catch Up: Candice Ransom

I have news from our most prolific Professor and author here at Hollins University. Candice Ransom has published over 130 books and she has more coming out this year. I'm thrilled to have her drop by to talk about these new books and her creative process.


Have (Orange) Notebook Will Travel
Candice Ransom

      I once believed nothing was harder than writing a picture book. Writing picture books is a cakewalk compared to beginning readers. Kids don’t have to read picture books, just enjoy them. Beginning readers are designed for newly-independent readers who have graduated from phonics texts. Levels vary according to publishers, but usually include an early level for pre-readers and/or kindergarteners.  
      The kindergarten readers have very short texts and are splashed with cheerful illustrations. They look easy to write.  Fun, even! I’ve written three Level 1 books for the Step into Reading imprint of Random House. I’d love to brag I dash these fripperies off in a day or so, but my orange notebook would be quick to report the fib.
      My orange spiral notebook is used exclusively for writing level 1 readers. It’s battered because I drag it everywhere. Sometimes I throw it across the room. The orange notebook knows I will pick it up with a sigh and go back to the difficult line giving me fits.
      My first Level 1 ideas were rejected for being too sophisticated, such as the canine etiquette guide written by fleas. Gradually I understood this audience needs stories about their world.
     I finally got it right with Pumpkin Day (2015). The story, about a pumpkin-picking family, employs rhyme and rhythm and has a narrative arc. The 113 words were carefully chosen and discarded, revised and reworked, page after scribbled page, as evidenced in the orange notebook.   
      Apple Picking Day, out July 26, follows Pumpkin Day. Same family on a different fall adventure. This story was even harder because there was no story. After you’ve picked pumpkins, what surprises await picking apples? Plus I had to use the same rhyme and rhythm scheme as in Pumpkin Day.
      No metaphors, my editor warned. And no contractions. While I wasn’t given a word list, I relied on common sense.  The stanza “Over mountains/cross a bridge/apple orchard/on the ridge” contained “mountains,” “bridge,” and “ridge.” I loved the image of the family’s little yellow car motoring through the countryside, but the stanza was too hard. The published version reads, “Over hill tops,/big and small./I see apples./Hello, fall!”
       Tooth Fairy Night will be out in February 2017 to coincide with Dental Month. Draft pages in the orange notebook are littered with marginal lists of simple end rhymes, like stay, away, day, play. Words that seem ridiculously easy to us fill the youngest readers with pleasure and satisfaction.
      I actually love writing these little stories. The orange notebook often sits on the kitchen counter while I fix dinner. I’ll mutter lines or try out rhymes while stirring spaghetti. If I’m riding in the car, my trusty notebook rests on my lap like a puppy.  
      When I was asked recently to write three more Level 1 “Day” books, I was glad my orange notebook came with me to Hollins. Right now I’m fiddling with “Snow Day.” My orange notebook already has lists of simple rhyming words and a tiny little outline. Outside it’s 92 degrees. In the orange notebook, it’s 30 degrees and snow is piled up high.

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45. Friday Linky List - 15 July 2016

From The Itch of Writing: Filtering: HD For Your Writing (On show vs. tell)

From Muddy Colors: ICON Illustration Convention - GREAT article!

From 99U: Do You Have to Be a Jerk to Be Successful?

From BrainPickings.org: A Short Guide to a Happy Life: Anna Quindlen on Work, Joy, and How to Live Rather Than Exist

From Will Terry: How To Break Into Children's Book Illustration - click the image to go watch on Youtube.



From MIT Technology Review: Data Mining Reveals the Six Basic Emotional Arcs of Storytelling

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46. Charles Vess at Hollins

We are a lucky bunch to call Charles Vess a friend. The illustrious illustrator has stopped by Hollins to share his work with our students for several summers now. My treat was the night before... Our faculty critique group had our regular get-together and Charles shared drawings from a new super-secret project. It was a nice gathering of who's who in children's lit. From the left, that's Ruth Sanderson, Mark Braught, Ashley Wolff, Hillary Homzie, Charles, and Rhonda Brock-Servais.

The next day, Charles spoke with our students. First, he shared the secret project - the drawings were amazing.
Then he shared images from a not so secret upcoming project.

And a slideshow with artwork from a poetry collection he's doing. He's a busy guy!
And we are so lucky that he shares his work with us. So inspiring!

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47. VIDEO: David Bowie

I love these words of wisdom from David Bowie. Click the image to watch on YouTube.

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48. Friends Come to Visit!

I have felt so loved this past weekend! My dear friend Vicky Alvear Shecter drove all the way up from Atlanta to see me while I'm in the US. Her daughter, Aliya, joined her and we have been having such a marvelous time - I have to share!
     They arrived late Thursday, so we went to "Hollywoods" for dinner. Friday, I arranged a Meet n' Greet for our Hollins students and faculty to meet Vicky and ask her questions about her books, history and creative non-fiction and historical fiction. She drew a crowd!

That evening we saw the new Ghost Busters - fun. Saturday, we went to downtown Roanoke to hang out at the farmer's market and wander about - a weekend ritual.
There are all sorts of hidden treasures in Roanoke, like the fish tanks (Aliya's blue hair matched perfectly)...
and the rooftop deck with a fabulous view of this adorable city in the middle of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Here we are: Mark Braught, Candice Ransom, Me, Aliya and Vicky.
There's even a coi pond up there!
I had fun picking out clothes for my friends in my fave clothing shop - La De Da. One of the downtown stores has the friendliest boxer on the planet, Rutger. He loved Aliya.
That evening we went to a cookout - more on that soon!

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49. Coloring Page Tuesday - Princely Cow

     When you're the youngest brother among princes, you tend to get the leftovers when it comes to gallant steeds...
I've been playing with some color studies of my own lately. The one on the left has a sepia base wash, and the one on the right was straight color - both colored with watercolor pencils.
     CLICK HERE for more coloring pages!
     CLICK HERE to sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Please check out my books! Especially...
my debut novel, A BIRD ON WATER STREET - winner of six literary awards. Click the cover to learn more!
     When the birds return to Water Street, will anyone be left to hear them sing? A miner's strike allows green and growing things to return to the Red Hills, but that same strike may force residents to seek new homes and livelihoods elsewhere. Follow the story of Jack Hicks as he struggles to hold onto everything he loves most.
     I create my coloring pages for teachers, librarians, booksellers, and parents to enjoy for free with their children, but you can also purchase rights to an image for commercial use, please contact me. If you have questions about usage, please visit my Angel Policy page.

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50. Annual Cookout

Every summer at Hollins, we go visit the woman who made our MFA in Children's Book Writing and Illustrating program a possibility - Nancy Dahlstrom - former head of the Art Department at Hollins. She's since retired to her sweet Virginia country house surrounded by gardens and her extremely elaborate print studio. Its a joy to visit her little piece of Eden. Here she is sharing an etching with us.

After we oohed and aahed and learned in Nancy's studio, we moved the party to the back porch where we shucked corn and grilled chicken and vegetables for dinner, then had watermelon for desert. Ashley Wolff got this photo of me in perfect summertime mode.
The back porch is the perfect place to hang out and enjoy Nancy's beautiful garden
and the local critters.
Here we are - Ashley, Nancy, Me, Vicky and Aliya.
The sun started to set while we ate.
Before it got dark, we piled into Nancy's Gator and rode to the top of the mountain.
Nancy had bush-hogged the mountain so that the grass was walkable. It also meant we could see deer, and scream at the skunk we quickly u-turned away from. (He was running from us too!) Vicky and Aliya climbed up into the tree fort, where the view was even more amazing.
We caught fireflies, spit watermelon seeds, and generally had a marvelous evening. I love our annual cookouts at Nancy's and how nice to share it with friends!

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