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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. Hidden Treasures in Blois

Saturday was the weekly market in Blois. It was as charming as you can imagine. But Stan had seen something just beyond the market that caught his eye. The only marking was a little sign on a little chair on a steep set of stairs tucked into the very back of the market.

Inside was a perfectly terraced little garden with lovely seating.
And on the other side, a little bar where a small winery has a tasting once a month, served with little bites of chèvre. How marvelous!
What we're discovering here in Blois is that the treasures are often off the beaten path, tucked around corners and hidden in tight spaces. We left with a bottle of wine for a dinner Stan will prepare with our market finds.
What we're also discovering is that the people are marvelously friendly and helpful here...and that we need to become fluent with numbers and money as quickly as possible!

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27. Coloring Page Tuesday - Book Loving Bear

     This little bear is all about book love - as I have been since arriving in France! One of the best things about traveling is dropping into book stores and seeing what the books look like. Here in France, most of the picture books are completely new to me, but they have been stunningly beautiful. I wish I could take them home! Even better, is when I stumble across books by friends, all the way across the Atlantic ocean!
     CLICK HERE for more coloring pages!
     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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28. Blois College of Art

The other day while walking about Blois, France, Stan and I sought out the Blois College of Art. As you would expect, it was in a beautiful old building. As you wouldn't expect, it was covered with signs of interesting thoughts:

Click the image to see it larger.
I especially loved these:
Write for the glory.

What is art?

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29. Tiny Hamster's Tiny Tiki Party

This is near on the cutest thing in the world. Click the image to watch the Tiny Hamster's Tiny Tiki Party on Youtube:

Read more about it at Huff Post: Hamster's Tiny Tiki Party Is A Tropical Oasis of Cute.

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30. Villevry, France - life-long friends

I’m backing up a bit to catch you up with our adventures. We flew out of Atlanta on Sunday and arrived at Charles de Gaulle in Paris the next day. Our dear friends Claude and Monique picked us up from the airport and we headed straight to their house in the country from there.

Claude and Monique are my french parents from when I was an exchange student in college. It’s been a glorious, 30-year-long relationship that has meant more to me than I can ever express. All I can say is, if you or your children ever have the chance to do an exchange, I hope you will!
      At any rate, we spent our first few days in the perfection of their country house - the former sheep barn (on the right in the grilling picture) has been converted into a lovely little guest house.
The weather has been so lovely, we spent every day, all day sitting outside under the umbrella, working at the picnic table.
I’ve got a new project going on which has kept me from being in pure vacation mode. (More on that later.) Although, it’s been hard to get anything done with our friend’s warm welcome!

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31. Illustrator Challenge #12

Draw an object using a strong light source from above and and an angle. (Compare it to last week's drawing.)

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32. Cleopatra spotted in Blois!

I've been offline for several days as we stayed with friends in un petit ville - Villerbon, France for the last week. So, I'm catching up a bit. Today we moved to an apartment in Blois for the next week, and we're hanging out in the "French Coffee Shop," which is doors away from our flat. Best things - fans (there's very little a/c here) and free wi-fi! (Pronounced wee-fee.) But first, we spent the morning walking around Blois, where we found Espace - a large bookstore chain here in France.

And what should I find in the YA section? None other than Vicky Alvear Shecter's CLEOPATRA'S MOON, a.k.a. Le Fille de Cleopatre!
I also found the french version of Josephine - remember when I interviewed the author? CLICK HERE to read.

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33. Friday Linky List - August 7, 2015

From StumbleUpon: The Science Behind Baking the Most Delicious Cookie Ever (off topic, but awesome!)

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34. Janet Fox's THE CHARMED CHILDREN OF ROOKSKILL CASTLE - Guest Post

Summary: THE CHARMED CHILDREN OF ROOKSKILL CASTLE is a middle-grade novel set in a rundown Scottish castle during WWII. The lady of the manor has set it up as a temporary boarding school for children escaping the Blitz. But something is not right with that castle or that lady, and the children begin disappearing one by one. There are clues that hint that a spy is in the house; there are signs that can’t be denied that there is a sinister magic. It’s a race against the clock for one girl, her two younger siblings, and her new best friend to get to the bottom of things.

Why My Next Novel Is Middle Grade

by Janet Fox

      My debut middle grade novel, THE CHARMED CHILDREN OF ROOKSKILL CASTLE (Viking), will be out next March. After launching three successful young adult novels, why did I move into this new realm of writing for younger readers?
      The answer is pretty simple. This story came out in the voice of a twelve-year-old girl.
      Almost all of my stories start with a character who says something inside my head. (No, I'm not crazy; I just think I'm a good listener.) She'll begin to tell me something in her own way, in her own voice, with inflection and intonation right from the beginning. In the case of CHARMED CHILDREN, Kat Bateson is a practical girl with a mathematical mind who doesn't - won't - believe in magic. She likes clocks and adores her family, especially her father, who is on a dangerous mission for MI6 during World War II. Kat is smart and stubborn, and the minute she started talking I knew she'd get herself into trouble. She'd especially get into a fix if she was confronted with something inexplicable, and most especially if her younger brother and sister were threatened.
      Since Kat is twelve, there was really only one way for me to tell her story, and that was to write it as middle grade.
      I was so pleased when, in one of my first conversations with Kendra Levin, my editor, she told me that the voice in CHARMED CHILDREN was spot-on, and she couldn't believe I'd written three YA novels and hadn't written a middle grade before this. I told Kendra that it was Kat's story, so that's the way it had to be.
      It may help to know a few things about how children mature, and the psychology of childhood development, too. Not that I have made an in-depth study; but I did teach both middle grade and high school English, and I've paid attention to the literature, especially more recent research into the developing brain.
      Middle graders are still very involved with their families, attached to parents and siblings, and define themselves as part of a family circle. Young adults are searching for themselves as individuals within the context of the larger society (and often with rebellious behaviors that come from the push-pull of drawing away from family). Not only should the character's voice be true to her age, but her interests and concerns must follow suit.
      In the case of CHARMED CHILDREN, Kat's worry over her father and her attentiveness to her siblings are right attitudes for the middle grade mindset. This is in contrast to the main characters in my three previous novels, whose concerns are mostly about their romantic relationships and the influences of society on their trajectories.
      Will I abandon writing young adult novels? Not at all. I have two in draft now, as well as two other middle grade novels underway. Each one of these stories is driven not by what I age group I want to write for, but by the voices and interests of my main characters.
      I'll admit I had a great time writing this middle grade novel. It was fun to play with magic and mysteries, both elements found in middle grade more often than in young adult novels. I found myself transported back to my own middle grade experiences before everything in my world became colored by the knowingness of adolescence. I'm looking forward to writing my next middle grade novel for that reason, but I won't abandon my teenage characters forever.

Janet recently went to Scotland for research. I think this castle helped!

     Bio: Janet Fox writes award-winning fiction and non-fiction for children of all ages. Her published works include three YA historical romances: FAITHFUL (Speak/Penguin Group, 2010), FORGIVEN (Penguin, 2011), and SIRENS (Penguin, 2012). Janet's debut middle grade novel THE CHARMED CHILDREN OF ROOKSKILL CASTLE is an historical fantasy set in 1940 Scotland (Viking, 2016). Janet is a 2010 graduate of the MFA/Writing for Children and Young Adults program at Vermont College of Fine Arts, and she lives in Bozeman, Montana. She's represented by Erin Murphy, Erin Murphy Literary Agency. You can also find her at www.janetsfox.com

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35. Coloring Page Tuesday - And We're OFF!!

     By the time you receive this, we will be in France - the first leg of our journey towards living in Edinburgh. We had to leave faculty housing at Hollins University August 2nd, and we can't enter Scotland on my student visa until August 17th. So we're staying with my college exchange parents in Blois for two weeks. I know. Break out the tiny violins. Or the map! Many of you have asked to follow along, so I hope to share bunches with you here!
     CLICK HERE for more coloring pages!
     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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36. And we're off!!!

Sunday we fly from Roanoke to Paris for the first leg of our new life! We'll hang out with friends in Blois, France for two weeks before we enter Scotland with my student visa on August 17th. New life, here we come!

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37. Francelia Butler Conference Film

Every year at Hollins University student volunteers put together the Francelia Butler conference. One of the highlights is the annual video. A few faculty are usually hijacked, shanghaied, asked to participate. This was my year to play the White Witch. So with baited breath, I hesitantly share... (Click the image to see the video on YouTube.)

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38. Hollins Graduation

Four of my students graduated this year from the Certificate in Children's Book Illustration at Hollins University. I'm so proud of them! Here are Julie Coyle, Kelsey Findlay, Kassy Keppol and Shawn Walton:


And Kassy with her ever-present and helpful brood:

And Kelsey and Shawn in "Otis" - the busy elevator in the Visual Arts Building:
      But before they graduated, they had to complete their final assignment, which was to read their book dummies to the class. Because, after all, picture books are a kind of performance art and are not completely finished until they are being read aloud to an enraptured audience. In this case, it was an audience of exhausted classmates, who assumed the role of kindergartners. Here's Marilyn Mallue to the right and Lucy Rowe below.
      As you can imagine, the lack of sleep and deep sense of accomplishment led to things quickly deteriorating out of control. The audience played their part well, shouting out random facts and observations. We were all laughing so hard we were in tears.
      What was clear was that everybody had done a great job, and had a great time in the process of creating their books. It was also clear how close they'd all grown over the last six weeks of late nights, sometimes tears, and struggles. I was lucky indeed to have such a group of kind, funny, and caring students this year. I'll miss them all but wish them well as they continue to chase their dreams! (And some are coming back next year to pursue the MFA in Writing and Illustrating Children's Books!) Here's Julie, Shawn, Kelsey and Shawn:

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39. Illustrator Challenge #11

Draw an object using a soft light source from above and and an angle.

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40. Friday Linky List - July 31, 2015

From Shelf Awareness: Retired Busman's Holiday: Bookselling in Scotland

From Entrepreneur (via StumbleUpon): Don't Wish To Be Successful. Expect to Be.From my awesome agency (EMLA): Using Curiosity to Discover Your Destiny

A Folk Song a Day - you're welcome

From Terri Windling: Tunes for a Monday Morning: Ballad Lands

From The Bookseller: Nosy Crow launches illustrator salons

From SchoolVisitExperts.com: How Much Should I Charge? Three Rules of Thumb

From PW: Spring 2016 Children's Sneak Previews

From MTV news via 100 Scope Notes: Reading Rainbow Is Officially Heading for Netflix - it will be available in August!

From HuffPost: Boy Who Couldn't Afford Books Asks Mailman For Junk Mail To Read; Mailman Responds Spectacularly

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41. Friday Linky List - August 7, 2015

From StumbleUpon: The Science Behind Baking the Most Delicious Cookie Ever (off topic, but awesome!)

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42. Ruth Sanderson's CASTLE FULL OF CATS - guest post!

I am thrilled, tickled, elated to have Ruth Sanderson, the Co-director of the MFA in Children's Book Writing and Illustrating Children's Books at Hollins University and also my boss and colleague, here today to talk about her latest picture book, CASTLE FULL OF CATS. Ruth is hands down one of the best illustrators in children's literature, so read and learn!!!

I’d love to share the process for creating the cover illustration of my new book A CASTLE FULL OF CATS, released by Random House this year.
As you can see from my initial storyboard sketch, I envisioned the cover as a view looking out a window with cats watching the outdoor activities from the inside of the castle.
At the next stage, I created a more detailed cover sketch to focus on the queen's "favorite" cat. I also depicted the cats and kittens in a much more active and playful role, indicating the queen and the king outside in the garden. And, I played with how the title of the book might fit on the cover illustration.
In the final cover sketch, I brought the queen's cat closer to the center and looking directly at the reader while still allowing the queen and king to be seen through the window.
In creating the finished illustration for the cover, I wanted the window to really stand out, so I created a maroon wall in the background, actually painting it in acrylic over the watercolor painting to get a really solid effect, and because a dark, even color is so hard to create in watercolor! When I submitted the illustration, the editor and art director felt that it was too dark...
and suggested I make the wall pink…Here is the revised cover, with the pink wall painted in acrylic on top of the maroon color. Yes, it was very time-consuming to paint around all those details. But we are not done yet! After giving the art to the designer, problems arose.
      A note—The marketing folks asked that the title be changed. I coined the word "Castleful," to indicate there were a ton of cats in the castle, and am very proud of it, but apparently anyone searching for a book with "castle" in the title would not find my book, so we had to split my word to "Castle Full." Inside the book it is still "castleful," read as one word, like "spoonful."
The designer was having a very hard time making the type stand out against the background. The art directer even photoshopped the curtains to make it simpler, shown here, but it just looked too busy. In addition, she felt that the pink wall was too bright. When she and the editor approached me about making yet more changes, and major ones, to the artwork, I agreed. The cover was simply too busy, as you can see. I had to fix it! And I decided on a blue for the wall to make it recede more and focus interest on the bright center of the illustration.
I started with the full size digital image of the cover, because changing to a blue wall would not be easy. I really did not want to put a third coat of acrylic paint on that wall! SO, I started in Photoshop with my pink cover image. I duplicated the image as another layer and changed the whole picture to blue, and then painstakingly worked to combine the two layers into one.
I painted a new window with a single sheer curtain in watercolor on a separate piece of watercolor paper, no king and queen, then scanned and Photoshopped it in so the type would hopefully read nicely on top of it.
Above is the final image with the blue wall. I was a bit sad that the king and queen can't be seen outside, but feel the title reading well was the most important concern. And the cats are the stars of the book.
A week later....here was the (almost) final cover design. I loved the new typeface the art director chose. Note the kitten kicking the word "of" in the title! The type color was still under discussion, but this was VERY close to perfect! After some discussion, it was decided that the word “cats” would stand out more in a shade of red that matched the couch, and that was the color chosen for the final design. [See the very top image.] My art director Nicole de las Heras from Random House did such a marvelous job on this, and was so patient and easy to work with, through all these changes. It really helps to have a great team to work with at a publisher, to make a successful cover design.

Thanks so much for stopping by, Ruth! To see more of Ruth's amazing work, check out her blog!

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43. Coloring Page Tuesday - Piano Playing Tiger

     Did you know I used to play piano? Yup - ten years of lessons. But it's been about 15 years since I've had the chance to play. Here at Hollins, President Gray was kind enough to loan me a book of music - Clementi's Sonatinas, which I grew up playing. It was hard to find a window, but I finally did and I played Clementi for about a half hour. The truth is, I was horrible. But the good news is I didn't forget everything and enjoyed myself immensely. I wonder if I'll have access to pianos in Edinburgh?
     CLICK HERE for more coloring pages!
     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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44. Guest CeCe Bell!

CeCe Bell visited our students the other day at Hollins University to talk about her Newbery honor-winning and now Eisner honor-winning EL DEAFO.

Her talk was amazing honest and touching. Ruth Sanderson helped with questions. I had the pleasure of joining her for an early dinner before-hand. Happily, CeCe doesn't live far away, so we'll have both her and her husband as our visiting authors and illustrators next year. Can't wait! Meanwhile, as CeCe says...

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45. Alexandria LaFaye's PRETTY OMENS - Guest Post

Today I welcome one of my colleagues at Hollins University, Alexandria LeFaye, who is celebrating a book birthday. She's here to talk about PRETTY OMENS. Take it away Alexandria...


Following the Signs: The Beginnings of Pretty Omens
by Alexandria LaFaye

      I blame boredom and Paul Janeczko for the beginning of PRETTY OMENS, my new book with Anchor and Plume press. Okay, so maybe I should say that it was really my penchant for snooping while I'm waiting for a friend (sorry) and the fact that Paul gave me permission to write a novel-in-verse.
      Here's how it happened, I was waiting for a friend to get ready so we could go to an event–probably a reading, but sadly, I can't even recall which friend it was. If you're that friend, feel free to remind me where we were headed that night. In any case, this word-loving friend had a word-a-day calendar of archaic words and had pulled off a stack of days/words to "catch" and left the stack in a bowl nearby, so I started leafing through and found "cried back" a set of words meaning to cry so hard at the death of a loved one that the dear soul is brought back from the dead.
      This folk belief is probably a response to near death experiences where someone "came back" from the brink of death only to be altered by a lack of oxygen. As I learned when I researched the belief, many people believed those who were cried back were touched by the devil. People saw death as a part of God's plan and altering that plan meant opening the person up to temptation. Often, those who came back returned different (probably a result of brain damage). In any case that idea inspired me to write a book about a girl who was cried back and then shunned by her community because they feared she was touched by the devil. She was touched all right, but by God and given the gift of prophecy. The trouble was, like Cassandra from Greek mythology, no one believed the girl when she warned them what was coming.
      I imagined that she'd draw the demons as they came to her, so they became "pretty omens."
      I tried unsuccessfully to write the book again and again. I knew I wanted it to happen in the South at the turn of the 20th century or even the roaring twenties, one of my favorite periods. Why the South? It's steeped in Christian and folk beliefs that often intertwine, and when I worked on the book I always heard Appalachian folk songs in the back of my head. Setting and premise aside, the piece never came together until I had dinner with the poet Paul Janeczko. He was about to give a reading and talk for the graduate program in children's and young adult literature (and now illustration) at Hollins University (It's a great program, check it out.)
     Paul planned to talk about his book Worlds Afire, which I love. And though it's often called a novel-in-verse, it's really a collection of poems on the same event. That night, at dinner, I told him about the trouble I was having with my book. He suggested that I give it a try as a novel-in-verse. When I asked him if he thought I could really pull that off, he said something along the lines of, "Sure, why not?"
      Why not, indeed. I sat down shortly thereafter and crafted the first poem "Moon Baby" and Cass Anne Marie Pettibone was born--literarily, of course.
      Things worked out pretty well in the end. Turns out Paul was right. I could write a novel-in-verse. Here's what he had to say about the finished product:
      "In LaFaye’s strong, fast-paced novel-in-verse, the voices of her characters ring true, the language dazzles, drawing the reader into Cass Anne’s story of love and redemption, religious intolerance, and belief."
      So the moral of this blog is never leave an author unattended in your front room and don't wait for permission to try a new form.
      Speaking of new things, you'd like to order a copy of PRETTY OMENS, please do: http://anchorandplume.bigcartel.com/product/pretty-omens. And read more about the origins of PRETTY OMENS at Goodreads.

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46. Friday Linky List - July 24, 2015

From Nautilus: The Quest to Mimic Nature's Trickiest Colors

From The Mixed Up Files: Love for the Kidlit Community

From Houzz: Happy Birthday, Rembrandt: Peek Inside the Dutch Painter's Former House

From Travis Jonker at School Library Journal: The Wildest Children's Books of 2015

From the Scottish Book Trust: Make your own book with Chris Riddell (scroll down to the 2nd post)

One of the thrills of this business is helping friends celebrate book birthdays. Today, I am proud to announce the release of Tracey Cox's THE CHILDREN AT THE PLAYGROUND. Happy book birthday Tracey!!! Click the cover to learn more about it!

Fairytale in New York: These Homes Look Like They Belong in a Storybook

At Giuseppe Castellano's blog: On SCBWI, Advice for Authors and Illustrators

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47. Illustrator Challenge #10

Choose a favorite image and draw a small copy of it (about 3"x5") in black and white using all the values in the value scale you created last week.

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48. Jennifer Anderson presentation!

The Chair of the Art Department at Hollins University and an Associate Professor of Art, Jennifer D. Anderson recently talked to our students about her gorgeous cut paper work.

These amazing pieces take her upwards of 60 to 80 hours to create. I can believe it! But the results are so worth it - they are simply stunning. Even more so when their hung in such a way to create shadows on the walls behind them.
Our illustrative world is focused on creating books, so it was a nice break to hear the perspective of creating art for art's sake from this seasoned pro!

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49. Martin Brown: Everyone Can Draw!

The illustrator of the Horrible Histories series, Martin Brown, recently gave a talk about Everyone Can Draw! at the Shetland Library. Learn about shape and expression in cartooning - great advice! Click the image to go watch at the Scottish Book Trust website.

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50. Children's Book Characters at Hollins

Fellow Professor Ashley Wolff has created the most adorable figurines of classic children's book characters to be placed around campus during our MFA in Children's Book Writing and Illustrating and Certificate in Children's Book Illustration programs. She launched them at this year's Francelia Butler conference. They were a huge hit! Ferdinand was my fave:

Here's Ashley with Eeyore!
She also did the caterpillar from THE HUNGRY CATERPILLAR, Frog from FROG AND TOAD, Winnie the Pooh and Piglet and several others. What a charming addition to our program!

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