Over the weekend I recieved a big box of books! "Give Up, Gecko!" is a picturebook I illustrated last year for Amazon Picture Books. The author is the prolific Margaret Read MacDonald, who has written over 60 books.
This book is the retelling of a Ugandan folktale about animals searching for water by stomping a big hole. None of the animals are successful until a tiny Gecko takes a turn. He's determine and he's not going to give up!
The book is a fun read for kids to participate in as there is lots of chanting by the animals. Here are some of the illustrations of the Gecko stomping.
The book is available on Amazon
where you can get a sneak peek into more of the interior illustrations.
Are you looking for a great gift to buy your favorite illustrator? (Like maybe you???) The Art of Peter de Seve
is one of my all time favorite books. I purchased it for myself earlier this year and find inspiration (and major envy!) in every page.
Peter de Seve is a prolific artist, probably most known for covers of the New Yorker Magazine and character design in numerous animated films, including the Ice Age series. This guy designed my
favorite character of all time, Scrat...:)
And this image from the cover of the New Yorker.....I still have this one in my inspiration file of art that I've collected over the years.
Click onto the Peter de Seve website
to see so much of his art and process. He has a store!
I got my copies in the mail last week of a picture book I did for Kar-Ben Publishing (a division of Lerner Publishing Group) last summer. It turned out really sweet! The book will not be released until August 1st, but is available for preorder on Amazon.Speak Up, Tommy!
is about a kid who is teased about his Israeli accent and the way he speaks English.
But his knowledge of Hebrew makes him a hero when a police officer and his dog come to visit Tommy's school.
The story, written by Jacqueline Dembar Greene, was inspired by a newspaper article about Sgt. John Fosket of the Helena, Montana Police Department, who was given a dog by an organization called Pups for Peace. Sgt. Fosket had one problem. Miky, the dog, had been trained in Israel and only understood Hebrew commands. Sgt. Fosket enlisted the help of a rabbi and his Hebrew-speaking friends, but in this picturebook, Tommy is our hero.
I loved working on this book. It it's always such a relief when the book prints exactly as the art looked on my Mac. I'm a hybrid artist....I paint some of the art traditionally, some of it digitally and manipulate a lot of the layers by adding textures. So there is a lot of anticipation before I see the book in print.
I'll show you more art once the book is released and I will be doing an interview with the author later in the summer. So stay tuned!
I got a nice surprise over the weekend. I found out that a book I illustrated, Picnic at Camp Shalom,
which was published last year by Kar-Ben Publishing, has been selected by The PJ Library as one of their 2012 selections! They have done a special publishing of the book and it will be mailed to all their 6 year-old participants this summer.
The PJ Library is an award-winning program, funded by local philanthropists and the Harold Grinspoon Foundation. The PJ Library sends out high-quality Jewish children's books and music to families across North America on a monthly basis....for free! You can find out more about The PJ Library here
Below is one of my favorite spreads from the book with Sara and Carly finding out how much they have in common on their first night at summer camp. The PBJunkies did an interview last year with the author, Jacqueline Jules, which you can read here
©2011 Deborah Melmon
So excited to see that the Mouse Math series of books that I worked on through the winter have been released. Four books are out now and I'm working away on four more super cute stories. The concepts for these books are first class. Math fundamentals intertwined into the lives of Albert and Wanda and all their mouse friends. You can see them here at Kane Press
. They are also available on Amazon
. Perfect for ages four and up.
The PBJ's will be doing a fun celebration week in September and, of course, a book giveaway. So stay tuned!
These days, I've been lucky to be working on several projects that are books in series. I am working on a sequel to Underpants, Thunderpants!
for Parragon UK, and the Mouse Math
series for Kane Press.
Here are a few characters you will see later next year in a Penguin Level 1 Reader, which is part of the Puppy Diaries series that I am working on, written by Jill Abramson and Jane O'Connor. Ready or Not, Here Comes Scout!
released a couple of months ago, is a picture book Jill wrote about her puppy, Scout, and companion book to her adult book Puppy Diaries
. You can read about it here
. She and her sister, Jane, are continuing on with Scout's adventures in this adorable reader, with another one to follow. Can't wait to share them with you!
Start looking for you party hats because next week we'll be having a party here at the PBJ's!
Make sure to visit us all week. We'll have reviews, pictures, behind the scenes, and of course a giveaway!! (we would love to give out candy and cake too but darn.. this is just a blog..) ;o)
See you all next week here, you won't want to miss this!
©2010 Deborah Melmon
I know I've posted about Labracadabra before, the chapter book I did for Viking last year, but this week we are going to have a giveaway! It's an adorable book, beautifully printed with hardcover and a jacket, and written by the talented Jessie Nelson and Karen Leigh Hopkins. This week if you leave a comment on our posts, you will be entered into the drawing. The winner will be announced on Saturday and I will mail you your very own autographed copy!
It's funny how jobs come along. In this case, the art director at Viking had seen some of my recently mailed tear sheets (yes, old school...but it works!) that had some quirky, loose sketches of dogs. She emailed me and asked if I had any more art with dogs and boys. She had a story about a dog, with magic powers in it's tail, that she thought would be a good fit for me. "Of course!" I said, and madly set out creating a few more pieces.
©2010 Deborah Melmon
I created this piece and glad I kept it loose, because it turned out to be the exact style for the book. After a bit of back and forth, and weeks of waiting, she told me I had the job. And so I began creating "Larry" who is a mutt with about nine different breeds all mixed up together. I sketched and emailed, resketched and emailed, and resketched again. We finally came up with a version of Larry that everyone bought in to. I also had to create the human characters in the book and my favorite was cousin Seymour who is tormented by allergies, bee stings, sun burns and dogs....
9 Comments on Labracadabra Celebration Week, last added: 10/4/2011
When Deb told me she got this job I of course smiled form ear to ear, I was so ecstatic for her! But I wasn't surprised. I think the editor that chose her, knew very well what she was doing.
Not only Deb's style is perfect for this book, but Deb really knows and loves dogs. I am a dog lover as well and I know she really understands the bond between a dog and a human and is more than capable of bringing that into a book.
You don't have to be an illustrator to realize how hard it would be to come up with a dog that was part Labrador, Basset Hound, Dachshund, Terrier and Brittany? LOL.. I know!
But that wasn't a problem for Deb. She came up with the perfect pooch. Belive me, I know dogs. I used to volunteer in a shelter and I was the one who dictated the breed. Larry is part all those breeds, no doubt about that.
A friend of mine, Valerie Curtis, is the librarian at Springer Elementary School in Los Altos, California. As part of the reading program in the library, she read them "Labracadabra" which is the chapter book I illustrated last year about a dog with a magic tail. Yesterday she brought me a huge stack of letters from 3 classes of second graders with their comments. Such fun!
I got such a kick out of the letters. Wish I could post them all as each one is special. Looks like I may be making a school visit to thank all the kids for their wonderful, supportive letters. And yes, Suhrith, I think I will keep my great job!
The PBS series "Nature" has always been one of my favorite shows. This week they are airing a fascinating documentary about Joe Hutto and a bowl of wild turkey eggs that were left on his front porch by a local farmer. Hutto, possessing a broad background in the natural sciences and an interest in imprinting young animals, incubated the eggs and waited for them to hatch. As the chicks emerged from their shells, they locked eyes with an unusual but dedicated mother.
Some might think that anyone who would give up over a year of his life to raise turkeys in their natural habitat, in this case, the Florida Everglades, might be a little nutty, but this is what Hutto does. He is a scientist, artist, naturalist and observer of wildlife. The photography is incredibly beautiful and very close up.
The show first broadcast last Sunday night, but it is repeating this month and you can find your local time at PBS.org. You can also watch the episode on your computer. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!
This week the PBJunkies are reviewing books from the catalog of Owl Kids, a children's publisher in Canada who also publishes Owl, Chirp and ChickaDEE magazines. Their catalog, which is chock full of fabulous books can be found at www.owlkids.com
. Each day this week, we will be reviewing a different book and at the end of the week we will give away the entire week's selections to a lucky reader! All you have to do is leave a comment to be entered into the drawing.
Roslyn Schwartz, the creator of the Mole Sisters, has written and illustrated a new picture book with the irresistable and adorable Vole Brothers. The characters were first created as a comic for Chirp Magazine and became extremely popular with the readers. But before they were comics, they were doodles and drawings in a sketchbook that she would send to her brother for a few laughs. I think there might be a lesson here somewhere.....
The book is simply illustrated in a clean, colored pencil style and blends the picture book form with an innovative comic book approach, layered with playful dialogue and onomatopoeia.
The vole brothers, who are always hungry, romp through the book with their silly antics that start with chasing after a cat and lead to a pepperoni pizza.
You'll love this video of Roslyn Schwartz's version of how a picture book is created and how the Vole Brothers came to be!
Over the last five months, I have been very busy working on lots of picture book projects. After a book is finished and all the artwork is uploaded to the publisher, I have to force myself to just put the book out of my mind for awhile because it takes at least another six months before you get to see the finished product.
I work for one publisher, though, who actually sends me the printer's first proof. It ususally comes within a month after the art is finished. So much fun to see all that hard work in print so quickly! And so nice for the designer to actually ask me to look everything over and see how I like the color, etc.
The publisher is Viking and the book I worked on is call "Ready or Not, Here Comes Scout!"
It is the story of an over-eager, but lovable puppy who learns how to make friends at the dog park. I was considered for this particular job because I had done a chapter book for Viking last year call "Labracadabra," which was also about a dog.
The authors of this book are Jill Abramson, the Executive Director of the New York Times, who wrote a blog, followed by a book, called "Puppy Diaries" which was all about her white Golden Retriever puppy "Scout." She teamed up with her sister, Jane O'Connor, author of the "Fancy Nancy" books, to write a fun picture book for the very young, introducing them to the silly antics of her puppy.
I felt like this job was meant for me as I go to the dog park nearly every day with my Airedale,
Mack. Embedded in my subconscious are thousands of mental pictures of dogs playing together. The publishers have given me permission to blog about the book, so in the next weeks, I will be showing you a few spreads and talk about some of the process of creating a book that was on a very fast track. Stay tuned!
Where do our creative ideas come from? Here's a lesson from John Cleese on how to become more creative in your work and allow your subconscious to do some problem solving for you. The only criteria is that you create in your life an "oasis" that is separate from your regular life where you can allow your creativity to come out and play. That means, structuring a period of time that you can set aside where you are absolutely free from interruption. No phone, email, Facebook, Twitter, kids, dogs, TV, to-do lists, meetings, etc. Sound horrifying? Even if it is for only one hour a day and you have to sit in the park, it might be worth it.
Although I've been working on a lot of picture book projects lately, I still like to take the educational jobs that come in. These sketches are for a religious publisher showing emotional situations for preschool kids. Made me think of Friday the 13th and having a bad day.....
©Deborah Melmon 2011
©Deborah Melmon 2011
©Deborah Melmon 2011
Hope your day was a good one!
I got a new ipad 2 a couple of weeks ago. I have a two story house, so I use it a lot around the house as a mini laptop, collecting and sending email, surfing the net, etc. But I really wanted to try to use it as a sketchpad too. So I immediately downloaded a group of apps that I could play with to see if there was anything I could work with that made sense to me. I did buy a Wacom Bamboo Stylus, which was only $30. Much better than using a finger!
I started with Sketchbook Express, which is a free app that you can get on the ipad and on your computer. I find the version I use on my computer is far superior with my wacom tablet, so I was a bit disappointed with the ipad version as far as "feel" goes. I also installed Brushes and ASKetch. Haven't played with Brushes too much, but ASKetch is a fabulous simple black & white sketch program for drawing with your fingers. You don't need to use any tools...you just draw and it shades in lights and darks automatically which is very cool.
But the app that I fell in love with hands down is ArtRage. If you use Photoshop, you will love this program. It's easy, straight forward, has all the tools, papers, layers you will need. I did this little sketch on ArtRage and used watercolor paper to add texture to the drawing. There are all the tools of a fine artist including pallete knives. You can easily adjust each tool to it's own specs. The watercolor brush can be used as wet paper or dry. You can take a photo with the ipad and "push pin" it to your image to use as reference, or you can use an image or photo to trace. You can email your artwork, save in a gallery, etc. Images are not hi-res, but they are large in dimension. I just love this program!
©2011 Deborah Melmon
Have a great 4th of July everyone from the PBJ's!
A small programming note: Beginning this week, Deb Melmon will now be posting on Mondays and Kathy Weller will be posting on Fridays.
I worked all weekend, so today doesn't really feel like Monday to me. And I usually post on Friday, but Kathy Weller and I have switched days. So I'm surprised I actually remembered that I was posting today!
I'm currently working on another picture book for Kar Ben Publishing. They are a lovely publishing house to work for. They let me have a lot of freedom. Picnic at Camp Shalom was the first book I did for them. The setting was summer camp and there was a lot of variety in the scenes. This current book takes place in a classroom with lots of kids, so it has been challenging for me to come up with creative ways to make the classroom look interesting on each of the spreads.
I'm also using my new printer, which I posted about here
, that prints out waterproof ink onto my watercolor paper. It's working out wonderfully and I'm much more relaxed while I paint, knowing if I make a horrible mistake, I can just print out another drawing. As with the last book, I am painting this book in layers. The characters are painted separately so that I can resize or manipulate them on the spread if I need to. I don't know about you, but if I walk away from artwork for 24 hours, when I come back to it, sometimes I can see glaring errors or distortions that just don't look right. Having the different elements on separate layers in photoshop makes it much easier to correct.
Have a great week everyone!
Is it Monday already? I've been working every day and through the weekends for the last couple of weeks to finish my picture book for Kar Ben Publishing. It's a story about a classroom full of kids and a police dog that could use some obedience training. It's such a fun book for me right now as I'm also working hard on training my rescue dog "Mack." We have obedience class on Monday nights at our local park. He is a quick learner, so I'm really pleased with his progress. His biggest obstacle is that he is just so full of excitement and very vocal. He just needs to learn a little patience....just like his mommy, lol.
When I think of Bill Mayer's illustrations, what comes to mind are his nutty, air-brushed monsters. They are so bright and colorful and lovable.
But Bill is actually a very versatile artist with several different styles. In his latest children's book Hide and Sheep by Andrea Beaty he uses a pen and watercolor technique reminiscent of old comics and early 1930 cartoons. I love buying children's books that have interesting techniques that include some digital aspects. This is one of those books.
This very cute story, written by Andrea Beaty, is about Farmer McFitt's frisky sheep that are on the loose. As Farmer McFitt sleeps the morning away, his restless sheep end up joining the circus, going to the movies and visiting an art museum.
You can see more of Bill Mayer's art on his website here
. The entry into his website is worth the visit. And be sure to check out his scratchboard work. Just beautiful!
Just a quick colored sketch from my digital sketchbook today. Sorry for the short post, but I've got lots of irons in the fire and several looming deadlines this week. Hope you are all enjoying the last days of summer.
Richard Torrey's latest book is called "Because." It is part of a three book series, the other two titled "Almost" and "Why?" Even though Jack's mom tells him that "because" is not an answer, Jack strongly disagrees. This six-year-old thinks "because" is the perfect answer to any question.
I love the illustrations in this book because they are loose and yet there is a lot of attention to detail. I know it takes a lot of work to make a book look effortless in style and I think Torrey has achieved that beautifully. I also love the color pallette. Soft and fresh to enhance the whimsical drawings. And of course there is the cute "terrierish" (I know, probably not a word) white dog that appears in all three books. The dog, although in the background of many of the scenes, is what makes this book so satisfying at the end of the story. And I love this book just.....because.
You can see more of Richard Torrey's work on his webite here
This is my dog Mack Daddy.
Last week I did a sketch of him.
Which turned into a very large painting that was exhibited in a local art museum.
The painting was so popular his image was placed on a stamp.....
.....and he made the cover of Vogue Magazine!
I'm sure you can see where this is going....every image shown here was made with a click of a button (not hours using Photoshop) on a very fun site called PhotoFunia
. My very c
Thought I'd share a small spot that was part of a four-page spread for Highlights High Five that I finished up last week. The story was part of the English-Spanish series that runs every month in the magazine and will be published in March. Always fun when there is a dog involved!
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I love books that have dogs in them and I love Jack E. Davis. I've posted about some of his books in the past, but as I rolled over this morning and looked into the eyes of my very large Airedale Terrier, Mack Daddy, whose head was resting on the pillow next to me, I realized that my dog has a pretty darn good, stress-free life.
It reminded me of the book that Davis illustrated last year, written by Daniel Pinkwater, called "I am the Dog." A very funny story about a boy and dog who change places for one day. It's silly, colorful and so fun in it's whimsical design.
I love picture books that me make me laugh and this one sure does. So much to look at in the illustrations. Davis describes his pictures as "goofy." That makes me laugh too.