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|Siena circa 2006|
This is a crazy week of deadlines and prep to head out to Italy next week. To warm up since the weather has kept me from a lot of urban sketching (yes, I am a wimp when it comes to cold), I did this from my 2006 photos. Boy, my photos were mostly awful. I am glad to get a second chance. At least I have a better "real" camera now (sorry iPhone).
I just signed up for Vine video so I hope to show some little videos of the sketchbook panning to location.
I have got all my sketchbooks together and replenished some of the half pans in my watercolor set. I even got some ice-fishing fingerless gloves to use (I suspect it will still be a little chilly).
I am going with my mother, aunt and a couple cousins so it will be a fun trip, except for the fact that Italy currently has no pope, no government... Interesting times...
Fortunately, our travel keeps us away from Rome, but my Aunt and cousins are meeting us in Florence via Rome. We are going via Milan because I have always wanted to go there. It is a design capitol of the world! Troy will be here in Cincinnati to hold down the fort.
Finally, here is a picture of our car Miffy from my sketchbook. She was doing that wonderful kneading the air thing. I am painting a lot of furry pawed critters this a year so it was good practice. Her fur is short enough that you can really see the toe/claw articulation.
|Miffy, Always a Star...|
By: Christine Garner ,
Getting a smile to look right is important. There is a fine line between friendly and psychotic.
Not sure if I achieved that here but these were ‘fun’ to do.
Not sure who the one on the left is but the one on the right is of actress Ziyi Zhang.
By: Christine Garner ,
I’ve been working on a few projects recently including Alice in Wonderland. I like to explore lots of different options when I’m designing a character. This is just the initial amount of sketches with reference to the original illustrator Sir John Tenniel in the top right. I then chose the designs I like the most and develop them further with more variations in shapes.
I like to get the reference right first and this helps me learn more about the character, but I think having fun and trying crazy variations is also very important to the creative process.
I’ve also been doing some warm up exercises I learned from the Schoolism course I did last year (Character design with Stephen Silver). There are infinite variations you can create with the circle, square and triangle as a starting point but here are just 3. the top one is the closest to the original reference but obviously stylized somewhat.
By: Christine Garner ,
Here are some sketches for the development of a character I’ve been doing for my mythological/ magical creatures project.
I’m going to do the costume and decide on a few poses to render next.
These are some style tests I did a little while back.
By: Christine Garner ,
Here are some studies for today.
I did the lips yesterday and made a video of the painting progress on youtube.
I’m a bit of a mushroom fan, I’ve got about 6 books on the subject now. I just love the different shapes and colours.
By: Christine Garner ,
This is a study using the lovely actress Tilda Swinton as a starting reference.
I’m a bit obsessed with red hair I suppose- it’s not very easy to paint with so many shades going on so I like the challenge.
I also saw Pixar’s film “Brave” last night and it was brilliant- lots of red hair too.
By: Christine Garner ,
Here is a small selection of the preliminary studies I’ve been making for a project I’m working on (top secret at the moment).
I’ve been working in water colour a lot more for my paintings rather than just digital. I’m really enjoying the change to be honest.
I think both have their advantages and disadvantages of course- perhaps I’ll write an essay on it if I get bored.
|Boris and Spike|
In preparing for our journal workshop, many of the books about making journals have lovely cat studies so I decided to do some of my cats. Yes, Boris really looks like this. He is almost 17 and has been shaved because his fur gets severely matted. It gives him an odd appearance. He has a huge head and a little old man body underneath. Great for sketching cat anatomy...You can see every bone and muscle.
|Boris and a little Miffy Sketch|
Since 1919 communities around the country have been dedicated to celebrating the love of reading and spreading the word about children’s literature. Join librarians, students, teachers, families, and booksellers nationwide to help celebrate Children’s Book Week. Need some ideas? Visit the Children’s Book Council website! You will find lots of activities from holding a Children’s Book Week party where you dress up as your favorite character (see 10/30/2007 post for costume ideas) to organizing a school-wide Read-In where EVERYONE in your school reads silently at the same place and time – school staff included.
Here at Tandem, we had a discussion about some of our favorite books. Titles including The Paper Bag Princess, Pippi Longstocking, and Drummer Hoff were a few titles mentioned. The general consensus was that there were too many great books to choose from, we each couldn’t just pick one! Here are a few favorites from a couple booklovers at Tandem:
"Before there was the adorable little bunny in Not a Box making a plain old cardboard box into anything he could imagine, there was Christina Katerina. Originally published in hardcover in 1971, Christina Katerina and the Box has been a childhood favorite of mine for years. As a kid, I loved watching the box transform from a castle to a clubhouse to a racecar to whatever else Christina Katerina could dream up. A new generation can get to know this imaginative heroine in paperback or Tandem-bound versions of this classic picture book."
"My favorite childhood book(s) are the Ramona Quimby books. I loved them all for their realistic way of telling great stories. I will never forget many of the illustrations and descriptions used in the books. The descriptions of Ramona’s feelings are so real, for example, Ramona cracking an egg on her head and feeling so upset when she had to sit in the nurse’s office afterwards and heard the adults calling her a “nuisance.” The feeling of adults not understanding you was perfectly captured in that story."
Don’t forget! Next year and going forward, Children’s Book Week will be moving to May and will be celebrated in the first or second week of that month.
If the holiday season has you itching for travel but you can’t actually get away, check out these great travel-themed books.
John Green’s Printz Honor winning An Abundance of Katherines takes us to Tennessee with Colin and Hassan since, of course, a road trip is the ultimate cure for a broken heart. They end up in Gutshot, TN, a town as unique as the name makes it sound. If you like Tennessee, you can also find yourself there in Tallulah Falls by Christine Fletcher when Tallulah gets stranded there on her way to Florida.
If you’re feeling spontaneous, you might hop a bus to Alabama like Erin in In Search of Mockingbird by Loretta Ellsworth. Harper Lee has been her hero for a long time, and she is determined to meet the reclusive author. Erin finds more than she was looking for on her trip. Much like Sophie in Red Glass, who travels to Mexico with her great-aunt, but soon is on her own in Guatemala. It turns out she’s much stronger than she thinks she is.
Another Sophie takes a trip in The Wanderer by Sharon Creech. This Sophie sails across the Atlantic with her three uncles and two cousins to see her grandfather. We read Sophie’s journal of the trip as she talks about her grandfather and the sea, but we also get her cousin Cody’s journal entries, which provide a much different look at the trip and give us a different perspective on Sophie. This is a personal favorite of mine, great for upper elementary or middle school readers.
Don’t leave the kids behind! The Year I Didn’t Go to School, Giselle Potter’s autobiographical picture book based on the journal she kept while her family traveled around Italy when she was seven, proves that travel is just as exciting for kids as it is for adults. This book is a great opportunity to share the idea of keeping a “travel journal” with kids.
Or take a trip in your imagination with Rainstorm. In Barbara Lehman’s latest picture book, a boy finds a mysterious key, which leads him on a magical journey one rainy day. This wordless story will change the way you look at gloomy days.
Whether it’s a real vacation or just an afternoon daydream, happy travels to you!
2007 has been a great year in kidlit land. Here at Tandem Insights we’ve highlighted several of our favorites: see our posts on Elephant & Piggie, Elijah of Buxton, or Long May She Reign. The best-of-the-year lists are now available from Publisher’s Weekly and School Library Journal, two sources we know and trust. We came up with our own Tandem version of a Best of 2007 list, and then decided to compare notes and see which titles everybody agreed on.
There are four unanimous choices: (Drumroll, please!)
Orange Pear Apple Bear, by Emily Gravett
Knuffle Bunny Too, by Mo Willems
The Arrival, by Shaun Tan
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
You can find all three complete lists in the Tandem online bookstore:
2007 Publisher's Weekly Best Children's Books
2007 Best Books from SLJ
Tandem Best Books of 2007
There are some pretty amazing friendships out there. We’ve managed to round up six tremendous examples of unlikely friendships that have left a lasting mark on readers this year.
Although Cowboy and Octopus have different opinions about beans and knock-knock jokes, their friendship grows in these seven humorous mini-stories.
Owen & Mzee bonded with one another despite some pretty unimaginable differences. Owen, a baby hippo was separated from his mother during the devastating 2004 tsunami, and Mzee, a 130-year-old giant tortoise invited the inspiring, inseparable friendship.
After conquering the unknown beyond his nut tree in 2006, Scaredy Squirrel is ready to socialize in Scaredy Squirrel Makes a Friend. Once he's spotted a perfectly safe candidate (with no teeth), will he be able to make the Perfect Friend?
The moment they saw each other, Ivy & Bean knew they wouldn't be friends. But when Bean pulls a trick that goes wrong, Ivy comes to the rescue, proving that sometimes the best of friends are people who never meant to like each other.
Graystripe and Millie are from two different worlds, but that doesn’t stop the feisty kittypet Millie and second-in-command of ThunderClan Graystripe from becoming the best of friends. Lost Warrior is the first of a new graphic novel series based on the incredibly popular Warrior series.
Lincoln and Keckley star in An Unlikely Friendship, a fictionalized dual biography by one of the premier writers of historical fiction for young readers. Find out how two women--one who grew up in a wealthy Southern home and became the wife of the president of the United States, the other who was born a slave and eventually purchased her own freedom--come to be such close companions.
*Keep your eyes peeled for Scaredy Squirrel at the Beach April 2008.
*That goes double for Warrior's Refuge at the end of December 2007 and Warrior’s Return in April 2008.
*We can’t forget about Ivy and Bean Take Care of the Babysitter in April 2008.
Freedom to speech. Freedom to assemble. Right to bear arms. We know these freedoms from discussions in classrooms or in the media, but what do we really know about the Bill of Rights?
This December 15th take your students deeper into the freedoms we are granted with Russell Freedman’s In Defense of Liberty. This Orbis Pictus Honor book breaks the Bill of Rights down chapter by chapter talking about the history, the controversy, and the ordinary citizens who have stood up for each amendment. Compare this title to Milton Meltzer’s now of of print The Bill of Rights: How We Got it and What it Means to talk about how the Bill of Rights has changed even since 1990 as new issues arise, like electronic privacy and homeland security, which were barely on the radar in 1990 when Meltzer’s book was published. Add in Kathleen Krull’s Kid’s Guide to America’s Bill of Rights for a look at how freedom affects even young people’s lives.
Inspire your students with examples of those who have stood up for their freedom with Freedom Walkers: The Story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott starts with Rosa Parks’ famous refusal to move to the back of the bus in 1955. But you can go back even further in time with We Are One: The Story of Bayard Rustin to read about how this little-known civil rights activist staged his own bus protest some thirteen years before Rosa Parks. Women, too, have changed the shape of freedom in this country, and Ann Bausum’s With Courage and Cloth explores the women’s suffrage movement from 1848 to the adoption of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920.
Get to know your rights and be inspired to change the shape of your world this Bill of Rights Day!
If you’re looking for a few last minute Christmas ideas, or even some holiday stories to check out from your local library, here are some of our favorites!
Russell is back again in Rob Scotton’s third book, Russell’s Christmas Magic. Santa declares that “Christmas is cancelled” when his sleigh crashes in Firefly Wood. Russell the Sheep comes to his aid equipped with a welder, hammer, and circular saw-labeled “ask parent before using this tool”! Will Russell’s efforts be enough to save Christmas?
Told in a silly Christmas rhyme, A Christmas Stocking Story, by Hilary Knight, is a book that all will enjoy. Stork, Hippo, Lion, Fish, Elephant, Snake, Fox and Bug’s stockings were mixed up while being washed on Christmas Eve. Will the animals ever figure out how to get the right presents from Santa Claus?
A hockey outfit, makeup kit, and a chemistry set – are all great Christmas gifts according to Morris. Unfortunately Morris is told that he cannot play with them because he is “too young.” Unsatisfied with his new teddy bear, Morris finds an unwrapped present under the tree – a disappearing bag! Find out about the mysterious disappearing bag in Rosemary Wells’ Christmas classic, Morris’s Disappearing Bag.
Many of you can identify with our giddy sense of anticipation as we awaited the award announcements from ALA Midwinter. Here at Tandem we gathered in the office at 6:30 a.m. to watch the live webcast from Philadelphia. All the lists of winners and honor books can be found at our website.
Some of our predictions came true; other winners were total surprises. We felt certain that an Elephant & Piggie book would get a Geisel, since these are a pretty unanimous choice for the best early reader books of all time. The Newbery winner is a nice surprise from an author who is a school librarian: Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!: Voices From a Medieval Village is a series of monologues that depict village life, along with some well-researched nonfiction narrative. We were shocked but pleased that The Invention of Hugo Cabret won the Caldecott this year. It's a major departure from the traditional picture book format winner, and we think Brian Selznick is utterly deserving for his imaginitive, compelling illustrated novel.
Did one of your favorite books from 2007 get honored? Click here to see all the 2008 ALA award lists.
January is a big month for medical history milestones. This month marks 158 years since Elizabeth Blackwell became the first woman to receive her medical degree and 40 years since the first heart transplant. In those years, many, many important medical advances and discoveries have been made.
Stephanie True Peters takes us back to 1918 while keeping one foot firmly planted in the latest research in 1918 Influenza Pandemic. This exceptional work of nonfiction for middle and high school students is a must-have for collections looking for history and science. Dr. Jenner and the Speckled Monster is another fascinating look at the history of science and medicine for this grade range.
High schoolers interested in the history of small pox and vaccinations may be interested in Julia Alvarez’ historical fiction novel Saving the World, which fictionalizes a journey to the New World with the vaccine. And the Alex Award winning Year of Wonders chronicles the Black Plague as it broke out in England from the perspective of a woman in a village that chose to quarantine itself to keep the sickness within its borders.
These are just a few books that bring history and science together in ways that will fascinate your students.
We all have at least one thing in common on the Tandem Library Books Collection Development Team: we love books. We couldn’t help but be charmed by some of these books about books (and libraries!).
Library Lion is an office favorite. The soft illustrations make the lion look like a gentle cat. And strange as the sight of a lion in a library might be, as long as he doesn’t break the rules, he can stay and enjoy the books and the storytimes to his heart’s content. Only he finds that sometimes breaking the rules is necessary. But will our Library Lion be banned from the library?
We all love the zany librarian who went to the zoo in Judy Sierra’s Wild About Books, but do you know Library Lil, who becomes a hero when the power goes out in Chesterville? Or Ms. Chinca, the really nice librarian who helps out Carlo in Carlo and the Really Nice Librarian? Or the three librarians who help Melvin explore his world in The Boy Who Was Raised by Librarians? Now those are some librarians worth knowing!
Being the book lovers that we are, we know that books are for reading. Not for eating. Henry learns that lesson in The Incredible Book-Eating Boy by Oliver Jeffers. Another book eater finds that books are better when “eaten” with your eyes in Winston the Book Wolf by Marni McGee.
I think we’ll keep eating the books with our eyes as it makes it so much easier to write reviews of them later….
Here at Tandem, we are lucky enough to see publishers’ preview copies. We evaluate yet-to-be-released titles and make educated guesses about which ones will garner good reviews and popularity among librarians and teachers. Today we’re highlighting some of the books we liked early on that got reviewed in the first two issues of School Library Journal in 2008.
David Elliott and Holly Meade teamed up to create a terrific book about farm animals that will make a great read-aloud for group storytimes. On the Farm pairs lively, humorous
poetry with energetic woodblock and watercolor prints.
It’s always nice to find high-quality titles with math themes. Math concepts can be taught not only with expository text but also through fun narratives. A Very Improbable Story is an example of a great math-themed picture book.
Graphic novels continue to earn respect as publishers created more and more titles for the school and library market. For young readers, Fang Fairy and Detective Files are high-interest, “safe” graphic novels. Satchel Paige: Striking Out Jim Crow is a biography of the legendary baseball pitcher that will be enjoyed by middle grade and young adult readers.
Something Rotten is a fantastic contemporary version of Hamlet. Pair this with your Shakespeare unit to get students talking about how Shakespearean themes translate to modern times.
These are just a few of the recent releases that are getting attention. Each month you can find all the SLJ reviewed titles at our website. The January 2008 lists are here; February 2008 lists are here.
Tattoos… They seem to be everywhere these days, especially on the arms of athletes. They’ve also made their way into books. Here are a couple of our favorite tattooed tomes.
My favorite work of tattoo fiction is The Black Tattoo by Sam Enthoven. It tells the story of Jack and his super-cool friend Charlie, who wakes up one day with a super-cool, moving black tattoo. The tattoo gives Charlie super powers. Or so they think. The tattoo is actually the mark of the Scourge, an ancient demon out to destroy the world. And it’s up to Jack to stop it.
The Monster Blood Tattoo series by D.M. Cornish begins with Foundling. It follows the life of orphan Rossamund Bookchild, an orphaned boy stuck with a girl’s name, through a fabulously imagined fantasy world filled with incredible characters. Humans here fight a constant battle against the monsters, with the tattoos being the mark of a monster killer. Look for Lamplighter, the second book in this exciting series in April!
Another set of tattoo books is Suzanne Weyn’s Bar Code Tattoo and its sequel Bar Code Rebellion. In the world of these books, it’s 2025 and the government, controlled by a shadowy corporation, starts requiring bar code tattoos on everyone. Seventeen-year-old Kayla resists, especially after the tattoo drives her father to commit suicide, and becomes part of a rebellion.
One of the ALA Quick Picks in 2007 also featured tattoos: Body Type: Intimate Images Etched in Flesh by Ina Saltz. This one looks at typography, as it is used in tattoos, which might sound dull, but results in fabulous photos of tattooed messages that range from the hilarious to the deeply touching.
On February 27th, Polar Bear Day celebrates the world's largest carnivore. It may be a big, meat eater, but somehow it often looks a bit cuddlier in children’s books than it might in real life. Just look at how cute the little polar bear is in Lonesome Polar Bear by Jane Cabrera. All the little cub wants is a friend to play with, but it’s hard to find a friend when all the other animals think of you as a big, scary predator as described in Sandra Markle’s Polar Bears in her Animal Predators series from Carolrhoda, which features a photo of a mother and cub feasting on a bloody carcass on the very first page. Two very different depictions of the same animal. One will appeal to storytime audiences and the other will be perfect for your reluctant readers looking for something a bit graphic.
Polar Star by Sally Grindley is an accurate yet gentle look at the polar bear as a hunter that blends fact and fiction as it follows a mama bear searching for food with her cubs. Polar Bears are Hungry by Carol Carrick has a similar story, but a slightly different focus. In spare text, the point is put forth that our warming temperatures are making it difficult for polar bears (and other animals) to find food. This is a good choice for talking about the environment, global warming, and endangered species possibly paired with Polar Bears in Danger by Helen Orme and Face to Face with Polar Bears by Norbert Rosing for the latest facts on the polar bear population.
Make friends with real polar bears in Pair of Polar Bears by Joanne Ryder and Knut: How One Little Polar Bear Captivated the World by Carig Hatkoff. Both are filled with vivid photographs of baby bears that will capture your heart.
Happy Polar Bear Day!
Happy Leap Day to all and especially happy birthday to everyone who was born on this special day! Since Leap Day occurs only once every four years, take this opportunity to step out of your comfort level and try something new.
Interested in joining the dance buzz and learning a few moves of your own? Hip-Hop Dancing by Joan Freese will take you through hip-hop history, explain what type of clothing you should wear, and show how to do a few basic moves. Once you get the hang of it maybe you (or your middle to high school-aged student) can form your own crew and win a few battles!
Dancing not your thing? Try your hand in the kitchen with Spatulatta Cookbook by the Gerasole sisters, Olivia and Isabella (hosts from www.spatulatta.com). Written for grades 3 and up, this creative cookbook is full of bright photographs, easy recipes, and sections that explain basic cooking skills and measurement. Delicious and fun recipes like “Mashed Potato Ghosts” and “Yumbo Gumbo” really make this cookbook stand out from the rest – there’s even a section for snacks and another for vegetarians!
If dancing and cooking are too stressful for you, then a relaxing activity like yoga may be what you are looking for. Strike a Pose: The Planet Girl Guide to Yoga by Karen Birkemoe casually explains how yoga can be incorporated in your everyday life. Organized for grades 5 and up, it covers a variety of poses, breathing, and meditation. Simple illustrations will help readers execute and understand beginning yoga positions.
Take your leap today, unless you can wait until Leap Day 2012!
The fourth season of Project Runway just wrapped up this week. To stave off any withdrawal symptoms, here are a couple fantastic fashion design books.
Fashion Design: The Art of Style by Jen Jones is a highly photographic, behind-the-scenes peek at fashion design and designers, past and present. And, taking a more in depth look at one designer, Vera Wang by Anne M. Todd delves into her design roots as well as what motivates and inspires her to create today.
Interested in becoming a designer yourself? Check out these two tomes. Trendsetter: Have You Got What It Takes to Be a Fashion Designer? by Lisa Thompson looks at just what the title asks. And get started yourself by transforming clothes you already have with the ideas in Sew Subversive: Down and Dirty DIY for the Fabulous Fashionista by Melissa Rannals.
Fashion can be fiction too. From the publisher of Gossip Girl comes Poseur by Rachel Maude. Four Hollywood Hills sophomore girls couldn’t be more different, so when a school class forces them together to create a fashion label, the sparks fly.
Interesting article in the Washington Post about the reading habits of children. It may surprise you. There's also a PDF'd 56-page report on the study. Very interesting reading, indeed.
The article in the Post is here.
I was driving my car today, and the car in front of me had this bumper sticker: "Anger is a gift." And I thought, "Wow! What a right on concept!"
Anger tells us that something is wrong, and we better correct the situation, if it's humanly possible. It also reminds us that we have values, and that we are passionate people. You have to feel strongly about something to get angry about it. Your mind is screaming for you to "Do something!" And I don't mean pull out your .45 Magnum revolver. You're not going to make anyone's day with that. Maybe it's time to evaluate what's going on to make you so angry, and then do some problem solving.
In today's e-mail, Wings for the Heart Motivational Newsletter (http://www.wingsfortheheart.com), I came across five steps for striving to be happy. What would your five steps be? Well, I found step two rather interesting:
2.Have a healthy outlet for your anger - you need to let your frustrations out.Talk to someone if you must or go to the gym to pump out those happy hormones.Studies show that people who exercise are more readily able to find solutionsto their problems.
That sounds like good advice to me, if you want to be happy.
Nevertheless, never forget: Anger is a gift, and it's what you do with it that counts--like all gifts.