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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Creativity, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. The Sink Overflowed

Hi folks, the sink overflowed this week. My son came home for lunch and found the mess. He didn't say a word to me and just cleaned up the water. I found a soaked roll of paper towels on the counter. Nice to have a family that supports creative endeavor.

What is this all about? Translated, my writing is popping. I'm back in the mode when I mean to sit down for thirty minutes of writing, and I end up writing for over an two hours even though I think thirty minutes. I know, I wish writing could always be this way. My story is Profit, a sci-fi epic. As usual, I so believe in this story. I'm leaving bits of my heart and soul on the page. I am inside a vast fictive dream that is so beyond me that it makes me tremble.

Here's the ramble. Chase after your creative dreams, folks. Don't worry. I know this can be tough, but always remember that the freedom is in the work. Every time you turn to the work you will find energy. I love to create. I love to see the work emerging, to experience it, and to bring it forth. I write words, but the important messages seem to be beyond the words. There is a hidden unseen part of creating. A great story builds something in the heart. It transfers true experience. It expands the world of the reader. It opens the reader to new ideas. It is bigger than me.

All creative work seems to do this. It connects us with the beauty of the universe. Consider this. Instinctively, we know that the chasing after money hurts. Our factories chug out greenhouse grasses, people fight for a buck on Wall Street, our green-less cities of steel are surrounded by isolated people in their ant-like cars, or worse bombs fall from our streaking jets, sending a message of --what? The best of us is in quiet souls toiling in corners often without pay or praise.  Every building that is more than square block of steel, every car with energy efficiency, every act that brings peace, and every creative endeavor opens the soul of human experience. Be in the business of making us more.

Do what you can with your life. Bloom in the pot you are planted in. Find ways to express yourself creatively.  Live mindfully. Live well.

I will be back next week with more meandering creative thoughts. This doodle comes from my husband Tim.  Yes, we all doodle at my house.

 


A quote for your pocket.

Perfection of character is this: to live each day as if it were your last, without frenzy, without apathy, without pretense. Marcus Aurelius

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2. Publish: Optimism and other lessons

Hi folks, I am writing a summer long series. It's called Publish and is in conjunction with my TEENS Publish workshop at the Ringer Library in College Station, Texas. The tribe is almost finished with their masterworks. The title of our anthology is A New Generation: TEENS Publish 2015 Anthology. Our revision letters are in and our last meeting is over. It was hard to say goodbye.


I learned so many things over the eight weeks we met. The first thing was the power of optimism. Your dreams can come true, ask anyone in the tribe.  It's just that easy. If you dream a thing and seek it, you will find it.

I loved that the writing tribe faced every bit of the writing process with an upbeat attitude. They expected to find the story they were trying to carve out. Failure wasn't an option. Critique was just a way to do better. Take a lesson from the tribe.  Assume your story will float. How can you do this? Buoyancy comes from your upbeat spirit. Here the deal: if you are writing, a place for that writing will form. That's just the way the universe is put together. 

Another thing I've learned from the tribe is if you are not excited about the next amazing thing you are about to do, you have missed the creative boat. The mind is flexible. Let it bend the way it wants to. Not knowing the "rules" is a major big blessing. Don't worry about what has come before. Don't worry about the next big thing. Trust your big old imagination. It is going to surprise you again and again. Yes, it may sound crazy. Go there. The tribe reopened me to the possibilities. 

Finally, not understanding what to do is okay. Asking questions is okay. Not knowing where you are going is okay. Trying all kinds of things is okay. Creativity is about the willingness to make mistakes, lots of them. It's fine to be where you are on your journey. Be glad that you have a journey. Embrace it. You never know what your mistakes will teach you. The writing tribe embraced the mysterious, the unknown, the uncharted country. 

Personally, I feel I will never face a writing project the same. I have a blank page in front of me. Is there any greater writing magic than that?  I hope you have enjoyed the series. Usually in August, I dig deep into my soul and explores some of my burning questions. I hope you drop in for some of the fire in my bones. 


Here is my doodle:Tree




Finally a quote for your pocket.

Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence. Helen  Keller

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3. 20 Pieces of Advice from 20 Illustrators

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In preparation for her awesome upcoming online workshop Building a Freelance Illustration Business, Illustrator Salli Swindell decided to reach out and get some thoughts from other artists. The question was “What’s one piece of advice you would share with other illustrators?” This is testament to the fact that Salli is doing her best to make the workshop as useful and helpful as possible, and she has graciously shared the results with Illustration Friday!

Meet 20 artists below and read what they have to say! Also be sure to check out Salli’s educational and inspiring online workshop: Building a Freelance Illustration Business here.

Coming soon: Part 2 – Advice from art directors.

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4. GARDEN by Chloé Bulpin

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Submitted by Chloé Bulpin for the Illustration Friday topic GARDEN.

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5. Reviewing My Taiwan Trip Art Supplies: What Worked, What Didn't

Trying my hand at "splash ink"!
I call this "The Spirit of The One"
and I've pasted it to the back cover
of my sketchbook.
The shadow in the middle is
where I had to fold it to fit.
Rice paper, sumi ink, Derwent Inktense pencil. 9" x 12". 
Time certainly flies. It's been several months since I've been home from Taiwan, and I've now had a chance to start working on some larger art pieces based on my travel sketchbook. At the same time, I've also been rethinking my choice of travel art supplies, all in the search for the "perfect pack." 

(Note: If you'd like to see what I took with me, or just need a reminder, here's my post listing the art supplies I packed.) 

In retrospect, I think most of my choices were good; others were . . . well, here's my verdict:

1. I loved my Stillman and Birn Epsilon 6" x 8" sketchbook, but it definitely took some getting used to. This was the first time I'd bought this brand, and I didn't have time to try it out before I left home. Not that I wasn't forewarned. Prior to making my purchase, I did quite a bit of research on the company and its products, and the one online comment I kept reading from other artists was that any kind of watercolor tends to "swim" on top of the book's paper. 

It's difficult to explain, and I didn't understand what they meant, but "swim" is the right word for sure. Until I learned how to manipulate the amount of water I applied to the areas I had colored in with my watercolor pencils, I had to be careful not to flood the pages. For instance, one picture I drew of the nursery we visited morphed into what looks like a rotten smashed cauliflower. It makes for an interesting abstract, but all the detail I wanted (and had drawn) was lost. (And no, I'm not sharing that one with you. Just use your imagination.) 

I think the problem is that the paper isn't very absorbent, so water and/or paint tends to pool on it. However, once I got used to this, I actually grew to enjoy and used the effect to advantage. Stillman and Birn sketchbooks are now the only ones I plan to buy, especially as they make so many different types of books and papers for various media.

2. Regardless of brand, the sketchbook I chose had too many pages: 50 of them. And because they were of such good quality paper, I could sketch on both sides without any kind of bleed-through whether I used my inky brush pens (purchased during the trip), watercolor pencils, or water-soluble graphite. (The paper didn't buckle when it was wet, either.) But planning to sketch 100 pictures in 12 days was ridiculously ambitious. I came home with the book less than half-filled. (The extra pages weren't wasted since I kept sketching once I got home using Taiwan references from my own photos, museum guides, and magazines. Every page is filled now, but it did take a whole three months.) So the next time I buy a Stillman and Birn for travel, it will be the 25-page version. 

3. My Faber-Castell Art Grip watercolor pencils were the best. I liked the triangular shape, and the grippy surface really did work, keeping the pencils from slipping and making them very comfortable to use. Like my sketchbook choice, I've decided to stick with this brand for travel. The colors are rich and intense with excellent coverage--probably one of the reasons I initially had trouble judging the amount of water I needed to use with them.

I had also mentioned in my earlier post on the subject that I had limited my colors down to 7. Now that I've had time to reflect, I would have added 2 more: black and pink. Yes, pink! Usually I don't like to use black paint out of a tube, preferring to mix my own, but this was one situation where a black watercolor pencil would have worked well. Not only would it have imitated the black ink that makes Chinese painting so unique, but I think it would have been a good mix with my other colors to give me a few more subtle, sophisticated hues. 

As for needing a pink pencil, I think I wanted to use pink about twenty times a day. The only red I brought was "scarlet" (a Caran d'Ache sample I received at a color pencil meeting). It's a beautiful red, and it turned out to be just right for Chinese lanterns, but it was absolutely hopeless when it came to drawing Taiwan's magnificent orchids and other flowers. Pink also would have been very helpful for drawing sunrises and sunsets, as well as Hello, Kitty!

One benefit of using such a limited palette was that it did give a coherent appearance to my sketchbook, but from now on I'm bringing a standard tin of 12 colors--including black and pink.

4. I brought--and used--a water-soluble graphite pencil (another Caran d'Ache sample from that same meeting I attended), but in all honesty I didn't find it that important or useful. Once again, I wished I'd had a black pencil in its place. So I'd leave this one at home.

5. I wrote about my water brush disaster here. I was lucky that we had already planned to go to an art supply store on the same day it broke, but what if I'd been in the middle of the woods? Or stuck on a desert isle? You can't always just go to the mall. To prevent any future mishaps, I'll be carrying three brushes with me at all times: 1 medium round, 1 large round, and 1 flat. And I am never, ever going to fly with them assembled again. (They're probably even easier to pack when the brushes are separated from the barrels.) So, lesson learned the hard way, but at least now I know.

6. One of my favorite pieces of advice I read before I left home was to just open my sketchbook "anywhere" rather than draw in page-by-page chronological order (my usual style of doing things). The good side of this advice is that it really helped me to think of my sketchbook as a working tool and not as a sacred text. It also kept me from freaking out about the pages I hadn't filled because I didn't realize how many were blank until I got home!

The downside of this system, though, was that none of my pictures follow the route of the trip. And because I failed to date anything, the where and when of some of my sketches will forever be a mystery. Next time: date the drawings, and maybe jot down a note or two about the location.

7. What I didn't bring and desperately wanted: my pocket-size viewfinder. Too often I was overwhelmed by Taiwan's scenery: huge green mountains, giant Buddhas, vast blue seas, enormous city blocks that went on and on and on . . . much of the time I couldn't grasp or take in the size of it. A viewfinder would have made sense of the vista and helped me to find the right portion to sketch. It's an easy item to pack and one that would have made a big difference to my sense of perspective. Note to self: Pack viewfinder!

All-in-all, though, I was pleased with my little kit, especially as it encouraged me to cultivate and continue a daily art practice, one that's become as important to me as my daily writing. I often think writing and drawing come from the same source anyway: both are about telling stories, making sense of the world around us, and endowing our daily experiences with gratitude and meaning. Last year I even wrote a post about it: Art and Writing, Two Sides of the Creative Coin.

So while you're digesting that happy thought, here are a couple of intermediate pieces I've been working on for your entertainment. They're larger than my sketchbook pages, but still in the "idea stage" as I work toward finding my true Taiwan art voice:

9"x 12". Color pencil on hot press watercolor paper.
I had to add the washi tape when the masking tape
I used to keep the paper on my drawing board
tore the edges. Happy accident?

9" x 12". One of the many vistas from The One.
Derwent Inktense pencil 
on hot press watercolor paper.

Tip of the Day: It's summer! You really don't have to go as far away as Taiwan to start a sketchbook habit. Keep a handy sketch pack in your car, purse, or backpack and just . . . sketch! Ideas for stories, ideas for jewelry, ideas for collage--you don't have to be a professional artist to express yourself with pictures. Go for it.

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6. Pick of the Week for SHARP and This Week’s Topic Announcement

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It’s Illustration Friday again!

We’re ready to announce this week’s topic, but first please enjoy the wonderful illustration above by Jessica Warrick, our Pick of the Week for last week’s topic of SHARP. Thanks to everyone who participated with drawings, paintings, sculptures, and more. We love seeing it all!

You can see a gallery of ALL the entries here.

And of course, you can now participate in this week’s topic:

GARDEN

Here’s how:

Step 1: Illustrate your interpretation of the current week’s topic (always viewable on the homepage).

Step 2: Post your image onto your blog / flickr / facebook, etc.

Step 3: Come back to Illustration Friday and submit your illustration (see big “Submit your illustration” button on the homepage).

Step 4: Your illustration will then be added to the public Gallery where it will be viewable along with everyone else’s from the IF community!

Also be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter and subscribe to our weekly email newsletter to keep up with our exciting community updates!

HAPPY ILLUSTRATING!

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7. Meet the IF Team – Chloe Baldwin

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Hello Illustration Friday friends!

As part of our ongoing efforts to celebrate all the fine folks who help to keep you inspired and keep the IF fires burning, we’d like to take a moment to highlight one of our key contributors, Chloe Baldwin!

Chloe is a freelance illustrator and designer who makes up one half of the collective, Buttercrumble. She is currently studying a degree in Graphic and Communication Design at The University of Leeds. When she is not drawing, she can be found baking or trawling vintage shops and loves all things quirky and sweet. Her work is inspired by mid-century design, folk art and anything cute.

Chloe also happens to be an Illustration Friday Editor, helping to curate our blog with a steady stream creative inspiration.

Thanks Chloe!

A few of Chloe’s recent posts:

Illustrator Clare Owen

Illustrator Submission :: Lizzy Stewart

Illustration Alice Pattullo

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8. #712 -If You Were a Dog by Jamie A. Swenson & Chris Raschka

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If You Were a Dog
Written by Jamie A. Swenson
Illustrated by Chris Raschka
Farrar Straus Giroux BYR        9/30/2014
978-0-373-33530-4
40 pages              Age 3—6

“If you could be any kind of animal, what would you be? Would you be a sod that goes ARRRROOOOOOO? Or maybe you would be a sharp-toothed dinosaur that can CHOMP, STOMP, ROAR! Perhaps you might want to be a hopping frog that goes BOING, BOING, RIBBET! But maybe you would want to be the best kind of animal of all. Can you guess what that is?” [inside jacket]

Review
Using sparse text, including exuberant onomatopœia, and characteristics specific to the animal on the spread, Swenson asks young children how they would act if they were a dog, a cat, a bird, a bug, a frog, and a dinosaur. Each two-spread animal begins its question with a recognizable formula:

“If you were a . . . would you be a . . . ?”

For example, the first animal is the dog.

dog am combo “If you were a dog, would you be a speedy-quick, lickety-sloppy,
scavenge-the-garbage,
frisbee-catching,
hot-dog-stealing,
pillow-hogging,
best-friend-ever sort of dog?”

The following spread always asks one final question:

dog 2  combo“Would you howl at the moon?  Some dogs do.”

Youngsters will love the questions, especially each of the activity-type characteristics in If You Were a Dog. While not written in rhyme, the text flows nicely. The individual characteristics are ordered such that the similar suffixes following each other. Raschka’s illustrations are child-like in form, yet lively, and capture the text and the reader’s (listener’s), imagination. Young children will not only contemplate how they would act based on the given charactersitics, but are bound to come up with their own. I like anything that activates and stretches a child’s imagination and If You Were a Dog fits that bill nicely.

The final three spreads in If You Were a Dog acknowledge that we cannot become any animal we want, but we can imitate those around us. Besides, kids are told, the best animal to be is yourself.

IF YOU WERE A DOG. Text copyright (C) 2014 by Jamie A. Swenson. Illustrations copyright (C) 2014 by Chris Raschka. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers—an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, New York, NY.

Purchase If You Were a Dog at AmazonBook DepositoryiTunesMacmillian Children’s Publishing Group.

Learn more about If You Were a Dog HERE.
You can find the CCSS-Aligned Discussion and Activity Guide HERE.

AWARDS
Junior Library Guild selection

Meet the author, Jamie A. Swenson, at her website:  http://www.jamieaswenson.com/
Meet the illustrator, Chris Raschka, at his twitter page:  @ChrisRaschka
Find more children’s books at the Farrar Strauss Giroux BYR website:  http://us.macmillan.com/mackids
Farrar Strauss Giroux BYR is an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group.

Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved

Review section word count = 225

Full Disclosure: If You Were a Dog, by Jamie A. Swenson & Chris Raschka, and received from Farrar Strauss Giroux BYR, (an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group), is in exchange NOT for a positive review, but for an HONEST review. The opinions expressed are my own and no one else’s. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Filed under: 4stars, Children's Books, Library Donated Books, NonFiction, Picture Book Tagged: animal traits, animals, being oneself, Chris Raschka, creativity, Farrar Straus Giroux, If You Were a Dog, imagination, Jamie A. Swenson, self esteem

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9. The Disney Animation Recruitment Website

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If you’ve ever wanted to work for Disney, well head on over to this “official website for Disney Television Animation talent and recruitment”. You can use it to view and even apply for a variety of artistic and production-related projects.

Visit the Disney Recruitment site here >>

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10. Two creative cures for when you feel your art isn’t good enough.

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We all have down days as creative’s, when whatever we draw just doesn’t turn out how we envisage in our heads. We screw up countless balls of paper to add it to the emerging mountain of sketchbook remains behind us and we just feel our art isn’t good enough.  Now believe it or not despite the fact that feeling despondent with our art is a natural thing that every creative goes through from time to time. It can be used to push us into being more brave and exploring new avenues we hadn’t before. It’s when we produce creative work with a closed mind that things can become to narrowed down and you’re just not sure what to do to make art you’re confident in.

So here’d a few ways to boost that creative confidence, regain that part of yourself that knows you’re good enough and how to present that artwork with pride!

 

  •  Draw things you get excited to draw : Although creative trends do help in our industry to produce work of interest to different markets, it can over time wear you down drawing things that don’t inspire you. This is why drawing things that make you smile, get your head reeling with ideas and heart filled with enthusiasm that you will be more happy with what you draw.  You’ll be less likely to second guess yourself and people will connect with your joy and enthusiasm for the art you make.

 

  • Think outside the box  : Taking a little inspiration from people around you can really refuel your creative energy and give you a boost to take your art in a new direction. For example you might take inspiration from a creative whose just launched a new project and think ” Wow if I tweaked this with my artwork in my own way then maybe the outcome would be better”. This is can also be used when you’re looking to expand your creative reach or  acquire that dream client. Don’t copy others but take a little inspiration and make it your own.

Illustration featured in this post was created by illustrator Jessica Richardson, you can find out more about her work here

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11. Meet the IF Team: Andy Yates

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Hi Illustration Friday community!

So many people play a role in keeping this site updated with inspiration to fuel your creativity, and we’d like to take a moment to highlight one of them today: Andy Yates.

You may be familiar with Andy’s incredibly popular Comics Illustrator of the Week Series (here’s the latest installment). We are so grateful that he helps us round out our content with comic art while giving much deserved attention to the artists involved.

Andy is a freelance illustrator, and animator. In 2013, he received his BS in Media Arts & Animation from the Art Institute of California – Orange County, and has worked creating 2d assets for the casual games industry, as well as working on various independent animation/illustration projects.

He spends his free-time consuming a plethora of good, and bad(but, oh so good..) TV, comics, movies, Cheez-its, Skittles, beer, and the occasional couch pretzel, after removing any hair of course. He writes about comics, and interviews the artists behind them on his website comicstavern.com. You can learn more about Andy, and see his art on his tumblr: plumdill.tumblr.com.

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12. Build a Freelance Illustration Business with This 3-Day Workshop

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Are you a designer, illustrator or creative doodler? Have you ever wondered how you could turn your talents into a business? This three-day workshop will help you create a plan for leveraging your creativity into a successful freelance business.

Run by Sally S. Swindell and Nate Padavick (illustrators and co-founders of They Draw and Cook) this course will give you an inside look at how two artists have built a successful design & illustration studio by fostering a community of artists that empower each other to grow their businesses.

Join Salli and Nate for (3) hour-long sessions to learn how you can leverage community & online content to build a successful freelance business around your creative skills.

Click here for more info >>

 

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13. AIRBORNE by Pipiola

airborne

Submitted by Pipiola for the Illustration Friday topic AIRBORNE.

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14. MONSTER by Ben J Hutch

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Submitted by Ben J Hutch for the Illustration Friday topic MONSTER.

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15. Incredibly Useful Digital Watercolour Tools for Illustrators

splashmammothilli-o

If you’re a digital illustrator seeking a way to make work that looks handmade, you simply MUST check out this huge collection of digital brushes and tools from the great Nicky Laatz!

Equipped with just this pack – you will be an unstoppable watercolour design machine…without even picking up a paint brush :)

Get the pack here!

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16. A Guide to Stepping Out of Your Creative Comfort Zone

A note from Candy: Slushpile readers no doubt are marvelling at the sudden rise of activity here on our previously somnambulant blog. Yes, dear reader, we're trying to liven up this unreliable blog (we only blogged 11 times last year). How to do this? Why, find someone more reliable than us to blog of course! Ladies and gents, please welcome the latest member of Notes from the Slushpile, Nick

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17. MONSTER by Rita Kwong

monster

Submitted by Rita Kwong for the Illustration Friday topic MONSTER.

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18. Inspiration from the Library of Congress

As a researcher, one of the places that inspire me is the Library of Congress (LOC).   The building itself is a national treasure, but the collections it holds are even more precious.   No matter what you are interested in, chances are that the Library of Congress has some material that relates to it.  It is a gold mine of primary source material for teachers, students, and writers. 

The LOC has a vast amount of material online, but let me give you an example of just one small slice of it.  Let’s take photographs from the Civil War.  When I look at this collection I see powerful, amazing images of people on both sides of the war.  While I’m interested in photos of the famous people like Lincoln, Lee and Grant, I’m even more fascinated by images of average soldiers who are often unidentified.  When I look at their faces, I wonder what they experienced and if they survived the war. 

 
 
 

Photos of soldiers are not the only type of images in their collection; many are of women and children.  This touching image of a young girl in a dark mourning dress holding a photo of her father, says a lot-silently.

  

This morning I found an unexpected collection at the LOC:  eyewitness drawings of Civil War scenes.  There are lots of battle scenes and landscapes, but the one that drew my eye was this sketch of a soldier.  It makes me wonder who this man was and why the artist sketched his image.  Was he a friend or brother?   Was he a hero or a deserter?



Images like these can teach students a lot about history.  And they can inspire both fiction and nonfiction writers. 

Carla Killough McClafferty


http://www.loc.gov/

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19. 10 Ways to Develop and Enhance Children’s Creativity

Note: Today’s post is for Day 3 (the letter “C”)  of the A to Z Blogging Challenge.

Creativity is about possibilities not probabilities. It’s about the process, not the product. Creativity is a key factor in a successful life since it is a component of problem solving. As a parent, you can help set the stage for your children’s success using these tips to develop and enhance their creativity.

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1. Broaden Opportunities.

Creativity is not limited to the Arts and their associated skills. Creativity is a part of everyday life. For example, if you needed a rubber band and didn’t have one, you would brainstorm possibilities and options. Then you would use one of those options. As you broaden the scope of creativity, you will also need to expand the learning environments for children. Introduce them to a variety of people, places, things, and circumstances to maximize their understanding of the world around them.

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2. Provide a Creativity Space.

Keep it simple! Creativity and creative solutions are often a result of working with what you have on hand. Keep in mind that necessity is the mother of invention (and creativity.) Create an area that contains a few books about the “interest of the moment” as well as a few supplies for “make do” things. For example, rather than always building with purchased blocks, save cardboard boxes and other items for your children to use instead. Shoeboxes, small jewelry boxes, empty plastic coffee canisters, and powdered creamer canisters work well while prodding the children’s imaginations.

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3. Make Time for Creativity.

Life gets busy but it is very important for children to get fun, self-structured, creative, free time every day. For many children, and adults, this is quality “Me time” when there is no hurrying or stress. Their minds and imaginations can just go where they will. When possible, children should choose the time for themselves. However, if the children are young and in school all day, the first hour they are home may be the best time. They get to relax while their minds process what they learned and they get time to do something they enjoy.

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4. Invite Questions.

Children, especially young children, are full of questions that usually start with how, why, when, who, what, does, will, can, etc. Yes, the constant stream of questions can be annoying at times, but keep smiling and answering them. Remind yourself that as long as the children are asking and answering questions, they are learning how to be creative and successful. Once children can write, you may want to use a special notebook where questions, ideas, answers, images, and options are written down and shared. This could be very helpful as the children grow older, especially when documenting data, progress, or results.

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5. Encourage Trial and Error Experiments.

Trial and error is a wonderful way for children to discover what works and what doesn’t. It gives them firsthand experience in gathering and evaluating data as well as making predictions based on background knowledge. Because this type of experimentation is a learning experience, adults should not consider an error to be a wrong answer. An “error” is simply data that helps rule out a possible solution. Encourage children to use the new information to re-evaluate the options.

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6. Praise Efforts.

Creativity is not about being right or wrong but about the experience as a whole. It’s about the children’s dedication to the process and the information learned. Your objective praise and positive attitude boost children’s self-confidence and encourages them to continue forging ahead. “I see that you added a lot of details in your picture,” and “I see you are thinking this problem through carefully,” are examples of positive objective praise that encourage without judging. If this is method of praise is new to you, consider making a list of examples that you can alter according to the situation.

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7. Stimulate the Senses.

Creativity is often affected by one or more of the senses. Your senses are always turned on and your brain is constantly processing their signals. Sometimes these signals trigger an emotion, memory, mental image, or idea, which in turn can aid in creative thinking and problem solving. Ideally, physical trips to new places and events provide the greatest amount of stimulation. You could visit a museum, park, bakery or any place that triggers the senses.

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8. Fuel the Imagination.

Many things can fuel or inspire imaginations, from physical items and experiences to mental images and memories. However, something that jumpstarts imaginations like nothing else is questions, and one question in particular – “What if.” The question often includes a change of some sort in a story plot or event, color, method, etc. While providing interesting tools and items in a creativity area is a must, also teach children to question, create, adapt, and invent new scenarios or solutions. To do this, ask open-ended questions that hav no “right” answer. “What if” and “how could” questions can help to prompt for details and encourage children to come up with complex thoughts.

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9. Promote Independent Thinking.

Independent thinking is based on an individual’s personal preferences, perspectives, and experiences. To lay this important foundation, encourage children to think, make choices, and problem solve for themselves, without depending on others for approval or ideas. For example, give children limited choices. Respect/accept these choices. Teach them to entertain themselves without television or related electronic devices. Children should be able to enjoy their own company while doing things that promote creativity and imagination.

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10. Model Creativity.

Even if you don’t feel that you are particularly creative, you can be a good role model for your children. They don’t expect perfection from you. They simply need to see you creating something. A few examples could be cooking/baking, painting, gardening, writing, restoring cars, refinishing furniture, building birdfeeders, etc. The key is to focus on the fun and the process of the activity rather than the product itself.

Children are naturally creative. They use their primal critical and creative thinking skills as they explore and try to understand the world around them. So, children come “creative-ready.” To take them to the next level, implement a few of these tips to help develop and enhance their creativity.

Here’s a wonderful book that can help parents raise creative children (just click on the cover to learn more about it):

 

The Artist's Way for Parents

 

 

 

 

 

 

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20. #670 – Druthers by Matt Phelan

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Druthers

Written & Illustrated by Matt Phelan
Candlestick Press       9/09/2014
978-0-7636-5955-4     top book of 2015 general
32 pages        Age 2—5
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“It’s raining and raining and raining, and Penelope is bored. “What would you do if you had your druthers?” asks her daddy. Well, if Penelope had her druthers, she’d go to the zoo. Or be a cowgirl. Or a pirate captain who sails to the island of dinosaurs, or flies away on a rocket to the moon. If Penelope had her druthers, she’d go off on amazing adventures — but then again, being stuck inside may not be so bad if your daddy is along for the ride!”  [publisher]

Review
It’s a rainy day and young Ms. Penelope is bored. Rain continues flowing down the window and the sky remains dark. Dad is home reading a book—good for you dad—and he notices his daughter’s frustration and boredom. Dad asks Penelope,

“If you had your druthers, what would you do?”

What are druthers?”

“Druthers are what you would rather do if you could do anything at all.”

Penelope decides if she had her druthers, she and dad would go to the zoo. That is just what they do. Hunkered down behind the bars of a stair railing, dad becomes a caged ape. “Ooo-ooo-ooo,” Dad calls out from his “cage.”

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But druthers change and Penelope decides she would like to be a cowgirl. Dad strides one arm of the couch and his daughter the other. Together they ride their horses . . . until Penelope decides being a pirate would be fun . . . and flying to the moon . . . and . . . with dad tuckered out Penelope makes one final druthers.

“But I guess if I really had my druthers . . . “

Druthers is a wonderful book for rainy days or any boring day. It exemplifies the creativity of imagination. Dad is a hoot and the perfect parent to spend a day with, on any day. I also love that while Penelope is staring out the window waiting for the rain to stop, Dad is reading a book. What a wonderful detail to promote reading. I also love all the activities the two imagined while laughing, singing, dancing, smiling, and enjoying each other while playing together like best friends.

The illustrations are wonderful and do a great job of visualizing all of Penelope’s druthers. Kids and parents will love the story and each scenario and, like myself, all the details that make everything come alive. Druthers allows you to experience the fun, and laugh along with Dad and Penelope. There are not enough books with dad directly involved with his child. Druthers is the best “Dad book”and a wonderful gift idea for Father’s Day (tie not included).

Penelope’s really druthers,

“. . . it would rain tomorrow, too.”

Druthers is a keeper! If I had my druthers, every dad would share this book with his child(ren), boy or girl.

DRUTHERS. Text and illustrations © 2014 by Matt Phelan. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Sommerville, MA.
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Purchase Druthers at AmazonBook DepositoryCandlewick Press.

Learn more about Druthers HERE.
Meet the author/illustrator, Matt Phelan, at his website:  http://www.mattphelan.com/studio-tour.html
Find more picture books at the Candlewick Press website:  http://www.candlewick.com

Full Disclosure: Druthers, by Matt Phelan, and received from Candlewick Press, is in exchange NOT for a positive review, but for an HONEST review The opinions expressed belong to Kid Lit Reviews, and no one else. This is disclosed in accordance with The Federal Trade Commission 16CFR, Part 255: Guidelines Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews


Filed under: 6 Stars TOP BOOK, Children's Books, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Picture Book, Top 10 of 2015 Tagged: Candlewick Press, creativity, daddy books, Druthers, family relationships, great Father's Day gift, imagination, Matt Pheln

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21. The ABCDs of Research

The last few posts from my fellow TeachingAuthors have been on poetry.  Each of them has written eloquently on the topic.  But trust me when I tell you that I have nothing worthwhile to contribute to the topic of poetry.   So, I’ll share a topic with you that I do know about:  research. 

I enjoy sharing how to do research with students and teachers.  I offer a variety of program options including several different types of sessions on brainstorming, research, and writing.   I love to be invited into a school for a live author visit.  But that isn’t always possible.  In the last couple of years, I’ve done lots of Interactive Video Conferences as part of the Authors on Call group of inkthinktank.com. 

During these video conferences, I’ve come up with ways to teach students from third grade through high school how to approach a research project.  One method I use is to give them an easy way to remember the steps to plan their research using A, B, C, and D:

A
ALWAYS CHOOSE A TOPIC THAT INTERESTS YOU.

B
BRAINSTORM FOR IDEAS THAT WILL MAKE YOUR PAPER DIFFERENT FROM EVERY OTHER PAPER.

C
CHOOSE AN ANGLE FOR YOUR PAPER AND WRITE A ONE SENTENCE PLAN THAT BEGINS:
MY PAPER IS ABOUT . . .

D
DECIDE WHERE TO FIND THE RESEARCH INFORMATION THAT FITS THE ANGLE OF YOUR PAPER.


The earlier students learn good research skills, the better.  Learning some tips and tricks like my ABCD plan will help.  I hope it makes the whole process less daunting.



Carla Killough McClafferty

To find out more about booking an Interactive Video Conference with students or teachers:

Contact Carla Killough McClafferty

iNK THINK TANK

Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration (search for mcclafferty or inkthinktank)

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22. #686 – Dragon and Captain by P. R. Allabach & Lucas Turnbloom – Flashlight Press

I cannot recall so many 6-star reviews in such a short period of time (5 of 7 current titles). I didn’t hand-pick them, it was simply their turn. I hope you have a chance to read each of these books, and any other that might make the list this year. Today, another winner arrives today. Debut author Allabach and award-winning cartoonist Turnbloom blend the picture book with the graphic novel for a unique experience.
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Dragon and Captain

Written by P. R. Allabach
Illustrated by Lucas Turnbloomtop book of 2015 general
Flashlight Press            4/01/2015
978-1-9362613-3-8
32 pages               Age 5—7
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“What is Captain doing in Dragon’s sandbox? He’s moping over his lost ship. Dragon is a boy in a robe and pajamas. Captain is a boy with a three-sided hat. But when they set off on a backyard adventure to find the lost ship, they become . . . DRAGON AND CAPTAIN, FEARLESS EXPLORERS! Together they trek through a dark forest, climb down a cliff, and hike all the way to the sea to outsmart a band of evil pirates! Can dragon and Captain rescue the missing ship . . . before lunch?” [book jacket]

Review
Imagine a picture book partially written as a graphic novel. That image is Dragon and Captain, the story of two little boys who wake up one morning to confront a mystery—where is the Captain’s ship. Did the sea grab hold, dragging it far away, or did something more nefarious occur?

While enjoying his breakfast, a blue-hued Dragon spies a red-haired pirate trespassing in his sandbox. Rushing out, Dragon confronts the intruder,

“Hey, pirate. What are you doing in my sandbox?”
“I’m not a pirate, good sir. I’m the captain of a ship.”
“You look like a pirate.”

Thus begins the wonderfully witty and whimsical, fantasy-filled, backyard adventure. Turnbloom’s graphite, ink, and digitally painted illustrations alternate between the boys’ imagination—told as a comic strip—and their reality—seen in traditional picture book spreads. The process enhances the story with vivid action, and gives the reader direct access to the young boy’s right-brained imagination and creativity.

Bear

Captain and Dragon’s world is void of technology. A crayon drawing, a paper-towel tube, and a toy watch respectively become a map, a telescope, and a compass. What would your imagination do with green bushes, a water sprinkler, and a stone walkway? How would your creativity re-claim the Captain’s ship using only toy sandbox shovels, paper, and a bicycle? Why must the duo sneak past the one-eyed teddy bear? Captain, and his new friend Dragon, trek through a dangerously dark forest and scale a cliff to reach the sea, never leaving the backyard and finding all the above items valuable to their journey.

I love that Dragon and Captain could ignite a child’s innate imagination, sans technology. I love that after reading Dragon and Captain, kids might see their surroundings as an adventure; everyday objects as imaginatively malleable; and reading as exciting and essential. Parents will enjoy reading Dragon and Captain to their children, especially after hearing their cries of,

“I’m bored. There’s nothing to do around here.”

Yes, there is something to do and Dragon and Captain will show the way. Kids will love the brightly colored illustrations by award-winning cartoonist Turnbloom, and the backyard fantasy-adventure, smartly written by debut author Allabach. Dragon and Captain is a terrific book for any “Books for Boys” list, yet girls will love it, too. Aye, matey, this girl adores both the Dragon and the Captain.

DRAGON AND CAPTAIN. Text copyright © 2015 by P. R. Allabach. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Lucas Turnbloom. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Flashlight Press, Brooklyn, NY.

Purchase Dragon and Captain at AmazonBook DepositoryFlashlight Press.

Learn more about Dragon and Captain HERE.
Dragon and Captain Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/DragonandCaptain
Meet the author, P. R. Allabach, at his/her website:  http://prallabach.blogspot.com/
Meet the illustrator, Lucas Turnbloom, at his/her facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/lucas.turnbloom
Find more picture books at the Flashlight Press website:  http://www.flashlightpress.com/

AWARDS
2015 Literary Classics Seal of Approval

Review Section: word count = 389

Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved
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dragon and captain allabach and turnbloom - flashlight press 2015


Filed under: 6 Stars TOP BOOK, Books for Boys, Children's Books, Debut Author, Favorites, Graphic Novel, Library Donated Books, Picture Book, Top 10 of 2015 Tagged: backyard adventure, creativity, Dragon and Captain, dragons, fantasy-adventure, Flashlight Press, imagination, Lucas Turnbloom, P. R. Allabach, pirates

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23. Ban Cliches: How to Stand Out in Today’s Crowded Market


The Aliens Inc, Chapter Book Series

Try Book 1 for Free



The number one rejection I hear is this: “The story doesn’t stand out in today’s crowded market.”

The SCBWI is creating an opportunity for illustrators to test their art and how it holds up in today’s market. Each month, the “Draw This” monthly art prompt will provide a word for members to illustrate.

For years I’ve followed a similar type experience at IllustrationFriday.com. They, too, provide an art prompt of a word. In looking through the weekly images, I started to understand the concept of “standing out.” For example, one week, the word was RED. Looking through, I saw the same images: firetrucks, little red wagons, red-headed girls, Little Red Riding Hood, gorgeous cardinals, and so on. Those who illustrated the prompt with such an obvious cliche probably thought they were showcasing their work. Instead, I thought they were showcasing their lack of creativity.

2009 World Beard and Mustache Competition. Does that beard spell out B-E-A-R-D?

2009 World Beard and Mustache Competition. Does that beard spell out B-E-A-R-D?




Here are the images for an Illustration Friday prompt, Beard. Now look through Beard images on Flickr. Or look through the BeardBrand shop and see how their photographers captured the young urban male and his passion for beards. Which is more exciting and fresh? Are these cliched images? No!

Writers, you can play along, too! Take the illustration prompt as a writing prompt. List your first 10 ideas–and throw them out. Those are the cliched ideas. Now, write 10 more ideas. Choose the strongest and write a story that has a fighting chance of standing out in today’s crowded market.

I've never seen a Bee-Beard before. Have you?

I’ve never seen a Bee-Beard before. Have you?




The SCBWI “Draw This” June prompt: Bounce
Illustrations due by May 25. See full rules here. While the prompt is only open to SCBWI members, anyone can play along!

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24. #691 – FRED by Kaila Eunhye Seo and TWO–2–GIVEAWAYS!

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Welcome to TGIF

Thank Goodness It’s FRED!
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FRED

Written by Kaila Eunhye Seotop book of 2015 general
Illustrated by Kaila Eunhye Seo
Peter Pauper Press          5/01/20`15
978-1-4413-1731-5
40 pages                Age 4—8
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“Fred’s world is filled with fantastical friends that make
his days so much fun he hardly notices that no one else can see them. But one day Fred goes off to school, and things start to change. As Fred grows up, his childhood friends slowly fade away and seem to disappear, taking some of life’s sparkle with them. But a chance meeting with a special young girl reminds Fred—and readers young and old alike—that magic and wonder never really disappear . . . they live forever in our hearts.” [book jacket]

Review
Fred’s imaginary friends have the people in his small town thinking he is different—a polite way of saying the boy is odd. Fred has the ability to see and hear things other people cannot. Fred also believes in things the other townsfolk either cannot, or simply will not, believe. Despite the townsfolk’s’ inability to see, hear, or care about Fred’s creatures, the creatures cared about the townsfolk.

“Sometimes they acted like the wind and moved branches out of the way for people.
And sometimes they acted like shade and kept people cool on hot summer days”

What is Fred seeing and hearing that make the others consider the young boy an oddity? Fred sees creatures . . . imaginary creatures . . . imaginary friends. He never cares about making other friends—he already has the best friends a young boy could hope to have.

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When the day arrives for Fred to begin school, he makes new friends . . . real, alive friends. His imaginary friends wait, no longer part of Fred’s day. One day becomes two, then three, and each school year blends into the next. One-by-one the creatures Fred adored disappear, losing their color, and fading into the background.  By the time he reaches adulthood, all the imaginary creatures are lost from Fred’s memory.

The real world takes too much of Fred’s attention and time. Fred’s days run together as he does the same things day after day. This monotony leaves Fred feeling empty, friendless, and all alone, even in the park where he played so joyfully with . . . with . . . he doesn’t remember with whom he played with, or even what his playmates look liked. Where did his childhood friends go?

looking in on school

FRED will have you wondering when your imaginary friends left you. When these old friends leave, they take with them a very precious commodity: your imagination. Can you imagine doing anything other than your daily routine? Not just a dream vacation, but something that will cheer you up, daily make you implausibly happy, and has the synapses on the right-side of your brain sizzling with ideas, as they jump from neuron to neuron. Neither can Fred, poor guy. Then he gets lucky. A small child comes to the park while Fred sits reading—always a delightful detail in a children’s book. The young girl, with a pocket full of lollipops, asks Fred if he and his friends would like a lollipop. His friends anxiously watch Fred, who says,

“Excuse me?”

Someone can see his friends. They are all still with him. A synapse POPS! Another SIZZLES! Fred’s heart no longer feels weighed down, and instead, he feels free. Fred’s imaginary friends—and his imagination—return. Adult Fred finally realizes he . . . wait, I cannot tell you what Fred realized. Fred would like to tell you himself. This is his story. FRED surprised me, in a very wonderful way. Imagination, and the magical journeys it can create, is not the sole domain of childhood, but we tell ourselves there is no time for such “silliness,” yet without retaining our child-like selves, we lose much of our creativity.

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I love Ms. Seo’s direct lines in the pen and ink illustrations. Each spread overflows with artistic detail and the color remains only with the story and its characters. I think Ms. Seo’s attention to detail and using color to focus readers’ eyes on the story shows she cares about making a terrific sensory experience for children. The monsters are hilarious and kid-friendly. Not one creature will cause nightmares, as none is even a wee-bit scary. They walk among the unsuspecting—and unbelieving—in town without any commotion. I do wonder how the non-believers (who possess little to no imagination), would think if they saw what Fred could see. The story and all the eye-catching illustrations are a definite sign that this debut author/illustrator has not lost her childhood imagination, inspiration, or her imaginary friends.

FRED. Text copyright © 2015 by Kaila Eunhye Seo. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Kaila Eunhye Seo. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Peter Pauper Press, White Plains, NY.

Purchase FRED at AmazonBook DepositoryPeter Pauper Press.

Learn more about FRED HERE.

TEACHERS:  Common Core Teaching Guide for FRED.

Meet the author/illustrator, Kaila Eunhye Seo, at her website:  http://www.eunhyeseo.com/
Find more picture books at the Peter Pauper Press website:  http://www.peterpauper.com/

**NOTE: Through the month of May, 20% off at Peter Pauper Press. Use Code: MAY 20

Review Section: word count = 663

Huntington Press Best Picture Books 2015

Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved

FRED  FTC   correct box

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MEGA FRED FRIDAY GIVEAWAY from May 1st – May 29th
Set of all TEN of our Critically Acclaimed Picture Books

For a Chance to WIN Click the Rafflecopter Link Below

PPP- FredCover

Fred by Kaila Eunhye Seo

An EARLY COPY of

All the Lost Things by Kelly Canby,

All the Lost Things by Kelly Canby

elephantastic

Elephantastic by Michael Engler

THE ZOO IS CLOSED TODAY!

The Zoo Is Closed Today! by Evelyn Beilenson

SIMPSON'S SHEEP WON'T GO TO SLEEP!

Simpson’s Sheep Won’t Go to Sleep! by Bruce Arant

HANK FINDS AN EGG

Hank Finds an Egg by Rebecca Dudley

HANK HAS A DREAM

Hank Has a Dream by Rebecca Dudley

CELIA

Celia by Cristelle Vallat

Not the Quitting Kind

Not the Quitting Kind by Sarra J. Roth

DIGBY DIFFERS

Digby Differs by Miriam Koch!

For a Chance to WIN Click the Rafflecopter Link Below

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Filed under: 6 Stars TOP BOOK, Books for Boys, Children's Books, Debut Author, Debut Illustrator, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Picture Book, Top 10 of 2015 Tagged: adult picture books, creativity, FRED, FRED by Kaila Eunhye Seo, friendship, imaginary friends, imagination, Kaila Eunhye Seo, loneliness, losing child-like qualities, Peter Pauper Press

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25. Whimsical Illustrated Prints and Products by Marc Johns

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March Johns is both clever and prolific, and his well loved drawings are available in a wide variety of products in his online shop here.

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