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Post by Heather Ryerson
Julia Denos’ loose, colorful illustrations are sure to make girls everywhere ooh and ah. Her quick lines and saturated colors say a lot with a little and her playful evocation of texture and pattern is pitch perfect for children’s fashion. She has illustrated numerous picture books for girls like I Had A Favorite Dress, Just Being Audrey, and Grandma’s Gloves. Candlewick Press, HarperCollins, Penguin, RandomHouse, Scholastic, and Highlights are amongst her many clients.
See more of her work on her website.
By: Chad W. Beckerman
Blog: Mishaps and Adventures
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We over here at ABRAMS KIDS have started a campaign on Instagram and Twitter called A for ABRAMS ( #aforabrams ) We are collecting A's that are artful, well designed, or just plain cool from any where that you might find them. The idea is when ever you happen to see one of these artful A's out and about you can join us by hash tagging your A #aforabrams as well as including our Instagram or twitter handle @abramskids or @abramsbooks. Have some fun and we hope you all get to see the world around you a little better.
Here area few examples of different A's I have found.
You can find artful A's in out books!
Or on your favorite wimpy book!
Or you can be crafty and make one to hang on your window.
Or you can find one in your local Museum!
Or at your local bookstore!
Or at your favorite restaurant!
Good luck hunting! A for ABRAMS #aforbrams @abramsbooks and @abramskids
In the past few years a few of the illustrators I have worked with took it upon themselves to work up portraits of me. Here area few of them. As you can see there are a different takes, yet common themes in all.
FUN FACT: Oddly all of these illustrators have lived near me at some point. Julia comes from my home town of Cheshire, CT ( although we did not know each other at the time ), Sophie lives around the corner from me in Brooklyn and Nathan and I went to high school together.
"God kissed her on the cheek, and there she was." ~ Billy Wilder on Audrey Hepburn
I'm really happy to welcome author Margaret Cardillo and illustrator Julia Denos to alphabet soup today because I love love their new picture book biography, Just Being Audrey (Balzer + Bray, 2011)!
As a lifelong Audrey fan, I was truly excited when I first heard about this book when reading Julia's fab interview at 7-Imp. At a time when young girls look to celebrities for role models, and when all too often those role models disappoint, it's heartening to know that now Audrey's story can be held up as rock solid inspiration.
Distilling Hepburn's fascinating life into 32 pages must have been a daunting task, but Margaret and Julia have done a beautiful job of presenting significant milestones -- from Audrey's unique childhood in Nazi-occupied Europe, to her rise as an award-winning actress and fashion icon, to the tireless work she did on behalf of the world's impoverished children as International Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF.
I love how Just Being Audrey captures the essence of Audrey's grace, elegance, style, beauty, indomitable spirit, and unfailing kindness. She was definitely someone who always remained true to herself, and it's exciting to see generation after generation, regardless of age or gender, continue to admire not only Audrey's "movie star" persona, but also the totally unassuming person she was in real life. The more you learn about Audrey, the more you want to emulate her conduct and live by her values. Margaret's and Julia's own admiration, enthusiasm and love for Audrey shine through on every page -- making this well-written, gorgeously illustrated book an especially good choice for Women's History Month and a wonderful keepsake for girls (and women) of all ages.
I know you'll enjoy hearing what Margaret and Julia have to say!
If you could meet Audrey today, what would you say to her?
Margaret: I’d thank her for inspiring me, for being completely lovely and a great role model. And then I would listen to absolutely anything she had to say. I’d hang on every word and commit them to memory. Then I’d probably compliment her outfit because I’m sure it would be fabulous.
Julia: You know, I've spent months saying, "If only I'd had the chance to meet Audrey," but I could never imagine much beyond a big hug! I know I'd be speechless, but she'd probably break the ice by offering to make spaghetti.
The Making of Dotty by Erica S. Perl illustrated by Julia Denos
Here is the origin story on DOTTY by Erica Perl, author:
EP: When I was a kid, I had imaginary friends. I told my parents that two of them were twins but were not the same age (which they found funny, though I didn't understand why for years) and their names were Sahti and Dahti. I was probably about three or four at the time, which I know because we moved to Rhode Island when I was four and these memories predate the move. I also had an imaginary pet (a sheep) when we lived in Vermont, where we didn't move until I turned eight. But by then I was pretty sure that I'd get teased if anyone found out about my imaginary sheep, so I didn't tell anyone. I think the initial idea for DOTTY came out of both of these experiences: having an imaginary friend that interested and amused others, as was the case with Sahti and Dahti, and having an imaginary friend that might be a source of ridicule. And, of course, the name "Dotty" came from "Dahti."
On writing the manuscript:
EP: When I first wrote the story, I relied on this memory I have of overhearing a girl gossiping about me to a friend and the friend replying, "Who's Erica?" And then the first girl pointed me out by saying, "Hey, ERICA, I like your sweater." But when I went to storyboard out the book, I was surprised by the intensity of Ida's —and Dotty's —reaction. This sometimes happens when I write a piece… it is much neater in word form, but if I start sketching and drawing, ideas flow and things happen. It's why I always encourage writing students to draw, even if they don't want to be illustrators. Sometimes you don't know what you want to say with words until you get an image.
Erica Perl on the evolution of Dotty:
EP: When my draft of the manuscript was finished -- long before Julia was selected as the illustrator -- I started reading the story aloud as part of my author visit presentations. I'd ask the kids to raise their hands and tell me what kind of animal Dotty was. And the kids would tell me: she's a bull! she's a goat! she's a giant guinea pig! So I realized for the first time that maybe Dotty was an animal unto herself… or a one-of-a-kind combination of many kinds of animals.
On selecting Julia Denos:
CW: It was actually kind of hard. Erica Perl ( author) remembers talking with Susan Van Metre and telling her here ideas and hearing hers. We were on the same page, both of us wanting someone who could capture the whimsical qualities of the piece without making it overly sentimental or losing the humor and range of emotions. Julia Denos was my pick among other. On a rare occasion do i find and illustrator from a mailer. Yet this is how I cam across Julia. Erica recalls checking out her online portfolio (after I sent here Julia site to review ) and thinking "YES! Oh please let us get HER!"
You might remember Julia Denos's work from Tim McGraw's picture book My Little Girl.
So we begin. Julia and I worked out a time table for sketches and final art as well as other contractual items.
Here are Julia's first sketches
Video Chatting over sketches.
"During Choice Time, Ida found out there were even more in her class. Pete and Repeat came to school with Max. They were twins, but not the identical kind.
Kay was Benny’s. She had razor-sharp teeth, but Benny swore she would never really hurt anyone. Beeku was tiny. She swung back and forth on Katya’s braids, chattering all day long.
And there was Dotty. Who kept mostly to herself, nibbling the rug. "
First round character and layout sketches
or Ida Blonde?
DOTTY character sketches
She started out as a gremlin on a leash
and slow began to look more like a buffalo
the more cow like
Other Imaginary friends
Final Dotty Character Sketch
NOW GET TO WORK DENOS!
By: Chad W. Beckerman
Blog: Mishaps and Adventures
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is the illustrator of DOTTY (FALL 2010)
by Erica S. Perl
. She doesn't have an imaginary friend of her own, but she does have a loyal feline friend, Serif, who is black with just one white dot on his chest. He doesn't like to wear a leash, but he follows her where ever she goes. Julia grew up in a the small Connecticut town of Cheshire
. Oddly I too am from this same town.
Julia's little house in Cheshire, Connecticut
(age 9 depiction).
By: Erica P.,
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Erica S. Perl is an award-winning children’s book author. Her new picture book, Dotty, illustrated by Julia Denos, was published by Abrams in August, 2010.
Bookmark, The First Book Blog, is the last stop of the blog tour for my new book, Dotty. Dotty is the story of a girl named Ida, her extremely persistent imaginary friend, Dotty, and her perceptive and kind teacher, Ms. Raymond. When Ida starts school with Dotty in tow, she is pleased to discover that her classmates also have imaginary friends. But as the year continues, all the other imaginary friends disappear, while Dotty remains… and playground conflict ensues. Ms. Raymond steps in — not to rescue Ida, but to show her that she is not alone and that imagination is very much welcomed and encouraged in her classroom.
This blog tour has been a blast and as a special treat for the First Book blog, I’ve invited Julia Denos, Dotty’s wonderful illustrator, to join me today! I’ve asked her three questions that I often get asked, and that – coincidentally – make great jumping off points if you read Dotty with kids and want to discuss it and do extension activities:
- Hi Julia! Thanks for joining us. First question: what is your “Dotty” (that is, what is the secret side of you that not everyone gets to see… and that won’t go away)?
My inner child is my “Dotty”! She’s always hanging around. I don’t think I will ever really totally grow up, I will always sort of have one foot in the imaginary realm and the other in reality, a little like Ida I guess… this makes me forgetful about practical things/open/dreamy half of the time, but worried I’ve forgotten my keys/grown-up acting/super-organized (to try to make up for it) the other half of the time. Most of the time people see grown-up me, but the inner child is the real deal, behind me on a very long blue leash.
- Can you tell us about a really good friend… real or imaginary?
My best friend is named Matt. He’s a talented artist. He creates character designs and outfit concepts for video games now, but we used to draw in high school art class together. He used to skate board and I used to try to balance on his board, not very well. He is very good at being practical and patient when I am dreaming off on a little cloud and forgetful (Matt’s a secret dreamer too). He’s the best listener I know. His favorite snack are peanuts-in-the-shell. We make each other laugh. We just got married this year!
- Okay, last question: What would you like to see Ida and Dotty do next, if they had another adventure?
Ida learns to ride on Dotty’s back and Dotty learns to fly. Recess is spent at Dotty’s house (they fly there) having tea, instead of on the black top. Katya is invited if she’s nice.
Hmm, a flying adventure. I like that. Guess I better do some more writing!
Thanks for joining the blog tour, Julia! It has been such fun visiting blogs and meeting new friends along the way. But never fear, I have some live-in-person events coming up, including the Princeton Children’s Book Festival tomorrow (9/11/10) from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. in Princeton, NJ and many more, so please check the events page at my website – eri
By Erica S. Perl
Illustrated by Julia Denos
Abrams Books for Young Readers
On shelves now.
Seems to me that picture books get split into very particular genres pretty quickly. I actually keep lists of them on my computer at work, depending on how many requests I receive. There are the Bully picture books. The Dinosaur picture books. The People in Our Community picture books. And then there are two genres that sometimes get split up and sometimes merge together. These would be the Invisible Friend picture books and the Starting School picture books. Now you’ll see a fair amount of bringing your blankie to school picture books out there (Owen being the best example). And you’ll see more than a few anxiety-ridden titles. Imaginary friends at school books are rarer, though you do see them occasionally (the Kevin Henkes title Jessica comes immediately to mind). Now with Dotty we’ve a title that takes two different ideas, combines them, and comes up with a way of showing that putting away childish things is a selective process.
On the first day of school Ida takes care to bring with her a new lunchbox, a pair of striped leggings, and her imaginary friend Dotty. Dotty resembles nothing so much as a benign combination of cow and toadstool. At school, Ida discovers that many of her classmates have similar companions. There are Max’s twin sea serpents, Benny’s razor-toothed R.O.U.S., and Katya’s doodle-brought-to-life Keekoo. As the school year progresses, however, Ida discovers that more and more of her schoolmates have stopped bringing their friends to class. By the time spring comes around Ida is on the receiving end of the now worldly Katya’s teasing and she reacts angrily. The two girls write “apology” notes, and then Ida has a discussion with her teacher Ms. Raymond. After promising that she’ll explain to Dotty that pushing people is inappropriate, Ida spots a red leash belonging to her teacher, not dissimilar at all from Dotty’s leash. It may well be that special friends are the kinds you keep with you always.
Essentially, in this book you’re looking at the changes a kid goes through in the course of a single year of school. With that in mind, Perl’s choices are pretty interesting. For example, Ida’s friend Katya begins the book with a tiny imaginary friend that swings on her braids. Later she gets a haircut and keeps the creature in her pocket secretly. That haircut sort of marks a rite of passage for Katya. The growing out of imaginary friends is shown in different ways. I would have liked some clarification on what grade Ida was in, of course. This seems to be her first day of school ever, which would mean that this is Kindergarten. Still, these kids look older than Kindergarteners, and the pseudo-apologetic notes written near the end are more 1st or 2nd grade material.
2 Comments on Review of the Day: Dotty by Erica S. Perl, last added: 10/9/2010
When you work with the real Winnie-the-Pooh you have a tendency to get complacent. “Oh sure,” you think. ” I know everything about that bear. Absolutely everything.” So it’s nice when the universe gives you a swift kick in the pants to remind you that you are not always up on your Pooh knowledge. Or at least not as up on it as you might think. For example, I completely missed the fact that they just reissued The Winnie-the-Pooh Cookbook by Virginia H. Ellison (amusingly my library’s gift shop has known for quite some time has stocked several copies accordingly). I found this out when a reporter from the Associated Press wanted to interview me (or anyone else who worked with the silly old bear) about Pooh and food. The final piece, Counting pots of honey? Pooh’s recipes for them consists of me desperately trying to think of ways to describe Pooh and food. You will probably enjoy it more for the cute honey gingerbread cookie recipe at the end.
- The article in Tablet Magazine (“A New Read on Jewish Life”) is entitled The Others: Several new books for children and young adults ask us to see the world through Palestinian kids’ eyes. Its author is Marjorie Ingall, one of my favorite children’s book reviewers, most recently seen heaping praise upon A Tale Dark & Grimm in the last New York Times children’s book supplement, as is right. The article in Tablet gives great insight into books like Where the Streets Had a Name (which I reviewed myself) as well as Sarah Glidden’s How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less, which I have on order with my library. For this article, Marjorie is lambasted in her comment section. Some of the comments are thoughtful, but a great many show why this issue is so rarely discussed in children’s literature today.