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1. Gift Bag at Barnes and Noble


I was so happy to see this Gift Wrap Company bag that I illustrated, at Barnes and Noble recently. Perfect for Spring!!!

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2. The Sky Painter: Louis Fuertes, Bird Artist, by Margarita Engle | Book Giveaway

Enter to win a copy of The Sky Painter, by Margarita Engle and illustrated by Aliona Bereghici. Giveaway begins April 28, 2015, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends May 27, 2015, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

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3. Five Family Favorites with Margarita Engle, Author of The Sky Painter: Louis Fuertes, Bird Artist

Margarita Engle, author of The Sky Painter, selected these five family favorite children's books.

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4. Cougar Bay Osprey

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5. A dotty delight: Spots by Helen Ward

spotscoverPacked with perky Dr Seuss-esque rhyme, Spots by Helen Ward (Spots in a Box in the US) is a very funny exploration of one guinea fowl’s quest for his missing spots.

His plumage is not like the others so he sends off for dotty supplies: he wants to fit in by matching his friends. Boxes of all sorts arrive, filled with spots of different colour and size, but will any of them be spot on and what he thought he needed?

This is an amazingly illustrated, stunningly produced book about how one guinea fowl’s quest to be like all the others leads him to discover that we don’t all need to be the same to get along; smiles, not colour of spots, is what brings us together.

spotsinterior1

Helen Ward’s text is a delight to read aloud, full of bouncing, lively word play. Her illustrations, detailed and finely painted, zing off uncluttered white backgrounds, giving them a real sense of impact with each page turn. Not only beautiful to look at, they are also funny! From the guinea fowl with a box on his head to his dancing as he wears silvery, sparkly spots, there’s something reminiscent of the great black and white comedy heroes like Laurel and Hardy or Buster Keaton in the bird’s characterisation.

spotsinterior2

With die cut holes, foil and sparkle, this book has been produced with great attention to detail. The pages are such that you will want to explore them with your fingers as well as eyes as you read or listen (there’s even a spread where you’ll want to get out your pencils and make your own mark – the illustration will lure you in).

spotsinterior3

Humorous and inventive, with a subtle message about diversity and finding out who you are, Spots is a prize-worthy picture book.

We decided to create our own flock of guinea fowl each with their own style of spots. I created a guinea fowl silhouette which we printed and cut out – you can do exactly the same by downloading this left-facing fowl and this right-facing one (in pdf format).

guineafowls

We then let ourselves loose with spotty and dotty ideas, mixing stickers with printing (corks and lids), using the hole puncher to create mini dots to glue on, ink splats, collage circles, buttons, sequins – anything went as long as it was spotty or dotty.

makingguineafowl

All in all this made for a rather grand flock – imagine how well this could work in a classroom or group setting?!

guineafowlposter

Whilst decorating our guinea fowl we listened to:

  • Ladybug Without Spots by Randy Kaplan
  • Dots and Spots by John Bristow
  • Dotty Dimples by G.H.Green/arr.Bill Cahn – for three xylophones!

  • Other activities which would go well with Spots include:

  • Dressing up with spots. I know my girls would go mad for a box full of dot stickers and permission to cover themselves in them. I think it would look pretty cool too, especially if they were wearing something monochrome. A perfect rainy day activity!
  • Using left over plastic eggs from Easter and some feathers to make your own toy guinea fowl, using this image as a starting point (just add spots!)
  • Joining the dots. There’s a dot-to-dot guinea fowl in Spots, but rather than drawing in the book, why not print off some dot-to-dot activity sheets if you and the kids enjoy joining the dots.
  • Reading Elmer by David McKee; this is another story with a similar tale about being different and yet finding a way to feel happy.
  • Do you go in more for spots or stripes? What are your favourite picture books about either?

    Disclosure: I was sent a free review copy of this book by the publisher.

    3 Comments on A dotty delight: Spots by Helen Ward, last added: 4/15/2015
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    6. these three amigos...



    relocating to their new home on the west coast! baby boy Turner, here come your new crib buddies! :)

    these three paintings, 8x10, 9x12, 8x10, were a commission from a sweet grandma wanting some initial panels to hang above her grandson's crib. below are a few pics of the nursery...and my spin on creating something special for baby, Turner.




    please email me at enchanted easel@yahoo.com if you'd like something special created for your little one.

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    7. that amazingly bittersweet feeling you get....

    "wishful companions"
    acrylic on canvas 11x14
    ©the enchanted easel 2015
    SOLD!!!
    when you sell an ORIGINAL painting....and, it's one you weren't even intending on parting with. (sniff, sniff)

    {looks like the fairest of them all will be going to a much loved new home....and i am completely humbled, as always.}

    PRINTS of her royal highness can be found HERE!

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    8. owl, birds, tree, flowers....

    turner's initial pantings
    ©the enchanted easel 2015
    oh, and some initials too. ;)

    {these three custom paintings are on the easel this week....and,  just about DONE! if you would like something special created for your little one, please contact me through my website and i will surely accommodate you. i "heart" custom work.}

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    9. Poetry Friday -- Hatch


    Wikimedia

    SACRIFICE

    How does
    the buzzing
    hummingbird
    sit still enough to hatch

    the two
    (not three)
    (size of a pea)
    eggs that are in her batch?


    ©Mary Lee Hahn, 2015




    Happy Spring!

    This poem is my fifteenth (!!) in Heidi's MarCH CHallenge. You can browse through all my CH poems here.

    If you're curious, the list of emotion words for my Poetry Month 2015 project PO-EMotions is here. Formal unveiling ceremony will be next week.

    Catherine is hosting the Poetry Friday Roundup this week at Reading to the Core.


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    10. Picture Book Roundup - new or coming soon!

    This edition of the Picture Book Roundup features "jampires" (!), two Stanleys (one dog, one hamster), and a new Kadir Nelson book for which I can't find enough superlatives.  Enjoy!

    If you can't see the slideshow, I've included my reviews below.

     

    If You Plant a Seed is a brilliantly written and exquisitely illustrated book about kindness. Sparse but meaningful text, combined with joyfully detailed illustrations of plants, birds, and animals. I love it!


    • MacIntyre, Sarah and David O'Connell. 2015. Jampires. New York: David Fickling (Scholastic)

    Who could be sucking all the jamminess out of the doughnuts?  Jampires!  Will Sam find jam?  Will the Jampires find their nest?  If you like funny, this is the best!


    • Bee, William. 2015. Stanley the Farmer. New York: Peachtree.

    Stanley is a hardworking hamster. Illustrations and text  are bright and simple, making Stanley a perfect choice for very young listeners. Along the lines of Maisy, but with a crisper, cleaner interface.  Nice size, sturdy construction.



    The Wimbledons can't sleep.  What IS all that noise?  It's only Stanley, the dog.  He's howling at the moon, fixing the oil tank, making catfish stew, ...?  Hey, something's fishy here! Classic Jon Agee - droll humor at its best.


    Review copies of Jampires, Stanley the Farmer, and It's Only Stanley were provided by the publisher.

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    11. When In Doubt, Search Out Joy

    As I came to the end of the Sweet Easter collection yesterday, doubt started to overwhelm me. It had already begun creeping into the space of my heart, but yesterday I was submerged and left bobbing for some kind of clarity. Did I do ok? Was this strong enough?? Is it what my agent wanted??? Will it sell????

    The art licensing realm is quite different than what I'm accustomed to. I had a system to my art, always got great feedback, and I thought I knew what I was meant to do! I thought "I'm going to paint fantasy, and that's that. That's me! It's what I do!". I am learning, quickly, that nothing, NOTHING, is "That's that.". EVERYTHING is changing, all....the.....time.

    That includes my art. What I'm accustomed to is, as my friend put it best, being comfortable. Art for licensing is stretching me so thin that I'm being redefined, challenged, pulled out of my box. I am usually the one teaching my students to get outside of their comfort zone, and to get outside of the "box" we choose to place ourselves in. Time to take a big bite out of my own teaching! I'm comfortable with my subject matter, my compositions, and techniques. I'm not playing anymore.
    This has led to doubt. I feel helpless, lost, without faith, no trust, and begin to think I just don't have what it takes. But doubt is a LIE. It's the biggest lie out there that you'll ever find. It just takes a grain of doubt to bring your entire soul down. At least...that's usually how it rolls with me. That doubt must, I repeat, must be replaced by JOY.


    Tonight, after teaching another watercolor class about getting out of your comfort zone, I decided to continue searching for words of wisdom, insight into the world of creating art for licensing, and found this amazing interview by J'Net Smith with Joan Marie.

    This! This is just what I needed to hear! If you have any doubt, this simple yet compelling interview resounds all the advice and wisdom I have found thus far, on creating art for licensing. I thrive on constructive feedback, and have found very little in the licensing community so far. But there are TONS of information and interviews. These are the keys to gaining feedback. Read. Read. Read. It's just different then what I'm accustomed too. That's okay!


    And...

    TRUST

    LOVE

    Find your JOY. Your VOICE. Your SPIRIT.

    Then share it to the world.

    This is the key I must continue to remind myself. To remind others as I teach. To remind yourself.

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    12. ...'cause winter isn't over yet!


    ...and what would make better cozy companions than these two adorable balls of arctic cuteness!

    LOVING these throws from fine art america!



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    13. Feathers: Not Just for Flying

    As I've mentioned before, I had the great honor and opportunity to serve again as a second round judge on the Elementary/Middle Grade Nonfiction book award panel for the Cybils Awards.  If you're not familiar with the Cybils awards, they are the Children and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Awards.

    Our judging panel chose the following as the 2014 Cybils Award winner for best Elementary/Middle Grade Nonfiction book:

    Congratulations to Melissa Stewart,  Sarah S. Brannen, and Charlesbridge



    The judging panel's description:
    Using child-friendly similes, Feathers shows that there is both beauty and purpose in nature and that, although we do not fly, we have many things in common with birds, such as the need to be safe, attractive, industrious, communicative, and well-fed. The simple, large text is suitable for reading to very young children, while the inset boxes contain more details for school-aged kids. The scrapbook-style watercolor illustrations show each feather at life size, and provide a nice jumping-off point for individual projects. Science, art, and prose work together to make this the perfect book to share with budding young artists, painters, naturalists, and scientists, and it will be appreciated by parents, teachers, and kids.


    Melissa Stewart's website offers teaching resources and activities to go along with Feathers.

    Be sure to check out all of the Cybils award winning books (and apps!) at [http://www.cybils.com/2015/02/the-2014-cybils-awards.html ]

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    14. …miles and miles and miles and miles and miles and…

    darren-1darren-2darren-3darren-4darren-5


    Filed under: flying, journeys, winter

    1 Comments on …miles and miles and miles and miles and miles and…, last added: 2/5/2015
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    15. Nest, by Esther Ehrlich | Book Review

    Esther Ehrlich’s debut novel, Nest, is an arresting story of an eleven-year-old girl named Chirp Orenstein, whose life becomes acutely sharp and complicated as her mother’s illness overtakes the family

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    16. I am Henry Finch by Alexis Deacon and Viviane Schwarz

    Are you ever too old for a picture book?

    Walk into a bookshop, and you’ll rarely find a picture book on the shelves labelled 5-8, 9-12 or Teenage/Young Adult (the age bandings used in the most widespread chain of bookshops in the UK), implicitly telling buyers that picture books are only for those under 5.

    But what if you have a picture book about Descartes’s philosophical statement “Je pense donc je suis” or to put it another way “Cogito Ergo Sum”?

    A book which not only explores learning to listen to yourself, to trust your own instincts but also what it feels like when you think you have failed and how to fight against the dark thoughts that then crowd in.

    Gosh, if only we all knew everything we needed to know about these issues by the time we were five! Wouldn’t life be much simpler?

    henryfinchfrontcoverI am Henry Finch written by Alexis Deacon and illustrated by Viviane Schwarz is a new picture book which makes readers and listeners think about every one of these big concepts and more. It’s about being brave, about being independent, about feeling secure enough to not follow the crowd (though also being happy to be part of a community).

    It’s also about totally adorable little birds and one terribly monstrous beast who wants to eat them all up.

    Henry is just one of a huge flock of finches. They make a racket all day long, doing the same as each other over and again but one day Henry starts thinking for himself. He starts to have his own dreams, his own vision of who he could be, independent from the community he’s grown up in.

    Alexis Deacon has written (although not specifically about Henry Finch):

    “It seems to me that if every character in your story is entirely on message and engaged with the world you have created it can be very off-putting for the reader. I find that I am drawn to stories where not every character follows the grain: Reluctant characters, perverse characters, selfish characters, irreverent characters. They are often the catalysts for action too.”

    And Henry Finch does indeed go against the grain, doing things differently to those around him, daring to be different. But he’s not selfish. In fact, his ability to think for himself gives him the courage to tackle the monster who threatens his family and friends.

    Danger, doubt and darkness beset Henry, but he survives and shares what he has learned with his fellow finches, sparking a cascade of individual ideas and wishes as they each set off to explore the world, though not before reassuring each other that “We will come back“; the finches are thinking for themselves, but individuality doesn’t have to lead to the destruction of their community.

    henryfinchinterior1

    Deacon’s story is full of food for thought, opportunities for discussion and debate, whether you’re 4 or 40 or more. The meaty issues explored never become overwhelming, not least because Viviane Schwarz’s illustrations bring so much humour, delight and simplicity into the story.

    The use of fingerprints to illustrate a narrative about what it means to be an individual is a stroke of genius; is there a more powerful symbol of individual human identity than the imprint left by the small ridges on the tips of our fingers? They also bring massive child appeal; mucky fingerprints on walls and furniture are unavoidable aspects of life with children, and so there is nothing like these marks to proudly proclaim, “Hey, I’m here, me, this child, and I can make a mark on the world around me!”.

    henryfinchinterior2

    I really like how Schwarz sometimes brings her real life community into her artwork. In her graphic novel The Sleepwalkers there are crowd scenes filled with real people she knows, and in I am Henry Finch, she’s included fingerprints from friends as well as her own. The joy she’s had in creating these images can be seen in the hugely expressive faces and wings of the finches, and that seeped into us: we just had to make our own flock of finches using the same technique.

    We started out with inkpads, paper and lots of messy fingerprints…

    drawingfinches2

    …but soon we were experimenting with other sorts of prints too…

    drawingfinches3

    Then we added beaks and wings…

    drawingfinches

    And soon we had our very own chattering of finches:

    fingerprints5

    One or two elephants interloped! (these were made from prints using the side of our fists – click here to see what Viv Schwarz created with similar prints)

    fingerprints4

    These finches were born from toe-prints, whilst the beasts were heel-prints:

    fingerprints3

    They just kept on coming, causing havoc, and just getting on with doing their own thing.

    fingerprint2

    Whilst fingerprinting and making our own flock of birds we listened to:

  • Fingerprints by I Am Kloot
  • All Around the World or the Myth of Fingerprints by Paul Simon with Los Lobos
  • Fingerprints by Patsy Cline

  • Other activities which could work well alongside reading I am Henry Finch include:

  • Going to hear Alexis talk about this book at Discover (in London) on March 8.
  • Making up your own body organs, from watercolour blobs. You’ll see both why this is relevant and how you could do it if you check out this post from Viviane Schwarz.
  • Learning how to dust for fingerprints, using these helpful (teacher/technician/student) notes from Creative Chemistry.
  • I’ve more philosophy in the form of illustrated books coming up soon on the blog, with offerings from the Netherlands and Spain. What are your favourite picture books which deal with the big issues in life?

    Disclosure: I received a free review copy of I am Henry Finch from the publishers.

    4 Comments on I am Henry Finch by Alexis Deacon and Viviane Schwarz, last added: 1/14/2015
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    17. a princess in progress...


    just not ready to say which one...quite yet. ;)


    {but here's a peek at some of the progress on the background...}

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    18. Telephone, by Mac Barnett | Book Trailer

    It's time to fly home for dinner! In this witty picture book from award-winning and bestselling author Mac Barnett, a mother bird gives the bird next to her a message for little Peter.

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    19. Mail Art: Birds on Envelopes

    This is one of the projects I've been working on recently, for an art college class. Yes, birds and mail art. Wonderful. Loads of cutting, slicing, collaging, and then drawing and painting, was done. I ended up with a couple of options to work on, and liked them both but ended up picking this one below for the final review.

     

    Huginn-and-Muninn-Envelope-Art-1-by-FLoating-Lemons

    I went through a bit of exploration and research and managed to develop quite a fascination with ravens, sifting through poems such as Edgar Allan Poe's 'The Raven', folklore, fairy-tales, fables--almost picked Aesop's The Crow and the Pitcher--so it isn't too surprising that I went with this pair in the end ... In Norse mythology, Huginn (from Old Norse "thought") and Muninn (Old Norse "memory" or "mind") are a pair of ravens that fly all over the world of Midgard, and bring information and news back to the god Odin. Flying messengers. Perfect.

    I've depicted them as a white and black raven, and addressed the envelope to them. Their names are written in ancient Nordic runes just above their respective beaks. Yes, there's a message inside as well, written on rice paper 'parchment'. Private, of course. Let's hope that the envelope will eventually be returned to sender (me!) with a postal mark to show that it's been in the system. Here's a glimpse of the bit of mess I made while researching and working on the project ...

     

    Huginn-and-Muninn-Envelope-Art-2-by-FLoating-Lemons

     

    Here's the back of the envelope with a depiction of the Nordic mythical Tree of Life, Yggdrasil ...

     

    Huginn-and-Muninn-Envelope-Art-3-by-FLoating-Lemons

     

    The ravens and the tree were paper cuttings (my sketch book suffered somewhat) that I painted (watercolour for the birds and some marker pen on the tree) and collaged onto the envelope. On the front I'd also glued crosswords (to symbolize thought, naturally) onto the original white envelope, and then placed a thin sheet of rice paper over the whole thing so that it looked like parchment, slightly aged. I quite like the result, what do you think?

    The other attempt at mail art was slightly a different one: I made an envelope from black paper and then cut straight into it, collaging and shading only the white bird on the front. Then I placed white paper inside the envelope so that it showed through the snipped out leaves, flowers and insects.

     

    Bird-Mail-Envelope-Art-1-by-Floating-Lemons

    Bird-Mail-Envelope-Art-2-by-Floating-Lemons

    Simple, but I think it's quite cute. The back is a more abstract representation of a (meaner) raven and its wings, can you see it?

     

    Bird-Mail-Envelope-Art-3-by-Floating-Lemons

     

    I did like this black and white bit of mail art, but once I'd begun on the research for the winged messengers of Odin, I fell in love with them and that was pretty much that. I think I made the right choice picking them as my final piece, what do you think? There are infinite possibilities for both options though, and I may end up using them somehow on cards and other goodies, so keep an eye out for them up at the Floating Lemons shops in the near future ...

    Meanwhile, I wish you a fantastic week. Cheers.

     

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    20. thursday morning thumbnails....

    ©the enchanted easel 2014
    some arctic adorableness is on the way....:)

    happy thursday, friends! 

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    21. Nature in Poetry




    by David Elliott
    illustrated by Becca Stadtlander
    Candlewick Press, 2014

    As I noted last Wednesday, J. Patrick Lewis' anthology title says it all: "Everything is a Poem." On Thursday, we looked at science in poetry. Today, the focus is on nature in poetry -- specifically, birds. Upcoming posts include history, biography and imagination in poetry.

    My students and I have loved David Elliott's short, pithy poems in his collections On the Farm, In the Wild, and In the Sea. In this book, the essence of seventeen species of birds, from the ordinary sparrow to the exotic Japanese Crane pictured on the cover are captured in Elliott's words and Becca Stadtlander's gorgeous and evocative illustrations.

    Sadly, last June, Holly Meade, David Elliott's illustrator for the other books in this series (On the Farm, In the Wild, In the Sea) died at age 56. David Elliott dedicates this book to her.


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    22. A Letter for Leo – Perfect Picture Book Friday

    Title: A Letter for Leo Written and illustrated by: Sergio Ruzzier Published By: Clarion Books, New York, 2014 Themes/Topics: postmen, friendship, letters, birds, weasels Suitable for ages: 3-5 Fiction, 32 pages Opening: Leo is the mailman of a little old town Synopsis: Postman Leo … Continue reading

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    23. Painting for fun today






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    24. Flora and the Penguin, by Molly Idle | Book Trailer

    Having mastered ballet in Flora and the Flamingo, Flora takes to the ice and forms an unexpected friendship with a penguin in Molly Idle's Flora and the Penguin.

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    25. And then A.S. King read One Thing Stolen

    It took a long time and a lot of heartache to find my way through One Thing Stolen. I had an idea about vanishing and effacement. I am obsessed with birds and floods. I sometimes misplace things, especially names, and I have, therefore, a growing obsession with the mind and where it puts the things that once were.

    I also have students I love. And I believe that language is plastic, that it must be taken apart and put back together again so that it might remain alive, so that our stories might live, too.

    All of this became the web of the book called One Thing Stolen, and by the time I had finished it for real and taken the first 100 pages apart yet again— nanoseconds before it went off to the copy editor—I was in a quiet place. Bewildered by—and grateful to—the strange workings of the literary imagination.

    I sought no blurbs for the book. It was going out there, bravely, on its own.

    Two nights ago, a friend alerted me to some goings-on on Twitter. Did you see what A.S. King has written about One Thing Stolen? the friend asked. What I found there, on the Twitter stream, made me cry. It kept me up through most the night. An act of friendship so remarkable. Words I needed to hear.

    When I wrote to thank Amy for her generosity, she offered to write a blurb for the book. Really? I said. Really, she said. Or something like that. She wrote not one, but two, and because I like them both so much I will share them here. These words will appear on reprint editions of One Thing Stolen (for the book has already gone to press) and everywhere else, starting now.

    Grateful doesn't begin to describe it. Thank you, A.S. King.

    Kephart at her poetic and powerful best. ONE THING STOLEN is a masterwork—a nest of beauty and loss, a flood of passion so sweet one can taste it. This is no ordinary book. It fits into no box. It is its own box—its own language.

    ONE THING STOLEN is a tapestry of family, friendship, Florence, and neuroscience. I’ve never read anything like it. Kephart brings the reader so deep inside Nadia we can feel her breathe, and yet her story leaves us without breath.

     A.S. King is the author of Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future, Reality Boy, Ask the Passengers, Everybody Sees the Ants, Please Ignore Vera Dietz, and The Dust of 100 Dogs

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