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1. 2016 and Beyond

So how was your Christmas?   Ours was quieter than last yearbut very enjoyable. We spent Christmas day with our two grandsons and Terry’s parents. We laughed a lot, played games, ate too much and had a great time

The following two photos are a little blurry, which might be a good thing considering we are all wearing silly hats!

Terry with his mum and dad

Me with our grandsons Tris (on the left as you look at the photo) and Kip 

During the rest of the holidays we walked, read and caught up on films missed earlier in the year. The Little Bookshop on the Seine by Rebecca Raisin was the perfect holiday read. Wouldn’t you work in a bookshop in Paris if you had the chance? I certainly would. Days spent surrounded by books while snow falls on the Champs-Élysées – what’s not to like?  

A little more serious reading is in order for the New Year starting with two books received as gifts this Christmas. East West Street weaves together historical, legal and familial narratives to reveal the origins of international law, beginning and ending with the last day of the Nuremberg trial. I’m excited to read this recent winner of the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction. I think I’m in for a treat.  

I’m also excited to read the complete edition of the Wipers Times, the famed trench newspaper of the First World War. It contains a unique record of life on the wartime frontline, together with an extraordinary mix of black humour, fake entertainment programmes and pastiche articles.

My favourite film of the year, watched just a few days before Christmas is:  Sully. 
On Jan. 15, 2009, Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger (Tom Hanks) tries to make an emergency landing in New York's Hudson River after US Airways Flight 1549 strikes a flock of geese. Miraculously, all of the 155 passengers and crew survive the harrowing ordeal, and Sullenberger becomes a national hero in the eyes of the public and the media. 

Before saying goodbye to 2016, I thought it would be fun to look back at the most popular posts on my blog last year. I also want to take a moment to thank you.  It is your visits, comments and shares that keep this blog alive. I am so very grateful to you all. Thank you!  

Now for the top five: 

Coming in at Number One is the wonderful Finnigan The Circus Cat: A Guest Post by Mary T. Wagner.

Mary shared her post with us in August and in October Finnigan was awarded a first-place finish at the Royal Palm Literary Awards in Florida. Congratulations Mary I can’t think of a more worthy winner.

Mary T Wagner at the Royal Palm Literary Awards

In Second Place is a book which occupies a special place in my heart and on my bookshelf. When found it was in a very dilapidated state but an excellent book restorer sprinkled a little magic book dust, and saved it from the clutches of the evil book pulping machine! This is just one of the beautiful images from Hans Andersen's Fairy Tales - see others here

In Third Place is our visit to the Titanic Museum in Belfast. The museum kindly shared the post on their social media streams, which certainly increased the number of visitors to my blog. 

In Fourth Place: British Eccentricity on Show at: The Chelsea Flower Show.

Diarmuid Gavin creator of the above flower show garden has indicated he will be taking a break from Chelsea in 2017.  Such a shame as I really love his designs as do a lot of people. 

In July, we visited Krakow and Auschwitz, and that post comes fifth and last on the list.  

It’s almost time to wish you a very Happy New Year. I hope 2017 brings you all your heart desires. 

Next week I will be sharing five of my favourite blogs from around the web. I would love to hear about the ones you enjoy so thinking caps on please.  

22 Comments on 2016 and Beyond, last added: 12/30/2016
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I adored THE ARABIAN NIGHTS as a kid, so I was thrilled when Nat Geo Children's Books asked if I'd like to see their recent incarnation, Tales from the Arabian Nights: Stories of Adventure, Magic, Love and Betrayal, written by Donna Jo Napoli and illustrated by Christina Balit. Christina stopped by to tell us a bit about how she works.

e: Hi Christina, what is your creative process and what is your medium, can you walk us through it?
Well I work in a very tiny room at the top of an old stone house in the middle of the Kent countryside in England. Its packed to the rafters with everything I need and because of the way I work I don't need a great deal. Everything I illustrate is done by hand so first and foremost I need all my reference books (of which I have thousands on shelves throughout the entire house) and a table and a comfy chair. I have two chairs actually...so I make sure that I switch from one to the other throughout the day to change my position and keep my back moving.

      I have a very disciplined routine when making a book. I will have worked out in advance exactly how long I have been given to make each image in a book depending on the deadline that I have been set. First thing I do is read the story and then study the space that I have been given to fill with a picture. I also have various instructions that have been given to me sometimes by an Art Director or publisher that I also have to pay attention to and I start drawing. I used to make all my drawings on thick cartridge paper in the old days and deliver them by hand to my publishers here in the UK, but things have changed so much now with computers and I can now deliver sketches by email to anywhere in the world! I still draw everything by hand but now make them onto tracing paper instead so that I can lay out the drawing over the text panels that I have been sent to make sure my sketches fit correctly into the layout.

      Once my drawings are complete I photograph them carefully using a good digital camera and I send these sketches via email to my designer. He/she then uses these sketches to place them within the books grid design and I then wait on feedback from 'the team' - which is the publishing house itself, the author ect., ect. I then make any changes requested and once the sketch is fully approved I prepare to paint. I do this onto watercolour blocks, which already have the edges gummed down in advance. It's very important to find the right paper as it has to absorb the water and not resist the paint in any way, which can happen and be a disaster. I then trace by hand my original drawing onto the water colour block and begin painting. I use Windsor and Newton watercolour paint tubes only as they have extremely pure pigments and are very concentrated. I also mix into the paint some gouache for opacity (to make the colours a bit thicker) and gold inks. I love using gold inks as they make the original art shimmer but of course re-producing the gold in print can be an expensive process for the printers unless they are planning to add a gold foil in reproduction.

e: What do you think makes an illustration magical, what I call "Heart Art” - the sort that makes a reader want to come back to look again and again? I’m looking for your definition of “Heart Art.”
Well to answer this I have to think back to what I always loved in illustrations when I was little and pouring through books. And that was beautiful drawing and exquisite detail. But then I didn't have access to all the computer art and digital animation that children have now and books were all we had. But regardless I really think little people love searching for the magic and finding all the little bits and pieces that are sometimes too small to see on a first look. The hidden treasure within the breath-taking awe and wonder of hand made work. Children instinctively draw onto paper and try to make art until they no longer believe they are any good at it, so they instinctively appreciate the loveliness of an illustration.

e: Did you have any tie to the Arabian Knights - what’s it like to illustrate such a classic?
Very much so! I actually spent large chunks of my childhood in various parts of the Mediterranean and the Middle East. I went to a small nursery run by some lovely nuns on the banks of the Euphrates in Baghdad, a primary school in the deserts of Abu Dhabi (long before it became a city and it was a small barasti village on a peninsula on the Arabian Gulf) and an extraordinary Quaker school nestled in the mountains of Lebanon. It was a great background to my visual memory.

e: What are you working on next or what would be your dream project?
I've been working on two new stories for children - which are based on Babylonian myths and I've also been writing a play (for adults). Furthermore, National Geographic are hoping to produce a further Treasury of Bible Stories soon so that should be just great fun.

Thank you Christina! These are LUSCIOUS!

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3. How They Pulled Off That Insane Swimming Pool Scene in ‘Passengers’

The vfx behind that zero-g swimming pool scene.

The post How They Pulled Off That Insane Swimming Pool Scene in ‘Passengers’ appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

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4. Artist of the Day: Kevin Phung

Discover the art of Kevin Phung, Cartoon Brew's Artist of the Day!

The post Artist of the Day: Kevin Phung appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

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5. Sorry, Women: You Won’t Be Directing Any Major U.S. Animation Releases in 2017

91 of 92 of major American animation releases in the current decade have had a male director.

The post Sorry, Women: You Won’t Be Directing Any Major U.S. Animation Releases in 2017 appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

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6. A Complete List of Every Song in Illumination’s ‘Sing’

The complete list of songs that appear in Illumination's "Sing."

The post A Complete List of Every Song in Illumination’s ‘Sing’ appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

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7. Preview: 60+ Animated Feature Films to Look for in 2017

The most comprehensive list of 2017 theatrical animated features!

The post Preview: 60+ Animated Feature Films to Look for in 2017 appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

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8. Coloring Page Tuesday - Happy New Years 2017

     IThank you to all of you for your kind emails and loyal support throughout 2016. I'm so grateful for every one of you and I wish you all a new year filled with hope, wisdom, peace and joy. CLICK HERE for more coloring pages!
     CLICK HERE to sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Please check out my books! Especially...
my debut novel, A BIRD ON WATER STREET - winner of over a dozen literary awards, including Georgia Author of the Year. Click the cover to learn more!
     When the birds return to Water Street, will anyone be left to hear them sing? A miner's strike allows green and growing things to return to the Red Hills, but that same strike may force residents to seek new homes and livelihoods elsewhere. Follow the story of Jack Hicks as he struggles to hold onto everything he loves most.
     I create my coloring pages for teachers, librarians, booksellers, and parents to enjoy for free with their children, but you can also purchase rights to an image for commercial use, please contact me. If you have questions about usage, please visit my Angel Policy page.

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Still working on gif. So here is a gif for you! Big hugs and a wonderful New Year to all!

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10. VIDEO: Rick Steve's European Christmas

MERRY CHRISTMAS to all! Have a pleasant watch of Rick Steve's Christmas in Europe. Click the image to watch on YouTube.

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11. VIDEO: Nicolette Jones on Non-fiction Picture Books

Nicolette Jones is the children's book reviewer for The Sunday Times out of London and a powerful force for good in the children's book community. I was lucky enough to get a portfolio review with her last year through Picture Hooks. Recently, she recorded a series of videos on picture books and their creators. You can view the first one about non-fiction titles on The Sunday Times website - click here or the image below to go watch.

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12. advent friends

Here are the polar friends, nearly finished,
hoping to bring light and love
into the world.
They kind of make me feel like the party has arrived. 
See? They even brought candy canes and made cookies. 
I kind of forgot to make Christmas cards 
so these are going to be my tiny love and light-bringers.

And these.
Happy Advent, my friends.
May thankfulness, 
and light 
fill you up
and bring you peace. 

1 Comments on advent friends, last added: 12/29/2016
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13. Merry Christmas to All

Santa Bear and True Love, Woodland Christmas

0 Comments on Merry Christmas to All as of 12/25/2016 1:54:00 AM
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14. How Laika Used a Bowling Ball to Animate the Giant Eyes in ‘Kubo and The Two Strings’

A 'hacked' bowling ball helped Laika's animators create a crucial underwater scene for the film.

The post How Laika Used a Bowling Ball to Animate the Giant Eyes in ‘Kubo and The Two Strings’ appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

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15. Presidential Polar Bear Post Card Project No. 310 - 12.23.16

And for Christmas eve... I have always liked the quiet contemplation of Silent Night - of something vast and large brought down to a small and intimate instance. We're an entire world full of connected community these days, people. Look for the common thread. Slow it down. Consider. Peace out!

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That's been a very busy few weeks and now my holiday selling season has finished. I've sent kits, supplies and needle felt doo-dahs across various oceans. Inbetween, I've also been able to finish a hare and make another one. She was sent over to a new home in America as soon as she was finished and arrived in time for Christmas.

I've finally been able to have some time with my sketch book and tidy my studio. Christmas is a very quiet period for us, and I hope that all my blog friends have the holiday that they desire, whatever that is, with very best wishes from Joe and myself and Percy and Penelope hare.


6 Comments on , last added: 12/29/2016
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17. Merry Christmas!

Take a break, take a breather, and COLOR for peace of mind today! I have lots of free holiday coloring pages available HERE (or click the image).

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Happy Christmas to all P&P readers, sponsors, and everyone who submitted designs in 2016. Thank you so much for being there and sharing a love for design. I'll be back on January 9th 2017 with lots more prints and patterns as we move into the new SS17 Spring season. 

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19. A Woodland Advent - Day 24, The Night Before Christmas

Farewell, Woodland Nutcracker
For day 24 of Advent, Clara Bear makes her farewells to Prince Nutcracker and the Great Bear. The magical adventure with celestial creatures and woodland friends has come to an end, and Christmas morning awaits.

1 Comments on A Woodland Advent - Day 24, The Night Before Christmas, last added: 12/29/2016
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20. INTERVIEW: ‘Sing’ Director Garth Jennings Jumps Headfirst into Animation

"I feel like I have learned more in the last three-and-a-half years than on anything else I've done before."

The post INTERVIEW: ‘Sing’ Director Garth Jennings Jumps Headfirst into Animation appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

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21. Presidential Polar Bear Post Card Project No. 309 - 12.23.16

Another celebratory post card today -- for all things winter, polar, and Arctic! Happy Friday world and Merry Christmas! #wearethearctic #saveourseaice #snow #wintersolstice #merrychristmas

0 Comments on Presidential Polar Bear Post Card Project No. 309 - 12.23.16 as of 12/23/2016 4:07:00 PM
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22. The Debate About Digitally Resurrecting Dead Actors is Interesting, But It’s Not New

The rise of dead celebrities is new again, thanks to "Rogue One."

The post The Debate About Digitally Resurrecting Dead Actors is Interesting, But It’s Not New appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

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23. A closer look at my #Murmur #Watercolor #Sketch. (at Hartville,...

0 Comments on A closer look at my #Murmur #Watercolor #Sketch. (at Hartville,... as of 1/1/1900
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24. A #watercolor #sketch I did while traveling. #murmur #journey ...

0 Comments on A #watercolor #sketch I did while traveling. #murmur #journey ... as of 1/1/1900
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25. Friday Links List - 23 December 2016

From Net Galley: 16 Top Covers for 2016

From Homemade: 12 spectacular gingerbread houses

From Brightly: 5 Books That Teach Kids What It Means to Be a Kind Person

From Giuseppe Castellano: 10 Mistakes Illustrators Make

From Zetta Elliott.com: 2016 MG & YA Titles by African Americans

From The Scottish Book Trust: The Writer's Guide to Staying Sane Over Christmas

From The Washington Post: 19 Books to help children find hope and strength in stressful times: A librarian's list

From PW: "Pinch Me, I'm Dreaming" More than a dozen children's book editors describe what it's like to work with writers whose books they loved as children.

From Muddy Colors: An Illustrated Ghost-Story of Christmas (some of the best-illustrated versions of A Christmas Carol!)

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