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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: highlights, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 70
1. Sleep

This is my post for the theme of sleep, this postcard got me a job from highlights, a hidden picture where the sheep are dreaming of kids flying. It was fun.

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2. Harvest

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3. Pig Pool Party

This is a hidden picture that I did for Highlights Hidden Pictures Lets Play series. I love drawing pigs.

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4. Hidden Hot Air

25 hidden objects.

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5. Highlights High Five 2014 Pewter Plate Award

What a nice way to start the week. I just found a package on our front porch that contained a Highlights High Five 2014 Pewter Plate Illustration of the Year Award!  Thank you very much to both Highlights and editor Kathleen Hayes!

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6. Sample Illustration: HighFive Hidden Picture

This is a new Hidden Picture puzzle illustration for Highfive Magazine. I also have some closeups of the little mouse running the race, below. Silly mice!

hp-h5-mouse 1-small hp-h5-mouse 2

(c) Highlights for Children

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7. A New Frontier

It’s been about 4 months since I’d last posted anything on this ‘ere blog. With back to back deadlines and prepping for the arrival of our first newborn, the end of 2014 throughout the beginning of 2015 has been at the least to say chaotic and life changing..

If you follow me in any of my social media accounts you’ll notice an exorbitant amount of pictures {I apologize by the way..new mom syndrome you know..} of this little peapod,



Meet the new little addition to our growing family, Aria {yes we’re Game of Thrones fans} Rose. Born March 25th 2015 at 3:15 in the morning. It’s been a whole month since her arrival and aside from being sleep deprived, the late night feedings, milk vomits and spit ups, and her constant need to shriek at the top of her lungs..like ALL THE TIME…she hasn’t stopped putting a smile on our face since then.

she finds this all too amusing..

Now to top all that off I’m officially back to work! Hopefully the transition from old schedule to new schedule won’t be too bad

who am I kidding!?..

..Ah well..wish me luck!

In the meantime here’s the artwork I did for Highlights this past month!


Happy Monday!


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8. Weekend Re-Cap

It’s been quite a busy weekend full of baptisms and weddings and creative events. So exhausted, but it was all worth it.

This past Saturday we attended the Carousel for Kids event at Dixon Place (NYC) which was hosted by R. Sikoryak and Neil Numberman. It’s a yearly event where these wonderful writers and illustrators read their zany comics and other creations to kids of all ages! It was pretty entertaining!


The best part was when they picked some kids in the audience to help them read their comics. And most of the kids were so gung-ho about volunteering.




This past Sunday I attended my first ever CBIG portfolio review where we were all given the opportunity to speak with 2 editors or art directors of our choice and share our work with them one on one. What a great experience!



An editor from Penguin Group suggested I venture into drawing for older kids and experiment more with lettering. It’s actually something I’d been meaning to explore a bit more so you might be seeing more tweens  and tween themed illustrations in the coming months.

My favorite part of the afternoon was seeing other peoples work and book dummies. It was all so inspiring. Here’s hoping I get inspired enough to write a story myself soon!

Oh and don’t forget to check out the December issue of Highlights for Children to find this little dittie I did over the summer!


Wishing you all a Happy &  Creative Week!!


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9. My latest Highlights Hidden Picture

Just popping into to show you my latest illustration in Highlights Hidden Pictures book.

It's in this issue with art by two of my favorite artists 
Priscilla Burris and Laura Huliska-Beith! Go check it out :)

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10. Illustrator Interview – Akiko White

As all my blog followers know, I am a huge fan of the SCBWI and highly recommend children’s authors and illustrators to join and become involved in this society. I apply for and follow keenly their awards, and just as … Continue reading

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11. Sneak Peeks from upcoming work.

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12. What's Wrong, Italian Market?

When Highlights asked me to make a What's Wrong? of a City Market I could think of no other than Philadelphia's Italian Market. I've only been there once in my life, during the off peak time, but I did a lot of research (see below) to make it look authentic minus the trash and fire barrels. If you've ever been to the Italian Market in South Philadelphia, or saw the scene in Rocky when he is jogging through it  (starts at :23) one thing comes to mind, "this is so beautiful and yet, totally disgusting." Honestly, it smells, there's trash all over the place, and most of the merchants are rude. Ah, Philadelphia! City of Brotherly Love. That's what makes this city so great- everyone wears their hearts on their sleeve and we don't apologize for it or care if you're offended- much like you would speak to a close family member. Ha!

I finished this piece the week my Dad went into the hospital before he passed away. Good friend and designer, Drew Phillips, helped me out with doing some flat coloring for me. All I had to do was make some adjustments, then add textures and shadows. Thanks, Drew!

Things to look for in this piece: Adrian Balboa ironing a sock, myself, wife and daughter driving a row home, and my personal favorite, a girl mouse being serenaded with her concerned Father reacting in a nearby window.

The original sketch is below. One thing I was sad to see go was Adrian Balboa carrying Rocky's two turtles known as Cuff and Link.

The scene was based loosely on these photos:

Make sure to get a Highlights subscription for the kids in your life. It really is the greatest magazine on earth.

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13. Youth Media & Marketing Jobs: McDonald’s, Pandora, Movember

Today we bring you our weekly sampler of cool youth media and marketing gigs. If your company has an open position in the youth media or marketing space, we encourage you to join the Ypulse LinkedIn group, if you haven’t yet, and post there for... Read the rest of this post

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14. New Work! May 2012 High Five: “Love From Lisa”

Here’s another fun spread I created is in the May 2012 issue of Highlights’ High Five magazine (story by Marianne Mitchell)! So many other fine authors and illustrators contributed their work to this issue, too. Thanks, Highlights!

(c) Highlights For Children

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15. Illustrator Saturday – Nancy Cote

Nancy Cote is an author and illustrator from Somerset, Massachusetts. Since 1992, she has created the characters and stories children have grown to love. Nancy Cote has illustrated forty-six Children’s Picture Books. Her work has been featured in the “ORIGINAL ART” exhibit in NYC, Scholastic Book Club, Highlights Magazine and has earned many awards including the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award, Society of School Librarians International Honor Book, ABA “Pick of the Lists”, Smithsonian Notable Book for Children, Florida Reading Association Children’s Book Award, CBC-IRA Notable Children’s Trade Book, Sidney Taylor Notable Book Award, and Parenting Magazine Best Book.

Nancy says,”Ever since I can remember, I have been either drawing or late for something. I find myself constantly being side tracked by the infinite beauty around me. I’ve always needed to see, feel and breathe in everything in sight, which keeps me moving at a rather slow pace.”

She never thought about writing or illustrating Childrens Books while growing up. It was after she had a family that she discovered this world of immense creative possibility.

She literally read thousands of books to her children and was convinced that she wanted to express herself through this medium. Having majored in Painting in college, it was a natural progression for her to tie the two life experiences together. She says, “As a mom, I had endless inspiration and insight into the world of children. In many ways I’ve never lost the emotional ties to my own childhood and still feel very connected to that spirit.”

Working as a full time author / illustrator just reinforces her conviction that you can achieve any goal that you have, “even though you may get distracted along the way!”

Here is Nancy and discussing her procees:

1. Here I’ve created a sketch of the opening scene from the story. In the composition, I’ve allowed enough space for text to be placed in the left hand side of the page to the right of the tree with the squirrel in it. The swirls will be eventually be eliminated. They serve as my reminder to keep energy alive at the onset of the project.

2. The pencil sketch is transferred onto Arches 140lb hot press paper using a light box. Here I am beginning to block in some underlying color with soft body acrylics. Using red the complementary to green, I roughly block in the space that will be variations in green then begin to highlight the sunlight that is pouring in through the park.

3. The initial green grass is laid in and I try not to concentrate on any particular area for too long moving all around the canvas until there is color on everything. All the while my mind is processing the time of year, the way the light would be entering the scene with many, many changes rapidly taking

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16. Sneak Peak Stuff.

Here's a bunch of snippet sneak peaks at some upcoming stuff I did for Highlights. The first two are Hidden Pictures and the last two are for What's Wrong? back covers. I'm not sure exactly when they'll be published but I'm assume the Pumpkin one will be on the back cover of this coming October issue and the Dogsled Race will be sometime in the winter (February?). As for Hidden Pictures, I have absolutely no idea.

I also wanted to point out that there is now a fun Hidden Picture and What's Wrong? game on the Highlights site.  The Hidden Picture game features some of my work as well as many other excellent illustrations by the wonderful Highlights' illustrators. Be sure to check it out!

The Dogsled Race What's Wrong? has more people in it then I have ever drawn in a single illustration. If I remember correctly, it has 105 humans not to mention 17 dogs. I know, I lost my mind.

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17. 2012 Highlights Illustrators' Party

After all the prep work of designing and making our Superhero costumes, updating my book, and illustrating the superhero page, I was ready to go to the Annual Highlights Illustrators' Party. Sort of. On the day of departure, my daughter was getting over a nasty bug, my sister was suffering from a nasty bug, and I was turning into a nasty bug after a good, long, 3.5 hour night sleep, and I saw that my lovely weekend was quickly fading into a lovely dream. My Plan B for help in the child-care department, my illustrator friend, and her husband, who was also to attend, was sick. 

So Plan C was in motion. Now post lunchtime, daughter was doing well, no symptoms, energized and playful. There was still hope. I called Highlights to find out what other options there might be for an attendee with a little one. "Why not bring her to the conference?" The idea was ludicrous to me, but it was like an official stamp of approval, and I thought, "what's the worse that could happen? If she decides to have a meltdown, I could just leave." I had nothing to lose. So I geared up.

Simultaneously, I put a call in to my friend via voicemail, at the off-chance I might still get some help. I offered the opportunity for a getaway, but with a childcare clause in the deal. By some miracle, my friend called back just in time with an "OK!" That's when everything fell right into place. 

When I and the little one arrived in Honesdale, we headed straight to our assigned quarters: the cabins at Beach Lake. It was perfect—two bedrooms and a living room—home away from home. We had the trademark, homegrown, gourmet dinner at The Barn that evening, on the Boyds Mills farm. I caught up with an old friend and wonderful illustrator Laura Jacques, and headed back to the cabin to await my friend's arrival. Thanks to the separate rooms, the little one got to sleep while I waited to greet my friend. 

At the conference in The Barn on Saturday, we were presented with the company's rich history as a family company, philosophy, and plans for growth by Editor-in-Chief, Chris Cully, and a few of Highlights' Editors and Art Directors. They proposed numerous opportunities for work and made us Illustrators feel pretty special. We did a bit of sketching for auction, portfolio sharing, greeted more familiar faces, all of us gushing over each others' work. The food was stellar as usual (truly one of the biggest selling points of the weekend, not that they really have to sell us on an all expenses weekend). 

The little one and my friend were off at a local farm enjoying chickens and songs and painting pumpkins. She was so exhausted by nap time, she didn't nap. So she burned that overtired energy as a superhero, having a blast kicking around in her boots, flapping her cape, and running every which way. The day was concluded by dinner and the traditional square dance. And dance we did.

Sunday brought a horse-drawn carriage ride, another glorious meal, and more delightful conversations.  By the end of the weekend, the nasty bugs were history and I was motivated to work. We came away receiving a refreshing, optimistic message, from a company worth cheering for in a downturn economy. After years of enthusiastically cheering us on, we thank you, Superhero of Illustrators and children everywhere! 

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18. Valentine Craft Time

VALENTINE'S DAY is only two weeks away now. So if you need to make some special Valentines for the special people in your life, here is a fun craft video from HIGHLIGHTS magazine on making "secret" Valentine cards.

And if you'd like to read a story about two new friends and a super-fancy Valentine's Day card, then please read my story, "The Fool Proof Valentine Plan."

Do you have a plan for Valentine's Day???

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19. Why, Hello, Little Magazine!

I am happy to say that my artwork is currently appearing in a brand NEW little magazine published by our friends at Highlights.

Highlights Hello is designed for the youngest babies and toddlers, and is even printed on rip-proof coated paper and stitched like a little board book.

I love illustrating for this age group. Here is my “Find It” feature, which is like baby’s first Hidden Pictures!




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20. Happy Valentine's Day!

HIGHLIGHTS magazine has a Valentine's Day challenge for you with a special hidden picture, "Cupid's Target Practice." Can you find all the objects? The picture makes for a fun coloring page as well. Enjoy!

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21. Just Released!

I worked on this little book a while back and found out that is now available!

It's a cute bath time board book featuring a bunny! I love drawing bunnies so I was thrilled when the people at Highlights asked if I wanted to create a bunny family for this book. I'll share a few pics of the inside once I receive my copies. :o)

This book is part of a set published by Highlights for Children and it's along the lines of their new Hello Magazine for little ones. You can learn more about these books and order some if you like by clicking here.

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22. Which Way USA? Hidden Picture preview.

Now I have to go to Montana.

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23. Review of the Day: Cowboy Up! Ride the Navajo Rodeo by Nancy Bo Flood

CowboyUp1 Review of the Day: Cowboy Up! Ride the Navajo Rodeo by Nancy Bo FloodCowboy Up!: Ride the Navajo Rodeo
By Nancy Bo Flood
Photography by Jan Sonnenmair
Wordsong (an imprint of Highlights)
ISBN: 978-1-59078-893-6
Ages 8-12
On shelves now

Sometimes I think half my job simply consists of making lists. Not that I’m complaining. I love lists. I love making them, and checking them, and adding to them. Lists let the organizational part of my frontal lobe feel needed and wanted. Still, once in a while you get stuck on a list and it’s hard to move. For example, just the other day I was asked to come up with a list for Kindergartners of books that talk about Native American tribes. Some of the books, I was told, would also have to talk about American Indians living today. Now I don’t know anything about you. I don’t know if reading this review you’re a teacher or a librarian or an interested parent or my mom. Whosoever you might be, you are still probably very aware that asking for nonfiction titles for very young children on Native Americans is akin to asking for the moon and the stars above. Half the stuff on library and bookstore shelves is woefully out-of-date and offensive while the other half is written for kids ten-years-old and up. The pickings for small fry are slim. Enter Cowboy Up! Ride the Navajo Rodeo. The rare book that is both poetry and fact, with content for both big and little, here we have a title that finally fills that gap. Best of all, you don’t have to be looking for school or specialty fare to enjoy this one. Like wild bucking stallions and bulls that could impale you without so much as a snort? Welcome to the world of Navajo rodeo.

CowboyUp2 Review of the Day: Cowboy Up! Ride the Navajo Rodeo by Nancy Bo Flood“Can’t sleep. Can’t eat. Mind keeps figuring, figuring, figuring – how tight to hold, how far to lean, how hard to squeeze to stay on top.” That’s just a sample of the thoughts going through a person’s head before the Navajo rodeo. Though it has its roots in places like Arizona and Texas, rodeos can be found all over the Navajo Nation and are family affairs. Setting her book during the course of a single rodeo day, author Nancy Bo Flood plunges readers into what might be an unknown world. We see children near bucked from woolly riders (sheep), adults flung from broncos, women who sweep the barrel racer events, steer wrestlers, and, best of all, bareback bull riders. Saturating her text with facts, background information, and tons of photographs, this is one title that will prove tempting to kids already familiar with the rodeo world and those approaching it for the very first time.

It’s a challenge facing any work of standard nonfiction for kids: How do you prefer to present your material? In this particular case, Ms. Flood has a wealth of information at her fingertips regarding the Navajo rodeo circuit. Trouble is, you can fill your book to brimming with the brightest and shiniest photos that money can buy, but if you’ve long blocks of nonfiction text you might lose your readership before you’ve even begun. Now in this book Ms. Flood presents her material over the course of a single rodeo day. It’s a good format for what she has to say, but the downside is that there are sections at the beginning that aren’t all that thrilling. If kids are coming to this book to see some high-flying riders, they’ll have to first wade through explanations about the announcer and the arena. That’s where the poetry comes in. Sure, there are big blocks of explanatory text before the action begins, but Flood tempers each two-page spread with not just photos and explanations but also poems. The advantage then is that younger children can read the poems while older ones get something out of the nonfiction sections. Win win!

CowboyUp3 Review of the Day: Cowboy Up! Ride the Navajo Rodeo by Nancy Bo FloodIt sounds strange to say but in many ways the book that to me feels the closest to the format of Cowboy Up! is Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!: Voices from a Medieval Village by Laura Amy Schlitz. Both books find that the best way to get kids to swallow a spoonful of nonfiction is with a bit of first person narration. With that in mind, the poems in Cowboy Up! offer great promise. Each one is written in the first person and could easily be considered short monologues. The small child auditioning or the teacher who wants to do a theatrical presentation with readily available material would do well to take these poems and use them freely. Now granted, the poetry can be touch-and-go at times. I’ve a friend who personally cannot stand free verse in children’s books because to her it just looks like the author took a paragraph and broke it up into arbitrary lines. I happen to like free verse, insofar as I like any poetry, but I admit that the ones found here varied widely in terms of quality on a case-by-case basis.

CowboyUp4 Review of the Day: Cowboy Up! Ride the Navajo Rodeo by Nancy Bo FloodMuch like the poetry, the photography in this book can vary. Some of the shots (created by photographer Jan Sonnenmair) are brilliant. I’m quite fond of the image on the jacket as well as shots of riders mid-air (one hand waving freely about their heads), the portraits (love those endpapers, though the decision to flips the images was a poor one when you consider library processing techniques), and even one of a rainbow rising behind the honor guard. On the other hand, there are times when it feels as though the book ran out of the good photographs and had to rely on some of the lesser variety. For example, there’s a shot of an announcer that looks like it appears twice in two pages, only flipped. This is a rare occurrence, but it happens early enough in the book that a reader could be forgiven for wondering if more duplication is bound to happen.

When I think of books that talk about contemporary Native Americans today, the pickings for kids are slim. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian isn’t exactly meant for the 12 and under crowd. Walking on Earth and Touching the Sky is pretty good, if a bit poetic (this might have something to do with the fact that it’s a book of poetry). And the book Native Americans: A Visual Exploration by S.N. Paleja covers a lot of ground, but only in brief. No, the whole reason Cowboy Up! even works is because it’s not trying to be about anything but how particularly cool this kind of rodeo is. This is Navajo life in the 21st century. So forget depressing texts that cover the past with all the interest of a phone book. Flood and Sonnenmair have culled together a look at the just-as-interesting present, and given it a format that will stand it in good stead. Cowboys and cowboys-to-be everywhere, stand up and rejoice. Your rodeo is here.

On shelves now.

Source: Final copy sent from publisher for review.

Like This? Then Try:

Professional Reviews: Kirkus

Interviews: ReaderKidz


  • A lesson hard learned.  When searching for this book on any online site, I advise you to search via the ISBN 978-1-59078-893-6 rather than typing in the words “Cowboy Up”. Let’s just say that the bulk of titles you’ll find with the same title are a bit . . . ah . . . saucy.
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24. Updates & sneak peeks.

I haven't updated this blog in a while. Sorry. Here are some things I have been working on via Instagram pics.

This first one is a snippet from a hidden picture of Glacier National Park.

A small part of a hip-hop themed hidden picture which was my first anthropomorphic illustration for Highlights.

A rejected idea for a "what's wrong?" of a kid dressed in a NASA control room outfit complete with Apollo 11 and a map of the orbital flight path.

Below is from a hidden picture of Miami Beach. 

Kids enjoying some chili in this Texas themed hidden picture.

One of many wheeled vehicles in this hidden picture.

Oops, I guess not all of them have wheels.

Part one of a continuing hidden picture series I have been working on for Highlights. I can't wait to be able to tell everyone about this but it'll have to wait until its launched.

Lastly, tonight it occurred to me that I have been drawing with this pencil since 1993. Happy 20th birthday, 7mm Pentel P207 pencil.  I wonder how many miles we've drawn together?

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25. Some instagrams of recent work.

The top two are small snippets of some hidden pictures for Highlights. The bottom one is a sketch of a guy I saw cutting a lawn in Willingboro, NJ.

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