Holy cow... I mean PIG!

Christmas may** have arrived a little early here in Winthrop, Washington. I think I just won me some mighty fine artwork in Jarrett Krosoczka's 1st ever Punk Farm Raffle.

I mean these are the brazen barnyard Rockers that put the "ARRRRRRRR!" back in Farm and the spunk back in Punk.

Get out!

I've been admiring Jarrett's work ever since loving Annie Was Warned a year or three back, and his promotional chops are so much fun. On top of all this, he a philanthropic fellow too (see raffle).

Thanks Jarrett!

** My obviously lame dial-up connection is too slow for video, and the local library speakers were barely audible. Any friends out there with more reliable access should confirm this for me before I get too excited. Otherwise I'll just watch the mail... like a kid at Christmas...which I surely am :)


Sweet Dreams 2007

This a one of several possible images for my family's Christmas card this year. It also marks a return to printmaking -- which I really enjoy, and hope to do more of in 2008. Sleep tight!



More polar bears: a constant theme. At least in these new ink/brush experiments there are a few additional creatures as well. I mean check out that snake and the cheetah/bear thing :)

Hot Off the Presses!

My bound advance copy of POLAR POLKA arrived in yesterday's mail! It really looks great, so thank you to everyone at Sasquatch for taking my pictures and putting them in their best light. I'll be very excited to start sharing this book when it hits the shelves in February.

Art Exchange '07 No. 12


On fumes

Earlier this week, I FINALLY put the finishing touches on my last book illustration deadline for 2007. Jame's Cross Giblin's, Did Fleming Resuce Churchill, as it is now called, will not be released until April 2008. Still, it is thrilling indeed to get my small contribution to this project out of the way :)

The image above, one of about sixteen in this early chapter book, is a small half page illustration for your viewing pleasure. Ink and charcoal. Fall 2007.


Tis the Season

A big thank you this week to all of the kids, parents, and Sno-Isle Library staff/volunteers that were so welcoming during my visits last week. It was an excellent four-day trip in the "north of Seattle area", even if I did miss the first sticking snow of the season back here at home... :)

Each library in the system hosted a different series of activites for National Children's Book Week. The Lynwood branch sponsored an terrific "Best Book I Ever Read" poster contest. Over 100 kids submitted entries, and they were all honored at a small awards ceremony on Saturday afternoon. There was also cake to be eaten, juice to drink, and of course the top secret special guest (moi)!

A few of the more interesting trip photos follow suit:

Just a few of the excellent posters. 3rd graders, man. Awesome!

Random, I know, but I drove through lots of rainy rural countryside. This barn, slowly losing ground to the blackberry bushes, was too nice an image to pass up.

And finally, the snow (and a mysterious pig!), in my front yard when I got home :)



Long promised. Now delivered. Click on the bookplate image to get the largest version possible. Drag/drop/save the image to your desktop. You can print and glue these into your favorite books OR they work very well when reduced to fit the Avery 2" x 4" Ink Jet Labels (style no. 8163). Happy reading!


A very fine Festival!

A few pictures from last weekend's Author Festival in Humbolt County California -- but first, a HUGE THANK YOU to all of the coordinators, volunteers, and sponsors that make this happen every two years. It was my first time as a participant, but it is very clear why so many authors in attendance have been SO happy to come back year after year. It was really terrific! A great way to spend some time with kids in the Humbolt County schools and to make some new friends among the other authors and illustrators in attendance. Until next time...
Hangin' with the gang at Orleans Elementary School . The photo doesn't do it justice, but these k-2nd graders made a beautiful book for me -- illustrated and signed by each them -- of their favorite scenes from my books.

San Francisco author/illustrator Bob Barner captivated all on Friday night as he drew a guitar wielding skeleton from his DEM BONES book -- accompanied by the appropriate music, of course!

Hard to resist getting a photo with fellow pacific northwest author and recent Newbery Honor Award winner, Kirby Larson. She's also just a really nice person, and one of the first authors that I can remember meeting when I attended my "freshman" SCBWI events in Seattle Washington 7 years ago.

And finally, perhaps the biggest highlight of the weekend was the opportunity to meet Shirley Climo. Shirley is the author of many books, including a remarkable array of Cinderella stories, and the main reason that I was asked to attend the festival in the first place. Her most recent book, MONKEY BUSINESS: STORIES FROM AROUND THE WORLD, was the first book that I had illustrated for another author, and the artwork made a small impression on festival organizers when Mrs. Climo attended two years ago. Thanks Shirley!

For a complete list of 2007's attending authors, visit Authorfest.org!


Robert's Snow 2007 Redux

My Robert's Snow creation is featured today in the Blogging for a Cure "tour" over at Bildungsroman by Little Willow. A great reminder for a terrific fundraiser and a fine way to create some awareness.

My particular snowflake will be auctioned off November 19-23. Find your checkbooks!



A few sketches from the "margins" in a new manuscript that I am illustrating. Perhaps recurring feature...


Mission Impossible

Soon enough, I am off to the Humbolt County Young Author's Festival. In the spirit of this year's "OO7" theme, I leave you, dear reader, with a Mission Impossible to ponder in my absense. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to identify which one of these cover sketches was ultimately selected as the final image for my project d'jour. My head has already exploded, so this message will NOT self-destruct.

Check back in about a week for the correct answer and a color study. Ciao bella!


Covert Art!

The POLAR POLKA cover art showed up on amazon.com today. I haven't even seen a proof yet... but I guess the book is moving right along!

There is a special pre-order discount of an extra %5 for those that
act soon :) Count those bears while you still can...

Arts Infusion

a beginning, middle, end collage...completed in about 30 min.

This past Friday I attended a great arts-teaching workshop as hosted by Methow Arts and sponsored by the Washington State Art Commission. Arts Education specialists Susy Watts and Meredith Essex from Arts Impact took us through several lessons on Arts Infused Learning and a variety of strategies for integrating art into k-8 curriculums. As a practicing artist, a certified teacher, and as an author/illustrator who visits a lot of schools, it was a great time to reflect on what I already do and to gather a few tips to make my own programs even better!


Open Range

Two days ago, this was the scene from our front window...

Cows on the loose! Or so we thought. A quick call to a knowing friend and we were informed that the whole of our valley is designated "open range." Technically then, cows can be fenced out (we don't have a fence), but there is no real responsibility to fence them in. Fine stuff. The 10 x bovine heard moved on pretty quick but they hung out near one house or another for about 24 hours. Especially ghostly looking at night...

Otherwise, cool and rainy weather has left early hints of winter on the surrounding peaks. It might even stay. This has also been good weather for sitting inside, painting some books and practicing my ink work:


Art Exchange '07 No. 10

Phew! A little bit less frightening than AE no.9. Back on track, Jack...


Art Exchange '07 No. 9

Apologies. This is by far the most scary Art Exchange image that I have posted yet.

Alas, said 'Exchange' hasn't really gone as planned this year -- with near zero participation by the partner -- and thus my own 4 month break from the practice. Hence the weirdness? Who can say. This is image no. 8 and I fully plan on completing the series by December 31st. Perhaps this will be come less of an exchange and more of a gifting process... I hope not. Any willing AND READY - meaning that you will actually complete your end of said bargin :) - exchangers out there for 2008? Drop me note.


Mid-September News Updates

Lots going on of late, but here are few recent happenings that I would like to bring to your attention:

Slow Days, Fast Friends (Albert Whitman, 2005) is officially an Accelerated Reader
title -- It joins both of my other author-illustrated books in this program and is Quiz No. 104937 EN for all of the curious students and teachers out there :)

• Polar Polka by Chérie Stihler (Sasquatch) is starting to show up on amazon.com and gives a release date of February 28, 2008. Just a little too late for Valentines day...In any case, Yahoo! After spending the better part of 2007 painting this book (at least that's the way it felt) I am super happy to see it come to fruition. Prepare yourselves for some mad polka fun!

• After at least a couple of hardcover print runs and an audio book release, Boo's Dinosaur by Betsy Byars (Henry Holt, 2006) will be coming to paperback in Spring 2008 as well. This is another first for me (confoundit Winslow Press...) and is thusly very exciting.

• And finally, some presentation news: I had a blast this past Saturday as a presenter for SCBWI's Eastern Washington/Northern Idaho SCBWI Regional Conference in Spokane, WA. A big thanks to Deby Fredericks for inviting me back, and to fellow presenters Chris Crutcher, Kenn Nesbitt, Kelly Milner Halls, and Chronicle Books Editor Traci Todd, for making me feel welcome and inspired. It was great to meet all of the Conference attendees as well and I sincerely urge you to keep up the good work. Many of you are just that close!

In October,
I fly south to the Author Festival in Humbolt County California. This long-running author-illustrator gala event will be tons of fun and I am very excited to make the trip. In conjunction with the Oct. 17-20 festival, I also have 5 pieces of original art from various books on display at the Morris Graves Museum of Art. I'll give a full report upon return.

Write on!


Chaos Reigns!

I've posted studio pictures before, but not since we moved into our new place about 18 months ago. It is very much an organized mess -- especially in the midst of a project like this -- but the following 3 pictures give a pretty fine idea of where I work!

The panoramic view, as taken from the lofty heights of our guest/dog futon. Writing, email, financeering happen on the left. More colorful pursuits on stage right... Lots of things hanging on the walls, tucked into/onto shelves etc. etc..

A tighter shot on "stage right". The table is quickly consumed by pencils, paints etc. and my attempts at good posture fly out the window. I hunch over the boards/paintings craddled in my lap. It is bright, however. No squinting in the dark.

And finally, the heads-up view from my chair. A few POLAR POLKA pics (mostly finished I think) clipped to the wall for reference. Note as well the pastel polar bear near the bottom right. This is one of my favorite experimental images from my first polar bear book. Much as I like the watercolor and ink that I've been using of late, I'd love to get back to that much looser pastel medium at some point!


Robert's Snow 2007

Lucy's Pups
As inspired by my favorite story from DOG DIARIES by Betsy Byars, Laurie Myers, and Betsy Duffy.

After an extended break, including a very literal break/vacation from work, I am pleased to return with this sneak peek of my
Robert's Snow contribution for 2007. Follow the link for more information, but this is the 3rd installment of a fantastic fundraising auction for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. More news about possible gallery showings and the eventual auction dates when it becomes available!


Horsharkosaurous Maximous

Another nice round of visits this afternoon. In this instance, to my local local libraries: Winthrop and Twisp. Here are a few of the promised coloring pages as inspired by our group drawings in round no. 1 of the summer reading tour. Just click on the images to enlarge and then print away. More to follow!
Can you identify the three creatures combined together in this lovely beast? The name is a major clue :)


The titles aren't working in Blogger right now...

In any case, I'll shout this news from just about anyplace: My latest book is going to be on THE TODAY SHOW!

Author Emme Aronson will discuss her first children's book (and my latest illustration project) during THE TODAY SHOW on Monday July 9th. It will most likely air during the final hour of programming, but watch it all to be sure :)


Sinking Fast

Hopped-up on caffine and altogether distanced from REM cycle no. 2, I am sinking fast but nearing completetion on the POLAR POLKA project. Stay tuned for a virtual whoop it up when I put both the project AND myself to bed, but the light is glowing faintly at the end of the tunnel. A short vacation awaits!


Summer Reading: Round No. 1

I actually kicked things off last week with visits to Republic, Tonasket and Oroville -- and thanks very much to all of the librarians and patrons that made those visits such an excellent start to the summer. Following, are just a few photos from part 1b of my summer library tours: Mattawa - Grand Coulee. Photos of crowds are conspicuously absent, but I will add a few when I get them -- the photos, that is, not the crowds :) Thank you!

The state of my passenger seat on a trip such as this... Essentials, one and all!

From my hotel room in Moses Lake, WA, I give you Moses Lake :)

An excellent mural painted on the exterior of the Quincy Public Library.

The Horsharkasaurous Maximous: Also discovered in Quincy. BEWARE!
**Check back soon to see some of these fine creatures turned into coloring book sheets.

"Points of Interest" along my route. After Moses Lake, Warden and Ephrata, WA, I headed north again through Soap Lake and into Grand Coulee country. Some incredible geologic history in this area. Visit the Ice Age Floods Institute for more info. I took too many pictures of cool rocks and canyons to post here :)

A reason for smiles in Soap Lake, WA. The Pigeleken!

From my day's end stroll around Coulee City. Although sage brush and grasses rule, this small town on the south end of Banks Lake reminded me a lot of places in rural Minnesota.

An finally, just some cool clouds above the neatly hospitable Ala Cozy Motel. To wit, I spent 3-6 hours every night working on my project d'jour: POLAR POLKA. It is nearing completion, but still getting lots of work. Back to it!


Summer Reading in North Central Washington!

Hello to everyone in the North Central Regional Library system. With visits in Republic, Tonasket and Oroville last week, my summer tour of this terrific library system is offically underway :) This is the complete summer schedule:

Friday, June 22
Republic 10:00am
Tonasket 1:00pm
Oroville 3:30pm

Monday, June 25
Mattawa 11:00am
Royal City 2:00pm

Tuesday, June 26
Quincy 11:30am
Ephrata 2:00pm
Moses Lake 6:00pm

Wednesday, June 27
Warden 1:00pm
Soap Lake 4:00pm

Thursday, June 28
Coulee City 11:30pm
Grand Coulee 2:30pm

Tuesday, July 10
Winthrop 10:30am
Twisp 1:00pm

Thursday, July 12
Pateros 1:00pm
Bridgeport 3:00pm
Brewster 5:30pm

Tuesday, July 17
Okanogan 1:00pm

Wednesday, July 18
Manson 11:00am
Entiat 2:00pm

Tuesday, August 7
Chelan 1:00pm
Cashmere 3:30pm
Leavenworth 6:30pm

Wednesday, August 8
Waterville 10:00
Peshastin 2:00

Thursday, August 9
East Wenatchee 10:ooam
Wenatchee 2:00pm

For those that are interested in ordering books, please see the appropriate section on my website. If you would like a signed bookplate, I will be posting a custom image for the 2007 summer reading program very soon. Thanks very much. I'm looking forward to the visits!


Polaboratory 2

For those playing along, here are just a few additional cover sketches in the mix. Compare at your leisure and I'll reveal the final art when it has achieved such status...