On a Sunday afternoon...

I spent about 2 hours drawing and collaging (sp?) with my daughter this past weekend. This is our masterpiece!


Totem Tale: A Sighting in D.C.

Near door neighbor Paul Smith and his family spent their recent spring break touring museums in Washington D.C.. This morning, Paul was kind enough to pass along this photo of TOTEM TALE (dead center) as spotted in gift shop of the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. Thanks Paul!

For added educational interest... This book's cover was originally planned and painted to look like this:

As you can tell in comparison, at some point the publisher decided not to use it. Personally, I like the colors and the more dramatic lighting in this first one, but it wasn't very well concieved for type -- a little too busy for any kind of title in the trees. Live and learn!


Kids II

Jonny Quest......and the uninvited mohawk!


Did Fleming Rescue Churchill? By James Cross Giblin

This question, and at least several others are explored and answered with satisfactory gumption in this new book by Sibert Award winning author James Cross Giblin. Mr. Giblin has made a career of writing well researched, engaging non-fiction on everything from John Wilkes Booth to Milk.

In Did Fleming Rescue Churchill?, he turns his own profession on end and tells the story of a fictional fifth grader putting real research challenges to their ultimate test - a three-page biography of Sir Alexander Fleming!

It was my great pleasure to create a few simple black & white illustrations to accompany this text, and the fine folks at Booklist recommend that "librarians and teachers will want several copies on hand."

No argument here!
Jason puts the final touches on his paper about Fleming

By James Cross Giblin
Illustrations by Erik Brooks
Henry Holt and Company, April 2008


Dog Diaries: Secret Writings of the WOOF Society (Henry Holt, 2007) by Betsy Byars, Betsy Duffey, and Laurie Myers was recently named to the Bank Street Best Books lists for 2008. Congrats Byars family :) and thanks again for giving me so many great dog stories to illustrate.


I've also just had my fourth picture book accepted for publication! Aroooo!!!! More on that in future weeks...


Olympic Peninsula Young Writers Conference

From the Bremerton/Seattle ferry enroute to home. Love those islands...

Hello all. About this time of night two weeks ago I was just pulling in to my Port Angeles, WA hotel room. I spent two of the following three days speaking with almost 1000 students at the Olympic Peninsula Young Writers Conference in Port Angeles and Bremerton, WA. Elementary school kids from all over this far western part of the state gather every spring to share their work, listen to us author types and, to spend a day or two away from school in an energized and creative setting.

A room full of writers!

My fellow author/illustrator participant this year was Richard Jesse Watson. An SCBWI Golden Kite Award winner for picturebook illustration, he does some fantastic artwork, and you should definitely check him out.

Thank you very much to Sarah F. and all of the other OP ESD staff members and volunteers who make this happen. It was a huge thrill for me to participate!


Let me also plug two FANTASTIC illustrated young adult books that I recently finished reading. Both contain some heavy hitting (sometimes read "controversial") subject matter, but the humor in the first and the beauty of language in the second should make these sought after additions to ANY high school list of required reading.

First, Sherman Alexi's Absoulutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (Little Brown, 2007) is amazing. Completely captivating and well deserving of its praise. It made me laugh out loud -- a rare feat for books that I have read of late. Perfectly paired with cartoon illustrations by Seattle illustrator Ellen Forney. I want to read more of Mr. Alexi's work!

In a different but no less excellent vein, Margarita Engle's The Poet Slave of Cuba: A Biography of Juan Francisco Manzano (Henry Holt, 2006) is a book that wants to be read out loud. Written in verse, to honor the poet whose life it imagines, this book is an wonderful example of "voice" in literature. I could not read it in silence. Sean Qualls, one of many Brooklyn -based illustrators whos work I admire, created the black & white interior art. As lovely and evocative as his images are, I only wish that we could have seen them in color -- or at least on some paper that would give them the stage that they truly deserved. In any case, don't miss this one either.