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18 May 2018

To Middlesbrough with Picture Hooks!

This weekend I am attending the Picture Hooks Conference in Middlesbrough, UK. But first, I traveled down one day early to do school visits with my dear friend and mentor, Vivian French!
The train down was one of my faves because it runs along the coastline, which is stunning.

All that yellow is the rape seed blooming - it's one of my favorite things to see in Scotland!
The windows of the train weren't very clean, but you get the idea - these are not photoshopped at all!


It was fun to pass by North Berwick and notice the gorgeous spots were I have actually stood.
In Dunbar, I noticed this poster for my friend Karin Slaughter's newest best-seller, and sent her a picture.
I had to change trains in Darlington, which was an adorable little train depot.
Viv picked me up at the train station and we walked to the hotel in the heart of downtown, which is lovely. Here's the cathedral that was sticking out the top of our heads in the first image.
And this is the view from my room.
Middlesbrough is adorable and I am loving my visit here - and the very soft bed at the hotel!

Friday Links List - 18 May 2018

From the BookWeb: ABC Children's Institute to Feature More Than 70 Authors and Illustrators (in New Orleans, June 19-21)

From The Mixed Up Files: Inspiration for Famous Authors (by Laurie Edwards) - I might add Glasgow and trains in Scotland!

From Lee & Low: The Diversity Gap in Children's Book Publishing, 2018

From FutureLearn: Pictures of Youth: An Introduction to Children's Visual Culture (Free course from the University of York!)

From Brightly: Then and Now: How Fairy Tales Continue to Invite Us to Think Harder and Smarter

From The Bookseller: BookTrust invites publishers to discuss gaps in children's reading

From LitHub: The 12 Most Popular Libraries in the World

From PW: YA Authors Respond to Teen Activism

From Channel 4 News: Has The Odyssey been mistranlated? Powerful words from the first female translator of The Odyssey!

From The Bookseller: Waterstones to open Stockbridge Books in Edinburgh - interesting to me!

From Janice Hardy's Fiction University: Plot Problem? Fix It Fast with a Retcon - helpful!

From Muddy Colors: Digital Art is not "Real Art" (and other myths)

From Parade: Book Rich Environments Initiative Gives Books to Families in 'Book Deserts'

From Bookshelf: An Earthquake-proof Bookshelf - makes a lot of sense!

From Brightly: Places to Stash Books at Home to Encourage Reading - Stan suggested the refrigerator too. Why not?

From The Federation of Children's Book Groups: Klaus Flugge Prize Shortlist and Giveaway

From Muddy Colors: 12 Reasons Why Bob Ross is a Better Artist Than You Are

17 May 2018

Friends in Edinburgh!

It begins again! Spring has sprung and friends are arriving to visit Edinburgh. We get the great pleasure to hang out and introduce them to our fair city. This time it was Chip and Sheree Sullivan, colleagues and friends from Hollins University. Chip gives historical lectures on the Viking Cruise Lines - a nice gig that gets them free travel. Sweet!
     They only had a few hours, so got a small portion of the 'loop' that we typically share. Here we are on North Bridge.
We did a quick run up the Royal Mile where they were able to duck into St Giles Cathedral - which truly is stunning.
We spent most of our time together over a wonderful lunch at the Witchery - a medieval-styled setting on the Royal Mile which was positively delightful, and so, so good to catch up!
If you're coming to Edinburgh, I put together a map and tips I share with friends. Or you can subscribe to THIS IS EDINBURGH, which is a great resource for up-to-date events in our sweet town.

16 May 2018

VIDEO: Ursula K. LeGuin Documentary Trailer!

Book Riot recently shared the trailer for the Kickstarted documentary about Ursula K. LeGuin. Click the image below to go watch. Wowsa, I can't wait to see this!

Wall Art at Seven Stories

One of the treats at Seven Stories is all the art on display, and not all of it is in frames. Some of it was drawn directly on the walls. For instance, the bear from I AM BEAR (CLICK HERE to read my interview with the illustrator, Sav Akyuz).
And best of all is the artwork by Chris Riddell, Children's Laureate.
I kept looking for pencil lines - surely he didn't draw these freehand? But yes, I think he did.

It even said so.
What a talent! I do hope I get to meet him one day.

15 May 2018

Coloring Page Tuesday - Reading Otter

     Everyone should be able to see themselves in a book, even otters! CLICK HERE for more coloring pages, and if they add joy and value to your life, please...
Become a Patron!
     CLICK HERE to sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Also, 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.

13 May 2018

Comics at Seven Stories

One of the treats of my recent visit to Seven Stories in Newcastle Upon Tyne was the current exhibition: Comics.
I've been asked to add an element about creating graphic novels and kids comics to my Picture Book Design course at Hollins University in our MFA in Writing and Illustrating Children's Books program, so I've been trying to familiarize myself with the genre. Happily, there were tons of examples on display, and I just plopped down and read. (Little did I know Yaxi was taking my picture!) I was reading ZITA THE SPACE GIRL.
Fine, I got a picture of her indulging too!
In the Seven Stories store, I saw a copy of Nate and Vince Evans' TYRANNASAURUS RALPH (read my interview with these creators HERE). I also read DEREK THE SHEEP, which had me laughing out loud!
     The nice thing I'm learning about this genre is the vast range of genres within the genre. There are graphic-novel-like picture books like David Wiesner's TUESDAY or anything by Toon Books, wordless graphic novels like OWLY, 40-page graphic novels for kids like DEREK THE SHEEP, longer mid-grade graphic novels like SMILE, ROLLER GIRL, or EL DEAFO; and of course, there are the superhero fares. Heck, Random House just announced a new imprint of graphic novels for kids and teens - READ HERE because this is a booming field! I've decided to concentrate on the ones for the younger set, of couse, multi-cultural mid-grade graphic novels and 40-pagers. Happily, they've been getting so much press recently, it's easy to research:

From PW: Middle Grade Storytelling Goes Graphic
From The Scottish Book Trust: 10 Diverse and Inclusive Comics
From Multi-cultural Children's Books Day: A list of links to resources on Diverse Graphic Novels

And I'm happy to say that The Encyclopedia of Black Comics will be waiting on me when I get to Hollins this summer!
I came across a great list of must-read graphic novels for kids at BookRiot, and I'm working on a slideshow to share with students. That said, I am open to your fave suggestions! Leave them in the comments below!

The Archives at Seven Stories

The main reason we Child Lit folks went down to Seven Stories last week was to visit the archives.
They're actually stored in another building, so an appointment is required to have items brought over to the main building. Curators, PhD researchers, Fellows, and Archivists shared treasured pieces from the collection with us. For instance, just on this table are two of Philip Pullman's manuscripts; original artwork and dummies by Edward Ardizzone; and original artwork from Noel Streatfeild's Ballet Shoes by her sister, Ruth Gervis. Wow.
We also saw original artwork by Nick Sharratt, and a gorgeous book dummy/sketchbook that I'm hoping someone can tell me who did it as I didn't write it down. I'm looking right at it in this photo as I was positively enthralled by seeing the creative joy in these original pieces!
I've been trying to get back down to Seven Stories ever since my last visit, for exactly a trip like this. Truly, what a treat to geek-out with people as passionate about children's literature as I am!

12 May 2018

Newcastle Upon Tyne with Child Lit Friends

Even if we weren't visiting Seven Stories, Newcastle Upon Tyne is a treat. The train ride down was fun as Yaxi and I drew the entire way (we're the two illustrators in the bunch), that is, when we weren't watching the beautiful view during the 1.5-hour train ride along the eastern coastline.
The Newcastle train station is gorgeous - a bit like being inside the belly of a giant, Victorian snake.
The bridges are the pride and joy of Newcastle and with good reason. The pedestrian bridge actually tilts to make room for ships going under. And the skyline is full of arches as a result of the city's architecture.
The town itself is very hip - a true party place filled with music. And while it wasn't quite sunny enough while we were there, it was easy to imagine this pop-up beach in full swing.
After our adventure at Seven Stories, we were hungry and found a great pizza place that handled our big group just beautifully.
I really must get back to Newcastle more often. I'm a fan!

Child Lit Folks Go to Seven Stories!

Last week, several of the Child Lit MAs and PhDs hopped the train to Newcastle Upon Tyne to visit Seven Stories: The National Centre for Children's Books.
Parked outside, you may recall from the last time I visited Seven Stories with author Susan Gates and her hubbie, is the pea green boat from The Owl and the Pussycat - Sea Song Sang (thanks to Mengying for reminding me of the name).
We went down to listen to quick lectures by students of the children's lit program at the University of Newcastle. Aishwarya Subramanian talked about The Matter of Britain: Island Imaginings and Post-imperialism in British Children's Fantasy, which was fascinating.
Yiyan Jacqueline Ho talked about Hong Kong in Children's and Young Adult literature in British People's Eyes. And Jamie ___? discussed Science Fiction. They were all wonderful. I loved hearing perspectives from a different program!
And, of course, we wandered the seven stories, which are like a never-ending candy store for folks like us! I mean, look at all these picture books - this is just one room's worth!
The store was a temptation most of us could not avoid.
We shared our purchases on the train all the way back. What picture book geeks we are - how FUN!!!

10 May 2018

Bookbug Week is Coming!

Next week the Scottish Book Trust celebrates its annual Bookbug week! Each year a selection committee chooses books to be distributed in bags for Scottish children ranging from birth to Primary 1 (about age 7). And while the 2018 bags and events are announced, the Scottish Book Trust is already busy getting ready for 2019.
      Thursday, I had the great honour to be a part of the annual Scottish Book Trust Bookbug Selection Committee alongside teachers, librarians, caregivers, and staff. As the website says:
The books in all of the Bookbug Bags are chosen by an independent book selection committee. This committee consists of various early years professionals from a range of backgrounds including education, health, social work, libraries and third sector organisations. The volunteers on our book selection committee also share the books with parents and children and collect their feedback to ensure the books chosen are suitable and appealing.

     Here we are hard at work!
     If you're in America, the program is a bit like Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, which is now international. (In fact, one of our members is on the Imagination Library staff!)
     To do this, I was sent an enormous box of books to go through and guidelines to follow as I selected my faves. Can't show you those as the potential titles are all TOP SECRET until the Book Trust makes the official announcements sometime in February 2019! But I can tell you, that careful consideration was given to every title, by people who are closely involved with children's books and the children they serve. I had a wonderful time getting to know everyone and can't wait to share the list that I am quite proud to champion!
Click the image to learn more about the program.

08 May 2018

Coloring Page Tuesday - Friends?

     That moment when they must decide... will they be friends? CLICK HERE for more coloring pages, and if they add joy and value to your life, please...
Become a Patron!
     CLICK HERE to sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Also, 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.

07 May 2018

Buy my ORIGINAL ART on Etsy: Me and My Monster

This week the original pen and ink drawing of "Me and My Monster" from my Marginal Creatures collection is available in my Etsy Shop. This exciting pen & ink drawing, at A4 dimension, is offered as an original unframed artwork, signed and with a certificate of authentication. Only $250! Patreon contributors can download a PDF of the image with its accompanying haiku for free! Click the image to go to my store.

to download the image as an exclusive Patron giveaway!

Yale University!

During my trip to Connecticut, I had the chance to wander around downtown New Haven and the Yale campus.
Ironically, it felt familiar as much of Yale was built around the same time New Town, Edinburgh was built - in the 1700s!
It was gorgeous.
And it was a beautiful day.
Almost 80° if you can believe it!
I bought a dress during my wanderings to make up for my lost luggage.
The trees were blooming and the town was positively gorgeous. Just have a look...






Yeah. Wow.

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