Tuesday, January 26, 2016

dance party, orbit for illustration friday, and a recent picture book read

The Illustration Friday prompt this week is: orbit. Since I just did an outer space / orbit picture for the IF prompt moon, I thought I'd bring orbit down to Earth this time for a dance party. This girl* is dancing in an orbit around her music:

* This may or may not be me dancing to 80s music during the blizzard this past weekend.

Recent Read* I loved - 
Picture Book: Happy in Our Skin by Fran Manushkin, illustrated by Lauren Tobia - This is a really neat picture book about how amazing our skin is and how it's something we all have in common. “It keeps the outsides out/ and your insides in.” Kids are curious about everything, including their skin. Happy in Our Skin is a good introduction to the function skin has. It's also about families and how wonderful it is to be yourself. The text is fun to read and the gorgeous art provides lots to look at and discover, as well as a diverse cast of characters.

* Note: Recent = books read the day of, the week before, or within the last year or so, but usually that month. Unless stated otherwise, all books were purchased by me, given to me as gifts by family or friends (not the authors or illustrators), or checked out of the library.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

you spin me round - spin for if and a recent graphic novel read

The Illustration Friday prompt this week is: spin. What do you think of when you hear the word spin? I thought of several things that spin, but two I couldn't get out of my mid were someone spinning on skated and a record (or these days, a CD). Once I thought about a record spinning, I thought of an 80's song by Dead Or Alive - You Spin Me Round (Like A Record).

I started sketching, and this happened:

Look, it's a girl on skates spinning round like a record (literally spinning on a record) and singing along with the Dead Or Alive song!

Recent Read* I loved - 
Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson - This seemed like the perfect book to go with my drawing this week. Astrid and Nicole have been best friends for most of their lives. They do everything together, or at least they did, until Astrid signs up for roller derby camp and Nicole goes to dance camp. Roller Girl is about growing up and growing apart, figuring out where you fit in, and navigating old and friendships. This graphic novel has a great middle grade voice in both the story and art. Crossing my fingers that author/artist Victoria Jamieson creates more graphic novels in the future! p.s. Happy to say that Roller Girl won a 2016 Newbery honor!
Graphic Novel:

* Note: Recent = books read the day of, the week before, or within the last year or so, but usually that month. Unless stated otherwise, all books were purchased by me, given to me as gifts by family or friends (not the authors or illustrators), or checked out of the library.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

a robot, alligator, chicken and bunny stranded on a tropical island, ala awards, and a recent PB read

The Illustration Friday prompt this week is: tropical. When I read the topic, I had a different drawing idea, but then the week got crazy. I didn't have a chance to draw until today, which is when I came up with a new idea (a robot on a tropical island). Though I think the idea might have occurred to me a couple of times earlier this week, but I dismissed it as too weird. Today, however, it seemed just right. So, here's my robot stranded on a tropical island, with an alligator, a bunny, and a chicken (but maybe not for long - there's a plane flying by):

Not sure I'd want to be stranded on a tropical island with an alligator, though this one does seem friendly (then again, I bet a lot of alligators seem friendly right before they eat you).

If I were stranded on a tropical island, I'd want to have some books with me, or a robot that liked telling stories. Speaking of stories, on Monday, the American Library Association announced the 2016 youth media award winners. Lots of excellent books won awards this year, and a picture book (Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson) won the Newbery award, and also a Caldecott honor! It's a wonderful book. I enjoyed it last year when it came out, and I'm looking forward to reading it again.

Recent Read* I loved - 
Picture Book: NUGGET and FANG, Friends Forever - or Snack Time? by Tammi Sauer, illustrated by Michael Slack - Can a shark and a minnow be friends? Do sharks always eat fish? This picture book is a fun new take on that age old question, with fun to read text, hilarious illustrations, and characters you won't soon forget. (This was a re-read. Enjoyed reading Nugget and Fang's story again.)

* Note: Recent = books read the day of, the week before, or within the last year or so, but usually that month. Unless stated otherwise, all books were purchased by me, given to me as gifts by family or friends (not the authors or illustrators), or checked out of the library.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

cow jumps over the moon, personal art themes, illustration friday, and recent reads

The Illustration Friday prompt this week is: moon. My first thought was the cow jumps over the moon. I love drawing cows and I make children's books, so it's an obvious fit. However, I've drawn lots of cows jumping over the moon over the years.* So, this time I decided to give the cow a rocket ship to fly over the moon!

It originally was going to be an ink drawing with digital color. Then I decided to play with watercolor crayons, which was fun, but not quite right. That was when the acrylic paints came out to add a final layer over the watercolor crayon. It scanned so much darker than the original! This is my first cow painting of the year! (I've also done another non-cow painting this year.)

* Artists sometimes have themes or subjects that they keep coming back to. Cows are a particular favorite of mine (I still like drawing/painting them, even after I drew a cow a day for a year). There's also something I'm drawn to about the idea of a cow jumping over the moon, so I continue to revisit that subject (as well as pictures of cows at night with the moon in the background, even if they aren't jumping over it). Here are a few other images I've created in the past of cows jumping over the moon (only a few - there are more!):

2003 Nursery Rhyme Cow (from the year I drew a cow a day):

2005 - Super Cow (I was thinking about how it was possible for a cow to jump over the moon - clearly the cow needed to have super powers):

2009 - Moon Cows (This was a sketch I drew for a picture book with a cow, that ended up being a picture book about a chicken instead.):

2011 - Cow Jumps Over The Earth (I was thinking about the nursery rhyme again, and how it would be possible for a cow to jump over the moon. I decided to have the cow jumping ON the moon, and therefore, it would be jumping over the Earth.)

What subjects or themes do you return to in your writing or art?

Recent Reads: After my last post about my 2015 book stats, I wanted to talk more about the books I'm reading and loving, or ones I've read in the recent past that I love** (so many good books to talk about). Note: Recent = books read the day of, the week before, or within the last year or so, but usually that month.

Currently Reading -  DEAR GENIUS, The Letters Of Ursula Nordstrom, collected and edited by Leonard S. Marcus: a fascinating look at one of the great editors of children's books, who helped to shape the books kids read, and who edited many of the books and authors/illustrators that are still read today.

Recent Reads I loved -
Picture Book: THE PRINCESS AND THE PONY by Kate Beaton - A story about a princess who wants a horse to help her do battle in her kingdom of warriors. She gets a tiny round pony instead. It's not easy to get a gift you don't want, but then again, maybe the gift pony will surprise you.

Middle Grade: SHADOWS OF SHERWOOD by Kekla Magoon - A fun new take on the Robin Hood story, with a wonderful girl named Robyn who must learn quickly how to survive on her own, figure out who are friends vs. foes, help the people of Sherwood survive, and piece together clues left by her parents. This is the start of a new series and I can't wait for the next book! I've never been a Robin Hood fan, but that's because I hadn't met the right Robyn yet.

 SERPENTINE by Cindy Pon - This is another story set in Ciny Pon's world of Xia. (Note: you don't have to read her first two books to enjoy this one, but you might want to after reading Serpentine.) Skybright is a handmaid and companion to a girl in a wealthy family. They're both growing up and testing the bond they have together, at the same time that Skybright learns that she's not who she thinks she is. A story full of demons, secrets, and the possibility of love. It's also the start of a new series. Can't wait for the next book!
Young Adult:

** Unless stated otherwise, all books were purchased by me, given to me as gifts by family or friends (not the authors or illustrators), or checked out of the library.

Friday, January 1, 2016

reading in 2015 - book stats and book favorites

Book Reading Goals for 2015: 1. Read more. 2. Write down all books read.

Pretty sure I read more than in 2014 (don't have 2014 totals, but it seems like I read more in 2015). I managed to write down most of the books I read too.

2015 Book Reading Stats:

20 Board Books

42 Picture Books*

1 Easy Reader

6 Chapter Books

29 Middle Grade Novels

22 YA Novels

10 Graphic Novels

2 Memoirs

2 Adult Books

Total = 134 books!*

* There were a few (or more?) picture books I read that I know I forgot to write down.

Note: There were also six books I didn't finish (they weren't the right books for me at the time, though I may have enjoyed them at a different time), and one book I wish I hadn't read (book pubbed several years ago - some people might like it; wasn't for me).

2015 Favorites:
I thought I'd pick a few favorites, but in the end, decided to pick only one for each category that I read more than five books. So hard to choose! I could add so many more!

Board Book: ARE YOU MY MOMMY? by Joyce Wan
- I've loved Joyce's art for years. It's always wonderful to read one of her board books or picture books and see her art. In this book, she makes clever use of cutouts of animals in a story about a baby rabbit trying to find her mommy.

Picture Book: WHEREVER YOU GO written by Pat Zietlow Miller / illustrated by Eliza Wheeler
- This book is gorgeous! I love both the art and the verse. It's a book that uses the theme of travel to open up a world of possibilities.

Chapter Book: THE PRINCESS IN BLACK AND THE PERFECT PRINCESS PARTY written by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale / illustrated by LeUyen Pham
- This is the second book in The Princess In Black series. In this book, Princess Magnolia is having her birthday party, with princesses from all over invited to attend. Unfortunately, the monsters have other plans for the same day. Chaos ensues and The Princess In Black races to the rescue! This book is even more fun than the first one in the series. Can't wait to read the next one!

Middle Grade Novel: UNUSUAL CHICKENS FOR THE EXCEPTIONAL POULTRY FARMER written by Kelly Jones / illustrated by Katie Kath
- A wonderfully wacky story about a girl who moves to a farm her family inherited and uncovers some mysterious and unusual chickens that she needs to care for (and protect from a possible chicken thief). Loved the fun illustrations and the characters, including the chickens.

YA Novel: BONE GAP by Laura Ruby
- This book contains two mysteries: What happened when Roza went missing? What did Finn really see? These mysteries, woven together with Roza and Finn's stories and the stories of the people of Bone Gap, combine to create a powerful story that's part real, part magic, and part myth. But this book is so much more than that. There are subtle and important truths about life hidden in each part of this book. I'm so happy that Laura Ruby wrote this book so I could read it, and so all of you can read it too.

Graphic Novel: PHOEBE AND HER UNICORN by Dana Simpson
- This graphic novel is part comic strip and part friendship story (think Calvin and Hobbes). Not every graphic novel that reads like a connected comic strip works out, but this one does. Loved this book and the second in the series, UNICORN ON A ROLL. Just found out there's a third book coming in February. Hooray! Can't wait!

Book Reading Goals for 2016: 1. Continue to read a lot! 2. Write down all books read (ALL of them this year).