Wednesday, August 2, 2017

playing during the pause

using a friend's tip for freezing blueberries for cherries: freeze them flat first and then put them in a jar--that way they won't freeze in big clumps!

So, I am in the rare pause in my work--the calm before the storm--where I've sent in my sketches/rough drafts and am waiting for publisher feedback before I can continue. This is usually an optimum time to start something new or research a new idea (or clean the house) but instead I'm spending my days pitting and freezing cherries (for Christmastime cherry pies!) and making zucchini bread. I'm not sure where all this Little-House-On-The-Prairie homemaking urges are coming from but I'm enjoying it:

To the point where this has really piqued my interest:

Gee, I wonder why the Sasquatch keeps asking if I've heard from the publisher yet...

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

color-blind just means being blind

Listen to my NEPR commentary on  color-blindness here: 

Here I am on NEPR again, this time talking about the problems of teaching "color-blindness" and spreading the word about the Community Book Stop! Take a listen HERE!

(Edited to add that the discussion suggestions for the Book Stop can be found HERE.
And our book list HERE.)

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Book Stop: Part 4

The sign is up and we are putting in the books:

Because our Community Book Stop is finished! Ta-dah!

We did it!
me & two members of the Diversity Committee-- we're missing at a bunch of others!

And it's already being used! People are borrowing the books and sharing their thoughts:

Just as we hoped! I hope the Book Stop continues, and I hope, maybe, you might consider making one of your own, too.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

The Book Stop: Part 3

It seems like the Book Stop was slow going, but it wasn't really. Once we got it going, we were able to pull it together pretty fast!  One of the parents began building the shelves:

And another designed the the sign:

which we decided to make even more personal. At the school picnic, we had all the kids sign their names on the back:

A nice little memory for posterity!

Now, we just need to hand it over the finished Book Stop...

Thursday, July 6, 2017

the art critic

About a year ago, when Rain Dragon realized what I did for a living, she asked if I would put her into a book. Little did she know, I had already been planning it for a while! Yes, she is the "star" in my upcoming picturebook, "A Big Mooncake for Little Star," the art of which I have just recently finished! The book doesn't come out until August 2018 (more than a year away!) but according to Rain Dragon, that is just fine because the art still needs work. Apparently, I forgot to make her into duck.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Win this painting!

Would you like to have this painting? It's an original piece that I just finished and it could be yours!

In honor of this 4th of July and as a proud American, I am auctioning this off with 100% of the proceeds to go to DonorsChoose, an organization that funds needy schools, one classroom at a time.

This painting is done in gouache and is 5.5 x 5.5.

Obviously, this 4th of July, I have some mixed feeling about being American...or maybe more about how America feels about me. I think that much of the anger and fear today is because people are afraid that something is getting taken from them, that they are losing something. But I truly feel that there is enough greatness in America for everyone and all Americans deserve a piece of it. Which is what I hope you get (in a fun way) from this painting!

If you want to bid, just put your bids in the comments section of this blog post. Starting bid is $50 and bidding ends on July 10th (next Monday) at 9pm EST.

Bid often and bid high! If the bids go higher than $200, I will mat and frame the painting for you as well!

Happy 4th of July!

Friday, June 30, 2017

on the radio...

my commentary "A Four Year Old Helps Her Mother Speak Out" on NEPR  is, of course, inspired by Rain Dragon

So, it looks like being a commentator for NEPR is going to be kind of a sort-of regular gig for me.  Just in case you missed it, last week I recorded this commentary,  "A Four Year Old Helps Her Mother Speak Out," featuring my post election thoughts (some of you may recognize it as an adaptation of my be brave post early in the year).

Hope you like it!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Community Book Stop: Part 2

Making the Book Stop for Rain Dragon's preschool was a multi-step process and needed a team effort. I am so glad there were so many on the Diversity Committee that stepped up to be a part of it!  Here we are, hard at work:


What are we doing? Well, first, in the front of the book,  we are sticking in these reading suggestions. They are general tips to help parents share the story with their kids, just in case they are feeling a little uncomfortable:

And in the back of the book, we are sticking in these little blank notebooks:

These are so parents can write down their impressions of the book to help the next reader!

This part of the project was really important, at least to me!  Because, to me, the books are not enough. Just having them is good, but sharing them--really sharing them-- by having parents and kids observing and discussing...that is what building bonds and a community is about. And  the true purpose of the whole thing!

Want to know what our suggestion sheet said? Here you go: 

Enjoy this book from the Community Book Stop! Sharing a book with your child is a wonderful adventure!

Every child is unique, and children come to these conversations at different times and in different ways. There is no one right way to read with your child, but if you are looking for suggestions, below are some you may find helpful.

1.Don't be afraid to bring up challenging subjects.
Even if you may be uncomfortable, it is better to talk about it with your child.

2. Stop to answer your child’s questions.

 Even if you do not know how to answer at that moment, think of it as the start of many conversations.
3. Pause to ask your child questions.
Help involve your child in the story by asking them things like, “What do you think will happen?”, “How does this make you feel?” “What do you notice here?”

4. Accept and honor your child’s responses.

 There is no wrong way for your child to interpret a story. Use it as a learning moment.
5. Consider talking about how your child could relate to the story. What things are familiar? What things are new?

Use these suggestions during or after your reading, don’t be afraid to reread this book many times. Each reading may spark new conversations.

At the back of this book you’ll see a space for you to record your thoughts and ideas. Please share them with our community!

Maybe you can use it to help make a Book Stop of your own?  Hope so! Stay tuned to see what we did next!

Monday, June 19, 2017

on my desk monday

It's been a long, long time since I've illustrated another author's words...but I'm doing it now! I'm going to be illustrating an updated version of this old book:


Doesn't look familiar? Well, does the author ring a bell?


Yes! It's that Eleanor Roosevelt! I'm honored to say that I will be the illustrator of an updated version of "When You Grow Up to Vote" by Eleanor Roosevelt!

It's going to be a bit of a challenge for me--I didn't realize how rusty I was being "only the illustrator" until now. But, hopefully, I can rise to the occasion...wish me luck!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

School visit, Slingerland NY!

Here is another school visit I did, all the way back in April! This one was in Slingerlands, NY where they did a One Book, One School Read (my favorite thing!) of Where the Mountain Meets the Moon:

Why do I love visiting schools that do this so much? Well, because the kids there are so awesome:

Of course, they are taught to be so awesome by their amazing teachers and librarians who take my little book and turn it into a school-wide opportunity for learning and community building.

For example, they used the idea of the red thread and had students draw who they were connected to:

They even had a red thread  wrap on all the walls of the school to show everyone was connected...with the red thread ended at a mountain, of course.

And this is the first time I've ever seen a class use my TEDx Talk as part of their lesson curriculum. Kids reflected on which parts of the books were like a window and which parts were like a mirror:

As well as pinpointing and illustrating the figurative language in the book:


Oh, and there were also goldfish swimming in the halls:

And, after the visit,  I received this:

Did I mention how the kids were so awesome? Thanks so much, Slingerlands!