Sunday, September 25, 2016

Something in Common

Joy Ang, Kim Smith, Karen Klassen, Jeremy Tankard, Jillan Tamaki, Jacqui Lee, Laura Bifano, Renata Liwska, Julie Morstad, Dave Whamond, and Josh Holinaty

What do all these illustrators have in common?
1/ They're all amazing illustrators, of course.
2/ They're all alumni of the Alberta College of Art and Design.
(Some are even my former students, and I will take full credit for not 'totally' messing them up.)
3/ They all have super new books!

Here's a handy list of those books:

July 26, 2016

101 Reasons Why I Am Not Taking A Bath 
illustrated by Joy Ang and written by Stacey McAnulty

No one likes baths. What a waste of time! There’s so much more important stuff to do! Plus, baths are super dangerous for a number of reasons. You want me to list a few? Most household accidents happen in the bathroom. Scientific fact! A kid in Texas turned into a prune after taking a bath. Scientific fact! If you need more evidence, allow me to point you to an excellent book called 101 Reasons Why I'm Not Taking a Bath. It’s full of insightful and logical reasons why you should definitely not be subjected to this useless ritual.

Random House Preview
Kirkus Review

August 9, 2016

Hey, Coach!
illustrated by Kim Smith and written by Linda Ashman

GOAL! This sprightly rhyming picture book captures all the fun and energy of very young children having a blast on the soccer field. Over the course of their first season, the players progress from unsure newcomers to enthusiastic good sports who love the game—and even score!

Kid Lit Review

September 13, 2016

You Are Two 
illustrated by Karen Klassen and written by Sara O'Leary

The second in a three-book series,You Are Two is a charming read-aloud that addresses the baby directly. Supersaturated ink-and-wash illustrations play with pattern and perspective and lend a contemporary, artistic feel to the book. The diverse group of babies pictured comes to life on the page and adds to the text’s warmth and broad appeal.

Kirkus Starred Review
Seven Impossible Things review of You Are One

September 26, 2016

Hungry Bird 
written and illustrated by
Jeremy Tankard

The hilarious blue-feathered anti-hero who first starred in Jeremy Tankard's high-flying debut, Grumpy Bird, returns in another laugh out loud melodrama. For every child who has ever needed a snack right now, and for every parent who has had to cope with a hangry, fussy child, Hungry Bird is sure to satisfy.

Kirkus Review
Publishers Weekly Review
Quill and Quire Review

October 4, 2016

Gertie's Leap to Greatness 
illustrated by Jillian Tamaki and written by Kate Beasley

Gertie Reece Foy is 100% Not-From-Concentrate awesome. She has a daddy who works on an oil rig, a great-aunt who always finds the lowest prices at the Piggly Wiggly, and two loyal best friends. So when her absent mother decides to move away from their small town, Gertie sets out on her greatest mission yet: becoming the best fifth grader in the universe to show her mother exactly what she'll be leaving behind. There's just one problem: Seat-stealing new girl Mary Sue Spivey wants to be the best fifth grader, too. And there is simply not enough room at the top for the two of them.

Entertainment Weekly Excerpt
Kirkus Review
Publishers Weekly Review

October 11, 2016

I am Josephine 
illustrated by Jacqui Lee and written by Jan Thornhill

Playful, kid-friendly illustrations in vibrant colors paired with minimal text make this an easy introduction to the classification of living things. Endmatter goes into further detail about the unique characteristics of humans, mammals, animals, and living things.

Kirkus Review
49th Shelf Review
Publishers Weekly Review

October 11, 2016

In The Red Canoe
illustrated by Laura Bifano and written by Leslie A. Davidson

Fish and herons, turtles and dragonflies, beaver lodges and lily pads—a multitude of wonders enchant the child-narrator, her loving grandpa and any other nature lovers along for the ride in this tender, beautifully illustrated picture book. Baby ducklings ride their mama’s back; an osprey rises with a silver fish clutched in her talons; a loon cries in a star-flecked night. Rhythmic, rhyming quatrains carry the story forward in clean paddle strokes of evocative imagery.

November 1, 2016

Waiting For Snow
illustrated by Renata Liwska and written by Marsha Diane Arnold

Badger cannot wait one more minute for it to snow. When his friend Hedgehog explains that everything comes in its time, Badger is as unconvinced and impatient as ever. But Badger’s friends have a few tricks up their sleeve to try to get the snow’s attention and distract their pal in the meantime. In the end, Badger sees there’s no trick—only waiting—until at last, it’s time.

Kirkus Review
Publishers Weekly Review

November 18, 2016

written and illustrated by Julie Morstad

Every day is full of endless possibilities - especially TODAY! The simplest moment has the potential to become extraordinary in this beautiful book by Julie Morstad. From getting dressed, to having breakfast, to choosing ways to go, Today has a little something to delight everyone.

I couldn't found any reviews, but here are some reviews for her recent book When Green Becomes Tomatoes written by Julie Fogliano

NY Times Review
School Library Journal
Kirkus Review

December 27, 2016

illustrated by Dave Whamond and written by Robert Munsch

Ashley hates it when her mom puts braids in her hair. It looks nice when it's done, but she has to sit still for hours while her mom brushes and pulls and braids: back and forth, up and down, round and round. It takes ALLLL day, and Ashley never has time to do anything fun. That is, until Grandma comes for a visit, and they decide that it's time to braid MOM'S hair!

49th Shelf Review

Frank and Laverne is another book from earlier this year

National Reading Campaign
CM Magazine Review

March 15 2017

Liam Takes a Stand 
illustrated by Josh Holinaty and written by Troy Wilson

Lister and Lester are identical twins who do identical things. But their constant striving to outdo each other means their little brother, Liam, is always left out. When Lester’s Lemonade Universe and Lister’s Lemonade Multiverse open for business, there’s no role for Liam. He does odd jobs around the neighborhood while Lister and Lester’s competition spirals into overdrive and their lemonade stands get increasingly, outrageously out of hand.
This book is a ways off, but I'm super stoked to see it! And read it of course too.

And if your an ACAD grad that has a book coming out let me know, and sorry I missed you!

Monday, September 5, 2016


These custom painted hard hats were a collaboration between cSPACE projects and a group of super artists, designers, and illustrators that RANDM collective organized to celebrate the reconstruction of King Edward cSPACE in South Calgary which not coincidently will soon be the home of our collaborative studio collective!

Tara Put                                                                            Dena Seiferling

Mary Haasdyk                                                                   Hilary Jenkins

Mike Kerr                                                                          Lyndon Navalta

Silas Kaufman                                                                  Kyle Metcalf

Mary Sanche and Finn Matthews                                 Christina Sengsavang

Monday, August 29, 2016

Nina Laden

Writing and illustrate your own book can be super satisfying because you're involved in the entire process of creating the book – plus you get all the credit! But collaborating with a writer can have it's own unique rewards, especially if you form a connection with the writer.

In the case of illustrating Once Upon a Memory working with the writer Nina Laden has gone beyond a working relationship and gifted Renata with a wonderful friendship. Last week Nina and her equally talented husband Booth Buckley generously shared their lovely home and rich island lifestyle for six amazing days of superb food, drink, inspiring attitude, and creative energy.

Nina is an experienced illustrator and author with a great backlist including the impressive board book, Peek A Who, which has sold over a million copies. A few years ago Renata was honoured to be the first artist that Nina had shared her writing with. Giving up your story can't be easy for any artist. And is particularly challenging for someone so passionate about their work like Nina. 

Just writing a book may seem easier – a picture book story can sometimes write itself in a day, where as illustrating a book is always going to take months to do! But writing is a labor of love, and truthfully, rarely does come easily. So giving it to another has to be daunting. But with the right people working together, wonderful things can happen.

Nina's island home is a wonderful place for it to happen. She loves walking the beach looking for interesting stones and letting her imagination run free exploring ideas and stories. Renata loved it too, although she found it a challenge to find a unique rock such as a shiny agate among the multitudes of plain stones on the beach. The process was an apt analogy to writing.

There are lot's of ideas for books but finding the one that speaks to you and is unique is a challenge. Renata and Nina are hoping to find such a story to work together on again. They haven't yet, but if they keep beach combing their imaginations they will find something interesting. In the meantime Nina's next book to be illustrated by another is If I Had A Little Dream which is illustrator Melissa Castrillon's debut book – we've had a sneak peak and it's an impressive debut!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016


An early gift arrived for Renata from her editor. Can she wait until the holidays to open it?

Well of course not! Renata is not very good at waiting let me tell you.

And as it so happens, Badger is not very good at waiting either.

Which makes them great together!

It's a long wait from when you make a book and when you finally get a printed copy, which makes it even more exciting I would say!

Monday, August 1, 2016

RANDM Press Release

OFFICIAL! We are pleased to announce that RANDM collective is starting on the ground floor (literally and figuratively) of an exciting, and brand new creative hub in Calgary – cSPACE King Edward. Our vision is a true artist collective, a place where creative individuals with an interest in art, craft, design, illustration, etc can come together to collaborate, share, inspire, and make stuff.

As you can see in the pictures above the building is currently under construction as is our plans. The basic concept is to create a space that is a blank canvas. A versatile studio environment that can be utilized for a variety of creative activities such as workshops, a gallery exhibition space, or to make art and design. 

In coming up with a working model for RANDM collective we've compared it to a yoga studio or a fitness club. Except we're stretching the imagination and exercising creativity!

What's next? We want to start programming and scheduling right now! We're estimating we will be ready to roll in early 2017. But we want to start talking to folks right away about ideas for workshops, collaborative projects, and shows. So if you have some ideas, talk to us soon so we can book you in and start things rolling.