Sunday, February 27, 2011


I was in Vancouver on business, which really means drawing at coffee shops! My favorite area was around Main Street which had two shops I loved drawing at, Gene and Our Town. We went to Our Town a couple of times, one night they had trivia night which was fun to observe - I got a question right! Prado on Commercial Drive was great too, lot's of light and designy. In Gastown I enjoyed the super long table at Salty Tongue Cafe. Urban Fare is a grocery for fresh veggies or breads or something for a quick bite to eat, I wish we had one in Calgary.

The breakfast was good!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

At last, Red Wagon arrived at the market!

Whew! Today is the official release day of Red Wagon in the USA (Feb 22 in Canada).

I am most comfortable drawing small scenes with just a few characters, so one of the challenges of Red Wagon was that all the pages are double page spreads with lots of critters and such. As the last few posts may have suggested, I solved this by often drawing the pages in pieces, sometimes in different sketchbooks and putting them together in photoshop later. This gives me lots of flexibility to change the composition and characters. I needed that for this picture as I had to make more than one attempt at it to get it right. Thankfully I had a great art director, Cecilia Yung, who helped me bring this picture to life.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Almost there ...

One more day until the official release of RED WAGON!

RED WAGON is today's ALA Booklist's Book of the day for Wednesday Feb 16, where it has received it's second starred review!

Starred Review from Booklist:

The creator of The Quiet Book (2010), a New York Times best-seller, offers a winning story of imaginative play that makes a worthy partner to Crockett Johnson’s Harold and the Purple Crayon (1955) and Antoinette Portis’ Not a Box (2007). Lucy, a fuzzy red fox, can’t wait to play with her new red wagon, but she doesn’t like her mother’s suggestion that she use it to go to the market: “That sounded like a chore. Lucy didn’t want to do chores.” Still, shopping list in paw, Lucy sets out, followed by a small menagerie of adorable animal pals. This title owes its delight to the well-balanced, deadpan disparity between the spare, straightforward text and the increasingly wild scenarios depicted in the digitally colored pencil illustrations. According to the words, the animals climb a hill, weather some rain, load up at the market, regroup after hitting a rock, and return home. The pictures, however, show a different story: along the way, the red wagon transforms from pirate ship to covered wagon to circus caravan to train to rocket ship to truck in detailed scenes children will want to revisit. Preschoolers will recognize the reality-blurring borders of their own made-up worlds; children on the cusp of independent reading will enjoy following the simple, bold-type sentences; and both audiences will hope for future adventures from Lucy and her friends.

— Gillian Engberg

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Bear with pretzel

The bear and little beaver seem excited about something.

Mike made me a animated Valentine HERE

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Cotton Candy

This little piggy has cotton candy! Another background character from Red Wagon. Sometime I draw a picture in little pieces, especially when it is a complicated drawing with lot's of things going on.

There is a lovely review of Red Wagon in the Wall Street Journal here:

Also there is a review of The Quiet Book from Saturday's Globe and Mail, it is interesting to read what gets noticed. This is the first one I think that picked out Aunt Tillie in particular.
The Globe and Mail article is here:

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Woolly Llama

This is a background character from Red Wagon, I had a lot of fun drawing her.

Over the weekend I found out that Red Wagon was accepted in this year Communication Arts Illustration Annual, Thank you to the judges!
And Red Wagon isn't alone, The Loud Book was accepted too.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Quiet Book in Japan

Here is The Quiet Book's Japanese cover. I think the script is very lovely, The Quiet Book will be available in half a dozen languages!

The Quiet Book is an ALSC 2011 Notable Children's Book

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A wagon well travelled

This old drawing of a kid pulling a wagon is, in part, what lead to my first picture book Nikolai The Only Bear - and my latest picture book Red Wagon.

A few years ago I sent a colored version of this drawing along with a bunch of others like it, to publishers of books I liked. Semadar Megged and Patti Gauch (who are both wonderful I might add) of Philomel Books contacted me and said they loved this drawing (and the others too!) They asked if I would like to do Nikolai - which of course I did.

A few years after that another (wonderful) editor at Philomel, Courtenay Lewis Palmer, asked if I had any stories I would like to illustrate. She actually remembered the drawing of the wagon and wondered if there was a story behind it!
I didn’t have one then, but I soon would!

RED WAGON is an Amazon Best Books of the Month for February 2011