Chirp magazine asked me to write and illustrate a short story for their current winter issue. I took it as an opportunity to work with Mike, by having him write it - while I illustrated it. The story is inspired by a Jack Rabbit that used to live in our neighbourhood.
As part of our studio's grand opening and the celebration of the publication of The Christmas Quiet Book we are swapping holiday doodles with other illustrators and designers. I will include some of these (from the Christmas Quiet Book).
Now that I just finished a book, I took a moment to catch up on some reading - of picture books. These are a couple of books I picked up at Shelf Life Books a great local independent bookstore that carries fine books.
My Grandpa by Marta Altés is a lovely story that made me tear up in a happy way!
Bear Despair by Gaëtan Dorémus is a story of Bear losing his toy bear,
the drawing is very expressive and so unique. It's funny too, in a John Klassen sort of way.
Mike just got his latest from Pages on Kensington another independent bookstore we like to visit,
by Deborah UnderwoodReviewed by Rita Lorraine Hubbard | Released: October 16, 2012 Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children (32 pages)
Christmas is known for lots of things: giving, receiving, long-time-no-see faces, egg nog, hot chocolate, and shredding wrapping paper to get to the wonderful gift inside. But who would ever think of Christmas as a time for quiet?
Author Deborah Underwood does. In The Christmas Quiet Book, Ms. Underwood reveals all the ways that people—and in the case of this book, forest animals—have been enjoying the quiet of the Christmas holidays without even realizing that’s what they were doing.
There’s “snow angel” quiet, “drinking cocoa” quiet, ”Christmas lights on” quiet, “uh-oh, a fuse blew” quiet, and a host of other “quiets” that speak loudly enough to warm any chilly soul. The text in this book is sweet, brief and age-appropriate for the picture book age it targets, yet it is also able to speak volumes to nostalgic adults about the beauty of Christmases past and the promise of warm memories in the future.
Artist Renata Liwska’s illustrations are the snowy icing on the cake for this “quiet” Christmas book. Among the treasure of snow-laden pictures, there are bunnies making snow angels, owls ice skating, and even fluffy little lambs forgetting their lines in the Christmas play.
This heartwarming book is destined to become a Christmas favorite to read just after sunset, when supper is finished, the cocoa is ready, the baby has settled into mama’s lap, the cottony snow has begun to fall, and the last of the beloved out-of-town relatives have taken their places around the crackling fireplace.
Merry Christmas. Reviewer Rita Lorraine Hubbard is the author of African Americans of Chattanooga: A History of Unsung Heroes. She is an accomplished former school educator and currently writes for Rosen Publications, providing supplemental reading for K–12 schools across the U.S.
By Deborah Underwood and Renata Liwska (illustrator) Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, $12.99, 32 pages
Following the success of the adorable The Quite Bookand The Loud Book, Deborah Underwood and Renata Liwska team up again for The Christmas Quiet Book. In this soothing ode to the many happenings of Christmastime, readers are treated to the delights of the holidays from a less hectic, hushed perspective. The tone is set from the first simple line: “Christmas is a quiet time.” From there the sweet cast of animal characters from the previous two books enjoy special and sometimes mischievous moments of Christmas and winter: searching for presents and getting caught, making snow angels, sleeping during the Nutcracker, and forgetting lines in the Christmas pageant. Adults and children alike – even those living in less wintery climes – can relate to many of the events. Who hasn’t brought home a too tall tree or had to endure peculiar food gifts from distance relatives, like Aunt Tillie’s pickle and banana stuffing?
I especially like the book’s design with Underwood’s short text along the bottom of the page, leaving plenty of room for Liwska’s detailed pencil illustrations colored in less saturated tones to complement the quiet theme. Even the book’s paper signifies peace and quiet with its matte finish as opposed to the glossier paper used for The Loud Book. What could be a hotchpotch list of holiday events is successfully pulled together by the connected scenes from page to page. This delightful holiday gem is perfect for bedtime or anytime you want to serenely celebrate Christmas time.
Thank you to the little readers and their parents who stopped by MonkeyShines for my book reading! It was such a pleasure to read to you and I hope you enjoyed it too. It has really inspired me, and given me a second wind as I head into the last couple of days before the book I am working on is due.
And thanks to Monkeyshines for hosting the event.
(a lovely independent children's bookshop here in Calgary)
Please join me this Saturday at 2pm for a reading launch of my new book The Christmas Quiet Book at MonkeyShines Childrens Books in Marda-Loop. 113, 2215 - 33rd Ave S.W. Calgary Also, if you know of any children (daughters, sons, nieces, nephews, grandchildren's, friends children, and such) bring them along so I can read for them from my book! We will have a little swag as well, including special gift tag/stickers featuring characters from the book. Thank you and I hope to see you there! PS. Please pass this on to others who might be interested!
Some pictures (8) of my sketchbooks from The Christmas Quiet Book have been posted on the Amazon page for the book HERE. This is me just starting a finished drawing with the book dummy as reference. I think this was drawn at a coffee shop in Vancouver. Click to enlarge.
Mike and I will be having an open house at our RANDM collective studio tomorrow from 5-8 pm. We will be showing some recent work including a preview of a short story for a magazine that Mike wrote and I illustrated.
During the show we will just be hanging out and sketching, you are welcome to join us.
PRE SHOW at RANDM Collective on the lower level of Art Central in downtown Calgary. 100 7 Ave SW.
The Original Art Exhibition of Children's Book Illustration at the Society of Illustrators opens this evening. I was very happy that The Christmas Quiet Book was included! The show is up until Dec 22. I was at the show a couple of years ago and it was amazing to see so much great art in one place and in person - I would highly recommend visiting if you are in NY.
Here are some of the drawings for TCQB. The first one was a quick thumbnail sketch to get approval for the idea and it was quickest to sketch it on the computer. The second is the finished drawing which was used in the book.
We had our first Sketchclub at the studio and everybody had a lovely time! It was a lot of fun to get together with other illustrators and draw just for fun. Illustrators Carolyn Fisher, Jacqueline Hudon-Verrelli, Byron Eggenschwiler were our guests and we greatly appreciate them stopping by. (I am looking forward to doing it again soon.)
The Christmas Quiet Book is officially coming out in less than a month! Here are some of the original drawings done for the cover, some changed as the cover progressed.
Review are coming in for the book and so far so good (whew!) here is one from Publishers Weekly:
The team that celebrated various kinds of quiet in The Quiet Book revisits that theme with a holiday twist. Underwood again exhibits a flair for selecting evocative scenarios and moods: “Hoping for a snow day quiet” and “knocking with mittens quiet” immediately set a wintry backdrop, while “blown fuse quiet” and “shattered ornament quiet” speak to the more frustrating moments of holiday prep. Watching the furry animals in Liwska’s subtly hued pencil drawings participate in a Christmas pageant, make gingerbread houses, and listen for sleigh bells adds to a sense of gentle anticipation. Reverence for the quieter aspects of the season is indeed a gift. Ages 4–8. Agent: Erin Murphy, Erin Murphy Literary Agency. Illustrator’s agent: Holly McGhee, Pippin Properties. (Sept.)
Now that I have a studio, I am making coffee at work sometimes. We have a little electric kettle and a hand grinder that works pretty well (the coffee smells so good after grinding). My editor sent me the coffee - to give me a boost!
I am just posing for this photo. When I finished high school I wasn't sure what I was going to do so I signed up for a typing class because I thought it might lead to something to do. Anyway I moved away before the class began so I never learned to type properly. Worked out fine in the end, eventually found something to do!
This is at our neighbour Janine's, she has a typewriter book project in the works:
A little perk of having an agent, besides them handling the contracts (whew!), I can get books of other artists and authors at Pippin. Pippin Properties is the agency I am with and they call the artists and authors that work with them Pips. Here are a couple very enjoyable ones.
It's A Tiger has just been released. Written by David LaRochelle and illustrated by fellow Pip - Jeremy Tankard, It's about a Tiger (obviously) that keeps popping in on a little boy. I can imagine a lot of giggles and roars when this book is read.
You Are a LION! And Other Fun Yoga Poses was released last March. Written and Illustrated by another Pip - Taeeun Yoo, It's about doing yoga poses (obviously) and shows kids how to do them and features lovely drawing like the cover that bring alive the imagination. Also makes me want to do yoga.
If you ever get the chance to see cartoonist Lynda Barry take it! I participated in a short workshop that she put on for the illustration conference, Icon 7. It was a very unique experience, her workshop showed a method of finding the stories you have inside and putting them down on paper. It worked really well!
A few weeks ago I attended Icon 7, the illustration conference held every couple of years. I attended Icon for the first time after graduating from art school when it was held in Santa Fe, New Mexico - which turned out to be an important trip for the development of my work as it was where I started sketching regularly in a sketchbook.
This time I met some wonderful people and heard some great talks.
I was thrilled to have the opportunity to spend a little time with Eileen and Marc Rosenthal, they were lovely! I have enjoyed Marc's work for some time as editorial, sequential, and children's book illustration. Eileen has just begun writing children's books which are illustrated by Marc.
Their first book together is I Must Have Bobo! , it is a sweet tale about a boy named Willy, his toy monkey Bobo, and his mischievous cat named Earl. They have followed it up with I'll Save You Bobo! which is my favourite of the series so far as Willy travels to the jungle with the help of his imagination and crayons.