Monday, January 27, 2020

Finding your Niche as an Illustrator - by Rob Sayegh Jr


Let’s not kid ourselves, it is really hard to find a way into the children’s publishing world. Through the SCBWI, mentorships, workshops, and basic trial and error, I have learned the steps to take to begin a career in children’s books. The harder part was to find how I could authentically embed my personality, style, and vision into my journey.

I love the moment when I realize why and how I am going to create something by exploring new possibilities within my creative process. It wasn’t until about a year and a half ago I was able to move past this idea of being stuck by anchoring myself to three things I felt extraordinarily passionate about. These three values now guide every piece of artwork that I show to an art director, my agent, my family, and social media. My guiding values help me translate how my process and experience from work that reflects who I am on and off the paper.

I found my guiding values by creating three circles in a Venn diagram, broken down into the three categories that make every great author/illustrator identifiable: genre, artistic style, and subject matter. I hoped to establish a baseline from which I could critique my work. I wanted to learn how each piece interacted with the diagram to remind myself to genuinely represent who I am in my work.

For each of the three circles, I didn’t think about marketable or trendy answers that paralleled today’s book lists. Instead, I thought about what I enjoyed creating and reading. It was very liberating to think this way. It was also the best way to get projects that matched my passions. Now, an art director might think that I would be the perfect candidate for a project because of what shows through in my portfolio. It was scary to define myself because it meant that there would be a lot of work that would not fit my niche. But sometimes, turning down the wrong project for me is for the best.

Below is a look into my thought process and what I made of the Venn diagram.

Genre:

What picture books YA novels do you love to read?

I adore funny and witty picture books. Jared Chapman, John Bond, Bob Staake, Dav Pilkey, and of course, the authors of the most fabulous horror book about a bunny ever written, Bunnicula by Deborah and James Howe I internalize stories and illustrations best as a reader when I laugh the cleverness of a joke or all the layers behind a good punchline. Whether a New Yorker cover or a silly advertisement, I appreciate the skill it took to create such a compelling story. It inspires me to show more layers in my work. I am experimenting with new ways to show that side of me.

My answer: Funny stories that appeal to both kids and their parents


Artistic Style:

How do you create your work? Who are your favorite illustrators?

This was the most challenging circle in my Venn diagram. The question that helped me the most was, “can I do this for 12 hours a day, every day?” I am not a detailed illustrator. I am not someone who loves spending days or weeks on a single image. I know what I liked as a viewer. Both as a child and today, I can stare at an Ezra Jack Keats or an Eric Carle book for hours. The simplicity and texture of each component on the page blow me away. Keats and Carle will always be who I aspire to be as an artist.

While I was creating the Venn diagram, I was also beginning to experiment with the idea of taking pictures of textures to use in my work. I would take photos on my commute from my job to my home in NYC on my phone to inspire my drawings that night. I didn’t exactly know how it was going to work out, but I loved the idea of bringing something personal to my illustration work.

My answer: Simple shapes and textures.


Subject Matter

What do you love to draw?

I would imagine this is the easiest question to answer for most artists. I think every illustrator has that one thing they love to draw. For me, it is dogs. I am DOG-OBSESSED. It’s something my friends and family know about me but also is something I love sharing about myself. I have two dogs and a dream of owning three more. I’ve worked at a dog toy company, and cannot pass a dog on the street without saying hello.

I used to always draw dogs, but I never paired the illustrations with textures, shapes, nor humor. They were just dogs on the page. There was no consistency. My challenge was to tackle all three parts of the diagram, simultaneously.

My answer: Dogs and animals (anything cuddly)

The Outcome



Once I had three giant circles in my notebook that said “funny, simple shapes and textures, dogs (and other cuddly creatures),” it was very easy to see the holes in my portfolio. Not one of my pieces held all three elements, which for me meant I was not putting out my best work,

The three circles became my mission statement. I still refer back to the statement as I create new pieces of personal illustration, promos, and client work. I needed to create a lot of new work for my portfolio,.I truly believe that the new work I have created since my Venn diagram has helped me find new client work through my rebranding journey.

What I have found is when I consistently push elements of who I am through my art, the easier it is for someone to get a sense of what I represent and why. It has been easier for me to pitch my work coherently and concisely. I don’t feel as bad when I don’t get a project because I know it wasn’t the best fit.

The diagram has also made me much more productive because I no longer struggle with how or what to start creating. My habits formed around what I love most, and I continue to build new techniques and understanding of my three anchor points. Where they have limited my focus, I feel they have allowed me to grow much further. The result is a richer, more engaged base and a professional community that has opened many doors for me.

I create more personal work that becomes part of my portfolio than ever before. On top of that, I am having more fun with all aspects of my author and illustration career because my passions weave through every step of my process.

Attached is a Venn diagram you can download and use for your reference. I hope this diagram helps you as much as it helped me.







Here are some of my pieces that represent my mission statement:























Rob Sayegh Jr is a former toy designer turned author and illustrator of children’s books. A 2019 SCBWI Mentee Award winner, Rob’s clients include Scholastic, Abrams, HMH, and more. Rob is represented by Justin Rucker of Shannon Associates.

You can see more of Rob’s work at www.robsayart.com and @robsayart on Instagram and Twitter.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Finding Freedom in the Digital World: How I Learned To Become Slightly Less Anxious and Love The Tablet - by Tenaya Lena Gunter Brown



(disclaimer: From the mind of a digital noob)















Once upon a time in an era nearly forgotten, called the 1990’s, when digital art was just a wee babe, I became convinced that it was The Enemy. Digital art wasn’t “real” art; it was “cheating”. I don’t know who told me this, maybe it was an idea I pieced together from many different encounters. But what it led to was a refusal to try something new (not to mention a certain amount of judgemental snobbery on my part). The only way to be an artist was to use traditional media and to struggle your way through. I also thought that this… 

paintings by: John William Waterhouse, Albrecht Durer and Leonardo Da Vinci

...was the only great art and had to be my goal. Hmmmm. Definitely not going to lead to problems.

I worked with this mindset for a long time. And for a long time when making art I felt scared, stuck, and I just wasn’t having much fun. I thought the answer must be that I just wasn’t good enough, and the only solution I could think of was to get myself a DeLorean, gun it to 88, and go back in time in order to go to art school instead of the liberal arts education I had chosen. 

A whole heap of things happened between then and now, and they all played a part, but one of them was this…. 


One year, not long ago, my partner was gifted an iPad pro and pencil. Guess who’s iPad it is now ;) It was a magical key, one that opened the door to creation and fun. (A door to which there are many keys. Or are there many doors?)

Original embroidery and stitching

I had a story idea that I was determined would use real stitch work on fabric combined with traditional drawing/painting/collage for the illustrations. I was a ball of anxiety just thinking about getting it to work, so I put off trying. I finally got as far as creating the stitch work and… I was stuck. The idea of redoing the stitching if I messed it up experimenting was overwhelming, not just because of the normal anxieties, but it might trigger my tendinitis (not to mention all the fabric I’d be going through). So I took a picture of it and decided to experiment in Procreate. I thought I would just play around and get a clearer image of what I wanted to try out back in the studio using traditional mediums, but before I knew it, I was in an exciting world of layers and multiplying. I could layer fabric with paint, and thread with pencil lines. I finished a piece in a couple days that I had been mulling over for months. It was elating. And my monstrous fear began to shrink to a more manageable size.

Beginnings of the digital sketch over photo of stitched fabric and finished Mending illustration

I suppose I had to learn for myself that no matter what method you’re using to make your art, it’s not cheating. A tool is a tool. It’s about the journey and the view at the end, not what boots you wore or if you needed a walking stick. Digital art takes just as much experimenting as other mediums to find what works for you. And it’s not always going to be the same answer for every project. You can find out what digital brush someone used for a piece just like you can ask what tube of paint or type of watercolor brush someone used IRL. But then you have to bring the artist to the table, question what happens when you layer that brush over another, or what happens when you change the layer settings for that perfect orange dress.

Layers layers layers. Turning the dress layers on one by one.

Baby bear’s dress is made up of a bunch of different processes and layers. A gouache painting, pan pastels, a cut out piece of painted tissue paper & colored pencil.


My experiments for baby bears dress using traditional media

The photos of those experiments have been turned into different layers. Then I cut up bits of those layers and collaged them in different spots to change things up a bit. I fiddled around with the layer settings and then drew digitally on top of it all. I didn’t know that's what would lead to my happy place, I had to find my way there. But when I did, it was juuuust right!


Finished illustration of Baby Bear

It seems everyone has some amount of fear/self-doubt when confronting the blank page and we all have different reasons and different solutions. Part of the solution is of course finding emotional tools to help you work with your fear. For me the other part was finding a physical tool that gave me a hand and made me feel just a little bit safe within the chaos of creativity. A little buddy :) While my tablet buddy is orderly and consistent, I can go wild in the studio. Well, my wild still isn’t that wild, but you get the idea. I can let go a little, enjoy watching my watercolors wander and feeling the buttery smoosh of oil pastels on paper. I can experiment, make mistakes and see where they lead me. I can have fun! 


All of this may be old hat to many, but there’s always something new to try out there. Digital art just happens to be my new. And it’s taken me a while to learn that being open to possibilities can lead to unexpected results (and is just more fun than the alternative). Sometimes new things will leave you feeling unimpressed while others leave you with a feeling of elation and that something new is on the horizon. And that, well, that’s a fabulous feeling.

I’m still at the beginning of this journey and I’m sure a lot will change (I sure hope it will) and I hope that I discover new ways of working over and over again. And I wish the same for all of you!

Has anyone else out there discovered a new way of working that just tickles them, a new tool, or just a new amazing color that you just can’t get enough of?

__________________________________


If you're trying out digital art or just looking for some new brushes:

I'm loving Vivien Mildenberger's Procreate brushes. She even includes a little pdf tutorial on one way to use masking to create multi-colored watercolor textures.
https://gumroad.com/vvberger

In Photoshop, I've found the Kyle Webster brushes are all you need. I think they are included now. Try the Wamazing watercolor brushes!

A class from Kenard Pak on how he uses taditional media with digital tools
(doesn't cover basics of photoshop, but ideas for how to use it)
https://courses.storytelleracademy.com/courses/intensive-textures-in-your-illustrations-with-kenard-pak-

There are hundreds of free tutorials on youtube on the basics of both Procreate and PS. If anyone has one they love feel free to share!

__________________________________



Tenaya Lena Gunter Brown illustrates and writes for children and anyone else in need of a story. She's currently living in Ohio. 
She misses the sea breeze.

You can follow her on Instagram and twitter 
@tenayalena


Monday, January 13, 2020

INTERVIEW WITH LYNN PORTNOFF, Art Director, Penguin Workshop - by Eddie Edwards



I asked Lynn to share her thoughts about hiring and working with illustrators. Hint: SHE WANTS YOUR POSTCARDS!

How long have you been at Penguin and what is a typical day like? 
I’ve been with Penguin Workshop, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers for 5 years and I’ve been the Art Director for 2 years. My typical day is very busy since I oversee the art and design for each of the 225+ books a year that the imprint publishes. I review and approve all of the artists who are hired to illustrate our books. I’m also available to my staff of 8 designers throughout the day to give art direction and answer questions. 

Do Art Directors at Penguin specialize in a particular age range or type of book? If so, what is your specialty? 
Penguin Young Readers is organized by imprint and each imprint has their own Art Director and design team. Penguin Workshop is actually comprised of 6 imprints; Penguin Workshop, Grosset & Dunlap, Fredrick Warne, The World of Eric Carle, Mad Libs, and Penguin Licenses so I’m lucky to be able to make every kind of book for every kind of reader ages 0-12, some YA and even some adult novelty books.

Can you talk a bit about your process of choosing an illustrator? Do you have a postcard file, do you look through instagram, etc?
I do have a postcard file! I actually prefer postcards over any other form of communication. Please send them to me Lynn Portnoff, Art Director, Penguin Random House, 1745 Broadway, NY NY 10019. I’m also a big Instagram fan. The process always starts with a meeting with the editor to find out the age group, genre, main characters, key plot points, and comp titles. Then I start rifling though my postcard file and combing the internet. Unfortunately the artists I’m dying to work with don’t always match with the books that are on the list. I can have as many as 10 artists to present and I try to get at least 2 to 3 approved since you can run into scheduling problems and first choices aren’t always available.


I love the 90th Anniversary Edition of The Little Engine That Could. So adorable! And your design is so fresh. Would you talk a bit about how you went about choosing the wonderful Dan Santat? 
Oh, thank you! That’s one of my favorite books that I’ve worked on! For the 90th celebration of the book we wanted an artist who was going to have a fresh take the iconic engine but still keep the classic feel. We also wanted a really special artist and Dan fit the bill perfectly.




How many books do you work on at one time? 
I personally design up to 10 books a season and they are all in various stages.

Let’s say you have a new illustrator (or a couple of new illustrators) in mind for a project. Do you usually ask them to do a sample before you hire them?
We might do that if a licensor is involved and the artist needs to be approved by them but I typically don’t find samples necessary. You can tell from a portfolio what an artist is capable of. 

Now imagine you have hired a new illustrator. Would you list the general steps of your process? 
Once the fee and the schedule are agreed upon they will be sent specs and art notes. For a cover they get a cover concept and notes about the characters. For an interior they will receive art notes in a manuscript and a PDF of the layout so they know what size the art should be and how the text will be incorporated. The artist delivers 4 rounds: rough sketches, revised sketches, final art, and revised final art. At each stage they will get notes to incorporate. Sometimes there are more rounds and I even work with an artist who skips the sketch stage altogether and goes straight to final art. The sketches are full size B&W pencil sketches that are either scanned live art or created digitally. The final art I receive is almost always created digitally, but I do have a few artists that deliver live art via snail mail and we send it out to have it professionally scanned.

Are you drawn to a portfolio that has a variety of work for different ages and genres or do you prefer a really focused portfolio (e.g. all picture book or  all chapter book or all non-fiction)?
It makes no difference how many styles or genres you have, I’m only looking for talent. I’m asking myself, can this artist carry this book? If I see one piece of art that is off, it’s a pass. The best portfolios are the ones that show a ton of work that is all at the same level of quality. That’s why I like Instagram. You can see the difference between the artists that draw at a consistently high level every day and the ones that labored on 10 or so perfect pieces for a portfolio. 

What is one thing you love to see in a portfolio?
I like thoughtful color palettes. That could mean bright bold colors, unexpected color combinations, or maybe a limited palette. It can be anything as long as it’s thoughtful. 

What is one thing that you find undesirable in a portfolio? 
Unless you’re really good at hand lettering or typography please avoid adding type to your art. The wrong lettering can really distract from your art. Most Art Directors and Designers want to do their own lettering anyway so unless you’re going for a lettering career as well I would skip it. 

And finally, Pet Peeve? Is there something an illustrator might do that drives you nutty?
The only thing that drives me nuts is artists that deliver black and white art as RGB JPGs. It’s grayscale TIFFs people! Other than that I’m pretty easy to work with.

Thanks Lynn!

Eddie Edwards is an illustrator and a recipient of the SCBWI 2019 Mentorship Award. You can find her at helloeddie.com and on twitter and instagram at @helloeddieillo.

Monday, December 23, 2019

2020 Preview

Here's a preview of the KidlitArtists books coming out in 2020 - the preview so far features 24 books! 

We'll continue to update as we get more book covers and descriptions.

Amber Alvarez
by Diana Murray and Amber Alvarez



See lions snuggle on the savanna and groundhogs play on the prairie in Diana Murray's 
Wild About Dads, a heartwarming picture book that celebrates dads of all kinds―
featuring illustrations by Amber Alvarez!
Dads can help you reach up high,
and help to keep you warm and dry.
Dads are strong, dads are brave,
but sometimes dads could use a shave.
Everyone loves dads―humans, lions, frogs, prairie dogs, and even pelicans! 
See all these animals snuggle their little ones in this sweet, rhyming picture book 
that celebrates fatherhood in its many forms.
Perfect for Father’s Day and showing dads how much they mean to you 
every day of the year.


Lisa Anchin
by Linda Elovitz Marshall and Lisa Anchin



Discover the fascinating life of world-renowned scientist Jonas Salk, 
whose pioneering discoveries changed the world forever.

Dr. Jonas Salk is one of the most celebrated doctors and medical researchers 
of the 20th century. The child of immigrants who never learned to speak English, 
Jonas was struck by the devastation he saw when the soldiers returned from 
battle after WWII. Determined to help, he worked to become a doctor and 
eventually joined the team that created the influenza vaccine. But Jonas wanted 
to do more. As polio ravaged the United States--even the president was not 
immune!--Jonas decided to lead the fight against this terrible disease. In 1952, 
Dr. Jonas Salk invented the polio vaccine, which nearly eliminated polio from this 
country. For the rest of his life, Dr. Salk continued to do groundbreaking medical 
research at the Salk Institute, leaving behind a legacy that continues to make the 
world a better place every day.

This compelling picture book biography sheds light on Dr. Salk's groundbreaking journey 
and the importance of vaccination.


Brooke Boynton Hughes
by Barbara Bottner and Brooke Boynton Hughes



Help Archer find his missing turtle hiding in the pages of this picture book!

How Many Times Have I Told You to Pick Up This Room?
Archer's pet turtle is missing! Mom is sure he's somewhere in Archer's messy bedroom...
or the back yard... or somewhere in the house. Archer looks everywhere inside and out 
but can't find his turtle until he learns to think like one! However, sharp-eyed young readers 
will easily find the missing pet hiding thoughout the messy pages of this book.
Here is an imaginative and interactive story with the added bonus of showing why 
it's a good idea to pick up your toys.

Allison Farrell
by Joan Holub and Allison Farrell


When the road signs take a vacation, chaos and hilarity ensue--
and they quickly learn how important they are.

School is ending for the summer, and the stick figures on the school crossing sign are 
jealous of all the vacation plans they hear the students making. The stick figures 
work hard--maybe they deserve a vacation, too! So they abandon their signpost and 
set off on an adventure, inviting along all the other underappreciated road signs they 
meet on the way. It's all fun and games for a while, especially when they stumble 
upon a fantastic amusement park. 
But the people they've left behind are feeling their absence, and soon there are traffic 
tangles and lost pedestrians everywhere. The signs are more important than they 
realized, and now it's time for them to save the day!

Irena Freitas
Thoughts are Air
written by Michael Arndt, illustrated by Irena Freitas
Dial Books, Fall 2020
A picture book written in verse by Michael Arndt, illustrated by Irena Freitas
The book uses the alchemy of air, water, and earth as metaphors to explore the 
transformation of our thoughts into our words and actions and ultimately their impact on 
the world around us.  



Kimberly Gee


Bear is very, very, very GLAD today! He’s taking his first ballet class. 
But he’s a little nervous too. This sweet and silly picture book is an honest exploration 
of feelings that little ones—and grown-ups!—are sure to relate to.

Bear is so excited that today is dance day! He has his new leggings, slippers, 
and tutu, and he is ready to go. But when he gets there, he feels a little shy, a little unsure, 
and even a little afraid. What can make him feel better? Dancing, of course!

This charming companion to Mad, Mad Bear is a celebration of how stepping out and 
doing the things we love makes us feel happy…even if we are a little apprehensive at first!

Susie Ghahremani
Marcus Ewert and Susie Ghahremani


With whimsical, rhyming stanzas, She Wanted to be Haunted offers a delightful, 
lyrical twist on the ever-important question of how to be your very best self.
Clarissa the cottage is adorable . . . bright pink, with windows that wink, and 
flowers growing all around. But Clarissa doesn't want to be adorable--being cute is boring.
Couldn't she be like her father, a creepy castle home to vampires and crypts? 
Or like her mother, a witch's hut full of spells and smells? If only she were haunted! 
Then she'd be less ordinary . . . What will it take for Clarissa to go from adorable to horrible?


Susie Ghahremani
Little Muir's Night
John Muir and Susie Ghahremani
August 2020


Jessica Lanan
A Kid of Their Own

 Megan Dowd Lambert and Jessica Lanan


 In this fresh and funny follow-up to the Ezra Jack Keats Honor Book A Crow of His Own, rooster Clyde is forced to adjust to new roommates on the farm when Fran the goat and her kid, Rowdy, take up residence. Can Clyde handle having a new kid in town?

Rooster Clyde has just settled in and found his voice when everyone demands that he take his hard-earned crow down a notch so as to not disturb newcomer Rowdy. That doesn't sit well with Clyde. Neither does the fact that motherly goose Roberta seems to have taken the new animals' side. The farm community learning to deal with a young member of the group is the main story in text and is paired with a wordless story in illustrations that shows Farmer Jay and Farmer Kevin getting ready for their adopted child to arrive on the farm.


Corinna Luyken
Kate Hoefler, Corinna Luyken



A tender and timely story of compassion and finding common ground with others, 
perfect for fans of I Walk With Vanessa and Thank You, Omu!


Juana Martinez- Neal
Beth Ferry, Juana Martinez-Neal


From New York Times best-selling author Beth Ferry and Caldecott Honor winner 
Juana Martinez-Neal comes a sweet-and-salty friendship story 
perfect for pirate-lovers and fans of The Night Gardener.

Captain Swashby loves the sea, his oldest friend. And he loves his life 
by the sea just as it is: salty and sandy and serene.

One day, much to Swashby’s chagrin, a young girl and her granny commandeer 
the empty house next door. All Swashby wants is for his new neighbors to GO AWAY 
and take their ruckus with them.

When Swashby begins to leave notes in the sand for his noisy neighbors, 
however, the beach interferes with the messages that are getting across. 
Could it be that the captain’s oldest friend, the sea, knows what 
Swashby needs even better than he knows himself?



Debbie Ridpath Ohi
written by Linda Sue Park, illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi


Dorothia Rohner
Written by Dorothia Rohner, illustrated by Vanya Nastanlieva

A simple, friendly game of Duck, Duck, Goose goes off the rails in giggle-inducing 
confusion when a silly goose tries to make it all about him.

“Are you kidding me? I am Goose!” A literal-minded goose derails a favorite 
childhood game—Duck, Duck, Goose—by objecting when Pig, Fox, Dodo, and 
other players are tapped as “Goose.” Distraction, squabbling, and asking for 
snacks threaten to end the game completely. Bossy Rabbit restores calm, 
but Goose doesn’t understand what the problem is until he gets a taste of 
his own medicine as several ducks arrive and join in, each insisting, “I am Duck!”
 Engaging animal characters cavort through this spirited, laugh-aloud romp.


Robin Rosenthal


Count up to 10 and back down again in this picture book starring 
10 traveling dogs and one very tenacious cat!

One by one, each dog escapes its yard and joins the adventure in this hilarious 
counting story. Vehicle-obsessed readers will love seeing all the modes of 
transportation that the pups use—until the family cat decides to round them 
all up to go back home.
Gabi Snyder’s charming text and Robin Rosenthal’s delightful illustrations are a 
surefire combination in this winning picture book.

Robin Rosenthal
Big Ideas for Little Philosophers:
Truth with Socrates
Imagination with René Descartes
Happiness with Aristotle
Equality with Simone de Beauvoir
written by Duane Armitage and Maureen Doyle, 
illustrated by Robin Rosenthal, Published by Putnam, Summer 2020.

Molly Ruttan

Adopting an extraterrestrial leads to hilariously mixed results!

When a family goes for a stroll one morning and encounters an adorable little 
creature with no collar or tag (who just happens to be sitting in the wreckage of an 
unidentified crash-landed object), they happily adopt the lovable stray. They name him 
Grub and set about training him, but that works surprisingly . . . poorly. Taking him for a 
walk is an unexpected adventure, too. As hard as they try to make Grub feel at home, i
t's just not working. Could he already have a family of his own? Maybe he isn't really 
a stray, after all--just lost. But how on earth will they be able to find his family when he 
seems to come from somewhere . . . out of this world?


Alexandra Thompson


A foodie French bulldog finds a forever home in this heartwarming and adorable debut 
picture book, sure to appeal to fans of Gaston, Ellie, and Little Elliot, Big City.

Meet Louie. He's a dog of very fine taste. He knows every chef in town, and each day he 
wanders the city, visiting his favorite restaurants. It's a good life, except... 
Louie is all on his own. 
What Louie wants more than anything is a family.

But try as he might, Louie can't seem to find a family that's right for him. At the beach, 
he meets a little boy and his mother... but they're eating green jello salad and sardine 
sandwiches (Louie's least favorite foods!). At his favorite sushi restaurant, Louie 
spies a father and daughter with an open seat at their table... but their cat chases 
him away. At the park, he meets a nice family having a yummy barbecue, but when they 
invite him to play frisbee... Louie just can't keep up. Where-oh-where will Louie find a 
just-right family of his very own?


Heidi Sheffield

Papi is a bricklayer, and he works hard every day to help build the city, brick by brick. 
His son, Luis, works hard too--in school, book by book. Papi climbs scaffolds, makes 
mortar, and shovels sand. Luis climbs on the playground and molds clay into tiny bricks 
to make buildings, just like Papi. Together, they dream big about their future as they 
work to make those dreams come true. And then one Saturday, Papi surprises Luis with 
something special he's built for their family, brick by brick.

Heidi Sheffield
Leslie Helakoski and Heidi Sheffield

“We look at the world every day.
You and me.
Do we see the same things?
Do you see what I see?”

In beautiful, evocative rhyme, this lovely picture book helps children consider 
the colors of their everyday lives . . . and imagine how others around the world 
experience the very same things.

No matter where they live, all children gaze at the blue sky, bask in the warmth 
of the golden sun, dig in the rich dirt, and watch clouds grow soft and rosy at end of day. 
Through the eyes of one inquisitive and thoughtful young narrator, young readers 
explore the idea of perspective, and come to realize that all of us, everywhere, share 
the colors of the world.



Liz Wong
Helaine Becker, Liz Wong




The most powerful pirate in history was a woman who was born into poverty 
in Guangzhou, China, in the late 1700s. When pirates attacked her town and 
the captain took a liking to her, she saw a way out. Zheng Yi Sao agreed to 
marry him only if she got an equal share of his business. 
When her husband died six years later, she took command of the fleet.
Over the next decade, the pirate queen built a fleet of over 1,800 ships and 70,000 men.
On land and sea, Zheng Yi Sao’s power rivaled the emperor himself. 
Time and again, her ships triumphed over the emperor’s ships.
When she was ready to retire, Zheng Yi Sao surrendered ― on her own terms, of course. 
Even though there was a price on her head, she was able to negotiate her freedom, 
living in peace and prosperity for the rest of her days.


Andrea Zuill
Nelly Buchet, Andrea Zuill


Here is the oh-so-hilarious and adorable story of a blended family-- using just a few 
words in various configurations-- from the pets' point-of-view!

Cat and Dog live with their human in a suburban house with a big backyard. 
Sure, they fight like.... well, cats and dogs, but they're used to one another. 
Dog-- a different dog-- lives a happy only child life in the city with his dad. 
He has the bed to himself, he never has to share his toys, and that's the 
way he likes it. So what happens when the Dog's dad and Cat and Dog's mom 
move in together? Well, it's chaotic. There's not enough room on the bed,
for starters. But as the seasons pass, the three animals become a trio and 
learn to (mostly) love one another. Just as they're settling into a cozy life as a 
threesome, along comes..... a baby! This laugh-out-loud picture book, which 
cleverly uses two repeating words, is sure to strike a chord with kids dealing 
with the ups-and-downs of settling into a blended family of their own.