Thursday, December 6, 2018

Our 2018 Books! (Year-end Review)

This year was full of fantastic books from the KidLit Artists! We had 17 artists with 23 books. Here is a look at the titles that came out in 2018 - making great gifts for little or big readers! 


ANA ARANDA
Our Celebración
written by Middleton Elya, illustrated by Ana Aranda
It's a sunny summer day. Come join the crowd headed for the parade! Marvel at the people riding motorcycles, bicycles, tricycles, and unicycles. Clap to the music as bands of musicians playing clarinetes, saxophones, flautas, trumpets, and drums march by. At night marvel at the sparkling fireworks. Pop, pop, pop! ¡Bón, bón, bón! A NCTE Notable Poetry Book.
Available to order here

JEN BETTON
Hedgehog Needs a Hug
by Jen Betton
When Hedgehog feels down in the snout and droopy in the prickles, he knows a hug will make him feel better. But none of his friends are eager to wrap their arms around Hedgehog's prickles, and he's too smart to fall for Fox's sly offer. Then to his surprise, Hedgehog discovers another animal who is feeling exactly the same way.
Available to order here

JEN BETTON
Twilight Chant
written by Holly Thompson, illustrated by Jen Betton
As day slips softly into night, sharp eyes catch glimpses of the special creatures who are active at dusk. Melodic text captures the richness of the animal life that emerges in the low light. A picture book that will inspire budding naturalists and anyone who has ever chased a firefly in the twilight. A NCTE Notable Poetry Book.
Available to order here

MAPLE LAM
Frenemies in the Family
written by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Maple Lam

They blame you when they get in trouble. They seem like your parents' favorite. They are the only enemy you can't live without. Almost everyone has a juicy story about their siblings–even famous people. Meet those who got along, those who didn't, and everyone in between! Middle grade novel.
MAPLE LAM
What Can You Do With A Toolbox?
written by John Colaneri & Anthony Carrino, illustrated by Maple Lam
A hammer. Nails. A screwdriver. How do we use them? Discover all the exciting things you can build with a toolbox, and at the end how all the pieces fit together to make something special.
Available to order here

MAPLE LAM
Where is the Treasure? 
寶藏在哪裡?
by Maple Lam
A young bear and his grandfather explore Taipei together in a day-long treasure-hunt, delighting in many experiences and overcoming fears along the way to a glorious high-rise surprise.
Available to order here

BROOKE BOYNTON HUGHES
Bark Park 
written by Trudy Krisher, illustrated by Brooke Boynton-Hughes
Welcome to Bark Park! There are dogs running and dogs relaxing, dogs riding and dogs sliding – all before returning home to bubble baths, cozy dog beds, and sweet dreams of – what else? – being back at the park!
Available for pre-order here

ALISON FARRELL
Cycle City
by Alison Farrell
When little Etta the Elephant goes to her Aunt Ellen's house, she takes a journey through bicycle-filled Cycle City, a town filled with bikes of all kinds! At the end of the day, a special surprise awaits Etta – the most amazing bicycle parade imaginable.
Available to order here

The perfect bedtime book for young soccer fans. From the opening kickoff to the final goal, a young girl says goodnight to her most beloved sport: soccer.
Available to order here

KIMBERLY GEE
Mad Mad Bear
 by Kimberly Gee
Bear is very, very, very MAD! Will he ever feel better? A little bear learns to cope with his frustrations in this sweet and silly book about toddler tantrums.
Available to order here

SUSIE GHAHREMANI
Balance the Birds
 by Susie Ghahremani
A sequel to the popular Stack The Cats counting book, Balance the Birds is about balance and relative size. When birds spot a tree and decide to land on its branches, the readers can help them find the perfect balance. This book introduces key early math skills for toddlers.
Available to order here

NICHOLAS HONG
Meddy Teddy: A Mindful Yoga Journey
 written by Apple Jordan, illustrated by Nicholas Hong
Say namaste to Meddy Teddy, a rising star in the yogi world. Meddy practices yoga poses as he emerges from hibernation, greets the springtime, and mindfully gets through a variety of situations.
Available to order here

SUZANNE KAUFMANN
100 Bugs! A Counting Book
written by Kate Narita, illustrated by Suzanne Kaufmann
How many bugs can you count? From walking sticks to spittlebugs, dragonflies to katydids, discovering 10 bugs at a time, you just might see 100 bugs!
Available  to order here

SUZANNE KAUFMANN
All Are Welcome
 written by Alexandra Penfold, illustrated by Suzanne Kaufmann
Follow a group of children through a day in their school, where everyone is welcomed with open arms no matter their race, religion, or background. A school where it is normal to wear a hajib, learn a Vietnamese dance and witness a Dragon dance for Lunar New Year. A New York Times bestseller!

available for pre-order here

CORINNA LUYKEN
Adrian Simcox Does NOT Have a Horse
written by Marcy Campbell, illustrated by Corinna Luyken
Adrian Simcox tells anyone who will listen that he has a horse – the best and most beautiful horse anywhere. But Chloe does NOT believe him. The more Adrian talks about his horse, the angrier Chloe gets. But when she calls him out at school, Chloe doesn't get the vindication she craves. She gets something far more important. A Junior Library Guild Selection, and Top 10 Indie Next pick.
Available to order here

JUANA MARTINEZ-NEAL
Alma and How She Got Her Name /
Alma y cómo obtuvo su nombre
by Juana Martinez-Neal
If you ask her, Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela has way too many names: six! How did such a small person wind up with such a large name? Alma turns to Daddy for an answer and learns of all her namesakes, and as she hears the story starts to think her name might be the perfect fit after all. The Spanish version launches simultaneously. School Library Journal Best Books, NCTE Charlotte Huck Award, Original Art Show Selection, New York Public Library Best Books.

Available to order here
Available to order here

 written by Nancy Tupper Ling, illustrated by Andrea Offermann
When a fearsome dragon takes over their village bridge, twin sisters have opposing views of how to fix the problem. This empowering sibling story is about celebrating differences and how they can make for a powerful team. 
DEBBIE OHI
I'm Sad
 written by Michael Ian Black, illustrated by Debbie Ohi
A girl, a potato, and a very sad flamingo star in this sequel to I'm Bored. Everyone feels sad sometimes – even flamingos. Sigh. When Flamingo announces he's feeling down, his friends try to cheer him up, but nothing seems to work. Not even dirt! (Which usually works for Potato)...
Available to order here

DEBBIE OHI
The Creativity Project: An Awesometastic Story Collection
 edited by Colby Sharp, contributed to by Debbie Ohi (and others)
Colby Sharp invited more than forty children's authors and illustrators to provide story starters for each other; photos, drawings, poems, prose or anything they could dream up. They responded to the prompts by transforming these seeds into any form of creative work they wanted to share! A section of story starters provides inspiration for readers to create works of their own.
Available to order here

ELIZA WHEELER
Fairy Spell: How Two Girls Convinced the World 
that Fairies are Real 
 written by Marc Tyler Nobleman, illustrated by Eliza Wheeler
The true story of British cousins who fooled the world for more than 60 years with a remarkable hoax, photographs of "real" fairies. A delightful historical account blending the actual photographs with Eliza Wheeler's evocative illustrations.
Available to order here

BRIAN WON
Good Night, Little Monsters
 written by Kara Lareau, illustrated by Brian Won
Watch little monsters go about their bedtime routines, as Frankenbaby lays down his green head, loosens his bolts and is tucked into bed. Lochnessie is assured of swimming when awake, and snuggles close in the deep cool lake.
Available for pre-order here

ANDREA ZUILL
Marigold & Daisy
by Andrea Zuill
Even snails can feel jealous over a new baby! Marigold realizes that her new sister Daisy must be an evil genius, capable of mesmerizing everyone. They even think her pooping is cute! Just when Marigold reaches her breaking point, she discovers that Daisy's amazing skills may come in handy after all.
Available to order here
ANDREA ZUILL
Business Pig
by Andrea Zuill
No wallowing in the mud or rooting for grubs for Jasper; he'd rather help with the bookkeeping or conduct a meeting. But no matter how many business cards he hands out, no one wants to adopt him. Can this above-average pig find a special person to cut deals with?
Available to order here

.................................................................................................................................
Jen Betton wrote and illustrated HEDGEHOG NEEDS A HUG (Penguin Books). She also illustrated TWILIGHT CHANT by Holly Thompson (Clarion-HMH).
You can find her here: 

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Our Art Thrives with Hope

I'm experiencing something I couldn't have imagined a few years ago: I'm a full time picture book author and illustrator now! There is officially no part of my year when I'm not making books! And as I celebrate/promote/fret about the release of my new book while I work on the next, I came to a realization:

From my new book, BALANCE THE BIRDS by Susie Ghahremani

For me, promoting a new book is an anxiety-filled endeavor. I worry it won't find its way onto library and store bookshelves. I worry it won't resonate with readers. I worry it will be forgotten or go out of print. And, quite often, I have to step outside of my comfort zone to do in-person events like book signings and talks. I have to promote and market and share which feels like the antithesis of why I got into art. And all of it opens me up to very public, very permanent criticism.

But making art comes from the exact opposite mindset: I think about the audience -- little readers -- almost to the exclusion of everything else. I try to make something that will resonate with them. I want to make something timeless and lasting. I work in comfortable solitude doing what I love best -- being creative. No one is judging my process or skewering me for it, and I feel totally free.

This same spread, back when I quietly painted it in pieces on translucent vellum.

Today, when writing about my complicated experience promoting a book while working on the next, I had a revelation: Making a book -- whether it's creating the first "draft" of a manuscript, putting pencil to paper to sketch, or painting the last detail on the final art -- it all thrives when we come from a mindset of hope and optimism. But, immersed in the anxieties of a book launch, your hope and optimism fades when you need it most.


This has all made me think about how important it is as creators to protect our mental health and to try to create joy in the less comfortable days after publication so we can get back to our studios with that great mindset. Here are some of the things I've been doing to reset my hope and optimism in-between the tense high wire act of a book launch:

Signing my books with drawings! Fun for me and you.

1. Plan to have fun -- CREATE fun -- at your book launch events!

Yes, you might be out of your comfort zone -- but drawing in every book I sign brings my favorite activity into something that might otherwise be stressful. Making a face cut out made for hilarious and adorable photos that allowed my art to come alive with the interaction of visitors.



2. Don't stop making art during stressful times!

Even though a book launch is a demand on your schedule and time, and you might have other deadlines to meet for your next book, try to create space to make art just for fun. Not for your book launch, and not for your next book, but just optimistic, hopeful art just for fun. Maybe take a class! Maybe doodle in your sketchbook. Maybe post for #Inktober. It will energize you in all kinds of ways and reset all that book launch anxiety.

Making ceramics - totally unrelated to my work on books - has helped me during stressful times! Shoutout to my ceramics studio, a 501(c)3 non-profit called Clay Associates, and my marvelous teacher Eric Woods who is always bringing me back down to earth.
3. Live your life.

There will always be more you can do as an artist and author -- a new portfolio piece, a new proposal, a new manuscript, edits, outreach, education. There will always be something you have to do: a deadline, an event, an interview. A blog post (like this)! Try to protect time in your schedule to just be a person. Cook a meal from scratch, read a book, call a faraway friend, travel and go for a nature walk to see what you might discover.

Those simple interactions are filled with hope. These events strung together make a lovely life. The hopeful acts of making art and launching it into the world again and again can make a lovely life, too. Keep optimism on your side if you can.

Hiking in Japan with my husband! Living life, immediately after delivering the final art for Balance the Birds.

4. Get back to work!

These books aren't going to make themselves!


What are your favorite ways to get back to a hopeful mentality where creativity thrives?

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Susie Ghahremani is the author and illustrator of BALANCE THE BIRDS and STACK THE CATS. She paints in gouache, drinks a lot of coffee, and is always looking for great reasons to feel hopeful. One hope she has is that you are registered to vote in this upcoming election.

Susie is represented by Stefanie von Borstel of Full Circle Literary. Find her at:

Monday, October 15, 2018

Interview with Zahra Marwan, 2018 SCBWI LA Mentorship Award Winner

This interview series introduces the talented recipients of the SCBWI Mentorship Award at the 2018 Summer Conference. Please welcome Zahra Marwan to the KidLitArtists Blog!




About Zahra: 

"Zahra grew up in two deserts which vary drastically and have many similarities in culture. One close to the sea, the other close to the mountains. She studied the visual arts in France, and continues various pursuits to further educate herself. She currently lives in the Barelas neighborhood of Albuquerque, New Mexico, and works in her studio at the Harwood Art Center, where she incorporates Kuwaiti tendencies into her daily life.

Did the feedback you received during the mentorship critiques either change or confirm the direction of your illustration? Are there any specific examples you can share?

"The feedback I received from the mentorship critiques confirmed the direction of my illustration. All around, I was told that I had a distinct style and point of view, which prior to this had worried me. I was worried my work didn't belong either in the fine art world, or that of picture books."

What kind of projects are you working on now?

"I'm working on two dummies and preparing to participate in an exhibit at the Albuquerque Art Museum."

Is there any type of illustration (or other work) that you’re hoping for in the near future?

"I really hope to create sincere stories which are simultaneously beautiful to see. I hope publishing will render my art more accessible.

Is there one really helpful piece of advice that you’ve gotten since pursuing illustration? 

"Keep telling your stories and sharing your work"

Any one piece of bad advice?

"Drawing won't make you money, it's pathetic. You speak Arabic, you should join the CIA. You have gold in your head and you don't know it."






What was one of your favorite quotes or lessons from the SCBWI Summer Conference?

"Tell your doubts to be quiet."

What were some of your favorite books when you were a kid?

"The Dr. Seuss series helped me learn English and I then really liked Archie Comics after my cousin gave me a stack."

Where can we see more of your artwork? 

Website: https://zahramarwan.com/
Instagram:@zahra_marwan





Thanks, Zahra! Welcome to KidLitArtists! We look forward to more from you. 








Monday, October 8, 2018

Interview with Sara Gavryck-Ji, 2018 SCBWI LA Mentorship Award Winner

This interview series introduces the talented recipients of the SCBWI Mentorship Award at the 2018 Summer Conference. Please welcome Sara Gavryck-Ji to the KidLitArtists Blog!

About Sara Gavryck-Ji: 

 "Sara Gavryck-Ji lives and makes art in Berkeley, CA.  In her previous life she worked in US-China relations.  She lived in China for over 5 years, is fluent in Mandarin, and took many classes in Chinese calligraphy and painting during her time abroad.  She has two young boys who have filled her life with much joy and inspiration."

Did the feedback you received during the mentorship critiques either change or confirm the direction of your illustration? Are there any specific examples you can share?

"The feedback I received gave me new direction and focus. Most of the mentors pointed out my illustration of a boy hugging a tree as one of their favorites in my book. This was eye opening— I had never felt it was one of my stronger pieces. They liked it because the character showed emotion and this was something the mentors felt I needed more of in my portfolio. Cecilia Yung suggested thinking about the difference between characters in children’s book art and figures in fine art as the difference between actors and models. In other words, a children’s book illustrator needs to show they can create characters with a range of emotions not just beautiful ones. This really resonated with me."



What kind of projects are you working on now?

"All the mentors suggested I add more narrative sequences to my portfolio. Many suggested I look at each of my portfolio pieces and think, “What happened before this moment? What happened after?”  In particular, my conversation with Laurent Linn about my illustration of the boy hugging a tree sparked an idea for a story. Now I am working on a dummy and several finished narrative pieces for that story."

Is there any type of illustration (or other work) that you’re hoping for in the near future?

"I would love to work on both picture books and middle grade covers and interiors."


Is there one really helpful piece of advice that you’ve gotten since pursuing illustration? 

"Persist. Don’t give up! I’m not there yet, but receiving the mentorship award was a wonderful validation that, yes, I can do this!"



What was one of your favorite quotes or lessons from the SCBWI Summer Conference?

"I found Eliza Wheeler’s keynote on the 7.5 stages of her creative process (Dig, Inspire, Collage, Simmer, Ignite, Refine, Assess, and a 1/2 stage for checking in) very insightful. In particular, in the “simmer” stage, she spoke about the brain science behind the creative process.  How it is important to stop, take a break, do the dishes, clean, pick a familiar chore and do it with enjoyment. When you are anxious or stressed your brain is in a linear mode and you are less likely to take a chance on creativity.  When your brain is in a meditative state, the great ideas come.

I left the conference with such an overwhelming feeling of gratitude to SCBWI and to the mentors for this opportunity to learn and be inspired."



What were some of your favorite books when you were a kid?

"The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg, Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney, Thunder Cake by Patricia Polacco, and The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses by Paul Goble were some of my favorites.


I love finding books that I read and loved as a kid, re-reading them and channeling that feeling I had reading them as a child. I find this can be a great source of inspiration when I’m feeling stuck."
Where can we see more of your artwork? 

Website: http://www.saragavryck-ji.com
Instagram: sara.gavryckji
Facebook: Sara Gavryck-Ji

Thanks, Sara! Welcome to KidLitArtists!

Monday, October 1, 2018

Interview with Chad Hunter, 2018 SCBWI LA Mentorship Award Winner

This interview series introduces the talented recipients of the SCBWI Mentorship Award at the 2018 Summer Conference. Please welcome Chad Hunter to the KidLitArtists Blog!






About: "Chad grew up in the Bay Area and holds a BFA from BYU (Brigham Young University) and an MFA from MU (Marywood University). He creates children book illustrations, designs and hand lettering from his home in Northern California where he loves life with his lovely wife and his son, Cyrus, who's a Senior in High School. My older three daughters are finishing college. Along with illustrating, Chad teaches art and design at CSU Stanislaus."

Did the feedback you received during the mentorship critiques either change or confirm the direction of your illustration? Are there any specific examples you can share?

"The critiques confirmed the direction I was going. The page design, hand lettering and colors were all positives mentioned.

Also, each and every mentor aid to get rid of the red noses! I said, "NO WAY! THE RED NOSES STAY!!" Haha! Not really. It's easy to say goodbye to the rosy beaks."

What kind of projects are you working on now?

"I'm working on a few fun projects right now. I'm expanding images that are based on my current portfolio: Paul Bunyan, Bumblebee, historical non-fiction pieces."

Is there any type of illustration (or other work) that you’re hoping for in the near future?

"Sure! I'm hoping for work that based on the projects I mentioned previously. Paul Bunyan, Bumblebee (which are fun fiction pieces) and some cool historical non-fiction pieces (like Ben Franklin and others coming soon)."

Is there one really helpful piece of advice that you’ve gotten since pursuing illustration? 

"I think the most helpful bit of advice given to me is to create for me. When I approach an illustration with the thought that I am producing an illustration that people will like, I usually produce pieces I'm not happy with (and others aren't either). However, when I make illustrations that I love and insert a lot of me into the piece I am usually happy with the results. Even if the project is assigned, the idea still works."

What was one of your favorite quotes or lessons from the SCBWI Summer Conference?

"Liza Wheeler's creative process was awesome (and I'm already a long-time Tolkien fan, so, loved her references.)

Jerry Pinkney: "It's the daily pursuit."


Lily Malcom: "Create moments of time, drama, cliffhangers."


What were some of your favorite books when you were a kid?

"So I'm half German and was read Heinrich Hoffmann's Struwwelpeter when I was young. Loved it, but yes, very frightening stuff.

I was also read and loved Wilhelm Busch's Max und Moritz.

Thinking about things, this actually explains a lot."



Where can we see more of your artwork? 

Website: www.chadhunterstudio.com
Instagram: @chadhunterstudio

Thanks, Chad! Welcome to KidLitArtists!