Kidlit County, Little Elliot's Neighborhood

Little Elliot, Big Country!

Well, here’s what I was working on for half of 2016, and just finished 2 weeks ago. Little Elliot, Big Country comes out on August 29th!

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IT’S AUTUMN in the Big City! Little Elliot and Mouse love the hustle and bustle of the city streets. But sometimes it feels like there are too many people, too many noises―just too much! The best friends decide to get out of town for a vacation in the countryside. There, they’ll discover the sights and smells of autumn in the country. Everything is more fun when shared with a friend!

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 You can pre-order from your local bookstore,
or any of these online retailers:

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Kidlit County

Worm Loves Worm PRIDE Giveaway

Usually, when I think of Pride month, I think of celebration and acceptance. But this year, I think about loss. In the wake of the Orlando massacre, I feel emotionally exhausted. I also feel a need to do something.

I am a member of the LGBTQA community and the children’s book community. Since there aren’t too many of us who belong to both, I thought this might be an area where I can help bring about change. That was the reason why I illustrated J.J. Austrian’s beautiful book, Worm Loves Worm.

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It is so important that children see lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and ally characters in books. My wish for them is to live in a world of acceptance where people are trying to understand and appreciate each other’s differences. Our visibility is crucial. LGBTQ people need to be seen as real three-dimensional human beings. The inability for some to see us as human beings with real hearts and minds makes it easier for them to fear and hate us. We can help our kids be good friends and allies. We can help “different” kids love themselves. Books like this one for the youngest readers are a great way to start.

In honor of Pride month, and in memory of the victims of Pulse nightclub in Orlando, I’m donating 20 copies of Worm Loves Worm to schools around the country, courtesy of Balzer + Bray. Enter to win a copy for your school! Just tweet this this post on Twitter and include the hashtag #wormloveswormpride. On June 30th, we’ll select 20 random schools and mail you a copy!

Happy Pride month everyone!

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Some resources:

Worm Loves Worm also appeared on this awesome list that the Advocate published: 21 LGBT Picture Books Every Kid Should Read. Another great resource for middle grade and young adult queer titles is Lee Wind’s blog, I’m Here, I’m Queer, What the Hell do I Read?

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Illustration Station

How to Kill Your Babies

I’ve got bad news for you. The beautiful baby that you gave birth to, loved, and nurtured, has grown into a monster. It must be stopped, and only YOU can stop it. I am of course speaking about the picture book that you’re working on, specifically the beautiful chrome car bumper you just drew, or the building facade that took you 5 hours to ink, or the cherry blossom tree that you spent 2 days painting (how can you mess up a tree, right?). Well, you’ve been missing the big picture. Literally. Take a nice step back and look at your entire composition. You see it now, don’t you? That bumper is actually not supposed to be shaped that way. The turret that you painstakingly drew each shingle on is out of perspective! And that cherry blossom tree is somehow crooked (but it’s a TREE!). I can see you mouthing that involuntary expletive. Go ahead, let it out, because this is going to suck. You are going to have to kill your baby.

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Geez man, let it GO!

I know what you’re thinking, “SCREW YOU, MAN! This is the best bumper I’ve ever drawn!” I hear you, because I just drew the best bumper I’ve ever drawn, and it was not shaped the way it is in real life (let’s blame the tricky chrome reflections in my reference!). But guess what? That crazed automobile collector who is going to buy my book because they know every minute detail about ’54 Chevys IS going to see that the bumper is inaccurate, and she WILL email me to complain about it (and maybe even give it a menacing review). AND, that’s on ME. If I’m making a book about cars, and I blatantly disregard the details that are going to make car enthusiasts swoon, then I’m not doing my job, and I’ve lost my credibility.

the bumper in question

the bumper in question–I also forgot the keyhole!!!

It’s not just about being technically accurate. You could be working in a completely abstract style that excuses you from lots of formal “art rules.” The fact remains: if there is something in your composition that is calling too much attention to itself in a way that has nothing to do with the plot, you’ve just pulled your reader out of the story! This is the LAST thing you want to happen. No bumper is that precious.

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This can be applied to writing, illustrating, and all other creative endeavors.

Don’t cry yet. Do the job first, mourn later. It will be easier for both of you this way. You’ll erase the best bumper you’ve ever drawn, but you’ll save the rest of the drawing you’ve made. Plus, you just proved you can draw an amazing bumper, so why can’t you draw it again? Your drawing is going to be stronger because of this.

Whnicetryo knew erasers could look so threatening? Pick it up. Erase the bumper. Draw a better one.

Here’s a gentle reminder, friends: It’s probably not THE best drawing or painting EVER made in the HISTORY of Art, right? If you put it next to the Mona Lisa, would she turn to look at it and be all, “OH, DAYUMN!” I didn’t think so.

Take heart. Your baby will return, maybe not specifically as a car bumper, but as a really amazing overall piece that you can be proud of!

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Kidlit County

Worm Loves Worm

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to celebrate the book release of Worm Loves Worm! To read a full synopsis and starred reviews, visit this page.

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I had the great honor of illustrating this important story written by debut author, J.J. Austrian. This was much more than just another project for me. It came at a poignant time in my life, and in our nation’s history.

We are all a little different. This has been a fact that I’ve been reminded of daily. For most of my life, I doubted that I could ever be married. This wasn’t because I thought that I was incapable of finding true love; it was because the law would have prevented me from Continue reading

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Kidlit County, Little Elliot's Neighborhood

Now on Exhibit!

Tales of Tails: Animals in Children’s Books, a new exhibit at Seattle’s Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience, features our own Little Elliot and many other  friends!

Tale of Tails

“Children from 3-11 can examine and explore how stories use animals to portray human qualities.”

You’ll see artwork and/or books created by  Brian Won, Catia Chien, Isabel Roxas, Jason Chin, Salina Yoon, Gene LuenYang, LeUyen Pham, and many more.

The Wing Luke is a beautiful museum, part community center, part time capsule, situated in Seattle’s International District (or what other cities may refer to as Chinatown). Their mission is “To connect everyone to the rich history, dynamic cultures and art of the Asian Pacific Americans through vivid storytelling and inspiring experiences.”

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Tales of Tails is on display now through mid-December.

 

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Kidlit County, Little Elliot's Neighborhood

Little Elliot, BIG WINDOW, Part 2: Christmastime at Books of Wonder!

Christmas is upon us! Books of Wonder asked me to dress their window again, this time for the holidays (here’s what the first window looked like in August). Elliot and Mouse have been busy little elves, helping Santa wrap up presents! They might have read a few pages along the way, just to make sure everything was good.

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There are lots of books by friends in the window:

A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd
Hug Machine by Scott Campbell
Have You Seen My Dragon? by Steve Light
Five, Six, Seven, Nate by Tim Federle
El Deafo by CeCe Bell
Outside by Deirdre Gill
The Misadventures of Sweetie Pie and a BIG copy of Polar Express  by Chris Van Allsburg
and more!

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Books of Wonder also has signed copies of Little Elliot, Big City available for order! Get a copy for someone special this  Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza/Festivus!

Also, I wouldn’t have been able to get all this done without the help of the lovely Samantha Berger, who makes GREAT kids books:

Crankenstein
Martha Doesn’t Say Sorry
Martha Doesn’t Share

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Kidlit County, Little Elliot's Neighborhood

BEA 2014: A TOTElly Amazing Experience

Last week I attended my first Book Expo America, and it was the most exciting thing that’s happened to me in a long while. The main purpose was to meet booksellers, librarians, and reviewers to promote Little Elliot, BIG CITY at any chance I could get. Buckle up, this is a long ride…

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BEA 2014, The Jacob Javitz Center, NYC

It all started Wednesday with a studio tour put together by the American Booksellers Association. Two groups of booksellers came to our humble abode to meet me and see how I work. I was flattered that they braved traffic and came all the way to Brooklyn! I showed them some original drawings, and they got a special sneak peek at the second book in my series, Little Elliot, BIG FAMILY (Fall 2015). It was a great way to get to know each other! I got to meet representatives from Secret Garden Books (Seattle, WA), Anderson’s Bookshops (Naperville, IL), Oblong Books and Music (Millerton & Rhinebeck, NY), Octavia Books (New Orleans, LA), Redbery Books (Cable, WI), and Bethany Beach Books (Bethany Beach, DE). Yay new friends!

left to right: Suzanne Perry, Secret Garden Books; me; Katie Anderson, Anderson's Bookshops, Dick Hermans Oblong Books and Music

left to right: Suzanne Perry, Secret Garden Books; me; Katie Anderson, Anderson’s Bookshops; Dick Hermans, Oblong Books and Music

Naturally, a Little Elliot party wouldn't be complete without a beautiful arrangement of cupcakes,

Naturally, a Little Elliot party wouldn’t be complete without a beautiful arrangement of cupcakes.

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