This weekend I participated in SCBWI's Back2Back program alongside author-illustrator Nina Crews at Brooklyn indie Books Are Magic! I read Pax and Blue and the kids helped me design a character, which they named Alexanderhamilton Socks Biscuit. Kids always think of the best names.
Thanks to the wonderful folks at the Brooklyn Museum for hosting so many amazingly talented Brooklyn-based authors and illustrators! I was fortunate to share my Pax and Blue as a featured reader.
Pax and Blue was selected for exhibition in the Society of Illustrators Original Art Show! Always a fabulous night and fun to see so many industry friends. The artwork in the show is stunning. A must-see!
I shared my Instagram project, #ViewFromMyRun, with my new friends at New York Road Runners to celebrate the Bronx 10M. My prints were on display at their RunHUB for a few weeks and we raised over $1400 for Team for Kids and Lulu & Leo Fund through my pop-up art sale!
#ViewFromMyRun is a series where I draw something I see on my run, in the same amount of time as the run. Each piece is stamped with the time & distance.
I couldn't find any picture books that show a working mom, so I made one.
Today I revealed the cover for Bunny's Staycation, my next book, coming from Scholastic in early 2018, via this personal essay for The Bump about my own experience as a working mom. Bunny and family mean a lot to me, and I can't wait to share this very special book with moms, dads, and their little bunnies.
I am absolutely delighted that The New York Times Book Review featured my debut picture book, Pax and Blue! The review calls it a "sprightly debut," and says its "spare pages have a friendly, retro look that calls to mind Syd Hoff’s welcoming urban spaces..." SYD HOFF, you guys. I am floored!! I did study a lot of Syd Hoff while working on this book, as well as one of my favorites by Bernard Waber, Lyle, Lyle Crocodile.
Even better was that I got to share the print edition with my boys on Mother's Day.
I had such a FUN day doing three presentations to the kindergarteners and first graders at Goosehill Primary in New York. I was greeted by two walls filled with adorable book-inspired art made by the children. And, yes, that is a finger-leg on the crazy character the kinders designed! :-O
This weekend brought two storytimes at local indie Greenlight Books. We did the crazy character design game at each location, and turned them into collaborative art projects by having the kids color the final products as a group! I love this activity because it gets kids AND grown-ups engaged and thinking super silly thoughts.
Shout out to all the lovely indie bookstores who bring warmth and heart to our neighborhoods! We had so much fun drawing portraits in the illustrator booth at the adorable Stories Bookshop and Storytelling Lab on Independent Bookstore Day.
Today I hopped in my DeLorean, fired up the flux capacitor, and went back to 1987, the year I graduated from North Ridge Primary (then Elementary) School in Commack, NY. I met about 150 Kindergarteners throughout the day, and we read PAX AND BLUE and drew silly pictures together. It was so. much. fun.
I had the pleasure of sharing a reading with the wildly talented and absolutely lovely Sujean Rim, author-illustrator of CHEE-KEE, A PANDA IN BEARLAND. It was a really nice pairing, since both of our books are about kindness, empathy, and being a good friend. Sujean and I have so many mutual connections, it was wonderful to finally meet. Thank you to Powerhouse on 8th for packing the place with kids!
I'm sorry, but I have to put on my braggy pants for a moment. The very special Books of Wonder in Manhattan has been displaying my book on the end cap right as you walk in the store! When my friend Jess Townes told me she saw it, I didn't believe her. But there it is! I'm so incredibly grateful to bookseller Joel and the rest of the lovely staff at Books of Wonder for their support.
Some very brave parents packed up the kids and headed into a sleet storm to join me and my pals Pax and Blue for a reading at Stories Bookshop in Brooklyn. Thank you so much to Maggie and her adorable son for hosting us!
I hope readers enjoy this story about empathy and friendship. I’ve been asked a lot of questions about the book and the making of it! Here are answers to some of them:
1. Why is the book so purple?
I love the Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile books. The style, the limited colors, the city. It’s just so great! I especially love how Lyle is just this big, green, bold thing in each piece of art and he really stands out against everything else. Pax and Blue is sort of a modern version of that. I knew, from a design standpoint, that I did not want to use any realistic coloring for any of the characters or the environments. I wanted the main characters to come forward and for their surroundings to recede because the story is not about the city, but a moment between two friends. By blending the background people and scenes together in a wash of the same purple-gray color, it gives a sense of the surroundings, but visually blurs them so the reader can remain focused on the emotions between the two main characters.
2. Did you name Pax after Angelina Jolie’s son? (Question courtesy of my mom)
One of Angelina’s children is named Pax, and I’m sure he is a lovely young man. But he was not the inspiration for the name. (Sorry, mom!) Because I like alliteration, the original title of the book was going to be “P___ and the Pigeon.” I knew I’d need a P name, preferably one syllable. I looked through a ton of baby name lists for inspiration, and saw that Pax means “peace.” Since the character is so calm and thoughtful, it seemed like the perfect name. Naming a picture book child is just as difficult as naming your human child.
3. Why is the book now called Pax and Blue?
My editor and I felt that using the two character names warmed it up and introduced Blue as special, and not just an ordinary pigeon.
4. Pax looks just like Cooper. Is he Cooper?
(Cooper is my older son.) Yes and no! There is definitely a physical resemblance between Cooper and Pax — the glasses give it away — but Pax’s personality is my younger son. This book is for both of my boys, so I put both of them into the character.
5. What will I find if I look under the jacket?
Gah! I LOVE my case cover and fancy spine! Paula Wiseman, my editor, was incredibly supportive of all the design details I wanted. She let me do this 3-piece binding with textured spine, which makes the book feel vintage. All these little things add to the production cost, so it’s not always easy to get them. The foil stamp was a bonus I was not expecting! Be still, my designer heart.
My friend April Lesher is a teacher in Arizona. She works with ASD students and created some FREE lesson plans for ELA and ELL featuring some favorite picture books, including A HOP IS UP. It's such a joy to see our book being used in this way. (And I recently had the pleasure of surprising April's students on screen via the magic of Google Hangouts!)
One of my eagle-eyed friends spotted A HOP IS UP peeking out of the bookshelves in this amazing nursery makeover on 100 Layer Cake-let blog! Photos are by Heather Moore and the styling is by Shannon Althin.
Thank you to students and teachers at Hamilton Park Montessori School in Jersey City! I had the pleasure of spending the morning with all of their kindergarteners. We read A HOP IS UP and played my favorite drawing game -- I start with a prompt, and then the kids call out what we're going to add to our characters. The results are always super creative and funny!
Thank you so much to Riley at Powerhouse on 8th! This special little store in Park Slope is such a neighborhood gem. Our reading of A HOP IS UP was followed by a drawing game... which resulted in a dog with an orange (!!) mohawk drinking a pumpkin spice latte near the subway.
What a picture-perfect fall day in Princeton! This book fair is bustling and oh-so-much fun to attend. Every last one of our board books of A HOP IS UP went home with adorable kiddos. Thank you so much to Princeton Public Library and JaZams for a wonderful day!