Bunny at the USO of NC

Bunny hung out with the families of our armed forces all the way in North Carolina! This event was the result of a completely unexpected connection I made through an online group for runners led by my pal, Kelly Roberts. Here's how it happened:

I offered to donate several copies of Bunny's Staycation (Mama's Business Trip) to women in the running group—the only guideline was that I wanted the books to go to families who were struggling financially or otherwise, or to kids that don't have a lot of access to books.

I received several lovely responses from women nominating friends or others. One of them, Amy, told me she was Assistant Director of USO of NC, the oldest continuously-operating chapter of the USO in the world, located in North Carolina. (If you don't know what the USO does, they help our US Military service members stay connected to their family, home, and country while they are serving our nation). Amy told me these parents are on the ultimate business trip—deployed overseas—and her location hosts a weekly storytime for the children. She thought Bunny's Staycation would really resonate with them.

I was so incredibly touched by this thought and quickly put together a package containing a signed book, a drawing of Bunny, an oversized handwritten letter, and a whooooole bunch of passport activity kits. Off to NC it went!

Amy said the story time was a big hit with all of the parents and kids. One mom, who is relocating to Okinawa and applying for passports for her children, even used the kits to help explain what a passport is to her little bunnies! I'm so thankful to Amy and the rest of the staff at USO of North Carolina for these ah-mazing photos from the event and that they have allowed me to share them with you. These kids are making the ultimate sacrifice by sharing their brave parents with all of us.

Thank you, Amy and friends!

These parents and kids are mostly US Marines families. More than half that came to the event have spouses currently deployed.

These parents and kids are mostly US Marines families. More than half that came to the event have spouses currently deployed.

Thank you to this wonderful volunteer who read my book!

Thank you to this wonderful volunteer who read my book!

The drawing of Bunny I sent to the kids will be framed and hang in their family center (I am so honored!!); little bunnies checking out their new passport kits.

The drawing of Bunny I sent to the kids will be framed and hang in their family center (I am so honored!!); little bunnies checking out their new passport kits.

PS 372 Wall of Bunny

After visiting with the 1st and 2nd graders at PS 372 in Brooklyn, the wonderful librarians created a WALL OF BUNNY! During my visit, the kids and I created collaborative drawings of new staycations for Bunny. As a follow-up, they created their very own adventures for Bunny. Maybe we'll see them in future books! Here's just a small selection of their magnificent work.


Bunny at STORIES Bookshop

Bunny and I visited my friends at STORIES Bookshop and Storytelling Lab for launch weekend. Kids are responding so positively to Bunny and all the at-home shenanigans. Thank you Maggie and Matt at STORIES for your support!


#ViewFromMyRun RUN with New York Road Runners

Somebody call my 6th grade gym teacher who put me in remedial gym for being a terrible athlete, because today I got to host a #ViewFromMyRun RUN—based on my Instagram drawing project—with New York Road Runners. And it was so much fun! We ran a snowy 2 miles in Central Park and stopped to take photos at Bethesda Fountain. Then we ran back to the NYRR Run Center where I led a mini art class based on my own process. There were some reluctant artists who didn't love their pieces but they pushed through to the finish, just like in running. That's what this project is all about!


Books Are Magic

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.


Brooklyn Museum Children's Book Fair

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.


Society of Illustrators Original Art Show

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!

Me and SuperAgent Lori Kilkelly!

Me and SuperAgent Lori Kilkelly!

Kidlit fam

Kidlit fam

#ViewFromMyRun at New York Road Runners

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.

Where Are the Working Moms in Picture Books?

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.

PAX AND BLUE in The New York Times Book Review

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. 

Author Visit to Goosehill Primary

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

Photo courtesy of Goosehill Primary

Photo courtesy of Goosehill Primary

Storytime at Greenlight Books (x2!)

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.

PAX AND BLUE Visit North Ridge Primary School

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.

PAX AND BLUE (and Chee-Kee!) at Powerhouse on 8th

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!

PAX AND BLUE at Books of Wonder

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.


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.

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile  by Bernard Waber

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile by Bernard Waber

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. 

Pax and Blue is available now at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and indie bookstores near you!

All The Wonders Birthday Party!

Better late than never... I just realized never posted this fun birthday image I created for the fine children's book champions at All The Wonders. Here's to another 365 days, and many more!

A HOP IS UP Lesson Plan for Students with Autism

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!)