Join me this Saturday for RISD Craft!

This weekend I'll be signing books and selling prints at RISD Craft, the school's yearly juried sales exhibition of alumni and student work. If you're in the area come join me! It's always a fun day. Sip on some cider, stroll down tree-lined Benefit Street, and see what the RISD community has been up to. It's always a fun day! I'll be signing books and selling prints at booth 71. 

Raising A Reader Dinner with an Author

Tomorrow I'll be joining a long list of wonderful authors at Raising A Reader's Dinner with an Author, a celebration of their tenth anniversary and a fundraiser for the wonderful work they do connecting underserved kids with books. Did you know that 39% of third graders don't read proficiently and for low income children the number is 60%? Raising A Reader tackles that problem by encouraging caregivers to read to children at home- working with Horizons for Homeless Children, Head Start, and public pre-schools.

If you'd like to join us for a lovely dinner at the Fairmont Copley Plaza in Boston, register here. Or you can make a donation to them anytime!

Sprout Street Neighbors Community Art Show and Raffle

Calling all kids in Western Mass who love to read and draw! Join me and The Odyssey Bookshop for a celebration of community and the Sprout Street Neighbors books. We're inviting children from all over Western Mass to make artwork inspired by their community, which we'll show at the store during Children's Book Week. One student will win a school visit from me for their classroom!

The details: Our show will be on May 7th from 2:00-4:00. All children's art will be on display, snacks will be served, and I'll be there to read and draw with the kids. Come join us to celebrate this wonderful community we're part of!

To participate: Just follow the DIRECTIONS and send in kid's artwork with the APPLICATION. The Odyssey is offering DISCOUNT COUPONS if you buy the books for the project, feel free to download those as well. Happy drawing!

Questions? Feel free to email me or Niki Marion at the Odyssey.

A special offer

To celebrate the release of my new book, Sprout Street Neighbors: A New Arrival, I've teamed up with my local indie to make a special offer. If you order the first two Sprout Street books in hardcover from The Odyssey Bookshop during the month of January, I'll sign and personalize them for you AND you'll get a FREE signed, archival giclée print of one of my illustrations. That and the satisfaction of having supported a wonderful local bookstore that provides a host of great services to the Western Mass community! You don't have to live locally to participate, they can ship anyplace. Click here for more details!



A New Arrival

This week brings the second book in the Sprout Street series to bookshelves at last! Sprout Street Neighbors: A New Arrival is in booksstores now, along with the paperback version of book one, Five Stories. I am super excited about both these books and can't wait to introduce them to little readers!

To celebrate, here is a trailer we put together for book one. Big thanks to my husband Bruno for being a computer genius, and for my daughter Tilly, for trying her very hardest to pronounce "Knomph".

I'll post the trailer for book two soon!

 

 

Book birthday and a review

Sprout Street Neighbors: Five Stories is out today- happy birthday little book! To celebrate I am posting my favorite review so far. The Winnie the Pooh comparison really made my day. Thanks Booklist!

"The five stories here present a tribute to the ups and downs of friendship. Differences are the central focus of each story as characters display their very diverse personalities. Poetry-loving Henry fancies peace and quiet; vivacious Emma is always ready to party; creative Violet wants to practice her flute and knit; gardener Wilbur prefers to work with plants and dig in the dirt; and shy Fernando’s secret desire is to dance. These animal friends reside in the same apartment building, but sometimes their different lifestyles make being neighbors hard! Episodic chapters reveal how problems, such as a noisy acorn collection, leaky ceilings, and a birthday cake disaster, find resolution in a fashion reminiscent of Winnie the Pooh’s misadventures in the Hundred Acre Woods. Soft, expressive pen-and-ink illustrations provide assistance for the transitional reader. Demonstrating tolerance, politeness, and teamwork, these gentle stories help show how the world can work when challenges are approached with kindness and understanding."

— Martha Edmundson, Booklist

ps. If you would like to purchase a personalized copy of the book, my lovely local indie The Odyssey Bookshop would be happy to help! Just order the book here and note who you would like it inscribed to in the comments when checking out. I'll go in and sign it, then they'll ship it directly to you.

First book!

It is hard to describe the feeling of holding your book for the first time, after all the many weeks, months, and years spent bringing it into being. When a little package arrived on my doorstep last week, I was excited to open it, but also nervous that it might not live up to my expectations. Would all the pieces that we had labored over for so long come together and create a solid little vessel for the story inside? When I opened up Sprout Street and flipped through the pages my heart leapt up. All the details blended seamlessly together to form one little book, five little stories, one hundred and four little pages. 


My favorite details, both surprises, are the sweet little embossed sprouts on the cover and the marvelous full color printed endpapers.



I am so excited to share this book with the world!

Hello again!

Much has changed since my last post here. 2014 was a whirlwind, so I took some time off from blogging to get my bearings. I am happy to be back with updates on on my adventures, both bunny painting and otherwise!

Shortly after my last post, this little guy arrived:


He has brought much joy and much busyness! We are totally, utterly in love with our tiny fellow. And also we are very busy. Did I mention that?

Shortly before his arrival, my husband and I closed on a house and began converting it from a two family to a single. With no experience and a lot of excitement we put our home renovation dreams into action. Much of the year was spent wandering around mess that looked like this:


Surely enough the space was transformed, and we moved into our house at the end of the year:



We've been painting, organizing, and unpacking ever since. I'm excited to post some before and after pictures when the transformation is complete.

When not house painting, I've been hard at work with a different kind of paint brush. The illustrations for Sprout Street Neighbors (book 1) are now complete and I am so excited that it's book birthday is almost here! In one month's time it can be found in bookstores at last.


Til then I'll be posting more of the artwork, peeks inside the making of the book, and details about ways to celebrate with me (mark your calendars for a launch party on June 6th at the Odyssey). Stay tuned!

Wise words from Leo Lionni


"Of all the questions I have been asked as an author of children's books, the most frequent one, without doubt, has been 'How do you get your ideas?' Most people seem to think that getting an idea is both mysterious and simple. Mysterious, because inspiration must come from a particular state of grace with which only the most gifted souls are blessed. Simple, because ideas are expected to drop into one's mind in words and pictures, ready to be transcribed and copied in the form of a book, complete with endpapers and cover. The word get expresses these expectations well. Yet nothing could be further from the truth.

"It is true that, from time to time, from the endless flow of our mental imagery, there emerges unexpectedly something that, vague though it may be, seems to carry the promise of a form, a meaning, and, more important, an irresistible poetic charge. The sense of instant recognition with which we pull this image into the full light of our consciousness is the initial impulse of all creative acts. But, though it is important, it produces no more than the germ of an idea. Each book, at the birth of its creative history, has such a moment. Some are fortunate enough to have, from the outset, a strongly identified hero, one with an inescapable destiny. Others are blessed with a promising beginning, or perhaps with the vision of an ending (which means working backwards to a surprise opening). Others stem from a clearly articulated conflict situation. Sometimes, I must admit, the motivations of a book may be found in a sudden, unreasonable urge to draw a certain kind of crocodile. And it may even happen that in the dark of our minds there appears, out of nowhere, a constellation of words that has the bright, arrogant solidity of a title. Only last night I was jolted out of a near-slumber by the words the mouse that didn't exist. I am sure that, temporarily tucked away in my memory, they will eventually become the title of a story for which as yet I have no idea.

"To shape and sharpen the logic of a story, to tighten the flow of events, ultimately to define the idea in its totality, is much like a game of chess. In the light of overall strategy, each move is the result of doubts, proposals, and rejections, which inevitably bring to mind the successes or failures of previous experiences.

"Inspirational raptures may happen, but most books are shaped through hard, disciplined work. Creative work, to be sure, because its ingredients come from the sphere of the imaginary. But the manipulation of these ingredients requires much more than mere inclination or talent. It is an intricate process in which the idea slowly takes form, by trial and error, through detours and side roads, which, were it not for the guidance of professional rigor, would lead the author into an inextricable labyrinth of alternatives.

"And so, to the question 'How do you get your ideas?' I am tempted to answer, unromantic though it may sound, 'Hard work.' "


-Leo Lionni (found through his Amazon bio)