From my Sketchbook: At Winter's End

Three weeks ago, this is what it looked like a stones' throw  north of my house. We went cross-country skiing here every single week this winter, sometimes right from our door if we beat the snowplow! The snow is mostly gone in the city now, but you can still find winter if you venture west into the Rockies.


On-the-spot Portraits

On-the-spot portraits I made of kids during school visits for October's Taleblazers Literary Fest. Thanks to the schools who hosted me and the students who sat for me! And to the Young Alberta Book Society, who organized the tour. If you want to bring real live authors and artists to your Alberta classroom or library, check them out: www.yabs.ab.ca.


On the first day of snow, I ate the last of the teeny-tiny pears my friend Maureen gave to me from her tree. And I painted this picture in my sketchbook!


Story Avenue

Four hundred kids.
Five Edmonton schools.
Nine writers and illustrators.
Welcome to Story Avenue!
In my workshops, we made the shortest possible storyboards. Since some of my fave writers and illustrators were next door, I kinda wanted to sneak away to see what they were doing in THEIR classrooms!
Thanks to the Young Alberta Book Society and all the amazing volunteers, teachers and sponsors who make this annual Story Avenue event happen. And to the great group of students from Mee-Yah-Noh, Norwood, Oliver, John A. McDougall and Delton Schools: Keep on writing, drawing and thinking!


What's under your tree?

My books are available from better booksellers...or from my online shop. And if you've already bought MY books, fabulous titles are available from a host of talented authors and artists and poets!

Back to School!

Seven schools in six towns! Courtesy of the Young Alberta Book Society’s Taleblazers Author Tour, I talked to hundreds of kids about writing and illustrating books in October. Here are some on-the-spot-portraits I made of some of my audience. A big thank you to teachers and librarians of Swan Hills, Lendrum, Holy Family, Father Scollen, Magrath, Foremost and Turner Valley for hosting me!


During my California visit, I met up with Weeds Find a Way writer Cindy Jenson-Elliott at Cardiff School, where she co-teaches an elementary class. Cindy and the students built a garden at the school: sometimes they spot grey whales swimming in ocean a stone’s throw from the playground.

I got to talk to Cindy’s students about writing and illustrating books. And I got to do some drawing! Thanks to Cindy, Ms. Boyesen and Ms. Douillard for sharing your class at the school-by-the-sea.


Meeting Cindy

People are often surprised to find out that the writer and the illustrator of a children’s book don’t work together. Publishers match up the manuscript with the art, and coach writer and illustrator separately to weave the book together.

So I’d never met Cindy Jenson-Elliott (who wrote our book Weeds Find a Way) in person–until last week. 

Cindy lives in San Diego. I live in Calgary, Canada, but had gone south for a visit. So here we are together at last!
In the background: milkweed, which Cindy grows at her school to attract monarch butterflies.
Thank you, Cindy. I was thrilled to meet you!

From Cindy's school garden: a milkweed pod with my illustration of milkweed. And a monarch egg on the leaf! 

Teleconferencing to Class

Last Tuesday, Skype took me 800km from Calgary to Bozeman, Montana to join prolific writer, journalist and teacher Michele Corriel in her Writing for Young Readers class. We had a lively discussion about kid books, writing and illustration. Thanks, Michele, for inviting me to join you! 

Pocatellecott Award

Children's librarian Kathryn Poulter of Pocatello, Idaho wrote to say that picture book WEEDS FIND A WAY has earned the Pocatellecott Award, an annual honour bestowed by the Marshall Public Library. Kathryn's letter is the nicest award notification I've ever gotten. Thank you, Kathryn and judges!

Dear Carolyn,

As the children's librarian in the town of Pocatello, Idaho, it is with pleasure that I am writing to inform you that you have been selected to receive the coveted and prestigious Pocatellecott Award for your beautiful book: Weeds Find a Way.

Every year, we choose one or more outstanding examples of children’s books to receive this award. As we make our selections completely independently of the ALA children’s book awards, it is exciting to see that the books we choose are also sometimes the ones the committees select. However, whether or not the recipients of the Pocatellecott award receive recognition on a grander scale or not, we feel the books we choose are superlative examples of art, writing, and beauty for children. Your wonderful book fits all those criteria!

Certainly your amazing and beautiful art that fills the pages of the book was a main attraction. We love the way you filled the pages with delicate hairs on tiny stems, bold skies of beautiful blue with a red shoe at the bottom and lots of little sprays of pinched pieces. My favorite illustration is where the weeds find a way to be loved and there are flares of riotous red ladybugs and the redwing blackbird and a lacy winged dragonfly perched on an orange hawkweed stem. You’ve taken the written descriptions and created a visible picture of how weeds really do infiltrate everywhere, even wedged in the worn sole of a tattered sneaker. Thank you for the time, effort, talent and careful preparation that went into your book. It is indeed worthy of this award.

Although the award, unfortunately, has no cash prize associated with it, you will receive a lovely, frameable certificate. Will you please let me know the address where you would like me to mail the award? Once again, congratulations for illustrating such a beautiful book and winning this prestigious honor. We wish you all the best in your continuing work.


Kathryn Poulter

Marshall Public Library