School-by-the-Sea

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! 

Happy Book Birthday!

My new book, Weeds Find a Way, is finally out! Happy book birthday to me and to writer Cindy Jenson-Elliott and to the fine folks at Beach Lane Books who helped make this book happen.

I made this video trailer to give a sneak peek:

Weeds Find a Way, picture book trailer from Carolyn Fisher on Vimeo.

 Now that you've seen a little of the book, go to your favorite bookstore and buy it. If they don't have it, order it. When it arrives, covertly arrange all the copies face-out on the shelf. Thank you!

Picture Book Tag: The Next Big Thing

Picture book pal Danna Kessimakis Smith tagged me for The Next Big Thing blog tour. So I'll write a little about my Next Big Thing, then pass the Q+A to more writers and illustrators.

What is the title of your Next Big Thing?

My Next Big Thing: illustrations for a picture book entitled Weeds Find a Way, written by Cynthia Jenson-Elliott. It's a meditation on the beauty and tenacity of weeds.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

My wonderful editor at Beach Lane Books, Andrea Welch, sent me the manuscript! I'll have to ask Cyndi how she got the idea for the story. My lush crop of backyard weeds inspired my artwork.

When will the book be published?

Weeds Find a Way will be in bookstores in Spring 2014. I'm just now designing the cover and back matter spread. Stay tuned for updates!

Now it's time to play tag. Lauren Stringer, John Coy, and Natasha Deen, you're it!

 

Lauren Stringer

When Stravinsky Met Nijinsky: Two Artists, Their Ballet, and One Extraordinary Riot
Written and illustrated by Lauren Stringer
March 2013
Harcourt Children's Books

 

Natasha Deen

True Grime 2: Angel Maker
Written by Natasha Deen
September 2012
Blueberry Hill

 

John Coy 

Hoop Genius: How a Desperate Teacher and a Rowdy Class Invented Basketball
Written by John Coy 
March 2013
Carolrhoda Books

 

Here's a hint about Danna Kessimakis Smith's Next Big Thing.

What's your Next Big Thing? Share in the comments!

Summerfallow

When I was growing up on the farm, we would occasionally leave some fields unplanted over the summer. The earth would rest, the moisture in the soil would increase, and the crop would yield a bigger harvest the next time it was planted. This practice is called summerfallow.

You know how farmers harvest day and night before winter hits? While I've been away from the blog this summer, I've been working like a farmer to finish the pictures for a new book, Weeds Find a Way. I submitted final art on Friday at 5pm. Whew!

Now for a break - at least until the editor's notes come back.

Summer's over, and in the back of my mind new ideas are sprouting. So now I'm ready to break out my sketchbook. Sketching bee, anyone?

THE CHICKEN THAT GOT AWAY

One day, an editor sent me a manuscript for a counting book about chickens.

"Carolyn," she said, "We'll pay you to make some chicken character sketches. And if you can evoke our vision of these chickens - completely adorable without being the tiniest bit cutesy - we'll give you the contract for the book."

I sent my sketches to the editor. "Hmmmmm," she said. "Not cute enough. Think of your face when you hug a puppy."

I hugged puppies.

I flapped my wings.

I grew yellow fuzzy feathers.

But I didn't get the job.

I wonder if they ever found the right illustrator for the text?

 

BOOK LAUNCH PARTY

We had so much fun at the Good Night, World launch party! After we read the book, we drew NEW good night books filled with all the ways we say good night. Thanks to Kathryn and Amy for helping, and to Sue Hill of Monkeyshines Bookstore for hosting. Big hugs to all of our new and old friends who were there. If you couldn't make it, I promise to bid you good night personally in sixteen languages the next time I see you. Buenas Noches and usiku mwema!

SAVE THE DATE!

You and any kids you know are invited to my Good Night, World launch party!

2pm, Saturday September 10

Monkeyshines Bookstore

113, 2215 - 33rd Ave. SW, Calgary

www.monkeyshinesbooks.com

I'll do a reading and signing, and then we'll have some treats. We'll break out some paper and crayons for kids to make a NEW book of their favorite ways to say good night. If we're still not ready for sleep (after all, it is a bedtime book) we can all go back to my house and jump on the trampoline.

 

Snow Day

Woke up to six inches of new show on the ground this morning. (Sound familiar, North America?) While you're waiting for the sun to come out, see if you can help the snow crystal find its way from the clouds to the ground.

Second Coldest Place on Earth?

A month or so ago, Calgary was reported to be the second-coldest place on Earth, at -33 degrees Celsius (-27F). Brrrrr! The only place colder IN THE WHOLE WORLD was the South Pole. 

Today, it's -22C (-8C.) What better weather could you ask for to curl up with a good book about snow?

 In my picture book The Snow Show, celebrity chef - and snowman - Kelvin hosts a TV cooking show where he investigates evaporation, condensation, and precipitation—all while cooking up the crispiest, lightest, fluffiest batch of snow ever to fall from the sky!

Reviewers had this to say about The Snow Show:

“...one of the most gloriously exuberant, inventive displays of computer- created art that I have seen in a picture book.”

--Caldecott award winning artist Paul Zelinsky, The New York Times Book Review, December 8, 2008.

Read More

Good Night, World


The revisions are done.
The revisions to the revisions are done.
The revisions to the revisions to the revisions are done.
The revisions to the revisions to the revisions to the revisions are...well, you get the idea.

YIPPEE!

(Dancing around the studio.)

Good Night, World is a bedtime story written by Willa Perlman with art by me, to be released by Beach Lane Books in summer 2011. I've been working frantically on it for many days...and nights. To celebrate, I'm going to take a nap.

But first - can somebody read me a bedtime story??