2013 RI Festival of Children’s Books and Authors

This year’s Book Festival at Lincoln School in Providence was fabulous- just full to the brim with great presenters, and very well-attended by a huge crowd.


Here’s Jarret Krosoczka with one of his first books, and whipping out a Lunch lady drawing. I like how he is so candid with kids and adults about the non-direct path to publication. And he happens to be a great guy, too.


Kate Messner was there. I had never heard her talk before- she is truly a natural speaker and I loved her approach to writing and life in general.


Laurie Keller is a big favorite of ours, and she led the mixed audience of kids and adults in drawing otters.4_keller1
5_keller2(Just check out that concentration!)

Kim Newton Fusco gave a great talk about her path, and finding your own path and voice. She has a beautiful and slow approach to honing her books to be the best they can be. 
6_fuscoThis is Lemony Snicket. I think. Otherwise, he sent some guy named Daniel Handler to handle the ginormous crowd that was there for him.

7_snicket1(he had the crowd in stitches,and also occasional headlocks).  


8_snicket2Marin, Steve and Lesley get their book signed- he takes time to harass everyone in the line, it’s sweet!
9_wildWild Thing, I think I looove you.

Here’s Chris Van Allsburg signing one of his amazing books.



Susannah Richards “interviewed” Sharon Creech in a casual discussion about her writing path, and getting the Newbury call.



Dan Santat- the hardest workin’ man in illustration, and one of the best!

Some new book loot. What, it’s not like I could just NOT buy SOME books. 🙂


As always, a great time- looking forward to next year, already!


Well, Hello, Little Highlights!

I got a happy surprise in the mail today- it’s Volume 1, Issue 6 of Highlights Hello magazine for toddlers- with my art on the cover!

I did this piece quite a long time ago, well before the magazine debuted in January 2013. It’s great to finally see it “in action”!




These nifty little magazines come in a protective sleeve, so they are fresh and ready to be handled by your baby when they arrive. Here’s what the sleeve looks like:



It is a treat and an honor to have my art front and center like this. Thank you Highlights, for always creating quality material for children!

Keepin’ It Glassy in Shanghai!

Here’s something I didn’t ever expect to happen- four of my glass designs are currently on display in Shanghai, China. The Shanghai Museum of Glass contacted me a few months ago for information regarding these glass items (which I designed for the FRED company).



They are appearing in an exhibit called “Keep It Glassy”, featuring all kinds of glass works from around the world. It’s an honor to have my designs on display there, though I will not likely manage to see them in person! Check out the place:





Here’s one of the exhibit posters:


There’s me!

You never know where art will end up. It’s exciting to think some of mine is on display on the other side of the earth!

NESCBWI Whispering Pines Retreat 2013

I had the pleasure and luck to attend the New England SCBWI’s most excellent Whispering Pines Writer’s Retreat again this year (I believe this is my 5th year). It takes place in paradise (also known as URI’s Alton Jones Campus in W. Greenwich, RI). Lucky for me, this isn’t so far to travel; yet it is like being a world away!

     We started with a first night first pages panel…


…followed by a pleasant Kid Lit Jeopardy deathmatch.


Valkyrie Lynda fields the questions while Julia Boyce writes upside down and backwards to keep score.

Events take place in and around the campus, but mainly here in the Lodge…


Retreat Directors Lynda Mullaly Hunt and Mary Pierce got the day rolling on Friday with some shout-outs to the volunteers who make it all work.

giftsAccolades and to Laurie Murphy and Linda Crotta Brennan for their assistance!

The mentors this year were stellar!

mentorsErin Dionne, Shauna Rossano, Mary, Sara Crowe, Lynda, Bethany Strout, and Kelly Murphy up front. Missing from this shot: Leslie Connor!

First up was my amazing illustrator friend Kelly Murphy, who was very up front and realistic about what it’s like to work with authors and publishers. Her work is dynamic and recognizably hers, no matter the subject. She takes a lot of care to do manuscripts justice in her art.

Some of Kelly’s originals were on display while she signed books.

Erin Dionne is the author of several books that are huge hits in our house. Her talk was about marketing, and it was fun to hear how she makes connections and cultivates community in the real word and online.


Author Leslie Connor had some great insight into tapping into the truth when writing. Having that element of truth allows readers to invest in your characters and care about what happens to them. Such a good point.


Food! The food is incredible at Whispering Pines. And it just keeps coming. And then the plates disappear. It’s a magical way to live for a few days!


Every meal comes with excellent conversation as well!

First pages, second night…

…followed by FIRE!


fire2Cameron Kelly Rosenblum stokes the fire and the silly conversation, all with the same stick.

Now pretend that you have stayed up WAY past your bedtime talking, laughing, and having a great time. Good!

Shauna Rossano, Associate Editor at G.P. Putnam’s Sons, got the last morning started with some great tips on catching an editor’s eye right away by making those important first impressions.


Sara Crowe, Agent at Harvey Klinger, Inc. gave us some valuable insight into her process of reviewing books for representation. Submissions to her must not only ring true to her, but imply a way she can market it to editors.


Here’s Bethany Strout, Assistant Editor, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. I had met her at the Blueberry Fields retreat in Maine last year, and she was just as smart and approachable here. She draws from both her knowledge and instincts to choose manuscripts for her publisher.



Alas, all too soon, it comes to a close. I love reconnecting with many of my writer and artist friends in the region here; it really is a charmed event.

4girlsJust a few of the lovely folks as seen at WP… Jennifer Thermes, Janet Costa Bates, Cameron Kelly Rosenblum, and Kim Savage.

A few parting shots, until next time…!





Blizzards, Then and Now.

So, we have a blizzard occurring at the moment here in RI. Anytime there is a serious quantity of snow, those of us who were alive at the time remember the legendary Blizzard of 1978. I know I do! I was 11 at the time, and it made a huge impression.

So, when asked to come up with a winter themed Newport Creamery kid’s menu, I thought it would be interesting for todays’s kids to hear about the storm that many of their parents lived through. A lot has changed in the meantime, especially the ability to know a storm is coming well in advance. We all have SO much information these days that it’s hard to envision a time where we could literally be caught off guard by weather!

The menu cover shows what I remember it being like (sort of). There were actually no cows or other farm animals at my house then. But snowdrifts halfway up the house? Yes! A mom who barely made it home on time? Yup. A dad who got stuck downtown at the Providence Marriott for 3 days, and then decided to walk home to Scituate? Yup. There was no school for days on end, and no power either. We had a fireplace and could cook some things in it. I remember making impressive snow forts and sculptures after all was said and done.

So, after THIS blizzard passes through, and you find yourself in a Newport Creamery, check out the kid’s menu. Go ahead, just ask for one. Here’s a peek at the inside. J. Joseph Garrahy, the Governor of RI at the time, appears inside since he was the one who had to deal with the situation. I hope kids will like this issue, and that it sparks conversation!


Why, Hello, Little Magazine!

I am happy to say that my artwork is currently appearing in a brand NEW little magazine published by our friends at Highlights.

Highlights Hello is designed for the youngest babies and toddlers, and is even printed on rip-proof coated paper and stitched like a little board book.

I love illustrating for this age group. Here is my “Find It” feature, which is like baby’s first Hidden Pictures!