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!


New York, New York…or, Close Encounters of the Daniel Radcliffe Kind

So, I was in New York for the NYIGF last week, helping set up the booth for the FRED company, where I design homegoods and the like.
Setup went well- and the booth looked positively smashing, I must say!

I wouldn’t cross that line if I were you…

After, we had a little time to jump into the Museum of Modern Art’s store and check things out.

They periodically carry Fred items, and I found one of mine, the Half Pint creamer inside.

Even though it was an exhausting day of show setup, I really wanted to see if we could score some tickets to How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, starring Daniel Radcliffe, currently running on Broadway. Holy cow! We got tickets! In the very last row!

The coolest thing about NYC, in my opinion, is the preponderance of theater going on at any given time. You could see a new play every day, and probably never run out of options.

Here’s what the Hirschfeld Theater looks like from outside… oddly enough, there was a giant line of people waiting to get in, but because we were picking up our tickets at the box office, we went in first.

The Hirschfeld Theater has lots of (surprise, surprise!) Hirschfeld cartoon art on the walls!

I couldn’t take pictures during the play, but it was fabulous! And Daniel Radcliffe was excellent in it- it was a very demanding role, and he was up to it and able to sing, dance, and perform acrobatics, all with an American accent. I only realized he wasn’t speaking with a British accent about 3/4 the way through, so it was a good job!

We waited along with about 500 of our closest friends in the alleyway behind the theater to see if the stars would come out and meet the crowd. Apparently, this is the same scene every night. It was fun waiting with everyone, a good crowd. Oh, hey! Look!

John Larroquette…I used to LOVE Night Court! He was very funny in this play.


A little piece of Daniel Radcliffe! That’s as close as we could get before he was whisked away in a car. In fact, I didn’t really see either of these guys- Eric and his fancy overhead camera moves were able to catch these glimpses!

This is as close as I really got to meeting him!

BUT, I was able to score what I believe to be The Offical Dorkiest Souvenir Available on Broadway!

Yes, THAT’S RIGHT. An official J. Pierrepont Finch bowtie! This was specially picked up for my kid, Audrey, who happens to be cool, because she gets it.

Post-show, we wandered through the freakshow that is Times Square, still teeming with hundreds of people, even at midnight.

Every time I am in this square, I look to the statue of George M. Cohan, and I wonder just what he would make of this all now.


A couple of weeks ago I was asked to come speak to RISD students in the illustration department about my work. It was great fun to be able to go back to the very building I spent many hours in (the ISB, which hasn’t changed a bit) and talk about the post-RISD experience!

There’s the unchanged ISB. What has changed is in front of it- a beautiful waterfront complete with art tile-encrusted walkways and arches. It’s about a million times nicer than the late 80s landscape I saw as a student!

Here’s my first indication that I would have to be “professional”!

A Professional Practice flyer about me!
Check out those great student watercolor studies to the left!

My talk was mostly in the dark, with a Powerpoint display, so no pictures there! But afterwards, the students could come up and play with the array of my products, toys, children’s books and kid’s menus that I brought along.

I like seeing peoples’ initial reactions to these things… it’s very telling.

While I was in the vicinity, I had the chance to walk over to the always-fun risd/works store nearby, which is now part of the cool new wing of the museum.

risd/works carries a lot of my design items, and displays them in a gorgeous setting!

Here’s a wall o’ fun from the Fred Co. My designs shown are: CooKeys, MonKeys, EarRing, TropSticks, and Cool Jewels.

Aristocakes is a new product of mine. Crown-shaped cupcake bakers!

Pastasaurus sighting!

A great array of my art glass items… Winestein, Half Pint, and Calf and Half.

If you go to risd/works, and you really should, be sure to say “hi” to the ultra-friendly and helpful Evan and Dinah!

Aren’t they cute? Be sure to tell them Liz sent you! 🙂

The Blue Bunny Bookstore!

We found out that Lisa Yee was going to follow up her American Girl signing with a signing of her latest book at The Blue Bunny. I have been wanting to check out this store for quite a while, so it was the perfect excuse to head up to cute, old town center in Dedham Mass.

The Blue Bunny is the brainchild of author/illustrator Peter H. Reynolds. I have a lot of respect for his philosophies and work, so I expected that the store would be a great blend of toys, books, art, and fun. And it was!

Here we are with our friends the Sheas, who came up from CT for the signing.

Seriously, for me as a toy designer and a children’s book creator, it doesn’t get much better than this! The children and adults who were there that day seemed to agree- it’s a grand place to explore.

According to Lisa, ours was the very first copy of her new book, Warp Speed, to be signed. WooHoo! The book is about a Star Trek geek (there might be a couple… a few…OK, FIVE Star Trek fans in our house), so it was a must-have addition to our nearly complete Lisa Yee library. She’s such a great writer- and just the kind of role model that you want your kids looking up to.

I got to hold Peepy! She’s clearly a girl. And we both were rockin’ the stripes.

Lisa’s back in sunny California now, but we are glad to have seen her here on the East coast. We will certainly be back to The Blue Bunny- and if you live in these parts, check it out. You won’t be disappointed!

This is how things are in Glocca Mora.

Do you like paper dolls? I loved them as a kid, as well as any kind of cut-out craft like “build your own town/diorama” books like that. My daughters seem to have inherited that gene (the gene for wanting to cut and assemble stuff). I recently found this odd vintage set on Ebay:

OK, so it’s a set based on the 1968 movie version of “Finian’s Rainbow”, which starred Fred Astaire as Finian and Petula Clark as Sharon. It also starred one of my movie favorites, Tommy Steele as Og, the leprechaun. Yes, there’s a leprechaun in it. Needless to say, this is one weird movie. It’s got a very fun musical score, and a very bizarre story line. But in 1968, you could get paper dolls based on it! And wow, only 29¢. What a deal!

I wouldn’t cut such a lovely thing up, but I WOULD scan it and print it onto card stock so my girl could cut it up!

I particularly like how the characters each have outfits from the movie, and also extra outfits that are just stylin’ sixties garb- vests and scarves, oh yeah!

I miss the times when paper dolls were seen as legitimate entertainment. Well, they still are around here.

Danish Delight- Bjørn Wiinblad

I found this fab Bjørn Wiinblad tile at Savers the other day:

He was a Danish artist who cranked out a great amount of decorative ceramics and art. What’s not to love?? He had such a charming style, very distinct. His ceramics are sometimes printed with his line work and sometimes rendered in 3-D:

He also illustrated posters and prints like these:

He lived a good, long life, apparently- born in 1918, he only died in 2006 after creating decades of design. What do you think about his art?

New stuff from Brimfield…

As I said, I picked up a few things at the Brimfield show last week, because you can’t go there and NOT find anything, that would be impossible.
For me, anyhow!
Old stuff is aesthetically more interesting than most new stuff.
Again, for me, anyhow!

Some of the things I am a sucker for are vintage children’s books:

This coloring book is from 1934, and was never used. Why is that a little sad?

These are from 1950- I especially love the alphabet one!

These are teeny- about 3″ each. Wee stuff is always extra cute!

A little salute to Belgium and Holland:

That’s a wine label, I think…plus some sweet wooden shoes.

I always manage to find at least a few “new” old fabrics…

New-old stock Easter candy box= LOVE!

Another mysterious love- old, unused stickers, preferably the gummed paper kind, and especially if they’re in their original package!

Also an unused decal from one of our favorite meccas…Santa’s Village in NH!

And a little something more medieval, too:

Rampant unicorns! Huzzah!

That’s most of what I picked up. I guess I am generally an ephemera lover!

Antiques in the Air…

… can you smell it? Fall, Autumn, the wind whistling, a few leaves blowing by…and miles of antiques!

September is when one of the three yearly Brimfield shows occurs, and I snuck away for the day with my mom to partake in the hunt. It turns out that I collect pictures just as much as real stuff (no, more), so herewith are some photos of things I thought were cool, and some of the stuff I got while there. Really, I think the fun is just in the poking around, looking through decades past.

‘Twas a brisk fall day, cloudy for the most part, but with sun poking through occasionally.

Every season is Christmas at Brimfield:

These are some mighty fine paper candy containers:

Here’s something you don’t see anymore, not even in Scotland!

I love the naive painting on this set o’ dwarves…

Continue reading “Antiques in the Air…”