Tuesday, June 3, 2014


First of all, I must give big huge thanks to the fabulous Samantha Berger, my last-name-twin, for passing me the baton here on the blogosphere. Samantha has written over 70 [gasp!] children's books, including Martha Doesn't Say Sorry, Martha Doesn't Share, and Crankenstein.
I haven't been visiting my lonely blog in ages, deadbeat that I am, so this has made me not only pay it a visit, but also to think about what I have been doing with myself these last many months.
So, to answer the questions:

W H A T  A M  I  C U R R E N T L Y  W O R K I N G  O N ?
I have many balls in the air right now. 
I was lucky to be able to do one of the illustrations for Goodnight Songs a collection of poems by one of my childhood heroes, Margaret Wise Brown. The poems were discovered in manuscript form, in a trunk in her sister's barn, years and years after she died. Sterling Publishing commissioned an amazing group of illustrators to each do a piece to accompany a poem and they were then set to music by Emily Gary and Tom Proutt.

I am doing color correcting on a book that I wrote and illustrated call Finding Spring, which is about a wee little bear who doesn't want to hibernate, and instead goes on an adventure in search of his first spring. After creating the mini-dioramas for Stardines Swim High Across the Sky it was hard to imagine working two dimensionally again, so I built the art as little paper toy theaters, and then photographed it with my friend, Porter Gillespie. We shot the illustrations  in such a way as to create an intimacy and the sense of peeping into to these tiny, magical worlds. The book is due out from Greenwillow Books sometime winter, 2014.

I am also working on the illustrations for Fabulously Fiona, which I wrote  for Greenwillow Books that I wrote. The illustrations are pencil with light watercolor washes [way outside  of my comfort zone!!]. It is basically an autobiography of a little girl named Fiona. I am a little scared of this book, but I always think it is good to push one's self into a place of discomfort, and with a good dose of luck, perhaps something new and interesting will come of it.
In addition I  have several of my own manuscripts that I am tinkering with or wrestling with and making sample illustrations for. 
H O W  D O E S  M Y  W O R K  D I F F E R  F R O M  
O T H E R S  O F  I T S  G E N R E ?

I am not sure what genre my work falls under? Each book I do is its very own design problem to solve. And maybe that, in the end, is what is specific to my approach. My background in graphic design informs how I approach my books. So, for example, All Mixed Up grew out of the idea of collaging the collages [like an exquisite corpse game], or Stardines was an opportunity to make the entire book into a fantastical natural history catalogue of all of these exotic, imaginary animals.

All Mixed Up, Chronicle Books

Stardines Swim High Across the Sky, Greenwillow Books

H Y  D O  I  W R I T E  W H A T  I  W R I T E ?

That's simple. To amuse myself. But also, of course, to eventually reach out and make stories that connect to a broader community. Oftentimes stories grow out of personal things that I am thinking about. Forever Friends was written as we prepared to leave for an extended stay in Japan and my daughter was sad about leaving friends behind. Okay. All cards on the table. I was too. The Little Yellow Leaf the story of not quite being ready for change is also somewhat autobiographical. And, sometimes books are simply play, like All Mixed Up.

Forever Friends, Greenwillow Books

The little Yellow Leaf, Greenwillow Books

H O W  D O E S  M Y  I N D I V I D U A L  W R I T I N G/I L L U S T R A T I N G  P R O C E S S  W O R K ?
First I have an exciting little nibble of an idea. Then, as I try to capture it, it becomes more and more elusive. Then I procrastinate and procrastinate some more. Then I make a little headway, and realize that it is not headway at all. I need a snack. Or a walk. Or a visit with a friend. Eventually after I have written and re-written the story I make little thumbnails, and black and white dummies of the book. Once that is approved I blow the sketches up into tight vellum layouts and start cutting bits of paper and ephemera with my special scissors and my extra sharp x-acto blade. My materials are very pedestrian. White glue. Scissors. Paper.  

Work in progress

U P  N E X T  O N  T H E  B O O K  T O U R :

Two author/illustrators that I am hugely in awe of:

Giselle Potter, whose vividly colored gauche illustrations are magical, slightly odd and full of humor and whimsy. Her many books include: Cecil and the Pet Glacier, Sawdust and Spangles and The Year I didn't Go to School.


Sophie Blackall, who somehow manages to make art that is at once nostalgic and modern, poignant and witty, and always wonderfully sharply observed. Her children's books include The Baby Tree, Mr. and Mrs. Bunny-Detectives Extraorinaire!, and Big Red Lollypop. She also did the ridiculously clever book, Missed Connections.

I look forward to hearing from these two inspirations.

Many thanks, again, to the brilliant and funny Samantha Berger, who cursed me with having to follow her wit and charm. 

My website, if you are curious is: