Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Favorite Childhood Picturebook...

Honestly, my very favorite picture book was The Giving Tree. It still is one of my favorites. I remember having it read to my class in 3rd grade, and it really moved me. It still does, because it reminds me of both Leon and my mother. Some people give without definition of boundaries, really in a way that I admire. This book was my first idea of how God gives to us, and we rarely see it for what it is or appreciate His humility and generosity because we focus on ourselves. I wish I could be more like The Giving Tree.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

My Favorite Picture Books

I have to agree with Bron here in that I really am not sure what my favorite picture books were as a child. I do have memories of a few but as much as I tried I could not figure out the names of them (one was about a witch and hat and a cake contest? and another was about gnomes) so I thought I would also share my current favorite books. Oddly, I was more into making picture books as a child then reading them anyway so I have many more favorites now then I did back then! So here I would say are my top 5 of the moment:

1. The Spider and the Fly - illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi. I just love every single thing about this book, it's just beautiful!

2. The Little Engine that Could - illustrated by Loren Long. I love the colors he uses here and I think he really jazzed up a simple story.

3.The Remarkable Farkle McBride - illustrated by C.F. Payne. I'm such a huge C.F. Payne fan and I don't care those snobby "we're too good for C.F. Payne" critics have to say about him. He's just amazing!

4. The Z was Zapped - illustrated by Chris van Allsburg. Everyone also goes right for the Polar Express but I love this book even more. I have a thing for black and white illustrations anyway and what he's able to do with simple values here just blows me away.

5. Russell the Sheep - illustrated by Rob Scotton. I just love how sweet and simple this book is! And that sheep is just so darn cute!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

My Favorite Kids' Books

I have no memory of my favorite kids' books as a child, none. Except anything Walt Disney, of course. So I'll give you a list of the best from my grownup bookshelf. Of all the books in my collection, this seems to be the one that amazes me most.

To me, one of the signs of superlative artwork is when you can't figure out how they did it. This was the case with The Nutcracker, illustrated by Carter Goodrich. For years I wondered what media he used to create the illustrations. Colored pencils, of course, you say. But the illustrations were too smooth and perfect for colored pencils. The work didn't have that telltale colored pencil look. The edges of his illustrations were as soft and smooth as airbrush.

When I finally spoke to him I learned that the book WAS illustrated with Prisma Color pencils, underlayed with a watercolor washes. He is that good. The book is absolutely exquisite... among the finest examples of children's book art that I have seen. I don't know if it's still available, but if you like this style of art, I would suggest that you add it to your kids' book collection. He told me that he didn't do well financially on this title, by the way. That's a no brainer...the budget would have to be enormous to cover the time involved in these illustrations.

You would expect that someone this good would finally be discovered by the animation industry. That's what happened. He also told me that he never made much money in kids books (no surprise there). He had to get into character development in the animation industry to start making serious money. You'll see his character designs in: Finding Nemo, Monsters, Inc., and Prince of Egypt.

I have so many titles on my shelf that I really like. I'll narrow it down to my Top Five list:

1. The Nutcracker, illustrated by Carter Goodrich
2. The Christmas Carol, illustrated by Carter Goodrich
3. The Frog Prince, Continued, illustrated by Steve Johnson
4. This is the Star, illustrated by Gary Blythe
5. Melisande, illustrated by P. J. Lynch

My Favorites ~ Those wonderful Picture Books

My childhood was filled with all kinds of books. My first experiences led my sister to ban me from her bookshelf, because at under 2 years old I liked some of the pictures so much I would tear them out and carry them around with me.

Make Way for Ducklings was my first take home library book, and it is still one of my favorites. I remember how fascinated I was that all the images had been created on a stone with a special crayon. Those lithographs carried such warmth and texture.
As children our parents gave us a set of books called MY BOOKHOUSE. Edited by Olive Beaupre Miller, there were 12 anthologies in the series plus three huge picture books with myths, legends, and tales from Japan, France and Europe.

That same set is now out of print but there are some used and fairly new copies available from time to time on Amazon or EBay. The newer printing in 1971 changed the cover but the gorgeous illustrations by Maud and Miska Petersham were captivating and led me to drawing and illustrating my own stories.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Favorite Picture Books as a Child

Hmm. . .there were so many but here are a few. . .

I Can't Said the Ant by Polly Cameron ( I always wanted to re-illustrate this book. . .even as a child)

The Little Fish that Got Away by Bernadine Cook, illustrated by Crockett Johnson (first picture book I read by myself)

Curious George

Anything Dr Suess ( I had a love hate relationship with the Cat in the Hat. I loved to read the book because he was so naughty. . .but I hated thinking about the kids Mom coming home with the mess,)

“The Beezus and Ramona Series, by Beverly Cleary, illustrated by Tracy Dockray (which is not technically a picture book. . .but does have lots of fun black and whites)

The Henry Huggins Series, by Beverly Cleary, illustrated by Tracy Dockray (also not technically a picture book but. . .

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Favorite Picture Books as a Child

We're starting a new topic about what our favorite picture books were as kids.

Here is a list of some of mine:

The Little Engine that Could

Make Way for Ducklings

Winnie the Pooh Series (OK..I know they aren't actually Picture books, but know)

Raggedy Ann Series (same as above)

Joan Walsh Anglund books (A Friend is Someone Who Loves You)

Where the Wild Things Are

Frog and Toad Together

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

A Moment of Fame....

Okay, okay, you asked for it. I am posting the photo that was used on the box cover for a product (the snowman) sold at Michael's 2 Christmases ago. I was going to wait and post this on my blog because I got tagged by 2 people recently, but I see there is another request here.

It's funny, what I remember most about this day was that it was the first hot day of the spring and the studio turned up the air conditioning really high for us because the boy and I were so hot! The shot was supposed to be outside, but thankfully the forecast was for rain. It did not rain, but it was very breezy, and I'll bet it would have been difficult to keep the fake snow in place. And...we would have been even hotter!

I also remember that Leon had appeared in a photoshoot for Lifetime Fitness a month before, so we went out and had dinner that night and pretended we were both "somebodies". Leon's photo is still used on Lifetime Fitness posters and brochures.

Oh, one final thing I thought was sort of funny...I went to Michael's that holiday season and bought the box. When I took it up to the cash register, the girl had to do a price check. She stood there staring at the box and never realized it was me on the front.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Rush Limbaugh book proposal

I lost count long ago on the number of book proposals that I've done that never saw the light of day. This was one of them, but it was a very close call. I worked with noted New York editor, Judith Regan. I did the proposal in the mid nineties, at the height of Rush Limbaugh's popularity. Judith was Rush's book editor. She said, "I have a dozen Rush Limbaugh proposals on my desk...this is the most interesting." So she took Rush to lunch and showed the book idea to him. For whatever reason, the idea tanked. So now it's taking up space in my book proposal file.

One odd thing that I remember about Judith. For some reason we were talking about Mickey Mouse Club on the phone, and we suddenly burst into song and sang a duet of the Mickey Mouse Club theme.

One thing that strikes me about these images is that they were done way back when I was working on watercolor paper with colored inks. At the time I would've never imagined that I would be working in Photoshop. I haven't bought a sheet of watercolor paper in a long time.

Perhaps from time to time I'll share with you some of my other failed attempts. Maybe I'll even share the story of how I lost the audition for the weathercaster spot at NBC. I almost got the job... I got a "call back" for a second audition, but it went to a guy named Pat Sajak. I wonder what happened to him.

I remember in the studio that night Tom Brokaw was anchoring the news. I called the sportscaster, Bryant Gumble, at home for some reason, and I woke him up from a nap.