Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Grand Adventure

My book about John Wesley Powell is now available at Amazon and other outlets. It's called The Grand Adventure, and it's the true story of Powell's first expedition down the Green and Colorado Rivers and through the Grand Canyon in 1869. This daring 1,000-mile journey is one of the great exploration adventures of the American West.

Originally copyrighted in September 2000, the journey to publish this book, not unlike Powell's expedition, was a challenge. First there were numerous query submissions to publishers that were rejected because, believe this or not, they "only want to publish true stories about history*." Many other publishers just weren't interested in picture books about historical events. And while waiting (and waiting) for publishers to review the book idea, I reworked the text several times and experimented for years with different styles for the illustrations and format - from very realistic to graphic-novel style until I finally settled on my own watercolor and pencil style. Eventually, out of frustration, I threw it back into the idea file and worked on other projects.

A couple months ago I decided to revive it and get it published through non-traditional avenues. When I first started shopping the idea around to publishers in 2000 -01 there were no other John Wesley Powell children's books on the market, now, amazingly, there are several. So, I think it's only fair, that since I have been fascinated by John Wesley Powell's trips down the Canyon since I was quite young, and because I'm a native Arizonan and have actually experienced the mystique and grandeur of the Canyon, I should share my vision of Powell's story too.

* I still have the rejection letters.

Friday, September 17, 2010

My new books have arrived!

It's so fun receiving first copies of a book. Or two books! I received my first copies of Dancing Dreams and Oliver's First Christmas from Accord Publishing. I turned in the final illustrations for Dancing Dreams days before I had my baby in January, and the finals for Oliver's First Christmas were due in April. Both of these will be released within the next month.

They both use AniMotion(tm) technology, which is a fancy way of saying that there are action windows which look like animations as you turn the page. You can see the dancer in the red dress is in two different poses above. Super fun!

Kristi Valiant

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Tori Spelling at Park Ave Borders Book for Signing

Hello Picture Bookies,
I got wonderful news on yesterday that Tori Spelling will be
in NYC doing her first book signing for, " Presenting Talluah"
her very first children's book!!! I had fun illustrating the
book. The signing will be on Sept 22, 2010, at the Park Ave.
Borders Book Store. I have only spoken to Mrs. Spelling on the phone,
so it will be a real pleasure to meet her in person. Last week I got to
be a part of Drawn for the
Brooklyn Book Festival! IT WAS AWESOME!! I had so much fun
meeting the other artist like Darren Farrell, Shane Evans,
and Mike Carvallaro.
The four of us got to draw before a large audience
while both adults and children called out things for us to
illustrate! It was crazy, but a good time was had by all.
I would love to do something like this with fellow talented
Picture Bookies! It's amazing what a little music, large pads
of paper, crayons and marker and a fun crowd can do for the
spirit! There where smiles and giggles and free artwork to take
home. I was left feeling more inspired then ever. Hopefully we
can do something like one day! That would be so grand!!!!
Have a great rest of the week!

Monday, September 13, 2010


Fall is certainly in the air, here in Ohio...
And I am welcoming it as a time for change!!!

My life has been chaotic and stressful in the last year and I am hoping that I can use fall to put all that in the past and look forward to a lot of great opportunities and positive changes!!!

This past week, I took an entire week off from the day job and freelance work... I haven't had an entire week off, since, well, never! And during that week I stayed home with my dog Ananke, watched movies, sports, cleaned, de-cluttered and did a few pieces of "for fun" art!!!!

Above is the one I finished this weekend.
This sketch has been in a sketchbook for a LONG time and is one that I have always wanted to put color into...

Well, here he is... A squirrel admiring the hoard he has gathering so far...

Enjoy! And here's a wish that we each have a wonderful September!!!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Discussion forum on facebook for the Picture Bookies

There is a tab at the top of our Picture Bookies page on facebook..... DISCUSSIONS.
This is the place to have an open forum of sorts to discuss topics related to children's book illustration and products. I hope you will all take advantage of the space to sound off, vent if you wish and start a discussion on a topic that you feel is timely and appropriate.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Grow It, Try It, Like It finally out

The USDA series I illustrated over 2 years ago for a series for preschoolers is finally out in print. I haven't seen it in a hard copy yet, but it can be seen online.
It was a series of several teaching booklets and workbooks for kids to use for crafts and teachers to use to help children learn to grown fruits and veggies and eat and enjoy them. It was a joy to create.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A shiny sticker on my book!

Gotta love shiny stickers!

CORA COOKS PANCIT was the Picture Book Winner of the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature.

The awards gala was during the ALA Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. in June. I loved getting to meet the author of Cora Cooks Pancit at the awards gala; she's a wonderful woman. Most of the time as an illustrator I don't have any contact with my authors; the publishers like to keep us separate so we can work more creatively in telling our own half of the picture book story.

In this book, Cora loves the kitchen but her older brother and sisters always get to help with the real cooking while she gets stuck with kid jobs like licking the spoon. When her older siblings head out for the day, Cora finally gets the chance to be Mama's assistant chef. She chooses to make her Grandpa's pancit recipe, a Filipino noodle dish. The recipe is in the book and it's yummy.

This has been a busy and wonderful year for me. Cora won this award, I had a baby girl, and I've illustrated 4 more picture books for great publishers: Albert Whitman & Co, Accord/Andrews McMeel, and Standard Publishing.

Kristi Valiant