Monthly Archives: April 2013

that happened… some conference reflections

The SCBWI conference was just over a week ago and it’s about time I read back through my notes, follow up with some research and write a bit about it. After some reflection I think these are my two big take aways:

1. Keep Drawing! Fill up sketchbooks, draw every day, play, have fun and share my work. (I believe that counts as one thing.)

2. Use my ideas, spend it all. Sophie Blackall talked about that “best piece of paper” that you save and save for a collage you’ll make one day… and then you never use it. I’ve totally done this and regretted it.

Anyhow, have you checked out the work of some local talent?

Ariel Tobin Smith, Lisa Mundorff, Jess Fogel, and Carrie O’Neill. Congratulations to Lisa who won the portfolio show! She’s one of those lovely, kind people who you feel like you’ve known for years.

And then there is some nationally recognized talent that I’ve started watching, thanks to a workshop with Colleen Venable.


“Introvert” by Noelle Stevenson, aka Gingerhaze


Lucy Knisley


Eleanor Davis… love love love.

Ok and one more by Gingerhaze because I can’t resist. Fellowship relationships:




Filed under inspiration

a fox, a dragon and a pansomethingorother

The SCBWI Western Washington conference was EXCELLENT. But after three days of absorbing everything, I’m still digesting and distilling and decompressing. So lot’s more to come…

What I can share, are my favorite sketchbook doodles:

sketchbook fox charactersketchbook dragon charactersketchbook pansomething charactersketchbook underground world

I was so into drawing this, I almost forgot to pay attention to Mac Barnett… whaat?

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Filed under sketches

using children’s books to have a conversation about class

I was lucky enough to attend this year’s national White Privilege Conference, which was held in Seattle. (Really, I can’t say enough good things about how the organization I work for, Arts Corps, sent our entire staff to this conference.) I was excited to see that the illustrator Anne Sibley O’Brien was going to be speaking about using picture books to talk with kids about class. What a rare intersection of my interests in children’s books, social justice and education!

The workshop was rough. A lot of participants spoke up right from the beginning to voice their discomfort and there was tension in the room. But Anne Sibley O’Brien was clear that this work was like walking on thin ice and she fully expects to make mistakes and fall through that ice again and again.

I find it to be a stark contrast as I’m looking forward to the SCBWI conference next weekend. I know it will be comfortable, it will be polite, but there will also be invisible complexities of race and class and privilege that, more often than not, will never be mentioned. I really appreciate how Anne Sibley O’Brien is working to break this silence in the world of picture books.

I’ll just leave you with my favorite take away from the workshop.


This book, A Chair For My Mother, by Vera B. Williams, is about a little girl whose mother works very hard as a waitress in a diner. After a fire in their apartment that destroyed all of their belongings, they are saving up to buy a soft, comfortable armchair.

When you are reading a book like this one with a child, rather than bringing your agenda to the conversation, why not ask, “What do you see? What do you notice?” and then follow up with “Why do you think that?” You’ll probably be surprised at their level honesty and empathy.

Apparently 75% of families fail to talk to kids about race and class, and a book like this might be a place to start.




Filed under inspiration, picture books

Miss Maple is here

Eliza Wheeler’s new book, Miss Maple’s Seeds comes out this week.


After several small peeks at this project on her blog, I loved learning more about her process- especially character development- on 7 Impossible Things.

Miss Maple reads to her seeds by firefly light? I can’t wait to read it!

reading to seeds


Filed under picture books