Weekly Inspiration: Mister Cloud

There is so much to be inspired about out there. This is a spot to record and share my favorite things… for this week at least!

I end up listening to a lot of kids music- whichever three or four favorite albums or songs the kids happen to be obsessed with at the moment.

Right now one of those songs is Mister Cloud by Caspar Babypants. Love these lyrics!  Especially “a rainy rainstorm fell out of your bottom; and into rivers running rampant in autumn…” So genius. It always gets a laugh from the kids.


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Weekly Inspiration: The Sound of Silence

There is so much to be inspired about out there. This is a spot to record and share my favorite things… for this week at least!

Have you read, The Sound of Silence, by Katrina Goldsaito and illustrated by Julia Kuo? My friend Meg sent it to Aki, all the way from DC, because he loves music so much. Hopefully, like Yoshio in the story, he’ll learn to love the silence between the notes too.

julia kuo cover illustration.jpg

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Although most of the story is made up of full-bleed spreads (images that extend all the way to the edges of the page), I love the white space in this first image when Yoshio is walking out the door.


julia kuo illustration 3.jpg

Such an interesting perspective!

Check out more of the illustrations from this book and more of Julia Kuo’s work here. Have a great week!


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Weekly Inspiration: Song of the Sea

There is so much to be inspired about out there. This is a spot to record and share my favorite things… for this week at least!

This is a gorgeous movie. For a pattern nerd like me (I’m such a pattern nerd!), and for any one who likes geometric characters and compositions a la Charley Harper, it’s inspiring many watchings and re-watchings with a pencil in hand and a sketchbook in my lap.

Check out the song of the sea movie trailer. It’s amazing!

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happy day

Today I got to paint.


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meet Mari and the Library Train

Just wanted to share a few drawings for a new story.

I can’t believe a whole summer has flown by since I last posted. In a very full nutshell I was traveling abroad, taking on a new leadership role at work, running a half marathon, being a mom, and just letting this new story idea slowly take root.

I have this quote on my wall by some wise Icelandic person:

Many creative people fill their heads during summer. Winters are more for sitting down at your table, taking those things you gathered in your mind during the summer, and making something from them.

Certainly a reason to celebrate the shorter days 🙂


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return to painting

It’s been a long long time but I finally sat myself down and painted something new: mouse girl and her cozy little house, although she prefers fall rain. I’m considering submitting this for a mailer that’s being put together by my agent et al. and it’s supposed to be an illustration for the fall season. But somehow it’s hard to get in the mindset of sweaters and tea and woodsmoke when we’re on the brink of summer.

MouseGirl in the Rain

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where’s mouse girl?

can you find her in the crowd?mouse girl and crew

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little mouse girl

I’ve been scheming over a new book idea that involves this little creature. She’s been popping up in my work for years and maybe it’s time for her to finally have her own story.

Happy Sunday to all!

mouse girl.jpg

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making gifts with a three year old

It’s taken me forever to write this post, since the gifts that I’m mentioning here weren’t actually given until last night. But last November, when I began thinking about what gifts we could make for friends and teachers and secret squirrels (my work version of secret santa), Lucy and I had a succulent potting party. IMG_0588 IMG_0592

Our technique was to 1) find containers at goodwill, 2) fill the bottom with pebbles, 3) fill the rest with potting soil, 4) take clippings from various houseplants and… kind of half-bury them in the soil, 5) water them a bit and 6) decorate with pretty rocks, shells and DINOSAURS!

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If Lucy had her way these would be mostly dinosaurs with barely any plants, so I had to remove a few extras and balance it out a bit. Plus there were a few succulent crushing incidents when the dinos “stomped” on the plants. But when it was all sorted out we set them on a window sill and simply waited for two months to see if any plants would die. Incredibly, they didn’t!

Our other project was to make butterfly ornaments out of rice paper and wire. I cut shapes from a template, then Lucy painted the rice paper with watercolor. Then you fold and secure with wire, the ends of which become the antennae. I’m lucky to have such a willing helper. Thanks Lucy!

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red riding hood

I’ve been working on this assignment for the SCBWI Tomie dePaola award, which is due December 1, and I think I’m just about done. The prompt is to choose a passage from the opening passages of Philip Pullman’s retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. After reading his version of the story (isn’t he the most amazing storyteller by the way?), I noticed how long winded the mother is when she’s instructing Little Red Riding Hood where to go and what to do. I imagined that, like most young people, Little Red might be distracted and pay less than close attention to her mother.

Here’s my final piece:


One day her mother said to her: ‘Little Red Riding Hood, I’ve got a job for you. Your grandmother isn’t very well, and I want you to take her this cake and a bottle of wine. They’ll make her feel a lot better. You be polite when you go into her house, and give her a kiss from me. Be careful on the way there, and don’t step off the path or you might trip over and break the bottle and drop the cake, and then there’d be nothing for her. When you go into her parlour don’t forget to say, “Good morning, Granny,” and don’t go peering in all the corners.’

And I couldn’t help but make her Japanese. I know that this probably won’t win me any accuracy points toward this award, but like many people of color and of mixed race, I had the experience of not seeing myself reflected in stories when I was growing up. (Although when I did, I was obsessed. Claudia Kishi? She was the coolest!) So I went with my first instinct, which was to create a character who breaks out of the usual blonde, blue-eyed red riding hood tradition. It was a fun assignment- I’ve been happy to have an excuse to paint again!


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