Monday, June 27, 2016

Aloha

A small friend is turning 6 in two weeks.
She lives across the country,  
and we can't make it to the luau party.
We can't come for cake and balloons and birthday hugs,
but we can send pineapples
and kitties
and fancy toothpicks.
 They're like tiny, paper aloha hugs.
 

So, in shuttling wildebeests to soccer camp lately, 
I have discovered a few good surprises 
in being the carpool soccer mom.

 Books on CD. 
Car-goofy kids.
And sketchbook time
 while all my soccer players 
do their runs and drills.
Big chunks of sketchbook time 
help when working out new ideas.

 It's funny that I can sketch happy around a crowd, 
but I can't write a drop.
My thoughts turn to stone and my stories sink.
 But then, that's kind of a theme for me with words anytime lately.

I know some writers who scribble serious magic 
in coffee shops and airplanes. 

What about you?

When do you do your deep story work?
Can you create masterpieces with everyone there?
Do you thrive with hum and buzz?
Or do you like a hush when you create?

 


Wherever you find yourself this week,
I wish you peaceful breezes, sweet surprises, and
aloha.


Books {and CD books} we're enjoying this week:

Captain Cat by Inga Moore
Dream Friends by You Byun
Ling and Ting Share a Birthday by Grace Lin
Ling and Ting: Together in All Weather by Grace Lin
A Boy and a Jaguar by Alan Rabinowitz, ill. by Catia Chien
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin 
Chasing Secrets by Gennifer Choldenko
The Cat Who Came in Off the Roof by Annie M. G. Schmidt 
 
 







Friday, June 17, 2016

School's out!


Goodnight, pencil jars. 
Goodnight, lunchboxes. 
 School's out!
Hello, sunshine books.
Hello, swing seats. 
Hello, sandy feet. 

Summer is in session!



Summery reads:


 



 Sam and Jump by Jennifer K. Mann
A Beach Tail by Karen Lynna Williams, ill. by Floyd Cooper
Listen to Our World by Bill Martin Jr & Michael Sampson, ill. by Melissa Sweet
Surf's Up by Kwame Alexander, ill. by Daniel Miyares
Ocean Sunlight by Molly Bang & Penny Chisholm
Island: A Story of the Galapagos by Jason Chin






Friday, May 20, 2016

borrow

A happy accident in pencils, cardboard backing 
and color palette experiments
is my latest submission to the May SCBWI Insight's prompt word "borrow."


Don't you love getting to borrow from all the delicious books waiting in the library?

Here's a question for my creative friends -  do you ever work with prompts?

I am stretched when I work on art for Birdy's sight word cards.
I try to think of all the ways a simple word speaks to me,
looking for the story behind it.

Online resources such as SCBWI Insight drawing challenges
or Colour Collective's weekly color prompts are a fantastic springboard
for experimentation. And online challenges are abundant, once one starts looking.
 

  How do you stretch yourself? 

Do you write from prompts?

Do you ever coax words out left-handed, if you're a righty?

Sketch with eyes closed, if you're an artist?

How do you dig deeper for inspiration?


My brother, illustrator Jesse Joshua Watson continually inspires me,
He paints jaw-dropping wonder on reclaimed wood, old surfboards, drums, plywood.
Beauteous.

Some of our borrowed library treasures this week:
The Night Gardener - Terry and Eric Fan
Roar Like a Lion - by Tae-Eun Yoo
A Rock is Lively - Diane Hutts Aston, ill. by Sylvia Long
The Bear and the Piano - by David Lichtenfeld
Pax by Sara Pennypacker, ill. by Jon Klassen
Tiny Creatures : the world of microbes by Nicola Davies, ill. by Emily Sutton 
The Adventurers by Rachel Elliot, ill. by Valeria Docampo

Dream Animals - by Emily Winfield Martin



What does BORROW bring to mind?




Sunday, May 15, 2016

SAM and JUMP

Today the wildebeests and I traveled to Eagle Harbor Book Company for a book party.
Jennifer K. Mann's book SAM and JUMP is freshly out in bookstores, 
so we hopped over for the book birthday celebration.
So many delicious new books. Drool!


Jennifer Mann read from her book SAM and JUMP, 
which is a poignant story about loss, discovery, and friendship.
And then Jen shared stories of loveys lost and found. 
 The wildebeests brought up a book to be signed and loveys to show. 
 Jennifer is so engaging and gentle with all of her fans, even the small ones.


 Here's a picture of Jennifer with local authors Margaret Nevinski and Dawn Simon.
I'm so thankful I have Dawn as my critique partner. 
Her exuberance and wit are such a delight, 
and her writing critiques brilliant.
 What a treat to live near talented and gracious authors and illustrators.
What a treat to celebrate SAM and JUMP!

Friday, May 6, 2016

3000 chairs


Because... of this poem by Children's Author Nicola Davies, and the #3000chairs project.
It's worth every second it takes to read.

My husband and I had the opportunity to spend time in Kosovo with war survivors - refugees who returned to their homes carrying life-wrenching scars of war, with stories that ached in the hearing, and burned in the telling.

I wish a chair for every child running from war.
I wish refuge.
and hope.
and light.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Poet Tree


Apparently, it's Poetry Month.

Only, I've been a little distracted.
I skipped off to the city
for my local SCBWI meeting -
an art show,
a lecture from book-wise and witty
editors Mary Kate Castellani and Caroline Abbey,
and then a consultation and workshop with
art director, professor, and story genius Joy Chu.

This is the same Joy who guided me over the last two winters
in visual storytelling classes through the UCSD online extension program.

I'm still reeling with inspiration.
I could have listened for days. Months. Years.

Now I'm home, all bright and hopeful,
waiting for my brain to shape so many beautiful tips
and ideas into working order.
Time to let the front thoughts simmer.  
Time to play with poetry.

We started with a poet-tree.

The wildebeests and I cut out branchy trees and labeled each branch with simple word:
sky, go, sea, etc.
 
Next, we cut out dozens of leaves - in all flutters of color,
because it just looks more exciting that way.

Each branch grew rhyming leaf words:
sky = cry, my, pie, etc.


Because we like to make life even more thrilling, and sometimes complicated,
I thought it might be fun for the older wildebeests to thread their leaves on yarn.


Winnie added a button.


Pip used gold pen. She's really into gel pens lately.
And their finished masterpieces.

I'd love to meet a tree like this someday, shimmering with colors, yarns, and words!
I think I'd move in.


I'll share more poetry play next time.

Until then, here are a few favorites:







A Kick in the Head, An Every Day Guide to Poetic Forms - compiled by Paul Janeczko, ill. by Chris Raschka
The Random House Book of Poetry - edited by Jack Prelutsky, ill. by Arnold Lobel
Switching on the Moon - collected by Jane Yolen and Andrew Peters, ill. by G. Brian Karas
Chicken Soup With Rice - by Maurice Sendak
When We Were Very Young by A. A. Milne, ill. by Ernest Shepard
Now We Are Six By A.A. Milne, ill. by Ernest Shepard






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