Thursday, December 31, 2009

So long, Aughts!

THANK YOU to everyone who stopped by the Planet Ham this year with an extra bit of thanks to all who left a comment. I really appreciate the support and feedback and I'm looking forward to continuing the blog in the... Tweens?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Half-Full Sacks of Sugar

One of my favorite sketching exercises, courtesy of the great Disney animators and The Illusion of Life by Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston.

Lil Bird

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Guy at Podium

Some guy talking about something somewhere. I honestly can't remember a thing about this, but I did sketch him. Note to self: leave more notes to self.

Mod Clown


Ink and acrylic ink wash on a free sample of Ampersand gessoboard.

Punk Rock Girl

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Professor Ex

End of Year Post-a-Palooza

Each year I shoot for a nice even 100 posts for the ol' sketch blog. This usually means that at this time of the year, I'm scrambling through sketch books to find things to post post-haste. So here comes a rare blitz of posting... at least for me.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Booklist Top of the List Selection!

The Storm in the Barn has officially been named the 2009 Booklist Top of the List selection for Youth Fiction. You can read the press release here. I could not be happier about this honor. I wonder if this is the first graphic novel to be selected in this category...

UPDATE: An interview with me is now on the Booklist website.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Horn Book Fanfare!

I am very happy to report that The Storm in the Barn is a Horn Book Fanfare title for 2009! You can see the complete list HERE.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Kind Words

100 Scope Notes has a review of Two of a Kind that I think hits the nail on the head in regards to Jacqui Robbins' writing. Check it on out.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Fantastic Firsts and the SLJ list!

Storm in the Barn made the School Library Journal's 2009 Best Comics for Kids List! Storm's in some pretty great company on that list. Check it out.

Also from the world of comics, the great Sequential Tart site has a review up in the Fantastic Firsts! series. (!)

Above are some early pencil tests for the palette and look of Storm.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Graphic Classroom Review!

There's a new review of Storm in the Barn up at the Graphic Classroom blog. This is a really cool site that reviews graphic novels and comics specifically with an eye for use in schools. There's also lots of interesting articles in the archives and links to other sites of interest to teachers (and comics fans).

The above moleskine sketch has nothing to do with either Storm or Graphic Classroom...

Friday, December 04, 2009

Free Mugs!

Sorry to sound like a commercial, but I just found out that Zazzle is offering a buy-1-get-1-free offer on mugs today. If you were thinking about any of my mugs, today might be the day. Just click on the Zazzle thingy at the right.

And now back to your regularly scheduled program.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

BCCB Review!

Storm in the Barn has just received its 5th starred review! This one comes from the venerable Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books. The review isn't online, but here's a bit of it:

"The spare, sketchy lines and soft washes of the mixed-media illustrations underscore the haziness of the dust filled air; it's a toss-up whether the rolling black dust clouds or the shadowy half-human form of the Storm is more of the threat... With its appealing format and touch of fantasy, this tale of coming of age in hard times will entice readers who may otherwise be indifferent to historical fiction."

Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Spot Books for Black Friday

If you have an illustrator on your holiday shopping list, you need to look no further than the handcrafted books of Margaux Kent at The Black Spot Books. Each of these amazing books feature cut and bound Strathmore paper (good weight, can take pen easily) and leather covers that have been scavenged from objects of the past such as saddles, doctors' bags, and whatever else Margaux finds on her travels. Each one is unique.

Here is one of mine. I've been filling it up with sketches for awhile. I call it The Wee Book of Pirates.

Although The Wee Book of Pirates is not for sale, there are plenty of treasures available at The Black Spot. The Etsy shop is having a 20% off sale through Monday! (I'm not getting a cut of this or anything, I'm just wildly enthusiastic about these books).

Oh, and be sure to check out the cool behind-the-scenes video. I love seeing people's studios.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Much Obliged!

I'd like to send a big thank you to the state of Texas for including The Storm In The Barn on the 2010 Texas Maverick Graphic Novels Reading List! The complete list is on their site but (at least on my computer) the spreadsheet is a bit wonky (I'm listed next to Refresh, Refresh and it appears that Richard Sala is credited for Storm. It actually makes for an interesting match-up quiz.)

And another thank you to everyone at NCTE and ALAN! I had a great time, met many fantastic teachers and fellow authors and illustrators, and saw a lot of friends that I don't see very often outside of convention halls.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

NCTE/ALAN: The Convention Within Walking Distance

Hey teachers! Going to the NCTE and/or ALAN convention in Philadelphia this weekend? Me too. Here's my schedule:

Friday, 2-3 pm: signing Storm in the Barn at the Candlewick booth (#112).
Friday, 5-6 pm: signing Storm at the Anderson booth (#544).
Saturday, 10:30-11:30: signing Big George and Very Hairy Bear at the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt table.
Saturday, 3:10-3:40 pm: Author Roundtable!
Tuesday, 11:40: speaking on the Appeal of Graphic Novels panel for the ALAN workshop (signing Storm as well, I think).

I will also be giving free tips on cool places to check out in the City of Brotherly Love. You can't spend all of your time at the convention center.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Lititz Kid-Lit Fest!

If you are in the lovely Lancaster County area of PA this weekend, stop by Aaron's Books in the town of Lititz for their first ever Kid-Lit Book Festival! There'll be lots of guests and events for all ages, plus books, pretzels and chocolate. Stop by!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Kirkus Reviews' Best of 2009!!

Received word this morning from my editor that The Storm in the Barn has been included in Kirkus Reviews' Best Children's Books of 2009 issue! You can read the entire section online HERE!

Monday, November 09, 2009

The List Post

After Storm in the Barn, I'd imagine that I'm not the first illustrator to pop into a publisher's mind if there's a new bunny book. However, I assure you that I have nothing against bunnies.

Speaking of Storm (nice segue, huh?)... it has been nominated for YALSA's 2010 Great Graphic Novels for Teens list (the final list will be announced in January). In addition to that honor, Storm has been included in the New York Public Library's 2009 list of 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing.

My thanks to ALA/YALSA and the NYPL!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Comic Book Resources Interview!

Alex Dueben from the the great CBR website recently interviewed me and you can read it all HERE!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Monday, November 02, 2009

Children's Book World's Big Night!

Hope y'all had a spooky Halloween. Although we still have a bucket of candy, perhaps an apple would be a good idea right about now.

This Friday night (11/6) is one of my favorite events of the year: the astoundingly awesome annual Author/Illustrator Night at Children's Book World. How astoundingly awesome is it, you ask? Well, you get to casually mingle with folks like David Wiesner, Jerry and Eileen Spinelli, Donna Jo Napoli, Judy Schachner, Gene Baretta, Brian Biggs, Eric Wight, and at least 27 more authors and illustrators.

And this mind you, is only the partial list. Wow.

It's free and open to the public. Their website seems a bit spotty at the moment, but if you google Children's Book World in Haverford, PA you should be able to find it. I'll be there signing Storm in the Barn, but they always have my other titles in stock, too. Where I Live fans can get signatures from me AND the genius author, Eileen Spinelli! Hope to see you there.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Keeper of Bees

Just a little drawing of Mr. Holmes in his later years. Pencil, color pencil, scanned paper/texture, and digital white.

In Storm news, there's a new interview up on Wendy Martin's blog featuring hula hoops and a monkey.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Pencil studies

These are warm-up sketches for a picture book I'm working on now. I'm trying to capture a certain boy-ness.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Pastel Fatale

Sketching with a Faber-Castell pastel stick and Conte Pierre Noire pencil just to shake things up.

There's a new interview up on the cool Bildungsroman blog wherein I list 10 favorite books. I'm not very good at coming up with those sorts of things so I cheat at the end. But they're all good books and I stand by 'em.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

"Hfuhruhurr. It's spelled just as it sounds."

Ever wonder how to pronounce Scieszka or Krosoczka or... Phelan? No? Oh. Well, if you did wonder, you could check out the Teaching Books site to hear various folks pronounce their own names and give a succinct linguistic history of said surname. Mr. Rex is even up there (who knew the R and X were silent?).

In other news, I'll be signing Storm in the Barn at the Borders in Wynnewood, PA on Saturday 10/17 at 2 pm. Stop by and tell me how to pronounce your name.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Little Experiment

I've recently picked up a high-end printer (Epson R1900) that can print on large sheets of watercolor paper. I'm thinking of using it as a way to work directly from my sketches. So for this experiment, I sketched this girl in my sketchbook...

Then I enlarged it, printed it onto watercolor paper and painted it. (click on the picture to see it larger).

It has possibilities. More tests are needed.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Trains & Moleskines

A big thanks to all who turned up for the signings at Children's Book World and Books of Wonder! I had a fantastic time. Zipping to and fro NYC on Amtrak is a good opportunity to crack open the ol' moleskine. I realize that this sketch blog has been light on sketches for awhile and I intend to remedy that. There's lots to be drawn in the next year and I need to loosen up a bit.

Of course, I will continue to mention various bits of Storm in the Barn news. The latest? A fourth starred review is on the way, this time courtesy of The Horn Book. And here's a new review from the internet via Graphic Novel Reporter!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Books of Wonder on Sunday!

Hey, New Yorkers! I'll be at the great Books of Wonder on Sunday 10/11 from 1-3 pm.

I'll be one of eight, count 'em eight, authors signing books. The line-up includes: Richard Peck, Ann M. Martin, Lauren Myracle, Michael D. Beil, Gitty Daneshavri, Peter Howe, and Nova Ren Suma. Whew.

They also have an in-store cupcake cafe to sweeten the deal. Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Children's Book World on Saturday!

I'll be at my home base bookstore, the great Children's Book World this Saturday at 11 am!! CBW is celebrating 20 years of being one of the best indie children's book stores in the world. Come by and say hello!

I'll be signing along with my pal Gene Baretta who will be there with his new book, Neo Leo! Because Gene is an even bigger Wyeth fan than I am, I've posted one of the reference photos that I took for Storm in the Barn. You know Andrew Wyeth's Christina's World? (of course you do). Well, this is the barn from that farm. Yep.

Thanks, NAIBA!

I had a great time at the NAIBA conference this past weekend where I met many, many great indie booksellers, applauded Peter Brown as he accepted a much-deserved award for The Curious Garden, and got to meet and hang out with Michelle Knudsen, author of one of my favorite picture books, The Library Lion, and now a novelist with The Dragon of Trelian! If you haven't seen these books, you really oughta.

Friday, October 02, 2009


Just a quick reminder that I'll be at the New York Public Library's Children's Literary Cafe on Saturday at 4 pm with Jarrett Krosoczka and Geoffrey Hayes!!

For the full skinny, go to our fearless moderator Betsy Bird's official announcement!

I'll be back in NYC next Sunday at Books of Wonder (more on that later).

And if you are attending the NAIBA conference in Baltimore on Sunday, I'll be signing on the exhibit floor at 6:30 at the Chesapeake & Hudson booth. And later that night, I'll be one of the Bedtime Stories author at 10:30 pm.

If you go, make sure you stop and say howdy!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

This is just awesome.

100 Scope Notes has posted a Toon review of Storm in the Barn. I think every review should in some way include a Sasquatch from now on. Go read the rest of it HERE!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Upcoming Events and a Review!

Howdy, folks! I have a busy weekend coming up and hopefully I'll see some of you at one of these events.

On Saturday (10/3), I'll be at the New York Public Library to take part in Elizabeth Bird's monthly series of literary salon-esque discussions. This month's topic is Children's Book Illustrators Who Are Now Dabbling Also In The World of Comics And Graphic Novels (or something to that effect). Also on hand will be my pal Jarrett Krosoczka (Lunch Lady!) and Geoffrey Hayes (Benny and Penny!). The fun starts at 4 pm sharp.

On Sunday (10/4), I'll be in Baltimore for the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association (NAIBA) conference. I'll be signing Storm in the Barn at 6:30 pm in the exhibit hall and then taking part in the Bedtime Stories event at 10:30 pm (prior to that, there's a fair to middling chance I'll be found at the Noir Bar...).

And lastly, I'd like to point you over to the great site Comic Book Resources for a review from the always entertaining Comics Should Be Good blog!

And lastly lastly, the above sketch was a discarded cover concept. Close but no cigar.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Seven Imp Interview! Coffee! Pictures!

I'm pleased as punch to point you over to the great Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast blog for a breakfast-themed, detail-heavy, picture-riffic, interview with yours truly. Make sure you check out her interview archives... essential reading.

Book Signing!

If you are in the Greater Philadelphia area tomorrow, I'll be signing Storm in the Barn at the Borders in Bryn Mawr, PA at 11 am (take an early lunch perhaps?). Fun Fact: 15 years ago, I got a bookseller job at this very store. So if you need to know where poetry is shelved or the location of the coffee bar, I'm your guy.

The sketch above is not in Storm (I don't want to post ALL of the pictures). He's just an ink and wash doodle. Let's call him Reg.