Friday, May 11, 2012

Happy Mother's Day

Some preliminary drawings for I'll Be There by Ann Stott. It's a book that would make a pretty good Mother's Day Gift, you know.

Just in case you need a gift idea...

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Happy Children's Book Week

 It's National Children's Book Week! It's almost over! But wait, there's still time to get a new book to read, a book that will change the way you look at small animals for evermore.

I am not a professional reviewer. I am merely an illustrator/author. I do not pretend to know the do's and don'ts of reviewing, but I'm pretty sure that writing about a book that you are only 80 pages into is a big Don't. Especially if you are about to heap on hyperbolic praise like this:

Mr. and Mrs. Bunny – Detectives Extraordinaire! by Mrs. Bunny (translated from the Rabbit by Polly Horvath) is my new favorite book.

This. Book. Is. Hilarious.

Seriously, this the funniest book I've read outside of my beloved Wodehouse. In fact, it seems that Polly Horvath is tipping a fedora to Plum here. There is a valet named Jeeves, after all.

But this book is 100% original. And funny. Did I mention that? Laugh out loud funny. Mr. & Mrs. Bunny is threatening my work day. All I want to do is sit in a comfy chair and plow through it. But I will resist for now.

The illustrations are by my friend, the uber-talented Sophie Blackall and she is the perfect choice for this book. Yes, perfect.

That's not to say that if I had been given the chance, I would have killed or at least maimed to illustrate this one.

So go get a copy. Do it for National Children's Book Week. Do it for your kid. Do it for yourself. It's really, really good.

Reading this reminded me that Polly Horvath's Everything On a Waffle was one of the books that inspired me to get into children's books in the first place. I even remember drawing a cover for it to put in my portfolio. Hmmm. Must go read all of Horvath's books...

Monday, May 07, 2012

The Storm in Portland: The Big Recap

I'm back from a fun-filled week in (occasionally) sunny Portland to promote and then finally see the Oregon Children's Theater's production of The Storm in the Barn. It is outstanding. I was blown away by the inventive theatricality of the staging, the gorgeous score, the fine performances, and the overall faithfulness to my book. My sincere thanks to the entire creative team for their passion and commitment to making something very special indeed.

Here's a video with their thoughts on the production:

The set was spare and minimal with the full cast onstage throughout. It was very effective. The lighting was beautiful and the play opens with a mesmerizing dust storm created with shadows, wind, and a scrim that covered the stage. I could have watched that for an hour.

As I've said before, the music by Black Prairie is perfect. Their score was played live onstage by the actors and kept the fast-paced play moving smoothly. I had the chance to hang out one night with Chris Funk, Jenny Conlee, and Jon Neufeld from the band and they couldn't have been nicer. The soundtrack is now available on CD or download and you can get it HERE, on iTunes, or from CDBaby.

On May 5th, the band played the score live with actors reciting from the play, visuals from the book, and several stuffed bunnies.

I loved that a) the play had a real 1920s truck onstage and b) it doubled for Dorothy's room.

Here's me with real-life sister & brother Steele and Jack Clevenger. They were both fantastic in their roles!

I also would like to thank Pam from A Children's Place Bookstore which is an amazing indie store! If you are in Portland, definitely stop by. Try to find the spot where David Shannon drew on the wall. On addition to hosting me for a signing, Pam helped set up a school visit while I was in town and I got to meet some students who had voted for Storm in the Oregon Readers' Choice Awards. Thanks again, guys!

Well, I think that covers it. The whole journey of bringing my book to the stage has been exciting, creative, and thoroughly enjoyable. If you are in Portland this month, try to catch a show. You won't regret it.

Play photos by Owen Carey. Check out the full set on Flickr.