Monday, March 12, 2018

How to Start Kindergarten

  It won't be on sale until July, but here's a sneak preview of How to Start Kindergarten;  a fun little reader I illustrated for Penguin Random House.  I'll be starting sketches for the next in the series, How NOT to Start First Grade, continuing the antics of Steve as he negotiates, manipulates, and charms his way through school, ultimately learning some lessons in the process.
On the first few days of kindergarten, Steve deals with his emotions and boundaries as he realizes he is being copied in every deed by his new friend, the very same friend he encouraged to " just do what I do:"  Ahhh.... imitation; the sincerest form of flattery. But in this case, it becomes the most annoying thing that could ever happen to a kid. Here are a few of the illustrations from last spring.

first  cover design sketch

"Walk this way!"

 When doing a beginning reader, the illustrator is often dealing with the rule of text on a  white background, for the sake of easier readability.  But for scenes with backgrounds it can be a challenge. As much as I understand the need for the white space, I always have the desire to complete the scene.

" Wait a minute, that's looking like MY tower".

 The teacher has something to announce, but Steve isn't interested.

Steve tells his older brother Will all about his problem and Will listens intently.

  I am definitely going to complete these backgrounds just for my own satisfaction! There are many more illustrations to accompany this adventure, but I'm going to wait until the book release before I post any more.  In the meantime, I'm going to reminisce about the matching dresses my Mom used to sew for my girlfriend and me. 


Sunday, February 11, 2018

The Reading Nook

  A few weeks ago I was asked to illustrate a Highlights Workbook cover; kindergarten level. The original sketch was done for a cover layout, but it ended up as an interior with hidden objects.
cover sketch

A few adjustments were made.  I contained that guinea pig; added book baskets, more books, and 10 objects were hidden. There was some debate between editors, but the fish got to keep his book.

final art

Hidden objects: wooden spoon, ring, comb, fried egg, ruler, drinking straw, lime, waffle, fan, toothbrush.

 Happy reading and finding!

Sunday, January 14, 2018


  For an upcoming  feature on water voles for Ranger Rick magazine,  I was asked to portray "Ratty" or "Rat", one of the characters in The Wind in the Willows.
  I loved that book as a child, and hope to revisit it.
  I looked at many wonderful illustrations, including EH Shepard, Robert Ingpen,  and Inga Moore ( her version is my favorite, although I do not own it; must get).
  Then there is this comprehensive ''best-illustrated'' reference book.
  For those who have not read this classic,  Mole decides go out to the river, and meets Ratty (a water vole), who at this time of year spends all his days in, on and close by the river. Ratty takes Mole for a ride in his rowing boat. They get along well and spend many more days boating, with Ratty teaching Mole the ways of the river.
  Water voles used to be common over all of Great Britain, but  in the 90's began to disappear. People brought American minks to Great Britain to raise them for their fur. Many escaped and were so good at hunting voles for prey, the numbers of voles dropped fast.  More of their habitat was ruined when livestock trampled their banks and ate the plants that the voles needed. Conservation groups are working hard to reestablish their numbers, and hopefully they will not only live on  in the pages of a book!

Look out, Ratty! Rapids ahead!

 I love being able to merge illustration with an actual photo. Great fun!

 Hi; I'm  Ratty, your river guide.

Goodbye, little voles!

Monday, January 1, 2018

New year, new postcards

  It's been a while since I sent out any promo cards.  It's always so hard to decide which images to use. So this time I  guess I let the season and the weather decide. Brutal "polar plunge" temps here in Cleveland, and across much of the country. I wish safety, warmth and cozy dreams for you in the new year.  These brave souls on my cards will be celebrating outside only in the imagination, I'm afraid.
  Oh, except for the penguins. They will be happy.  This one is a work in progress so far... and taken from a riddles piece originally created for Ranger Rick magazine.  We had pancakes this morning, courtesy of Dave. He makes the best pancakes ever.  The key is fruit, walnuts, vanilla, almond extract, cinnamon and a good apron. Flip me one.

postcard in progress

original work

original version for Hal Leonard

original for Highlights

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Nesting in Style

  Maybe it's because the snow is going to fly, that I've finally found the time to get this illustration on my blog. Nesting instincts are kicking in, and birds are fluffing up their downy feathers. About a month ago  I was fortunate to illustrate a piece for Highlights  called Spring Search, which will come out in....wait for it... the spring! The challenge for the young readers is to find as many shiny, sparkly things as they can, just like the bluejay has.
  But  they shouldn't actually try to steal people's jewelry. They can climb a tree and make a nest though, and surround themselves with their own possessions, and look down on the passersby on the street and make bird calls at them.  That would be fun.  But later.  Now it's winter, so they will have to fluff up their feathers and wait.

photoshop color

base drawing: graphite pencil and white pastel pencil

Monday, November 20, 2017

Really Bright Kids

  It's only November and I miss the sun already.
  Recently I had the pleasure of working on a cover with Hal Leonard, a company that creates and publishes music for schools.
   The art director took my finished illustration and further embellished it on the page.  When I saw it, my first thought was that it looks like they are looking down through a skylight. I wonder if "Up on the Roof" is one of the songs.




cover final

Monday, November 6, 2017

No Words

   Last month I illustrated a small wordless book for Scholastic, that teaches words starting with certain letters of the alphabet; in this case Y and Z. Each story was told in two images.
   Enough said.