Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Super Star Children's Book Review: Write to Me

Welcome to the monthly children’s book review feature with a focus on diverse books here at Bird Meets Worm! My team of reviewers and I are so excited to be championing books celebrating everything from gender diversity, people of color, the LGBTQ community to ethnic, cultural and religious minorities, people with disabilities and developmental challenges to controversial topics, unique family situations and anything and everything I did not include. It is to say we take a rightfully board view of diversity! We aim to shine a light on books that bring both familiar experiences to those who do not often see themselves represented in books and new experiences to those looking to expand their worldview. Here at Bird Meets Worm we believe in the power of story to build empathy and thus a better world for you and me and everyone. Look for a new review on the second Wednesday of every month.

PS You may have noticed that we're a week late this month! It's the third Wednesday! Apologizes! The New Year has gotten off to a bit of a rocky start, BUT we're slowly getting into the flow of things and I'm SO excited to announce that this year our review team will include me, returning super star reviewer Joan Charles (Illustrator/Designer), NEW reviewer Laurie Young (Author/Art Director/Book Designer) and NEW reviewer Sarah Orgill (Children's Educator). It's gonna be a great year!!

              

Write to Me: Letters from Japanese American Children to the Librarian
They Left Behind
Written by Cynthia Grady • Illustrated by Amiko Hirao
Picture Book ( ages 4-8) • 32 Pages
Published by Charlesbridge • 2018
ISBN: 978-1-5808-9688-7


In 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, ordering all Japanese-Americans living in the United States to interment camps. Women, men, and children had only days to pack up a few belongings and leave their homes, their schools, their businesses, and their friends and neighbors for an uncertain future in a prison camp.

When San Diego children’s librarian Clara Breed heard the news, she gave self-addressed, stamped post cards to her young Japanese-American patrons and asked them to write to her. Over the course of the three years of their imprisonment, she exchanged letters, care packages, books, and visits with scores of children.

Cynthia Grady tells this heart-wrenching story through actual letters written by the children to Miss Breed. The children’s own words are sometimes heartbreaking and sometimes hopeful, but throughout, the comfort of books is an underlying theme. Miss Breed’s letters and care packages are like lifelines, reminding the children of their past freedom and offering hope for their futures.

Miss Breed did more than offer friendship to the interned children and their families. She wrote magazine articles about the treatment of the Japanese and lobbied for schools and libraries in the camps.

The soft color-pencil pictures by Amiko Hirao subtly illustrate this testament to compassion, activism and true friendship between the children and their former librarian.

Buy this book:



Reviewed by: Joan Charles

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Happy New Year from Super Jane

As you may have noticed, the first day of the new year also happens to be the first Tuesday of the month, which is usually interview day here at Bird Meets Worm. However, due to an unexpected hiccup I will not be posting an interview today. But do not fear, we most certainly will be back next month with a goodie of an interview and all the rest of the year, too. Happy New Year! Wishing you peace, love and joyful artmaking all year long! XO Super Jane


Rainy day hello • © Jane Smith


Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Super Star Children's Book Review: A Moon for Moe and Mo

Welcome to the monthly children’s book review feature with a focus on diverse books here at Bird Meets Worm! My team of reviewers and I are so excited to be championing books celebrating everything from gender diversity, people of color, the LGBTQ community to ethnic, cultural and religious minorities, people with disabilities and developmental challenges to controversial topics, unique family situations and anything and everything I did not include. It is to say we take a rightfully board view of diversity! We aim to shine a light on books that bring both familiar experiences to those who do not often see themselves represented in books and new experiences to those looking to expand their worldview. Here at Bird Meets Worm we believe in the power of story to build empathy and thus a better world for you and me and everyone. Look for a new review on the second Wednesday of every month.




A MOON FOR MOE AND MO
Written By Jane Breskin Zalben • Illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini
Picture Book (ages 3-7) • 48 pages
Published by Charlesbridge. • 2018
ISBN 978-1-5808-9727-3


A Moon for Moe and Mo is an interfaith friendship story that begins with a literal meeting in the middle, when two neighborhood boys, Moses and Mohammed, from opposite ends of the same block meet in a food shop that just happens to be right between them on their block of Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, New York.

Immediately, everything the boys have in common is plain to see: their olive skin, their brown eyes, their curly hair, their loving moms, an upcoming holiday (Rosh Hashanah for Moses and Ramadan for Mohammed), celebratory treats to be made and the rambunctious, playful energy of little boys everywhere. They become friends without a thought to the one difference between them: their religions.

The vibrant, richly patterned collage illustrations will catch the reader up in this lively, delightful, life-affirming friendship story that reminds us that we all have more in common than we have differences. And beginning a friendship really can be as easy as saying, “Hello!”

Buy this book:

Barnes & Noble

Independent Bookstores

Reviewed by: Jane Smith

Monday, December 10, 2018

Reindeer & Elf

How do you relax during the holidays? Reindeer & Elf read together! XO • © Jane Smith

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Super Star Interviews: Muffin Grayson

Welcome to my monthly interview feature! I’m so excited to be interviewing all the fabulous artists, illustrators and designers I’ve meet over the years (both personally and virtually!) and sharing their artwork and experiences here on Bird Meets Worm. Look for a new interview on the first Tuesday of every month. 

I’m pleased as cinnamon eggnog punch to be catching up with the fabulous Illustrator/Designer, Pauline Grayson aka Muffin (How totally adorbs is that?!)! I'm a huge fan of her gorgeous hand-lettering and darling pattern designs. Muffin is a 
lover of life, her hunky husband, two gorgeous littles, living in Utah, finding joy in the moments, and making awesome art. She specialize in hand-lettering, illustration and patterns.  You can view more of her artwork here! 

The super fashionable Muffin! Check out those awesome earrings!!

Q: You are a hand-lettering rockstar! And you’ve even recently released your own original font: Roadtripper! How totally cool is that?! Dish with us about your creative & technical approach to hand-lettering as well as everything Roadtripper.

A: I fell in love with hand-lettering about 6 years ago, but couldn't seem to get the hang of it. I first took a local calligraphy class, which taught me the basics, but it wasn't the right tool (a hard pen and nib). Then I discovered brush lettering, which felt so much like me, kind of rustic, modern and free flowing! I just continued to practice and practice until my shapes began to look more like letters. I started following other hand letterers that really inspired me like Shauna Panczyszyn and MaryKate McDevitt. I took some classes on Skillshare.

Once I discovered I loved hand-lettering, I again was frustrated that I couldn't get my letters and shapes to look very good. I would try hand drawing them, tracing them, scanning them in—nothing seemed to be working. It wasn't until I discovered a Wacom Cintiq tablet that my art really took off! I could use my love for hand-lettering with a "medium" that really worked with me! There was a command + Z (undo) option! Working in Photoshop has really allowed me to use my love for hand-lettering and illustration together!

Then I discovered ProCreate and the Apple iPad and Pencil. Another medium that fit well with my style of lettering. I actually created Roadtripper on my iPad Pro. When I make up my mind to do something, I do it. I took a font making class online, where I learned the basics. But I didn't want to invest in the program to develop the font fully until I knew I loved making fonts, so I downloaded the free 30 day trial. That gave me 30 days to program my font and get it released. I know it sounds crazy, but it works for me. I'm happy to report that I loved designing Roadtripper, and I'll probably design more fonts in the future.

Love the energetic swoops & swirls!

Q: You are currently represented by the art licensing agent, Cinnamon Joe. What has your experience being agented been like with: 1) self-promotion 2) trade shows 3) following trends 4) workload.

A: I started working with Cinnamon Joe about 2.5 years ago. I had actually emailed Cinnamon Joe before, but with no response. I continued to develop my style until I felt it was good enough. Then I emailed CJS a year later, and this time we signed contracts. It has been great being my art directed by Andrea & Paul Turk. They really know their industry! My hand-lettering has really taken off and I've been able to see what is selling.

1) As far as self-promotion, we aren't able to show any full pieces of our work we develop for CJS due to copyright issues, but we can always develop other pieces to show. That's why I start passion projects, like my State Postcards, to show off my hand-lettering and illustration skills.

How totally fun!! I need the one from North Carolina!

2) Trade shows have been great because we don't have to pay any of the up front costs. We just pay for prints. I have attended 3 trade shows, 2 of them being Blue Print, which CJS hosts each year. It's great to meet other artists, agents, and buyers. Everyone is so friendly. It really does feel like family.

3) Andrea sends us mood boards almost every week. We can decide if we want to follow the trends she's sending, or stick to our own. But it really is up to us.

4) As for workload, CJS likes to have 2 collections from us each week. I don't quite get that many, as I'm a mom to 2 littles, and I work part-time for PetiteLemon.com designing Christmas Cards for Shutterfly.com. So that does take a good chunk of time. But any moment I get, I try to design some new collections for CJS. It has been super rewarding.

Love this hand-lettering & the sophisticated color palette!
                                          
Q: Tell us all about your MOST favorite illustration project: one from your past and one from your present.

A: I have really loved designing water bottles for CamelBak. They were one of the first "big" companies that contacted me to do work for them. It was a huge learning experience, as I had to use only a few PMS colors and learn all about a roller printer. That's how the bottles are printed with this rolling printer. Kind of cool!

I'm not working on any illustration projects right now, other than Christmas cards for Petite Lemon for Shutterfly. Christmas Cards keep me busy about 9 months of the year. But I am working on some personal projects that I hope to share soon!

Ooo! There's still time to order your holiday cards on a fabulous design by Muffin!!

Q: Give us the scoop on who/what/where inspires you the most!

A: Honestly, my family inspires me the most. My kids, because they are always so intrigued by new things, and I hope that they see my passion and want to pursue their own interests. And my husband, because he is always so supportive of any crazy ideas I have.

I also love love love books! I'm always on the hunt for any new art or vintage books. Usually about things that I'm interested in, whether it's lettering, interior design, or even a book about animals.

Q: What advice would you give fellow illustrators looking for success in the field of art licensing?
A: I would say get your art out there. Don't be afraid of rejection (something I'm still working on). Reach out to other artists, agents and buyers. And eventually something will work.
Just start creating and showing others your amazing art. 

Bright, modern & totally rock star!

Q: Describe your most perfect Sunday.

A: Sundays are all about family. It would start with a hot breakfast. One of my faves being Leige waffles with strawberries and whipped cream. Church. Lunch. Games with my family. A nap. A walk. And perhaps I'd have some friends or family members over for dinner. I've chosen not to work on Sundays, and it has been the greatest blessing in my life.

Thank you so much, Muffin, for chatting it up with us here at Bird Meets Worm! We think you're fabulous!

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving from Super Jane

Squirrel Thanksgiving = Leftover Halloween Pumpkins! • © Jane Smith

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Super Star Children's Book Review: Hey, Kiddo

Welcome to the monthly children’s book review feature with a focus on diverse books here at Bird Meets Worm! My team of reviewers and I are so excited to be championing books celebrating everything from gender diversity, people of color, the LGBTQ community to ethnic, cultural and religious minorities, people with disabilities and developmental challenges to controversial topics, unique family situations and anything and everything I did not include. It is to say we take a rightfully board view of diversity! We aim to shine a light on books that bring both familiar experiences to those who do not often see themselves represented in books and new experiences to those looking to expand their worldview. Here at Bird Meets Worm we believe in the power of story to build empathy and thus a better world for you and me and everyone. Look for a new review on the second Wednesday of every month.




HEY, KIDDO
Written & Illustrated By Jarrett J. Krosoczka
Graphic Novel (ages 13-17) • 320 pages
Published by Scholastic, Inc. • 2018
ISBN 978-0-5459-0248-9


Hey, Kiddo is a graphic novel memoir by celebrated children’s book illustrator, Jarrett Krosoczka. It is an empathetic, honest, and ultimately hopeful, snapshot of Krosoczka’s childhood growing up with his grandparents in the absence of both his mother, who struggled with heroin addiction & the law, and his father, who was little more than a mysterious shadow.

In high contrast black and white ink, softened in sepia toned washes, Hey, Kiddo offers both the hard truth of the insecurity, confusion and hurt of being connected to a parent who is an addict, as well as the contrasting, and seemingly contradictory, love and tenderness that can live alongside it. Krosoczka’s sensitive portrayal of the “gray” area where a child can receive both the best and worst of their families, can be both hurt and loved by them, is where the powerful offer of connection lies. Children—and adults alike—who recognize this experience in their own lives will be both validated and comforted in this read.

They will also be offered hope. In layering into the story his passion for art and the numerous ways it connected him to his mother, his grandparents, his community, Krosoczka demonstrates that there are lifelines that can and will see one through to safety, to purpose and to acceptance.

Hey, Kiddo is an important, timely read that is in and of its self a lifeline. And that, is most definitely something worth holding onto.

Buy this book:


Barnes & Noble

Independent Bookstores

Reviewed by: Jane Smith