Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Super Star Children's Book Review: Green Green, A Community Gardening Story

Welcome to the monthly children’s book review feature with a focus on diverse books here at Bird Meets Worm! My team of reviewers—Cara Chow, Denise Holmes, Joan Charles, Sharon Calle—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.



Green Green, A Community Gardening Story
By Marie Lamba and Baldev Lamba • Illustrated by Sonia Sánchez
Picture Book (ages 2-5) • 32 pages
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux • 2017
ISBN 978-0-37-432797-2

Green Green, A Community Gardening Story is a picture book close to my heart. I am lucky enough to live in an urban city that recognizes the need for community gardens. My daughter and I have a garden plot in our neighborhood, where it is has been wonderful to see the plants grow and neighbors come together. So, needless to say, I was excited when I discovered this book.

The story opens with a family, who moves from the country to a big, urban city. A cast of diverse children in the neighborhood, start to notice their city developing up around them. Green spaces are becoming smaller, and empty lots are filling up with garbage. The children take matters into their own hands and start cleaning up one of the lots. With help from the adults, they start cleaning, digging and soon have a space for planting.

Written as a poetic narrative, Green Green shows how children can change their own world and bring people together by doing something as simple as building a garden for their neighbors to share. The message is powerful—it inspires community and fosters a love for cultivating our natural environment, even in a big urban city.

The back matter of the book provides additional information for readers about how to create their own gardens and make spaces that attract pollinaters, like bees and butterflies. 
Green Green will give the reader an open invitation to talk about their community, the environment and how to care for our world.

Buy this book:




Reviewed by: Denise Holmes

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Squirrel Selling Nut-Flavored Ice Cream

What says summer more than a squirrel selling nut-flavored ice creams?!

Super Star Interviews: Holli Conger

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.

This month I’m super duper excited to be chatting it up with the rock star Illustrator & Designer, Holli Conger! I’m a long-time fan of Holli’s fabulous mixed media collage artwork (and by long-time fan, I mean like the better part of twenty years!) She’s an artist specializing in illustration for the children’s market, art licensing and three-dimensional found object art. Holli is a Nashville native. Three years ago, she left the land of Country Music for the land of Krispy Kreme, and currently lives in Winston-Salem, NC with her husband and two children. You can view more of her artwork here!

Go, Crocodile, Go!

Q: I absolutely love your adorable characters and whimsical artwork for kids! Dish with us a bit about your creative process: ideas, sketches, creating color digitally, adding and balancing patterns & textures—you know, all the good stuff!!

A. For any project, even if it's to make or build something around the house, I start with a sketch. Pencil and paper is always the first step for me. Many artists have switched over to working digitally for their sketches, but I like the feel of drawing on paper, erasing but still leaving a faint marking of what I've left behind. I like the process of layering pencil marks in different tones to get my shapes and details worked out. I just can't seem to have that effect when I try them digitally on my iPad or Cintiq. Also, I'm on the go a lot so paper and pencil are always easy and accessible and it doesn't need to be charged. I home-school my kids and I try and change up their learning environment when I can since I know how well that works for me as an artist. I work in the studio, different rooms in the house, coffee shops, the library, the park, doctor's office, etc. I like to keep a sketchbook of just random ideas. Inside are things my kids might want me to draw, a new found object art piece I may make or ideas for art licensing.

For sketches that need to seen by a client before final color artwork (my children’s publishing work or on-assignment work like licensing) I know it needs to be a little more polished and within the size format. For those projects, I use regular copy/printer paper. I'll box out the dimensions for the piece and start sketching with a blue pencil. This allows me to get loose with my lines in a much lighter tone than my gray pencil. That way my "thinking" lines don't distract from the final, more detailed gray pencil line. Once I have my shapes and details figured out, I go over it all with my normal, everyday, number 2 pencil. At this step I finalize my lines and add in details and rough shading if needed.

When it comes time to final artwork, most all my client-based work is done digitally. I work in a vector, painterly and found object style. My found object work is what I tend to do the most of since it’s my trademark style. I tend to do more vector and painterly for educational illustration (workbooks, etc.) and licensing. In my found object work I use a lot of different things. I love shopping at thrift and antique store and even garage sales to find "treasures" to use. I scan in or photograph the objects, papers, textures, etc.—creating a huge digital archive of things to use. Once they are captured digitally, they did go in my filing cabinet or in the many storage bins and they are free to use for my three-dimensional found object pieces.

In both my tangible and digital found object pieces, I rarely know what type of textures, pattern or objects I will use in a final piece, but if I have an idea at the sketch phase, say a button used as the nose of the dog, I will draw it as a button just so I can remember. All my client work (except vector art which is done in Illustrator) is done in Photoshop. I have a Cintiq that has allowed me to work quicker and with more detail than I have before. I was never a wacom pen user, just their mouse and tablet. I would always draw, cut out shapes, etc. with the mouse. Now it's much easier just to draw and cut with the pen directly on the screen.

Bring on the holiday cheer! Ho, ho, ho!

 Q: You have a background in graphic design and advertising as well as a love for typography. Give us the scoop on how your background in these areas has influenced not only your artwork, but how you present your artwork to the world.

A. I graduated in 2000 with a Bachelors degree in Graphic Design & Advertising. I have always loved marketing and thinking through how I could stand apart from my classmates (AKA competition in the job market once we graduated). I started freelance designing toward the end of my freshman year, but didn't do much until my sophomore year. By the time I graduated, I have 2 more years experience and a portfolio of completely different projects than my fellow classmates had since their portfolios all consisted of the same school projects and assignments. I had wondered how many hiring Art Directors saw they same project come through the portfolio of job seekers over the years. I landed my design job with a publisher 2 weeks before graduation that was beyond entry-level and making almost double of what my classmates were being offered for their entry-level jobs. That same mindset has help me maintain a successful illustration career. Having that job for 5 years allowed me to do all kind of design work like web design, advertising, book design, catalog design, art directing photo shoots, etc. I was able to do so many different things I didn't get bored doing just one aspect of design. Whenever appropriate I tried to fit in some more of illustration work into it. It didn't happen often, but it allowed me to experiment with different looks and techniques.

I think my love for typography started in collage. We had a full semester on Typography and had so many wonderful projects using type. Around that time the internet began to boom with free font sites so I would always download them and use them in different ways and combinations. Today I love creating my own letters within my work or using words and letters from old paper clippings, packaging, signs, labels, games, etc.

When my daughter was born I decided to go into freelance illustration. I wanted a career with goals but still wanted to be home with her. Freelance design involved to many phone calls, face-to-face meetings and that just a little too much client hand holding that wouldn’t interrupt my mommy time. Sticking to illustration meant that most of my clients would be out of town, prefer email contact and diaper blowouts could be managed without a client even knowing.

Having a design background has been invaluable as an illustrator. I always tell young people that if they are on the fence about a degree in illustration or a degree in graphic design, go for graphic design. You'll be able to design your own brand and promotional materials, you can always do design work on the side if your illustration work slows down and most importantly (I think) is to understand the production process of what happens after your turn in an illustration. It helps to speak the Art Director's "language" in understanding why they may need things at a certain DPI, how to add a spot color or a foil layer to something, understanding bleeds and how a book will be printed or how your flat art ends up on a three-dimensional piece. With art licensing, I’ve had to lay out art and specifications for entire product lines for factories in China and I would never have known how to do that without having the technical design background. All that to say, it's just helpful to know the entire process, as it's benefited me greatly.

Speedy shopping helper!

 Q: You create a lot of artwork not only for children’s publishing, but also for art licensing. How are these markets different? How are they similar? Describe your approach to each.

A. The artwork, clients and marketing are so different from each other. For children's publishing it's all assignment based. The client knows what they want. For art licensing I have to come up with the idea and concept and then try and sell it to someone else. Promotion for these markets is different and it is difficult to manage those two types of self-promotion. For publishing, I send postcard mailers, email tear sheets and post work online. That is all to entice an art director to hire me for their project. For licensing, I have to contact the manufacturer (by email or phone), get an idea of how they license art, what they might be looking for theme wise, and if it's even the right time of year for them to review said art. Then I have to go back and see if I have art that fits their need and reformat it to their desired format. If not, I decide if it's worth it to create art to fit their needs (because chances are that same art will be what another company needs also) or move onto another potential client and try and license what I have. With licensing it's best to build a relationship with clients and continually show them new work I've already created as with publishing, the work I've done for other clients is what I show to them. "Look what I did." vs. "Look what I can do for you."

Q: What is a typical workday like for you? Set the scene (workspace, materials, accessories) and describe your responsibilities (illustration, design, business stuff) and creative juju (rituals, inspiration, process).

A. Depending on what deadlines I have that day, I may get up at 3:00 am to get a chunk of work done before my kids start school. I may get you at 7:30 and work on emails from the couch and have a cup of coffee (or three!). Afterwards I head to my studio, which is an extra living space in our basement. It's filled with color and inspiration in the form of artwork, vintage finds and childhood toys. I’ve had other kids come to my home and think the room was a playroom for my kids. I tell them it’s all my things and this is where I work. I get a weird look from them like "you're kidding right?" I like to be surrounded with what I like and since I spend so much time there, I might as well enjoy looking at it all.

My messy workspace for painting and sometimes sketching is a big dining room table from IKEA. It's the perfect size and I can spread out lots of supplies when working on my big found object pieces. I then have a separate sketch table that keeps me in the studio, but allows me to work away from my computer. And then my main computer area looks like I could land an airplane from it. I have and iMac, dual monitor and a large Cintiq all accessible without scooting my chair around. It's a set up that works really well for me.

Is this studio the coolest or what?! Total art pro playground!

 My day consists of mostly creating art for clients and self-promoting whether it be via social media, email or researching new places to promote to. I have an agent that handles most of the business side of things. Signing contracts and keeping up with jobs and payments is the only paperwork I really do. I multitask a lot and am able to turn out art fairly quickly. I know my time in the mornings will be interrupted with schoolwork so I allow for that. After lunch my kids are usually done with their schoolwork so I can focus 100% on my work. I'll turn on a movie or binge a TV show on my second monitor. I may not actually watch it, but the noise helps me set a pace for working.

I try to be done in the studio by 4:00pm each evening, but I’ll continue to work on things in the back of my head throughout the evening. Thinking though specs for a project, what all I might have to do the next day, etc.  After work I usually go outside and walk while my kids play. Then it's dinner and family time and I'm usually in bed by 9:00pm. I just can't stay up late to work. I’d rather know I can sleep before working even if I do have to get up at 3:00am and knowing that coffee and probably a binge worthy TV show are waiting for me.

Q: You are a marketing rock star—so much so that you even offer 4 different paid consulting programs to assist fellow creatives with their own marketing! What are the biggest mistakes you see artists making when self-promoting? And what are your top 3 tips for effective self-promotion?

A. I love helping other artist with marketing. My consulting program has been a big part of my business over the last few years. It does take a lot of time since it's all personalized so I do have a limit of how many artists I can take on at a time. I learned the hard way of committing to eleven artist the first time I started offering it and it was exhausting. I didn't get much sleep those two months.

Understanding that some artist don't have the time or necessarily the money (especially if they are just starting out) to commit to consulting, last year I released an e-book of marketing tips, how to work smarter, what to expect in your career, etc. It's a totally interactive book and although it's and e-book, it's meant to be printed out and marked up with notes and ideas.

Tear sheets: this is how a pro gets it done!!

Most artists have similar problems in staying motivated and effectively marketing themselves. Some of the biggest mistakes I see artist doing with their own self-promotion is:

1. Not knowing where to start and not feeling that they're "ready." 

My advice: You will never feel ready. Just start; get out of your head. Stop over thinking and over criticizing yourself. We are our worst critic. Even if you aren't 100% comfortable with your style, just start putting what you have out there and keep creating it, fine tuning as you go. Start promoting yourself to potential clients. Start to getting your name, your brand, out there. You're style will naturally change over the years. My style has change so much from my first professional illustration job thirteen years ago.

2. Thinking you're not good enough. 

My advice: Comparison KILLS creativity. If you’re doing you, just keep doing you. If you love it and have such a passion for it, other people will too. They just need to find you so put yourself out there.

3. Getting hung up on social media. Thinking their worth is in the number of people who follow them and number of likes their post gets. 

My advice: Don't get caught up in what others think. Easier said than done, but trust me, you can get there. The feeling creeps up on me sometimes and I have to check myself, before I literally wreck myself. I'll open Instagram and say to myself "here's your dose of depression for the day." I try and think of my social media accounts as a way to journal and document my process and journey so I can go back later and reflect rather than trying to post for people's reaction. Sometimes just posting and not looking at your feed is a good thing to practice every now and then.

4. Not knowing what main image to put on a postcard mailer thus never sending on out. 

My advice: During consulting this is one of the main hiccups artist seem to have. They want it to be just perfect, but their definition of perfect will sideline their efforts. In the first year of consulting I worked with a really talented illustrator who had a very marketable style and I knew wouldn't have any trouble landing work, BUT, they could never nail down the perfect image for a postcard mailer, therefore they never were able to get one laid out, printed and mailed during our time together. They put in the time to research names, find addresses, know the submission guideline, but they could not decide on what image they wanted to send. Everything in their portfolio was perfect in my eyes so they have plenty of work to choose from, but they didn't have the confidence to see it. This goes back to #1 above. You've just got to push through it and get yourself out there. Send out a promotional mailer and forget about it. It's just one of many you'll be mailing in during your career. Let it work for you and move onto the next promotion.

How totally fun is this 3D collage?! Love it!

 A few tips for effective self-promotion:

1. Stay active online and in the studio. Motivation will lead to creativity. Creativity will lead to creating more work. Creating more work will fine-tune your style, therefore you're more confident with your work. The more confident you are with your work, the more you will share (self-promote).

2. Do some type of promotion everyday. Email a potential client, connect with someone on LinkedIn, post to social media (but keep the mindset of my advice in mistake #3 above). Self-promotion can be that easy. Just get your work out into the world.

3. Follow-up. Any interest you may have had in your work, follow-up. People get busy, they get sidetracked, projects get postponed - those are all reason why you may not hear back from poetical (and even past clients). Follow-up and keep checking in with them, even if it's just a reminder that "Hey, I'm still around and would love to work with you."

Q: Describe your most perfect day.

A. Waking up knowing I don't have any deadlines that day (which rarely happens and I'm so grateful for that!) and the day is totally mine where I can work on any type of project I want or just have a day of nothingness. Coffee. A breakfast where biscuits are involved. I'm currently trying to perfect my biscuit recipe. I'm almost there. Baking them and eating them has become an unhealthy passion of mine. Coffee. Then doing any kind of creative project. One of my large found object pieces, some kind of project around the house (redecorating/rearranging/building something) or even taking a nap to refuel. My kids like to help with those things—except the nap part. Coffee. Then dinner delivered to my door (we have the best authentic Italian restaurant in our small town) and a good movie with my family. And maybe a decaf cup of coffee ;) To me, coffee just chills me out and it like a warm sweater for your insides, since I'm always cold.

A day like that would be total bliss—coffee, biscuits, creativity and rest!


Thank you so much, Holli, for catching up with us here at Bird Meets Worm!! You’re a total rock star!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Super Star Children's Book Review: Blackbird Fly

Welcome to the monthly children’s book review feature with a focus on diverse books here at Bird Meets Worm! My team of reviewers—Cara Chow, Denise Holmes, Joan Charles, Sharon Calle—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 today is Thursday! Apologizes from Bird Meets Worm—Super Jane seems to be on a summertime one day delay this month!)



BLACKBIRD FLY
By Erin Entrada Kelly • Cover Illustration by Betsy Peterschmidt
Middle Grade Fiction (ages 8-12) • 304 pages
Published by Greenwillow Books • 2015
ISBN 978-0-06-223861-0

As the only Filipina in her school, Apple Yengko is used to being the outsider. Ever since a “fishy” incident with a schoolmate back in the 4th grade, she’s learned to cope with being different by putting her life in compartments - school, friends, and home are each packed neatly into their own separate boxes.

But now that she’s entered the 8th grade, her carefully constructed world is starting to come apart. Her best friends are acting weird. Her mother won’t let her study music, let alone buy a guitar. Worst of all, she’s just found out her name is on the notorious Dog Log, a not-so-secret list of the ugliest girls in school.

Luckily, Apple has her talisman—a Beatles tape that belonged to her late father. Even in the toughest times she’s able to turn to music for comfort and inspiration. The songs have become the soundtrack of Apple’s life and fuel her burning desire to be a rock musician.

Funny, wise, and sharply observant, Blackbird Fly follows Apple as she struggles with the pains and joys of growing up. Along the way she learns about true friendship, family, and finding her own special place in the world.

Buy this book:



Reviewed by: Joan Charles

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Super Star Interview: Kat Kalindi Cameron (aka Team Kitten)

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. (BTW You have noticed today is Wednesday, not Tuesday! Apologizes for the delayed post—summer got the better of us here at Bird Meets Worm! XO)

This month I’m pleased as pink lemonade punch to be catching up with the super star Illustrator & Designer, Kat Kalindi Cameron (aka Team Kitten!)! I’m a total fan girl of Kat’s happy, fun, fabulous artwork! Kat has been working as an Illustrator & Designer for over 12 years along Australia’s Gold Coast. She is inspired by quirky Japanese culture, Scandinavian folk art, sunshine and rainbows, happy magic, repeat patterns, geometrics, cute animals, retro homewares and vintage children’s illustrations. Her impressive client list includes Coke, Emirates Airlines, Penguin Books, Illicit clothing, McDonalds, Cadbury and many more. You can view more of her artwork here!

Wishing you unicorn dreams—every night!!!

Q: You are masterful at creating fun, beautiful and BALANCED pattern collections (i.e. fabulously detailed main with simpler, but equally fabulous coordinates!) Dish with us about your personal approach to creating pattern collections. And do you have any tips for designing pattern collections?

A: Well thank you so much! That is super kind of you. I think I have been looking and admiring art and patterns for so long, it almost becomes second nature. So I may as well make that my tip number 1—take notice of patterns in life. Not just what you see on pinterest, but around the home, in nature, architecture, homewares, packaging etc. Make sure your design is nicely balanced - rework and rework it and rework some more! Then play with colours, it's good to research latest trend colours, but sometimes I like to work with specific colours. I also like to do a few variations of colours for one artwork. 

Q: Your list of inspiration is pure happiness: Asian pop culture, Hello Kitty, toys, Russian dolls, Scandinavian folk art and happy magic (among others!)! Give us the scoop on what attracts YOU to these inspirations and how they’ve directly influenced your artwork.

A: I think we are attracted to those things that provide us joy and do make us happy. What I love about Hello kitty is that she is iconic and recognizable by her simplicity. I love Russian nesting dolls and folk art for their detailed florals and whimsical symmetrical designs. Happy magic that I refer to is bold, bright, magic icons, rainbows, unicorns and basically anything that is a bit woowoo! I try to sprinkle a little of these details into my designs—although it's not always commercial, my personal work will have that influence. 

How totally adorbs are these cutie pie baby tigers?!

Q: Tell us all about your most favorite illustration or design project!

A: Hmm, tricky as I find it's always evolving, and I like different things about different projects. I think a favourite was years ago—going back about 11 years ago I did a job for McCann Erickson for Coke. It was in Dublin and I had to create a super spring style graphic for a billboard and they made cut-outs from my graphic. It was also used on bus shelters and they had the sounds of birds chirping in the bus shelters! So exciting to be a part of a project like that. 

Q: One of your super star specialties is designing childrenswear graphics. Dish with us about this unique market: how you broke into it, what client relationships & terms typically look like and your favorite current trends.

A: I love designing for children. I think because I am a big kid, and I have forever admired classic children’s story book artists. I used to work as an inhouse textile designer at a women’s fashion brand, which was great learning for me. We worked on so many different ranges a year—doing embroideries, placement prints, applique and yardage—that it became second nature. When I had my kids, I couldn't work in the office, so I started freelancing and decided I really wanted to do more of my own style and try and develop that more. So doing childrenswear graphics came naturally.

Regarding client relationships, it's great to keep that relationship going with a client once you start a commission, because it can lead to repeat work. Which is fantastic!! I find terms are usually different with each client, so I tend to find out what they are after and go from there. If I feel a client is after repeat work, I would offer a good rate. You really have to feel out each situation because they are all unique. 

Om, pretty pretty, om!

Q: Self-promotion is one of the key areas of business that freelancers, like yourself, must excel in to be successful. What advice would you give fellow freelancers regarding 1) trade shows 2) social media 3) promotional mailings (print and/or email) 4) client outreach.

A: Trade shows are great, but expensive. I would say don't go jumping into trade shows without first having a solid body of work, have already worked for a few clients—so you know how to deal with them. Research as much as possible from previous participants. Be prepared to be let down by clients who say they love your work and want to buy it, and then never return your emails!

Social Media—get on it, show your work, don't be afraid to share it. Try and post daily.

Promo mailings/Client outreach—I only email. I don't send printed matter. A newsletter is a great way for you to stay in touch with clients, but also emailing them specifically with a sample of your latest artwork would probably work better. Tailor the email to suit the client (or potential client). Don't send a greeting card company only repeat patterns—they would probably like to see your illustration and lettering styles.

Gorgeous florals! Fabulous!

Q: Describe your most perfect Sunday.

A: Wake up to hot coffee and avocado on toast on a sunny winters day. The house is quiet (which is the opposite to how it normally is—with 2 kids in the house!) I would spend the morning drawing, then painting in the afternoon, someone is taking care of food for kids and they are happy and content, while I can go about my crafty creative day uninterrupted. Ahh, bliss, one day this will happen!!

Thank you so much, Kat, for catching up with us here at Bird Meets Worm! You artwork makes us SO happy! Cheers!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Fairytale Unicorn & Sea Monster

© Jane Smith • Fairytale Unicorn & Sea Monster

NEW Super Jane Metal Luggage Tags

I'm pleased as rum punch (on a jet plane to a fabulous Hawaiian getaway) to share my 3 NEW metal luggage tag designs for Mpix! And bonus—they are fully customizable with photos and personal information. How chic would you and your kiddos be with these on your suitcases?!




Ooo! Look who's headlining the product category!

© Jane Smith • Don't you just love these colors? XO

© Jane Smith • Silly, fun & perfect for the kiddos!

© Jane Smith • Be an adorably chic traveler! Bon Voyage!

Robot BBQ

© Jane Smith • Robot BBQ

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Super Star Children's Book Review: The Hate U Give

Welcome to the monthly children’s book review feature with a focus on diverse books here at Bird Meets Worm! My team of reviewers—Cara Chow, Denise Holmes, Joan Charles, Sharon Calle—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.



The HATE U GIVE
By Angie Thomas
YA fiction (ages 14-17) • 444 pages
Published by HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray • 2017
ISBN 978-0-06-249853-3

Angie Thomas awakens her audience to see thru the eyes and feel thru the heart of 16-year old Starr Carter as she witnesses the murder of her friend, Kahlil, an unarmed, African American teenage, at the hands of a white police officer.

In the aftermath of the shooting, Starr struggles to make sense of the disparities in her own identity both as a citizen of a poor, crime-riddled, African American neighborhood and as a student of a wealthy, predominately white, private school. Starr’s journey from sadness to anger and fear to bravery is anything, but black and white. Her story serves as a powerful touchstone for cultivating compassion and sparking conversations about racism, the militarization of the police and the lingering effects of slavery in America today. Just as Starr is a light in the darkness for her family, friends and community, so can she be for the audience as well. Her story makes a powerful argument in favor of questioning the status quo and using one’s voice to create positive change.

In the tradition of The Outsiders and The Catcher in the Rye, The Hate U Give is, without a doubt, destined to become a modern classic. It is so timely, so of the moment, that it is a must read now and for generations to come.

Buy this book:




Reviewed by: Jane Smith

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Rave Reviews for Chloe Zoe

Rave reviews are in for my NEW picture book, "It's Halloween, Chloe Zoe!" I'm SO excited to share that Publisher's Weekly says:
"In this sixth book in Smith’s holiday-themed Chloe Zoe series, the returning heroine, a yellow elephant, is excited about Halloween but uncertain about trick-or-treating at the “old, creepy house on the corner"...Smith’s collages are far more festive than frightening...Chloe Zoe’s candid and enthusiastic narration makes this a good choice for Halloween newbies."