Sunday, June 18, 2017

Super Jane's Cool Treats

© Jane Smith • Stay Cool

© Jane Smith • Don't Sweat It

© Jane Smith • Chill Out

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Super Star Children's Book Review: The Case For Loving

Bird Meets Worm is excited to announce the debut of our NEW monthly children’s book review feature with a focus on diverse books!

We are defining diverse books as representing all diverse experiences and backgrounds. That means we will 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.

And the best part? It will always appear on the second Wednesday of the month, every month! And I’m thrilled to share that I will am teaming up with a group of super talented voices from the kidlit community for this venture. I’m pleased to announce that the Bird Meets Worm book review team will include:

Cara Chow is the author of Bitter Melon, a Chinese-American, coming of age, love-hate, mother-daughter story, which made the 2011 YALSA Best Fiction list. She is currently working on a picture book, which tells the story of how her 7-year old son, who is on the autism spectrum, overcame crippling anxiety with the help of his family and team to play hockey on a track 1 travel team. Cara also helps organize and run the annual book fair at her son’s school. 

Denise Holmes is the illustrator of If I Wrote A Book About You (Simply Read Books) 2012 and Phoebe Sounds It Out (OwlKids Books) 2017 as well as 5 other picture books and activity books. She has been illustrating professionally for the past 10 years and is represented by Nicole Tugeau of T2 Illustrators. Clients include Simply Read Books, Roost Books, Albert Whitman & Co., and OwlKids Books. She lives in Chicago, IL with her husband and daughter.

Jane Smith is an illustrator and designer, who creates artwork for a wide variety of publishing and art licensing clients. She is the author/illustrator of the Chloe Zoe picture book series, published by Albert Whitman & Co. and is represented by Nicole Tugeau of T2 Children’s Illustrators. Her background includes art directing and designing novelty children’s books as an Art Director at Intervisual Books. Jane lives with her husband and daughter in Wilmington, NC.

Joan Charles is an artist, illustrator, and life-long reader. In addition to illustrating the award-winning Lexicon novels for middle grade readers, Joan has created art for children's books and magazines, galleries, exhibitions, and for private collectors. She believes that the power in our stories can change the world.

Sharon Calle is an artist and K-12 certified art educator. She has taught in public schools for nearly a decade and now teaches art through her small business, ARTSi Studio. Sharon loves sharing picture books with young artists to inspire creative projects. She’s always looking for books that reflect the rich cultural backgrounds of her students. She lives in woodsy Randolph, NJ with her chef husband and a growing collection of picture books.

So are you excited yet?! Here we go—


The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage
By Selina Alko • Illustrated By Sean Qualls & Selina Alko
Non-fiction picture book (ages 4-8) • 32 pages
Published by Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine Books • 2015
ISBN 978-0-545-47853-3

This biographical story begins as many stories do: “First comes love. Then comes marriage.” But for Richard and Mildred Loving, what came next was not so simple.

Husband and wife team, Sean Qualls and Selina Alko, blend their artistic voices to tell the history of the Loving’s marriage that lead to the landmark Supreme court case that made interracial marriage legal in 1967. Their illustrations are light, flowing and whimsical, incorporating classic iconography of “love,” like hearts, stars, birds and flowers, at every turn. In this way, the love of Richard and Mildred is truly visual and serves as a tangible thread as Alko gently, but firmly leads us first across states lines for the Loving’s legal marriage, back to their home state of Virgina, where their marriage was not recognized by the state, to their shocking arrest for “unlawful cohabitation,” and to their necessary move across state lines to preserve their marriage and their freedom. The injustice is plain to see and children will feel it in their guts. And they will celebrate, too, as the Supreme court honors the Loving’s marriage and they are finally able to return home. This is a powerful introduction to civil rights activism, because it brings the Loving’s journey right to the audience’s heart with its strong sense of love, family, and what it means to be home.

Informative and detailed back matter provides further reading and shines a beautiful light on Alko and Qualls’ unique collaboration as an interracial couple, who created this book from a place of deep & sincere gratitude.

Buy this book:

Reviewed by: Jane Smith

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Super Star Interview: Nivea Ortiz

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 Happy Summer to ya’ll! Just a quick note to let you know we’ll be taking a mini break from our artist interview feature in July, but will be back in August!)

This month I’m thrilled to be catching up with the gorgeous Illustrator, Nivea Ortiz! I am a huge admirer of her beautiful, energetic artwork! Nivea is a native of San Juan, Puerto Rico. She earned her BFA in Illustration at the Pratt Institute in NYC and began her career in her home country at the leading newspaper El Nuevo Dia. She has a thriving illustration career creating editorial and fashion illustrations as well as illustrating children’s books. You can view more of her artwork here!

How fabulous is she?! I'd totally love to gossip with her over tea & cake!

Q: I absolutely ADORE the bold colors, graphic shapes and gestural, flowing lines in your artwork!! Dish with us about your creative process: ideas, sketches, mediums, technique, finished art style—you know, all the good stuff!!

A: Thanks! I enjoy painting with water mediums like watercolor, gouache and ink. Painting with ink is great because it is spontaneous, fast and immediate. You have almost no control and the results are amazing. I feel very comfortable with the medium, particularly for personal work. I enjoy doodling, exploring and playing with different pens and brushes. The bamboo pen is my favorite, because I get interesting gestural lines, and for that very reason, I use it more in my personal pieces.

Love, Love, Love!

Q: You live in Puerto Rico and studied art in New York. How have both of these very distinctive places influenced and inspired your artwork?

A: I loved studying in NY. It is a unique place where you see everything and are exposed to a thousand different things and styles. There is inspiration everywhere. I studied fashion design in my first year of college. Then I changed my concentration to illustration, but fashion design is still present in my work.

My first job in PR was as an editorial illustrator in the main newspaper of the island. It was great training. I illustrated all kinds of different subjects like Travel, Health, Fashion, Culture and everything was rush. I think that's why I'm good at drawing fast and capturing the essence of things.

The island has a strong influence on my work. It is an eternal summer. You can see its influence on the colors that I like to use. They are warm, happy and as intense as the Caribbean people. The vivid colors of nature, the incredible blue sky, the turquoise sea, the afternoon light manifests in my palette.

Calling all dance lovers—this books is so totally for you!

 Q: I’m so excited about your new picture book, Sebi and the Land of Cha Cha Cha, which is set to release this fall from Penguin Random House! Give us the full scoop on Sebi and the Land of Cha Cha Cha: how you came to be the illustrator on the project to your experiences working with the art director to creating the artwork itself.

A: Roselyn Sanchez and Eric Winter had this idea some time ago and told me about it. I really liked it, and finally, it came to be at the perfect time. Working with the art director and the whole team was great and enjoyable. Everything went smooth and well. Creating the characters and the design took time and many sketches, but once it was all approved and Sebi’s world was created, it was easy and fun. Collaborating with Penguin Random House is a dream come true for me.

Sweet, fun, friendly and absolutely smile-worthy!!!

 Q: Tell us all about your MOST favorite illustrator project: one from the past and one from the present.

A: One of my favorite past projects is The Mall of San Juan mural. I had to create an illustration for a digital mural to be displayed in the mall. The theme was Mi San Juan, “What San Juan means to me”.  It measures 30 feet x 14 feet. I liked it, because it was the first time I saw my art on such a large scale. Every time I go shopping and walk by it, I smile.

From the present, I’ll say my recent children’s book La Maravillosa Visita del Calzad√≠simo Extranjero / University of Puerto Rico Press, because the communication with the editor and the author was excellent. They respected my style and gave me total visual freedom. I had a blast illustrating the story!

Who loves you? Mama does! XO

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

A: I’m a morning person, so I wake up early to draw. A cup of strong coffee is a must! Usually I go outside to feed the wild birds. It fills me with joy. Then the drawing starts. My workspace is usually messy. Gouache, ink and papers are everywhere on my drawing table. I always have music on, and I just go with the flow.

If it’s a project for a client, I will do some research about the subject, but not too much, because I like to keep the images fresh and want to capture the essence of things. Aiming to translate reality into my particular creative language, I like to start with some loose sketches, pick the more effective ones and then work over them in Photoshop. If it’s personal work, everything is more relaxed—a fun journey of exploration.

Looking at other artist’s work enriches and inspires me, too. It makes me want to work harder and see what else can I create. Often times I surprise myself! It’s happening now that I’m exploring abstract painting.

Colorful kings are "celebration" personified!

 Q: Describe your most perfect Sunday.

A: Starts early in the morning, kayaking at La Laguna del Condado / The Condado Lagoon. I really enjoy it. Being in the water relaxes me and nourishes my creativity. I love to observe nature, calmly strolling along in a kayak makes you feel closer to it. The best part is spotting manatees, turtles and rays swimming by your side. The Caribbean is a treasure.

Thank you very much for inviting me!

Thank YOU, Nivea, for chatting it up with us here at Bird Meets Worm! We love your artwork!

(Psst! Bonus news: Bird Meets Worm is debuting a NEW diverse children’s book review feature later this month!! Look for it on Wednesday, June 14th!)

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Miss Meow: Character Art

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