Wish Away

November 11th, 2010
The Big Wish Cover

The swirls will be clear on the actual cover. So fancy!

Art is away, into the kind and capable hands of my friends at Chronicle. They’ve been GREAT to work with. I know I’ve said that before, but I’ve been lucky enough to work with one group of talented, funny, and good people after another. In between doing little dances and hooting with glee, I’ve been talking to people (Wow!) and clearing flat surfaces piled high with sketches, furry brushes, squeezed-out tubes of paint, scraps of reference, and a few other things. (Dang– I don’t think that’s edible anymore…. And I thought I paid that bill!) It feels good to finish and move on, even if it’s just to the next stage. Still lots to do in preparation for when the book comes out in the spring. This spring. Really. Oh, be still my stomach…  But I will be queasy about that later. For the moment I am JUST HAPPY. Having a great time working on something different! Not exactly new, but different. Ahhhh.

Who, me–Chicken?

October 26th, 2009

Chickens are everywhere these days. When I walk my dogs around the park (right here in town) I often hear a rooster crowing. I think it’s probably a code violation, but I like it. I grew up with chickens  (No, I was not RAISED by chickens! No matter what anyone says… ) I have no powerful urge to own  chickens these days, but  I do like to draw them, and make up little stories about their fears, and trials…

mr clucky faces danger

…and triumphs. This is from a story out making the rounds. Be brave, chicken! You never know.

mr clucky victorius

Fun in the world

September 18th, 2009

The scene at Chapman school

Work is necessary, work is good. But gritting your teeth and working, head down, is not always good for your work. You can carve a rut in your brain. You can stumble in and get stuck there. Sometimes it pays to look UP.

This time of year, we like to watch the Vaux’s swifts migrate through Portland. One place they stop is the chimney of the Chapman elementary school in NW Portland. 10 or 15,000 or more birds swirl down into this chimney. Living smoke, in reverse. (Good info at the local Audubon Society site, HERE. ) A LOT of people go to see this event, these days. All types; from bookish bird watchers making notes in notebooks, to arty types with elegant picnics and tiny dogs tucked under their arms, to young parents with lumbering, panting, old dogs and burbling babies, and/or young children who break away and spend the hour before sunset shrieking with glee, sliding down the hill on scraps of cardboard… NOT your average bird-watching expedition. But a great spectacle, in the air and on the ground.

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My literacy-building hero

August 10th, 2009


Wow! Congratulations to Cynthea Liu for her great Take the Dare: Show You Care fundraising effort for Tulakes Elementary. They raised $15,000 to support various literacy-building activities. Zowie. That’s a lot. I’m glad I could be a teeny little part of the effort. (I donated a Bubble Party Prize Package, with a copy of Bubble Homes, and prints, and cards, a bubble-stuff recipe, and bubble activities, such as ever-so-silly otter-face hat. See above.) I admire people who can organize, and motivate…

Away away, to ALA

July 8th, 2009
Drop by and say Hi!

Drop by and say Hi!

So here I am, working late late when I’m flying out early, early.

Silly me.

Looking forward to a lot of mingling with books and book people… lovely, lovely books. And lovely, lovely book people. If you stop by the Charlesbridge booth on Saturday roundabout 11 am, I will happily deface a copy of Bubble Homes & Fish Farts for you.

I just picked up my postcards this afternoon, from the nice folks at JDA Creative Color. They were kind to me in my frazzled state, and they did a great job, too.  There’s a bubble recipe on the back! So you can have your own bubble fun.

Work and Folly

June 24th, 2009
This guy is not the problem.

This chicken is not the problem.

I’m working on something that’s been through many changes. I got so used to circling around, it feels strange to be making progress. Now that I’ve stopped trying to make it be something I didn’t want to do, to suit my perception of what someone told me they wanted.

I am a good little worker-bee. This is my work. But if I don’t care what I do, why not get a steady job, with benefits? On a happy note: I could be wrong about what this person wants. I’m often wrong.

It’s not that I’m unwilling to listen, or take suggestions. I’m happy to get a great idea, especially if I can do it without working my brain into a sweat. It’s not because I think what I’m doing is so important, either. I don’t know why I do what I do, but that’s NOT it.

Which leaves me pondering folly, as in “foolish act, idea, or practice”. Working with energy and diligence towards… what? Something good, I hope. Guess I have a soft spot. Further evidence:

Mark, riding his very own skate bowl, dug by skate friends, poured by his good buddies at Dreamland. (Who else?)

Mark, riding his very own skate bowl, dug by hand in our back yard, poured by a crew from Dreamland. (Who else?) Photo by Bryce Kanights www.brycekanights.com

Sneaky weed research

May 17th, 2009

Hey! Fiona Bayrock and I are featured on the Seven Kicks section on SevenImpossibleThingsBeforeBreakfast. You’ll find other wonderful things, too, like a recipe for Purple Yam Cake. (Which sounds tasty and is fun to say, too.)Pretty!

Forget they’re weeds… aren’t they pretty? On my street.

Lots of dandelions!

No, this is not my house. Around the corner. Mark thinks this is a little much, but I love it. And in case you’re wondering… I do pull weeds in my own yard. Consistently inconsistent, that’s me.

Current view from the little house...

Bonus: View out my little house window, of the big hole which will soon be a mighty-fine skateboarding pool.

Bridget Zinn Fundraising Auction

May 5th, 2009


A young writing friend and neighbor, Bridget Zinn, was recently diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer, just as great things were starting to happen with her writing career. She signed with a super agent (yay!) A week or two later she went to the emergency room with a headache (it was a very bad headache) and a few other mysterious symptoms. She got an incomprehensible diagnosis (She’s young! She’s fit! She doesn’t drink, smoke, or eat meat!) followed by a grueling course of medical treatment, and medical bills, bills, bills. This is SO wrong. She’s a talented, funny person, and a positive force in the writing community. Helping out, organizing events, sending reminders for writer friends’ book events even after chemo, as the nasty side effects kicked in! We need people like this in the world. We need them happy and healthy and on their feet. We can’t fight the cancer for her, but maybe we can help a little with the bills. Here’s a link to an online auction where you can purchase many cool items and services and do good at the same time. I am offering the illustration above, from Bubble Homes & Fish Farts.

Bubble Homes & Fish Farts (bits and blurbs)

May 4th, 2009
Fiona Bayrock rocks the book launch thing.

Fiona Bayrock rocks the book launch thing! These are scenes from her launch at the Vancouver Aquarium... That's the Vancouver in Canada, not the Vancouver right across the river from me. I wish we lived closer, so I could take advantage of her mad skills, er... I mean, so we could do something together.

Here are links to some very nice reviews. (They’ve all been nice, luckily.)
Jen Robinson’s Book Page,
The Well-Read Child, The Miss Rumphius Effect, and
Just One More Book! (audio review). Anastasia Suen has some ideas how to use Bubble Homes on her blog, Using Picture Books to Teach the Six Traits of writing.

Bubble Homes & Fish Farts Freebies for fun and coloring

February 27th, 2009


These are not pictures from the book–these are extras, images I created for coloring, or masks, or hats, or what-have-you. For kids, teachers, librarians, and other nice book people to be used with the book (Bubble Homes & Fish Farts, published by Charlesbridge, written by Fiona Bayrock, and illustrated by me, me, me!) for happy, non-commercial, literacy-building purposes. Click on an image to go to its page. You might have to zoom in a little to get them to properly fill the page, the browser is meddling with our layout. (GRR!) Hope it works for you. I’d love to hear you use them! 


Herring communicate with bubbles – FAst Repetitive Ticks, or Farts. (Really!)

Humpback whales blow bubble rings to catch fish.

Humpback whales blow bubble nets to catch fish.

African Gray Treefrogs kick foamy bubble nests to protect their eggs!

African Gray Treefrogs kick foamy bubble nests to protect their eggs.

Sea otters comb bubbles into their fur for insulation!

Sea otters comb bubbles into their fur for insulation.

Herring, side view.

Herring, side view.

Humpback whale, side view.

Humpback whale, side view.