Archive for the 'books' Category

Stubby the Fearless Squid meets the world!

Friday, September 27th, 2019
Waving alllll my tentacles for Stubby Squid! 
While corresponding with his new penpal, Stubby may have exaggerated a few wished-for character traits, such as: strength, bravery, and boldness in the face of danger. It was fun to imagine, fun to write, and fun to read the adventurous letters he got in return. Everything goes swimmingly until Stubby’s pen pal announces plans to visit! Stubby is very afraid he’ll lose his new friend when they meet in person (so to speak) and the dreadful truth becomes apparent. But he puts on a brave face. To his surprise… it fits.

Writers and Illustrators (the question of contact)

Tuesday, April 19th, 2016



Interesting (and flattering) post on why editors often limit contact between writers and illustrators, from an experienced editor’s point of view.

Thanks to  Tara Lazer (author of Normal Norman, among others, and inventor of PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month) for inviting Meredith Mundy of Sterling Books to do a guest post. Even bigger thanks to Meredith for offering THIS OLD VAN as an example of how good things can happen when the writer leaves room for the illustrator to interpret the story, and bring his or her own ideas to the drawing table. Did I mention that in addition to being ever-so-wise and insightful, she’s a very nice person?

Sneaky weed research

Sunday, 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.

Bubble Homes & Fish Farts (bits and blurbs)

Monday, 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

Friday, 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.

Bubble Homes & Fish Farts (Toot-toot)

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

Bubble Homes & Fish Farts cover

So! It’s out. I have a fart book. A whole box of them, actually. Does this mean no one will take me seriously? (Like THAT was going to happen!) Oh well. Working with great people and having a great time will be my revenge. Ha! I should mention at some point that Bubble Homes & Fish Farts was written by Fiona Bayrock, so it’s her book, too. It was her book first, If you want to get technical about it. I am only the illustrator…

We got a nice review from Kirkus. (One more TOOT.) Interested? Read on.

Bayrock’s love of “way cool science” bubbles over in this surprisingly
substantial book. How do animals use bubbles? For sailing, running,
breathing, nesting–even playing (dolphins seem to blow bubbles just
for fun). Sixteen double-page spreads cover 16 wholly different ways
that fish, insects, amphibians and mammals use bubbles. Did you know
that one species of spider creates a bubble home to live in
underwater? That the popping bubbles of snapping shrimp can be “so
loud it gets in the way of U.S. Navy sonar”? That the water shrew can
actually run across the surface of the water courtesy of the bubbles
trapped between its hairy toes? Lively expository prose deftly
combines straightforward facts (the scientific name of each animal),
sound effects (the “fwap-fwap-fwap-fwap” of tree frogs creating foam)
and kid-friendly comparisons (the gourami fish spitting eggs into its
nest looks like it’s playing basketball). Conahan’s whimsical
watercolor illustrations, complete with conversational bubbles, add
humor and interest. Three pages of additional facts and a combined
glossary/index round out a volume that’s sure to rise to the top.
(Informational picture book. 5-10) KIRKUS Jan 15/09

Box of books

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008

Got my copies of THE PRAIRIE-DOG PRINCE today. Amazing. I know the big publishers work hard to plan their lists and have many concerns to balance and schedule around, but Holy smokes. I finished these illustrations a couple of months ago! Also: the paper is velvety, the binding is sewn, the cover is cloth. Mark’s design is elegant. I could eat this book, it’s so nice. Part of the book takes place aboveground, here’s Annie picking strawberries.

Annie picking strawberries

Then Annie makes an unfortunate wish and is whisked away underground. Here’s Annie with the Gnome King, who is giving her a hard time for being greedy (She wants him to help her father to strike gold). Her answer is “But I want to grow up to be an educated woman, this is why I wish for riches. That I may go to school, to wise teachers who will explain to me all the things that puzzle me so now.”

Annie & the Gnome King

This story was written over a hundred years ago, but hey. I could use a wise teacher. A few things are puzzling me, too.

Discontented Gopher on Tour!

Friday, December 8th, 2006

Carolyn Digby Conahan South Dakota book tour

We (my book-designer husband, Mark and I) are having a great time in South Dakota. We don’t get a lot of snow at home (Portland, Or.) so we enjoyed the snowstorm the first night – even though it made the roads slippery-slide-y and put a pox on our plan for a quick trip to see Mt Rushmore… We’re meeting a lot of nice people, too. Our hosts from the South Dakota State Historical Society Press, Nancy Tystad Koupal and Martyn Beeny for example. We’re learning lots of interesting local history, geography and culture. My first-ever school visits in Pierre, and Aberdeen were fun, fun, fun. Only a couple minor bugs with the program, easily worked out. The kids asked great questions! It was handy to have Mark there to answer book-design and production type questions.

Gopher on the road!

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2006

gopher fairyTHE DISCONTENTED GOPHER is out, just in time for Christmas! So this contented illustrator will be out and about attending openings and visiting bookstores. Here’s the schedule so far. I hope to see you, if one of these locations is convenient to you. Let me know you’re coming and I’ll save you a share of Zikki’s riches…

12/1 Opening (5-9 pm) NW Childrens Book Illustrators Show, Portland, Oregon, Murdoch Gallery
4114 North Vancouver Ave, Portland, OR 97217 tel. 503 284 1960

12/2 A Childrens Place Bookstore – Portland, Oregon, 11 am 4807 NE Fremont St, Portland, OR tel.503-284-8294

12/6, Borders – Rapid City, South Dakota , 7pm, 2130 N Haines Ave, Rapid City, South Dakota 57701, tel. 605 394 5334

12/7, Prairie Pages – Pierre, South Dakota, 5-7pm, 321 S. Pierre St, Pierre, South Dakota 57501, tel. 605 945 1100

12/9, Little Professor – Aberdeen, South Dakota, 1-3pm, 3315 6th Ave SE, Aberdeen, SD 57401, tel. 800 564 0632

12/10, Barnes and Noble – Sioux Falls, South Dakota, 1-3pm, 3700 W 41st St, Sioux Falls, SD 57106, tel. 605 362 1500


Tuesday, June 27th, 2006

Christmas Dogs had a pretty good season. But what does the future hold?

The Twelve Days of Christmas DogsWe’ll see.