Four new books in 2016!! Make Way For Readers (Simon & Schuster) by Judy Sierra, More-igami (Candlewick Press) by Dori Kleeber, A Hat For Mrs. Goldman (Schwartz & Wade) by Michele Edwards, and On The Farm, At The Market (Henry Holt), which I wrote and illustrated.
A big Thank You to organizers of three book fairs I attended - Warwick Children’s Book Festival, Chappaqua Children’s Book Festival, and Greenwich Country Day School November Book Fair. So many nice people! So well-run!
Being a judge for the New York Times and New York Public Library’s Best Illustrated Children’s Books in 2016 was a big thrill. A long and intense day, we judges went home exhausted and humbled by the number and wealth of beautiful picture books for kids. And, as the illustrator member of our panel I got to design the award. Pretty cool.
Q: When did you start being an artist?
A: It’s hard to say. I remember that in kindergarten I liked finger painting a lot. And I remember that later on, in third grade, I liked to draw pictures of my favorite comic book and cartoon characters, namely Peanuts and a variety of monsters, and I got pretty good at it. At some point (around the fourth or fifth grade) I realized I could make other kids laugh at my drawings, which I liked. And even though I didn’t sell my drawings I think of that as my first steps on the path to becoming a professional artist. I went on to be the background artist of many a school play and even designed a tile mosaic that was in the front showcase of my elementary school. So I think I became an artist the very first time I opened my eyes.
Q: Where did you learn how to draw?
A: Art school (Paier School of Art in Hamden CT) followed high school. Suddenly I was with other artists (the entire school!) and I learned not only how to draw and paint but how sharing creative ideas with other artists helped me and my art grow.
I also learned early on that I wanted to be a children’s book illustrator. Several fine children’s book illustrators taught at my school. Personally, I loved to read and this seemed a perfect fit to me. Once that idea took hold I didn’t let go.
Q: Did you start making children’s books right after art school?
A: It was many years before my first book became published. Hallmark Cards hired me right out of art school. I was an artist (one of many) and worked in the Humorous Cards department. I illustrated hundreds of cards. It was a great education in learning how to draw many different emotions, not just humor. It wasn't picture book publishing like I had hoped but I was making a living at doing what I liked so much – getting people to laugh at my drawings.
Q: When was your first book published?
A: I left Hallmark after three years and moved to New York to become a freelance illustrator, which I’ve been ever since. At first most of my work was editorial – in magazines and newspapers, for textbooks and (ironically) greeting cards. Throughout this time I continued to work on my picture book portfolio and in 1991 my first illustrated book, THE HOLIDAY HANDWRITING SCHOOL by Robin Pulver, was published.
Q: Do you like your job?
A: I like it when my work makes people laugh. And cry. And think and feel.
When it makes me laugh, cry, think or feel then I know I have done a good job.