Monday, October 31, 2011


I'm starting a new section of my website called "favorite artists." It's basically my favorite artists... obviously. It's going to take me a long while to finish it. But anyway, at the bottom of each artist page -- I will put up images of the artist's work - there will be a video. I thought I'd post some of the videos I find because I find them inspiring (and sometimes amusing).

Saturday, October 29, 2011


My new roommate, Christopher Darling (he's an illustrator), did the drawings for this animation for Sony:

Robert Johnson: Devilish Detail on

I wouldn't say this is kid friendly (for teens it's okay) but since I'm in the animation zone so to speak, I really got a lot out of it. I love the use of B&W with just a little bit of color. And it's very expressive. Just watching the foot wiggle was great.

Friday, October 28, 2011


I was in Richmond VA this week for a school visit. As usual, the kids were great and the librarians were fabulous.

Afterward I did a little signing at a local bookstore called bbgb.

One of the owners, Jill, is really great and knows her stuff. She showed me a bunch of nonfiction graphic novels because I told her I was working on some. She let me pick one for the plane ride home. I chose HOUDINI: THE HANDCUFF KING, by Jason Lutes & Nick Bertozzi.

It's a glimpse into Houdini's life and shows one of his stunts: his jump off a bridge. I really enjoyed it. The art and text are just right.

I think the lesson for me is that sometimes it's best to take a snippet from someone's life instead of trying to tackle the whole thing. This book left me wanting more. I think any kid who reads this book will want to research Houdini's life afterward and that's what a great nonfiction book does! This book also reads like a great movie - another key to a great nonfiction book. No snore fest here! A big thank you to all the staff at BBGB's. You were great... and of course Brenda, the librarian, who was with me all day!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


I really dig this 3D cut paper thing...

These are by Giles Laroche:

Friday, October 21, 2011


On the topic of paying attention, this is an interesting talk by Dav Pilkey. He indicates that teachers didn't have much faith in him. It was his own imagination out in the hallway that started him on his path to becoming an author.

I think teachers can harness this sort of creativity. Kids like this just learn in a different way. I know it can be hard when you have a large class and you certainly can't concentrate on just one kid but putting them out in the hallway probably isn't the solution. Thankfully, I was never put in the hallway! Of course, I was not a disruption in class. I just didn't pay attention. I loved it when I could do an art project out of a book -- like instead of a standard book report once I got to make a comic strip report telling what the book was about in that way. I still have the comic!


I am writing about the same thing on the Blue Rose Girls today because it has taken me a LONG time to put this together. I have finally uploaded the finished interview with my mom on reading, with images and all!

This is the sample I put on the BRG:

ME:I remember when I asked you to read my first attempt at a novel. You said something like: “Bridget is the writer in the family. You should stick to art,” or some such. You later explained why you said that. You really thought my writing would be terrible and was trying to save me from embarrassment. But this is why I ALWAYS ask you for advice on my writing before anyone else--because you are honest and I value your opinion. I think we have the same taste in writing and art. Sometimes honestly is hard to swallow, but it always works out for the best. What did you think of my early writing attempts? You can be honest. I won’t cry.

MOM:I think you struggled with writing in school for the same reason that sometimes made it hard for me to figure out what you were trying to tell me in everyday conversation. You tended to start telling me something as if I was inside your brain. I remember having to ask lots of questions to figure out where your ideas were coming from. This is a really simplistic example; "Mom, she was there when it happened." And I would be totally puzzled and have to say, who what where and when. Consequently your writing was confusing. I think you also had trouble organizing. Remember your little index card to help with a math test. You were allowed to bring one index card with some helpful facts to a math test. You filled both sides with microscopic letters and numbers with no spaces between them. It was like looking sanskrit .

Your notebooks came home with huge holes where you must have erased right through the paper. I used to marvel at them.

Basically your attempts to help yourself learn, produced chaos. So I was astounded when you began to write coherently. when you were in your twenties. I think that part of your brain just matured late."


The funny thing is that just the other day I asked my friends if I still do that... if I start talking about stuff and don't explain what I'm talking about. They said "yes." I mentioned it to them because I fear that I'll do that when public speaking... that I'll start talking about something and not explain myself and not make any sense to people! In my brain I make TOTAL SENSE. But I guess to the outside world I make none? I also worry about this because I have done a few radio interviews and you really have to think on your toes. Will I say things that don't make any sense then? I don't know if this is just me or all A.D.D people have this issue. It's funny but my taste in books reflected that. My sisters loved books that made more sense and I loved the the crazy books that were all over the place -- like In the Night Kitchen and One Monster After Another. It was like my brain had come alive via the page!

To read the whole interview go here!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sunday, October 16, 2011


Before Captain Underpants Dav Pilkey was busy doing a lot of other great books. I love The Paperboy. It's simple and poetic and really gives you the feel for what it's like to be a paperboy. It was first published in 1996.

I love spreads like this:

It's hard to ride a bike
when you are loaded down with newspapers
But the paperboy has learned how to do this,
and he is good at it.

All the spreads are blue and black and dark green until the last few pages when the sun peeks up above the trees and colors a few lines of sky orange and yellow. Then the paperboy tiptoes back to bed...

Friday, October 14, 2011


As you can read from my two earlier blog posts, I've found some blatant advertising in a recent popular children's series. Is this a new trend? Is this going to be a way to make more money for publishing companies?

I found the below comments on a site called COMMERCIAL ALERT - "Protecting communities from commercialism."

"Keep Disguised Ads Out of Children's Books

HarperCollins Children’s Books recently announced plans to publish a new series of books targeted at 8- to 12-year-olds featuring a character called “Mackenzie Blue.” Although touted by the publisher for teaching kids about protecting the environment and promoting global understanding, the Mackenzie Blue series actually aims to be a vehicle for delivering commercial messages, through product-placement hidden advertisements, product tie-ins, and affiliated multi-media corporate sponsorships. The author of the series, Tina Wells, is chief executive of Buzz Marketing Group, which specializes in marketing to children and adolescents.

Book publishers should not be exploiting children for commercial gain. Books should educate and entertain children — not encourage them to buy a particular brand of shoe or soft drink.

Tell Susan Katz, publisher of HarperCollins Children's Books, not to publish "Mackenzie Blue" unless all product placements and tie-ins with external advertisers are removed"

This was obviously written before the series came out. They also wrote this letter:
Commercial Alert Letter to HarperCollins Children's Books Regarding "Mackenzie Blue"

After HarperCollins Children’s Books announced its intent to publish a series of children’s books entitled “Mackenzie Blue,” Commercial Alert sent the following letter to Susan Katz, publisher of HarperCollins Children’s Books, opposing the decision. According to news reports, the “Mackenzie Blue” series will be infiltrated with product-placement hidden advertisements and will be designed effectively as a marketing vehicle for big companies. Commercial Alert is a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit that seeks to limit excessive commercialism in society.

Following is the text of the letter:

Dear Ms. Katz,

I am writing from Commercial Alert, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC that is concerned with excessive commercialism in society, and particularly the impact on children.

We are appalled at your recently announced plans to publish a new series of books targeted at 8- to 12-year-olds featuring the character “Mackenzie Blue.” According to news reports, the Mackenzie Blue series of children’s books will be infiltrated with product-placement hidden advertisements and will be designed effectively as a marketing vehicle for big companies.

We urge you to abandon these plans immediately.

Your news release touts the Mackenzie Blue series for teaching kids and especially girls about how to relate to peers and develop a positive self-image, and helping them build an environmental consciousness.

These purported objectives of the series are totally incompatible with the overriding commercial partnering strategy of the series.

Excessive commercialism in youth culture is undermining kids’ self-esteem, as it substitutes an inventory of what they possess for the developmental challenge of defining who they are. It teaches children similarly to judge classmates and peers based on what they wear and how they appear, interfering with their ability to relate to others based on their unique personalities and to appreciate diverse personalities and styles. Excessive commercialism is heavily correlated with the youth obesity epidemic. And, of course, the commercial influences and the emphasis on intensified consumption is incompatible with the fundamental ecological challenges facing the planet.

Beyond these specific concerns, marketing to young children is wrong for the fundamental reason that—even in a technology-heavy environment—many kids under the age of 11 do not have the ability to discern advertisements and promotions from entertainment and life experience. Hidden advertisements, such as product placements, and integrated multi-media marketing strategies make this line-drawing that much more difficult.

Children and adolescents are already assaulted with advertisements on a daily basis—books, of all things, should be a haven from the commercial assault on kids. Books should educate and entertain children, not serve as a vehicle to deliver hidden marketing messages encouraging them to buy a particular brand of shoe or soft drink or cosmetics.

The Mackenzie Blue concept is a horrible degradation of the honorable field of publishing. If there is virtue in the Mackenzie Blue story concept, it will only be redeemed by liberating it from the commercial entanglements your plans seem to envision. We strongly urge you to remove all product placements and eliminate all tie-ins with external advertisers before proceeding with your publishing plans.


Robert Weissman,
Managing Director"

I have NOT read this series so I cannot personally comment. I will look over the books this weekend and then give you my personal opinion.

I did find a NYT article on the subject:

"In Books for Young, Two Views on Product Placement

Published: February 19, 2008
Specifying a character’s brand of lipstick, shoes or handbag is a commonly accepted way to add an aura of reality or consumer aspiration to books aimed at young readers: just think of “The Gossip Girl,” with that series’s abundant references to Prada and Burberry. But what if writers and publishers enlisted companies to sponsor those branded mentions, as is the widespread practice in Hollywood?

Authors of two book series have come to separate conclusions: in one case, the writers tried it and then changed their minds; in the other, for a new series to be published next year, the author, who owns a marketing company, said she planned to give corporate sponsorship a chance...

In “Mackenzie Blue,” on the other hand, a new series aimed at 8- to 12-year-old girls from HarperCollins Children’s Books, product placement is very much a part of the plan. Tina Wells, chief executive of Buzz Marketing Group, which advises consumer product companies on how to sell to teenagers and preteenagers, will herself be the author of titles in the series filled with references to brands. She plans to offer the companies that make them the chance to sponsor the books.

Ms. Wells said she would not change a brand that she felt was at the core of a particular character’s identity merely to cement a marketing partnership. “Mackenzie loves Converse,” she said, referring to the series’s heroine and the popular sneaker brand she favors. “Does Converse want to work with us? I have no clue. But that doesn’t negate the fact that Mackenzie loves Converse.”

However, when asked what she would do if another sneaker company like Nike (one of her clients) wanted to sponsor the books, she said, “Maybe another character could become a Nike girl.”

For the full article go here.

Obviously the series started out a good number of years ago. But what I'm wondering now is with kids having cell phones and those bar codes at the back of books and now with bookmarks ADVERTISING PRODUCTS IN THE BOOKS what's stopping kids from ordering things right from the bookmark and the parent getting a nice bill?

Stay tuned....

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Here's a quote I found:
"We are extremely excited to be part of Mike's latest inspirational story for youth about the importance of good sportsmanship and the power of persistence and teamwork in achieving goals," says Rob DeMartini, chief executive officer and president of New Balance.

This is a video interview on Mike Lupica and his books, which is actually pretty interesting. At the end he talks about his new book and the role New Balance plays in it.

I don't think any of this would be at all bad if the shoes were not advertised on bookmarks placed in the books! Also, the fact that the shoes are specifically spelled out in the book (I'm sure to some reading it -- especially advanced reader copies -- it will seem like made up shoes) 897 Football Cleat by New Balance, it's just a little much.

Oops, did I give my opinion?


Someone pointed out to me that in Mike Lupica's new book --The Underdogs-- there is a bookmark advertising shoes his characters wear in the book, that is placed in the middle of every book, that was shipped to bookstores to sell. The bookmark has a photograph of the shoe in various colors: red, blue, silver, black... Here is a sample:

On the bookmark it says something like - Buy the shoes that the character wears in the story...
Honestly, this is a really nice looking cleat. If I were in the market for a football shoe I'd want it. If I were a kid I'd want it. So is this a problem? If I were a parent would I see this as a problem? I mean, you buy a book for your kid to read and there, in the middle of the book, is a bookmark advertising really cool shoes that the character wears. Your son (or daughter) is going to be asking for them. Then you're going to have to shell out all of this money that you weren't expecting to shell out. And what's next? Are books going to be advertising other things? TVs? Video games? IPads? Cellphones?

Another question: Who makes the money off of this synergy? The author? The publisher? Both? Neither? What do YOU think? Editors/Publishers--any of you have something to say?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Last week Amazon launched the Kindle fire and because DC comics agreed to be exclusive and not allow BN's Nook to sell DC products electronically, BN made a big decision and decided to pull all of DC books from its shelves. BN said in a statement: "Barnes & Noble works with thousands of publishers to bring customers the world's largest selection of physical and digital reading content. However, regardless of the publisher, we will not stock physical books in our stores if we are not offered the available digital format."

Wow. This is a huge decision. My question is: are they in such a great position to making this kind of move? Also, clearly the line between bookseller and publisher has been blurred beyond recognition. Also, I find this especially ridiculous since graphic novel/comic book readers mostly don't like to read on e-readers!

Saturday, October 8, 2011


Maurice Sendak has a new book out. I commend him for keeping at it. I haven't had a chance to look over the book for a good judgement YET but as perhaps some of you may have figured out, I won't give you my full judgement of a book anyway... because you know... I'm an author... and that would be bad.

Anyway, this is his new book:

And this is a short film from the old Bumble Ardie:
(thanks to Sheila for the heads up)

I will say this about his work. His art has gotten a little sloppier. Or a lot?

And here's a cool stop motion animation from Sesame Street.

I remember this when I was little. I remember feeling uneasy about it. Isn't that weird? I didn't like its hairdo or the eyelashes or the song it sang. But at the same time I thought it was interesting to look at and I like when it croaked.

Friday, October 7, 2011


This is crazy...

And speaking of street art... if you like looking at pretty pictures, don't forget to check out my street art blog.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


There are some big changes coming to the B&N Children's Department. They are getting rid of many categories, such as pop-up books, some of the favorite characters such as Thomas the Tank Engine, and the nonfiction picture book section is no more. Also, section such as "Science," have been replaced with "Up in the Air," etc.

B&N wants to create an "experience." Their research has been that shoppers want to shop in a certain manner and that creating these new sections will help foster the experience that shoppers are looking for.

Make a trip to B&N and take a look around at the new arrangements as they unfold and tell me what you think. Is it an improvement? Or do you wish some of the sections should go back to the way they were? Happy? Outraged? Speak up!


This is great...

Monday, October 3, 2011


"Democrats Are Dumb, A Children's Guide, is designed to open dialogue between parents and children - and anybody else, for that matter - about our current political leaders..."

Saturday, October 1, 2011



This guy is too cool not to post about him (even if he's not kids' book related). All art inspires me to be creative!