Tag Archives: picture books

The Blog Is BACK!!!

It’s finally time to resurrect my blog from its long hiatus!  I’ve actually missed being on Walking In Public… digging up blog content has always kept me engaged with the publishing/art/design industries, and it motivates me to write and draw regularly.  So, I’ll be back on the blog for a long while, with all-new features and updates on my journey to success in the children’s book world!

What have you missed while I’ve been away from the blog? Here are the best things that happened, circa 2011:

Annie’s Top 5 2011 Professional Developments

1. Illustrated and designed the Little Farmer app.

You may remember that I began a project working on a toddler game app, called Little Farmer, back in May.  Well, after months of illustrating, designing and developing, we released it for sale in the iTunes store in October!  It has been a really wonderful experience working with a talented developer, Anita Hirth, to create artwork that children can interact with, right there on any iPhone.  There’s much more to say about the process of creating an app, and my future in the digital world… but those are subjects for bigger posts!

In the meantime, purchase the app here, or watch the video trailer, above!

2. Joined the Children’s Book Council’s Early Career Committee.

I’ve been attending events for young adults in the publishing industry for awhile, so it was exciting to be asked to represent Penguin Young Readers (and designers everywhere) on the Children’s Book Council’s Early Career Committee.  This organization creates opportunities for those in the first 5 years of the children’s book industry to network, learn, and become more involved in their fields… so their mission is right up my alley!  Since becoming a part of the team this summer, I’ve had a TON of fun making great friends with 20-somethings in different houses, through planning creative programming.  I’m also having a blast designing fliers, making good use of my design time and talents.

If you haven’t already, make sure to catch up on the CBC and ECC’s fabulous social media enterprises – Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!

3. Made friends with WordPress.org.

One of the biggest hurdles in creating marketing materials for Little Farmer was: what to do about the website?  A website is obviously essential for promoting any business or product, but my knowledge of web design is spotty at best.  I’ve taken a class on Flash, but I gotta admit, coding scares the bejeezus out of me. So I turned to the platform I knew best – WordPress, home of this very blog!  WordPress.org is actually slightly different from its blogging sister WordPress.com. In a day or two, you can create practically any site imaginable, using existing templates, posts and pages, and update new content anytime – hardly any coding required.  The process is worth a separate future post, but here are the first two sites I made:

www.smartcookiestudios.com (using Suffusion theme)
www.anniebethericsson.com (using Blue Bubble theme)

4. Designed a few picture books.

What was I up to at my real job? Designing wonderful titles with Putnam and Nancy Paulsen Books!  In addition to my regularly scheduled board books, anniversary editions and novel interiors, I had the opportunity to have my own picture book assignments.  My first book, Half-Pint Pete the Pirate, was quickly followed by Dave Horowitz‘s hilarious, “spaghetti-western-style” Chico The Brave.  I also was honored to redesign Jan Brett‘s Beauty and the Beast reissue, and also redesign the jackets of a few international imports.  My favorite? The Aussie “new classic”, Maudie And Bear.

5. Freelanced Projects.  

Lastly, I’m happy to report that in addition to my busy schedule and pet app project, I also picked up a few freelance gigs.  Chief among them was an exhibition catalog for the Simms Taback retrospective at the Museum of Ventura County.

I’ll never forget that I was able to get to know Simms and work with him on this 16-page booklet of his work, in the few last months before his death this December.  He was a truly exceptional man with a kind heart, a keen eye for design, and an inspirational wealth of artistic creativity.  It was always wonderful to speak with him, and I loved that he was so involved with every aspect of his craft.  It does give me comfort, though, that before he passed, he saw the publication of his final book, Postcards from Camp, the opening of the exhibit, and travelled with friends and family.  He will be sorely missed!

Read more about Simms’ amazing life and work here.

. . .

And now, looking forward to 2012… keep reading here for more posts, new content, and as always, a love of illustration, books and design all around! 

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Video Half-Day Friday: Hope For Haiti

Do something good before jetting off this weekend – check out this beautifully-produced video from Pearson’s We Give Books and On My Mind Foundation. These two organizations paired up on a trip to Haiti to help schools affected by the earthquake disaster last year, and address the overwhelming illiteracy rate in that area. Now, We Give Books is providing 1,000 books to kids in Haiti, and you can find out more and help here.

The video features Jesse Joshua Watson, author/illustrator of the Putnam book Hope For Haiti, one of my favorite picture books we’ve published recently.  Jesse’s artwork is brilliantly colored and perfectly suited to this uplifting story.  It goes well beyond soccer and speaks straight to the heart of Haiti’s youngest generation.  A must read – and I’m so glad that children in Haiti were able to experience it in their own language!

The Original Art Show: Part II

As I mentioned, I already attended the Society of Illustrators’ Original Art Show during its opening, but the hustle and bustle of the event kept me from really getting a good look at all the pieces and reading the actual books.  So the Putnam art and editorial crew took a field trip last Friday to spend a few hours there in relative quiet and share our likes/dislikes.

All of the books are obviously winners, and of course, there were plenty that I already knew I loved: Peter Brown’s Children Make Terrible Pets, Jan Jutte’s Sleepover At Grandma’s House, Lane Smith’s It’s A Book!. But I wanted to mention a few new titles that I discovered along the way.  Here are my favorites:

1. Tao Nyeu – Bunny Days (Dial)

I was literally cooing and gasping with laughter aloud when I read this, as I couldn’t believe that a single book could be so adorable and disturbing at once!  In three parts, Mr. and Mrs. Goat find various ways to accidentally muddy/trap/maim a group of baby bunnies, and Bear comes to the rescue… with, um, interesting solutions.  Well-meaning Bear subjects the bunnies to the washing machine (and hangs them to dry!), a high-powered fan, and a sewing machine. AND THE BUNNIES ARE STILL CUTE! AND NOT DEAD!  Hilarious.

2.  Carmen Segovia – Brownie Groundhog and February Fox (Sterling)

This was one of my favorite designed books at the show.  I just love the wintery limited color palette with pops of red… reminds me of a modern version of classics like Mary Wore Her Red Dress. Plus, predator (Fox) and prey (Groundhog) become friends and share toast.  Aw.

3.  Laura Ljungkvist – Pepi Sings A New Song (Beach Lane Books)

The creator of Follow The Line comes out with a new – totally fun – picture book!  Pepi the perpetually wide-eyed parrot puts a crazy spin on Twinkle Twinkle Little Star for his stargazing owner, Peter.  I always feel that word books and digital illustrations can go so easily BLAH, but Ljungkvist brings both to a whole new level.

4.  Steven Savage  – The Fathers Are Coming Home (Margaret K. McElderry)

Sniffle alert!  Margaret Wise Brown’s post-humous bedtime story is simple and touching, bringing a tear to my eye as all the animal fathers (and one returning sailor) come home to their babies at night.  I’ve been enamored with Steven Savage’s atmospheric textured prints since he came into one of my illustration classes a few years ago, and as with Polar Bear Night, they’re once again the perfect complement.

5.  It was raining cats and dogs this year!  I’m not normally a fan of “big black eyes” on characters, but Emma Dodd’s I Don’t Want A Cool Cat makes it work (plus, the book rocks). Emily Gravett’s Dogs is just that: all the breeds you can think of, animated with her classy British restraint. And one of my favorite original art pieces on the wall was Jon Klassen’s Cat’s Night Out… it’s a crying shame that the printed book had a polluted, sepia hue not in the art itself.  Klassen’s adorable little cats deserved more!

Despite what you may think, the show had more than picture books.  I haven’t read Tony DiTerlizzi’s The Search For Wondla (I’m woefully behind on my middle-grade and YA novels), but the design was spectacular. Color in the interior!  Gorgeous chapter openers!  I wanna do that!  The other book I must get my hands on is Jon Klassen’s The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place Book 1: The Mysterious Howling.  Like A Series Of Unfortunate Events, it looks like something I’d love as a kid, but is sophisticated enough for adults.

Now that I’ve checked out all (okay, most…) of the books in the show, I definitely recommend that y’all do the same before it closes next week.  Go to there.

We Interrupt This Regularly Scheduled Blogstravaganza…

… to let you know that my list of Top 10 ALL-TIME favorite picture books is posted today over at Brooklyn illustrator Sergio Ruzzier’s blog!  If you don’t already know Sergio’s work, you should definitely check out his work online or at the Drawn In Brooklyn! exhibition at the library.  Thanks, Sergio!

Making a Top 10 list was tough… and a lot of fun!  I even had to call home to make sure I didn’t miss anything on the ol’ childhood bookshelves. There were several that immediately came to mind, and a ton of others that I believe are essential to children’s literature, but didn’t ultimately make the list.  In the end, I decided to go for the ones that weren’t always the most important to the rest of the world, but gave that little extra tug at MY heartstrings.  Because isn’t that what’s REALLY important, anyway?

Stand Tall! Growth Charts

Anyone that knows me is aware that height is, um, sort of an issue for me.    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not generally insecure about my looks, but I think everyone has that one “sensitive subject” they’re not comfortable about themselves, and at 5’10”, being tall is mine.  And no annoying “But being tall is so great!” comments are going to change that.

So I could appreciate the levity and message of the latest book I’ve come across at work: Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell, and illustrated by David Catrow.  Molly Lou, the shortest, buck-toothiest, bullfrog-iest new girl in class, shines because she follows her grandmother’s advice to always, “Walk as proudly as you can and the world will look up to you.” She’s got confidence that (literally) bowls over the school bully, and it’s fantastic. This is the kind of both entertaining and meaningful read that makes me want to shove it in the New York Times’ snotty face and say, “THIS IS WHY PICTURE BOOKS ARE SO GREAT!”  Phew!  Anywho… moving on…

Designing “extras” for Molly Lou’s 10th anniversary got me to thinking about those handmade growth charts scrawled up the doorframes of classic American households.  Remember those?  Well, I wanted to see if there were some pre-made growth charts with a bit of design flair.  Turns out, you can pretty much find a colorful growth chart for kids on any theme – no matter how tall or small!

Here were some of my favorites:

Heirloom Boxed Set Growth Chartvia Design Mom

Grow-With-Me Scroll Chart – via Family Style

Chalkboard Paint DIY Growth Chart – via OhDeeOh

Basic Shapes Growth Chart – via Kids Crave

Up, Up I Go – A Fold-Out Book by Eric Carle (Chronicle Books)

Giraffe Wall Decal Growth Chart – via CoolLil

Who Tall Are You? – For Big Kids, aka. Adults