Tag Archives: illustration

The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors – Perfect Picture Book Friday

21 Apr

As we prepare to do battle in the name of science on Earth Day tomorrow, I thought I’d put the spotlight on the legendary battles being played across the country, the ones happening in school yards, classrooms, and perhaps during dinner when children are challenged to eat their vegetables, no matter how odious.  

Picture book writers, you are about to be schooled in voice by Drew Daywalt.

“Long ago, in an ancient and distant realm called the Kingdom of Backyard, there lived a warrior named ROCK. Rock was the strongest in all the land, but he was sad because no one could give him a worthy challenge.”

And so poor rock battles an assortment of unworthy opponents, including a clothespin and an apricot from grandma’s tree in the back yard. But he finds no joy in his easily won victories.


in the Empire of Mom’s Home Office, on lonely and windswept Desk Mountain, a second great warrior sought the glory of battle. And his name was Paper.”

So paper fights his own battles with other unworthy opponents, including the printer and a half-eaten package of trail mix in the garbage can. Alas, heavy-hearted Paper must journey to distant lands to find a warrior who is his equal. 

“At the same time….

in the Kitchen Realm, in the tiny village of Junk Drawer, there lived a third great warrior. They called her SCISSORS, and she was the fastest blade in all the land. She, too, was unchallenged. On this day, her first opponent was a strange and sticky circle-man.” 

Yes, you guessed it, a tape dispenser. Victorious, she turns her attention to an unruly group of breaded dinosaurs in the refrigerator. The results aren’t pretty. Scissors, too, must journey beyond her realm to find a challenging opponent.

And so these three great warriors are destined to meet. 

Ingenious. Laugh out loud funny. A marvelously illustrated and engaging read aloud. I predict this book will never go out of print. Ever.

For those of you who would like to know a little more about the history of “Rochambeau,” you may turn to the following resources:

Is Rochambeau named after the French army general who served during the American Revolution?

Rock-Paper-Scissors (history and mathematical analysis)

Title: The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors

Author: Drew Daywalt

Illustrator: Adam Rex

Publisher: Balzer & Bray (Harper Collins) 

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

Target Age group: Anyone who’s ever played Rock Paper Scissors (Rochambeau)

Illustrator Influence

17 Apr

My 11-yr-old son has discovered Russ Cox, a wonderful illustrator. You can see his work at Smiling Otis Studio. 

[Yes, Mike Allegra (HeyLookAWriterFellow), Otis was one of Russ’s cats. They’re everywhere! And BTW, a mouse snuck into our pantry and tore into the brown sugar, dried beans, and pancake mix. I’m thinking we’ve got a diabetic mouse on our hands. Otis, where are you? We need you! Seriously, we’ll be getting out the live-trapper to capture this critter and let him loose in a neighborhood park.]

Anyway, I digress. My son wasn’t consciously thinking about one of Russ’s drawings  when he drew this on a paper tablecloth at a restaurant last week:


Organic meets inorganic

If you look at Russ’s black and white work, you may find something that looks a bit like this guy. 

Happy Illustrator Day! (just thought I’d make up a new holiday)


Lindbergh: The Tale of a—what?! Perfect Picture Book Friday

5 Dec

Screen Shot 2014-12-02 at 11.33.40 PM


Title: Lindbergh: The Tale of a Flying Mouse

Author/illustrator: Torben Kuhlmann
English text by: Suzanne Levesque
Publisher: NorthSouth Books, Inc, 2014
Suitable for ages: 4-adult (It’s gorgeous!!!)
Content: Although the story is fiction, Kuhlmann includes a few paragraphs about the history of aviation and Charles Lindbergh at the back of the book. There’s also a foreword by a curator from the U.S. National Air and Space Museum.

 Screen Shot 2014-12-04 at 4.07.10 PM

Oh my goodness, folks. You know how you can take one look at a book and fall in love at first sight? Well, it happened.

Lindbergh is a bookish little mouse who lives in a country across the sea. In fact, his curiosity leads him to disappear for months at a time to study great works of literature written by humans. When he returns, he finds his world completely changed. The mice that used to overrun his city have disappeared and been replaced by mechanical contraptions that threaten his existence.

Screen Shot 2014-12-02 at 11.52.25 PMFull disclosure: An illustration shows a mouse caught in one of these death traps, but it’s very—ah—tastefully depicted in sepia tones. No blood and guts. But if you’re Mike Allegra or have little ones who are not ready for Grimm’s Fairy Tales (the author is German, after all), you may want to put your hand over that page.

Now, back to our hero:

Screen Shot 2014-12-04 at 9.28.54 PM

Terrified for his life, Lindbergh devises a plan to escape to America, only to be thwarted repeatedly in his efforts. But this plucky little rodent (that’s for you, Mike) won’t give up. He’s an inventor extraordinaire, a mouse da Vinci!

Will Lindbergh succeed?

You’ll need to pick up this lusciously illustrated book to find out. Think Steampunk meets Hugo Cabret’s visual feast! My son loved the detailed pictures of contraptions as well as the ominous cats and owls that stalk Lindbergh at every turn.

Who’s this mysterious debut author/illustrator? Kuhlmann has been interested in the history of aviation and mechanical contraptions since he was a wee spright. He’s now a 24-yr-old art school graduate who studied illustration and design at the University for Applied Sciences in Hamburg. This book is his senior project.

This young punk is brilliant! He reimagines the spark that inspired Charles Lindbergh’s flight across the Atlantic, then brings his idea to life in this book. And the rest, they say, is history.

Caldecott, anyone?

You can see more of Kuhlman’s work at his website: Torben Kuhlmann

(Amazon provides a large sampling of illustrations from the book. But please order from an independent bookstore if you have that option.) 
This post is in response to Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Fridays.

Halloween Cinderella?

30 Oct

Susanna Leonard Hill’s Halloweensie 100-word story writing competition (using the words pumpkin, broomstick, and creak) inspired me to produce the following piece of classic literature this week. It also inspired my son to create an illustration for the story. I hope you enjoy it. And if you don’t, well, I’ll sick the flying monkeys on you. Cheers!


Halloween Cinderella?


One Halloween night, Witch searched her cottage for her broomstick.

“I’ll turn into a pumpkin if I don’t ride before midnight!” she cried.

The potion-packed pantry contained no broomstick.

 Clock chimed eleven.

 Witch searched closets, finding only skeletons.

 Five minutes till midnight! Beetle boogers!

 She tugged the attic door.


 “I’m NOT coming out,” declared Broom.

 “I hear brooms burn!” threatened Witch.

 “Dare you!”

 She threw a ball of bats at Broom.

 Broom ducked.

 Witch struck a match, cackling “Fire!”

 Clock chimed midnight.

 Lightning zizzled! Flames flared, blazed and baked!

 “I smell cinnamon,” sniffed Broom. “Yum! Witch pumpkin pie.”





And just in case you haven’t had enough of pumpkins, several hundred showed up at the Hoes Down Harvest Festival in early October…

IMG_3183IMG_3178 IMG_3170IMG_3180 IMG_3176

Josephine Baker Rocks!

11 Jun

A fabulous illustrator, Christian Robinson, recently held our school’s “itchy-britches-is-it-summer-yet” children spellbound.

Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 1.15.05 PM

Christian Robinson

Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 1.32.18 PM

Drawing activities

Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 1.33.18 PM

“Draw my voice”

If you aren’t familiar with Christian’s work, you should check out his website and marvel at his range. 

And if you happened to “Google” anything on this past Martin Luther King Day, you most likely noticed Christian’s “Google Doodle,” honoring Dr. King.

But I digress. I want to highlight a post from an indie book blogger, The Picture Book Life, that shines the spotlight on Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker (recent recipient of a Horn Book Honor).

Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 1.05.34 PM


The Picture Book Life justifies the claim that many picture books are not “just” for kids.

I’d had a conversation with the Chronicle Books Children’s Editor, Melissa Manlove, earlier this year at an SCBWI event. She said that if someone had told her she’d fall in love with and want to publish an 4,000 word children’s picture book about a woman who was famous for dancing without her clothes—well, you already know the end of what she was going to say.

Josephine Baker was ever so much more than that. Josephine is lyrically written and fabulously illustrated and should be a “must read” addition to everyone’s shelves. Check out a detailed review of the book, complete with illustrations, at The Picture Book Life

Celebrate Dueling Doodlers!

8 Apr


My 10-yr-old son, the cat lover


Mike Allegra (HeyLookAWriterFellow), the rodent lover


Mike posted the “naughty kitten” doodle he drew (reluctantly) for my son, and in return, Mike received a tribute to furry creatures with front teeth that never stop growing.


Celebrate Mice!

Celebrate Mice! (Watch Your Tail!!)

My iPhone photo of a copy of the original turned the cheese a bit green, but I’m sure the mouse doesn’t care.

Mike is still waiting to tear into the chocolate I sent him for winning the What Do David Shannon and My Son Have in Common?  competition, because he gave up chocolate for Lent, poor guy.

Sniff, sniff, as the mouse says….Better check your cupboards, Mike, to make sure the chocolate hasn’t been nibbled away by those nefarious critters! (Or your son)

What do David Shannon and My Son Have in Common?

19 Feb

According to my 10-year-old son, the American Revolution can be distilled to four panels (click photo to enlarge):


History of the American Revolution

He loved drawing this cartoon and spent a couple of joyful hours completely absorbed in his work. Note that the Loyalist character’s voice comes from off the page, showing how the Loyalists either operated under cover, “lost their shirts,” or returned to England.

But it wasn’t until much later that he noticed that the British musket in the second panel doesn’t match the musket shown in the fourth. He asked if this was a big mistake. In his case, I said “no,” but then I went on to describe a recent case taken from the adult world:

David Shannon gave a keynote talk this past weekend at the Golden Gate SCBWI conference where he showed his book, Duck on a Bike (2006), to the audience. Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: