Monday, April 30, 2012

Around-the-world Pug

Ralph has been very busy as of late.
He Skyped with kids at the American School of Bangkok.
Here he is waiting for the video conference to start.

And here he is leading a talk about the creative process.

He was amazed that kids on the other side of the globe were reading Lunch Lady. And that they, too, adored Beverly Cleary's The Mouse and the Motorcycle just as I did as a kid.
Ralph also helped me test out the projector at the Texas Rangers' auditorium in Dallas.

And he's hoping to get hired as a lifeguard at the beach.

Ralph has also been doing quite a bit of hiking as of late.

(Insert Circle of Life here.)
Ralph even made a new friend in Peepy.

But really, mostly he's just been napping.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

IRA schedule and bookstore events in Chicago #IRA12

Next week, I'll be boarding a plane for the Windy City to yuck it up with reading teachers and authors from across the country. For those who won't be at the International Reading Association, I'll also have a few public events.

Monday, April 30:

11:00 AM – 12:30 PM
Program: Children's Choices: Visual Literacy Through Graphic Novels & Picture Books Equals Winners
Hyatt Regency McCormick Place, Regency Ballroom D
This will be a wicked exciting panel. I'll be joined by Michael Buckley, Sara Varon, Dave Roman, and Ben Hatke.

2:00 – 3:00 PM
Autographing in the Random House booth #1420, McCormick Place West

4:00 PM
Magic Tree Bookshop Event
141 N Oak Park Ave
(between Lake St & North Blvd)
Oak Park, IL 60301
(708) 848-0770
(Can't make it, but want a signed book? Give the store a call!)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

7:00 – 8:30 AM
Perfection Learning Breakfast
Hotel 71
71 East Wacker Drive
Penthouse Ballroom

I'll be talking about Lunch (Lady) while a bunch of people eat breakfast. And whoa - the Penthouse Ballroom?! Swanky!

10:00 – 11:00 AM Autographing in the Perma-Bound Booth #1142
McCormick Place West

In the afternoon, I'll be visiting the library of the amazing Mr. Schu (@MrSchuReads) via Anderson's Bookshop. Do you live near Naperville, IL and want to pick up a signed copy? Just call the store, they shall make it happen! (630) 355-2665

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Find me at the Albany Children's Book Festival this Saturday

I'll be helping kick off the festivities in Albany by participating in a panel entitled “Pencil to Paper: Inspiring our Kids to Become Wicked Good Writers”. It will be a day filled with a gazillion authors at the Albany Children's Book Festival on Saturday, April 28th. The panel will run from 9:30 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.

The whole shebang is hosted by the Albany Academies and will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Silipigno Athletic Facility at the Albany Academy for Girls campus, located at 140 Academy Road in Albany. (Please note that I won't be in attendance for the entire duration.)

I understand that the Tulip Queen will be in attendance. She'll be leading a storybook parade, so come dressed as your favorite book character! For those who follow me on this blog, you'll know that the Tulip Queen and I go way back. (Except for the fact that the guard changes annually...)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Flashes of LL yellow in New Hampshire

I had a great week of school visits in Merrimack, NH visiting with the students at Reeds Ferry, Mastricola and Thorntons Ferry Schools. Everyone went all out! Check out the Bagheads that arrived at my presentations:

The lunch ladies at all of the schools were gifted yellow aprons from the reading teachers. They certainly had fun playing with the kids' perceptions of them. They fastened Spork Phones to their visors, and even provided dinner theater, chasing teachers and librarians through the cafeteria at lunchtime!

Kids invented their own super-creative gadgets. Their brilliant ideas were posted at each school for all to see!

Every detail of the trip was so well-considered!

Thank you to everyone who made these school visits a reality!

Weekend events in Manchester, CT and Boston, MA

I have a busy weekend ahead of me!

This Saturday at noon, I'll be at the Manchester, CT Barnes and Noble to read books & help raise money for First Book.

On Sunday, I'll be hanging out at the Friendly Neighborhood Comics booth from 10am-1pm at Boston ComicCon.

Hope to see you around town!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Full-circle Baghead

For Read Across America Day, Maryn Shilale dressed as Baghead. Check it out:

The extra cool part about Maryn dressing up as Baghead? Her gandfather was my high school art teacher back at Holy Name Central Catholic High School in Worcester, MA. Here's a picture of me in Mr. Shilale's art room back when I was 14:

And it was around that time when he assigned us a homework project where we were to draw a still-life of a paper bag, using only brown paper, white chalk and black Conte crayon. Being one who preferred his art to have a narrative, I cut a face into my paper bag and drew this:

And years later, that still-life assignment would inspire me to draw this:

And now his granddaughter has dressed up as Baghead! It doesn't get much cooler than that!

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Melted down

It's been a week since Meltdown and 2012 proved to be yet another solid year with fantastic authors taking the stage. When G and I first thought about putting something like this together, we loved the thought of using our resources to connect our community with talented and engaging authors. What we didn't expect was that Meltdown, now in it's 4th year, not only connects our neighbors with these authors, but people from afar as well—some folks drove in from Boston and even further to attend. We also take great pride in showing off our community to the authors. We always try to get a good mix of locals (there are zillions of local residents with ISBNs) and out-of-towners to read from their books. And this year authors came in from New York, Philadelphia and even Los Angeles!

We also love connecting the authors with super-talented-local-hero-rock-star-morning DJ Monte Belmonte. Every morning on the week ahead of the Meltdown, Monte has a different author on his show. (Check the picture captions to listen to the archives.)

Here's a quick recap of last weekend's festivities:

Jeff Mack read from his hilarious Frog and Fly. Listen to Jeff talk on the radios here.

Eric Wight talked about (and drew) the fantastic Frankie Pickle. Listen to Eric on the radios here. 

Jane Yolen and Heidi Stemple got lots of little girls on stage and read from Not All Princesses Dress in sparkly crowns. Listen to the mother-daughter team on the radios here.

Stand up comedian author Lisa Yee not only read, but acted out scenes from her books with an unsuspecting victim volunteer. Listen to Lisa Yee on the radios here.

John Bemelmans Marciano is continuing the Madeline legacy and he's so good, that when the tech failed, he narrated the confusion in perfect rhyme. "And then the screen went blue...and no one quite knew what to do." Listen to John on the radios here,

G and I love bringing everyone together. Unfortunately, my dearest wife is very shy and refuses to take the stage with me when I introduce each author. She did, however, join me on the radio. You can listen to that segment here.

And let's not forget about the awesome music-side of the main stage. That's all strung together by the incomparable Bill Childs. The Meltdown certainly wouldn't stand on the legs that it stands on without him. He's a neighbor and a friend and we have so much love for what he brings to our community. Which makes our hearts so incredibly heavy that he is moving far away. But knowing he'll be back to help with future Meltdowns makes us more than just a little ecstatic.

Here's a video clip of the Deedle Deedle Dees on stage, joined by Eloise the Great and Eric Wight on the sketchpad.

Speaking of Eloise the Great, you may know her from the below video. Have you seen the below video? Well, you should because it is awesome. And because it is helping a small town get a new library. To put it bluntly: it has no running water. It's time for it to join the 21st century and with your (and our) help, it will. I rallied some illustrator pals to participate in aSketch-a-thon to help raise some funds. Thanks to Jeff Mack, Eric Wight, Casey Girard and Scott Fischer for answering the call!

After the Meltdown is over, G and I host the authors at our home. It makes Gina so incredibly happy to cook for everyone. She puts together a little special something to tie in with each author's book. Guess who the below spread was for?

If you guessed Lisa Yee, then you are correct! Peepy didn't seem too amused by my behavior, though...

Are you ready for Meltdown 2013? Well, then we'll see you on March 30th! 
(It's always the last Saturday of March.)

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

I just received a letter that I wish I could share with my seventeen-year-old self

Man, to be able to travel back in time and share this news with seventeen-year-old me. I remember it so clearly, coming home after school that day in the spring of 1995. It was my senior year and I had all of my hopes and dreams hinged on an acceptance letter form Rhode Island School of Design. Hence, it didn't come. Waiting for me on the kitchen table was a slim envelope with the RISD logo emblazoned on it. It wasn't the welcome packet I anticipated, but the rejection letter I had feared.

After spending my freshman year at the Hartford Art School, I reapplied and transferred in to RISD as a sophomore. I earned my B.F.A. in Illustration and was proud.

Recently, another small envelope from RISD arrived on my doorstep. This one, an invitation to display my work in an upcoming show. And it bowled me over. I'll be a part of an exhibit entitled, RISD ICONS: A Legacy of Illustration from Rhode Island School of Design. I'll be featured alongside other alums, like Chris Van Allsburg, David Macaulay and Shepard Fairey. The show opens on Wednesday June 13th from 6-8pm at RISD’s Woods Gerry Gallery. 

Needless to say, I am flabbergasted.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Puppets for Equality (for puppets)

I'm proud to have leant a hand to this very important charity by creating artwork for the single "Felt Around the World".

Puppets deserve out respect. Puppets shouldn't be tossed on the floor.

And these puppets are giving all of the proceeds of their single to St. Jude Hospital. Check it out at