Monday, September 14, 2015

The Indomitable Dr. Mira Reisberg: Picture Book Whisperer - Plus a Prize!

Mira Reisberg (the lady on the right) is a woman who needs no introduction, but I will introduce her anyway because that's my job. Mira has worn many hats including: Art Instructor, Children's Literature Teacher, Scholarly Writer, Blogger, Illustrator, Writer, and I better stop there or the whole post will just be a list of what Mira has done. It wasn't long ago that Mira started "The Picture Book Academy".  Since opening the Academy's name has changed to the "Children's Book Academy". This Academy has wonderful teachers and fantastic classes for Writer's and Illustrators of all levels.

One lucky person will receive Mira's Photoshop class as a prize. Details after this interview!

Check out The Craft of Illustrating Children's Books course:

How did you get started in Picture Books?

I’m one of those that creativity saved from a fairly young age. So I’ve always been fairly confident on that level. I really fell into making picture books through an exhibition of intense personal artwork where the publisher kind of discovered me. This was 28 years ago and from illustrating picture books I began writing and art directing and designing for the same press and also freelance editing. Over the years I taught in different universities and colleges and many of my students had great success, especially with picture books.

What is one important thing you learned in school?

I don’t have just one thing. With my BFA I learned art, computer, and design skills and with my MFA I learned to consciously work with ideas in art and how to do sophisticated things with computers. With my PhD program, I learned to be an organized creative and how to be a better writer. Writing a 370 page dissertation on kid lit required a lot of organizational skills to have it work well.

Tell us something you teach that's not normally taught in School/University.

Having been a university professor for kid’s book illustration and writing I got to create my dream pedagogy with the Children’s Book Academy. No grading, no one’s ever in trouble, you get to learn at your own pace with a ton of time flexibility and masses of interactivity. I was able to develop comprehensive curricula with industry insiders and guest presenters speaking on key concepts that teach students what they need to know to be successful and open all sorts of doors for them while also having lots of room for humanity, community, and communication. Something that’s impossible to do in a traditional classroom

What's the biggest mistake you find people make in their dummies?

The biggest mistakes I see are: A lack of visual pacing that creates drama or humor through visual characterization and design from page to page, literal translation of the text that doesn’t add to anything else to the story, and a distinctive illustrator’s visual voice that brings a fresh look to their genre.

Is there anything the Illustrators in this Challenge should know before continuing their dummies? 

If you don’t have lots of formal training or drawing experience, play with heavily stylizing your art so that flaws are less obvious. Also, if you can, hang all your thumbnails or sketches on a wall together so you can see how they flow and how you can make it more exciting with scale, point of view, perspective and contrast. Looking at all your work together will also enable you to see if your characters and settings are consistent. Another trick is looking at your work upside down. Dang there’s so much that I’d like to share. I hope that some of this is helpful.

Mira Reisberg is the Director of the Children’s Book Academy where she and other experts teach innovative community-based interactive and on-demand courses. In the past couple of years Mira’s former students have received over 40 contracts, become agented, won awards, and built careers in the children’s book industry. Her greatest passions are children’s books, creativity, helping others, and being in nature. Her upcoming course for fearful beginners, adventurous writers, and accomplished illustrators – The Craft and Business of Illustrating Children’s Books co-taught with Macmillan Kids/Farrar, Strauss & Giroux associate art director/designer Kristie Radwilowicz, looks like it will be the Academy’s best course yet with more extraordinary content, contributors, bonuses, and submission opportunities ever!

Follow Mira:

The Craft of Illustrating Children's Books course:
Children's Book Academy:



One lucky person will receive a free Online Photoshop Class!  In order to win this prize you must comment below and share this post on social media. Please comment with why you want to win the class. When you share, please let Mira know what you liked best about her post!  Winner will be drawn from those who finish their dummy this month!

If you post on Facebook, please use Mira's name @Mira Reisberg to tag her in the posts and also use the hashtag #CBICB.

If you post on Twitter, please tag Mira @Mira Reisberg as well as @ChildrensBookAc and also use the hashtag #CBICB


  1. As a motivated beginner, I feel like I have to learn a lot. While I can learn tons through books, websites and You Tube, being taught Photoshop by an expert is a treat and probably an eye opener. Gee, I would never think of looking at my illustrations upside down. I cannot wait to learn how that will help me finding a new angle or add originality to the drawings. I was glad to share the link, at:

  2. That photoshop course is on my must do list. Looks exactly like the one I need. Winning it would make my day!
    Happily tweeted! :)

  3. Photoshop has many features I have yet to explore - many of which I don't even know how to get to to even use. Mostly, I THINK I've found a way to execute a technique, but then don't explore any other way, which might even be easier to do, but I get stuck on one thing. I have so many ideas in my head, but need an expert guide to help me learn the right way. Certainly would like to win this class. Thanks for offering it.

  4. I absolutely loved the webinar that was given on Monday, Mira. I always find such a positive attitude from everyone (presenters - participants) in your webinars. I keep hearing so many wonderful things about all your courses. I hope I'm able to take a course soon. Have to wait until after baby, so I can give it my full attention. Thank you so much for coming on my blog!

  5. I warmly recommend Mira's course for illustrators. I learned a lot about how to make a dummy, a promotional postcard and an acquaintance with the US children's books market.
    The course was interesting, rich with materials and interviews with people from the industry.
    My first dummy is finished now and I'm on my way to the second one.

  6. Seeing since I didn't manage to finish my dummy, I'm wondering how much the course would be if you want to buy it.

  7. I think working in photoshop may be one way of actually being able to do the art for the picture books I have written. I have a problem with perception and eye to hand co-ordination, but would really like to explore alternative ways of making pictures for my books.

  8. I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to learn photoshop. My skills are 'old school' and I would really benefit from photoshop. I've already purchased Elements but I don't have a clue as to how to use it!

  9. I would LOVE to learn photoshop! I bought Elements and have no idea how to use it!