Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Epic Illustrator Rob Peters

Rob Peters has wonderfully expressive characters in his drawings. I've been following Rob for a while now on Instagram. I love his dedication to drawing every day. He creates such wonderful characters for all his work. There are so many pieces of his that I love and I don't think that I could pick one that I like best. If I did choose one, then it would probably be the Smart Dummies logo he created for this event. Of course I'm a bit biased on that one. 😂 I also love his illustration from "Little Red Riding Hood". So many people have done illustrations for this book, but I find that I just adore Rob Peter's illustration. He brings a fresh look to an old favorite!


Dani: Could you share with us a couple important things you need before creating an image/book for a client?

Rob: I always like to start with the technical specs—page size, number of pages, etc. It’s good to get that out of the way first.

Then I want to know about the story from the author or editor—NOT necessarily the plot, I’ll get that later when I read the manuscript, but what the author feels and thinks about the story. What the tone of the story is—what it “feels” like. Much of my work is with self-published authors. Since self-publishing can be a big commitment, most of these authors are incredibly passionate about their books. Learning why they’re passionate about that specific story can help guide my art.

For example, I was contacted a few years ago by an author who wanted to know if I could draw a swan for their book. I responded with a small sketch of a swan. The author told me that my swan didn’t fit the book’s tone and would look elsewhere for an artist. I tried to explain that I didn’t know anything about the book or the intended tone, but it was too late to change their mind.

Dani: In an epic battle who would win: kittens or puppies?

Rob: I imagine it’ll play out like any superhero battle from the comics I grew up with—they’ll fight to a draw and then team up to stop their real enemy—squirrels.

Dani: What's one thing in the illustration process that takes you the most time to do?
Rob: I think the coloring stage takes the longest because there’s the most variables there. A good drawing with a good composition can become a mess if the colors aren’t right.

Dani: Out of all the Daily Drawings you've done which series is your favorite?

Rob: For those that don’t know, I post a Daily Drawing online every weekday morning. These a little line art pieces relating to a monthly theme.

It’s hard to pick a favorite but I think Elephants and Monkeys are somewhere at the top of my list.

Dani: Your artwork is very expressive. Do you have any tips for adding emotion to art?

Rob: Use the whole body when showing emotion, not just the face. A happy character might stand a little straighter and have a broader stance while a depressed character might curl up and draw in on themselves.

Smart Dummies Logo Contest Winning Entry!

Dani: What are you working on now?

Rob: I just finished up illustrating an ABC animal book “Finding Your Best Furever Friend” which the publisher, Ascend Books, plans to have out by Christmas. Beyond that, I’ve been working on a few ideas for a dummy book of my own which I’ll get started on very soon...


Follow Rob:

Website: http://www.rob-peters.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RobPetersArt

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/RobPetersArt/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RobPetersIllustration/

Monday, September 17, 2018

Limited Palette—Unlimited Storytelling Potential by Sarah LuAnn Perkins -- Plus a PRIZE!

Sarah Luann Perkins is one of the wonderful people who have devoted their time to help with Smart Dummies. She has given lots of great ideas, so some of the changes I've made over the past few years are thanks to her! I absolutely love Sarah's work. Recently she's been doing gorgeous images but by using an extremely limited palette. I thought that she might be able to give us all a little bit of wisdom from her experiences!


Limited Palette—Unlimited Storytelling Potential

So often when we think of products, books, and art for kids, we think of a fully saturated rainbow of colors. And there is nothing wrong with that—unless you’re using it as a default. Is that bright, “kid-friendly” color scheme really serving your story? Maybe it is, but maybe your story needs something different.

Wait a second, you say. We’re just making a dummy right now. A dummy is sketches, not fully colored art.

Well… you have a point. But color is an amazing tool for visual storytelling, and thinking about it early in the game—even if it’s just to write little notes to yourself on your sketches—can only improve your ability to communicate your story.

To see great examples of color in storytelling, I automatically think of film—which isn’t to say that there aren’t many examples of great color in picture books, but inspiration across mediums is always a good thing.

I love this short video which shows the basics of how filmmakers use colors to give different moods to different types of films/scenes.

To me, color in picture books is like a soundtrack for a film. We can’t use real music or sound to emphasize a moment or convey a mood—color is the tool we have available for that job.

But color is a tricky thing. It can mean different things to different people. In one story, red might represent love, while in another it might represent anger. Another artist may just use red to bring your attention to what is important in the illustration. None of them are wrong. But choosing color with intention is the key—if you are deliberate in how you use your color, viewers of your art will respond.

There aren’t any rules about how you have to use color to tell your story, but here are a list of questions you can think through to make sure to use color in your storytelling to its greatest potential:

Did I choose this color by default (i.e. getting out your “grass green” crayon to color the grass) or because it makes sense for my story?

Do I need a full range of colors for my story, or can I choose just a couple to get my ideas across?

What is the overall theme of my story? What colors would emphasize that theme? Are there any that would contradict or dilute that theme?

What is my conflict—are there two sides that could each have a color? Is it an inner conflict that could be reflected in surrounding colors?

Are there different places, important groups of things or characters, times or day, or seasons which could be emphasized through specific colors?

What are the important transitions in my story—location, mood, character? Could I use color to emphasize those transitions?

Could color be used to heighten my climax in any way?

Can I use color to direct the eye to the important parts of the illustration? Where do I want readers to look first?

What colors could I leave out to better emphasize the overall mood and theme of my story?

And, last but not least:

Do I like the colors I’ve chosen?

I hope that having these questions in your mind as you create your dummy will help you use color to your advantage.

What picture books do you think use color particularly well in their storytelling? Is that something you’ve ever paid attention to before? Tell us in the comments!

Happy sketching!

Sarah LuAnn


Follow Sarah:


Twitter: https://twitter.com/SarahLuAnnArt

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sarahluannart/

Shop: https://www.inprnt.com/gallery/sarahluannperkins/



One lucky winner will win an 8x10 print from Sarah!*

*Shipping on this prize is limited to the US.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Look at the Week September 15- 21

If you started working on September 1st today you start working on your dummy drawings!

If you started on August 1st continue working on your dummy drawings this week!

Today it's time to start finishing your dummy drawings. These drawings are probably a bit tighter than you'll want for your drawings. I would work to make sure your images are clean, the backgrounds are white and the characters are easily identifiable. These images were taken with a camera but the best way is to scan in traditional images is with a scanner.

I hope you are enjoying Smart Dummies so far and if you have any questions go ahead and ask below!

Friday, September 14, 2018

Share Day!

Fridays are share day! This is work from people who have signed up for Smart Dummies. So much great work here. Links to more work is under each photo.
Sue Macartney www.suemacartney.com

Tamar Dolev -- https://www.pawpawdesigns.com.au/

Larel Aylesworth -- http://www.laurelaylesworth.com/

Arthur Haywood -- http://www.arthurhaywood.com/

Tara Santoro -- https://imaginationcreationsbytms.com/

Tara Santoro -- https://imaginationcreationsbytms.com/

Katie Carrberry -- www.katiecarberry.com

Lisa Burvant http://www.burvantillustration.com/

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Big Blue Writer - Anita Miettunen -- Plus a PRIZE!

Smart Note: Start Loose Drawings - Page 19

I'm so happy that Anita Miettunen can be on my blog today! It's always exciting when I get to interview a friend that's also in my SCBWI chapter. I was invited by Anita to an event at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum in 2014. Anita told the tale of "Big Blue Forever" during the event and it was fantastic! I admire Anita for all the research and work that she put into this book.

Check the end of this post for a PRIZE!

For Smart Dummies you can create a non-fiction dummy. This dummy can be illustrated or it can be from photographs!

Dani: What was it that led you to write "Big Blue Forever?”

Anita: I first met Big Blue’s skeleton in 2013 as a volunteer at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum at the University of BC. I was awestruck! Her size was mesmerizing and I became curious about her story: where did she come from, why did she die, and how did she come to be in the museum? As I learned more, I felt children would love to hear her story and a book would help make that connection. I have a science background and interest in biodiversity along with a passion for writing so it felt natural to write this book, which eventually came out in 2017.

Dani: How much research was put into your book?

Anita: Lots! The more I developed the story, the more research I did. For instance, I realized that to capture the essence of what it was like to dig up the skeleton (it had been buried for over 20 years) and reconstruct it, I needed to interview people directly involved. This provided me with insights I wouldn’t have otherwise had such as what a buried whale smelled like! I also connected with a few international whale researchers, searched for various media accounts of the blue whale project, read scientific literature and reports, and tracked down individuals who had either taken photos of the beached whale or who were in the photos. I was fortunate to be able to review the museum’s photo archives and also took my own photos of the skeleton in the museum. A lot of people supported my research efforts through their interest and kindness.

Dani: What's one thing you'd like to learn (or learn to do)?

Anita: I'm always interested in exploring new illustration and photography techniques. Right now, I’d like to improve my narrative skills in cartooning.

Dani: Where was your favorite vacation?

Anita: In August 2017, I spent an incredible 17 days in Rwanda with three friends. We organized this adventure with a guide and it included some hiking, camping, kayaking and biking. A friend who had visited Rwanda for work inspired me to go when she mentioned how vibrant the country was through its post-genocide rebuilding efforts. She was right. Despite the severe trauma of the past, there was an air of hope, positivity, and amazing entrepreneurial spirit amongst the people we met that touched me deeply. The basic infrastructure was modern, it felt safe, and we were able to truly get off the beaten track to see a part of the world that’s just opening up to eco-tourism. I would love to return.

Dani: Why are picture books important to you? 

Anita: I love both text and visual communication. The magic that results from combining these two elements in picture books is the best of both worlds. Picture books are accessible on different levels to all ages and backgrounds. Depending on the picture book, they can be entertaining, fun, educational, and of course deeply enjoyable for their artwork (or photos). They can also be a powerful way to open up discussions on topics that may be difficult to otherwise access. The options are endless.

Dani: What's next for you on your writing journey?

Anita: I have various picture book manuscripts I need to dust off and find the time (and courage) to keep on submitting until they find a home. I also have lots of ideas for more books but these are mostly on hold; my main goal this year is to complete my draft of a young adult novel I'm writing as part of my Masters thesis in children’s writing at the University of British Columbia. This is an entirely new writing experience for me but I’m excited about my project.


Follow Anita

Webpage: http://www.anitamiettunen.com/books/

Facebook: anitamiettunenauthor

Twitter: @anitamiettunen



Dani Duck: A portfolio website critique (or help setting up your online portfolio),

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Hedgehog Queen Emily Wayne and a PRIZE!

Smart Note: Adj: Finish Dummy Drawings -- Page 19

Emily Wane is simply amazing. I'm not sure if it's the hedgehogs or her artwork that makes her so amazing (the hedgehogs give her the edge either way). I love all the adorable artwork that Emily does. I have the sneaking suspicion I met Emily first on #kidlitart chat. It's hard to say, but I do know that her and her hedgehog love have left quite the impression.


What makes a successful illustration? If you asked ten different people, I imagine you’d get ten different answers. And they would certainly all be valid, because everyone places importance on different aspects – but for me those aspects are the two E’s of Expression and Emotion. When you boil an illustration down to its essence, you’re going to strip away the setting, the props, the clothing – and focus in on your character; what are they thinking, and what are they feeling? A beautiful scene, skillfully rendered – while pleasing to look at, will still fall flat without emotion. But a standalone character with a spot-on expression will succeed, even on a stark white background in the absence of any setting at all.

Let’s start with Expression. Your character’s expression says a lot about who they are. What they’re thinking and feeling, and how they’re reacting to what’s happening around them. This doesn’t have to be complicated at all. Sometimes even the simplest things can convey the most. Take Jon Klassen for example; he does so much with so little. Most of his characters don’t even have other facial features, but with just the slightest change in his eyes, he can make a complete shift in the character’s expression A bit wider, a bit narrower, moving the pupils from right to left or top to bottom – it really doesn’t take much, but it’s crucial to get that little bit right.

Like a lot of other artists, I use myself as reference most often. If I need to get an expression right I might make faces in the mirror, or take a picture to study from. But even without looking at a reference, I can get an awful lot of what I need by feeling it. Need to make a character skeptical? Make that expression yourself, and really feel what’s happening in your face as you do. Notice how your eyes narrow down, and your mouth goes flat. Your nostrils might flare, and maybe one eyebrow goes up. That’s a wealth of information right there, and you haven’t even seen any of it, but you know exactly how to convey that expression now, because you know what it feels like to make it, and which parts of the face you need to adjust to get that expression across in a drawing.

Now let’s move on to the real MVP – emotion. Emotion can certainly come across in an expression, but you can’t rely on an expression alone. What if your character doesn’t have facial features? Or what if it’s not even the character you’re working with, but you want to infuse setting or background elements with extra emotion. So much of that emotion is expressed through body language. Perhaps you’ve seen the flour sack example used by Disney animators to show how you can give even an inanimate object emotion simply through body language. I’m going to use a slightly different example here with this adorable ravioli that my friend and teammate Priscilla Alpaugh  created based on Disney’s flour sack because it’s just so cute, and I love any excuse to put in a plug for one of my pals.  Another great example of this same principle that I will grab from Disney is in Aladdin. Who else loves Aladdin? It’s one of my all-time favorites. And Carpet is a fantastic example of the importance of body language to convey an emotion; he has no facial features at all, but you always know exactly how he’s feeling all the same because of the way he moves.

Think about this in the same way as I mentioned with expression earlier. What emotion are you trying to convey? How do you move when you’re feeling that way? Pose yourself as you would your character, and feel into that emotion. What does it look like to be excited, or angry? You’re probably very rigid, with straight bold lines full of energy. What about sad? You’re going to be slumped over, with more curves and softer lines. Exaggerate those action lines to really dial in the emotion. Think about the overall shape of your character, but don’t forget to consider all the small movements that can also carry emotion

Animals are often my subjects of choice, and they’re a prime example of this. How does a dog show emotion when it’s happy to see you? Its ears perk up, its tail is raised high and waving frantically. What about when it’s made a mess and is sure it’s going be scolded? Its ears droop, and its tail hangs low and tucked between its legs. How about a cat, who’s scared of that dog? Its fur bristles up, it arches its back, and its tail stands straight up. Or if it’s angry, it might pull its ears flat and back on its head and twitch just the tip of its tail. Animals show emotion in a million tiny ways, and while we as humans can’t move our ears up and down (well most of us can’t!), and don’t have a tail to twitch, there are still plenty of small ways that we show emotion in our bodies as well.

Start paying attention to yourself as you go about your day, the ways you move your face and body depending on how you’re feeling, and use that knowledge to draw upon the next time you’re looking to add a specific expression or an extra bit of emotion to your illustrations.

Bio: Emily Wayne is an author, illustrator, storyteller and artist, a kitty lover and a hedgehog enthusiast, a curious human, a Wonderland-obsessed princess of positivity, and she may or may not be related to Batman – shh! She has more books than bookshelves, and hoards art supplies like a dragon hoarding gold. She is based in beautiful Western, MA where she lives with her human family and a small zoo comprised of a Chihuahua, two cats, two hedgehogs, a conure, a cockatiel, and two lovebirds.


My Links:

(or https://www.instagram.com/emmarooooo/ if you want to see a gratuitous amount of hedgie pics)



Emily Wayne is giving out a prize! This 5x7" illustration could be yours. Just leave a comment and enter the rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Make a Splash in Illustration with Mark Mitchell -- Plus a PRIZE

Mark Michell has been posting for the Smart Dummies challenge for several years now. Mark always creates such wonderful posts for Smart Dummies. Not only that, but his newsletter is has been very inspirational for me. I have learned so much from Mark's newsletters over the years. One thing we haven't talked about is his course and his Group Guest Critiques, both of which are amazing but you don't have to take my word for it! Here is the link to the course: https://daniduck--marksandsplasheslearning.thrivecart.com/make-your-marks-and-splashes/ (If you use this link to sign up it helps out Smart Dummies and me personally!)

Don't forget to check for a PRIZE at the bottom of this post!

- - -

Dani: First things first: How did you get started with your website and courses for your “How to be a Children's Book Illustrator” website?

Mark: The original course in late 2009 or 2010 was a set of homemade web pages.
It was based on classes I've been teaching for years at the Art School at Laguna Gloria in Austin, Texas. I wrote out the lessons, trying to get words around the ideas.
They were on the site in PDF format. Later I added little videos for a 'multi-media' experience.

Dani: What are a few things that you've learned from the Group Guest Critiques?

Mark: Guest Group Critiques are a separate offering from the online course, which is called Make Your Marks and Splashes.

In the original Marks & Splashes course, we had a live group critique component. But I was doing all the critiquing. After a few years, I started bringing in other illustrators to be guest teachers so we could hear new ideas and different points of view.

Because of the expense involved in that, we've since pulled Guest Group Critiques away from the course and made it into its' own separate subscription product.

It's a way for students to continue with live sessions after they've 'graduated' from the Marks & Splashes main course. But we also let non-alums, non-students subscribe, too.

To answer your question, what I feel I've personally learned from these guest sessions is what a vast variety of art styles and approaches exist in children's publishing today. And how practically anything goes, as long as you can make it 'work' through fun storytelling and the classic design principles.

Dani: How does “Group Guest Critiques” help illustrators with their craft?

Mark: First, it provides challenging Illustration prompts every month from guest instructors – who are published illustrators or author-illustrators. (Sometimes they're agents, art reps, or art directors.) Their prompts nudge you to create new work or make that portfolio piece even better. Plus they're a good, consistent practice opportunity for you, as are similarly repeating programs like Illustration Friday or Inktober.

Second, the critique, if your piece is selected to be examined in the live session by a professional. Plus the reactions and feedback from the community group via the lively text chat each session. You have lots of eyes on your piece when it's up.

Third, tips and tricks. Every critique has an instructional component. Guest critiquers teach a lesson or give a little talk before they go into the critiques when they pick about 10 pieces to discuss from the submissions.

All of this prepares you for that big SCBWI conference where you're bringing work, or that all-important postcard or PB dummy mailing.

Dani: What's new for the Make Your Marks and Splashes course in 2018?

Mark: It's graduated up to a WordPress membership site with everything in one easy place. All the original lessons videos are there. And new videos on best 2018 practices for marketing and promoting your art and resources available.

The original Drawing (Marks) and Painting (Splashes) modules have added new videos – workshop, interview and/or critique videos with illustrators and author-illustrators.

The Find Your Fit module, about promoting yourself to agents and publishers has added videos on marketing best practices for 2018), resources available for artists and writers and hours of workshop and interview videos with six agents, five art directors and four publishers and self-publishers.

A new module, Julie's Story Town focuses on picture books. It's about building your dummy and secrets to incorporating story craft into your illustrations. This module has videos (ranging up to two hours long) with 10 author-illustrators.

The new course also features live group homework reviews – monthly events starting this month [Septmeber] – to make sure that everyone who wants the feedback is on track with her lessons. We're introducing a five-month semester cycle on these.

They're not the elaborate critiques of the old days, because that's what the
Guest Group Critiques and Workshop Series like the Drawing Children series we did and the workshops we're doing now with the Girllustrators are for.

Instead, the homework reviews are to check off on your submitted homework, so you'll know when you've 'got' the idea and skillset of each lesson and exercise – or you don't and it's time to try again.

Dani: What are some of the things that illustrators will learn in “Make Your Marks and Splashes?'

Mark: They'll learn a natural approach to illustration that removes needless struggle and guesswork from drawing, composition and color planning. This approach also shows you how to make the most of what you already have working for you in your art.

They'll learn to become comfortable and confident with traditional watercolor painting.

Confidence results in more beautiful pictures. With the basics handled (drawing, composition, and color) you can enjoy the process and give the lion's share of your attention to where your greatest value as a children's book illustrator lies – your characters and storytelling.

Dani: How is “Make Your Marks and Splashes” different from other courses out there?

Mark: The ones I know of out there are all good, provide plenty of value for the investment and are all a little different from each other.

What distinguishes this course, I think is its emphasis on the 'natural method' based on the ideas of Kimon Nicolaides, Betty Edwards, and others.

The confidence this method gives you frees up your creativity and uniqueness, which makes the method ideal for children's book illustration.

Also the many classroom-tested lessons on painting in traditional watercolor, which can help you with any kind of painting.

And the sheer number of original videos. The course holds more than 100 videos immersing you in the world of making art for children's publishing, including sessions with 50 illustrators and author-illustrators who work in a variety of media (including digital) and styles.

Years in the making and doing, Marks and Splashes is an old-fashioned art class at heart – except the pictures you create are children's story scenes.

My students have ranged from beginning artists to MFAs, living in just about any country in the world you can imagine. Many have since had their work published.

If you'd like to receive email notifications about this and other Marks & Splashes offerings and new blog postings, sign up here.

* * * * * * * *

Mark is the author-illustrator of "Raising La Belle: The Story of the La Salle Shipwreck", which won a Spur Award from the Western Writers of America for best juvenile nonfiction book. He has also illustrated and written other books and for many children's magazines.

Mark G. Mitchell


Follow Mark:

To join the course: https://daniduck--marksandsplasheslearning.thrivecart.com/make-your-marks-and-splashes/ (If you use this link it helps out me and Smart Dummies!)

Blog: http://HowToBeAChildrensBookIllustrator.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MarkGMitchell



Marla LesageA Portfolio Critique OR Dummy Critique!

You must finish your dummy to win this prize!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, September 10, 2018

The Miraculous Mira Reisberg - - Plus a PRIZE!

Smart Note: Adj. Stepping Back  -- Page 5 Tomorrow: Reg. Emotions and Poses -- Pages 12-13

I love that I've been friends with Mira for a few years now. She has helped out with Smart Dummies since the beginning. Her help with this event has encouraged me to work harder year after year to make Smart Dummies an event that helps other illustrators. I see all the work Mira does in helping other people with their work through her free webinars and everything she does.

I've seen many webinars that Mira and the Children's Book Academy has given over the years. I've learned a lot from every one of her webinars. These are the types of courses to take. Learn from people who honestly want to help people and will give out free information. Unfortunately I hadn't had the opportunity to take her classes until just recently. So far it is absolutely wonderful! I'm having a lot of fun. I promise to do a full write up on the course once it's all done. One thing I will say now is that her illustration course fits in perfectly with Smart Dummies. Sign up for the mailing list so you can catch the next illustration course!

Check the bottom of this post for a PRIZE!

Dani: What are some of the things Illustrators and writers should look for in an online course?

Mira: First of all, thank you Dani for inviting me to be a part of your wonderful challenge. As you know, there are now many online courses available, which can make it a bit of a challenge in terms of which course to choose. The first thing you want to look at is how qualified the person is running the course or school in terms of both education and how many books they’ve published as well as the quality of testimonials speaking to both the instructors teaching style and the content of the materials that they share. You want to find out how substantive the course is - is it described as 10 weeks but it’s only one lesson a week spread out over time or how many lessons will you actually be receiving? Are you someone who needs the support of an interactive environment where you are given guidance and lots of interaction or do you prefer a go it alone approach? If it’s the former, choose a highly interactive course but if you prefer to go it alone, go for an instant access course. Besides the lessons and the teaching, what other resources will the course be providing to help illustrators and writers meet their goals and dreams? Finally, does the teacher have any kind of track-record of helping people do great work and get published? I think these are helpful questions to consider when looking for an online writing or illustrating course.

Dani: How should one prepare when taking a class on the computer? 

Mira: There’s not a lot of things you really need to do to prepare for an online course other than make sure you have decent internet or can have access to somewhere with good internet like a library or café. With an interactive illustration course that has a beginning and end date for interaction, you need to have a scanner or access to one, or be pretty good at taking digital photographs of your work so that you can share it for feedback. Apart from carving out time to take advantage of the course and have working tech – a reliable computer, Internet, scanner etc. you don't really need that much.

Dani: When working online what's something that people tend to forget?

Mira: People often forget about the importance and vibrancy of community in online courses. You can form or take part in really robust groups where you make friends with people all over the world, join critique groups that go on indefinitely, and support each other in realizing dreams in a myriad of ways including getting marketing support from your peers after you get published. Having taught both in universities and online, I was very surprised to find this. The other thing I realized was that I could bring infinitely more resources online than I ever could teaching in person. That was a big surprise. Being a bit of a resource queen, I love this.

Dani: How does the Children's Book Academy help writers and illustrators hone their craft?

Mira: Pretty much all of the above plus, because of my intensive educational background, and my PhD work in developing a pedagogy of pleasure through children’s literature and art, I like to think that we are pretty expert in teaching in a fun and in-depth way. I love co-teaching with other experts, often from within the publishing world and am proud to say our former students have won just about every North American award and published around 230 books. We also provide lots of bonuses and exceptional resources helping you directly connect with editors, agents, and art directors through critiquing webinars and skip the line submission opportunities. For me, this is not just a business, it’s my life’s work - helping others create wonderful meaningful or fun-filled kid’s books, and getting them published.

Dani: If you could only give one book to a new author/illustrator what would it be?

Mira: Voices In The Park by Anthony Browne is one of the most brilliant children’s books ever published in terms of learning voice and how to layer in social justice themes like class and gender without being heavy-handed. It has equally extraordinary multi-layered illustrations that reference art history. Here’s a review of it if you want to find out more. And while the review doesn’t talk about the super smart way that the book subverts gender roles and addresses class it does give a glimpse of why it’s so brilliant. I also think younger readers will appreciate it too because of the language and art, even if they don't get all the layers. https://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-7894-2522-5

Another favorite is I See The Rhythm by Toyomi Igus and Michelle Woods. This is another perfect mix of art and words with a multi-layered approach to African American history and music that is relevant for all kids. Here’s a review for that, which I wish mentioned the relevance of African-American music on the history of North American music in general, but still gives a glimpse of why it’s such a great book https://blogs.iwu.edu/edu320spring14clrb/2014/04/03/i-see-the-rhythm/

Finally, I have to give a shout out to Mac Barnett who is such a clever wordsmith and whose books always make me laugh.

I hope this interview has something helpful for someone. Thank you Dani and thank you everyone here for reading this.

Mira’s bio

Over the past 30 years, Dr. Mira Reisberg has worn just about every hat in the children’s book industry including award-winning illustrator, author, and children’s literary agent. Mira holds a PhD in Education and Cultural Studies with a focus on Children’s Literature. She taught university level children’s book courses before starting her own international online school – the Children’s Book Academy http://bit.ly/CreateKidsBooks Mira’s students have published or contracted over 230 books and won just about every North American children’s book award. Her first edited and art-directed acquisitions at Clear Fork/Spork will be available at the end of 2018 and early 2019. She feels very grateful to help make the world a better and more joyful place through children's books. If you join her newsletter tribe, she will send you wonderful goodies bit.ly/CBA-Gift

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