Archive for the ‘BOOK REVIEWS’ Category

Chapter Books for the Younger Kids: Revised.


A couple years back, I created a list of chapter books that were suitable for very small children to have read to them. We are big readers in our house!  If you were to come over right now, you’d see bookshelves everywhere. And we could use more….there are books on the couch, the coffee table, the kids’ beds, and even on the kitchen counter.

My husband started reading chapter books to the kids when they were as young as age 3. But we found it difficult to find advanced books that were suitable for children who weren’t even in kindergarten yet!

So, we visited with our librarian, asked other parents, and put together a list.

And it was so helpful for so many! We had over 110 comments of other parents pitching in their ideas. It’s been a long while, but we thought we’d put that list in a single printable PDF  for you to bring with you to the library:

click here to download


It’s a 5 page document full of awesome titles. It’s been so helpful to have on hand!

With the weather a little dreary and cold here, our “library” room is getting used quite a lot.


With the weather a little dreary and cold here, our “library” room is getting used quite a lot.

Thanks for all your input, and happy reading!!


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GIVEAWAY 4: The Girl Who Wouldn’t Brush Her Hair


Today’s giveaway is an exciting announcement.

Jake Parker, one of my kids FAVORITE illustrators (remember Awesome Man?)  just came out with another book this week.

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The Girl who wouldn’t brush her hair is seriously a charmer. A must have if you have any girls in the house.


Besides the fact that the illustrations are amazing, and the story is so darling, this book will make a hair brusher out of anyone.


Take Ella. My 4 year old has the longest, most gorgeous hair, but she has refused to let me brush is for seriously the past year. It’s no joke a project to get her to sit still every night and comb through it, which always resulted in the rats-nest-super-tangled-BUN-hair-do.

You know what I mean?

Enter Jake’s book.


The story is about a girl who refuses to brush her hair, and mice start to make a home in her locks (rats nests), which at first is rather entertaining, but by the end she isn’t a big fan, resulting in The Girl being a devout hair brusher. It’s hilarious.

And works like a charm:)

Ella has brushed her hair every day for 2 weeks now after getting the book, and wears her hair in braids every night. No joke. She’s a new woman, and I have this book to thank for it!

For today’s giveaway, Jake is giving away 1 signed copy of the book! 


1) Leave a comment below. Maybe a funny brushing hair story? I’m sure you’ve got one.

2) Entries open until Sunday September 15th, 2013

3) One winner will be chosen and announced September 16th

And be sure to spread the word….good books deserve a proper shout out!

Make sure to check out the other giveaways going on right now, with one last final one coming tomorrow!

Enjoy!! I can’t wait to hear how you like the book!


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GIVEAWAY WEEK: Sewing Tales to Stitch and Love


Hey, Hey, Hey!

This week I’m hosting some amazing giveaways from some of my amazing sponsors. I’m so excited to share them with you!

Each day this week, you will have the chance to enter a new giveaway! So come back every day for a new gift! Details are at the end of this post.


Today’s giveaway is also a big shout out for a new sewing book!

Do you know Kerry at Kidgiddy? She is a super star crafter, and has JUST come out with a sewing book you are going to love. With a forward by Heather Bailey, this book is full of adorable creative soft toys and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

The book releases October 18th, and so this is an early, signed by the author early copy! You can also pre-order the book here.


I am always on the look out for new soft toy and doll patterns. This is sure to hit the spot!


So fun, right?


KID GIDDY is giving away one copy of the book, and entries will be from the comments below.


1) Leave a comment below


2) Like KIDGIDDY’s Facebook page and leave a comment below telling us that you did

3) Follow KIDGIDDY on Instagram with a comment below that you did

4) Entries close Sunday Sept. 15th

5) USA and International entries accepted


Launching a new book is such a big deal. It’s a labor of love, and I’m so thrilled that I can be part of getting the word out. Kerry is such a talented crafter. I’m so excited to get my hands on these patterns!

And remember to come back daily for a new deal! I’ll go through all the giveaways at the end of the week, and announce the winners Monday Sept. 16th.

Have fun!!




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On Style.


When I knew I was going to be an artist, around age 6-7, I wasn’t on a quest to find  my STYLE. It sounds silly. What child it on a quest to find their style? They are just interested in finding anything.

I was.

To an extent.

From an early age, I knew that if I wanted to learn how to draw a tree, first I had to sit and look at a tree. And draw it while I was looking at it.

But then I realized, that there were many ways to draw that same tree. With a painbrush. With a pen.

With short stubby lines. With long fluid ones.

Each attempt made me feel something different about that tree.

Being exposed to a lot of art as a child, I soon realized that every artist had his own voice, and I became thrilled with so many forms of art.

I get asked a lot how I found my STYLE, and while I won’t mention it all here (way too long!) I will say that I did have a very strong sense of what I liked in art and why.

I started out painting because that’s the education I had at a young age.


The above painting is a painting I did when I was 15, and I spent the summer copying lots of different artists. This is a painting of a painting, and in my early years, that’s how I taught myself.




Here’s a portrait I did of my husband when we were early married. But I realized pretty fast that I didn’t want to go into painting because it was just too time consuming and frankly, wasn’t what I wanted to SAY to the world. But because I had dabbled in lots of areas, I knew that about myself.

But while I had a traditional education in highschool, I knew that wasn’t my style. I liked it, but it wasn’t my voice. And with the hours and hours I’d spent pouring over picture book illustration, and drawing with line and wash, I really found myself drawn to a more simplistic illustration style. I marveled at how much feeling could be felt in just a few lines and a bit of color. While an oil painting could say so much, I wanted to say just as much if not more, with as little as possible. Which is so challenging. But that’s what excited me!

i love you

When I started to build my artwork professionally, I spent a lot of time surrounded by my favorite illustrators. I discovered what I loved about their work, and what I had to add to that style.

take me for a

One hero of mine, Marc Simont, just died last month at the age of 97. Did you hear about that?

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He taught me that so much information could be said by just ONE line. Less is more. His artwork challenged me to really be deliberate about my line work and how much art I put on a page. I adore his work!

I have so many hero’s, and I might take some time later on to go through more. And identifying the pieces that have made your voice what it is, is really lovely to identify and see. Like pieces of a puzzle. Because often, you don’t know what’s influenced your style until after the fact.

Finding your own personal style, in what ever it is you do, is a multi-layered journey. And I believe it should always be stretching and reaching for new places. My own style has changed over the years, and I love discovering where it’s leading me.


And as a side note, my friend Monica Lee, who has the super awesome site called SMART CREATIVE WOMEN with a site full of interviews from the design world’s super creative people, has just launched an online class called SMART CREATIVE STYLE. It’s an interactive online course all on developing your own personal style. I have a video interview up on her site today talking about creative process and style! The course includes my input and is full of amazing council from some real style pro’s. See her page here!

I’d love to know your thoughts on style, and what you’ve learned in your own journey. In this day and age when SO many voices are heard and seen online, knowing your own individuality is so important.

Isn’t it?




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Did you know that the Caldecott & Newbery Book awards were announced this morning?

I wanted to post them here as soon as they were announced. Have you read these yet?








sleep like a tiger cover






So exciting! I’m super thrilled for Jon Klasson…I’m sure it feels absolutely SURREAL to win a Caldecott AND a Caldecott Honor book in the same year.

I’d rush off and get these from the library if I were you before they are stolen off the shelves:) Do you have a favorite of these? I’d love to hear!

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French Kids Eat Everything

Guess what I got in the mail on friday! I went to my door step to find one big box of my new fabric collection (more on that later…) and a box full of the book that I illustrated just a few months ago! Talk about good mail days lately:)

I’ve mentioned French Kids Eat Everything before, and now it’s finally time to introduce you to it. It will be your new best friend. Seriously. It’s Karen’s story of moving to her husband’s native France, in a small town, and adapting (albeit unwillingly) to the culture of food in relation to parents teaching children how to eat. It’s amazing. This is really aimed at parents and how to see family eating in an entirely new light. I got a copy of the manuscript for me to review, and I almost had to remind myself to stop reading and start drawing cause I loved it so much.

Here are some pics from the book that are my favorites.


It’s such a charming and witty story Karen has: adapting and learning how to change her parenting based on all the good she sees in children there, and the way they think about food.

Things like no snacking (it spoils your appetite for the main meal!)  No upsetting pressures to “eat all your food” at the dinner table. No bribing with food, and how to really enjoy a family meal…most nights of the week.

We’ve implemented most of the rules now for a while. The children are so much more aware of what they eat, how they eat and are so much more respectful of what they eat.

When the design team decided to put this inside illustration onto the back cover, I kinda freaked out. Only because this is exactly how I write things at home…my own list making handwriting. So it was a bit shocking to see my own “undesigned” handwriting on the back cover of a book. I don’t know…kinda like seeing yourself on TV or something….it just feels weird :)

I hope you enjoy reading it. I’d love to know your thoughts! Karen has a blog, and is very passionate about giving information to parents on how to make changes in the American culture that we live in.

And did I mention that there are recipes in the back?

Um. Yes. There are recipes. Simple, flavorful, perfect for kids, meant to be savored recipes.

(But I have to insert an EDIT HERE: The book very strongly encourages healthy, whole food eating for families. And while this recipe is a dessert, most of the recipes and information in the book suggest that the French eat a wide variety of foods and focus on quality ingredients. This recipe has 3 ingredients: Fresh eggs, semi-sweet chocolate pieces and orange zest. While it’s a treat, it’s served in very small quantities and is meant to represent the idea that even deserts use whole food ingredients, rather than processed and overly sweet. I must add this disclaimer, as I’m not going to review the entire book for you, and don’t want you to think that this is some kind of “eat what you want” book. Rather it’s meant to encourage real cooking and whole, unprocessed foods in schools and at home.)

The book is full of experiences and information about feeding your children “real” ingredients, real food, and how children learn to appreciate food and ingredients. And I have a certain new favorite recipe now.

Kenneth is always coming up with amazing food around here, and I’m rather spoiled. Like, as I’m writing this, he just came down to the studio with a slice of a new bread he tried out: his own variation of the Amish Friendship bread. But honestly…sorry Ken.  The Mousse au Chocolate recipe in the book that is honestly my favorite dessert now. Hands down.

The kids agree.

It takes maybe 10 minutes to make, so simple and outright sinful.

Anyways…I was so lucky to illustrate a book that I was completely in support of. I’d be writing about it even if I wasn’t ask to illustrate it…just not this early…cause it comes out next week.

(And I need to say too, that I don’t get a cent more if you buy it. I am just really happy to have come across this book!)

I’m just so grateful to have been part of this experience. I’m not always proud of things I do…I’m really critical of my work, and I take great thought into what I choose to spend my time on. So opening that box of printed pages on friday was a real treat. I really hope that this helps parents find new ways to have genuinely happy eating as a family.

Bon Appetite and Enjoy!!

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Book Giveaway #4

I’m saving the best for last folks.


Every boy wants to be a Super Hero. It’s true. No way getting around it.

You’d never believe me if I told you this book is a 5 year old boys dream book. My 5 year old loves being read to, but would rather climb trees and save the world than sit down for 15 with his own book to read out loud. The Astonishing Secrets of Awesome Man is the first book I’ve seen him with in bed, in the bathroom, in his hideouts, and reading after school for reading homework. He loves a good book..but this is the first one I’ve found him wanting to READ himself. It has power, I’m telling you!

Awesome Man is written by the Pulitzer prize winning Michael Chabon

Illustrated by a new friend of mine Jake Parker, we actually have a signed copy…which Ian proudly shows any friend who comes over. It says “You’re Awesome, MAN!”

Why do I love this book?

It’s a classic Super Hero book told from the perspective of a 5 year old boy. Complete with words that every boy wants to use… but in the end…you realize that Awesome Man is really just a boy, and you see him hugging his mom in the kitchen. It’s absolutely Awesome.

Here’s a trailor of the author talking about and reading the book.


You get get the book here.

For the giveaway, USA and International Entries welcome!

To enter:

1) Leave a comment below

For extra entries:

2) Like this post on Facebook

3) Tweet #awesomeman  My twitter is here.

4) Leave a comment below with a link to your own individual blog, or facebook post (DO NOT comment with your Facebook Likes or Tweets. I’ll tally those up on their respective pages)



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Book Giveaway #3




OK. So, this isn’t exactly a picture book. I am stretching the lines here…BUT…this has got to be my favorite little sewing project book from this year.

Liesl Gibson…genius behind Oliver & S… has become a dear friend and she has done such amazing good for the world of sewing. Especially Children’s crafts. In fact, most of the clothing I see up in my FLICKR GROUP is a pattern from Oliver & S. And I don’t blame you. I love her designs.

This book is fantastic. Her projects are so well laid out, and since I’m shipping this tomorrow…you will most likely have time to make a quickie project by Christmas!




You can purchase Little Things to Sew here.


I’ll be shipping this book off tomorrow! International and domestic welcome….

To enter:

1) Leave a comment below

For extra entries:

2) Like this post on Facebook

3) Tweet #oliver&s  My twitter is here.

4) Leave a comment below with a link to your own individual blog, or facebook post (DO NOT leave a comment with notices of your twitter or facebook likes. Posts only. I’ll tally the tweets and facebook likes separate. Thanks!)

5) Visit the Oliver & S blog and say hello!



Congrats to #79 Shiying for winning!

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