Tae and Sha

Tae and Sha under the cherry blossoms, thirty years ago. By Taeeun Yoo~

I have read about women artists who’ve lived together in a hazy creative dream—even for a short spell. Trina Schart Hyman, Tove Jansson, The Red Rose Girls…It’s always made me envious and a bit sad that I didn’t have it for myself. As much as I have tried to live an interesting and free life, when it comes

down to brass tacks, it’s been pretty conventional so far. Or maybe, I’m just too close…too entrenched to see the real charm of my youth that I will appreciate in later years.

My dearest Taeeun is living with me for a couple of months. Her being here has opened a window for me. It is our art dream to work alongside oneanother in a shared studio. We wake up together, exercise together, work together, share books, take walks, and inspire one another each day. It is perfect, for a spell. In a couple of months she will go back to her home in Seoul with her husband. I will travel with her to finally meet Seoul, but after a few weeks will come back to my home and adjust to being quiet again.


For now, we will work and document our time, and be thankful that our lives have led us to this.

*dreamy sigh*

Reading under the Stars

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Yesterday I read PLEASE, LOUISE aloud with students of The Wilkes School at Grace & Saint Peters and Midtown Academy. It was an enchanting afternoon sitting under the stars of Enoch Pratt’s Night Room chanting aloud the text from PLEASE, LOUISE. After we read together, I shared a bit of my journey as a young reader and artist along with a conversation about where ideas come from and how long it takes to make a book. And of course, there were plenty of questions that followed. At the end, I did a live draw of Patrick, a second grader I believe. Unfortunately, though, most of the students didn’t think that I nailed his likeness. Tough crowd ;-). Afterward, I signed about 60 books and gave away posters and bookmarks to all of the students who attended. What a great celebration of PLEASE, LOUISE and the power of reading!

A SUPER THANK YOU goes to the amazing Deborah Taylor, Coordinator of School and Student Services, who graciously offered her support of this launch and a second super THANK YOU to Dr. Carla Hayden, who provided each child with their very own  copy of Please, Louise. Dr. Hayden believes that children should not only have books available at their neighborhood library, but that they should also have books in the home. I concur! Thanks also to Selma Levi, for all of her support and for sharing the space with us!

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Exchange of the day:
After passing out books to everyone at the beginning of the presentation, one young man just couldn’t believe his luck.
Him: “I can keep this?”
Me: “Yes, it’s yours.”
Me: “Yes, forever.”
Him: “Whoa.”

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Special shouts out to the two big kids against the wall, literary homies, Mathew Olshan, and Jonathan Bean who came to show their support!

Craftsy launch!

Happy Day! Today my online Craftsy class, The Art of the Picture Book launched!
Check out the commercial and head on over to Craftsy to join us in adventures in storytelling.
(An addendum—WHITE WATER takes place in 1962, not the 1950s. Please forgive me of the faux pas if you enroll in my class)

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Show me your stories!

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It’s finally here! A few months ago I flew out to Denver and joined Craftsy.com, an online learning community, to share my knowledge and love of picture book making. My class, The Art of the Picture Book, will be available online on March 18th! To celebrate the release date, I am giving away a free class!

All you have to do, is follow this link and enter your name and e-mail address.

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The class is available to you indefinitely. Once you sign up, you have access to the information and activities forever! :-)

This is a great class for those of you who want to make picture books but aren’t sure how to get started. It’s also great for younger students who enjoy storytelling and drawing.

Good luck to you!


Happy Bookday!!!

Today is the official release date of PLEASE, LOUISE. I have been buzzing with excitement all month and am thrilled that many of you have joined in spreading the word about the new book. To help welcome Louise into the world today, check out this fun birthday video! Congratulations to the contest winners. Thanks to everyone so much for sharing your stories and love of books, there were so many worthy winners. I hope that the book will inspire that same love for other young readers!


Your Dreams, My Nightmares interview

While in NY for the SCBWI conference, I snuck away to spend a bit of time with two of my art homies, Jillian Tamaki and Sam Weber. They ambushed me and forced me into recording an episode of Your Dreams My Nightmares. You may listen to the hilarity here.

Please, let me apologize for a huge faux pas. Lift Every Voice and Sing was written by James Weldon Johnson. I mistakenly said that it was Langston Hughes during the interview.

From the site:
Your Dreams My Nightmares is an audio side project hosted by Sam Weber
Your Dreams My Nightmares is available as a free podcast via itunes.
Your Dreams My Nightmares is on Sound Cloud.
You can follow us on facebook and Twitter

For the time being any inquiries can be directed to (917) 719-0086

Louise Updates

Drum roll please…….

Ms. Toni Morrison will be sending me three signed copies of the book. One for me, and two for you lucky contest winners. Soooooo, get those entries in to win a rare signed copy of PLEASE, LOUISE hot off the press! You may leave your library story here.

Big news came in today for our Louise. My publisher has just informed me that PLEASE, LOUISE will be translated in Japanese!!!!!!!!!! My first translated book. How awesome is that? Konnichiwa, Japan!!!

Only a few days left to celebrate Louise’s book birthday. I’m over the moon with excitement~

SCBWI recap

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Student Scholarship winner, Jaime Kim’s SCBWI assignment, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”

IMAG2595I spent last weekend in New York with over a thousand authors and illustrators. The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators held its annual winter conference. Members span the globe and were fully present at this weekend’s events. I was in observer mode mostly and didn’t get into meeting and greeting many people, but I did get to speak to a few familiar faces over the weekend, most specifically, the wonderful Pat Cummings.
Lin Oliver invited me to join the phenomenal team of artists and authors  this year to join a panel titled, The Art of the Picturebook. This was my first conference, and boy was I overwhelmed.

After spending the first day taking copious notes at the Illustrator’s Intensive, I spent the evening in bed with a migraine. Fortunately, Jaime Kim, this year’s SCBWI Student Scholarship winner, and MICA student, was gracious enough to grab ibuprofen for me. I was planning to head to the fancy publisher’s cocktail party to see my editor and others, but couldn’t make it out of my bed. So sad.

a ballroom full of eager creatives

a ballroom full of eager creatives

Saturday morning’s keynote was Jack Gantos. I want to read all of his books now. What an engaging, smart, and funny guy! If you ever have a chance to see Jack Gantos speak, do it. You do have a chance to read his books, so do that first!

I won’t get into too many details from the weekend, mainly because I am exhausted. Tomie DePaola had a talk with Cecilia Yung on Friday, which was amazing. He was followed by Brett Helquist and Paul O. Zelinsky. I attended a workshop on Writing Historical Fiction, by Kendra Levin,  (for one of my students) which was super informative. Jack Gantos blew me away with his humor, and Kate Messner was inspiring with her talk on failure.

Friday morning illustrator's intensive

Friday morning illustrator’s intensive

Alongside the conference events, I was able to sneak on down to SVA and share some love with Marshall and Kim. Another SVAMFA2005 grad, Marion Vitus was also attending the conference and headed on down with me. Marshall and Kim are gearing up to celebrate 30 their 30th year! What a legacy.

1921074_588741191200099_1116955442_oOn Saturday I skipped out of the afternoon breakout session to go and hang out with Sam Weber  and Jillian Tamaki. Look for a fun chat between us on Sam’s podcast, “Your Dreams My Nightmares”. After the big social gala that evening back at the hotel, Jaime and I walked over to The Plaza Hotel where I indulged in a lobster roll and cupcakes from BILLY’S my favorite cupcakery. What bliss!

My panel on Sunday was a blast! How often do you get to hang out with Arthur Levine, Marla Frazee!!!, Raul Colon, Oliver Jeffers, and Peter Brown? It was huge fun! I am so grateful to have been asked. My proudest moment was at the end of the talk where I was able to ask what type of paper people used. Many conference goers came up to me after and let me know how much they appreciated that because they always want to know what materials everyone uses. Even as a professional, it is always on my mind as well. We had a swinging autograph party at the end of the afternoon, and then I headed home and prepared for my Monday morning class. Needless to say, I am wiped out.

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Illustration power panel led by a rousing version of Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” sung by Arthur Levine.

 CONGRATULATIONS to our wonderfully talented Jaime Kim! She was granted full access to the conference and had her portfolio reviewed by art directors. The large stack of postcards and business cards she left behind were gone by the end of the weekend. Keep a lookout for this one!


Tomie DePaola, Lin Oliver, and me!

Tomie DePaola, Lin Oliver, and me!

 For more conference goodness, check out the SCBWI Conference blog!


Living the Dream!

SCBWI, baby!

I joined SCBWI when I graduated from college back in the 1900s. Tomorrow, I head to NY for my FIRST EVER SCBWI conference. It will be in intense few day of workshops, including an illustrator intensive on Friday that will cater to specific issues of illustrators. I don’t speak until Sunday, but as a presenter, I will have access to all of the weekend events! Mostly, I am excited to take copious notes and share what I have learned with my students. So, if you are in NY this weekend, join Peter Brown, Raúl Colón, Marla Frazee, Oliver Jeffers, and me on Sunday for a KEYNOTE PANEL: The Art of the Picture Book in the Empire State Ballroom Moderated by Arthur Levine, Vice President and Publisher of Arthur A. Levine Books, an Imprint of Scholastic Inc.

Peter Brown

Marla Frazee

Raul Colon

Oliver Jeffers

Arthur Levine


Here is a great lineup of the conference events.

Before you go, check out the PLEASE, LOUISE book contest! 12 days left to enter!

Joy Becomes Her GIVEAWAY

Meg Guerrier, at Joy Becomes Her reached out to me on Etsy last month to join her in promoting black owned businesses on Etsy. In order to win my Spring Splash print plus a host of other lovely items on Etsy, all you have to do it follow the makers on their various social media outlets. The bundled prize package is valued at $200. The contest will start Feb. 10 and end Feb 23rd (winner being announced on the 24th)! So, head on over to Joy Becomes Her and enter to win!