Ten writers for children. All with something to say.


Some beans to spill...

This has been a busy week. I'm the 2010-11 Harney County Writer in Residence, which means I'm in all the schools around here for the next several months, even some of the one-room schoolhouses. Yes, you heard me right. There are still one-room school houses here in Oregon for ranch kids who live in the middle of nowhere. Which means I've felt a bit removed from the writing community in Oregon, because everything seems to happen in Portland, about a 6 hour drive from where I live. But I'm feeling a bit more part of things today, because I just found out my picture book A Small Brown Dog with a Wet Pink Nose is a finalist for the Oregon Book Award.
You can read about all the finalists here: www.oregonlive.com and even vote for your favorite among the finalists, which will then be awarded the first ever Reader's Choice Award.
The awards ceremony is April 25th in Portland. I plan to go, but between now and then I have a few things to do, including school visit trips to Brazil and China. Not to mention I have a novel to write. So back to work for me...


plork is . . .

the intersection of work and play. I've been doing research on designer/inventors Charles and Ray Eames for a possible picture book biography. For this husband and wife team, work and play were one and the same. They only took on assignments for problems that interested them, but then they kept refining solutions for decades.

Here is a link via poet and friend, Laura Shovan, about plork and revision in writing. "Plork is what happens when writers feel free to experiment and to play. Possibilities open up. That's when you get someplace new."

More musings:
"Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life."—Confucius

"The more I want to get something done, the less I call it work."—Richard Bach

"Man is most nearly himself when he achieves the seriousness of a child at play."—Heraclitus

"Work and play are words used to describe the same thing under differing conditions."—Mark Twain

Tomorrow, children's book creators, Ashley Wolff, Julie Downing, Elissa Haden Guest and I will meet for our second annual January Jubilee (we all have January birthdays). Yesterday I played hooky. I have sketches due for a book, but instead I was hard at work at play—treating myself to a day creating mini collage-painting portraits to give as gifts. Shhhh, don't tell! Today, refreshed by yesterday's play, I'm back to more plork.


Donna Erickson, creative parenting wizard

For many years, before her column began using photographs instead of artwork, I drew illustrations for Donna Erickson's nationally syndicated newspaper column on creative parenting. When I checked my files, I discovered I had illustrated over 800 columns, as well as eight of her books. Whew! Homemade Silly Putty, clever ways to wrap gifts, fun and unique kitchen recipes, I had the fun challenge of illustrating them all. I drew things I never expected to draw (empty walnut shell pilgrim-ship table name cards) and things I never thought I could draw (step-by-step folding instructions for turning a used greeting card into a miniature gift box). It was a wonderful opportunity for me, and one of my first illustrating experiences when I began my career.

Although I don't have any children of my own, Donna's creative parenting ideas made their way into my own life. When my best friend and I took long car trips, I'd use Donna's idea of making Travel Bags (sacks with fun, silly surprises to be opened along the trip) to relieve the monotony of dull stretches of travel. On New Year's Eve, I used Donna's idea of making homemade "cracker" party favors for my book club, filling empty bathroom tissue tubes with candy, lottery tickets, and personalized fortunes. Who says you have to be a parent to have playful fun?

It has been several years since I've illustrated her column, but this past week Donna featured my new book 1 + 1 = 5 and Other Unlikely Equations in her column. It was terrific exposure, and a nice way to make an appearance in her column again, not as an illustrator, but this time as an author. It also brought back good memories of Travel Bags and homemade face paint. Thanks, Donna!