Two Picture Books I’d like to Recommend

An illustration by Jez Alborough for Duck in the Truck. Notice how the muck spills out of the panel?

My youngest daughter brought home a book the other day titled Duck in the Truck by Jez Alborough.  Here it is on Amazon.  Look at the preview and you can see some of the images.  What I like about it particularly is the way he laid it out.  The illustrations themselves are great, energetic, expressive scenes worthy of admiration on their own.  However, the layout is what struck me.  See, he laid the illustrations out in panel style a bit like a comic strip.   The text is in the white space underneath each panel, which is very easy to read (I always appreciate that).  But what I liked best is that as it gets further into the book and things get hard and messy and chaotic for the characters, the scenes start to spill outside of the boxes.  They don’t obscure the words at all.  Those are still in white space, but the panel boxes seem unable to contain the action and muck.  Then when things calm down, they scenes are neat and in their boxes again.  I just really like how the illustrator did that.

My Cat, the Silliest Cat in the World by Gilles Bacelet. The twist is that it’s not a cat.

And while I’m mentioning other illustrator’s work that I admire, I’d like to mention My Cat, The Silliest Cat in the World by Gilles Bachelet.  Here it is on Amazon.  It’s another one that my daughter brought home from school, but this one came home last year sometime.  Anyway, this story would be really inane without the illustrations.  It’s this guy just talking about the normal, weird things his cat does in a day.  But the twist is that the illustrations aren’t of a cat at all.  They’re of an elephant!  That makes all the difference!  So, it’s like this guy doesn’t know that his cat is really an elephant.  I think the elephant thinks he’s a cat too.  It’s really funny to see the elephant doing all the things ascribed to the cat.

Mommy Moment: Quart Milk Jug

Today I went to the grocery store and one of the items I needed was half & half. I usually buy the store brand (which comes in a tall cardboard carton), but I saw this instead. This is a quart milk jug. One that looks like a baby version of the gallon milk jug. You can’t see, but it even has the little handle around back, just like the big ones.

And you say, “Yeah. So?” First off, this may be a common container some places, but our local dairies don’t seem to use it. Today’s the first time I’d noticed it and I go to the grocery store all the time. It’s kind of neat.

The reason it’s neat is that I have little girls who are of an age to still play with a toy kitchen set. This quart milk jug is the perfect size to use as an accessory for that. So, once I’ve used up the half & half, my girls are getting a new toy milk jug. They’ve already asked me if they could have it, in fact.

Just a little mommy moment I thought I’d share.

Oh, the image came from the Roberts Dairy website, since that’s the brand I bought. It’s not my photo.

Macro Photos of Flowers

I just came back from a family trip up to Wisconsin.  Since the kids wouldn’t have the patience to wait for me to draw pictures of the things I saw, I took photos instead.  Even that tried their patience a bit, but they lived through it.  🙂

Here’s a collection of close-up flower shots I took.  Both garden flowers and weed flowers.  And three that aren’t actually flowers, but they are plants.  I don’t know what all of them are, but if you recognize one that isn’t labeled, let me know.

Some of these are available as prints.

Let’s Talk Nooks

I know, I know.  Isn’t this supposed to be an illustrator’s blog?  Well, it’s mine, so I’ll veer off the topic when I feel like it. Today I’d like to talk about my nook.

I had a 1st generation nook with 3G. I must say I was pretty impressed with Barnes & Noble’s customer support. My original never had working 3G and they replaced it, no questions asked. Well, it was in the warranty period, so I suppose they were just honoring that. So, no serious brownie points there. Still, I appreciated it.

For more than a year, I hummed along with no complaints about my nook at all. I love the eInk. I love being able to bring all my books with me wherever I want to. Especially on vacations. I love the “Don’t Panic” bumper sticker I put on the cover because I thought it was funny. (If you don’t get the reference, go read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. You will thank me.)

But a couple weeks ago I had another problem. Somehow between page turns something broke in the screen. (No, I did NOT drop it!)  There was a stripe of the screen that wouldn’t refresh. Effectively obscuring the first character or character-and-a-half on the lower half of the page. It was annoying to read that way.

So, I took it to B&N, knowing that at a year and a half of age, the thing was out of warranty. They confirmed that the screen was broken and I’d have to buy a whole new nook. However, they kindly offered me what they called an out-of-warranty exchange. This is a deep discount on the price of a replacement Simple Touch to replace my broken 1st gen. I could have a $30 reconditioned one or a $50 new one. Since I was resigned to paying $139 for a new Simple Touch Glowlight (or $99 without the glowlight) I figured that was a pretty good deal. Plus, I’m cheap. So, why pay $99 when I don’t have to?

I ordered the replacement and a new cover for it. I got both of those in the mail today.

A few things I didn’t realize about the nook Simple Touch.

  1. Simple Touch (and Simple Touch with Glowlight) do not have 3G. Bummer. But I don’t use it THAT often. So, deep breath, relax. I can deal.
  2. It does not have any games. I’m not talking about anything sophisticated, but my 1st gen had Sudoku and chess. I liked my little Sudoku game. *sigh* But it’s a eReader, not a gameboy, so I’ll suck it up.
  3. It has no web browser. I was in disbelief over this because I knew I’d talked to someone awhile ago after the touch screen first came out and she said it did have a browser. Am I remembering wrong? No, I am not. It used to have a browser. Not a good browser, but a browser none-the-less. But some internet research has informed me that it no longer exists. B&N took the web browser off of its Simple Touch.This is really annoying. The 1st gen had a rudimentary browser which was useful when traveling and away from the computer. We don’t have any smart phones or ipads in our house and I rarely take the laptop out with me. So, the 1st gen’s browser was kinda useful on occasion.

So, why am I not feeling all disappointed over my new nook which isn’t living up to my expectations?  (Okay, I am a little disappointed, but not too bad.)

‘Cause now I have a really good excuse to try rooting it.  If all goes well, I’ll end up with an eInk tablet.  If not, I end up with a $50 brick.  What do you think?  Should I void the warranty?  *evil grin*

SCBWI Illustrator’s Critique Blog

I wanted to share a link with you all.  Illustrators for Kids is a place where SCBWI illustrators can share their work and receive constructive criticism from their fellow artists.  If you’re a SCBWI illustrator, please join us and share your work.  If not, you’re still welcome to come in and let us know what you think of our stuff.