Sunday, December 29, 2013

Christmas Recap- Père Noël

On christmas day, Fred and I headed for the beach. As we walked along we saw this mass of people, mostly wearing white coming towards us. At first, Fred thought it was a funeral procession, but as they got closer, the children in the group sprinted out ahead smiling and giggling. Just to our right, Santa was arriving on a boat, got out and started handing out treats of some sort (we were not close enough to see just what). Then the whole procession with Santa headed back off to the left. An ice cream truck complete with ice cream truck music followed the, Christmas Mauritian style.  

So cool. I love the surprises here- everything is a new experience- even former Turkish monk- St. Nick. 

Setting Up in Mauritius

StudioSH (Studio Southern Hemisphere), is almost set up. We found a desk for me last week. It's beautiful- and so Mauritian. It was made from an old door- not exactly flat, but I have a piece of cardboard to place under my paper. I love it. 

A box for pencils I got at the market. "Ils Maurice". My big challenge now is setting up my work station with Apple's new Mavericks- I half wish that I didn't update my system. There are some really cool things about how it works, but my drawing tablet doesn't seem to think so with how it splits the screen in Photoshop. I also seem to have lost some of the custom brushes I made before- so I have to remember how I did them and remake them. 

The studio is nice though- quiet, because we live in the middle of this: 

A big sugar cane field. The sugar cane is half way to maturity. Fred says it will get much taller. 

I'm curious to find out how my work change over here. The colors of the island, the slower pace of things, the strange new creatures. The language. I spoke French fluently as a young girl, slowly the words are popping up in my brain...very slowly, so I also am doing some online French courses and of course, daily things like shopping present ample opportunity to learn. 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry, Merry...

Wishing everyone a very happy holiday! Eat, drink, hug your loved ones (virtually or in person) and be merry. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Hello from the Other Side

To be be honest, it is still hard to know what what day it is since arriving on Mauritius. Here are some photos of this beautiful and complex place:

So far so good, lots of cultural things to learn- don't want to be like the American character in Graham Green's The Quiet American. As Fred put it last night, we need to wrap ourselves in this place. More soon-

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Yoga SLO Style

I'm going to miss this place. 90 minutes, 105 degrees, nothing else to think about than focusing and then afterwards- the irritations, challenges and uncertainties of life seem a bit more manageable . Fred and I have been going since December of 2008- about 3 to 6 days a weeks- schedule allowing. The people who come here are among our closest friends- maybe because as you go through something so intense to do something good for you mind and body- yourself with 20-40 other people all going through their own life stuff - you bond. 

I wonder what kind of yoga they do on Mauritius?

Mind Afire

My multi-talented agent, Abigail Samoun- wrote this gorgeous book: Mind Afire , all about Nikola Tesla. 

Can you hear the drum beat on books and media trying to excite the next generation to explore and dream- to imagine a better world and to create it? 

We'll get around those trying to squish that with the truth is more interesting that fiction angle...not that I don't like fairy tales and imaginative's just that we have a planet to save.


My dear friend Terry (who is one of the most amazing people I have met), sent over a link to this man's work. The work is beyond incredible , but it was the quote she sent over that sticks with me today:

"It doesn't  matter much whether we rail against reality or endorse it; the universe is going to continue to unfold."-   Ran Ortner

Monday, December 09, 2013


The Sorry State of Planetary Science Funding In One Chart | The Planetary Society

My Sparkly Artist Friend

This afternoon I got to hang out with one of my younger girlfriends, Lucy. I've known this kid since she was born and she began life with the big personality she fully inhabits now- you go Lucy! 

We get together every now and then and draw. Today it was Princess Posey. And then Lucy ended her drawing time with a ta-da moment- the splits!


Trying new things, leaping- it's exciting and frightening and full of opportunity . We all leap in different ways at different time in our lives. Our leap to the other side of the world is happening in 5 days. 

When I arrived here, I know no one. And now, I am privileged to call some of the most warm-hearted, fellow leapers as close friends. Last night some of our little clan met- to connect before we see each other again- maybe on Mauritius, maybe here or who knows where.

Such a great night- moments of tears, lots of hugs- so lucky to have theses amazing people in my life. 

This Mornings TED Talk

When I get a chance to take a bath, I set up my iPad on a ledge and watch a TED Talk. This morning it was this beautiful talk. 

Thursday, December 05, 2013

10 days...

Going through the exercise of paring down and wrapping things up in one place to move to a completely unknown place (to me) on the exact opposite end of the world is what I've been trying to wrap my head around for the last few months- while wrapping up several book projects, parenting, and all of life's stuff. We all have stuff...

I'm fitting my literal stuff into 2 suitcases-we all are. Interesting to see what it all comes down to for the 3 of us- for me it's art stuff; notebooks, laptop, drawing tablet, paints, papers and books- pictures of books- I have beautiful books. I can't actually bring them, but pictures will remind me of them- I won't get to feel the paper, or interact with them...I have books from my grandfather that I know that he read and to touch the paper- well, it's a link. And I', brinking my snorkel and flippers to do some serious communing with the fishes. Anyhow- Tristam's priorities are Pokemon and Doctor Who by the looks of his pile of stuff . And Fred- I haven't seen his pile yet, because he packs last minute. 

I've been taking loads of pictures of books that I can't take with me and of art I made and forgot about...and pictures of textures and shadows and things I will miss here are home. I've been noticing sounds and small things like the the strip of sky I can see from the tall window in my studio. 

I'm drawing more now that isn't work related- for the first time in years. I'm looking at this time in Mauritius as a reset- revisiting ideas I have had about my life and work and trying to pay attention. I think this is going to be very good for all of us.  A move out of our comfort zone including new language and customs...

Captain Picard sings "Let it Snow!"

Something that made my geek self smile- 

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Mauritius - Schatzinsel im Indischen Ozean

In 10 days- this will be our new home- In 10 Tage wird dies unser Zuhause sein. 

We are each allowed 2 suitcases to take - mine are filled with painting supplies and computer equipment so I can set up shop quickly.  My French is so rusty! And from what I understand, I speak with a German accent- funny. I used to be fluent when I was a kid. I dreamt in French- and German and English...

This is a strange thing- see this? 

I got this as a gift from my sister over 20 years ago. She had gotten it as a gift and didn't really take to it- so now look at this  It's Mauritius. And I think it is pretty uncanny- don't you? Maybe it is my mind playing tricks. Je ne sais pas.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Olive Harvest

Every year, our good friends who own Wind Dance Farms in Avila Beach, have an olive picking day. They invite a bunch of friends and family to strap on buckets and head out into the olive orchard to pick every last olive off of their trees. 

Every year, Fred and I find ourselves chatting with people we would have never met about a crazy array of topics while gathered around and olive tree. I have to look it up, but Fred was wondering if the origins of offering an branch in peace may have something to do with  the social aspect to harvesting olives. During this particular harvest, they had an amazing guitarist serenading  us- in past years there have been other musicians. Two years ago it was the most amazing Mariache band. 

So, we start at 8:30 am and pick until it is difficult to find any remaining olives. Then the sorting begins- the squashy ones are discarded as well as any that have any pest issues or other issues because they will effect the flavor of the olive oil. In fact, when we are in the orchard, we are instructed not to pick the olives from the ground because if they have been on the ground longer than 24 hours they will effect the flavor. This turns out to be the reason why the harvest has to happen so quickly too. The moment they are picked, they start to oxidize. By 12:30, our friend Scott was taking the sorted olive to be pressed.

While the olives are off to get squished, the family feeds the harvesters. It's always delicious. 

The result  of all of this -  a beautiful, delicate, balance olive oil that has won awards and for the harvesters - new friends and shared memories. Good stuff (as my dad would say).

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Happy Carl Sagan Day!!

A Carl Sagan bobble head on my editor's desk. 

Somewhere something incredible is waiting to be known. - Carl Sagan

When I watched Cosmos when it aired in 1980- my world changed. After that my Dad handed me a copy of Brocca's Brain - my world view was permanently changed for the better.  


Commet Lovejoy

Beautiful and aptly named- (I'm thinking of course of Sharon Lovejoy )

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Quick Trip To NYC

The room from our hotel window.The main reason for my visit was to meet with my publishers.  See all of those water towers? I just wrote and illustrated a book with  scenes in Brooklyn, NY. Anyhow, I had thought that I had included an ample amount of water towers in my illustrations- after seeing this I added more. The funny thing  was that no matter how ornate or plain or rundown the building, they all had the same wooden water towers on top.  

Look at this! An elevator for cars. Have never seen this done before. 

The Highline- this wasn't built the last time we were in NYC in 2007. It's a transformative space to the neighborhoods that surround it. We loved it. 

Leonard Marcus put together an exhibit: The ABC of it: Why Children's Books Matter. Fred and I had so much fun going through and seeing original art by Ashley Bryan  (we both love him) the original Winnie the Pooh and friends and and entire room of rare and not so rare children's books was a total treat. I'll post more about it with pictures in an upcoming post. 

The Highline winds up taking you to the Chelsea Market- and to spices and oysters on the half shell and craftspeople and a great variety of things for the senses to be enlivened by. An this this horrible- possibly the WORST restaurant we have ever been to called TAO- which was an assault to the senses, food that tasted like old reheated chinese takeout with extra salt added (but placed on nice dishes), a thumping sound system so you couldn't hear conversation at your own table and really no thought to the diners' experience.TAO was in direct contrast to all of the other food we had on our stay- everything else was delicious, from the Korean BBQ to this gorgeous plate of carrots (yes carrots) that were the best carrots I have ever eaten because they were fresh and thoughtfully prepared. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Friday, September 27, 2013

I LOVE this idea! Name Hurricanes After Politicians Who Don't Understand Climate Change

I especially love the part about having to "seek shelter" from Michelle Bachman :) Made me giggle- perfect.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Sunhat

The Sunhat was released this last week and got a very nice Publisher's Weekly Review.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Maurice Sendak and Martha Stewart

So great! I have never seen him like this. 

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

A Strange and Wonderful World

A flowering artichoke in the garden, a coral in Tristam's fish tank, a child and space,  a Tardis and a whole world in books. 

The Adventures of the Doctor Puppet, a Doctor Who Fan Story! (playlist)

So cute!

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Virtual SCBWI

This year is the first year in many that I have not attended the Annual SCBWI LA Conference. An extremely busy schedule and the fact that I have seen many of the speakers before brought me to the decision to stay home this year. I have been following the action via the SCBWI Conference Blog and through friends who are there. The big meeting of our tribe- as Linn Oliver says every year. Miss all you so much! Next year :) 

Dear Mr. Watterson

Dear Mr. Watterson Teaser Trailer from Dear Mr. Watterson on Vimeo.

Thank You Children's Illustration Blog for the heads up- can't wait!!

Around the Studio

Spending lots of time in here this year...I think my yearly total for book illustrated (one illustrated AND written by me) will be seven- a record. Next year I hope to keep it to just 4, but we'll see. Fun stuff.