Thursday, January 26, 2012

Illustration Friday # 14: TWIRL

I played with character and movement this week. I started with sketches of children twirling, and this went through many incarnations. Still not sure if this is my favorite, but it's 11:30 on Thursday night...  the next Illustration Friday is knocking on my door...

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Illustration Friday # 13: PREPARE (for Chinese New Year)

Chinese New Year is almost here. On January 23, 2012, why not join millions around the world who are welcoming the Year of the Dragon.
A few customs to help PREPARE for the New Year, and to ensure a prosperous and healthy year are:
  • Clean your entire home and put away all your brooms and brushes. 
  • Pay your debts.
  • Resolve difference with friends and family. (What a really great idea!)
When I illustrated Celebrating Chinese New Year: Nick's New Year, I was fortunate to be invited to the home of a Chinese American family. They shared the customs they follow with me, and posed  as models for my illustrations.

Here is one of the illustrations from the book.

illustration by Cheryl Kirk Noll

The text says, "Everyone gets a haircut and wears new clothes." 

This book was written by Rosa Drew and Heather Phillips, illustrated by Cheryl Kirk Noll, and is still  available.

"Celebrating Chinese New Year: Nick's New Year"

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Illustration Friday #12: GROUNDED

After all the family time during the holidays, I'm back to trying my hand at new work for Illustration Friday. This week's prompt word was "grounded." Watching my grand-niece, Zoe on the cusp of walking, I was inspired to illustrate this amazing process.

Gus is Grounded! Illustration ©Cheryl Kirk Noll

I am taking inspiration from a baby's tenacity with this task, and sticking to my task of working with watercolor and Photoshop. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

RI Mock Caldecott Award

I had a great time talking about children's books with a group of Rhode Island librarians this week at a Professional Development Workshop where we discussed and voted for the Mock Caldecott Award for 2012. The event was held at the stately William  Hall library on Broad Street in Cranston.

The Caldecott Medal has been given annually since 1938 by the Association for Library Service to Children (a division of the American Library Association) to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.
The real Caldecott Medal will be announced in Dallas at 7:45 a.m. CT on Jan.23, 2012, along with announcements for the Newbery Medal, the Coretta Scott King Book Award and Printz award. The books honored serve as a guide for parents, educators, and librarians. The awards are selected under a cloak of secrecy by national judging committees composed of librarians and other children’s literature experts.

Since I was giving a Powerpoint presentation about children's book design at the workshop, I delved into the criteria for this particular award. Here is my version of the criteria, condensed and simplified:

What is a "Picture book for children?"
• Children up to age 14 are an intended potential audience,
• The book displays respect for their understandings, abilities, and appreciations.
• The book provides the child with a visual experience
• It develops a collective unity of story-line, theme, or concept

Criteria to consider:
Excellence of pictorial interpretation of story, theme, or concept;
Delineation of plot, theme, characters, setting, mood or information through the pictures;
Excellence of execution in the artistic technique employed;
Appropriateness of style of illustration to the story, theme or concept;
Excellence of presentation in recognition of a child audience.

What makes a picture book “distinguished?”
Marked by eminence and distinction, excellence in quality.
Noted for significant achievement.
Individually distinct.

If you want to see the criteria in it's original form, along with all the Caldecott award and Honor Books for the past 75 years, click here for the ALSC site.

A tiny sample of the books that won the Caldecott in earlier years:

2010: The Lion & the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney (Little, Brown & Company)

1963: The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats (Viking)
1943: The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton (Houghton)


With the wealth of incredible artists who create stunning visual experiences for children, and stories and characters that ranged from hilarious to profound, the choosing wasn't easy. We started with 30 titles, and voted a bit hurriedly at the end, but these were the picks for this year's Caldecott from a small group of RI librarians and illustrators.

WINNER: Grandpa Green, by Lane Smith.

To read more about the making of Grandpa Green, you'll find a wonderful article and extensive photos on Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. This, by the way, is a site that children's book enthusiasts could study for weeks on end, it has such a wealth of information. To access the Lane Smith article, click here: feature about Lane Smith and Grandpa Green

HONOR BOOK: Me... Jane, by Patrick McDonnell
This beautifully designed book tells of Jane Goodall's childhood dreams, complete with  photographs and excepts from a diary she kept.

Me... Jane, by Patrick McDonnell

HONOR BOOK: Blackout, by John Rocco
This is the story of city folks who come out of their apartments when the lights go out in New York City. With a hybrid graphic novel/picture book look, the story is essentially one of family and community.

Blackout, by John Rocco

 Here is a trailer about "Blackout."

There are so many wonderful books to choose from. Go check out a few of them on your own!

Thanks to Cheryl Space for putting together such a great event, to Wendy and Walter for coming, and to all the book-loving and insightful librarians for a fun morning.
It will be interesting to see who wins on January 23.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Illustration Friday #11: HIGHLIGHTS (for Children)

For years now, I have had the privilege of working for the children's magazine, Highlights for Children. You've heard of them... Goofus and Gallant, the Timbertoes, and most notably, Hidden Pictures!!

from "The Tennin's Robe," Highlights for Children, copyrighted material

A version of this illustration appeared in the March 2008 issue of Highlights to illustrate "The Tennin's Robe, by Philis Gershator.  I later modified it to send as a holiday card.

Tennins are spiritual beings found in Japanese Buddhist art that have some of the characteristics of western angels. They can fly, and sometimes wear feathered kimonos called hagoromo ("dress of feathers").
Highlights for Children is a family-owned magazine, and they treat their illustrators like gold. Working for them has certainly been a "highlight" of my career.