Animal Faces

Featured Books / Inspiration

Above: raccoon page from Animal Faces

ruthie_lafond_satoh_kyoko_animal_facesI’m an animal fan (to put it mildly). When I came across this book,”Animal Faces by Akira Satoh and Kyoko Toda, I couldn’t believe my luck. It’s such a simple idea; take a bunch of portraits of one kind of animal and put them next to one another. What comes out is something truly amazing: we see how each animal is an individual. Personalities appear. The disparities in their markings or fluffier cheeks make a huge difference when you compare one to the others in her species. Read More

The Story With Endpapers

Featured Books / Inspiration / Interviews

Above: Endpapers for The Big Tidy Up by Norah Smaridge, illustrated by Les Gray.

I love opening a children’s book to find beautiful, surprising endpapers inside. Here’s a round up of some of my favorites.

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Checking in on Vine

Animation / Favorites / Inspiration

Above: still from Khoa Phan’s Vine, The magic water faucet

— Khoa (@khoaphan) May 23, 2013

The Vine app has come a very long way since I first wrote about it in March.  People are now “Vine famous” many with a few hundred thousand followers and a few with even a million. Most of the popular Viners seem to be the ones who use it for comedy; a short film with an unexpected punchline. People are remaking one another’s Vines, having video conversations, and even getting together in various cities to make a bunch of Vines together. Businesses are starting to hire Viners to promote their products and the Tribeca Film Festival writes regularly about their favorite Vines. Read More

I’m baaaaaaaaack!


Some of you may have noticed that I’ve been scarce around these parts for the past few months. Well, I’ve been on a sabbatical of sorts, working on a few time-chomping projects. More on that another time.

For now, enjoy this, my newest obsession. Ah, Tim Minchin:

Animal Stackers on Kickstarter!

Inspiration / Just Because / Videos

Above: Animal Stackers from Dan Nguyen’s Kickstarter page

I haven’t taken a look at Kickstarter in a while, and boy am I glad I did. Not only did I find the much needed Food Huggers (which could really help me out with my lemons), but then I came across Animal Stackers.  I love the stop motion animation in the video above. Poor snail got stuck in the tree – if only someone could help him get down.  Dan Nguyen can! I get so excited when a product is both useful and well presented. I like how a few simple details like the stripe on the snake, the turtle’s belly and the bison’s tail, can make those Tetris-like shapes come alive.

European toys, look out! There is finally a smart, well designed, functional wood toy (from renewable sources, no less) to compete with you.

For more info check here:

Author/Illustrator Abby Hanlon Shares Her Kids’ Drawings!

Guest Post / Inspiration

This week P&O is thrilled to have our friend, author/illustrator, Abby Hanlon, join us for a guest post. Take it away, Abby!


Abby’s twins. (click to enlarge)

My six-year-old twins are in desperate need of money right now to buy more Star Wars Legos. They have been thinking of ways to capitalize on the foot traffic on our busy Brooklyn block. The other night at 8:00 (bedtime) but still light outside, they convinced me to let them go out (in their pajamas) to set up a portrait drawing business. They brought an empty jar for money, a couple of clip boards, black pens and a stack of paper and sat on the stoop waiting for their first client. I listened from inside (feeling slightly mortified for them) as my daughter said in her most polite voice to the first person that walked by, “Excuse me, we are drawing portraits. May we draw you?” In 15 minutes, they drew three portraits and made two dollars.From inside, I listened to the small talk while each person waited for his/her portrait. Since I remained uninvolved, I don’t know what the portraits looked like, but nobody rang the bell to complain. Read More

Summer Events! Get out there and see some stuff!

Animation / Events

Above: illustration by Ruthie Lafond: “He Found Kitty”

Fisher from One Eyed Robot on Vimeo (see Animation Block Party below for more details).

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Behind the Scenes of What Makes A Baby: A Kickstarter Children’s Book

Featured Books / Inspiration / Interviews

Last October, Liz introduced me to a great book called What Makes a Baby, written by Cory Silverberg and illustrated by Fiona Smyth. (I talked about it in my post on picture books and doing it.) Cory’s book, which approaches the reproductive process from a more inclusive perspective, was a Kickstarter smash hit: $65,516 pledged of a $9,500 goal. The first, self-published printing of What Makes a Baby sold out and it is now in its second print run with Seven Stories Press.

So what’s it like to forgo the traditional publishing process and make a book through Kickstarter? We asked Cory and Fiona to tell us all about it.

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“Are you a Goop?”

Favorites / Featured Books

A few years ago I came across two of Frank Gelett Burgess’ books about the Goops at a small and wonderful library sale in Sherman, CT. I wanted to share with you Goop Tales because it is hilarious! It’s the 1973 Dover edition of the “unbridged and unaltered” original, published in 1904 by Frederick A Stokes Company. I can’t believe how current these old Goops seem! So what is a Goop, and more importantly are YOU one? Basically they are symbols of human faults. Each Goop is lovable but with one flaw which is how one gets its name. They are elaborately dressed, have giant circle heads, to remind you they are childlike, and are cute but with a tiny pinch of creepy! Read More

Carter is a Painter’s Cat

Featured Books / Inspiration
Carter is a Painter's Cat, by Carolyn Sloan, illustrations by Fritz Wegner

Carter is a Painter’s Cat, by Carolyn Sloan, illustrations by Fritz Wegner. (Click to enlarge)

Today, some inspiration from Carter is a Painter’s Cat, by Carolyn Sloan, with illustrations by Fritz Wegner, published in 1971.

Carter is about an artist’s cat who gets repainted every morning on a new sheet of paper. He looks different every day and he’s never sure what to expect. It’s a great story, and Wegner clearly had fun creating each and every illustration. He combined lots of cool techniques in his watercolors throughout—textures, patterns, splatters. His work is joyful and vibrant but there’s also a distinct edge to it. Enjoy!

Click to enlarge.

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Le Tableau – The Painting – GO SEE IT!

Animation / Events / Foreign Exchange

Above: Image from the film Le Tableau – The Painting

I had other plans for this week’s post, but when I got my weekly update from GKIDS, I knew this was the only thing I should be writing about.

Le Tableau by Belgian Director Jean-François Laguionie, was released in 2011. But somehow it hasn’t come to the U.S. until now. I know I’ve only seen the trailer, but I’ve never seen anything quite like it. Sketches and half-finished paintings are characters in this imaginative world. It seems like all the things we talk about here on this blog, artists, their processes, the stories they create, and their characters that come to life. Read More

High School French Rocks!

Foreign Exchange / Just Because


Above: illustration by Mel Dietmeier. How could you not want to learn French with these illustrations?!

So you may have guessed that I took French in high school. The best thing about it was the illustrations in the text book and accompanying workbook. My friend and I were obsessed with them. Unlike most text books at the time, it had illustrations by someone who could actually draw and who had a sense of humor. I like how loose and gestural they are, and how all the men have big noses! The drawings made me chuckle then, and they still do now. Read More