Children’s Book Festival and Storybook Look


Here’s a picture of my middle son and his school mate competing in the Mississippi Science Olympiad at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg last week. They built a gizmo that launched a tennis ball — and they hit both targets. Hooray!

This Wednesday, I head down to Hattiesburg once again for the 2009  Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival at the University of Southern Mississippi. Headlining this year’s festival is Judy Blume. For information about other presenters, including moi, click here. I am offering a workshop titled, “Seeing is Believing: The Power of Photography in Children’s Nonfiction.”

Also in Hattiesburg this week will be the opening venue for the traveling exhibit Storybook Look: Illustrations by Southern Artists. The Hattiesburg American ran articles about the festival and the exhibit. I will sign books at the festival and at the exhibit at the Saenger Theater. Main Street Books in Hattiesburg will handle book sales. Read about last summer’s visit to Main Street here.

It’s (finally) Official! Fibonacci Numbers Are Next


My next book, tentatively titled Growing Patterns: Fibonacci Numbers in Nature, will be published next year by Boyds Mills Press. I’ve been working to make this deal since last February. I’m glad I didn’t wait for the official deal to be done to work on it, though, because I’ll be delivering it next month. Richard and I started taking photographs last March and we think we’ve got them all taken now. The text is on its 5th version, or so, and I think it’s just about there. I have been sharing homemade copies with some friends, their kids, and some second graders at Davis Magnet, where I am a resident artist at the moment. I love making books!


I had some especially crucial (though informal) critiques at a recent SCBWI conference. Writer friends who will really tell you the truth are worth their weight in gold. I look forward to sharing more about this project as it goes along.

Winners of Southern Breeze Writing and Illustrating Contest

Heather Kolich

Heather Kolich

Winners of the 2008 Southern Breeze Writing and Illustrating Contest were announced at the fall conference. I took photographs of the winners who were present. Here is Heather Kolich, the coordinator of the writing portion of the contest cheering for a winner. Donna Bowman and Jo Kittinger, the Southern Breeze RAs, are standing in the background.

Nathaniel Lachenmeyer and Ashley Parsons

Nathaniel Lachenmeyer and Ashley Parsons

Illustrated Books
1st place – Nathaniel Lachenmeyer for Edison’s Newest Invention
2nd place – Lisa Lowe Stauffer for Moose Weather
3rd place – Ashley Parsons for Coyotes in Central Park

Melissa Thomas-Dubois and Jennifer Kramer

Melissa Thomas-Dubois and Jennifer Kramer

Nonfiction Books
1st place – Melissa Thomas-Dubois for Alice Thunders Down the Road
2nd place – Toni Rhodes for The Video Game Industry – the People Who Made It Happen
3rd place – Jennifer Kramer for This is Our Flag, Old Glory

Lauren Hopkins Karcz and Kara Bietz

Lauren Hopkins Karcz and Kara Bietz

MG/YA Novels
1st place – Lauren Hopkins Karcz for The Center of Gravity
2nd place – Vicky Alvear Shecter for Cleopatra’s Moon
3rd place – Kara Bietz for The Fourteenth Day

Tina Bilbrey

Tina Bilbrey

Tina Bilbrey coordinated the illustration part of the contest. Here she is announcing the winners. The contest has grown steadiily in three years and at least two winners signed book contracts on winning manuscripts. Here’s hoping we’ll have similar good news this year.

Anthony Van Arsdale and Liz Conrad

Anthony Van Arsdale and Liz Conrad

1st place – Anthony Van Arsdale for “PJ slid into Mary Beth, and what
a mess he made.”
2nd place – Liz Conrad for “PJ slid into a snowbank.”
3rd place – Ly Bolia for “PJ slid into a time gate.”

Southern Arts Federation Touring Exhibit

I learned recently that the illustrators gallery show I participated in earlier this year has been chosen to be a traveling exhibit through the Southern Arts Federation. Elizabeth Dulemba, the illustrator coordinator for the Southern Breeze region of SCBWI, put the show together and shepherded it through the SAF selection process.

This is a new experience for me — never having had my photographs shown in a gallery setting before. I am learning about giclee prints, about framing, about procuring prints for sale along with the exhibit, etc. I have also put together a 10-page packet of educational materials for use with Wolfsnail: A Backyard Predator. All the time I spent working alongside teachers at Davis Magnet School sure came in handy as I developed activities to meet language arts, visual arts, and science curriculum objectives. I’ll be posting the new materials to my website soon.

The exhibit will tour for two years and we have been told to expect opportunities to talk about our work and sell our books. I am grateful to Elizabeth (and to Liz Conrad who helped hang the original show) for her work on this project. Elizabeth continues to act as our organizer and general adviser.

Children’s Book Illustrator’s Show

Photographs from my book, Wolfsnail: A Backyard Predator, are hanging in a gallery at the Little Shop of Stories in Decatur, GA. I attended the opening last Friday and had a great time meeting fellow illustrators in the Southern Breeze region of the Society of Book Writers and Illustrators. The event (which we are hoping will happen annually) coincided with the Decatur Arts Festival. The attendance was terrific as you can see from Elizabeth Dulemba’s blog. Elizabeth organized the event and had help hanging it from Liz Conrad.

A friend of mine from graduate school days and her son came by to see the exhibit. I enjoyed reading Wolfsnail (and a few others) to my friend’s son. It was nice to have the event in a children’s book store because it was very kid-friendly.

My own family came by the next day to pick me up. Since the bookstore’s stock of Wolfsnail sold out during the opening on Friday night, I provided some more from my stock and signed them. It is so much fun to meet people who are interested in my book.

Some of my writer friends from SCBWI/Southern Breeze came by, too. It has meant so much to be a part of a talented, dedicated, and supportive group of people.

Another pencil image

Here is another attempt at making a pencil illustration. I like this one because of the shadow. I like the first one because it has a 2 on it, which identifies it more clearly as a pencil used for a standardized test. You may notice that this entry is tagged for the Building Website category as well as Photography. I am working steadily (OK, more like in fits and starts) toward getting my website fully functional. Come on over to see the newly published gallery on the photographs page. Click here and then click on photographs.

Test Images

One of my freelance jobs is writing and designing a newsletter for our local chapter of Parents for Public Schools. This fall the head of the Jackson chapter wants the newsletter to help parents understand Mississippi’s new standardized tests. Richard and I have been playing around with images to illustrate the newsletter. Here is one. When I served as a test proctor last spring — when some questions for the new test were being tried out in the field — I was struck by how the only thing students were able to keep of their own during tests was their pencils.