Monday, July 28, 2008

New London Wrap Up

What happens when you forget to bring a large, audience-friendly sketchpad to your reading in New London? First you stalk around downtown looking for the stationery store that someone told you about (J. Solomon, closed weekends) or anyplace else that might sell oversized paper. Ten minutes from the reading, you give up and make the best of the situation by drawing not on a big pad on an easel, but in a small sketchbook on your lap. As it turns out, this gets a young audience to crowd in close, and in a parlor trick sort of way works pretty well. As a blog bonus, it makes the drawing easy to scan, too. Note that as far as I know there never actually was a New London lightship, but I’m not above playing to a crowd.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Ahoy, New London

If you’re in or near the nutmeg state this weekend, consider a Saturday (July 26) trip to New London. I’ll be appearing there from 11:00 to 11:30 at the Fish Tales, Tugs, and Sails Festival, reading and doing a drawing or two from Lightship.

Lightship will get the spotlight but from the program notes it seems that the festival will also have on hand the second book that I ever illustrated, from long, long time ago: Robert Kraske’s The Voyager's Stone: The Adventures of a Message-Carrying Bottle Adrift on the Ocean Sea. The Voyager’s Stone was a fine book, if I may say so myself—but over the years we have sold a total of I think six copies. Maybe seven. It’s a miracle it’s still in print. Well, come check it out for yourself. You could walk home with number eight!

Fish Tales, Tugs, and Sails Festival
The Voyager’s Stone

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Friday, July 18, 2008


Early reviews are coming in for The Hinky-Pink and the news is good!

First, Kirkus Reviews says: “McDonald's storytelling excels through flavorful language, controlled pacing and a delightful conclusion. Floca displays the charm of Old World Florence through soft watercolor-and-ink illustrations that fill the pages, capturing the city's world-renowned landmarks. His delicate lines, full of vitality, enhance the retelling of this tale.... Fairy-tale enthusiasts will delight in this fanciful story.” (For completists, the entire Kirkus review is up on the Barnes & Noble site, here.)

Then there's more to come — in a starred review — in the upcoming August issue of School Library Journal. An excerpt: “McDonald’s flawless storytelling melds with Floca’s joyous art.... Girls who love princess stories will adore this lively tale.”


Thursday, July 17, 2008


I’m just back from a visit to the Mazza Museum of International Art from Children’s Picture Books at the University of Findlay, in Findlay, Ohio. I had only one problem there, which was a recurrent desire to pronounce Mazza with my best Italian accent (such as it is): MAHT sa. The pronunciation is instead pure Ohio: ma za. We all worked around that, though, and I had a great time meeting and milling around with esteemed fellow authors and illustrators, and a great time speaking to the most supportive and interested crowd an illustrator could desire. They take their picture books and picture book creators seriously at Mazza! Probably I should have known this before now, but I know it now. Thanks to Jerry Mallett and Ben Sapp and everyone at Findlay for their work and enthusiasm and for a great trip.

Above: The Ohio state quarter. The Wright Brothers and Neil Armstrong. That’s my kind of place.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Candid camera

If you’ve found your way to this blog then you likely already read Betsy Bird’s A Fuse #8 Production blog at School Library Journal. But just in case: here is her footage of the S&S Original Art Lunch at ALA. I only make a cameo (not a problem, Betsy!) but there I am, mumbling and fumbling with the microphone, and then there’s the rest of the gang, including some of Atheneum’s incredible editorial and art directing talent, and David Smalls, speaking for a lot of us (I presume) as he describes the dark and torturous path that one struggles to cut as one works on — picture book covers.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

ALA and back again

A redeye flight, the crossing of multiple time zones, and a congenital tendency to stay up late — these things are making the return from Anaheim a slog, but back I am and it was an inspiring trip, jet lag and all. I saw friends and editors, gave and received glimpses of/at forthcoming books, met librarians and admired fellow bookmakers, misplaced and mispronounced various names, saw Caldecott and Newbery speeches which went into ALA lore even as they were being delivered, and had the pleasure and honor of picking up Lightship’s Sibert Honor award.
I also attended the Simon & Schuster Original Art Lunch mentioned in the previous post. There, the bulk of my carefully considered remarks left my head the minute I stood to deliver them. There, too, I realized that a small book full of sketches and reference images is hard to show in the context of a big and busy group. (All the more reason to throw images from it up on the blog as we get closer to The Hinky-Pink’s publication date.) So, that was that.
A second lunch made up for it, though, one with the Sibert Committee following the ALSC awards ceremony. It was a small and relaxed group and we had time to go beyond presentation and into actual conversation. I was impressed and charmed by the librarians on the committee and the whole thing made me feel great all over again about Lightship’s selection by the committee. Thanks again to them, and thanks to S&S for the trip west!

Above: an unused vignette from Lightship. A piece that I liked, but the sunrise version of this scene won out.