Thursday, December 20, 2012

it’s a book!

My advance copy of World Rat Day arrived the other day and in my excitement, I might have jumped up and down a few times. I guess it’s no secret that I really loved working on this book. (The official publication date is March 12th.)

Meanwhile, I’ve been finishing up illustrations for a book with Holiday House due out next fall, in addition to working on the trailer for World Rat Day. Somewhere in there, I need to find time to redesign my website. Oh yeah, and it’s Christmas...

In case you haven’t already seen it, here’s a link to my holiday card. Best wishes for a peaceful holiday season!

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On the afternoon of Saturday, April 13th, there will be a World Rat Day book party (and signing) at the Rizzoli Bookstore here in Manhattan. Details to come.
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Thursday, December 13, 2012

k-1, p.s. 372 – brooklyn

I had a great time last week, taking Sylvia’s Spinach on the road to the K-1 class at P.S. 372 in Brooklyn. This being my first appearance at a kindergarten since the Nixon administration, I was a little bit nervous. The kids were terrific and very enthusiastic, sharing their thoughts on favorite vegetables, gardening and showing off some creative coloring.

I want to extend a huge thanks to Lori and Matthew Richmond for organizing the visit and for buying every student in the class a copy of the book! Also a very special thanks to their son Cooper, who introduced me and showed great restraint in not giving away the end of the book—which he’d already read a few times. 

(photos by Matthew Richmond :^)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

cooking with kids - kiwi magazine

It’s three years and counting for my relationship with Kiwi Magazine, illustrating  their “Cooking with Kids” section. The other day, the new editorial director got me caught up on tear sheets, pictured above.

We’ve done so much the last few months—made crackers, breadcrumbs, and rolled sushi. I just finished another series of cooking spots this week, so more on that when the next issue is out.

Friday, November 30, 2012

a review and a school visit preview

The Sylvia’s Spinach road show has thus far been concentrated on the West Coast featuring its author, the wonderful Katherine Pryor. Next week, I head to Brooklyn for my very first school visit to a  kindergarten class, armed with markers, coloring pages and a lot of nerves. But more on that in a future post.

In the meantime, today I received one of the best reviews I think I’ll ever see in my career. Here’s what Cooper, age 5 3/4 had to say after a first reading:

“Mommy, I want another Anna Raff book now!”

With a little luck, he’s got a future at Kirkus. Thanks Coop and Lori!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Monday, November 19, 2012

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Friday, October 26, 2012

happy mule day!...what?!...

Today is October 26th—also know as Mule Day—so in the spirit of metaphorically kicking some a**, I am pleased to share with you a sneak peek at the cover of World Rat Day: Poems About Real Holidays You’ve Never Heard Of, by the wondrous J. Patrick Lewis, due out in March, but available for pre-order online

Last night was the reception for the Original Art Show at the Society of Illustrators, showcasing the finest in picture book art from the past year. In addition to being a great way to see some amazing illustration and catch up with my old pals in children’s publishing, it was the first time I got to meet some of the lovely people from Candlewick Press who made this project possible. Many thanks to art directors Kristen Nobles and Anne Moore, and editor Liz Bicknell. Happy Mule Day!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Sylvia’s Spinach - developing character

With the publication of Sylvia’s Spinach this month, I thought it might be fun to share some thoughts on the main character’s development.

When I first started sketching Sylvia, three words came to mind: spunk, attitude, and sweetness. Author Katherine Pryor created a feisty girl with serious opinions. And I didn’t want her to be too girly—she needed to be hip, to appeal to a range of kids around her age.

Clothing adds lots of solutions to convey character. At first, Sylvia’s clothes were a bit too fussy and dated. Once I decided she’d wear some Ugg-like boots throughout, things began to come together.

I also wanted to be sure the color of her clothing reflected her attitude toward spinach. At the beginning of the story, her outfits are decidedly not green. As she warms up to the vegetable, touches of green are slowly introduced into her wardrobe.

One of the last decisions I made was about her hair. I have curly hair, and perhaps that’s why I enjoy drawing it so much, but it became distracting. In the end, I went with straight hair to give Sylvia a more serious attitude.

And here she is, in all her glory. If you haven’t seen the book trailer yet, you can view it here. And if you want a copy of the book, you can buy it here. Now, go eat your vegetables!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

rolling sushi (with avocado and squash)

It’s autumn, and what better way to enjoy this season’s harvest than with a homemade batch of vegetarian sushi? Uh...yeah...

If you need a lesson in rolling, look no further than the current issue of Kiwi Magazine. Better yet, learn how with an avocado and a butternut squash leading the way.  

This was my last issue with Art Director Ridge Carpenter, who’s moving on to bigger and better things. It also marks the my three year anniversary illustrating the “Cooking with Kids” section of Kiwi

It’s been a terrific and challenging stint, and hopefully will continue, even with the changing of the guard. 

In the next issue, we’re making breadcrumbs, but to find out which of the recipe’s ingredients shows you how, you’ll have to wait a few months. 

Okay...time to get rollin’!

Monday, October 1, 2012

the official Sylvia’s Spinach book trailer!

Here she is, in all her glory! As I mentioned in my previous post, the pub date for Sylvia’s Spinach has been moved up a few weeks. In anticipation, I made a book trailer. 

Written by Katherine Pryor and published by Seattle-based Readers to Eaters, Sylvia tells the story of a picky eater who learns to try something new through the experience of her school garden. 

Despite a steep learning curve with Adobe After Effects, I had a great time making the trailer and hope it captures Sylvia’s spirit. Speaking of which, in my next post, I’ll share a little bit about the evolution of the main character.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

sylvia’s spinach...almost here!

Hey! It turns out Sylvia’s Spinach will arrive in bookstores a little earlier than expected! In fact, books will be available in time for Food Day on October 24th. Yes, I know what you’re thinking, “But Anna, everyday is food day!” Anyways......

In social media news, author Katharine Pryor has set up a Facebook page which may be to your liking. There you’ll learn about events scheduled around the publication of the book by publisher Readers to Eaters, as well as see a few things I’ll be sharing, such as my first, ever book trailer! Coming soon, to a screen near you. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

drawings from a fan: madeline, aged 11

Every once in a while, you get an email that makes your day—maybe even your week. That’s just what happened to me last Saturday, when I opened up a message from a friend. Apparently, his 11 year-old daughter Madeline, has become a huge fan of Ornithoblogical, and spends long stretches perusing the site, laughing at all the ridiculous puns. Best of all, he told me, she’s made up a few birds of her own. 

And how thrilled was I when I asked Madeline if she would permit me to share them here, and she said “Yes!” So—with great admiration and thanks—I present to you the drawings of Ms. Madeline of Millis, Mass. I wish I’d thought of these!...Still laughing over Turkey Bakin’...

Saturday, August 18, 2012

late summer book update

It’s been a while since I posted an update on my ongoing book projects, so here goes...

In July, I signed with Holiday House to illustrate a non-fiction picture book by the prolific David A. Adler, and I’m having a great time with the water-related theme. It has also been a welcome distraction from the dreadful, hot weather in NYC this summer.

Sylvia’s Spinach is due in stores this November, but if you want to get a jump on your shopping, it’s available for pre-order here.

The lovely folks at Candlewick sent me proofs of World Rat Day the other day, which was a thrill. I’m really loving how the book has turned out, and can’t wait to share some images when the time is right. The same holds true about pre-ordering this book—that is, if you really want to get a jump on your shopping for 2013. Here’s where to go. The official pub date for World Rat Day is March 12th, so you’ll have to wait a while longer to see what this gang of rat butchers is running from.

In other news, the “Cooking with Kids” section of the current issue of Kiwi Magazine teaches kids how to flour a cookie cutter! Surely, a vital life skill, if there ever was one. Next issue’s lesson is bit more challenging, but more on that later. One step at a time...

Saturday, August 4, 2012

the ornitholympics!

It’s the Ornitholympics! That’s right, for the remainder of the 2012 Summer Games in London, fresh-faced-yet-fierce, sporting birds will be strutting their stuff each day on Ornithoblogical. Glory was cut short for today’s competitors, due to that controversy of Olympic proportions earlier this week. I present to you, “Angry Birdies.”

And if that’s not enough for you, I’ll also be featuring some feathered competitors from bird days past on the Ornithoblogical Facebook page, such as “Foils”—seen below—a favorite of my brother’s, who was once a fencing coach. 

So take a gander. I hope you have as much fun viewing these as I did making them.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

ny times: the picky eater who came to dinner

I have another piece in the Sunday New York Times—this time in the Sunday Styles section. The story is about how difficult it is to entertain these days with all the restrictive diets Americans impose upon themselves. You can read the full article here.

Just for the record, I’ll eat everything pictured, aside from the milk and table settings. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

taking it on the Rhode - see you @ ICON7

It’s been a very busy spring. What with my scant bird posts since the end of April (aka Chicken Month), and my infrequent updates to this page one might think it more of a silent spring. Far from it...

I’ve been at work finishing up the art for J. Patrick Lewis’s World Rat Day, (due to be released by Candlewick in March 2013), and preparing for this year’s ICON7, the big illustration conference in Providence, RI later this month. Also I’m participating in ICON’s Rhode Show Bazaar on the evening of Friday, June 15th. The show is open to the public, so come on out if you’re in the area. A great group of illustrators will be displaying portfolios and selling their wares.

My table (lucky #23 - for all you Michael Jordan fans out there) will feature a first glimpse at Sylvia’s Spinach by Katherine Pryor, a picture book I had the pleasure of illustrating. My publisher, Philip Lee, has generously granted me permission to show it off, even though it won’t be published until later this fall.

In addition, I’ll be hawking hand-painted kid’s shirts, books, and some Ornithoblogical products including—by popular demand—a magnet featuring “Mixer,” last seen in American Illustration 30. I know what you’re thinking...your refrigerator is naked without one.

See you in Providence!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

are you sitting down? i'm in the new york times

If so, stand up! At least that’s the message from the article I had the pleasure of illustrating for last week’s Sunday Review section of The New York Times.

Art Director Aviva Michaelov sent me a great piece about the many dangers of sitting all day. Admittedly, I have been spending an inordinate amount of time in my chair lately, working on various projects, so this subject has been very much on my mind (and aching joints). Since the finished pieces turned out nicely, I’d like to take this opportunity to share a bit of my process.

Once I got started with sketches, I kind of couldn’t stop. Sometimes you get assigned something that just illustrates itself, the subject/writing is so good. That was definitely the case for me here.

I’m sure I supplied more sketches than were necessary. Above is my first one, followed by a bunch of the others as ideas evolved.

In then end, what started out as one piece turned into four! Aviva was very gracious, redesigned the page and approached the editor with my ideas, even though (unbeknownst to me) they had  discussed images of standing people.

Then the fun really began. Pictured here may look like a pile of scribbles and splotches—which it is. Behold the ugly underbelly of my process. Through the power of the internet—while waiting for some paint to dry—I watched a video of the great Quentin Blake discussing his process, and picked up a great blotting technique to create the texture in the final skull chair.

Oh!...and in the midst of all this, the Space Shuttle flew by.

Here’s how it looks in print, and a link to the article online. Thanks Aviva ~ that was really fun!

Friday, April 27, 2012

eat your peas...

April is the cruelest month, if you are a chicken-hater, and aren’t a fan of fresh peas. Despite all that, this month, in a series of spots in the latest issue of Kiwi Magazine, I show you how to shell the latter. And you will like them!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

what the cluck?! just one more week of chickens...

Feathers have been flying high over on Ornithoblogical this April—a.k.a. “Chicken Month.” And there’s still one more week of new cluckers on the docket. Pictured here are a few of the high/low-lights so far (from top to bottom: Chicken WireChicken Heart, and Chick Pees.) Very sorry to say, I really don’t have to stop after 30 days—there are countless more chicken-related opportunities—but all good things must come to an end.

And with the end of Chicken Month, I take a brief hiatus from birds to focus on rats...specifically, World Rat Day, by the wonderful J. Patrick Lewis. You can read more about that here, and for further reading, Kirkus Reviews posted a great interview with Patrick a few weeks ago.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

a long overdue web update

Yes, it’s been a while, but I finally updated my website. Look for lots of new work in ‘children’s’ and a few pieces in ‘grown-ups’ (formally known as editorial). Why the new name? Well, it seems that in 2011, I became primarily a children’s book illustrator, so the distinction seemed appropriate. Because—let’s face it—my grown-up stuff looks like it’s for kids too.

And my lovely publisher, Philip Lee of Readers to Eaters, has given me the go-ahead to provide a few more sneak peeks at Sylvia’s Spinach, due out this November.

Hey, and were you aware that Chicken Month starts in just a few days?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

frederick douglass + chicken month

While the concept of the internet was most likely not at the forefront of his mind, I’m also pretty sure Frederick Douglass never anticipated being part of a blog post announcing a month of illustrations devoted to chickens. In case you’re wondering, there is absolutely no connection. More on the honorable Mr. Douglass in a moment...

Yes, you heard right: April is Chicken Month on Ornithoblogical. Every day, a new foolin’. Go ahead, cry foul—just try and stop me. If this doesn’t rustle your feathers, and if you haven’t done so already, you can subscribe to Ornithoblogical by clicking on the RSS icon in the lefthand column on the site.

Now for Mr. Douglass. I was happy to contribute to the Book Cover Club again this month for their selection, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave by Himself. Here’s my take:

Presently, it’s back to the drawing board for me, where I’m up to my ears in rats for World Rat Day. Believe me, it’s not as unpleasant as it sounds. :^)

Friday, March 2, 2012

another peak @ sylvia’s spinach + bird 500 + more

 Happy Friday! Also Happy Birthday to Theodor Geisel, one of my idols.

This week, I’ve been finishing up the final art for “Sylvia’s Spinach”, and finally met my delightful editor/publisher Philip Lee of Readers to Eaters in person. Another teaser from the book is pictured above.

In other news, Ornithoblogical reached a big milestone yesterday with the posting of bird #500. There’s been lots of heavy-lifting going on in my studio this week. Not the least of which has been trying to find a place to store all of that art.

Also, I’ve got series of spots in the current issue of Kiwi Magazine, another installment in their cooking with kids series. This time we wash and trim mushrooms! Living the dream...