Welcome to the Jungle

Zoes Jungle, that is! Were celebrating a book birthday here, although rumor has it Zoe made her debut in some stores last week (thanks for the heads up, Burlingham Books!) Zoe and Addie are back, and this time the adventure has moved out of the house and onto the playground.

The idea for this story came about as I was (once again) pondering the different ways adults and children perceive time. Specifically, I'd been thinking about how hard it is to get children to leave various activities—playdates, playgrounds, parties. Ive come to think of it as extraction. Children will be happy to leave when theyve finished what they want to do. Period. Its not about time, and it will (almost) never coincide with an adult schedule.

I began with the first two spreads, scribbled in pencil in my sketchbook. I loved the humor and range of emotion as we turn the page from Zoes fantasy to her reality. Thankfully, my editor agreed.

In this first spread, we see Zoe in full explorer mode, narrating the action as she swings through the jungle.

Turn the page and we are faced with reality—an interruption by a mother that CLEARLY does not understand the importance of Zoe's quest. The shift from fantasy to reality underscores Zoes irritation.

The spreads alternate throughout the book between fantasy and the playground. This gave me an amazing opportunity to think about how Zoes fantasy emerged from the reality. Above, a jungle scene in which Zoe crosses a crocodile infested river on a log.

On the next spread, we see that the log is a balance beam, the river is a water play area, and the crocodiles are just toddlers.

So, thats it for show and tell. But with summer just around the corner and playground time in full swing (ahem, no pun intended), Zoes Jungle is just the thing for your book bag. Pick one up at a book store near you. As always, I am happy to send a signed, personalized bookplate if you mail me a SASE. (Contact info is here.)

Ill be reading Zoes Jungle and doing some fun activities at Diesel in the Marin Country Mart on June 6th (6:00pm). There will be cookies. And pajamas! And theres a playground just outside for those who want to recreate Zoes adventure or have one of their own.

More about Zoes Jungle
“Zoe is full of spitfire and dash…How are young readers to resist?”—Kirkus Reviews

"Charming pen-and-ink and watercolor illustrations reveal to readers both the lush green jungle teeming with wild animals and bright flowers, as well as the impressive playground just ripe for imagining. Wonderful vocabulary introduces such words as “glimpses,” “stealthy,” “relentless,” “ingenuity,” and “unfathomable.”—School Library Journal

The trailer

Bologna, Bamboo, Bookworms, and More

I do love this time of year, when everything begins to bloom, and we are gifted with occasional beach days. I've been doing plenty of spring cleaning with my girls and reveling in getting the garden into some sort of shape. Many of the plants we put in last year are beginning to thrive, including the BIG bamboo we planted. If all goes well, I'll be able to use the bamboo sheaths for my woodcut barens one of these years. (And then, I can write off the cost of the bamboo planting and containment, yes?)

Along with my non-virtual spring cleaning, I'm realizing it's time to dust the cobwebs off the blog as well. I've been cocooned in my studio making books and pictures. I did find my way out to visit the Bologna Children's Book Fair, which was mind boggling in all of the best ways. See photos below of my two purchases from the show. First, Mare, a stunning large format picture book with the most amazing watercolors I have seen in...I don't know how long. (My iphone camera does not do these justice, but you get the idea, at least.)

Second, how could I resist Il Piccolo Teatro di Rebecca? It's not brand new (2011 publication), but it is unbelievably intricate and beautiful. Yes, those are all diecuts. 

Both books are from Rizzoli. In fact, I spent an inordinate amount of time at the Rizzoli booth examining all of their amazing offerings. I also enjoyed a lively dinner with my agent Elena Giovinazzo and fellow pip Isabel Roxas. The balance of the week was spent in Siena with my husband where we researched old (OLD!) maps...so expect to see those make an appearance in some form at some point.

The third book in the Zoe series, Zoe's Jungle, will be arriving in May. I'll have more about that soon, including a trailer that is almost finished. For now, here is the springtime-colored cover with Zoe in action!

In August, I Feel Five will be published by Candlewick. This is my first book with Candlewick and also my first book with a male protagonist. Meet Fritz:

Finally, in December, The Best-Ever Bookworm Book will be published by Little, Brown. This one was written by Alice Kuipers, and I really enjoyed having the opportunity to illustrate such an imaginative story. It's also been very gratifying to try a completely new illustration style. There will be plenty more about this one in the months to come, including some posts about the process (which was unlike anything I've undertaken before). Here's a sneak peek of the cover:

I am looking forward to being on the faculty of the Book Passage Children's Conference in June (here in Marin County, CA). I'll be doing a pajama night at Diesel (also in Marin) on June 6th. Otherwise, I am digging into 2015 titles including the second book in the Best-Ever series, a Christmas themed book with the characters from I Feel Five, and a new book for Scholastic. Happy Spring!