To help her articulate her enthusiasm for the layered complexity of the picture book format, San Antonio-based author-illustrator Carolyn Dee Flores has started a YouTube channel. Here’s the first video in her series. She’s made three so far. I hope there will be many more.

She uses her most recent picture book is The Amazing Watercolor Fish (Arte Público Press) – which was named to Angie Karcher’s Best in Rhyme 2018 List – to demonstrate her storyboarding process.

The book broke new ground in picture book design and format by becoming the first traditionally published picture book to rhyme in both Spanish and English .

University of Houston-based Arte Publico Press is the nation’s largest established publisher of contemporary and recovered literature by U.S. Hispanic authors.

“Once you have an idea for a book, once you have passion about a story and you’ve worked out all the pacing and it feels kind of like a song (picture books have that kind of timeline), I think the next thing you do is start doing tons of sketches,” Carolyn says in the video.

This September, she’s scheduled to team up with this year’s Newbery Medal winning middle grade novelist Meg Medina and Ellice Lee, Associate Art Director of Philomel Books, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group
to teach a workshop at the Highlights Foundation.

The title of their workshop: Nurturing Your Artistic Voice: A Guide for KidLit Rebels and Risk Takers.

“The Highlights Foundation, Meg, and I want to work with writers and illustrators who have brave new voices and instincts – and whose picture books and novels might be seen as “riskier” than most,” Carolyn says.

Author-illustrator Carolyn Dee Flores (left) with her mother (right) children’s author Lupe Ruiz Flores, both of San Antonio at a Texas Library Association Conference

Carolyn’s own background as a computer analyst, abstract expressionist painter, composer and songwriter, leader of a rock and roll girl’s band popular in Texas during the 1990s, and in recent years an award-winning children’s book creator exemplifies the creative risk taking they’ll champion September 22-25 in Boyds Mills, in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains.

“Yes! We want the REBELS!,” Carolyn says “This workshop is to help them maneuver through traditional children’s publishing with resources, tools, encouragement, and possible introductions to people in the industry.”

She says the workshop will be “hands-on.”

Author-illustrator Carolyn Dee Flores with author Meg Medina
Carolyn with 2019 Newbery Medal winning-author Meg Medina

Pictures of a lighthouse, stars at night and Dreamers shine for librarians in Seattle

An exciting event every year for illustrators in the KidLit community, librarians, educators and literacy advocates around the country, the American Library Association 2019 media awards for books, video and audio books for children happen at the ALA’s Midwinter conference.

Hello Lighthouse, illustrated and written by Sophie Blackall (Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group) is the 2019 Caldecott Medal winner. The news came Monday at the American Library Association’s Midwinter conference in Seattle.

The Randolph Caldecott Medal is awarded to the illustrator of the most distinguished American picture book for children each year.

Four Caldecott Honor Books also were named: Alma and How She Got Her Name, illustrated and written by Juana Martinez-Neal and published by Candlewick Press; A Big Mooncake for Little Star, illustrated and written by Grace Lin (Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group), The Rough Patch, illustrated and written by Brian Lies (Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers) and Thank You, Omu! illustrated and written by Oge Mora (Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group.)Check out all the ALA children’s media awards.

Coretta Scott King Book Awards recognize an African-American author and illustrator of outstanding books for children and young adults. The Coretta Scott King Illustrator Book Award went to The Stuff of Stars, illustrated by Ekua Holmes, and written by Marion Dane Bauer (Candlewick Press.)

Three King Illustrator Honor Books were named: Hidden Figures, illustrated by Laura Freeman, written by Margot Lee Shetterly (HarperCollins Children’s Books), Let the Children March, illustrated by Frank Morrison, written by Monica Clark-Robinson (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing) and Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie, written by Alice Faye Duncan (Calkins Creek, an imprint of Highlights.)

The Coretta Scott King and John Steptoe New Talent Illustrator Award for new illustrator Thank You, Omuwritten and illustrated by Oge Mora (Little Brown Young Readers)

Pura Belpré Awards honor a Latinx writer and illustrator whose children’s books best portray, affirm and celebrate the Latino cultural experience.

Dreamers, illustrated and written by Yuyi Morales, is the Pura Belpré Illustrator Award winner. (Neal Porter Books, Holiday House Publishing)

Islandborn, illustrated by Leo Espinosa, written by Junot Díaz (Dial Books for Young Readers, Penguin Young Readers Group) and When Angels Sing: The Story of Rock Legend Carlos Santana, illustrated by Jose Ramirez, written by Michael Mahin (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing) are the two Belpré Illustrator Honor Books.

Colored Pencil Character Magic!

Carolyn Dee Flores works in watercolor and color pencils, which segues conveniently to this fun new Udemy video course, Colored Pencil Character Drawing Secrets by Cindy Wider. It’s about creating children’s book-style animal characters in colored pencil. And it’s available right now for 90 percent off the regular price. Which means you can get it for less than $10. Cindy, who creates art and amazing courses in her studio in Cairns, Australia is one of best drawing teachers we’ve found on the Web and the button below is my affiliate link for her course.

Colored pencil art by Cindy Wider
Colored pencil art by Cindy Wider