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Sneak Peek: World, Meet Iver

As a writer of picture books, I find the illustration process to be magical. I know my characters. I've spent months getting to know them, writing them into different situations, and thinking about how they would feel and react. When I sent my 482 words for Iver and Ellsworth out on submission, it felt like the time I put my daughter on the bus to Kindergarten. I remember seeing just the top of her little head through the windows as the bus drove away and feeling the pang of anticipation for all she would experience without me. 

When my editor went off to find an illustrator, it required a similar leap of faith. Would this person understand my characters? How would he or she capture their essence? How would this illustrator bring my story to life?  

Melissa Larson is the perfect choice to illustrate Iver and Ellsworth. I mean, look at Iver! He's perfect! Don't you want to talk to him? Don't you want him to make you a cup of tea? Doesn't he feel like someone who would listen to your tales, never once interrupting? 

With each new illustration I see, I get to rediscover my characters all over again, but in a whole new way. What a gift! 

Interior artwork from  Iver and Ellsworth  by Casey W. Robinson and illustrated by Melissa Larson. Coming in 2018 from Ripple Grove Press.

Interior artwork from Iver and Ellsworth by Casey W. Robinson and illustrated by Melissa Larson. Coming in 2018 from Ripple Grove Press.

Haiku: Gajjalu

A friend told me that little girls in India often wear silver anklets called gajjalu. These anklets make a lovely sound, especially when the little girls are learning to walk. My friend's grandmother called the sound "tinkle bells from heaven."

A haiku in her honor: 

NE-SCBWI: My (Other) People

When I returned home from the always-inspiring annual New England Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators conference, my 9 year old said to me, "Mom, I missed you when you were at your conference, but I'm glad you got to be with your other people." Indeed! 

PBBC alumni @NE-SCBWI (l to r): Heidi Stemple, Jane Yolen, Moi, Alexandra Hinrichs, Lynda Mullaly Hunt, Margot Lemieux, Kirsti Call (photo credit: Sarah Corson)

PBBC alumni @NE-SCBWI (l to r): Heidi Stemple, Jane Yolen, Moi, Alexandra Hinrichs, Lynda Mullaly Hunt, Margot Lemieux, Kirsti Call (photo credit: Sarah Corson)

A Weekend with Jane Yolen

I've just returned from Picture Book Boot Camp with legendary children's author Jane Yolen. A four-day jam-packed immersive weekend with eight other published picture book authors. Jane and her daughter, author Heidi Stemple, hosted the intensive at Jane's sprawling farmhouse in Western MA.  

How to capture the essence of this experience? Some things I will never forget:

  • The caliber of our critique group conversations each night  
  • Walls and walls and walls of artwork and illustration; shelves and shelves and shelves of books
  • How much I learned about craft, perspective, tenacity, and the business of writing for children
  • How, even after you've published 350+ books like Jane has, there are still new stories to tell  
  • Owling with Heidi: how chatty we all were on the way to the field; how we held our breath as we listened for owls; how beautiful their sound was against the bright moon; how we rode home in contented silence
  • Heidi's cooking, every single last bite, but especially those chocolate chip cookies  
  • Sitting crosslegged on a couch in Jane's attic office late-night with new friends, taking turns reading our works in progress
  • That filled-up feeling of saturation, inspiration, determination and gratitude 
  • Jane, over breakfast, saying to all of us: "You are family now" 
Revising a new manuscript in the Emily Dickinson Room at Phoenix Farm

Revising a new manuscript in the Emily Dickinson Room at Phoenix Farm