As a life-long artist, but first time picture book illustrator, I feel so excited, but also slightly overwhelmed by illustrating today. There are infinite possibilities and tools for creating children’s book illustrations. Not only do we as artists have the traditional paints, pencils and markers at our fingertips, but the world of digital illustration lets us dip our toes into any technique and style without having to dive in and purchase all the actual art supplies. You don’t even need a computer! Drawing apps make it possible to sketch on your phone if you really wanted to (not that the screen size would be ideal, but it is a possibility!)
With the countless number of tools we have to create art, it’s so refreshing to see children’s book illustration created by one of the simplest of tools- a colored pencil.
Edward Gets Messy, written by Rita Meade and illustrated by Olga Stern, splats, plops and gloops full of colorful messes and playful little animals, as Edward learns to loosen up and get messy.
Edward Gets Messy stars a particularly clean and very adorable little pig named Edward. We get to know Edward as he obsessively sprays and dusts and cleans to his heart’s content. But we also see all the fun he misses out on while avoiding all the messes he hates so much. Maybe you know a little someone who avoids a slippery, sloppy mess at all costs. This could be just the book for him or her!
Art and the fun stuff!
Edward Gets Messy first drew me in with its bright splashes of color and a cute but cautious little pig on the cover. The rambunctious characters full of personality and color caught my eye, but the lively and textural ways the illustrator handled her drawings really tugged at my artist’s heart strings. Stern’s use of energetic line work and beautifully color combinations took me back to my college days, and the first brand new set of Prismacolor colored pencils I had purchased for myself. Colored pencils can blend the hand of a very skilled artist and the innocence of a child’s style of coloring. Stern did this so wonderfully in Edward Gets Messy, it made me want to dig up my old Prismacolors and start coloring on real paper.
Kids will love it...
...for the wonderfully, messy world Edward and his friends live in. Tossing spaghetti and meatballs, leaping into autumn leaves and splashing mud during a baseball game- all scenarios parents might cringe over, but kids will revel in. I especially loved this as the debut picture book for both the author and illustrator. I am eagerly waiting for more from these two talented women.
Sarah Momo Romero is a Japanese Peruvian American artist, a graphic designer by day and children's book author and illustrator by night. She’s loved drawing and painting since she was a chiquita and now crafts stories of adventure and wondrous creatures. Sarah is an active SCBWI member who draws inspiration from her life in sunny Los Angeles with her husband/creative partner and dog/infamous escape artist, Peanut. Look out for her first picture book coming out in
You can find more of Sarah's musings and drawings here:
Facebook: Sarah Momo Romero + Instagram: @sarahmomoromero + Twitter: @sarahmomoromero
Suppose they held a conference and nobody came? Cancellation due to whiteness.
The Loft Literary Center https://www.loft.org/ in Minneapolis cancelled its upcoming conference on writing for children and young adults due to whiteout conditions. Complaints from the public and shrinking attendance levels prompted the cancellation, with only one person of color scheduled to speak. According to the Loft Literary Center, more than 10 POC were invited to speak, but none were able to attend or interested in attending. The part that strikes me is the fact that such a small pool of brown presenters was invited. More than 10? Out of the entire children's literature industry that's how many people they could find to approach about presenting?
According to the Cooperative Children's Book Center at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, out of 3,200 children's books published in 2016:
Responses to the cancellation shocked me. People seemed to think acknowledging authors of color is an attempt to be politically correct and is reverse racism. Is this really how people in the Midwest feel about POC in the children's literature community? The comments felt Trumpish and hateful. They exemplified feelings of white fragility and the strong dislike that Caucasians have of being labeled "white." The commenters clearly felt that their white race is the default and to be labeled as white was an affront. They see themselves as raceless, just "people," no need for any labeling.
"Political correctness gone amuck. This kind of stuff makes me crazy and a bit angry." says lynneploetz in the comments for the article announcing the cancellation.
"Just the difference in men vs women's writing is a huge diversity! I did read a book recently written by a man, from a woman's perspective too, that I found very interesting and thought he did very well in getting the woman's point of view down." Marathon2004 thinks diversity means having a man write from a woman's point of view. No need to involve POC or even women to get diversity, apparently.
"Imagine if the same diversity nonsense was applied to the NBA." says DeeJayMN.
Another commenter proudly points out that the Loft Literary Center's mission statement mentions nothing about diversity.
"Diversity itself has become an exclusionary concept that "whites" aren't allowed to belong to. "The problem is crucial because of the whiteness of children’s literature in general," said Shannon Gibney, who apparently doesn't realize how racist this statement is. Too bad the Star Tribune believes this kind of discourse is acceptable. If someone were to complain about the "blackness" of something, they would rightly be deemed a racist. Why is it OK when leveled against white people? What exactly is "whiteness" and why is it taken as axiomatic that it's bad?" Carciofi is furious that white people are excluded from diversity and furious that whiteness is even a term used to describe white people. 271 comments, white people praising each other for speaking out against diversity. One commenter argues that diversity is more than race, that we are all different from each other in "so many ways." Needing diversity to include people who aren't white "really seems so stupid to me." he says.
Reading these comments is making me wince, I'm trying to comfort myself by thinking that this is just a small pocket of people in the Midwest that have nothing to do with my world, but in light of last weekend's white supremacist rally in Charlottesville and the political climate of our nation, I have to acknowledge that this is real and this is how white people feel. The dismissive tone and the repetitive use of words like "silly" and the victimized tones that the comments carry leave me feeling absolutely drained and exhausted. We are drowning in a sea of hate.
For next month's post and moving forward, please send me questions and topics that you would like to discuss that involve libraries, books, diversity, and the children's literature community. email@example.com
Fifi Abu spends her days surrounded by books that have already been created and the rest of her time writing and illustrating books yet to be born. She looks forward to a day when all children can see themselves reflected in the books they read. Ms. Abu holds a master's degree in children's literature and a master's degree in library science, is an active member of SCBWI, a Children's Book Academy graduate, and is represented by Linda Epstein at the Emerald City Literary Agency. She is pleased to announce that she has been elected to the 2019 Caldecott Committee.
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