Thursday, September 30, 2010


Jeff Kinney and team arrive at the Macy's Studio in New Jersey

Jeff works on the design of Greg's mouth

New York, NY, September 30, 2010—Get ready for Jeff Kinney’s Wimpy Kid as you’ve never seen him before! Amulet Books, an imprint of ABRAMS, and Macy’s announce the 2010 debut of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid balloon in the 84th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day ParadeĆ¢. Stepping off on Thursday, November 25, 2010, the Macy’s Parade is broadcast nationally on NBC-TV, from 9 A.M. to 12 P.M., in all time zones. In 3-D for the first time, Wimpy Kid is one of two new giant character helium balloons that will debut in the legendary Parade lineup this year, joining 13 other helium giants. The Parade is part of a series of initiatives celebrating the release of the fifth book in the series, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth, which is on sale Tuesday, November 9, 2010, with a first printing of 5 million copies.

“I’m incredibly excited that Diary of a Wimpy Kid has been chosen to be a part of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade,” said Jeff Kinney. “When I think of all of the iconic characters that have flown in years past, I feel humbled and honored that my character will be a part of the Parade’s history.” ABRAMS president and CEO Michael Jacobs added, “Kids and adults alike will be delighted to see and experience their favorite children’s book character rendered ‘larger than life.’ We are thrilled Wimpy Kid will be shared with millions—in person and on TV around the world—at a grand new height.”

In addition to seeing their favorite character take a larger-than-life form, Wimpy Kid fans are encouraged to enter a sweepstakes to win a trip to New York to see the Diary of a Wimpy Kid balloon up close. Open for entries on September 30, one lucky winner and three guests will celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday in New York along the Parade route. The winning entry will receive airfare for four people, a hotel room for two nights, and VIP grandstand tickets to watch the Parade live as it makes its way down the streets of New York City. Full details and an entry form can be found by going to Entries will be accepted through October 30, 2010.

“The Macy’s balloon line-up will once again reach new heights this year with the debut of Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” says Amy Kule, producer of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. “Jeff Kinney’s character is iconic for the millions of children who empathize and relate with his trials and tribulations. We are excited to welcome him into the Macy’s Parade family and can't wait to see the smiles of children everywhere when they see him take flight on Thanksgiving Day.”

For more than 80 years, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has been the official kick-off of the holiday season. Every year, the

Parade is seen by more than 3.5 million people who line the streets of New York and more than 50 million people who tune into NBC to watch the giant balloons, one-of-a-kind floats, the nation’s best marching bands, hundreds of cheering clowns, and a host of celebrities ring in the holidays.

Since publication of the first Diary of a Wimpy Kid book in April 2007, more than 37 million books are in print in the United States, and the books have been sold in more than 30 countries around the world. Published by Amulet Books, an imprint of ABRAMS, Kinney’s work has been widely credited for its ability to turn reluctant readers on to books. In 2010, the movie adaptation of Diary of a Wimpy Kid grossed more than $60 million in box office sales, the book series won a Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Award, and books in the series won numerous awards voted on by students and teachers in schools around the globe. In 2009, Jeff Kinney was named one of TIME magazine’s most influential people in the world. A second movie is in production now and is expected to be in theaters March 2011.

Books by Jeff Kinney include Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days, Diary of a Wimpy Kid Do-It-Yourself Book, and The Wimpy Kid Movie Diary. The next book, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth, goes on sale Tuesday November 9, 2010. The series is a fixture on the USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and Publishers Weekly bestseller lists, and has remained consistently in the top spots on the New York Times lists since publication.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Nikki McClure's Studio and Sneak Peak at TO MARKET, TO MARKET

Nikki McClure is a self-taught artist who has been making paper-cuts since 1996. She is the author and illustrator of Collect Raindrops and Mama, Is It Summer Yet? and the illustrator of All in a Day, by Cynthia Rylant. She visits her farmers market in Olympia, Washington, every week. Visit her online at

Here is where she answer emails, scan artwork, and looks at small things blown up huge on the computer. Nikki's 6 year old son has his work bench right behind her. He makes daggers and boats and shields while she toils. Her Grandmother looks down on it all- a plasma cut experiment-glowing with the eastern morning light. Sometimes, when it is sunny, the light streams through the edge of my computer and makes rainbows on my fingers as she types. This is in her dining room.

Now a walk out the back door to Nikki's studio and her real desk, a bit messy this morning. Piles of projects and a discarded scarf lie in wait on top of the file drawer. The work of the day is to finish a picture her son and partner in a hammock, reading on the last day of summer before school started. She has photos and sketches tucked under the mat. The whole cutting board goes away when she is sketching. Nikki just uses it for cutting, to spare my neck. She keep my box of old blades in the far corner window ledge along with my sharp knife. 2 cups= tea and water. Bird feeders in all the windows. Her son's pictures of mushrooms and a forest hut.

Desktop. List of things to do, water, photo for next project, magic pencil- "I can only draw with this one and freak out if it is missing", my At-A-Glance calendar- a funny choice for someone who makes calendars, a crow sketch from the feeder, iphone and headphones because I am convinced that cell phones cause brain cancer, a vase with no flowers (need to do something about that)

Inspirational words.

Nikki's floor at the end of the day. A leaf from blueberry picking somehow made it into my studio too.

To see other studios or desks go to

Her are is a sneak peak at Nikki's next book To Market, To Market

Known for art that celebrates the virtues of community, hard work, and living gently on the planet, Nikki McClure here explores a topic close to her heart: the farmers market. Alternating between story and fact, this lovingly crafted picture book follows a mother and son to the weekly market. As they check off items on their shopping list, the reader learns how each particular food was grown or produced, from its earliest stages to how it ended up at the market. To Market, to Market is a timely book that shines awareness on the skill that goes into making good food.

Evolution of Heart of a Samurai cover

About the book
In 1841, a Japanese fishing vessel sinks. Its crew is forced to swim to a small, unknown island, where they are rescued by a passing American ship. Japan’s borders remain closed to all Western nations, so the crew sets off to America, learning English on the way.

Manjiro, a fourteen-year-old boy, is curious and eager to learn everything he can about this new culture. Eventually the captain adopts Manjiro and takes him to his home in New England. The boy lives for some time in New England, and then heads to San Francisco to pan for gold. After many years, he makes it back to Japan, only to be imprisoned as an outsider. With his hard-won knowledge of the West, Manjiro is in a unique position to persuade the shogun to ease open the boundaries around Japan; he may even achieve his unlikely dream of becoming a samurai.

With most projects I try to give the illustrator freedom to come up with there own concepts from which I will comment on. There are times when due to time or a very specific idea that this doesn't always work. But when it does I think this approach helps bring out the best work. in an illustrator Jillian is a prime example of this philosophy. She gave me more than I could have hoped for. Jillian's first round of sketches included five different approaches.


You got to love an illustrator that gives you so much to work with. Out of these five sketches the fifth really caught my eye. I was really excited about the possibility of spot varnishing the whales onto the cover. However after discussing all the sketches at a cover meeting we decided we wanted more action and less character based cover. After all this book is about the journey the character goes on. Jillian responded again with a variety of fresh ideas.

This was an exciting new take and gave us what the action we where looking for. But I felt that we needed a more centered composition. There was however several detail that I though could still be used. The tiny boat filled with sailors being tossed around by an angry sea for example. Also I the group really loved the giant whale tale. So as you can see from below we tried out a new composition based on these pieces

But still we were not quite there.

Jillian who I am sure was losing steam at this point mustered up this beautiful idea below.
Still the ideas of the angry sea versus the small boat was still on my mind as well as the whales from Jillian's first sketch that I liked. From those pieces we put together this sketch below.

Finally we were on the right track.

Jillian hand drew the type. It's important to be that the type and illustration work together. What better way for that to happen if they are both done by the same hand.

Next step color

Then full cover layout.

Spot varnish layout. All the black areas will be glossy and the white areas matte.

Last step add the 4 starred reviews to the back cover!

On another note Jillian just release INDOOR VOICE a collections of tiny comics, little drawings. pen, brush, ink, watercolor, and collage experiments that show how Tamaki arrives at her illustration work, as well as more polished and personal comics work examining her relationship to her parents and their influence on her art.

published by Drawn & Quarterly, August 2010
Softcover, ISBN: 978-1770460140

Authors: By Margi Preus
Imprint: Amulet Books
ISBN: 0-8109-8981-6
EAN: 9780810989818
Availability: In Stock
Publishing Date: 8/1/2010
Trim Size: 5 1/2 x 8 1/4
Page Count: 320
Cover: Hardcover with jacket

"A terrifc biographical novel by Margi Preus." -Wall Street Journal

*STARRED review from Booklist*

Manjiro is 14 when a freak storm washes him and his four fishing companions onto a tiny island far from their Japanese homeland. Shortly before starving, they are rescued by an American whaling ship. But it’s 1841 and distrust is rampant: the Japanese consider the whalers “barbarians,” while the whalers think of the Japanese as “godless cannibals.” Captain William Whitfield is different—childless, he forges a bond with the boy, and when it comes time for Manjiro to choose between staying with his countrymen or going to America as Whitfield’s son, he picks the path of adventure. It’s a classic fish-out-of-water story (although this fish goes into the water repeatedly), and it’s precisely this classic structure that gives the novel the sturdy bones of a timeless tale. Backeted by gritty seafaring episodes—salty and bloody enough to assure us that Preus has done her research—the book’s heart is its middle section, in which Manjiro, allegedly the first Japanese to set foot in America, deals with the prejudice and promise of a new world. By Japanese tradition, Manjiro was destined to be no more than a humble fisherman, but when his 10-year saga ends, he has become so much more. Wonderful back matter helps flesh out this fictionalized companion to the same true story told in Rhoda Blumberg’s Shipwrecked! The True Adventures of a Japanese Boy (2001).
— Daniel Kraus

*STARRED review from Kirkus Reviews*
In 1841, 14-year-old Manjiro joined four others on an overnight fishing trip. Caught by a severe storm, their small rowboat was shipwrecked on a rocky island. Five months later, they were rescued by the crew of a whaling ship from New Bedford. Manjiro, renamed John Mung, was befriended by the captain and eventually lived in his home in New Bedford, rapidly absorbing Western culture. But the plight of his impoverished family in Japan was never far from Manjiro’s mind, although he knew that his country’s strict isolationist policy meant a death sentence if he returned. Illustrated with Manjiro’s own pencil drawings in addition to other archival material and original art from Tamaki, this is a captivating fictionalized (although notably faithful) retelling of the boy’s adventures. Capturing his wonder, remarkable willingness to learn, the prejudice he encountered and the way he eventually influenced officials in Japan to open the country, this highly entertaining page-turner is the perfect companion to Shipwrecked! The True Adventures of a Japanese Boy, by Rhoda Blumberg (2001). (historical note, extensive glossary, bibliography.) (Historical fiction. 9-13)

*STARRED review from School Library Journal*
A Japanese teenager living in the mid-19th century bridges two worlds in this stunning debut novel based on true events. Manjiro and his fellow fishermen find refuge on a remote island after a storm destroys their ship. When they are rescued by an American whaleboat captain and given the chance to return home with him, Manjiro accepts the offer. His encounters with a land that he has been taught is barbaric and his subsequent efforts to return to Japan shape him into an admirable character. Preus places readers in the young man’s shoes, whether he is on a ship or in a Japanese prison. Her deftness in writing is evident in two poignant scenes, one in which Manjiro realizes the similarities between the Japanese and the Americans and the other when he reunites with his Japanese family. A sailor named Jolly and an American teen express the racism he experiences in America. Both of these characters gain sympathy from readers as their backgrounds are revealed, and as one of them comes to respect Manjiro. The truths he learns about himself and his fellow men and women are beautifully articulated. Manjiro’s own drawings are well placed throughout the narrative and appropriately captioned. Preus includes extensive historical notes and a bibliography for those who want to know more about the man and the world in which he lived.

*STARRED review from Publishers Weekly*
In picture book author (The Peace Bell) Preus’s excellent first novel, based on the true story of Manjiro Nakahama, Manjiro is 14 in 1841 when he is shipwrecked in a storm. An American whaling ship eventually rescues him and his shipmates, and while his fellow fishermen are fearful of the “barbarians,” Manjiro is curious about them and the world. Knowing Japanese law forbids him from returning home because he’s left the country, he learns English and whaling, gets a new name and family with the captain, and eventually seeks his way in America as the first known Japanese to set foot there. He finds innovative ways to challenge both hardships and prejudice, and never loses his curiosity. Preus mixes fact with fiction in a tale that is at once adventurous, heartwarming, sprawling, and nerve-racking in its depictions of early anti-Asian sentiment. She succeeds in making readers feel every bit as “other” as Manjiro, while showing America at its best and worst through his eyes. Period illustrations by Manjiro himself and others, as well as new art from Jillian Tamaki, a glossary, and other background information are included.
About the author
Margi Preus has written many popular plays and picture books for children. She teaches a children’s literature course at the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, Minnesota, where she writes for Colder by the Lake Comedy Theater and also watches for whales on Lake Superior. This is her first novel. Visit her online at

Sunday, September 12, 2010

What did you do this weekend?

Well, I know what I did!

Friday night I attended a show at the Society of Illustrators called Blow-Up. Three illustrators with vastly different backgrounds: Tomer Hanuka, Yuko Shimizu, and Sam Weber. It is quite possibly the best show I have ever seen at the Society in quite sometime. If you are in the New York area, I highly recommend that you head over to 63rd street and Lexington and take a look.

Lauren Castillo chats it up.

Saturday was our neighborhood block party.

Where for some reason a neighbor asked if I want to judge the block Dog Show.
I could have said, "NO", but who turns down and offer like that? The categories were
1. Best dressed 2. Cutest 3. Most Unique. What kind of category is Most Unique anyway?

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I left the block party early to attend Michael Buckley's book party at
Powerhouse Books fro NERDS 2: M is for Mama's Boy.

Michael's son Finn was also in attendance
Later Saturday night I attended Illustrator | Rock Star gig at the Gun & Rod Club in Williamsburg

Marcellus Hall works on his set list

The drummer, Chris Raymond

Sunday, I took it easy.

I had brunch and a nice drink at Prime Meats.

Later I went on the hunt for a new book.

Did a couple drawings

For more Drawings click here

And then took in a sunset.

What did you do?