Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick has new website

Award winning Irish children’s book author and illustrator Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick has a brand new web site called:

She is the author of many picture books as well as two novels for older readers. She is a  three time winner of the “Bisto” award: the most prestigious chidren’s literature award in the country, given to the best Irish children’s book of the year. Check out her site for more details.

She lives and works close to the Irish sea in the village of Greystones, a small place that manages to have eleven coffee shops and twelve Glen of Imaal terriers, an animal said to be more rare than the giant panda.

M-L used to have a Glen of Imaal terrier but now has a husband instead. She is married to an American children’s book author and illustrator whom she regularly takes for walks down to the coffee shops of Wicklow. Sometimes she even lets him come inside.

Emberley family invades Ireland

The Emberley family make their way to the National Library of Ireland on Kildare street in Dublin this weekend for the Children’s Books Ireland /Weaving a Shared Story conference. The family will be part of a large two day conference open to anyone interested in children’s literature.

From the program:

In what is sure to be one of the highlights of this year’s programme, CBI have brought together picture books’ premier family! We are delighted to be joined by Caldecott Medal winner Ed Emberley, the man who inspired a generation to draw, including his own children Rebecca and Michael. Today Ed and Rebecca join us from the USA, while Michael Emberley and his wife Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick join us from closer to home.  As this impressively creative extended family sit down together, be prepared for a lively debate about working practices, inspiration and collaboration. Illustrator and designer Steve Simpson chairs this session.”

Creative clans are not unique, there even are several in American children’s books, but this one goes on for longer and involves more family members than most. Ed, Rebecca, Barbara and Michael and Marie-Louise have all produced books over the years, Rebecca’s daughter Adrian and husband Peter Black are both professional singer/songwriter/musicians.

Ed has been writing, designing and illustrating books since 1962 with well over 100 books to date and no signs of stopping. He is known for picturebooks, as well as his classic drawing series including the “drawing alphabet” that some consider the only new insight into visual learning since the invention of the pencil…and the classic Go Away Big Green Monster.

Barbara has adapted or written several titles as well as “built’ many of Ed’s best known drawing books by creating thousands of pages of mechanical artwork.

Rebecca has been involved with children’s books since the 70’s, at one point creating her own publishing company, and has recently collaborated on an explosion of wildly creative picturebook titles with Ed and Adrian as well as the world of new media – animation and apps.

Marie-Louise is a well known icon in Irish children’s literature, having won the coveted Irish Bisto bestbook award 3 times. She has written and illustrated many picturebooks, as well as three novels.

Michael has been writing and/or illustrating children’s books since the age of 18.  His first book was published in 1980, and with a few breaks, continues to this day with collaborations with several award winning American authors such as Barbara Bottner, US Children’s laureate Mary Ann Hoberman, and Robie Harris. He is currently busy exploring new ideas by writing longer books and novels, demonstrating the creative drive never stops.

Ed and Barbara met at Art school back in the 50’s in Boston Mass., and Michael and Marie-Louise met at a Children’s literature conference, not unlike this one, in Maryland, USA. Proving all kinds of creative unions and collaborations can occur these events. Join us!

Maybe a Bear Ate It! wins state Honor

Maybe A Bear Ate It! (text by Robie Harris, published by Scholastic/Orchard) was chosen as the sole book for the state-wide Colorado, USA, One Book 4 Colorado program. This event manages to put the same book into the hands of every 4 year old in the state. (

The Book was featured originally as a co-publication with the organization – Reach Out and Read – which aims to get more books into children’s hands through the health services – Doctors offices for example. Children attending a doctor appointment would leave with a free book to keep. Encouraging the idea of literacy as part of a broader health strategy.  Reach out and Read in Colorado was involved with the One Book 4 Colorado program.

Some of my favorite images of the character I named “Gatto”, for myself, since he has no actual name in the text. Not just for fun – it makes it tedious to keep referring to him as “the main character” during editorial meetings. These images were taken from the Korean edition. I like the jacket and the text, like most designers, looks better to me in Asian lettering…I don’t know, it just does. I’ll add some more later.

New Book is out!

The new book is out! It’s a long one at 144 pages. Didn’t count how many illustrations. It’s a poetry anthology put together by Mary Ann Hoberman, former US Children’s Poet Laureate. Some original poems by MA but mostly a vast selection of poems from all over not just children’s books.

Not every page has art on it though. Some pages are completely blank as the owners of rights stipulated no image on the page, not even a decorative border….

I had fun with this one as it has so many different style poems in it. Broken into chapters of similar types like sad, or scary, or poems about time…. speaking of which I always enjoy doing the more unusual ones with abstract or surreal themes.

I also tried to combine art into a spread encompassing several poems. Not as easy as you’d think.

I’ll add more art soon.

An Annoying ABC Jacket

A book jacket can take a long time to get right. Almost always there are conflicting issues –  from marketing demands, editorial preferences, to the illustrators artistic ego. I want one thing they want another. We all have the same goal: make the best jacket possible. But not everyone has the same idea of what constitutes the best solution.

The jacket is the sales tool for the book. The message should be about two things: here’s what I am about – buy me. Usually the primary drive for the publisher, and rightly so, is getting the “Buy Me” message across no matter what it looks like. As the designer or illustrator, my desire is for both the book to sell and look great as well. I always assume both are possible. But time is usually my problem. Not enough of it to find  the perfect design that makes everyone happy.

The jacket for this book: An Annoying ABC, was pretty straightforward. I came up with a few ideas and this one with kids holding the letters A B C above them came early on.After a few thoughts, I drew as many different faces as I felt I needed to get the expressions just right.

More to come…