My Books

Creating children's books has always been my ideal way to bring my imagination to life. I'm sure that I'm not the only artist whose ideas play out in his mind like a bright and colourful animation. If done correctly, children's books are an elegant way to tell a far-fetched and visually stunning story without the massive and costly effort of actually producing a film. You can stick me at a desk on my own with my pastels for a couple of months, and out pops an entire world! 

Also, without the noise and movement of a movie, the illustrations in a book sit quietly and allow the silence to be filled with the child's imagination. I love that my illustrations are simply there to prompt a child to dream up things that he or she has not thought about before. Instead of passively looking at my art, I hope children are invigorated by it and interact actively and jubilantly with whoever is reading my books to them -- unless, of course, it's bedtime!

My reading of Mermaid Dance to a group of children at a book-signing

 

The Books

I invite you to peruse my titles below. So far, I've only had my illustrations to other people's stories published, which is certainly no bad thing. Nevertheless, I've already taken my hand to penning my own stories, and I look forward to developing books that are both written and illustrated by me in the future.

 
Snow Party by Harriet Ziefert
Published in 2008
This is the first children's book that I illustrated. I was finishing 
my last year of university and was lucky to meet and befriend
Elliot Kreloff, the associate publisher and head designer at 
Blue Apple Books Inc, while playing volleyball in New York City.
Elliot took me under his wing and gave me some wonderful
pointers on children's art. He, along with Blue Apple head publisher
and author Harriet Ziefert, continued to guide my style. They
then gave me Harriet's manuscript for Snow Magic which
would eventually be reborn through all our efforts as Snow Party. It
tells the tale of a group of snow men, snow women and
snow children who gather to have a lovely lantern-lit celebration
during the winter solstice. Snow Party received a wonderfully
positive "star" review from Publisher's Weekly.
You can order your own copy here (UK) or here (US).
• 
Mermaid Dance by Marjorie Hakala
Published in 2009
For my second book, I was teamed up with another young
member of the Blue Apple Books family, Marjorie Hakala. In
keeping with Snow Party's theme of the solstice, this book
centres on the summer solstice and the summery tropical
mermaids who gather on a beach to celebrate it. Of course, it
would not be a party without dancing, and the mermaids whip
up a fun frenzy in the water as their fins gyrate to music from
shell horns and sea-turtle drums. It is due to be republished as
Mermaid Dance: A Story of the Summer Solstice in Spring
2015, so check back here to find out more!
You can order a copy of Mermaid Dance here (UK) or here (US).
 •
By the Light of the Harvest Moon by Harriet Ziefert
Published in 2009
Seasonal parties are certainly a theme in my first books. Following
Winter and Summer, Blue Apple Books decided that a Fall motif
was appropriate. Harriet Ziefert, returning to author this book,
decided that the story would also follow the format of a magical
gathering, like my previous books. This time, the magical entities
meeting up to have a party would be "leaf people". She guided
me through many sketches of what leaf people might be.
Finally, she made it clear to me that she meant scare-crows
when writing about leaf people. After that, the book practically
created itself, since autumnal themes are so straightforward --
pumpkins, changing leaves, scarves, apples, cozy sweaters and
plenty of PIE!
You can get your own copy here (UK) or here (US).
Butterfly Birthday by Harriet Ziefert
Published in 2010
I was honoured to help out with the plot of this Blue Apple
book. Butterfly Birthday was my first foray into creating the story
arch of a picture book. I sketched out the whole story in a series
of line drawings, and then Harriet Ziefert added the text to
suit my artwork. To sum it up, all the insects in a picturesque
meadow are waking up after the long, cold winter to plan a
big party. However, they wonder why all the caterpillars haven't
helped with organising the celebration, only to learn that the
caterpillars had disappeared in order to reveal a very
colourful surprise!
Order your own copy of Butterfly Birthday here (UK) or here (US).
Christmas Delicious by Lyn Loates
Published in 2010
With all four seasons done, my next magical celebration book
focused on a very specific time of year: Christmas. The
manuscript for this book came all the way from New Zealand in the
form of Lyn Loates's festive rhyming tale. As usual, it was a team
effort at Blue Apple to transform the charming text into the
sparkly, polished book that is available today. I personally love
anthropomorphised animals, and Lyn's mouse characters (Raisin and
Rice) were a delight to draw. The pair of mice live in a wondrous deli
in New York and want to use the bounty of their surroundings
to throw a Christmas party for the animals of the city. You
have to read the story to find out if they remember
everything -- including the invitations to their friends!
Just go here (UK) or here (US) to order Christmas Delicious.
J.D.'s Scratch Match by Mark Gabriele
Published in 2012
After moving to London, I was contacted by Mark Gabriele (founder
of Mirambel Publishing) to help him bring to life a series of books
intended as a vehicle for giving to charity. The books were each
written for and (in some cases) in conjunction with specific children.
A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the books goes to
a charitable organisation of the child's choice. J.D.'s story tells
the tale of a boy who is driven to distraction by the scratching
of a mouse in the walls of his house. I won't give it away,
so you'll have to discover the hilarious outcome by
reading the book! Also, J.D.'s Scratch Match was a finalist
for Picture Book of the Year 2012 at IndieFab books.
You can order your own copy here (UK) or here (US).
Melissa & Alfonso's First Farewell by Mark Gabriele
Published in 2012
I drew the entire series of books for Mirambel Publishing over
the course of one summer. While the other books in the series
were intended to tickle the funny bone, Melissa & Alfonso's First
Farewell tugs gently at the heart strings. It's a sweet story about
a girl and her favourite toy parting ways when she goes on a
vacation with her family. The toy, Alfonso, dreams up a fun
way to stay connected with Melissa while she's away.
You can order a copy for yourself here.
Elena's Big Cheese Squeeze by Mark Gabriele
Published in 2012
Kids have the uncanny ability to find certain innocuous phrases
hysterical, and Elena is no different. This is a perfect book to
read out loud to children, as it gives the reader ample opportunity
to make funny voices. Nevertheless, all the resulting giggles are for
a good cause, since Mark Gabriele of Mirambel Publishing 
makes donations to a charity of (the very real) Elena's choice.
Order your own copy here.
Sofia's Backwards Day by Mark Gabriele
Published in 2012
Of the four books that I illustrated for Mirambel Publishing, this
one is the most beautifully childlike in its simple whimsy. Sofia
has woken up and decided to live an entire day backwards. She
has dinner for breakfast, reads books in reverse, and answers
the telephone with "Goodbye!" This is the ideal story for
anyone who has had a bit too much common sense
in their day-to-day life.
Sofia's Backwards Day is available to order here.
Escape From Pacaya by Nicolas Brasch
Published in 2013
This is my first book that is actually grounded in history. In
2010, Guatemalan volcano, Pacaya, erupted and numerous
towns and villages nearby had to be evacuated. The book was
created to be sold as a set to classrooms by Teacher Created
Materials, however, it is available as a single book to the
general public. It was wonderful to have to actually research
a set place, an exact time, and a foreign culture in order to
create the artwork for this book. The tale is a harrowing
one, but not too scary for children. In fact, when
I was a child, I would have found it fascinating.
You can order a copy of the book here (UK) or here (US).
Candle Bible For Me by Juliet David
Published in 2013
My first (but not last) foray into the world of religious publishing,
Bible For Me by Candle Books is a toddler-friendly (simply worded) 
telling of eight Old Testament and eight New Testament stories.
Although it is for very young readers, the illustrations are quite
detailed, and I took great care to create beautiful scenery and 
dynamic characters. Visually, at least, it is a great book for any
age -- though it probably belongs best in the Bronze Age, if
you'll excuse the pun!
Go here (UK) or here (US) if you wish to order your own copy.
A Baseball Giant by Nicolas Brasch
Published in 2013
In my second book for Teacher Created Materials, I think I learned
more than I ever thought I would know about Japanese baseball
in the 1930s, when I did the research for it. That being said, I love a
challenge and having to draw a subject matter that held little
interest for me personally was surprisingly rewarding. I could
find tantalisingly little online about what baseball stadiums
looked like in pre-war Japan. Nevertheless, tracking down
obscure, old photographs was like a scavenger hunt and
I eventually got enough material to properly reference the
illustrations that I needed to create.
You can order a copy of the book here (UK) or here (US).
Janjak & Freda Go To The Iron Market by Elizabeth Turnbull
Published in 2013
This book is a bilingual tale set in Haiti, one page tells the story
in English, while the next page tells the same story in Creole.
It's a cute book, but I think the part that makes me truly
happy with it, is that Haitian children can read this book
and actually relate to it. I know close to nothing of what it
would be like to be a child growing up in Haiti, but I did
the research and tried my best to capture the essence
of the surroundings, even though I have never been.
From what I've heard, it paid off, and the book has gone
down a smash in the Haitian classrooms where it has
been shared.
You can order your own copy here (UK) or here (US).
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