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I'm A Picture Book Author/Illustrator, Editor, Ebook Tinkerer & Web Literacy Mentor

"sassy, spirited, inventive" - PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

I'm published by Candlewick Press, Farrar Straus & Giroux, Harper Collins, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Scholastic & others. I'm exploring empathy, code & storytelling with teens in my NYC studio. We ROCK #Steam #GirlPower!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

My Top 10 AWESOME Picture Book Friends

After reading the NEW YORK TIMES article about the decline of picture books, I started thinking about how important books were to me as a child and the daily comfort they bestowed. I have very fond memories of going to the library every Saturday, rain or shine to pick out new books for the week. 

This is how picture books became my life long friends.

Don't get me wrong, I love exploring new digital picture book narratives too, but there is nothing like holding a paper picture book in your hands for the first or 40th time.

If you are reading this post, I bet you know what I mean.

After I read the NYT article, I thought I needed to stand up and give my picture book friends the props they deserve, you know?
Applaud them for their unwavering friendship when I needed them most.

So here goes. Meet my top 10 AWESOME PICTURE BOOK FRIENDS.

1. A HOLE IS TO DIG 
Written by Ruth Krauss Illustrated by Maurice Sendak


I remember holding this book in my hand as a child. It has special memories for me. The limited palette of cross hatched, expressive black line drawings with simple brown text were inspired by the real life children of Harriet Johnson Nursery School. The simple gestures resonate with kids to this day. Sendak's drawings are filled with warmth, kindness and the simple joys of childhood, like holding a puppy, skipping rope or eating mashed potatoes. I always loved the small size too, just right for little hands.



2. TAR BEACH
Written & Illustrated by Faith Ringold


A beautiful story quilt packed with poetic narrative and luscious paintings of the New York City skyline and the George Washington Bridge. An inspired memory filled with bravery, longing and the hope of finding freedom. The original TAR BEACH story quilt was completed in 1988 and now resides in the collection of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City.




3. COME AWAY FROM THE WATER, SHIRLEY
Written & Illustrated by John Burningham


The juxtapositions of adventurous Shirley on the right with her non plus parents on the left, create a wonderful visual tension and narrative in this picture book. Pure genius in my humble opinion. The story taps into the natural state of imagination children live in. No adults or gadgets needed. Picture book students should study the visual narrative in this book. I think he is a master storyteller.



 4. A FARMERS ALPHABET
Written and Illustrated by Mary Azarian


I love the thoughtful work of Mary Azarian. This is one of my favorite books to share with kids to expose them to different types of art making. The woodcuts are masterful and full of the simple wonder of nature. The labor of love that is woodcut printmaking shines through in this beautiful large format book. A real paper joy to hold in your hand.




5. LIFE DOESN'T FRIGHTEN ME  
Written by Maya Angelou, Paintings by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Edited by Sara Jane Boyers


This is an inspired pairing by editor Sara Jane Boyers. The poetry of Maya Angelou and the painting of Jean-Michel Basquiat make great beats together. "I go boo / Make them shoo / I make fun / Way they run / I won't cry / So they fly." A great introduction to the power of painting and poetry. Gorgeous cover too.



6. THE CARROT SEED 
Written by Ruth Krauss & Illustrated by Crockett Johnson


This is a study in the power of the simplicity of idea married to the simplicity of character gesture that I find the hallmark of great picture books. A lesson in less is more. A gentle reminder of the power of patience and faith in one owns belief and intuition.  A real gem.



7. OVER THE MOON: A Book Of Nursery Rhymes
 Collected & Iillustrated by Charlotte Voake


As an illustrator I adore the line work of Charlotte Voake. She is a modern master of line, color and gesture. I think the British have this in their blood or something. She follows in the footsteps of other British greats like John Tenniel, Ernest H. Shepard and Edward Ardizzone. A true British classic.


8. THE LITTLE BRUTE FAMILY
Written by Russell Hoban and Illustrated by Lillian Hoban


I love to give this book to both children and adults! My 7 year old niece shared this with me years ago. It's a great story about the power of being the underdog. Even the littlest of us has something to give and teach the adults of this world. So listen UP! The characters are silly and sweet and come to value the voice of the littlest Brute. Lovely and deep.



9. ONE FISH, TWO FISH
Written & Illustrated by Dr. Seuss


Anyone who can pack all that joy into a book gets on the top of my list. Who doesn't remember how to complete these sentences: One Fish...(insert following line here). Or what about: Thing one...(insert following line here). I love the visual rhythm Seuss creates on the pages using text, simple color blocks, and the facial expressions of his zany characters. It made me happy as a kid to read it and it still does. Long live the goofball!



10. MR RABBIT & THE LOVELY PRESENT
Written by Charlotte Zolotow & Illustrated by Maurice Sendak


I remember holding this book in my hand as a child too. I loved the dreamy feelings created by the rhythm of Sendak's Monet inspired paintings. The poetic repetitive verse paired with the lush paintings create a simple, wondrous world shared by two friends as they wander around in search of the perfect gifts of color. An inventive color primer. Another Sendak love (there are more)!

LONG LIVE MY PICTURE BOOK FRIENDS!
YOU ROCK!

Here are other PICTURE BOOK LISTS I found wandering around the web:

100 Picture Books Everyone Should Know New York Public Library
Best Picture Books goodreads
Best Picture Books Children May Never Read CultureMob
Top Picture Book List from Tanya Lee Stone and others hosted by Sergio Ruzzier
10 Favorite Picture Books: A Boooklights (PBS) Reissue Jen Robinson's Book Page

What are some of your favorite picture books?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Creativity Is As Important As Literacy and We Should Treat It With The Same Status - Sir Ken Robinson

I love this TED TALK from Sir Ken Robinson. I believe creativity saves lives. It certainly saved mine. I've heard this again and again. It should be celebrated and explored more deeply in our schools and families. Children need creativity as a tool for survival.

Of course it is better said by Sir Ken Robinson here at TEDtalks:

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

ZEN Brushes APP by PSOFT MOBILE

I attended the iAMDA (International Association of Mobile Digital Artists) conference in NYC last weekend that took place at ITP NYU. I learned about the quality of digital lines you can make in ZEN BRUSHES by PSOFT MOBILE in Japan, so I thought I would give it a try.

WOW! This APP is both simple and elegant. There are 17 different surfaces to draw on that mimic and resemble different types of Japanese papers. Some even have frames. There is an adjustable brush with 3 different brush colors (black and 2 lovely shades of gray) and an eraser.  The simplicity is beautiful and feels the most like the actual ink painting I do. Without the mess. {BUT I LOVE THE MESS!}
 

You can even import it into the BRUSHES APP like I did below and start repainting and recoloring it.
Can you believe I did this all on an iPad with an APP that cost $2.99? As an illustrator I find this amazing.


 ZEN BRUSHES APP is a my NEW APP LOVE for sure! WATCH it in action:


Friday, October 22, 2010

International Association of Mobile Digital Artists



ABOUT iAMDA:
The International Association of Mobile Digital Artists (iAMDA) promotes and supports artists who utilize mobile digital media to create art ranging from paintings, photography, mixed media and music. Media includes cellphones, mobile tablets (ie. iPods/IPads), mobile graphic tablets or any other mobile wireless device(s). The organization is committed to supporting these artists through the development of educational resources, programs, workshops, conferences, and promotional events.


This weekend iAMDA will hold its first annual MobileArtCon at NYU ITP Tisch School of the Arts October 23-24, 2010.
I'm excited to be attending the event with more than 200 international artists, techies, art app developers. I'll be tweeting about it this weekend #mobileartcon10.
Lots of interesting events are planned including a giant screen in TIMES SQUARE showing a live ipad drawing Saturady night Octoober 23, 2010. VERY COOL!
For more about the mobile art con click here.
Follow me on twitter to get more information from conference panels and artists! 
Do you draw or make noise on the ipad? Join us!

WIlliam Kentridge ART21/PBS

I have seen this 3 times on PBS and every time I watch it I am more enamored with his work. Just stunning. I believe this captures something that digital animation will never be able to do. The spirited work of the hand. His charcoal drawings are full of emotional depth and poetry. GO WATCH.






There is a Jeffrey Brown PBS conversation here.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Digital Explosion: The Book Anytime by Dominique Raccah

If you work in publishing.....this is a quick presentation by Dominique Raccah of what a book can be. Where is the line between a book and an APP? Great food for thought.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Sir Ken Robinson on Changing Education Paradigms



Interesting overview of "the intellectual model of the mind." Sir Ken Robinson's POV is that we have to move in the opposite direction of standardization and inspire divergent thinking.

5 REASONS ILLUSTRATORS NEED TO BE ON TWITTER

I am new to TWITTER (@cynthiajabar) and LOVE it! I took a class at NYU this past summer with Yen Cheong (Book Publicity Blog) called CREATING AUTHOR PLATFORMS. I thought that TWITTER was just about celebrities telling us what they had for breakfast. Who cares what Paris or Perez Hilton is wearing? Not me.

Well, I was totally wrong! It really blew me away. The connections and information you can accumulate in just a week is amazing. Here are a few reasons to join TWITTER if you are an illustrator:

1. INSPIRATION.
I have seen amazing posts from BLOGGERS who tweet their links to their BLOGS or websites. I would never find these artists if I was just stumbling around on the internet. This is how I discovered Hirokatsu Hijukata at aqua-velvet.com @aquavelvet. A fabulous inspirational website.

2. CONNECTION.  
Most illustrators work alone in their studios. It's important to connect with other artists so one doesn't get "cabin fever." One must not go BONKERS no? I found out from writer Greg Pincus at The Happy Accident there are 2 TWITTER chats every week hosted by @BonnieAdamson and @GregPincus.
1. Tuesday at 9 PM, EST #KIDLITCHAT
2. Thursday 9 PM, EST #KIDLITART.
It's a great way to meet new friends and discuss illustration and KIDLIT topics in this case. You can find an archive of the KIDLIT CHATS here.
If you need basic information about #hashtags and followersDeanna Zandt, author of SHARE THIS, has a great post on her website called A Non-Fanatical Beginner's Guide To Twitter.

3. INFORMATION. 
You just can't beat TWITTER for up to date news. All the ePUB news appears here on TWITTER before you receive it in your email. Email seems so slow now!
If you are interested in digital publishing you might want to follow: @galleycat, @RWW, @WSJdigits, @TOC, @PublishersLunch.

4. CONFERENCE TWEETS.
Many of us don't get to travel to all the great conferences across the  globe. You can always find the hashtag # for the conference and read the conference tweets that way. I recently read the tweets for Boston Book Fair #bbf10 and Frankfurt Book Fair #fbf10. You get to see who the "movers" and "shakers" are in you industry.

5. DRIVING TRAFFIC TO YOUR BLOG. 
If you want to drive traffic to your website to see your work, Connect a url to your TWEET. It works even if you just want to increase your following.

This is all still new to me. There are many things I don't even know yet. Here are a few links to some interesting articles I found, guess how? On TWITTER of course.

*How To use Twitter To Grow Your Business
*5 Steps to Going Viral on Twitter
*4 Ways To Use Twitter to Support Your Blog
*Who Can See My Tweets?
*A Non-Fanatical Beginner's Guide To Twitter

What other ways do you use TWITTER? Share the love yo!

SESAME STREET SONG: I LOVE MY HAIR!

If you haven't seen this, watch it now. Growing up as a girl with "unruly" hair or "mad" hair as my niece once described it, I totally relate. BRAVO to Joe Mazzarino at Sesame Street for creating this for his daughter Segi and all the "puffy" haired little girls everywhere. YOU TOTALLY ROCK DUDE DAD!

R. David Lankes & The New Librarianship in the Age of the Ebook


The New Librarianship in the Age of the Ebook from R. David Lankes on Vimeo.

This is a great read for anyone navigating the new digital narratives developing in the publishing world.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

New York Times picture book article

Here is the article that started all the 'ARE PICTURE BOOKS DEAD' HOOPLA.

 ipad doodle c. 2010 Cynthia Jabar  made with Autodesk Sketchbook Pro

 HIGHLIGHTS (or lowlights depending on your Epub point of view)
*picture books are so unpopular, so many of them die a sad little death
*economic downturn a factor but parents are pressing kids to read earlier because of increasingly rigorous standardized testing
*literacy experts are quick to say picture books are not for dummies
*kids have a lot of digital options

So what do you think is happening? Did you buy a picture book this year?

A few responses to the article:
The Storybird BLOG  "It's not that picture books are dead. Their production & distribution channels are dead. Just like music news and film."
One Potato BLOG  "Pish, I'm off to the movies now."

I personally don't think the turn-the-pages printed picture books will die. What about the thousands of people who live in poverty and don't have a digital device.
We all need stories.
I think publishers need to INNOVATE more and follow TREND LESS. How many vampires do we need?
I think the classics keep selling because they create an emotional experience. The UI rocks!
I think there is a market correction taking place propelled by the global economic downturn.
I think the celebrity picture book for celebrity sake is ova!
I think I'm going to get a nice hot cup of tea, read a picture book then continue creating my new picture book on my ipad!
The digital or print argument is a false choice.
It's AND.



Join me and other artists at the GALLERY DELLA-PIANA for a PICTURE BOOK EXHIBIT



Stuart Murphy travels all over the United States talking to thousands of kids about MATH! Stuart shows kids that they use MATH everyday- to share a pizza, spend their allowance, and even sort socks.
Gallery Della -Piana will host an exhibit featuring illustration from the 63 MATH PACKED books picture books written by Stuart. The Hamilton-Wenham Library will also be sponsoring a talk and presentation about HOW ILLUSTRATORS WORK WITH WORDS, featuring Barbara Elleman, author of VIRGINIA BURTON, AN AMERICAN CLASSIC, editor of Booklinks and Bookviews Magazines, and Stuart-a visual learning specialist, from 1-3 on October 23, 2010. Following the talk, GALLERY DELLA-PIANA will host a gala opening of the show at the gallery from 4-6. COME VISIT AND CHAT WITH STUART & THE ARTISTS.