I am back! After a long hiatus from posting on my blog. (I was working very hard on my next picture book).
But more importantly, I have some fantastic news to share! My Five Hungry Mice picture book was recently awarded a Silver Moonbeam award for excellence in pre-school picture books. What an honor!
The Moonbeam Award was founded by Jenkins Publishing in 2007 to encourage children to fall in love with reading - because a child with good reading skills will become a better communicator and problem solver, and be generally more successful in life.
Launched in 2007, the awards are intended to bring increased recognition to exemplary children's books and their creators, and to celebrate children's books and life-long reading. From alphabet books for toddlers to young adult books about gender and race, the Moonbeam Awards recognize excellence in categories for children of every age and developmental stage. This year's 157 medal-winning books, were chosen from 1,150 entries.
If you would like to see all the winning entries you can check out the link here.
My mother and I travel to Traverse City, MI to attend the awards ceremony and be a part of the Traverse City Children's Book Festival. We met so many incredible people and had such a good time sharing our love of books, illustration and children with the many authors and illustrators that were in attendance. The Traverse City Children's Book Festival was a special event and we loved hanging out with the children who stopped by our table. At the end of the evening was the Moonbeam Awards ceremony. Man did Jim Barnes make us feel special as he called each one to stage to receive their award. There was lots of laughter and tears as each author and illustrator shared the story and inspiration behind their books and the personal ties they had to the stories. It was really touching to see traditions preserved, voices being heard, faith being shared, and laughter everywhere! I wanted to buy every book that was there! But more importantly, there was the feeling of being part of something that is bigger than yourself - the impact that reading and stories have on young children. There is no better feeling than to touch so many people so positively. It was truly magical!
If you want to discover some magical books for yourself check out a few links from some of my new friends.
Be sure to check out all the Moonbeam winners at the link above. I can't speak highly enough of this wonderful honor and the incredible people at the Jenkins Group whose passion for children and the love of reading make it happen every year:)
I wanted to share with you this wonderful story from "The Feed" a blog from the organization Feed My Starving Children. They featured me and my picture books in their latest post because of the contribution I make to them with the sale of my picture books. I am honored to be recognized by Feed My Starving Children as a Hope Champion. You can read the story here:
FMSC is a wonderful organization that I seek to plug every chance I get:) On their blog you will find lots of inspiring stories of Hope Champions who give to Feed My Starving Children in unexpected ways. Maybe you want to become a Hope Champion yourself. I highly encourage you to explore the blog and learn about FMSC. If you love children like I do, then you will want to get involved.
The quote that they put at the top of the feature says it all....
"But Jesus called the children to him and said, 'Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.'" – Luke 18:16
Wow! It's May and I'm just getting around to posting this piece of art I made back in March. Well, I think you are going to like this even though it's a bit late.
So here is the story....I belong to the Society of Children's Books Writers and Illustrators and we have a local chapter for those in New York state. Back in the fall, the leaders of the local chapter (WestCenNYSCBWI) decided to start a sketchtravel, which is a traveling sketchbook that moves from illustrator to illustrator. I signed up to participate and wound up being the last person on the list to add a sketch before the book went off to our annual spring conference. That means I got to see all of the art before anyone else did, not even the organizers of the sketch travel got to see it before me. How did I get so lucky?
When I received our traveling sketchbook it was like receiving gold in the mail! I was so excited to see the contributions of everyone and wondered what I would contribute. When I opened the sketchbook I was blown away! The most amazing art was in there and each piece has it's own personality. There was no theme to follow, just sketch whatever your heart desired. It was very inspirational to see the work and the mediums people chose to work in.
Here I am receiving the sketchbook in the mail.
To start I made a little video of the whole book for you to see, then I'll post some of the art individually, and lastly my contribution.
Now, here are a few pieces from the sketchbook that just blew me away...
And my contribution.....
When I painted this it had snowed again for what felt like the thousandth time. I was dreaming of spring and wishing it would hurry up and come. I thought of all the creatures that were sleeping the winter away and wishing I could do the same:)
Below you can see how the painting came together... I started with references and then made a sketch the size of the book. You can't imagine how nervous I was painting in this book that had so many wonderful pieces of art in it. I transferred my sketch into the book ever so carefully and then put tracing paper between the pages to prevent bleed through. I put a piece of plastic underneath it to keep the cover clean and I even moved my water to the other side of my work surface so I wouldn't spill it. Could you imagine...
Starting with a watercolor wash for the sky, I then moved to acrylics for the majority of the painting. I added in details with colored pencil and pen and ink.
I hope you enjoyed seeing the WestCenNY SCBWI Sketchtravel. I would be honored to participate in a project like this again. It was truly magical:)
Back in December I previewed for you a new project that I am working on called Cory and the 7th Story. I shared with you the characters, some environment studies and even the character's little homes. Since then I have been working on the story board and roughing out the pages. I am at the color roughs stage and hoping to have these finished by the end of the month (Yikes, that's only a few days away!) I thought you might like to see the characters I introduced you to in a few scenes with a little narration from the story.
Cory is a little raccoon who loves to read stories.
He loves all kinds of stories, but mostly he loves stories that end with "happily ever after". Cory lives in the old village, along the clear stream, near the edge of the deep forest, within the broad meadow with his woodland friends.
Normally the old village is a happy place. But recently, Cory's friends don't seem so happy. Some seem scared, like rabbit, and try to run away.
Others seem conniving and try to drive others away.
Still others seem to fight all the time...
This makes Cory very sad and he doesn't know what to do. Why are his friends not happy?
That is till a poet came to town one day. The poet was a creature that no one had ever seen before and she seemed to have magical words.
The poet shared a story that no one had ever heard before...the animals were amazed. And then.....
Well, what do you think? Wanna read it? Keep coming back, I'll have more to share and maybe even a surprise from the story!
Life is very busy right now, and I haven't had time to post much. I came across this little piece of art and quote and it was a reminder to me of those moments in life that get squeezed out when you are busy, and really and shouldn't.
So thank you to Thepicsees for their art and this great reminder. If you'll excuse me now I'm off to read a good bedtime story.....
A new year has begun and we are already one month into it! Wow! Where does the time go? I hope your year is off to a great start!
As you may know I spent much of the holiday launching my new picture book Five Hungry Mice all around Western New York. It was a huge success thanks to you all. But more importantly, I wanted to share with you, that your your generosity in supporting the sale of my book had far greater impact.
As you may know I donate 50% of all of the sales of my picture books to the organization Feed My Starving Children. Well, this year we donated enough to feed two families for a whole year! We were able to donate 22% more this year than last year, and we are on our way to feeding a village!
Providing meals to these hungry children has to be one of the most powerful things we can do to help them on the road to a happy and productive life. Sharing the blessings of your support of my art with these wonderful children is a privilege for me. And I want to let you know that I follow through with your donation to them every year.
So take a moment to smile, and realize that we have done something very good this past year. And with your support we will both continue to do good in the year to come.
Playing a little catch up here after a busy Christmas show season! I spent most of November and December launching Five Hungry Mice to all my friends in Western New York! Art shows, Children's book expos, local TV appearances, book signing, and more, oh my! I seem to have done it all. And I am so thankful for the support of my family, friends, and publisher who helped me with each of these opportunities.
What a wonderful reception you gave my newest picture book. The best part for me is always being able to visit with you, and learn about the children who will be reading my books. Thank you for taking the time to stop by my booth at my different art shows, or drop me a line in my e-mail, or send me support on social media. I love hearing from you all, and I especially love the pictures of children enjoying my books.
I like to keep a list of the names of the children I sign the books for and looking at it afterwards is like looking at Santa's nice list:)
I also had fun introducing a new character to you all, Howard the Monster. He and his monster friends made an appearance this year in my new Monster Match Game. Howard comes to me from Dave and Debbie Preston, who shared their wonderful song about Howard with me a few years ago. Howard is so adorable I just had to share him with you all, and now he is going to be a future picture book! Look for him for next Christmas season:)
So now it's January and I need to get working again. I have two projects this year that I hope to get done for you all. That means lots of painting and lots of fun!
So stay in touch and follow me on Instagram at heatherharris.illustration for some in the moment updates:)