…Back in Vermont














…but NOT sitting in this chair…
…more posts coming this week…

…and Sunday, July 1st I will be at the Eric Carle Museum in Amherst, MA.
for storytime and yum-yum-bugs!


It is an amazing place….the Ezra Jack Keats exhibit opens tomorrow!
I saw it at the Jewish Museum in NY.
I can’t wait to see it again!
I hope to see you there!..tcp


…More wonderful watercolors from Chamberlin Elementary….

…continued from my June 5th post…

The squalling cat and the squeaking mouse,
The howling dog by the door of the house,
The bat that lies in bed at noon,
all love to be out by the light of the moon…

Mrs. Simpson’s 2nd graders use their community to illustrate Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem THE MOON.
(please visit June 5th’s post for an explanation of the project and to see more wonderful watercolors!)….tcp


The Moon by Robert Louis Stevenson shines on Chamberlin Elementary…

The moon has a face like the clock in the hall:
She shines on thieves on the garden wall,
On streets and fields and harbor quays,
And birdies asleep in the forks of the trees….

The students at Chamberlin Elementary in S. Burlington, VT and their librarian Mrs. Flickinger…were busy long before I arrived for my visit to their school.

What a great classroom project!

After reading my version of THE MOON, the 2nd graders re-illustrated Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem using their hometown of South Burlington and Burlington, Vermont. They chose Lake Champlain, the Echo Center in Burlington, their town park and their back yards for inspiration for the setting of the poem.

As these students learned about how words and pictures work together to tell a story, they also learned a lot about their own community.

Artwork by Mrs. Payson/Boudreau’s 2nd graders…

What a great idea….What fun it would be to see what students in New York City, Florida,Texas or Ohio would do with this poem using their own communities!

Thank you Mrs. Flickinger and to the students and teachers at Chamberlin Elementary for sharing your talent with me.
Your paintings are lovely.
I even see some double page spreads….cool…tcp

PS…For the curious…here is a link to my book and the story behind the story:
(warning…it is hard to compete with these young artists!)



In and out of the garden…questions from Mr. Owen’s first graders…


Do you like to pick flowers?

Yes I love flowers. I like to pick flowers and I like to grow flowers.
Sometimes when I go to the grocery store….flowers end up in my cart along with my groceries!
Here is the last bouquet that….oooops landed in my cart!

Do you have a garden?

Yes. We have flower gardens and one big vegetable garden.
My favorite thing to grow…purple carrots!
…time to plant my seeds.

My lupines are in full bloom.
…time to read one of my favorite books.
Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney.
I bet you can find this book in your local library!

What do you like to eat?

Purple carrots of course! They are purple on the outside and orange on the inside…

…and I like dark chocolate.

Do you like going to people’s schools?

Yes! It is fun to travel to schools around the country and spend time with students and teachers who love to read books. I love making books and I love sharing the process with others.

I really enjoyed meeting you and spending time at Brookside Elementary. You have a great school. Say hello to everyone for me!

Do you like kids?

Yes. Very much.
I even have a couple.

A boy and a girl.
Now they are all grown up….but they are still my kids…and I still like them…a lot.

We have lots of great kids in our neighborhood. They are tons of fun!

How do you make the book covers hard?

It is the publisher’s job to make the cover.
My job is to draw the picture for the cover.
The publisher will  print copies of my illustrations (pictures) and a machine will glue them to cardboard.

You can do the same thing. You don’t need a machine. Just a picture, cardboard and some glue. Give one of your own stories a “hardcover”.

You can make your own book!


School Visit…Questions from students in Yorktown Heights, NY

What fun it was to see the students come to my presentation wearing their “Bob Crowns” with yum-yum bugs wiggling!

I enjoyed my visit with the first graders at Brookside Elementary earlier this month. It is a lot of work for librarians and teachers to prepare their students before an author visit….it is wonderful to see libraians take the time to work with their students and send follow up questions…after the visit. Thank you Mrs. Menzie!

Here are answers to some of the questions from the first graders. (I sent answers for all of your questions to Mrs. Menzie….you can find her in the library!)

Ms. Cohen and Mrs. Frey’s 1st grade 

What is your favorite book that you wrote and do you have any ideas for a new story (after the elephant book)?

It is hard to decide which is my favorite book. Right now I have been working on Elephant and I think it is my favorite book. But when I was working on Bob, I thought it was my favorite book. When I worked on Myrtle, I thought it was my favorite book!


My editor, Margaret sent me a new manuscript for a new picture book that was written by a different author. It is very sweet. I will be spending the next few months working on the illustrations for this book. Maybe it will be my favorite book until…

…I jump into my next book…which I will write and illustrate…and might just be my favorite book!

 Do you know why a picture book is only 32 pages long?

Thirty two pages fits very well on a printing press. A picture book is printed on one big piece of paper. When you fold and cut that  paper it needs to be in multiples of 8. This means…

A book could be 8 pages (very short)
16 pages (still short but just the right length for many board books)
32 pages is just right for a picture book…

…just the right for a parent to hold a child in their lap and read the book from cover to cover.

Or….for a child to read to herself!

Wendy Watson is doing a wonderful job explaining this and more about the process of making a picture book on her blog. She is a wonderful author and illustrator and a great friend. You should go to your library and check out her books…I am sure your library is full of them! My all time favorite…Father Foxes Penny Rhymes.

Here is a link to Wendy’s Blog:

 Do you plan to write any adult books?

No. I love to read adult books. I love to write and illustrate children’s books.

We think you should illustrate a book of nursery rhymes

I love nursery rhymes. I made individual board books using nursery rhymes….Little Bo Peep, Hector Protector, Little Miss Muffet and Diddle Diddle Dumpling. I designed these books so babies can sit in a parent’s lap and listen to…

…one rhyme at a time!


It would be fun to make a book full of rhymes. It is on my “to do” list!

 Mrs. Foley’s First Grade

Do you like skiing or rock climbing or other sports?  

I love skiing. I have been skiing since I was 12 years old. Now I do a lot more cross country skiing than downhill skiing. I can cross country ski right out my door…in the winter time.

I have not tried rock climbing….Except I do love to hike and some trails make me feel like I am rock climbing!

Hiking the Cascades in Washington State with my big sister.

 What others things do you like to do?

I also love to swim. I love to bike. I love to travel (with my sketchbook)
I go to concerts and listen to music and sketch in my sketchbook. I visit art museums and art galleries. I like to sit on my front porch and read a good book or in the winter sit by the wood stove and read. I enjoy gardening. We grow vegetables, flowers and berries. My husband makes great jam with our berries. We love to go out to eat and try new and different foods.

Front porch…a favorite place to read

What is your favorite food?

First favorite…Chocolate!
My second favorite food…purple carrots. They are delicious! They are purple on the outside and orange on the inside. They are very cool. You can grow them in a garden or sometimes find them at a farmer’s market.

Do you like writing or illustrating best?

I love to write and illustrate. I have to say the illustrating is easier for me. It takes me a long time to write just a few words. I love being able to do both.

 Ms. Jacob’s First Grade Class

 How are you doing today?

I am doing well. Thank you for asking. I spent the day with students at Chamberlin Elementary in South Burlington, Vermont. Now I am back in my studio.

Oops! I forgot to put dinner in the oven!

Excuse me…..

Now I am back.

Lasagna is in the oven.

 Do you write about your friends?

Sometimes friends, family and even neighbors get into my books. I included people I know in Where Does Joe Go and in The Purple Hat.

Mrs. Day’s First Grade Class

Why did you put Bob in Guinea Pigs Add Up and where DOES Joe go in real life?

You are very observant! I put Bob, (just part of him flying in from the corner of the page), in Guinea Pigs Add up because I thought it would be fun for kids to see him. I love painting his spots. I think Bob would make a great classroom pet!

As for Joe, it really is a mystery!

Why don’t you put one of your books on a T-shirt?

I have designed lots of T-shirts, but not using my books.
If you come to Vermont and visit the Farm Barn at Shelburne Farms you will see the staff wearing my drawings of a cow or a chicken on their shirts. You can also visit with the chickens, cows, goats, sheep, pigs and other animals…and walk the trails…see them make cheddar cheese…yum!

Here is a link to Shelburne Farms website and if you click on “watch the video” for milking a cow you will see how they milk a cow in one of my chicken T-shirts!

I see someone is wearing my cow shirt when they show kids how to milk a goat. How silly…. a chicken shirt to milk a cow and a cow shirt to milk a goat!

I hope I have answered your questions. If you have any more…just ask Mrs. Menzie…she knows where to find me!
Keep reading…Keep writing…Keep Drawing…and have fun!
I enjoyed meeting you…thanks for the fun day…tcp

…for Joseph

SSgt. Joseph H. Fankhauser
27 August 1981 – 22 April 2012

A Cradle Song

Golden slumbers kiss your eyes,
Smiles awake you when you rise.
Sleep, pretty wantons, do not cry,
And I will sing you a lullaby:
Rock them, rock them, lullaby.

Care is heavy, therefore sleep you;
You are care, and care must keep you.
Sleep, pretty wantons, do not cry,
And I will sing a lullaby:
Rock them, rock them, lullaby.

A Cradle Song Thomas Dekker 1572-1632
(used by The Beatles for “Golden Slumbers” on Abbey Road )

Photo on the plane home from Camp Pendleton…tcp


Guinea Pigs and Flying Pigs…

I have not found a way to get this large guinea pig onto a plane.
However, when I drive to visit schools or bookstores…this pig comes along.
We have fun taking pig portraits. This one is from a Vermont elementary school.

We also had a blast with him at The Flying Pig Bookstore in Shelburne, Vermont. He joined me for an event for the book Guinea Pigs Add up…

…as if one giant guinea pig is not enough…the bookstore invited a special guest to keep me company.  Oreo did a great job.  He let everyone pet him. Oreo was a hard act to follow…but it was a fun day for everyone.

Kelly and Oreo photo taken by Josie

Josie Leavitt was busy snapping pictures and wrote a great article for the blog
PW ShelfTalker…as if running a bookstore and  performing comedy is not enough to keep this woman busy!

Here is a link to the article with pictures:  http://blogs.publishersweekly.com/blogs/shelftalker/?p=7862

…and  a link to the Flying Pig Bookstore’s website:  http://www.flyingpigbooks.com/
Honestly…you gotta go there in person…it is worth a trip to Vermont…it is a fabulous bookstore.

My next book is about an elephant…ask Josie if she will be supplying a live one for that event…tcp




The Flatiron Building & a walk in Central Park…


I enjoyed visiting students at Brookside Elementary school in Yorktown Heights, NY last week and students at Chamberlin Elementary in  South Burlington, Vermont yesterday.

When talking about publishing, I describe my publisher’s building as the one that looks like a giant piece of cake.

I later discovered that someone in Yorktown Heights was thinking of a round cake and thought of the “Lipstick” building.

The librarian in Vermont brought in a wonderful cake decorated with  BOB…the rooster from my book. The cake was a rectangle. She delivered little pieces to all of the students who came to my presentation. The pieces of cake were square.

This is a picture of the building where I go to visit my editor. It is a triangle.
I think The Flatiron Building is one of the coolest buildings in New York City.
I can proudly say that I finally got to stand in the nose and look down 5th ave.


I also spent time in the city in late April. I missed my tulips in Vermont,
but the ones in Central Park were lovely….and I made a friend…tcp


May Christmas!

What is the first thing one does after spending months working on the final art for a picture book? After turning in the art to the publisher?…

….traveling from here to there…spending time with editor…art director…school children…bookstores…librarians……and sprinkling family in-between?

I don’t know what other illustrators do.

I come home to Vermont…smell the lilacs before they disappear
and take down the Christmas decorations.

At least I will after I finish designing the cover for my book.
I am thinking maybe June for the decorations?

(No those flowers are not lilacs, they are jacob’s ladder….the lilacs are already on their way out….but the peonies are beginning to bud!…tcp)