…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)



What is wrong with this picture?

While looking through the original art from Sing a Song of Sixpence, the book I dedicated to Maurice…I discovered this piece of art marked REJECT!

What did I not like about this art in 1984?
(I decided to do the art over when all I had left to paint was the bulldog. The bulldog was not the problem.)

So what is different?
Look in the book below and see for yourself.

Or…better yet…go to the Mazza Museum: International Art from Picture Books and see the original in Findlay, Ohio. It is an amazing place filled with original children’s book art.

…another note…I painted this book to Mozart…another lesson learned from Maurice…thank you…tcp



For Maurice

Sing a song of sixpence,
A pocket full of rye;
Four-and-twenty blackbirds
Baked in a pie!

When the pie was opened
The birds began to sing;
Was not that a dainty dish
To set before the king?

The above illustration is from my book Sing a Song of Sixpence
published by Dial Books in 1985

The dedication in this book…”For M. and J.”
…for Maurice Sendak and Jane Bierhorst, my teachers and in my mind…the King and Queen of picture books. My challenge to myself was to create a book from the poem that Randolph Caldecott, the “Father of Picture Books” illustrated in 1880.

Every book that I make, I return to the lessons learned from these two talented and generous people.

This is my birthday wild thing from Maurice that hangs in my studio.

Maurice…You are on my wall…on my shelves…in my heart…thank you…tcp


Calico Pie…yum!


Calico pie,
The little birds fly
Down to the calico-tree:
Their wings were blue,
And they sang “Tilly-loo!”
Till away they flew;
And they never came back to me!
They never came back,
They never came back,
They never came back to me!

-Edward Lear


Spring Bonnets & Edward Lear!

Spring is here! So is Poetry Month. I pulled out my “Bird Bonnet” to celebrate and to honor my favorite poet…Edward Lear.

There  was a Young Lady whose bonnet
Came untied when the birds sate upon it;
But she said, “I don’t care!  all the birds in the air
Are welcome to sit on my bonnet!”

Limerick by Edward Lear…

…Just one of many!  Visit your library and find more…or make up your own!
Make every month Poetry Month!…tcp


A Birthday Post

Today is our daughter’s 25th birthday. She is an abstract painter in Brooklyn, NY. When I visit schools kids ask, “What is an abstract painting?” Here is a small sample of some of her big paintings. If you would like to see more of her paintings you can contact me through my website. Happy Birthday, Catherine!