Monday, November 26, 2012



For those who know me, you know I love all kinds of food, which is one of the reasons why I LOVE living in New York City.

A big night out for me when I was growing up was going to the local Chinese restaurant. I have fond memories of the red table cloths, waiters carrying sizzling platters and lanterns hanging from the ceiling. My favorite item on the oversized red leatherette-covered menu was the PU PU PLATTER, mostly because it was served on a mini lazy susan with an open flame in the center! It was the height of dining and danger for an 8-year old. How I loved re-cooking my spare ribs and shrimp toast!

Years later, I still have a special place in my heart (and stomach) for that cuisine and my favorite place to go in Chinatown is Wo Hop.

Just to give you an idea of where it is, here's a screen shot from my phone. It's right in the heart of Chinatown!

Excitement mounts in the pit of my stomach (or is it just hunger?) as I get closer.

Did I mention that Wo Hop is not a fancy place? I'm not the type of person who is put off by appearances. Just as long as the food is good!

Insider's tip: There are actually 2 locations right next to each other. I've only eaten at the street level restaurant once (when the basement level location had a very long line, which is usually the case on Sunday afternoons). I have no idea if the food is exactly the same or not, I just prefer the lower level, maybe because I've been coming here for 25 years and I'm set in my ways.

See? They got an A.

While you're waiting for your food, you can search the walls for a familiar face in these photos. So far I haven't been able to identify a single person. Perhaps they're all celebrities from an alternative universe.

This is why I come here: THE DUMPLINGS! They're my favorite menu item. They're served with a very think soy sauce. I've never tried, but I'm sure I could eat about 50 of them.

Isn't this a lovely still life? Today I ordered some chicken soup, which was just thing I needed on such a chilly day. The soup comes with those wonderful crunchy noodles. As a kid, I would dip them in duck sauce with just a touch of that incredibly HOT mustard if I was feeling brave. I'm pretty sure the mustard can melt through metal. I can only imagine what it does to the lining of my stomach.

Satisfied, I heave my fully belly back up those stairs and head across the street for some retro video game action. Hmmm. I wonder what ever happened to the Dancing and Tic Tac Toe Chickens? Who knows?

Anyway, my chicken soup was great and- hey, wait a minute...

Sunday, November 18, 2012



I had an INCREDIBLE time with the students at Bayville Intermediate in the wilds of Long Island, NY. Why was it wild? On my way there from the train station, I saw TREES EVERYWHERE and some of them were still standing (no thanks to Hurricane Sandy).

I live in Manhattan, so I don't get to see many real live trees up close. A big thanks to my host for stopping the car on the way there so I could touch a few.

It was so great to walk into the school and see this wonderful bulletin board with some of my characters on it. By the looks of the artwork, I see that I'm going to have some seriously talented children's book illustrators to contend with in the future!

Either these kids were incredible well behaved or they were entirely riveted by my brilliant presentation. Still not sure. I figured that they enjoyed it since no one cried.

After my presentations, I visited my favorite place in all schools: THE LIBRARY. And what did I see? This cool board! Memo to myself: update my author photo and grow more hair.

Fun fact about me: my hand never gets tired from signing books, only washing dishes, cleaning the bathroom and lifting heavy objects that are not books for me to sign.

You'll notice the wonderful lunch just behind the books. Shrimp cocktail? Caesar salad? Brownies? Message to fellow children's book authors and illustrators: If Bayville Intermediate asks you to speak at their school: DO IT! They have excellent taste in food AND children's book authors (they asked me, didn't they?)

I had a brief moment with each student. Fist bumps all around! Then Purell Hand Sanitizer!

This was the pièce de résistance (or creme de la creme for those of you who don't speak French): a massive mural of my books! Beyond cool! They did such an incredible job!

I enjoyed some wonderful letters on the train ride home.
Thank you, Bayville Intermediate! I hope you all had as much fun as I did!

Thursday, November 8, 2012



One of the great perks of writing and illustrating children's books is that I get to visit schools and meet the kids who read my books face to face.

I'm often greeted by a big beautiful banner like this one.

It's wonderful to walk down the halls and see that the students were inspired to create their own art.

And especially robots!

And sometimes I'm presented with incredibly cool cakes based on my books. They were too gorgeous to eat!

I LOVE it when teachers and librarians use my books for curriculum.

And a few weeks later, I sometimes receive a big envelope full of art from the students I met. I love getting these!!!

Monday, November 5, 2012



My new picture book Kate & Nate Are Running Late! was just released a few weeks ago. I had a wonderful time creating the illustrations for this book. I'm not sure if she was spying on me but, the author Kate Egan really captured the harried atmosphere of a weekday morning in my house.

Whenever I visit a school, I talk about my books and make sure to tell the students how important the cover is to me. "Because if you like the cover of a book, you're going to pick it up, and if you pick it up, you'll open it, and if you open it, you'll look at the pictures and if you like the pictures, you'll READ IT!"

This was my original sketch for the cover, which I thought was pretty good, until the designer made it beautiful!

Here's a sketch of an interior piece with the main characters trying (or not trying) to get ready for the day. As you can see, sister Maddie is clearly above it all.

And here's the painting.

If you know my work, you know that I love reflective images.

It makes more sense in color, of course.

I'm a MAJOR fan of end pages and I like them to help tell the story or enhance the book in some way, rather than just be decorative. In the end pages for Kate & Nate, I wanted to show the little family in different situations in order to reveal their personalities and lifestyle.

As you can see, there were revisions, but I still think they're fun and enhanced the book in a small way.

Friday, November 2, 2012



I visited Pixar Animation Studio in Emeryville, CA a few weeks ago to give a presentation about my work in books, commercial illustration and TV. I had a great time!

There's a giant Luxo statue in the front of the building. Not sure where they buy the lightbulbs for it.

There were statues of Buzz and Woody made out of Legos. I did not dare touch it.

I made some new friends.

They even had their own coffee machine! I chose the special Pixar blend. Mmmm!