TWO Months until TOO MUCH!

1. Countdown to TOO MUCH! And just like that, a book I had an idea for about a decade ago will be in stores in two months! TOO MUCH! NOT ENOUGH! has been getting some excellent press. You can read reviews on Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, University of Manitoba (I really loved their review), and Story Monsters Ink. I was also recently interviewed on Boston Voyager where I talk about my winding journey to become an author/illustrator. I'll be blogging quite a bit more in the next two months - sharing sketches and videos about the making of TOO MUCH! Stay tuned!

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2. In today's mail I've been squirreling away swag for just this moment. I'm finally sending out these boxes to independent bookstores across the US. If you are a bookstore owner, send me an email and I'll make one up just for you! Some of you will get a Moe box, some will get a Peanut box, and just one of you will get a Moe AND Peanut box! But who!

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3. My To-Be-Read Mountain I've been incredibly busy at this time of year for the past few years. Which inevitably leads to a huge pile of books I desperately WANT to read but have no time for. I dream of a book vacation and until then will humbly share most of these books with the kids who are burning through books at a fierce rate. Also, there are a dozen books I want to add to this pile but I am barely restraining myself (Mary's Monster by Lita Judge will land there soon, I know it.)

4. Father's Day Shopping If you follow me on social media, you'll notice I've shared IT'S GREAT BEING A DAD quite a bit in advance of Father's Day. I had so much fun creating the illustrations for this book, and it's a little uncomfortable for me to hawk books aggressively but I really think more families need this book! You still have time to order from uh, that place with prime shipping and have something for Dad to cuddle up with on Sunday morning while you finish making breakfast (or getting dressed to go out!) ***But if you live near Exeter, Water Street Bookstore has a few copies left AND a million other awesome books - I dare you to leave with just one. I know I can't do it.

5. But I'm listening! Don't feel too sad for my lack of reading time. I am plowing through a lot through my ears while I work. Recent audiobooks I've enjoyed: Wild, The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl, and have just started Genuine Fraud. For podcasts I've burned through a ton of Hollywood Crime Scene (my new fav!) peppered with weekly listens to Westworld with Jay, Jack & Mike, Wait, Wait, and How I Built This.

Sunday Five

It's been MONTHS since I've blogged - how did that happen? Like all work, we sometimes need a long break. But even though it's Sunday, I'm back to it!

1. Doodle style, coming 'atcha! A few years ago I picked up a super cool doodle zine from fellow kidlit illustrator Zara Gonzalez. It really sparked something in my sketching and I have been building up this 'doodle style' for my portfolio since then. Thanks to my fabulous agent, Teresa Kietlinski and the lovely team at Random House, I'm illustrating part of a middle grade novel in this style! Look for more details later in 2018. This project will be keeping me super busy for the first few months of 2018. Above is one of the images I used to round out my portfolio for this style - and it now has a whole section on my portfolio

2. All will be revealed... Too Much! Not Enough! is my 2018 book baby. We've been keeping the cover under wraps until this week! Look for the reveal on Mr. Schu's blog this Wednesday, January 24th. I. CAN. NOT. WAIT!!!!!!

Perry School presentation ready - just waiting for the kids!

Wow! These kids were GREAT at the mixed up animal drawing game. HUGE imaginations!

Phew, I did it! Love their playground with a view of the water. Thanks for having me, Perry School!

3. It's all about the kids. One of my goals for 2017 was to take on one or two school visits where I formally presented my career path and how I work. This is a whole other aspect of being an author/illustrator involving a LOT of preparation. I spent a day this fall at the Perry School in South Boston. I got to meet with students from preschool up to third grade. It really filled my heart to feel their enthusiasm for art and reading. It was utterly exhausting - I've no idea how teachers manage to do it day after day! I also visited a 3rd grade class at Little Harbour School in Portsmouth, NH. They asked SO many questions during my presentation! It gave me a lot to think about, and sealed my interest in doing more school visits in 2018.

4. Resolutions! I still haven't recovered from all the book events from 2017, so I could only handle personal things to tackle in the new year. Donating blood regularly, trying a spin class, visiting the Isles of Shoals again, being less attached to my darn phone, getting back to my regular exercise routines, and eating healthier. I've started to tackle most of these already - I'll have to wait until the summer to visit the Shoals.

Hmmm. What should we call this creature? Look at all those raised hands. I love it!

5. The Last Event of 2017 Just after Christmas, my family and I took a mini-break out to Northampton, MA for my story time event at The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. My family had been to many events with me this year, but it had been awhile since the last one and this felt like the perfect way to end 2017. We had plenty of time to explore the museum before my scheduled reading. It gave me time to absorb how amazing this moment was for me on my long journey to becoming a published author and illustrator. My last visit here was on the way to the annual NESCBWI conference in the spring of 2012. I had a copy of SMALL then, but it was just a dummy - mostly drawings, a few paintings, and not quite ready to submit to publishers. It was my first weekend away from my youngest child who was just 11 months old. Fast forward five and a half years. SMALL was on the counter as you entered the museum, and they filled a whole display rack in their amazing gift shop with my books. It was just very surreal. The staff were welcoming and kind. The sub-zero temperature had driven lots of young families there - it was such a fun and active audience for story time. There are rituals to being a guest at the museum - a tote bag to sign, a sketchbook to contribute to - and I think I lost my nerve for a few minutes realizing the last visitor before me was Caldecott winning illustrator Javaka Steptoe. It was also, shockingly, my children's first visit to an art museum. They loved the art, the interactive exhibits, and the classroom activity. I think we are all finally ready to explore more art museums together. We had a chance to explore the hotel pool (hello, the kids #1 favorite thing!), and Northampton before heading back the next day. My husband knew I didn't want to miss it, so despite the sluggish kids, we stopped in the R. Michelson gallery. It's such a marvelous place - of course we all enjoyed wandering and finding childhood favorites and new wonders. We stuffed ourselves with a delicious brunch at Sylvester's and headed home. I'm not sure what 2018 will bring, but I know I am thankful for the chance to find out.