Archive for the ‘picture books’ Category


With Dilly Dally Daisy almost here…wait. You might ask “What is Dilly Dally Daisy?” It’s a new picture book I wrote and illustrated that will be released shortly. 

Anyway, I’ve been asked what exactly do I think dilly-dallying is?

I have my own beliefs on this subject and I don’t see dilly-dallying as a bad thing. The dictionary says dilly-dallying is “… Loitering and delaying and wasting time”. Harsh! And here I will part from the dictionary with my practical knowledge of dilly-dallying.

For me dilly-dallying implies a personal interest that is being acted on – even if it’s not On Topic. ‘Loitering’ is such a clinical word. And ‘Wasting Time’ implies a moral or ethical failing. Yuck.

For me dilly-dallying is not such a bad thing and it’s part of the time where our mind wanders and ideas and imagination can sprout. It’s actually the opposite of being a couch potato. It’s the behavior that often drives parents crazy because kids are SO active in their real and imaginary life. Dilly-dallying can seem exhausting to an adult. After all we have things to do and places to be we just don’t have time for all this other stuff!

Of course kids do have deadlines and appointments and sometimes dilly-dallying has to be overcome. For instance, I have to stop reading blogs, posting on my blog and composing Tweets and actually draw today.

But it’s important to keep some dilly dally in your daily life. Daisy can teach you how!

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I’m traveling but happy first book birthday Tommy Can’t Stop! This is a sketch done in Sketch Clud on the iPad with an Jot Touch pen.

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Another day, another reminded that Tommy Can’t Stop will be out soon. The picture book written by Tim Federle and illustrated by Mark Fearing (I know him!) will be on book shelves and library shelves in a few short days. I think April 14th.


Find it at a local bookseller (and Indie Bound can help you do that) or at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Here’s another page of art from the book.


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Only a week or so left before Tommy Can’t Stop hits book stores and libraries! Find a copy at a local bookseller (using Indie Bound can help!) or you can order it at Barnes & Noble or Amazon.

What’s the book about? Here’s the official description:

Tommy bounces, and he leaps. Tommy clomps, and he bulldozes. Nothing tires Tommy out, and his family can’t keep up! But then his sister has an idea: could tap class be just right for Tommy?

This exuberant picture book, written by Broadway dancer Tim Federle, with illustrations by Mark Fearing, stars one very energetic kid who finally finds his place in the spotlight.


Tommy can’t Stop was written by Tim Federle and illustrated by me. You can read more about the book at my website.

I’ll be posting some art from the book as I dance my way towards the release day. I’ll be dancing around the house, on the front porch, in the aisles at the grocery store … I have a lot of dancing to do before April 14th!


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Yeah, it’s one of those posts – all about me. Anyway, The folks at Sub It Club (a fine blog to follow if you are into publishing or writing or need help getting through those rejection letters and emails we all get from editors and art directors!) called me up (well, emailed me) and asked if I would partake in an interview. Said interview was done and it’s posted now. Apparently I talked too much (no surprise there…my teacher taped my mouth shut in first grade)  so the interview is in two chunks. A double chunk interview. Yum! Served with whip cream and cherries I hope.


I talk about the self promotion I have attempted to do and about my current projects and such.

Sub It Club has a ton of useful info and posts about submitting work to publishers and interviews with lots of artists on how they make their way in the world of being freelancers.


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youngmarkI often get asked how I got into this field of work but the more interesting question is how I did not get into this field of work. Here is how it DIDN’T all start.

Let’s get into the Way Back Time Machine and set the dial to 1992 or 1993. I’ll figure it out when I get there. You have to pump the time accelerator, the space-time spark plugs are corroded.

There. Now it’s working… A few years after graduating college I was working at a connectivity software company doing interface/ interactive design and would soon be working on some very early websites. (Can you say grey backgrounds?) I was also doing some freelance illustrations and was in love with picture books.

A local author/illustrator named Kevin Henkes (Yeah THAT Kevin Henkes. Still have all his books) was generous enough to spend time on a phone call or email with me (I don’t remember which now) and he explained enough about submitting that I decided to try it out. A generous bunch these author/illustrators. My career has depended on the generosity of people like this.

I researched an imprint that fit my work, called the publisher and got an editor’s name (man was I energized!) and rules for submission (I was a worker bee back then!). I had my dummy in pencil roughs and two illustrations with color finishes (Kinkos color photocopies – at the time color copies were like magic), my manuscript properly printed out and proofed (spelling was mostly pretty good – I like to say), included a SASE – and off it went.

Back to work for me and checking the mail every day. Three weeks later I walked home for lunch (I lived just down the street from where I worked.) and in the mailbox was my SASE. I was expecting the worst (the Minnesotan in me I think) but a sliver of me hoped that maybe, just maybe – they decided to buy my book, had sent me a check for twenty thousand dollars and decided already it was the best picture book ever written.

I was enthusiastic, inexperienced, naive – a perfect fit to jump into publishing! My hands were shaking as I sat at my cluttered kitchen table and opened the envelope.

Inside was my dummy, my manuscript – and a letter from the editor! (I still have it filed somewhere) And it basically said, this is a pretty good book. Here’s some ideas to work on. When you are ready send it back.

WOW! Yowza! Holly SASE Batman! It was encouragement which means so much when you are starting out.

I immediately set to work thinking about the ideas from the editor that afternoon. I didn’t get a lot of work done at work that day… Within two weeks I sealed up another envelop and sent back my revisions. (MAN! I was efficient back then.)

I had started to believe that it was within the realm of possibility that I could do this and I waited.

About 2 months later I got my SASE back. And no, there wasn’t a check or a publishing contract inside (let the kid dream) – but there was another letter. It said that the editor I had corresponded with was no longer with this publisher (I hope she wasn’t fired for encouraging a slub like me!) and that no other editors had any interest in this project. (She must have been fired for questionable taste when she encouraged a slub like me!) Bye and thank-you-very-much.

And that was that. My introduction to picture books. It would be more than a decade before I would look at this industry seriously again and submit a picture book.

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The first review of Tommy Cant Stop! (that I have seen anyway) is in. You can click here and go read it at Kirkus. But I’ll post the whole thing here incase you are pressed for time. I know I have a lot of cat videos to catch up on after being away from the computer for 2 days!


Little brother Tommy is a perpetual-motion machine, and he is driving his family bonkers.

The tireless tyke bounces like a pogo stick, kicks like a bulldozer, clomps like an elephant and jumps hurdles like an antelope. He never stops, putting his parents and sister into an exhausted state of weary exasperation. Fortunately his sister, attired in a pink tutu, comes up with a solution and hands Tommy a pair of tap shoes. No pink! No tutus! But tap-dance class is a revelation. The teacher also bounces like a pogo stick. No, she informs Tommy, she is performing a “HOP.” The teacher kicks like a bulldozer. No, she informs Tommy, she is performing a “BRUSH.” Tommy is thrilled and is soon appearing on stage in a solo. Broadway veteran and middle-grade novelist Federle has good fun with language and similes in his picture-book debut. His little tapper is a strong and sturdy boy who finds the perfect outlet for his volcanic energy. Fearing’s full-bleed artwork is full of motion, with his Tommy sporting a mop of blond hair and googly eyes. An animated line of dashes that flits around the apartment allows readers to truly appreciate Tommy’s energy spurts.

An enjoyable performance for both the boisterous and the calm. (Picture book. 4-7)

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