it’s a book launch


So, in my other life, I illustrated and designed a picture book which will be launching in a couple of weeks. For those who know me personally, they would probably agree that this has been a very long time in the making (4-odd years), and that this project is launching is a very happy thing indeed (and also, personally, a pretty great birthday present).

So far, reviewers have said nice things about the book, which is always nice! Releasing a book into the world can be pretty scary.

Dream Boats

about the launch

The event takes place on June 13, 2013 at 7:00 pm at Christianne’s Lyceum of Literature and Art, 3696 West 8th Avenue, Vancouver, B.C

Author Dan Bar-el and I will be in attendance, refreshments will be served, and books will be available for purchase (GST-free!).

The launch is open to all, so come by and celebrate with us, and bring along any young people you may know who might get a kick out of a book about boats, and dreams, myth, and folktales, family, and ancestry; containing images of giant floating Ganeshes, star-drinking llamas, outer space-travelling flotillas, cloud-breaching whales, and airborne fish.

Dream Boats

about Dream Boats

Age group: 4-8
Publisher: Simply Read Books
Price: $19.95 cloth
ISBN: 978-1-89747-687-1
Page count: 40 pp.
Size: 11¼ x 9
Released: May

Dream Boats


DB_Origami_boat_black_outlines_sm_varI’ve published a series documenting my process of illustrating the picture book Dream Boats on my picture book website. The whole series is archived here.

There is also a gallery of work-in-progress images including first sketches, reference material, mistakes, redraws, and tests, to final art, here. Or the images can be viewed much larger, as a slideshow here.





Things are a bit quiet here right now because I’ve been working on a picture book. I’ve sequestered myself on an island just outside the city where I am fortunate to share a large studio space. When I need to get away from distractions of my city studio, I come here where everything is very quiet, the nights are very dark and the most lively thing going on outside the studio window is bird drama, caused mainly by a large band of Steller’s Jays and sometimes by the occasional, optimistic attempts at bird life made by the neighbour’s cat.

I have settled into a routine of sleep, eat, work, evening walks to the beach and sometimes some yoga to fix drawing-induced aches and pains – and repeat.

Currently, I’m blogging my picture book process drawings on my children’s book website. I was a little nervous to do it at first – I wasn’t sure I’d have much to put up there – but I’ve had a bout of productivity while working here so the posts have been somewhat regular. I’m also nervous about announcing projects before they’re printed, published and shipped. Things being as they are these days with the economy and the Canadian children’s book business being its good old precarious self, I’m not too willing to tempt fate or count chickens. (I like to reserve what superstition I have for this very purpose.)

CPSC – saving America’s children from lead and cylons one toy at a time

CPSC, saving America's children from lead and cylons

If you’re not familiar with the new Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) passed in the United States in August ’08 and set to come into effect on February 10th, 2009 you’re probably not the only one. The ‘popular’ Canadian news seems been rather quiet about the whole thing.  I heard about it only because I got an email from Small Magazine at the beginning of the month calling attention to it and its possible effect on small handmade toy companies. And then I forgot all about it:

The CPSIA rules now requires all children’s products, including natural handmade toys and clothing to be tested by a Third Party Lab, often at a cost of up to $4,000 per item. That could cost a small company more than $20,000 a season.

Small Magazine
Christine Visneau & Olivia Pintos-Lopez

I was reminded of it the other day when my publisher mentioned it in passing. (Apparently it effects books too – I did not know that.) However, If you are a small toy manufacturer, etsy artisan making toys and items for the under 12’s, or are a children’s book publisher in both Canada and the States, I’m sure you know about what’s going on.

With all that’s happening with the economy today, and all the promises this politician and that politician have been making in the United States about creating and keeping jobs in America, this act seems a hastily and poorly thought out solution to a very serious problem (lead levels found in some toys).  It also seems a little counter productive since many small handmade toy companies offer toys crafted of natural, sustainable or organic materials as alternatives to large mass marketed products that may be made of PVC, stuffed with synthetic petroleum-based fills or non-organic cotton or constructed from wood from non-sustainable sources. The act seems like a good start, but the execution seems a little off. Or at the very least, confusing. And that confusion isn’t helping things either. Especially where books are concerned.

From a Canadian perspective, what happens down south, has a huge impact on us in the north. Especially if you have anything to do with children’s books (which do not appear, at this time, to be  exempt). However, publishers are fighting the inclusion of books (and here’s an update on that article). But it’s already having an impact and at least one publisher that I’ve spoken to here in Canada who distributes books in the US has  started to feel the effects. In an industry as fragile as the Canadian children’s book industry is, this is not great news.

From the Publishers Weekly article linked above:


• The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act goes into effect February 10 and requires third-party testing of all products for children 12 and under, including books, audiobooks and sidelines. This includes older products on-shelf as well as books shipped after the deadline.

• AAP and other industry trade groups are lobbying to have print-on-paper and print-on-board books exempted. They also are looking for clarification on testing protocols and other specifics.

• If the Act stands as currently written and interpreted, significant costs and longer production times will negatively affect publishers and retailers, potentially putting some out of business and causing books to be removed from stores, libraries and schools.

• The industry is struggling to comply with the Act in time for the deadline, even as it waits for resolution and interpretation from the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

For the latest updates and clarifications, go to

Industry Scrambling to Comply with Child Safety Act
By Karen Raugust — Publishers Weekly

The passing of this act brings up so very many issues and arguments… And I could go on and on and on but they are perhaps more eloquently made by other people in the various discussions on this topic taking place elsewhere in the World Wide Inter-Tubes. And the point of this post wasn’t to get into all that anyway, believe it or not. In fact I’ve gone on much longer than I originally intended (as a sometimes-children’s book illustrator I am a bit attached to the industry so I get a little carried away). I meant instead to focus on CPSC’s inexplicable and ironic logo design.

If lead and phthalates look like us now, then nothing the CPSA can do will save us.

[Thank you to Darren who has impressive logo-recall powers and first noticed that the CPSA logo looked oddly familiar…]

Holiday Book Pairings

Amorous Pair

It’s that time of year again! No, not the last minute-run-around-like-a-crazy-person-trying-to-put-a-lid-on-work-before-the-onset-of-holidays-so-you-can-avoid-having-to-bring-your-laptop-to-the-family-dinner time of year. It’s the time of year for book pairings. It’s become an annual thing (this being the second year – so it’s official). CWILL BC members have helpfully contributed to a list of their books paired with a thematically similar item which is located on the CWILL BC blog.

Might I suggest that this list deserves a look? If only to ease the stress of this ‘holiday’ season when it comes to gift buying. (It won’t help you with your workload though. Or with keeping the cranberry sauce off your keyboard.)

If you’ll excuse me, I’m off to decorate my desk with garlands of festive invoices and colourful rough drawings. I might even throw in a spreadsheet for good measure. They’re so pretty at this time of year.

Oh, and remember to request a seat at the table that’s closest to an outlet. There’s nothing worse than running out of battery power before the end of the main course

Sketchbook ~ Go Away You Owls

Go Away You Owls | pen & ink


Go Away You Owls | pen & ink with digital colour

The drawing is from the archives (10 years ago – 22 and fresh out of school); the digital colouring is fresh (in the last week – pushing 32..).

This post is for Fiona who I know checks in on my blog for the sketches despite her dial-up. Which is such a lovely compliment. And I’m sorry my sketch blogging has been so spotty recently, Fiona. So here are two images. (Sorry! It’ll be a little dial-up intensive but I hope it’s worth it).

Fiona wrote a lovely review of her book bag haul from the CWILL BC Spring Book Hatching this past weekend. Looking for Loons was one of the books. Thanks Fiona!

And more great Looking for Loons news – my friend and former agent now literary consultant, Leona Trainer, wrote to tell me that LfL is listed as one of the Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s Best Books of 2008! I need to track down a physical copy of the journal as the list doesn’t seem to exist on line – or at least it has eluded my google-assisted snooping and my rock-turning on the ccbc site.

Hatching Loons

SBH display

I’m all set for the CWILL BC 2008 Spring Book Hatching tomorrow.

In Vancouver tomorrow and looking for somewhere to take the kids? Stop by the Vancouver Public Library Central Branch between 1 and 3pm. There will be a whole lot of kids book authors and illustrators set up in the lower level, just itching to talk about their books and sign coveted Spring Book Hatching passports. Age groups from picture books up to young adult/teen novels are covered.