Friday, October 13, 2017

Featured Illustrator Lori Eslick


This questionnaire goes back to a popular parlor game in the early 1900s. Marcel Proust filled it out twice. Some of our questions were altered from the original to gain more insight into the hearts and minds of our illustrators. We hope you enjoy this way of getting to know everybody.

1. Your present state of mind?
HA! Good, as I am painting lots of plein air paintings, which are just a pure joy to work on. Plein air painting is a learning experience…but well (to tell you the truth) It’s a great way to warm up to doing my illustration work. I am included in a plein air art show with other juried artists who are painting plein air the Land Conservancies of West Michigan. The show benefits them as well.

2. What do you do best?
Paint without deadlines. And sometimes I paint best with a short deadline like while painting in the plein air, where you must paint fast, as the sun waits for no one.

3. Where would you like to live?
I love living where I do. Really. But if I could, it would be on Lake Michigan, but I cannot complain about my 6 mile commute to the Muskegon state park.

4. Your favorite color?
Cobalt blue, the color of the sky, often.

5. Three of your own illustrations:
All are personal paintings, and they tend to represent the 3 different types of styles of illustration that I do.

6. Your music?
Mostly classic rock. Sting, Stevie Wonder really get me to sing along, in the studio alone, of course as singing is not my ‘gift’.

7. Your biggest achievement?
My/our two kids. They are a wonder and huge inspiration to me. They both make me think of Max in Where the Wild Things Are, and this makes me smile.

8. Your biggest mistake?
Not taking more classes when I worked at Hallmark as they paid for tuition.

9. Your favorite children's book when you were a child?
Charlotte’s Web.

10. Your main character trait?
I just love art, and so my family and most of my friends know this about me, and I’m also known for being ever the artist…as I seem to always have my sketchbook with me (for instance). And as a character trait, I am pretty shy. But I’ve learned over the years to push myself beyond my comfort zone. This tendency to push myself has helped me to overcome many things such as shyness, to better achieve my goals.

11. What do you appreciate most in a friend?
A kind person and seems most often a good listener is a kind person. So I appreciate most in a friend, a great listener who is kind.

12. What mistakes are you most willing to forgive?
A wicked sense of humor. Not even sure if this is a mistake or the answer to question 11 (for me).

13. Your favorite children's book hero?
‘The Swamp’ in the James Marshall’s: “Miss Nelson is Missing”.

14. What moves you forward?
Practice painting moves me forward, such as plein air painting.

15. What holds you back?

16. Your dream of happiness?
Writing and illustrating my own children’s book stories. With art shows of plein air studies too. So both doing the best art that I can for children and to get to be the best I can be for children, therefore I continue to practice with fine art. Nailed it (the happiness question) !!!!

17. The painter/illustrator you admire most?
- Painters: Carol Peek, Dean Mitchell, artists/illustrators: Laurie Keller, Patti Gay, Rob Hatem (Rob’s blog: Lovemhatem) all very different artists and proud to call them all my friends.
To choose one painter/illustrator: whom I admire the most, it would be Wanda Gag (Millions of Cats).

18. What super power would you like to have?
Time travel power(s).

19. Your motto?
Two mottos, one for artists:
“Keep a sketchbook on you, draw as often as you can”
One for all of us: “a sense of humor comes in handy, almost always”

20. Your social media?
Linked in:

Lori painted two banners and they both deserve to be shown, here is the other one.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Translating the World, One Picture Book at a Time by Kristine Gatchel

Stop what you’re doing for just a minute and think about the titles that line the shelves in your home library. As writers, we are aware of the need for to include an accurate depiction of the diverse world we live in. In order to do so, we need to bring that same diverse world into our reading habits. So how diverse are your shelves really? Do any of those titles cross borders? What about languages?

Last February I watched a TED talk by British author Ann Morgan in which she explains her project to read a translated novel from every country in the world in the space of a year. Afterwards, I found that similar to Morgan, American and British authors dominated my shelves. Yes, there was diversity of characters and cultures inside those stories. Sadly though, I found myself to be lacking in stories from around the world, written by authors from other countries in their own language.

Inspired by Morgan, I decided to launch a project of my own. I’m working on earning my degree in Children’s Literature at Eastern Michigan University, and I pitched the idea to one of my professors about an independent study on translated picture books. She immediately jumped onboard and we began determining the parameters of the project.

The first step was to track down books, which at first proved challenging. Only three percent of all titles, not just children’s literature, published annually in the United States are translated texts. Very few books note anywhere other than the copyright information that they are translated and many translators, sometimes deemed invisible storytellers, do not receive credit for their work.

The old adage is “you write what you know.” If our reading habits do not include diverse global perspectives, then how can we accurately and authentically write about it? One way to adequately provide our readers with a true representation of diversity is to start with what lines our own shelves.

If you want to expand your own habits as they relate to Children’s Literature, here are some of the places I suggest starting:

  • Mildred L Batchelder Award: This annual award is given by the Association for Library Services to Children for a book originally published in a foreign language in a foreign country, translated and published in the United States. In Great Britain, the equivalent is the Marsh Award.
  • Outside In World: This site from the UK features global titles, an interactive map, an artist gallery and resources for parents and those in the book industry.
  • Book Riot put together a great list of 100 titles in honor of September being World Kid Lit month.

After using these resources as a launching point, I discovered many more translated titles. I have now compiled a list and have read well over three hundred books for my project, filling out my own library along the way! Many books are available at your local library and I found Michigan’s MeLCat library service to be very useful in tracking down some rarer titles.

Personally, my journey culminated in September with the launch of my blog, Translating the World One Picture Book At A Time. Since then I have received an overwhelming amount of support for the children’s literature community, educators, parents and friends full of suggestions, comments and even actual books! I’ve discovered that it’s not a lack of interest in translated materials or even the “otherness” that the publishing industry seems to fear that causes readers to not seek out a translated title, but rather a lack of information. It’s hard to feel deprived of something you weren’t aware of to begin with.

I often remind my readers of my disclaimer that I’m just a student with an interest. I don’t speak any other languages and I had only one translated text on my shelf when I started this. If your mental picture of your own library is similar, consider this an invitation to knock down the borders and diversify your own shelves.

When not lost in the world of translation, Kristine Gatchel is a wife, mom of the Dynamic Duo, known as NJ and the Bean, a children’s literature student who dreams of one day being the professor and a bookworm extraordinaire. Follow her journey on her blog:

Coming up on the Mitten blog: A recap of our fall conference, a picture book workshop, the making of a book trailer, another Writer Spotlight, and much more. But first, a new blog banner created by our new Featured Illustrator - stay tuned!

SCBWI-MI news: It's time to apply for Shutta's Scholarship to the SCBWI Annual Winter Conference in New York. The deadline of October 20th is fast-approaching. Learn more here.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Hugs and Hurrahs

Happy fall everyone! It’s time for apple picking, pumpkin carving AND Hugs and Hurrahs! Our members have been more than busy over the last three months raking up mounds of happy publishing news. So settle in with your favorite cup of tea and celebrate with these amazing Michigan SCBWI members: 

Heidi Sheffield was recently awarded the 2017 LA Mentorship Award during the summer SCBWI conference! Heidi also just signed with Laura Rennert of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. We are so proud of you, Heidi!

Deb Gonzales is thrilled to announce that she sold her nonfiction picture book, PLAY LIKE A GIRL: THE ROAD TO BREAKING BARRIERS AND BASHING RECORDS, to Julie Bliven at Charlesbridge Publishing. The book is slated for a spring 2019 release. We’re giving you a standing ovation Deb!

 Rhonda Gowler Greene sold two picture books this summer! The first book, THE FIRST MEN WHO WENT TO THE MOON, went to Sleeping Bear Press and is scheduled for release in 2019, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission. Rhonda sold the second book, HERE WE COME, CONSTRUCTION FUN! To Zonderkidz. Rhonda is also celebrating the 20th anniversary of her first two books— BARNYARD SONG (Atheneum) and WHEN A LINE BENDS…A SHAPE BEGINS (Houghton Mifflin), this month. Both books are still in print. We’re doing a big happy dance for you Rhonda!

Congratulations to Sara Kendall, the winner of SCBWI- Michigan’s 2017-2018 Illustration Mentorship 2017-2018! Sara will spend the year learning from the fabulous Kirbi Fagan. And congratulations to this year’s runner-up, Basya Cohen! We’re so proud of both of you. Thanks to everyone who entered this year’s contest.

Lori McElrath Eslick recently participated in the National Assessment of Education Progress Grade 4 Writing ALS and was selected for one of the Nov. 2017 group. Way to go, Lori!

Hats off to Lindsey McDivitt who recently sold a picture book biography about Michigan nature artist and environmentalist, Gwen Frostic to Sleeping Bear Press. The book is scheduled for release in 2018. Lindsey also sold a second picture book biography to Eerdman’s Books for Young Readers about Nelson Mandela and his fight to free South Africa from Apartheid. So happy for you, Lindsey!

Congratulations to Rebecca Brockington who recently won 3rd place for her chapter book manuscript in the Kidlit College contest. Way to go Rebecca!

Cathy Gendron is happy to announce that she’ll be illustrating author Paul Czajak’s upcoming picture book, TREES MAKE PERFECT PETS. Sourcebooks is the publisher and the book is set for a spring 2019 release. So proud of you, Cathy!

Buffy Silverman won the 2017 SCBWI Magazine Merit Award in nonfiction for her photo-essay, "Magical Monarchs." The article, which was inspired by her experience raising monarchs, appeared in the October, 2016 issue of Ask. That’s awesome, Buffy!

Lisa Rose is excited to announce she’ll be writing a chapter book serried for Rourke Educational Media. The series has a total of six books. So proud of you, Lisa!  

Danielle Hammelef’s puzzle "How Do You Live?" was published in Pockets July 2017 issue, and her poem "School Starts Soon" was published in Pockets September 2017 issue. Danielle’s short story "Sharing Berry" will appear in Pockets October 2017 issue. The story is dedicated to her own soon to be 13 year-old golden retriever named Berry. Danielle writes, “His birthday is 10/16 so the timing of publication couldn't have been any better.” Way to go, Danielle!

Neal Levin just published his 25th "10 Facts" feature for Fun For Kidz. This is a regular two-page color cartoon he creates for each issue of the magazine, providing ten fun illustrated facts relating to the issue's theme. You’re awesome, Neal!

Kristi Gatchel is happy to announce that she’ll be blogging about her new Independent Study project on translated picture books. Kristi, a Children's Lit major at Eastern Michigan, will be blogging about the translated books she’s found, the need for translated books for children, and the industry. You can follow her journey here: Thanks so much for sharing this, Kristi!

Amy Leskowski recently won an Honorable Mention in the 86th Annual Writer’s Digest Contest in the Children’s/YA Category for her picture book, TRAFFIC JAM. Amy also won a First Place Georgia Peach Award from the CAG – for the same manuscript. Way to go, Amy!

Our amazing RA, Carrie Pearson, recently sold her picture book, STRETCH TO THE SUN: FROM TINY SPROUT TO THE TALLEST TREE ON EARTH, to Yolanda Scott at Charlesbridge publishing. The book is scheduled for a fall 2018 release. You’re awesome, Carrie!

And I’m (Patti Richards) doing my own happy dance because my picture book manuscript, CUPINE’S PERFECT DANCE PARTNER, won an Honorable Mention in the 86th Annual Writer’s Digest Contest in the Children’s/YA category! Woo Hoo!

That’s it for this edition of Hugs and Hurrahs. What an amazing group of talented writers you all are. You make our Mitten proud!  

Send all your happy publishing news to Patti Richards,