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Inspiration is a Hoot!


Last month the Mixed Up Files posted a fun interview all about my inspiration, my obsession with owls, and my love of the natural world.

I gave them a backstage tour of one of my favorite places at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History–the Nature Collection!

It was a hoot!



Barnes & Noble



Lerner Books


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Camilla Cartographer Cover Reveal!

Today I’m so happy to host the cover reveal for Camilla Cartographer! It was a pleasure interviewing Julie Dillemuth and Laura Wood about their new book, which is their third author/illustrator collaboration published by Magination Press.

From the publisher: Camilla loves maps, especially ones of her forest home. But when a huge snowstorm comes and covers all the paths and landmarks, even her maps can’t help her find her way to the creek! Camilla realizes this is the perfect opportunity to make her own maps…forging new paths and discovering her forest all over again!

Camilla Cartographer is a delightful book about finding your way, even when it’s not on any map!

I loved how the book chronicled Camilla’s transformation from a collector of maps to a creator of them. The story illustrates the beautiful moment of transition that kids go through again and again as they grow, from knowing to doing. From dreaming to being. This story is sure to appeal to kids moving toward mastery in all sorts of skills. And who doesn’t like making maps?

Questions for Julie Dillemuth

RY: After I read I wondered if you have ever had a happy realization, like Camilla, that you suddenly knew what you wanted to do… and to be?
JD:¬†I was lucky enough to have an ‚Äúa-ha!‚ÄĚ moment of figuring out what I wanted to¬†do with my (career) life in my mid-30s,¬†with writing for kids. I had struggled¬†with wanting to write creatively for a long time, but an idea for a picture¬†book came to¬†me one summer and something just clicked for me with that genre.¬†Also at that time I kept running across people who¬†had switched careers right¬†around age 40; for example, Julia Child, who took her first cooking class in¬†her late 30s.¬†Those kinds of stories gave me courage, and about 4 months after¬†writing that first story I decided to get serious about a¬†writing career. I‚Äôm¬†grateful that I found my passion!
RY: What is your favorite moment in the text (I know mine) and why?
JD: My favorite line comes right after Camilla¬†realizes that when the snow melts, all the paths she made will be gone — it‚Äôs¬†that moment we‚Äėve all experienced when you‚Äôre losing something and you realize¬†your going to have to let it go. Camilla¬†is hugging her map and Parsley is¬†hugging Camilla, and the line is, ‚ÄúThe snow made the silence especially quiet.‚Ä̬†She‚Äôs¬†being with those feelings and having a coming-to-terms moment, and the¬†illustration captures the emotion so beautifully.
She jugged the map
But I also love the scene where she comes¬†running out of her house all geared up for exploring and mapping — she has a¬†vest full of pockets and they‚Äôre brimming with all kinds of supplies; she even¬†has a pencil tucked behind her ear… I can¬†completely relate to that!
RY: What’s your earliest (or best) map related memory?
JD: My first experience with real cartography¬†was in college, when I was an archaeology major. In field school we learned¬†different techniques for mapping a site — compass and tape measure, plane¬†table and alidade, and transit. The¬†instruments were totally cool, but it was¬†difficult and I remember feeling very inept and doubtful. When we finally ended¬†up with a map that looked right and that I knew was accurate, it was a great¬†feeling of accomplishment. There‚Äôs¬†something satisfying in all the measuring¬†and mapping a landscape; maybe that‚Äôs because I‚Äôm kind of an organizational¬†and¬†control freak!
I also worked on projects that combined¬†historical maps with satellite imagery, which was really exciting — and this¬†was¬†about 25 years ago, when we didn‚Äôt have anything close to the resolutions¬†we have now in imagery. The length of a pixel¬†represented 30 meters on the¬†ground, and the best resolution we had was something like 10 m, and that was in¬†black¬†and white! GPS was around then, but there was a deliberate, built-in¬†error that would change daily — accuracy for civilian¬†use was purposely¬†degraded. Can you imagine? It was so cutting-edge then, but nowhere near what¬†we do with location¬†services today.
GPS is pretty fundamental to surveying and mapping now, but I’m happy I got a chance to learn old-school methods. I think that experience was part of what inspired Camilla’s fascination with early explorers and cartographers.

Questions for Laura Wood

RY: You’ve made three books about maps and spatial thinking with Julie Dillemuth and I wonder what you’ve learned about maps along the way that ended up inspiring the finished art in CAMILLA?
LW: While working with Julie on three books about maps I surely had the opportunity to look at lots of different kinds of maps! And yes, I feel like I definitely learned something about them.
For example, I learned that a map doesn’t have to be a complex to be effective, the importance of a good legend and the effectiveness of symbols.
Also, some vintage maps I encountered gave me the inspiration for the colour palette of Camilla’s book which ended up being warm, limited and muted.
RY: Do you have a favorite image (I certainly do) and can you tell me about creating it?
LW: It’s hard to pick one favourite image from all the ones in the book since I usually consider a book like one single unit.

But if I have to pick one that I particularly enjoy looking at myself, it would be the opening one, where the reader is introduced to the main character, Camilla, and to her little world.

I wanted to make the image fun and engaging so that the reader could be thrown straight into the story and her world.

Here people can start getting to know her for the first time, having a sense of who she is and where she lives.

It took me a while to get this image right. Before getting to the final sketch I drew a few different versions until I was happy enough and I had the right composition to fit the story and the text.

RY: What’s your earliest (or best) map related memory?

Nowadays my maps are all on my phone, but my earliest memories go back to when maps were still on paper!

In particular, I remember when as a child I used to make maps myself about the world I was living in: a map of my room, my school, my building, etc… I was fascinated by them!

To be honest not much has changed ūüôā

Thank you both for letting me ask my nosy questions! Brava, ladies!

Julie Dillemuth is a children’s author with a PhD in geography. Her books LUCY IN THE CITY: A STORY ABOUT DEVELOPING SPATIAL THINKING SKILLS (Magination Press) and MAPPING MY DAY (Magination Press) promote spatial reasoning skills by encouraging readers to tune into their surroundings, think about where they are in relation to other things and places, draw maps to tell stories, and more. Her most recent book, LOVING COMFORT: A TODDLER WEANING STORY, helps toddlers and mothers through the emotional process of weaning from breastfeeding. Julie lives in Santa Barbara, California, where the west coast faces south. To find her online, navigate to http://www.juliedillemuth.com or @JulieDillemuthBooks on Facebook.

Originally from a small town in the north of Italy, Laura Wood studied illustration in the wonderful city of Melbourne, Australia, where she started her illustration career. After a few years of seeking adventures and travelling around the world, she currently lives and works in Milan, Italy. She creates her art digitally using lots of textured brushes and a fun color palette. Visit her online at www.laurawoodillustration.com or find her on Instagram @laura_wood_illustration!


Blog Tour Roundup Giveaway

Some spectacular book bloggers have been hosting spotlights, interviews, and book giveaways for THE MIDNIGHT WAR OF MATEO MARTINEZ! As the book makes its way around the internet, I’ll be adding links here. Just choose an¬†icon¬†to read more:

mixed up
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To celebrate my blog tour¬†I’m giving away a signed hardcover and a scratch-and-sniff-read-along bookmark! Just leave a comment on this post to enter… tell me what your FAVORITE or LEAST favorite¬†smell is! I’ll announce a winner on April 1 (for real, no fooling)!!


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Greg Pizzoli on TRICKY VIC

I never boo books, but over in the Nonficiton Nook I’m giving one a¬†theatrical hisssssss. Make way for a vaudeville-worthy villain, a crook, a conman ‚ÄĒ it‚Äôs GregPizolli‚Äôs TRICKY VIC!

I’ll be picking two marks to win signed copies. So sneak on over to the Nook and read my interview with Geisel Award winner Greg Pizzoli!

GP TrickyVic

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Today I‚Äôm posting double interviews with debut picture book author¬†Dianne White¬†& Caldecott medal winning illustrator¬†Beth Krommes. I‚Äôll be giving away two copies¬†of their new book, BLUE ON BLUE, signed by both the author and the artist over in The Nonfiction Nook–go take a look!

Dianne White BlueonBluecover beth

BLUE ON BLUE is a thing of beauty! Dianne’s graceful and spare poem of a stormy day is the like the sound of rain on a roof, rhythmic, comforting, and thrilling. Beth’s visual world is the earth on which that rain falls. The book, pictures and words together, is a house, a cozy world where family, childhood, and home are connected with the wonder of the natural world.

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Over in The Nonfiction Nook I just posted a lovely interview with Jeannie Brett about her newest book.

WILD ABOUT BEARS came out in the spring and is an adorable nonfiction selection perfect for kids interested in up-to-date information about the eight bear species alive on earth today!

sketch water

The interview is full of beautiful watercolor process images and peeks into her next book, DECORATED HORSES!