The Baby Tree

The Baby Tree by Sophie Blackallby Sophie Blackall

published 2014 by Nancy Paulsen Books, at Penguin KidsThe Baby Tree by Sophie BlackallAbout a year ago, I heard Sophie Blackall give a keynote at SCBWI Western Washington. She wears great tights and shoes and is a total riot. She had this effervescent spirit that had the whole room in stitches. It felt like watching one of her illustrations bounce right off the page and into the room.

See, I’m a big fan. Ivy and Bean are soul sisters. I gushed about The Crows of Pearblossom and The Mighty Lalouche over at Design Mom, and still stand by this tweet from the end of 2013.

Her work has sprinkles of fairy dust or something in it – something enchanting and mysterious and compelling and darn beautiful.

And this, her latest offering, is both calming and humorous, sweet and sassy. It’s a bound and beautiful answer to the dreaded where do babies come from?

breaker She’s so in tune with the vast (and sometimes creepy!) imagination of a youngster, and look at how that plays out in this art. Real life is a spot illustration, surrounded by white space and unknowns. But the what if bleeds to the edge of the page, filling every millimeter with color and wonder and possibility. Not only is it stunning to see, it’s intentional storytelling. The Baby Tree by Sophie Blackall The Baby Tree by Sophie BlackallHat tip, always, to Jules at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast for the interview that revealed that delicious tidbit. Check out her interview (and more art!) with Sophie here.

Sophie works in Brooklyn with other illustrators Brian Floca, Ed Hemingway, John Bemelmans Marciano, and Sergio Ruzzier. Can you even imagine spending an hour in that studio, soaking it all up and trying not to faint and fall in it? Dream field trip, for sure. Their kinship and support of one another has always been so apparent. Look here, and here, and here to see what I mean.

But also, look inside The Baby Tree for a glimpse at their love and support of one another. What’s our pajama-clad wonderer reading with Mom and Dad, all cozied up in bed? I won’t spoil it for you, cause it was a gasp-moment for me. If you’ll bust without knowing, check out Danielle’s post over at This Picture Book Life about allusions in picture books. (And stay there a while even once you see what I’m talking about, cause how brilliant is that?!)

You’d like a copy, right? Penguin has two to give away to you! (And you!) Just leave a comment on this post by Monday at noon PST, June 2nd. I’ll pick two, and have the stork deliver The Baby Tree right to your doorstep. Good luck!


Review copy provided by the publisher, all thoughts and love my own.


Sweet & Shorts: Skillshare


Have you heard of Skillshare? Virtual, project-based learning on a whole slew of subjects. I still have a Digital Illustration course I have yet to finish! Or start, for that matter. And that’s the beauty of Skillshare, that I can smoosh it into my schedule when there’s some free time. (Anyone have some to donate?!)

Illustrator Annie Patterson is teaching a course called Children’s Book Illustration: From Sketch to Final Art, and the image above is the illustration she demonstrates in the course.

If you’re interested, Annie graciously shared a discount code for $10 off the original course price of $25. You can use the code DRAWING, which is available through October 5th.

Have fun! breaker How cool is this tweet: Screen Shot 2013-09-26 at 1.44.44 PM

I shared Sophie and Matthew Olshan’s The Mighty Lalouche over at Design Mom this week. There’s a pop-up version of the Unofficial Sophie Blackall Fan Club over there. And Matthew chimed in, too! My reader heart swoons.

And then I shared this snippet of why I identify with Lalouche:

Here’s where art meets life. Next week (!) I start a new job as a librarian at an elementary school. It’s been a bunch of years since I’ve done that, and I’m thrilled to bits. 

In this book, Lalouche loves his simple life as a postman. Leaves for boxing fame and fortune, but (spoiler!) returns to his roots cause he just loved his postman days so, so much.

My story feels similar. I am Lalouche today!

Happy weekend! (I guess I should remove former from that bio up there! PINCH ME.)