Wednesday, December 9, 2015

What My Kid is Reading- The 13-Story Treehouse

The 13-Story Treehouse
Written by Andy Griffiths
Illustrated by Terry Denton
Age range: 6-10 years
Released April 16, 2013
What's the book about?
It's about 2 kids who live in a really cool 13 story treehouse and they write books together.

What's cool about the treehouse?
There's a lot of stuff kids like in it. Like a marshmallow shooting machine, an underground lab, a banana sizer (it turns bananas bigger so they're better weapons), a bowling alley, swimming pool, a lemonade fountain, a shark tank (any sharks in it? Yep!)... and that's pretty much it.

Where'd they get the treehouse?
That's explained in the second book (which I've already read).

Do they have parents or families?The background info is explained in the second book. How they met, what they're doing in the treehouse...

What happens in the book?
They need to write a book for their publisher, Mr. Big Nose- whose nose is very big- but they keep getting interrupted by things like sea monkeys, watching their favorite show, a drawing competition, a gorilla who tries to get one of their giant bananas, turning cats into canaries etc.

Doesn't school interrupt them too?They don't go to school (also explained in book 2)

What's their book about?
I don't want to ruin the experience of reading this book by telling you.

Are there illustrations?
There are, like, 3 or 4 on each page!

Did you like them? Did they help the story?They really added to the story to make it funnier. I really liked the barking dog show cartoons (shows them to me- very cute!).

What did you think of the book?
It was REALLY good. I really suggest it to anyone who likes funny stuff.

So it seems you've already read book 2. Will you be reading book 3?

How did you choose this book?
I was looking through the bookstore and my mom grabbed the book and made me check it out. I ended up really liking it.

(To Leo's mom) How did you choose this book?
I think I chose it because of the cover. Something about the colors and the lettering made me think it would be the type of thing Leo would like.

(Back to Leo) How would you rate this book?
5 stars (out of 5)

Thanks Leo!

Buy this book from Amazon

More book reviews from Leo

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Monster Who?

Book cover illustration of a globe-trotting, exploring monster who follows mysteries and discovers intrigue.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

SCBWI Book Launch Party for Elephitten

Today, The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators launched a new section of their website highlighting books that have been published in 2015.
My most recent book, Elephitten, is one of the launched books! It's a story of a boy trying to find the perfect pet so he creates interesting amalgamations and this third book in the Petimals series takes an interesting turn.

Click the images below to go to the launch page (and click the like button!). To see all 450 of the books in the launch, just click the "Return" button at the top of the Elephitten page.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Yoga Pose Poster on Etsy

For the Child Who HAS One of Everything

I just posted my new Yoga for Kids poster on Etsy

Great inspiration (and motivation) for the kid's room or playroom. Also great for a yoga studio.

Full of fun animals and beautiful textures, this 18 x 24 poster is ready to frame!


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

What My Kid is Reading- Numbed! by David Lubar

Written by David Lubar
Age range: unknown (guess: 7-11)
Released August 1, 2014

This book is from your school's Media Center. Why did you choose the book?
It was suggested by the librarian to my class.

What made it sound appealing?
The fact that someone is suddenly unable to use math and numbers. It would be interesting to see what it's like to not be able to tell time, count, everything having to do with numbers.

Tell me more about the book
Two kids get numbers erased from their brain and they have to get them back because they are about to have a math test. If the whole class gets a good average grade they'll get an ice cream party.

What's the time span of the book?
About two days. And you get to see what it's like at home and at school.

How'd you like it?
It wasn't amazing but it was good. I thought it would be more about what it's like without math and numbers but it was more about them getting it back. The author didn't show much about the consequences of no numbers.

But there was something really good about the book- all the chapters, instead of regular numbers, they're math equations.

Was part of the purpose of the book to learn math?

Did you learn anything new math-wise?

Any illustrations?

Was that okay?

Did the cover make you want to read the book?
The cover was definitely odd- it stood out because it was weird.

Would you read another book by the same author?
Maybe. Depends on the book. I wasn't too much of a fan of this book.

How would you rate this book?
3 stars (out of 5)

Thanks Leo!

Buy this book from Amazon

More book reviews from Leo

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Super Kids Book Illustrations

I've been busy lately working on a few chapter books. Most of the illustrations I can't show yet so here are a few that I can:

Stretchy Steven

Eyepower Eliana

Lucas the Lifter

What My Kid is Reading- Diary of a Wimpy Kid Old School

Leo read the new Diary of a Wimpy Kid in record time! I asked him to review it below.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Old School
Written and illustrated by Jeff Kinney
Ages 8-12

Book #10 in the series
Released November 3, 2015

What was this book about?
Greg Heffley (the main character in all the books) gets into a lot of trouble as usual. Plus his mom has banned all electronics for a week after creating a petition. Also, Greg goes to summer camp. Eventually you start to feel badly for Greg because he's always either getting into trouble or trouble is getting him.

Were all the usual characters in the book?
Yep. But some weren't mentioned much. Manny was barely mentioned except for the no pants after dinner rule which was really funny.

Who was your favorite character in the book?
I'm not able to answer that question. The only point of view was from Greg.

So did you like Greg as usual?
Yeah, he was his normal frowning, slouching self.

What else happens?
They trained their pet pig to walk on his hind legs. And he wears shorts. He's nothing like Oink It's Olive (my cousin's pig). Also their grandpa moves in and takes Greg's room.

Where does Greg end up?
So Greg has to sleep next to Manny which is the worst thing for him because the bedtime stories he has to listen to are ridiculous.

Are there illustrations in the book?
Lots of them. There is at least one on each page. Sometimes more.

Do they help tell the story?
Yes. And sometimes they show Greg's thoughts which can sometimes be a little ugly.

Do you like the art style?
Yes! Everyone is in a slouched position unless they're happy (rarely) or lying down.

Would you recommend this book?Yes. It's been a very long series so you'd better catch up on the series.

Do you have to read the other books or can you jump right into book 10?
It's not mandatory to read the other books.

Who would like this book?
Anyone. Including grownups because there are adult parts too.

Will there be a book 11?
Yes! But we don't know what it will be yet. It doesn't say anything about a next book at the end but just like the book(s) before, it doesn't say anything about the next book.

How would you rate this book?
5 stars (out of 5)

Thanks Leo! Glad you enjoyed the book!

Buy the book on Amazon

More book reviews from Leo

Thursday, November 5, 2015

What My Kid is Reading- Quest for Justice: The Elementia Chronicles

My 10 year old just finished reading:

The Elementia Chronicles
Quest for Justice- An Unofficial Minecraft Fan Fiction Adventure
Written by Sean Fry Wolfe
Age range: 8-12
Released July 28, 2015

What was this book about?
It was about a new Minecraft player named Stan who wants to overthrow a king who created a server (a world that anyone can join). The king is ruthless and mean.

Do you have to be a Minecraft player to enjoy this book?
You don't need to know a single bit about Minecraft.

If you had never played Minecraft before, would this book make you want to play?
When I was done reading the book I felt like I wanted to be in the Minecraft world. Of course you can't so the next best thing is to play the game.

Would you recommend this book? 
YES! Anyone who plays Minecraft or is planning to play should read this- because you recognize what's happening in the book from when you've played the game.

Any illustrations in the book?

Was that okay?
Yes- it was easy to figure things out because it had amazing descriptions.

Is there a book two?

Do you want to read it?
YES! Because there was a perfect cliffhanger at the end of book one.

How would you rate this book?
5 stars (out of 5)

Thanks Leo!

Buy the book on Amazon

More book reviews from Leo

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Donald Trump's View of Himself

Well, it's just too much fun to play with Trump (see my Unwanted poster) so here is the beginning of a series I'm calling 
Donald Trump's View of Himself



Others are in the works!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Unwanted: Donald Trump

Update: I've made this image available as an 8 x 10 print on ETSY for only $6. Buy a bunch and plaster them around town.

I'm not a political person and I don't like to get into political discussions because they often lead to unnecessary disputes.

However, when Donald Trump opens his mouth and spouts vitriol for the sake of getting press (at least one hopes that's the reason), I don't mind throwing in some of my own commentary. See below.

Buy this print on ETSY.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Red Haired Spellbinder

See more of my book illustrations on my website.


Below are some screen shots of this work in progress:

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

New Chapter Book: Elephitten

My newest chapter book has been published: Elephitten.

The book is written by Michael Andrew Fox and is the third in a series of books from Petimals Books. The first two books are Dogopotamus and Hamstigator.

The series revolves around a young boy, Coby, who really wants his parents to get him a pet. But he doesn't want anything to do with 'normal' pets, so he goes about inventing his own.

This book was a huge challenge considering the main character is meant to be a cute kitten with the features of an elephant. No cute little kitty nose- instead an elephant's trunk. No adorable paws- instead elephant feet. I went through so many iterations of this character before finally feeling like I got him right.

My daughter seems to think I got it right:

For fun I created an animated GIF of Elephitten:

And here are some additional illustrations from inside the book:

 You can pick up Elephitten HERE.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Yoga for Kids Wall Art

For the Child Who HAS One of Everything

So many kids love yoga- among other benefits, it teaches them balance, flexibility, focus and confidence.

I wanted to create bright, colorful illustrations that would encourage kids to learn or practice yoga and also look great in their bedrooms, so I posted these and more 8x10 prints on Etsy.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Perdue Chickens and The Truth About Factory Farms

I recently watched a video about a Perdue contracted farmer who decided he'd had enough with the conditions in which Perdue requires he raise his chickens and he wanted the public to finally become aware of how torturous and unnatural factory farms truly are. So he let in some cameras so we could see what it's really like for his chickens.

Although I'm not a vegetarian, I can't help being moved by the video and the stories of the horrible life of these chickens and so I had to create an illustration. What struck me was how taxed their internal organs are due to their "disproportionately large chests" and this condition forces them to spend most of their time on the ground as they are unable to hold up the weight of their bodies.

The video was posted by Compassion in World Farming's Better Chicken Initiative and you can watch it at the BCI link above.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

On the Big Screen

My wife and I went to opening night of Avengers: Age of Ultron and were treated to a happy surprise.

About a year ago, I created an animation with Cut to Create for National Amusements' chain of theaters to publicize their Popcorn Club for kids.

You can read my blog post HERE.

The 45 second animation was to air before each (Most? Some?) movie and although we had been to that theater four times in the last year (we don't get out much!) we had yet to see the short.

This time, we were sitting back popping popcorn and waiting for the previews to start when suddenly my animation came on! I'm not sure if my eyes were wider than my mouth as the realization hit me. Holy Moly! It's one thing to work on something on the computer in front of you but to finally see it projected on a huge screen in front of a hundred people? Very satisfying.

And it looked really good.

You can watch it below:

After a short while I shot a couple of pictures as the animation played (a little silly, but I'm sure you understand!).

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Mykonos Travel Poster

From time to time I get the chance to create art just for the fun of it and this poster is just such an image. Based on some photos I took when I was in Greece a few years back.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Sticky Situation: Note Passing

Illustration for Scholastic News for fourth graders.

Sticky Situation: You're caught in class with a note that you had nothing to do with. What do you do?

Monday, March 16, 2015

Boston's Snowiest Season

Always listen to the Groundhog...
This past weekend it snowed just enough for Boston to beat its previously snowiest winter (107.6" in 1995-1996). Did someone make up the word "snowiest"? Awkward.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


I'm working on a new chapter book for Petimals Books called Elephitten (combo of an elephant and a kitten) and I decided to try something new. I created this animated GIF of the title character after reading a tutorial on (scroll 1/2 way down) and taking apart someone else's GIF to see how it all works.

How's this for my first try?

By the way, this is also the first look at Elephitten (only the author and my kids have seen him/her). Cute, right? The chapter book will be coming out sometime in May or June. 

Friday, March 6, 2015

Winter Bunny

This illustration started out as a sketch in my sketchbook and ended up as a fun color and texture exercise.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Monday, February 9, 2015

Lying in Bed Just Like Brian Williams

Last week, NBC's news anchor, Brian Williams, admitted that his story of being under siege in a helicopter in Iraq in 2003 which prompted a forced landing was not based on fact. Two days ago, Williams decided to step aside from his anchor job for several days.

Here is what I imagine Brian Williams is doing as he takes some time off.

Lying in Bed Just Like Brian WILSON did is a Bare Naked Ladies song about the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson who had a nervous breakdown and stayed in bed for 3 years.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Groundhog Day 2015

Happy Groundhog Day!
This year's theme (for the 3 people in the universe unfamiliar with a trend that has spanned 4 decades so far) is Star Wars and the Groundhog's shadowy nemesis is in the form of Darth Vader.

I've done a number of extra illustrations and sketches this year and you can see them on this blog.

If you'd like to see my Groundhog Day illustrations over the past many years I put together an album on Behance.