Monday, December 06, 2010

Free SIGNED Book Plates for Gift-Giving!

Buy a copy of my children's book "Champ's Story: Dogs Get Cancer Too!" or "The ABCs of Yoga for Kids" from Amazon and I will send you a FREE SIGNED book plate that you can affix inside the book for gift-giving.  Just leave me a comment or send me a message, including the address you want the book plate sent to, and I will sign and send the book plate right out to you!

Friday, December 03, 2010

SIGNED books make great GIFTS!

If you order any of the books I have illustrated (click the links on the right margin of this blog), I will personally sign a book plate and drop it in the mail to you in time for the holidays.  I am working on book plate designs for "The ABCs of Yoga for Kids", "Little Black Ant on Park Street", and "Champ's Story: Dogs Get Cancer Too!", and will post examples after the weekend.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Illustration Friday: "Spent"

After an especially eventful day for Champ and Cody, the pair was spent and ready for sleep.

(Illustration taken from the book I illustrated, "Champ's Story: Dogs Get Cancer Too!", available on Amazon.)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

"Prairie Storms"

Finally!  I have been wanting to show you the cover of the latest book I am illustrating for Sylvan Dell, titled "Prairie Storms".  Here it is!  Ta-daaaaa!  It is due to be released in summer of 2011.  I am currently illustrating the inside spreads.  It has been such an interesting project to research.  This past weekend I went on a photo excursion at the Spring Valley Nature Sanctuary near my home to photograph prairie plants, trees, the sky, etc.  Each of the 12 spreads inside "Prairie Storms" will feature a different month, different animal, and different storm.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Illustration Friday: "Proverb"

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, Lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. ~ Proverbs 3:5-6

Monday, September 06, 2010

Order my Halloween art prints, cards, invitations and magnets on Etsy!

This is my best selling print ever!  Now you can buy a variety of items featuring my original Halloween art design at my Etsy shop online.

There are also fine art autumn giclees available of my watercolor art.  Go take a look.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

You can now order Champ's Story en Espanol!

You can now order a Spanish translation of my latest illustrated book here: La historia de Campeona: A los perros tambien les da cancer!  It is also available as a Spanish language e-book here.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

"Champ's Story" Gets 5-Star Review on!

Since the release of my latest book "Champ's Story: Dogs Get Cancer Too!" last week, the response has been overwhelming.  Check out this review I found today on  It made my day!

This review is from: Champ's Story: Dogs Get Cancer Too! (Hardcover)
I do wish there were more books of this ilk and this quality available for children.

For adults, "cancer" has become one of the most terrifying words in our language. Most adults have some understanding of this disease, and after the initial shock of the diagnosis, can rely on knowledge, maturity and practiced emotions to deal with it...on some level at least. Children on the other hand know from a very early age that fear is involved but so often do not know why. They not only have fear of something they know is "not good," but they also have a fear of the unknown, which is indeed just as traumatic.

The author, Sherry North has used the story of a young boy and his beloved pet dog to inform the younger set just what it is they are dealing with when cancer; either of a family member, loved one, friend or pet, enters their life.

Cody and his pet Champ are preparing for an agility show and Champ is running through her paces. While petting Champ, Cody discovers a lump on her side. Cody makes a good choice in telling Champ she needs to see a doctor. Cody knows there is something wrong.

The author and illustrator, Kathleen Rietz then take us upon a journey; a journey of a victim of cancer. From the visit to the doctor's office, testing and on to the diagnosis of cancer and the treatment, the reader follows step by step. The child learns what to expect and when to expect it. The young boy shows the typical emotions of a child in this situation; shares his thoughts with his friends, and above all, becomes Champ's caregiver. You can see the care and love radiating out form the illustrations and words.

The author has used straight forward simply language to tell a complex story. Her tone is matter of fact but extremely tender, loving and understanding throughout the entire work. There is nothing scary or heart wrenchingly sad about the story; it just explains in a very understandable way what a child might well face. Information will quite often take away a lot of fear and the author certainly supplies quite a lot of good and valid facts in a relatively short book. Truthfully, I was amazed at just how much information she was able to pack into so few pages.

The last four pages of the book are sort of a "cancer fact primer" for adults to use in teaching children of this subject. Facts are given so that the reader can understand just what cancer is, how it is treated, fact and fiction surrounding this disease, coping with cancer and chemo and a page on what you can do to prevent cancer as you grow up.

The art work in this book by Kathleen Rietz is extremely well executed. Each of the frames, which cover two pages each, are done in mellow and soothing colors. Each illustration fits the text perfectly. The artist has captured the mood of each picture perfectly on the face of the dog without overly anthropomorphizing her subject...I like adds much to the overall message of the book. This is a very skillful writer and skillful artist that have teamed up here!

This is an ideal work to be used in a classroom. Giving children knowledge of this disease before he or she has to actually face it, as many, many will, gives them a bit of a head start in the process of learning to deal with the many issues they will be faced.

Don Blankenship
The Ozarks

Monday, August 09, 2010

"Champ's Story" book release!!

"Champ's Story: Dogs Get Cancer Too!" has been released and is available at Watch for exciting interviews, reviews, and more info to be posted soon!

Monday, July 05, 2010

Friday, June 25, 2010

Look what I got!

Last week I received my first copy of my latest illustrated children's book "Champ's Story: Dogs Get Cancer Too!", by Sylvan Dell Publishing, written by Sherry North. The book is due to be released this August.

It's such a great feeling holding a new book in my hand. It always brings back memories of all of the hard work that goes into illustrating a children's book.

I dedicated the book to my dog, Sunshine. :)

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Illustration Friday: "Trail"

After the little black ant discovers a plump, juicy caterpillar carcass....

she secretes a scent trail back to the colony....

so she and her nest mates will have food to feed the queens.

(Excerpted from "Little Black Ant on Park Street", written by Janet Halfmann, illustrated by ME :) and published by Soundprints Publishing.)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Illustration Friday: "Early"

"Early in the morning, the little black ant pokes up through the ground, eager to hunt for its food."

This is a spread I illustrated for the book "Little Black Ant on Park Street", part of the Smithsonian's Backyard Books series from Soundprints Publishing, 2010.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Look, Fan Mail!

This is so cute, I just had to share it with you! It came today from a friend in Nebraska whose kids love my book "Little Black Ant on Park Street". I decided to surprise them with the book in the mail last week, and today I was surprised with this sweet thank you note from them. Click the image to read what it says...

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Illustration Friday - "subterranean"

Little black ants gnaw pieces from a plum caterpillar carcass to bring back to the anthill for the queens living underground....

From my latest illustrated book "Little Black Ant on Park Street", written by Janet Halfmann and published by Soundprints, now available and shipping from

Friday, February 26, 2010

Illustration Friday - "Perspective"

It's amazing how different life appears through someone else's perspective.

This is the cover art from my latest children's book from Soundprints, "Little Black Ant on Park Street", written by Janet Halfmann.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Something New...

Only 4 more spreads to complete for "Champ's Story: Dogs Get Cancer Too!".

I promise, the book has a happy "twist" at the end! Get the book, and you'll see what I mean!

See more of my artwork for the book by visiting my website. Thanks!

Monday, February 01, 2010

Review of "Little Black Ant on Park Street"

I finally received my first sample copy of my newly illustrated book "Little Black Ant on Park Street" from Soundprints the other day.

Then I found this great review...Click here to read it!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Illustration Friday - "Focused"

"Yoga keeps us focused and calm."

My 2009 illustrated book "The ABCs of Yoga for Kids" (written by Teresa Anne Power) has just won its 5th award,the Gold Medal in the Picture Book - Body, Mind & Spirit category in the 2010 Mom's Choice Awards!

You can also read a great review of the book here.

And order the book here.

If you've never tried yoga, it is a great exercise in strength, balance, focus, body awareness, and a great stress reliever. I always leave yoga class with a sense of calm and well-being, and ready for bed!

This post would not be complete without me mentioning one of my favorite sites to visit. It is the site of my friend Polly over at "Yoga is Yummy". Last year I designed a logo for her DVD. You can see her yoga demos, recipes, and even read snippets to nourish your spirit here.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Illustration Friday - "Clumsy"

From my latest children's book illustration project, titled "Champ's Story: Dogs Get Cancer Too!", written by Sherry North, and coming in 2010 from Sylvan Dell Publishing.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Better in 2010

I'm really excited about children's book I am currently illustrating for Sylvan Dell Publishing, and written by Sherry North. It's called "Champ's Story: Dogs Get Cancer Too!"

When the folks at Sylvan Dell offered me the project, I skimmed the manuscript and admittedly I was a little disheartened. Having lost both my parents to cancer at a young age, I was not so sure I wanted this theme to creep back into my life in the form of a story about a little boy whose pet gets sick and has to endure chemotherapy treatments. I really had to think about it and pray about it and search my heart about whether this book was a good match for me. For those who don't know, children's books generally take anywhere from 6 months to a year to illustrate. They are all-consuming, at least for me, because I pour my heart and my passion into them. After sitting with my thoughts awhile, it began to become clear to me that the book was Divinely offered to me for a reason. I have great empathy for anyone going through such a difficult illness, whether they themselves or a loved one. I also sweetly love my dog, Sunshine, and could easily imagine how I would feel if I had to watch her endure treatments for cancer. It is my life experience, I believe, that is guiding me as lovingly I create each illustration for this book. I hope that the end result will touch many lives and help many children understand cancer and deal with their own treatments for the disease.

Here is a dramatic scene from the book Champ's Story: Dogs Get Cancer Too!".

Sylvan Dell Publishing has been wonderful to work for. They have given me quite a bit of creative freedom in how I have chosen to illustrate the book. It has been fun mixing media - watercolor, gouache, oil pastel, pastel pencil, and touches of colored pencil - to achieve the look I want. I like how I've been able to bring a softness to the illustrations through the mix of media. It's like getting paid to try something new with my art!

In other news, if your New Year's resolution for 2010 is to a better illustrator, please read my latest column in the SCBWI-IL's e-newsletter The Prairie Wind, appropriately titled "Your New Year’s Resolution: Become a Better Illustrator". I lay out a few tips, accompanied by examples from my latest children's book "Little Black Ant on Park Street", written by Janet Halfmann and published by Soundprints Publishing.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Illustration Friday - "Confined"

"The ants were confined to their colony until springtime, when they emerged one by one in search for food to bring back to the queens." (click on the image to make it larger)

You can order my book "Little black Ant on Park Street" (Soundprints Publishing, 2010) at You can see more samples from inside the book by clicking here. Or visit my website.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Yoga Coloring Book Winner!

Just after midnite today, I drew the winner of the "ABCs of Yoga for Kids" Coloring Book. The winner is...Kathleen W. of Katydid & Kid! Congratulations. I hope your little one loves coloring and learning the poses!