Friday, October 25, 2019

Self-Care in the City

Besides illustrating and writing books for kids, I also—occasionally—work as a designer. I am honored to have designed the cover for Michelle Cady's book Self-Care in the City: 100 Ways to Optimize Nutrition, Fitness & Wellness in an Urban Environment.

Initially, author Michelle reached out to inquire about reuse of this NYC ink drawing that I made for Doodle New York in 2012. The art has been on my website ever since. Thanks to Google searches for "NYC skyline," I get a lot of queries for reuse of this image—usually from brides-to-be in the New York area who are designing wedding invitations. (Note to illustrators: smart and thorough tagging of the art on your sites really does pay off. Search engines respond to words!)

Michelle's query stood out not only because she wasn't designing a wedding invite, but also because as we e-mailed back and forth I got the sense that she was a very high-achieving young woman. I was living in New Zealand at the time but was about to visit my agent in NYC, so I asked if we could get together.

"I live in Auckland now but my son and I will be in NYC in mid-December, if you’re around/available perhaps we could meet for coffee." (From one of the first e-mails Violet sent to Michelle, on Oct. 31, 2017)

At FIKA in NYC, Michelle—who was not at all phased by my travel-weary hair—showed me her incredible collection of publicity photos, taken by Daryl A. Getman Photography. Some were studio shots, others featured various Big Apple locations. All starring Michelle. All, amazing.

Michelle also shared a working cover design that was, unfortunately, less than amazing. The original idea to pair my NYC skyline illustration with a photo of Michelle on the front cover of Self-Care in the City just wasn't working. And all of those photos were so incredible!

I suggested scrapping the skyline from the cover (it could always go inside, right?), and ultimately talked this vibrant former maven of finance/current personal health coach into letting me try my hand at a cover design.

(P.S. This is what happens when I drink coffee in the company of a high-achieving, inspiring woman whose personal goal is to help other high-achievers stay healthy while following their dreams.)

The full cover design for Self-Care in the City (above) ultimately showed off one of the gorgeous photos from Michelle's portfolio. We wrapped the photo around to the back cover, for maximum impact.

Speaking of the back cover, it features three little icons which I designed for the book: a "big apple" for nutrition, an NYC sneaker for fitness, and a yogi Lady Liberty. In lotus position. Of course.

If you're wondering what happened with the skyline image that brought us together in the first place, never fear!

After updating the original image by adding more buildings, our NYC skyline landed on the title page. In my personal copy of Self-Care in the City, the revised skyline art is nicely accented by this sweet inscription from the author.

I picked up my copy in person, in NYC, in Oct 2018. (Photo credit: the amazing Colleen Madden, who is way better at writing and illustrating children's books than at taking photos of me and Michelle in the dimly lit restaurant of Ace Hotel.)

As I write this post in Oct 2019, Michelle is a newlywed; her new name is Michelle Baker.

Click here to check out fitvista, Michelle Baker's amazing  health-coaching company;  click here to follow Michelle on Instagram; and click here for the official fitvista Instagram.

Most importantly, click here to order your copy of Self-Care in the City today!

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Really Happy, Baby!

With the help of a group of enthusiastic little readers, Parents magazine has arrayed TummyTime™: Happy Baby as #4 in their list of the 30 Best Children's Books of 2019. How awesome is that?

duopress rolled out their new TummyTime™concept to the world only a few weeks ago, by way of two books: Animal Parade (illustrated by Jannie Ho), and Happy Baby (illustrated by Violet Lemay).

TummyTime™books fold out, accordian-style, into play mats. The fronts are covered with full color art; flip them over for high-contrast patterns, ideal for baby's developing eyesight. Both sides have a reflective surface to make tummy time even more fun.

Thanks to Parents, the little readers, and author Karen Cicero for selecting us as #4 in their list of the 30 best children's books of 2019.

Click here to see more samples from TummyTime: Happy Baby on my website.

Click here to order your copy of TummyTime: Happy Baby today! 

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

The Obamas: A Lift-the-Flap Book

The Obamas: A Lift-the-Flap Book, which I wrote and illustrated, hits the shelves October 1.

A tribute to their time in the White House, The Obamas: A Lift-the-Flap Book celebrates the achievements of the Obamas...

... as well as their spirit and style.

Flaps open to reveal fun surprises...

...and treasured Obama quotes.

Whether your political leanings are left or right, I hope you love this colorful new project. What could be more bipartisan than a lift-the-flap book for little ones?

Click here to download a free activity kit that can be used alongside The Obamas: A Lift-the-Flap Book.

And click here to see more samples from this book and others on my website.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Happy, Dancing Babies

As we're diving into fall, I'm pleased to announce two new duopress board books, both officially released on September 17.

TummyTime: Happy Baby

How cute is this book that cleverly folds out into a reversible play mat?

With high-contrast art for baby's developing eyesight on the back and fun mirrors on both sides, TummyTime: Happy Baby is sure to live up to it's title. Happy babies, enjoying tummy time!

* * * * * * * * * *

Babies Around the World: Dancing

A follow-up to Babies Around the World (written by Puck in 2017), Babies Around the World: Dancing written by Tamara Barker is an adorable international dance party. 

Celebrate the cultures of India, China, Morocco, South Africa, Brazil, Spain, Ireland, and North America as you boogie your way around the planet.

Click here to download a free Babies Around the World: Dancing coloring sheet.

Please also stroll on over to my website to see many more samples from TummyTime: Happy Baby and Babies Around the World: Dancing, as well as a new homepage animation.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Writers and Their Pets

Announcing the release of a lovely new book: Writers and Their Pets!

This fascinating collection of biographies for middle-grade readers is duopress's follow-up to Artists and Their Pets. Twenty well-known writers and an array of pets are featured, including Virginia Woolf and her beloved Pinka (above), and John Steinbeck and his trusty friend and travel companion, Charley (below).

Writers and Their Pets is packed with art: nearly 250 full color spot illustrations!

Whether you're a cat person (like Mark Twain)...

...a dog person (like Gertrude Stein)...

...a chicken person (like Alice Walker)...

...or a peacock person (like Flannery O'Connor)...'ll find authors and animals to love in Writers and Their Pets.

Click here to order a copy of Writers and Their Pets today!


Writers and Their Pets
Written by Kathleen Krull
Illustrated by Violet Lemay
Designed by Thomas Boucher
June 11, 2019

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Shred Girls: Lindsay's Joyride

Announcing the release of
Shred Girls: Linday's Joyride

Written by Molly Hurford
Illustrated by Violet Lemay
Rodale Kids
May 8, 2019

Lindsay's Joyride is the first book in this outstanding new Shred Girls series by Molly Hurford. Ride along with Lindsay as she makes new friends and conquers her fears. Quoting the author, "It's not about bikes. It's about confidence."

There are tons of black and white illustrations in this book.

Also: Tons. Of. Bikes. (Illustrator friends, I know you understand everything associated with this particular drawing challenge!) 

Click "Look inside" at to see some of the art in the layout, or stroll on over to the "Tweens" section of my website, where I've posted nearly all of the art from the book.

Bookstore Babies!

Written by Puck with art by Yours Truly, Bookstore Babies is the latest in duopress's Local Baby series. What a pleasure it was, illustrating this book!

Bookstore Babies officially launched on April 2, a day after being featured as Powell's Pick of the Month for April.

If you'd like to see more samples than are featured here, "look inside" at amazon or stroll on over to my portfolio site and click on "Kids' Books".

Bookstore Babies officially launched on April 2, a day after being featured as Powell's Pick of the Month for April.