Tuesday, May 25, 2021

CBI Kidlit Distancing Social

On May 18th, I had the pleasure of joining the amazing Laura Backes Bard, founder of Children's Book Insider, for a live Zoom chat focusing on board books.

Click here to watch the replay.

I told the crazy stories behind my two most recent books, Healthy, Healthy, Love, Love, Love and Let's Be Friends. As luck would have it, I was able to reveal the cover for Let's Be Friends, which will be released by HarperCollins in December. Laura also asked me about The Obamas, A Lift-the-Flap Book, which was released in 2019. 

Dreaming of Writing for Children?

If you want to get into the business of children's books, get to know Laura Backes and Jon Bard, the team behind Write4Kids.org and Children's Book Insider. The couple has spent decades collecting helpful information for children's book writers. If you have always wanted to write for children but aren't sure where to begin, try one of these:

CBI's YouTube channel is a great place to start! There are tons of topics from which to choose. I've listened to every interview, and have learned from all of them.

Write4Kids.org is chock full of helpful info, too. While you're there, sign up for the CBI newsletter, which is amazing! Priceless content, for the price of a cup of coffee.

If you're looking for a class, CBI has got you covered. Their Writing Blueprints are revolutionary self-paced online courses tailored to various genres, at a very reasonable rate. I'm about to begin my own journey with one of these blueprints, and will keep you posted!

Meanwhile, if you have any questions about board books, give a shout!

Links to More Good Stuff

Click here to read more about my experience with the CBI interview on my WordPress blog.

Want to order some board books? Click the titles to be redirected to the publishers' websites; or, better yet, order them from your local independent bookstore! :o)

The Obamas, A Lift-The-Flap Book

Healthy, Healthy, Love, Love, Love

Let's Be Friends (pre-order now; this book is coming in December!)

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Book Week

Covid put the kibosh on live author/illustrator events, which has been such a bummer. Visiting schools, bookstores and libraries used to be one of the joys of my life! 

Lucky for me, my husband works at Shattuck-St. Mary's Forest City International School in Johor, Malaysia. As the only author/illustrator in residence, I was the obvious choice to be the school's Book Week guest. Technically, I was probably the only option, thanks to Covid; but hey, let's not parse the details. I was so grateful to be invited, and Book Week at SSM-FC turned out to be spectacular!

Throughout the week I got to visit classrooms from PreK through 5th grade. The smaller children and I read books together—many of mine, but also, I got to read books that the kids have been writing. Wonderful!

Showing thumbnail sketches from The Obamas: A Lift-the-Flap Book to a 4th grade class.

For the older kids, I read from my books, but also explained the process of illustration.

The main event was a half-hour presentation to grades 6-12 in the school's auditorium. I spent a lot of time preparing for this, honing a PowerPoint to keep me on track and on time, as much as to provide visuals for the mostly bilingual student body. (Many ESL students in the masked, socially-distanced crowd!)

The upper school principal provided me with talking points, which I was careful to include. The resulting presentation is divided fairly evenly into three sections: the story of how I got into publishing, what my life as an author/illustrator is like, and a general description of the publishing industry.

Click here to watch the whole thing on YouTube. Hopefully some of you teachers can find a use for this in your classrooms. It's chock full of visuals. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Chinese New Year | Healthy, Healthy, Love, Love, Love

Celebrating a New Book!

Healthy, Healthy, Love, Love, Love

Healthy, Healthy, Love, Love, Love
was released around the world on Oct 15, 2020.

In this vibrant board book, love triumphs over germs. Concise text and bold illustrations show little ones how to stay healthy in a germy world...

...and how to respond with love when germs win.

Celebrating Chinese New Year!

(The Backstory)

In early 2020, our family of three was living in China when my son experienced an unexpected health crisis. He made a complete and super speedy recovery, thank goodness! I lived with him in the hospital for a week as he recovered from two surgeries. 

He was released on Saturday, Jan 25, Chinese New Year, two days after we first heard about a dangerous new virus that had appeared in Wuhan, 500 miles away. 


...the world bristled as the U.S. President insisted on calling Covid-19 "the China virus."

A few pages from my sketch journal. I wrote down stuff that my son said as well as my prayers for him, and many other observations.

Wanting to find a way to channel our experience into a book—perhaps a middle grade chapter book or a graphic novel— I sent a few sketches to my agent. 

Her diplomatic reply steered me back to my wheelhouse. "I think you should stick with what you do best… young and maybe a board-book?  Maybe how to be safe book mixed with tolerance?"

Less than a week later I was able to send her a completely sketched dummy for "Healthy, Healthy: Love, Love, Love." Apparently it's the book I've been training for ever since my baby brought home his first germ from Sunday school. :o)

Our son was scheduled to fly to New Zealand to begin university, but borders began closing all over the world. It was crazy stressful, but he got out, and because of the crazy situation, we went with him.

Working on notes for the book during the flight, on the only scrap of paper I had—an old grocery list. 

The book taking shape as my husband and I floated around New Zealand staying in various AirBNBs.

An early sketch for a title page, which ultimately didn't make it into the book.

With wonderful feedback from HarperCollins's Tamar Mays, the book took shape and was eventually added to Harper Festival's Fall 20 lineup. By the time it was released in October, my husband and I had moved to Malaysia where he is now working.

Goodbye, Year of the Rat...

...hello, Year of the Ox! Happy Lunar New Year, everyone. Sending you lots of love and hope for a wonderful 2021.


Healthy, Healthy Love, Love, Love

written and illustrated by Violet Lemay

edited by Tamar Mays

designed by Rick Farley

published by HarperCollins/Harper Festival 2020

Click here for a list of purchasing options.


Click here to read about the making of the book trailer video on my other blog, Illustories.

Monday, December 14, 2020

Happy News for "TummyTime™: Happy Baby"

TummyTime™: Happy Baby has been making a bit of a splash lately, with two new honors.

babydocbox Review

Dr. Alison Scott, founder of subscription box babydocbox has written a great endorsement for duopress's TummyTime™ series, which currently includes books illustrated by Jannie Ho, Violet Lemay, and Hsping Pang.
When searching for an interactive mirror activity for babydocbox's 4-6 month box, we found the perfect item with duopress's TummyTime™ series. This attenion grabbing book allows babies to practive tunny time and engage visually with morrors—a favorite passtime for babies this age!  ~ Alison H. Scott, MD, FAAP, Founder/CEO of babydocbox.

Across the Avenue

TummyTime™: Happy Baby is included in Across the Avenue's 2020 Holiday Guide. Hooray!

Big thanks to CJ Keller of Across the Avenue, not only for the kind words, but also for the lovely photos.

Follow the link below to be redirected to Across the Avenue. :-)

Across the Avenue: 2020 Holiday Gift Guide: Give the Gift of Reading!...: Children's books are at the top of our gift list every holiday season. It's a tradition we hope to pass on through generations as a ...

Sunday, December 6, 2020

That Time John Oliver Used my Illustration in a Bit

Pringles Update: 

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

(Web Exclusive)

Yes, it's true. My husband Fred and I were lounging on the couch watching clips from our favorite US late-night shows one night, and John Oliver got to wondering about the Pringles guy; specifically, what his body looks like.

Joe Biden had just been announced as the winner of the 2020 presidential election, and John was feeling good. Earlier in the show he dedicated 30 entire seconds to the marvels of the octopus. It was glorious.

So as we sat there enjoying all of this, my mind got to wondering about the Pringles guy, and somehow put it together with the octopus footage we'd just seen. I sat down to draw an octopus but then thought, Oh wait, I drew one of those for duopress's 2015 book "Hello, Ocean Friends!". I found the art, pasted a Pringle head from the internet over the octopus's body, and voila: the Pringlepus was born. It was gloriously easy.

Five minutes after tweeting the thing to Mr. Oliver, I was alseep. 

I woke to frantic e-mails from my agent, Mela. "Where are you? John Oliver wants to use this image! Is that okay?"

Is that okay? Oh, yes. How fun!!

Thanks so much, John Oliver. Not only for using my art in your clip, but also for your wisdom and clarity. Fred and I are huge fans. Love the show.

All best,


Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Chicago Public Library's Best Books of 2020!!


Happy to report that LIBRARY BABIES has been selected as one of the Chicago Public Library's Best Books of 2020!!

Click here to see the full list.

And click here to order your copy of Library Babies today! 

The Best of the Best lists represents the library’s choices for the year’s most outstanding titles, books of exceptional quality for a diverse, city-wide readership. The list is widely promoted throughout Chicago, including local news coverage. Extra copies of these books are ordered in various formats to be promoted throughout the city, give them special labels, and to be featured in branch displays and in the catalog and web site. Titles are also presented to staff as great reading suggestions to promote to patrons.

Written by Puck and illustrated by Violet Lemay, designed by Jeff Shake, Library Babies was published by duopress in the spring of 2020.

Friday, October 16, 2020


I know that Covid-19 has made voting more difficult, and I totally get it. I sent in my absentee ballot from New Zealand last time around, and this time will vote from Malaysia. Living overseas complicates voting in US elections, but with some effort and perseverance, it's possible—and is more than worth the effort. 

Wherever you are, my fellow Americans, please do cast your votes... and please be safe in the process.