Released in September, Little Melba and her Big Trombone, is the story of Melba Liston, a little-known but trailblazing jazz musician who broke racial and gender barriers to become a famed trombonist and arranger. We asked illustrator Frank Morrison to take us behind the scenes for creating the art work used in Little Melba and her Big Trombone.
After reading the manuscript for Little Melba and her Big Trombone, I immediately searched for references that could help me bring the story to life. This included clothing from the time period and a trombone, which I have never painted before. I was fortunate enough to find a CD by Melba titled, “Melba Liston and her Bones” as well. After gathering all of my materials my studio begins to sound like a jazz session as I begin reading.
Cathryn Falwell has written and illustrated many award-winning books for children, among them David’s Drawings, a Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year, and Butterflies for Kiri, a “Choices” selection from the Cooperative Children’s Book Center. Her newest picture book, Rainbow Stew, was released from Lee & Low Books this spring.
I love watching kids engaged in the process of creativity. Drag out the art supplies, and most children will happily get involved on some level. For a few, though, making art is their passion. I was one of those kids, so I have a special place in my heart for them. Two of my children’s picture books for Lee & Low celebrate creative children and the importance of art in a child’s world.
Creative energy can be contagious
Our family moved many times when I was a child. Drawing was a way I connected with other children. In David’s Drawings, I made a story about a young child who makes a picture of a beautiful bare tree he saw on the way to school. His classmates notice his drawing, and are eager to contribute to the creation. Together they make a beautiful collaboration, and David makes new friends.
1.) Zilombo is very ancient, a mythical creature older than dinosaurs, an incredible mixture of many beasts.
2.) Every time she hatches out of her mudball, she looks different and has evolved a new animal skill, usually to help her catch things to eat. When she hatches in England she can collapse her skeleton like a rat does and squeeze through the tiniest holes after her prey!
3.) She’s got teeth like a crocodile, skin like a hippo, a leap like a frog and swivel eyes like a chameleon. She’s got sharp talons, curled into leopard claws. She has the low jutting forehead of an ape and her nose is pulled forward into a muzzle, like a dog. She has rusty orange hair, that sticks up in a crest on her head Mohawk style, then bristles down her back like a lion’s mane.
The Lee & Low office is closed today because of the storm, and our thoughts are with everyone affected by Sandy and the rain, wind, and flooding that she brought with her.
Drummer Boy of John John illustrator Frané Lessac has shared instructions on how to make masks for Halloween and Carnival, but they work just as well as a Hurricane craft for those still cooped up and looking for something to do, as most things can be found around the house or replaced easily with household items.
Bill Traylor’s story is the stuff of legend: he was born into slavery in Alabama, lived most of his life as a sharecropper, and started drawing at the age of eighty-five, while living homeless in Montgomery, Alabama. His drawings once decorated a street corner; now he’s known as one of America’s most important folk artists.
You can learn more about Traylor’s life story in our picture book biography, It Jes’ Happened, but there’s nothing like seeing Traylor’s artwork in person. Most of it is concentrated at a few museums in the southeast, but luckily, right now there’s a traveling exhibition making its way around the US with over 60 of Traylor’s works. The paintings, borrowed from permanent collections at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta and the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, represent some of the best examples of Traylor’s unique folk art style. Here’s where the exhibit will be:
Ever been working on something – a report, a shopping list, a letter to your pen-pal – and thought to yourself, there’s just something missinghere? The answer is: a puffin! Since the first day we began working on Puffling Patrol, everyone in the office has been crazy for these endearingly strange-looking birds (new office mascot, anyone?). And now you can draw your very own, thanks to these step-by-step photos from author-illustrator Betsy Lewin: