Our post today is by Kellie Diguanco of @secretsocietyofbooks She read Wolfie & Fly with her kids and shares about it here today! Meet illustrator Zoe Si in the shop this weekend; read on for details. Thanks Kellie!
Science loving Renata Wolfman wears the same thing everyday. She doesn’t have friends, and doesn’t need friends. Until her neighbour Livingston Flott shows up and forces his way into her life. Livingston nicknames Renata Wolfie for her lone wolf ways, and he prefers the nickname Fly.
Together the unlikely pair go on great adventures together using their imaginations. Or do they? At the end of the adventure there is always an element left behind leaving you wondering was it real after all (great for read-alouds with your curious kids).
A perfect early chapter book for budding young readers. Energetic and adventurous this set of books will have your young reader wanting more. Zoe’s Si’s ink-and-watercolour illustrations are sweet and so much fun. They give the characters life and draw you right into the adventure.
You might recognize Zoe’s work as she has an ever increasing fan base over on Instagram where she shares comics about everyday life with wit and charm.
Come out this weekend and meet Zoe in person. Register here.
We are so excited to have you here at Collage Collage for your wonderful debut book.
Collage Collage: We love Zinnia, she is crafty with a bit of a rebel in her. How much are you like Zinnia? Where did the inspiration for her come from?
Danielle: I’m like Zinnia in that my creativity is important to me and and I’ve always felt different the way she does. I’m not like Zinnia in that she’s super talented with her hands, at making stuff, and that she uses knitting as a way to cope with her life. I admire Zinnia because she learns to be vulnerable and trust even when she feels betrayed and anxious and is going through some pretty strange circumstances. The character emerged from an image my husband told me he’d envisioned of a girl with bees around her head. From there, her personality and way of being in the world developed naturally as I spent time (years!) with her.
CC: Zinnia is a flower, such a clever name for a girl that bees would be attracted too. Did you always have the character’s name in mind?
D: Yes, she was Zinnia from the start for that very reason.
CC: Have you ever yarn bombed?
D: Not yet, but soon! While I haven’t yarn bombed myself, I’ve seen quite a few yarn bombs—trees and parking meters in my neighborhood, and I even saw yarn bombs when I traveled back to Hong Kong, where I grew up. Plus, I recently participated in a project with Yarn Bombing Los Angeles where everyone contributed a flower to a fiber native flower garden.
Some of my favorite yarn bombers are:
Knits for Life
CC: Your book is written in two perspectives, Zinnia and the bees that inhabit her hair. I truly had no idea how they story would unfold. It all comes together seamlessly, how did the concept of both sides of the story come about?
D: Thank you! The sections of bees narrating their story were present from pretty much the beginning—I liked the idea of bees as a collective telling their side of the story and thought it would add another layer as well as humor. Colony Collapse Disorder was in the news quite a bit when I was embarking on the manuscript and in the context of how much humans need bees, I’d also heard about agricultural bees who beekeepers take around to orchards and fields to pollinate fruits and veggies. Something so big and bizarre was happening to Zinnia, but I was curious about the bees’ perspective too. What would this be like for them? Why are they on Zinnia’s head? Where did they come from and what are they looking for? And as I wrote, the colony’s story and Zinnia’s story naturally mirrored each other in their journeys of searching for home (one literal, one figurative).
CC: You teach young writers, do you have a favourite writing prompt?
D: It’s been a number of years since I taught middle school and later community college students, but recently I mentored a teen writer through WriteGirl here in Los Angeles. One WriteGirl-esque writing prompt I really like is something along the lines of:
Think about an object you have in your room or that you’re carrying with you and write about it.
What does it look like? Where does it come from? What other kind of thing would you compare it to? What significance does it have to you? What does it remind you of? What does it say about you?
CC: We have a Write and Illustrate class, what is some advice would you give to young future writers?
D: My advice is to believe that you have something to say—that whatever you feel an impulse to create matters. Make it a priority to create. And be open to how creating will take the time and process it’s going to take.
See the book trailer below and come meet Danielle and get your book signed this Saturday from 12-2 pm. Click here for more info
“It’s Great Being A Dad” by Dan Bar-El is a playful and imaginative story about fatherhood. Dad’s don’t just fix things, sometimes they have to remove tables from unicorn horns, and give awards to helpful monsters. This story wonderfully captures the playfulness of fatherhood.
Follow a group of children as they pretend play and end up needing a little help. Full of magical creatures from unicorns to bigfoot, this tale invites children to use their imagination . Full of diverse characters, (some of whom want to be a fairy ballerina Doctor) Gina Perry’s illustrations are bold, vibrant and playful. This book sheds all kinds of good light and would be well loved as a father’s day book. You can pre-order you copy here, and meet Dan in person at the shop this Saturday June 17th from 12-2pm.
This year marks the 75th anniversary of Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown. In celebration, we interviewed one of the most beloved illustrators in Children’s books today, Mr. Christian Robinson.
His work reaches a wide audience with its beauty and remarkable way of touching the heart of childhood. Christian has a thoughtful and wonderful body of work in children’s literature including illustrated works like “Harlem’s Little Blackbird”, “Josephine” and shop favorite “The Smallest Girl In The Smallest Grade”.
K: The Dead Bird was originally published in 1938 and addresses a difficult subject. Your approach was poetic and elegant. How were you introduced to this book?
C: The book came through my agent. I had never heard of Margaret Wise Brown and so it was fresh and I connected with it. I wanted to make it bright and light-hearted, although it touches the subject of death, it is just as much about the celebration of a life.
K: Did you learn anything new or interesting about M.W.B. that you didn’t know before?
C: I did a read a few bio’s about her online. One had mentioned that she grew up on a farm with lots of animals. She had lots of pets including rabbits, squirrels, and dogs. I read that her pet rabbit died and she skinned it, she was familiar with death.
K: I love the little boy dressed in a costume, what was the inspiration for him?
C: The book isn’t about the children as characters, but I wanted to give them depth. Children love wearing costumes and it was a way to express individuality. The boy dressed as a fox was inspired by a Jewish painter named Ben Shahn.
K: You continue to inspire us all with your incredible art and thoughtful choices in work. What is inspiring you right now?
C: I draw from everything really, even things I see on the news. If it’s really sad, I feel like I carry all those things into my art. Recently my boyfriend gifted me an instant camera and it’s been interesting to see the world that way, to tell stories through light and film.
K: Is there a future or current project you are excited about working on?
C: I am really excited about “It’s My Birthday” with Julie Fogliano out this Fall. Sitting on my desk right now is another book with Mat Dela Peña.
K: I work with many young aspiring artists. If you could tell your younger self anything about learning to be an illustrator, what would it be?
C: Sometimes parents want to know how to get their kids to be creative, I think it’s a hard balance of encouraging but not over praising. You want to make sure to notice and encourage the shy kids, the ones covering their art with their hands. You want to make sure that the encouragement is constructive, and not just complementary. You don’t want the art to be made for the anticipation of receiving compliments but for the pleasure.
K: Thank you so much for taking the time to share with me.
Mother’s Day is around the corner, and we’ve got a wonderful project for you to make for Mom, Grandma, and just about everyone else you love.
We’ve teamed up with our friends at The Soap Dispensary for a soap making + packaging project.
Step 1. Come the shop + make your wrapping + card for your soap collection. We’ll give you a coupon for the Soap Dispensary where you can grab all your supplies to make soap at home. You’ll leave here with packaging for all your soap + some gift cards too.
Step 2. : Go to the Soap Dispensary and grab the supplies to make soap at home (it’s so easy! We’ve got the instructions for you here in this post!)
This is a great project to do with kids 5 yrs old and up. Make a series of soap bars (pictured below) all presented in pretty wrap + a matching card. Grandma is going to LOVE this…
Our kit includes everything you need wrap each bar of soap and make a card to match.
Included in the kit is a coupon for The Soap Dispensary where you can pick up your blocks of soap, and essential oils to make at home. You can follow the instructions here.
block of hand pour soap
essential oil in your favourite scent
dried flowers (optional)
soap mold or empty milk carton
Cut your soap block into smaller pieces and place in a microwaveable bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds and check them, then microwave for another 30 seconds. Once the soap is melted add a few drops of the oils into the bowl and pour into your milk carton. The soap sets pretty quickly. Make sure it has completely cooled before you slice it up. You can get anywhere from 5 to 7 bars of soap.
Once to soap is cut you can use your paper and twine to wrap up the bars. A perfect handmade gift.