Jabari Jumps So I've been keeping this quiet until it was official, but the papers are signed, and I can't believe it but: I HAVE A BOOK DEAL. (Yes, those caps mean I'm screaming at you.)


I'm very proud to announce that Jabari Jumps!, written and illustrated by your's truly, will be published by Candlewick Press and coming to you in time for Father's Day 2017.


(I'm having a hard time writing a super heartfelt post about how much this all means to me. So I'm going the animated gif route instead:)


I am so excited. And nervous. Giddy. I have been working towards this for a long time and am so happy the stars aligned and matched Candlewick and my little book up together. It is such a good fit. And wow, I will be in good company. WOW. I can't even...


The manuscript edits are finished and soon dummy illustration edits will begin. And then, I'll get to illustrate a book.

tumblr_lpcb21zSrp1qbl11oo1_500A BOOK. Guys:


Anyways, I can't wait for you to meet Jabari, his baby sister and his dad.  But in the meantime, I'll of course keep you updated on how its all going.



Ok let's wrap this up with Prince: prince-performs-new-song-with-zooey-deschanel-on-new-girl

Ha, ha.



The Next Big Thing Blog Tour!


I've been invited to participate in The Next Big Thing blog tour by my friend-- illustrator, animator and writer-- Greg Matusic! (Read about his hilarious upcoming book Pirates Go Shopping here!) Thanks Greg! The tour is supposed to bring awareness to authors & illustrators and whatever they're currently working on. I'll answer ten questions below and then tag three illustrators/authors you all should check out! So let's get started:

Jabari Jumps! Picture Book
The Next Big Thing Blog Tour!
1) What is the working title of your next book?
Jabari Jumps!
2) Where did the idea come from for the book?
A mix of childhood memories, the inspiring Olympic swimmer, Cullen Jones, and childhood memories of conquering the diving board.
3) What genre does your book fall under?
It's a 32 page picture book.
4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Ooh.. Hmmm. Well, a three year old version of Sayeed Shahidi would be an awesome Jabari. And the lovely Taye Diggs would be a great Dad.  I guess the younger sister would be some rising-star-baby actor. 
5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Jumping off the diving board is easy for a Big Kid like Jabari...right?
6) Who is publishing your book?
Who indeed? Its been reviewed and critiqued by art directors and agents, and I'm now sending it around!
7) How long did it take you to create the illustrations?
Well.... There were lots of different versions of this story, (and three completed dummies!?) so its not quite accurate to say four years--right? Right! Probably about four months and I continue to tweak them.
8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Jabari definitely has a dose of Olivia in him. Similar bluster and chutzpah, though in his case perhaps not so much to back it up. And while the text is saying one thing, I aimed to make the illustrations the punch line, so a bit of Children Make Terrible Pets by Peter Brown. Overcoming fear is a major theme similar to Lilly's Big Day, by Kevin Henke.
Jabari Jumps! Picture Book
9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
A few years ago I hear about Cullen Jones' organization Make a Splash that teaches kids, parents and communities about the importance of learning how to swim. In the United States the child drowning statistics and the number of people who don't know how to swim are staggering. (After almost drowning at 5 years old, Jones went on to win gold medals in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.) Since I loved swimming especially as a kid, this really hit home for me. An early version of the book was about Cullen as a child, but it slowly evolved into Jabari's more light hearted, mischievous tale of conquering fears and defining bravery, ie jumping off the diving board.  
Fun fact, in Swahili "Jabari" means brave or valiant. 
Jabari Jumps Picture book
10) What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?
The sweet relationship Jabari has with his dad is one that often isn't explored in the kid lit world and is sure to tug on heart strings. 
Jabari Jumps Picture Book
Thanks for reading everybody!
Next Sunday check out:
I am small Gina Perry
I Am Small, by Gina Perry. I've read the dummy and it is brilliant! So cute, right? She'll be blogging here.
A YA historical novel, Drawing from Life (working title) by fellow crit-mate Abby Murphy!  The heroine struggles to become a professional artist at the turn of the century and is loosely based on Abby's grandmother (!) pictured above.  I've been reading chapters as she writes them and it is captivating!
I don't want to be a zombie
And a picture book about a misunderstood "walker" from the writer illustrator duo Megan and Jorge Lacera: But I don't Want To Be a Zombie!  Zane is afraid to tell his parents that he just wan't cut out for this whole zombie business. How will they react when they find out that he prefers whole grains to brains? Check it out here!
That's it folks!  Happy reading!