Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Please Help Save Books of Wonder!

Books of Wonder, in New York City, is a treasure of a bookstore. And right now, it needs our help. Due to an enormous, unexpected expense, Books of Wonder finds its future endangered.  If the store is to survive,  they must raise a minimum of $100,000.

Books of Wonder is beloved not only by the parents and kids who enjoy children's books, but also by the authors and illustrators who create them. So several of us (myself included) are pitching in to help Books of Wonder get through this temporary setback.

Here's a picture of my contribution, an original pencil drawing which you can have as a 4 x 6 print if you donate $10. The original is also available as a thank you for someone who donates even more.

You can also choose from prints by some of your favorite artists in children's literature, like Brian Selznick, Paul O. Zelinsky, Adam Rex, and even a pop-up postcard by Robert Sabuda!

I know better days are ahead for Books of Wonder. If you can, please visit their web site and help out.


Friday, October 19, 2012

Book Ends Event TOMORROW!

Just wanted to spread the word that I'll be reading and signing Helen's Big World at Book Ends in Winchester, Massachusetts tomorrow, Saturday, October 20 at 1:00 pm.

Winchester is my hometown, and Book Ends has supported me and my books from the very beginning, so I always love going back there. Just look at this awesome display of books they have right now (photo taken by my mom, a loyal Book Ends customer):

Hope to see you there! And if you can't make it, you can order personalized copies to pick up later.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

HELEN'S BIG WORLD Publication Day!

Helen's Big World: The Life of Helen Keller, written by Doreen Rappaport, illustrated by me, published by Disney-Hyperion, comes out today! This is my third collaboration with the amazing Doreen Rappaport, and I'm really proud to be a part of it. 

Here's an excerpt from my illustrator's note, where I wrote about some of the challenges I faced in trying to visually capture the story of a person who could not see or hear:

Helen Keller never saw the ocean or heard the sound of crashing waves. But she could feel the exhilaration of jumping in the water. She could ride in a sailboat, and feel the fluttering in her stomach as the sea rose and fell. She could taste the salty ocean spray, and feel the cold water as it splashed on her face. I kept this in mind as I illustrated this book, and tried to make sure my pictures focused on all the things she could do, instead of the two things she couldn’t do. 

It's always exciting (and a little bit nerve-wracking) when a book is finally done and people actually get to read it. Fortunately, the early response to Helen's Big World has been overwhelmingly positive (phew!). Here's a roundup of some of the great feedback the book has gotten so far:

 "Tavares's illustrations for Helen's Big World are, per the title, big and bold and often in intense close-up. Stirring and awe-inspiring..."
*The Horn Book Magazine (starred review)

 "A great design, incorporating the words in large type, makes this book visually striking.... The full images, without borders, invite children into Helen's world, while showing how big it truly became.... A dramatic spread shows the pupil and teacher in a boat, majestically cresting a wave, emphasizing what the youngster does experience more than what she does not. While there are many books available about Helen Keller for this age group, this title offers a unique and beautiful perspective on her life."
*School Library Journal (starred review)

"A magisterial account." -Kirkus Reviews

"Tavares’s illustrations evoke deep emotional response, incorporating large close ups and changing in color to reflect mood and tone. Particularly striking is his depiction on the front endpapers of the break through moment when Helen realizes her teacher, Annie Sullivan is providing her with words with which to express her experiences. Students reading this text cannot help but think about how they experience the world in which they live and offer their own words to communicate with those around them."
-The Classroom Bookshelf

Winner of a 2012 Oppenheim Platinum Award

Winner of a 2012 Oppenheim SNAP Award (for Special Needs Adaptable Products) 

2012 ABC Best Books For Children

For more about Helen's Big World, you can visit Doreen Rappaport's brand new web site. And for some great ideas about how to use this book in the classroom, please check out this excellent blog post on The Classroom Bookshelf.  

Find Helen's Big World at a bookstore near you, or any of the usual places online.

"Dark and almost demonic, it conveys instantly both the catastrophic nature of Helen's disabilities and the steely will that raged to be unleashed." -Publisher's Weekly, describing this illustration from Helen's Big World


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Books of Wonder

I had a great time in New York City last weekend. Doreen Rappaport and I introduced our new book, Helen's Big World: The Life of Helen Keller, at one of my favorite book stores anywhere, Books of Wonder. Here are a few pictures...

Very exciting to see Helen's Big World in the window of Books of Wonder! This was our very first public event for this book (It doesn't actually come out until next Tuesday.)

Nice display inside the store

Doreen and I did a little presentation about the book.

After the Books of Wonder, event, we visited the Helen Keller Archives at the American Foundation for the Blind, which was amazing. Here's a picture of Helen from the AFB reading a letter that Mark Twain wrote to Helen Keller! (Pictured, left to right: Doreen Rappaport, our editor Rotem Moscovich, Helen Selsdon of the AFB, and Doreen's husband, Bob).

My illustration of Helen learning to write, above a display case containing some of the actual papers I used as reference for my illustration.

Doreen sitting at Helen Keller's desk!
Doreen and I signed plenty of stock, so if you missed the Books of Wonder event but still want a copy of Helen's Big World signed by both of us, you can still get one!

Now I'm home for a few days, then it's off to Wisconsin for the Waupaca Book Festival next weekend!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Chemers Gallery Exhibit Preview

On December 1, I'll be in California for the opening reception of the 21st annual Children's Book Illustration exhibit at Chemers Gallery. It's a group show featuring original artwork by 5 contemporary children's book illustrators, E.B. Lewis, Sylvia Long, Chris Sheban, Boris Kulikov, and me

I've just recently started selling my originals (I used to just sell prints) and this is the first big gallery show I've done, where a lot of my original artwork is available. So if you're interested in buying some original illustrations from my picture books, here's your chance! 

Even if you can't make it to Tustin, California for the exhibit, you can view all the artwork online, here. Just contact Chemers Gallery if you're interested in purchasing any artwork.

"All Snug in their Beds..." from 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, pencil, 10 x 11.75