Sophie Blackall Illustration

Drawings and Snippets and Breaking News, (but more snippets than breaking news).

Sunday, November 28, 2010


From the Bookmaker's Dozen:
"Please come out and join us at our first little shindig at Powerhouse Arena
Where: Powerhouse Arena, 37 Main St. Dumbo, Brooklyn NY
When: December 2nd from 7pm-9pm
What: Art exhibition, print sale, informal panel discussion, wine drinking and mild mayhem with 13, count em, THIRTEEN children's book illustrators..."

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Events in Brooklyn This Weekend

Two events this weekend where I will be signing, reading, chatting, drawing, blowing up balloons...hang on, I vowed not to do that ever again...handing out limp balloons...
Saturday, November 13, from 12-4pm I will be with a whole slurry of other illustrators and authors at the Brooklyn Museum for their Children's Book Fair.
Sunday, November 14, at 11am I will be with Jacqueline Woodson at Bookcourt in Cobble Hill, talking about our Pecan Pie Baby.
Hope to see some of you there!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Book Makers Dozen

Being an illustrator is a wonderful thing. You get to draw wild boars and rocket ships and petticoats and harpoons. You get to spend most of the day on the internet and call it research. You get to choose your hours (which is often most hours, but still, you're still the one choosing least you try your best to put that spin on it), you can wear whatever you like (today I am wearing a peacock feather cloak), listen to songs which include a whistling coda, (which might not be to everyone's taste), and talk back to Leonard Lopate as though he's in the room. All this isolation can be good for productivity. It can also lead to an atrophied palette, compulsive blogging and beginning to think of Lenny as your friend.
Just in the nick of time the Book Makers Dozen comes to the rescue!
"Book Maker’s Dozen is a group of children’s book illustrators who also happen to be friends. We have banded together to make high quality reproductions of our art and facilitate group exhibitions.
At least that is our excuse.
The real reason we have joined at the hip is because creating art for children’s books can be a very solitary experience. Together, we provide each other moral support, general camaraderie and possibly a bit of mayhem."
Check the Book Makers Dozen blog for news and events in the tri-state area. We are a many-limbed drawing machine coming soon to a bookstore near you. Possibly in a gypsy wagon.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

More Excitement.

Big Red Lollipop is in the New York Times Top Ten Best illustrated Children's Books of 2010. I have been a bit heavy handed with the exclamation marks lately, so I'm exercising restraint, but I am not remotely matter-of-fact about this. It is very exciting indeed.
Please click on the link for the entire list which is eclectic and wonderful.
Lawrence Downes also wrote a very kind review alongside Busing Brewster (By Richard Michelson, illustrated by R. G. Roth), "Another fine picture book about siblings braving new surroundings".
The last paragraph is especially optimistic:
"Recent news accounts suggest that some parents have lost faith in the picture book. “Big Red Lollipop” and “Busing Brewster” could change their minds. To say these books offer timely insights on immigration and segregation is accurate, but that loads them down with off-putting significance. The stories of Rubina and Brewster, told with simplicity and subtlety, ring bright and true."

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Surprise Islands on a Gloomy Day

I was about half way through a gloomy day just now, when the doorbell rang and a dripping UPS man handed me a package. I thought it might have been some hoofs, or some 1940s teenage girl's scrap book I'd bought on eBay, but it was a surprise package. A little while ago I signed up for the Book Club With One Member at Crawford-Doyle. A member of their staff will carefully select a book just for you once a month and send it out. "The books will be paperback or hardcover, fiction or nonfiction, just released or classic. The goal is a book chosen with one recipient in mind that will enlighten, delight and entertain – a gift to a booklover throughout the year." I sent them a list of things I'm interested in, you know, like shadows, and indexes, faded wallpaper, Moby Dick, cabinet cards, microscope slides, turn-of-the-century comic strips and old tattoos... lost, found and mended things. Other people's letters, from famous people or ordinary people. Paris, especially old Paris. William Blake. Volcanoes. Hoofs. I don't know, that kind of thing.
This is what arrived.
Atlas of Remote Islands, Fifty Islands I Have Never Set Foot On and Never Will, by Judith Schalansky. There are beautiful maps and stories and information about fifty remote islands bearing names like Possession Island and Deception Island and Lonely Island. There are stories of fainting sailors and curses on newborns and skeleton ships and forgotten prisoners.
This book has made me unbelievably happy. It is an uncommon size. The paper feels nice. There is a cloth bound spine. And it was handpicked for me. I feel like I'm back in the 19th century. I will be expecting a bespoke suit next. Show me a kindle that can do that.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Pecan Pie Baby

Pecan Pie Baby, written by Jacqueline Woodson is out in the stores. There are lots of pictures and sketches from the book over at the fabulous Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.
And two starred reviews already. Hooray!

*Blackall’s apt watercolor-and-ink pictures capture the grounded serenity of a multiracial family (and community) with its priorities on straight. Beloved Gia’s got corn rows and a sweet gap between her front teeth. The fact that a dad or other mom doesn’t figure in renders her conflict more poignant. Cleverly, the story arc spans autumn’s slide into winter—a welcome alternative to all those ding-dang spring-baby plots. Fresh and wise.
Kirkus Reviews

*Gia's narrative voice is prime Woodson-lyrical, colloquial, and imbued with the authentic feelings of a child who might be as old as eight or as young as five, and Blackall's smooth-edged, Chinese ink and watercolor illustrations show the little family of two thriving in their simple, cozy home. Gently, the art clarifies and dramatizes the truth that change may feel threatening even in the most wholesome and loving environment-a familiar message, but a comforting one, delivered here with unusual warmth and grace.
Horn Book

Jackie and I will be reading, drawing, chatting and signing at Bookcourt in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn on Sunday, November 14th at 11am. Hope to see some of you there!

Monday, November 1, 2010

How to Wear a Horse as a Hat

I know Halloween is meant to be for the kiddies, but this year our children preferred not to be seen with us so we were forced to make our own fun. My friends had a cardboard party on their block, so we made ourselves some enormous disguises. Nick, Ann and Flavio, (who was the gigantic and incredible, ghostly, cardboard Don Quixote) helped make the horse and we all went for a ride.