Sarah's blog

May 20, 2015

I'm amazed, honored and thrilled by the news that Feathers: Not Just For Flying has won the Crystal Kite Award from the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. This is a particularly meaningful award, since it's voted on by fellow members of SCBWI. The author, Melissa Stewart and I are both so happy and grateful.

Feathers has been honored a number of times since the start of the year, including winning the CYBILS Award, the Nerdy Book Club Award, and the John Burroughs Association Riverby Award. It's also an ALA Notable Book. It was a labor of love for me from the start; I fell in love with Melissa's manuscript and I felt all through the illustration process that we were creating something special. It's unbelievably gratifying to have our hard work recognized by so many organizations.

Extra thanks to the editor, Julie Bliven, art director, Diane Earley, and all the great folks at Charlesbridge for taking so much time to make sure every page was as good as it could be.


August 6, 2014

Abigail Marble, a wonderfully talented illustrator and friend, has asked me to participate in a blog tour. I still don't really have a blog, although I might be setting one up soon. For now, you can have a look at Abigail's work here. I'm so pleased to hear that she is illustrating a mid-grade, Two for Joy, for Candlewick.

We are to answer some questions, so here they are...

1. What am I currently working on?

At the moment, I'm getting ready to launch my new picture book, Madame Martine. Although I have illustrated over fifteen books, Madame Martine is only the second one I've written myself, so I'm very excited about it. It tells the story of an old lady in Paris who is very set in her ways. She finds a little lost dog and they end up going to the top of the Eiffel Tower together; after their adventure, they try something new every Saturday. The publisher, Albert Whitman & Company, has printed dear little packs of cards with suggestions of new things to try, and even set up a hashtag, #MadameMartinesNewThings. I'll be appearing at various bookstores, festivals and libraries throughout the fall - check the Events page for details.

Apart from promotion stuff, I'm busy working on several new picture book manuscripts and a couple of wordless stories. I very much want to do a wordless picture book.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

What a tough question! People often describe my watercolors as "serene," "elegant," "delicate." That sounds about right. My stories usually have some sweetness at their hearts. I know I've succeeded if people tear up when they read them.

3. Why do I write what I write?

I love so many things, and I want to share that love with children. Paris, marbles, the drawing process, meteors, cats, Italy, hedgehogs, frogs, opera, same-sex parents, feathers, books, Monet... just for a start! What could be more wonderful than to delight a child and, maybe, expand their world?

4. How does my individual writing/illustrating process work?

Usually I start by taking long walks and thinking. I have to walk to think creatively. Stories take shape in my head, sometimes full-blown, sometimes in fragments. Sometimes I have the whole story written by the time I get back from a walk and I rush to the computer and type as fast as I can! Usually I work on the manuscript for a long time before I start drawing. Then I'll sketch the characters, then lay out tiny storyboards, and go on from there.

Of course, sometimes it works the other way around, I'll start with an image or a drawing and the story develops from there. It's harder that way.

I sketch in pencil, on trace. I'm very attached to Palomino Blackwing pencils.

5. Who is the author/illustrator you are passing the interview to?

Please visit Lisa Kopelke's web site next. She's brilliant, quirky, and hilarious! Thank you for reading.

September 10, 2013

Huge thanks to my webmaster, Lauren Francis, for her hard work on my new web site. Lauren is not only a brilliant web designer, she's a talented illustrator. Check out her site here.

I'm hard at work on sketches for a new book; I wrote it as well as illustrating it, so it's dear to my heart. I'll post more news soon.


November 1, 2012

The Brentwood Public Library board met in a special session to consider the challenge to Uncle Bobby's Wedding. They voted unanimously to reject the challenge and keep the book in the library.

In other news, I am finishing up the artwork for the non-fiction book, written by Melissa Stewart, now titled Feathers. I can't wait to share it with everyone! It has been the most challenging and rewarding illustration jobs I've ever done.

Feathers will be published in 2014.


October 19, 2012

Yesterday afternoon I was notified that Uncle Bobby's Wedding had been challenged in a library in Brentwood, Missouri. The challenge has gotten a lot more publicity than this sort of thing usually does, and it has been picked up by local TV news stations and a number of print and online sources.

I spoke to the director of the library, Vicki Woods, today, and this is what she told me: A library patron challenged the book on September 3. The library responded in writing within 30 days, which is usual in these cases. The patron said he wanted to take the challenge to the board. He came to the board meeting on October 15, but there was not a quorum present so the board was not able to vote. They will vote on the matter soon, and I have been told that none of the board members support removing the book from the library shelves, which I am very pleased to hear.

The book remains in circulation at the library.

The library director has received over 75 calls and emails about the challenge, nearly all supporting keeping the book in the library. I will post here when the final decision is made.

A challenge to a book usually means that a library patron (or parent, in the case of a school library) has requested that a book be removed from the library or shelved in a special section. When a book is removed from a library or school curriculum, it is referred to as "banned."

Uncle Bobby's Wedding has been challenged many times, but I rarely hear about it at all, and never before in so much detail. It's unusual for the media to take such an interest in a book challenge. I've heard from a number of people in St. Louis in the last two days, all expressing support of the book. I am grateful to them, and to the librarians in Brentwood.

St. Louis Post Dispatch story 10/19/2012
Maplewood-Brentwood Patch 10/19/2012
Examiner article 10/18/2012
KMOV story
CBS TV story
TV clip


July 29, 2012

I'm just about done revising the sketches for a book about feathers by my friend, science and nature author Melissa Stewart. (Don't miss her fun web site). The book will be published in 2014 by Charlesbridge.

I saw the manuscript for the book almost three years ago and loved it immediately. What's more, I rashly announced to our critique group that I wanted to illustrate it. Melissa liked the idea but we both know that the publishing business doesn't work that way; I've had Newbery-winning authors request me as their illustrator on more than one occasion, without success.

Despite knowing this, I did a couple of sample illustrations, figuring I could at least put them on my web site, and printed them out and gave them to Melissa. And I started drawing feathers, whenever I could, just in case I got the job.

I was beyond thrilled when I did get the job last year; I had illustrated several books for Charlesbridge and when the art director started looking for an illustrator she checked out my web site and saw the feather illustrations.

It has turned out to be a very complicated book, and I haven't even started the final art yet. But I'm very excited about it and I look forward to sharing it with everyone when it's finished.


July 22, 2012

Here's a nice interview with Kathy Teaman, SCBWI New Jersey regional advisor.

Uncle Bobby's Wedding is included in this piece in the Huffington post about books challeneged for LGBT content. Nice company to be in!

Focus on the Family released a video attacking a number of children's books, including mine.

And finally, a nice article with very kind mentions of Uncle Bobby.






Represented by Jennifer Starkman, Transatlantic Literary Agency
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