This summer my cup runneth over with kidlit elixirs. I was pleased as punch to share in one of Pat Crowley Rockwell’s Story and Craft adventures at the Peaks Island library. She is an esteemed educator, the Assistant Principal at King Middle School, and a passionate advocate of children’s books and reading to kids.


She featured A Porcupine’s Promenade by Lyn Smith, how could I not join in? After she read the story, I shared my little pencil dummy and showed one of the original drawings. Kids like to touch the rough sanded paper I use for my pastels. Plus, Pat’s programs always involve a craft, the chance to get little hands on something.


Kids and adults were invited to grab a ball of clay, a box of toothpicks, and some googly eyes. What’s not to love? Just mashing the clay around was a squishy pleasure.


Even with limited materials, plenty of prickly personalities emerged.


I brought mine home to dry and Marty added a finishing touch with airbrush, thank you.


The next day I visited Bright Horizons where my intrepid niece, Cristel, is an award-winning pre-K teacher.


The eager energy of this crowd is a welcome shot in the arm. Their wide-eyed enthusiasm for story always fills me to the brim. I brought my little dummies for Seven Days of Daisy to pass around, along with a few props from the story.


We talked about marking time, and they knew all about it.


At this age (mostly 4 year olds) they are still figuring out the abstraction of time. How long is a week? They’re just getting the hang of the days of the week, sometimes upside down.


They were mighty eager to draw their own stories in the books I brought for them. The parallels can make you giggle.


I noticed some cut paper simpatico in the work of Cristel’s co-worker, Dragona, who makes the room bright.



Some made vigorous color marks while others drew careful lines.


A few took center stage to read their stories, which had no writing but plenty to tell.


Thank you, Bright Horizons, for the book love!

Next up was a Curious City Kidlit Libation outing on the Eastern Prom, where liquid craft was in order.


Witness the rare circle of 2 dogs, 2 librarians, 1 agent, 1 bartender/kidlit wunderkind, 2 authors, and 4 illustrator/authors soaking up the atmosphere.. Best folks to hang with on any dang day.


This week another Illustration Institute adventure unfolded on Peaks Island at Mark Hoffmann’s workshop on Lateral Thinking.

I sketched him while he talked about his background (yay, fellow RISD alum) and methods of working.


He learned the craft of story telling while working after graduation at Soup to Nuts, an animation studio in Boston, and the value of speedy sketching.

I also drew another participant with lovely hair.


He has moved from gouache to painting on the iPad with Procreate, and limits his color palette, while also making copious lists. We divided into groups to tackle lateral brain-storming for five concepts: Secrets, Loss, Danger, Aging, and Chores. Our mission was to create lists of words stemming from words and finding idea combinations that would “push beyond the expected.” Each group went to work, and after half an hour, one spokesperson delivered a story pitch. BOOM. Stories galore!

And then he signed his first book, You Can Read, a wonderful romp in tertiary colors through the wilds where stories can take us.


On Monday, I will be at Ocean Park to share Here Come the Humpbacks and drawing creatures of the sea. The stories and craft cruise on, and I am blessed to be in this kidlit boat.

One Comment

  1. Thanks, Jamie, for another treat following your last illustrated kiddos adventure. All those toothpick porcupines were adorable, as were all the children.
    I always look forward to seeing your next peep.
    Someday maybe you should pick all your favorites and make them into a book!
    Great inspiration for young artists coming down the road !

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