Brightly Birthday Picture

I recently did an illustration for the website for their 1st year anniversary. Brightly is a website run by Penguin Random House that helps moms and dads inspire the love of reading in their kids. The picture ended up on a bunch of promotions for the site, which was really cool. I thought it would be fun to detail some of the process here on the blog.

Here are a couple of the sketches I sent to the art director. She decided to combine the “tree” picture with the “birthday party picture”.

1party copy


3tree copy


So we ended up with this version, which has a birthday party in a tree, of course.

brightly-sketch2 copy

Here’s how it looked colored in, with pen and ink and watercolor.

Brightly Birthday Banner

It’s now being used in Brightly promotions on a “book truck”, stickers, a gift box, and even this beautiful cake.


Hopefully these characters will return again someday to have more adventures!

Top 5 Funny Picture Books

Picture books can be funny in all sorts of ways. Sometimes it’s a silly and wonderful illustration. Sometime it’s just the right turn of phrase that brings a chuckle. Sometimes it’s a catch phrase that a child can shout out over and over. But however it happens, there’s nothing better than seeing a child laugh out loud at an illustrated book.

There are lots of funny children’s books out there. But I thought I’d make a list of my favorites. Here we go!


61pF0bKbvvL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_The Stupids

Harry G. Allard Jr. and James Marshall

Pretty much anything from James Marshall could make this list. Everything he did was dry, subtle and hilarious. But my favorites are the ones he made with Henry G. Allard. This includes the sublime “Ms. Nelson is Missing”, but the funniest ones to me are the Stupids. Everything this family does is ridiculous and, well, stupid, but the books don’t feel snarky or insulting. Instead, the characters are lovable and charming, and you can laugh along to their antics completely guilt free.




The Monster at the End of this Book

Jon Stone and Michael Smollin

I unusually don’t care for children’s books that are too “meta”. Sometimes it takes you away from the real story and seems too clever by half. But this one is an exception. Every time Grover implores the reader “Don’t turn the page!” heightens the tension and leads to a wonderful surprise. Also, if you have a good Grover impression, this is a great time to pull it out!







Mind Your Manners, B.B. Wolf

Judy Sierra and J. Otto Seibold

A hilarious fractured fairy tale from Judy Sierra and J. Otto Seibold. The story is lively, but it’s the illustrations and the little touches that make this book so funny. (I read it sever times before realizing that B.B. Wolf lives in a retirement home). J. Otto’s character designs are fantastic, and his graphic depiction of burping cannot be beat. Plus, the book a ridiculous theme song that is awesome to sing along to.








Blue Hat, Green Hat

Sandra Boynton

Again, you can really take your pick with Sandra Boynton; she has so many funny books. But this one gets by far the biggest reactions from my family. The words are very repetitive, which lets young kids follow along and get the joke. And who doesn’t want to yell out “OOOPS!!” as loud as they can every two pages?






Teacher from the Black Lagoon

Mike Thaler and Jared Lee

This book spawned a whole series of similar titles, but this is the classic. It perfectly captures the fear of the first day of school. What if you teacher is a monster? Then you’re doomed for the whole year! And the oblivious glee that Jared Lee takes in depicting the horrible things “Mrs. Green” does to her students is priceless.






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