My greatest joy in being a picture book illustrator has been visiting kids in the classroom.  Since my first book came out in 2002, I’ve been sharing my adventures as an artist with students of all ages, encouraging them to draw, paint, write a book, play an instrument…in short, to embark on creative adventures of their own!

I like to talk about inspiration, imagination, and the process of writing and illustration children’s books. Each presentation is about 50 minutes long, a little shorter for kids in grades K-1.

With each new book I work on, there are new experiences that I want to share with students. For example, my recent book Smudge and the Book of Mistakes touches on medieval history, celtic illuminations, letterforms and folklore.  Vivaldi and the Invisible Orchestra connects with music history and creative writing, while introducing a famous composer who really did write music for an unseen orchestra of orphan girls.


School Visits

Kingston Elementary School, Cherry Hill, NJ

Introduction   I’ll play some ragtime on the piano while the students enter and find their seats.  I tell the kids a little about my life as an artist, and how I got started.  I’ll show them samples of original artwork and the tools used to create it: pencils, brushes, pastels and paints.  Then we’ll draw a character or a scene together. I like to convey that the greatest tool we can use as artists is ultimately the heart.

Slide presentation   Next up is the slide presentation, an exploration of how the art was created. Taking pages from my sketchbooks, I show how doodles and scribbles evolve, step-by-step, from rough sketches into finished paintings. The students are led through the creative process, as the characters and events in the story come to life. I usually supplement this part of the presentation with book dummies and press proofs, which kids can view close-up.

The Doodle Game   A question-and-answer session for curious minds that want to know what it’s like to work at home with paints and pencils, all the while being closely watched by a pet cat. I might share what a typical day is like and engage them in conversation about coming up with their own ideas for writing and drawing. We might relate the discussion to what the kids are currently working on at school. I also share with the children original art from the book projects, and works-in-progress.

My Presentations

Next up, a slide show

My life as an author and illustrator

A little piano, anyone?


Here’s an outline of a typical presentation!


The Slideshow
Kids see a character develop, from first sketch to finished painting: