Tag Archives: emily arrow

studio: a place for art to start cover reveal + interviews + studio tours + giveaway!

I’m thrilled to be able to share the cover of STUDIO: A PLACE FOR ART TO START by Emily Arrow and The Little Friends of Printmaking with you today! This picture book is a debut for both author and illustrators and is coming to you from Tundra in March of 2020.

Studio might be best described as an ode to being you and finding your singular expression and space to cultivate it, and then sharing that with the world. It has bright, thoughtful, detailed, and exuberant art and feels like a truly kismet collaboration between text and visual story. It explores and honors creativity and making. (And it was written by one of my dearest friends.)

I give you…

the charming and truly eye-catching cover by The Little Friends of Printmaking!


Just look at all those different kinds of studios and makers on display! Even the title itself on that sign is in the very process of being made, which is such a brilliant thematic touch! There in the middle of the top row of windows is our main character, a bunny who we follow as they tour studios and see artists of all styles and stripes, soaking up the energy and options they might pursue.  By taking a tour along with bunny, readers will get a chance to do the same.

And here’s one bonus spread from the inside as well!



In honor of Studio’s cover reveal, I asked the creators three questions each and they’re all giving us a tour of their studios, past and present! What a complete treat!



First up, the illustrators, The Little Friends of Printmaking, husband and wife team James and Melissa Buchanan who you may know from their silkscreened prints, pins, as well as their fine art!


  1. What does a studio mean to you?

James: Art is a job, and the studio is the place where the work gets done. What having a studio means for me is the benefit of having a private, peaceful space where I can work out new ideas; a place where I can experiment and even get frustrated without feeling like I’m bothering anyone; where I can put down a project for the night and pick it right up in the morning, without having to put everything away. It’s the freedom to work the way you want to.

Melissa: The studio is the place where we make our work, but it’s also a place to be inspired. We decorate it with the kind of work that we like to see, fill it with books that we can reference, and houseplants and other trinkets that help make it a comfortable and inspiring place to be.


  1. What and where was your first ever studio?

James: First ever? The kitchen table or an elementary school art classroom would probably be the most accurate answer, but the first studio that really felt like my own was an out-of-the-way photo darkroom at high school. I finally got that sense of freedom and ownership you get with a studio because I could work there independently, uninterrupted, and play whatever music I liked. It felt great to be in charge of my own space, which is something I didn’t have at home.

Melissa: My first studio was a very similar situation! I had wanted to study oil painting in high school but there wasn’t place in my high school art classroom so my teacher lent me an underused storage closet that I could use as a painting studio. I had my own key, which felt very grown up. In retrospect, it was probably a terrible idea to let a teenager use solvents in an unventilated storage closet but I couldn’t have been happier.

From  our studio in Milwaukee circa 2006-2008. We built and ran a community print studio and workspace in a Milwaukee children’s museum called Discovery World and worked on our personal work after the normal workday was complete. The work hanging behind us was from our students.

From our studio in Milwaukee circa 2008-2013. It was in the basement of our house and was our first non-shared studio (we had worked out of the University of Wisconsin-Madison print studio – our alma mater – before moving to Milwaukee to run the Discovery World Print and Publishing Lab).

From our studio in Lincoln Heights (Los Angeles) circa 2013-2014.

  1. How did you approach creating the visual story for STUDIO after reading the text?

James: First, we felt it was important to create a visual story, independent from the text, with a strong through-line. That way, readers of all ages and skill levels could return to the book and enjoy it, even if someone isn’t there to read it with them. We also wanted to treat this as a true picture book of artists’ studios, showing as much detail and as many tools and supplies as we could fit in. That way, young readers could get a sense of the studio as a real place—and of being an artist as a real job that they could aspire to.

Melissa: As the characters go through the various studios, our thought was to show the little bunny getting progressively more comfortable among the community of artists and feeling more and more free to express themselves, and in the end, join the community of artists.



From our current studio circa 2014-present.



Next up the author, Emily Arrow, who you may already know from her music! 

  1. What does a studio mean to you?

Right now, my studio means the place with:

my stack of books and notebooks

my ukulele

my sweet rescue dog



  1. What and where was your first ever studio? 

Finding a space to be creative has been one of my favorite adventures for as long as I can remember. When I was about 7 years old, my piano teacher helped me record my own songs in her home recording studio she called “Squeaky Floor Studios.” I was in my happy place with headphones on, listening to the music and finally being able to step into the song with my own voice. Other special studios over the years include the recording studios where I’ve recorded my “Storytime Singalong” albums!


3. Tell us about the genesis of this story concept.

Because I believe creating art leads to peacefulness, I believe spaces that foster creativity have a special magic. I love visiting artists’ studios, dreaming up ideas about where I might create a music video, and finding the creative spark that can turn even an ordinary place into a studio space. A few summers ago, I decided to create my work in a shared studio space in Nashville. That cozy studio full of artists and illustrators was bursting with creativity, twinkle lights, and collaboration. Naturally, it became the “place for my art to start,” and I wrote Studio.



And here are all three makers of this book, together!! How special is that!






And finally, a giveaway! Simply comment below to be entered to win this pair of pins from The Little Friends of Printmaking. (N. America only; ends Friday, June 28th at midnight PST.)



Big thanks to Emily and to Little Friends for collaborating on this post—photos were provided by them. And to Tundra for book images!




zinnia and the bees book trailer!

I’m interrupting regularly scheduled programming because my debut middle grade novel, Zinnia and the Bees, has a book trailer, and I’m so excited to share it with you!


Enormous thanks to the following wonderful people who made this happen:

Emily Arrow, dear dear friend and gifted songwriter, for the original “Zinnia and the Bees” song that perfectly captures Zinnia’s journey.

Meiko Takechi Arquillos, brilliant photographer, for giving her time and talents to the project.

Stevie Nemazee, animator and puppeteer extraordinaire, for generously lending her skills.

And Todd Davis, my honey, for dreaming this up and making Zinnia and those bees come to life with paper and buttons and imagination.


Look for Zinnia and the Bees August 1st from Capstone. And it’s available for pre-order now! In fact, if you pre-order a copy, I’ll send you some snail mail goodies to thank you! All the details here



















they all saw a cat + emily arrow’s they all saw a cat song + giveaway!

They All Saw a Cat_FCThey All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel (2016).

The cat walked through the world, with its whiskers, ears, and paws…”

So starts this genius picture book.

And then, different beings see that cat walking through the world. And they all see the cat differently according to their own perspectives, interpretations, and even the way their sense of sight works. Those whiskers, ears, and paws are not as fixed as they may first appear.


Brendan Wenzel has created a book that explores subjectivity and imagination through how one cat can contain multitudes and many disparate qualities depending on who’s doing the seeing. (And, by extension, how all the things and people and events in the world contain multitudes if you look from different points of view.)

Not to mention that the mediums and evocations of the art are as varied as the perspectives. I also love the furry endpapers.

They All Saw A Cat_Int_Fish

They All Saw A Cat_Int_Bird

(click image(s) to enlarge)

Let’s take a look. Is the seer up close or far away? In a bowl, like the fish? On its back like the flea? In the sky like the bird?



They All Saw A Cat_Int_Dog

They All Saw A Cat_Int_Mouse

What does the seer see when it sees a cat? A friend or foe? Something innocuous or something threatening?

Does the seer see in pixels or in black and white? In infrared like the snake? Those are probably my favorite spreads: the bee, the snake, and the skunk. How fun to imagine how other creatures see the world! And how important to imagine how other humans see the world too.

In the end, the cat is all of these things.

What do you see when you see a cat? What do you see when you see this or that? What do you see when you see yourself?


Big thanks to Chronicle Books for images! A perfect publisher for this book as its motto is “see things differently”!

And you may want to check out the activity kit for the book too.




TheyAllSawACatEAEmily Arrow has stopped by once before and I couldn’t be more honored and delighted that she’s here once again to share her singular talents and premiere her “They All Saw a Cat” song for you!





The setting: the back porch at Green Bean Books in Portland.

The stars: super sweet kids doing animal hand motions with panache.

The song: singable, hummable, even clappable!

Emily has such a special way of making a song that captures a book’s essence while elaborating on the elements that seem meant for music. This is no exception. Kids will love it.



cover_digitaldistributionCheck out Emily’s full album, Storytime Singalong!







And before you go, there’s a giveaway! Chronicle is generously offering up 10 copies of They All Saw a Cat to 10 winners! That’s right, 10! Enter to win one of them below.



a Rafflecopter giveaway


be a friend + emily arrow’s “be a friend” song + giveaway!

BeAFriend_cvrBe a Friend by Salina Yoon (2016).

This picture book is about a boy named Dennis. And then it’s about being a friend.

Dennis is the one the other kids call “mime boy.” You can see why. He has his own unique way of expressing himself that doesn’t involve talking. (He’s got a wardrobe full of striped shirts and a poster of Marcel Marceau of course.)




(click image(s) to enlarge)

See the girl with the sunflower? You  might not catch it on a first read, but she’s not speaking either. She’s hugging her flower. That hug and the tilt of her foot tell us something about her. She moves about in the world a little differently. (As does Dennis.) I think we’re supposed to keep our eye on her.


be-a-friend-picture-bookThe black and white and red of Salina Yoon’s illustrations with sepia backgrounds take us back in time. It’s almost like Dennis is starring in his own silent movie. And he’s happy there. But the thing is, he’s also all alone.




be-a-friendAnd there’s that sunflower girl again on the swing. We’ve been watching her and she’s been watching Dennis. She’s ready when he kicks an invisible ball her direction. She’s been waiting for a moment just like that. See her expression and the colors of her dress? See how these two mirror each other even though they’re not exactly the same? That’s friendship. That’s being a friend.

This lovely book is perfect for Valentine’s Day because it’s about the kind of love that friends share. The kind that sees differences and beyond them, that catches the ball and tosses it back, that gives a great big laughing JAZZ HANDS when the time is right.


Big thanks to Salina Yoon for images!




I’m so excited to premiere Emily Arrow‘s Be a Friend song and video with you here! She is a super big talent, a lover of picture books, and, thematically for this post, a friend.


So good, right?! Especially fun to see four-year old Nicole shaking her JAZZ HANDS with Emily and being a total sweetie-pie. (She’s the daughter of Salina Yoon’s literary agent.) You can tell those two became friends during the video shoot.

And here’s the great news: Emily’s album, “Storytime Singalong” launches on February 20th! You’re invited to her special album launch party at Once Upon a Time Bookstore to celebrate. And if you can’t make it, you can pre-order so you’ll be humming these tunes in no time! (P.S. The adorable cover was designed by picture book creator Ashlyn Anstee.)



There are eleven tracks on this first volume, most of them featuring a picture book-inspired song, all of them fantastic. Emily is the real deal. She trained at Berklee College and has taught music to elementary school students. She plays the guitar and uke and she can sing beautifully!

Emily gets to the essence of a book and translates it into music kids adore and interact with. And for grownups? Her songs are sigh-inducing. Sigh.

Most importantly, these melodies make you immediately want to sing along! (I know I do.) Check out her videos to see what I mean!




To friends and books and songs!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


all the wonders: a new place for kids’ books and another place to find me

Have you heard? There’s a new website for children’s literature called All The Wonders. It’s “a home for readers to discover new books and to experience the stories they love in wondrous ways.” And I’m happy to be a contributor!


You’ll still find me here at This Picture Book Life on Tuesdays of course, but you’ll also find my crafts and book lists over there sometimes too. I’m delighted to be part of the stellar team and I hope you’ll come along to relish the wonders of books through songs, podcasts, studio visits, storytime posts, videos, and more from these talented folks!


You’ll find picture book songs from Emily Arrow, Matthew Winner‘s conversations, art and book posts from fellow blogger Carter Higgins, videos from Blake Hamilton, and animation from Mike Cicciotello.



your-alien-crafttimeMy latest picture book craft up today: Make Your Own Clay Alien to celebrate Your Alien by Tammi Sauer, illustrated by Goro Fujita. And Emily Arrow’s got an amazing, adorable song with my little green guy in the video!






And my latest list: 12 Delightful Picture Books with Diverse Characters.


I hope you’ll come see All The Wonders


Big thanks to Brian Won for designing the gorgeous logo and custom artwork for the site that I’ve included here.