Author Archives: JAZ

Commitment: Upstream by Mary Oliver

  In her book Upstream the Pulitzer Prize winning poet Mary Oliver says of creative commitment, “There is a notion that creative people are absent-minded, reckless, heedless of social customs and obligations. It is, hopefully, true. …The working, concentrating artist is an adult who refuses interruption from himself, who remains absorbed and energized in and […]

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Grace Lin’s Story That Heals

Grace Lin may not know it yet, but she can heal a tortured heart. This is a power that the best creators of books for children all have, however Ms. Lin’s work, and two books in particular, have stepped in at a moment when help is most needed. The world seems turned upside down, but […]

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Solidarity

I did not participate in any of the women’s rallies yesterday, but here is my small protest sign. Several months ago I worked on a modification to the women’s gender symbol. Well, today its meaning is enhanced. Mr. Trump said yesterday that he will work for all Americans. That we the people will run this […]

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World of Books: Cuba

Recently I traveled almost the length of Cuba on a people to people, educational tour, something only possible recently because I am an American. For nearly fifty years this was forbidden. I learned so much about the people and culture. I brought copies of one of my books as gifts and listened to children playing […]

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Book People Bonding

This is a story about book people, a table, and some croc-a-mole. Once upon a time Ron McCutchan, then Art Director for Cricket Magazine, had a couple of pot luck meetups at my house for authors and illustrators working for Cricket. One reason was social The whole Emberley clan came: Ed, Barbara, Michael, and Rebecca. […]

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Review: Fear and Courage in Two Books

At the library I borrowed two middle grade/ YA books, both of which are astonishing. One deals with a realistic cultural issue frequently in the news, the other with nature rendered in a Gothic style. Each portrays a boy main character who is involved in something seriously scary, but who acts in courageous ways. Imagine young […]

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Finding a Critique Group to Nurture Your Fire

You’ve heard of Burning Man, right? The arty, fire-infused festival takes place each Labor Day week in the middle of the 400 square mile Black Rock Desert in Nevada. Disclaimer: It’s not kid rated, but does serve as a tantalizing analogy. Imagine that you are there in 1996 when 8,000 people come to witness it […]

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Rick Riordan: Demigod Saving the World

One child at a time, or sometimes en masse, Rick Riordan uses his superstar power to transform kids into readers. In a previous article titled Rick Riordan is a Demigod! the author’s ability to shazaam! a boy like Matthew from being a reluctant reader to an avid one was written in stone as if by […]

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Rick Riordan is a Demigod!

Look at a picture of Rick Riordan.  You can see his quirky sense of humor in those eyes. Although he might feel like he lives on Mount Olympus considering that his books have earned him thirty-five million dollars so far, he’s really just a regular guy, right? No glowing aura, no apparent ability to morph […]

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September 11, 2001

  One day, Jeb Dubus, Rob Blount, and I were in Jeb’s office at what was then the Amesbury Artworks building in Amesbury, MA. We were planning our response to the city’s RPF for the building next door, to work with artists and the city to convert it to artists’ studios. The phone rang. It […]

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First experiences at ALA

The American Library Association (ALA) annual conference, a ginormous offering for ALA’s 68,000 member librarians, was held this past weekend in Orlando at the newly refurbished Convention Center. Why should that matter to you? According to the ALA convention website, approximately 16,000 people who are decision makers concerning which books are purchased for their libraries […]

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Babl Books at ALA

I am excited that Babl Books, whose mission is to offer bilingual picture books, including mine, to kids everywhere,  will be at ALA this weekend. They are sharing a booth with We Need Diverse Books. Check them out if you go! BABL BOOKS will exhibiting at the  ALA Conference in Orlando – Jun 24-27 Find […]

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Author – Artist Residency Tips

by Joyce Audy Zarins If someone from a school overseas invited you to do an author or artist residency in connection with your picture book what would you do? I said yes even before I knew the particulars. If that would be your reaction, there are a few things you may want to consider to […]

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Big Sur on Cape Cod

I’ve just returned home from Big Sur on Cape Cod, a wonderful mentoring weekend for children’s book authors and illustrators organized by Andrea Brown and her most-successful-in-the-US literary agency, in coordination with Lisa Rehfuss. This event is held annually in California, and for the first time was offered here in New England (lucky us). The […]

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Interview: Totally Talented Brian Lies

I recently did an interview for WritersRumpus.com with Brian Lies, successful author and illustrator of gorgeous books for children. It was posted to coincide with the release of Brian’s latest picture book, Gator Dad. You can see his glorious artwork and read about him here. Bookmark

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Two May Residencies

Iceland, 2015 Being invited for an artist or author residency is such an honor. Last May I went to northern Iceland for a week long artist residency to help seventy kids in grades one to ten paint murals. The school was Valsárskóli in Svalbarðsströnd, which is across the fjord from where my son Eric and […]

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Meet Viðar

Meet our newest family member, Viðar, who is Dagbjört and Erlingur’s baby. He was born February 2. In line with Icelandic custom, his name was not used until he was christened this past Sunday, Easter. Isn’t he beautiful? The photo was taken by Eric, who is now a grandfather! Viðar and his parents live in […]

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World of Books: France, Belgium and Czech Republic

by Joyce Audy Zarins In my small collection of children’s books from around the world, some help explain ways of thinking to the young. The world can be a scary and sometimes puzzling place, so clues are always useful. In Les Mammouths, Les Ogres, Les Extraterrestres, et ma petite soeur, as the title suggests, creatures […]

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Young-Deok Seo

Here is the work of Young-Deok Seo, a South Korean artist who wisely uses bicycle chain as his medium. This is a smart move aesthetically because the chain is beautiful and gives texture and a perforated pattern to these large scale visages. And perhaps more importantly because of its connections to global society and to […]

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Female Power Symbol

Today we walked among snow-encrusted trees at Maudslay State Park and an idea came to me. Now that I have drawn it, let me explain. Symbols can be powerful. Consider Gerald Holtom’s peace symbol, which he designed for the Direct Action Committee against Nuclear War in the fifties. It is now widely used and is […]

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