Chattanooga Here I Come

Chattanooga Kids Librarian

BIG  NEWS! I’ve accepted a position as children’s librarian at the Chattanooga Public Library, with the (unbound) directive of making awesome things happen with kids ages 0-7. I’ll also work a bit with the older kids too. The Dunn family will be booking a one-way ticket to Tennessee this summer.

Why Chattanooga Public Library?

After meeting THE Justin Hoenke last summer, Chattanooga has been on my mind. All kinds of innovative library happenings have been coming to fruition at a rapid rate at the Chattanooga Public Library. They aren’t afraid to try new things, and because of it they’re leading the future of libraries.  Chattanooga is the perfect climate for learning as well cultivating seedling ideas for youth services. So when Justin asked if I would come work with him and his team, how could I refuse?

For those of you who aren’t in the library industry or may not be familiar with Chattanooga Public Library, here are a boatload of wonderful things going on as of late:

Read about what’s happening on the Chattanooga Public Library’s 2nd Floor (devoted to kids 0-18) and other events throughout the library on Justin’s blog HERE and radical tween/teen librarian, Megan Emery’s blog HERE.

Chattanooga Public Library Director, Corrine Hill was named Librarian of the Year for 2014

Chattanooga Public Library was featured in What the Library of the Future Will Look Like

Making Room for Innovation highlights The 4th Floor, Chattanooga Public Library’s community driven tech space

CPL’s Muse of Fire Project highlighted on Library as Incubator Project

These are only a few recent highlights. So, SO MUCH to list!!! I’m so excited to work with these folks!

Why Chattanooga?

Chattanooga is in a place of transition, full of opportunity. It was a city that had been in a dark place for awhile, but has turned a new chapter and is becoming a place that fosters technology and new business. We are looking forward to being catalysts for this movement of change. Another plus I found out early on is people who live in Chattanooga, love Chattanooga. Not one person I had spoken with, whether they were transplants to the area or have lived there for thirty years, said otherwise. The city has so much to offer and I am excited to be a part of it.

Goodbye, But Not Farewell to Lawrence

Moving to Chattanooga was a tough decision. My family and I love Lawrence. We love the community and the friendships we have here. I have had the privilege to work with a few incredible people at the Lawrence Public Library who have shaped who I am as a librarian, and I will carry that on forever. Many of you LPL’ers I consider family and have become surrogate grandparents, aunts, or uncles to my children. You are a big reason why my daughter has such a strong love for the library. We are leaving people and a city we love dearly, that’s for sure.

Lawrence will always hold a special place in my heart.

Ad Astra per Aspera.

Looking forward to this new adventure! Chattanooga, here I come!




Fairy Hunt

Going on a Fairy Hunt kids

There has been quite a big hype in the news lately over the Rossendale Fairies, photographs taken by British professor John Hyatt of insect-like creatures that extraordinarily look like fairies (!), currently on public display at the Whitaker Museum in Rossendale.

Rossendale Fairies


As a girl, I was a believer in all magical things and I had a particular affinity for fairies. I used to regularly go on searches hoping to catch a glimpse of the wee folk. When I first read about the Rossendale Fairies yesterday, my adult brain automatically determined that theses pictures were probably an unidentified species of insects, but there is a part of me, that little girl deep down inside, that remains hopeful. I showed the Rossendale Fairies to my daughter and we both decided that later that day we would conduct our own Fairy Hunt. So, I strapped her baby sister in the carrier, packed the camera, and we headed off to the local nature center hoping to catch a few on film.

You won’t believe it.. BUT WE DID! Lorelei photographed a few in the early spring thickets preparing for summer! If you look *very* carefully you will see them (but I’m warning you, most adults might not be able to).

Fairy Hunt

fairy hunt

fairy hunt

fairy hunt

fairy hunt

If you’re looking for a way to enjoy the warmer weather, go on a fairy hunt! But I must warn you…. Kids usually have a better eye for finding fae, so you might want to take one or two along. You’ll yield more results if they’re in charge of the camera, too.


Source of Rossendale Fairies images.



Interview with Illustrator Elizabeth Baddeley

Elizabeth Baddeley

Friends, I am soooo thrilled to introduce you to Elizabeth Baddeley, illustrator of A Woman in the House (and Senate): How Women Came to the United States Congress, Broke Down Barriers, and Changed the Country. You have no idea. Not only is she an extremely talented artist that I’ve been wishing and hoping would work a children’s book one day, but I’ve also had the privilege of knowing her since I was a dopey high school kid. She is someone you’re going to want to keep your eye on. Blink and she’s everywhere.

Tell us about yourself!

I work as freelance illustrator living in Kansas City, Missouri. I actually just moved back here to my hometown after living in New York City for a little over three years. I moved to NYC when I was accepted into SVA’s Illustration as Visual Essay masters program. Prior to that I worked in Kansas City as a designer for Hallmark Cards. When I’m not drawing or working on some creative project (which is almost always) I love to cook, spend time with my husband, Zack, and instagram WAY too many photos of my two cats. This summer I am going to be teaching my first class, which I am simultaneously excited about and terrified which is usually a good combination of emotions.

Your first children’s book, A WOMAN IN THE HOUSE (AND SENATE), written by Ilene Cooper, is a nonfiction book for kids ages 8-14 about strong, revolutionary women and their positive impact on the US government. What was your favorite part about illustrating this book?

A Woman in the House

I was surprised to find that my favorite part of illustrating this book was how much I learned. I had forgotten that one of the reasons I became interested in illustration in the first place was that you learn something new with each job you take on. Not only did I learn about the women written in the book, but with each illustration came quite a bit of research. Whether I was looking up what the inside of the capitol looked like in 1920 or what women wore during World War II, each new drawing was a different history lesson. I also loved doing the lettering for the beginning of each section. The editor (Howard Reeves) had the idea of doing lettering in the style of each era. Normally I have a few fall back styles I like to use for hand lettering, but this really made me move outside of my comfort zone.


Women_03 (2)




Which woman or women featured in this book are you most inspired by?

Any woman (or man quite frankly) that can take their career all the way to congress is an inspiration. However, I really loved learning more about Nancy Kassebaum Baker. She was a senator from Kansas from the late 70’s to late 90’s. Being a child of the 80’s and a Kansan at that, I remember learning about Nancy Kassebaum from an early age. I didn’t realize at the time how lucky I was as a little girl to have a female role model like that right in my own state!  She was only the second woman elected to senate that didn’t simply take over her husband’s seat! Another fact I didn’t know about her was that she was a moderate to liberal Republican that was highly involved in health care and ending apartheid in South Africa. Pretty important stuff there.


You won the Society of Illustrators Gold Medal for a stunning book you self published, Swimmer Girls. Can you tell us about the motivation and creative process behind that project?



Well, first of all, I think it’s important to tell your readers that you ARE one of the Swimmer Girls. And not just in spirit. One of the originals!

In our first year of the MFA illustration program at SVA we are given the assignment to make a book. That’s it. No other parameters. For some students, it’s very easy. They’re into childrens’ books so they do that. Or they like comics, so they make a comic. For me it was not so simple. I was still trying to figure out what kind of an illustrator I wanted to be.

On the first day of class we went around the room and told everyone what our book was about. I was still pretty unsure so I just said “Swimming. I’m going to go swim, and then I’m going to make art about it.” So that’s what I did. I would swim laps at the Chelsea rec center in NYC and then go back to my studio and work in my sketchbook. The wonderful thing about swimming is that while you’re doing it, you can’t do anything else. You can’t listen to music (well, I guess they make headphones for that now, but I’ve never found them to work very well), you can’t watch TV and you can’t talk. You’re pretty much alone with your thoughts. And trust me, a lot of thoughts come up. So I would write down whatever it is I’d be thinking about while I was swimming and then create imagery to go with it. Some days I wouldn’t even write. I’d just make water textures and brush strokes.








I began to accumulate a ton of work. The pieces didn’t necessarily fit together in any sort of a story, but I began to notice that about 80% of my thoughts had to do with memories I had from being on the swim team in high school. I began to think about how swimming and being part of that team shaped me into the person I am today. So that’s the really wonderful part of the story. The really sad part is that when I was only a week or two away from finishing the work, my dear high school swim coach, Greg House, passed away. I had all these great images, but I still didn’t have any text and wasn’t sure if I would even add any. The passing of Coach changed all that. All of a sudden, the words just flowed. It became a dedication to him, that time in my life, and all the other women I shared the experience with.


Elizabeth (far left) and Coach Greg House at the Kansas State High School Championships 1998

You’ve been getting a lot of love on Tumblr lately with your sketches of libraries. What role and influence have libraries had in your life?

Well, that’s just been crazy. It all started when one of my images popped up on the “tumblr radar” which is a little link in the sidebar that shows relevant, popular content and changes daily. After that, everything I’ve made with a book or library in it has just blown up. People really have a connection with books, what they look like, how they’re displayed, not to even mention the stories they tell!




But to answer your question, libraries have always been a part of my life. There was never a time as I child that I don’t remember going to the library. My mom (who is actually now a librarian herself) was instrumental in my relationship with libraries as a child. I remember going on a weekly basis, filling up my book bag and going home with a batch of new stories. And that smell. Is there anything that smells better than an old library book (ok, maybe a fresh box of crayons)? I think I’ve always kept that childlike fascination with libraries. In high school and college, I much preferred to study at home, so libraries have always had a sort of a kid in a candy store sort of appeal to me. I prefer to browse the shelves being open to whatever will appeal to me at that particular moment. I allow myself to be surprised. And I never make a trip to my local library without visiting the kids section.

Finish this sentence. In my dream library, there would be…

Comfy chairs, big windows and a couple of cats!

Where do you do the majority of your work? What do you listen to?

When I’m not with my sketchbook drawing on location (which is actually where most my ideas begin), I am in my home studio, the second bedroom of our apartment in midtown Kansas City. What I listen to entirely depends on what task I’m doing. When I really have my thinking cap on, sketching ideas or writing I don’t usually listen to much. Either classical music, or like today, the wind blowing and cars driving by outside my window. When I’m doing something that requires less concentration I love audiobooks. For some reason I get distracted with music, but with an audiobook (or podcast), I can focus for hours! My favorite ones lately have been The Goldfinch and the Steve Jobs biography. When it comes to podcasts I’m a long time This American Life listener, love The Moth and have been recently turned onto Snap Judgement. It’s great.

One of my favorite questions to ask children’s book authors and illustrators is what books did they read over and over and over again as a child? What were your must-reads?

Oh man, this is a long list and I know I’m going to forget something super important. My parents read to my brother and me every single night. It was a huge part of my childhood. The first book I could ever “read” to myself was Madeline. I really just had it memorized. I made my parents read it to me so often. As a young child I loved anything Beatrix Potter (The Tale of Two Bad Mice being my preference), Steven Kellogg, Shel Silverstein, Jumanji, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, and of course, Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day. I was always drawn to books with really detailed illustrations. Maybe because we read the same ones over and over and it gave me something new to discover each time. When I read Little House book series, Pippi Longstocking, anything Roald Dahl wrote, and I think my favorite at the time and will possibly forever be, Harriet the Spy.

What books are sitting on your nightstand this very moment? What are you currently reading or hoping to read soon?

I’m reading Goodbye to All That which is a collection of short stories about people who’ve left New York City and the mixed feelings associated with that and also The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling. Not sure what is next. Have any recommendations? I might just read Harriet The Spy again.

What’s next and new with you? Are there more children’s books in your future?

I sure hope so! I’ve actually only recently discovered that YES! I want to make children’s books! I’m working on a project with Storybird, as well as doing some illustrations for grown ups. This summer I will be teaching a class at the Kansas City Art Institute. And most importantly, I’m working on building a portfolio and some book dummies for the SCBWI summer conference in August. Even after working on my first book, I’m not entirely sure what I’m getting into. I hear the conference is a great experience and I hope to learn a lot more there.

Where can we keep up on all things Elizabeth Baddeley?

I update my blog on my website with the really big news: www.ebaddeley.com

And I have a lot of little day to day updates, sketches and photos on my tumblr: http://elizabethbaddeley.tumblr.com/

And I tweet: https://twitter.com/BizBeth




Thingy Things Get a Makeover

Thingy Things

Thingy Things

by Chris Raschka

Find them at: Your Library | Your Local Bookstore

Published: Abrams Appleseed (April 8, 2014)

Recommended Reading Age: 2-6

You may recall a post I wrote last year about the Thingy Things series, by Chris Raschka. Ever since stumbling upon these books, I’ve been hoping and wishing a publisher would find the value in them, dust them off, and republish them. Well, that day is finally here! Abrams Appleseed bought the rights to the Thingy Things series, gave them a facelift, and are also unveiling a few of the books that were never published (more on that here). Four of the books in the series, Lamby Lamb, Crabby Crab, Whaley, Whale, and Cowy Cow will be available April 8, and four more later this fall. Yippee!

Cowy Cow

Cowy Cow

Crabby Crab

Lamby Lamb

Whaley Whale

Whaley Whale

Cowy Cow is my favorite of the bunch. Or Crabby Crab. Okay, it’s a tie between Cowy Cow and Crabby Crab.

Wish we didn’t have to wait a whole spring and summer for the next batch to be released!


Source of books reviewed: The good people over at Abrams Appleseed! Thank you!




Review: A Woman in the House (And Senate)

A Woman in the House (and Senate)

A Woman in the House (and Senate): How Women Came to the United States Congress, Broke Down Barriers, and Changed the Country

By Ilene Cooper, Illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley

Find it at: Your Local Library | Your Local Bookstore

Published: Harry N. Abrams (March 11, 2014)

Recommended Reading Age: 8-14

I will never forget my 7th grade civics class and how confusing it was for me. A predominant portion was devoted to the United States government and it just didn’t click, I think partly because I didn’t find it interesting. It would have been an entirely different story if I had read A Woman in the House (and Senate). Written in a colloquial style that was both inviting and entertaining for upper elementary and middle school readers, this book recounts the famous women throughout American history, who, despite social norms or obstacles, served in the House of Representatives or the Senate. The opening introduction of the book gives a breakdown of how the US government is organized and why it took so long (128 years!) for women to hold office. Following this introductor rundown, the book is broken into time periods highlighting the women who did serve, their hardships and accomplishments, and why it’s important that women continue to serve, balancing this male dominated profession. Colored with illustrations, black & white and color photographs, and hand lettering throughout that brilliantly enhances the text, my 7th-grade-self wishes there was an engaging book like this when I was in middle school. Thankfully, this once reluctant student now has a fascinating resource to put it in the hands of both kids and educators.

A Woman in the House

A Woman in the House (and Senate)

A Woman in the House

A Woman in the House (and Senate)

Woman in the House

Woman in the House

Also included is an appendix, endnotes, bibliography, and further information and reading. A Woman in the House (and Senate) is an inspiring account of the woman who have made history and continue to do so, have shaken things up in political office, and willfully and passionately advocate for others.

Be sure to check back here soon for an interview with the illustrator, Elizabeth Baddeley!

Extras: A timeline and resources for Women’s Milestones in US Government.

March is Woman’s History Month!

Visit author Ilene Cooper’s website.

Visit illustrator Elizabeth Baddeley’s website.

Source of book reviewed: Provided by the illustrator who you will learn more about very soon!