Wanting to wish EVERYONE a very happy Spring/Easter week and weekend! Do believe it Spring is finally here…. in most places anyway.  (sorry Cleveland!)  Even The Cat has his ears on for the occasion!

easter blast

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LAUNCH: Maggie and Milo: frog hunters

Just in time for spring, a grandma (!) sends a surprise package of JUST what you need to Frog Hunt…so off go Maggie, a wee lively gal, and Milo, a huge loving dog!  Our Priscilla Burris brings the characters alive in her usual adorable and spunky way:  do check it out…. and it just begs for more adventures!  Kirkus Review loves it! as do others…. go Maggie and Milo!  and happy Spring finally to all….

A Maggi and Milo pic (3)cover, and below author reading to class….

milo author



What do you need for a frog hunt? Big polka-dot boots, a book about frogs and one giant border collie best friend.

Maggi, a wisp of a girl with spindly legs and a large, wobbly head, is an excellent adventurer. She can’t wait to try out her new boots and search the pond for frogs. After a good night’s rest—and imparting forbiddingly specific instructions to her brother at the breakfast table (“Please keep the chitchat to a minimum. I’m in a hurry!”)—Maggi and her shaggy sidekick, Milo, are ready. However, after waiting “a million minutes” (or three) in the water, they haven’t found a single frog. With shoulders slumped and head bent low, Maggi declares frog hunting to be capital B-O-R-I-N-G. Until…Milo finds a frog! And another. And another. After 16 frogs total, Maggi and Milo rest. (Frog hunting is hard work.) As the sun sets and the palette changes to a dusky blue, the frogs quietly croak “good night” to their new friends. Debut author Brenning has created a charming duo; Milo’s steadfast loyalty (and joyful, lolling tongue, courtesy of Burris) fully balances Maggi’s quirky proclivities. A simple, everyday adventure is always better when shared with a friend.

Move over Ladybug Girl (2008), there’s a new spunky gal-and-canine twosome in town. (Picture book. 3-6)

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Heidi Heckelbeck greets her creator!

Sometimes characters are just climbing the walls to say HELLO! …and for Priscilla Burris  on a visit to Little Simon offices after the SCBWI Winter Conference, Heidi Heckelbeck, most popular child ‘witch’, did JUST THAT!  (written by Wanda Cloven)  Here are Ciara Gay (designer) Chani Yammer (Executive. AD) and Sonali Fry (Ed. Dir.) and many of the Heidi series books greeting Priscilla as she gets off the elevator!  Such moments aren’t forgotten…. ever!

Heidi and Friends SS (3)

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To aspiring artists everywhere…..

I just had to share this note our agent Christy sent an aspiring children’s book illustrator today. She was asking for advice, and this is like a mini course in what to do to find your style and get into the industry!  It may not be rocket science, but it does take talent, industry knowledge and persistence!

Thanks for your email. And congratulations on your interest in joining the wonderful world of children’s book illustration! Your first step is to visit book stores. Look at trade, educational and mass market books, and study the artwork (and the difference in artwork) in those markets. Compare it to your style. Is your artwork geared more towards the trade market, or more mass market? Then you’ll kinda know where you belong!


Move beyond pencil in your artwork. Sketches are SO important and good idea to show, but you need FINISHED SAMPLES.  Lots of illustrations (color and black & white) showing characters, storyline, character growth and interaction. Show a consistent style or two.  That helps you to be memorable. Work on samples that tell little stories – 2 or 3 sequential illustrations that have a story flow and book feel. Art buyers (and agents!) need to see this.


Once you have a good portfolio of samples (black and white & color), build a website. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but you will need one in order to easily show your work. You need to have an online presence. They can’t HIRE you if they can’t SEE you.


And then, get yourself out there! Get advice and feedback on your samples and portfolio from industry professionals and follow it. Listen to what people want and are looking for…and their honest critiques of your work. But most of all, have fun with it! Working artists are lucky because they get to do what they love! Have fun with the process of finding your style, and then enjoy working on your samples and building your portfolio. It should be a fun journey – not a mountain to climb!”

here is an aspiring artist by CAT artist Meryl Treatner

Li Li's House-a



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I’ve noticed PLAY… the way to development

I’ve just always been amazed as I watch my children, and now 7 grandchildren, grow, learn, become themselves.  The grands range now from 15 months (my agency partner and daughter Christy’s baby girl Billie) to my elder son Morgan’s 15 year old twin boys, Christopher and Riley, now in High School. (WHAAAAT!?)  In between is their brother Coady, 7, and my other son Jeremy’s 8 year old daughter Ruby and sons, George (7) and Harrison ( 3 1/2).  Lots to observe!  And what I’ve noticed is HOW they learn … not only at the beginning, but into adolescence.  They learn from play… and the practice, practice, practice that comes naturally with play.

Formal education is important and valuable of course, but it seems more and more it leaves little time for outside and free play.  Unstructured time,  or play, is the cornerstone of childhood.  That ability is important all through our lives as we change, grow and attempt new things.  Play keeps us learning, adaptable, engaged and excited about life.

I often encourage artists who are feeling frustrated, stiff or tired, to take up a new medium and just play with it. The end result isn’t important, it’s the process to cherish.  Or go outside to a park and sit sketching kids playing without really looking at the pencil lines.  That becomes the artists ‘play’.  With practice and more play it will be impossible to stay stiff and frustrated. Like little Billie who is just learning to walk without holding on, we grow stronger and braver and happier as we learn by playing.  Maybe we take spills, but we also laugh with the glee of a Gold Medalist at the Olympics!  Got to run – PLAY TIME!

art by CAT artist Nina Mata….sledding Mata

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Sharing the love….

Been away in warm (!) Key West…. but coming home to a LOVE FILLED day is lovely too.  Wanted to share our CAT agency love with you all!  And DO check out our new agency FACEBOOK PAGE (CATugeau: Artist Agency) that my daughter and partner Christy T. Ewers is doing for us….full of more visual content and sharings.


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A time to brag….

Awards are wonderful but particularly because they better the chances that books will GET to kids….the point!  we’ll be bragging about some awards this year…past and present.  I’ll start with this:

Reading is Fundamental. “First Peas to the Table” ( Illustrated by Nicole Tadgell from Albert Whitman) has been selected one of 40 titles (chosen from a pool of 800 vetted titles) for 2013-14 Macy’s Multicultural Collection of Children’s Literature. They will be distributing collections to schools across the country.


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