LAUNCH of BRINGING THE OUTSIDE IN! Patrice Barton’s new…

Barton winter from Inside Outfrom Bringing the Outside In….

Happy book  LAUNCH birthday to Bringing the Outside In, illustrated by PATRICE BARTON!! from Random House The sing-songy prose, and sweet illos have already made this book a bedtime favorite! A must-have for any little one full of energy and curiosity- like my 3 yr old granddaughter !  Her new favorite…and she IS our ‘research assistant!!’ 

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LAUNCH DAY ! for Little Butterfly!

logan cover like bf13logan bf trees11logan bf lake and geeseLogan butterfly girl



TODAY’S THE DAY!! Little Butterfly, written and illustrated by our own LAURA LOGAN hits the shelves!! It is an absolutely beautiful book, with an important message; one for the “keeper” section of your bookshelves. Thanks to Balzer + Bray for publishing such a special book. And congratulations, Laura!!!  (HarperCollins imprint)

Let your imaginations FLY!!!!

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Fun honor for Patrice Barton Book!

Dollywood Foundation has chosen LITTLE SLEEPYHEAD, illustrated by our Patrice Barton, for their Imagination Library Program. They mail kids one book each month from birth to age 5. In areas with the program, any child can register. Their mission is to build home libraries for as many kids as possible and they try to get as many low-income areas on board as they can.

 You can read more about it here:

 little sleepy head cover  congratulations in order!!!! 

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Michele Noiset’s VT retreat experience! BALANCE!

Finding Balance

Michele Noiset

Michele Noiset, Associate Professor and Head of the Illustration Department at Memphis College of Art for the past two years, spent the month of July last summer working at the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, Vermont. I talked to Michele about her experience at the residency, about getting her MFA after a long freelance career, and about balancing academic pursuits with her own work.

You are now teaching full-time, trying to balance that with freelancing.

How is that working?

It has been incredibly hard to find a good balance, I will admit! Becoming a professor after so many years of just concentrating on my own freelance career has proven more difficult then I imagined. I am always looking for tips on time management and setting priorities

Have you learned anything that you can share?

Recently illustrator Lauren Stringer, a children’s book illustrator in Minnesota, suggested that I try the Pomodoro Technique ( It is a really simple premise, but it is structured so that you focus on one thing at a time and ignore distractions. I have actually been talking a lot about it to students who often have troubles with time management as well.

I know that you just recently joined an online forum as well?

Yes, I just signed up for 12×12 (, an forum started by Julie Hedlund. The idea is to get everyone writing, one story a month for 12 months. The forum offers a large online community of illustrators and writers to give you feedback.

You are still involved with SCBWI?

Yes, hosting the SCBWI meetings at the Memphis College of Art once a month keeps me very inspired as. I invite students as well as community members and I have to say, there are some very talented people in the group!

And I’m trying to learn to say no…. just once in a while. That is not going too well.

I do love to stay super busy, but I HAVE to find balance more then anything.

I worked hard to get my MFA and love teaching, but am frustrated with my inability to devote time to my own work. I will keep trying.

Can you tell us a little about the Vermont Studio Residency?

It’s an incredible retreat. Artists from every discipline, as well as writers from around the world, come to focus one hundred percent on their work. Every month they welcome up to 50 writers and artists who have been accepted through their submission process. Here is the link:


N village

It is such an idyllic setting!

How did the opportunity to go to the Vermont Studio Center come about?

Memphis College of Art awards this residency to a faculty member each year. I had never done an artist residency. I put in a proposal and portfolio submission and was ecstatic to learn that I had been awarded a spot.

Let’s back up a minute. You returned to school to get your Master’s in Illustration after years of freelancing. Why?

Yep! Best idea I ever had! I felt stagnant, bored with myself. Right before I turned 50, after freelancing for 25+ years, I decided that it was now or never. It changed everything and opened my eyes to so many new things!

Was it what you expected?

It was difficult and juggling school, freelance jobs and family was often a struggle, but I figured it was for a short time. You can do anything if there is an end in sight. I did my MFA in 3 years.

How long ago was that?

I finished my degree in 2011, so close to 5 years ago.

Did you worry about following this path and not finding a job?

Many times! But I had great mentors. My mom brought up 7 kids; my 6 siblings and myself and returned to get her PhD at 50. She moved to North Carolina from Connecticut to teach at UNC Charlotte. She just retired last year after 28 years of teaching.

You did find a teaching post?

I taught for 2 years at UMass/Dartmouth right after I received my degree. I accepted a position at the Memphis College of Art to head the Illustration Department down here just over 2 years ago. It’s been more fun then I could ever have imagined. The Vermont Studio Residency is just one example out of many!

So, yes…back to the residency. What are the accommodations?

Each resident is given a modest room in shared housing.

Your very own room! When was the last time THAT happened?

N bedroom


Residents eat in the main “Red Mill” building where there is additional space for impromptu gatherings or planned meetings. They serve as well as three communal FANTASTIC meals a day. You work and get fed. Can’t beat that!

N house 2  n campus


This is the Wolf-Kahn studio building where I worked. You have 24-hour access.

n group shot

…And the great group of artists and writers that I met and worked with.

 How did you prepare for your month at VSC?

There were two main “camps” of people who attended VSC. The first camp was people who had very specific projects or pieces in mind that they hoped to complete. The second camp were people like myself; wanting to experiment, play, and expand on their existing repertoire.


Working at VSC was the FIRST time since I was 22, as an undergraduate at RISD that I was able to focus all of my time on creating without any freelance jobs or family constraints. It was such a gift!

n tools        n studio 

How was the residency structured?

There are many, many events that residents can participate in: weekly readings by resident writers, open studios, daily figure drawing sessions, yoga and meditation classes, and organized hikes. All of your time is your own.

What did you take away from this experience?

Having the chance to draw every day, just to draw for pure enjoyment, recharged and energized me in a way that I had not experienced in a long time.

 n nudes

 n sketches baby      n sketches egg

How did you organize your time at VSC?

I began each day with 15 minutes of drawing exercise. I decided that getting to the studio and having a specific task prepared me for my studio day

I developed several new directions and developed different ideas.

One was a storyboard and story that I have been working on. I completed the storyboard and continue to evolve the story.

n dummy


I also worked on an idea that I’m developing with my mom, taking known English children’s rhymes and translating them into French. Providing English music with French words helps children to remember and more easily learn to speak French.

n sketches girl         n sketches egg     n teapots


Here is a finish from the series

n finished girl

I also began working on a few rough story ideas that I hope to develop.

n alligartor one plane



For my graduate work, I explored dystopian literature and produced a dark, evocative pastel series very different from my children’s work.

n creature  n ugly face  n hand in brain  n hands over mouth


I began an exploration at the Vermont Studio Workshop that was more a continuation of that work. Animal abuse and factory farming was the impetus. Disassociating food with its’ source becomes easy in our modern world. My research grew naturally into a series and has been an exciting exploration and departure from my children’s publishing work.

n pigs


Any parting words on finding balance?

I will keep on trying! I think that setting up a schedule and sticking to it and not being distracted by social media is a good start. Also, a writer in my SCBWI group just reminded me of “BIC HOK” :Butt In Chair Hands On Keyboard.

I told her I was going to modify it to “BIC HOP” for Hands on Pencil. You can’t get more straightforward then that!

I’m always happy to hear new suggestions though!

Thank you Michele for sharing this incredible experience at the Vermont Studio Residency !  Lots of artists struggle with finding a balance with family, day jobs of various sorts, volunteer commitments, freelance work, personal work and the surprises that life throws at us.  Sharing your experiences helps others see they aren’t alone and there are opportunities out there to reconnect with our core….the creative self inside us.  It certainly is always a balancing act! 


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“Outside In” brings Kirkus Star for BARTON!


and illustrated by our own PATRICE BARTON!!!  congratulations on the STAR all!!!!!


Four children of diverse ethnicity—and one small dog—cavort through the seasons, backgrounded by rhythmic verses and a simple refrain.

“We’re bringing the outside in, oh, / Bringing the outside in…” begins the book, with a double-page spread showing the children in raincoats, silhouetted against a sky in which the sun has begun to peek out. The pale-skinned girl with eyeglasses and pink raingear is deliberately splashing through a puddle, in nice contrast to her obviously feminine attire. On the next pages, she peers at a worm dangling from the fingers of her male, Asian-American friend (or, perhaps, younger sibling). “Worms in our clutches, / Wind in our hair, / Boots full of puddle, / Mud everywhere!” Finally comes the cleaning phase, in which the children work cooperatively and equally enthusiastically: “Bringing the outside in, then… / Wiping it off, / Mopping it up, / Dumping it out again.” Although most of the gentle, mixed-media illustrations show girls in more passive pursuits than boys, all the children show delightful exuberance as they enjoy each season’s outdoor offerings by playing, collecting treasures, recording memories, and cleaning up. Occasionally, a white adult woman shows up to help, but the focus is on the children. The text, art, and layout magically lure readers into believing that cooperation and cleaning are as natural and enjoyable as playing.

A sweet book for any place with small children in it. (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Feb. 9th, 2016
ISBN: 978-0-449-81430-7
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted
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CAT outrage! book pulled!…..

GW birthday cake  I can not let another minute go by before I comment my sincere feelings and thoughts about the ‘pull off the shelves’ of Scholastic’s new book A BIRTHDAY CAKE FOR GEORGE WASHINGTON by Ramin Galleshiam and Vanessa Newton and edited by Andrea Davis Pinkney, ex. ed.

My feeling is HORRIFIED!!!!     WHAT IS HAPPENING????

I have not had the opportunity to READ this book, and I guess won’t, but from the descriptions in various articles, it is the story of a family’s pride and joy in doing a job well, being admired for it and their talents….IN spite of, not because of, their ‘situation’ at the historic time as slaves in the kitchen of our new nation’s then president, George Washington.  My thoughts: Where is the ‘damning harm’ in that?  Isn’t that what ‘we’ want to be showing these days to kids of EVERY color? – Kids and families of color (and can that include white children thank you!?) doing everyday things in which they take joy, work out problems, come together as a family, and find pride and solutions together?  Telling kids about life AS IT IS positively….perhaps even in the historical setting of another time!  How is that a “false impression?” Do we actually believe that every minute of everyday was miserable and sad and negative to even the slaves? As deplorable as slavery was, and is to people whose families experienced it,  DID find joy and happiness at times….perhaps much of the time in some cases. Hercules certainly was rightfully prideful of his talents and sharing them with his daughter Delia, and then with a man of such standing of the time, who was very fond of Hercules.

I understand there was back page information about these slave times and suggestions for talking about it with readers too.  But I can’t swear to that as I can’t SEE or READ the book. What a shame. And what a shame that Scholastic, as rightfully prideful company, can’t find a way to support their Ex. Ed. and writer and illustrator in this horrifying over reaction!  Isn’t conversation what will educate children and adults and move us beyond this sort of narrow mindness?  But no conversation if the book isn’t on the shelves to read!   

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Night of the three kings……

the three wise men arrive tomorrow night! a celebration in Mexico where our artist Ana Ochoa lives and works on her lovely illustrations!  I think this one may have hit the nail on the head of our collective dilemma of the NEW YEAR!  we have such promise and hopes and good intentions, but what direction to go in? and with whom? and how?  are we ‘there?’ or are we still ‘here?’ or should we be ‘over there?’  wonderfully provocative!  I’ll leave you to answer your own questions…..with a wish for a very happy and healthy and productively creative 2016!

Ochoa 3 kings

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