Artist-Author LISA DESIMINI & THE FLEATASTICS + book for you!

LISA DESIMINI & THE FLEATASTICS

Today I am thrilled to interview my favorite picture book
artist who is also a dear pal.
Lisa Desimini is a frequent illustrator – interpreter of poems
for children, in beloved titles such as

DOODLE DANDIES, Poems that Take Shape
GOOD MOUSEKEEPING And Other Animal Poems
LOVE LETTERS
TOUCH THE POEM

The poets Lisa appears with, between covers, are
among my many favorites, including –
Naomi Shihab Nye, J. Patrick Lewis, Arnold Adoff.  
 
Lisa is also the author of her own delightful picture books.
They include DOT THE FIREDOG and also a story my
Book Bear puppet & I schlep along to reading time at
school each October, TRICK-OR-TREAT, SMELL MY FEET!

c. Peggy Gifford/ Lisa Desimini

FAMOUS Naomi Shihab Nye/Lisa Desimini


Until recently, Lisa’s newest lovely books are
THE GREAT BIG GREEN, which she illustrated for poet Peggy Gifford, and
FAMOUS, illustrated for poet Naomi Shihab Nye.

This spring Lisa’s newest, THE FLEATASTICS, which she
wrote and illustrated, jumped into the welcoming world.
These reviews scratch the surface:

 “Desimini’s frolicking microscopic world of fleas is a realm within a realm…
Amid the plot about perseverance, (she) sprinkles in the flea family’s running
commentaries.
The engaging, brightly colored scenes filled with comical asides
should be a great story time read for high-energy kids.”
– Booklist
 
“Desimini’s…universe of fleas delights with boundless imagination
and pockets of hilarious flea dialogue, vivaciously depicted.”
– Kirkus Reviews
 
 Let’s give a bouncy Poetry Friday welcome to LISA DESIMINI as she shares about
THE FLEATASTICS.

LISA: Hi Jan, I’m thrilled to be a part of your book blog!
Thanks for having me!

THE FLEATASTICS Artist-Author LISA DESIMINI, c. 2017 Lisa Desimini


Q. 
It’s a joy to be with you, Lisa.
You jumped from one coast to the other. When we visited years ago
in New Orleans, your base was the NYC area. These days the West Coast
is your muse. Is the children’s book vibe different in California and as
author and artist in children’s literature, what resources do you
connect with there?

LISA: SCBWI has a summer conference here and I’ve attended twice.
I saw friends from NY and met some new ones here on the west coast.
I received tons of valuable information and inspiration.
Even though I’ve done many books, I find there is always more to learn.

Q.
I remember your sharing (and I kept it under wraps) about this lively
idea that you couldn’t shake off – a flea circus!  It made me giggle.
And now that I have met tiny main character Sarafleana, I have a seat
on the front row of the tent. What were the high points of your creating
Sarafleana, her family, and her journey?

LISA: It was a long circuitous journey. I tried out several main characters with different motivations.
I had Farley Fillmore–he was too small to be a part of the circus.
I thought about a traveling sporting event with a tiny flea that was never allowed to play.
When I came up with the first line, “Sarafleana was a born jumper.”
I knew I was on the right track.
Another joy was coming up with flea-inspired ideas, names and terms like the grand fleanale.
The classic name Sarafeana was perfect, I just had to add the “l” to transform it to Sarafleana.


Q.
One of the delights of this book is finding the sly puns and terms, especially
on re-reading THE FLEATASTICS for hidden treasures.
Here is the chicken or egg question. Art and image first, or words and story?

LISA: Well, the first thing I came up with was a quick sketch of a Dachshund.
His tail was on page one, then there were 13 spreads of his body,
(just a line through the middle of the page) the final spread was his head.
I thought maybe there could be different scenarios going on behind the dog.
The seasons could change or the weather.

One day I looked at that simple sketch and saw the dog’s body as a stage.
That’s when I came up with the idea of a flea circus performing.
I developed the story before I did any serious sketching.
It took many rounds of sketches before I came up with the look of the fleas.
I wanted them to look cute and silly not scary and mean.

Q.
You aced that!
Switching to another species, I know about the serendipitous arrival of the kitty,
Crash, into your life. (How is Crash these days?) But you LOVE dogs, too.
Right here on the shelf, I’ve pulled out DOT THE FIRE DOG, the sweet visit
with a dedicated dalmation that you wrote and illustrated. What is it
about dogs that makes them ideal characters for picture books?

LISA:I think dogs are loyal, silly and present.
They are our pals.
I’ve only had and been around good-natured dogs that want to be a part of everything.
And they can be so wise.
I am now a kitty lover since we got our, Crash.

Beloved Crash devotedly assists in all aspects of office work.
c. Lisa Desimini


If things go well with THE FLEATASTICS I would love to do a sequel with cats.
Cats have their own silly quirky habits.
I think grooming their entire body, hairballs and catnip might be a part of that story.

Q.
As an upright who has lived with spunky kitty Ginger
for 16 years, that sequel sounds so mewvelous.

For visual artists and for writers who glom onto art-process
details, please share a peek into your studio.
At home or off site?
Corner of a room or an entire four walls?
Natural light or electric?  
Digital-creation or hand-drawn?
And, just how do you corral all the supplies that a dedicated
collage artist such as yourself, wrangles?

LISA: Good question! I counted… my studio is about eighty-eight steps from our house.
It was the garage turned into an apartment by a previous owner.
So it has a bathroom, bedroom and kitchen, but I removed the stove and put two sets of flat files in there. They contain all my collage papers and many paintings from kids books and book jackets.
I have a futon bed for guests or in case I work late.
I have acrylics, oils and my computer.

c. Lisa Desimini

For THE FLEATASTICS, I made paper collages, I sealed them with a clear gel and painted shadows and highlights and added texture.
Then I scanned them into the computer and added backgrounds and other details.
I made the fleas in the computer because they were too tiny.
I keep a folder of scanned papers, objects, fabric, photos and painting textures in my computer so I can do my collages digitally, if I have to.

Q.
Appreciations for a groovy peek into your process and the inspiring studio.

We are not giving away any story spoilers today about performers
in THE FLEATASTICS circus, to savor the surprises in reading it.
But before we leave the famous act, is there any encore information
you’d like to share?

LISA: This book was very different for me, it was challenging but
SO much fun!


I loved working with thought/dream bubbles, the background
flea dialogue, and subplots.
I want to explore that format even more so I’m working on a
graphic novel idea about a magician.

 
Q.
A Lisa Desimini graphic novel – that sounds magical.
Thank you again for this visit about fun but also educational,
THE FLEATASTICS.
(I didn’t know anything about flea hatching!)
Please tell high-jumping Sarafleana, Brava!
And we wish THE FLEATASTICS family many tents of happy
performances ’round the world.
Also a scratch of the heads, to sweet
Sparky and sleepy Snoozer.

LISA:
Thanks, Jan! I loved your Q’s!

Q:
Applause back at you, Lisa!

This is a joyful book that unfolds in
an easy- to- follow surprise story line, yet with many fascinating asides.
I love seeing each little flea’s “look” and how the visitors
to the dog park have personalities, such as the one dog always
thinking of the yellow ball.
Also, I love seeing the woman wonder about a cat park.
Every time I read it, I find discoveries. You will too.

THE FLEATASTICS Show Continues

Now, ladies and gentlemen, girls and boys, cats and dogs,
fleas and fleamasters,
Lisa’s Desimini’s flea circus offers an encore right here on
Bookseedstudio’s stage with our giveaways, via generous
publisher Boyds Mills Press.
Please comment below and your name will identify you.
If I don’t know you let me say, Hello!
Be sure to share your real name & contact info (website link, email)
if that info can’t be easily found online. If you don’t want to be considered
for the give-away – and we do have multiple copies – you can still comment & say so.
After Monday July 24, more comments are welcome, but they won’t be entered,
so be sure to comment before Tuesday July 25.
Thank you.

Hop over to these links, too.

Mr. Schu Reads
Watch a book trailer for THE FLEATASTICS

I previously reported on THE GREAT BIG GREEN

Home from Canada

I am recently home from Canada & sifting through
provincial magazines & newspapers I picked up along the way.
I am fussing with cameras that don’t want to upload pictures of
deep woods & river otters &
am admiring Emily Carr art cards I brought home.

But today I want to tip you off to Canadian poet Jordan Abel,
whose heritage includes a father from the
First Nation Nisga’a (Tsimshiam),
of the British Columbia mainland.

Jordan Abel is an award-winning literary artist who is likely
to become well known far beyond his land. While we were in
British Columbia he received a $10,000 award for his poetry
& it was delightful to be greeted by positive poetry news
on vacation.

INJUN, his new book, which I haven’t yet read, is a work of
synthesis, & erasure. If you have ever clomped into the mass of
U.S.-produced old Western genre pulps – and some more
recent ones – you owe it to yourself to learn about this book.

If not, you will be interested anyway, if you are keen to feel
the effect all those racists rants have had on one First Nations
child. This child is now a talented poet & is not taking it
any more.

Jordan Abel hangs pulp westerns up by their own stirrups, with
deftness & irony, according to passages I have read
online. I am eager to spend time with his books, including
THE PLACE of SCRAPS. I found out about Jordan Abel from
Marsha Lederman, of The Globe and Mail.
. . . .

I am grateful to my father, Albert Godown, for keeping
accessible important books & articles about Native Americans
in our 1960s living room & for speaking with great respect
of Native peoples, although his only scant connection, and to
a Plains Tribe, was through marriage. So I have long been
attuned to learning from the descendants of those who
arrived on this continent 10,000 or more years ago.

I lost my father when I was in my 20s, but I always come
round, eventually, to happiness, on this
Father’s Day Weekend,
because I could enjoy his steady storytelling that
lasted to the end, his 72nd year.
He drove me from New Jersey into Canada when I was just a kid,
to view my first New Brunswick moose in the wild, & to grow bug-eyed
at the tidal pull of the great Bay of Fundy. On his birthday, in
Canada, I dedicated my recent trip from North Florida to the other
Canadian shore, to him.

Happy Father’s Day.

. . . .

Somewhere on Vancouver Island near Victoria, the province’s capitol city.

Emily Carr

Emily Carr, Canadian genius “Among the Firs”/ Emily Carr House
https://www.emilycarr.com


British Columbia<

If you would like to dip into wonderful POETRY FRIDAY it is collected with a great
post about the new Poet Laureate at the Library of Congress, by the generous Carol’s Corner.

HERE WE GO

Whee! Here We Go!

Just the sort of thing I would sing after –
a holiday weekend traffic jam is unstuck, OR
we set out on a loooong beach walk that doesn’t end until land ends, OR
my verse novel clocks in at halfway home.
I can now say I’ve experienced these three.

So this post celebrates a gift that Bookseedstudio
received aways back, awarded for my correctly
guessing the number of dactyls jammed into in a jelly jar
or somesuch feat over at Today’s Little Ditty,
which is also known by me as
Today’s Little Delight.

My prize is to finally pop the cork on my
pretty copy of the
anthology HERE WE GO, created by poetry mavens
Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong.

My particular sample of the book is graced with
autographs from poem makers Robyn Hood Black and
Michelle Heidenrich Barnes. Alongside them, between
World art covers from Franzi Draws, are
Naomi Shihab Nye, Joseph Bruchac,
David Harrison and Renee LaTulippe, among a buncha
poet luminaries whose work I
like to fetch off the shelf for fuel.
Because of this book
I am also now a fan of artist Franzi. Go look
her up.

“HELLO” copyright, Franzi Paetzold, all rights reserved

HERE WE GO, lifts up ideas on every
page of the slim volume,
which is also a workbook. But I especially
want to share just a coupla lines from two poems.

Girl Grit

What if
I saved lions
some endangered species
using every strong, skillful word
I know?

© Margaret Simon

Look for the Helpers

Look for the helpers
the healers
the givers

The arms-open
hands-holding
everyday heroes.

© Michele Heidenrich Barnes

Potent.

The main character I’m moving through
life in my 1800s-set story,
is in the business of
saving, similar to the character
in “Girl Grit.”

And she is also looking for the
arms-open
hands-holding
everyday heroes
of “Look for the Helpers.”

The full poems are in the book. If your students or you are about saving
and helping, remember to crack open your
copy if you have one, or find a sample for your
table. Lucky you, if you nailed a coupla autographs!

 

HERE WE GO Final front cover 121116 JPEG

Poetry Friday + 2017 Progressive Poem of Kidlitosphere

The usual Poetry Friday frolic is collected
today at Dori Reads.
. . . .

We are just shy of the half-way point
in April & Nattional Poetry Month. Lucious links of the 2017 menu are
at Jama’s Alphabet Soup.
It’s a bodacious buffet!
I will tip you off to
Poetry Mosaic.
Take off your shoes, put up your feet & allow the poets on stage there to
entertain you with their readings. It’s among the wonderful new additions to the month.

Back here at Bookseedstudio’s Friday the 14th’s day in
the National Poetry Month Progressive Poem of
Kidlitosphere, I am
sculpting in the meandering
playground of words. We are creating
together but separately, smoothly, sweetly,
a new poem. Makes me giddy!  Yesterday’s mighty fine strong line from Margaret Simon/
Reflections on the Teche, officially known as line 13, needs a neighbor. So line 14 arrives:

Shiver me. Look who’s here. Must I disappear?

See if you think that fits
as the poem-to-date appears a bit further, below.

As always, we are soothingly stage-directed
by Progressive Poem pixie & perpetrator
Irene Latham at Live Your Poem. (Who quilted/created
our lovely logo.)
Handsprings are boing boing boinging
all around for her idea & influence.
Enjoy the dragonwords
and when this is titled at day 30
perhaps you’ll dare read it to a
captive
castle
audience?

Untitled 2017 Progressive Poem In Progress

I’m fidget, friction, ragged edges—
I sprout stories that frazzle-dazzle,
stories of castles, of fires that crackle,
with dragonwords that smoke and sizzle.

But edges sometimes need sandpaper,
like swords need stone and clouds need vapour.
So I shimmy out of my spurs and armour
facing the day as my fickle, freckled self.

I thread the crowd, wear freedom in my smile,
and warm to the coals of conversation.
Enticed to the stage by strands of story,
I skip up the stairs in anticipation.

Flip around, face the crowd, and freeze!
Shiver me. Look who’s here. Must I disappear?

. . . .

Now here’s the wand hand off to Brenda,
at Friendly Fairy Tales,
who will weave her magic over words for day 15.

Line-leaders day by day:
April 2017
1 Heidi at my juicy little universe
2 Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference
3 Doraine at Dori Reads
4 Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty
5 Diane at Random Noodling
6 Kat at Kat’s Whiskers
7 Irene at Live Your Poem
8 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
9 Linda at TeacherDance
10 Penny at a penny and her jots
11 Ramona at Pleasures from the Page
12 Janet F. at Live Your Poem
13 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
14 Jan at Bookseedstudio
15 Brenda at Friendly Fairy Tales
16 Joy at Poetry for Kids Joy
17 Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect
18 Buffy at Buffy’s Blog
19 Pat at Writer on a Horse
20 BJ at Blue Window
21 Donna at Mainely Write
22 Jone at Jone Ruch MacCulloch
23 Ruth at There is no such thing as a godforsaken town
24 Amy at The Poem Farm
25 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge
26 Renee at No Water River
27 Matt at Radio, Rhythm and Rhyme
28 Michelle at Michelle Kogan
29 Charles at Poetry Time
30 Laura Purdie Salas at Writing the World for Kids

Happy Happy Poetry Friday! And please remember that
the collected castle of Friday characters is
at Dori Reads.

 

Sofa sabbatical

Sofa sabbatical
by Jan Godown Annino

She said
I won’t say break a leg
(before the event)
because that really happened when
I said that to my Sister once.

Once spoken does an I won’t say count?

Upon the counterpane
two blanket pillows
prop up dancer’s fracture.
Elegant term,
masking clumsy movement.

Defined: strong tendon creates inversion at bone stress.

The show did go on,
seated.
This was not brave,
feeling only a
sprain strain pain.

Who am I to diagnose?

My handsome
helped me home,
right foot carrying
an Eastertime goose egg,
purple.

As a child I memorized RLS’s
Land of Counterpane.
As in his poem: All my work
beside me lays
to keep me busy all the day.

I think Stevenson called for toys.

© 2017 Jan Godown Annino

. . . .
To be true to Stevenson, will summon toys.
Would rather toys beside me lay.
But wait – where are toys?

. . .
I am looking forward to tomorrow’s Poetry Friday when I add to

the 2017 Progressive Poem

that Margaret at Reflections on the Teche so handily added to today.

(My indulgence here is fresh, with three ending lines, discarded. Any thoughts?
It’s been fun to present at March and April events. I miss mobility, but should have a walking boot soon enough.)

Young #Tolkien in a Picture Book

Do you know there is a worldwide day of appreciation
for the works of J.R.R. Tolkien – a reading day?

O.K. I should have known. Some of you smarties do.
But do you know there is a brand-new illustrated book
for ages 4 to 8,
about the child days of the genius creator of
THE HOBBIT
and THe LORD OF THE RINGS
triology?
That’s news to you? Great. I’m as tickled as if I’ve had a
large plate of seed cakes for second breakfast,
to introduce you to this book.

 

9781626720923

The cover art work by Eliza Wheeler is one reason to hug
this sweetie into your world.
The storytelling by Oxford, UK expert Caroline McAlister
is compelling and her back matter is illuminating.

I hope you  enjoy my Q/A here about this brand new p.b. biography.
At that site of educators, librarians and writers on blogger/blogspot, you’ll have a chance
receive one of the multiple
copies we are handing out, to celebrate the book birthday of
JOHN RONALD’S DRAGONS.
(Monday April 3, midnight, is comment close time.)

Thoughts here are so very welcome, also.
But the book give away is only at the link above.
Thank you.

And now a J.R.R. Tolkien verse from
“Far Over the Misty Mountains Cold”
in THE HOBBIT:

On silver necklaces they strung
The flowering stars, on crowns they hung
The dragon-fire, in twisted wire
They meshed the light of moon and sun.

You can visit this fun fan site for the full poem. which I feel some of you
can recite, or at least verses of it.

Poetry Month
I am anticipating all your “flowering stars”
of April’s Poetry Month.
We are fortunate that
talented poet & Poetry Friday maven/mentor Amy collects
us at the colorful POEM FARM.
http://www.poemfarm.amylv.com

Billy, meet Tameka

This past week breezed right in.
Sunday we took a brisk walk that turned out to
be a lovely 10 miles in the sand near the Apalachicola
fishing village, where a book event caught our attention.
And the week also brought us March 22, the birthday
of Billy Collins, so beloved a poem-maker,
he has served as U.S. Poet Laureate twice.

I have a few lines to share from a poem maker new to
me, who I discovered at a workshop this summer,
but first I’d like to pay tribute to Collins.
He is suitably feted by the Poetry Friday community this month.

(And if you are looking for more Poetry Friday greatness,
it is here this week.)

These words below are from Billy Collins’
“To My Favorite 17-Year-Old High School Girl”

For some reason, I keep remembering that Lady Jane Grey

was Queen of England when she was only fifteen,

but then she was beheaded, so never mind her as a role model.

 Frankly, who cares if Annie Oakley was a crack shot at 15

or if Maria Callas debuted as Tosca at 17?

We think you are special by just being you

playing with your food and staring into space.

c.Billy Collins all rights reserved

 

See this for an interesting Billy Collins page.
Now here are two verses from the poem maker I don’t
think you know. She brings this one to us in
the voice of a child.
The girl just loves her skipping around moments,
close to home.
It is from “Around Our Way on Neighbors’ Day”
by Tameka Fryer Brown:

Blue sky, no clouds,
Corner store.
One more
Block to walk before
I’m home. It’s a special day
today, around our way.

Blue sky, no clouds.
No one stares,
or cares
That loud music blares.
Hustle… bustle… salsa sway,
Wild day, around our way.
c. 2017 Tameka Fryer Brown

AROUND OUR WAY ON NEIGHBORS’ DAY by
Tameka Fryer Brown
art by
Charlotte Riley-Webb

Neighbors pour out into the street to share
food, music and dancing and the child whirls through
all the yards and visits the front porches,
in a sweet community coming together of people of
varied cultures.

I am not alone in following the work of Tameka
Fryer Brown.
Here is what Kirkus said about this poem,
published in picture book form with sensational
art by Charlotte Wiley-Webb. “…In this lively and
accessible poem, a multicultural community brings food, music
and laughter to the streets to celebrate their neighborhood….”

I think I’ll mosey over Tameka Fryer Brown’s way. She is one to watch.