Friday, December 19, 2008

Happy Holidays

***Wishing everyone Happy Holidays + a wonderful New Year***
Chat with ya in 2009!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

ABC Best Books for Children

The Association on Booksellers for Children (ABC) has selected Buffalo Music as one of their 2008 best books for children, in the "Our America" section! The ABC is a national non-profit trade association dedicated to supporting the business of independent children's bookselling and quality children's books. Please visit their website to learn more. And don't forget to support YOUR local bookseller/s this holiday season!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

SLJ likes Buffalo Music!

Great news! Buffalo Music is a School Library Journal Best Book of 2008. <Here> is the full list.

Buffalo Music also made the NY Examiner's list of 35 best picture books of 2008!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Alfie Finito!

Today I delivered all the final art for Alfie Runs Away, by Ken Cadow. Hurrah! Ken was able to travel down to NYC/ FSG office to see the work, and it was a pleasure to finally put the face to the name. My last task is to work on the hand type for the title, which should be lots of fun! Alfie is a Frances Foster book and will hit shelves in the Spring of 2010(!) -- Stay tuned!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Brooklyn Museum

Yesterday was the annual Brooklyn Museum Children's Book Fair, and I was happy to be part of it once again this year. There were a bunch of great authors and illustrators, all from Brooklyn, participating in the event. We were there signing from 1-5pm. pheeew! Was a very nice turnout, and especially exciting to be able to share a table with Paul!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

I vote for art

A few of my pieces have just been included on the new online print shop I VOTE FOR ART, based in Australia. Please check out their site, and vote for my work, if you feel so inclined!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Papa's Way in advance

An exciting package came in the mail the other day -- it was a SUPER early bound copy of That's Papa's Way (by Kate Banks)! The book won't be out till Spring next year. Will keep you posted as the time gets near!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

ALFIE progress

I am slowly nearing the end of Alfie Runs Away art. Here is a page:
Alfie's got some attitude, huh?

Friday, September 5, 2008

Amalfi Coast memory

I just came across some old photos of the summer I spent in Italy, and felt inspired to draw this:
I really miss living in Italy.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


The last month has mostly been dedicated to working on final art for Alfie Runs Away, by Ken Cadow. This is a super cute story about a little boy who gets fed up when his mother tries to take away his favorite shoes, so he decides to pack his bag and head out alone into the world (aka 'the backyard'). Ken Cadow's adorable story reminds me of some of my very favorite classic picture books from the 60's -- It is great fun for me to bring Alfie to life! More sneak-peaks soon...
*Alfie Runs Away will be published by Frances Foster Books/FSG in Fall 2010

Thursday, July 31, 2008

shades and sunscreen, here I come

I'm off to swim with the ducks and soak up some much needed sun -- Chat with you when I return next week!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Who's Jim Hines?

Today was an exciting mail day! I received some copies of the Y.A. novel, Who's Jim Hines? by Jean Alicia Elster, that I did the cover art and design for. The book is available July 31st, and you can buy your copy here

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


I just found out that WHAT HAPPENS ON WEDNESDAYS has been picked up by a French publisher, which is pretty exciting! The new title is: Un mercredi à Brooklyn -- Translation: A Wednesday in Brooklyn... awesome :)

Monday, July 7, 2008


Paul and I attended this years ICON5 illustration conference over the weekend, and had a blast. Met a bunch of fun people, and reunited with some old friends and teachers. Many thanks to Whitney Sherman for getting me there!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

BCP finito!

It's been a long time comin', but I've finally finished and turned in all final art for Big Cat Pepper, by Elizabeth Partridge -- Yaya! Taking a short break, and then on to the next p.b., Alfie Runs Away.

Friday, June 20, 2008

BCP progress

I am nearing the end on Big Cat Pepper final art! Above is another spread from the book, which is due out Spring '09.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A Star from SLJ!

Buffalo Music received a wonderful review in the June issue of School Library Journal!

FERN, Tracey E. Buffalo Music. illus. by Lauren Castillo. 32p. CIP. Clarion. 2008. RTE $16. ISBN 978-0-618-72341-6. LC 2007018435.

K-Gr 4—
A story based on the actions of Mary Ann Goodnight, a pioneer who made great strides in saving the buffalo from extinction in the late 1800s. Molly's first-person narrative offers alliterative descriptions of the sounds made by animals native to her West Texas home, including the "huff-huff" of buffalo breath and the thunder of their pounding feet. Soon, this everyday music is replaced by the noise of gunfire, as hunters slaughter the creatures for profit. When a cowhand brings her two orphan calves, Molly nurtures them and many more, developing the first captive buffalo herd. She even sends several yearlings to Yellowstone National Park to help reestablish their herd. The story ends with Molly wistfully hoping that the buffalo and their music will return to the plains. Fern's lyrical text and Castillo's folk-style artwork beautifully capture the era and events. Done in warm, earthy hues, the mixed-media illustrations depict a rugged landscape of grays and browns speckled with touches of color-wildflowers or bright blooms on a tree. Outlined in thick black lines, the characters shimmer with vitality and Molly's affection for her fuzzy-coated orphans is tenderly depicted. Buffalo Music is perfectly suited to a young audience, clearly conveying the magnitude of the decimation and the importance of conservation efforts.—Lynne Mattern, Robert Seaman School, Jericho, NY

Saturday, June 7, 2008


This, from the April issue of the MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW:

The Pig and Miss Prudence
Linda Stanek, author; Lauren Castillo, illustrator
Star Bright Books

Set at the turn of the nineteenth century into the twentieth century, The Pig and Miss Prudence is an enjoyable children's picturebook about a woman whose quarrel with a pig that nibbles on her flowers escalates into a grand escapade! Miss Prudence finds herself unexpectedly riding the pig through the busy city, crashing into flower carts and shipyard workers while chased by a rowdy crowd, through a hat shop, the museum, the church, and finally the mayor's office. The exuberant art style of Lauren Castillo adds high-energy to the hijinks, while the cheerful prose of author Linda Stanek immerses the reader in a world gone by. "Miss Prudence rose to her feet, adjusted the cameo at her throat, and placed her hands on her hips. 'I declare!' she said. 'If I didn't know better, I'd say that pigs run the city!'"
COPYRIGHT 2008 Midwest Book Review
COPYRIGHT 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning

Monday, June 2, 2008

Bulletin Review of Buffalo Music

Here's a new review from the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books. (sorry it is so small -- if you want to read without straining your eyes, just click on article to enlarge)

Monday, May 19, 2008


Today my book BUFFALO MUSIC, written by Tracey Fern, hits shelves! <Here> is a nice little write-up that came out today in New West. I hope you'll look out for it the next time you're in your local bookstore!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

My NEW print shop!

FINALLY, the Etsy shop I've been wanting to set up is alive!!!
I had been selling prints of my work through my website, but I like the idea of being part of a much larger community of artists -- there are some amazing (and affordable) handmade works on Etsy, from jewelry, to greeting cards, to paintings, screen prints, to clothing, bags and so on...great great great!
Here's the link to my shop.
It is still in the works, but I hope you'll check it out anyway :-)

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Big Cat Pepper sample

While I am working away on final art for Big Cat Pepper, by Elizabeth Partridge, I wanted to share one of my pieces in progress. I decided to work differently for this book, compiling several handmade overlays digitally, rather than working completely traditionally with acetone transfers and paint/marker. It has been a challenge, but working in a brand new way feels refreshing, and certainly keeps it interesting...

Friday, April 25, 2008

a PIGS appearance

Last evening, while browsing over at the Union Square Barnes and Noble, what did I see but PIGS! According to the distribution info from my editor, I wasn't expecting to see this book displayed at any large chain bookstores (Star Bright works their marketing magic mostly through the educational market). But YAY, The Pig and Miss Prudence made it there, and even has a spot on the main shelves of the picture book section! I was able to sign the copies they had in stock, too...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Buffalo Music Podcast

Today Buffalo Music is kindly featured on Just One More Book!! Podcast. You can check it out right HERE

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


The wonderful ladies over at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, kindly invited me to do one of their super-great illustrator interviews...and it is posted HERE today !!! Jules did such a fantastic job of putting it all together (I think I may even be a bit pink now, after reading it for the first flattering). Thank you so very much 7 Things, for taking the time to share my work with your lovely readers!

Monday, April 14, 2008

MELVIN is Official!

I am thrilled to announce that I will be working on my first "Authored" picture book with Laura Godwin at Henry Holt Books for Young Readers! The working title is MELVIN, and it involves a boy and a turtle -- Melvin is the turtle. It isn't due out till Fall 2010 (!), though I will be sure to share more as the project progresses...

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

1st Buffalo Music review!

And it's a star!!! Here's what Kirkus has to say (April 1, 2008 Issue):

*Buffalo Music. [starred] Fern, Tracey E.
Illustrated by Lauren Castillo. Clarion Books (0-618-72341-2)
When Molly first settled in West Texas, she did her chores to “buffalo music,” the noises made by massive herds of buffalo grazing nearby. Soon, however, buffalo hunters arrived to slaughter the animals they thought would last forever. “Forever came fast.” In six years the buffalo were gone. Molly’s grief over their loss abates when a fellow settler brings her two orphaned buffalo calves to raise. They thrive and word spreads: Soon Molly’s herd numbers 100. When Yellowstone National Park decides to rebuild its herd, some of Molly’s buffalo become founding members. Molly’s story, though fictional, is based on the real life of pioneer Mary Ann Goodnight, whose homebred buffalo eventually populated not only Yellowstone but other wildlife refuges and several zoos. Fern’s debut is auspicious. Her homespun expressions (“fending off wolves and poachers with the long end of my rifle”) allow Molly’s straightforward sentiment to shine. Castillo’s smudgy illustrations recall Glen Rounds and invest both Molly and the buffalo calves with enormous personality. Together they make this story one with widespread appeal. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-8)

Friday, March 28, 2008

Visiting MICA

This Wednesday I was down in Baltimore at my old school, Maryland Institute College of Art, for the first time since my graduation 5 years ago (hard to believe!). I had a great time serving as a guest in Allan Comports Illustrated Book class. Many thanks to Allan and his students for welcoming me and listening as I spoke about my work and book-making process. It was so fun to be back in the old hood, and get a chance to catch up with former teachers.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

WEDNESDAYS is a CCBC 2008 Choices selection

WHAT HAPPENS ON WEDNESDAYS has been selected as a CCBC (Cooperative Children's Book Center ) 2008 Choices title! CCBC Choices is an annual publication showcasing an annotated listing of the best books for children and teenagers from the previous year, selected by the professional staff of the CCBC.
And, here's what they have to say about WEDNESDAYS:
Emily Jenkins’s lively stream-of-conscious narrative is grounded in the experiences and perspective of a small girl describing her Wednesday routine. It’s a day for bagels at the deli and a trip to the park with Daddy, for school with friends, and for reading, napping, swimming, and a trip to the library with Mommy. The little girl offers a cascade of details from the moment she awakes until bedtime. “Then we go down the steps, up the block where we once saw an umbrella caught in a tree, past the bakery where we got that chocolate croissant . . . past my friend Errolyn’s building, past Maria and the shop where she lives, to home.” Jenkins offers a spot-on portrayal of a preschool-age child reveling in her “bigness” and secure in her world. “Today is not a kissing day,” the girl reminds Mommy, and Daddy, too, when he forgets. Kisses aside, there is plenty of love and warmth apparent in and between the lines, and in first-time illustrator Lauren Castillo’s expressive illustrations. Highly Commended, 2008 Charlotte Zolotow Award © Cooperative Children's Book Center

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

May there always be work for your hands to do;
May your purse always hold a coin or two;
May the sun always shine on your windowpane;
May a rainbow be certain to follow each rain;
May the hand of a friend always be near you;
And, May God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.
--Irish Blessing

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Big Cat Pepper studies.

I have finally started on final art for my next picture book BIG CAT PEPPER (by Elizabeth Partridge). I'm excited to get in to a good groove, and with a new 'experimental' way of working!
Will share a sneak-peak of an image or two later, but for now heres some cat doodles...

Friday, February 29, 2008

JLG Premier Selection!

I recently got this letter in the mail stating that my upcoming book BUFFALO MUSIC ( written by Tracey Fern) will be a Spring '08 Junior Library Guild Premier Selection! I had to do a bit of research to find out just what this meant. It seems the Junior Library Guild chooses around 300 titles out of the 3,000 or so they review each year, and of those 300 there are a handful of 'premier selections'... And they then print their own separate edition of the book too -- not a bad deal at all! There haven't been any reviews for the book yet, but I am hoping that this is a sign of good things to come. BUFFALO MUSIC will hit shelves on May 19th!

Friday, February 8, 2008


I just received a surprise in the mail from Clarion -- a stack of marketing posters for BUFFALO MUSIC! Awesome.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Publication day!

My 2nd picture book, The Pig and Miss Prudence (written by Linda Stanek), is released today! Check it out (and buy it if you like) here, or at your local bookstore!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Cover art

I just finished working on a great cover assignment for Wayne State University Press. This young adult novel, entitled Who's Jim Hines? by Jean Alicia Elster, is a fictionalized account of life in Detroit Michigan in the 1930s. The story, based on the author’s family history, concerns an African American family in their Detroit neighborhood during the Depression Era.
Many thanks to Maya Rhodes, design and production coordinator, for giving me the opportunity to work on such a fun assignment!
I also got to do the hand-type, which was another excellent experience!
Look for this book, available August 2008!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Punked out.

...Well not completely. I stuck to my "1 location drawing a week" rule, though it was WAY too cold to draw outside today. Instead I ducked into a cafe, and since nothing much was going on in there, I dully drew the coffee corner...BUT, I did my drawing after all :)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Charlotte Zolotow Award Books

The Charlotte Zolotow Award is given annually for outstanding writing in a picture book published in the United States in the preceding year. This year there were 3 "honor" books, and 10 "highly commended" titles named -- WEDNESDAYS was chosen as one of the 10 "highly commended"! And my friend Jonathan Bean received an "honor" for his title, AT NIGHT! To view the complete list of award winners go here.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

On Location Again

Well, location drawing used to be one of my most favorite things, but I somehow managed to abandon it for pretty much ALL of 2007. One resolution for my new year was to kick it in gear again, and head out once a week on a drawing excursion. Just once a week -- now that's not too much to ask of myself, is it. Plus, I get fresh air, get to see people, and feel like a real person for a change (working out of my apartment studio gets pretty lonely - especially in the wintertime!). So today was my first attempt, and I was pretty rusty as predicted, but it felt really good to be drawing out-and-about again. Yay location drawing!

"Best of 2007"

I forgot to mention that WEDNESDAYS was a "best children's book of 2007" in Newsday's end of the year issue "Best of 2007". And, it even got its picture in the paper! You can view the list of favorites here.

Monday, January 7, 2008

A 2007 Booklist Editors' Choice selection!

I just got word that WEDNESDAYS was selected as a 2007 Booklist Editors' Choice, Book for Youth! To view the entire list you can go here.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

2007 ends on a nice note

WEDNESDAYS received a nice nod in Bloomberg's 2007 roundup of favorite books -- you can read it right here.