Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas to all!

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. (Luke 2: 8-14 KJV)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas Is (almost) Here!

I can't believe Christmas is only about a week away. Can you??

It's funny, I've been in Christmas mode practically all of 2010:
In January and February I created the final art for CHRISTMAS IS HERE. Looked at the printer proofs in March. Saw the F&G's (folded and gathered) in June, and a final bound copy in August! Then began a Fall season full of events promoting the book. I was also fortunate enough to be part of a wonderful fundraiser that put translated copies of CHRISTMAS IS HERE in to the hands of 300 sweet, underprivileged Romanian children . . . Pheeew! Now that's a lot of Christmas.
What will I do next year?

Here's a little trailer that I put together for the book. Hope it makes you feel all warm and fuzzy :)

Happy Christmas everyone!
Love & Blessings,

Monday, December 6, 2010

Alfie got a gold seal!

ALFIE is pretty excited. He's received a 2010 Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award! ("Given to outstanding new products that enhance the lives of children.")

Here's what the committee had to say:
"A little gem of a story about a boy who wants to keep his old shoes. When his mother does not give in, Alfie announces he is going to run away. In one loving scene after another his mother makes sure that he will have everything he needs--water, a flashlight, batteries, peanut butter and crackers, his pillow and bear. Finally Alfie takes off. Though the ending is predictable, it is also reassuring. The drawings capture the youthful vitality of this spirited boy and the moments of bitter sweetness that make it both meaningful and memorable. "

Thank you for noticing ALFIE, Oppenheim Toy Portfolio!!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Barnes & Noble book signing!

This [Black] Friday, Nov. 26th @ 2pm, I am going to be signing CHRISTMAS IS HERE at Barnes & Noble in my home town of Bel Air, Md. If you live in the area, I hope you'll come by and say hello. I'm pretty excited—it's shaping up to be a reunion of sorts!
Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Books of Wonder

Tomorrow is November Picture Book Bonanza @ Books of Wonder! I'll be there presenting and signing CHRISTMAS IS HERE, along with a handful of other exciting authors and illustrators, from 1-3 pm. Would love to see you there!

Friday, November 19, 2010

A couple more nice reviews!

Blogger and fellow illustrator Sarah Jane did a very nice write-up of CHRISTMAS IS HERE on her website this week. If you'd like to check it out, head on over to her lovely site. I also encourage you to spend some time looking at her wonderful work. Thanks so much for the post, Sarah! (the above photo is of Sarah's son. Adorable!)

Also this week, Shelf Awareness reviewed Christmas Is Here on their list of 2010 favorite holiday titles. A big thank you to Shelf Awareness! Here's what they had to say:

Christmas Is Here by Lauren Castillo
(S&S, $12.99, 9781442408227/1442408227, 32 pp., ages 4-8, October 2010)

This nearly wordless picture book (with just a few lines from the King James Bible) brilliantly connects a present-day child's discovery of a Christmas pageant in progress with the very first Christmas under a star in Bethlehem. Through her ink and watercolor illustrations, Castillo creates a glow that seems to emanate from the child in the manger. Her subtle connection between the modern baby dressed in white and the long-ago baby wrapped in swaddling clothes speaks to the way a new life feels miraculous to every family.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

"Holiday High Notes"

Thank you Horn Book for including CHRISTMAS IS HERE on your annual list of recommended holiday books! Here's the very nice review from their Nov/Dec magazine issue:

Christmas Is Here

words from the King James Bible; illus. by Lauren Castillo
10/10 978-1-4424-0822-7 $12.99

Over three wordless spreads, a young child walks with his family through their neighborhood to take in a live Nativity scene. The third spread brings us up close to view the boy looking thoughtfully into the manger at a sleeping Christ child. As the biblical story begins (“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field”), readers are transported to the setting of the first Christmas. The seemingly incongruous pairing — formal Bible verses and Castillo’s child-friendly illustrations — works beautifully, with subdued colors and unfussy compositions making the archaic text more accessible. As the Nativity story comes to an end, the pictures gently carry readers to the present, but the spirit of that long-ago miracle remains in the air, evoking the real meaning of Christmas.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Weekend FULL of fun events!

So! This Saturday and Sunday are filled with fun book and art-related events that I'll be a part of: One in Brooklyn, one in Manhattan, and one in Baltimore! Below are the flyers for all three events (just click on each for all the details). Hope to see you at at least one of the following!


*Saturday: BOOKS FOR ROMANIA--a holiday fundraiser party! (please please please come to this if you can!)

*Sunday: ILLUSTRATION NEXT; MICA alumni gallery exhibition:

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I'm so excited!

CHRISTMAS IS HERE has received its 3rd starred review! Can't quite believe it...Thank you Publishers Weekly!

Adapted from the King James Bible and illustrated by Lauren Castillo (SSBFYR;9781442408227)
Snowflakes fall on a young family watching a live nativity scene in their city neighborhood. As the boy peers into the manger, the story shifts to an ancient field underneath gentle moonglow and a brilliant star's guiding light on the holy night observed by shepherds. By literally bookending the traditional account of Jesus' birth (with text from the King James Bible) with cheery modern imagery, sans commercial trappings, Castillo underscores the connection between past and present. Sketched in thick, black line, her kind-looking figures, human and animal, convey a wealth of emotion. Ages 3–7. (Oct.)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Opening fun

The Original Art Show opening last week was a blast! The show is up at the Society Of Illustrators through November 24th. I hope if you're in the city you'll swing by—It's a great looking show! Here are a few photos from the evening:

The incredible Eric Carle accepting the Lifetime Achievement Award

Laurent Linn and Amy June Bates, this years' lovely Juror and Co-Juror

my ALFIE pieceFront: Paul Hoppe and Julia Denos;
Back: Brian Floca, me, Laurent Linn, Selina Alko, Sean Qualls, Chad Beckerman, Meghan McCarthy

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

30th Annual Original Art Show Opening

Tomorrow night is the 30th annual Original Art Show opening @ the Society of Illustrators! This show never disappoints, so hopefully if you're in the area you'll swing by and check it out! (click on the above image for details)
p.s. I was on the jury this year! Here's a link to the post about my experience back in August~
p.p.s. ALFIE is also represented in the show, if you want to see him up close and personal :)

Monday, October 11, 2010

This coming Saturday, October 16th, is the Illustrators Festival at the Brooklyn Public Library. It's one of the events connected to the DRAWN IN BROOKLYN exhibition. Over 30 illustrators will be present, doing readings, workshops, book signings, and there will even be some musical entertainment. I'll be signing three of my books: What Happens on Wednesdays, That's Papa's Way, and Alfie Runs Away. If you're in the area I hope you'll stop by. It should be a great time. Here are the details:

Family Day: Illustrators' Festival
Saturday, October 16th, 10:30am — 3pm
Plaza in front of the Central Library
10 Grand Army Plaza

Brooklyn, NY 11238

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Book Birthday!

Today is the release of my Holiday book, CHRISTMAS IS HERE!!! I couldn't be more excited about this project, and am so grateful for the opportunity to illustrate the true meaning of Christmas. A BIG thanks to my two editors and art director at Simon and Schuster for all the love and hard work that went in to making this special book.

Also, School Library Journal (October edition) has just given the book its second starred review! Here it is:
CHRISTMAS IS HERE: WORDS FROM THE KING JAMES BIBLE. illus. by Lauren Castillo. unpaged. S & S. Oct. 2010. RTE $12.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-0822-7. LC 2009045979. PreS-Gr 3
The only text in this book is a few sentences from the King James Bible, and many of the ink and watercolor illustrations, in soothing tones of brown and gray with bold outlines, are wordless. They show a modern family—mom, dad, babe in arms, and dog-walking child—out for a stroll on a snowy evening, when they come across a small, outdoor Christmas pageant. As the child peers into the manger, readers are taken back in time to Bethlehem, with illustrations of sheep grazing over a dry Middle Eastern landscape as the shepherds learn of the birth of Jesus. As light from the star streams down over the holy family and shepherds leaning over the manger, the scene switches with a turn of the page back to the modern family singing carols in the snow in front of the manger. The theme—that the most basic meaning of Christmas has remained the same over the centuries—is conveyed with a warm and captivating simplicity that even the youngest child will understand. -Eva Mitnick, Los Angeles Public Library

If you want to get a head start on your Christmas shopping, here's one suggestion :)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Opening reception success

Last Wednesday evening was the opening reception of the fabulous DRAWN IN BROOKLYN exhibition at the Brooklyn Public Library, and it was an awesome turnout! Plenty of editors, art directors, designers, illustrators, friends and families all packed the auditorium of the BPL Central Branch Library. I love that the Children's Book publishing world feels like family. Warm and supportive of one another. Events like this remind me just how blessed I am to be part of such a wonderful community... I love my job :)

Here's a few photos from the night:
The Group! press photo, courtesy of Al PereiraIn the Grand Lobby~
My two "process" cases in the Youth Wing~Awesome illustrators + friends (Paul Hoppe, Selina Alko, Sean Qualls)

Thanks so much to everyone who was able to make it out. The show is up through January, so if you haven't had a chance to view it yet there's still plenty of time!

(Also, the show has been receiving some very nice coverage in the press. Here's an article from Time Out NY Kids. And another from Capital New York.)

Monday, September 27, 2010

"From The Mixed-Up Files" interview

An interview I recently did with the lovely Jennifer Bertman, over at her blog From The Mixed-Up Files, is now up! If you'd like, swing on over for a peek in to my studio. And don't forget to check out all the other awesome author/illustrator interviews she's conducted! Thank you very much for having me, Jennifer!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


My work is included in the upcoming exhibition, DRAWN IN BROOKLYN, displayed at the Brooklyn Public Library's Central branch. The show runs from September 21, 2010 — January 23, 2011. (click on the above flyer to view details)
Here's the official description of the show:
'This exhibition of children's book illustrations, curated by John
Bemelmans Marciano, features the work of 34 illustrators who live and work
in Brooklyn, from the most exciting newcomers in publishing to the legends
of the business. View more than 100 pieces of art from books such as Duck
for President, The Curious Garden, Moonpowder and Madeline and the Cats of
Rome. Also, see the work of Caldecott Medal and Coretta Scott Kind Award
winners Leo and Diane Dillon, Brian Selznick, Paul O. Zelinsky, Bryan
Collier, Pat Cummings and Brian Pinkney. Original picture book art is
displayed in the Grand Lobby. In the Youth Wing, find sketches, models,
tools and more that reveal the processes behind the works.'

I will be at the Opening Reception and the Illustrators' Festival.
Hope to see you at one or both of these fun events!

Opening Reception
Wednesday, September 22nd, 6 — 8pm
Dweck Center Lobby
Central Library
10 Grand Army Plaza
Brooklyn, NY 11238

Family Day: Illustrators' Festival
(features readings, workshops, book signings and music)
Saturday, October 16th, 10:30am — 3pm
Plaza in front of the Central Library
10 Grand Army Plaza

Brooklyn, NY 11238

Thursday, September 2, 2010

"Twenty Questions" Interview~

UK artist and blogger, Jane Heinrichs, was kind enough to have me over this morning for an interview on her blog. Drop by and take a look if you like! Thank you for having me, Jane!

Monday, August 30, 2010

The first CHRISTMAS review is in

And it's a star!!! I am so happy. This being the first book I've worked on where I am fully responsible for the outcome, I have to admit I've been pretty nervous about what the critics will have to say... But, so far so good! Thank you Kirkus for a wonderful write-up of CHRISTMAS IS HERE, which appears in their September 1st issue:
Illustrated by Lauren Castillo; Adapted from The King James Bible
(SSBFYR; ISBN: 9781442408227; October 2010; Fall catalog page 24)

“This touching interpretation of the Christmas story wordlessly follows a modern-day family as they journey through a snowy town in the evening to view a live Nativity scene. The family includes a baby in a white snowsuit, who provides a subtle symbolic connection to the baby in the manger in both the re-created scene and the Nativity story that follows. As an older child peeks in at the baby in the manger, the setting shifts in time and place to Bethlehem of long ago, accompanied by the traditional words from the King James Bible, before returning to the contemporary setting. Gorgeous watercolor illustrations in a subdued palette of twilight grays set off the falling snowflakes in the modern scenes, while the biblical scenes are brilliantly lit by starlight. Castillo's smudgy style infuses all with wonder.”

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

ALFIE Blog Reviews

Little Alfie has been receiving some pretty nice reviews from some pretty kind bloggers out there. I wanted to share a handful of them, and thank each and every one of these blogs for taking the time to write about ALFIE:

~Kiss The Book

~Carol's Corner

~Kids Kit

~K Bookwoman

~Picture Book of the Day

~Books For Kids Blog

~University of Delaware, Education Resource Center

~Lisa, Lisa and the Book Jam (where you can listen to a discussion with author of ALFIE, Kenneth Cadow!)

Thank you all very much! (I know Alfie just loves it when people say nice things about him)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

~Jurying the 30th Annual Society of Illustrators Original Art Show~

Piles and piles of books to judge...554 to be exact! (photo courtesy of Chad Beckerman)

Monday was a very big day for me: I had the incredible honor of serving on the jury of the 30th Annual Society of Illustrators Original Art Show. About a month ago Laurent Linn, Chair of this years show, called me up to ask if I would be an alternate juror in the event that one of the others could not make it. I was honored to be asked, but doubted the fact that I'd actually be called in... Well, much to my surprise, I got the "you're in!" phone call on Sunday night. Wow. What a wonderful experience it was, and I am extremely thankful to both Laurent Linn (Chair) and Amy June Bates (Co-Chair) for having me on board! One of my fellow co-jurors, Chad Beckerman, did a great job of documenting the day over at his blog, if you'd like to see and hear a little bit about how it all went down (thanks for photographing, Chad!). This is going to be an awesome show--make sure to mark your calendars for the opening reception and awards ceremony on Thursday, October 21st!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

What's here?

Christmas Is Here!!!

The first bound copies of the book arrived on my doorstep yesterday. Very exciting! But since it is still summer, I will refrain from showing wintery images...
I'll wait till AFTER Labor Day to share a few interiors :)

Thursday, July 29, 2010


My lovely and talented friend Shadra Strickland has an entire issue dedicated to her in the wonderful publication, Literacyhead! Literacyhead is a weekly publication designed to use the visual arts to teach literacy. And, in preparation for this weeks issue, the editors of Literacyhead, Jan Burkins and Roberta Gardner, conducted an interview with Shadra in her Atlanta GA studio. Shadra was so sweet to mention her fellow SVA MFA friends (Taeeun Yoo, Jonathan Bean, Paul Hoppe, and myself) which then inspired the editors to surprise Shadra by including all of us in the issue--some of our art and our books. Here's a nice article in the issue, by editor Jan Burkins, titled The Art of Living. I encourage you all to browse through this weeks issue of Literacyhead ~~ It's a great one. Congratulations, Shadra!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Happy Like Soccer

I started working on a new picture book this summer, written by Maribeth Boelts, currently titled Happy Like Soccer. It's a great story, and I've been having a fun time drawing the world of main character, Sierra. It's been perfect timing, really. I got to watch many games of the World Cup WHILE drawing roughs for the book. What awesome inspiration!
And now I'm beginning the final art stage, which is always both exciting and nerve-racking. I think, no matter how many books I will have completed, there will always be initial moments of uncertainty...Them's the breaks :)
BUT, I'm looking forward to these next couple months of art-making. Nothing compares to creating a picture book...It's the greatest job in the world (if I do say so myself)!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Back in BK

Happy July all!

I've returned to sweltering hot Brooklyn, after a very relaxing cruise vacation. I admit, it is extremely hard to get back in to work mode... BUT, I do have two exciting projects I'm looking forward to working on for the remainder of this year. One, a picture book written by the talented Maribeth Boelts. And the other a chapter book written by the highly acclaimed Ann Cameron. I'll share more about both of these later on this summer!

Now, I didn't get to do that much drawing on my trip because we weren't in one place long enough. But I did get to see a lot, and took many photos. Here's a shot of my favorite location on the trip, The El Yunque Rain Forest in Puerto Rico. Absolutely breathtaking views, and a must see if you visit Puerto Rico!Ok, now back to the [steamy] drawing board!!!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Hasta luego, New York . . . Hola Bermuda, St. Maarten, St. Thomas and, last but definitely not least, Puerto Rico!!! So psyched to sail the seas on this for ten days!
See you back here in July, mis amigos!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day

Wishing all you awesome dad's a very happy day!
(illustration from WHAT HAPPENS ON WEDNESDAYS)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

More nice ALFIE reviews!

From Booklist, June 1st issue:
"Picture-book shelves overflow with stories of furious young kids who protest injustice by packing up their essentials (snacks, stuffed animals) and running away, often making it only as far as the backyard before setting up camp. In his debut picture book, Cadow borrows familiar elements, but what feels fresh here is the child’s reason for leaving. Instead of sibling rivalry or the struggle to be heard, it’s young Alfie’s frustration and sorrow over his own growing up that sends him out the door. After his mother tells Alfie to part with a favorite pair of outgrown sneakers, he explodes, announces his departure plans, and assembles his supplies. His gentle, understanding mother helps and even tucks an imaginary hug into his bag. Alone in the backyard, Alfie slowly accepts that his shoes need to go, and in a warm conclusion, finds a new home for them. Young children will easily recognize Alfie’s frustrated feelings of powerlessness, as well as his fears of independence. Castillo’s expressive illustrations sensitively reinforce this tender, reassuring story’s elemental emotions." — Gillian Engberg


From The Horn Book, July/August issue:

"Alfie already has a significant list of grievances-taking baths, making his bed, eating potatoes-so when his mother wants to give away his favorite shoes just because they've gotten a little small, Alfie decides he's had enough. The headstrong emotions of a young runaway are humorously portrayed in the dialogue ("'May I give you a hug?' asked his mother. 'You may let me keep my shoes,' said Alfie") and in the art (Alfie's dignified expression as his mother helps him pack a bag). At his clever mother's suggestion, Alfie takes a lot of supplies; he can't get far with his heavy pack, and, after unloading everything in the backyard, takes off his favorite, too-tight shoes and puts them on his stuffed animal companion, Buddy Bear. With perfect timing-Alfie is just starting to feel homesick-his mom comes out with the welcome-home hug he is looking for. The subdued colors in Castillo's old-fashioned yet unsentimental illustrations highlight the red shoes and match the reassuring, low-key tone of Cadow's text. Alfie himself comes up with the solution-he realizes the shoes will always fit Buddy Bear-that ends this satisfying picture book." — JENNIFER M. BRABANDER

Friday, June 11, 2010

First two ALFIE reviews!

Thanks to Publisher's Weekly and School Library Journal for saying such nice things about little Alfie!

From Publisher's Weekly:

Alfie Runs Away
Kenneth M. Cadow, illus. by Lauren Castillo
FSG/Foster, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-374-30202-3

"Cadow debuts with a perceptively written story about a power struggle between a mother and her small son. Alfie's mother proposes to give away his favorite red shoes--they're too small--and he responds by announcing that he's running away. The conflict unfolds in slow motion: Alfie's rebellion doesn't involve yelling or tears, and his mother honors his feelings without backing down. "May I give you a hug?" she asks, as he prepares to leave. "You may let me keep my shoes," says Alfie stiffly. "I will put a hug in your bag," she replies. Castillo's (What Happens on Wednesdays) spreads, comfortingly rendered in muted colors, are just right for Cadow's even-tempered narration. The figures are edged with soft black lines, echoing the sense that Alfie is surrounded by secure boundaries. When Alfie discovers, on his blanket out in the backyard, that his red shoes fit his teddy bear ("Those shoes will never get too small for you," he reassures Buddy Bear), readers will feel the value of the thinking Alfie's done for himself. A fine first outing for Cadow." Ages 4–8. (May)


From School Library Journal:

"K-Gr 2–There are several things Alfie doesn’t like about living in his household, but when his mom decides to give away his favorite too-small shoes, he’s had enough. “I’m going to run away,” he declares. His very accommodating mother helps him pack for the journey: flashlight, batteries, water bottle, snacks, pillow, blanket, stuffed bear, and books. When he gets as far as the backyard, however, the pack is so heavy that he empties everything out and has a picnic. And just when Alfie discovers a way to avoid parting with his shoes forever, his mom comes running with a sorely missed hug. Endpapers feature broad outline drawings of Alfie’s treasures, color visible only on his beloved red shoes. The mixed-media illustrations are large and heavily outlined in black. They depict a very determined child, hair sticking up, hands on hips, and foot tapping as he makes his ominous announcement. He prances out of the house while Mom calmly looks on, his bravado dampening only when he begins to realize what he has left behind. Youngsters will enjoy hearing the story of Alfie’s short-lived adventure along with that of another small runaway in Elissa Haden Guest’s Harriet’s Had Enough! (Candlewick, 2009)."–Marianne Saccardi, formerly at Norwalk Community College, CT

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

ABC (Mostly) Silent Auction

Next week is Book Expo America here in NYC! And each year as part of BEA, The Association of Booksellers for Children(ABC) hosts its fun Not a Dinner and (Mostly) Silent Auction. This year I'm donating art! You can bid on a 'study' from my upcoming book MELVIN AND THE BOY (wall of art from the book in above image). The event will be held on Tuesday May 25th, where there will be lots of independent children's booksellers, lots of mingling, drinks, speakers (David Wiesner is giving the keynote!), the announcement of the 2010 E.B. White Read Aloud Awards, and then finally the auction with tons of great art from tons of great illustrators. If you're in NYC you should come on out and say hi! Here's more information if interested.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all you wonderful mother's out there!
(illustration from ALFIE RUNS AWAY)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Happy pub day to ALFIE!

The postman came by to deliver my first copies of ALFIE RUNS AWAY, just in time for publication day~ Hooray!
I had such great time illustrating this text by Kenneth Cadow--it is the perfect combination of sweet and hilarious. That Alfie's got some serious attitude!
This, from Macmillan:
Alfie's mother wants to get rid of his favorite red shoes he's outgrown. So Alfie is running away. His mother points out that he might get thirsty on his trip, and she gives him a bottle of nice cold water. And a flashlight, in case it gets dark. Together, they pack everything Alfie might need. But once he is out in the wide world, Alfie discovers that some very important things can't be packed in bags. If you like, you can order a copy here, or check it out at your local bookstore. Happy reading!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Big Cat Pepper kindness

There have been a couple nice new reviews for Big Cat Pepper:A spread from WNC Parent Magazine, February 2010 issue (click to enlarge).

Also, a very kind review from the cool Canadian blog, Books r Fun!