Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year's Eve from NYC!

*sketch from my upcoming book, Nana in the City
Wishing everyone a very happy, healthy and creative new year!
Love, Lauren

Friday, December 21, 2012

Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays from Brooklyn, friends! 

Wishing you and your loved ones peace and joy this holiday season. Here's to a most wonderful new year~

Much love,

Monday, December 3, 2012

Let it Snow!

I'm really excited to be part of the group exhibition Let it Snow! at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT! The show is now open, and will run through most of the winter. If you are near Greenwich, stop by and check out the art and books. As a part of this exhibition, the museum will also be running programs for teachers, parents and kids between now and Feb. 24, 2013. Hooray for snow!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Come join the party!

NY friends— Hope to see you at BookCourt this Saturday! Come eat some h'orderves, drink some wine, and jump start your holiday shopping : )

THE READER on 7-imp

Character studies, sketches & final art from THE READER on the very awesome Seven Impossible Things blog. Many thanks to Jules Danielson for this nice post!

Monday, November 5, 2012


Today is DAY 1 of a two week long blog tour for THE READER. First stop, the awesome illustration blog Pen & Oink, where I talk book making process!

Here's the full two week tour schedule, if you'd like to follow along:

Monday, November 5: Pen & Oink  and A Mom’s Take

Tuesday, November 6: Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns

Wednesday, November 7: Susan Heim on Parenting

Thursday, November 8: 5 Minutes for Books

Friday, November 9: The Children’s Book Review

Monday, November 12: Media Darlings

Tuesday, November 13: Kid Lit Frenzy

Wednesday, November 14: Cracking the Cover

Thursday, November 15: Adventures in Mommydom

Friday, November 16: Momma Drama

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Original Art 2012

I'm honored to have two of my books represented in this years Original Art Show at the Society of Illustrators. Thanks so much to the awesome jury for their selection of HAPPY LIKE SOCCER and THE READER! This Thursday evening, October 25th, is the opening reception -- probably my favorite industry event of the year. Here are the details if you'd like to attend. Hope to see you there!!

The Reader gets an "A"!

Entertainment Weekly reviewed THE READER, and they give it an "A".  Thanks so much to EW editor Abby West for such a lovely write-up!!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Pub week for The Reader!

This Tuesday my latest book, THE READER, hit shelves. Hooray!! I've been waiting a long while for this one to come out. I had such a fantastic time illustrating Amy Hest's sweet story. And really, there is nothing I like to draw more than dogs, snowscapes, and teeny children :)

Our publishing house threw an amazing luncheon to celebrate the release of the book on Tuesday. Delicious food, wine and fantastic company. How wonderful to be able to gather together with all the people who put their hearts in to this project, and toast to the special day. It certainly isn't often I take time to celebrate my book releases. I should do it more :) When I arrived home Tuesday evening, this beautiful bouquet was waiting at my doorstep. Thank you ACP for everything you have done to make this a successful and memorable launch!

And here is a fantastic review that just came in from Booklist:

"The reader" is a small boy, all bundled up for the cold conditions outside. He has a brown shaggy dog, a red sled, a small suitcase, and the snow-covered world at his fingertips. Hest's quiet, lyrical prose matches the stillness of the landscape, as she describes the reader's journey: "Up and up he climbs, tilting in the wind, pulling in the blowing storm." The little dog, who has bounded ahead, waits patiently at the top of the hill for his boy to join him. Once there ("the hill is very, very tall. The top is far, far away"), boy and dog make snow angels and a "snow dog" and snack on toast. Finally, the reader clicks open the mysterious suitcase, which contains not just any book, but "the very best book," titled Two Good Friends. Perfect. This sweet story is beautifully imagined by Castillo, as her boldly outlined, colorful characters pop against the brilliance of a total whiteout. Share this with other pint-size readers who understand the joy of reading, anytime, anyplace.  —Ann Kelley, Booklist Aug 2012 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Edgewood Book Festival

Maryland friends! I'm going to be in town this Thursday Sept. 27th signing my latest books at the Edgewood Book Fest from 4-6pm. Location: Barnes and Noble, 620 Marketplace Drive Bel Air, MD 21014. If you're nearby, please stop in and say hello  :)

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Princeton Children's Book Festival

On Saturday I drove down to Princeton NJ (in a mini van full of Brooklyn kidlit peeps!) to attend the 7th Annual Princeton Children's Book Festival, hosted by the Princeton Public Library. What an awesome, fun-filled day. I got to meet lots of kids and their parents, a bunch of librarians and teachers, AND several authors and illustrators whose work I've admired over the years. Ohh, and I signed a good amount of books too! And then, the owner of JaZams bookstore, Joanne Farrugia, graciously opened up her home to us authors and illustrators for one fantastic after-party (w/ crab cakes and champagne — yummm!) An all round success of a day, I'd say :)

just one tiny piece of the large crowd
my table
the musical entertainment
Bad Kitty!
another piece of the crowd
an adorable Happy Like Soccer fan :)

Extra special thanks to Allison Santos, the festival coordinator, for inviting me to be a part of such a wonderful event!  I love my little children's book world~

Sunday, August 19, 2012

A Happy Like Soccer nomination! Plus some lovely blogger reviews

Great news! Happy Like Soccer has been nominated for the Amelia Bloomer 2013 Project List. What exactly is this list you ask? Here's a description straight from their blog: 
We create an annual booklist of the best feminist books for young readers, ages birth through 18. We are part of the Feminist Task Force of the Social Responsibilities Round Table of the American Library Association.

Awesome! Thanks so much for the nomination~

I also wanted to thank this handful of wonderful bloggers who had such kind things to say about our book:

 "I'm using this story to validate children who might not be living with their parents and to teach other kids that all families have a different make up. What a great new book!"
"One of the most important skills for girls to learn is self-advocacy. For Sierra, the desire to join the two things she loves most – family and soccer – helps her speak up for herself. Author, Maribeth Boelts, and illustrator, Lauren Castillo, are perfectly paired in Happy Like Soccer. The inviting call and response of words and pictures bring both the light and shadows of Sierra’s story to life."
“Happy Like Soccer  is a story about the joy of family support. It also shows how empowering and wonderful it can feel to figure out a solution to a problem instead of succumbing to despair."
"Sometimes words are not enough to describe beauty and excellence. That is the case with this book."
"A lovely story extolling the virtues of family and resolution, this story with its bold, seemingly simple drawing style will appeal to many children. All of those who love soccer will be absorbed while those who live in the city and know the problems of getting a spare space to play in will also read it with pleasure. "
"A celebration of a small family, an urban community and sports, this picture book glows with love." 
 "This is a book that should be a must on every classroom bookshelf."
"With honesty and rare subtlety, author Maribeth Boelts and illustrator Lauren Castillo portray an endearing character in a moving, uplifting story that touches on the divides children navigate every day- and remind us that everyone needs someone to cheer them on from the sidelines."
"I really liked the message in this story. It presents the challenges that a working single guardian faces in order to attend the Saturday soccer games of her niece."
 "Several years ago, Maribeth (Boelts) brought together all kinds of elementary school kids, teachers, coaches, and volunteers to take part in some soccer. My first two children were born during this time (I remember running around on the field with a pregnant belly!), and the fruit from those few seasons of soccer continues to grow in the lives of many."

Hooray for Happy Like Soccer! And thanks again to Maribeth Boelts for writing such a fantastic, important text for children :)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Troublemaker

A few years ago my brother moved to an apartment near the north section of Central Park in Manhattan. He encountered raccoons many nights on his way home — crawling down tree trunks, or peering out of trash cans. And sometimes they'd actually follow him down the sidewalk toward his building. It was quite creepy, he said, to see glowing eyes watching as he made his way through the darkness (Around this same time, the New York Times wrote an article addressing those nervy NYC raccoons). I, of course, found the visual of my brother being followed by these guys hilarious, and so began my raccoon research — something about this needed to be in a children's book!
~ early sketches ~

While searching the web for raccoon inspiration I came across this hysterical video which sparked a story idea that, after several rewrites and edits, became The Troublemaker~

~ character studies ~

The Troublemaker involves one rascally boy, and one very sneaky raccoon. I am working on the final art for the book right now, and cannot wait till it is out in the world next fall (Clarion Books)!

Monday, July 16, 2012

website update

Finally, a website update! There's new art and reviews from my latest couple books up in the "illustration" and "books" sections. Head over and take a peek!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Melvin has PA fans!

I was super excited to learn that The Pennsylvania Center for the Book named MELVIN AND THE BOY a 2012 Best Children's Book for Family Literacy!

This from their website:
The Pennsylvania Center for the Book works with hundreds of children's books each year while preparing booklists, activities, and curriculum materials. Our Family Literacy Activities Web page is designed to help parents and caregivers fill each child's world with a love of books. We consider these 13 titles—a Baker's Dozen—to be the very best picture books published in 2011. They fulfill the goals of family literacy programs across the nation: to create lifelong readers and lovers of books and to start with the youngest audience—preschool children.

Huge thanks to The Pennsylvania Center for the Book for selecting Melvin as one of their Baker's Dozen — I am so honored to be a part of this list.

Thank you, Bankstreet!

Bank Street College of Education has released their 2012 edition of the Best Books of the Year, and I was very happy to find out that both SPUNKY TELLS ALL and MELVIN AND THE BOY made the list (age 5-9 category)!! You can read more about Bank Street College of Education, and how they choose books for their annual list, right here. Thanks again to the fantastic committee for selecting my two titles!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Alabama is a fan of Spunky!

Good news: Spunky Tells All has been chosen as a 2012-2013 Alabama Camellia Children's Choice Award selection! You can find out more about the award and program right here. Thanks to the state of Alabama for including Spunky on your list :)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

BEA Annual Children's Art Auction

It's time once again for the Annual Children's Art Auction and Reception at BookExpo America! Come out to the Jacob Javits Center tomorrow evening, June 6th, and bid on some great art — all proceeds will go to the ABFFE (American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression). My donation this year is a little ink and watercolor personal piece that I made for Earth Day~

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Concert & Launch party for The Broadway Lullaby Project

Luckily I live in New York City, which made it very easy to attend the concert and launch party for the release of The Broadway Lullaby Project on May 7th. Over a dozen of the 26 lullabies were performed, accompanied by their illustrations on the large screen behind the performers at the Stephen Sondheim Theater. And Edie Falco was the evening's host! It was a great night of celebration, and fun to be able to rub elbows with some big deal folks in the Broadway biz. Here's a little photo recap of the evening:

Please visit the website, and consider purchasing a CD or a hardcover book (or ebook!) to help fight breast cancer!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Over The Moon

 I'm so pleased to say that I was able to contribute, in a small way,
to this great project that is raising funds to help fight breast cancer.  

From the website:
Over the Moon: The Broadway Lullaby Project is both a timeless benefit effort and a uniquely compelling, multimedia experience. The ambitious project — which incorporates a 2-CD, 26-song set; a lavishly-illustrated hardcover book of 17 songs from the album; a corresponding e-book encompassing the entire collection; and a documentary film and web series — gathers many of contemporary musical theatre’s greatest composers and vocalists, as well as illustrators, all of whom have donated their talent to deliver an emotionally affecting set of new lullabies, some written specifically for this project.
This collection puts a fresh spin on the classic lullaby form, creating a warmly expressive song cycle that will touch listeners of all ages, while raising funds for respected breast cancer charities, The Breast Cancer Research Foundation and Young Survival Coalition. The book features 17 songs from the album, with the lyrics illustrated by some of America’s most esteemed theatrical designers and children’s book illustrators, each offering a memorable visual interpretation of a song from the CD bound in the book. The e-book includes illustrations for all 26 songs.

My illustration accompanies the lullaby titled “I’ll Always Be There,” written by Jeff Blumenkrantz and sung by Victoria ClarkPlease check out the Over The Moon website to find out more about this wonderful project, and how you can help! 


p.s. Kathy Lee and Hoda think it's a pretty great project, too!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

hip hip hooray!

I'm so HAPPY that Happy Like Soccer has been collecting some really great reviews! Thank you JLG, SLJ, Booklist, and Kirkus. Here are a few snippets:

A Junior Library Guild Selection 

Starred Review Publisher's Weekly:
"....unexpected emotional depth...a thought-provoking read aloud."

  School Library Journal:
"This tender story, written in lyrical text, perfectly blends the protagonist's joy at playing her favorite sport with the loneliness of being the new kid in unfamiliar territory. Castillo's muted colors reflect the narrator's thoughtful mood....This quiet gem is lovely for one-on-one sharing."

"Castillo’s stylized, expressive watercolor illustrations effectively depict the bleakness of Sierra’s situation and her small triumph. Realistic without being overly sentimental, Boelts’ uplifting story realizes the impact of family, community, and even a little cheering in a child’s life..."

"Castillo's watercolor-and-ink illustrations of the city's landscapes feature towering buildings in an austere setting. In contrast, drawings of Sierra's home and her aunt's workplace depict warm, cozy scenes. Scenes with the dark-skinned, crinkly-haired auntie and niece emphasize the close, nurturing relationship. Action-filled paintings of the soccer games capture the fast-paced excitement of the game. Boelts' quiet tale celebrates the perseverance of a young girl as she attempts to achieve her goals."

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


 Today is the official release of my new book HAPPY LIKE SOCCER! There is a wonderful interview with the books' fabulous author, Maribeth Boelts, right here. Head on over, and enter to win a free copy!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Alfie goes to Korea

Alfie made it all the way to Korea! :) Many thanks to the wonderful people at Hansol Education for publishing a Korean edition of ALFIE RUNS AWAY. Seeing my work translated into other languages is never ever ever going to get old~

Thursday, April 26, 2012

portfolio reviewin'

This Tuesday I spent the day down at Maryland Institute College of Art reviewing senior portfolios in the Illustration department. It was an honor to be invited back to my old college to talk about children's publishing with those students who hope to make a career out of writing and illustrating books. And oh boy was the talent level strong. I was truly impressed by many of the portfolios I reviewed over the course of the day. That fantastic Illustration faculty must be doing something right :) Big thanks to Allan Comport, and the rest of the MICA Illustration gang for inviting me down —I had a wonderful time!

Friday, April 13, 2012

an award for Spunky!

Spunky Tells All was named an Honor Book for the Maryland Blue Crab Young Readers Award!!! My home state has good taste :-) Thanks, Maryland! You can check out the full list of winners here if you like:

Monday, March 19, 2012

JLG mail

I received a surprise package from my publisher over the weekend — the official selection letter for Happy Like Soccer from the Junior Library Guild, along with a JLG lapel pin and certificate with gold seal! Gold sure does make me happy :) Thanks to the Junior Library Guild for this wonderful honor. Really excited for Happy Like Soccer to be a part of their list~

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Irish Blessing

                                      May the road rise up to meet you.
                                      May the wind always be at your back.
                                      May the sun shine warm upon your face,
                                      and rains fall soft upon your fields.
                                      And until we meet again,
                                      May God hold you in the palm of His hand.
                                             —Old Irish Blessing

Monday, February 20, 2012

chat de ville

a tiny snippet from one of the Paris scenes in CITY CAT, written by Kate Banks
 Last month I started on the final art for my next picture book, CITY CAT, written by Kate Banks. My editor Frances over at FSG offered this lovely script to me waaaay back in the spring of 2009, knowing that we weren't going to get things going for a long while. It was so hard to keep this project on the back burner all this time. Location drawing is my absolute favorite thing, and I don't just get to research and capture one beautiful location for this book, but eight! The story takes the reader on a journey through Western Europe, as a cat follows a family on their holiday adventure. I'm in love with Kate's poetic text and selection of cities, and I am so grateful to Frances and Kate for pulling me in to this dream of a book project.

scenes from Le Ballon rouge, The Red Balloon

For the last week I have been drawing the gorgeous city of Paris, and the other day I decided to take a trip down memory lane and watch a movie I remember one of my teachers showing in elementary school: The Red Balloon. This film is magic and a must watch if you have never seen it. The above clips are proof.

Unfortunately I'm not able to go to Paris while working on this, but I did travel there in 2009 for a little inspiration and reference collecting. The above are a few sketches from my adventure. I fell in love with this city, and hope to visit again soon ♥

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

JLG selection

I just found out that my forthcoming book, HAPPY LIKE SOCCER, is a Junior Library Guild selection! The book comes out in May, but wont be available from JLG till September of this year. Very exciting! Thank you, JLG!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Happy New Year!

Wishing all of you a very joyous 2012!  xo~Lauren
*image from my forthcoming book, The Reader, written by Amy Hest