Posts filed under ‘Short Reports’

Short Reports Round-up

Note: these are the last contributions to Picture Book Report’s Short Reports series. Hopefully I didn’t omit any in searching through my emails! While I’m condensing them into one post, they’re all great work and you ought to take a peek at the talented illustrators’ websites for more. Thank you again contributors!

Hansel and Gretel
Illustration by Erin Tripp

The Road
Illustration by Kai Schuettler

Illustration by Colleen Frakes

Many Moons
Illustration by Wilson Swain

Dr. Bloodmoney
Illustration by Ellen van Engelen

Illustrations by Frank M Hansen

February 18, 2011 at 12:29 pm 2 comments

Short Reports: Owen Freeman vs. Mary Poppins

Meg here! We’ll be starting up next month’s round of posts October 11th, but in the meantime I’ll be trying to post throughout the next couple of weeks with some Short Reports. Please enjoy!

“Jane and Michael and Mary Poppins spread the crumbs in a circle on the ground, and presently, one by one at first, and then in twos and threes, the birds came down from St. Paul’s.”

My mother read us the the Mary Poppins books when we were young, and ever since I’ve always had a fascination with the very real but still fantastical settings where the story takes place.  Also, the original pen and ink illustrations by the incomparable Mary Shepard (daughter of E. H. Shepard) in the books stayed with me much longer than the glimpses I saw of the Disney movie.
This scene is from the “Bird Woman” chapter of the first book by P.L. Travers where the children and Mary Poppins take the bus through the city to see the bird woman at St. Paul’s Cathedral. I especially like re-reading this chapter because it is an largely unchanged place where the story and the actual city intersect.

My name is Owen Freeman, I’m an illustrator from Los Angeles currently working in London. You can see more work at my portfolio.

September 27, 2010 at 11:45 am 2 comments

Short Reports: Lesley Barnes vs. The Firebird

Hi everyone, just Meg here– I’m currently out of town at a wedding, so I unfortunately ran low on time to share the next scene in Alice with you.  Expect a double dose of Alice October 11, but in the meantime please enjoy a lovely pair of scenes from Lesley Barnes! (More scenes from the Firebird are on her portfolio, so please check them out!)

Ivan was left holding a shimmering feather, but the Firebird had escaped and was winging away into the distance. Dropping the feather from one hand to another like a hot potato, Ivan went to fetch his horse, for he meant to go on with the hunt. Though he had caught only a painful blister instead of the Firebird, the feather lit a path through the darkness, making a splendid torch.

The illustration is from the Russian folk tale ‘The Firebird’. I recently discovered a vintage picture book called ‘Tales from Russia’ and flicking through the pages I rediscovered ‘The Firebird’. The story has everything you would want from a fairytale – golden apples, Russian Royalty, an incident with a waxed moustache, a talking wolf and of course a thieving shimmering Firebird….

It was very difficult to choose just one passage to illustrate but finally I decided upon depicting Ivan (the Russian Prince) chasing the illusive Firebird – using its firey tail feather as a torch to light his way in the dark. I liked the way I could illustrate a tiny ‘flavour’ of the majesty of the Firebird (the single flaming tail feather) without completely giving away what the bird looked like – in the story the bird is extremely hard to grab hold of, so I wanted to keep that illusive quality in the image……the idea of the hunt.

I couldn’t stop drawing this! So I thought I’d work on this piece too. It’s the next bit in the story when a magical wolf jumps out at the prince. Enjoy!

September 6, 2010 at 10:30 am Leave a comment

Short Reports: Rich Tu vs. Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats

“This is a revisionist portrait of the character Old Deuteronomy from T.S. Eliot’s book Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats (popularized by the Broadway play Cats). I always wanted to rethink the imagery of this book (well, really the play) because when I was a kid I used to see the commercials for Broadway’s Cats on New York television and see the actor all dolled up as O.D., being presented as this triumphant Messianic figure akin to Moses and quite honestly, I hated it. When reading the text you understand that O.D. is very very old, almost ancient. He’s seen a lot of war and grief seen and outlived a lot of other cats including his loves. Now if I were an ancient cat I don’t think I would be standing around looking like Moses all the time. I would probably be beat up and sick, have liver spots (I anthropomorphousized him somewhat), weird hairs, and sad at having to carry the weight of seeing everyone around me die and outliving them. It would be a curse. Why couldn’t I have died with my friends in war or something? If O.D.’s a Messianic figure, I view him as a tortured Christ having to make difficult decisions and feeling that painful weight, literally on his head. Also, technically he’s a Pekinese, but hairless cats are much more human to me. Often times I look at a cat and can’t get an emotional hold on it, but not so with a hairless.

Rich Tu is an illustrator and designer based in NYC.  He received a Masters Degree in Illustration from the School of Visual Arts in 2009. His clients and collaborators include The New Yorker, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, The Institutional Investor, Tokion Magazine, Slam Magazine, Death + Taxes, SWINDLE Quarterly, The Believer, National Public Radio, Alfa Romeo, and Bombay Sapphire Gin.

He was nominated for the Swatch Young Illustrators Award in 2009 and has been included in the Society of Illustrators and American Illustration annuals. View more of his work at and his blog

September 3, 2010 at 10:30 am 4 comments

Short Reports: Sashiko Yuen vs. The Story Sisters

Meg and Claire looked at each other. They could hear the clock over the stove, ticking. They could hear doves in the courtyard. They wanted this moment to last forever. The sunlight was orange. They had to remember that. Meg would make certain they did. She fetched a piece of paper and wrote down the word orange, then folded the paper in half. They could cut up pears and and write down all the colors of the light and listen to people laugh and smell the blooms on the chestnut tree and forget about the rest of the world. They wanted to stay in their grandmother’s apartment always, but instead they would have this memory of sitting in the kitchen, being happy.”

I chose to illustrate The Story Sisters by Alice Hoffman. I love Alice Hoffman’s stories. They’re based in real life but the worlds she weaves are magical. She combines a lot of fantasy and drama elements. The imagery is so rich, dark, romantic, and poetic. While I’m reading her novels a lot of images take over my mind. It’s actually hard to read her books without constantly putting them down to sketch.

The scene I chose to illustrate is of the one of the Story sisters. There are three sisters: Elv is a rebel and the oldest, Meg is the middle child, and Claire is the most optimistic (and the youngest). I wanted to depict Meg in the scene where the sisters are in Paris. There’s a lot of tragedy in this book, but this moment was memorable. The one moment Meg was happy and hopeful. I took a bit of liberty in symbolizing this moment as a locket. A deep and personal treasure to remember and reflect upon this memory.

Sashiko Yuen just graduated with a BFA in Art + Design. In university she studied painting, illustration, bookmaking, and couldn’t stop reading graphic novels. She currently spends her days writing short stories and painting strange pictures. And you won’t stop her till she’s dead. She drinks lots of tea and smells old books while nobody is looking. You can find her work at but she honestly updates her flickr more often: And her shop is here: (which she is always working to improve).

September 2, 2010 at 10:30 am Leave a comment

Short Reports: Michelle Kondrich vs. A Confederacy of Dunces

“When he had finished the first hot dog, Ignatius prepared and consumed another, contemplating other kindnesses that might postpone his having to go to work again. Fifteen minutes later, noticing that the supply of hot dogs in the little well was visibly diminishing, he decided in favor of abstinence for the moment. He began to push slowly down the street, calling again, “Hot dogs!” (more…)

September 1, 2010 at 10:44 am 2 comments

Short Reports: Kris Mukai vs. The Letters.

“I often crouched down and watched with bated breath as a scrap of paper or a leaf writhed and changed its shape within the flames. The bonfire reminded me of when I had seen my father’s bones at the crematorium, and as the sight had not alarmed me, I began to think about his bones every time we burned the leaves, rerunning the memory over and over again in my mine until my father’s bones gradually became divorced from other memories and simply remained a close and familiar thought.”

The book I picked was Kazumi Yumoto’s The Letters, a book about a young girl, Chiaki, and her life following her father’s death. The scene I chose to illustrate is a passage describing an autumn bonfire, and I think it a perfectly describes a transition in which Chiaki comes to terms with a part of her father’s death. The comparison of the bonfire’s burning leaves and her father’s bones also relates to the book’s overall theme of memory, since the story is told from adult Chiaki’s perspective looking back at the years of her girlhood.

My name is Kris Mukai and I’m an illustrator and comic artist living in Brooklyn, NY. You can view more of my work on my blog ( or my flickr (

August 31, 2010 at 9:18 am Leave a comment

Short Reports: Vicki Nerino vs. The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs

New week, which means we’ll try and share some Short Reports with you. This one comes from the inimitable Vicki Nerino, and it’s an excellent way to start this week off don’t you think?

(click to enlarge!)

…So I went to the next neighbor’s house.
This neighbor was the First Little Pig’s brother.
He was a little smarter, but not much.
He had built his house of sticks.
I rang the bell on the stick house.
Nobody answered.
I called “Mr. Pig, Mr. Pig, are you in?”
He yelled back, “Go away wolf. You can’t come in. I’m shaving the hairs on my chinny chin chin.”
I had just grabbed the doorknob when I felt abother sneeze coming on.
I huffed. And I snuffed. And I tried to cover my mouth, but I sneezed a great sneeze…

I chose this scene because, well, who doesn’t want to draw a pig skin getting blown clean off its body? But really.. I have a bad habit of drawings things just sort of standing there, characters and objects and whatnot. I wanted to challenge myself by catching a dramatic scene in the middle of it’s climax, and I did just that, and boy oh boy, I’m pretty happy about it.

I was sort of dumb and didn’t take web format into consideration with this one and made it an extremely long landscape, but I feel like it really needed to be in order to capture the strong movement of the scene. With that, please feel free to click and enlarge, there’s a lot of fur and bone and pig bits to see!

This was my absolute favourite book as a kid. It was just the right amount of classic, a little bit of twisted, and super packed with sarcasm, so as anyone who knows me or my work just a little bit, you could imagine that I would have latched onto this book immediately. Actually, I had forgotten all about this book for years until I was moseying around at a book store and I saw it sitting on one of the display tables. I nearly pooped myself when I saw it again.

It was sort of tough choosing a book, because all of the ones I loved as a kid are all beautifully illustrated, and I sort of wanted to choose something that had a clean slate, something with next to nothing to pull from but the dialogue. Finally, after much consideration, I just said “EFF IT” and went with my absolute favourite book ever, which was illustrated by the stupendous Lane Smith. I think i did an okay job taking Lane’s influence, putting my own spin on it, and making it my own.

And I just like drawing pigs.

So there.

I grew up in Thunder Bay where I spent the first half of my life amongst trees and moose and bears and things, so I’ve seen my fair share of wildlife and poop. My dad used to wrestle me to the ground and fart on me and I would giggle. My uncle used to record Ren and Stimpy episodes onto a VHS tape, and whenever I would visit, he would sit me down in front of the TV and play that tape for hours on end. I didn’t understand a lot of it, but I loved it.

All of these things might give you an idea as to why I am the way I am, and why I love drawing terrible, stinky, inappropriate, ugly, wrinkled things so much.

August 30, 2010 at 12:26 pm 2 comments

Short Reports: Sam Bradley vs. The Graveyard Book.

Unfortunately today Kali is unable to post her monthly piece, apologies! Still, there’s plenty of art to be had so let’s do another Short Report. This one comes from Sam Bradley, visiting a scene from  Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book.

(click to enlarge)

My illustration depicts a scene from Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book. I chose a scene from the second chapter, entitled “The New Friend”. Here we see Nobody Owens, our young protagonist, leading his new friend Scarlett Amber Perkins through the old graveyard he calls home, and into a mausoleum. The illustration itself is 8×11″, painted with watercolor on 140lb cold press paper, with photoshop touch-ups.

I discovered The Graveyard Book last year, and it ended up being my favourite read of 2009. One of the things that attracted me to the story was how consistently visually appealing it was. Each chapter seemed to feature an evocative new set piece – choosing which to illustrate was one of my biggest hurdles. It was difficult not to settle on one of the more climactic scenes, but ultimately it was my hope that by illustrating an early section of the story it would serve as a better introduction to Gaiman’s Graveyard as well as potentially entice someone who hasn’t already read the book to pick up a copy.
I’m Sam Bradley, by the way. I share a home in Toronto with my lovely girlfriend. As far as picture making goes, by day I supervise location design on the animated Total Drama series which you can check out regularly on teletoon or cartoon network. By night i’m a contributor to and editor of The Anthology Project, a comic anthology which you can preview at, and perhaps find at your local purveyor of comics. I’m hoping I’ll eventually find the time to illustrate a bit more of The Graveyard Book. In the mean time, feel free to have a look at my website at

August 27, 2010 at 9:52 am 2 comments

Short Reports: Marika McCoola vs. Matilda.

Hello! Israel’s informed me he’s a little behind on his newest piece for Where the Red Fern Grows, so today we’ll drop in with another Short Report, this time visiting another well-loved Roald Dahl book with Marika McCoola. Enjoy!

I love the dark quirkiness of Dahl’s stories. His characters are at once ridiculous and so detailed that they must actually exist. Last year I worked on a series of illustrations for Edward Lear’s limericks, which share a strange sensibility with Dahl’s work. I enjoyed working with Lear’s texts and found myself thinking about Dahl as I worked. Wanting to work with a longer piece than one of Dahl’s poems, and fondly remembering Matilda, I decided to pick it up again. The dark, very British humor and ridiculous events tend to make me grin with glee and I can’t help but love characters who are enamored of books….

Chapter 1: The Reader of Books
‘Did you know,’ Mrs Phelps said, ‘that public libraries like this allow you to borrow books and take them home?’

‘I didn’t know that,’ Matilda said. ‘Could I do it?’

‘Of course,’ Mrs Phelps said. ‘When you have chosen the book you want, bring it to me so I can make a note of it and it’s yours for two weeks. You can take more than one if you wish.’

Chapter 2: The Ghost
‘I’m fed up with your reading anyway. Go and find yourself something useful to do.’ With frightening suddenness he [Mr Wormwood] now began ripping the pages out of the book in handfuls and throwing them in the waste-paper basket.

Matilda froze in horror. The father kept going. There seemed little doubt that the man felt some kind of jealousy. How dare she, he seemed to be saying with each rip of a page, how dare she enjoy reading books when he couldn’t? How dare she?

‘That’s a library book! Matilda cried. ‘It doesn’t belong to me! I have to return it to Mrs. Phelps!’

There are many books in this world I do not agree with and hope no one ever reads, but the idea of directing violence toward a book is unthinkable, as it rends not just thoughts, but, in the case of fiction, entire worlds. Though we as readers already dislike Mr. Wormwood, this scene establishes Matilda’s father as a truly horrid man and enables us to laugh at him later when Matilda exacts her devious revenge.

Marika McCoola holds a BFA in illustration from the Maryland Institute College of Art and currently manages the children’s section of the Odyssey Bookshop, an independent bookstore in Massachusetts’ Pioneer Valley (a magical place where authors and illustrators seem to grow on trees). She once hoped to limit her book collection but finds that every time she turns around the stacks have multiplied. Marika will begin her MFA in writing and illustrating for children at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in the fall. You can see more of Marika’s work on her website,, and her blog,, and read her book reviews on

August 24, 2010 at 1:17 pm 3 comments

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