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Cover Reveal, Interview + Giveaway for 30,000 Stitches by Amanda Davis

30,000Stitches cover

 

30,000 STITCHES: THE INSPIRING STORY OF THE NATIONAL 9/11 FLAG

Written by Amanda Davis  

Illustrated by Sally Wern Comport

Associate Publisher-WorthyKids/Hachette Book Group: Peggy Schaefer

 

 

Interviews:

30,000Stitches int3
The torn and tattered flag emerges after seven long years of waiting. Interior spread from 30,000 Stitches written by Amanda Davis and illustrated by Sally Wern Comport, WorthyKids ©2021.

 

GRWR: Thanks to you both for this revealing Q&A. I know I learned tons and am sure our readers did, too! 

2. Amanda is also giving away a 30-minute Zoom call for a picture book author or author-illustrator to discuss a current project and/or answer industry questions OR a 30-minute classroom visit for educators and librarians.

Get extra entries when you pre-order a signed copy of 30,000 Stitches from Silver Unicorn Bookstore here. Please DM a screenshot of the receipt to Amanda on Twitter @amandadavisart.

To enter this portion of the giveaway:

  • Retweet this post on Twitter
  • In the comments below, share a recent bright spot you experienced that gave you hope or joy. Please note that all posts are moderated prior to appearing so be assured your comments will be seen and posted and your name will be added to Amanda’s generous giveaway.
    Good luck!”  

Deadline to enter the contest is Thursday February 4th, at 5:00 PM EST. Amanda will announce winners on Friday, February 5th via Twitter. 

 

Amanda Davis headshot
Author Amanda Davis and Cora ©Angela Wood Photography

BIO:

Amanda Davis is a teacher, artist, writer, and innovator who uses her words and pictures to light up the world with kindness. After losing her father at the age of twelve, Amanda turned to art and writing as an outlet. It became her voice. A way to cope. A way to escape. And a way to tell her story. She was thus inspired to teach art and pursue her passion for writing and illustrating children’s books.

Through her work, Amanda empowers younger generations to tell their own stories and offers children and adults an entryway into a world of discovery. A world that can help them make sense of themselves, others, and the community around them. A world where they can navigate, imagine, and feel inspired—over and over again.

Amanda is the recipient of the 2020 Ann Whitford Paul—Writer’s Digest Most Promising Picture Book Manuscript Grant and teaches art at a public high school in Massachusetts where she was selected as 2020 Secondary Art Educator of the Year. Amanda is the author of 30,000 STITCHES: THE INSPIRING STORY OF THE NATIONAL 9/11 FLAG and has poetry and illustrations featured in The Writers’ Loft Anthology, FRIENDS AND ANEMONES: OCEAN POEMS FOR CHILDREN. When she’s not busy creating, you can find her sipping tea, petting dogs, and exploring the natural wonders of The Bay State with her partner and rescue pup, Cora. You can learn more about Amanda at www.amandadavisart.com and on Twitter @amandadavisart and Instagram @amandadavis_art.

 

Check out all the other websites on this exciting cover reveal blog tour.

MINIBLOGTOURGRAPHIC 30,000STITCHES

 

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People, Jazz and Life: The Inspirations of Illustrator Eric Velasquez

In honor of Black History Month, we’re thrilled to share Debbie Glade’s interview with the fascinating, ultra talented illustrator, Eric Velasquez.

Eric Velasquez

As a parent and book reviewer I’ve read more children’s books than I could possibly count. Indeed, there are many good ones, but only once in a while do I find a book that is extraordinary. Recently I reviewed My Uncle Martin’s Words for America and quickly discovered the story was awe-inspiring and the illustrations were in a league of their own. This is a sister book to My Uncle Martin’s Big Heart, which Eric also illustrated. I studied the pictures over and over again, shared them with family and friends who were equally as impressed, and then contacted illustrator Eric Velasquez to ask him if he’d do an interview with Good Reads with Ronna.

Eric Velasquez started his successful career as an artist, illustrating book covers. In 1997 he added picture book illustrations to his repertoire and has since won awards for his work. Growing up in Spanish Harlem, he credits his multi-cultural approach with his art to his rich, Afro-Puerto-Rican heritage. You will learn through this interview how Eric’s attention to people and their emotions, as well as his love of jazz play a significant role in the richness of his exceptional illustrations.

How old were you when you realized you had a talent for art?

About 7 or 8 I believe.

Were any of your family members artistically inclined?

Yes, my uncle Louie is a photographer.  Also, my two cousins Edgard and Dennis both draw.

Your illustrations are unquestionably exceptional. I read that you have a BFA from New York’s School of Visual Arts. What is your view on how much natural ability plays a role in an artist’s work vs. techniques learned while receiving an art education?

Many people have a mistaken notion as to what natural ability is. True natural ability is often overlooked. To think like an artist is a true natural ability. Form will always follow function. Artists will develop the technical abilities to give life to their visions. People often confuse technicians with artists. Unfortunately, technicians have very little to say with their work.

That is the best definition of an artist I’ve ever heard. Did you know you wanted to illustrate books from the beginning of your career?

One of the illustrator’s many book covers

Yes, I wanted to tell stories. I thought that I would become a comic artist, but I fell in love with painting my senior year in the High School of Art and Design.

Do you remember how you landed your very first project as a paid artist?

 I won second place in a contest. RSVP Directory of Illustration. Aside from a little money, a page containing three images of my work was published in the directory and distributed to every publishing house, design firm and ad agency in America. I began working shortly after graduating college.

What a wonderful way to get your career started! Since then you have completed hundreds of illustrations for book jackets and interiors, including series such as Encyclopedia Brown. You have said that Journey to Jo’burg and Chain of Fire are your favorite books. What did you like about those books in particular?


Both of those books were highly political.  They dealt with the racism going on in South Africa before Nelson Mandela was released from prison. Those books were my introduction into the genre of historical nonfiction.

You illustrated two books about Martin Luther King, Jr. – My Uncle Martin’s Big Heart and My Uncle Martin’s Words for America, written by Angela Farris Watkins. It is rare for one to see images of people as remarkably lifelike as yours. Did the fact that MLK’s legacy is larger than life make the project intimidating for you in any way?

I wanted to add something different to the stories. For “My Uncle Martin’s Big Heart” I began to think about my uncle and the possibility of him being an important world figure, but as a child I only knew him as my uncle.  My goal for the book was to inspire children to acknowledge and appreciate the efforts and loving care of the people in their own families.

And you certainly did accomplish that goal. For these MLK books you painted with oils on watercolor paper. How did that combination come to be?

My original painting surfaces were wooden masonite panels. However, for a book containing 15 -20 illustrations, the panels can get heavy, and they aren’t flexible to fit in a drum scanner. Hot press watercolor paper has a wonderful surface to draw on. After I sketch the picture, I then spray the drawing with crystal clear fixative and apply several coats of acrylic matte medium. Once the surface is completely dry, I begin to paint in oil. The 300-pound paper is flexible enough to fit in a drum scanner.

What inspires you most, and do illustrators ever get “inspiration block” like writers do?

People, music and life inspire me. “Inspiration block” is something I choose not to believe in. Sometimes my art takes on different forms and one has to allow for that, whether it is writing, storytelling, cooking, carpentry, photography, etc.  I think we create the block when we are tired and want to move onto something else. Other times we allow the words of others to destroy our inspirations, which at times can come from the silliest notions or actions.

Is there one specific character in a book you illustrated with whom you can really relate?

Not only one. I relate with most of my characters. I think it’s part of my job as a storyteller.

On average, how many hours do you draw/paint each day?

I work every day, 7 to 8 hours a day.

Can you tell us about your love of Jazz and how you have incorporated that into your art?

I have always loved music, ever since my grandmother introduced me to salsa in her living room in Spanish Harlem.  What I love about Jazz is its improvisational nature. I believe that if more of us were to adapt a more offhand approach to our work, we’d have a more successful and original outcome.

You illustrated and penned the autobiographical picture books, Grandma’s Gift and  Grandma’s Records. Briefly, what is Grandma’s Records about, and what inspired you to write it? 

With a cover like this, who wouldnt want to read this book?

Grandma’s Records is the story of how I spent my summers as a child with my grandma, listening to her records.  Whenever Grandma played this one special song, she would put one hand over her heart and raise the other as she sang along. Later on, she would sit and reminisce about the old days in Puerto Rico with my Grandpa. One day her nephew, Sammy, who was a percussionist in the band “Cortijo Y su Comdo” came over with his fellow band-mates, Rafael Cortijo and Ismael Rivera. We got tickets to their first New York show and the experience changed our lives forever.

I imagine you are flooded with offers to illustrate books. How do you decide which projects you want to take on?

First I read the manuscript thoroughly.  Afterwards, I’ll start doodling right on the actual script, and if I like what I see in the sketches, I’ll decide to take the job.

Can you explain how the process of illustrating a picture book works? Are you generally given specific artistic direction by the editor of the book? Or are you free to depict the story as you see it yourself? 

Usually I am free to depict the story the way I see it.  Although, often with a new client, I’ll receive specific instructions from the editor and the art director.

Are artists involved in the printing process of the picture books, to ensure that the qualities of the illustrations are not compromised in any way?

From time to time the publisher will invite me to come in and color correct the art proofs.  It’s a lengthy process and it can be quite exhausting.

It’s no surprise you have won numerous coveted awards for your illustrations. What does it feel like to receive prestigious recognition, such as the Pura Belpré Illustrator Award or the Coretta Scott King Award?

It’s always an honor to be recognized for one’s talent and contributions.  It is especially rewarding to be recognized for educating children about historical events in history.

Do you have an absolute favorite illustration you’ve ever done?

The artist at work in his studio

Not one in particular; that question is difficult to answer.

Do you sell any of your paintings or illustrations?

Yes, I usually sell them myself.  I am also represented by the R.Michelson Gallery in North Hampton, Mass.

When you are not painting, what do you like to do?

 I enjoy going to Jazz clubs and restaurant /clubs that feature Cuban bands because I love listening to live music.

What advice do you have for artists out there who dream of great success, such as yours, illustrating picture books?

Follow your passion first and be willing to work very, very hard to achieve your dream.  I also emphasize the importance of reading about the artists and illustrators that interest you.

Eric, we thank you so much for sharing your beautiful work and your wisdom with our readers. We cannot wait for your next book!

To contact Eric Velasquez or to schedule a school visit, click here. To purchase his books, click here.

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