Children are the building blocks of the human race.

Children’s Books Are My Life. I read them, I study them, I illustrate them and I write them. You might ask how children’s books can capture this much of my time and energy? Children’s books are important to me and they should be to you also. 

There's a Mouse on My Head Children's Picture Book

There's a Mouse on My Head

Picture book I illustrated for Donna Warwick

Children are the building blocks of the human race.

Educating our children to guide them to become the future leaders, innovators and educators of our world is one of the most important things we can do.  Children’s books help young humans form their early outlook on life, their opinions and values. Children’s books expand a child’s world beyond the four walls of their home. They prepare a child for a life of learning and interaction with other children. They help children become open-minded, educated and responsible adults.

Quiet reading time or taking a child to the library or a favorite books store should be a treat. It’s important to foster an early positive love of books and the wonderful world held between their covers. Books should hold a precious place in every home. Our children are our future, we need to make sure they have the best education, wide experiences and open minds to become our next generation of adults.

My love of books has translated into my career. I have always been a creative thinker and a creator. I love the rhythm of words and the look and smell of them on the printed page. I love to take a complicated problem and make it easy to understand with a few simple illustrations and words. My background in graphic design and art direction in the world of advertising gives me an advantage in illustrating and designing children’s books.

 

Don't be a Pig in a Panic! by Leila Leidke

Don't Be a Pig in a Panic!

Picture book I illustrated for Leila Leidke

I love working with publishers and authors to develop characters and bring stories to life. I use my skills in art direction, graphic design and problem solving together with my children’s book illustrations to help authors develop their characters and design their book covers. I design and incorporate the text into the page illustrations for beautiful spreads. For self-publishing authors, I can create the whole package, working directly with your printer, publisher or POD company, so you get the best results possible.

Visit my web site portfolio:www.behance.net/DayneSislenDesign or my website for more information:www.daynesislendesign.com or email me directly:

 Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to the playground to get inspired…

 

Why children’s picture books are so important.

Of course, I’m prejudiced, my passion and my job are to write and illustrate children’s picture books.

But why do I feel they are so important for children? We all want what is best for our children, picture books start the process of learning and appreciating art at a very young age.

Mother and children reading before bedtime.

The illustrations in Picture books help very young children understand the story and encourage them to use their imagination to expand beyond the story.

As children start to learn to read on their own, the pictures help with comprehension and to decipher the meaning of unfamiliar words. The stories in picture books are not necessarily simpler than chapter books, in fact, they are richer because the pictures can tell a lot of the details of the story.

Picture books help children to explore interesting words in language, rhythm and rhyme at an early age. Repetition allows a child to anticipate words and actions, so they become a part of the story. Not only do children hear the story, they see the illustrations and touch the pages. They become excited that they can guess what an upcoming action or sound will be.

Picture books nurture, they can teach useful tools for dealing everyday life. When a child reads and sees  a picture book about a child or young animal dealing with an age-appropriate problem, they learn about problem-solving and cause and effect.

Picture books allow a very close relationship between child and parent or grandparent and child. Picture books are the perfect prop to make together-time and reading time, a special time to look forward to. A time to relax and settle down for bedtime. There is little pressure with picture books, the stories are meant to be fun and interactive.

If you have written a children’s book, contact me we can talk. I illustrate picture books for other authors.

Don't Be a Pig in a Panic!

Don’t Be a Pig in a Panic! written by Leila Leidke illustrated by Dayne Sislen

 

There's a Mouse on My Head

There’s a Mouse on My Head by Donna Warwick Illustrated by Dayne Sislen

Free coloring sheets and game pages for little your ones to enjoy.

Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 11.32.12 AMI have prepared three coloring sheets and two game sheets to go with the book, “There’s a Mouse on My Head” written by Donna Warwick.

These will be perfect to keep kids busy over the holiday weekend and rainy days this summer. Just print them out on your home printer and you can have unlimited sheets. Click here for games and coloring sheets.

Have fun and enjoy your summer.

A great exercise to learn how to “show instead of tell” when writing.

Today I would like to feature an author/illustrator’s blog I found very useful:

Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 4.38.52 PMAuthor /Illustrator Fred Koehler wrote an amazing article on his blog: http://freddiek.com/writing-between-the-lines/ about a book he recently illustrated.

Fred is the illustrator for ONE DAY THE END written by Rebecca Kai Dotlich. This book is a 2016 Boston Globe Horn Book Award Winner. It is a wonderful, very simple story.

What makes this picture book so unique is the story has very few words and NO DESCRIPTION, the author trusted the illustrator to fill in the story. Fred has not let the author down. He has beautifully illustrated the book and brought it to life.

Fred gives exercises to follow when going through your manuscript to help you zero in on the places where you might find unneeded description in your picture book story. If you have ever wondered how to show more and tell less, this exercise will help you.

Please read Fred Koehler’s blog, it will be worth your time.

 

 

2016 SCBWI Crystal Kite Awards Announced

The SCBWI announced the winners of the 2016 Crystal Kite Member Choice Awards for fifteen regional divisions:

I always love to see which books are chosen from each region of SCBWI for this award. This year, the book chosen from my region (the Mid South) is:  “Secret Files World War II, by Stephanie Bearce.  I had the opportunity to meet Stephanie earlier this year at a SCBWI workshop. She talked to us about the joys of writing non-fiction for children.

See ALL the chosen books for 2016 on the SCBWI website. 

A few of the chosen books.

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About the Crystal Kite Awards

The Crystal Kite Awards are given by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators to recognize great books from the seventy SCBWI regions around the world.  Along with the SCBWI Golden Kite Awards, the Crystal Kite Awards are chosen by other children’s book writers and illustrators, making them the only peer-given awards in publishing for young readers.

“Children need art and stories and poems and music as much as they need love and food and fresh air and play. “

Phillip Pullman makes his point very well in this blog:

Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award

Pullman Philip 2

Wise words from Philip Pullman, who received the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award in 2005:

Children need art and stories and poems and music as much as they need love and food and fresh air and play. If you don’t give a child food, the damage quickly becomes visible. If you don’t let a child have fresh air and play, the damage is also visible, but not so quickly. If you don’t give a child love, the damage might not be seen for some years, but it’s permanent.

But if you don’t give a child art and stories and poems and music, the damage is not so easy to see. It’s there, though. Their bodies are healthy enough; they can run and jump and swim and eat hungrily and make lots of noise, as children have always done, but something is missing.

It’s true that some people grow up never encountering…

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Reading to Big Kids..Don’t Stop, Be Readin’…Hold on to that Feelin’

Reading with your kids, no matter what age, will help them in later life.

Michelle Eastman Books

I posted this piece a while back…

With my son’s 4th grade year coming to an end, I find this information more timely than ever.

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I love picture books, and I often write about them.  In my post, Top 10 Reasons Picture Books Rock, I touch upon the importance of continuing to read aloud to your child even AFTER he/she is able to read independently. Please note that although children may be ready for early readers and chapter books, I implore parents to continue reading picture books with/to your children. There is no better way to connect at the end of a hectic day than to get lost in a picture book together. This ritual is one you can continue well into their teen years (yes, really, I promise). A child should not be denied this sacred time with you, just because he has “grown up”. Reading and/or…

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Top Ten Reasons Picture Books ROCK…

This is a great post, no one can say it better. Thank you Michelle, I love picture books!

Michelle Eastman Books

I am thrilled to count myself among the ranks of children’s picture book writers. I believe, whole-heartedly, in the power of picture books. Of course, there are thousands of reasons to love picture books, but I’ve compiled my top ten.

My Top Ten Reasons Picture Books ROCK:

  1. Picture books provide an ideal setting to connect with your child.  Reading picture books provides a time for parent and child to just be, together. There is no better way to connect, at the end of a hectic day, than to get lost in a picture book together. This ritual is one that you can continue well into their teen years (yes, really, I promise). Trust me, these shared moments are what kids look back on.  That child becomes a parent who reads to his/her child, and so on, and so on…
  2. Picture books are funny.  Where else can you…

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In Praise of Picture Books by Randall de Seve

Some very insightful thoughts on Picture books. I love the comment by Patricia Gauch, “The Picture Book is an Act of Mischief.” I have always felt picture books had an important place in literature. This excellent blog post  justifies that belief very well.

Nerdy Book Club

I noticed something sad over years of teaching first grade.  As soon as children learned to read, they abandoned picture books in favor of what they imagined to be more impressive, or “grown-up,” chapter books.  I’m sorry to say that some of their teachers and parents did, too.

What many children (and the adults that guide them) don’t realize is that the best picture books can be equally, if not more, sophisticated than some of their longer kin.  Plus, you can have an entire picture book experience in a fraction of the time it takes to read a novel; said another way, you can have a wide variety of experiences in that same time.

So what, exactly, is this picture book experience?

“There is in a picture book, make no mistake, something for the eye, something for the heart, something for the mind, something for the funny bone, something for…

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A special treat for Mother’s Day.

The full video of “There’s a Mouse on My Head” is available on YouTube for a limited time.

Donna Warwick and I  have posted the full video of our book There’s a Mouse on My Head” on YouTube for you to enjoy with your little ones. Sing-a-long with the music and share it with friends. It will remain up through Mothers Day May 8th. Here is the YouTube link.

Our book focuses on imagination and the Grandmother/Grandchild bond. The book may be purchased in hard cover or soft cover from Amazon  or signed copies can be purchased in our Etsy Shop.

Donna Warwick is singing in the video and her cousin Sandy Weltman playing the uke! Of course all the illustrations are by me! Hope you enjoy the “story ‘n song.”

There's a Mouse on My Head Children's Picture BookIt’s also Children’s Book Week, so you don’t even have to be a Mother or Grandmother to view our free picture book video. ENJOY!!12524174_455257744678996_2433843190805924425_n

I Have the Best Job in the World

 

Sketches for a picture book

Sketches from an earlier picture book I illustrated.

A fresh start on a new picture book

My favorite thing about my job as a children’s book designer and illustrator is, starting to illustrate a new picture book. It’s the fresh beginning of a four to six month relationship with new characters that I get to bring to visual life with my pencil. It’s the excitement of finding the perfect details to enhance the story to take it further. It’s the joy of transforming an author’s manuscript into a colorful inviting picture book.

It’s also the time when I get to really get to know the talented author who created the story. I love working with creative people. Together the author and I form a team dedicated to “birth” their new picture book.

Today is my first day starting to illustrate a new picture book for an author I have not worked with before.  I will read the story several times to get a feel for the mood of the book and to get to know the characters. Once I form clear visual images of the characters in my mind, I can start to put my ideas on paper. I share these early sketches with the author to see if I have captured the personality of their characters.

I better get to work.

Behold the Art Show

What a wonderful way to introduce an appreciation for art and literature. I just love creative teachers. It’s amazing to see pre-schoolers doing this kind of art.

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A Teacher's Reflections

Children were sitting together as I carefully picked up each ‘masterpiece’, mounted and framed, and labeled with a title.  They knew this was IT, seeing the results of their love and labor.  I held up each piece, one at a time, as if it were the Mona Lisa.  Then, I slowly panned each work of art to the audience and simply said the title and artist;  “The Storm the White House and the Grass, by Dillon”, “The Big Scissors, by Hannah”, “Charlotte, by Ella”.  Twenty-two pieces of beautiful art, and each one brought spontaneous comments from their peers:  Eleni said, “That is so beautiful.”  Jackson said, “Whoa!”  Frankly, each piece of art they saw drew a wonderful comment.  When I asked children, “What will all these masterpieces look like hanging together on a wall?” Miles immediately shouted out, “An art museum!”  He was right.  After carefully hanging all the art…

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I Love Picture Books!

I love everything about picture books. The books themselves are short but they tell fully realized stories without using many words. The illustrations carry half the meaning, so all ages can figure out what the story’s about.

The words can be; colorful, noisy, irreverent, serious, silly, impertinent, sassy,  wriguldy-wrag, cheeky, and just plain fun to say. FYI: Wriguldy-wrag is a real word meaning mischief.

Images_Day the Crayons Quit_DaywaltImage_Where the Wild Things Are_Sendak Image_A Splash of Red_Bryant

Picture books introduce children to books before they can read. First, as a young child on a reader’s lap soaking up all the fun of the words and pictures. Second as a pretend reader, “reading” to a sibling or pet. At this stage, the illustrations act as a reminder for the words of the story and encourage visual thinking. Still later, when the actual written words start to make sense with the pictures, the children become real readers.

All you have to do to start children on the road to becoming a lifetime reader is start reading aloud to your kids, your grandkids, your nieces and nephews and any other kid you want to help. If we all do this, the world will be a more educated and tolerant place for all.

A not so secret confession: I love to read picture books out-loud in all the funny voices, even when I am all alone.

The books I’ve shown above are just a small selection of my favorites: The Day the Crayons Quit, by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers; Where the Wild things Are, written and illustrated by Maurice Sendak and A Splash of Red, by Jen Bryant, illustrated by Melissa Sweet.