Wise words

My critique group pal Susan Boase shared this speech with me. I found it so moving I just had to share.  In it Holly McGhee shares interesting stories from the careers of her clients, such as David Small and Kate DiCamillo (two of my favorites.) And she also shares her own story of becoming a writer and dealing with the doubtful inner voice. What a wonderful speech! So full of wisdom.

I also just listened to this interview with Mary Oliver and would recommend you do too:


more anti-valentine love

Another lovely blogger put together an anti-Valentine's Day collection and included my love stinks card.

thanks Anya!


greeting card news

My anti-valentine was featured in an apartmenttherapy.com post
That was pretty great.

Also, I just added a few new card designs to my Etsy shop.


Ivy + Bean live sketching at Oregon Children's Theatre

I had a lot of fun back in November live sketching the Oregon Children's Theatre's production of Ivy + Bean. The costumes and set were created to mimic Sophie Blackall's excellent illustrations from the books. So, I was drawing actors and a scene originally created by an illustrator - it was like a game of illustrator telephone!

(A couple of my sketches. The play was only an hour long and we were sitting in the audience, using only tiny flashlights to see. I both enjoyed and struggled with how little control I had.) 

The play was SO good - I loved it.  The actors playing the kids were only about 16 years old! They did a fantastic job.  I was surprised to learn that the director was Isaac Lamb and his wife Amy was the choreographer. Isaac and Amy are internet famous for this super sweet musical proposal:

Isaac came by and chatted with us about the production before the performance. They put these shows together in an amazingly short period of time and then only have like 4 days to rehearse on the stage at the Newmark. Combine that with the fact that many of the actors are minors and it is QUITE a feat! Impressive creative folks all around.

The Ivy + Bean production is all wrapped up but  if you live in Portland you should check out their schedule and bring all the kids you know to the next Oregon Children's Theatre show - Skippyjon Jones! Find the info here:


Picturebook Polka - SCBWI Next Level talk - next Saturday

November 15th from 2:00 to 4:00pm 
SCBWI Oregon The Next Level Professional Series:
Picturebook Polka: the dance of words and images 
at TaborSpace, Copeland Commons
5441 SE Belmont - Portland, OR 97215

My friend Abigail Marble and I are giving a little talk about the magic that happens when words and images combine in a picture book. 

"How do we know which words are essential to tell our stories? How can we create illustrations that expand on the story instead of just repeating in pictures what is already written in words? And most importantly, how can the two dance together to reveal the heart of the story? In this workshop, we will look at examples of books that attain this balance and those that miss the mark. Covering issues for both PB writers and PB illustrators (and for those who do both.)"

Register at the door and pay $10 for members and $12 for nonmembers after Nov. 12th.
Preregister: $8 for members and $10 for nonmembers by Nov. 12th.
(or purchase a pass for $35 (nonmembers $50) by Nov. 12th, which gives you this session and all the rest of the sessions through April.)
Get the full scoop and register here:

This will be my first time giving a talk of this sort - I'm hoping some of the things I've learned about making picture books so far will be helpful to folks. I'm a bit nervous about the whole public speaking aspect of it - wish me luck!

An example of what we'll be discussing:

These gorgeous images are from THE GARDENER, written by Sarah Stewart and illustrated by David Small.
The text itself says very little about the emotional undercurrent of this story. This first image shows the warm, comfortable home that Lydia is leaving behind. It shows it with warm colors, round shapes and the coziness of the room. When we put the words in the letter together with what we see of Lydia's life we can really feel Lydia's heartbreak at having to move away from home.

The second image is such a stark contrast to the one before. It's so gloomy and overwhelming. We see tiny Lydia in the corner and again can share in her emotions at this moment - without a single word of text to explain it.

We could probably just talk about this one book for 2 hours! But I promise we won't - we have loads more illuminating examples to share and tips for how to take these ideas home and use them in your own writing and/or illustrating. And we probably won't make you dance the polka - but we haven't finished the powerpoint yet, so who knows?!


drawing for friends

I made this little elephant invite for my friend Angie. Yay for babies!
And this is a portrait of my friend Hadea Tift.
If you're in Washington and need acupuncture check out her awesome community acupuncture clinic: http://skagitcommunityacupuncture.com


Author illustrator blog touring

My dear friend and fabulous author/illustrator Dasha Tolstikova invited me to take part in this blog tour. You can find her answers to these same questions here: http://heytheredasha.tumblr.com
Dasha's first picture book out in Oct - I can't wait!

She was asked to participate by Sophie Blackall. You can find Sophie's very interesting post that does NOT answer the questions here:
Sophie's latest book is SO GOOD! Have you read it yet?!

And here are my answers:
1. What am I currently working on?

I’m busy with lots of projects right now. In the last two months I’ve gotten contracts for my first three picture books. It’s really wonderful! Abrams will be publishing Hannah and Sugar in the Spring of 2016, my story of a girl whose compassion gives her the courage to overcome her fear of dogs, and also a second picture book I’ve yet to write.  
Sketch from Hannah and Sugar

And I’ll be illustrating The Summer Nick Taught His Cats to Read by Curtis Manley - which will be published Fall 2016 by Simon & Schuster’s Paula Wiseman Books. 

What I’m working on this week specifically are character studies and sketches for the illustrations for The Summer Nick Taught His Cats to Read. I haven’t yet pinned down what the two cats look like - so I’ll be making decisions like - tabby or striped? orange or grey? long hair or short hair? bow tie or beret? I can’t believe what a fun job I have, it’s awesome. 

Studies for The Summer Nick Taught His Cats to Read
I’ll also be spending time writing and doodling ideas for the as-yet-untitled second book Abrams will be publishing. 

AND I always put a little time each week into running my greeting card business. I shipped out cards to two customers and three retailers this morning and I have two new cards I need to find time to add to my shop: www.kateberube.etsy.com
One of the new card designs

Busy busy busy! But it’s great.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Hm... this is a tough question to answer. I can only say I try to make work that communicates things that I feel or things that I think about and that are important to me. So my work must differ in that it comes from me and my own unique sense of the world. 
3. Why do I write what I write?

I think my answer to the above question answers this one too. I like to explore ideas and things that I’ve been thinking about. When I wrote Hannah and Sugar I was thinking a lot about what it means to be brave and I was trying to be more brave in my life. 
Brave like Amelia.

4. How does my individual writing/illustrating process work?

When I first started writing I read a lot of great books about how to write. (My favorite is probably If You Want To Write by Brenda Ueland.) And I learned from all these great books that stories are usually not so good when you first write them but that with a lot of time and thoughtful editing, you can craft these first wobbly ideas into something great. 

Unpleasant, double elbowed first sketch on the left - final drawing on the right
So that’s become my process. I make horrible, awkward, ugly drawings and awful, embarrassing, cliched stories and then I fix them. I draw a drawing over and over until I get it somewhere I like. I go over and over my writing trying to make it simple and clear. And then of course, since picture books are stories half told through images and half told through words, I put the two together. I make an Indesign document and then edit out all the words that feel redundant. And I also make lots of decisions about page turns and image design once the words and images are together.

5. Who are the two author/illustrators that you are passing the interview to? 

I’m passing the baton to my friends Abigail Marble and Susan Boase. Both of whom are incredibly talented Portland author/illustrators which I've had the great luck to be in a critique group with for a number years. Can't wait to hear what they have to say. 
This charming kiddo is by Abigail Marble

And these adorable piggies are by Susan Boase
Thanks for reading!


Maya Angelou

Thinking of Maya Angelou today. The one word that really comes to my mind about her is the word inspirational.

Rest in peace Maya.

The quote on my drawing is from this poem:
Human Family 
I note the obvious differences
in the human family.
Some of us are serious,
some thrive on comedy.

Some declare their lives are lived
as true profundity,
and others claim they really live
the real reality.

The variety of our skin tones
can confuse, bemuse, delight,
brown and pink and beige and purple,
tan and blue and white.

I've sailed upon the seven seas
and stopped in every land,
I've seen the wonders of the world
not yet one common man.

I know ten thousand women
called Jane and Mary Jane,
but I've not seen any two
who really were the same.

Mirror twins are different
although their features jibe,
and lovers think quite different thoughts
while lying side by side.

We love and lose in China,
we weep on England's moors,
and laugh and moan in Guinea,
and thrive on Spanish shores.

We seek success in Finland,
are born and die in Maine.
In minor ways we differ,
in major we're the same.

I note the obvious differences
between each sort and type,
but we are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

We are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

We are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.
by Maya Angelou


A book deal, a book deal!!!

Wow, you guys, I'm going to be a published author! I am SO thrilled! Spring 2016 seems quite a long way off but I'm sure I'll get used to the pace of publishing soon enough. Hip hip hooray!


morning collage

Read more about this project here.


Happy Valentine's!

Hope you had a lovely Valentine's weekend. My man and I had our traditional celebration of take-out and Muppet movies. It was pretty great.


New Valentine's day cards!

I've been having loads of fun coming up with new card ideas this week. I have a few more in the works but have jury duty tomorrow. Hopefully I'll get out early and can get them ready to put my shop in time for Valentine's day.


Tater Totter #3!

Happy New Year you all! I forgot to mention that I have a new issue of Tater Totter available now:
This issue is really pretty great. I've gathered together work from some of my best illustrator pals.

Abigail Marble and Susan Boase are my critique group friends and live here in Portland. We've been getting together, drinking wine and talking all things kid book every month or two for a couple of years now and generally have a pretty great time at it. Abbey has illustrated several lovely kids' books and you can find her work at www.abigailmarble.com. Susan has illustrated (and even written) some wonderful kids' books and also makes beautiful things out of clay. Her website is www.susanboase.com.

Dasha Tolstikova and I have been best friends since we were barely old enough to vote! We met at a children's book writing class and it may be true that I did not quite like her at first. But we sorted that out and have been cackling and scheming ever since. Sadly, she lives in Brooklyn, not Portland. She draws for both kids and adults (just yesterday she had a fantastic drawing in the New York Times!) You can find her work at: www.dashatolstikova.com .

AND I have work from my 88 year old grandmother (who is still as sassy as you can be, even while recovering from a hip fracture!) and my 6 year old niece (who has declared that the drawings she made for this issue a couple of months ago are "old work" and NOT as good as what she could do now.) 

So, as you can see this issue is pretty darn special. 

Now I'm off to get my new year started right - a little drawing before dinner. My resolution is to draw every day, what's yours?!


ILWU and me

Not only do I get to work at the wonderful Powell's Books, but I also get to be a member of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union by working there. I'm really pleased to have a union to protect my rights and support me. Today I received an extra special honor and was invited to display my work in the Powell's union office's window on Burnside Ave. in downtown Portland. The sun was set by the time I finished my display so my picture is less than ideal. But here's what I put together today:
(I'll snap another if I'm downtown soon. Or do send me yours if you happen to walk by the window - it's at SW 9th and Burnside.)

Thanks ILWU Local 5! 


Winter is coming (and so is Tater Totter #3!)

I'm busy, busy, busy working on Tater Totter #3. And I'm really excited about the awesome pieces from my contributors! Can't wait to share it with you.  Here's a little preview of what I've made for this issue: