Don Freeman Grant!


I am quite bowled over to find out that the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) has awarded me a 2020 Don Freeman Illustrator Grant. This is a mammoth honor. Thank you! I am so completely humbled and grateful. This community is powered by the most sparkling, inspiring creatives. Since I first joined in 2015, everyone here has shown so much warmth and generosity.

Don Freeman (1908-1978) has inspired me before. When my first child was only two, and obsessed with prisms, a friend gave him Don Freeman’s A RAINBOW OF MY OWN for his birthday. I am still inspired by the way Freeman wove together a joy of nature with science inquiry and exploration, and brought the story to life visually with images of deliciously spontaneous mark-making.

To pass on the spark, here are seven tips on creativity from Don Freeman himself:

1.     Let your passions feed your work.
2.    Explore and observe voraciously.
3.    Take what you see around you and give it your own fun twist.
4.    Be versatile [in your methods and techniques].
5.    Keep evidence of your process so others can learn.
6.    Make friends and spread yourself around.
7.    To keep from getting distracted, if necessary go stay in a studio, room, even a hotel when you have a deadline coming up!*

My current book projects feature children gardening, doing citizen science, finding joy in nature and community, and biographies of scientists and activists. I also love to illustrate empowering folk tales from around the world. I am excited to continue book projects that empower young people through science education, connection with the natural world, and building skills of leadership and activism.

During this pandemic, SCBWI virtual workshops and meet-ups have helped me bring my confidence up. This Don Freeman Grant will help me afford workshops and classes during this rough and crazy year, to help keep me focused on the task of hammering out picture book dummies and sample art for submissions. I am especially looking forward to SCBWI’s On-Line Non-Fiction Workshop with the Smithsonian, November 6-7.

Thanks so much to jurors Christy Ewers and Corinna Luyken, SCBWI, my agent Teresa Kietlinski, my sweetheart Greg, my entire supportive family and friends, mentor/author Illustrator Ashley Wolff, and my critique group cheerleaders Crash Test Picture Book Dummies and Friends with Words.