Filed under: Doll-E, For Teachers, Free Stuff, Growing Up Reading, Printable Activities • September 3, 2021

With schools starting back in-person all over, I wanted to share a “Read and Recharge” poster (with character’s from my first book, DOLL-E 1.0) that’s FREE for printing, laminating, and decorating your classroom! AND there’s a free matching coloring sheet so your students can also make their own poster!

Print Poster

Print Coloring Page

As always, I’d LOVE to see photos of your using these in your classroom :)

All My Best,

Shanda

Filed under: Free Stuff, Growing Up Artsy, Printable Activities, Sketchbook • August 18, 2021

There’s a lot going on in the world right now, so I’m just posting a happy horse coloring page today! (Remember, it’s totally socially acceptable for grownups to color too, but you can call it something fancy like “coloring meditation” if you like :)

Filed under: Book Reviews, Growing Up Reading, Printable Activities • August 18, 2021

There’s no better FREE way to support your favorite authors than by leaving good reviews of their books on Amazon and/or GoodReads. They can be short and sweet. No need for long drawn out write-ups unless you want to do that.

How to write a book review (for Teens/Adults): 
https://www.booktrust.org.uk/books-and-reading/tips-and-advice/writing-tips/writing-tips-for-teens/how-to-write-a-book-review/

Kid Book Review (printable)

Kids can write a review with this printable activity, then fold it in half and draw the book’s cover on the front. My 7 yo reviewed BLUE, BARRY, AND PANCAKES by Dan and Jason below…

Then (with my help) she went over to https://www.speakpipe.com/AuthorVisitPocast to voice record her review to be used on a future episode of the Author Visit Podcast and your kiddos can do the same!

Listen to Beni’s book review

Do you know Dan and Jason?

These guys make the funnest graphic novels for kids. We have thoroughly enjoyed the Blue, Barry, and Pancakes series and they have a brand new series hitting shelves soon called Barb the Last Berzerker!


I hope you enjoyed this letter, and I’d love to know if you found the printables useful. Till next time, all my best!

-Shanda

Filed under: Uncategorized • March 6, 2021

I’m still beating out the story of the young graphic novel chapter book that I’m working on. I’m pretty sure I told you guys about it before… the one about the rock who is constantly trampled and turns into a mean tough guy but finally figures out how to be tough and friendly when he joins a floral punk bandPunk Rock? Well, I got as far as sketching out the first chapter (50 pages!) and sharing it with my online comics critique group. They loved the character, the art, and the premise of this odd little punk story, BUUUUUT the story and the way I begin the story still need work.

So… I have committed to going back to the basics of good storytelling to relearn how to make it sing! And I’ve put together this email full of what I’m reading and what I’m watching so that it might help others. Enjoy!


What I’m Reading:

Save the Cat by Blake Snyder is a CLASSIC storytelling book for grownups. I’m reading it for the first time and although there are some chapters that only apply to writing movies, this book has been eye opening!


What I’m Watching:

THIS video series is truly awesome! It’s called “PIXAR in a Box” and it’s on the Khan Academy website. There are 6 lessons, but you only need the first 3 (unless you are an animator). I got so much out of this as an adult, but I can see it being phenomenally useful in the classroom too! (Probably best for ages 3rd grade and up.)


Storytelling Kit For Students:

I made these graphic organizers with teachers and students in mind! Feel free to download them here and have fun writing your own stories.

Happy writing!

-Shanda

Filed under: Printable Activities • February 19, 2021

I was SO excited to learn about the successful landing of the newest Mars rover called “Perseverance” and it’s little buddy on board (a drone) called “Ingenuity”! This Mars-copter is the first aircraft flown on another planet!

Ingenuity will simply stretch its propellers on this mission to see how viable using drones (at this point) will be for space exploration. It’s such an exciting moment!

It struck me as a super cute thought that Perseverance and Ingenuity are little buddies up there… exploring and having grand Martian adventures!

Here’s a printable coloring page for kids…

Filed under: Uncategorized • January 20, 2021

It’s the second day since BEDTIME BALLET has been out in the world! Will you celebrate by drawing a rose with me? And PLEASE share YOUR rose drawing by tagging me on Instagram.

Click the image below for the printable page.

Filed under: Uncategorized • January 18, 2021

Tomorrow is the official birthday (release day) of my new book, BEDTIME BALLET, written by Kallie George and illustrated by me! To celebrate, Im sharing lots of ways for educators and homeschool families to bring the art and practice of ballet straight into their classrooms…

In this post, you’ll find:

  • Kid-friendly, ballet exercise videos to get you and your students moving while learning basic ballet moves and terms.
  • A video to inspire boys
  • Video replay (available until Feb 1, 2021) of mine and Kallie’s book launch which includes an inspiration conversation, read aloud, and a drawing tutorial!
  • A collection of my favorite picture books, chapter books, and non-fiction books that twirl around ballet
  • Printable student activities

Videos to move and inspire:

Replay of book launch, read aloud, and drawing lesson (Available until Feb 1, 2021): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9hmXNheDUPI&t=74s

More great ballet books for kids:

Welcome To Ballet School, a kid-friendly, technical picture book written by Ashley Bouder, illustrated by Julia Bereciartu

Brave Ballerina, a picture book biography written by Michelle Meadows, illustrated by Ebony Glenn

Dear Ballerina, a picture book by Monica Wellington

Pippa By Design, an educational fiction chapter book written by Claudia Logan, illustrated by Chesley McLaren

Vampirina Ballerina, a picture book written by Anne Marie Pace, illustrated by LeUyen Pham

Bunheads, an autobiography picture book written by by Misty Copeland, illustrated by Setor Fiadzigbey

Here’s an affiliate link to all the ballet books recommended in this email: https://bookshop.org/lists/my-favorite-ballet-books-for-kids

Printable activities to celebrate BEDTIME BALLET:

Thanks for reading this post and welcoming my new book into the world with me! I’d love to know if any of these activities or videos were useful and all the ways YOU brought ballet or dance into your classroom.

Curtsey,

Shanda

Filed under: Uncategorized • December 1, 2020

Happy December! My family just got back from visiting family in Franklin, TN, but before we traveled we got our Christmas tree put up! It was so nice to come home to it :) But now I’ve got to get to serious illustrating business, because my February 1st deadline will be here so fast!

For this post, I wanted to share a little of my process (which changes with every book)… Enjoy!


SKETCH: I started sketching out the characters and thumbnails back in February for this book – pre-covid. When I had the whole book roughly sketched out with pencil, I scanned each spread and assembled the drawings into a multi-page PDF, which I sent to the editor and art director at Aladdin/Simon&Shuster. Then, the pandemic hit and I didn’t hear back about the sketches until August! Good thing they liked the direction I was headed in and didn’t have too many notes/changes. Here’s one example of a spread that DID require changes…



FINAL DRAWING (just the lines): According to the notes the editor and art director gave me, they felt that we needed to compress several panels into one full spread. So I came up with this new composition…



They loved it! So I pulled the sketch into Procreate on my iPad and traced over it- “inking” it so to speak into crisper line work…




COLOR STUDY: After the drawing is finalized, I print it out small (4 times) on one sheet of 300lb Arches hotpress watercolor paper so I can experiment with colors. This step is SO IMPORTANT to my work not looking “clowny” using all the colors. A color study really is a game changer – believe me I’ve done both (with and without)!



None of the color studies (above) are perfect, but it gets me far enough to be able to confidently paint the real thing larger. I think the top left sample comes closest to what I’m aiming for.

I was inspired by the colors in these books. Do you recognize them?




FINAL PAINTING: Now, I paint bigger, life-sized, about 90%. I work at this size so it comfortable fits back onto the scanner when the painting is complete.




PHOTOSHOP TOUCHES: You lose a lot of umph and color in the scanning process, so I use Photoshop to pump up the color saturation and I can also add in little details that I may not have thought of beforehand. Can you see the little fish I added nibbling on the upside-down muffin?



Ta-da! Here’s where I ended up (after a little back and forth with the art director first). This could go through a few more changes depending on feedback from my art director, but I think it’s pretty close. To know for sure, you’ll have to compare this email/post to the final book when it comes out in Spring of 2022!


I hope you enjoyed this look into how I work! And keep an eye out for Little Red Writing Hood and the Big Bad Editor (written by Rebecca Kraft Rector) in Spring 2022!

All my very best!

-Shanda

Filed under: Uncategorized • November 23, 2020

What gift fits in a stocking but arrives after the holidays??

Bedtime Ballet of course!

I hope you’ll consider pre-ordering Bedtime Ballet written by Kallie George and illustrated by me (Shanda McCloskey) as a gift for your little dancers :)

BONUS: Print out the foldable card above to slip it into a gift bag or stocking!

Warmest wishes!

-Shanda

Filed under: Uncategorized • October 11, 2020


Chris and I had SO MUCH FUN putting on the October Fire Truck vs. Dragon webinar (with about 50 classrooms from all over the country) that we immediately planned another!


We hope you’ll join us on November 12, 2020 at 10:00am EST for the 2nd go around! This time, I’ll be demonstrating how to draw Fire Truck, and of course we’ll be answering more of YOUR questions!


You can sign your classroom(s) up here: tinyurl.com/FTvD111220



Here’s some feed back that we received from the first webinar:


“The webinar was amazing. My first grade class was mesmerized.” – Kara


“We loved your webinar!!!” – Lynn

“Offerings like this that let us easily combine art and library time are very truly just what we need. Thank you both for being creative, open-minded, and…cost-effective, to boot. We will be back for Fire Truck in November!” – Heather

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Shanda McCloskey, Children's Illustrator & Author