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Storytelling in a box … or rather… in a blog post!

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

How-to-draw A Rose (step by step)

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.

Bring Ballet Into Your Classroom!

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

My illustration process for “Little Red Writing Hood and the Big Bad Editor”

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

A Book That Fits In A Stocking!

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

Fire Truck vs. Dragon Webinar (#2)!

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

Special Virtual Presentations and Workshops with FIRE TRUCK VS. DRAGON creators: Chris Barton and Shanda McCloskey

Filed under: Uncategorized | October 7, 2020


We (Chris Barton and Shanda McCloskey) love hanging out with educators and their students, and welcome the opportunity to plan a special FIRE TRUCK VS. DRAGON visit for your whole school or individual class(es).

Build-Your-Own-Visit:


All visits start with a quick intro to the book and its creators (5 minutes)
Choose 3 or 4 more sections to be included in your presentation:


– Live reading of FIRE TRUCK VS. DRAGON (10 minutes)
– Let’s talk about “expectations” in/out of the book (10 minutes)
– A peek behind the scenes of FT vs D (10 minutes)
– Opposites! (10 minutes)
– Dragon or Fire Truck drawing demo for kids to follow along (10 minutes)
– Q&A session with prepared or on-the-spot questions (10 minutes)


Great for grades Pre-K all the way through 5th, as the presentations are tailored to the ages. If you can’t decide which parts to include, we can choose for you (based on our favorites) if you like.


Price: $450 (35-45 min). If your school is willing to promote a signed book sale (online), we are happy to take $50 off the visit!

“Friendly Opposites” Single-Day Writing Workshop:


In this single-day workshop, Chris will lead students through a collaborative process of creating their own “friendly opposites” story while Shanda illustrates it in real time! Best for small groups, grades 1st – 5th.


Price: $450 (45-55 min). If your school is willing to promote a signed book sale (online), we are happy to take $50 off the visit!

“Creating in a Team” Multi-Day Writing & Illustrating Workshop:


In this 3-day virtual workshop, students get to spend individual and combined time with Chris and Shanda, learn/practice storytelling techniques (in words and pictures), and get a taste of what it’s like to work on a story with others! Best for small groups in grades 3rd – 5th.


Price: $850 (3 sessions). If your school is willing to promote a signed book sale (online), we are happy to take $50 off the visit!

  • Day 1: Students will create a short piece of writing with author, Chris Barton. (45 min)
  • Day 2: With illustrator, Shanda McCloskey, students will create a single illustration for a fellow student’s writing from the previous day. (45 min)
  • Day 3: Shanda, Chris, and the class virtually gather to see some of the collaborations that students made and any last Q and A. (45 min)

Have questions? Ready to set up a visit? 

Contact Chris at https://chrisbarton.info/contact-me.html or Shanda at theshanda@yahoo.com.



Here’s a printable version of this info: 

Bring the creators of Fire Truck vs. Dragon into your classroom on October 8, 2020!

Filed under: Uncategorized | October 2, 2020

Dear educators (in schools or at home),

Have you ever wanted to bring an author to your students, but didn’t know where to start or simply couldn’t afford it? Or maybe you’re just slammed with other priorities, and thoughts of organizing an author visit makes your head want to explode. Well, I’ve got a treat for you!… 

I’m pumped to be partnering up with the incredible author, of Fire Truck vs. Dragon, Chris Barton, to bring you a LIVE, super affordable, accessible from anywhere, 2-for-1 punch awesome author visit webinar for YOUR students! It only costs $10 per classroom to attend, and will also be available as a recording afterward if you aren’t able to join the live event.

Chris (aka Fire Truck) and I (aka Dragon) will do a read-aloud, show you step-by-step how to draw dragon (so have paper and pencil handy), share insights into how we made our new book, and answer your “burning” questions.

You can register here: https://tinyurl.com/FTvD100820

Hope to see you there!

Also, please feel free to share this info with your fellow educators, your child’s teachers and librarians, and homeschooling families and groups.

So much love,
Shanda

I’m here when you’re ready!

Filed under: Uncategorized | September 28, 2020

Early Graphic Novel Panel with Mika Song and Erica Rand Silverman

Filed under: Uncategorized | September 15, 2020

“Donut” Miss This Graphic Novel Panel! With author-illustrator, Mika Song, and agent, Erica Rand Silverman

Register here for this free event!

Meet author-illustrator, Mika Song, and her agent, Erica Rand Silverman (of Stimola Literary Studio) and hear them talk about Mika’s early graphic novel, DONUT FEED THE SQUIRRELS, and their thoughts on the growing graphic novel scene! You’ll also get a peek into Mika’s creating process including her advice on writing/submitting a script for graphic novels and how she created a compelling plot with fewer words. In the Q & A following, the panelists will be happy to answer questions about writing and illustrating graphic novels, picture books, and more! This panel is for anyone interested in writing and illustrating for kids, and particularly those with an interest in learning industry scoop about writing and/or illustrating graphic novels.

BONUS: Mika and Erica are giving away (2) portfolio reviews to illustrator registrants, and there will be door prizes for writers too! The recording of this event will be available for 1 month afterward.

I’m so excited to be helping organize this event with my local chapter of SCBWI. See you there!

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Shanda McCloskey, Children's Illustrator & Author