• Books,  Smart Dummies,  Uncategorized

    Review of Teach Your Giraffe to Ski

    Inside of my copy of Teach Your Girafee to Ski!

    “Teach Your Giraffe To Ski” is a fantastically fun story about a child teaching their giraffe to ski. The story is written by Viviane Elbee and illustrated by Danni Gowdy. I picked up this copy because Viviane is one of my wonderful critique partners! Unfortunately (or fortunately) she had submitted and had this book accepted before we were in a critique group together! I can not claim to have helped her with this one, but she obviously didn’t need my help, because she wrote a wonderful story! 

    This is one book I’m happy to have on my shelf. I was so excited that my local indie bookstore could get the book in. Since Viviane lives so far away she sent me a lovely bookplate which I love. My kids were so excited to get this book as a gift for Christmas!



    This story is written in the second person. I don’t know that “Teach Your Giraffe to Ski” could have been written as well in a different P.O.V. I’m not sure how many other kids books are written in the second person. The second person usually doesn’t work for most books. It’s  especially hard for picture books to use the third person, but Viviane did a wonderful job writing this book. 

    I love the humor in this book. The illustrations and words meld perfectly together to make this a laugh out loud story! One thing about the story, be sure to read this on a full stomach. All the french fry and pizza talk was making me hungry. Be sure to have lots of french fries and pizza before starting this book! Especially pizza, pizza, pizza. That word is used a lot in this book. 

    My toddler wants you to get this book!


    I love the color scheme in this book. The colors are cool and perfect for a winter scene. I love the beautiful soft colors.

    All the characters have big, beautiful, outlines. It makes the whole story more comical. I also love how Danni makes the images so expansive. I believe that there is a whole wonderful world beyond the confines of this book.

    The expressions on the characters faces are priceless. Especially the poor child’s face who is just trying to get the giraffe to ski. It’s a very big task teaching a giraffe to ski!

    Buy the Book

    Buy the Book: https://vivianeelbee.com/wheretobuytygts.html

    Viviane Elbee’s Website: http://vivianeelbee.com/

    More about the book: http://vivianeelbee.com/teachgiraffetoski.html

    If you can’t afford to buy this book consider leaving a review or requesting your library buy this book!

  • Smart Dummies,  Uncategorized,  Writing

    Marla Lesage — Picture Book Layout

    To start out the community blog posting, Marla Lesage has found a great post on her site. This is all about picture book layout! You can find out more about this on her blog post here: https://marlalesage.com/2019/08/12/picture-books-length-layout/

    Have an art process you want to share with the rest of the Smart Dummies community? Let me know below or go to my contact me page!

  • Smart Dummies,  Writing

    A New Cinderella Story

    I want to give some more information about taking a Public Domain story and making it into your own story. You don’t need to edit the story. If the story is written by a specific person you would put them as a writer on your book. The Cinderella I’m using in this example was published by George Routledge and Sons. The author of the story is anonymous. You can find a copy of the story here in many formats:  https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/23303 

    This story is very close to that of Disney’s Cinderella. I’m going to be transcribing my notes under each picture in case you have trouble seeing the pictures or reading my writing. If you can’t read the picture please click the link above and download a version you can read! If you’ve read/seen Cinderella you will not need to download the story to understand these notes.

     Want to join Smart Dummies? Here is the link so you can sign up: https://www.daniduck.com/register-for-smart-dummies-2019/


    Before the story think about what can be changed. Can the setting be different? How about the style? Could this be a steampunk Cinderella or Cinderella in space? (Like Interstellar Cinderella by Deborah Underwood and Illustrated by Meg Hunt.)

    Which details are important for your story? I highlighted a lot of things I felt were “important”. Using the quotation marks because some of them were less important and more iconic in the way we think of Cinderella. Also to see what could be changed in the story. 

    History Highlights: Did her mom really need to die? Did her step sisters need to be terrible?

    Text says “She bore all her troubles with patience”. How boring is this? Should she have been patient and internalize all her struggles? I don’t know if that’s a good lesson.

    The Ball:  How could my ball be different?

    The Godmother: Is there something else she could be?

    Description of Cinderella’s Carriage: Does she need all this stuff?

    Description of Cinderella’s Clothing: Could her shoes be something else? What else could she leave behind? Maybe she doesn’t need to leave anything behind.

    Clock Striking 12: Could a different limit (time or otherwise) work just as well? Maybe she’s not limited but has another reason to leave. What would have happened if she had stayed.

    The Entrance: I used orange for the part of the Prince welcoming Cinderella and how everyone was amazed by her. We get it, she’s pretty. Does that even matter? What if she was ordinary?

    The Prince: The prince seems to be more of a background character in this story. Which is weird because Cinderella falls for him. What did the prince say to Cinderella at the ball. How is he so important and yet completely unimportant. What if his role was bigger? What if he was vital to the story?


    Lost Slipper: I didn’t write notes on this, but the prince says he’s going to marry whoever can wear the slipper. He talked to Cinderella two nights in a row. That’s a bit much!

    Pocket Slipper: Cinderella has the other slipper in her pocket. I’m wondering if some other move could be just as impactful.

    Final Thoughts: How much can ge changed in this story and it still be seen as Cinderella? Does the story need to be seen as Cinderella. You might get your inspiration from a fairy tale like Cinderella but it could end up your story is not like the original. That’s okay too!

  • Smart Dummies

    Pre-Smart Dummies Schedule August 12-17th

    Pre-Smart Dummies is going to run a little slow this year. Honestly the whole event will be running slower. I want to make sure that more time is given to actually get a dummy done. This week we are working on story. Today and tomorrow I want you to look through the stories you’ve written. If you can’t find a book you like, then find a fairy tale, folktale, nursery rhyme ect you want to make. You can find public domain stores at the Gutenberg Project: https://www.gutenberg.org/

    If you are using a story that’s not yours, please make sure it’s in the public domain. Anything published before January 1st, 1924 is now in the public domain.


     This Week’s Schedule:

    Aug 12-13: Chose your story. If you have a story great! If not you can choose a fairy tale, folk tale or other story.

    Aug 14-15: Editing your story (or rewriting an old story).

    Aug 16-17: Plan Your Pages (page 4).


    I need to make a lot of edits on the Smart Dummies Schedule part of the planner. For now the planner can be found here: https://secureservercdn.net/


    Make sure to register for Pre-Smart Dummies here: https://www.daniduck.com/register-for-smart-dummies-2019/


  • Events,  Smart Dummies

    Pre-Smart Dummies Starts Now

    To sign up for Smart Dummies go here: https://www.daniduck.com/register-for-smart-dummies-2019and be sure to sign up for emails!

    This year Smart Dummies is going to be a bit different. I’m going to work to make this more of a community event! I’m hoping we can help each other to make stronger dummies. Not only that but I want as many people as possible to actually finish their dummies this year! 

    What’s leaving Smart Dummies 2019?

    Besides being on this new web address Smart Dummies will not be having guest and likely not prizes this year. I will be removing the calendar from the Smart Dummies booklet.

    I’ve had to think hard about this, because I don’t have time to run it like I have in previous years. However I’m hoping what we lose will be regained in new parts of the event.

    What’s Staying the Same?

    We’ll still be having critique groups, badges, and the Smart Dummies digital workbook will be back soon! Weekly posts will let you know what we are doing all week long!

    What’s New?

    I’m hoping to get a few more people helping out with Process Posts (see below). These posts will be hosted on other blogs with links from my blog. I’m hoping to have (or find) answers to all of your Dummy Creation Questions! There will be more action on the Facebook Group (BTW everyone is welcome to post non-promotional material there). There is the possibility of a twitter/video chats. And maybe a few surprises. I will be adjusting the calendar in the Smart Dummies booklet to reflect the different subjects we are covering.

    Process Posts

    The post below is something I’ve already posted on Facebook. I’m looking for help with process posts. Do you have any of these posts already on your blog? Great, just let me know, send me a link and photo from your post and I’ll share it during Smart Dummies! 

    Looking for people who have a technique or process they’d like to share. Your post about this does not have to be on my blog (but it can be). It can be something from an old post of yours. Here are some of the subjects I’m looking for, but it doesn’t have to be limited to these:
    • Turning Public Domain Stories into Picture Books
    • Marking up a Script for Illustration
    • Researching Images
    • Doodling
    • Character Design
    • Character Emotions
    • Thumbnails
    • Loose Page Drafts
    • Preparing Substrates (traditional artists)
    • Any Posts About Technique
    • Anything Else to do with Art or Dummies
  • Books

    Odd One Out

    Nic Stone’s, “Odd One Out” isn’t what I expected. Mostly unexpected because when Matthew Winner talked with Nic about her book on his podcast I missed the part about the book being divided into three point of views. It threw me off, but the story is put together so well! Once I realized this it was fantastic, though I do want to hear more from each character’s POV. I have heard there will be a sequel! If you want to hear Matthew Winner’s Children’s Book Podcast #508 with Nic Stone go here: http://www.matthewcwinner.com/single-post/Nic-Stone


    There are three main characters in this story. They are Courtney, Rae and Juniper. Courney is a basketball player and off season cheerleader. He starts off the story and it’s soon revealed that he compares all girls he dates to Juniper. Rae loves word puzzles and becomes a flyer with a bit of help from Courney. She’s had a boyfriend in the past and is most likely straight, but that doesn’t stop Juniper from crushing on her. Juniper is confident and loves music. She is determined to only give the charms of her bracelet (each representing an intimate act) to the right girl. 

    inside book

    The story has all the elements of an average love triangle in this book, but this is not your average love triangle. In your average love triangle A likes B, and B likes C and sometimes C likes A or B. In this love triangle Courtney likes Juniper. Juniper likes Rae. But does C like B, or A? Could B like A even though B just likes girls? There is a lot of questions characters ask themselves about their sexuality. The answers to these questions aren’t as clear as they might appear at the beginning of the book. While lots of things are explained, none of the answers feel set in stone at the end. 

    There is so much that Nic packed into one book. All of the characters are dealing with lots of different life issues outside of romance. I feel like each character goes through a full journey of self discovery that’s intertwined and also independent of the other characters. 

    The characters are all fully developed in this book. There are side characters that may seem shallow at first, but all of the side characters feel real. Nic Stone does an amazing job making the teens in the book feel like real teens and their actions make sense.  There were things in the book that made me scream at the book “DON’T DO THAT” and the characters don’t listen. Sex does happen. Bad things happen. “Odd One Out” is such a good read!

    I am overwhelmed with how much I liked this book. I wish I had books like this when I was younger. It’s definitely one of my MUST READ books for everyone. If you’ll excuse me I’m going to go order “Dear Martin” from my library.

    Buy the Book

    Buy the Book: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781101939567?aff=penguinrandom

    Nic Stone’s Website: http://www.nicstone.info/

    More about the book: https://www.getunderlined.com/books/534051/odd-one-out-by-nic-stone/

    If you can’t afford to buy this book consider leaving a review or requesting your library buy this book!

    book back
  • Books

    The Prince and the Dressmaker

    My aim is to review one book every week. I will be doing a lot of picture books, because I usually have time to read a few of those. I’m only going to be talking about books I like. I’m also going to try to stick with books written in the past couple of years. I read “The Prince and the Dressmaker” by Jen Wang, and it gave me the push I needed to start reviewing books. This book just happens to be an awesome graphic novel!

    This is my first step into doing book reviews, and I hope I almost had the text done for this post before I said anything about the actual story. I also realize that I sent this out without any images. I’m a bit new at this so stop judging me! 



    Not long after Frances is offered a job by a secret patron who turns out to be the prince. Sebastian (the prince) wants Frances to make dresses for him. What happens next is a wonderful journey of self discovery for the both of them. 

    The story starts with Frances a dressmaker. What I love about Frances is that she seems to look into people’s souls and knows how to make dresses that are perfectly them. She quickly gets into trouble by making the perfect scandalous dress for a Lady.

    It is a roller coaster of feelings throughout the story. All the bad things that can happen, do happen! There is so much nice in the book that it all balances out in the end. 


    The Prince and the Dressmaker has everything 7 year old me loved when deciding adult me would become a fashion designer. That obviously never happened. (I didn’t even try, but I know I’d be an awesome fashion designer.)

    There are so many beautiful frilly dresses in this book! I love them all but my favorites are Lady Sophia Rohan’s dress (page 12), The first dress she makes for Sebastian/Lady Crystallia (page 50) and the magical dress (page 266). 

    Jen’s whimsical art style is absolutely perfect. I don’t know that I would change anything. Well I would want a second book, or just another book with Jen creating dresses! I adore everything about this book and will be looking for more books by Jen Wang in the future!

    Get the Book

    Buy the Book: https://www.powells.com/book/the-prince-and-the-dressmaker-9781626723634

    Jen Wang’s Website: http://jenwang.net/

    More about the book: http://jenwang.net/archives/939

    If you can’t afford to buy this book consider leaving a review or requesting your library buy this book!

  • Uncategorized

    Smart Dummies is Coming Soon!

    This year Smart Dummies is going to be a bit different. My year has had a lot of unexpected twists and turns. My options were either to skip the year, delay it (which caused problems last time), or rethink the event.

    The more I thought about it the more I realized that it might be a good idea to change up Smart Dummies a bit. The changes that will be happening this year may or may not be a permanent change.

    This year I’d like Smart Dummies to be more community oriented. I’d like to be able to spend more time with the community and for us to help out eachother.

    Over the next week I’m going to gather some people who are willing to show some process posts about their work. These can be old posts you’ve already made, and hosted either on this blog or your own. Below is a copy of the post I made in the Smart Dummies group:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/548159692008535/

    Contact me below, using my contact form, or DM me on social media if you are interested:

    Looking for people who have a technique or process they’d like to share. Your post about this does not have to be on my blog (but it can be). It can be something from an old post of yours. Here are some of the subjects I’m looking for, but it doesn’t have to be limited to these:
    • Turning Public Domain Stories into Picture Books
    • Marking up a Script for Illustration
    • Researching Images
    • Doodling
    • Character Design
    • Character Emotions
    • Thumbnails
    • Loose Page Drafts
    • Preparing Substrates (traditional artists)
    • Any Posts About Technique
    • Anything Else to do with Art or Dummies
  • Art

    The Beginning of Something Kitty

    I’ve been working on some new images for my portfolio. This is part of a 6 page comic. It’s the upper right hand corner of the 3rd page. I’m not sure which program I’m going to use to make the font for this. Right now it’s just hand drawn and not quite right. Looking into options now. Hopefully I’ll have more art to share soon. I’m off to work on some values for this art!

    Cat computer Goals 2 ur corner