• 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