#IMWAYR – August 21, 2016

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date, and adapted by Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts with a children’s/YA focus. The Sunday Post is hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer. These weekly roundups are a great way to discover new blogs and bloggers, share titles, and add to your ever-growing to-read list.

Hot…hot hot hot hot hot….It has been HOT. It was 30 degrees yesterday. THIRTY DEGREES. (That’s 86 degrees for you Yankees). Sure, compared to the East Coast heat wave that might not sound all that impressive (actually I was surprised when I did the conversion,it feels so much hotter than a measly little 86 degrees….), but here in the air conditioning-less Pacific Northwest, 30 is HOT.

OK, weather-related rant over and done with, on to the books!

This week I…..

Shared some ways to use Shaun Tan’s wonderfully weird picture book Rules of Summer  in a class or library group setting.

rules of summer cover

  • Talked about some of my favourite book settings, and completely forgot to mention others (I blame it on my melting brain….).

TTT Top Ten Tuesday The Book Wars

I participated in another edition of Nonfiction Wednesday, talking about The Toad, another edition in one of my favourite nonfiction series for young reader, Elise Gravel’s Disgusting Critters!

I co-hosted another Diverse Kids Lit roundup – be sure to check it out for some fantastic titles and inspiring posts!


My British Columbia-based Reading Staycation experience continues with one of my favourite story time books, the very funny Grumpy Bird by Vancouver-based Jeremy Tankard. Who can’t relate to this grumpy bird who wakes up on the wrong side of the bed?

I shook my Reading Staycation series up a bit with an interview with the fantastic, super-talented and super-duper nice Vancouver-based illustrator Dawn Lo. I love being able to support local, independent artists and creative entrepreneurs – the artistic life is a rewarding one, but it can also be pretty challenging, so let’s all support each other!


I’m currently enjoying a new-to-me Stephen King novel, The Cell.  The premise is pretty cheesy – a mysterious event dubbed “the pulse” has turned cell phone users into terrifying zombie-like creatures. Cell phone usage = zombification. Not really the most imaginative (or subtle….) premise there (tell me what you really think about young people, Mr. King…), but if you can overlook that aspect of the novel it really it quite enjoyable (so far anyway).  King is a thoughtful, clever writer who balances shocking horror and character-drive story to create very readable experiences.  But oh MAN is this novel done a major disservice by its unintentionally HILARIOUS back copy…

From international bestseller Stephen King, a high-concept, ingenious and terrifying story about the mayhem unleashed when a pulse from a mysterious source transforms all cell phone users into homicidal maniacs. There’s a reason cell rhymes with hell.

Cell: A Novel by [King, Stephen]

So, there’s my week in a nutshell! Hope everyone has been having an AMAZING week – stay cool and hydrated everybody (unless you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, you lucky duckies)!


Dawn Lo – A Reading Staycation

For this instalment of my blog feature Beautiful British Columbia : A Reading Staycation I’m going to shake things up a bit. Instead of profiling a book by a B.C.-based author or illustrator I’m sharing an interview with a talented local illustrator (who also happens to be a coworker of mine!) – Dawn Lo.


Q. Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hello everyone! My name is Dawn Lo and I am currently living and working in Vancouver as an illustrator. I love creating things – from making handmade books and pins to illustrating children’s books. When I am not drawing at my home studio, I work at the library where I can surround myself with more books and people who love books! I also enjoy bike rides, hikes, the Office, and taking care of my little patio garden. 

Q. Tell us about some of the projects you’ve worked on.

One of the most excited projects was creating artwork for the Richmond public art program, where I get to create a series of illustrations for the theme: Small Monuments to Food. The images are reproduced and displayed around illuminated columns supporting the city’s public transit.

Another project that I really enjoyed working on was creating a set of illustrations for a publisher in Hong Kong for them to create paper goods. It is the fifth or sixth time that we collaborated so they trusted me and gave me lots of freedom through out the process. I really appreciated that!


Q. You’ve illustrated a new picture book, “The Rainbow Garden is My Friend” by Amy Takeda. Tell us a bit about the book.

“Rainbow Garden is My Friend” is the first children’s book that I illustrated, published by Free Spirit Books in November 2015. The story is about a quirky boy’s quest to overcome his biggest fear. It has been great working closely with the author, Amy. I know that for most illustrators and authors, they do not even get to see or talk to each other while working on a book. It was a pleasant experience where we got to work on ideas as a team to make the illustration and text go well together!

After I graduated, one of my goals was to illustrate a picture book so this is like a little stepping stone to me.

Q. Where do you get the ideas for your illustrations?

My childhood, my surroundings and just little moment that I like to capture! I am currently obsessed with Grandparents’ fashion. I get stressed out from time to time but I think sometimes you just need to keep drawing and loosen up a bit *magic will happen~* I go on drawing dates with my fellow artist friends too! This really helps to push me when I am feeling lazy at my studio.

Q. What techniques do you use to make illustrations?

My favourite medium is gouache! Even though I am most comfortable with graphite, gouache makes great colours and has this awesome chalky texture that I like. Most of the time, I like to mix it up with graphite, pencil crayons and watercolour to create interesting visuals.


Q. What’s the best part about being an artist? What’s the worst part?

There is always good and bad in things. The best part of being an artist is definitely being able to do what I love as a job. There is a lack of structure in the freelance field but that is something I am willing to work with. I like making a list of tasks every morning. Crossing the list off gives me a certain kind of satisfaction. Create a structure that works for you!

Q. Can you tell us about some of the projects you’re working on now?

I’m currently working on a couple personal projects. This first half of 2016 has been about commissions, artisan markets and promoting events for Rainbow Garden is My Friend. I would love to spend more time developing my personal work. One exciting piece of news is that I got accepted in the Mount Revelstoke National Park Artist Program so I will be at their studio working on fun stuff!

Q. What advice would you give to students interested in a career in art?

“Sometimes I’ll start a sentence and I don’t even know where it’s going, I just hope I find it along the way.” – Michael G. Scott

For the last question, I don’t know if I am qualified to answer haha I am still figuring out stuff for myself and everyone has different goals as an artist/ illustrator, so I quoted Michael Scott from the Office. There is this insecurity of putting your art/ yourself out there and letting everyone see, examine and judge it. Even though personally I haven’t fully overcome this fear yet, I think as long as I keep trying in some way, I will eventually get there… Something like that, haha!

Thanks so much for stopping by my blog and sharing your thoughts, Dawn! For more examples of Dawn’s artwork, be sure to follow her on Instagram and on Tumblr!