Monthly Archives: June 2024

Happy Birthday, Tumble!


Hip hip hooray! What an amazing first year for Tumble!

Happy Birthday to Tumble which turned 1 year earlier this month. For a lyrical picture book about a tumbleweed, this book has had quite the year! To recap, over the last year TUMBLE has received starred reviews from:

  • School Library Journal
  • Kirkus
  • Publisher's Weekly.
photo by alethea kontis, tumble in kansas
(Photo: Alethea Kontis)

Tumble was chosen as an American Library Notable Book. It was also selected as A Best Children's Book of the Year by Bank Street College.

This tumbleweed picture book was listed as one of Chicago Public Library's Best of the Best picture books as well as an Evanston Public Library Blueberry Honor book. It was in the Scholastic Book Fairs for a split second, and lots of family sent me photos to share. I love it when people spot Tumble in the wild!

It was also the featured book at a beautiful literary event in Florida and holds a very special place in my heart.

Happy Birthday, sweet book! Keep on tumblin'!

Teachers and parents, if you're looking for activities, STEAM tie-ins, and more, you can find worksheets here.

The Grumpy Artist

grumpy kid hiding behind art

When I first started writing this a few weeks ago, I thought it would be about celebrating the one year birthday of my book, TUMBLE, sharing my new art, paintings, and summer plans. But, so much has happened in the land of social media and how it affects artists that I could not gloss over the chilling effect it has had on how I share my work.

The backstory: Meta (the parent company of Facebook and Instagram) has decided to scrape all existing images to train artificial intelligence engines (and probably resell it to users in the form of a new app or whatever). At the same time, Adobe (parent company of Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign) has also decided to scrape the usage data and art created by millions of its users industry-standard software to continue to train its own artificial intelligence engines. Adobe was/is likely already scraping our data. 

Last year, they rolled out Adobe Firefly, a generative A.I. tool where users could generate entire sections of their compositions using text prompts. I think most artists signed up to use the toolset that Adobe provides to make creative work and meet industry standards for design and illustration. I highly doubt any of us signed up for Adobe's subscription to feed some engine with our creative work, only to then have it regurgitated back to us for the low-low price of a monthly subscription fee. I've been thinking hard about whether I want to continue to share my art digitally and whether I want to use Adobe tools to make my work. It's a very hard pill to swallow after literally decades using and mastering these tools.

Jump here if you don't want the backstory. All of this artificial intelligence drama has affected how free I feel sharing my work on the internet. It has further solidified my own thinking that I should go back to blogging and dedicate more time to making in-person connections, doing school visits, and writing.

Whenever I start thinking too much about all of this, I just get really down. The solution tends to be making art by hand and "touching grass," as well as focusing on telling stories through my art and words. I guess that's what I'll be doing more of in the future.

Motivation: the look on a child's face when they read one of my books and it sparks curiosity or connection. That makes it worth it to me to keep going. Hope it does the same for you.

One word photo challenge: Abandoned…

Gingerbread Castle – Hamburg, NJ

Greystone Psychiatric Hospital, NJ