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Artist in Residence – Queen Mary School

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Last week, Holman had the great pleasure of completing a full week as Artist in Residence at Queen Mary Elementary School on the west side of Vancouver. He gave presentations about his work on Monday, and then spent the next four days teaching hundreds of students to felt.

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Students in grades 3 to 7 needle felted, while the K to 2s learned to wet felt. The little ones made felt by wet felting in a Ziploc bag. Not only were the final results beautiful, it was pretty much mess proof!

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There were hundreds of needle felted pieces made by the older students. Here are just a few examples, starting with three students who honoured Star Wars Epic Yarns by felting stormtroopers. Ambitious and mazing work for first timers!

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And here are some of other needle-felted pieces. The subtle yet beautiful detailing on the stem of the pumpkin is terrific, and shows real artistry.

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And this octopus is just too cute!

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The students were really proud of their work, and rightly so. Here is staff at Queen Mary getting ready for the big felt show at the end of the week. There were literally hundreds of student projects on display. At the right front of the picture, you can see wet felted pieces turned into bow ties for Father’s Day cards!

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And here are some students checking out the exhibition.

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By the way, Queen Mary is a school with a view! Check out these photos shot from classrooms and school hallways.

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The students really enjoyed Holman’s visit, as can be seen from these journal entries by some of the grade 1 students.

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Holman enjoyed his week at Queen Mary immensely, and he would like to thank the enthusiastic teachers, staff, volunteers and students for making the week so successful. Finally, a big thanks to the teacher-librarian who invited Holman to her school. Aren’t librarians the best?

Odds & Ends

Lots of fun stuff has been happening in recent weeks! Here’s a roundup!

Holman has been doing lots of school visits around the Lower Mainland, inspiring kids and teachers alike to tap into their creative side. A warm welcome is always appreciated!

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On Star Wars Day, May the Fourth, Holman had the privilege of presenting at a Curiosity Collider event on Commercial Drive. Here’s Holman’s presentation in full:

On May 11, Holman presented to hundreds of grade 2 kids in West Vancouver at the West Vancouver Public Library’s Booktopia event. Before his presentation started, he even had movie-theatre style trivia questions come up on screen about him and his work! The kids loved it.

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Holman also recently gave presentations and workshops at Southridge Junior School in Surrey, BC. Look at the amazing things first-time felters can make in 90 minutes!

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Jack and Holman have just sent oversized posters off to the BookPeople of Moscow for their Art Walk event starting in June. Here’s an image of the Oz poster we’ve sent. There will be four Cozy Classics and four Star Wars Epic Yarn prints in store for several months, so check them out if you’re in Idaho!

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Recently, Holman walked through Vancouver’s premiere children’s bookstore, Kidsbooks, only to find that no copies of Star Wars Epic Yarns were in the Star Wars section of the store. He was a little disappointed, until he walked by the bestsellers shelf right by the cashiers!

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Finally, it’s great to see that Star Wars Epic Yarns is having its own little life out in the world. A blogger for the School Library Journal reports that at a Michigan elementary school library, Star Wars Epic Yarns: The Empire Strike Back was one of the top 10 circulated picture books of 2016! See the whole list here.Cozy Classics Star Wars Epic Yarns Library

Video of Holman’s talk at IV15!

Interesting Vancouver is a fascinating gathering of the curious and unexpected. More than another “sage on the stage” lecture series, Interesting Vancouver is an event that celebrates the uncelebrated, expands the collective vision of what is uniquely possible, and gives people an opportunity to discover interesting new creative pursuits they can apply in their own lives.

Holman had the very special opportunity to participate in Interesting Vancouver 2015. With no further ado, here’s his talk!

Many thanks to United Nathan Productions for putting together such a slick little video!

Jack’s Fall 2015 Roundup

Jack had a busy travel schedule this fall. In addition to The Original Art exhibit in New York City and a First Book event at PS82 in Queens, he participated in four other events throughout the state.

New York ComicCon

His adventures began in October when he traveled to the Javits Center in the Big Apple for New York ComicCom. His first stop was the Chronicle booth, where he signed copies of Star Wars Epic Yarns for fans of all ages, including the Joker and Harley Quinn!

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Next he participated on a panel entitled “Geek-constructing Fandoms” with Erik Didrikson, creator of Pop Sonnets; Ryan Britt, author of Luke Skywalker Can’t Read; Caseen Gains, expert on Back to the Future; Colleen Gleason, author of the Stoker & Holmes series, among others; and David J. Peterson, creator of languages for Game of Thrones. That’s David appearing to look grumpy—but he says he was just listening attentively!

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Here’s David and Jack happily signing books afterward—proof that they were fast friends!

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Medaille College

The following week, Jack traveled to Medaille College in Buffalo, NY at the invitation of Assistant Professor Alice Villaseñor, a Jane Austen scholar, and Associate Professor Mary Louise Hill, director of The Write Thing Reading Series. There he took listeners behind the scenes of Cozy Classics and Star Wars Epic Yarns and signed books afterward.

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The National Museum of Play

In November, Jack ventured to Rochester, NY for In Another Galaxy Weekend at The National Museum of Play, where figures, spaceships, and sets from Star Wars Epic Yarns are currently on display (link to our other blog). Jack spent the weekend greeting fans, signing books, and watching the public delight in our lit images and felted figures.

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Our display was so enthralling that even the Dark Side couldn’t resist!

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We’re not exactly sure what these Jedis were thinking, but hopefully that the Force was strong with our Star Wars Epic Yarns display!

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That weekend, Jack also met Dave Pollot, creator of Star Wars/thrift store parodies!

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Many thanks to Corrie Kraai of the National Museum of Play for making it all happen!

JASNA – New York Metropolitan Region

Jack capped off his busy semester with a visit to the General Society Library in New York City, where he gave a presentation to The Jane Austen Society of North America – New York Metropolitan Region. The audience oohed and aahed as he gave an intimate behind-the-scenes look at the making of Cozy Classics.

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Janeites also got a special treat—a visit from Lizzy, Darcy, Frank, and Harriet!

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Thanks to Kerri Spennicchia and all the members of JASNA-NYC for a delightful afternoon!

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That’s a wrap! Here’s to more adventures in 2016!

The Force Awakens primer!

Need a refresher on the original trilogy before you see Star Wars: The Force Awakens? Here’s a Star Wars Epic Yarns one in 15 seconds and 36 words!

 

#GiveBooks with First Book

On Friday, December 11, Jack visited The Hammond School, PS82 in Queens, NY. There, he helped give away hundreds of copies of Star Wars Epic Yarns that our publisher, Chronicle Books, had generously donated to First Book, a non-profit organization that gives new books to children in need. The students were primed for the visit and eager to meet Jack!

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Jack then gave a presentation that took students through the original trilogy and behind the scenes of the making of Epic Yarns. There were so many students that he gave the presentation twice, to two packed auditoriums! Each time a new character appeared in the story, he would put a hand to his ear and the students would call out the character’s name.

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Then to the surprise and delight—and fear!—of students, Darth Vader arrived! Thankfully, this Darth came bearing hugs as well as books, which he and Jack helped to give out to all the kids. Thanks to Ted Moy of the Empire City Garrison of the 501st Legion for coming out when two other Darths couldn’t make it!

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For years to come, these kids will be talking about the day Darth Vader showed up at their school! It was a day to remember for Jack, too, who was thrilled to sign books, make new fans, and see so much joy and excitement. Thanks to Lara Starr of Chronicle Books, Julia Hornaday of First Book, AnnMarie O’Neill of PS82, and everyone else who helped to make it happen. And remember, #GiveBooks when you can!

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Photo credit: Tim Ryan Smith Photography

A galaxy far, far away… Haida Gwaii!

Holman had the privilege of going up to Haida Gwaii last week to give artists talks and felting workshops. He was invited by Beng Favreau of Literacy Haida Gwaii and Kiki van der Heiden of Sun Studio. Kiki is an incredible visual and fiber artist who created the felt artwork for the picture book Taan’s Moons in collaboration with children from Haida Gwaii. Holman gives a quick visual tour of his trip.

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Haida Gwaii was named one of National Geographic Traveler’s 20 must-see places in the world for 2015, and I was lucky enough to be invited there! The natural landscape is simply stunning, as evidenced by this sunrise right outside the home I was staying in:

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The first stop was the local high school in Queen Charlotte, where I gave a talk about my work to an art class. It was a chance to share my artistic process with students, hopefully inspire them, and plug the youth felting workshop I was giving the same night!

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The afternoon turned into a “crafternoon”, as I visited Sun Studio and tried my hand at wet felting for the first time. Kiki taught me some wet felting techniques that I will try and incorporate into the next Cozy Classics!

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The youth felting workshop in Queen Charlotte was held in the evening, and the keen gathering of young people tried their hand at making Jawas.

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The next day, the adults of Queen Charlotte got their opportunity to needle felt.

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We brought along other colours of wool in case any participant wanted to make a figure other than a Jawa, and Kiki took full advantage by making a figure of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mum!

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Afterwards, I gave another talk about my work:

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The next day, I set off with Beng for the long drive to Masset, where I gave two workshops back-to-back. First it was the adults’ turn:

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And here are some happy Jawa-makers!

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Again, some participants took full advantage of the opportunity to create non-Jawa figures, like this beautiful ballerina:

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Then it was time for the youth of Masset to take their turn. I was completely blown away by the skill and determination of the some of the young participants!

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I also managed to get some sightseeing and tourist-y activities in while I was in Haida Gwaii, including visiting this carving center were the carvers had been working full-time on this totem pole since June. Apparently, it can take up to 10,000 hours of labour to complete a single pole!

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Here are some of the breathtaking views around Queen Charlotte:

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Here I am relaxing with a book on my final night in Haida Gwaii, in the home generously offered to me by local Fran Fowler (doesn’t it look cozy?):

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It was an incredible trip that I won’t soon forget. Haawa (thank you in Haida) to Beng, Kiki and their families for their kindness and hospitality. The epilogue to the story is that my mother-in-law has already promised to fly the family up to Haida Gwaii for her 70th birthday in two years. So with any luck, it won’t be long before I’m up in Haida Gwaii again!

The Original Art Exhibition, NYC

We had the incredible honour of having our illustrations from Star Wars Epic Yarns: A New Hope selected for The Original Art exhibition curated by the Society of Illustrators, showcasing illustrations from the year’s best children’s books published in the U.S.

The jury saw fit to include us in the exhibition with the likes of Sophie Blackall, Eric Carle, Emma Chichester Clark, Mike Curato, Tony DiTerlizzi, Oliver Jeffers, Jon Klassen, Nikki McClure, Julie Morstad, Jerry Pinkney, Chris Raschka, Sergio Ruzzier, Peter Sis, Hervé Tullet and Mo Willems. Here’s the complete list of exhibitors. There were so many kidlit legends in the show that we had to pinch ourselves that we were there!

Holman headed to New York City from Vancouver, while Jack had the much shorter trip from Ithaca. Here’s a visual tour of what we got up to in the Big Apple.

After getting off the red-eye, Holman headed straight to The Museum of American Illustration at 63rd and Lexington to set up the Epic Yarns display. Not only did we have a backlit print in the show, but we were also asked to display two felt figures. Here’s Holman setting up the figures:

01_Holman_Wang_Setting_Up_The_Original_Art.jpgHere’s the display after it was set up:

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We decided to take in the exhibition before the crowds arrived for the reception, which proved to be a prescient move. Here’s Jack checking out the exhibition in a quiet moment:

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Before the reception, we met up with our agent, Emily Van Beek of Folio Jr. We had worked with Emily by phone and email, but had never met her. Meeting up in NYC was an opportunity that we couldn’t miss! Emily is an absolute dynamo and we couldn’t be happier to have her represent us.

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The reception for The Original Art show was definitely overly warm and loud, but there was an incredible atmosphere: artists, editors, agents, and other guests all enjoying the best in children’s illustration:

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We had the chance to meet many incredible authors / illustrators, including Sara Gillingham, who’s also from Vancouver. Not only was she in the show, but we had another connection: Sara is the original Cozy Classics book designer who helped our books look so beautiful!

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Here’s Holman with Kelly Light, author of one of his kids’ favorites books, Louise Loves Art:

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Holman also ran into Jon Klassen:

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After the reception, we went to a dinner / drinks event hosted by Chronicle Books, where Hervé Tullet signed books for Jack:

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Before leaving NYC, we visited HarperCollins‘ new offices near the Financial District, and met with editors there to discuss future book projects:

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It was amazing to see such beautiful, thoughtful, and exuberant children’s artwork at The Original Art exhibition (check out the show until December 23, 2015 if you’re in NYC!). The whole trip was very inspiring, and we can’t wait to get back to making kids books!

Star Wars Reads Day in Canada!

Holman hosts the ONLY official Star Wars Reads Day event in Canada! It will be held at 2:30 at Black Bond Books in Coquitlam Center on Saturday, October 10. Don’t miss this chance to get a behind-the-scenes look at how Star Wars Epic Yarns was made!

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The Original Art Exhibition

We’re thrilled to announce that artwork from Star Wars Epic Yarns: A New Hope has been selected for the 2015 Original Art Exhibition presented at the Museum of American Illustration in New York City! The Original Art is an annual exhibit run by the Society of Illustrators to showcase illustrations from the year’s best children’s books published in the U.S. This is a juried exhibition, and we’re beside ourselves that we’ve been included in an exhibition with the likes of Sophie Blackall, Eric Carle, Emma Chichester Clark, Mike Curato, Tony DiTerlizzi, Oliver Jeffers, Jon Klassen, Nikki McClure, Julie Morstad, Jerry Pinkney, Chris Raschka, Sergio Ruzzier, Peter Sis, Herve Tullet and Mo Willems. And little ol’ us! Wow! Here’s the complete list of exhibitors.

Holman is making the trip from Vancouver and Jack is making the trip from Ithaca for the reception and awards ceremony on October 29, 2015. If you’re going to be there, drop us a line. We’d love to connect in the Big Apple!

Here are some images of the exhibition from years past:

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