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My May 2017 Upper Bucks Free Press Article is out! Illustrating with the Papps

1 May

I write for the UBFP Newspaper!

 

I wanted to share the article I wrote for the Upper Bucks Free Press (the newspaper I write for) for the May 2017 issue! The online version was published. To see the online version of the newspaper, click HERE (see page 17).

Hope you enjoy it!

 

Illustrating with the Papps

 

by Erik Weibel

Robert and Lisa Papp are a husband-and-wife artistic duo! They work as professional book illustrators, but also tend to work on anything that involves painting. Lisa Papp has illustrated several picture books, and written a few as well. “Madeline Finn and the Library Dog”–a book she wrote and illustrated–has been nominated for several awards, including being a 2017 finalist for the Children’s Choice Book Award. Robert Papp always liked drawing, and his love of art flows through into his work. He creates art “for almost everything. And for anyone that needs his services.” He has drawn for cookbooks, advertisements, board games, and his art will even be featured on postage stamps in 2018.  I had the wonderful opportunity to interview these Bucks County artists.

When did the two of you realize that you both wanted to be professional illustrators?

Lisa: Even though Rob and I attended the same art school, we had different paths into illustration. As Rob will tell you, he was enamored with illustration in school. I was in love with fine art, and had no real interest in illustration. If you had told me then that I would be an illustrator, I would have thought you crazy. I adored fine art. I loved painting what I wanted, the way I wanted. And though I had deadlines…art shows to create work for, there was a great sense of freedom. Though Rob was focused on illustration, he also enjoyed fine art. We would paint all week preparing for shows on the weekend. When Saturday morning came, we would pack his Mercury Capri with our homemade art stands and all the framed art we had created that week and spend the afternoon at a beautiful park selling our work. Usually we did pretty well. This was the early 90’s, Rob and I were fresh out of school and it was a good time for fine art. People appreciated original paintings and were willing to buy them. It was great and I assumed that’s what I would be doing forever. But everything changes, and you have to change with it. When fine art took a hit, we had to shift.

 

So my path to illustration was a slow and winding one. When I got my first picture book, “Rudolph Shines Again”, I found a whole new joy in illustration. And today, writing my own stories, which I then get to illustrate, is everything I could dream of.

 

Rob:  I always drew. Ever since I was little. I drew Superman and Batman. Cartoon characters, Snoopy, and always drew pictures to accompany my book reports in school.  So it was no surprise that I wanted to be an “artist”, even though I didn’t know exactly what that meant.

 

In art school, that changed when I discovered exactly what an “illustrator” was.  I learned that someone actually hires you and pays you for your art. No longer did I have to create a piece of art first and then HOPE someone will buy it. 

The two of you paint in very different styles. Do you think that being involved in each other’s work has helped you grow as an artist?

Lisa: Yes, definitely. Just when I think I’ve created something impressive, I will see a piece that Rob is working on and think, “oh, I guess I’ve got to try a little harder.” It’s wonderful that we can give each other a fresh eye, and help when one of us is struggling with a piece. I feel very lucky indeed.

Rob:  In general, being around art is always inspiring, but having someone that inspires me IN THE SAME HOUSE is really neat. It takes a lot of pressure off knowing that when I have a question, the answer can be as close as the next room over. So many times when you are completely involved in a piece, you can be blinded as to what it needs. Lisa always has a great eye for what needs to be done when I can’t see it. I don’t think my art would be as good without Lisa’s help.  

 

Other than your own or each other – who’s art work do you admire and why?

Lisa: I am a big fan of Lisbeth Zwerger, an Austrian illustrator. She has a fantastic imagination and the skills to back it up! Her watercolors are pure magic. Never overworked, and I love her color palettes as well. She’s just one of those people you describe as, “born to be an artist.” I love her whimsy, and I admire her incredible skill. It’s so inspiring to page through her work, I’m always left in awe.

 

Rob: When I stated out being an illustrator for paperback books, I learned from, and was inspired by the golden age of paperback illustrators. Not many people would know their names, but they would have been exposed to their amazing art. James Bama and Robert McGinnis produced 1000’s of covers in the 1970’s and eventually became equally amazing fine artists.  Peter Caras was my illustration instructor and not only an incredible artist, but as a teacher, I can credit him directly for teaching me how to be an illustrator.

 

Of course living here in Pennsylvania, I cannot neglect the brilliance of N.C. and Andrew Wyeth.

 

Ms. Papp, when did you decide to write a book, in addition to illustrating?

Lisa: I think I like writing more than I do illustrating. At least, it comes a bit easier to me. I have always written, though I never read books growing up. Writing seems second nature to me. As I began to illustrate other people’s stories, I realized I had my own stories I wanted to tell. Picture books seemed like a good place to start.

To learn more go to  Lisapapp.com and Robertpapp.com. For more on books and reading, visit my blog at ThisKidReviewsBooks.com

 

The Scholastic Kids Press Corps Interviews Michelle Obama!

22 Nov

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As of the end of November  I will no longer be a Scholastic News Kid Press Corps Reporter. In December, I turn 15 and that’s too old for the Kid Press Corps – yup, washed up at 15! 😉

So there is nothing like going out on a high note! I am very happy to announce that I and seven other Scholastic Kid Press Corps Reporters got an exclusive interview with First Lady Michelle Obama!

First Lady Michelle Obama joins Scholastic News kid reporters for a group photo following an interview in the Map Room of the White House, Oct. 6, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

First Lady Michelle Obama joins Scholastic News kid reporters for a group photo following an interview in the Map Room of the White House, Oct. 6, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

We interviewed Mrs. Obama about her last victory garden harvest at the White House, her experiences as First Lady, and what she plans to do next! We interviewed her in the Map Room in the White House.img_1842

For the entire story click over to the Scholastic News Kids Press Corps blog by clicking HERE

I was also very happy to meet some of my fellow Kid Reporters, and my Scholastic editors in person. It is an AMAZING group!

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My Latest Scholastic Kids Press Corps Article: Writing for Kids

18 Nov

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Hi there blogosphere!

I would like to tell you about my latest Scholastic News Kids Press Corps article.

It is about conversations I had with four middle-grade authors at the Lititz Kid Lit Festival in Lititz PA.

Here’s the blurb – “Four authors talk about the joys and challenges of writing for middle-graders.”

Find out what Isaiah Campbell,

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Amy Ignatow,

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Matthew Cody,

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and Dianne Salerni have to say about writing for middle-graders.

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Click HERE to read the whole story on the Scholastic News Kids Press Corps blog.

My Latest UBFP Newspaper Article : An Interview With Author Glen Dick

16 Nov

I write for the UBFP Newspaper!

I wanted to share the article I wrote for the Upper Bucks Free Press (the newspaper I write for) for the November issue! The online version was published. To see the online version of the newspaper, click HERE (It’s on page 16).

Local Father Writes a Children’s Book About Daddy and Daughter Adventures!

Glen Dick father living in Chalfont, PA never lets the fact he is in a wheelchair stop him from going on grand adventures with his daughter Elaina. He recently wrote a compelling story about how he and Elaina incorporates his wheelchair in the games they play. In fact, the wheelchair becomes a necessary part of the games.

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The picture book Mr. Dick wrote is called “We Can Go Anywhere: My Adventures on Daddy’s Wheelchair” was published this past August by  Black Rose Writing Publishers. It is a heartwarming story that shows how the family not only sees past his disability, but also embraces it as part of life. The book’s illustrations by Linda McManus are surreal, which is perfect for a story where imagination is the focus. The story is a retelling of the author’s experiences with his daughter, and all of the things they do together.

I was lucky enough to get an interview with Mr. Dick about why he decided to write this book.

Erik: Can you tell us about what your life was like after your spinal injury, and how it changed when Elaina came into your life?

Glen: After my spinal cord injury in 1995 there were many transitions that I went through. The first was returning home and getting comfortable in my new skin within my old surroundings.  Emotionally I had to let go of my old self, hold on to what I had left to offer and concentrate on even on the most minute positive aspects of my life. What got me through was the unconditional love and attention I got from my nieces and nephews who were all very small children at the time. They did not see my limitations and made me realize I still had a lot to offer. I had to adapt to my new limitations and find ways to get back to a sense of normalcy in my life. I returned to work as a landscape architect within the year and also learned to drive a specially equipped van.  After some time doing what I used to, I found that my life had taken on new meaning and I wanted to find a way to spend my time doing something more meaningful or giving back.  After volunteering at an elementary school I was offered a full-time position as a teaching assistant. I loved working with children since I had none of my own at the time. It wasn’t until 2005 that I got married and my life began to change for the better once again with the hopes of having a child of my own. When Elaina was born four years later I felt I have truly found my purpose. I had always loved encouraging and teaching children and being a child at heart I love spending time with them. Watching Elaina look past my limitations and incorporate them into her life made me forget about my disability and only focus on what we could do together.

Erik: What amazes you the most about the imagination and curiosity of your daughter?

Glen: I think what amazed me most about Elaina was her ability and willingness to incorporate my limitations into her play through her imagination my chair was not something that held us back it was something that added an element to her play. We would make up games that incorporated the chair.

Erik: When did you get the idea to write a book about the adventures that you and Elaina have?

Glen: I got the idea for the Book after realizing the uniqueness of our relationship and how much we could accomplish together as a team. From the time of her birth she all ready had more function in her hands than I and so with me as the brain and her as the hands the two of us became a team. Whether we were playing together or doing a task if we used our imagination there wasn’t much we could not do together.

Erik: Did you write the book more for your family or are you hoping to reach other people who may be in similar situations?

Glen: I wrote the book purely as a keepsake for Elaina. After a rough copy was printed friends and family encouraged me to put it out there believing it had value to help others in my situation. The thought about being able to encourage others with limitations or even just open up a conversation amongst children and their parents motivated me to seek publication.

Erik: What is your favorite thing to do with Elaina?

Glen: My favorite thing to do with Elaina is go for long rides with her on my lap we’ve been doing it since she was a baby and I had to strap her into a carrier on my chest.  Now she is at the age where she gets to drive the chair and she loves doing that. I dread the day that she outgrows my lap. I guess I’ll just have to put on the side car at that point.

To learn more about the book, visit BlackRoseWriting.com

For more on books and reading, visit my blog ThisKidReviewsBooks.com

My Latest Scholastic News Kids Press Corps Article – The World is Watching: the US Election

4 Nov

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Check out my latest Scholastic News Kids Press Corps article over at the Kids Press Corps Notebook blog!

With  the American Presidential election just around the corner, spoke with people outside the US to see how they  are feeling about the election in America this year.

A big thank you to Catherine Johnson CatherineMJohnson.com, D. Tulloch, from ThePatientDreamer.com, and Dr. Myra Garces-Bacsal, from GatheringBooks.org for giving me their perspectives on the election.

Click HERE to read the whole article!

My Latest Scholastic Kids Press Corps Video Interview

2 Nov

KidsPressLogoSo what have you been up to?

You don’t say…

Me?

Oh well you know,

this and that.

Got an A on a science test,

 

AND I GOT TO INTERVIEW THE NEW LIBRARIAN OF CONGRESS, DR. CARLA HAYDEN!!!

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For a book-nerd like me this was my “holy grail” of interviews. Dr. Hayden in an amazing person and I have been trying to get an interview since she was nominated by President Obama way back in March. Well I finally got one and I am still fanboy-ing over it. 🙂

You can check out the video interview at the Scholastic Kids Press Corps blog by clicking HERE.

 

My Latest Scholastic News Kids Press Corps Article: The White House Celebrates Advances in STEM

5 Oct

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I recently went to Washington, D.C. to cover a White House conference showcasing efforts to make STEM education more engaging in high schools. Read my interview with Secretary of Education John King, and Cecilia Muñoz, Assistant to the President and Director of the Domestic Policy Council.

Click HERE to read the whole story on the Kids Press Corps Notebook blog!

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Secretary of Education John King and me

My Latest Scholastic News Kids Press Corps Article: The 2016 National Book Festival

1 Oct

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I recently went to Washington, D.C. to cover the 2016 National Books Festival as a Scholastic News Kids Press Reporter!

Click HERE to read the whole story on the Kids Press Corps Notebook blog and check out a video of me interviewing the awesome authors Calvin Trillin, Sharon Robinson, Raina Telgemeier, and Pam Muñoz Ryan about their most recent books!

Me interviewing the Library of Congress' Chief Humanities and Social Sciences Librarian Jane Sanchez

Me interviewing the Library of Congress’ Chief Humanities and Social Sciences Librarian, Jane Sanchez

My Latest Scholastic News Articles on the Little League World Series

31 Aug

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Hello blogosphere!

I wanted to let you know that my latest Scholastic News Kids Press Corps article(s) are out! I got to cover the Little League World Series (LLWS) in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. It was a fun ten-day tournament and a very exciting final game.

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I have one on the Kids Press Corps site about the “behind the scenes” at the LLWS – click HERE!

There is a video of some interviews I did – click HERE!

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And an article on the main Scholastic news site about the final game! Click HERE!

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Hope you enjoy them!

Reaching for Mars – My Latest Scholastic News Kids Press Corps Article!

8 Jul

Check out my latest Scholastic News Kid Press Corps article about the RS-25 rocket engine and America’s planned mission to Mars!

Here – is the opening: “What does it take to get humans to Mars? First, you need a rocket engine that can propel a 77-ton vehicle 142 million miles. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is nearing completion of that engine.”

CLICK HERE to go the Scholastic Kid Press Corps Notebook and read the rest of the article!

NASA engineers conduct a successful test-firing of the RS-25 rocket engine earlier this year at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.

NASA engineers conduct a successful test-firing of the RS-25 rocket engine earlier this year at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.

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