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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

 

November UBFP Column – Author Spotlight: Roland Smith

4 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 2014 issue! The online version was just published. To see the online version of the newspaper, click HERE.

I hope you like it!

Author Spotlight: Roland Smith

One of my favorite authors is Roland Smith. Mr. Smith writes middle grade fiction and nonfiction stories and he co-authors picture books with his wife, Marie. The biography on his website (RolandSmith.com) shows an interesting path for him becoming a writer. Mr. Smith says he was always in love with writing and wanted to be a writer when he grew up so he became an English major at Portland State University. One day, while he was looking for part-time work while he was in school, he saw an ad for help wanted at the children’s zoo in Portland. One thing lead to another and Mr. Smith ended up working with animals for over twenty years. The good thing for us readers is that his experiences with animals gave him great ideas to write about.

Why do I like Roland Smith’s books so much? Let me tell you. First of all, his novels are packed with on-the-edge of your seat excitement. He writes great action/adventure stories that are completely appropriate for middle grade readers and his writing style will keep you reading. Mr. Smith knows how to mix the right amount of humor into his books. I really like how he will diffuse very intense scenes with a bit of humor. It really adds to the enjoyment of the books.

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The characters in his books are very realistic. Most of his characters are early teenage – aged and I think they act and talk like kids do in real life. He has great male and female characters and I think both boys and girls would think his books are a great read. I also like how Mr. Smith has characters from his different series show up in each others’ books. It’s a cool detail and all the more reason to try out different Roland Smith books.

storm

The topics of his books are wide, ranging from searching for cryptids (creatures in folklore or mythology rumored to exist) across the world to learning to living with huge secrets to taking down terrorist ghost cells. Then there is all of Mr. Smith’s nonfiction works on animals. Mr. Smith write exciting action packed books that are appropriate for middle grade readers and young advance readers. He has books with airplane hijackers, people in the witness protection program, countries in war, terrorism, and tying to survive natural disasters. Mr. Smith’s writing style keeps a reader hooked until that last page.

mutation

Mr. Smith’s Cryptid Hunters series is one of my favorites from him. The fourth and final book in the series, MUTATION, was just published at the end of September and it was a book I’ve been waiting for. The Crypid Hunter series follows teen-cousins Marty and Grace and their friend Luther all around the world as they try to track down mythical creatures and locate Marty’s missing parents. Although I am sad to see the series come to an end, I was not disappointed with the finish. MUTATION is the kind of on the edge of my seat exciting adventure I am always looking for as a young reader. I highly recommend the whole Cryptid Hunter series or any of Mr. Smith’s works.

Want to know more? Visit Roland Smith’s website at RolandSmith.com

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

 

My September UBFP Newpaper article – AN INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR PAUL ACAMPORA

5 Sep

Before I get to my post today, if you missed it, please click over to Michael Gettel-Gilmartin‘s blog – PROJECT MAYHEM – for an interview Mr. Gettel-Gilmartin did with me! CLICK HERE TO GO THERE!

 

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 September 2014 issue! The print version was just published. To see the online version of the newspaper, click HERE – September hasn’t been published online yet, but it soon will be.

I hope you like this interview! I really enjoyed Mr. Acampora’s latest book I KILL THE MOCKING BIRD. I thought the situation the friends find themselves in was very realistic and I liked how Mr. Acampora puts the right amount of humor into the story at all the right places. I liked the feeling that the characters in the book really care for each other. At 177 pages it is a short read, but you sure get an excellent story in those pages. Plus the book has a cool cover. 🙂

Enough of me – on to the newspaper article!

AN INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR PAUL ACAMPORA

 

Former kindergarten teacher and presently a full-time college development officer, Paul Acampora writes children’s books and stories in his spare time. Mr. Acampora was raised in Connecticut but now lives in the Lehigh Valley area of Pennsylvania.

Mr. Acampora’s latest book is titled I KILL THE MOCKINGBIRD (Roaring Brook Press (May 20, 2014)). The book is a middle grade novel about 3 friends and their school’s summer reading list. Harper Lee’s TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD is on the list and was a favorite of the kid’s English teacher who suddenly passed away at the end of the school year. The friends hatch a plan to honor their teacher by getting everyone talking about and wanting to read the classic novel by making copies of the book scarce. As their plan starts to work, the kids realize they started something much bigger than they expected.

 ikill

I really liked Mr. Acampora’s last book, RACHEL SPINELLI PUNCHED ME IN THE FACE, and was anxious to read I KILL THE MOCKINGBIRD. Mr. Acampora has a great writing style and I was happy that he agreed to an interview about his latest book.

 bloglogo – I personally have not read TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD yet. If you had to review it in one sentence, what would you say?

ikill

Mr. Acampora – Set in a largely racist, depression-era Alabama, To Kill a Mockingbird is a beautifully written and powerfully told coming-of-age story featuring three young friends who experience joy and evil, kindness and stupidity, honor and tragedy, and lots more through their small town’s neighbors, family and friends.

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 That is definitely going on my “to be read” list! How did you get the idea for I KILL THE MOCKINGBIRD? It is a quite interesting plot idea and made a great adventure.

ikill

I keep a notebook where I play with words and make lists of funny phrases and crazy ideas. I KILL THE MOCKINGBIRD was one of those phrases that sounded like it would make a good title. From there, I had to write the book to find out what it was about!

bloglogo

That’s cool how you came up with the title first and then wrote the book! The characters in I KILL THE MOCKINGBIRD and your other book RACHEL SPINELLI PUNCHED ME IN THE FACE are very realistic middle school-aged characters. To portray them like you do, do you do research, or do you just write what seems natural to you?

ikill

Thanks! Mostly I just try to pay attention to the world. I always carry a notebook so that I can make quick word sketches of scenes that I see, and I’ll often jot down bits of conversation that I overhear. With those ingredients, I can start to create characters that look and act and sound real.

bloglogo

I love all of the humor in the book, and you even made me laugh during the more tense parts because of it. I loved the Christmas pictures scene, Fat Bob, the scene where Michael was reading FAHRENHEIT 451, and much more! Do you think that humor is important in books?

ikill

Yes! Humor is the basis of all civilization. If we couldn’t laugh, I think we’d just sit around and cry all the time, and then who’d have time for big ideas or great works of art? Who’d paint the Sistine Chapel? Who’d write the Declaration of Independence? Who’d put Disney’s Little Mermaid on ice? I think humor is important in every aspect of our lives. Books included.

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Are you working on any upcoming projects that you would like to tell us about?

ikill

Mr. Acampora – I’m working on several projects right now including a couple novels and short pieces too. If they come together, you’ll see stories with a run-away grandma, a duck that thinks it’s a dog, a dinosaur obsessed waitress, a school play about battling lemonade stands, and hopefully lots more.

 To learn more about Paul Acampora and his books, please visit paulacampora.com.

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

#6 – JUST IN – I Get My First News Paper Column!

3 Jan

I am getting my New Year off to a great start! I am really excited to tell you that I got a monthly column in a local news paper! Sorry I waited to tell you, but I wanted it to be published online before saying anything AND it was just published!! I met Michelle Buono, the Content Coordinator of the Upper Bucks Free Press, at a book signing I went to and she asked to talk with me after I got done interviewing the author (Wynne Marshall author of The Tree Monkeys) that the book signing was for. I was kind of nervous to talk to Ms. Buono, but she was really nice and said that I “impressed” her with my interview and she asked me to submit something to her newspaper! Then, after Ms. Buono talked to her editor, they asked me to send in an article every month! I decided that I should submit my interview with Mrs. Marshall as my first article because she is a local author and I think I will try to write about local authors and book events for the paper (unless there is some huge event going on). You can see my very first article at the Upper Bucks Free Press website by clicking HERE (it’s the January 2012 issue -page 16 and there is a write-up about me being a new contributor on page 15 😉 ).

Thanks for letting me share AND for taking the time to read my blog! Now I’m going to bed 😉 Zzzz

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