CHILDREN'S BOOK BOOT CAMP
2022’s Children’s Book Boot Camp, with a dream line up of publishing guests, boasted so many compelling stories and illustrations that books are sure to follow.
Every single year, writers and illustrators from this workshop have had projects picked up by major publishing houses and launched careers. The 17th Annual CBBC will be held next summer, date TBD.
To be added to the mailing list for 2023’s workshop, send a note to:
Write2me@patcummings.com and you’ll receive info next summer.
My father was in the army when I was growing up. We moved a lot. I don't remember going to the same school twice until I reached eleventh grade. My brother and sisters and I were always the 'new kids,' but I found that art helped me get to know my classmates. I joined art clubs or the yearbook committee and volunteered to make posters for different events. In grade school I even sold my ballerina drawings to classmates... it was good business!
In Germany, I developed a love for fantasy. Our parents read us stories about fire-breathing dragons and princesses saved in the nick of time by clever princes. Then we would visit castles along the Rhine River, climb overgrown stone staircases, and lean out of turret windows to look at the countryside. Standing in an ancient castle, it was easy to believe all the fairytales were true. On Okinawa, the newspapers often reported ghost sightings. So, when I walked through villages with my friends and saw people dressed in black carrying bundles of sticks on their backs, we were certain that they were witches. I know better now, but back then, my imagination ran wild.
While at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, I began freelancing for children's theatres. After graduating, with a portfolio full of my favorite posters and flyers, I found magazine and advertising work as well. But I knew I wanted to do books. Interpreting manuscripts, having 32 pages to fill, and spending time with interesting characters appeals to me. Each story requires a different approach. I live in a large loft in beautiful downtown Brooklyn with my husband Chuku Lee. It takes me six months or more to finish a book and my work area gets covered with reference photos, color swatches, test pages, rough sketches and a handful of favorite objects I want to put in the illustrations.
I hope children will find surprises in my pictures so I toss in things that amuse or interest me. I like to write about and draw characters who have a strong sense of themselves, no matter how young they are. Most of all, I hope readers feel they have gotten something positive out of the time they've spent between the covers of one of my books. Once I started writing my own stories, I found out that what my fifth grade teacher had said was good advice: write about what you know. The trick for me is to keep 'knowing' new things.
Every time I visit schools and libraries I find that students are getting that same good advice. If you want to tell stories, take notes. Keep a journal. I wish I had. The brother who drives you crazy, the sister who gets in your stuff, the teacher who scares you silly might all make for a good tale. Making books lets you mold a reality right out of your imagination. It's powerful stuff.