Tuesday, February 7, 2012

HIDDEN NJ blog tour whistle stop!

Hello People!   Are you awake? Bright eyed and bushy-tailed?  Have you had your coffee/tea?  Got your thinking caps on?  Well get ready because it's GO TIME!!

So, quickly, who can tell me what Campbell Soup, Washington Crossing the Delaware, and Monopoly have in common? The clock is ticking (is that the Jeopardy theme song I hear playing in the background?)

The answer is NEW JERSEY!

How many of you know that the New Jersey state dinosaur, the Hadrosaurus Foulkii, was the first nearly complete dinosaur skeleton to be discovered virtually intact anywhere in the world?  It was unearthed in October, 1858, Haddonfield, NJ.

Who out there loves chocolate?  ME!!!  Who doesn't, right?  But are you aware that the smell of chocolate fills the air in Hacketstown, NJ? That's because it's the home to the Mars Chocolate Factory!   Mmmm.  Chocolate...  Excuse me, I think I need to find a Snickers bar ... be right back.

Hmmm, I'm feeling strangely satisfied ... but I digress.  You're probably wondering, what's up with all  all the questions about NJ?  Well, I've been lucky enough to get a sneak peek at the book “Hidden New Jersey” written by Linda Barth and illustrated by Hazel Mitchell.

It's full of fun facts about the third state in the Union. And if that weren't enough, “Hidden New Jersey” is also a Search and Find book. As you search for Minute Men, Seagulls, or Saltwater Taffy, you can't help but be charmed by Ms. Mitchell's beautiful full-color illustrations,.

“Hidden New Jersey” entertains as it educates. And who doesn't love that?  So add this one to your collection: you can find it at your local bookstore or online:

AND ...

As a special gift for coming on by, Charlesbridge Publishing has been kind enough to offer a free copy of "Hidden NJ" to one of our lucky readers!  To enter, please leave a comment on this post telling us about a favorite NJ memory, or NJ fast fact prior to Sunday, February 12 at 11:59 pm (MT).

AND ...

As an extra special treat, we have the talented Ms. Hazel Mitchell stopping by this morning to talk with us about her experiences illustrating this fabulous book!

Hi Hazel!  *waving wildly* 
Thanks for visiting us so early in the morning.   
Could I offer you coffee or tea?    
TEA - I'm From Yorkshire after all! 
Hazel, could you please tell our readers a little bit about your experience in illustrating “Hidden New Jersey”? 
This was my first real non-fiction book, and I tell you it was a challenge. Each page was a jigsaw puzzle of facts that I had to fit together to make a coherent picture. 
Did you take a field trip to New Jersey for research for your illustrations? 
Unfortunately not … the book had to be complete in 4 months and there wouldn't have been time to visit everywhere! I did a lot of research online and luckily my hubby is from New Jersey, so he helped me. 
What is your favorite New Jersey fact that you learned while working on this book? 
That the biggest concentration of American Holly is on the coast of New Jersey.  (I don't know why that appeals to me so much!) 
Could you tell us about your illustration process?   
First I read the manuscript and made written notes, which I sent to the publisher. Then I researched all the elements in each page. I sketched a rough layout of how they might work together, and sent that back to the publisher for approval. When I had made any changes I set about doing a finished drawing in pencil about 150% bigger than needed. Then I scanned it in at a high resolution. I use digital colouring, in this case photoshop.  I also had to work out the cover art, title and verso pages and all the little hidden objects in the illustrations. It was a lot of fun and I think I know more about New Jersey than any place in the world now. 
What is your favorite medium?   
I like lots of mediums, but my chosen ones usually end up being pencil and digital colouring. I do hope to go back to working more in water colour though. 
How did you become interested in illustrating literature for children? 
I always wanted to illustrate. I just kept getting distracted by other career paths … I served in the Royal Navy, worked with horses, ran a printing business and painted fine art. Then I remembered I really wanted to write and illustrate for children and here I am! 
Is there an illustrator(s) past or present that has inspired you? 
Many - E H Shepherd, Quentin Blake, Pauline Baynes, Raymond Briggs, Ronald Searle,  I love the pre-raphaelite movement. Lately David Small, Paul O Zelinsky, Marla Frazee. 
Can you name a few of your favorite children's books on your bookshelf today? 
Clementine,  The Invention of Hugo Cabernet, Fungus the Bogeyman, Circus Ship, The Sea Chest. 
 Are you working on any new projects we can look forward to seeing soon? 
I am working on the next cheerleader book in the Anastasia Suen series 'All Star Cheerleaders' from Kane Miller. I  am also working on my own projects, but they are SECRET!! 
And now for the most important questions: 
What's one thing many people do not know about you? 
I play the tin whistle and broke my ankle parachuting. (But not at the same time). 
What's your favorite word? 
Avalanche  (but only when said by Stephen Fry on Kate Bush's '50 Words for Snow'). 
What's your least favorite word? 
Actually.  (And I say it too often). 
And finally,  if you could be a Super Hero (real or imagined), who would you be? 
Captain Multitask 
Thanks so much for visiting with us Hazel, and good luck with all your upcoming projects. 
Thanks for having me it's been a blast! 
Check out Hazel's web site: http://hazelmitchell.com/ and her blog: http://hazelmitchell.com/Blog%20Page.htm  to keep up-to-date on her comings and goings. 
AND ...
Well, that's all for now.  But please tell your friends to stop by, follow this blog,  enjoy some art, say Hi,  and have a nice day.


Shirley said...

What a great interview, Michelle..great to "meet" Hazel and see her wonderful book!

Andi Butler said...

The Navy?! Awesome! Yorkshire!! Do you like Yorkshire pudding? So nice to meet you proper Hazel, and your book is adorable! We love fact books! : )

a : )

Hazel Mitchell said...

Andi ... I love Yorkshire Pudding :-)

R.M. Rivera said...

Great interview! Michelle, you have great reporting and interviewing skills, I've learned so much about Hazel! Hazel, congratulations on your book!