Posted in Illustrators, Meet the authors

Kevin Sylvester

My website

I’m on facebook at

I’m on twitter @kevinarts

and also check out

Instagram @sylvesterartwork

check out my blog

1. When you were my age, did you read a lot? I was not a great reader when I was a kid. That’s actually only half true. I loved to read Spider-Man comic books, the backs of baseball cards and anything with images. But that also got me into reading Beatrix Potter and then the Hardy Boys and finally longer books such as the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings. Sp I loved to read, but wasn’t able to read the books more “word literate” kids were reading.

2. What was your favorite book? Spider-Man. Anything with Spider-Man. Also, the Tailor of Gloucester and then the Hobbit.

3. How do you get ideas for your books? By being a curious person.. The ideas for books often come from bits of unrelated ideas banging into each other like charged atoms. So, Neil Flambé is the Hardy Boys mashed together with celebrity chefs. MINRs is a space story mashed together with some of the bad things that happen in the real world around mining colonies.

4. What authors do you like right now? There are so many amazing authors that I love. Some are friends (such as Debbie Ohi or Jonathan Auxier) and others are people whom I only know through books. Nerd Camp was amazing for that. Dogman Dav Pilkey is amazing. I absolutely loved meeting Arree Chung and reading his amazing book Mixed: A Colorful Story.

5. Do you have any new or lesser known authors to recommend? Hmmmm.. Lesser known depends on where it is that people don’t know them. For example, I live in Canada and we have so many amazing authors here that aren’t huge in the US. Authors such as Heather Camlot (who just released her first book – Clutch – which is great!) I’ve got a new series coming out with Ted Staunton, Richard Scrimger and Lesley Livingston (link is here ). They are all amazing and successful, and everyone should read their books.

6. Do you have any advice for kids who want to be authors? Read. Read. Read. Read. Read. Read. And think about what the authors you like are actually doing. What verbs do they use? What images? What excited you about their plots? Steal that stuff for your own story.

7. Do you hear a lot from readers and what do you like? I hear from kids a lot (partially because I do a lot of school visits, and also because kids like to send me letters, and I answer them all). I like hearing why they like a boo AND why they don’t. Some things (like the ending to my book MINRs) can really make some kids angry! And that lets me know if I’m writing stories that actually mean anything to kids. The worst thing is to write a story that makes a kid shrug and go “yeah, that was okay”. Authors want readers to feel and think alongside their characters. Also, when we write a story (or draw pictures for them like I also do) we are often doing that alone in our studios. So we have no idea if there are real kids out there who will like our books.

8. If you could portal into any book, what book would it be? I want to eat at Chez Flambé and have Neil make me an amazing meal.

9. What do you use to make your illustrations? Everything and anything. I do a lot of my illustrations using pens and simple blank paper. Nothing fancy. But I do also do a lot of editing and even original drawing on my Cintiq tablet. It lets me fix mistakes really quickly and make edits (my editors always want changes) without having to start over from scratch.

10. Any advice for kids who want to be illustrators? Draw. Draw. Draw. Draw. Draw. Draw. And think about keeping your hand loose. Also, pay close attention to MATH. Knowing how shapes and spatial relations work will help you draw better stuff. The best book I’ve ever read that helped me learn those lessons? How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way.

Posted in Illustrators, Meet the authors

Meet Karen and Darrin

So, for starters we are totally amazed at your website and the intelligence and charisma that you have for your age, Bridget! We think your love of books and reading is so wonderful.


1. When you were my age (9), did you like to read? 


Not really, and because of I didn’t enjoy reading, I wasn’t doing very good in school. That was until I had a teacher who gave me a Nancy Drew Mystery Series book. After that, I developed a passion for reading, which has continued through this day. Since then, I just can’t read enough – too many books, too little time.

2. Who was your favorite author or what was your favorite story?


When I was young, it was Carolyn Keene of the Nancy Drew Mystery Series, who we now know was not really Carolyn Keene, but several different ghost writers.

Today, I love reading so many different types of books, that I really can’t pick one author. But of course, Dr. Suess will always be one of my favorites, and Shel Silverstein, and I like other books written by comedians (Woody Allen, Steve Martin, Tina Fey) and biographies.

3. How do you get your book ideas?

I always wondered about myths – aliens, Bigfoot, Champ. When I initially had the idea about myths, I started researching them, and that’s’ when I was hooked. If found it so odd and mysterious that so many people actually say they saw alien spacecraft, or that they saw Bigfoot, so I just had to write about it. And, at the time I started our series, our son Mick was ten, and I decided he would be the perfect main character for the book.

4. Is it hard to work together or does it help the process?

That’s a great question, and a lot of people wonder how a married couple work together – but since we have worked together since we did comedy together, it is actually a lot of fun, and yes, for us, it does help the process. We know that at times we might have different ideas for the art, but we can always laugh about it – and that is the key to getting through anything in life.

5. Why did you become an author and illustrator?

Karen: I was originally a copywriter, and wrote for radio, magazines, etc. Also, when we did comedy, although it was improv, we would write sketches, too. Years ago when Darrin was illustrating children’s book covers for other people, we decided  to do our own children’s books – especially since we love sharing our creativity and humor with children.

Darrin: I had been drawing since I was very little. I always loved creating art. I was working at a creative agency – which I still do now, I’m the VP of Creative for Helloworld. With Karen being a creative writer, and with my art, and our comedy background, it really seemed like the perfect mix for us to do our fun, scary humorous books for children.

6. What authors and illustrators do you like right now? Any recommendations on lesser known ones for kids?


Karen: I have so many that I love, it would take up your whole blog! I have always been a fan of many of the famous ones…But, there are so many wonderful local authors I enjoy reading, that are just as fantastic as famous writers and illustrators. My suggestion is to go to the Michigan section in the bookstore, or your local library and ask for Michigan authors. It’s amazing how many wonderful books are out by Michigan people.

7. Any advice for kids who want to be an author or illustrator?


Karen: To start with you have to have it in your heart – whether you want to be a writer or an illustrator, you have to have passion for it. You have to practice, a lot. Which means you have to sit down and do it, even when you don’t feel like it. As an author, you should also read as much as you can. And, go different places, see different things – to help your imagination grow (museums, parks, plays, etc.). Keep a journal with you so that you can take notes when you see things that inspire you. Also, have fun, laugh, and don’t take your writing or yourself to seriously, that way when you sit down to write – you can make it something fun. Oh, and practice – did I say practice, well yes I did…PRACTICE, a lot, and don’t judge yourself.

Both Darrin and I read lots of books on writing and artwork. We spend so much time in bookstores and libraries (they are some of our favorite places).

8. Do you like hearing from readers? What do you like about it?


We love hearing from readers! It is our favorite part of our writing and illustrating. Especially when we do school visits, because if we are inspiring children to read, write and draw, and of course laugh – then we have accomplished our job.

Posted in Illustrators, Meet the authors

Meet Chad Sell

I am @chadsell01 on Twitter and Instagram, and the official CK account is @thecardboardk on IG and Twitter.

When you were my age (9), did you like to read?

Yes! Although I read all kinds of things, I was obsessed with comic books! I would eagerly seek out the comics section in every book store (if they even had them) and beg my parents to take me to comic shops whenever we took trips!

What was your favorite author or book?

Since I was such a huge comics nerd of the 90’s, my favorite comic was probably Chris Claremont’s run on X-Men!

how do you get your story ideas?

I think a lot of my writing naturally emerges out of whatever it is I’m thinking a lot about. But it can be hard to take those big ideas and make them into a story! It takes me a long time to work through different options for a character and many drafts of a script. Sometimes I get stuck on something, or I don’t know how to resolve part of the plot. Most of my breakthrough moments are during long walks that I take to clear my head!

is it hard to write a book?

Yes! Very! That’s why I had a team of ten writers to help me with The Cardboard Kingdom!

what authors do you like right now? Any lesser known ones you can recommend?

Oh wow! Well, I still read a lot, so I have several recommendations. I loved The Stars Beneath Our Feet by David Barclay Moore. One of my biggest author crushes of the past several years is on Leigh Bardugo – I love all the books in her two different Grisha series! And Molly Ostertag wrote the wonderful graphic novel The Witch Boy.

what is the best part of being an author?

Being an author can be very difficult. It can also be very lonely! But the best part is seeing my work spark a reaction in another person – whether it’s my editor, my collaborators, or the kids who read it!

What do you use to complete your illustrations?

Most of my work is done digitally. I have a desktop computer with a tablet monitor hooked up to it, which allows me to draw right on the screen! I use a program called Clip Studio Paint – 99% of my work on The Cardboard Kingdom was done with that software!

any advice for a kid who wants to be an author?

Creativity is wonderful! If you are a creative person, you should treasure that about yourself. You should seek out opportunities to develop your craft, but you should never expect perfection. Don’t let your own self-criticism or the negativity of anyone else keep you from making what you want! The important thing is to keep developing as a person, an artist, and an author. You are capable of great things!

– If you could portal into any of your works, which would you portal into?

That’s a good question! Although I love all the kids in The Cardboard Kingdom, I feel like I already live in their world of creativity and cardboard. Especially since I see so much of them in their creators, whom I get to chat with all the time! Maybe the world of THE CLOUD ( because it’s about a cloud who becomes an adorable superhero, and I think he would be a great friend to have.

Posted in Illustrators

The Illustrator Says: Elizabet Vukovic

Website/social media: / instagram/twitter @elizabetvukovic

Tell me a little about yourself:

Hi, I’m Elizabet Vuković, 32 years old, born in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

This is where I live next door to my sister, she’s my neighbor, we bought a house together. I also have a much older brother. Things about me I speak multiple languages Dutch, Croatian, English & German. A huge supporter for animal rights, CAT obsessed (my last 2 cats passed ± a year ago, both aged around 18).

Love riding my bicycle it’s my transportation and also my therapist. I’m a bit eccentric, I guess (collecting unusual things like prosthetic eyes, they are beauties), curious, enthusiastic, a listener, contradictory, introvert mostly, but when comfortable an entertainer. Have done some terrifying stuff for an introvert like talk to a huge crowd of people in English and German about scientific ophthalmological study.

1.How long have you been illustrating books?

I’ve been working as a full-time freelance illustrator ± 3 years, about 2 years into illustrating children books.

2.How did you become a book illustrator?

I always loved drawing, as I grew older I drew less but never fully stopped. I never considered illustration as a profession, although teachers told my mom that I had some sense for art.

So when I had to decide what to do after highschool I convinced myself Biomedical Laboratory Technology would be the way to go, only to decide very last minute to study Optometry.

After graduating I knew this was not what I was suppose to do, this was my backup plan and to satisfy/ensure my parents that I would be able to take care of myself.

While working 8 years as an optometrist I saved up money to take online classes at the Academy of Art University, San Francisco for a degree in illustration. During the day I worked full-time and in the evening and weekends I studied illustration, that took 4 years.

I kept working to pay off my mortgage in this time I also worked on my portfolio and participated in childrens book competitions. There I developed new ideas for my portfolio, send out my work to an agency and the same day they got back to me with an offer to represent me. I was SUPER happy when I heard the news.

This happened just before I went to visit Montreal for a month workshop and conference in, Burbank. After I came back from my trip I had a few children illustration jobs waiting for me, I was so lucky to get a good start.

3.When you were my age, did you read alot? What was your favorite book? 

Must admit I didn’t read a lot, spend way too much time playing outside (everybody in the neighborhood did) my mom had to call out to get inside for dinner 😉

But my absolute favorite books were from the author Roald Dahl I was obsessed with ”Mathilda”. And growing up and we had a famous dutch author ”Annie M.G. Schmidt” whose books were very popular and timeless, like ”Jip & Janneke”, ”Pluk van de Petteflet” , ”Floddertje” very funny books. But as I got older (age 10 and up) books from the author ”Anke de Vries” especially ”Blauwe Plekken” were very impactful.

  1. I love Jasmine Toguchi. How did you design her?

When I read ”Jasmine Toguchi Mochi Queen” I felt I could relate to Jasmine a lot, being the youngest sibling of three.

Also her character is funny, messy, independent and wants to be strong and that is what I was like as a kid.

I think I wanted to catch up with my siblings being stronger, faster then they are.

I would be so proud when someone would be surprised I could carry more then they thought I could, everything was competition I guess… 😉

(Even went as far as I convinced my dentist I didn’t need anesthesia for a root canal, I was 14 at the time, it hurt terrible but I didn’t show it. My dentist and dad where impressed, I was so stubborn and thought I can’t prove them right after I claimed I didn’t need it)

Back to Jasmine, I love how Debbi described this character I could see much of myself in this character and that helped design Jasmine.

There were some facts I got like her age, her ethnic background so I knew more about her physical appearance.

Jasmine is an active child so I thought she needs a ponytail (I actually always wear a ponytail) and comfortable clothing so that she can climb and play, she lives in California so I thought the weather isn’t too cold she could wear t-shirts and shorts and my favorite sneakers.

I must admit I think I made Jasmine look a bit like myself 🙂

  1. Do you have a favorite book you have illustrated?

Oh that’s a difficult question for me, every time I illustrate a book it’s like a mental game in my head, I like it but I also see all the things I could have done better. I keep learning and improving with every book, but I must say Jasmine Toguchi Drummer Girl is one of my absolute favorites so far.

  1. Do you illustrate by hand or by computer?

I do both, sometimes I start the sketch and finish the illustration totally in the computer.

Most of the time I sketch with a regular pencil and scan the drawing, then either color it in the computer or start painting/pastel/pencil on paper and later scan that too in the computer.

  1. Who are some of your favorite authors/illustrators?

There are so many I’ll probably forget a lot (these are just the illustrators)

Fiep Westendorp, Sempé, Alice & Martin Provensens, Brian Wildsmith, Miloslav Sasek, Isabelle Arsenault, Anton Pieck, Beatrice Allemagna, Javier Zabala, Leo Lionni, Quentin Blake, Annette Marnat, Tove Jansson, Jan Balet.

Posted in Illustrators, Meet the authors

Meet the illustrator: Mike Holmes

Author website/social media:

When you were my age, did you like to read? Yes, very much! In fact, sometimes it seemed like that’s all I did. I learned how to read at a very young age, because I saw my older siblings reading and I wanted to do it too! So by the time I was 3 I was reading, and when I first went to school I would just sit and read every book in the classroom. Going to the library was one of my favorite things in the world.

What was your favorite story? I have so many, but I think my absolute favorite book was Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator by Roald Dahl. I loved how weird and imaginative it was – the author came up with some unbelievable things!

How do you get your ideas? I like this question, because it really makes me think about how my ideas come to me. Sometimes it’s hard to know where ideas come from; one day you’re sitting around and suddenly POOF, a brand new idea pops into your head from out of nowhere! And you’re so excited that you don’t even think to ask how it got there. But if I had to guess, I’d say a lot of my ideas come from things I’ve seen and done in my life, places I’ve been, people I’ve met. I have all those experiences swirling around in my head, and sometimes when I need an idea I think, ‘Hey! Why don’t I use that funny thing that happened to me?’ It’s incredibly helpful to have experiences!

Is it hard to illustrate a book? I don’t know if I’d call it hard, because I’ve been drawing and making comics for so long that I know a lot about them, and it makes it much easier to make something when you’ve been working at it for a while. But, I will say that making comics is still a lot of work, and I still have a lot to learn!

Do you have a favorite among the books you have illustrated? There was a book I drew that came out earlier this year called Animal Crackers: Circus Mayhem that was one of the most fun times I’ve ever had drawing. It’s about a kid who finds a box of animal crackers that are magic, and when you eat one you turn into that animal! So the book is filled with wild goofy action and it was really fun to draw all the comedy and magic.

What author do you like right now? I really like Drew Weing, who has a book called Margo Maloo

What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author? If you have a story that you want to tell, and you just have to tell someone…always write it down first! If you tell the story to someone before you write it down, it’s very easy to feel satisfied with that and then you don’t end up writing the story after all – which is the entire job of an author! I know so many people (even professional writers!) who say “I’ve got a great story to tell!”, and they get very excited, but they end up telling the story to people before they’ve written it down, and then they don’t feel like writing it anymore! So if you’ve got a really good story, try to make sure that when you’re finally ready to show it to an audience, even if it’s just one person, that you’ve written it out as a complete story first.

Do you get mistaken for the other Mike Holmes? Haha, I used to years ago!  Not because we look alike, but we’re both Canadian and it was confusing for some people when my name would be on a book or in the paper. It doesn’t really happen that much anymore, and I have to admit I’m relieved!

Posted in Author Meet Up, Graphic Novels, Illustrators, Meet the authors

Ed Cho & Lee Cherolis

This is a double interview with both the writer and illustrator of Little Guardians series. Make sure to read all the way through for both interviews!


Ed Cho, writer for Little Guardians

Website/social media:  Twitter: @edcho7000

When you were my age, did you like to read and/or draw? I drew and wrote comics extensively when I was a kid.  I made up my own super hero knock off stories.

What was your favorite story? As a kid I was a huge fan of Star Wars.  Still am. 🙂

How do you get your ideas?  Inspiration is a fickle thing.  I get a lot of story ideas while doing mundane tasks like washing dishes or mowing the lawn.  The takeaway here is kids should do more chores around the house.  🙂

Is it hard to write and/or illustrate a story?  It takes a lot of time and work to complete a story and be totally happy with it.  Patience is key.

Do you have a favorite among the things you have done?  Seeing Lee illustrate Little Guardians is a dream come true.  I love the interpretation he gives to the story. The collaboration makes it better than the original script or if I tried to draw it.

What is the coolest thing a fan has said about your series? It’s a treat whenever a fan says they like our books.  We have a few Soma and Elk fans out there so it’s nice to hear they enjoy a specific character.

Why do you think kids should read comics/graphic novels?  The visual nature of comics makes it so easily accessible.  Hopefully the cool looking characters can encourage kids into a life long love of reading.

Any recommendations for kids?  Bone by Jeff Smith is a great all ages series and a big influence on Little Guardians.  I’ve recently gotten into Raina Telgemeier books like Smile, Sisters, and Drama.  They are great!  Check them out!

Silly question round:

Pop or soda – Soda

Pen or Crayon – Pen


Lee Cherolis, Artist for Little Guardians

Website/social media:


When you were my age, did you like to read and/or draw? Absolutely. I read all kinds of comics and books. Lots of sci-fi and fantasy fiction, as well as super hero comic books. I played a lot of video games as well and got started drawing because I loved to try to draw my favorite video game and cartoon characters.


What was your favorite story? The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the galaxy will always be my favorite.

How do you get your ideas? I’m always inspired by the work of artists I admire and it fuels my motivation to make awesome art. So I fill my social media feeds with amazing artists that I can look up to a drive my self to improve my own work.

Is it hard to write and/or illustrate a story? It is very difficult. you have to approach it seriously and with earnest conviction. If it’s just something you don’t really care about it will show in your work and you’ll have a hard time connecting with an audience.

Do you have a favorite among the things you have done? Little Guardians is my favorite project I’ve ever worked on.

What is the coolest thing a fan has said about your series? A father told us his sons loved our comic because it helps them practice their English as a second language. I think that was one of the coolest things a reader has ever told me.

Why do you think kids should read comics/graphic novels? Simply put, comics and graphic novels help promote reading and inspire creativity. More creative kids making art and telling stories is a good thing and I want to help promote that with my comics.

Any recommendations for kids? Cleopatra In Space by Mike Maihack is a fantastic graphic novel series I recommend to everyone. (Bridget note: ME TOO!) Also check out Hilda by Luke Pearson. the Hilda books are beautiful and a lot of fun!

Silly question round:

– Pop or soda – Soda

– Pen or Crayon – Pen

Posted in Author Meet Up, Illustrators

Zach Giallongo

Website/social media: @zackules on Twitter and Instagram!
Tell me a little about yourself: I’m a cartoonist, and a teacher, and a podcaster. I have a beard and I love animals and cheese.
When you were my age, did you like to read and/or draw?: I sure did! I drew all the time with my dad’s office pens.
What was your favorite story?: Probably any Narnia story with Reepicheep. He’s now tattooed on my arm.
How do you get your ideas?: I have no idea!
Is it hard to write and/or illustrate a story?: Yes, but most things worth doing are hard. And it’s such a great feeling to have it done!
Do you have a favorite among the things you have done?: Probably my 2012 graphic novel, Broxo, about teenage barbarians and zombies.
What is the coolest thing a fan has said about your series? I can’t think of anything specific, but I love it when kids draw art of my characters!
Why do you think kids should read comics/graphic novels? Because reading is the best, and it fires up your imagination to tell your own stories, which fire up someone else’s imagination, and so on and so on!
Any recommendations for kids? Mighty Jack, by Ben Hatke, Astronaut Academy by Dave Roman, and Boulder and Fleet by Jerzy Drozd!
Silly question round:
– Pop or soda: Soda, of course.
– Pen or Crayon: Pen, though maybe I should get back into crayons…