In praise of quiet.

In an age which lauds the LOUD.


Let us pause and praise the quiet.




Being with a blank white page




A bow to the empty moment


A nod to the negative space




The pause in a friend's sentence




The quiet in the company of others, before you try to fill it up.




the power, the color, the unlimited universe in these spaces, already there.


What is perching on an empty branch?


These spaces are NOT empty.


They are wild things with names.


Why are we so afraid of these friends?

Who know our own names?


Why are we so afraid of QUIET?

Because in the quiet we face ourselves.

And we are taught to be afraid of ourselves.

And there is truth in the quiet.


Why do we not want to face the truth?

The truth isn't so bad.


The truth is:

we are loved.


We ARE love.

Swatch: Making the Book Trailer

My new picture book, SWATCH: The Girl Who Loved Color, debuts MARCH 15th. Thank you to John Schu for carefully releasing it into the Wild today:

Swatch's life depended so heavily on music, so I knew that if I made a trailer for her, music would have to be the heartbeat of the whole thing. I thank my lucky stars for the opportunity to work with mega-talent / composer Steve Pardo, who wrote that heartbeat, his original melody: "Swatch's Song". 

Steve is prolific in his personal and professional work; his repertoire includes songwriting, performing, arranging, producing, recording for blockbuster video games, his project, Skewsound, and folk band Opal Puckkett, among other teaching and performing endeavors. 

He suggested enhancing Swatch's track with some live strings, namely, The Videri String Quartet (high masters of the video game soundtrack!) When he invited me to come watch Videri RECORD their track live, I jumped at the chance.

Here's a glimpse of recording day in Steve's studio in Somerville, MA. The Quartet is: (founder) violist Rosalie Samter, Jeremiah Barcus on cello, Lizzie Jones and Michael Hustedde on violins. They were all so casual, friendly, and unassuming (like most geniuses are) until the second their bows hit string and I was like: .........................................................................  just listen:

When their music filled that little room, there is no other way to explain it, except for the distinct feeling that Swatch was right there! Made of sounds and words and paint. Now with this new musical facet, she was somehow finally and utterly FREE, which is what (like her wild colors) she most wanted. No longer an idea, circling restlessly in a jar. She was a book, a song, someone who could be a friend to somebody new. Meeting Steve's interpretation of Swatch's spirit was truly incredible...

rosalie = sunbeam incarnate! 

rosalie = sunbeam incarnate! 

From Videri's gorgeous mission statement : 

Videri, a Latin word meaning "to be seen" and the quartet’s namesake, alludes to the role of music in illuminating visual celebrate the dynamic link between music and storytelling

Ah. Confession: on the way home, I had a good cry. (Strings do that to me anyway) but this time they heralded something very specific: a long journey had ended, and a new one had begun. It was the moment Swatch was handed over to the Wild. We had spent a good deal of time together; this girl and Yellow, and Blue, and Bravest Green. They had set up shop in my brain and heart, through some tough seasons, spreading color and light even when I didn't want to pay attention; we remained devoted to each other. I will miss her. But this is the way of it! It's all set free in the end. This has to happen so the best, deep magic can start. 

There is magic between children and open books, paint and blank white, violins and silence: It is Wild possibility. Co-creation. Swatch is just about that: making things together. It took many people to get wild and make this trailer: Steve illuminated Swatch's story in richer color than I could have done alone. Videri sung her right out of thin air. Media artist Luke Boggia lended his talents to make Blue shimmer and butterflies dance. My husband Matt helped me storyboard, did the laundry, and believed the whole long way. Thank you to Brenda, Wendi, Alessandra, Martha, Kelsey, Booki for your enthusiasm.

Let's keeping making stuff together. It never has to end: as soon as YOU open the book, it will happen again!

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Bay Poem

Each carving thread of sunset strand

Burnishes to mind

The lowly things inside the sand

Which have lately come alive.

How wondrous is our oval place,

The bay yawns open wide.

Its teeth the little houses face

In company confide


All ages here within one time

All years and journeys met


Without the worry of when or then

Now Moswetuset


Gulls strung up from tip to tip

Strings in bellow curl

Glassy toes of pebbles whet

The clarity of home.


Oh Quincy Bay, and wild marsh

Your Spirit is alive.


And ever play around my neck

Sunset sad and sunny fleck

Deep hearted tree

Deep heart in me



Early November

This time, in November, the Yellow Days, the veil is thin.

Ghosts and dreams share sidewalks. Words drift in and out like tide.

You watch and you do not speak. This is the time for listening.

To tread as if a ghost yourself, among stones and stories; an inch above the ground, an inch below.

Day-haunting houses with lovely corners, and filling up on invisible meals.

Unseen work is being done. 

Painting with Lisa Daria.

Last weekend I took a class with artist Lisa Daria. I found her blog after Googling "acrylic paint" one bleak day last January, craving color and thick paint. An admirer of her work and story, it was so incredible to have a chance not only to meet her, but paint under her guiding eye. Some of her stunning work:

"1845 Water World" by Lisa Daria. ©Lisa Daria 

"1845 Water World" by Lisa Daria. ©Lisa Daria 

"1837 Aft" by Lisa Daria. ©Lisa Daria

"1837 Aft" by Lisa Daria. ©Lisa Daria

Class was held on beautiful Cape Ann, at the charming Rockport Association. Registration was last minute (I found out just in time!) leaving one day to run around Boston for supplies, book a little B&B, gather some still-life, put food out for the cat. And we were off! 

photo 5.JPG

I hadn't painted from life in a long time. It felt good (and daunting) to be back at the easel, trading watercolor for lusciously chunky acrylic, making a mess. Lisa had devised many brilliant exercises all aimed at reminding us to FOCUS, SEE, OBSERVE. Mindfulness has been a life-line for me this year amidst challenges and changes in our personal lives. Like other mindfulness practices (yoga being a favorite) painting from life simply demands presence in the moment. And if we are lucky, we have a moment. And another one after that. Moment-living is a practice in itself, a dedication to the gift of being alive.

Lisa's story (and dedication):

"I mark each day with a painting. After 1700 days (including Christmas) I've no intention of stopping. Painting, for me, is a physical act of being able to leave proof that I was here. Having cancer as a young adult, I discovered living is not just surviving. I wanted a way to embrace each day, no matter how typical, so without excuse or hesitation, I begin each day by painting."

That's every morning at 5am, folks! Paint tubes by the coffee pot so she won't forget. Practice. 

photo 4.JPG

Still-life. There is, perhaps, nothing more alive than color in a moment! It vibrates before you. It demands your attention now. When you are mixing color, you are having a conversation with it. Adding tiny dabs of alizarin crimson, white, ultramarine until you match what you see. Matching life to life,  making it your job to celebrate and to notice. It's a challenge. I remember discovering this silent dialogue as an art student. Color is an intimate friend, reminding you to BE AWAKE.

So, thank you, Lisa, for reminding us to be awake, and to practice.

The night before we left, we went for dinner in Gloucester and strolled by The Bookstore (it was really called that). It was so inviting in the sunset, and so I went in and found:

How had I never seen this one before? I flipped out, bought it, hugged it the whole way home. Another reminder of the gift of Life. And Now.

"The stage is set, the time is now, and the place wherever you are."

Thanks to you too, Virginia Lee Burton.


Hi! Welcome!

Ah. SO thrilled to be in this new space. What do you think? It's new and shiny (GIANT thank you to Squarespace team). Now everything is all in one place, so it will be easier to go on adventures together, link to news, and have some great conversation. I will be adding my Shop back in soon and have added a FAQ section.

It's been quite a  journey since 2011, the year I published my last picture book. Jumped off-road and started to hike, climb, and wander far out. I've been a teacher, an archeologist, a student, moved studios, much has changed in the landscape of our lives, and yours I'm sure. And now here we are, Spring, three years later, and things are BLOOMING. It feels like the perfect time to throw open the windows here, have you in. Thanks to the friends, and my best friend, Matt, who patiently supported and came along as I wandered. 

(Yes! That IS a real four-leaf clover up there, my little brother found it. I think he's magic.)

So why "Wonderblog"? The name is a dedication (and a reminder) to remember why I went wandering in the first place. To reclaim Wonder! I learned a lot about it. How to do it like a kid again. How the wondering part of us is really ageless. How it connects us as creatures. How it is essential to making, inventing, being brave, becoming. These three years I've been figuring out how to make books from that specific place. I cleared schedule to write and draw like I used to, finally give Wonder my professional attention.  Life is short, so I figure there is no better time to try to do it for a living. I want to ask questions, explore, dig, wander with books, and with you. I have a dozen titles ready to go, and some good news to share soon :) 

So let's keep it going! There's nothing like wondering together, so let's make this a place for that, yes?

Glad to see you again!


Lights in the Dark.

Happy Feast of Lucia/ St. Lucy's Day/Lussinatta!

I've always loved this brightly lit and mysterious saint's night, especially because of its interwoven indigenous roots...

I was raised with saints, and songs, and lighting candles in the dark. Every Christmastime, before dinner, we would go around the house turning the lights out while my mother would light the advent wreath. We'd return to huddle around her guitar in the dark so we could listen to this song. I will never forget the way the eerie tune shimmered with the flame in the black, transforming our living room with thrown shadows. Shoulder to shoulder with my siblings, it was ancient and anticipatory and made the hairs of our arms stand up.

Tonight, in many nordic countries, girls will wear crowns of lit candles, there will be saffron buns, and songs, and if you dig WAY back into history, you can find more solstice-based Celtic/Germanic/Nordic traditions that still remain part of Lucia's night. Here is a warm up sketch I did in the studio today. Though she does not wear candles, I still named her Lussinata. Perhaps she predates Lucia, and is on her way to a bright Yule festival (Jól).

A peaceful and bright holiday to you, my friend!

We Art Boston: This Sunday!


Sunday October 20th from 11-3

, join picture book makers for a family event on the Rose Kennedy Greenway. There will be music, story hour, book signing, book making with Peter Reynolds and David McCauley, and I'll be drawing free stuffed animal portraits alongside Kelly Murphy, Barbara McClintock, Scott Magoon, Matt Tavares, and more! Donations will benefit the Boston Children's Hospital Emergency and Trauma Unit. 

We Art Boston is a picture book-themed fundraising effort orchestrated by local illustrator

Joe McKendry

and his wife, Susan. Read Joe and Susan's touching mission statement





We Art Boston picture book auction

 is on NOW through October 24th, with all proceeds funding the Boston Children's Hospital Emergency and Trauma unit. My limited edition Dotty g



and signed (and glittery) copy of Dotty HERE.


Lots of love from my little city. See you there!

A Magic Season

Many things happening here behind the scenes. Can't wait to share! Until then, I'm just grateful to say some hopeful seeds that were planted, are beginning to POP POP POP (simultaneously of course, because Life always seems to bloom at once, with your having very little say in the matter!)

You know those moments in career, interior life, childhood, where a definite movement, a shift, change, wings its way in and asks the question: "Ok. It's time. Are you ready?"... and it's usually when you aren't 100% sure you are, but you are finally willing to try? As September begins, I hear the question again, for the many changes ahead. It always makes me feel small and thrilled.

September is all about this question though, isn't it? Back-to-school, new starts, many people in our circle, dear friends, family are being asked that question too. Yum. There is nothing more delectable to me than crisp-edged transition! And a precipice should always be located between seasons, I think.

The leaves have not yet changed, so you can have one foot in Fall and one foot in Summer.

But this is my favorite time of year, regardless! It's the edge between two seasons, really. I'll call it the Magic Season. When peaches overlap apples. Buses roar. Books are written and read and come to life. Jazz and cities play, but fiddles and shore are still alive. You pick up the search again for a perfect yellow sweater, maybe you'll find it this year...What do you like about this time of year? 

(That's Walden Pond and the last of summer reading: Tom's Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce)

What I've learned this year:

So much is unknown. Be brave, paint anyways.

Art Camp!

Greetings, friends. Hope you are enjoying your summer! Yes, it's slowed down over here on the bloggy. Life is moving fast, summer is speeding by like a cloud in the sky. Yesterday, I visited my friend Amanda's art class at camp in Brookline. Dotty came along, and we made our own imaginary friends (including necessary yarn leash for keeping track of them!) The building was beautiful, full of light, paint, and clay everywhere...It practically shouted: LET'S MAKE MAKE MAKE!

Elmer's 'n' spots!

A sampling of some great imaginary friends:

"Force Field" and his twin.

The Hannahs.

A whole party, ringleader named "Cute." There was also a "Snorkel" in the crowd.

We believe in imaginary friends! 

Part III: Visiting Sheepskerry Island

At long last: Part III! Sorry for the delay, I was with the Fairy Bells themselves (art for Book 3, the cover for Book 5 now finished.) I promised you a trip to Sheepskerry Island, so let's go!



I have been WAITING to tell you about this secret trip for almost a year! 
What made it so secret? 

Well, (1) the Fairy bells were not yet announced, and (2) Sheepskerry itself was based on a real and secret island (which shall not be revealed) on midcoast, Maine. It cannot be found on a GPS. It is only known by locals. There are no streets or cars on it, just worn paths for wheelbarrows and boardwalks for feet. The only way to get there is to drive up a winding mainland road clutching a detailed map written by Margaret McNamara herself, putting a lot of trust in her, your little city Civic, and a lobster boat...

Lobster boat? Yes, lobster boat. You must leave your car here, at the tippity top of the hill, and get on one, if you want to cross the water. While you wait, you will be stunned by the view that suddenly opens up ahead: a sparkling bay dotted with islands. Sheepskerry is SO secret and small that someone (a kind, older woman, also waiting for the lobster boat on your bench) might lean over and ask: "Who do YOU know on the island?" Because everyone knows everyone on the island!

    (In the books, there is a fairy ferry...and it is a harbor seal named Merryweather, see Book 3.)

So that is how to get to Margaret McNamara's favorite place, home to the Fairy Bell sisters. Before I continue, I'll tell you the third and final secret: Margaret's real name is Brenda (she writes as Margaret and represents artists and writers as rep Brenda Bowen). She graciously invited me up last August, so I could see Sheepskerry myself, take pictures, and learn how to build a proper fairy house. It was a pleasure getting to meet her, and her family, and childhood friends. Most of them have summered on this island for generations.

When the lobster boat reached Sheepskerry, I could see Brenda arriving at the dock, accompanied by her family (right away I spotted her and daughter's red hair and freckles–thought of Rosy!) It was a treat to finally meet her after the long journey, emailing, and reading her stories. And, just like the Summer People do in Book 2, we loaded my bags into a big wheelbarrow and headed up the footpath to her cottage, passing friends and fields of wild flowers on the way. 

Author, Margaret McNamara

I wasn't prepared for the meadows! They stole the breath right out of me. The Fairy Bells' world expanded into wildflower blooms and sun. My lungs were filled with the kind of air you can't breathe in the city. It was a old-fashioned, unplugged place, surrounded by blue, magical even just for those reasons, if not for the fact a whole village of fairies were living here, and I'd get to meet them soon...

We passed Brenda's friends on the way to her house. We set the wheelbarrow down so I could meet them: Betsy, and her daughter, Isadora (who served as the inspiration for one very crafty, creative and stylish fairy–guess who?) She even let me peek into her attic craft room full of scraps of cloth and strings of beads and yarn, dolls and dresses in the works. Goldie would have loved it up there...

 We reached Brenda's cottage and she showed me my room so I could set my bags and supplies down...there I spied a wildflower bouquet (what would become Rosy's wildflower bouquet in Book 2!)

Lunch was on the porch (which included, yes, Fairy Cake, recipe in Book 1) with the wind whipping and the sound of surf. We finally had a good chat. We talked about Clara, Rosy, Sylva, Goldie and Squeak, J. M. Barrie. It was fascinating to hear about her many hats in the publishing industry.

We laughed when we found out we were both from a big family, full of sisters. And I could tell she liked pretending. It's always interesting, being an adult who makes a living at pretending. And it's especially fun to meet another who does, too. You can relax, you can be kindreds. Brenda was full of ideas and always had a glint in her eye. I could tell she had some adventures planned. Sure enough she announced it was time for our first appointment on Sheepskerry: Building Fairy Houses! 

Is it terrible I had never made a fairy house until that day? Have you? I was a little nervous. Brenda, Betsy, Isadora, and Avery (a "Summer Child" who came through the woods to join us) knew just how to do it. Isadora patiently explained that you use only found and natural things in a fairy house (but more on How To Build A Fairy House later, I'll be making a post for that).

Here are some highlights from the woods...

Look at the tiny furniture Isadora made with bits of bark! 
(For al fresco fairy dining.)

The boardwalk runs right by Fairy Village, just as it does in Book 2, when the fairies hide in their homes from the loud summer children (and dogs)...

I topped mine off with a found crab's head chimney.

Betsy's looked like a sacred fairy place, a good place for a wedding?

Then we toured Sheepskerry, with Brenda leading me to all the places she wrote about...

"Fairy School"

"Cathedral Pines"

Avery joined us too!

(Where I imagined the mermaids from Book 2.)

Evidence of troll-life?

It wasn't long before I could really SEE the Fairy Bells living under the ferns and tall pines, playing cards in their mossy little house. When sunset came, we all paraded down the boardwalk toward "White Rose Cottage" for dinner on their back porch facing the bay. It was a sweet bunch of people, a night of old island tales, twinkling light. I was so grateful to be a part of it and invited to Sheepskerry.

Dinner on the island.

Yes it was a visit to a real place, but one woven with ribbons of fiction. Everywhere we walked, even during dinner, or in the middle of a story, Brenda would break into a whisper with a wink, a nudge and a Fairy Bell clue...that "this" or "that" was something from third book, or where Goldie collects sea glass. The best part of our jobs, as book makers I think, is to pretend, and I was honored to be able to do it alongside Margaret McNamara, in the place where the Fairy Bells lived...

Farewell, till next time, thanks for making the trip up to Sheepskerry!

Books 1, 2 are all available wherever books are sold:

If you'd like to read the rest of the Fairy Bell Blog Kickoff,  Part I: Fairy Bell Release Day is HERE and Part II: Behind the Scenes With the Bells is HERE. This summer I'll be posting How to Build Your Own Fairy House, so I'll be seeing you again very soon...!

Part II: Behind the Scenes With the Bells

Good morning! Today is the second installment of the blog kickoff for the Fairy Bell Sisters! Books 1 and 2 are out on shelves now. For Part II: Behind the Scenes With the Bells, I'd love to show you some sketching from the studio...

Once again, I found myself drawing siblings, and sisters, no less! As the oldest of five kids, it's always fun to seek out that "family resemblance" and build from there. There were lots of conversations about the Bell sisters between Margaret, Donna, Amy and the sales team. We settled on the idea that every fairy would look related but be distinctly individual (in hair color, skin tone, facial features, clothing style). I knew from the manuscript that these fairies lived in a very natural world and loved to play and accessorize with mussel shells and pine cones, feather skirts and milkweed pods...

But first, I wanted to nail down my art style and decided what level of reality these fairies would exist in. It would help me to build the characters and world. Donna and Amy asked to see two styles: my graphic "crayon" style and a more realistic approach. So I experimented with Sylva (previously named "Silver")...

(Pardon the sushi!)

Style #1: Crayon (Interesting to imagine the series if it had gone this way, right?)

Style #2: Realism

The team decided on realism, so I set to work on the sisters. At this point, I only had the manuscript for the first book. My favorite job as an illustrator is to extract visual clues from the author's story, and balance that with how they behave in my imagination. Choosing wing colors and variations on each fairy was a SUPER girlhood dream come true...I was in second-grade again!

Sylva was always platinum blonde in my mind, a little translucent and wispy. She's brave too (as you will see in the troll battle) and quick-thinking. Sylva always seems wide-eyed to me and seeking adventure. I kept imagining her as if she'd JUST landed for a moment to say hello before flying off again...

From the text, I knew Clara had dark skin that shimmered against an aqua gown. She is the oldest, very strong-willed, and a confident leader for her sisters. I gave her a noble gaze.

 Goldie's the stylish, slightly self-involved sister, but with a heart of gold and a love of creativity. I imagined her weaving leaves and flowers into her hair. Sadly, her pixie-bangs were asked to be deleted, but I added them to other fairy friends later in the series!

 Rosy is brave, patient, loyal, and selfless. She has endless amounts of encouragement for her sisters, and an unguarded heart. I knew that the author imagined her as a redhead so I went that way...

 Squeak is just plain awesome. She's a baby fairy and can speak her own language! Examples: "Bo-bo"= let's eat, and "No lo-lo" = don't be sad. I pictured her with a wild little top knot!

Then we started on the first two cover sketches. Sylva would be holding a mermaid's pearl or sea glass (from her exploits on the beach) and Rosy would have an armful of wild flowers (for a certain summer child...) 

And as you might imagine, there were MYRIAD outfit changes in the course of sketching and revised sketching, painting, and Photoshopping! I think we got Sylva and Rosy to where they needed to be:  

Thanks for stopping by! Come back for Part III: Visiting Sheepskerry Island,  my trip to meet author Margaret McNamara and our real-life adventures on Sheepskerry Island!

You can read Part I: Fairy Bell Release Day HERE.

Fairy Bell Release Day!

by Margaret McNamara, published by Balzer + Bray

Today is the day Clara, Rosy, Golden, Sylva and Baby Squeak (Hortensia) officially fly from the island to bookshelves everywhere! They would absolutely love to meet you, and I'd love to introduce them:

The sisters live here, on Sheepskerry Island: 

Book #1 features brave & quick-thinking Sylva Bell:

There are water fights, troll attacks, balls, ....

Book #2 features big-hearted Rosy Bell:

With summer children, secret letters, daring chases, fairy houses...

Book #1& #2 are available wherever books are sold. Book #3, featuring Goldie, comes in September. Big congratulations to enchanting Bell author Margaret McNamara (her new FB page is here) and who dreamed the world, the sisters and their adventures up! And to the B+B team: Amy Ryan, Donna Bray, Erin Fitzimmons for the gorgeous design, type, art direction, encouragement and unending energy.

(P.S. The paperbacks shimmer!)

I'll be posting Part II: Behind the Scenes With the Bells, and Part III: Visiting Sheepskerry Island. So stay tuned. Welcome to the adventure!

OK, Spring! Let's do this thing.

A song that sounds like Spring: Waltz by Mother Falcon

It's here! It's officially here! In New England, we are clinging tightly to the hope of Spring! It comes after the longest, meanest winter I can remember. It wasn't so much the ferocity of it, but the length and the relentless pace of its storms. No sunshine for weeks, white on white. I heard a meteorologist explain that this pummeling-by-snowstorm all the way to the bitter end is the atmosphere's way of balancing out. But! No more snow talk! You know what Spring is? Brave. And so is color. We can help speed the new season in with pops of it...

A color CAN save you. Green always will.

Dear-to-my-heart Annie Moore of Candlewick lore, color-comrade, and writing partner with some brave green growing right out of her pocket!

I am convinced tubes of paint are magic charms. This particular shade of new-shoot green is my current color affair. It is also conveniently bottled as "April Green" by Dr. Ph Martin. #colorfever

Shimmering beetles at the Harvard Museum of Natural History.

A little painted card by Emily in her favorite yellow!

Last snowstorm, I fought off Winter with a tube of aqua and some grocery store alstroemeria....

I think it's good to get brave and messy with color, paint with it, play in it, eat it, seek it out.  Let color remind you of the warm and bright days ahead of us... (even if it snows again!)

Happy Spring, ladies and gentlemen! 

A Wonderful Thing.

I'm turning 30 (oomph) on Sunday. I was born in the heart of winter. I will be honest and tell you 29 has been hard. (I hear the 30's are a piece of cake! ;) But this year, friendship is what has pulled me back when I reached for it. I am learning too, that it is OK to reach for it. Does it make us grown-up to realize we're small? That it's ok to be vulnerable? That we can't do everything ourselves? That sometimes we need to rely on hearts around us...that it's an honor to rely on, and to be relied upon.

Friendship is the thing I am most grateful for as I come to the end of this decade. It is a deep treasure, right? To have one and to be one. To need one and to search for one. To find one and to become one. It's what can bloom between us in the heart of Winter, when we are not afraid to let it Spring. 

An enormous Happy 30th to my best childhood friend, Kay, today! (She goes over the hill first!)

Chronicle's "Watercolor" Collection

Hey, Tuesday! Interrupting fairy deadlines with a bit of news: I'm excited and honored to be included in this cheery collection of contemporary watercolorists. The book is beautifully designed and includes some of my esteemed favorites like Becca Statdlander, Sujean Rim, what company! Watercolor hits stores in April. Thanks to the fine folks at Chronicle, and author/curator Leslie Ann Dutcher.

Have a beautiful week, folks!