Friday, July 26, 2013

Peanut Review by The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (circ: 4,000) did a very nice review of Peanut. Thanks so much for the kind words!

"Anxious about fitting in at a new school, sophomore Sadie Wildhack tries to seem more interesting by inventing one little lie about herself: a severe peanut allergy. Soon she is telling elaborate stories of near-death experiences, vigilantly avoiding peanut products, and dodging the school nurse who wants medical forms signed by Sadie’s mom. When she starts to make real friends and catches the eye of a cute boy who is interested in more than her allergy, Sadie wants to leave the lie behind but can’t find a way to come clean.

A simple, honest, yet light-hearted story about a small misstep becoming a big deal, this graphic novel strikes just the right balance between charm and seriousness. Sadie and her friends are eminently likable and real, and readers will enjoy watching Sadie grow more confident amongst her peers, even as she grows increasingly anxious about her lie. Her relationship with boyfriend Zoo is sweetly supportive, even in the face of her eventual humiliation, and understanding adults help temper the impact when her lie is revealed.

The illustrations keep the focus on Sadie, leaving her the only spot of color (she’s always in a bright red top) amid the otherwise black and white scenes. This tale of a lie gone very wrong will strike a chord with readers who have fudged the truth to get attention."  AM

Tales To Behold #3 now serialized on THE COSMIC BEHOLDER

To get you into the mood for the forthcoming Tales To Behold #4 (this fall), I've started to serialize TTB3 on THE BEHOLDER. Yes, indeed, you can read it for free!

Here are are the first 6 pages:
Page 1        Page 2
Page 3        Page 4
Page 5        Page 6

If you can't wait to see how it all unfolds of the next 2 months, and make me a very happy Beholder, you might even consider purchasing the entire book here:

It's hand-made with block-printed color elements. For $6, you get 48 pages of comics! Before the month is over, Bird Cage Bottom Books even has a special, if you order for $15 or more. For the coupon, click here and scroll to the bottom of the page:

But no pressure– in the meantime, hope you'll enjoy the story!

Write-up about BEA 2013 Illustrator Tour

During BEA 2013, I was part of the Illustrator Studio Tour. For one day, I had groups of nice book sellers from all over the country visit me, check out my work and my studio, and my latest book projects. And they received some nice goodies from me, courtesy of Random House, Boyd Mills and Chronicle.

The other illustrators on the tour were such great people as John Green, You Byun, Tad Hills, Betsy and Ted Lewin, and Kate Yamasaki.

The American Booksellers Association did a nice write-up about it, including some pics of me:’s-book-illustrators

(Photo from the ABA website)

Thanks to everybody who came out to visit me, and to the ABA for having, and to Random House for setting this up!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Original art from PEANUT in The Steps Shown gallery at "3rd In The Burg"

I am showing original art from my graphic novel PEANUT at The Steps Shown stairwell gallery in Harrisburg, PA, this weekend! Jonathan Bean is not only a friend, but a supremely talented children's book illustrator and author, and I'm honored to be shown at his event.

From Jonathan Bean's Blog:
I am thrilled to be showing the work of the very talented Paul Hoppe for this month's 3rd in the Burg. All around illustration juggernaut, Paul does it all: picture books, children's magazines, zines, graphic novels and editorial! The Steps Shown stairwell gallery will feature Paul's drawings from Peanut, the recently released, and deservedly praised, YA graphic novel by Ayun Halliday. Paul is busily at work in NYC and won't be present, but you can visit him online and tell him how much you like his work at
This month's open studio: Friday, July 19, 6-9pm.
1320 North 3rd Street, 3rd Floor 
Harrisburg, PA 17102
Hope you can make it. A visit includes a refreshing drink, an activity for children and air conditioning! 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

SVA Illustration Summer Residency 2013

The Illustration Summer Residency program at the School of Visual Arts is in its sixth (!) year, and this time around we're actually doing two sessions. One was in the month of June, and the other one is happening now, throughout July.

The residency is a one month illustration boot-camp that includes classes in illustration portfolio (taught by Viktor Koen), painting and drawing (usually by Greg Crane, this July by Kelynn Z. Alder), and Sequential / Narrative art (by yours truly). During the month they also have guest lecturers and studio visits, and immerse themselves into the New York City art world.

In my class, we are doing short picture stories in-class, and discuss interesting books on the topic, including graphic novels, children's books and reportage drawings.

The month culminates in an Open House exhibition, this time it will be August 8th, 6-9pm, in the lobby of 141 West 21st street. One night only! Hope to see you there!

For more info, follow the residency on twitter and facebook, or contact program coordinator Keren Moscovitch.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

PEANUT Reviews RoundUp

PEANUT, my graphic novel that I was working on for about 3 years and which is written by Ayun Halliday and published by Schwartz & Wade / Random House, got some very nice reviews from respected publications and also online. Here is the lowdown!

Earlier in the year, we got two (!) Starred Reviews, from Publishers Weekly and from School Library Journal, and a super-nice review from The New York Times, who calls it "…a smart, affecting graphic young adult novel…"

I've also already posted about the very nice reviews in The Horn Book and in the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Additionally, we were very happy that The Miami Herald featured PEANUT in its Spring graphic novel round up, calling it "…a terrific all-ages effort. Halliday’s bittersweet script is expertly illuminated by Hoppe, whose savvy camera angles and naturalistic layouts add inestimably to the experience."

Also The Buffalo News  wrote a very nice review, calling our book "…a page-turner from beginning to end, as Sadie learns there were probably easier ways to get comfortable with new people in a new place."

VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates) wrote:
“Emphasis is put on the importance of Sadie having friends, which will resonate with teenage girls who put popularity at a premium... The black-and-white illustrations are well drawn, with the choice to depict Sadie wearing a red top in each frame a symbolic color for her situation... This is a good selection for both public and school libraries with graphic novel collections.”

There was also a nice endorsment by The Eisenhower Public Library, saying that "…Sadie’s friends are not two-dimensional. Instead, they are slow to forgive and continually transform. The storyline is simple, but Sadie is a complex girl spinning lies with big consequences."

There were also some very kind reviews online / on blogs:
Reading Rants said it "…will feel very familiar to anyone who’s ever tried to break into a new table in the cafeteria…"

On the PlayBack Blog, the Love Fool column said it was "…thought-provoking on a personal level."
And then there was this great mention in Bust magazine:

Many thanks again to the reviewers for spending time with our book, and for the kind words!
If you have reviewed Peanut and you're not on the list, let me know and I'll post it here!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

My big project for Highlights: Which Way USA

Since last year, I've been continuously working on a series of books for Boyd Mills / Highlights for Children and finally wanted to give a scoop about it.

The project is called Which Way USA and is a series of puzzle books about the 50 States. I have signed up to do at least 8 of these books, three of which are already done (Illinois, Ohio and Hawaii). Other states will be done by other artists.

The way they're set up is that 4 teams of characters are racing through these states, solving puzzles and exploring the particular State, little bit like the Amazing Race.

A What's Wrong® picture, at the Honolulu Zoo. Can you spot the silly things?
The protagonists, Tripp and Scout, are based on photographic reference. The competing teams have been created by me, based on directions from Highlights.

It's a complex project because it includes not only researching and visualizing locations but also creating mazes, hidden pictures and other visual riddles and games. But I enjoy creating atmospheres and backgrounds, and I can bring a lot of my humor into the books.
I enjoy coming up with funny characters and silly situations.

Luckily my brain can manage to come up with these riddles and puzzles. I was told that I have "a puzzler's brain".

Since the content is sometimes complicated, and the schedule is pretty tight, I chose to keep the drawings light and use a simple line with flat computer coloring. The resulting images are very much "me", which is very satisfying.

The books can be ordered like in a book club. You get the first one free, and if you like it, you can subscribe to more.

It's an interesting experience to be part of such a big undertaking. It certainly provides great stability, and I still can do some freelance projects, though I do have to be economic with my time.

All of this wouldn't be possible if it wasn't for Creative Director Robbin Gourley who suggested me for this project, and my art director Michele Weisman who is coordinating all 50 books, so thanks again for making me part of the Highlights family!