The Adventures of Tintin

the adventures of tintin

The blue sweater. The white dog. The hair swoosh. This could only be Tintin, one of the most iconic European comic book characters of the 20th century. We celebrated his globe-trotting adventures with the Princeton Garden Theatre, our local non-profit movie house extraordinaire. In 2016, we collaborated with the Garden on another book-to-film event, How to Train Your Dragon. It was so much fun, we decided to head back for another round!

princeton garden theaterFamilies entering the theater were greeted by a table covered with postcards (I found a pack of 92 vintage postcards at the thrift store for for $4 woot!) and a big world map.

postcard table and mapKids were invited to select a postcard and write their name and address on it. Then, they put the postcard in the red mailbox for a chance to win a stuffed animal of Snowy, Tintin’s faithful canine companion. Katie modeled the mailbox after the ones she saw in Brussels (birthplace of Tintin!). Isn’t it awesome? It has pom-pom feet!

brussels mailbox

The stuffed Snowy drawing happened at the event. But after the event, those same postcards were mailed to the kids with a special message from Tintin (and a paw stamp from Snowy).

postcard from tintinNext to the postcard table was a big map (50″ x 32″) mounted on foam board:

tintin location mapKatie selected some cool Tintin location images from the various volumes and attached them to the map. A line and a flag showed the actual location on the map.

tintin in peruDuring the event, kids were invited to add pushpin flags on locations they had traveled to. As it turns out, our crowd was pretty well traveled! Iceland, Australia, India, Thailand, Costa Rica, China, Hawaii, South Korea, Europe…

pushpin locations Around the corner from the postcard and map table were 2 additional activities: A Tintin head band with the iconic hair flip, and a pull-along box Snowy. The box Snowy was a 2″ x 4″ x 4″ craft box with a Snowy template taped to both sides. Add a clear elastic beading cord pull string and the Snowy followed you around the theater!

The headband was very simple…orange paper with a pre-cut hair flip to added to the front. Here’s an excited trio with the heads bands and a Snowy!

trio at eventNotice the little Captain Haddock key chains they’re holding up? Those were part of a trivia contest we were running. Our Tintin expert had a couple key chains on hand to give to kids who correctly guessed Snowy’s original name in the comics (which were first published in French).

tintin triviaIn honor of Snowy, we also had a very, very special performance. A live dog show provided by William Berloni Theatrical Animals, an amazing organization that trains rescue animals for movies, television, and theater!

bill and bowdieBill Berloni is a Tony-Award winner with decades of experience training animals. In fact, he trained the very first Sandy for the original production of Annie. He and his apprentice, Andy, brought 3 dogs – Marti, who plays Sandy in Annie (and this was the Sandy from the 2014 movie!), Nessa, who plays Toto in The Wizard of Oz, and Bowdie, who plays Winn-Dixie in Because of Winn-Dixie. Above is Bowdie. Below is Marti, waiting with Andy to go on stage:

marti and andyAnd here’s Nessa, the cutest, most enthusiastic Toto ever, racing down the aisle:

bill and nessaBill shared a little of his history, his training techniques, and the rescue stories of each of the dogs. There were plenty of demonstrations too, both on and off the leash. The thing that shone through the most however? How happy the dogs are, how much they love working with Bill, and what a tremendous advocate he is for rescue animals. He’s truly amazing. He’s also an author! After the event, he gave me a copy of his heart-warming book, Broadway Tails: Heartfelt Stories of Rescue Dogs Who Became Showbiz Superstars (Lyons Press, 2008), which has a foreword by Bernadette Peters.

Once the dog show ended, we rolled Steven Spielberg’s 2011 film The Adventures of Tintin, which he did in collaboration with Peter Jackson’s production company. Lots of thrills, chases, and fantastic loading dock crane battle. Yes!

adventures_of_tintin_the_secret_of_the_unicorn_ver5

Original poster image source: Imp Awards

As I was cleaning up after the event, I found a Tintin box a young fan had fashioned from 2 of our craft projects. The likeness is amazing…and it’s so cute…why didn’t I think of that?!?

tintin box

Original image source: Tintin Wiki


Many thanks to the Princeton Garden Theatre for being such awesome hosts, and to William Berloni Theatrical Animals for sharing your amazing canine actors with us!

Worlds at His Fingertips

worlds at his fingertips artwork by keenu haleBoats float on the stars, a scarecrow waltzes with crows, a magic wand transforms a snowman, a box bursts with enthusiastic jazz musicians. These are the images and worlds created by talented local artist, Keenu Hale. Today, I’m going to sing his praises.

artist keenu haleFor several years, Keenu has been a welcome guest at Cotsen Critix, our literary society for kids ages 9-12 (you also might recall hearing about him and his awesome cartooning skills at our How to Train Your Dragon event). A few facts about Keenu: he won his first drawing contest at 18 months; he is an artist with autism; he was featured in a television interview for the AttachAvi Autism Foundation in 2016; he generously gives his time to children’s hospitals, autism fundraisers, and art festivals; he is currently an animation major at the School of Visual Arts in NYC. In short, Keenu totally rocks.

jazz musicians by keenu hale

Keenu’s draws inspiration from Jim Henson and Tim Burton. Jim Henson for his odd, slapstick humor, and Tim Burton for his dark, somewhat creepy worlds. You can see how he blends both perfectly.

class photo with frame artwork by keenu haleheadless horseman artwork by keenu halegoats artwork by keenu halesnowman artwork by keenu haleKeenu has hundreds of original characters and story lines. Take, for example, his debut comic book, Life in the Suburbs. In the story, a human boy named Timmy lives with his non-human scarecrow family. While Burlap and Cotton (his parents), are happy to live on the farm, Timmy wants to live in the suburbs. But as Timmy and his siblings Lacy and Jinko learn, moving in and fitting in are two very different things! The comic is charming, funny, and really nicely paced.

life in the suburbs by keenu haleKeenu also collaborated with his cousin to produce Queen, You Are Beautiful! It follows the life of Queen, a young girl who must deal with bullies and discover her inner beauty.

queen you are beautiful artwork by keenu hale queen image 2 artwork by keenu halequeen image 3 artwork by keenu haleWhen Keenu visits our library, we always start with an interview and a viewing of his vast portfolio. Then he does a drawing exercise with the kids. At the very end of the workshop, Keenu makes custom freehand drawings of whatever characters the kids can think of. He does each drawing in minutes. It’s amazing. Here are just a few from his last visit (including one of his own characters, Rosemary):

quick characters by keenu hale


Many thanks to Keenu for allowing us to share his art! All images courtesy of the artist.

Misako Rocks!

misako rocks Manga fans, sharpen your pencils! We were delighted to host Misako Takashima (popularly known as Misako Rocks!) at an intensive drawing workshop for 10-14 year-olds. Check out our interview with Misako at the end of the post!

misako's workThe workshop primarily focused on character development, as well as a little history on Japanese culture and manga. After a hilarious PowerPoint presentation about growing up in Japan and coming to America, Misako jumped right in to the art. Wielding a variety of markers, she demonstrated how to structure faces and make mouths, eyes, and even hair expressive.

easelsThe kids were loaded up with paper and pencils so they could sketch along with Misako.

kids working 2My favorite part, however, was when Misako would circulate among the young artists, commenting on their work, making suggestions, and giving mini-lessons to help improve their drawings.

kids working 3Another fabulous thing about the workshop? The kids’ art! In addition to some spur-of-the-moment sketches, many of them brought their portfolios with them. Here are just a few…

manga twinsblonde braidwolvescharactersyellow houseposterguitarred girl


In addition to publishing her own work, Misako has been featured in magazines and newspapers, including Elle Girl and the New York Times. The BBC and TV Asahi featured her in a documentary about her comic book life, and her Instagram flows with photos, sketches, and artistic exuberance.

misakoWhen did you first start drawing manga, and why did it intrigue you?

I started drawing when I was 8 or 9 just like any girls copied their favorite characters. But professionally I started drawing in 2004. It was my first dream that I wanted to become a puppeteer in Broadway (to work for Lion King musical!), but I gave up on myself.
Then I noticed that Japanese pop culture (anime and manga) was getting pretty popular around that time. I thought that I had to switch my career when this was pretty trendy! That’s how I started making my story and drawing.

Describe the steps you take to draw a single page in one of your books.

First I roughly draw panels and add lines to the characters. At this time I don’t draw backgrounds. Then I start polishing each page: 1 draw with blue pencil. 2 draw with calligraphy brush. I draw background separately. Scan everything and color with Photoshop.

What’s more difficult for you…writing the story, or drawing the art?

Writing the story is more difficult for me, because English is my second language. I am still learning! My study will never stop! But I do have so many ideas, so I don’t have any problems to come up with a theme!

Name some other artists you love!
Yukari Ichijo is my favorite manga artist, Klimt, and Charles Burns, the graphic novel artist of Black Hole. Art Spiegleman, the graphic novel artist of Maus might be my No1!

What’s one of the most unusual things you’ve received from a fan?

A photo of her tattoo…she used my illustration!!! I was blown away by it.

What’s your advice for young artists who want to draw manga?

In order to make stories, I always advise them to go outside and have fun! Because those days really help them to create interesting and exciting stories. Also give yourself 1 min sketch practice. I sat on a bench in a park to draw people sit in front of me for one minute! I kept doing a lot to develop my drawing skill.

What are you working on now?

I am working on my weekly web comic: BOUNCE BACK. The theme is a school bully, racism, friendship, finding identity etc, etc. But it has a fantasy character, so it’s still entertaining! I bet readers will feel related to my characters Lilico and Paige.

Also I am working on Japanese manga comic too. I go to Japan often to be on TV and radio show to talk about my projects. Sometimes I visit schools to give a motivational speech. This is very exciting!


Artist photo courtesy of Misako Takashima.