Studio Snapshots: Jessica Love

Today we’re visiting author and illustrator, Jessica Love! Her debut picture book, Julián is a Mermaid (Candlewick, 2018), is the story of a young boy who loves mermaids and dresses up like one. And, under the loving acceptance of his Abuela, joins others in a costumed parade. Gorgeously illustrated, the book was a 2019 recipient of the Stonewall Book Awards, sponsored by the Rainbow Round Table of the American Library Association.

Her newest book is the radiant Julián at the Wedding (Candlewick, 2020). You can visit Jessica’s Instagram and webpage  (and make sure to check out the custom murals she did)!


My fiancé and I moved to this piece of property just as the lockdown was kicking into gear. We are both artists (Daniel is a furniture maker) and had been looking for some land with buildings we could both work on for years.

When we found this place it had an old barn for his woodshop, and a one room schoolhouse which we would convert into my studio. The schoolhouse was not insulated, had no running water or electricity and was the place of residence of three, 6 foot long black snakes.

Schoolhouse Snake_2Over the course of several months, Daniel transformed the place–he put in windows, did the electrical wiring, and even some ad-hoc plumbing so I could have a functioning sink. He built custom cabinetry, insulated the whole building, hung drywall on the ceiling and made beautiful maple plywood wall finishes, with custom paneling.

Schoolhouse 8_1The result is that every surface in my work studio was lovingly hand-made. I get to work inside a present.

Schoolhouse 10_1The snakes still live around the building, but we respect each other, and keep our distance. I consider them my co-workers.


Images courtesy of Jessica Love

Splashy Spelling

Get kids C-L-E-A-N with this simple alphabet activity for your bathtub. Rubber ducky not included, but you shoud T-O-T-A-L-L-Y get one!

You’ll need:

  • Cellophane
  • Scissors
  • Bathtub or tub of water

The concept of this project is simple. Cut a bunch of alpahbet letters out of cellophane, then float them in the tub during your next bathtime. Gently moving the different letters around, you can spell CAT, RAT, BAT, MAT or whatever combination you would like to try!

And if you try SUPERCALIFRAGILISTICEXPIALIDOCIOUS, definitly send me a pic.

Cellophane is notoriously crinkly, so two hints: 1) Draw the letter template on a sheet of paper, lay the cellophane piece on top, then cut both; 2) If your desk scissors are tearing the cellophabe, use fabric scissors (seen below).

As you can see from the image that started this post, the cellophane floats easily on the water, sinking a bit as the bath progresses and the waters shift. However! I learned that not all cellophanes act like this!

I ordered some rainbow cello sheets from Amazon, wanting to use a fun assortment of colors for the letters. Well, I put them in tub and they just curled and melted like some sort of Wicked Witch of the West. And when I grabbed them, they stained the water AND my fingers pink! Noooooooooooo!

Luckily, I had another roll of blue cellophane in the house, purchased from Michael’s Craft store. Nervous, I laid the cellophane letters on the water…it worked! Floating, no curling, no staining! So if you want a pretty sure bet for this project, head to Michael’s to pick up some cellophane rolls. And test a sample of your cello before putting them in the tub with your child. This activity can also be done in a convinient dishtub or kiddie pool.

Happy splashing and spelling!

From Folklore to Fantasy

Recently, the Cotsen Children’s Library was delighted to co-host a live Zoom webinar with talented authors Sanyantani DasGupta (the Kiranmala series, Scholastic) and Roshani Chokshi (the Aru Shah series, Rick Riordan Presents). My co-host was Vineet Chander from Princeton University’s Office of Religious Life, Hindu Life Program. Additional sponsors included the Princeton Public Library, Labyrinth Books, and jaZams.

The discussion concluded with a lively Q&A from our enthusiastic young attendees, including the answer to the burning question: Skittles or M&Ms???


If you would like to check out additional author, illustrator, and artist interviews, visit our BiblioFiles archive. And many thanks to everyone who particioated in this amazing event!


Images courtesy of the authors