Studio Snapshots: Peter Brown

Today we’re visiting Caldecott Honor winning author and illustrator, Peter Brown! Peter has been featured on our blog multiple times (see The Curious Garden, Creepy Carrots, and Creepy Underwear). His other books include The Wild Robot, My Teacher is a Monster!, Mr. Tiger Goes Wild, and Children Make Terrible Pets.

His newest book, the sweet and funny Fred Gets Dressed (Little, Brown, 2021) was released this month, and you can check out more of his works, collaborations, and free coloring pages (woot!) on his website.


Photo 1: Each morning, my wife and I leave our house in Philadelphia and start walking south through the city, with our dog. We end up at a big, old building, that was once a technical high school, but is now an office building filled with artist studios and small businesses and non-profits. We enter the building, go up two flights of stairs, and then walk past the old high school lockers to the end of the hall. When we open the door to our studio, this is what we see. This room used to be a science classroom, and it still has quite a few of the original details.

Photo 2: My wife, Susan Fang, is also an artist, and to make the most of our shared space, we hired a carpenter to build us a large worktable, along with a simple white wall to separate our desk areas. I do most of my drawing at the big table, and then I go over to my computer to do my digital work.

Photo 3: We spend a lot of time in our studio, so we had to make it comfortable for everyone, especially our dog.

Photo 4: To publicize my new picture book, Fred Gets Dressed, the publisher arranged my very first virtual book tour. I sat in this spot and stared at my laptop and spoke to readers all across the country. I discussed the book and read from it and gave drawing demonstrations. It was great that I could speak with so many people, in so many different places, all from my studio. But I’m really looking forward to doing in-person book events again.


Images courtesy of Peter Brown

Banned Books Week 2019

Strega1_2

DePaola, Tomie, Strega Nona: An Original Version of an Old Tale. 1st Little Simon board book ed. New York: Little Simon, 1997. Cotsen Collection, Moveables 37931

This week, Cotsen’s curatorial blog has been honoring Banned Books Week with multiple posts and insights on banned books in our special collections. We invite you to hop on over and check them out…

And Tango Makes Three
Captain Underpants
The Story of Ferdinand
Strega Nona

Can’t resist a subsequent Strega Nona connection on this blog, however. Check out the amazing marzipan pasta-infused confection from our Gingerbread Cottage Challenge!

Marissa Creates

My admiration for Marissa the Dyslexic Librarian is endless. Also apparently endless? Her creative energy! Recently, I learned that while finishing library school AND working full time, she crafted a children’s literary exhibit just for, you know, fun!

Intrigued, I grabbed my camera and headed to The Gallery at Chapin School, a private elementary and middle school in Princeton. The school regularly welcomes community artists to exhibit and teach students about their artwork. In her exhibit statement, Marissa’s described her inspirations for the exhibit, beginning with brainstorming and crafting story time projects at our library:

Part of my job at the Cotsen Children’s Library was to help develop story time projects. Once I started thinking about art and books in 3 dimensional ways, I couldn’t stop. I progressed from construction paper and card stock to eventually cardboard and paint as my projects became increasingly larger. I began to think about how I could turn the world into cardboard. I think there is something so charming and captivating about normal everyday objects being turned into art using unexpected materials.

Animal Talk: Mexican Folk Art Animal Sounds in English and Spanish, by Cynthia Weill, featuring wood scupltures from Oaxaca by Rubí Fuentes and Efraín Broa (Cinco Puntos Press, 2017).

These beautiful stick puppets are just toilet paper tubes, dowels, construction paper, and pen. Look at the lips on the cow!

This is the one piece in the show that was not directly related to a book. However, I am officially awarding it the “Golden X-Acto” award for the incredible detail work around the legs.

Miffy Dances by Dick Bruna (Big Tent Entertainment, 2010).

You might not be able to tell, but behind Miffy is a rack of cardboard clothes. The clothes and the figurine have little velcro dots so you can change her outfits and hats!

When Dinosaurs Came with Everything, written by Elsie Broach, illustrated by David Small (Atheneum Books, 2007).

I will use this dinosaur sculpture technique for a story time project. It will be so.

Gerald and Piggy, as seen on their 10th Anniversary poster, from the Mo Willems series (Hyperion Books).

The photo doesn’t quite capture it, but this adorable portrait is almost 6 feet tall!

Goldfish Ghost, written by Lemony Snicket, and illustrated by Lisa Brown (Roaring Brook Press, 2017).

This is my favorite piece in the show. I want to hug the upside-down ghost fish.

Characters from the Hilda series by Luke Pearson (Flying Eye Books, 2015).

Again, the scale! That’s a bench at the bottom of the photo. Marissa went big with these beloved characters.

At first glance, these might look like simple framed illustrations. But they are actually shadow story panels Marissa created for a story time. While the book was being read, she would shine a light through the various scenes.

Extra Yarn, written by Mac Barnett, and illustrated by Jon Klassen (Balzer + Bray, 2012).

Above you can see the details of one of the shadow story panels.

Niños Mask, by Jeanette Winter (Dial, 2003).

Right. Now it’s GAME ON for all those summer reading bulletin board displays!


Melissa Warren’s work was exhibited at The Gallery at Chapin School Princeton. Many thanks to the school for allowing us to visit and photograph!