Registration Deadline Approaches for Illustrator Studio Tours

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On Wednesday, May 29, from noon to 3:45 p.m., during BookExpo America, the Children’s Book Council and the ABC Children’s Group at ABA will send a group of lucky booksellers on a tour of children’s book illustrators’ studios to give them a behind-the-scenes peek into the creative lives of some of today’s top talent. The tour is open to ABC Group bookstore members only. There is no fee to participate, but space is limited. Registration for the event will close on May 10. 

Small groups of booksellers will be welcomed into up to three studios for half-hour sessions with participating illustrators. Groups will be provided with personalized itineraries but will be responsible for their own transportation. The event is limited to two booksellers per ABA member business, regardless of the number of store locations.

Three of the participating artists — Katie Yamasaki, Betsy Lewin, and Ted Lewin — recently spoke to Bookselling This Week about their most recent projects and their excitement about the upcoming tours.   

Katie Yamasaki

Yamasaki’s most recent book project is Fish for Jimmy (Holiday House), but her very latest artistic endeavor was completing a series of murals in Argentina as part of an international event in Cordoba. “About 60 artists from North and South America, the Caribbean, Europe and Africa came together in March to create many murals around the theme of ‘Children and War,’” Yamasaki said. “It was an incredible opportunity to collaborate with amazing muralists from around the world.”

About the BEA studio tours, Yamasaki said, “I am really excited to have independent booksellers to my studio because it’s an opportunity to share the variety of ways that my art practice is built around storytelling, both in books and with my mural work. My studio is also kind of a creative haven … It’s such a special place for me, and I’m so happy they want to see it!”

Yamasaki has personal ties to the world of independent bookselling. “My dad’s cousin was one of the first employees of City Lights in San Francisco, and he still works there today. My sister worked for many years at Powell’s,” she said.

Yamasaki, who this past weekend signed books at Prairie Lights in Iowa City, Iowa, told BTW: Independent bookstores “provide a magical place — a cultural hub that represents artistic diversity and democracy at its finest.”

Betsy and Ted Lewin

Betsy and Ted Lewin work in studios that are close together and both have recent book projects that involve animals. 

Betsy Lewin’s latest is Thumpy Feet (Holiday House), which is based on her cat, Sophie. “Even though she’s tiny she throws out her front feet and they thump when she walks, like the swagger of a big old male lion,” Betsy said. “I basically followed her through a normal day of eating, playing, and sleeping. The text was easy. It’s the way we talk to her.”

What Am I? Where Am I? (Holiday House) is Ted Lewin’s most recent project and a natural extension of Look!, his first book in the I Like to Read series. “In this latest book, I invite the reader to guess what the animal is from a peek on the preceding page, and then guess where it lives,” he said.

Betsy and Ted Lewin are looking forward to inviting booksellers into their studies. “There is plenty to look at in our studios, but what we’re most excited to show is each of our quite different processes. Everyone likes to know how things are done,” the Lewins said.

Calling independent booksellers “the heart and soul of the business,” the Lewins said, “They’re always a lot of fun, and we really value their opinions. Whenever we can, we love to visit their stores and do book signings.”

Booksellers can consult the ABC Children’s Group special events registration page for more information about the tours and a list of participating illustrators. Those who have questions or would like to join the ABC Children’s Group should contact ABC Group Manager Shannon O’Connor via e-mail.