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Melvin Fine Mouse: First Day of School

2001 – In the Library with Melvin

I have launched Melvin Fine Mouse: First Day of School. He is now available through Amazon for $7.95. Yes, a shameless commercial plug. (You can click here to see more information.)

Melvin Fine Mouse: First Day of School
Melvin Fine Mouse: First Day of School

I first drew and wrote Melvin in 2001 when I was a librarian at an elementary school in the Orlando area. Each week I taught every child from age 4 to fifth grade.

I knew the first day in my first class when the first grade entered the little library that I was in for the ride of a lifetime, and it might be a bumpy ride. My crowd control skills were nonexistent.

I was a young mom with an art degree. I loved books, was very good at organizing, and I had to drive  40 minutes to take my son to school each day. I may as well stay for the day. So I did.

Reading to the children was my favorite part of the day. Computers were just making their presence known in the library. This was becoming the media center and I was becoming the media specialist.

My incredible volunteers worked hard to get the reading programs on-line and each child registered. The powers that be thought I was an arty misguided soul, but the children LOVED library and it wasn’t because there were computers in the room. There were great books.

Books are what make a library a library. The students enjoyed shelves of shark and dinosaur books,  American Girl books, dog books, cat books, Captain Underpants books, histories of inventions, and true stories of three little pigs. They were reading and loving it.

I could understand this. Children plus books equals a focused thinking young mind.

Melvin is out and about searching for young minds with his rhymes and bright colors.

Melvin and a new friend. copyright ECR 2013
Melvin and a new friend.
copyright ECR 2013

People who didn’t know he existed are welcoming him into their homes. Thank you so much for giving him the opportunity. Like the opportunity that was given me so many years ago in that little library.

And thank you to Will’s fifth grade class who heard this story in that little library and cheered me on. I will never forget their smiles and encouragement.

And my family who cajoled and loved me into pushing Melvin out the studio door.

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Melvin Fine Mouse: First Day of School Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators

What to take to an art conference.

It is time to attend an SCBWI conference. (In other words, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Conference.)

Many years ago, when we lived in San Antonio, I met an artist named Joy Hein. Joy created the most captivating detailed artwork I had ever seen. I was an instant fan. She is a very kind and generous person. Joy encouraged me and made suggestions to further my artwork while I was juggling young motherhood and the desire to paint.

In one of our conversations Joy responded to my interest in children’s illustration with the suggestion to join SCBWI. I did. Years passed, my membership was sporadic. I raised my children and worked as a librarian and graphic designer.

Meanwhile, Joy was illustrating beautiful books about Lady Bird Johnson, Texas Wildflowers, David Crockett, and Sam Houston. She knew what she was talking about.

Time has passed, the nest is empty, and the call of children’s literature has returned in full voice. I have courted it with attendance at several SCBWI events over the last two years and produced a few pieces for competitions, like P.J. which won first place last year in an SCBWI regional event.

P.J. Tried and Tried to Make Friends with the Horses
P.J. Tried and Tried to Make Friends with the Horses

Pretty soon I will pack the car and drive to Birmingham, Alabama for a conference of the Southern Breeze region of SCBWI.

I will take a stack of business cards.

Business card
Business card
Another business card.
Another business card.

And a stack of assorted postcards.

Sailor
Sailor
Lady of the Stars
Lady of the Stars
Couple
Couple
Big Chicken was Back
Big Chicken was Back
Good-Bye Lady
Good-Bye Lady
Assorted artwork Card
Several images on this one.

To display these cards I will take my decorated suitcase.

Decorated Suitcase
Decorated Suitcase

To display samples of my work I will take my portfolio and set it on the table designated for artists to show their creations.

Portfolio
Portfolio

And last, but certainly not least I will bring the proof for my first children’s book, Melvin Fine Mouse: First Day of School.

Melvin Fine Mouse: First Day of School
Melvin Fine Mouse: First Day of School

It is always educational and fulfilling to be with children’s illustrators and writers. The camaraderie is warm. The senses of humor a little quirky. These are, after all, people I can talk to about a mouse that wears pants. Not everybody is cut from the cloth that can share a dedicated conversation about things such as how to draw a mouse on a school bus.

And that is what I will take to the SCBWI conference.

By the way, Melvin is available for you to check out at Amazon.