Before and During at Duffy School


I love a nice, neat table set up with all the supplies needed to make art.  Look how clean and orderly …. ahhhhh.

Then I love the beautiful chaos that is created when the children come and draw, cut, and glue – making a magnificent mess of the best kind.  And art.  They’re making art, too.

I just completed a lovely 2-day visit at the Louise Duffy School and had lots of fun working with the Kindergarteners and First Graders on Illustration and The Simples Love a Picnic on Day 1.  Day 2 was all about Wink and ninjas with the Second Graders.  We made Dreaming Ninja collages and the kids drew whatever dream their ninja was having.  This artist ninja is just TOO CUTE!

BIG THANKS to Jill Dailey, the superb media specialist who has had me in time and again, and everyone at Duffy School!  It feels like a second home to me!  Go Duffy!


Ninja Fun at East Haddam Elementary

I had a lovely author visit at East Haddam Elementary!

Students make wonderful ninja collages.

Students make wonderful ninja collages.

Students (and me) pose with their ninja collages.

Students (and me) pose with their ninja collages.

I did two large group presentations, made LOTS of collage ninjas, read Monkey Ono to the pre-schoolers and convinced them that I traveled to their school via the toilet. It was a wonderful day at a wonderful school and the students could not have been more charming, polite, and excited about my books or my visit. THANK YOU to Mrs. Phillips, the media specialist there, and the PTO for organizing and funding my trip!

Ninja Attack at Squadron Line

Author J. C. Phillipps doing ninja poses.

Author J. C. Phillipps doing ninja poses.

I had such a great time at my author visit at Squadron Line on Monday.  Seriously – these people treated me like a world class author/illustrator!  My host, Jamie Sepa, was waiting for me at the front door.  NEVER has that happened before.  He escorted me to the library, saw to my every need, bought me lunch, took me from classroom to classroom, and even provided chocolate.  The students were energetic and charming.  The PTO was there and super kind and helpful.  And, to top it all off, they sold a bunch of my books.  Yippee!

Examples of ninja collages done by first graders.

Examples of ninja collages done by first graders.

BIG THANKS to Mr. Sepa and everyone at Squadron Line!  I had a wonderful time!

All About Illustration with Charter Oak

Students learn how to balance a composition with characters from The Simples Love a Picnic.

Students learn how to balance a composition with characters from The Simples Love a Picnic.

Yesterday I had the great pleasure of visiting the first graders of Charter Oak Elementary School and talking to them about illustration.  This is one of my favorite presentations to do because I love art and illustration so much and first graders are the perfect audience for this topic.  They see illustration every day.  My talk just sheds a little more light on why certain styles are picked for certain texts, how I do picture books layouts, and we practice how to compose an illustration with some cut outs from The Simples Love a Picnic, Snow White, and nursery rhymes.  It’s a lot of fun!

Writers Workshop at Webster Hill

Webster Hill Writing Workshop
I enjoyed a fun, FULL day at Webster Hill Elementary School today (the first of a three-day Artist-in-Residence Program.)  I talked to the whole school about developing a story idea from the very basics to a full outline with a main character, goal, and obstacle – and a beginning, middle, and end.  Then I got to put those techniques into practice with three fourth grade classes.  In between, I worked in reading-time with the pre-kindergartners (who were SO SWEET) and a drawing lesson with one of the first grade classes.  They drew AMAZING Monkey Ono’s!  I can’t wait to go back and have more fun tomorrow!  Thanks so much to the PTO at Webster Hill who raises money for my visit!  You guys rock!

Monkey Ono Portrait

Simple Fun at Whiting Lane

I kicked off the week with a two-day visit to Whiting Lane School where I had big fun doing my new presentation, ALL ABOUT ILLUSTRATION, with the kids.  I read my new book THE SIMPLES LOVE A PICNIC and talked about how I illustrate a book from choosing a style, to character consistency, to planning a layout, to composing a scene.  (Below) Some student illustrators help me compose a nice picnic spread with The Simples.

Then I retired to the library where the fabulous Lee Gluck let me take over and do fun, crazy ant collages with the students.  I find the best art projects have a little bit of me teaching a technique and a little bit of the kids taking over and making their own choices.  Here we have ants carrying an orange, a carrot, a slice of watermelon, and a donut.  I love it!

Thanks so much to Lee Gluck and the fabulous teachers and student at Whiting Lane for making me feel so welcome!  I love you guys!

School Visit Season

J. C. Phillipps visits Hockanum School.

J. C. Phillipps visits Hockanum School.

I love Spring.

In addition to the snow melting, the grass turning green, and the daffodils coming, I LOVE doing school visits.

Yesterday I was preparing a new school presentation on illustration and I wanted to add a mini bio to the front so that the kids had a sense of who I was.  When I went back through my life to pick the points that lead me to becoming an author/illustrator, I was reminded of a two key things:

One, I’ve always loved school.  I remember crying one time because my dad wanted to take me on a vacation and I would miss school.  I’m pretty sure he looked at me like I was a giant nerd.  Which I kinda am.

Two, I really, really enjoy kids.  Kids are so funny and honest and I am ten million times more comfortable chatting a group of first graders up than I am at a cocktail party.  When I’m with a group of kids I can say “What’s you favorite food?” and get a conversation started.  Adults would look at me like I’m a big weirdo.  Which I kinda am.

My first school visit of the season was at Hockanum School in East Hartford and it was great!  The kids seemed to enjoy the presentation and asked a bunch of awesome questions and we all had a blast making dreaming ninjas in the art room.  Thanks so much for having me!

As the season rolls on, I’ll have a bunch more of these to look forward to, and I’m sure they will each thrill and delight me as I go back to school.




It’s Almost Time for THE SIMPLES

April 8th is coming!  That’s the book birthday for my fourth picture book THE SIMPLES LOVE A PICNIC.   But this book is special because it’s my first book with HOUGHTON MIFFLIN HARCOURT and I couldn’t be happier about it!


Here’s the trailer. Enjoy!





I had the great pleasure of participating in SCBWI’s first INSIDE STORY Event at the Odyssey Bookshop in South Hadley, MA on Sunday, Nov. 3

There were ten kidlit authors and illustrators in our group, each getting four minutes to share the inside scoop about the ideas or creation of their current books.

(Above) Here I am horsing around with the lovely and talented Hazel Mitchell.

(Below) The group (minus one.)  Jason Lefebvre, me, Hazel Mitchell, Jane Kohuth, Jannie Ho, Deborah Freedman, Corinne Demas, Sandra Horning, Diane deGroat.  (Not pictured: Richard Michelson.)


It was a lovely event at a fabulous bookstore.  Not a bad way to spend a Sunday!  Not bad at all!