Monday, April 30, 2007


good news

I'm still rich. Very rich. Children's book author rich. And it's fantastic. I can do whatever I want, whenever I want, and no one can stop me. Johnny Depp can't stop me. Matt Damon can't stop me. Johnny Damon can't even stop me. Last week I parachuted a snapping turtle into Yankee Stadium. Why? I don't care.

But what I do care about are the kids. Those precious little faces mean everything to me. That's why I do what I do. That's why I collect one zillion dollars, before taxes, to write and illustrate picture books that carry a message of hope, friendship, and understanding. So, when someone accuses me of doing this for the money, it really makes me want to sick my goons on them. All the money in the world (of which I own four sixteenths) wouldn't mean a thing if I didn't feel like I was making a difference in the life of a child.

All you doubting thomases will think what you will, but remember this: I'm only a man. An extremely wealthy man with a moon base and feelings. And while my adamantium battle armor may be able to repel a direct ballistic missile attack, it's no protection against unkind words.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

six votes

You know what's worse than being entered into a competition without your knowledge? Losing that competition; getting served, if you will. That's what happened today over at A Fuse #8 Production, where Scott Magoon, illustrator of Ugly Fish, was crowned the 37th, uh, member of the Hot Men of Children's Literature, and I was crowned the first Ugliest Hot Man of Children's Literature.

Scott pulled down 84 reader votes, closely followed by David Ezra Stein, author and illustrator of Cowboy Ned & Andy. Had I known this was going to be the case, I could have taken David out months ago, at the Original Art show, with a well-executed Back Brain Kick. If I ever finish my time machine, that dude better wear a helmet. Even though the only way he'll be able to get a helmet is to ask me to send a helmet back in time for him, and I will say no. Unless he has his own time machine. If he does, he can be wearing a helmet when he goes back in time. And there's no guarantee he won't arrive a minute before I do and hit me with a lead pipe. I do not want to get hit with a lead pipe, so just forget it. I've got better things to do than wage war through time against David Ezra Stein. What's it going to accomplish, in the end? No matter who wins, we all lose.

So, where was I? Oh, yeah. Six votes. I got six measly votes. That's six more than nobody. I lost more than everybody. And I didn't even know my name was being considered until today.


At my reading on Friday, I announced the title of my new book (which finally has a firm release date in the Spring of 2009):

The boys liked it, the girls, not so much.

Monday, April 23, 2007


I took a bite and chewed it. It didn’t taste like chicken. It was chicken, though, the waiter insisted. I would not call the man a liar.

I had eaten chicken for breakfast and lunch, and lunch and dinner the day before. Chicken was all there was. And so it was chicken on the plate that night. It had to be chicken. It didn’t taste like it, though. But it was, according to the waiter, and I would not call the man a liar.

I had only been eating chicken for nine years. The waiter had been serving, and most likely partaking of, chicken for several more years than that. His skin had the greenish hue that one has come to associate with an individual who has dedicated his life to the pursuit of poultrification.

This man knew chicken, the essence of what chicken is, the secret knowledge that one can acquire only through a life of painstaking study and sacrifice. I could not question his expertise. He assured me that it was a breast of chicken on my plate. I had to believe him.

But I chewed the chicken. I chewed it fifty-three times, and flavorful juice burst forth from the white meat with every snap of my jaws.

And I am sorry.

I apologize to the waiter.

In my humble opinion, that was not chicken.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

hippo in omro

Well, I'm back from yesterday's reading of Hippo! No, Rhino at Omro Elementary School, and, although I was prepared to return with a great fiasco story for you (which are the most entertaining stories to read, as far as I'm concerned), the whole event went off without a hitch. Even my oft-alluded to stage fright took the day off. In fact, the only thing that didn't go as planned was my attempt at making drawings based on audience suggestions (an activity inspired by Anna Alter's knitting monkey). Don't get me wrong, the kids seemed to love it. But they couldn't see the flop sweat on my brow as I struggled to make a credible drawing of a rollerskating rabbit holding a piece of birthday cake. If anyone tells you that drawing a rollerskating rabbit holding a piece of birthday cake is easy, they are lying. And they are probably a vampire.

A sincere thank you to Krista Ledbetter, who chronicled the day's events at, Mrs. Butkiewicz, Mrs. Sphatt, Mrs. Schiessel, Mrs. Babcock, Kathy Wirth, and all the fantastic second graders of Omro Elementary, including Ciera, Amber, Taylor (my self-proclaimed biggest fan), and Logan, who was a little bummed that I was not Ryan Newman, the NASCAR driver, but wanted my autograph just the same, for making it such a rewarding experience. There isn't a bad apple in that bunch.

I did, however, run afoul of some third grade toughs that tried to shake me down for my lunch money. Karate ensued.

If only they'd followed the rules.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

i also breathe air

I ate Chinese food for lunch today. When I was finished, I cracked open my fortune cookie, and pulled out the enclosed slip of paper. It read:

You love Chinese food.

And it was right. I don't know how, but it was right.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

another very special blog post

You don't always lose when you snooze, especially when it comes to the The Great Shrinky-Dink Giveaway. Take winner and fellow author/illustrator Erik Brooks of Winthrop, Washington, for instance. He sent me an email just this morning, with the subject line "dink", despite believing he'd already lost. Bless his heart. You'll have to do better than that to not win this contest, my friend.

Congratulations, Erik! My fragile ego thanks you for playing.

Monday, April 16, 2007


the boid

He might have been a long-lost member of the Gambino crime family; tall and broad-shouldered, tan, gaunt, with hair like an oil slick, and shifty eyes that promised a curb-stomping to the first person that gave him any guff. In his white linen shirt, tight chinos, and loafers, he leaned, arms crossed, against the railing of the queue, while his beleaguered-looking wife and three daughters stared in opposite directions, markedly avoiding his gaze.

When the conductor, a bespectacled boy no older than nineteen, approached the man, and politely asked if he'd fold up his unoccupied stroller, the man replied, in a thick New York accent, and loud enough for everyone in line to hear:

"You don't tell me what to do, Chaalee."

The crowd shifted, uneasily. The man's wife touched his arm and whispered in his ear.

"What", he continued, "I'm gonna come here and have this guy tell me what to do? I'll fold it up when I'm ready. 'Fold it up', get a load of this guy. I'll fold you up, Chaalee."

Defeated, the conductor slunk away down the platform.

Moments later, a small, faux steam engine pulled in to the station. The man and his family moved to the front of the line, but were held back just short of boarding. As the train departed Mickey's Toontown for Frontierland, the man's youngest daughter waved goodbye to the passengers. She was smiling, sweetly.

Her father was smiling, too.

"Are you flippin' them the boid, honey?" he asked. "Ha, ha, look, she's flippin' them the boid."

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Saturday, April 14, 2007

dear jellybeans

I'm sorry I ate a whole bag of you last night. You just looked so good, I couldn't resist. I was only going to eat one of you, maybe two; a couple of orange and black ones. But things got out of hand. The next thing I knew, I was eating pink ones of you, and purple ones of you, red god, I ate the white ones. I don't even know what flavor of you that is, but I didn't care. Once I got a taste, I lost all control. All that mattered was my own gratification. I was a pig, and it has cost me the only candy I've ever loved.

Farewell, my sweet.

Friday, April 13, 2007

natalie dee

I can't believe I've gone nearly three months without mentioning the awesome Natalie Dee, whose daily cartoons I read...daily. They're not exactly family-friendly, though, so proceed with caution, unless your family swears a lot.

Thursday, April 12, 2007


I went into Einstein Bros. Bagels this morning, and ordered an Everything Bagel with Chive Cream Cheese.

"Do you want it toasted?" asked the counter associate.

"Yeah," I replied, "toasted would be great."

"Okay, well our toaster isn't working right now, so..."

Wait, what?

return of the great shrinky-dink giveaway

So, a few weeks back, I started this thing called The Great Shrinky-Dink Giveaway. Was it great? No, not really, but I did give away some Shrinky-Dinks. And if you were one of the every person in the world besides Colleen of San Diego, California, chances are, you didn't get any. Well, your luck's about to change.

That's right, you, yes you (no, not you friends and relatives), are getting a second chance to become the proud owner of indestructible*, plastic art. You want it. You deserve it. You need it more than Wimpy needs a hamburger. And all you have to do get it is send an email, with the subject line "dink", to If you're the first to follow these instructions, and are in possession of a valid mailing address, in 10-14 days, you'll be rolling in Shrinky-Dinks! If that's your thing. Some people like to display them, but far be it from me to judge.

Newmanpicturesblog is in no way affiliated with Shrinky-Dinks or K & B Innovations, Inc., and does not accept responsibility for death or dismemberment due to Shrinky-Dink misuse.


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

the portrait party

Drawn! strikes again; this time, it's led me to The Portrait Party, a blog created by Rama Hughes, where folks trade photographs of one another to create...well, you know. The portrait directly below is me, pre-haircut, by the talented Switchsky, the second is Switchsky, by me. Sigh...I miss my lustrous mullet, already.

Monday, April 9, 2007

out to pasture

To conclude this week of unexpectedly Reginald-centric posts, here's a cool drawing of the jungle-dwelling bovine, himself, by one of the book's earliest supporters, Madelyn:

No more talk of cows tomorrow, I swear.

too much blood

There's a passage in Reginald that introduces the title character's unfriendly neighbors, including an old frog, a hungry jaguar, a crazy ape, and a family of vampire bats. The bats are described as being particularly loud and unruly when they've drunk an excess of blood.

I was told, recently, that one young reader of Reginald, upon hearing her baby sister's wails, turned to her dad and said, "I think she's had too much blood to drink."

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Friday, April 6, 2007

Thursday, April 5, 2007

i'm here to amuse you

In two weeks, I'll be reading Hippo! No, Rhino to four second grade classes at Omro Elementary School in Omro, Wisconsin. My palms are sweating just thinking about it.

If you've read this blog in its entirety, you know that I've got a slight case of stage fright. Since posting that entry, I've done some thinking about the causes behind it, and I've come to the conclusion that, rather than being frightened of being the center of attention, I'm scared of being myself. See, in high school, I was in bunch of musicals and plays, and never once felt nervous going onstage. Actually, it was quite the opposite: I felt, to use the parlance of Metrowest Massachusetts circa early 1990's, "psyched" to stand in front of a full house and blow the roof of the cafetorium with a rousing rendition of "Miracle of Miracles" from Fiddler on the Roof. Those were heady days, indeed, as evidenced by this recently uncovered photo from the Ashland Youth Theater production of Once Upon a Mattress. That's me, as Sir Harry, in the purple, velour frock:

As comfortable as I was playing a part, however, I dreaded, and continue to dread, public speaking. And a children's book reading is just public speaking with a shorter audience. I don't have lines, or a wacky persona, or a folk guitar, or any other kind of prop or costume to lean on. It's me as me, standing in front of a group of eager faces, answering questions, sincerely, and trying not to sound like an idiot.

What I wouldn't give for a plastic sword and a pound of Pancake.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

just one more book

There's a great interview over at Just One More Book with the editor of Hippo! No, Rhino, Alvina Ling. Give it a listen!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

reginald lives

My first picture book, Reginald, never made it past its first print run, and about a year ago, I received a notice informing me that the publisher's stock was going to be sold off to god knows where for two bits and a bushel of figs. I figured it would never be seen again, except, maybe, being poured into a landfill.

Well, a few weeks ago, my brother was vacationing with his girlfriend on Sanibel Island, Florida. They stopped into a gift shop along the beach, where there was a small display of picture books, including Reginald (that's it on the right hand side of the top shelf):

After lunch, they stopped into another store, and lo and behold:

Now, there could be several explanations for this phenomenon. It's possible that both stores are owned by the same person. Maybe the airplane that was carrying my book off for incineration lost a crate en route, and it was recovered by a salvage crew. But I prefer the last one, personally:

I'm huge on Sanibel Island, baby.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Sunday, April 1, 2007

ring bearer

Hey, I got engaged today! No, seriously, I'm engaged. Really.

Okay, this probably wasn't the best day to announce this, and an even worse day to ask someone to spend the rest of their life with me. I've inadvertently opened my fiancée Jodi and myself up to barrage of April Fools' jokes regarding the legitimacy of our engagement. It wasn't supposed to go this way, though. I intended to propose last night, but my plans were foiled by my freeloading cat, June.

I charged her with two simple tasks: wearing the ring on a flea collar and not acting like a spaz. I pictured her trotting to the door to greet Jodi, at which point Jodi would discover the surprise, laugh, cry and, against all odds, say yes. But June has never worn a collar before, much less one that smells like mosquito repellent, so she started acting all squirrely when I (loosely) clasped it around her neck. And while I was trying to distract her from her imminent panic attack by waving around a feather on a string, one of her rabbit feet somehow got caught in the collar. She flipped out, sending both collar and ring flying. A minute later, Jodi knocked on the door. I put the ring away, and shared a meaningful glance with June that silently promised retribution.

But at five-thirty this morning, I let go of both pretense and my thirst for vengeance. I brought the ring back to bed, tapped Jodi on the back, and asked her to be my wife.

I think you know the rest.