John Abbott Nez has a degree in English but has been drawing since he was very young. His love of art prompted him to study at The Parson’s School of Design, where he studied with Maurice Sendak and other inspiring teachers. He has illustrated over 80 books and continues to write and illustrate his own works as well. One of his goals is to convey lots of emotions/feelings through his drawings. His efforts to “keep things fun” are reflected in his whimsical art style. Nez has also had the unique experience of being the ghost illustrator for a variety of well known artists. While Nez works with traditional media such as acrylics, watercolor, pencils and inks; he also enjoys working in the digital mediums of Photoshop and Illustrator. He feels that “The combination of traditional and digital mediums allows for amazing new possiblities… and lots of fun.” He and his wife and two children live in the Northwest.
Cromwell Dixon’s Sky-Cycle
At the turn of the 20th century, a young boy named Cromwell Dixon was an inventive tinkerer. In an age of scientific wonders, Cromwell is particularly fascinated by airships. He decides to build one of his own. He designs one powered by a bicycle to enter the St. Louis Airship Carnival. Although some people think he is crazy, Cromwell builds the machine and, with his mother’s help, a gigantic balloon to be inflated with hydrogen to keep his Sky-Cycle in the air. Although the balloon catches fire, Cromwell is not discouraged. He builds another. On August 9, 1907, Cromwell successfully takes to the air over Columbus, Ohio. When the gas begins to escape too quickly, he has to make an emergency landing. He finally wins a prize at the 1907 Airship Carnival. The exciting true story is visualized in ink lines and transparent watercolors with appropriate lightheartedness. The scenes are filled with the detailed look of early 20th century Ohio houses, streets, and clothing, but mainly we see the engaging young Cromwell’s workshop, the amazing machine he is building, and then “snapshots” of his flying. There are additional factual notes, photographs of him and his machine, and a bibliography. 2009, G.P. Putnam’s Sons/Penguin Young Readers Group, $16.99. Ages 5 to 9. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz (Children’s Literature).
The Grandma Cure
Illustrated by John Nez
When Becky comes down with a cold and has to stay home from school, one of her grandmothers comes over to take care of her and offer her homemade soup, games of “Go Fish,” and lots of love. When Becky is sick again the next day, her other grandmother comes over to take care of her and offers her hot tea and rice pudding, picture books, and lots of love. When Becky is home sick for a third day, both grandmothers come over to take care of her. Becky soon discovers that having two grandmothers who want to be in charge is a lot like dealing with, well, kindergarteners, so Becky begins to use the rules her teacher, Ms. Chu, uses when Becky is at school. Becky tells her grandmothers that they both need to sit in separate chairs rather than fight over who gets to sit at the foot of Becky’s bed; she tells them they must take turns rather than argue over whose homemade cure Becky should drink first; and she tells them to share when they both want to give Becky her medicine. By the end of the day, in fact, Becky has her grandmothers adhering to all the good school rules she has learned in kindergarten. At the end of the book, Becky is well enough to go back to school, and her grandmothers go to lunch together to practice what they learned. Younger readers will especially enjoy a story where the adults need to remember the rules, and the kids get to remind them. The illustrations show the grandmothers doing typical kid behaviors such as sticking out their tongues and throwing tantrums, which kids will love. This is a great book for helping young readers remember to follow the rules and how easy it is for everyone–even grownups–to forget them. 2005, Dutton Children’s Books, $15.99. Ages 3 to 6. Reviewer: Lauri Berkenkamp (Children’s Literature).
One Smart Cookie
Cookie is a dog that likes to read. The family he lives with has a boy, Nash, and a girl, Duffy, who would rather do other things besides read. The family soon discovers that Cookie can write, too, when they see “Dog wants food” written on the refrigerator. Cookie helps Mom with recipes, and he helps Dad repair the car. When he goes to school for Pets’ Day, the students find out that Cookie can read when he writes, “Dog wants lunch” on the wall. He becomes the class favorite, so Cookie stays at school and even enters the spelling bee. During the spelling bee, Cookie helps Duffy find a fire in the school basement. Duffy reads the emergency sign and finds out what she needs to do. When the newspaper writes a story about Duffy and Cookie saving the school, both Duffy and her brother discover the joy of reading. The illustrations of Cookie and the other characters are adorable, and the notes that Cookie writes throughout the book add to the fun. It is a warmhearted story with a wonderful ending. 2006, Albert Whitman and Co, $15.95. Ages 2 to 6. Reviewer: Vicki Foote (Children’s Literature).
“Writing and Art to Communicate Our Ideas and Lives”
“Digital Technology in Art Making… Photoshop, Indesign, Adobe”
Group size: Ideal 10-50 with 100 maximum
Suitable for grades 1-12
Presentations: 3-4 per day
Fee: $700.00 — $1000.00 per day (travel expenses extra)