Wednesday, April 8, 2015

IZZY & OSCAR BLOG TOUR w/ Author & Illustrator Guest Posts


Octopuses make the best pets! Discover why in this charming picture book from an acclaimed author/illustrator team

Pretend pirate captain Izzy is looking for a pet when an adventurous little octopus squiggles into town. Oscar isn't exactly warm and fuzzy, but Izzy decides to take him home anyway.

Young readers will be tickled by Izzy's attempts to teach Oscar to behave like a dog, a parrot, a pony-and gratified by Izzy's realization that in the end we love others for who they are, not who we want them to be. Besides there's one thing octopuses are really good at...octohugs.


Allison Estes has written more than a dozen books. Izzy & Oscar is her first picture book, and was really different and fun to write! Some of her other books are The Short Stirrup Club series (ten titles) for middle-grade readers, four titles in the Thoroughbred series (fun because she got to start over in #24 with all new characters), and Paw & Order: Dramatic Investigations by an Animal Cop on the Beat, which is an adult book but fine for animal lovers of all ages and full of happy endings.

After 29 years in New York City, Allison recently moved back to her home town, Oxford, Mississippi. She lives in the country with her son, two grandparents, two dogs, and two horses. Right now, when she isn’t busy cooking supper, taking care of dogs and horses, teaching writing workshops and driving to soccer, she is working on another picture book, another adult book, and more happy endings. 

Tracy Dockray grew up on the plains of West Texas with a love of books and innumerable pets. She moved to New York where she studied fine art and acquired several old motorcycles.  Her career veered from sculpture to puppet making to murals and finally to children’s books. She is ecstatic to have illustrated 30 books including two that she wrote herself. 

Tracy now lives in a creaky, cavernous brownstone in Greenwich Village, with a hairless cat, 2 fuzzy dogs, two children and a very tolerant husband.  She is thrilled to have been able to illustrate Mrs. Cleary’s Ramona series and The Mouse and the Motorcycle series since she has a soft spot for them both.  Although Tracy studied Fine Arts in school, she has come to the happy conclusion that drawing pictures for children’s books is the finest art she knows.

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As a 'pirate' captain, Izzy needs a pet.  When she meets Oscar, the octopus she and her friends think that he will fit the bill.  But as Izzy discovers, an octopus has unique needs as well as abilities.  The illustrations are cute and work well for the imaginative nature of the story.  A fun story about friendship and discovering one's unique talents, after all, even octopuses have special abilities that help them survive.  The additional information about octopuses at the end of the book is a great touch.


Author Allison Estes

How I Got into Writing

For as long as I can remember, I have loved books. But here is how I discovered that I was also an author:

When I was little, we moved to Charlottesville, Virginia, where my dad started work on his PhD in astronomy, and I started first grade, at age 5. It was a private first grade, in the basement of the teacher’s house. On the first day of school, I noticed a poster on the wall, a black-and-white photograph of some children riding a merry-go-round, with these four letters underneath: R E A D. Every day I came to school, and I looked at that poster, and I did not know what those letters said, until one day, all of a sudden, I did know: “read.” And from that moment on, I could do it: read. Anything. Everything. It was just like that for me: like a switch flipping on. Like a part of my soul coming to life. It was a private, marvelous little miracle that gave me sudden insight into my young self. Ever since that moment, I have always been a reader. And somewhere not long after that, I began to conceive of myself as a writer. I wrote, bound and illustrated my first book using several feet of leftover computer paper my dad gave me, and a fair amount of Elmer’s glue. (The title was My Toy Book.) And I have been reading and writing ever since!

Illustrator Tracy Dockray

How I got Into Illustrating

In the dusty part of Texas I was a quiet kid and a BIG reader and loved the library like a refugee.  In school I was terrible at math, but I could draw.  I remember the high point of my grade school experience was when my undersea crayon picture was picked along with some other “great” artists to be exhibited in the South Plains  Mall. 
             Challenges reigned in Middle School and High School where there was someone else who was super-duper good at art. She was always picked for everything artistic. But, being second best artist didn’t stop me because I believed in my heart that I loved making art the most. In college, we were to choose our majors. I loved illustrated books and voiced that desire to a professor. He scoffed and said that that wasn’t Fine Art. So consequently, I ended up becoming a Fine Arts major in sculpture.  After graduation I moved to New York.  I made puppets and to make a living, I learned to paint doing murals for children’s rooms, until I realized that I really did want to illustrate for children in BOOKS.
         Having no training in illustration or even painting, beyond what I learned with a big can of paint and a wall, I hesitantly put together a portfolio. A thoughtful boyfriend pretended he was my agent and got my first illustration job from a kind editor at Farrar, Straus & Giroux.  Since then I’ve illustrated over 25 books.  I’ve been scathed by a book trade publication, and there are certainly super-duper better illustrators out there but I still believe that I love children’s books and making pictures for them the most. And that’s the finest art I know. 
            And happily, our latest book “Izzy and Oscar” got a great review from Kirkus, no less. And guess what’s in it? Lots of undersea pictures!  Glad I didn’t give up, there’s room for so many artists out here. Don’t give up if you love what you do.


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