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Teacher Appreciation Day Is Every Day!

I know it's Teacher Appreciation Day/Week, but for me, there are two teachers who have been with me since I stepped foot in their classes and I appreciate them each and every day.

This is my 4th & 5th grade teacher, Ms. Wood. I still think of her often and all that she taught us, big things like being strong and believing in ourselves and little things like square dancing, speed reading and letter writing. She encouraged us to step out of our comfort zone...she even convinced me to be Aunt Eller in the school production of Oklahoma...she might have been a little crazy! I remember her as a tough, but compassionate Southern talkin' gal who never let you give up on yourself. I adored her. 

A couple of years ago I occurred to me that she might have had an interesting life outside of the classroom. Unfortunately she had passed, but I did find out what a truly extraordinary woman Winifred had been! Turns out in WWII she'd been a WASP-Women Airforce Service Pilots. They flew everything the men flew, just not in combat. After the war, she wrote a book about the experience, which I found and bought. I didn't realize it at the time, but the year I was in her class was the year the WASPs were finally recognized as WWII vets. It also turns out that Janet Reno is her niece and gave the speech at the 50th Anniversary of the WASPs in 1993, in which she talks about "Aunt Winnie".

I only wish I'd gotten to see her again as an adult and let her know how much she'd meant to me.

I was also incredibly lucky to have Mr. Suter as my high school art teacher. He was not only a great artist, teacher and man, but a great advocate for his students, some of whom were going through rough emotional times. High school isn't easy. His classroom was a safe haven, a place for acceptance, understanding and artistic expression. And that smile? It was always on his face, shining out at his students. Mr. Suter had so many interesting stories to tell and every once in awhile, he'd pick up a pencil and do some sketching himself. Again, I didn't realize until much later in life what a wonderful artistic career he had. The picture above was taken around 1948 when he did a painting for Charles Pratt...that's him with Branch Rickey and Jackie Robinson! When he retired, he continued his life as an artist until he passed away in 2011.

Mr. Suter was the one who encouraged me to follow my dreams and go to Art Center. And when I graduated, I was honored that he accepted my invitation and came to the ceremony. He was a kind man and I'm sorry that he left us the year before Sun Kisses, Moon Hugs came out. I think he would have been proud of the part he played.

So each day I am grateful for teachers like Ms. Wood and Mr. Suter, who inspired courage and greatness in their students and taught us all what it meant to be kind, decent people of the world. They truly changed my world.



First Lady and LeVar Read at Thayer Elementary School!

Wow, what a day and what an honor to have the First Lady, Michelle Obama read along with LeVar at a Joining Forces event at Thayer Elementary School. Mark Kelly and Dr. Jill Biden were also there and read Kelly's Mousetronaut. The auditorium was packed (so I heard...I watched it LIVE on my phone in the car, waiting to pick up my daughter from school. I love technology!) 

What made it even more special was that BOTH books read are part of the Story Time From Space program and are currently orbiting the planet as ISS shipmates! How much better could this year get? I'm incredibly grateful for the amazing journey this book is on!

To see the video of the readings, go Reading Rainbow's FB page.


Thank you, Waynesville R-VI School District for the great photos. To see more, click here:   http://bit.ly/1W7Q6ej

Thank you, Waynesville R-VI School District for the great photos. To see more, click here: http://bit.ly/1W7Q6ej

Remembering a Dear Friend....

My heart always feels heavy on March 15...the day we lost our dear friend Shereen to her battle with triple negative breast cancer. She had such a smiling soul and her bubbly personality went hand in hand with her big heart and her eager desire to always help those who needed it most; animals and people alike. She is sorely missed by everyone who knew her. It was out of the grief I felt at losing her and the sad realization that her beautiful, young daughter would probably not remember her much, that Sun Kisses, Moon Hugs was born. We need to let our children know that they are loved, ALWAYS...even if we aren't physically present. Love you always, Friend. xoxo

                                                    With Shereen at the Revlon Walk in 2008.

                                                    With Shereen at the Revlon Walk in 2008.

Rhino is now on the Reading Rainbow App!

Yay!! The Rhino Who Swallowed a Storm is finally on the incredible Reading Rainbow Skybrary app and boy, have they done a sweet job making it fun and interactive. If you don't have the app, it's free and you can get a free trial to Skybrary. Check it out! It's worth it just to hear LeVar read the book.

Reading Rainbow Skybrary app

Reading Rainbow Skybrary app

Touch each page with your finger....

and magic happens! Look how Rhino swallows the storm. Super cool!

There are cool animations on nearly every page. Nice job, Team Reading Rainbow! Oh, while you're there, check out Sun Kisses, Moon Hugs and see how those pages come to life!
Happy Monday, Everyone! 

xoxo Courtenay

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

With the astronauts arriving home safely yesterday and today being Mr. Geisel's birthday, I thought this image was spot on. 

A Child's Prayer 

A Child's Prayer 

And if I really feel like crawling around inside the mind of Dr. Seuss, I pop this movie in. The art direction and crazy dance and music numbers are so much fun! I've loved this since I was a kid.

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

Make ART!

I'm not a huge fan of the Oscars, or award shows in general, but I whole-heartedly believe in making art to heal and change the world.

Weather Delays, But Atlas 5 Went Up Sunday!!!

Rhino is now officially in SPACE! We spent three days at the edge of our seats in the stands at the Kennedy Space Center, hoping for the weather to cooperate so that we could see our book launch in person, but alas (or should I say, Atlas) the wind blew us home. 

5...4...3...2...1...BLAST OFF! The Cygnus is now orbiting the Earth and will connect with ISS on Weds.

5...4...3...2...1...BLAST OFF! The Cygnus is now orbiting the Earth and will connect with ISS on Weds.

We had an amazing time and packed our three days full of Florida/Space adventures: Banana Creek viewing at the Saturn 5 site, a trip through a nature preserve, three days soaking up space stuff at the KSC, meeting Andrea Beatty (Rosie Revere, Engineer) and Patricia Tribe (Story Time From Space) and getting a personal tour of CASIS, which works with the astronauts on all the experiments that go on at the ISS. We also saw a live feed from the ISS in their control room (thank you Diane and April!). 

To top it off, we spotted eight gators, three river otters crossing the road and touched manatees at Bair's Boat Launch!!! We did Cape Canaveral up right and now we have a book in space, orbiting the Earth. Mind blowing. Thanks so much to Patricia Tribe, the creator of Story Time From Space, for making this happen!

Oh, and NASA ROCKS!!

Well, We're Off to Cape Canaveral!

Watch out Major Healy....here we come!

So the weather looks good and the launch (as of this moment) is a go! We have a full day tomorrow at the Kennedy Space Center before we head to the viewing area for the 6pm event. I've been wanting to see a rocket launch since I was a little girl. I never got a chance to see any of the shuttle launches, but this one has a much more personal meaning. Hey, if you can't make it to space yourself, a book filled with your illustrations is the next best thing.

Wish us luck! Hopefully if all goes well, Rhino will be in space this time tomorrow night! (And who knows...maybe we'll find a genie bottle half buried on Cocoa Beach.)

The Rhino Has Been Loaded

So somewhere in this neatly packed Cygnus space capsule is The Rhino Who Swallowed a Storm! I only wish my studio was this organized (or that I could somehow crawl in there and go with the book into space!) We're keeping our fingers crossed that the launched isn't scrubbed. Here's more info on the prepping of the Cygnus for the December 3rd launch at the Kennedy Space Center.

This is too exciting!!!

The Rhino Who Swallowed a Storm Headed to the ISS on December 3rd!

Rhino Rocket_STFS_v2c.jpg

Wow! Less than a month away to the launch of Rhino into space as part of the Story Time From Space program. This is all too exciting!! I just had to do an illustration of Rhino and Bird leaving planet Earth. Rhino will be going up with six other wonderful books:

Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beatty
I, Humanity by Jeffrey Bennett
Endeavour’s Long Journey by John “Danny” Olivas
Mousetronaut & Mousetronaut Goes to Mars by Mark Kelly
The Incredible Intergalactic Journey Home by Lost My Name

Barring any bad weather or technical issues, the launch is set for December 3rd at 6pm. Susan and I are planning on being there to see Rhino head to the ISS and into the hands of the astronauts. The readings will be beamed back to Earth sometime next year for all to see. Stay tuned for more updates. And keep your fingers crossed for zero delays!

For more info on the launch, visit the Kennedy Space Center site.

Thank You, Round Meadow Elementary!

We had a great time meeting the 2nd and 3rd graders at Round Meadow Elementary School! A big thank you to Mrs. Spindler, who invited us and organized the visit. The students and teachers who volunteered to participate in our "Right Word" demo did a fabulous job. We just love this school!