Sunday, November 12, 2017

Happy Name Day, Renata Liwska - November 12

Happy Name Day, Renata Liwska - November 12

Today is an exciting day for Happy Birthday Author. For the first time, we will be celebrating the name day of an author-illustrator. When I met Renata Liwska, at the Mazza Museum summer conference 2017 I asked if she would be willing to share her birthday with us so we could plan a celebration. She suggested celebrating her name day which is an important tradition in Poland where she was born.

On November 12th, you will find Renata's name on polish calendars along with many others who share her name day. Name day celebrations are similar to birthdays in that friends and families get together to celebrate with food or drink, but a person's age is not discussed. There are no special cards embellished with the number of years you have been alive or candles to count on a cake. (Want to learn more about name days? Click here.)

This is so much fun! And I think we found the perfect spot for our first author name day celebration.

Renata Liwska is the illustrator of over a dozen picture books including The Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood, Waiting for Snow by Marsha Diane Arnold, and her own Red Wagon. She grew up in Warsaw, Poland with her creative grandmother, her mother who was a seamstress, and her father who could draw but chose not to pursue his talent. (Mazza Keynote). Renata said she could have done better at school, but all the drawings she filled her school books with were the start of a wonderful career in illustration.

For her secondary schooling in Poland, Renata decided to apply for art school but one of her teachers had other thoughts. "My teacher wasn't too pleased...She said I wouldn't pass the entrance exams and that I should take up a trade instead." (Art of the Picture Book). However, her teacher was wrong. Renata went to art school in Poland and later moved to Canada and studied art at Alberta College of Art and Design. (Goodreads).

Renata Liwska at the Mazza Museum Summer Conference 2017
The most important tools for Renata are her pencils and sketchbook. "Their portability and intimate size allow my creativity to flow. Working in a sketchbook allows me a lot of freedom. With a sketchbook in hand I can look for just the right creative space in which to work." (Pippin properties). In this video below you get a chance to peek inside Renata's amazing sketchbooks.

A Quiet Look - How to become a children's book illustrator in one (not so easy) step from mike kerr on Vimeo.

It was Renata's sketchbook art that would become her style for her children's books. "When I first started illustrating professionally I was painting in acrylics or oils, but a client who had seen my sketchbook was interested in my pencil drawings. So I figured out a way to color the drawings digitally by multiplying transparent layers over the drawings." (Jennifer Chambliss Bertman). Renata's first book was Nikolai, the Only Bear by Barbara Joosse in 2005. She followed that book with Little Panda, the first book she both wrote and illustrated.

In all of Renata's books, you will find her characters expressing a wide range of emotion. She hopes her readers feel all the emotions too. "I try to remember what it was like to feel as a kid, that way children can identify with the feeling and parents can remember experiencing the same sentiment themselves." (Art of the Picture Book). Renata's latest book is Dormouse Dreams by Karma Wilson.

As I was preparing for this name day celebration I noticed a sentence in Renata's biography blurb in the back of Boom Snot Twitty This Way That Way. "Renata's perfect spot is on a beach, watching dogs running free." This reminded me of a photograph she shared of her writing a story in the sand on a beach and then I realized that we were going to be near a beach on November 12th.

This is the photo she shared during her presentation at the Mazza Museum
The waves eventually took her story away.
We found a beach at Lake Erie on November 12th.
We brought our copy of Boom Snot Twitty This Way That Way, written by Doreen Cronin. In this book, Boom (a bear), Snot (a snail), and Twitty (a bird) are trying to find the perfect spot for the day. Boom thinks the beach. Twitty thinks the mountains. Snot has other plans but doesn't rush her friends. Snot handles the situation perfectly and finds the perfect spot for her and her friends to spend the day.
I told my boys that I wanted to write a story on the beach. My oldest son found the perfect spot. He was inspired to draw a huge rocketship right away. 
My youngest son drew a turtle in his perfect spot many yards away. 
I helped him by writing the words of his story under his drawings.
There once was a turtle.
I asked him, "What is your turtle going to do?""
He walked down the street.
He didn't know what should happen next. His brother had a suggestion.
He fell in a hole.
Poor turtle.
He could not get out.
Once again my son got stuck with his story and his drawings were getting very close to his brother's giant rocket ship. Once again his brother helped out.
Suddenly, a rocketship appeared in the sky.
I asked, "How doesn't the turtle feel about this rocket ship?"
The turtle was afraid.
The giant rocket ship drawing worked its way into the story.
In the rocket ship was a bear.
The bear saved the turtle. Yay!
The End
Here is a close up of the bear and the turtle.
He reread their story to make sure it sounded O.K.
Grandma and my youngest daughter read the story together.
My kids (...and my nephew) found the perfect spot to read Boom Snot Twitty This Way That Way.
Thank you, Mom, for taking these photos!
My oldest daughter thinks the next book should be called Boom Snot Twitty are Really Cold.
Happy name day, Renata. It was so nice to meet you at the Mazza Museum. Thank you so much for coming up with the idea of celebrating your name day. We had so much fun reading your books this week!

Check out Renata's latest book, Dormouse Dreams:


1. Renata Liwska's Website
2. Renata's blog - RANDM collective
3. Interviews - Art of the Picture Book, Jennifer Chambliss Bertman, Owl Kids, RANDM
4. The Quiet Book feature - Seven Impossible Things
5. Follow Renata on Twitter
6. View Renata's art on Pippin

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