Happy Halloween from Poor Peter Burke

First off, I would like to wish a happy, happy birthday to my dear sister, Katie. I hope it’s a great one.

In Katie’s honor, and since it’s Halloween, I wanted to share with you a snippet of Poor Peter Burke, a new children’s book I am working on currently. Peter Burke has some rather eccentric tastes, much to the confusion of his parents. Here’s an excerpt from the manuscript and a sample illustration, below:


POOR PETER BURKE by Jonathan E. Fenske

Poor Peter Burke, peculiar lad,

Began to worry Mom and Dad

When he developed little quirks

That most perturbed the elder Burkes…

 

He loved to read and loathed to gab,

And leaned a bit to the macabre

At bedtime snubbing Mother Goose

To sample Poe’s dark omnibus…

 

He had a pet, a raven that

He rescued from the neighbor’s cat

And promptly named Sir Edgar Allan

(Alas, the cat retained a talon)…

A picture of young Peter Burke and his pet raven by Colorado illustrator Jonathan Fenske

Love Is in the Air Review + A Cybils Nomination!

We were delighted to see that Laura Purdie Salas posted a review of Love Is in the Air yesterday on her blog. Thank you, Laura! She is the author of BookSpeak! Poems About Books and Stampede! Poems to Celebrate the Wild Side of School, both with Clarion, and a rhyming nonfiction picture book from Millbrook Press called A Leaf Can Be.

Image of Love Is in the Air by Jonathan Fenske

Here’s an excerpt of the review (we love her writing!):

“Drama! There aren’t many easy readers where I think, “Oh, no, how is this going to work out!” But I did with this one. When Kite floats to Earth and Balloon is going up, up, up, it’s very foreboding. And it seems hopeless…”

Read the rest of the review, here.

Also, we have learned that Love Is in the Air was nominated for a Cybil, the children’s and young adult bloggers’ literary awards. This is terribly exciting to be honored by bloggers in this way because literary bloggers were the first people to embrace Love Is in the Air. We have such a place in our heart for the bloggers who reviewed Jonathan’s first book. Thank you to Katie Fitzgerald at Secrets and Sharing Soda for the nomination. We’re also thrilled to see Jodie Rodriguez from Growing Book by Book on the judging panel, as well as Katie. She reviewed Love Is earlier this year. All three of these bloggers have been such an encouragement!

When Life Punches Your Pumpkins

Someone out there needs to read this, right now: your creative dream is worth it. We believe in you, even though it seems no one else does. 

A picture of some rotting pumpkins in Colorado

These are some of our poor porch pumpkins that have frozen, thawed and yes, been punched, by sweet little girl hands.

What you paint or draw or write matters. It’s creation, it’s beauty, it’s art.

The world needs what you make. Otherwise, the cesspool that is currently passing for our entertainment culture will continue to devolve. You need to fight the good fight.

So, hear these words, friend: Lift up your head and keep going. Write another page. Sketch another character. Write another verse. All of us in the creative community, we’re rooting for you.

Jonathan and I know creative disappointment. People ignore our emails; editors take months to respond to proposals; often the answer to our labors of love is “no.” We get it. But we keep going, and you need to, too. Even when you are exhausted and discouraged.

Take a deep breath. We recommend a good walk (Jen) or a thrashing run (Jonathan) and then get back at it—-the screenplay, the novel, the poem, the picture. Your dream is so valuable to this world.

Don’t hide it; keep going, dear dreamer. We’re with you, all the way.

Love,

Jennifer & Jonathan

We’re Jennifer and Jonathan Fenske and we write children’s books and novels, and once, we made an app for iPad. We also make baby girls, with some regularity. Visit our online store for modern art for kids, FatandAppy.com. 

Housework: I Am Not the Maid

We have this thing in our home where little pink and polka-dotted socks roll inside-out and then beach themselves all over the house, apparently in a last-ditch effort to enjoy life before succumbing to a long, slow journey to the laundry.

I find these socks, these mournful little piles of cotton, in all rooms. It’s heart-breaking. Who will take a stand and care for their lost plight?

A picture of a sock on a floor

Sometimes, pedestrians walk past without a second glance. Cold, unfeeling monsters. In cute pajamas.

photo 2-4

Oftentimes, the socks stick together against all odds, defying the inevitable, and link hands, for one last fling.

A picture of brown socks on a couch

This is life from here. Lots of little girl socks. All over the house. And a lone woman crying, “I am not the maid!” This falls on deaf ears. And naked feet.

A sample illustration from Guppy Up! by Denver illustrator Jonathan Fenske

An excerpt from Guppy Up! by Jonathan Fenske (Penguin USA, 2013)

Fat and Appy Is Open on Etsy!

We opened Fat and Appy Modern Art at FatandAppy.com a few months ago, using the Shopify platform (which we love). But a lot of people we respect (and have successful Etsy shops themselves) nudged us to “get on Etsy.”

I’ve been shopping on Etsy forever, so it wasn’t a hard sell. I just knew it would take a lot of work to load in the store, set up tags, photos and pull it all together in the “About” section. And then last week, we finally decided to take the plunge. Jonathan and I both worked hours rewriting copy, enlarging jpegs and brainstorming tags. We also launched a new design, called “Identity Crisis.” It’s available in four sizes, starting at $99.

Rody bouncing horse by Denver illustrator Jonathan Fenske

Our new Etsy store can be found at FatandAppyModernArt. I think it’s so exciting to be in the company of thousands of creatives who are making things. I hope we can debut new products on the Etsy store or maybe even original drawings to get feedback. I’ve even been cooking up a 3D printer project. I have endless ideas…but I just try to take them one at a time and decide what to pursue. My notebook is full of ideas; Jonathan has a similar notebook and his is crammed with project ideas, too.

And now we can check off Etsy. Hurray!

Tomato painting by Jonathan Fenske

A fox print by illustrator Jonathan Fenske

Yeehaw Colorado painting by Jonathan Fenske

A fried egg print by Fat and Appy, designed by Jonathan Fenske

Banksy’s College Scholarship #banksyny

By now you may have heard that superstar British graffiti artist Banksy set up a stall in Central Park yesterday and sold original, signed work for $60 each. (His work can fetch in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.) It took four hours to make the first sale, and at the end of the day, the nice older gentleman running the stall had made $420.

I had to laugh when I heard about this and immediately watched the video on Banksy’s website about his month-long NY “residency.” I loved it all, the pop-up stall, the people strolling by, oblivious to the stunt, and the naturally effortless way Banksy stirs things up.

And then it hit me: College scholarship! If I had been one of those lucky people who bought a Banksy for $60 (or less…one woman bargained and got two for $60. Shrewd!) I would be on the phone with an auction house, selling the canvas for college money for the girls.

Sigh. How did we get here? I can practically hear my younger, more “pure” artistic self mocking me. Disappointed in me, a little. “But it would be cool to have a Banksy hanging in the living room,” my younger self shrieks. “How did you get so OLD?!!

All I can tell my younger, hipster-loving art connoisseur self is to go to the Vanguard website, type in that your youngest child will be in college in ELEVEN years and then hit “Return.” Watch the numbers dance. And then cry yourself to sleep in a corner.

And that, younger version of me, is why I would sell my pop-up Banksy in a split second. And I have a feeling that Banksy would probably say: you gotta do what you gotta do. But he would say it in a British accent and then go spray paint something. And we definitely wouldn’t see his face. But you get the idea.

Have a great time in New York, Banksy! It’s fun to watch what you’re doing from here.