Starred Reviews for Mommy's Khimar

Have you heard the wonderful news about Mommy's Khimar?  It's got some excellent reviews from Publisher's Weekly, Kirkus, and Booklist!


Publisher's Weekly

"Mommy, an African-American Muslim woman, has a closet full of the beautiful flowing headscarves called khimars (another character refers to them as hijabs later in the story). Her imaginative daughter’s favorite khimar is bright yellow, and readers follow along as the young narrator wears it in daylong dress-up play. Enveloped in the scents of coconut oil, cocoa butter, and cinnamon that linger in the khimar, the girl feels protected, loved, and bigger than life. At her mosque, she is welcomed into the world of pious women, as her mother’s friends greet her with, “Assalamu alaikum, Little Sis!” The yellow khimar is also emblematic of the unconditional love within the girl’s extended family: when her grandmother stops by after church (“She doesn’t go to the mosque like Mommy and Daddy do”), she greets the girl with a bright smile and open arms, calling her “Sunshine.” Debut author Thompkins-Bigelow’s lyrical text and Glenn’s lighthearted Disney-style pictures are similarly sunny. Rather than offer an exegesis of the khimar or a plea for acceptance and understanding, they allow their heroine’s carefree confidence to speak for itself. " 

Kirkus Reviews

"From a debut author-and-illustrator team comes a glimpse into a young American Muslim girl's family and community as she walks around in "Mommy's khimar," or headscarf.The star of this sunny picture book is a young girl who finds joy in wearing her mother's khimar, imagining it transforms her into a queen, a star, a mama bird, a superhero. At the core of the story is the love between the girl and her mother. The family appears to be African-American, with brown skin and textured hair. The girl's braids and twists "form a bumpy crown" under the khimar, which smells of coconut oil and cocoa butter. Adults in her life delight in her appearance in the bright yellow khimar, including her Arabic teacher at the mosque, who calls it a "hijab," and her grandmother, who visits after Sunday service and calls out "Sweet Jesus!" as she scoops her granddaughter into her arms. Her grandmother is, apparently, a Christian, but "We are a family and we love each other just the same." The illustrations feature soft pastel colors with dynamic lines and gently patterned backgrounds that complement the story's joyful tone. The words are often lyrical, and the story artfully includes many cultural details that will delight readers who share the cheerful protagonist's culture and enlighten readers who don't. With a universal message of love and community, this book offers a beautiful representation of a too-often-overlooked cultural group. (Picture book. 4-8)" 


"In this ebullient picture book, readers come to share in the delight a little girl takes in wearing her mother’s khimar—another term for hijab. For the girl, her mother’s rainbow collection of beautiful khimars is a source of wonder, power, and intimacy, much like any mother’s closet of pretty things might be for a young child. Her favorite one is yellow, and she wears it like a superhero wears her cape, imagining herself shining like the sun and shooting through the sky like a star. She recognizes her mother’s fragrances—coconut oil and cocoa butter—which ensure the security of her mother’s presence even in her absence. This affirming book will be a welcome mirror for Muslim and interfaith families, and a necessary counter to the Islamophobic discourse that fills the current airwaves. The illustrations are as lively and brightly colored as the khimars themselves, and smiling faces of friends and family members echo the warm message of the text.” 

Such great news to start the month with, and I couldn't be more grateful.  Now I only hope Mommy's Khimar continues to receive praise from our little readers. :)

Happy New Year!

Welcome 2018! Today's my one year anniversary of being a self-employed illustrator, and I couldn't be more proud of it.


A year ago today I quit my day job and began my full-time career as an illustrator, and it's been a thrilling adventure ever since.  Yes, I've had some ups and downs along the way but I'm so grateful to do what I love everyday (and I even get to work in my pajamas!)  

And finally I can share with you what kept me so busy in 2017!  Like the cute, little girl above who I illustrated for the children's book, Mommy's Khimar, written by the talented Jamilah Tompkins-Bigelow.  In a few months you'll be seeing her again in book stores!

I can't wait to share more projects with you soon, but all good things come in due time, right? So here's to a wonderful, prosperous, and exciting new year!


Halloween '17!

It's almost Halloween '17 and I've got a few magic tricks up my sleeve!


Like this cool, little GIF I made for the spookiest time of the year.   And, hopefully, more illustrations to share on social media and this site. 

I may not have a lot of free time nowadays to make some personal artwork but I did manage to work this one into my busy schedule.  I couldn't miss out on another holiday, heck, I've already missed so many!  So I'll just give myself a pat on the back for squeezing this one in. 

Happy Halloween!

Color Me a Kidlit 'Illustrator'

So a few weeks ago I got to be featured on the writer, Dionna Mann's, 'Color Me a Kidlit Writer' blog! She's a talented freelance journalist and an avid kidlit enthusiast like myself. :) You can check out her website and our interview here!

I've also been preoccupied finishing up some projects so I don't have a lot of new artwork to share but here's a little warm up sketch I've made this week. :) I hope you enjoy it and if you're feeling feisty, please leave a comment on Dionne's blog.  We'd love to know what you think!


I'm a little behind in letting you know that last month two books that I've worked on have been published!

The first, 'One Last Word: Wisdom from the Harlem Renaissance,' published by Bloomsbury, is a book with a collection of poetry that takes a look at the poets of the Harlem Renaissance by combining their work with the original poetry by the award-winning author Nikki Grimes. It also includes original artwork by fourteen talented illustrators including one by the author, and of course one by yours truly!

The second, 'Beacon to Freedom: The Story of a Conductor on the Underground Railroad' is a nonfiction picture book about the Reverend John Rankin who is credited with providing safety through the Underground Railroad to more than 2,000 runaway slaves.  Published by Capstone and written by Miss Jenna Glatzer, another award-winning author, this story gives recognition to a courageous abolitionist who bravely guided runaways across the Ohio River with a light in his window, giving them hope in a time of great fear and danger. 

I'm glad to have had the opportunity to work on these two books and learn so much more about the history of the Harlem Renaissance and the Underground Railroad.  I've even developed a fondness of poetry and a greater interest in American history because of them.  Now I hope that these historical stories will be as inspiring for you and other young readers as they were for me.


Merry Christmas!

Happy Holidays to you, my friend!

I had some time to make this quick illustration for the holiday season and, of course, I want to share it with you--It's a new style that I've been having a bit of fun experimenting with! :)

See ya next year (I've got some wonderful news to share in the new year so stay tuned), and I hope you have a wonderful holiday season! 


Roar! Talking to a Titanosaur

It sure has been a crazy (but awesome!) couple of months for me and my illustration work. I haven't even had the time to share all of the cool things that I've been working on, but you can see Bruno, the cute little guy I've created for the American Museum of Natural History's Ology site!


Lucky, Bruno!  He get's to interview one of the largest dinosaurs ever found, the Titanosaur, that's on exhibit in New York at one of the largest museums in the world.  And yes, it's that pretty cool museum based on the movie, Night at the Museum!

But other than drawing like a maniac, I'm trying to make sure to keep up to date with posting on social media that way I'm not M.I.A for weeks.  :/  So even though its still going to be a busy couple of months ahead, I'm going to try to make sure I post monthly for you guys. :)


The Cat's Out of the Bag!

The cat's out of the bag!  

I'm happy to announce of my agreement with Henry Holt Books to illustrate the children's picture book, This is the Dancer, along with the author Michelle Meadows. Yay!!

Okay, well the news has already been out for the past few weeks but I'm happy to share this with you now.  The picture book is a biography of the talented Janet Collins who was regarded as the true, first black ballerina to dance for a classical ballet company during an era when segregation was still legal.  It's scheduled for release in 2018.

The great news is also mentioned in Publishers' Weekly, a weekly news magazine focused on the international book publishing business that also features articles and news on all aspects of the book industry.

I've also got some other great things to share with you soon (like my trip to Ripley, Ohio and some other work I've completed) so stay tuned!


For the month of May I will be the featured illustrator on the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrator's website!  Yay!

In case you didn't know, SCBWI is one of the largest existing non-profit organizations for kid-lit writers and illustrators worldwide.  It is the only professional organization specifically for those who write and/or illustrate for children and young adults in the fields of children's literature, magazines, film, television, and multimedia. 

So yeah, I'm pretty thrilled to be one of their monthy features as well as to be part of such an awesome organzation.  And if you were interested in learning a bit more, feel free to click the image of the happy babies above.  :)

Fairy Haitus

Here's the little fairy that I made for last week's #fairyfriday.

I'm taking a hiatus from making fairies due to the busy schedule that I'm going to have for the next couple of weeks.  But have no worries, I still plan on posting some new artwork while I'm working like a busy bee.  :)

Happy Friday!

Happy Birthday, Bright USA!

Bright USA is celebrating its one year anniversary since launching in April of last year, and I couldn't be more proud of all the great things the agency has already achieved!

Happy Birthday, Bright USA!

I know that I've mentioned it before but I am so happy to be with Bright.  I'm so excited to see what new and great things await for me, for all who are represented by Bright, and for all who make Bright USA the awesome agency that it is. I even got the chance to join in on the festivities by creating the illustrations of the happy, Bright baby above!   Now I just got to make sure I get my slice of cake before he gets it all over the place. ;)


Last Friday I attended the Illustrator's Day workshop at the SCBWI's Springmingle Conference held here in Atlanta, and I had such a great experience!  

I got the chance to meet some fellow illustrators, hear some valuable insights on the industry and fill my notepad with some very useful tips and advice from the faculty who included an art director from Simon and Schuster, the vice president and creative director from Peachtree Publishers, and an award-winning illustrator who's been in the game for over two decades.  So here I'll share with you some of the things that I took away at Illustrator's Day:

It's a good idea to be on social media.

While I sat in the auditorium viewing some artwork created just for Illustrator's Day, Laurent Linn, the art director from Simon and Schuster and an Emmy award-winning puppet designer of Sesame Street, stressed the importance for illustrators to be actively engaged on social media. There's a whole community of children's book enthusiasts on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook and it's a great opportunity to get involved in the fun with your kid lit tribe. 

Storytelling is Emotional Telling

Again, I think Mr. Liin his the nail on the head with this one.  With storytelling, not only do the words on a page speak to the reader but also should the illustrations have that emotional link.  Everything in an illustration should have a purpose to rouse emotion for the reader as well as to help move the story forward.

Always Be Building your Studio

The award-winning illustrator and president of the Society of Illustrators in Los Angeles, Joe Cepeda, invited us to see his studio via slide presentation.  He believes that an artist's workspace should not only be a place with he or she learns and researches, but it should also be place that bring's the artist joy and a peace of mind.  Now I dont rent a studio space nor can I leverage an engineering background to optimize every inch of space like Mr. Cepeda, but after watching his presentation I aspire to create workspace that works for me instead of the other way around. 

The Creative Process is an Ongoing Process

When the vice president, Kathy Landwehr, and creative director, Nicki Carmack, of Peachtree Publishers gave their presentation, we the audience were given a behind-the-scenes glimpse of how the orgins of a story idea progresses into a finished manuscript ready for publication as well as the pertinent roles that the editors and art directors play.  Everyone has an equal part to ensure the best for the book's release.  It may take months to foster an idea, to create the best artwork, or just to get inspired, but when it all comes together it's guaranteed to be a beautiful masterpiece because of all the creative and relentless minds involved in its production.

I'll Know it When I See It

Lastly, this is a quote I can relate to when it comes to seeing some good art.  During the Q&A when the faculty was asked, "What are the desicive factors at play when deciding which illustrator to work with on a new book," they all agreed with, "I'll know it when I see it."  Of course there are other factors that play a role in the decision-making process, but in the end it's the work of the illustrator best suited for the job who gets the gig. 

So there you have it, some key things that I took away from Illustrator's Day.  Now I'm looking forward to attending the WIK conference in October, but until then I'll let all the new thing I learned soak in.  

The Bright Agency

I've got some wonderful news!  

I'm very excited to announce that I am now being represented by the Bright Agency!  

Bright is an illustration agency that is dedicated to and specializes in representing artists for the children's book industry.  The agency handles not only children's books but also commercial illustration and art licensing!  Just like the happy fairy above, I'm over the moon with what future possibilities this will provide me with, and what new adventures I will have because of this wonderful opportunity! Yippee!

Happy Valentine's Day!

I'll admit it. I am a fan of Valentine's Day.  

Yes, I'm guilty of adoring all the pink/red decor while shopping, giving heart-themed gifts for friends and family, and rushing to make last minute V-day plans for the special guy in my life. 

But what I love most about Valentine's day is the love that is openly expressed for the people we keep closest to our hearts. 


And with this in mind, I wanted to create something special for a day that many others feel lacks any useful meaning or purpose. 

So I'm going to spread the love, and I hope you have a wonderful Valentine's Day.

Lessons Learned

I finally finished the winter cabin this past week!  It's now surrounded by trees, covered in snow, and nicely settled in its new home in a small, black frame. Unfortunately, I did encounter some challenges with this particular, paper illustration...  


I forgot how decisive you have to be with this medium.  For example, once you put the glue on and stick the paper down, there's no turning back unless you want to start over again.

Secondly, it helps to have a clear idea for the finished illustration.  I was constantly changing the vision I had for the cabin towards the end, and I wished I spent more time with the sketch.

And lastly, I needed to measure everything out before I began using my X-acto knife.  I can't tell you how often I had to re-do something because I didn't take the time to measure it first.

So, there you have it, folks.  It's still a learning process for me when it comes to paper.  But in the end, the cabin was not a complete, snow-covered disaster.  In fact, I'm happy to have learned these lessons.  I'm now even more confident that I will be able to create better paper illustrations for another day. :)  



The Winter Cabin

For the last couple of days, I've had the time to make this cute, little cabin.   

I have a weird obsession with cabins.  Maybe it has something to do with living in the mountains for a little while, or their quaint charm.  Either way, I think there's something enchanting about these wooden homes.


Next, I'll add the little, snow-covered trees to surround the little cabin, and also I'm thinking about adding some fake snow.  What do you think?  Well, stay tuned because you'll find out soon enough when I post more pictures. :)


Happy Winter, and if it's snowing, enjoy its magic!