Who Wins a Copy of MR. REGINALD AND THE BUNNIES by Paula Wallace?

It is my pleasure to announce the winner of a copy of the delightful picture book by Paula Wallace: MR. REGINALD AND THE BUNNIES.

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Congratulations KIM PFENNIGWERTH. Just in time for Easter!

Please forward your address to me so I can send it to you.

Thanks to all who participated in the give-away. Happy Spring!

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Author/Illustrator Paula Wallace Presents a New PB: Mr. Reginald and the Bunnies + a Chance to Win a Copy.

Today it is my pleasure to interview children’s picture book author/illustrator PAULA WALLACE who just released a new picture titled MR. REGINALD AND THE BUNNIES. Paula tells where the idea for this delightful story came from and how she illustrated it. My review of the story will follow and then you will have an opportunity to enter a drawing to win a copy .

Here’s Paula:

Mr. Reginald and the Bunnies evolved from a series of paintings created after an artist residency at the Heartland Family Service Therapeutic School in Council Bluffs, Iowa. The school was established for children unsuccessful in a conventional school setting and my residency was supported by WhyArts, an arts organization whose service is dedicated to those on the margins, the under-served, and those with disabilities. 

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The kids and the teaching/support staff provided a wealth of opportunity to observe and fully appreciate the challenges and energy and love required to serve children (ages 5-20) who carried so much trouble with them. Of course, I also observed other children in my family or my friends’ or at church – there’s the remarkable universality of movement and curiosity and testing of boundaries. Yet teachers, moms and dads, caregivers of every stripe need a break – and so do children. In Mr. Reginald & the Bunnies we see that everyone is looking for a little respite, a little change. We also see that sometimes all our planning and great expectations can be upended and, as a result, we have to roll with it.
All of the paintings are oil on panel. Because I also do fine art painting for galleries, oil is the tool I know. I can move from one painting to another as they dry enough for me to take them to the next level. Needless to say, there were rabbits everywhere while working on the book. Anna Olswanger, my agent, really put me through the paces to fine tune everything. She could look at work objectively and honestly – something very important to artists and writers who are often too close to their work. Making changes, stretching and pulling the work, even hearing “no,” can be daunting and humbling and deflating. Yet there is a grace in all of that sweat, an appreciation for doing your best to give it your best. After all, the story and the pictures are not something to hoard and hide, they’re meant to be shared, making all the work so much sweeter.
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By the way, I learned that Foreward Reviews named Mr. Reginald & the Bunnies among the finalists in the picture book/early reader category! 
Darlene’s Review: Mr. Reginald the rabbit and his neighbor Mrs. Paddock live in a quiet neighborhood where they pride themselves for the orderly lives they lead. They like everything to be tidy and “just so”. This order is disrupted when Mr. Reginald gets a visit from his three rambunctious nieces and nephews. Get ready for a sweet and delightful romp with an old-fashioned, homey feel reminiscent of Peter Rabbit. The soft, colorful illustrations add whimsy and humor to the playful and energetic antics of the rabbits. Snuggle up and put on your bunny slippers. This has the makings of a favorite read-aloud bedtime story for the youngest readers.
To enter and win a copy of MR. REGINALD AND THE BUNNIES, leave a comment on this post. I will put your name in a hat and one winner will be chosen at random from all who entered. If you share this post on FB or Tweet it, let me know and I will add your name again. The winner will be announced on  this blog on Thursday, April 11, 2019.

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Artist and author, Paula Wallace, has a studio in the Hot Shops Art Center in Omaha, Nebraska. Wallace, a graduate of the University of Iowa, recalls a professor saying “the artist’s job is to pay attention.” Her art and stories are informed by her work with children and other under-served communities, as well as the urban and rural landscapes in which we dwell.

Wallace has illustrated for other authors, as well as writing and illustrating her own books, including Choose Your Days (Cinco Puntos Press) and Mr. Reginald and the Bunnies (Pomegranate.) In 2018, Choose Your Days represented Nebraska at the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. Her work as a fine artist includes many gallery exhibits in the United States and Italy. Her work is held in private collections throughout the United States and internationally.

Choose Your Days: PB by Paula Wallace

It’s been a joy to be given an opportunity to do a post with Paula Wallace as my guest. This Author/Illustrator just released a new picture book  titled CHOOSE YOUR DAYS (Cinco Puntos Press). If you haven’t had a chance to see this unusual and exciting book, here are some reviews to whet your appetite. (My words and comments are in RED)

hi-res Choose Your Day CoverKirkus Starred Review of Choose Your Days: 

With the help of Old Bear, Corky lives her life intentionally. Old Bear is the “keeper of time and keys,” and when Corky is born, the big, pillowy-looking old ursine gives the little dark-haired, white child her days, two empty lists (one for dreams and one for things to do), her key, and a simple, whispered instruction: “Choose your days, make them sunny or gray.” She takes it seriously. Waking up beneath a clock with an urgent reminder instead of numbers — “Get up! You have stuff to do. Get up!” — Corky grows, moving from tricycle to two-wheeler, aging and becoming stooped over the course of two double-page spreads back grounded with painterly strokes of aquamarine. Even aged, Corky still wants to pursue “work undone … play postponed … music unsung,” but eventually she must use her key to unlock the door to death, where Old Bear is waiting comfortingly. Wallace’s illustrations are metaphorical and cozy, her pointy-nosed protagonist perpetually clad in red shoes and scarf, striped stockings, and a comfy brown dress. Generous white space encompasses both protagonist and symbols of passing time (calendar pages, the stub of a pencil), giving children the emotional room to contemplate Corky’s progress. This is the kind of book that will stick with readers, a meditation that they may not understand now but that, if digested, could have magical results.

Publishers Weekly: 

Nebraska-based artist Paula Wallace quietly exhorts readers to make the most of their time on Earth as she follows a girl named Corky from her birth to the other end of her lifespan. Wallace’s language and imagery can be both playful and enigmatic—this is a story that challenges readers to think, rather than hitting them over the head with obvious messages and directives. After Corky is born, she is visited by Old Bear, “keeper of time and keys,” and a deity of sorts. He leaves her with a “calendar for all of her days,” lists to be filled with dreams and actions, and some advice: “Choose your days, make them sunny or gray.” Wispy paintings chart Corky’s growth in a lovely sequence of pages that shows her riding tricycles and bicycles as she ages into an elderly woman with a kerchief and cane. She asks Old Bear for more time, “For work undone. For play postponed. For music unsung,” and while she doesn’t appear to get any additional time, she does eke out a few last adventures. It’s never too late, Wallace suggests, until it is. Ages 3–7. (Apr.)

I had the pleasure of reading this unique book. Here’s my review:  It is a tender and hopeful picture book for adults as well as children. Wallace respectfully addresses a topic not often discussed in picture books: Death.  It’s simple message is to “make the most of the time you are given, and when the end has come, do not be afraid.  Each of us holds a key to how we live our life.”  It really resonated with me.  Anyone who fears death will find the peaceful and thoughtful message a welcome one. 

When I asked Paula to describe how she became an author/illustrator for children, here was her response:

A studio in the Hot Shops Art Center is not so much about the finished formality of art than it is about the sweat and mess of making art. It is a place of collaboration and curiosity – both of which spark my work. My own compassion and sense of wonder are tempered with humor and an earthy realism – a creative and spiritual vision informed by both childhood farm life and grown-up city dwelling.

What enriches my life and art is helping others discover their own creative gifts – be they disabled, gifted, young or old. Service work as a teaching artist with WhyArts or the Girl Scouts in the Omaha area often includes projects with those who are the underserved, hovering at the edges – the very young or the elderly, special needs, at risk, or refugee.

My work as illustrator includes fully illustrated texts, calendars, teaching materials, and many published titles. The art work has been used to illustrate musical and dramatic texts for multi-media performances. My own book, Choose Your Days, is expected in 2016 from Cinco Puntos Press.

Corky and Bear in His boat.

Corky and Old Bear in the Moon’s boat. A scene from CHOOSE YOUR DAYS.

As a fine artist there have been exhibits in such diverse settings as commercial galleries in the United States and Italy, schools, churches, the Nebraska Governor’s mansion (2015) and in public collections such as the University of Nebraska Medical Center School of Nursing and School of Public Health. There is enormous gratitude for having work in private collections throughout the United States and internationally.

I use art to help give voice to others. Art is the language of my work: to delight in beauty and to share the human experience are aspects of that language. It is the artist’s duty is to pay attention to the wonders and possibilities of the world and, in particular, to their own mistakes.

Paula Wallace is a working artist, writer and poet whose studio is located in the

Hot Shops Art Center in Omaha, Nebraska. Wallace’s compassion and sense of wonder are tempered with wry humor and earthy realism – a creative and spiritual vision informed by both childhood farm life and grown-up city dwelling.           Paul Wallace photo by Cindy Zurcher

Wallace, a graduate of the University of Iowa, enriches her life and art by helping others discover their own creative gifts – be they disabled, gifted, young or old. Her service work as a teaching artist with WhyArts in the Omaha area includes projects with Heartland Family Service, such as Youth Links and the Solomon Girls Center; special education programs through the Omaha public schools; the Intercultural Senior Center; Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts; and Service Learning at the University of Nebraska.

Wallace’s work as an illustrator includes Hansel & Gretel for Opera Omaha; African American Pioneers (homesteaders) for Omaha Public Schools African American History e-book series; cover art for Varieties of Personal Theology (David Gortner); Our Journey Together and Home is Our Journey (O’Brien); Nebraska Lawyer magazine; and the 2016-17 Christian Planning Calendar (Church Publishing). Wallace’s work has been used to illustrate musical and dramatic texts for multi-media performances at the University of Minnesota at Duluth, Chicago, Illinois, and Omaha, Nebraska; churches in Nebraska, Iowa, Massachusetts, California, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri and Kansas; and for unique settings such as the Josie Harper Hospice House in Omaha, Nebraska.

Because the artist uses her art to help give voice to others, her range of styles may be representational to whimsical with lush color and an evocative narrative quality. Art is the language of her work: to delight in beauty and to share the human experience are aspects of that language. Wallace believes the artist’s duty is to pay attention to the wonders and possibilities of the world and, in particular, to their own mistakes.

Choose Your Days, is due on bookshelves in 2016 from Cinco Puntos Press. paulaswallace@gmail.com   

http://www.paulawallacefineart.com