Giveaway Winner & When Things Break

Congratulations to @beingkeri for winning a copy of Jonathan's children's book Woodward and McTwee! Keri, just send your address to Jennifer (jennifer AT fatandappy DOT com) and I will send a hardcover copy to your attention. Thanks to those who shared, followed and tweeted! On a completely different topic...

Are you experiencing broken things? We feel you. We know your pain.

A few months ago, we unwittingly entered a season of broken things. And we're not talking about small items. In no particular order, this is what failed, broke or burned in the last few months:

> Car AC (our mechanic broke it when he repaired something else but we still had to take the car back to be fixed, gratis. This involved Jonathan biking forty miles back and forth from the repair place in Denver in one day since we car share.)

> House AC. Not even kidding. This is a BIG expense. Currently, we are saving to replace the unit. So, this summer, we enjoy the great outdoors, indoors. All of our windows look like this:

An open window in a suburban house

This also means we buy allergy medicine. Having a lot of open windows is actually kind of fun; it's not too hot here in Colorado and you can hear the kids playing outside. You can also hear your neighbors discussing trimming their hedges; yelling at their dogs; and jumping on trampolines. This part is a little weird.

As a southerner, not having air conditioning seems like not having a lung. Or a dinner table. It just feels like a major THING is missing. But once we realized that saving up for the replacement compressor unit was really the only option, well, I just kind of accepted it. And cranked open sixteen windows.

> Garage Door. The torsion springs were apparently put in by the neighborhood builder using the cheapest product available. So, along with all of our neighbors, our garage door broke down like an old donkey.

> Dryer. When we moved into this house almost seven years ago, we purchased a very pretty middle-of-the-line Whirlpool washer/dryer combo. At some point, the heating coils overheated, tripping every fail safe inside the dryer. Melting ensued. Jonathan YouTubed the heck out of that thing and then ordered $125 worth of parts online. After watching videos over and over, he was able to get the dryer back on its feet.

> Dishwasher. Again, another nice Whirlpool appliance. Something plugged and whatever...I stopped listening. A few dollars online, another YouTube video and Jonathan had the dishwasher up and running again.

I know these are all first-world problems. I know I am blessed to have a newish house filled with modern conveniences. I know all of this. And hopefully, things are about to stop breaking down around here. 

But when you are facing hundreds or thousands of dollars of repairs you weren't expecting, it can get a little panicky. So, if this is you, take heart. We're going through a Season of Broken Things. It's not fun and it's not cheap. I hope that your brokeness passes quickly. And I hope our story encourages someone, somewhere.

Also this: if you stop by for a visit, dress in layers.

Have Some Happy Thoughts

Here are a few illustrations from Jonathan's picture book HAPPY THOUGHTS. It's not sold yet, but we're working on it. Excited about tomorrow: WOODWARD AND MCTWEE'S publication date! Yahoo! You can buy it in any bookstore or online, of course. Look for the Penguin Young Readers series carousel in your favorite bookstore. Thanks for supporting Jonathan's work...we are so appreciative.

A little girl sleeping next to a cloud

 

An illustration of a sunset by Jonathan Fenske

 

An illustration from Denver artist Jonathan Fenske

Crazy Like A Fox

We're in full swing here at Fenske & Fenske, working on our most recent projects. So, we hope you don't mind this second look at A Pig, A Fox and A Box. We hope to announce good news soon that this pranking duo have found a home. Soon, soon! The cover of the children's book A Pig A Fox and A Box by Jonathan Fenske

An illustration from a children's book by Jonathan Fenske

An illustration of Fox and Pig from Jonathan Fenske's children's book A Pig A Fox and A Box

Thanks for stopping by our blog, especially while we're working on new stuff. It's really encouraging and we think you are LOVELY. Keep up with Jonathan and Jennifer (that's me!) by subscribing to our blog at left. Or you can always check out what's happening on Fat and Appy, our online store for canvas prints of Jonathan's work. 

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!

What's Your Favorite Children's Book? + Book News

If you have kids in your home, you read a lot of children's books. Books are everywhere around here. And beware the tidy mother who attempts to curate the collection. There were howls of protest when I started to "thin" out the bookshelves earlier this week. But we had to...shelves were stuffed and books were piled and the baby would drag them around, chewing and mewing for someone to read to her. (Kidding! She's in that stage where a book is simply not that interesting. We still read to her, of course, but she wanders off to see how her older sisters are clobbering each other. True story.) In any event, we filled a box-o-books to take to Goodwill.

Box of children's books

This book curating made me think of a guest post Jonathan did in February over at The Write Now Coach, Rochelle Melander. I've known Rochelle for many years and she's a true tour-de-force of a writing coach, author, editor...the list goes on. She kindly had Jonathan on her blog and he guest posted about his 5 favorite children's books. Here's an excerpt:

"When we had our first daughter seven years ago, I delighted in buying old picture books at thrift stores and discovering new titles at our local bookstore. When I wrote Love Is in the Air (indeed, whenever I write) all of my favorite books were (and are) swirling in my head, a beautiful, highly respected and influential mass of collective imagination."

In book news, we're pleased as punch to tell you that Penguin USA made an offer for Woodward and McTwee. It's one of several stories about a sweet, innocent hippo and a super snarky bird. The book will be published in 2014. We love Penguin, including Jonathan's editor, Bonnie Bader. Go book people!

Here's a homemade mock-up of the cover:

Cover of Woodward and McTwee children's book by Jonathan Fenske That's it from here! We invite you to head over to the new home of Fat and Appy, and our new collection of canvas prints for children featuring Jonathan's designs. Save 15% by signing up for our newsletter. Thank you for visiting. We adore you so much.

Tell us in the comments: what is your favorite children's book? 

5 Tips for Writing the Best Love Letter Ever

Forget the perfume. Ditch the roses. For Valentine's Day this year, all you need is a pen and a pretty piece of paper. Your love letter doesn't have to be penned to a romantic partner. Write what's in your heart to your child, mother or father, best friend or simply someone special in your life.

If you need a little nudge, I've written 5 pointers below. Go ahead...write a letter this year! Your loved one will always cherish it. Four times per year, Jonathan and I pen letters to each other (birthdays, our anniversary, Mother's/Father's Day and Christmas.) I love that our girls will inherit boxes of letters from their parents. As our oldest says now when she sees us kiss (with gentle disgust): "Smoochie! Smoochie!"

Valentine's Love Letter Tip #1: Tell Them Why You Are Writing

This is a secret tip to writing a good love letter. Open your note telling your loved one why you wanted to write this letter.

Dear Honey, I wanted to sit down and tell you a few things that are in my heart. 

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Valentine's Love Letter Tip #2: Reference Your Current State of Affairs

Life is crazy right now. With the three girls, it seems like we're always making a peanut butter sandwich or scraping one off the ceiling. 

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Valentine's Love Letter Tip #3: Tell Your Loved One You're Crazy about Them

But even with our long days of chasing our art dreams while chasing down the girls, my heart still jumps when I see your face. 

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Valentine's Love Letter Tip #4: Praise Something Awesome 

Quite frankly, I'm in awe of your talent. I'm blown away by how you care for us. I am deeply, deeply thankful that you are the biggest part of my life. 

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Valentine's Love Letter Tip #5: End with a Sentiment from the Heart

My home will always be with you.

I love you, 

Jennifer 

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This week's contest winner is Jaymie from Snacks for Max! Thanks, Jaymie, for commenting! Please also check out Jaymie's blog for a really sweet review she wrote of Jonathan's easy reader Love Is in the Air. Last week, we also had a great post on Rochelle Melander's Write Now Coach blog (Jonathan guest blogged about his fave children's books). And Secrets and Sharing Soda did a beautiful review of Love Is in the Air.

Photographs Copyright 2013 Jennifer & Jonathan Fenske

Content Creators

I really do think that well-done, original content (whether that's books, animated series, webisodes, podcasts, cartoons, you name it) is a rare thing in this world. Probably it's not so rare, because there will always be starving artists, poets and writers who create. But does the world see their work?

Read More

New from the Sketchbook: A Pig, A Fox and A Box

One thing I have learned being married to Jonathan for almost 15 years is that the guy never runs out of creativity. Never. My man can write, draw, sketch, compose and illustrate all day. And then get up and do it again. I'm very fond of something he says quite often: "I had another idea for a children's book..." Happily for him, Penguin USA picked up two of his books that will be published in Dec. 2012 and Spring 2013. They are Love Is in the Air and Guppy Up! You can learn more about them here.

Penguin is currently considering A Pig, A Fox and a Box. We hope they go for it---Jonathan has had an awesome relationship with his editor and the staff there.

Here's a sneak peek: