Blog – news, f-stops and the wardrobe

Mystery Beans Make Magical Squash!

Back in 2006, I came across a short article in The Park Slope Courier about a young boy who planted some mysterious beans. The article went on to describe how the boy and his father had come across a seed packet in a local hardware store, but they had not been able to identify the plant. There was a picture of the fourth grader holding up what looked like a four and a half foot long string bean. That and the headline were enough to inspire me to write my own version of Jack and the Beanstalk. The book came out […]

School Visit Art!

Like most authors and illustrators I know, I regularly do school visits. School visits are a great opportunity to have children see my work and for me to get a sense how my work is seen by them. Here are a few thank you notes sent to me from children at PS 321 in Park Slope, Brooklyn, a school that I have regularly visited for more than 15 years. These drawings really give a sense of what aspects of my presentation captured their imaginations. I love the details in this drawing of my visit. I gave a power point presentation and my art is pictured on the […]

New look for Nina Crews Children’s Books!

I have given my website and blog a makeover! Check out ninacrews.com’s fresh look and more streamlined interface. Now the site should be easy to navigate on mobile devices and my blog is at the same url. Because I love a DIY project, I took on the challenge of rebuilding the website myself (I built the first site, too). This time I used a wordpress template, asked a tech savvy friend a lot of questions and spent loads of time reading websites on coding css and html. There are still elements I’d like to tweak, so expect that more small changes will come. The background was inspired by […]

A good book for a hot summer day

One Hot Summer Day © Nina Crews, HarperCollins Publishers August in New York City – “Dogs pant. Hydrants are open. Women carry umbrellas for the shade.”  Those words were written over twenty years ago during another hot, sticky New York summer and come from my very first picture book, One Hot Summer Day – now in print for twenty years! One Hot Summer Day sketch for page 4-5 Much has changed in the Brooklyn neighborhoods I photographed for this book and the young girl, who stars in the story, is now a grown woman. Not everything changes, however, the experiences of young children at play […]

BELOW – paperback edition!

© Nina Crews 2006. BELOW – “Jack lived in a tall narrow house…”[/caption]   BELOW is now available as a print-on-demand paperback! Last fall, I got the news that one of my favorite books, BELOW, was going out of print. I’ve had other books go out of print before and I have always felt disappointed, but rarely surprised. This time I was surprised. BELOW had been named an ALA Notable book and a Junior Library Guild selection. Sales were never big, but steady, and the book was always a hit when I read it aloud to school groups. I was also in the midst of […]

Reflections: The work of Ann Jonas

©Ann Jonas – Bird Talk 1999 There is an exhibition of my mother, Ann Jonas’s, picture books on display now at the Brooklyn Public Library’s Central branch. We are so pleased with this exhibition that includes many of her books, early student work and design work. It has given us a great opportunity to reflect upon her wonderful career. When mom passed away last fall, it was easy to talk at length about how much we loved her and all of the special things she did for us. She was a loving mother and wife; nearly a daughter to her […]

Writing Process Blog Tour

Thank you Marisabina Russo for tagging me in the Writing Process Blog Tour! I really enjoyed reading about your writing process at http://marisabinarusso.wordpress.com/2014/08/22/the-writing-process-blog-tour/! What am I working on? Poetry continues to be a source of inspiration for me. I loved photographing contemporary scenes to illustrate nursery rhymes in The Neighborhood Mother Goose. In my new project (working title – Each Green Leaf), I will photo illustrate nine haiku written by Richard Wright, (the African American novelist) and pair them with a brief biography that will explore Wright’s life and creative journey. I love haiku and believe it a great form to study with kids. Writing the biography was fun […]

Liar, Liar!

©Nina Crews from The Neighborhood Sing-Along 2011 I have just returned from Sheboygan Wisconsin. Spent a day talking about my books at the Mead Public Library and leading an art workshop at the Kohler Art Center. Spent two evenings talking shop with other authors and illustrators while tasting Wisconsin specialties like fried cheese curds. (Yes, fried cheese curds.) Here are some photos of me in an article about the festival from the  Sheboygan Press. You can look at them here.  (But be patient, there are lots of photos of Steven Kellogg first!) During my morning presentation I learned something new […]

Climbing the Beanstalk

Jack and the Beanstalk © Nina Crews. Published by Christy Ottaviano Books, Henry Holt Books for Young Readers. I am so pleased that my retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk will be published next week! I started thinking about the story way back in 2004 and wrote my first drafts in 2006. It’s about time! The visual possibilities excited me first. I loved the idea of a huge beanstalk curling into the sky past a brick apartment building. Jack and the Beanstalk © Nina Crews I then did a little online research and learned that that the story as I […]

A Neighborhood Photo Shoot: Expected and unexpected challenges

A couple of reviewers have commented (very nicely) on the naturalism of my photographs of children. Many of my favorite photographers like Helen Levitt, Andre Kertesz and Roy DeCarava created images that capture the beauty of unexpected and unguarded moments. But this, like all things, does require some effort. In my case I use an extra tool when things don’t quite go my way, Photoshop. Mega Sashes and Glass photo ©Nina Crews When I planned the image I wanted for “Do Your Ears Hang Low” I imagined a group of kids hamming it up in front of a shop window filled […]

How to be in two places at once

I few weeks ago, I did my first ever skype author visit. What a great way to have technology work for us authors! I spoke with the children at the Upper Room Christian Academy-A Preparatory School, in Raleigh, North Carolina for about 30 minutes. Prior to our chat, the children read my books and talked about my work. On the day of, they were excited and ready with questions for me. I showed them previews of The Neighborhood Sing-Along and the sketches I made before photographing. We did have some glitches. Our first scheduled chat didn’t happen, because the school’s […]

Poor Guy!

Poor Guy has lost a leg! Jack’s fearless adventure companion featured in my two books, Below and Sky-High Guy, needs some repair. When I was first planning the photographs for Below, I knew that I wanted Jack’s favorite toy to be one that would only exist in that book. I didn’t really know how to make a doll, but I certainly played with enough as a kid, so I gave it a try. Guy was made out of a clay called Sculpey that can be baked in a toaster oven. I gave him dark brown hair and olive skin like […]

About Nina

Nina Crews is a critically acclaimed children’s book author and illustrator. She uses photographs and photocollages to create energetic stories about young children. Her career began in 1995 with One Hot Summer Day which Kirkus Reviews hailed as “the debut of a welcome new voice and vision.” Two of her books, The Neighborhood Mother Goose and Below were ALA Notable selections. Nina’s work has explored a variety of themes. She has updated classic material in The Neighborhood Mother Goose as well as in her recent titles, The Neighborhood Sing-Along and Jack and the Beanstalk. She has written stories of children’s […]