Thursday, December 17, 2009

Artists In My Book / *Bill Carney* Interview

Some of my most favorite moments illustrating MERMAIDS ON PARADE came from listening to music. Two local bands really hit the spot. The Jug Addicts got me into the feel of the Old Timey Coney Island style. And Les Sans Culottes evoked the psychedelia that is modern Coney Island; the band even performed at the Coney Island Mermaid Parade Ball.

Both bands are fronted by Bill Carney. By day a lawyer,

by night the leader of two bands that are always playing out somewhere in NYC, Detroit, Minneapolis, California or France. Both of his bands inspired the art and the colors in my book.

Les Sans Culottes

The Jug Addicts

In fact, several of the band members show up as characters in my book.

Bill Carney was kind enough to answer my interview questions.

Q: If you had a mermaid name what would it be?
BC: Aragorn.

Q :What does Coney Island mean to you?
BC: The cyclone, wonderwheel, boardwalk, beach, shoot the freak; a great amusement park just a bicycle ride away from my apartment.

Q: Why do you enjoy marching in the Mermaid Parade?
BC: I've viewed the parade but never marched. I love the great and inventive costumes of the paraders.

Q: What are you currently working on?
BC: I am continuing to perform with my bands, Bill Carney' s Jug Addicts and Les Sans Culottes

Thanks, Bill!

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Melanie’s Autographed Books are available through Melanie Hope Greenberg.

* PAYPAL Links On the Sidebar under **BUY BOOKS**

* AMAZON Use Melanie Hope Greenberg's personal SELLERS listings.
(When you buy from third party listings I do not receive a payment).

Link here 

1) MERMAIDS ON PARADE $16.95 + shipping

2) A CITY IS $20.00 + shipping

3) GOOD MORNING DIGGER $15.95 +shipping.

Autographed Double-Sided Color Proof Pages
Reversible. Two-Prints-In-One. 8 1/2" x 11"
Perfect for ready-made picture frames.
@$35 - shipping included

Collect Melanie's original illustrations
Published in Magazines, on Greeting Cards, and more.

Contact for details:

Monday, November 16, 2009


Good News.
My blog was selected!
"100 Best Book Blogs for Kids, Tweens and Teens"
Sad News.
Sometimes books go OP.
MERMAIDS ON PARADE went out of print.
Good news.
Did not feel sorry for myself.
I now own 3200 copies of MERMAIDS ON PARADE!
Here they are on delivery day.

If you are looking to obtain brand new hardcover signed copies of MERMAIDS ON PARADE, A CITY IS, or GOOD MORNING DIGGER, contact me for more details:

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Queens and Crowns Part 2 / *Miss Brooklyn 2009* Interview

What a thrill! What an honor! On October 4, 2009 Keelie Sheridan, Miss Brooklyn 2009, read my book, MERMAIDS ON PARADE, on the stage in front of Gumbo at Brooklyn’s famous Atlantic Antic. Keelie is one of three sisters who compete in pageants but root for one another. Her family was right there cheering as Keelie was crowned in February 2009.

Keelie possesses not only natural beauty but real smarts and talent as well. An aspiring actress, she is a senior at Empire State College double majoring in British Literature and Theater with an Education concentration. A dance specialist with the YWCA-NYC at P.S. 209 in Brooklyn, her special talent which awarded her the Miss Brooklyn 2009 crown was Irish Step Dancing.

Because I earn my livelihood through Arts in Education as a visiting author-illustrator, this year’s Miss Brooklyn is a woman after my own heart. Her major goal is "Arts for All: Promoting Performing Arts Opportunities for Underprivileged Youth". She is currently training to become a theatre teaching-artist with the Community Word Project.

Miss Brooklyn 2009 Loves MERMAIDS ON PARADE

Keelie represents The Miss Brooklyn Scholarship Program which awards young women pursuing a higher education who attend college, and live or work in New York City's five boroughs. Educational advancement, achievement, and public services continue to be the primary objectives for the scholarship program in the face of changing roles for women in American society.

Learn more about what Miss Brooklyn 2009 is up to at her Blog.

Keelie was so gracious to answer my interview questions.

Q: If you had a mermaid name what would it be?

KS: Splashy Sunshine O'Seashell

Q: What does Coney Island mean to you?

KS: To me, Coney Island means cotton candy and corn dogs!

Q: What are your goals as Miss Brooklyn 2009?

KS: As Miss Brooklyn 2009, it's my goal to introduce our borough to the Miss America Organization, and the valuable resource it is for young women looking to fund their education. It's also my goal to provide performing arts opportunities for kids who might not get the chance to study theatre or dance, and I hope to continue to use the public spotlight that the title of Miss Brooklyn has afforded me to do so!

Q:What is Keelie Sheridan currently working on?

KS: I'm currently working on my education, my performing arts program, and being a great Miss Brooklyn!

Thanks, Keelie!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Artists in My Book / *Petra Hanson* Queens and Crowns Part 1

Much of the imagery in my book, MERMAIDS ON PARADE, was influenced by local talent from the Brooklyn arts community. No one else could play the character of Queen Mermaid better than Petra Hanson aka Kiku Kimonalisa, leader of a faux Japanese 60’s pop rock band called Gaijin A-Go-Go.

Gaijin A Go-Go also called themselves the 55’s because "go" means the number five in Japanese. Go-Go, Five-Five, get it? So 55 became the winning badge number in my book.

As I got to know Petra better I discovered she is also a model, a fashion designer and a writer. This talented artist was kind enough to give me an interview.

Q: If you had a mermaid name what would it be?

PH: My mer-name is: Maide in NY

Q: What does Coney Island mean to you?

PH: Coney Island means a subway ride from the city to the beach. Coney is like walking inside a tattoo of a circus freak.

Q: What are you currently working on?

PH: I am currently working on a new idea for a clothing line as my day job. After hours, I'm learning how to DJ, specializing in a rare collection of South American Sixties pop. In other words, I am a Mer-chant!

Thanks, Petra!

Photo: heartonastick/Flickr
Illustrations: from MERMAIDS ON PARADE Copyright 2008 Melanie Hope Greenberg

Monday, August 31, 2009

Great Timer *Miriam Cohen*

As the business of juvenile books changes and the pace quickens to meet the needs of the modern world, it is easy to lose track of those who paved the path for us. I call these wayshowers the “Great Timers”. Miriam Cohen is a children’s book author and illustrator Great Timer.
Her 'First Grade Friends Series' includes her classic “Will I Have a Friend?”. Illustrated by Lillian Hoban and published by Macmillan in 1967.

It has since been re-published with Star Bright Books.

Miriam and I first met in the early 1990’s. We were visiting authors for the NYC public schools with the School Volunteer Program (now called Learning Leaders). We've remained dear friends ever since.

In 1996, Miriam mentioned a manuscript called “Down in the Subway” that she was trying to publish. She thought my art would be a good match. She also mentioned she saw a white dove in her backyard gardens in Queens. Miriam knew for the past few months I’d been feeding a white dove visiting my backyard gardens in Brooklyn.

An offer for “Down in the Subway” came quickly from editor Richard Jackson at DK, Ink. Traditionally, authors and illustrators are only chosen by the publisher. Miriam made some very brave, untraditional moves. She would not sell the book unless I was the illustrator. When the book went out of print, it was re-sold to Star Bright Books in 2003. “Down in the Subway” is now 11 years old. It was has won honors, and it was selected for the NYC and Brooklyn Public Library's reading lists. In 2008, the book was chosen as a New York Times Great Children's Read.

A white dove has become my good luck symbol and is illustrated somewhere in all my picture books.

Miriam was gracious enough to give me an interview.

Q: Why do you think “Down in the Subway” became a NYC classic?

MC: The story can be a classic anywhere because it taps into the world of pretend and fantasy which is in every child (and adults too).

Q: What was the idea behind the story?

MC: It was written for my dear friend Gladys who *was* the Island Lady. She lived down the street from me for many years. Gladys told me stories of being born and raised on the island of St Croix in the Caribbean. She was a modest women who was full of joy and fun and really loved children. Gladys became very ill. I visited her in the hospital the day she passed away. On the subway coming home from the hospital I felt very sad. I looked across the aisle at a row of empty seats and suddenly I saw Gladys sitting there smiling at me. I knew then I was going to write about Gladys; to tell the world what a great friend I had. I’ve found out since, that her grandchildren take “Down In the Subway” to school for Show and Tell. So I feel that Gladys is still alive.

Q: Why did you insist to the editor (Richard Jackson/DK Ink) that I must illustrate “Down in the Subway”?

MC: I had fallen in love with your books “My Father’s Luncheonette” and “Aunt Lilly’s Laundromat. The chutzpha to insist was spontaneous. It popped into my mind that you had to illustrate the book about Gladys because of your art syle and the heart that is in your books.

Q: What are you currently working on?

MC: My latest book, “Layla’s Headscarf” illustrated by Ron Himler is released September 1, 2009 with Star Bright Books. It’s about a little Muslim girl in first grade.

Thanks, Miriam!

Illustration Details from "Down in the Subway'. Copyright 1998 Melanie Hope Greenberg

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Events / Presentation at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art

On August 8, 2009 I presented an author-illustrator talk and demonstration of my creative picture book process at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, Massachusetts. What an honor! When I first arrived I noticed Eric Carle's iconic catepillar over the lobby desk. The museum looks like Carle's art. Open spaces sprinkled with vibrant kalediscope colors. Carle's huge colorful paintings represent his art technique of hand-painted paper cut for collage. That doorway in the middle led to two large gallery spaces. I was not allowed to take photos in there. In the first gallery was Tomie DePaola's solo exhibition in celebration of his 75th birthday. I took a really close up look at his paint and color techniques and the wonderful line work. What joy! The second gallery portrayed Eric Carle's life and work. It was fun to see his rough sketches, paint brushes, pallettes and the cut paper he made for his books. Best of all, in the lobby was a giant colorful cake for Eric Carle's 80th birthday on June 25, 2009.
People filled the library. I read "MERMAIDS ON PARADE".
What a good karma filled day. I saw Brooklyn friends I haven't seen in 15 years! Filming me is Rebecca Migdal, an artist I knew back in the day from CBIG the Children's Book Illustrators Group. Currently, Rebecca has her own cool comics online and in print. Here I am displaying the photo of the white dove visiting my window. I explain that I hide the white dove in all of my books. Then a book signing for the fabulous gift store well stocked with my books. THANK YOU! Another Brooklyn friend, Louise Larsen and her beautiful family visiting from California attended my presentation. Amazing! Other visitors were Andy Laties, Director of the Eric Carle Museum gift shop, Mary McDonough (taking this photo) and Paul McDonough of the Child At Heart Gallery and their granddaughter. HAPPY 80th BIRTHDAY, ERIC CARLE! Thank you for your beautiful art and books. Without your talents and gifts, our paths might not ever have crossed, nor my joyful experience of visiting your museum.

All Photos Copyright 2009
Photo Credits: Melanie Hope Greenberg, Louise Larsen, Mary McDonough

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Artists In My Book / *Veronica Otto*

Veronica Otto has been marching as a Superfine Dinette in the Coney Island Mermaid Parade for several years. This year she plans on launching her new line of resort clothing for women. Be on the lookout for her Hulili Collection.

Veronica sipping soda through a straw in MERMAIDS ON PARADE. My open minded friends not only transform from human to mermaid but even change skin tones.

Q: If you had a mermaid name what would it be?

VO: Boogie Hula
Q: What does Coney Island mean to you?

VO: It's totally nostalgic of my youth when my family would go to Coney and spend the day.. and now it represents the kick-off of summer participating in the Mermaid Parade with the Dinettes. All around Coney = fun!

Q: Why do you enjoy marching in the Mermaid Parade?

VO: The crowd is awesome, everyone is having a wonderful time and it's a candy colored kaleidoscope of fun with my friends.

Q: What are you currently working on?

VO: Designing a women's resort line which hasn't hit the market yet!

Thanks, Veronica! All best with your new launch.

Illustration: Detail from MERMAIDS ON PARADE GP Putnam's Sons. Copyright 2008 Melanie Hope Greenberg

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Melanie's Interview with WORDSWIMMER

Bruce Black was my editor for a book I wrote and illustrated called BLESSINGS published by Jewish Publication Society in 1995.

Bruce now has a popular writing blog called Wordswimmer which was named one of the "Top 100 Creative Writing Blogs" by Online Education News at

You can also find my entire interview here. Thanks, Bruce!

INTERVIEW: One Picture Book Writer’s Process: Melanie Hope Greenberg

"Bright," "cheerful," and "bursting with light" are words that many reviewers use to describe Melanie Hope Greenberg’s picture book illustrations for children.

Her books offer a colorful view of life in Brooklyn and New York, taking children on exciting excursions to laundromats, luncheonettes and supermarkets, as well to more adventurous sites like the beach and the subway.

“Most of my books portray various views of urban life in a snapshot,” Greenberg says. “The ordinary becomes extra-ordinary when captured in art.”

But her books capture the fanciful side of life, too, as in Mermaids on Parade, which describes an actual mermaid parade in Brooklyn marking the opening of the beaches for the summer. (This year’s annual Coney Island “Mermaids on Parade” takes place on June 20th.)

It’s a costume ball, beach party, summer extravaganza, all wrapped into one, that ends happily for a young girl marching in the parade for the first time as it makes its way toward the sea.

Self-taught, Greenberg first began playing with brushes and colors during a stint as the manager of a small print gallery.

Since then she’s created more than sixteen books for children, as well as hundreds of illustrations for magazines, greeting cards, posters, wrapping paper, t-shirts, stationary, magnets, stickers, and puzzles. Some of her illustrations have been reproduced as cards for UNICEF’s popular greeting cards..

“I'm currently exhibiting twenty original picture book illustrations from seven of my books at the Brooklyn Central Library’s Youth Wing, ” Greenberg says about the free exhibit on display until June 13th. “You can learn more about the process of making picture books, so it's educational as well.”

Greenberg was kind enough to take a break from her work to share her thoughts on writing and illustrating picture books with Wordswimmer.

Wordswimmer: How do you get into the water each day?

Greenberg: I dive into the ocean of consciousness. I meditate in the mornings to submerge within, to watch my mind at work, watch my thoughts, visions and feelings that arise. The color palette for Good Morning Digger came from a short vision in meditation. Submerging keeps my awareness open during the day to catch the world around me and record what I experience with words or colors. My books are for very young people who are highly instinctual. Being submerged helps me see the world in a childlike way with constant wonder and spontaneity. Submerging helps me to trust my imaginings.

Wordswimmer: What keeps you afloat...for short work? For longer work?

Greenberg: I need an anchor in order to stay afloat. One anchor is having a strategy. I use a "map" or a 32-page thumbnail grid. Then I can envision the overall sequential form of the book I’m creating. Once I see it, the words flow. Research is another anchor. While researching Coney Island's history, I kept extensive notes which kept feeding me more ideas.

Wordswimmer: How do you keep swimming through dry spells?

Greenberg: Years of living a certain lifestyle keeps me swimming in a constant creative stride. Ideas for books do not come easy for me. Sometimes librarians or teachers tell me what is missing on their shelves and that sparks my imagination. Also, in these days of publishing I need to be my own publicist. A lot of writing goes into that. It's actually great for picture book writing, to get to the essence of what I want to convey in a short amount of time.

Wordswimmer: What's the hardest part of swimming?

Greenberg: This business requires constant training and retraining. The competition is fierce and goal posts move and keep changing. Trends come and trends go. New editors and new art directors need to become aware that my career exists. It’s constant hunting with no guarantee of a contract. One needs to know not only how to surf the wild waves but how to become a thoroughbred (seahorse)! I’ve developed a leather ego.

Wordswimmer: How do you overcome obstacles, problems, when swimming alone?

Greenberg: Persistence. Discipline plays a big role. I keep working my craft with the belief that my ideas have value. I also work every aspect of this career. Publicizing my books, presenting workshops, and an ongoing blog keeps my book career alive while treading water in between book contracts. I’d rather swim in a school of fish than stay too isolated. I communicate with other professionals in my business who have it hard, too. That knowledge makes the whole publishing process and the rejections less personal.

Wordswimmer: What's the part of swimming that you love the most?

Greenberg: Transcendence of time, space, location. True devotion that is positive and expresses what I see, think and feel when submerged within. Sometimes my ideas become a published book. I find my career is my spiritual path and learn many inner philosophies with each book I paint. I love swimming with all types of artists in various disciplines. Most of these artists are not commercial and some just do art for passion. Their influence keeps me on my toes to be true to
myself, my visions, to be original and not go trendy.

For more information about Melanie Hope Greenberg and her work, visit her website:

To read her exhibition statement for her current show at the Brooklyn Public Library, visit:

And for additional info, check out:

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Artists In My Book / *Tim Gerken* Interview

Photographs by Tim Gerken capture light and motion at in-between moments.

He marches each year with Superfine at the annual Coney Island Mermaid Parade. Mermaids are his favorite photographic subjects. Here are Tim’s Mermaid Parade photos.

His character in my book displays Tim's loyal support of our arts community.

Currently, Tim teaches writing at Morrisville State College, where he is also the director of the art gallery. He has been taking pictures regularly since he got his first Olympus OM-10 in 1981.

Q: If you had a mermaid name what would it be?

TG: Kowalski

Q: What does Coney Island mean to you?

Color and Colorful

Q: Why do you enjoy photographing the Mermaid Parade?

TG: See above

Q: What are your current creative endeavors?

TG: I have been filling my flicker account with photos, editing photos, and revising a poetry manuscript I started last summer.

Thanks, Tim!

Photo Credits: Top: Tim Gerken Bottom: Herb Hernandez
Art detail from MERMAIDS ON PARADE Copyright Melanie Hope Greenberg

Monday, July 6, 2009

Illustration / Costumes and Characters

Creating the costumes for over 100 characters in my book was not so hard. I know alot of creative people who love to dress up in costumes. All I had to do is use my camera, sketch and paint.

I mix hundreds of colors. I create a formula for each character and list the colors of each element: skin tone, hair, and clothing. This sometimes takes longer to do than the actual painting. It's a necessary process because I make mistakes. The formulas guide me to the correct color immediately.

*Click to enlarge*

See how I created The Shark.
Read the interview with the blue mermaid, Tanya Rynd.

Photo and Art: Copyright Melanie Hope Greenberg

Monday, June 29, 2009

Illustration / Interview with Art Director *Cecilia Yung*

I was thrilled to work on MERMAIDS ON PARADE with Cecilia Yung, art director of Penguin's Putnam and Philomel imprints. Her talk entitled, "The Informed Message", at my local SCBWI NY Metro Chapter left quite an impression. In fact, I've expanded on that idea to teach about it to other illustrators.

Cecilia's feng shui touches transformed my densely crammed sketches and created more space, balance and simplicity. I loved how she really listened to my personal philosophies that informed each illustration. Cecilia also was a great teacher for the narrative arc and color contrasts part of my book.

We are very fortunate to share her knowledge here.

Q: What is an art director’s role when working with an illustrator?

CY: My overall responsibility is for all visual elements of a book: illustration, design and production. When I work with an illustrator, my role is in three main areas.

First, I consider the editorial issues. This is the content of the book— It includes the story, the focus and the “angle”. (What are we talking about, why is it important and why do we care?)

Second, I look at the visual presentation of the story: the casting of the characters, the choice of location, composition, point of view, and most important of all, the rhythm and pacing of the book. (Who, what, where, how)

Lastly, I check the effectiveness of the artwork: the accuracy of the details (do they agree with the text/story/fact), the legibility of the pictures (do we understand what is going on), consistency and variety, does the story have the effect intended, the impact it needs.

Q: How does an art director work with an editor to find an artist?

CY: This varies a great deal depending on the editor and the project in question. Generally, we try to find a style that complements the author’s voice and highlights the crucial elements of the book and balances any weakness or concern we may have for the story. We also try to find an artist who has expertise and interest in the topic in question.

Q: What is unique about MERMAIDS ON PARADE?

CY: It is a book that is big and small at the same time: it is both global and local, both a festive event and a warm personal story. Melanie’s folk art style gives a specific local event a timeless folkloric aura, yet the charming details bring the character to life and turns the crowds and the noise into one little girl’s story.

Thanks, Cecilia

Art: MerCecilia, Queen of the Hudson River. Copyright Melanie Hope Greenberg

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Superfine Wins Silver *Mermaid Parade'09*

The Superfine mermaids win the silver prize as the Best Push-Pull Float!

ROLLER COASTER OF LOVE *Click to enlarge*

See all the Mermaid Parade awards here.
Photo credit: Don Wiss

Monday, June 22, 2009

UNIT: Mermaids / *Interview with Melanie*

Who isn’t mesmerized by mermaids? Can you name other magical sea creatures?

Mermaid Temporary Tatoos
I love to wear these beautiful tatoos in the Mermaid Parade. The tatoos were also a big hit at my book launch party. The incredible artist, Ruth Soffer, is a neighbor on my block who has been a Nature illustrator for the past 25 years. The first publication of her mermaid tatoos was in 1996. See all her gorgeous artwork for Dover Publications here.

Mermaid Legends
The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen adapted into film and a Broadway show.
Mermaids Book List

With permission of Nicole Feliciano I post the entire blog interview.
Thanks, Nicole!

What little girl doesn't love mermaids! Brooklyn author and illustrator, Melanie Hope Greenberg, tapped into this love with her new book, MERMAIDS ON PARADE. Greenberg celebrates a Brooklyn tradition with her latest book. Every year thousands of spectators watch this art parade in Coney Island. This book turns the spectacle into a dreamy backdrop for a little girl's fantasy. The award-winning book is stuffed with colorful gouache illustrations and sure to delight fanciful girls. I caught up with the author to learn more about what inspires her work.

Q: Did you like to read as a kid?

MHG: My two older sisters taught me to read before I started kindergarten. I developed a love of reading. My books were on my toy shelf. That’s how I saw books, they were toys. I did not own many books, I mostly borrowed books from my local public library branch.

Q: Why do you think little girls love Mermaids?

MHG: Mermaids are magical, shiny and beautiful. They spark the imagination. They stretch the boundaries of reality which children do quite naturally. Mythological creatures bring us inside ourselves, to the mysterious wonder of existence. I think mermaids help little girls feel their gorgeous femaleness, as well as feel smart and strong.

Q: What were some of your favorite books growing up?

MHG: I adored a book called “Little Witch” by Anna Elizabeth Bennett. I re-read it so many times. I still think about the main character, Minx, mixing colorful powdered potion combinations when I mix my paints. I also loved a book called “Lisa and Lottie” by Erich Kastner. The bookwas the original story for the movie “The Parent Trap”. I loved the Nancy Drew series too. My parents subscribed to Life and Look Magazines and I think my love for dramatic pictorial storytelling was influenced by looking at the photos in these magazines.

Q: What makes a great children's book?

MHG: Truthfully, I think the public decides. Sometimes a book comes out at the right time and strikes the fancy of the collective. There is no one formula for successful publishing because the public mood and tastes are a part of the formula. And the public’s tastes and moods change all the time. All a publisher can do is take a chance on a book idea they love and hope that the public falls in love too.

Mermaid Tatoo artwork by Ruth Soffer for Dover Publications