Children's & Fantasy/Sci-Fi Books

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Interview with author/illustrator Lisa Desimini

Lisa Desimini grew up reading and drawing every chance she got. Her friends and fellow students told her that she should be an artist when she grew up, and Lisa agreed. She graduated from The School of Visual Arts in NYC. Now, she has written and/or illustrated over 35 books for children. She has also illustrated many book jackets for YA and adults novels.

For what age audience do you write​/illustrate​, and in what genre(s)?

My children’s books are for children ages 3-7. Some of my books are for all ages. My favorite genre is fantasy, but I’ve published non-fiction, too. I adore illustrating poetry collections.

Henry: I met Lisa at a book event at Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore, where she was signing her new picture book. I was especially surprised and pleased to learn she also illustrated the covers for the Sookie Stackhouse (True Blood) paranormal fantasy novels!

Tell us about your latest book.

My latest book is THE FLEATASTICS. It’s about an acrobatic troupe of fleas that travel from sleeping dog to sleeping dog to put on a show. Sarafleana’s family wants her to be part of their parasite pyramid, but she dreams of having her own act. When someone in the audience says the forbidden “T” word…Sarafleana gets a chance to prove what she can do.

Henry: My agent is right now shopping a narrative nonfiction picture book told by and about fleas. Fascinating little dudes.

What do you hope readers will get from reading that book?

There are two messages in this book. First, it’s important to do what it takes to follow ones dreams. The second message is that no matter what knocks us down, we have to get back up, brush ourselves off and get back on the horse… But I usually don’t set out with a mission for my books to have a message. It just happens sometimes.

Henry: If you’re a flea, you brush yourself off and get back on the cat.

What aspect of writing​ or illustrating​ do you find most challenging?

For me, writing is more challenging. I write something and, at first, I love it. Then I kind of like it, then I’m not sure about it at all, so I put it away for a few days. When I look again, I say, “OK, this has potential!” Then I show a friend and they make me see something I could do to make it better, so I do it and I like it better. Rinse and repeat and then maybe I send it to my editor and maybe it gets published. I don’t have as much back and forth when it comes to illustration because I’ve been making pictures since I was a little kid.

Henry: I certainly agree that critique groups (the external opinion) is absolutely vital to good writing.

What is a powerful lesson you’ve learned from being a writer​/illustrator​?

The powerful lesson I’ve learned is the more research the better! Nowadays, the internet makes it easier to find books, gather information, and see images from different regions. When I was younger I illustrated a book about the Navaho and I thought I did a good job in recreating their hogans, but I got a very sweet letter from the tribe saying they weren’t accurate. I felt terrible. More recently, when I illustrated, SHE SANG PROMISE about a Seminole woman named Betty Mae Jumper, I was thrilled that National Geographic sent my images to the Seminole museum to be approved.

What has been a memorable experience that you never would have had if you had not been a writer​/illustrator​?

The memorable experiences for me are when I do a drawing at the end of all my school visits. They’re not preplanned. I use the students’ ideas, and they never cease to amaze me. When their creativity is lit up, there is an exuberant energy in the room. They might call out instead of raising their hands, bounce around, and get a bit loud, but it’s all worth it to me because when creativity is unleashed, it’s wild. It’s not always about being perfectly behaved.

Henry: I also call out instead of raising my hand.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors​ or illustrators​?

I would tell aspiring authors and illustrators to read as much as you can. Go to the library or bookstore every week–read classics and the latest books. Take a class and join the SCBWI. If kid’s books are truly your passion, you will have the energy and desire to follow the ideas that come to you. Some of my ideas have flowed quickly, but most of my books have taken years to come together and sell.

Henry: The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators has been helpful to many a career. Their website is http://www.scbwi.org.

Do you have any favorite quotes?

My favorite quote: “You must do the things you think you cannot do.” –Eleanor Roosevelt

Henry: I also like “Whether you think you can, or you think you cannot, you are right.”

Do you have any strange rituals that you observe when you write​/illustrate​?

I like to clean up and organize before I start working on a new project. Then I read a bunch of favorite books. Even if they’re not related to my new project, they get me excited and revved up about stories and the infinite worlds they create.

Henry: Is that preparation or procrastination? 🙂

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

My superpower would be the ability to teleport myself–anytime and anywhere.

Henry: I love it. No time wasted commuting or in traffic. No greenhouse gas emissions.

If you could have three authors over for dinner, who would it be?

Is it OK if I answer a slightly different question–a dinner with my favorite characters from books instead of authors? I love authors, but Owen Meany, Harry Potter and Pippi Longstocking popped into my mind!! Owen because he is so dearly earnest, Harry because of his bravery, and Pippi because of her adventurous spirit!

Henry: No, it is not OK. This interview is cancelled! Per Wikipedia:

A Prayer for Owen Meany is the seventh novel by American writer John Irving. Published in 1989, it tells the story of John Wheelwright and his best friend Owen Meany growing up together in a small New Hampshire town during the 1950s and 1960s. According to John’s narration, Owen is a remarkable boy in many ways; he believes himself to be God’s instrument and sets out to fulfill the fate he has prophesied for himself.

What is your favorite creature that exists only in literature?

My favorite creature is a centaur. I like that they have the intellect of a human and an animal’s wild nature.

Henry: I like them too. One is featured on the cover of my first book.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing​/illustrating​?

When I’m not writing, I like to be with my husband and our kitty Crash, cook, read, watch movies, be in the garden and do yoga.

Henry: But not all at the same time…Yoga cooking!

What would you like it to say on your tombstone?

I plan on being cremated and turned into a tree, so my treestone would say, “She always tried to be better and do better.”

Henry: I’m going to go out on a limb and say the root of that choice is that one must be thick-skinned to be an author.

Where can readers find your work?

You can find my work in bookstores, libraries and on my website: http://www.lisadesimini.com

Henry: Thank you for spending time with us, Lisa!


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What Movie Directors’ Homes Should Look Like

It seems only appropriate that movie directors’ homes should reflect their cinematic style and artistic preferences. Thanks to the mad geniuses at Bored Panda for sharing how illustrator Federico Babina combines his passions for illustration, cinema, and architecture.

“Wondering what the iconic movie houses would look like if they were based on her films, Babina created an illustrative series called Archidirector. The series follows the same pattern of another series, Archicine, in which Babina illustrates famous houses and constructions of certain films.

In this work, the Italian showed his admiration for names like Federico Fellini, George Lucas, Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, Wes Anderson, Charlie Chaplin, David Lynch, Tim Burton, Lars von Trier, Ingmar Bergman, Coen Brothers, Fritz Lang and more.”

#1 Tim Burton

Tim Burton

#2 George Lucas

George Lucas

#3 David Lynch

David Lynch

#4 Hitchcock


#5 Charlie Chaplin

Charlie Chaplin

#6 Fellini


#7 Emir Kusturica

Emir Kusturica

#8 Stanley Kubrick

Stanley Kubrick

#9 Andrei Tarkovsky

Andrei Tarkovsky

#10 Ridley Scott

Ridley Scott

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A Man & His Cat Recreate Classic Movie Scenes

Some people love their cats perhaps a bit too much… By Greta J and the mad geniuses at Bored Panda.

“David and Sarah, a couple from the UK, are recreating famous movie scenes together with their cats and it couldn’t get any funnier! They have two cats who are almost identical named Willow and Tara, but Tara stars in most of their pictures. “We started doing it as a picture question in our pub quiz’s film/TV round, and it went down really well so we made it a regular thing,” – the couple told The Dodo.

“The cats clearly think we’re weird. It can be a challenge to get [the cats] to cooperate, but they get lots of treats so that tends to win them over to our nonsense,” Sarah and David told LoveMeow.

The good news for the movie and feline lovers is that there’s more pictures to come! “We’re going to keep making them. It’s a hilarious way to spend a Sunday!”

#1 E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial

#2 Alien


#3 Ghost


#4 The Shining

The Shining

#5 American Beauty

American Beauty

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KidLit & Cartoon Characters Turned Into Monsters

From Dennis Carlsson and the mad geniuses at Bored Panda. You’ll never think about Winnie the Pooh the same way again… Now you know why Eeyore is grumpy.

“Take a look at these terrifying pictures to see what we mean, although be warned, they’re pretty damn creepy. They were drawn by Swedish illustrator and tattoo artist Dennis Carlsson, who uses his skills to add a nightmarish twist to traditionally cute and cuddly characters. From Winnie the Pooh, Pikachu, and Totoro, to Monsters Inc and Lilo (well, a piece of Lilo…) and Stitch, Carlsson’s hellish reimaginings are sure to send a shiver up your spine. So watch out the next time you’re out looking for Pokemon…because Pokemon might also be looking for you…”

Horror Cartoons

Horror Cartoons

Horror Cartoons

Horror Cartoons

Horror Cartoons

Horror Cartoons 

Horror Cartoons

Horror Cartoons 

Horror Cartoons

Horror Cartoons

Horror Cartoons

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Zombie Head Coffee Mugs

It did not occur to me that I needed a zombie head coffee mug. But after seeing these, now I do. From Kevin Merck and the mad geniuses at Bored Panda.

“Zombies want to eat your brains, but the only way to kill a zombie is by removing its brains; meanwhile, you just want to have a cup of coffee in the morning. Now, thanks to Kevin “Turkey” Merck, you can avoid zombie attacks and have your morning brew, all for the low price of 220 USD. Merck’s terrifying mugs are hand-made from clay and epoxy resin, so you can be sure your zombie skull has no unpleasant flavor.

“My best friend’s dad, Wayne Hewell, is a 5th generation Master Potter and I began studying under him starting in 2001,” Merck recounted to the Examiner. “When I say studying, I mean that I went and hung out in his old shop and he taught me how to turn and work with clay, nothing formal. The area where I grew up is covered up in very skilled craftsmen that work with clay and I was fortunate enough to learn from multiple potters, each one offering help in specific areas such as glazing and firing. As far as doing it for a living, I am a high school teacher and, right now, I only work on my sculptures in the evenings and Saturdays.”


Monsters plus coffee equals winning!

From J.D. Cotton and the mad geniuses at Bored Panda, for all my caffeine-dependent horror writer friends.

“These scary mugs I make are one of a kind. Working in clay is the best since it combines several different “crafts” – throwing on the pottery wheel, sculpting and the final process, painting. All of which I love to do, especially with my background as an illustrator. After discovering pottery approximately 15 years ago, I’ve been hooked on it.

Originally, I was most inspired by those primitive face jugs that were made down south in the 1800s. My first few face mugs were similar in style which have since evolved into these more detailed pieces.
I sometimes refer to a photo image or whatever pops in my head. I love details and include a lot of it in my work – down to the wrinkles and pores on their faces.”

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What if Tim Burton directed Disney movies?

From Andrew Tarusov and the mad geniuses at Bored Panda.

“My name is Andrew Tarusov. Originally I was born in Ribinsk, Russia, but now I’m living in Los Angeles, California. My general occupation after 10 years of studying is art and animation.

Being a huge fan of Disney classics, I imagined how our favorite childhood movies could look if they were directed by the great Tim Burton. Pretty interesting, huh?”

The Beauty And The Beast, Directed By Tim Burton

Pinocchio, Directed By Tim Burton

101 Dalmatians, Directed By Tim Burton

Bambi, Directed By Tim Burton

Sleeping Beauty, Directed By Tim Burton

The Little Mermaid, Directed By Tim Burton

Snow White, Directed By Tim Burton

Dumbo, Directed By Tim Burton

Aladdin, Directed By Tim Burton