Trying to Make the Connection

I grabbed my carry on out of the overhead bin and hurried down the aisle of the plane. The man in the seat behind me was trying to make the same connection to Laguardia. He was muttering, “I have to make my flight. They are boarding right now. I have to get home.” That put a certain rush to my step. If I didn’t get on that plane, I might miss the SCBWI Illustrator Intensive in New York and I didn’t want to do that.

New York City

New York City
















I searched for flight information and started headed down the long terminal of the Denver Airport. Walk fast, don’t run. Walking faster, don’t run over the little old ladies. Wow it was a long terminal and no gate in sight. When I made it to the gate, no one was sitting down. They were all on the plane. I made it on board, out of breath and a bit sweaty and made it to the big city. Once again I had the opportunity of attending the SCBWI New York Conference.

Brett Helquist, illustrator

Brett Helquist, illustrator
















I love making sketches of the presenters. I jot down what they say and try to capture their faces.

Paul O. Zelinsky, illustrator

Paul O. Zelinsky, illustrator













Elizabeth Wein and Linn Oliver, writers

Elizabeth Wein and Lin Oliver, writers


Linn shared some great olympic jokes written by those who attended which brought her to tears.

There was a great panel of illustrators that was moderated by Arthur Levine.

Shadra Strickland, illustrator

Shadra Strickland, illustrator












Oliver Jeffs, illustrator

Oliver Jeffers, illustrator















Peter Brown, illustrator

Peter Brown, illustrator














Marla Frazee, illustrator

Marla Frazee, illustrator














Raul Colon, illustrator

Raul Colon, illustrator















When you hear Jack Gantos and Kate Messner talk, you can become so mesmerized that you forget to sketch.

Watercolor by James Armstrong

Watercolor by James Armstrong

I made a few new friends like James Armstrong from the Boston area who taught me about clams and the night sky. Here is a watercolor he painted of a clam.








There were a few great friends that I got to hang out with at the conference and a few more that I met in person.

Illustrators Sherry Meidell, Bethanne Andersen, Manelle Oliphant and Shawna Tenney

Illustrators Sherry Meidell, Bethanne Andersen, Manelle Oliphant and Shawna Tenney


I got to have my Strega Nona Does it Again by Tomie dePaola autographed by Tomie. I ran into Bailey and he slipped into a picture with me and Tomie and Lin Oliver. They worked together on “Little Poems for Tiny Ears” Tomie did the illustrations and Lin did the poems.

Bailey, Tomie de Paola, Sherry Meidell, Linn Oiliver

Bailey, Tomie de Paola, Sherry Meidell, Lin Oiliver












And with a bit of good luck when I flew home, the gate I got off in Houston, was the same gate I had to get back on to catch the flight home so no running around the airport. The children’s book writing and illustrating community is filled with some very nice people and I met many of them.

Brett Helquist

Paul O. Zelinsky

Elizabeth Wein

Lin Oliver

Shadra Strickland

Oliver Jeffers

Peter Brown

Marla Frazee

Raul Colon

Bethanne Andersen

Manelle Oliphant

Shawna Tenney

James Armstrong


Kate Messner

Jack Gantos









About Sherry Meidell

Sherry Meidell is a signature member of the National Watercolor Society Western Federation Watercolor Society and the Utah Watercolor Society. She loves to paint with watercolor whether she is painting pictures or illustrating children's picture books. She is a member of SCBWI. Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.
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8 Responses to Trying to Make the Connection

  1. jamesfarmstrong says:

    That’s lovely, Sherry, thanks for the note and the posting of my watercolor. I like your sketches, but don’t see how you can do it right-handed. No way at all, at all.

    Nice narrative and pictures.

    Best, James

  2. manelle says:

    There are some really fun photos and sketches here. Nice job.

  3. Deena Millecam says:

    Wow, what a wonderful documentary of your travels-love the illustrations that go with the adventure! You are still my Idol!

  4. Terry Brewer says:

    Wow!  What an adventure this turned out to be!  Terry and I knew it would be intense but were not prepared for the heavy, amazing, steep learning curve thrust at us from some of the most talented, experienced writers, agents and publishers in the business!   When I ran into you, I had just been told there were some serious flaws with my manuscript and a good deal of revision was needed.  After having already labored on the book with my hubby for two years, this wasn’t what I wanted to hear.  You simply said, “Judy, even if you hate what they said, TAKE THEIR ADIVCE.  These people know what they’re talking about.”  That also wasn’t what I wanted to hear, but now, having had a week to assimilate the experience, I see clearly both you and they were right.  I’m back at the keyboard yet again, adding in a snappier first chapter, upping the emotional plot, and the book is going to be so much better for it!  The trip was just what we needed to help us succeed.  Hats off to S.C.B.W.I.!  Hope to catch you soon at a local event. Judy Brewer



    • Hey Judy,
      These little books we work on take a long time to perfect. I also am doing more work. It is great to get advice from the best because that’s what it takes to get a good book for kids. It is a very intense conference but it will help us be better creators. It was good to see you in New York. 🙂

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