100 Scope Notes
Inside 100 Scope Notes

Preview: The Atlas Powder Picture Book Company

From top to bottom, left to right we have:

Sophie Blackall, John Bemelmans Marciano, Sergio Ruzzier, Eddie Hemingway, Brian Floca

I’m tempted to just end this post right here – I mean, where do you go after one of the best children’s literature GIFs of all time?

But fear not! There are plenty of interesting places to go, because this is a preview of a different sort – not new books from a specific publisher, but new books from a group of artists who share a studio (dubbed The Atlas Powder Picture Book Company) located in Gowanus, Brooklyn.

If you’re wondering what the studio is like, A Fuse #8 Production visited a couple years back.

So what is this group up to? I asked each artist to share a new book, and a project currently in the works. Here’s what they said…

(Click on images to enlarge)

Sophie Blackall:

I sit in the corner of the studio between Brian and Eddie, and might vie for messiest space.

I have lots of old pictures tacked up on the wall, there are teetering piles of books on every surface and I’m afraid you can’t see much of the floor.

There’s an empty fish bowl which stands as a monument to the dearly departed studio fish and more copies than I know what do with of Ivy and Bean in Norwegian*.

I have two books out this year and I am very excited about both of them.

The first is A Fine Dessert, written by Emily Jenkins (aka E. Lockhart) and published by Schwartz and Wade (January, 2015), which follows four different families over four centuries making the same dessert, blackberry fool.

I had a field day researching this book and blogged about the process here, detailing all the infuriating false leads and intriguing rabbit holes. I am loving visiting schools and making the dessert with kids using all the different vintage whisks.

The second book is Finding Winnie, written by Lindsay Mattick and published by Little, Brown (October, 2015), which tells the incredible true story of Lindsay’s great grandfather, Captain Harry Colebourn, who found a bear cub on a station platform on his way to war in 1914. He named the bear Winnie, after Winnipeg, to remind him of home. Winnie became the beloved mascot of the troops and she and Harry were inseparable, crossing the ocean together to train in rainy England until Harry’s unit went into battle and he had to find a safe place for her. He took her to the London Zoo, where she became a universal favorite but also the particular companion of one Christopher Robin, and the inspiration for A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh.

Right now I’m working on a funny and fascinating new picture book by Matthew Olshan (The Mighty Lalouche) which is the story of the first balloon crossing of the English Channel in 1785. In short, it was not all smooth sailing. It’s published by FSG and will be out in 2016.

I’m also collaborating with Johnny across the room on a series of earlyish chapter books, called The Witches of Benevento. I’m going to let him tell you more about it, but we are having really good fun building these stories together. Johnny’s actually writing it, and I’m actually drawing it, but words and pictures are evolving at a pace. I’ve never worked in this way before and it’s pretty exciting.

*If anybody reads Norwegian and would like to come and get them, let me know!

John Bemelmans Marciano:

The next book I have coming out–or four books–is a chapter book series I am co-creating with Sophie called The Witches of Benevento. It is set in an Italian town that is famous for its witches, and follows a group of kids who each has their own experiences with the supernatural. All four books happen semi-simultaneously and depict similar events, but each book takes the unique POV of one of the characters. The idea is that each book is satisfying on its own, but read all four and you get a fuller, richer picture of what is going on.

The book I am currently working on is The Naughty Nine. This middle-grade book is set in 1925 Pittsburgh and opens on Christmas morning with a boy receiving coal in his stocking. In the ashes of his fireplace, he finds the charred remains of Santa’s naughty list. He goes about contacting other kids on the list, and the gang sets off for the North Pole to play with the toys of the Nice Listers. When they accidentally burn down Santa’s workshop, however, they are for a world of trouble.

Sergio Ruzzier:

I have two books coming out this year, both published by Clarion.

Two Mice, which I wrote and illustrated, is a fast-paced adventure in the form of a counting book (up to three!). When the two mice of the title go out one morning after breakfast for a boat ride, little do they know of the perilous journey that fate has reserved for them. Will they manage to survive, and make it home in time for supper? Who knows!

I am very happy with the way this book has taken shape, including the trim size, which is much smaller than the average picture book. It will be available in September.

Whose Shoe?, written by Eve Bunting (it’s my third book with her), tells the story of a little mouse who finds a shoe and is determined to find the legitimate owner. I had a lot of fun illustrating this book, thanks to Eve’s picture-book perfect text, which as usual gives me a lot of room for inventions. My favorite character is the debonair elephant.

This one will be out in June.

What I’m working on now (I actually just shipped all the artwork to San Francisco and working on the cover) is This is Not a Picture Book!, which I also wrote.

It’s about all the different emotions a book can give you. It should be out in the spring of 2016, published by Chronicle.

Edward Hemingway:

This year I have the paperback puffin edition of my book Bad Apple; A Tale of Friendship coming out. It will be released in September to coincide with the Fall apple season, and the cover will have the new punny tag line “It takes a strong core to stand up to bullies”.

Bad Apple is a book very close to my heart, as it’s about following your heart in regards to unconventional friendships, a topic which I think everyone can relate to.

I am currently working on the book Field Guide to the Grumpasaurus for Clarion books, which will be coming out in 2016.

Brian Floca:

I’m sending images from Old Wolf, a new novel by Avi coming from Richard Jackson Books/Atheneum/Simon & Schuster in August. It’s hard for me to believe, but it’s been twenty years since Avi, Dick, and I worked together on the novel Poppy.

I’m very happy that the three of us could get together for another animal story, different from yet sympathetic to the world of the Poppy books.

Here’s the final jacket, with terrific type and design treatment by Michael McCartney at S&S:

I’m also including pencil sketch in-progress images that led to the cover image, and one final drawing from the interior.

A big thank you to Sophie Blackall, John Bemelmans Marciano, Sergio Ruzzier, Eddie Hemingway, and Brian Floca for sharing their work!

About Travis Jonker

Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at scopenotes@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.


  1. What a great post! Looking forward to the new projects.

  2. Great post Travis! These upcoming titles sound exciting!