You May Not Know!

handsc flutec

Something you may not know about us cousins is that we are all musical.

Cagney sings in the school choir, Aidan plays the guitar. Olivia plays the flute, Tess the clarinet and they both play the piano. I play the violin. See Tess’ drawings above.

At Christmas we got together and played Christmas carols, which was actually more fun than it sounds!

Happy February, my friends. Hope you are all staying warm and dry – Lissy.

Swashbuckling Alien Adventurer – Han Randhawa

han_photo2 Han3Hello Folks, Lissy here. Today I have the great pleasure of interviewing Mr. Han Randhawa, who is the talented artist who draws the cover art for my aunt’s books. Han is originally from England but has lived in the States for ten years.

Originally from Birmingham, Han has lived in California, Texas and now lives in Washington State where he works for a small up-and-coming company called Microsoft! Han’s main job is to oversee the creation of video games and can often be found flying back and forth to Japan. Cover art is just something he does for fun!

LP How old were you when you realized you wanted to be an artist?

HR    My earliest memory of art was at Wattville Infant school in Birmingham UK, I was probably six and I made a side view of a car out of rolls of plasticine( English Play-dough) and was fascinated by its 3d-ness and 2dness! I remember painting bright colours about the same time and I recall the summer breeze through the open windows. Then later about when I was nine my dad got me  a comic book called ‘SUPER FRIENDS’, it had superman, Batman, Aqua-man, Wonder woman and these twins who had super powers.  Read that comic book a billion times and I spent hours copying the awesome dynamic poses. I didn’t realize I wanted be an artist till much later maybe fifteen or sixteen. I didn’t know how or if it was even possible.

LP    Where did you study art?

HR:    I went to St.Philip’s Sixth Form in Birmingham to study my A Levels, but I really got going when my teacher recommended I go to Bournville College of Art and from there I went to Liverpool John Moores University to complete my BA in Graphic Design and Illustration. But I’ll tell you a secret, I learned most of what I know from drawing from that Super Friends comic book and following my face concept artists who worked on Star Wars. I used to draw all day from TV or books. I think this was the most important part of my studying. THE DOING!

LP    What is the most challenging part of drawing cover art?

HR    Probably getting the likeness of the characters. It’s such a tough thing to do. Also getting the lighting to look right.

CIA - Operation Golden Llamabook club coverCIA - Operation Tiger Paw

LP    What do you like most about designing video games at Microsoft?

HR    I get to learn a lot about how Japanese Game designers work and how other Art Directors create the game visuals. I get to work with a whole bunch of different artists, from 2d concept guys, 3d modellers, animators, graphic designers. Plus, I get to increase my art skills by applying all I’ve learned these years. The stuff I apply in video games is pretty much the same stuff I apply when making book covers, colour, composition, visual storytelling.

LP    What kind of games have you designed?

HR    Mostly Science Fiction and Fantasy. I worked on games like X-men, StarTrek, and also I’ve worked on a lot of non-movie games, I was the art director on Darksiders 1&2.

Han4

LP    What words of wisdom would you give to an up and coming artist about following their dreams?

HR    First: Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t. If it’s your dream, keep on making art! I had so many people tell me I couldn’t get anywhere doing art. Somehow I carried on!

Second: Make Art! Every time you have some time spare, keep a little sketchbook and pencil. I even keep a wad of PostIts and a tiny IKEA pencil just in case I have 10 mins to spare. Draw people, draw ideas, draw anything! Paint, sculpt whatever you need to.

Third: All artists are scared of showing their work, because we are worried that people might not like our art. Remember it’s okay if people don’t like your art, ask them why? This is how we learn to make our art better. You won’t learn anything if everyone told you it was awesome all the time. Its even better if you ask other artists they may see something you missed!Hana

LP    If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?

HR    Wow tough one. Traveling the Galaxy swashbuckling with aliens and adventuring across planets! Maybe make music in a band? I actually quite like being an artist, one thing I would add to that would be storytelling! I’m inspired by Sam and I want to tell stories that make you laugh, cry and jump up for joy!

https://twitter.com/hanrandhawa

http://darksidersdungeon.net/wiki/Han_Randhawa

Christmas Traditions

Christmas 2012 2

Christmas Traditions

Hello folks. This is Lissy. We have a large extended family that get together for the holidays. We exchange gifts, but we also do so much more, things that don’t cost money and that have become yearly traditions. Take advantage of having friends or family around and, instead of sitting in front of the TV, try the following.

  1. Play games, Our family is big on games Apples to Apples, Curses and HeadBanz are just a few of the games we play on a regular basis and that are fun for both adults and children.
  2. Sing carols or better yet, go caroling.
  3. Walk or drive around the neighborhood and look at the light displays.
  4. If you are lucky to have snow – have a snowball fight, make snow angels or build a snowman.
  5. Volunteer at a shelter or charity. This will make you feel better than all the rest put together, plus it helps others and reminds us to be thankful for all we have.
  6. Roast marshmallows over an open fire, or an indoor one if it’s freezing outside.
  7. Tell funny stories of Christmas’ past.
  8. If you live in a cold climate – go ice-skating on your local frozen pond. If you live in a warm climate – go for a hike along your local Greenbelt. Helps get rid of some of those turkey calories.
  9. Read ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas’ – my dad does this every year before we head to bed on Christmas Eve and everyone gathers around the fire to listen.
  10. Take photos. Always a good time to take lots of group shots of you and your cousins, aunts and uncles which will be fun to look back on when you get older.

Top Ten Reasons Why Buying Books for Christmas Gifts is a Good Idea

CIA - Operation Tiger Paw

Hi Guys, Aidan here. The holidays are coming and I’m sure we are all giving serious thought on what to buy those loved ones on our shopping list. Here’s my top ten reasons why buying books as gifts for Christmas is a smart idea. Happy shopping everyone.

  1. It’s cheaper to send books through the mail than regular gifts.
  2. Books are easy to wrap.
  3. No one has to return a book because it’s the wrong size.
  4. Books smell good, plus they make you smart.
  5. No batteries required.
  6. Compared to other gifts, books are cheap.
  7. Books are easy to store.
  8. Books can be passed to others when you’re done.
  9. Books do not go out of fashion or have a use by date.
  10. You can get presents for everyone in just one store.

http://www.amazon.com/Operation-Tiger-Cousins-Action-Book-ebook/dp/B00OOIFNY2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1417793410&sr=8-1&keywords=operation+tiger+paw

Cagney’s Top Ten Tips on how to be FABULOUS at Halloween

Hopping Mermaid By Tess

Hopping Mermaid By Tess

  1. Do not leave it to the last minute to buy a costume – else you’ll be going as a penguin or even worse, a pumpkin.
  2. Okay, so my friend, Ella, had this mermaid costume that was super cute but she couldn’t actually walk in it and had to hop everywhere. The rule is, if you can’t walk in it, don’t buy it. Nobody wants to be trick-or-treating with a hopping mermaid!
  3. Make sure you have a big enough bag! Make sure the bag has sturdy handles.
  4. Make sure you can be seen in the dark (okay, Lissy made me put this in – but there are some super cute stickers that glow in the dark and let’s face it, getting run over on Halloween would be really annoying).
  5. While we’re talking safety, don’t run (of course if you’re wearing a mermaid costume you won’t have to worry about this). It’s way too easy to trip in the dark – believe me, I know about this.
  6. Don’t bang at the door if the light is off – no candy for you!
  7. If the candy is not wrapped don’t eat it – you never know if anything icky got in it.
  8. Remember, dogs are allergic to chocolate – make sure your pooch is kept well away from all treats.
  9. Make sure you know who is meeting who and where. There’s nothing worse than not being able to find your friends in the dark and no-one wants to trick or treat alone, or worse, with your brother.
  10. No matter how ridiculous they look – do not laugh at adults in costumes – I’ve heard it can get you in serious trouble.

The Wish List

Meg

As you could probably tell from my post last month, I am REALLY into Eoin Colfer. So I was happy to discover that Mr. Colfer had written other books, including The Wish List. Okay, it is NOT Artemis Fowl, but it is GOOD. Here’s what happens.

Meg Finn is not really bad, she just acts that way. And she’s acting that way when she decides to break into pensioner Lowrie McCall’s apartment with local bad boy, Belch. Things quickly go horribly wrong when, after a freak accident, she finds herself flying down a passageway with two options at the end – heaven or hell.

But Meg is a conundrum – turns out she’s exactly 50% good and 50% bad – unheard of. And, before she knows it, Meg returns to earth in the form of a petulant teenage spirit, sent to help the man she has wronged.

Meg and Lowrie embark on a quest, a wish list, for the dying man. The question is, will they be able to finish it before time runs out?

Definitely worth the read, I’d say Mr. Colfer has done it again.

Operation Tiger Paw – Book Launch – November 2nd

CIA India 002 front 300dpi

Hello Folks, Lissy here.

So excited to share with you the new artwork for the second book in the Cousins In Action Series, Operation Tiger Paw, which is set in India. I just love it – especially all the cute little tiger cubs that we get to play with.

Also, please mark your calendars for Sunday, November 2nd at 4pm when we will celebrate the release at Westbank Library, 1309 Westbank Drive, Austin, TX.

Brush up on your India trivia, as quizzes will be dispensed, dessert will be served and tigers will be present.

Artemis Fowl – Criminal Mastermind!

artemis eye acartemis with blue eye ac2

Hi Folks, Aidan here.

I think I may have mentioned that I love my local library and I love them even more for recommending the Artemis Fowl series by Mr. Eoin Colfer (pronounced Owen) which I started at the beginning of the summer and have barely put down.

The Fowl books are an adventure series with a twist. First meet twelve year old Artemis Fowl II (teenage criminal mastermind) and his six foot plus Eurasian bodyguard, Butler. Second, meet Holly Short of the LEPrecon, Foaly the centaur and my favorite character, Mulch Diggums – a kleptomaniac dwarf with a really bad, erm, flatulence problem. Then throw them all together in a series of high-stakes adventures both around the world and under it.

While I was reading the books I Googled some of the reviews. Amazon says  – “You will never think of leprechauns the same way again. Rip roaring, 21st century romp of the highest order.” And I have to say, I agree. Another review said “Think of Die Hard, but with fairies.” Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Basically, if you like twelve year old masterminds and fairies with quick wit and a tendency towards sarcasm – run, don’t walk to your nearest bookstore or library and pick up the Artemis Fowl series. I guarantee you won’t regret it.

Drawings by Tess.

CHRONAL ENGINE – FUN SUMMER READING!

6449Hey guys, Aidan here with my latest review on one of the many books I read over the summer.

So, if you’d like to be able to tell your alvarezsaur from your crested hadrosaur, pick up this book – and don’t put it down, as  you realize early on that author, Mr. Greg Leitich-Smith totally knows his stuff and by stuff I mean dinosaurs.

For me, I had no idea there were so many different types of dinosaurs. Sure, I knew my T-Rex from my brontosaurus, but my hadrosaur from my microraptor? Not so much. But the book is not a reference book by any means. What it is, is a rip-roaring adventure through the cretaceous period and all the danger you can imagine that entails.

When Max and his older twin siblings, Kyle and Emma, get dumped at their reclusive grandpa’s house (I’m feeling a connection here) while their mother heads to a remote corner of Mongolia to dig for feathered dinosaurs (even more of a connection), the three Austin siblings are not exactly pleased. Yes there’s a legendary creek bed on the ranch property, containing fossilized dinosaur tracks that Max, a keen amateur paleontologist, is dying to see, but for his older siblings the summer is looking bleak.

Things start to look up when they meet Petra, their Grandfather’s house-keeper’s daughter, but quickly take a turn for the bizarre when their grandfather predicts his own heart-attack, leaving the four with a parting message – go to the creek bed before 8am the following day.

Go they do, becoming instantly plunged into a plot of kidnapping and intrigue as they follow the kidnapper back to the cretaceous period in, of all things, a VW bug using their great-great-grandfather’s time machine.

If you enjoyed Jurassic Park then pick up Chronal Engine for some late summer reading – you won’t be disappointed. Grrrrr!6413

First Stop – Peru

Llamas

Hello Blog Post Readers. This is Lissy Puddleton, finally writing about our time in Peru.

First of all, as you may remember, this was my first time out of the state, not alone the country. My cousins and I had never boarded a train, never mind a plane. It was all very exciting, albeit slightly terrifying.

To be honest, I barely knew where Peru was before Grandma whisked us off there. True, I knew it was in South America, but finding out exactly where it was (on the Pacific coast, with Ecuador and Columbia to the north, Brazil to the east and Bolivia and Chile to the south – just in case you were wondering), was something I had never given much thought to, until we were on the plane, heading south.

The first thing we found out when arriving was about the invasion of Francisco Pizarro in 1531 and the death of Athualpa, the Inca King, which led to the hiding and losing of the lost treasure of the Inca. To put this in prospective Henry VIII was on the throne of England and had just become the head of the church of England. The story of Pizarro and Athualpa was really fascinating, plus it’s really cool that treasure hunters are still looking for this treasure today, now worth an estimated eight-billion dollars.

Getting to fly across the Nazca Lines was also amazing. Even though I’m sure there must be a logical explanation on how these soil canvases were made, I have to admit, it’s pretty impressive, and does make you wonder how on earth (or not) they did it.

Of course, visiting Machu Picchu was the highlight of our trip. It’s only when you’re standing 8,000 feet above sea-level that you realize what an accomplishment the lost city is. Hiram Bingham’s re-discovery just over a hundred years ago, is also quite unbelievable. Pretty impressive, seeing he wasn’t even looking for Machu Picchu, but another lost city, Vilcabamba.

Having lived my entire life in Texas, I must admit, Peru was a bit of a shock. I never knew a place could smell different – but it did. I never thought I’d be daring enough to try new food – but I did. I also never thought I’d be trekking around the jungle with just my cousins for company – still find this one difficult to believe – but I did.

However, the best thing about Peru was something you can’t read about in books or online – it was the people. From the eccentric Lucila to the enthusiastic Senor Gustavo, I will never forget their friendliness and how welcome they made us feel. Truly, when it comes down to it, it’s the people that really make a country and bring it to life.

Happy travels, my friends.