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Bri Meets Books

Children's and YA literature reviews.

I’m helping kick off the tour for Rebekah Raye’s new picture book release Bearly There from Tilbury House!

bearlythereThere’s a bear in Charlie’s backyard. Drawn by the smells of barbecue and other temptations, the bear has wandered into the neighborhood to visit. Everybody has a suggestion, shoot it, have it relocated. But Charlie has other ideas. He educates himself on why the bear might’ve stopped by, and urges others to take responsibility for their property, and not leave out things that may attract bears.

Unlike The Very Best Bed, Bear-ly There is for an older crowd, but is just as educational.  Once again Raye’s wonderful illustrations bring the story alive.  There’s a menagerie of animals  but it’s the bear who’s the star.  I loved that this story was inspired by one of Rebekah’s own experiences with a bear. The environmental message of being conscientious of how humans might be affecting wildlife is a great one for kids to take from the book, and offers some things they too can consider when it comes to animals in their backyards.

Please enjoy an interview I did with artist and illustrator Rebekah Raye! Be sure to visit her website at to see her artwork, learn about her books, and more.  And after the interview, find the blog tour schedule, as well as information about the Bear-ly There contests!

Who are your greatest creative influences?

I have to say my artist Dad and scientist Mom. I grew up watching my father’s drawing lines appear on the paper, which seemed liked magic, and my mother as a scientist with her keen observation and sensitivity.

What five artists and/or writers, living or dead, would you like to have dinner with ?

Ashley Bryan, Leonard Baskin, Rembrandt, Bernd Heinrich, Mary Oliver. A walk through the woods or on the beach would be just as wonderful.

Has there been a claRebekah_portrait_10-09_KW78499ssic children’s story you’ve ever wanted to provide the illustrations for? Which title?

I have done a few pieces, one sculpture and a painting of the Owl and Pussycat, my favorite of all.

Judging from your website, you work with a variety of mediums. Do you have a particular favorite? Is there a medium you’d like to work with, and haven’t yet?

I feel it really helps you stay fresh when you mix up your mediums. I love to work on a drawing with a particular subject then take the same subject and paint it in watercolor and pastel, then the same subject again and make a wood relief or 3 dim. sculpture for that Pinocchio feeling. I want to hold it and love it. The last step would be to make a pendant or pin. I love the idea of carving in stone and for pieces to live outdoors. I hope to get to that point some day.

What advice would you give to aspiring illustrators?

I would recommend working on stories that you truly fall in love with. Subject matter that really appeals to you. Can you imagine drawing the characters as if you lived with them yourself? Or wish you could be like, flying like a raven or crow above the tree tops or swimming in the deep oceans next to whales or porpoises? Research is a must.

When did you first know you wanted to be an artist? What’s your favorite animal to depict in a piece of art?

In grade school I was never bored and had friends that loved to sit near each other and draw quietly together. I always wondered if my 5th grade friend named Max ended up drawing and designing the latest model cars as he could draw them soo well then. I continued to draw and illustrate my homework and entertain my friends. Though, I thought I might grow up to be a country singer or veterinarian. Soo it was in a children’s literature class in college that really firmed up my decision.

I love soo many animals, the more I learn, the more I love them. I am very attracted to the male animals, from roosters, to bulls, lions, bears.

What inspires you?

Just about everything in nature, moments that are fleeting, surprise glimpses of animals in the woods and their behaviors, insects at work, bees in the roses…..

What’s one thing you want your art and/or writing to do for a child?

I want to share the things I’ve learned, help them with their questions, fears,and take them to places they might not be able to go, and hopefully inspire them.

Do you remember your favorite books as a child?

National Geographic and Grimm fairy tales.

When both illustrating and writing a book, what’s your process like? Which comes first, art or text? Do you both in tandem?

My dearest older friend, Eggie Razi once told me,” just do the pictures first and then imagine telling your story to your children and grandson and the words will come”. She was right, I love to think of the images first, the characters. Then I take a tape recorder and speak about what’s happening and it seems to help me write like I was verbally telling the story. I then sketch out sort of a story board. I can then start to see the story change ,build and thank goodness for editors.

If you could live inside any children’s book, which title would it be and why?

I think I have to say that it would be The Very Best Bed, because I loved going up to work in my studio each day, seeing the squirrel with the different animals and going to places with him that I really wished I could fit in and climb on and curl up to. The best fun of being an illustrator if you can’t do it in real life, just draw it!!

Bear-ly There Tour Schedule

Oct. 15 – Twitter Book Party –
Oct. 16 – Bri Meets Books –
Oct. 17 – In the Pages –
Oct. 18 – Infant Bibliophile –
Oct. 19 – Grass Stain Guru –
Oct. 20 – Margo Dill’s Read These Books and Use Them!
Oct. 21 – Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers –
Oct. 22 – On My Bookshelf –
Oct. 23 – Nature Moms –
Oct. 24 – Tilbury House on Facebook –
Oct. 25 – Ready Set Read –
Oct. 26 – Mozi Esmé –
Oct. 27 – Anastasia Suen’s Picture Book of the Day –
Oct. 28 – Byron T. Bear Foundation –
Oct. 29 – Amy Lundebrek’s blog –
Oct. 30 – Get Bear Smart Society –


9 lucky winners from all of those who comment on these participating blog posts, from October 16-30,will win one of the following:

#1 & 2 = A set of four art notecards (two sets available)
#3 = A signed wildlife art print
#4, 5, 6 = An original sketch from Bear-ly There, The Very Best Bed, or Thanks to the Animals
( see for samples of her gorgeous artwork!)

#7, 8, 9 = A copy of Bear-ly There, The Very Best Bed, or Thanks to the Animals, signed by Rebekah.

And, anyone who participates in the Twitter Book Party, or posts anything on Twitter about the tour using the hashtag #BearlyThere from October 15-30 will be entered to win a complete set of Bear-ly There, The Very Best Bed, and Thanks to the Animals, all signed by Rebekah!

Winners for all 10 prizes will be announced on Oct. 31. US/Canada addresses only.

For more about  visit and!


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