Sunday, November 26, 2017

Newbery Award Books by grade-school category, genre

This is a partial list of Newbery Award books (winners and honors) and which grade-school reading categories they can fit into.  A friend was brain-storming a list for her daughter’s reading assignments and, in my opinion, if you pick up a Newbery Award Book, you know you’re getting a great book to read.

It’s a short list so far but hopefully we can add to it as we go. Your suggestions on Newbery/categories are welcome in the comments!

- Eleanor Roosevelt: A Life of Discovery by Russell Freedman

- The Hero & the Crown by Robin McKinley (the hero is a young girl)
- Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
- Fog Magic by Julia Sauer
- The Tail of Despereaux by Timothy Basil Ering

- Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor (1930’s Jim Crow era)
- Count the Stars by Lois Lowery (Holocaust evacuee, nothing graphic)
- Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes (Revolutionary War)

- The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
- Kneeknock Rise by Natalie Babbitt
- Holes by Louis Sachar
- The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg

- Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse (free verse)
- Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices by Paul Fleishman

- A Long Way From Chicago by Richard Peck, and its sequel A Year Down Yonder
- Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
- Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
- The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron
- Our Only May Amelia by Jennifer L. Holm
- Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

- The Giver by Lois Lowery (Dystopian)

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Printable Coloring Pages on Etsy and a Huge Discount Code

Well I took the plunge and opened up an Etsy store: Cheryl Casey Art so I can offer printable coloring pages, in addition to the free coloring pages on my website and the coloring books on Amazon.

Chirstmas Card Coloring Page - Mouse in a Teacup

If you happen to do a little shopping there this week, be sure to use this code at checkout: LAUNCHTHANKYOU. It's good for 35% off your total from my store. Expires October 17, 2016, I believe.

The Christmas mouse if from my coloring book Christmas Cards & Gift Tags.

Printable Coloring Page - Koi Pond with Dragonfly on Lily Pad
There are a few pages from my coloring book Dragonfly Dreams & Fairy Wings.

Printable Coloring Page - Double Wedding Ring Quilt

Eventually I'll offer signed original prints of my art on my Etsy store. It's all a process; one thing at a time.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Kitchen update

A few years ago I wrote about my ugly kitchen makeover.

We recently tore down one of the walls to open it up to the living room. It's the wall on the left, in the above photos.

Here it is...

Old wall.

Tearing it down.

Open to the living room now.

It was a load-bearing wall with electrical wiring in it. We had to support the ceiling and put up two beams with a channel in between to re-route the electrical wiring (light switch and two electrical outlets). Then the channel was covered with a 2x4 so it all resembles one big beam now.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Funky junk bird house

I made this a few years ago for the Autism Speaks auction fundraiser held by the SGA at our local college.

FYI - vintage silver-plate forks are very easy to twist and curl the tines the way you want them, with needle-nose pliers. Modern stainless steel forks are practically impossible, for me anyway.

To get the paint looking more like color stain I watered down regular craft paint, then sanded it a little.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

How to find your art being used online without your permission and what to do about it

It is so heartbreaking and frustrating to see your art "going viral" online with no mention of you as the artist or link to your website. You want to put your work out there and have it seen, otherwise what's the point? But so many people are ignorant of the fact that this is your creative property, copyrighted, and not an internet free-for-all.

Here is how to track down your art wherever it's being used on the internet, and what to do about it:

  1. Go to whatever page you have posted your art (facebook, your website, wherever).
  2. Right-click on the image and click "copy URL".
  3. Go to
  4. Inside the search box where you type your text is a camera icon; click it.
  5. A new search box opens up, right-click in it and click paste.
  6. Now click the blue "search by image" button.
The search results will show all the websites that are displaying your image. Check to see if they have credited you by name as the artist and linked to your website. If not, look for how to contact them; maybe a comment on their blog or a contact page or an email, etc.

I usually word my firm request this way:
The image of the (brief description of the artwork) on your (website/blog/page/pinterest board) is my original, copyrighted artwork. You are using it without my permission. You are required to either credit me and link to my website (list your website) or remove the image. -Cheryl Casey
And I don't sign off with "thank you" as I'm not feeling very thankful to that person at the moment. It is a demand and you have the right to demand it.

Also, if the content of the page where they are using your image is inappropriate or offensive to you, skip the part about crediting you and linking to your website and simply require that they remove the image.

It can take a while, depending on just how "viral" your artwork went. But give it a shot and take it one page at a time.

Good luck, keep showing off your artwork, and keep tracking down copyright infringement. Somebody has to educate these yayhoos.

Another good article on fair use...

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Frog watercolor progression

About a hundred years ago, when I was working on my art degree, I had to take a watercolor class. It wasn't my favorite at the time and I haven't messed with it over the years. But recently I decided to give it another go, to incorporate into my children's book illustrations.

This is more practice while I try to get the hang of it. Which is mostly just trying not to be a control freak over what it does.

Click to enlarge.

 I tossed salt in the blue area. I saw it on someone else's watercolor and it looked cool. On mine... eh.

I wish I had left the leaf simple and not added the veins.

So far, watercolor seems 50% fun and 50% what-the-hell-is-happening??

In this last step I opened the photo in GIMP (like PhotoShop but without the price tag), added light to the eyes, and deeper shadows, adjusted the levels for brighter brights. Maybe too much, I may back that down a little after I see a print.

Here's the original little guy. Mine turned out kinda chubby.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Arkansas Crossroads quilt block

I love those quilts that make you work to figure it out. And again I was way off - although there is more than one way to skin this cat, as you'll see at the bottom of this post. This is the Arkansas Crossroads quilt that 24 Blocks shared on their facebook page (from Charlotte T.)

Arkansas Crossroads quilt

I had three different ideas for how this might be done but none of them were as simple as how you actually do it.

The basic block (from ) :

Arkansas Crossroads quilt block

Four of them together (from ) :

Arkansas Crossroads quilt blocks

And some basic how-to's with pictures on (more illustrations on their site):

A look at another Arkansas Crossroads quilt. This one is on Quilts from the Bluffs and she offers an excellent free pattern on her page. Her way is how I thought this quilt would go together. Probably the way I'll do it.

Arkansas Crossroads quilt on QFTB

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Beta tank inside a bigger aquarium

This is a 3-gallon round tank inside our 20-gallon aquarium. It has a ceramic soup mug under it to lift it up high enough that the surface is level with the water surface in the bigger tank. At first I had it sitting on the bottom but remembered that beta's need to surface regularly. My first clue was when he started clutching his throat and going into death spasms. Just kidding. Anyway...

The beta has plenty of room to swim around. He gets to interact with the guppies and tetras without any harm. The guppies will sometimes gather and watch the beta like they're at Sea World or something.

Betas don't usually feel threatened by smaller fish but the guppies seem to be big enough that betas will see them as a threat and attack. I tried putting a beta in with an oscar one time, thinking no way will the beta go after that big ole fish. Wrong. That poor oscar was just minding his own business and the beta went after him like a Tasmanian devil.

I put plastic canvas craft mesh on top of the beta tank to keep him from going Evil Knievel over the side into the main tank. They will if they get the chance. I melted four holes into the top of the plastic tank with a soldering iron so I could secure the mesh onto the tank with twist ties. There is a small hole for the air stone tube (air set low so the surface is calm enough for the beta to make his bubble nests). The pellet food just drops through the mesh.

This is the plastic canvas I mean. Like for yarn crafts, etc.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Illustrating the cat

I have 4 picture book projects to illustrate (two of my own and two for friends) but haven't been really satisfied with where my look/style is.

This is Fiday night's illustration of our kitten and her fear of the thunder storm going on.

Cute but kinda boring.

This is last night's (Saturday) illustration of the same concept. Trying to push more toward funny and more personality.

Less worry about being cat-shaped; more fun.

My friend Wanda says this is what her dog Meesha
does during a thunderstorm.

Here are the steps. All digital. I use GIMP; it's similar to photoshop but without the pricetag.

Simple line drawing.


Some shading.

More shading. Details added.

Window and lightening was pretty much an afterthought.

KABOOM! Light 'er up.

The cat's unofficial name at our house is El Pinche Gato, courtesy of my husband. I looked up "pinche" in my 1987 college Spanish dictionary and it said "rotten". So I went around saying pinche this, pinche that.

Then my father-in-law, who is Hispanic, asked Sweetheart how Spanish class was going at school. I jokingly told Sweetheart to walk into class and say "Pinche escuela." My father-in-law nearly choked on his dentures.

So I typed el pinche gato into Google translate. Google had a slightly different take on "pinche" that involved the f-word. It explains why my father-in-law didn't think pinche escuela was a good idea.

(I just now checked Google translate again; it now says "click the cat" is the translation. That is NOT what it said a few months ago when I checked).

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Bring faded plastic fenders back to black

(UPDATE 04/22/2016 - It looked really good for about a year and then not quite as black after that. We're on year two now and you can tell it's faded to a dark gray. But it's still not the pale gray that it was in these photos.)

We bought an old 97 jeep cherokee sport from a friend this week and are fixing it up for College Man. It doesn't need a whole lot done. We changed the spark plugs, put in a new valve cover gasket, cleaned it up, and are about to put a couple of new tires on it. The spark plugs were really all that was needed to get the sputter out. We wanted to put on a new fuel filter but it is inside the tank of this particular model. Since the spark plugs cleared up the sputter, we'll wait a bit longer and replace the filter and fuel pump all at once.

A cool thing I learned from a youtube video was how to get the sun-bleached fenders and other faded plastics back to black... take a heat gun to them.

This is how it turned out on ours. Took about an hour and a half for all fender flares and bumpers.

And BONUS! Check out how bleepinjeep did some cool DIY bushwhacker fenders for cheap in this video. We're gonna do it!

As for heat guns...

I borrowed my dad's but some time before I start pulling up the ugly old linoleum in my laundry room, I'll get my own. This Wagner had the best reviews and was about middle of the price range, $22 bucks on Amazon (the range for heat gun prices was $15 to $30).

No matter where I wind up buying what I'm looking for, I usually check Amazon reviews first. Those people are brutally honest. (Plus, I learned something about fixing the xbox 360 Red Ring of Death in J. Hagen's review... awesome.)

2 heat settings, weighs under 2 lbs. Over 450 amazon reviewers liked it. Sounds good to me.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

"Jennifer" Quilt Pattern, a.k.a Cajun Hopscotch :)

Pam P. demonstrated how this quilt goes together. SOOO much simpler than how I thought.

This is the quilt that posted on their facebook page, and said "From our reader, Becky."

Here's the one block Pam P. showed us that makes this quilt. It's made of half-square triangles. See it?...

Here is the one block...

Like I said earlier, we've got those half-square triangles licked; click here for how to make them quick and easy. Basically, for this one, you're going to make a million of them that are half white and half colorful scraps. Maybe a bazillion; depends. Then sew them together like the block above.

From there you could sew four together to make bigger blocks and so on, or you could sew them together in rows. I'm still trying to decide which way I would be least likely to screw something up.

One more look at the whole thing...

Thanks Becky, Pam, and 24Blocks! Can't wait to make my own!

PS...Several readers listed the book that the Jennifer quilt pattern is in, "3 Times the Charm". It's available on Amazon. (I bought it just now; looks like it has a bunch of sweet quick ones).

PPS...They named all their quilts girl's names. I like names like Drunkards Path and Arkansas Crossroads. A Google search shows plenty of people making this particular half square triangle quilt but nobody seems to know a traditional name for it. How 'bout Cajun Hopscotch. Why Cajun, because I have a friend named Cajun Ray. And it sounds cool. And the quilt is kind of hard to understand at first.

Newbery Award Books by grade-school category, genre

This is a partial list of Newbery Award books (winners and honors) and which grade-school reading categories they can fit into.  A friend wa...