PenguinArt by Kate Garchinsky

Tag: illustrator

Written by Laurence Pringle, Illustrated by Kate Garchinsky. Boyds Mills Press 2017.

Earlier this year I completed the illustrations for The Secret Life of the Red Fox, written by my mentor and friend, Laurence Pringle. It’s something like his one hundred and seventeenth book. I have some catching up to do!

Imagine my joy when I was offered the job to illustrate his next “Secret Life” book—The Secret Life of the Little Brown Bat. Seriously. First foxes, now bats? How much cooler can this job get? Last week I received the completed manuscript, and today I opened an envelope from Larry full of bat reference. He made great copies of other illustrators’ renderings of bats of different species. This is as helpful as watching someone else solve a very complex math problem right before you do one yourself. It’s not about copying, it’s about technique, and the artist’s eye.

See, bats aren’t very photogenic.  They are extremely difficult to photograph without some seriously advanced camera equipment—especially little brown bats. Why? Think about it. They’re little. They’re brown. And they are bats—the worlds’ only flying mammals. There’s really nothing else like them. They move fast enough to snatch mosquitos and moths from the air in the dark. I can barely get a sharp photo of a slow-moving pigeon in full daylight! So looking at other artists’ renderings of bats saves me a lot of guesswork. That doesn’t mean I won’t try to photograph them though!

Little brown bat

Another challenge bats pose is their creepy reputation. My job is to make young readers love them, despite any “ew” factor displayed by skeeved-out parents. Little brown bats need our love. They’re on a fast path to extinction due to a deadly fungal outbreak called white-nose syndrome. It’s an upsetting situation if you care about bats. If you don’t, though, then why would you do anything to help save them? Why help an animal that creepy creature like a bat?

My job is to show what’s endearing and important about little brown bats. My mission is to make everyone say, “awwwww!!!” when they see my illustrations of Otis, the main character in the story. The book will be a narrative non-fiction picture book for grades 1-4, but as with the Red Fox book, I’m not thinking about age. I’m thinking about the beauty and quirkiness of the animal when I draw it.

Osprey Growth Chart for Belle's Journey

Osprey Growth Chart for Belle’s Journey

Earlier I asked you, “how much cooler than this job get?” Well. In addition to foxes and bats, I have another project: Belle’s Journey, written by my ornithologist friend, Rob Bierregaard. I have lots of pictures to go through after 5 days sketching and photographing the ospreys of Martha’s Vineyard, the subject and setting of Rob’s book. Belle will be another narrative non-fiction book, but for middle-grade readers. It’s 19 chapters long and packed full of raptor action. How much joy can I stand?

Tag: illustrator

Kate Garchinsky - Nutcracker

Illustration by Kate Garchinsky,

SAN FRANCISCO, CA Monday, December 2, 2013–San Francisco Ballet, the country’s oldest professional company and the first to perform the full-length Nutcracker in America, today announced the launch of a Nutcracker interactive storybook application. Designed for children ages 6-10 and their families, the animated iPad app allows users to not only experience SF Ballet’s production of Nutcracker through original illustrations and storytelling, but to explore and engage with the world of classical dance and music through groundbreaking new interactive technology.

Key features of the app, now available on the App Store for $4.99, include original artwork by Kate Garchinsky; audio clips of Tchaikovsky’s renowned Nutcracker score that accompany each scene; as well as playful animations, and pop-up information pages featuring fun facts about ballet,Nutcracker, and SF Ballet’s production. In addition, the app offers videos and photos that take young readers behind the scenes. Users have the option of reading the story themselves or listening to a narration while they tilt and tap their iPad to uncover surprises along the way.

In addition, the app includes an in-depth, informative microsite, “Discover SF Ballet,” which can be accessed through the “Discover” button on the app homepage, as well as throughout the storybook and online by clicking here. The microsite features a host of photos and videos, interactive movement tutorials, background information on SF Ballet and its School, a history of ballet and dance, and behind-the-scenes glimpses of the Company, including its production of Nutcracker. Throughout this playful and educational app, children can hone their reading skills, while learning about ballet, dance, music, and more.

“As the company who started this beloved holiday tradition in America in 1944, we are thrilled to share our appreciation of Nutcracker, dance, and music with the widest possible audience through this unique app,” said SF Ballet Education Director Charles Chip McNeal. “Through the app’s fun and interactive content, our goal is to offer a rich educational experience for children and their families alike.”

To see the Nutcracker Interactive Storybook app trailer visit:

To Download
SF Ballet’s Nutcracker Interactive Storybook app is available for download on the App Store for $4.99. To access the app, click here.  This app is optimized for iOS6 or later and is optimized for iPad. A version for Android tablets will be released at a later date.

For reviewing media members only: contact Kyra Jablonsky or Lauren White for to access a free download of the app.

Nutcracker Interactive Storybook:
Illustrations and story by Kate Garchinsky
Narration by Eileen Brady
Design and development by Night Kitchen Interactive in collaboration with the artists, musicians, students, and staff of San Francisco Ballet.

The Nutcracker Interactive Storybook was made possible by a grant from the James F. Irvine Foundation’s Arts Innovation Fund.

San Francisco Ballet
United States, San Francisco Ballet, under the direction of Helgi Tomasson, presents more than 100 performances annually, both locally and internationally. For more information, visit For more information about SF Ballet’s Nutcracker, visit

Kate Garchinsky
Philadelphia, Award-winning illustrator and author, Kate Garchinsky,  is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. For more information about her and to view her work, visit

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