Celebrating Literacy! Visits in and out of the Studio

Visit to Gravenhurst~  Tomorrow: Friday, August 7th, 2015! Celebrate Literacy.

I am so excited for this! It is going to be great fun.
My presentation is ALL AGES and FREE – no registration required! Offered by the Gravenhurst Library (2PM Opera House)
It is an interactive hour which will show kids how books are created, inspire them to write, illustrate and share their stories. I will bring my little theater and we will create a scene together. People will also have the chance to make a shadow puppet and see how they can use light and photography to create dynamic art.
See you there! 

More Info: Gravenhurst, ON – The Gravenhurst Public Library proudly presents children’s author and illustrator, Elly MacKay on Friday August 7th, with a special presentation in the Trillium Court of the Gravenhurst Opera House beginning at 2 p.m.


Studio Visit – Longwood Center for the Visual Arts:

I have been so fortunate to have the lovely Rachel Talent Ivers and Emily Grabiec from the Longwood Center for the Visual Arts visiting the studio this week. We had fun in the studio and exploring the area together. Here we are in front of the henge in Big Bay.

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They came to organize an exhibition in Virginia next Fall. It will correspond with the Virginia Children’s Book Festival. I will be creating an installation and exhibiting original shadow boxes and photographs. One of the pieces we will have there is my weather cabinet. Here is a shot of my studio with the cabinet. ( I took snapped a picture of the studio because for once, there weren’t any little paper pieces on the floor!) I also have to show you the shelves Simon has just built in the side room just off the studio. (Thanks Simon.)

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Other News:

My Etsy shop Theater Clouds will be on holiday for a week or so. It will reopen on August 17th. Use code FRIENDS for 15% off.

New Book! A Celebration of the Seasons

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I was so honored to be asked to create an image in this book – a collection of poems by Margaret Wise Brown. Above (right) is a detail of the image I created for the poem The Cherry Tree. I used cut paper and salt and photographed the image from above.

“Fluffy clouds, butterflies, furry bunnies, and life from a bug’s-eye view: This stunning sequel to the New York Times bestseller Goodnight Songs celebrates the beauty and wonder of nature all year long. Once again, a treasure trove of Margaret Wise Brown’s newly uncovered verses receives loving treatment from 12 award-winning artists, including Floyd Cooper, Peter Brown, David Small, Molly Idle, and Bob Staake. From a little bear singing one morning in May to a soft snowfall, mysterious, deep, and glowing, each song is magical. “

A starred review! 

Lastly – Summer Art Fun:

This is a fun activity we tried this summer that I have to pass on. I am not sure where I originally saw the idea (sorry) but when we had all sorts of bubble wrap around, it sprang to mind ~ Bubble Wrap Shoes. The kids loved it.

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  • Tape bubble wrap into shoes
  • Roll out large sheets of paper (outside)
  • We found rocks help to keep it from blowing around
  • Turn on the tunes
  • Squirt some paint and let the kids dance!
  • It is great to have a tarp and a bucket of water on the side if you don’t want your driveway to be a work of art too. :)
  • Use the finished paper as gift wrap (or like one neighbourhood dad, you can frame a huge section for behind your couch!)
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Butterflies, Butterflies, Butterflies!!

My newest book is now out!

Saturday, June 6th
10-11 am *FLOWER PLANTING DOWNTOWN ~ Main Street – Scotia Bank Parkette (We have bulbs for the kids.)
11-12 am *READ ALOUD & CRAFT ~ Rocking Horse (Make a Balancing Butterfly)

Butterfly Park

To see more from the book visit http://www.runningpress.com/butterflypark
7 Impossible Things Before Breakfast http://blaine.org/sevenimpossiblethings/?p=3743

Butterfly Park is a book about change, friendship, community, home and of course butterflies. Available at your bookstore or online:
A Heather’s Pick at Indigo


“Centered on the park’s elaborate art nouveau gateway, MacKay’s lyrical paper collage and diorama constructs feature layered details and out-of-focus backgrounds for a sense of depth. Brightly patterned butterflies, delicate flowers, and human figures pose like gracefully off-balance dancers. . . . Worthy of theme and equally pleasing to the eye and the spirit.”
—Kirkus Reviews

“MacKay’s artwork recreates the feel and pleasure of Edwardian-era illustration…”
-Publishers Weekly

Elly MacKay constructs this story with delicate cut-paper illustrations, sets of photographed dioramas that glow with light. The settings are intricate—the Butterfly Park entrance gate is a thing of beauty—and MacKay’s sense of composition is spot-on. 

MacKay in in top form, and readers will delight in the mix of colours, textures, and perspectives she employs in creating the visual elements of this lovely book.
-Quill and Quire

 Other News

Shadow Chasers is 1 of 10 English books for the TD Summer Reading Programhttp://www.tdsummerreadingclub.ca/top-reads
Get your kids reading this summer!

I participated in my first Authors for Indies this year at the Curiosity House in Creemore. {Thank you so much for the invite Jenn!}

Maya for OwlKids is almost done… finishing touches.

Currently working on Book 4 with Running Press…. more on that to follow. ;)

I will be at the Celebrating Stories A Family Festival in Milton this October.

Oh! And I got the most amazing surprise from some young folks in Sweden, Julia and Jossan (SWEDEN!?)


And a wonderful little girl from the USA sent Loretta and me a story she wrote based on FALL LEAVES but with the theme of spring.  Life is good!

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A Family of Makers

This post is coming rather late, very late. Today is the last day of a show our family put on together. It is called Family Works and is at the Artists’ Coop in Owen Sound, Ontario. My Mom, Joan Irvine and my brother’s fiance, Christine Su are both paper artists as well. My Dad, Steve Irvine makes pottery and one of a kind ceramic pinhole cameras. And my husband, Simon MacKay is a woodworker and uses a combination of wood and concrete to make boxes. Some families play music together… when we get together we like to pull out the clay or paper, talk and drink tea. My kids love making things too.  Here are a few photos from the show.


Steve Irvine – pinhole camera


Simon MacKay – multilayered boxes in wood and concrete


Elly MacKay – Emily of New Moon cover, Anne of Windy Poplars cover and Anne of Avonlea cover (for Penguin Random House)


Christine Su – cut paper


Joan Irvine – cut paper, yupo paper – Pink Moon series


Christine Su – block prints


Steve Irvine – ceramic platters


Simon MacKay – layered boxes


A collaborative piece – the base of this was done by Simon MacKay, the top by Steve Irvine


Lily and her buddy at the opening.


Koen and his much bigger friend at the opening.


A close up of one of Joan Irvine’s Pink Moon series.


Good friends.

We are thankful for our family members that drove from London to join us, our supportive community and the Coop for hosting us. If you see anything in the show that you would like to own or give, let me know. We are happy to ship! There was a nice little article on our show too. http://www.owensoundsuntimes.com/2014/11/02/gallery-show-a-family-affair One of the reasons I was so late in posting this is because I was working away on Butterfly Park. It is intricate work… oh, so many little flowers! It is now at the printer and will be out in the spring! Thanks Marlo and Francis of Running Press for all of the hard work you put into this book. 9enterpark

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Kingston WritersFest! This weekend.

Do you live in the Kingston area? Have kids? Come on down to the Kingston Frontenac Public Library at 1:00 tomorrow (Saturday, the 27th of September).

FREE Festival Fun for KIDS!


I will be doing a reading of Shadow Chasers and showing how I make my scenes. We’ll even create a paper piece together.

****Then, kids will get to make a take-home diorama.****

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We’ll have all sorts of papers, and sculptural materials for kids to play with. It is going to be a blast!! Hope you can come.  It is an activity that suits children from 2-13… well, even older – this is how I spend my days.

All the details here: https://www.kingstonwritersfest.ca/kids-and-teens-kids-on-saturday.php

Sponsored by CIBC Wood Gundy, Simpatico Song & Script and Friends of the Library and my patron for the festival – Chris Everdell.

Older kids may want to stay for the whole afternoon. At 3:00 Eric Walters will be at the library with his book The Rule of Three. Can’t wait to get a signed copy.

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Anne of Green Gables

How old were you when you last read Anne of Green Gables?

Today Tundra (Random House Canada) is releasing a new edition, along with all the books in the series by L. M. Montgomery!


You can buy the box set or the buy them individually. I had fun thinking about how all the spines might work together when sitting on a shelf. A little landscape for you: http://instagram.com/p/rpX02tIwDb/Annex8

Anne of Green Gables
Anne of Avonlea
Anne of the Island
Anne of Windy Poplars
Anne’s House of Dreams
Anne of Ingleside
Rainbow Valley
Rilla of Ingleside
THE SET – this is a preorder item – Released Sept. 23rd

It is amazing how a book can stay with you and shape the way you see the world. It wasn’t until I revisited these stories as a adult that I realized that some of the place names I have been using all these years must have taken from the Anne series when I was a girl. I have a Cathedral Road by my childhood home and like Anne, I dreamed of getting married there.  And… like Anne, a friend and I memorized Tennyson. Though neither of us ever pretended to be Elaine, floating down the river.

L. M. Montgomery is a Canadian icon and these are such wonderful stories. It was a dream to illustrate the covers for these books and work with Kelly Hill (the designer) at Tundra.


I have donated the Artist Proof of the Anne of Green Gables cover to an auction that helps to raise some money for art students starting out at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. The Auction is called ROAR if you would like to make a bid.

On Tumblr you can see some larger images too: http://djevojka.tumblr.com/post/90248200862/cover-art-by-elly-mackay

Hope you will enjoy these books and pick up a copy or the whole set! Look for a post on Emily of New Moon soon!

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Leaves are in the air…

Today we are releasing Fall Leaves!  Loretta Holland is the author. HMH Kids is the publisher. I hope you will enjoy the changing of the seasons with our book.

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You can buy it here.

Barnes and Noble  Amazon Canada  Amazon USA  Your Local Bookshop Indigo


SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 6ht, 10:30 – 12:30 The reading will be at 10:45. Hope to see you!

(October 19th – At the London Indigo Store I will also be doing a reading and craft.)

The Wall Street Journal:  Seasonal Swoon – Wall Street Journal Book Reviews

“With just a few cleverly chosen words that appear and reappear in slightly different arrangements, each phrase in large type on a page of its own, Loretta Holland summons the changes of this time of year: “Apples Fall. Leaves Fall. Fall Stays. Leaves Leave. Sun Leaves. Temperature Falls.”

These observations are accompanied by subtly enchanting pictures, which Elly MacKay has created by using light to give depth to delicate paper cutouts of a boy and a girl amid autumn’s beauty. We see the pair riding bikes, dancing in the rain and rowing on a leaf-strewn pond, the girl’s auburn hair flying in the blustery air. This lovely book can be read at its simplest to a very young child or, with more detail (each page carries a paragraph describing seasonal changes in smaller print), by 5- to 9-year-olds.” ~ Megan Cox Gurdon, Wall Street Journal. August 29, 2014


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Catch me if you can… Shadow Chasers!

9780762447206 Shadow Chasers  has just come out! It is my 2nd book with Running Press. Join these 3 children on a search for shadow animals as the evening light descends. Can you spot the rabbits? What else can you find? shadowchasers_ellymackay1A book to celebrate shadows – a bedtime read or to share at Summer Solstice or Groundhog Day. Why not make some shadow puppets of your own? We had a local book launch on Saturday and the children made shadow animals of their own.Ellybooklaunch_Apr14_02Ellybooklaunch_Apr14_04   This is how. With pencil, draw your animal. Cut it out. Open a paper clip and take one side to your shadow puppet. On the other side of the paper clip, take a popsicle stick. For ones with movement, create two parts with two sticks (i.e. with a rabbit you could make the front and back of the body) and attach them with a brass fastener. shadow puppet elly mackay1 IMG_8233 IMG_8225

I’ve been having fun with shadows for years. Here is one from a series of shadow play photos I did in 2010.

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The kids have learned to make shadow animals with their hands too! 9780762447206

Some early REVIEWS:

Kirkus:  Intriguing illustrations draw readers into a meditation on shadows…. Playful and more than just a little mysterious—like a shadow-puppet play in full color. (Picture book. 3-6)
21st Century Media News Service (Bobbie’s books of the month): The magic of outdoor play on a summer’s evening is perfectly captured on each page. “Oh, the shadows, they move swiftly! /Ever changing just out of reach.” Three children follow shadows into the forest until nighttime falls and they return home. MacKay’s astonishing photographed lit paper scenes are the perfect medium for establishing both the mood and action of this gentle, dreamlike story. Buy the book at a bookstore near you – Indiebound! Or at Indigo or Amazon
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