sketchbook stories :: megan halsey

I met Megan for the first time last year when I was setting up my booth at Surtex. It was kind of funny, because we had just been featured together the day before on Print & Pattern. My friend Christy, who was helping me with my booth, mentioned that I should meet her teaching associate, Megan, who was also showing. As we were unpacking and setting up, we realized that Megan’s booth was directly across the aisle. We were booth neighbors. How amazingly fortuitous was that?

Megan has been working and illustrating for over 20 years. She does everything from licensing to editorial and children’s books. In fact she has illustrated 44 books, some of which she has even written. On top of all of this, she also teaches at Moore College of Art & Design, in Philadelphia, and is on the faculty of Marywood University’s MFA Program for Working Professionals

Megan and I had such a good time hanging together at last year’s Surtex Show that we’ve decided to join marketing forces and promote our booths together!! So you will definitely see more from us in the upcoming months :-)


 Here is Megan’s Sketchbook Story ::

MH: I realize now I was ahead of my time, back in 1994, when I wrote and Illustrated 3 Pandas Planting. One of my favorite titles, this counting book is about recycling, conserving energy, and other “green” topics. I was thrilled when Marshall Cavendish agreed to reissue the book for Earth Day 2011. In its first life, 3 Pandas Planting was printed in a big-book edition (measuring 18 x 24!) and was chosen by the Governor of Georgia for the state’s Textbook Adoption Program.



MH: The illustrations for the book went through several versions. This is my original book dummy with cover design and first design for the panda spread. The jacket was a little busy (well, very busy!) and the pandas were rather large on the page so the publisher requested some additional designs.


MH: I painted this color study while I was teaching myself to use gouaches (chalky paints like high quality poster paints). I went through several versions of the spreads and made many ugly images before making good art! The final result was worth the work. Kirkus Reviews said my art was “as open and cheery as a sunny day”. I think 16 years later the art is still successful, and “cheery”, and appropriate for the age group the book is intended- ages 3-8.




MH: In the new edition of the book, I replaced slightly lengthy information with “nuggets” of fun “to-do’s”. I was inspired by lots of articles I collected. I also included web addresses of cool places like the Environmental Protection Agency, the Arbor Day Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy.



MH: I am creating fun stuff for my website. I’ve been working on downloadable coloring pages as well as ideas for book-related products.




Here’s where you can find Megan ::


 Amazon link for pre-orders:

To order from your local independent bookseller:


Here’s what some people are saying  about 3 Pandas Planting ::

“art is as open and cheery as a sunny day” - Kirkus Reviews

“A simple, positive look at a complex contemporary issue.”

- School Library Journal

“Attractive and timely, this will be popular as a counting book as well as an ideal choice for spring story hours or Earth Day celebrations.”

 - Booklist


“A playful plentitude of environmental lessons can be painlessly learned in Halsey’s (Something to Crow About) upbeat, reverse counting book. Her worthwhile offering opens with a dozen crocodiles zooming down the highway: “We’re carpooling,” calls one croc tyke from a car window, and indeed the 12 occupy only three vehicles. In a charmingly detailed cross-section of a house, 11 tigers are seen conserving water; subsequent spreads feature recycling bruins, beach-going turtles who “take our cans home” and, of course, the eponymous pandas, busily planting and nourishing saplings. The animal cast demonstrates considerable personality (check out the condors, who manage to live up to their tough-guy image while “collecting litter”), and Halsey has concocted some unexpected settings (seven fetchingly costumed chimps change lightbulbs at a dressing-room mirror as they primp and preen). Colors are joyful, drawings are sharply outlined–and a vital message is vibrantly conveyed. Ages 4-7.”Publishers Weekly ©1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

“PreSchool-Grade 2-This cheerful introduction to protecting the environment combines a reverse counting book with illustrations showing conservation in action. Each double-page scene includes a group of animals from 12 to 1 engaging in activities that their human counterparts can emulate. For example, eight condors collect litter. Four rhinos use rechargeable batteries. The illustrations in colored pencil and pastels radiate good humor, concern, and a positive approach to problem solving. Youngest listeners can concentrate on counting the animals in each scene. A five-page section at the end gives a paragraph about each conservation method. A simple, positive look at a complex contemporary issue.”

- School Library Journal Kathy Piehl, Mankato State University, MN ©1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

“Ages 3-7. In this reverse counting book, which is printed on recycled paper, 12 different endangered animals explain their efforts to help save the earth. Colorful double-page spreads for each anthropomorphically dressed species allow children to observe crocodiles car pooling, tigers turning off faucets, otters sorting trash, turtles searching for cans, condors collecting litter, chimps changing lightbulbs, bears bundling newspapers, leopards learning about recycling, rhinos using rechargeable batteries, pandas planting trees, and whales watching for polluters–and, also, one elephant enjoying the earth. Additional information about each topic is appended for teachers or interested readers. Attractive and timely, this will be popular as a counting book as well as an ideal choice for spring story hours or Earth Day celebrations. A portion of the royalties will be donated to Friends of the Earth.” - Booklist  Kay Weisman


“The title says it all: from “12 crocodiles…carpooling” (unequally divided among three cars for extra arithmetic practice) to “2 whales…watching for polluters” and “1 elephant…enjoying the earth,” sensible suggestions for protecting the environment are dramatized in humorous spreads featuring animal characters–tigers turning off faucets, turtles taking cans home from the beach, rhinos using rechargeable batteries. All are practices young people can adopt or urge on adults. The author’s simply rendered art is as open and cheery as a sunny day; she appends several fact-filled pages amplifying the basics offered earlier with how (e.g., identifying plastic recycling codes) and why (why fluorescent bulbs are preferable to incandescent). The serious message is delivered with an admirably light touch; and it’s a good counting book, too. (Picture book. 4-8)”  

- Kirkus Reviews ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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