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ePUNymous Portraits (continued!)

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Whelp, I have continued my streak of doing “Epunymous Portraits” every day this week, and wanted to post the new batch for y’all.

Since I am creating and posting one a day, it was all about keeping it SURPRISING! And after the last 15 or so, that is getting increasingly more challenging. Here we go.


“Robert Plant”
©by Samantha Berger
Drawing this one made me have to listen to/sing top volume Led Zeppelin all day long.
Apologies to my neighbors.


Then, later that same day, because I was extra inspired, this happened.

“Kelly Light.”
©by Samantha Berger
The very same day as I made “Robert Plant,” a cartoon lightbulb flashed on over my head with the idea to do “Kelly Light” on a lightbulb.
Kelly is a friend and a fellow children’s book author/illustrator.
Her new book (which is OUTSTANDING) is called Louise Loves Art.
Kelly’s been on book tour for weeks, working her butt off.
So it was an extra thrill to get to surprise her with this.
Now, her presence lights up the whole room!
But then, it always did.


“Beet Arthur.”
©by Samantha Berger
The next day at the farmers market, I saw some good lookin beets, and immediately thought of beloved Golden Girl and Maude star, Bea Arthur. One of my favorites.
When I got home and started lightly sketching on a beet with pencil, it instantly dug in and started CARVING it! I always thought beets had a thick skin, because they take so long to cook. But no. So I sort of carved Bea Arthur into the beet. Love that Bea Arthur. This one is for her.

The very next day…

“Mister Rogers.”
©by Samantha Berger
For Paul O. Zelinsky.
So as I was posting and sharing these photos, a lot of people started sending me suggestions. They would write “Joan Jet on a jet!” and “Jimmy Page on a page!” And then one of my very favorite illustrators of all time, Mr. Paul Zelinsky, privately wrote to me suggesting Mister Rogers on a plant spray bottle, and that one never crossed my mind! Plus I LOVE Fred Rogers! So I made it on a bottle I found under the sink, and dedicated it to Paul.

The day after THAT…

“Michael Bublé Wrap”
©by Samantha Berger
This was another great suggestion, from another great writer/illustrator.
The awesome Nina Laden (who now owns my “Bradvocado Pitt” portrait, as well, wrote on Facebook that I should consider doing Michael Bublé on bubble wrap.
I happened to have *one* envelope lined with bubble wrap, and that sealed the deal.
So this one is dedicated to Nina Laden.

The day after Bublé…

©by Samantha Berger
My First Animated Character EPUNymous Portrait.
*Note – it is exceptionally difficult to draw on corn.
#BeavisandButthead #MikeJudge #TheGreatCornholio #NeedTPformyBunghole #AreYouThreateningMe

and of course, today’s…

©by Samantha Berger

See ya on the next episode of Samantha’s EPUNymous Portraits!





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“ePUNymous portraits” by Samantha Berger

Posted on by sam

Greetings, Blogkateers and Site-Peepers!


This latest episode of Samantha Berger’s Blog features a new project I have working on called EPUNymous Portraits. I thank Paul Zelinsky for inspiring that title.

This is how it came to be.

I was having a hard day, and was about to post something like “Looking to borrow Suit of Armor to protect myself from all the meanies and haters out there.” to all my social media feeds. When suddenly I saw a single shallot sitting on my counter top. Suddenly it struck me to take a pen and draw a portrait of “Gene Shallot” on that shallot. I don’t know why this occurred to me, but it did, and so I did.

It made me laugh and I posted *that* instead.

And just like that, I shifted my perspective, and took myself right out of Darkville.

I proved to myself, once again, that shifting perspective, and finding humor is the secret to my happiness. Since that day, two weeks ago, I have spontaneously created one of these EPUNymous portraits every day, always unplanned until the moment inspiration strikes.

Here’s the whole collection so far. I hope they make you laugh, too.


© Samantha Berger

“Gene Shallot.”
© by Samantha Berger



© by Samantha Berger

“Fiona Apple.”
© by Samantha Berger
Took me three tries to get a Fiona I was comfortable with.
One of the others looked *just like* the Warden from Orange is the New Black.
But this isn’t oranges…it’s apples.

“Lucille Ball.”
© by Samantha Berger
Made from a tennis ball found in the Union Square dog run, so I’m sorry to say Lucy is a little slobbery.


“Jon Hamm.”
by Samantha Berger
*I learned a lot about drawing on deli meat during this process. Meat as a canvas is non-negotiable and unpredictable. Sometimes you go to put a line down and it works. Sometimes, it does just the opposite: it acts like a sponge and SOAKS UP THE LINE YOU ALREADY OUT DOWN! I had *five* failed Jon Hamm attempts before getting to this one, which could be better, but I can live with it. I learned a lot about MYSELF, too. I am STUBBORN AND WIN THE GAME OF TENACITY! (not as much fun as game of Yahtzee). Also, I don’t eat meat. I only draw on it.
This one’s dedicated to Joyce Wan.


© by Samantha Berger

“Billie Challahday.”
© by Samantha Berger
Happy Newish Jewish New Year!


© by Samantha Berger

“Johnny Cash.”
© by Samantha Berger
*The day I made this, I went to the Farmers Market, and almost used it to buy berries. Hmm…is this dollar not worth anything anymore because of the drawing? Or is it worth *more?* I guess you could say, it walks the line.


“Woody Allen.”
© by Samantha Berger
*Done in my friend’s firewood pile in Hudson, NY.



“Chris Rock.”
© by Samantha Berger
Done on my friend’s stone path in Historic Hudson, NY.
I was hoping one day, someone would look down and see Chris Rock among all the other stones and burst out laughing, just like the real Chris Rock would want!


“Philip Glass.”
© by Samantha Berger
*I left my friend’s house in Historic Hudson, NY, and set off on a Kid Lit Creative Retreat in the gorgeous Catskills! When I unpacked my luggage, my friend had packed a glass for me, knowing I wanted to draw Philip Glass on it. Deeply moving. What a good friend.


© by Samantha Berger

“Jack Lemmon.”
© by Samantha Berger 9.30.2014
This one was made at the Spruceton Inn, in the Catskills, during the Kid Lit Writers’ Retreat!



“Elisabeth Moss.”
© by Samantha Berger
Also done at the Spruceton Inn, while on the Kid Lit Writers’ Retreat.
Note, I tried drawing on three kinds of moss, and none of them would take the ink. I was about to give up, when I saw this short light moss on a tree. Yes, I had to straddle the tree, shimmy out over a creek bed, and it was raining, but IT WORKED. Turns out, I will go to great lengths and elaborate set-ups to get my pun!
My apologies to this tree and the moss for the ink-drop.
But perhaps one day someone will walk by and suddenly think, “did I just see Elisabeth Moss in that tree?” Hee.

“Brad Pitt.”
© by Samantha Berger
Or, as I have come to call him, “Bradvocado Pitt.”
You just know he is gonna sprout some hot tree.
One of my favorite authors, Nina Laden asked if I would trade her a piece of artwork for Bradvocado Pitt.
I asked if she meant the photo or the actual pit?
She said, the pit, of course, that’s the actual art.
So…it’s going to Nina’s house.


“Shel Silverstein.”
© by Samantha Berger
Dedicated to Casey Scieszka & Steven Weinberg & The Spruceton Inn
and all the Kid Lit People, who went on the retreat:
Peter Brown, Jen Hill, Tim Harrington, Ruth Chan, Jenny Han, Brianne Farley & Angela Dominguez


“Shelley Duvall.”
© by Samantha Berger
*The other half of “Shel Silverstein.” (the Missing Piece?)


“Harvey Milk.”
© by Samantha Berger
*I will never forget the text I got from my friend Kirsten Price, simply reading “Is that Harvey Milk in my fridge?” Yes. Yes, it is.


“Ginger Rogers”
© by Samantha Berger
(I cannot believe I made this just this morning!)


Because it was an inspiring day in the peak autumn bliss…


“Simon Pegg.”
© by Samantha Berger
Made in Historic Hudson, NY!




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Samantha Berger’s SCARY, SCARY TOWN (and other apocalyptic children’s books)

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I just LOVE this post from

Thank you Jesse Klausmeier for sending it to me!

She also reminded me of my *own* book, very much in keeping with this lot, SAMANTHA BERGER’S SCARY SCARY TOWN.

Take a peek at the cover.




Art by my pal, Matt Whitlock.

Spoof of a classic.

Text and ‘tude by me.

Times, by today’s messed up world.










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The Author Blog Tour! Next stop….me!

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Hi-dee-ho, Blogarinos!

Samantha Berger here, author of Crankenstein, Martha Doesn’t Say Sorry, Martha Doesn’t Share, Princess Potty, Pirate Potty, and a Berger-load of other picture books, cartoony-shorts, and other acts of whimsy.



Samantha Berger, as herself


I was so honored that Mike Curato asked me to be a bloggy contributor on this awesome author/illustrator blog tour. SUCH a cool idea.

I knew Mike’s work before I knew Mike. I saw that Little Elliot character of his at an SCBWI conference, and like everyone else, swooned. It was love at first sight. I heard that agents and editors were having street rumbles to get their hands on Mike’s work, and I am not surprised. Check out his new book Little Elliot Big City, and you will see why. A character who is instantly-lovable.

Mike Curato’s newest book (in a Little Elliot SERIES!) LITTLE ELLIOT BIG CITY!

Later, Mike and I met at a Kid Lit event, and I discovered the same was true about Mike himself. Amazing character and instantly-loveable. So I am just thrilled that he thought of me to be the next stop on the Blog Tour. Thank you MIKE!

Here’s a great other link where you can buy Mike’s book at your nearest independent bookstore, or one that will ship to you. We DO so love our independent booksellers!


Let’s get this blog tour rolling and let me get to the questions! (Drumroll, please…)



Oh my.

What am I currently NOT working on, might be easier to answer.

Right this minute, I am working on the sequel to CRANKENSTEIN, which is called A CRANKENSTEIN VALENTINE with the outstanding illustrator, Dan Santat and our fabulous publisher, Little, Brown.

Spoiler: Crankenstein is still cranky in the second book.

I know, shocking.

That will be out in December of 2014, this very year, so we are all moving in fast-motion to the Benny Hill soundtrack in order to get that done.

Another Spoiler: Dan’s sketches so far are AH-MAAAAZING.

written by Samantha Berger • illustrated by Dan Santat
published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2013


I am also working on the launch of two brand spankin’ new books with Dial/Penguin, which both come out in 2015.

One of them is WITCH SPA, with the positively bewitching illustrator, Isabel Roxas.

It’s about when witches are just EXHAUSTED after Halloween from all their haunting and howling, late nights and long flights, they go to a spa just for witches!

And all the spa treatments are witch-ified, like Broom Bristle Facials and Hag Stone Massages!

I wanted to do something extra special for this book, so I just did the author photo shoot DRESSED LIKE A WITCH!

What a cacklingly good time that was!

The next book is called SNOOZEFEST, and is illustrated by the absolutely dreamy illustrator Kristyna Litten.

It’s about a little sloth named Snuggleford Cuddlebun, who sleeps all year long, and only gets up to attend the world’s greatest festival for the world’s greatest SLEEPERS!


These books have been in the works for quite some time, and I’m getting behind them with all my might, so I am also working on the promotional campaign, as we speak.

In addition to that, I am working on a presentation for a creative conference in Japan, about the “Paper Doll Found Object Fashions” I have been making every day

and just completed a semester of being a picture book mentor in Emma Walton Hamilton’s awesome program at SUNY Stony Brook.


…Pant pant pant…

And breathing.

I am working on that a lot, too.





My editors always tell me that they find my work unique because it’s a “mash-up” of genres. That CRANKENSTEIN, for example, is a mash-up of being both an “emotions book,” and a “monster book.” That WITCH SPA is both a “girlie-girl book” and a “gross out book.” That SNOOZEFEST is both a “bedtime book” and a “rowdy concert book.”

*But secretly, I never ever have these things in mind when I’m writing.

I would say, what differentiates my books from others of their genre is…I wrote them.





I write what I write because I am who I am.

I’m compelled to. I have to. It’s not really an option.

At this point, I think in 32-page format, I dream up book ideas in my sleep, I see endpages.


But I always run my own ideas through this filter (usually after I’ve written it):

• Is there truly a worthy book here?

• If I think it’s a very strong idea, how is it possible this book doesn’t already exist?

If it doesn’t, then it should!

• Would I absolutely love this book if I was five? Fifty? One hundred? Picture books should be for EVERYONE. To love.

• Is it really worth chopping down trees to make this book? Some books yes. Some books…eh, not so much.





Well this is a toughie, because my process tends to fluctuate like the weather.

But mostly, it goes a little something like this.

I write and write and write all the time, every single day, and draw and draw and draw, as well.

Sometimes, the name of the book is the thing that hits me first.

Like with MARTHA DOESN’T SAY SORRY, I was once talking to my friend over dinner, and she told me a story about her mother, Martha, being a little out of line.

I asked her if her mom ever apologized, and she laughed hard and said “Martha doesn’t apologize.”

I laughed, too, and said, “That would be a great name of a picture book!”

And that night, I went home and wrote it.


After writing it, I plugged it into a book map, to see the pacing and comic timing of page-turns, which is really critical in picture book writing.


After that, I illustrated it, and submitted it to Little, Brown as an entire book dummy.

I’m a big believer in conveying the whole vision of a project, and really think it helps communicate exactly what the creator is going for.

So even though I didn’t end up illustrating the MARTHA books myself (the amazing Bruce Whatley did), my editor told me, it was because of seeing the books fully dummied out, that she GOT what I was going for and signed the book.


With WITCH SPA, I sat up in bed at 4 O’clock in the morning and said the words “witch spa” out loud. I laughed groggily, and fell back asleep.

In the morning, I asked myself, “what was that?”

And then I answered myself.

“It’s a spa…where witches go…after Halloween…”.

I sat down to elaborate, and the book poured out of me, and somehow came out rhyming.

A surprise to all.


So, unless it’s a specific assignment (I write a lot of books on assignment and often use the pseudonym Martha T. Ottersley. The “T.” stands for “The”), I really think book ideas come from anywhere, from everywhere, and at all times.

For me, the key is to be ready for them, with an open ear, an open mind, and an open sketchbook, pen in hand.





Joyce Wan is the author and illustrator of many books for young readers (and readers of ALL ages, like me!). Some of her most classics are YOU ARE MY CUPCAKE and WE BELONG TOGETHER (I can’t get enough of these!) and most recently, MY LUCKY LITTLE DRAGON and SLEEPYHEADS written by Sandra J. Howatt. Joyce has a style and voice completely unique and highly addictive. In addition to books, Joyce also does gift cards, stickers, posters, and pins! I just wish she made dresses, sheets, and wallpaper out of all her gorgeous prints. My whole life would be “Wan-derful.” I’m thrilled to pass the baton to Joyce and can’t wait to hear what she has to say next week!


Also, I am passing the Blog Tour to the absolutely incredible Carin Berger.

*This is *not* because we have the same last name.

It *IS* because Carin creates some of my very favorite picture books, and I am in deep smit with all of them.

Carin is a MULTI award winning designer, illustrator, and author. She has worked in London, San Francisco, and New York City. Her illustrations, cut paper collages, are made with scraps of ephemera, used clothing catalogues, and old ticket stubs. Basically, any odds and ends that she can find. Her first two children’s books, Not So True Stories and Unreasonable Rhymes, and All Mixed Up, were published by Chronicle Books and she has illustrated Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant by Jack Prelutsky, Greenwillow Books, 2006. The Little Yellow Leaf and Ok Go!, both published by Greenwillow Books, are her two most recent books. Design clients include Random House, WW Norton, Little Brown & Co., Pantheon Books, Penguin Putnam, and Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Thanks to everyone for reading this, and big thanks to Mike Curato AGAIN for inviting me to play!

Keep reading, keep creating, and keep a rap-tap-tapping on the keyboards!























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Tomorrow is (sound effect of DOOM) Moving Day…

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Here’s a little story I wrote about it, and it goes a little something like this (she writes, twitching and shaking)



A Book About Moving

by Samantha Berger


Okay, I admit it, I am a mess.



*and by that I mean WE’RE MOVING!!!!!


I was never asked if this was alright.

I never gave the thumbs-up OR the green light.


It all began quite simply enough

I had my house, my room, and my stuff


My street, where we all had always been

My town, which we had always lived in


But one day Dad threw open the door

And acted like fabulous news was in store


“Guess what? Big news! You won’t believe!”

We’re packing our house and we’re gonna LEAVE!”


“We’re moving to a brand new place!”

said Mom with a big wild grin on her face.


Everything stopped and the world stood still

As I swallowed the meaning of this bitter pill


The home that I had, the home that I’d known

Was no longer going to be my own.




I begged, I pleaded, I pouted, I sighed

I screamed and I yelled and tantrum’d and cried


I volunteered just to stay here instead

“I’m afraid not,” my Mom and Dad said.


Then it all started, the nightmare began

Boxes and bags, and the monster trash can


Cardboard and tape and stuff everywhere

What was once my room was now a gross lair


And then, as if I wasn’t down enough on my luck

Around the corner pulled the big moving truck.


The movers marched in, one by one

and removed every box until they were done.


(little boy, big huge house. Everything is gone. His lip trembles)

and then…






To be continued….

Wish me luck, gentle readers.

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today’s Doodle du jour 4.3.2014

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by Samantha Berger, Mother Nature, and that little bodega on Court.

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The Kvell Poem (dedicated to all who sent me the Birthday Love)

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The Kvell Poem
*For everyone who sent me the Birthday joy.
© 2014 by Samantha Berger

There’s a certain way that our hearts can swell
and only one word that describes it so well —

Birthday wishes from people you love –
The people who go beyond and above

A song, a poem, a handwritten note
Just the perfect, most meaningful quote

Folks that you have not seen in a while
Who suddenly make you burst into smile

Your beautiful photos, your beautiful art
The things that speak to the core of my heart

Making the memories, year after year
The very best part, is having you here.

My thanks to you all, you made my heart soar
I can’t wait to see what this year holds in store.

So I kvell and I kvell and I still kvell some more….
And my heart is now bigger than it was before.

With gratitude, appreciation, and the utmost love.


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Every writer I know has days, moments, projects, that make them feel like a total hack.

So I decided to write a little ditty about it, and poke fun at myself, as is my way.

Now all I have to do is set it to music.

I call it:


Every Writer’s Greatest Fear
©2014 by Samantha Berger

I am a hack.
Don’t feel bad, no, it’s true.
I get paid good money
to do what I do.

I say all the things
that have already been said.
I write the words
that you’ve already read.

It’s all formulaic
It’s all just clichés –
recycles stories
from authors we praise.

All that I do
has already been done.
My ideas are played
before they’ve begun.

Oh, you know it’s true
when you say it YOURSELF
No one will need
this book on their shelf.

And perhaps the worst part
about all of it —
I’d rather keep hacking
than ever just QUIT.

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KidLit Authors (like me) Read Their Own Worst Reviews by Marc Tyler Nobleman

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Have you ever seen the Celebrity Mean Tweets recurring segment on Jimmy Kimmel? It’s basically just what it sounds like: Celebrities read aloud real-life viscously nasty Tweets about themselves from strangers with a public platform, and react. They tend to be hilarious.

That inspired author Marc Tyler Nobleman to do a similar idea, but with AUTHORS reading and reacting to OUR WORST ONLINE REVIEWS.

When Marc wrote me and asked if I would do it, it was a no brainer – I love hamming it up for projects like this – so I went trolling the interwebs for crappy Crankenstank reviews of Crankenstein. (*Luckily, there aren’t too many! Phew.)

The end result, a three-parter (I’m in the 2nd), is hilarious to a book nerd like me. I love the way Marc scored big authors like Daniel Handler/Lemony Snicket, Marla Frazee, and Mac Barnett. I love his choice of the cheesy “page turn” transitions, because it’s all book-folks. And naturally, I love the choice of using the song “It’s Alright to Cry” performed by Rosie Grier from FREE TO BE YOU AND ME.

But even more than that, for me it starts the new year off with a powerful message—always be willing to laugh at yourself!

Interestingly, it’s kind of the message of Crankenstein too.

If you’re a book person, you might mildly chuckle, gasp and guffaw, spit-take or split-a-seam, but no matter what, I hope you enjoy.









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What was the perfect Daily Doodle to kick off the year?

Deconstructed, reconstructed dresses, inspired by our book CRANKENSTEIN.

The model is also inspired by the girl character in the book, who we call CRANKENSTINA.

This is clearly a more YA version of her.

These…are my favorites so far.

But then, I’m slightly biased.




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