Summer Reading Roundup

Illustration by Paige Geimer

Illustration by Paige Geimer

School’s out and summer is settling in! It’s the best time of year for jumping in lakes, beating the heat with ice-cold drinks, and falling asleep in the shade with a good book. Don’t know where to start with all of the wonderful titles lining the shelves? We rounded up some of our favorites that are the perfect companions for all your summer adventures! There is plenty of time for fun activities, thrilling stories, and books that take you to a new and unique world during these long days.

The Kid's Awesome Activity Book by Mike Lowery

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 Kids Awesome Activity Book  by   Mike Lowery

 Kids Awesome Activity Book by Mike Lowery

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It’s no secret that we love Mike Lowery here at ILLUSTORIA - how can we resist the amazing doodle-esque illustrations and immensely fun activities?! This book has you coming up with some funky monsters hairstyles (mullets are back in, right?), deciphering secret messages, and creating a masterpiece to go on the walls of a museum. Lowery has made a book that is perfect for long car rides or sitting hanging out in the backyard. Plus, the book comes with stickers, finger puppets, and a fold out poster to keep you creative even when you can’t see the white spaces in the book anymore! 

The Better Tree Fort by Jessica Scott Kerrin and Qin Leng

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The Better Tree Fort  by Jessica Scott Kerrin and illustrated by Qin Leng

The Better Tree Fort by Jessica Scott Kerrin and illustrated by Qin Leng

Jessica Scott Kerrin’s story will have you feeling nostalgic about long summer nights that were spent dreaming of the world’s raddest tree house - equipped with a skylight and fireman’s pole for getting down, obviously. The Better Tree Fort focuses on Russell who is building a tree fort with his dad, but can’t help but be jealous of the bigger one 3 doors down. After spending some time at the bigger fort, Russell realizes that his tree fort is better after all! We absolutely love Qin Leng’s watercolor illustrations, which we have gotten to know and love in her book A Family is a Family is a Family. She perfectly captures the ambiance of a summer’s DIY activity; we can almost hear the crickets chirping in the beautiful sunset spread. 


Rad Girls Can by Kate Schatz and Miriam Klein Stahl

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Rad Girls Can  by Kate Schaltz and illustrated by Miriam Klein   Stahl  

Rad Girls Can by Kate Schaltz and illustrated by Miriam Klein Stahl 

This summer reading list wouldn’t be complete without including the newest edition of the Rad Women series with Rad Girls Can by Kate Schaltz and Miriam Klein Stahl. Their new book featuring 50 (FIFTY!) girls that have done, well, rad things that all of us are completely in awe about. Turning the focus onto girls under the age of 20, girls can see that they are never too young to stand up and make a difference. In fact, some of the most revolutionary ideas come from young minds! Flashback to Issue 5: Motion, Kate and Miriam talked to us about what inspires them and how to use their talents to support women and girls alike. Now the duo is releasing the third book in the series and we are more inspired to get out there and help more than ever. Rad Girls Can comes out July 17, so make sure to keep an eye out at your fav local bookstore!

Under the Canopy by Iris Volant and Cynthia Alonso

Under the Canopy  by Iris Volant and illustrated by Cynthia Alonso

Under the Canopy by Iris Volant and illustrated by Cynthia Alonso

This one is for all of the nature lovers out there! Under the Canopy not only showcases Alonso’s stunning, colorful illustrations of some of the amazing trees that we find around the world but also highlights the cultural context of these seemingly everyday sightings. Did you know that Hawthorne trees were thought to be the meeting place of Celtic fairies? Or that Anne Frank used to look out to a large Horse Chestnut Tree outside of her hiding spot in Amsterdam? Just because school is out doesn’t mean that the learning has to stop, especially when it is about awesome subjects like this! After reading this Flying Eye book, you’ll want to go out and see what trees you can find in your own backyard. (Super cool bonus: check out Cynthia’s sweet illustrated story in Issue 6: Symbols.) 

Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes

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Ghost Boys  by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes

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While this might not exactly be beach reading, Ghost Boys is a fantastic and necessary tale to be told. Jewell Parker Rhodes paints a heartbreakingly poignant story that is all too familiar - a young boy dies at the hand of a trigger happy policeman. This middle grade novel retells the story by weaving through time and relationships that were made both while alive and after death. He comes across many sides of the story, including another boy whose fate was not unlike his as well as the policeman's daughter, highlighting different perspectives of these events. While the hectic nature of school is gone, summer could be a great time to open up a conversation about these themes with your young one. 

I Really Want to See You, Grandma by Taro Gomi

I Really Want to See You, Grandma  by Taro Gomi

I Really Want to See You, Grandma by Taro Gomi

I Really Want to See You, Grandma is one of those books that we keep going back to over and over. Probably because Taro Gomi is a genius and we can’t stop looking at his illustrations, but also because this book reminds us of what it’s like to miss someone we are close to and do everything we can to see them. Gomi does a perfect job at creating a sweet story about the bond between a grandmother and granddaughter who both have the same idea to make a trip, but keep missing each other in the process. Though, this doesn’t discourage them and we get to follow these journeys, inspiring us to reach out to our grandparents too. Pack this book in your backpack and go on a journey to read it with a loved one!

The Forest by Riccardo Bozzi, Violeta Lopiz, Valerio Vidali

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The Forest  by Riccardo Bozzi, Violeta Lopiz, Valerio Vidali

The Forest by Riccardo Bozzi, Violeta Lopiz, Valerio Vidali

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The Forest refuses to be put into a category, and that’s what we love about it. Bozzi, Lopiz, and Vidali do a phenomenal job at making every single aspect of this book special. The story is a sweet rendition of life - from birth to death - using the metaphor of a forest, but it doesn’t lay a heavy hand. Instead you follow travelers through stunning and bright illustrations that are paired with delicate cut outs, where you can see the forest through the physical perspectives of the travelers. Ending in full circle, the book inspires to not take life for granted and to appreciate the small things. 

Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol

Be Prepared  by Vera Brosgol

Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol

Shout out to all of us out there who feel as if we don’t fit in - Be Prepared’s for you! This comic focuses on Vera, a girl whose family and economic background doesn’t quite fit in with her other friends... They can afford the coveted (and expensive) "Historical Dolls". She decides to go to a summer camp and feels even MORE out of place then before. It’s a perfect story that is sure to give you some laughs while also acting as a gentle reminder that you aren’t alone. We all feel out of place sometimes. Not to mention, Vera Brosgol is able to capture the perfect summertime camp vibes.

Hoakes Island by Helen Friel and Ian Friel

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Hoakes Island  by Ian Friel and Helen Friel

Hoakes Island by Ian Friel and Helen Friel

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Are you and your kiddo stuck inside when it’s hot enough to fry an egg outside? Have no fear! Hoakes Island will have you solving a mystery within one of the most interesting amusement parks ever. Complete with a fold out map and a detective magnifying glass, this book has you working your way through pages of puzzles with the help of some animal friends. What’s even cooler? Hoakes Island was written by a dad and daughter duo - Helen is a paper engineer and visual artist and Ian is a historian and has written books about ships. It inspires us to collab with our families and see the genius that comes out of it. So get your brains movin’ again and help save Hoakes Island!

The Great Dog by Davide Cali and Miguel Tanco

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The Great Dog  by Davide Cali and Miguel Tanco

The Great Dog by Davide Cali and Miguel Tanco

The Great Dog is a playful and comforting picture book that is a great summer read. A father walks his child down a great hallway of ornate family portraits while retelling their stories. Descending from a policeman, an athlete, and an astronaut, the pup wonders what he will be when he grows up. This makes us reminiscent of the long, hot summer days when we pictured what our lives will look like in the future. *Cough* My bounce house castle might still be under construction. The important thing to know, relayed in this book, is that no matter what you are you will be great. Plus, there is more than meets the eye to all of our great heroes, as noted by the snarky and beautiful illustrations done by Miguel Tanco

That Night, a Monster by Marzena Sowa and Berenika Kolomycka

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That Night, a Monster  by Marzena Sowa and Berenika Kolomycka

That Night, a Monster by Marzena Sowa and Berenika Kolomycka

You know that feeling after watching a scary movie where everything feels spooky? Even the tree right outside your window? That’s what Tommy, the little boy who went to wake up his parents on a Saturday morning, felt; his mom turned into a fern! Of course, she did not turn into a fern, but rather had a bad hair day that got out of control. That Night, a Monster is a self-aware graphic novel that plays with our worst fears, but in a light-hearted way that makes you turn around an appreciate what you have. Plus, these painted panels by artist Berenika are so silly and relatable at the same time that they remind us that our fears can be the scariest thing of all! The book is on sale August 21, 2018, but is available for pre-order now. 

If you're looking for even more, check out: Boats on the Bay, Book of Bones, Square (it would be an understatement to say we adore everything by the duo Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen!), and The Wild Robot Escapes.

So there you have it - enough books to fill those times when you are bored in the summer and need a creative pick-me-up. We hope you enjoyed them as much as we did and we want to see what books you've enjoyed this summer. Show us what you've been reading on Instagram @illustoria_mag and be on the lookout for the release of Issue 7: Black & White. You can pre-order it now!


Creator Crush: Mike Lowery

Sneak peek from  Issue 5: Motion : Mike Lowery doodles his answers to our Q & Artist interview.

Sneak peek from Issue 5: Motion: Mike Lowery doodles his answers to our Q & Artist interview.


Who cannot absolutely adore Mike Lowery for his amazing doodles, hand-lettering, books, and inspiring-hilarious-addicting-to-watch #randomillustratedfacts?

From  Mike Lowery's Instagram feed , where he regularly shares videos of his sketchbook drawings featuring engaging and adorable random illustrated facts. 

From Mike Lowery's Instagram feed, where he regularly shares videos of his sketchbook drawings featuring engaging and adorable random illustrated facts. 


Mike is a prolific children's book writer and illustrator who infuses his work with a sense of humor and child-like simplicity that never fails to amuse and delight us. His latest series with Workman Publishing, Doodle Adventures, invites kids to draw their own characters into the story and, page by page, the interactive book continues along via prompts for more illustrations by the reader. It's an ingenious format that combines drawing and doodling with the silly escapades of a wonky cast of characters that will keep everyone anticipating the next funny episode. By the end of the book, the reader will have helped to co-write a totally unique story that can be read over and over again with family and friends for a riotous good time. 

Doodle Adventures Series

Doodle Adventures Series

Thankfully with three books out (The Search for the Slimy Space Slugs!The Pursuit of the Pesky Pizza Pirate!The Rise of the Rusty Robo-Cat!) and counting in this series, your little doodlers will have enough to keep them creatively satisfied for some time. We are thrilled to share Mike's book trailer for this series, a series which has been described as "a visual Mad Libs: part game, part graphic novel, and a thrilling, interactive experience in which the reader draws him- or herself into the story and becomes the star." So much good!


And a few more glances at Mike's Q & Artist for Illustoria, issue 5: Motion:

Yes! Roald Dahl books...we couldn't agree more. 

Yes! Roald Dahl books...we couldn't agree more. 

Art by Mike Lowery. See The Motion Issue for the full Q & Artist feature!

Art by Mike Lowery. See The Motion Issue for the full Q & Artist feature!


Don't miss out on Mike's awesome books and make sure to get a copy of The Motion Issue to learn more about what inspires Mike, what he's currently up to, and when he feels his most creative.

And be sure to enter our GIVEAWAY in partnership with Workman Publishing between now and Friday, 9/15/17, for a chance to win a set of Mike's Doodle Adventures books. Head to our Instagram feed for contest details.

Heath Newsstand Launch Party

Photo courtesy Heath Newsstand

Photo courtesy Heath Newsstand

Get out your party hats and come celebrate with us on June 3rd, 2017 for the launch of Heath Newsstand, a new gorgeously curated space of printed publications at Heath Ceramics!  From 10 AM1 PM, we'll be hosting a craft table where kiddos & grownups alike can color, write, and make their very own books and zines. While you create, there will be delicious pastries provided by Tartine Manufactory and free juice samples from the Juice Shop truck. But wait there's more—we'll be giving away adorable limited-edition pins, stickers, temporary tattoos and postcards. What could be more delightful?

In addition to crafts, we'll be showing off our newly released Issue 4: The Grow Issue along with our past issues 1–3. 

After you've crafted to your heart's content, stick around to meet contributors from other local publications:

2–4 PM: Meet the team behind the National Magazine Award-winning publication The California Sunday Magazine. Full of ambitious true features and cinematic photography from across California, the West, Asia, and Latin America. Chat with Leo Jung, Creative Director, and Jacqueline Bates, Photography Director. And, don’t miss the free samples from San Francisco-based Original Grahams, graham crackers with quite the underground following in the city.

5–7 PM: Franchise will be presenting their newest issue and limited-edition print giveaways. It’s a global basketball print-only magazine full of vibrant photography, illustrations, interviews with designers and players, and covers locations from LA to Ghana. We’ll have beer from our friends at Fort Point Brewery along with bread and cheese from Tartine.

Photo courtesy Heath Newsstand

Photo courtesy Heath Newsstand

Heath Newsstand is a democratic space for the local community and visitors alike, with a wide range of topics to explore: international design publications, hard-to-find printed matter from far-off cultures, food and lifestyle magazines, and your favorite daily newspapers. There’s also a sweet selection of classic candy, snacks, cold drinks, cards from our favorite printers, and flowers from La Fleuriste. Plus, bags and accessories from Heath Sews, perfect for work and travel. 

For more information about the event, check out:

Photo courtesy Heath Newsstand

Photo courtesy Heath Newsstand

What: Heath Newsstand Launch Party -- ILLUSTORIA DIY bookmaking & crafts

When: June 3rd, 2017

Time: We'll be there 101 PM, but the festivities continue until 7 PM!

Where: Heath Ceramics, 2900 18th Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

RSVP here.

Photo courtesy Heath Newsstand

Photo courtesy Heath Newsstand

See you there! 


Indie Bookstore Day w/ ILLUSTORIA + DIESEL Oakland


Mark your calendars! April 29th is Independent Bookstore Day (2017) and you'll find Illustoria at one of our absolute fave local bookshops, Diesel in Oakland! The day will be full of events and activities catered to your literary (and little one's) heart's delight. Grownups with creative kids, come drop in from 1-2 pm for a craft session with Illustoria. We'll make easy-peasy and totally original bound books and zines with kids, and there will be stamps and coloring for all. Take home bookmarks, pins, and other cool swag. We'll even have a temp tattoo station!

WHEN:   Saturday, April 29th, 2017 / 1-2pm

WHAT:    Indie Bookstores Day
                Kids' Craft Time w/ ILLUSTORIA

WHERE:  Diesel, A Bookstore
                5433 College Ave
                Oakland, CA 94618

Also check out these happenings at Diesel Oakland throughout the day:

10am - noon: Big Kid / Little Kid Juice Stand. Mimosas for the adults, and OJ for the kiddies. Books for everybody.

1-2pm: Kids' Craft Time with Illustoria

4-5pm: Literary Happy Hour. Our featured item this year is the IBD limited-edition, A Literary Cocktail Party. Pouring their signature cocktails from the book will be, Edan Lepucki -- Tequila Negroni; Novella Carpenter -- Beet Kvass Shots; and Jacqueline Luckett -- Dirty Martini. Cheers!

We couldn't agree more with this testimony to the relevance of indie bookstores today, from the staff at Diesel:


"Bookstores are unique places in the chaos and hubbub of our modern times. They are places where you can come to disconnect, relax, and enjoy a moment of silence, yet simultaneously they are also places where you can feel more engaged with and informed about the world around you. Bookstores embody dichotomy: antiquated yet ever-more-relevant, sanctuaries of knowledge but purveyors of distraction, nerdy yet sophisticated, esoteric and yet always welcoming. Cities across the nation have seen the resurgence of these oh-so-vital centers of conscience and community, and we want to celebrate with you! So come out and enjoy a day of browsing, reading, and reveling in all things book-related."


Come surround yourself with great books and let's celebrate ideas, crafts, and curiosity together. Here's to our thriving literary community. Yay, Oakland! Yay, Indie Bookstores Day! 

Who We Are: Alexandra Rose Franco

art by Elizabeth Haidle

art by Elizabeth Haidle


Name: Alexandra Rose Franco

Location: Mill Valley, California

Profession: Designer/Owner, Rito-ito: A floral, object and scent studio. Strategist, futureprüf: a digital design studio

Here I am making the beginning of a fall wreath

Favorite artist/illustrator:
Artist: I’ve always been drawn to Robert Motherwell paintings for their bold, dark expressiveness.
Illustrator: I recently came across a Japanese illustrator, Ryo Takemasa and love the work.

Fun food illustrations by Takemasa

Fun food illustrations by Takemasa

Best book you've read in the past year: When Women Were Birds, by Terry Tempest Williams. I’m also currently reading A Natural History of the Senses, by Diane Ackerman and really enjoying it, and Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

A beautiful read

Kids book you could read every night: Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

Best memory of being a kid: Building forts with my brother in the marshland behind our house. 

Favorite weekend activity: Going to the Sunday's farmers' market at the Marin Civic Center and cooking Sunday supper together with my partner, Max. 

Coming home with farmer’s market bounty

Song currently on repeat: Currently, anything by The xx

Favorite meal: It's hard to pick one favorite, but I always love clams and linguine with lots of garlic, chili flakes, and white wine. 

Last time you made something with your hands: I try to make something with my hands almost everyday. Today I'm designing with fall flowers in preparation for Thanksgiving.

Fall flowers at Rito-ito

Fun fact about you: I studied at the Joffrey Ballet in NYC for a stint during highschool and had the opportunity to live on my own and explore the city as a teenager. It gave me a sense of adventure, responsibility, and confidence that I needed as a young person. 




Hervé Tullet & ILLUSTORIA at Bank Street Book Store


Hervé Tullet is known for his interactive picture books that engage readers in an experience that is always new and spontaneous. photo ©  Andrey Klemeshov


Illustoria is thrilled to be pairing up with Hervé Tullet to celebrate the release of issue 2 at Bank Street Book Store in New York City! Hervé is the internationally bestselling author behind Press Here, Mix It Up!, Let's Play!, Art Workshops for Children, and many more titles equally loved by grownups and kids.  


Hervé Tullet painting at one of his many art workshops for kids around the globe.


I'll be on hand sharing some of my favorite pieces from Issue 2: The Canvas Issue. (Cover to be revealed shortly so stay tuned!) photo © Melissa Kaseman


Hervé will talk about his unique approach to storytelling, staying innovative, and what we can all learn from making art with kids. I'll be interviewing Hervé about his process and inspiration, his favorite medium, what music he listens to while he paints, and how to create stories that appeal across generations. I'm also excited to share highlights from issue 2: The Canvas Issue. 


So calling all artists, writers, parents, kids, teachers, and librarians: Come join us for an afternoon of inspiration and fun, pick up a copy of the newly released issue 2 and any number of awesome Tullet books that may be missing from your home collection, and enjoy coloring, crafts, light snacks, and swag! For more information about the event, go to the Bank Street Book Store events page and RSVP here

Bank Street Book Store
2780 Broadway
New York City

When: Saturday / November 19th / 1–2 pm 

Who We Are: Claire Astrow


illustration by Beth Haidle 

Name: Claire Astrow

Location: Oakland, CA

Profession: Publishing Assistant at Illustoria Magazine

Claire holding the first issue of Illustoria at Skylight Books in Los Angeles.

Claire holding the first issue of Illustoria at Skylight Books in Los Angeles.

Favorite Artist/Illustrator: My favorite all time illustrators are Jillian Tamaki, Daniel Clowes, and Tove Jansson. Currently, I’m obsessed with Phoebe Wall and Joohee Yoon. In the more general ‘artist’ category the list is always growing and growing, but my true heroes are Chris Johanson, Philip Guston, and Hope Gangloff.

Best book you’ve read in the past year:  Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 

Kids book you could read every night: Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold was my absolute favorite when I was a kid. I would get lost in the imaginative collage illustrations and pretend that I had the same super powers as Cassie Lightfoot to fly around New York City and have fabulous roof top parties with my family.

Tar Beach  by Faith Ringgold 

Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold 

Best memory of being a kid: My family used to have a weekend ritual of loading up our car with bags of bagels and heading out for a picnic at the Marina del Rey beach. The bagels would always get half covered in sand but we would eat them anyways. Afterwards my sister and I would put on gobs of protective gear and get rollerskating lessons my mom, who was a 90s rollerskating fanatic. 

Favorite weekend activity: Going to concerts and shows in SF, going on hikes, eating delicious food out in the Mission or Oakland’s Chinatown.

Song Currently on repeat: Jennifer Lara-I am in Love (so groovy) 

Favorite meal: Pad thai, green curry, and sticky mango rice please!!!

Last time you made something with your hands: An EP album cover I made for my friend’s band, Dream Boat

Loose Tooth EP cover for Dream Boat, by Claire Astrow 

Loose Tooth EP cover for Dream Boat, by Claire Astrow 

Fun fact about you: If I was born a boy, I would have been named Honus (after Honus Wagner) and my twin sister Lilly would have been named Cleon (Cleon Jones). I often fantasize about what Honus Gozonsky's life would have been like. Would he be ultra cool? Would he cope with all the name bullying? Would we be friends? The world will never know...

Drawing I made for my dad in 2015, Honus Wagner on the  left and Cleon Jones on the right. 


Who We Are: Elizabeth Haidle

Me & Eli

Me & Eli


Portland, OR


Freelance artist & musical saw player (& Creative Director of ILLUSTORIA)

Favorite artist/illustrator: 

recent discovery: Nathaniel Russell; also Jillian Tamaki, Brecht Evens, Emily Carroll 

Best book you've read in the past year: 

Your Illustrated Guide to Becoming One with the Universe, by Yumi Sakugawa

Kids’ book you could read every night: 

What Was I Afraid Of?  by Dr. Suess

Best memory of being a kid: 

Dressing up as a ham sandwich for Halloween, made with scraps I scrounged from my dad's studio. My head stuck out of a bite mark at the top. I had a little trouble climbing on the bus & standing during the ride to school, but it was worth it. Absolutely zero other people were a ham sandwich that year. 

Favorite weekend activity: 

3-course breakfasts. Also anything involving a hammock.

 Song currently on repeat: 

"The Very Thought of You," by Billie Holliday; I just know everything's gonna be alright when Billie sings.

Favorite meal: 

Blue Star Donuts

Last time you made something with your hands: 

Accordian fold mini book entitled: 'Inner Donkey'

Patterned postcards using eraser chunks as stamps

Fun fact about you: 

I'm terrible at wrestling and my son always wants to, so I made up my own moves. One is called 'Cheek Pin', where you press the other person down by smushing your cheek really hard against theirs. Also they are maybe paralyzed by laughter, which helps. Another is called 'Cashmere Head Clamp' and requires one to be wearing a cashmere robe. Which I wear often.