every little thing is more than all right!

dream big
“Thoughts become things! What we think about is what we bring about. Think Big and Dream even Bigger!” ~ Vanessa Brantley Newton


Remember a couple of weeks ago, when I mentioned that children’s author/illustrator Vanessa Brantley Newton had entered the We TV Mary Mary Singing Spotlight Competition and that she needed your votes to make it to the Final Round?

Well, she was a Top 10 Finalist . . . and


*cue in marching band, balloons, whoops, hollers, cartwheels, backflips, confetti, fireworks, et.al.*

vanessaWooHoo! Hooray hooray! We are SO THRILLED for Vanessa because no one is more deserving. When I first saw her audition video back in December, I was totally blown away. What a set of pipes! Moreover, I could just feel the love, the energy, the pure joy that came through in her song. And the fact that she could sing, and sing so well was such a fabulous surprise — I’d known about her talents in writing, illustration, fashion design, cooking, crafting, doll-making, etc. before, but not singing.

vanessa hearts

Finalists were judged based on: 50% creativity, 35% vocal talent, 15% charm. Vanessa is a veritable creative machine, oh-so charming and hilarious! Did you see her final, “please remember to vote for me” video? Who could top those glasses, big mustache, and sneaky smile? The girl oozes charm. Some people just have it. Did I mention Vanessa is also a songwriter? I’d say the judges were spot on by selecting her!

* * *

Vanessa’s Grand Prize includes a trip to Los Angeles, where she’ll have a recording session with professional producers, a musical critique from a leading record producer, career advice and much more.

I love it when good things happen to good people!

Here are some of Vanessa’s children’s books in case you’re not familiar with her work. She’s illustrated a number of picture books (including two based on Bob Marley’s lyrics and Think Big by Liz Garton Scanlon, which we featured here), many chapter books, and she’s also self-illustrated Let Freedom Sing, a picture book highlighting significant events in the Civil Rights Movement and — *wait for it* — a food-related book called: Don’t Let Auntie Mabel Bless the Table. 🙂 Her projects aptly reflect the many facets of her creativity and enviable versatility as an artist. Her pictures are infused with energy and vitality and reflect her genuine love of people.

Ribbet collage vanessa 2

Ribbet collage vanessa

She has (I think) five new books coming out this year, including this picture book about Billie Holiday written by Amy Novesky, being released in June:

lady day cover

and here’s the more recent Bob Marley-inspired title:

every little thing

Here’s the trailer for ONE LOVE in case you’d like to see more of her art:

* * *

What an inspiration she is to us all.

Clone of Singingchild2


♥ To see Vanessa’s winning audition/entry video, click here.

♥ To learn more about Vanessa and her work, visit her website, the Ooh La La Design Studio!

vanessa blog header (2)500


Copyright © 2013 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

friday feast: think big by liz garton scanlon and vanessa brantley newton (+ a giveaway!)

Hello, Poetry-Loving Friends!

Had to tell you about my BIG, BIG love for this brand new picture book by Liz Garton Scanlon and Vanessa Brantley Newton. Have you seen it yet?

THINK BIG (Bloomsbury, 2012) is a rollicking, joyous celebration of creativity and imagination that embraces art in all its glorious, soul nourishing forms. And who better to bring this message to young readers than the infinitely talented Liz and Vanessa, who, much like the children featured in the story, grew up thinking outside the box.

Fairy Princess Liz

Their early experiences with creative play enabled them to become the accomplished artists they are today. Their secret? Never losing touch with the child within — the one that’s eager, excited and unafraid to dive right in and experiment, with a mind open and fresh, dwelling in that magical place where all things are possible.

Continue reading