Looking Back at 2011
Come Along for a Quick Peek at a BUSY Year...

Derek spent 2011 criss-crossing the country to speak in schools and at conferences, he completed the paintings for one new book and had two books published. Busy, indeed! Here's a little look back at a fun year...

In January, Derek participated in a group art show in the Inez Greenberg Gallery at the Bloomington Theatre and Art Center. The show, organized by children's book creators Nancy Carlson and Stephen Gammell was called "Beyond the Book" and featured the artwork of seven children's book illustrators outside the world of children's books. Derek displayed nine paintings in the show including The Discovery (below).

The Discovery

And a series of tree paintings including The Joy Ride (below).

The Joy Ride

Derek's book, Story County: Here We Come! was published in January by Orchard Books, an imprint of Scholastic. Derek grew up in the real Story County and this book was a fun new direction for his artwork. The characters and everything in their world are all made of simple shapes and outlined in black.

The cover of Story County was featured on the cover of Scholastic's spring catalog...

Derek began events for Story County in February. He presented at Red Balloon Bookshop on Grand Avenue in St. Paul and traveled to the real Story County where he spoke in area schools...



United Community

Derek was greeted with an overwhelming welcome at the University Book Store...


And at the Ames Public Library.

Ames Public Library

Ames Public Library

In March, Derek traveled to Lansing, Michigan to deliver a luncheon keynote at the Michigan Library Association's Spring Institute.


Besides Michigan, Derek spoke at a number of schools, conferences and dinners in 2011. He made some new friends in Shakopee, Minnesota...


He flew to Hattiesburg, Mississippi where he spoke and signed at the Fay B. Kaigler Children's Book Festival...

Fay B Kaigler

In April, Scholastic sent filmmaker David Franklin to Derek's studio in Minneapolis to shoot live footage for a promotional video for his new book Happy Birthday, Hamster. Derek and David spent the day setting up shots and shooting take after take.

HBH Video

HBH Video

They then spent more than a month developing and working on the animation. With David in New York and Derek in Minneapolis, they had to work by phone and email. They would discuss the scene, plan the movements and then Derek sketched each and every frame of movement. It was a very long process. After his regular work day, Derek would stay up until the wee hours inking each drawing. He then scanned and emailed them to David who colored each in the computer, and placed them into the video frames. It was well worth the effort- the video turned out great! You can watch it by scrolling down toward the bottom of this page.

Derek Studio

When Derek wasn't speaking in schools or libraries, or shooting videos or drawing frames for animation, he was in the studio working on sketches and paintings for his new book, Waking Dragons.

Waking Dragons

Written by author Jane Yolen, Waking Dragons is a fun, evocative poem about a pair of very large dragons and what they do in the morning. Let us give you a little hint- they don't like getting out of bed. It was an exciting book for Derek to illustrate- he loved creating the characters, their world and a visual story to accompany Jane's briliant text. Waking Dragons will be published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers in fall 2012.


Derek took a break from painting in June so he and his wife, Cheryl, could welcome four new paws into their home. The paws belong to a Papillon puppy named Louie. Louie is a true character and an excellent apprentice. He keeps Derek company during those long, marathon painting sessions in the studio.

Scholastic Catalog

In August, Derek and Cynthia Lord's new picture book, Happy Birthday, Hamster, was published by Scholastic Press. Derek was thrilled when he found out the cover of Happy Birthday, Hamster was featured on the cover of Scholastic Canada's summer catalog.

Derek in FF School

Derek was back out in schools, bookstores and libraries speaking about Hamsters, Dogs and misbehaving mice.


In November, Derek traveled to Montclair, New Jersey where he spoke in a local grade school about writing and illustrating books. They LOVE books in Montclair, the school is well known for having the largest Scholastic book fair in the country.


Derek demonstrated how to draw Hot Rod Hamster step by step...


And he made a lot of new friends!

In addition to his book work, Derek is always working on paintings of his own. Some are explorations of ideas, some are about the world he sees. Below is a new painting Derek finished to add to his series of trees. It's called The Promise.

The Promise

Derek is looking forward to some fun new projects in 2012. He has two new books on the schedule and has been busy writing new stories of his own. Thank you, as always for reading! There's much more to come in 2012...

Stay tuned!


LQ Turkish Editions

Little Quack Splashes Down in Turkey!
The Ducklings Can Now Be Found
Quacking Around in the Republic of Turkey

It's always exciting when books are translated into foreign languages and young readers in distant corners of the world have the opportunity to experience them. The first four Little Quack picture books were recently translated into Turkish and published in Turkey. They did a terrific job with the quality and even adapted Derek's original hand-lettered title for the covers of the Turkish books.

Hooray for Kucuk Vak Vak!



Derek Anderson

A New Interview with Derek!
Blogger Ella Johnson Had A Few Questions for Derek
About Art, Dining and Discipline in the Studio

Derek recently spent a few minutes answering questions from Memorable Children's Books blogger Ella Johnson. Ella had some excellent questions including: 'What is the most difficult part of illustrating a book?' 'Who are some of your favorite authors/illustrators you would love to dine with?' And 'What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding goals, schedules, etc.?'

For Derek's answers to these questions and more, head on over to Ella's blog by clicking HERE.



Over the River

E Gobble, E Gobble
Over the River: A Turkey's Tale is Now Digital!

Derek's book Over the River: A Turkey's Tale is now available for the iPad, iPhone and whatever other iDevice you might have. You can now travel over the river and through the woods with Papa Turkey, Mama Turkey and their plucky, pilgrim-toting youngster as they scramble to Grandma and Grandpa Turkeys' house while being chased by a scruffy dog named Fluffy.

Download your Thanksgiving fun by clicking HERE.



HBH Draw Sheet

An All-New Hamster Activity Sheet
Use it at School or Use it at Home!

Creativity is, of course, at the center of Derek's life as an author and illustrator. Whether he's coming up with a new character or story or a new approach to a picture, Derek takes great care to explore all the possibilities he can imagine before choosing a direction. His love of making pictures and stories goes all the way back to kindergarten. He believes that all you need to create is a piece of paper, something to draw with and a nudge in the right direction.

Derek began making activity sheets to accompany his books many years ago. Activity sheets can be something as simple as a coloring page, but lately Derek has begun making little drawing exercises- small creative challenges to get his young readers creating on their own. Derek has done just that for his newest book Happy Birthday, Hamster, the companion to Hot Rod Hamster, the award-winning picture book written by Cynthia Lord and illustrated by Derek.

You can download a printable version of the activity sheet above by simply clicking on it. This is a great exercise for kids at school or at home.

You can check out more drawing sheets on the Doodles & Splatters page of this website.



Hamster Jumping

Happy Birthday, Hamster
Gets A Great Review from Children's Literature

Our friends at Children's Literature did a very nice writeup about a certain Hamster's birthday. Hamster's new book Happy Birthday, Hamster hit stores this fall and is a companion to Hot Rod Hamster, the award-winning picture book written by Cynthia Lord and illustrated by Derek.

After a nice description of the plot in Happy Birthday, Hamster, Janice DeLong writes "Full page illustrations wash every sheet with bright, party colors matching the mood of the text perfectly..." She ends with "Highly recommended for libraries and classrooms..."

To read the full review, please click HERE.




See Derek this Fall!
Derek Will Be Reading, Drawing & Signing
Copies of His Brand New Book,
Happy Birthday, Hamster!

Our beloved furry friend, Hot Rod Hamster, is having a birthday, and YOU are invited to his party! Derek will be out in bookstores this fall speaking about Happy Birthday, Hamster, the follow-up to Hot Rod Hamster, the award-winning picture book written by Cynthia Lord and illustrated by Derek.

All events are free and open to the public. If you're in the area, come by and say hello. Derek always loves to see his friends and readers!


Saturday, September 10th

Red Wing Book Festival
Anderson Center
Red Wing, MN
Visit their website HERE


Saturday, September 17th

Red Balloon Bookshop
891 Grand Avenue
St. Paul, MN
Visit their website HERE


Saturday, September 24th

Iowa State University Bookstore
Memorial Union
Ames, IA


Saturday, October 22nd

Barnes and Noble
HarMar Mall
2100 North Snelling Avenue
Roseville, MN


If you're a bookseller in the midwest, Derek will be appearing at Midwest Booksellers' Association in late September. And if you're a school librarian, look for Derek at AASL in October. See you there!



Happy Birthday, Hamster

See Behind the Scenes of the
Happy Birthday, Hamster Video!

The new book Happy Birthday, Hamster by Cynthia Lord and illustrated by Derek is out in stores! Hamster, his friend, Dog, and their three bumbling mice counterparts from the popular, award winning picture book Hot Rod Hamster are all back in this brand new tale packed with fur and fun.

In April, Scholastic sent a filmmaker (the very talented David Franklin who works on television shows in New York) to Derek's studio in Minneapolis to shoot the book trailer for Happy Birthday, Hamster. As anyone in film production knows, videos take a loooooong time to put together. Many shots, along with lighting and sound for each have to be set up. There are multiple takes (occasionally because of problems with the equipment but more often because the illustrator can't get his lines right).

And the filmmaker always has to think two steps ahead so he has an idea of how all the footage will fit together. David had the added complication of animation to think about. David and the fabulous folks in the marketing department at Scholastic wanted Hamster and the other characters from the book to spring to life and interact with Derek in the studio.

Below are a few behind-the-scenes photos from the shoot...


Derek Preparing for Video Shoot

After setting up the studio and using stuffed toys as stand-ins for the mouse and hamster, Derek had a few minutes to look over the storyboard and script. Nothing is left up to chance. The windows were covered from the outside (the shoot would take all day and David didn't want the day's changing light to be noticeable in the video). And things were moved around and arranged in the studio to get the necessary shots.


First Shots

Here's David Franklin getting the first shots. Between the lights, the dolly and the other equipment David had shipped in advance of the shoot, it was nearly standing room only in the studio.


Shooting the Drawing Sequence

Shooting the drawing sequences over Derek's shoulder. You can see some of Derek's favorite toys on the shelves above him. Derek was a HUGE fan of the Six Million Dollar Man, a TV show when he was a kid. He also has Han Solo and Chewbacca from Star Wars and on the right you can see the robot from Lost in Space, another character that sparked Derek's imagination when he was growing up.


Hamster's Stand-in

David and Derek discussing where Hamster will stand and how he will move when the animation is added later.


Setting Up Shot

Deep in thought, trying to get the shot just right...


Happy Birthday, Hamster

One VERY happy hamster. Many thanks to the folks at Scholastic for making this video possible and to David Franklin for his vision, talent and endless patience. To see the finished video, scroll down!



Happy Birthday, Hamster

The Happy Birthday, Hamster Video!
See Derek in the Studio Talking
About the Follow Up to Hot Rod Hamster!

Happy Birthday, Hamster by Cynthia Lord and illustrated by Derek will be published soon (August 1st) by Scholastic Press. Hamster, Dog and their bumbling mice friends are back in this fun follow up to their popular picture book Hot Rod Hamster.

Derek was contacted this spring by the fabulous folks in the marketing department at Scholastic with the idea of making a video in Derek's studio. Derek loved the idea and in April, they sent a filmmaker (the hugely talented David Franklin) who came and spent a day shooting footage for the video.

We'll post about the animation process a bit later. But for now, here's the video for your viewing pleasure. And when you're finished read on, below, for another fun news tidbit...


Derek is Featured in 'Inspire' Magazine
The Publication for the College of Design
at Iowa State University

Derek is featured in the summer edition of 'Inspire' Magazine. He spoke with Heather Sauer this spring about his long road to publication in the children's book industry, where his ideas come from, and life as an author and illustrator now. You can read the entire article and see Derek's creative process for the cover of Hot Rod Hamster by clicking on the image below.