Saturday, March 11, 2023

On Tuesday March 14, 2023,  HIDDEN HOPE a book written by Elisa Boxer and illustrated by me, Amy June Bates comes out to bookstores.  
Elisa Boxer did an incredible thing, bringing this story into the light. Elisa has crafted and told this story and brought us into Judith Geller's world with the sounds and drive and intensity that she surely must have been feeling. I am honored that I got to be a part of the storytelling.

I'll tell you a little about this book. It's about Judith Geller a sixteen year old girl who works tirelessly during the Nazi occupied Paris to keep her family safe and work for the French Resistance under a pseudonym Jacquline Gauthier.  

 “My name is Judith”

 This is how Judith Geller begins her own account of the five years from 1939-1945. She lived through the war with several pseudonyms, notably Jacqueline Gauthier, in order to hide her Jewish identity, take care of her family who were in hiding, and resist the Nazi occupation in France. She lost friends and family, including her brother, to the Nazi regime. I can imagine that the words “my name is Judith” carry with them an assertion of authenticity, relief, pride, and defiance.

 During those five years, she worked for the French Resistance by riding her bike all over Paris delivering papers, helping secretly relocate children to orphanages and monasteries, forging documents, and painting out anti-Semitic graffiti. But she also had a job. She worked in  factories that made munitions and Nazi uniforms, secretly sabotaging machinery. But finding food to feed her family was a constant struggle above all of this, trying to make rations for one person stretch for her whole family. She kept her parents hidden for 4 years and delivered food to her brother and her friend Alfred, who were both in camps on the outskirts of Paris. This is a true heroine.

 When I got this manuscript, I just felt like I needed to find out more about who this person was. I started digging and digging and digging in internet corners. I was able to find other people connected to this story. The person who made the duck, a man named Cor, was more well-known in Dutch Resistance circles and was captured and killed during the war. 

 I don’t speak French very well, I read it a little better, but somehow I was able to track down eventually through several Israeli and French links a copy of Judith Geller’s own memoir written by herself. I made a hackneyed translation of it for my own use.

 I can’t quite describe what an amazing experience it was to feel like I had found her. To read the words that she had written about her life and what it felt like as a 16 year old. Well, it was really quite incredible. I think I woke up everyone in my house, yelling "I found her I found her!!!" because it was the middle of the night.

As a visual storyteller, I am always trying to gather parts of the story that might be seen and not heard. I am not a historian exactly, but I want all the details to be as accurate as possible. At the same time, we don't know exactly what this person did every minute of their life in the 1940s. I want to know my character. I guess this is where imagination and history play tag.  

 Through this I could figure out that she where she was living,( around the Eiffel Tower), and working and where her father and mother  worked before and were hidden during the occupation. (The Paris Flea Market Marche au Puces de Saint Ouen)

 Here are a few details that I drew from Judith’s memoir:

 Her coat: Judith describes the coat that she wears as “a big coat which had been sewn in a military cloth and dyed brown.” One story that she tells in her memoir is that she and two friends climbed to the top of Sacre′- Coeur and threw out leaflets that said “Long live France, down with the occupier; France will win.” As they were running away they got caught and were taken by the police. Her big coat got caught in the door of the police car and so the door didn't close properly. As they rounded a corner her friend pushed her out of the door onto the street and she was able to escape. She never saw those friends again, and had to live with the injuries to her legs for the next two years. 

 The bike: The bike was Judith’s most valuable possession. Jewish people were not allowed to own bikes or ride on trains. In order to protect her family and work for the resistance, Judith needed a fake identity and the bike to get around. She rode many many kilometers every day getting food to the people she loved, as well as doing her many jobs, day and night. According to her memoir, once she rode 70 km in 20 hours. The Resistance and taking care of her family was her all-consuming priority. She slept very little.

 “Today you will certainly find it foolish to risk your life. But at that time, everything, every little rebellion was important.”

-Judith Geller

 This is the link that I got most of my information from.

Marcus, Judith Geller. “Ceci est mon histoire…” The Family Site. July 1999.

Through the month of March 2023 I'll be offering a free signed and numbered limited edition woodcut print of the duck from the story with the purchase of a book HIDDEN HOPE from  Whistlestop Bookshop 
There are only 50 prints, and when they are gone they are GONE. 

Friday, September 18, 2020


 How is your panda-emic?

Well, we have been on a rollercoaster of many things and thoughts and feelings. Deadlines have come and gone. We have camped and canoed and tried to stay outside and away from all the things never knowing what was coming.

What I am saying is I am homeschooling.


The good news is that I am doing art lessons with the kids and since I am doing that, why not share them with you?
Hop on board if you like.

I would love to hear all the thoughts of kind wishes and encouragement and resources that you have and that you know work. I would love to hear anything you would like to learn how to draw. WITHIN REASON. I do not draw dolphins. That is a personal line I will not cross.

The other good news is that I have a lovely book coming out at the end of September that is really about kids who need to learn their own way. I have been learning loads about Neurodiversity and what I know is this: There is no one way.

Hopefully we’ll all learn together.

My Book is “When I Draw a Panda”
It is available for pre-order now.
Please support my indie bookstore @whistlestopbookshop

P.S. Is there something in your life you regret? One time I saw a doggy sweater at a Japanese hyaku-en store for $2 that say “I am not a Panda.” I didn’t buy it and I have regretted it ever since.


 I made a book.

With Dr. Biden.
#novemberiscoming #Joey #JoeBiden


The best things come tied up in string. The cover of my new book “When I Draw a Panda.” It comes out this September 29.

I am just so darn proud about it.

#imadeabook #childrensbooks #childrensbookillustration #picturebooks #picturebookillustration #bookstagram #booksofinstagram #booksofig #bookshelf @simonkids 


 Penguins are easy.

I mean even if you just drew a roundish potato thing and an eyeball with a halfhearted attempt at a beak and then showed it to your parents, they would probably give you a hug and say”OH I LOOOOOOVE IT” but those are your parents. My parents would probably say something snarky and make a pun.
Just have a go. Let me know if it is too hard and I will do an easier one. Like, “How to draw snakes” ? Snakes are very very easy.
Ok I’ll do snakes next.

This is for Finn

What animal do you wish you could draw?
And show me what you draw.
please please please



Don’t I wish I was Little Red Riding Hood? Actually what I mean is: don’t I wish I had my own Red Riding Hood? It would be felt and lined with something soft and there would be pockets. Yes. Many, many, pockets.
When I was little I remember going on long drives in our Yellow bug, to Jacob Lake Inn, up on the Kaiabab Plateau. We would get there at night and wind through the dark ponderosa pines to get there. It was dark and the woods were spooky.

woods are spooky.

Spooky wild woods are wonderful, aren’t they.
What a great world we have full of spooky woods, millions of stars, and lonely howls.

I love to draw
I love to look at drawings
I love to see your drawings
please send me your drawings
Even if you don’t think they are good. You are wrong they are good. show me.

#redridinghood #littleredridinghood #howtodraw #drawinglessons #drawinglesson #drawingchallenge #drawingtutorial #drawingskills #drawingpractice #drawingaday #drawingprocess #drawingcharacters



I like wolves.

I like to howl a deep howling of lonely, earthy magic. A good howl is communicatiion of a sort, its saying something. “Sing it with me” if you want. Or don’t. But I am howling and my hot breathe is evaporating into the dark woody night.
Its like a train whistle at 3 am. saying “I am lonely and I am telling the world that while they are sleeping I am out roaming the night, a little resentfully”
I like trains.

Wolves are very triangley. If you are not feeling ready for triangles just now, go back to the hedgehog lesson. Hedgehogs are hardly triangley at all. And while you might not ever need to draw a wolf, you will definitely need to draw a hedgehog.

I love to draw
I love to look at drawings
I love to see your drawings
please send me your drawings

#wolf #wolfatdoor #wolves #wolvesofinstagram #wolfpack #redridinghood #howtodraw #howtodrawwolves #drawing #drawinglesson #drawinglessons #drawingchallenge #drawingtutorial #drawingprocess