Kalinka and Grakkle

It’s a book! It’s a beast!
It’s a book about a bird and a beast!

My new book Kalinka and Grakkle is a story about two neighbors: a tidy bird (Kalinka) and a messy beast (Grakkle). Kalinka thinks of herself as kind and helpful, but she is deluded. She goes into Grakkle’s house and offers him misguided and unwanted help. All he can say is GRAKK! He snaps.

kalinka grakk 18-19But eventually they find equilibrium in their friendship.

I hope you will get the book and read it, at your local library, or at Secret Garden Books in Seattle (you can order signed copies here), or at your local bookstore.

Even a simple book has a lot of backstory. Here is bit more about how Kalinka and Grakkle came to be.
Years ago I did a painting of a girl and a beast.


I wanted to paint more beasts, so I wrote a book about Beastly Behavior – a guide to bad manners. I tried many versions of the story, but it never quite worked.


My agent, Linda Pratt, suggested that I rewrite Goldilocks. I never understood why Goldilocks felt entitled to the bears’ porridge, chairs, and beds. Goldilocks became Goldibird – a small insufferable bird, and the bears became beasts. I painted these illustrations for Goldibird and the Three Beasts.


We sent it out and it was rejected – there were too many Goldilocks are in the world already.

Goldibird insisted on staying in the story, but I changed her name.
I rewrote the story as Kalinka and Grakkle. This time it worked! Peachtree Publishers accepted it for publication. But they weren’t crazy about the Goldibird art samples. So I drew many new Grakkles and Kalinkas.

We settled on how Grakkle and Kalinka would look. Next I worked on his house.


Peachtree thought this room was claustrophobic. Grakk!
So I repainted, and this is the version we used. Aah – more room to breathe.

Kalinka and Grakkle is about unwanted advice and help. I strive to balance my own thoughts with the advice of others – I want to stay open to good suggestions but also to retain my own core. Conversely I struggle to realize when I am over-generous with my opinions. I see some Kalinka and some Grakkle in myself!

Eventually Kalinka and Grakkle snuggle up for a nice nap. My advice: snuggle up with this book and enjoy it.

P.S. I will be at Secret Garden Books, 2214 NW Market St. in Seattle on May 12th  from 6-8 PM for the Ballard Art Walk. I will bring a lot of the original paintings from Kalinka and Grakkle.

P.S. I will be traveling next week. I appreciate your comments on the blog, but I won’t be able to reply immediately.

9 responses to “Kalinka and Grakkle

  1. So fun to see Kalinka and Grackle out in the world. I’d forgotten all the versions it went through. How quickly we forget the pain. 🙂

  2. What a tough journey. Thank you for sharing it. Ironic that the publishers also exhibited Kalinka personality characteristics. Looks to be a beautiful book. Congratulations!

  3. Julie thank you for sharing your journey with this book. II know all about revisiting a book in endless circuitous variations of a story I might have first imagined, but to see a similar process laid out in a different medium and in visual terms is really valuable.

  4. laurakvasnosky

    All along the way this project has had irresistible appeal. So fun to recount the journey. Best luck to Kalinka and Grakkle!

  5. I’m looking forward to welcoming this new book! Hope to come by the Art Walk to see your amazing work.

  6. Thanks so much for sharing with the Washington Stars last week. I am enjoying your books I purchased and hope to make it to the Art Walk the May 18th.

  7. Welcome to the world, new book! Can’t wait to see you.

    Loved this post with all the backstory. I am swooning over the Three Beasts kitchen illo . . . grakk!

  8. Kathleen Armstrong

    I can’t wait to get a copy. What a wonderful story, and I love hearing about your journey to the finish. I hope some day you can write a story of the three beasts. I love that illustration. You could tell their story unrelated to Goldilocks.

  9. Gorgeous!!

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