Today’s guest is multi-published illustrator Phyllis Harris. Over the years, Phyllis has illustrated many books for children, but she always dreamed of writing and illustrating her own books. Last year, at age 59, her dream came true with the publication of her beautiful Christmas picture book The Gift Shop Bear. This darling book features a magical holiday story with illustrations to match. Phyllis stopped by to remind us that it’s never too late to go after your dreams. That’s a reminder we could all use, don’t you think?
My road to publication as an author has not been a typical one.
I have worked as an illustrator in traditional children’s publishing since 1999 and have created the art for over 30 children’s books, but my debut as author-illustrator was just released last year.
Although I had written lots of first drafts of picture books through the years, I was so invested in the illustration side of publishing that I didn’t take the time needed to go after my life-long dream of creating my own books as author-illustrator. Until one day it occurred to me, I am not getting any younger so I had better get busy.
Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of the Little House series, was first published at 65 years old, and I was already in my fifties. So, I made the decision to take a sabbatical from my illustration career to focus solely on the writing side.
I worked really hard on honing my craft of writing. Some might say, I became obsessed, and, as we all know, kid’s publishing is about passion and persistence.
After lots of writing and re-writing and revising, I had finally created some projects that I believed were ready to submit. I was able to get an amazing agent and a year after signing on with her, my debut picture book as author-illustrator was acquired by a publisher. THE GIFT SHOP BEAR was born into the world October, 2021. What a thrill it was to hold that book in my hands!
C.S. Lewis said, “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” I truly believe that no matter our age, if we persevere, it will happen.
Phyllis Harris first started her career in graphic design at a newspaper while also freelancing at Hallmark Cards. She then shifted to illustration full time where she has happily continued for the past 20 years, creating the art for over 30 children’s books. In recent years, she has focused more on her writing as well as illustrating picture books. Her debut author/illustrator picture book, THE GIFT SHOP BEAR which released on October 26, 2021.
Phyllis has illustrated many different types of children’s products such as trade and mass-market books, religious and educational books, children’s games, and even rubber stamp designs. A couple of her favorites include a best-selling celebrity children’s book and a never-before-published Margaret Wise Brown book. She launched her online shop in 2012 and now has thousands of customers and collectors all over the world. Her art prints are also licensed and sold at many online retail stores including Wayfair, Overstock, Bed, Bath and Beyond, Walmart, Home Depot, and Amazon.
Discover the power of friendship in this nostalgic Christmas tale of a young girl and her furry friend—perfect for fans of The Velveteen Rabbit, Corduroy, and The Polar Express.
All year long, Bear watches from his spot in the attic as the seasons change, waiting for the first snowflakes that signify Christmas is coming. You see, at Christmastime, Bear gets to join his special friend, Annie, in the festivities in her grandma’s gift shop. But this year is different–the gift shop is closing and Bear’s future seems uncertain. Will Bear see Annie and Nana again? The heartwarming conclusion will make this story a family favorite at Christmastime each year. Author-illustrator Phyllis Harris brings a warmth and coziness to her art and storytelling that give the book the timeless feel of a Christmas classic.