Today we welcome Molly Idle to Penguin Teen Meet the Illustrator! Author and illustrator of the wonderfully whimsical Tea Rex and new Camp Rex, Molly captures the pure joy of childhood in vivid color and bumbling dinosaurs (a favorite combination of ours). Read more to find out where Molly works and the retro sources of inspiration for Camp Rex!

Name: Molly Idle

Book: Camp Rex

Date Available: April 22, 2014

What media and materials do you use to create your illustrations? Pencil and Paper.  I like to keep things simple, and it doesn’t get much more simple than that!  But to be more specific, all of my illustrations are created using Prismacolor pencils on vellum finish Bristol. 

What’s your favorite color and why? My favorite color changes almost constantly depending upon the project I’m working on… At the moment, I’m infatuated with a 1940s, retro looking, sea-foam green. Gorgeous!

Who’s your favorite artist or illustrator, living or dead and why? That’s a toughie… so I’m going to pick two.  I’d say two of my favorite artists are Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston. They were both animators, two of Walt Disney’s “Nine Old Men”. They often worked on characters that worked together in their films (Bambi and Thumper, The Three Good Fairies in Sleeping Beauty, Captain Hook and Mr. Smee…)  Their line-work looks effortless, and their drawings breathed life into the characters they created on the screen!

Where do you do your work? I work in a workshop/studio space built in our backyard- I’ve got all the necessities: lighting, layout space, pencils, paper, rubber erasers, rubber chicken…


Aside from the text of Camp Rex, where did you find inspiration for your illustrations? I looked into camping and wilderness guides created around the turn of the 20th century. There weren’t many references to recreational camping prior to that. I mean, roughing it wasn’t a vacation then, it was a way of life.  Only when most everyone had modern day conveniences, like electricity and indoor plumbing, did trying to do without them seem like “fun”!



Thanks, Molly! We hope there are more dinosaur adventures to come!

You can find Molly on her website and Twitter.

Order Camp Rex from your favorite retailer here, and Tea Rex here.

My definition of popularity changed throughout the experiment. At the beginning I was looking at the exclusive hierarchy at our school that guided everybody’s actions. It grew from that feeling of exclusion. But I was able to find a different definition that was more about being kind of people and reaching out and focusing on including everybody and being a friend to everyone, rather than the select few.

Maya Van Wagenen talks to TIME about her memoir, Popular (via thepopularbook)

Today we welcome Wendy Wunder to the Penguin Teen Author Spotlight. Author of heartbreakingly wonderful (no pun intended) novel, The Museum of Intangible Things will make you laugh and cry, mostly at the same time, and we know that’s pretty much all any of us are looking for in a good book, right? Totes. (Plus, isn’t that cover one of the prettiest things you’ve ever seen?) Before you pick up your copy, take a second to hang out with Wendy Wunder!

Name: Wendy Wunder  

Novel: The Museum of Intangible Things

Available: Now!

Who’s your favorite author, living or dead? Girls: Jennifer Eagan, Karen Russel, Lorrie Moore, Louise Erdrich, Rainbow Rowell, Laurie Halse Andersen, Judy Blume, Wendy Wasserstein

Boys: Junot Diaz, George Saunders, Michael Chabon, Jeffrey Eugenides, Dr. Seuss

What’s your favorite thing about your book? The ending.  Not the events of the ending but the writing on the last few pages, I like.

If you could spend one year on a deserted island with one character from literature, whom would you choose? Well the romantic answer would be Mr. Darcy or Rhett Butler, right? But I don’t think they’d have enough kick ass survival skills.

The practical answer would be Katniss Everdeen because she’d know how to survive.  That’s what the girl does best. She avoids certain death.  She could build us a shelter and rustle us up some squirrel meat.

The fancy, erudite answer would be Orlando.  Orlando by Virginia Woolf was one of my favorite books of all time.  I haven’t read it in a while but it chronicles the life of a soul who changes class and gender through time.  So it would be interesting to see which Orlando would show up or who Orlando would be today. 

Where do you write? I write whenever and wherever I can.  I’m a little haphazard about it.  I used to have a space in Boston’s Writer’s Room, but I’ve given that up and sometimes use the Bates Room in the Boston Public Library instead. It’s a gorgeous, quiet space but the security guards are Very strict about carrying in beverages and one time one of them kicked me because I put my head down to rest my eyes. Sleeping there is strongly discouraged. 

Who is your favorite hero or heroine of history? I enjoy Pocahontas and Sacajawea because they are native women that made it into history books.  I would love to read more about them from a native perspective.  I also like finding out more about Cleopatra and Mary Magdelene.. Both powerful intellectuals who did not get their due respect until recently.  I also have a thing about the Founding Fathers.  All of them.  I just think it’s fascinating that they had the foresight to create this document (the Constitution) and a system for interpreting it, so that it can constantly and fluidly grow with time and hopefully become more and more just and inclusive. ? hopefully.   

Do you tweet? What’s the funniest thing you’ve ever tweeted? I think it was a picture of how my daughter secretly infiltrated my husband’s to do list.  He had written:

“Get Tree Bag” (for disposal of Christmas Tree)

And underneath it my ten-year-old wrote:

“Get dog”

“Get 1 pound candy”

“Get 1 pound salami”

Kids are funny.

What is your favorite season? I love them all, which is one of the reasons I live in the northeast.

If you could teleport anywhere in the known universe right now, where would you go? I grew up on a large lake and we were allowed to get a motorboat license at age 13. My friend and I would just ride out to some quiet cove, anchor, read and sunbathe.  I would love to do that right this very minute.  It’s been a long winter and I must replenish the Vitamin D!

Do you have any writing rituals? No, but I think I should get some.  My writing lately has been happening in fits and starts and I think I would benefit from a routine.  I think I’m going to start getting up at 4 a.m. to write before the rest of the day gets in the way. 

What is your idea of earthly happiness? Having enough money to take a vacation without feeling guilty about it.

What is the best concert you’ve ever been to? I’ve been to a lot of them, because my dad was in radio, growing up and always got us free tickets.  But it would have to be Bruce Springsteen. As a jersey girl, I’ve been to MANY of these and the man leaves it all on the stage.  His music, live, is always a deeply moving nostalgic trip for me.  It’s the poetry of my youth. Have you listened to his lyrics?  The old stuff?  Rivals Dylan.

What are you currently working on? A family dramedy that is a combination of Arrested Development, Parenthood, the Royal Tenenbaums and Infinite Jest.


Thanks, Wendy! We can’t wait to read what you have coming next!

You can find Wendy on her website and Twitter.

Add The Museum of Intangible Things to your “to-read” list on Goodreads!

Purchase The Museum of Intangible Things from your favorite retailer.


Maya Van Wagenen on the TODAY Show!

Dear world, meet Maya Van Wagenen, the poised, smart, lovely author of Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek.