Category Archives: Children’s Books

Tuke the Specialist Turtle

Tuke! by Tory Novikova

Back in August 2012 I was approached by Chowder Inc. to collaborate on an awesome children’s book project for CCMI, the Central Caribbean Marine Institute in the Cayman Islands. They hoped to teach students across the islands about the importance of marine biologists and how their work is crucial to the survival and upkeep of the diversity in the surrounding waters.

And so, Tuke the Specialist Turtle was born. The book depicts Tuke’s coming of age from puny to self confident, and with the help of some friendly marine biologists he learns of his own importance to maintain the habitat of the reef.

Below you can check out some scenes from the 60+ page book – I don’t want to give away all just yet. Hopefully, come Earth day in April 2013, the book will be published and all will be revealed for the world to see.


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– Tory
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Lots to be thankful for

I have a lot to be thankful for this year as it has been both impossibly difficult and remarkably fruitful. A large portion of my gratitude goes to the kindness of total strangers, who have transformed my world over the past 9 months, and the rest can be attributed to the strong shoulders of close family and sweet friends onto which I have leaned. Thank you all, my unnamed warriors.

At the start of 2012 I half jokingly claimed this to be my year – the year of the Dragon, and indeed it has been! It came with a thunderous reckoning! But it ain’t over till the fat lady delivers a heart-stopping vocal bravado (which will be me after the holidays *sob* goodbye waistline *sob*). And I have enough fight left to deliver some spectacular new projects in the next few weeks.

Honestly, I’m just glad to have power again. Hurricane Sandy left a total disaster zone and commuter hell. Storm Support is making an effort to give back to storm victims through great design! ALL profits from sales go to benefit various charities around the NYC/NJ area and will directly help those in need. My contribution is a cute lil’ french bulldog Storm Pup – go get him!

Most importantly, I hope that you are enjoying the best damn Thanksgiving meal of your life today (or at least, one worthy to be a close second).

Happy Holidays! Lets not lose our minds over Black Friday deals, mmkay?

– Tory
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Back from the Dead

Jeepers, my last post was at the end of February.

It’s been a full 2.5 months now since I started as a full-time concept artist for an educational software company in DUMBO, Brooklyn. So for the past 20 weeks I’ve been working in their games division, assisting in the overall visual design experience of the multitude of games that will be included in their amazing new product that will REVOLUTIONIZE EDUCATION! This is such new territory for me, and it’s really exciting to be able to work with big-name game vendors on production art as well as coordinating the conceptual development (art direction) for games.

So, forgive me if my blog posts lag. I will strive to stay on track.

Also, I would like to mention that I am a supporter of SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators), and ordinarily I focus on the benefits the organization can bring to illustrators but recently I did a little design for a kidlit author, Tara Lazar, whom I met at SCBWI. She is raising funds for an organization called RIF (Reading is Fundamental). They promote literacy in the US. So check out the design, and if you’re into the idea of helping a worthy cause, click on the graphic below and help yourself to a t-shirt or tote.

– Tory
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Feeling Under the Weather

Eventually, it all just caught up with me.

Musical Inspiration

This chilly weather makes me reach out for specific comforts, like soup, tea, warm scarves, and music – particularly childhood songs. While reminiscing to some charmingly giddy melodies, I’ve also illustrated some inspired scenes for fun. Here are 2 song-inspired works. Their respective songs are listed below each piece, warning, they’re in Russian hah! Each tune comes from a specific cartoon [from the late Soviet era], but I was focusing more on the lyrics, which led to slightly different scenarios when taken out of context.

Song About a Grasshopper

The breakdown of the song is basically about this grasshopper chilling in the grass, being friendly with all the little bugs, when lo and behold, a frog comes by and eats him. Yes.  Seems like a bit of a downer, but the song is oh so fun to sing!

Song About Africa and Big Adventures

Fun fact: this is actually sung by Little Red Riding Hood about adventures in Africa, like crossing wide rivers and tall mountains while meeting various kinds of animals like hippos, alligators, monkeys, [specifically] sperm whales, and parrots. But like I said, I was listening to these songs out of context.

Clearly I am a kid at heart (and sure have a voice to match). Hope everyone is enjoying some kind of favorite songs this holiday season and are keeping cheerful in the utmost brisk winter moments.

– Tory

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hope you all have a wonderful, gluttonous holiday. Share it with your family,
your friends, your belly, and bring a little bit of joy to others who really need it. Whether you’re celebrating with turkey on the menu or not, I hope you’re surrounded by those you love – and don’t spend this day running away from
a sly hungry fox.

FYI – keep an eye on Torynova Couture tomorrow for Black Friday sales. Support artisans and craftsmen by buying hand-made gifts or better yet, make them yourself! Don’t spend tonight into tomorrow in line at a department store.

Gobble, gobble.

– Tory

Exciting Things! (Pt 2.)

So this weekend was the SCBWI NJ Summer Conference. Wow. If you think that’s a mouthful, then you’ve got an inkling of the frenzy at the conference. It was a 3 day event for me:

  • Friday was an Illustrator’s intensive with illustrator curator Leeza Hernandez and Martha Rago (Creative Director at Harper Collins) or Patti Ann Harris (Senior Art Director  at Little Brown). This was my piece for the intensive where we had to select a passage from one of two manuscripts to interpret it in a spread:

  • Saturday was the most active! It included guest speakers, agent panels, illustrator/author panels, workshops, portfolio reviews, and agent pitches. Thank goodness there was breakfast, lunch, and dinner, otherwise I don’t know how we would have had any energy to stay active in the freezing vicinity of the Wyndham Princeton Hotel.
  • Sunday was only half a day, which included guest speakers, panels, and the wrap-up for pitches and reviews. It was also the day for #winning! Congrats to the Art Show winners and to the raffle winners (mental note, next time buy 20+ tickets to get all of the prizes.)

Every instance of the conference was valuable for any illustrator or author interested in the children’s book market. For me, a few guest speakers were definite rock stars like Grace Lin and Holly McGhee (who brought tears to the eyes of a few hundred people).

To give credit where credit is due, I think Kathy Temean and Laurie Wallmark did one hell of a job with organizing. As someone who has been to the humongous winter NYC conference – this event really was a treat! Of course, I was also driving back and forth between Bergen County and Princeton for 3 days (pain in the arse) but it was still worth it!

I want to showcase a few new pieces from my portfolio:

Red Riding Hood

The Little Mermaid

Hansel and Gretyl

Here is also some artwork from Torynova Couture. Three of the prints will be on display/sold at the Digital Print Exhibit in the D&D Building in NYC for 2 years. More info on tomorrow night’s reception for that event is in my previous post.

Annabel Lee by Edgar Allen Poe

Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake

Georges Bizet Carmen

William Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream

Now remember folks, all of these images are indeed copyrighted with the government copyright office so please be courteous and don’t take them without my permission. (That means you Chinese hackers! lol jk….)

– Tory
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