Origami n' Stuff 4 Kids

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Stay-at-home Read-aloud: Shark Patrol, by Ron Hirschi, illustrated by Tammy Yee

Fisheries biologist Ron Hirschi reads from our new book, "Shark Patrol," that follows the S.S. Scoutabout on its voyage in the Pacific to learn about sharks! Perfect read-aloud for kids curious about the ocean.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Fun and educational mazes keep kids busy!

Looking for activities while school is out?

AMAZING MAZES UNDER THE SEA IN HAWAII features twenty-one mazes that take kids on an underwater adventure in Hawaiian waters where they can wind there way around reefs and coral to learn more about its sea creatures--from ink-squirting he'e (octopus) to soaring malolo (flying fish).

Author Ellie Crowe introduces fascinating facts about each animal, and illustrator Tammy Yee brings them to life in detailed, textured drawings that makes you feel as if you're diving deep under Hawai'i's sea.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Home Resources from Arbordale Publishing!

To assist parents, teachers, and children during school closures, ArbordaleKids is making their digital books available for FREE to all teachers and students through May 15, 2020. Start reading today!

Visit https://www.arbordalepublishing.com/digitalbooks-permissions.htm.

Thursday, February 27, 2020


Art from "Penguin on Vacation," by Salina Yoon.

March 14-15
University of Hawai'i Law School

If you're interested in writing or illustrating children's books, don't miss this rare opportunity to learn from the best in the industry!

A fantastic lineup and VERY reasonable conference and workshop rates, right here in Hawaii!

Monday, December 16, 2019

Mermaid Evolution: The making of "The Castle That Kai Built" by Tammy Yee, Island Heritage Publishing

Before there was Kai, there was an anglerfish.

Who was roughly based on my bulldog, Roxy.

And since every memorable character needs a sidekick, I gave her a mermaid.
Who looked something like this...

And this.

Mermaid study, acrylic.

This was back in 2013. She wasn't ready for the world, so I put her aside and worked on other things.

When she was finally ready to come out again, I decided to soften her. And make her more representative of children everywhere. After all, diversity isn't represented in the color of your hair, whether it be pink or purple. So Kai got several makeovers.

The final illustrations were done in Procreate on an iPadPro.

And that's Kai's story!

The Castle That Kai Built

By Tammy Yee
Island Heritage Publishing
Hardcover: 32 pages
ISBN-10: 1617104108
ISBN-13: 978-1617104107

What happens when Kai the mermaid and her loyal pet anglerfish build a castle under the sea?

They are joined by a rollicking cast of sea creatures — including a mischievous octopus, a school of jellyfish and playful dolphins — whose wild antics stir up trouble. Tammy Yee's bright illustrations invite children to search for details as the follow Kai on her aquatic adventure.

The Castle That Kai Built is a cumulative tale in which the story repeats and builds as more characters are introduced.


Tuesday, December 10, 2019

The Castle That Kai Built Origami and Coloring Activities

Just in time for the holidays, here are origami and coloring activities for my new book, The Castle That Kai Built, Island Heritage Publishing.

Kai Mermaid Origami (Color)

Kai Mermaid Origami (BW)

Kai Coloring Page

The Castle That Kai Built

By Tammy Yee
Island Heritage, 2019

Kai the mermaid builds a lavish sandcastle under the sea. The castle seems to attract all kinds of sea life, from clams and jellyfish to fearsome sharks and playful dolphins. One-by-one, each visitor causes a troublemaking chain of events that leads to disaster for Kai! What will happen to Kai and the castle that Kai built? The Castle That Kai Built is a cumulative tale in which the story repeats and builds as more characters are introduced.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Shark Patrol Coloring Page

New! Coloring page for my book, "Shark Patrol," written by Ron Hirschi, illustrated by Tammy Yee, Mutual Publishing.

Enjoy, and visit my author/illustrator page, www.tammyyee.com

And follow me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/babyhonu/

Young Kai and Lehua hop aboard the SS Scoutabout for an adventure of a lifetime, studying sharks with Captain Mike, biologist Aunt Jan, and their seafaring pup, Scout. Cruising from Hawaii to California, they encounter beautiful oceanic whitetips, great whites, thrashing threshers, and the biggest fish of all, the whale shark. Approaching the mainland, they discover all is not well for some sharks in California waters and the two kids make plans to help the sharks, to help the ocean!

Wanda's Humpback Hula Show

I just uploaded fun activities for my book, "Wanda's Humpack Hula Show," written by Marian Parks and illustrated by Tammy Yee, available at American Nature Tale Books.

When Wanda's new baby brother arrives, she feels left out . . . until she cleverly hulas her way to humpback fame. But one day a careless mistake ruins everything. How will Wanda fix this mess? Kids will enjoy Wanda's entertaining antics, but they'll also learn about the North Pacific humpback whale migration and that sometimes, they need to say, I'm sorry.

American Nature Tale Books also features a fun Story Activities and Teacher's Guide that you can download on their website.

Here's what the Midwest Book Review has to say about Wanda: 

A charmingly entertaining picture book story with a genuinely important underlying message, "Wanda's Humpback Hula Show" is an especially recommended addition to family, elementary school, and community library picture book collections.
Print and fold a Wanda the humpback whale origami:
Print and make a Wanda paper bag puppet:

Wanda's Migration Coloring Page

Wanda under the sea coloring page

Enjoy, and visit my author/illustrator page, www.tammyyee.com

And follow me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/babyhonu/

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Saturday, November 16, 2019: HONOLULU BOOK SIGNING!


with Tammy Yee and Leslie Hayashi

Saturday, November 16, 12-2pm
at Barnes & Noble, Ala Moana

Looking for personalized gifts that inspire and educate? Join Tammy Yee and Leslie Hayashi as they sign their new books with Mutual Publishing: "Saving the Fairies," by Leslie Ann Hayashi, illustrated by Holly Braffet, and "Shark Patrol," written by Ron Hirschi and illustrated by Tammy Yee.

SAVING THE FAIRIES, based on a true story, features a newlywed pair of Fairy Terns lovingly guarding their newly hatched egg.

SHARK PATROL joins two children, Kai and Lehua, as they hop aboard the SS Scoutabout for an adventure of a lifetime, studying sharks.

Both books are beautifully illustrated and teach children about Hawaii's unique wildlife. Stop by and talk story! Get your signed copy in time for Christmas!

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Behind the Scenes: Two More Illustrations from Shark Patrol!

I just uploaded two new videos showing my illustration process for the book Shark Patrol, written by Ron Hirschi and released this year from Mutual Publishing.

And stay tuned for information about my upcoming book signings in November, just in time for Christmas!

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Saturday, August 31, 2019: HILO BOOKSIGNING!

Meet Children's Book Author/Illustrator

Tammy Yee

Sat, August 31, 1-3pm
at Basically Books
1672 Kamehameha Avenue, Hilo, Hawaii

Reading • Book Signing • Drawing Demo

Let's have fun! Join me this Saturday at 1pm at Basically Books in my favorite small town, Hilo! I'll be signing books, reading "The Castle that Kai Built," and more! Rumor has it that I'll do some sketching. And I'll bring my iPad, so I can show you how my illustrations for Kai were made.

Behind the Scenes: Illustrating "Shark Patrol"

Written by Ron Hirschi, illustrated by Tammy Yee
Mutual Publishing, 2019

Illustrating Shark Patrol, A Discovery Adventure in Hawai'i presented a unique and fun challenge: how to incorporate author Ron Hirschi's fact-filled lively text and rich illustrations into an 8" x 9" 32-page format.

Working with Ron and Mutual Publishing editor Jane Gillespie, we gave this story of young explorers Kai and Lehua, as told through mail correspondence, a fresh update by having the characters post their adventures on social media via Shark Grams. 

Shark facts were personalized by presenting them as journal entries made by the budding scientists...something that I did as a child pretending to be a researcher aboard Jacques Cousteau's famous vessel, the Calypso. Other devices included photos taken by the crew and Post-it notes from the desk of the ship's biologist, Auntie Jan.

Here's a sketch of the layout. Each character has an avatar for their Shark Gram. And social media is no fun without emojis!

Another idea derived from my nerdy childhood was to use the endpapers to illustrate the relative size of sharks as compared to Kai and Lehua.

Growing up in Hawaii, you'd think I'd know a little about sharks--but there was much to learn! Threshers and great whites, blacktips versus whitetip oceanics (not to be confused with whitetip reef sharks)--so many sharks! This meant a lot of research and a lot of sketching.

My favorites were the deep-sea sharks. Did you know that Hawaii has two bioluminescent (glow-in-the-dark) lanternsharks? One was recently discovered in 2017. 

The final illustrations were done in Procreate on an iPad Pro, which allowed me to record the illustration process.

And the best fun is receiving a box in the mail and seeing the book for the first time!

For more information about Shark Patrol, visit Mutual Publishing. And stay tuned...more videos from the creation of Shark Patrol will be posted on my YouTube channel, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnNilsL1o_gI_SReou04B9A

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Behind the Scenes: The Making of "River Rescue"

River Rescue

Written by Jennifer Keats Curtis, illustrated by Tammy Yee
Arbordale Publishing, 2019

NOAA Infographic: 10 Years
After Delaware River Oil Spill
When my copies of River Rescue arrived in the mail, I immediately flipped to the educational content at the end of the book. As an illustrator, I am sometimes asked to create spot illustrations for the back matter, but rarely do I see it in its entirety before publication. Checking River Rescue's back matter satisfied my need to learn more about a topic that I spent many months researching and illustrating: the rescue and rehabilitation of birds impacted by oil spills. And the lesson plans that Arbordale provides on their website as a supplement for parents and teachers was icing on the cake. 

So how does a Hawaii-based illustrator work on a book about rescuing oiled birds? With lots of help from the author, editors, and expert Lisa Smith at Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research

Before working on River Rescue, I knew little about the havoc that oil spills can wreak on our nation's waterways. Then I learned about the 2004 oil spill on the Delaware River (see inset). While transporting oil to a Philadelphia refinery, the tanker Athos I struck a submerged anchor and leaked more than 250,000 gallons of heavy oil into one of the busiest shipping complexes in North America. Thousands of birds were killed, and the incident had lasting effects on the environment.

But the study of the effect that oil spills have on wildlife began long before the Athos I accident. 

On the day after Christmas in 1976, a tanker ran aground on the Delaware River. 134,000 gallons of oil spilled out of the ruptured hull, creating a 25-mile-long slick that threatened 60,000 ducks and geese. "As a result, Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research was founded in 1977 to study the effects of oil on birds and to find a way to successfully treat wildlife."

My first task in illustrating River Rescue was to learn more about river habitats and the birds, insects, reptiles, and fish that inhabit them, and to make sketches. I asked myself, what birds lived along the riverbanks? Were they migratory? What did they eat? How did they co-exist with other river inhabitants? Lisa Smith from Tri-State helped me along the way, making suggestions and corrections.

Next, I researched how experts rescued oil-contaminated birds. How did they hold the frightened animals? Did they wear protective clothing? What did the rescue facilities look like? Every detail, down to the gloves and goggles, was scrutinized.

The cover took several drafts.

Once the rough sketches were approved, the illustrations were completed in Procreate on an iPad Pro. I imported textured backgrounds and used brushes to make the digital illustrations look more traditional. Procreate also allowed me to take videos of the works in progress:

I hope you enjoy River Rescue as much as I enjoyed illustrating it! For more information, please visit Arbordale Publishing.

Lala enjoys receiving books as much as I do.
In Spanish, too!

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Behind the Scenes 2: "A True Princess of Hawaii"

A video of my keynote presentation on the making of "A True Princess of Hawaii," written by Beth Greenway, illustrated by me. Arbordale Publishing, 2017.

Sorry, no audio, just the keynote slides depicting research photos of old Hilo Bay, the 1880-1881 Mauna Loa eruption, Princess Ruth, and how I draft and revise my illustrations.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Behind the Scenes: Illustrating "A True Princess of Hawaii"

A True Princess of Hawai'i

Written by Beth Greenway, illustrated by Tammy Yee
Arbordale Publishing, 2017

Years ago, I lived in Kaumana, six miles above Hilo town on the island of Hawai'i. Many of the homes were built on the remnants of the 1881 Mauna Loa eruption featured in the book, "A True Princess of Hawai'i." Evidence of the eruption was everywhere. Lava rock walls bordered tiny gardens, and black pahoehoe lava peaked through the grass, ferns and 'ōhiʻa trees. Nearby was Kaumana Cave, part of a miles-long lava tube that was formed during the eruption. It was the perfect place to raise two young sons!

Since then, I have been fascinated with the story of Princess Ruth's intervention to save Hilo from Pele's destruction. So I was thrilled to work with Arbordale Publishing on A True Princess of Hawai'i. Their team is devoted to creating books that encourage kids to explore, and their website features lesson plans and activities to supplement learning.

Princess Ruth Ke'elikolani
I poured through the Bishop Museum and Hawai'i State Archives for photos of Hilo in the 1880s. What did people wear? Where did they live? What kind of ships the bay? And most importantly, what did the lava flow look like?

Hilo Bay from Waiakea with Mauna Loa erupting in the distance. You can see the lava heading toward Hilo on the right. By Joseph Nawahi, February 1881.
Hilo shoreline.
Hilo wharf, 1880s.
The Lava Flow From Mauna Loa, Sandwich Islands, Harper's Weekly, September 1881.

Rough Sketches

I studied photos of the eruption and maps of Hilo town and began sketching.

Character studies and sketch of Hilo town.
Rough drafts for cover.

Exploring Kipuka Puaulu (Bird Park) Trail at Volcanoes National Park

Kaumana Cave and Princess Ruth

Mauna Loa erupted spectacularly in 1880, illuminating the skies above the town of Hilo. Fiery jets of gas and lava launched thousands of feet skyward. Rivers of pahoehoe, or ropy lava, flowed down the mountainside.

For nine months, the eruption continued. The people of Hilo watched as the forests of Waiakea Uka were consumed, then grew desperate as the lava continued its relentless approach to within one-and-a-half miles of Hilo Bay. 

A day of public prayer was observed. A stone wall was erected to protect the sugar mill. And a moat was dug around the prison to divert the flow.

Only Princess Ruth Ke'elikolani could placate Pele's fury. Arriving in Hilo on August 9, 1881, she approached the lava at Halai Hill with offerings of brandy, 30 red silk scarves and a lock of her hair. That night, she slept at the edge of the lava flow. By the next morning the flow had stopped. Hilo had been spared.

Kaumana Cave, located 5 miles above Hilo, was created during the 1880 eruption. It was formed as the surface of the pahoehoe cooled and hardened, insulating the molten lava within. A portion of the thin crust later collapsed, creating a skylight through which streams of lava could be seen pouring through subterranean passages. As the eruption abated, the channel emptied, leaving behind an extensive lava tube.

Deep in the cave, roots from 'ohia trees dangle from the ceiling. These roots support an extremely delicate ecosystem of cave-dwelling arthropods. 

According to Bishop Museum entomologist Gordon Nishida, cave crickets, millipedes, and wolf spiders are among the creatures specially adapted to Hawaiian lava tubes. Many of these animals are pale, with reduced eyes, and live off the plant and animal matter that fall into the cave. The cave system is very fragile, and these unique creatures are endangered. People trampling through caves and littering the surrounding area can have a severe impact on their survival.

Eyewitnesses to the 1880-1881 Eruption: an Artist's View

I was inspired, too, by the work of Joseph Nawahi, and also the Volcano School paintings of late 19th century artists Charles Furneaux, D. Howard Hitchcock and Jules Tavernier.

Hilo Bay. Joseph Nawahi, 1888.

Natives Viewing the Hilo Flow, May 18, 1881. Oil on canvas paintings by Charles Furneaux, 1881.
Eruption, D.H. Hitchcock.
Volcano at Night, Jules Tavernier, 1880.

Final Illustrations: Bringing it to life

Left: view of Waianuenue Street from the Hilo Wharf, 1890s. Right: Keoki and Nani race to the town pier to greet Princess Luka.
Left: Hilo Wharf, 1880s. Right: the arrival of Princess Luka.

To learn more about True Princess of Hawai'i and to view more of the finished art, visit  https://www.arbordalepublishing.com/bookpage.php?id=TruePrincess.

I hope you enjoy this book as much as I enjoyed illustrating it!

Printable coloring page:

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