I’m going to the local SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) conference in Charlotte for the weekend.  Looking forward to meeting up with other illustrators in the Carolinas.  Oh, and here’s a spread from a long-awaited nearly completed project.



For those of you nice enough to wonder about the pixie-book progress, let me just say that it is nearing completion.  I’ve had a good bit of work lately, but it has taken some time away from the book. Here is part of a drawing before I hit it with photoshop sauce.

Check back for updates.

Little Pink Riding Hood

This picture is a digitally souped-up version of a small watercolor piece I did recently for a baby shower my wife attended.  Initially, I intended to do Little Red Riding Hood, but the story seemed a little threatening.  A little girl gets accosted by a wolf in the woods and later finds her grandmother eaten up.  It didn’t seem a perfect fit for an infant baby girl.

So … I changed it to Little Pink Riding Hood and wrote this rather benign poem that we stuffed in the picture frame.  Maybe in a few years they’ll open the frame and find the poem.  The original painting in the frame can be seen on the Zach Franzen Illustration Facebook page.

Here’s the poem:

Little Pink Riding Hood

The tale of the girl in the hood that was red
Is known to us all.  Though the tale left unsaid
Is that of the girl in a hood that was pink.
The answer for this is quite simple I think..

This girl wasn’t found by a wolf in the woods
Nor troubled while taking her grandma baked goods.
She skipped and she sang on the road without stress.
Her walk in the woods met with perfect success

For there on the path strode a woman in white.
Twas grandma who laughed and said “Oh what a sight!
Your basket looks grand and seems quite full of bread,
And mine contains cheese for I thought in my head

To carry some cheese to your lovely homestead,
But sit in the road and let’s eat here instead.”
They had a fine time with warm bread and cold cheese
And pink riding hood said “why thank you” and “please.”

This innocent tale is routinely o’erlooked
By well-meaning people who find themselves hooked
On stories of danger and tales of suspense
Where picnics and cheer make no good earthly sense..

Perhaps if one day you get bored with the thrill
Of monsters and danger then maybe you will
Return to this story where grandma and child
Enjoyed a fun meeting and ate in the wild.

Calico Jack


A slender calico cat named Jack
Sashays like any fine quadruped,
But folks who notice him seem to lack
An obligation to see him fed.

.At noon the calico finds some things
Behind a crate in a garbage bin:
A cane, a hat, and a tie that clings
Around his neck underneath his chin.

.His cane provokes him to stand up straight
And step precisely with both hind feet.
This action makes him seem quite first-rate
To every passerby in the street..

Before too long children come with food
Some chicken, fish, and a plate of cream
This brightens Calico Jackson’s mood
And young ones giggle and clap and scream.

.At last we understand why good Jack
Should walk exclusively on two feet.
Though difficult to develop the knack
Once done, he gets to eat luncheon meat..

So now if ever a stately cat
Comes cross your path on grassy lane
Consider giving him food, a hat
A fancy tie, and a walking cane.

Give a cat a fish, you feed him for a day
Teach a cat to dress, you feed him for a lifetime.


Personal Project

Every time I’m in the bookstore I look through children’s picture books.  I try to compare them with books I would have enjoyed as a kid.  The books that receive popular acclaim are clever and well designed and perhaps funnier than books used to be.  However, I feel like the books even ten years ago had more atmosphere than the ones that are popular today.  Is this the case?  My favorite book to leaf through as a kid was the beautifully illustrated adaptation of Pilgrim’s Progress, A Dangerous Journey.  At any rate, it may be ill-advised or an affront to the collective wisdom of children’s literature, but I wanted to do a picture book for my younger self, who is a great deal like my present self.  Here’s a sneak peak.