Instructor Stories: Abi Cushman

Abi Cushman started out as Storyteller Academy student. She took Arree Chung's first class back in 2016 and was one of our first student success stories. Earlier this year, we asked her to help teach Arree's workshops for Crafting Picture Book Stories and Making Picture Book Dummies, and she's doing such a fabulous job (even adding great new material to the class content) that we hope to be able to offer you a course of her own in the near future.

I recently asked Abi to make a Master Studies video for our YouTube channel, and she agreed to share her process for using die-cuts in her second picture book, Animals Go Vroom! (which you can enter to win a copy of by commenting on this post).

Video Highlights

I'm going to share the following quotes from Abi, but I hope you'll watch the whole video. It's excellent, and I'm grateful she took the time to make it.

“When you're considering adding die-cuts to your book, make sure there's a good reason to justify the added expense. It should really enhance—or in fact be vital to—the experience of the book.”

Technical Considerations

  • page thickness and size
  • page design/making sure the holes line up
  • shape of the die-cuts

“When you have holes in the page or change the shape of the page with die-cuts, it leaves the paper more vulnerable to tearing, so many books with die-cuts are board books.”

Abi's Books

Last summer, Viking Children's Books published Abi's debut picture book, Soaked! Reviews were extremely positive. The general consensus seemed to be that the world needed more picture books that were “pure fun” like this one. And I agree 100%. It's a favorite at my house. We love the adorable bunny, pessimistic bear, thieving badger, and hula-hooping moose.

I'm excited to finally get my copy of Animals Go Vroom! next month. Publishing is so slow.

Book Giveaway

I'm giving away a copy of one of the two books featured above. The winner can choose. Just comment on this blog post to enter. 

For additional entries, you can share the post on social media and post a link to where you’ve shared in the comments (preferably as a comment to your original comment so that all of your entries are grouped together). If you've participated in one of Abi's workshops with us, let me know in the comments, and I will add another entry. You can also have an entry if you've subscribed to Abi's newsletter.

I’ll close the contest at midnight, Pacific Time, on July 20. Thanks for reading and sharing!

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Myrna Foster
Myrna Foster

Myrna Foster writes and edits content for Storyteller Academy and the WriteRiders Newsletter for SCBWI Nevada. She has spent a lot of time teaching and coaching children, including five years as a preschool teacher. She's also worked as a journalist, and Highlights High Five has published six of her poems.

50 thoughts on “Instructor Stories: Abi Cushman”

  1. Thanks for all the great tips on making die cut board books. I'd love to win ANIMALS GO VROOM because Abi Cushman does great work. I also love her first book SOAKED and have it in my PB collection. Thanks Myrna!

  2. Diantha Litwer

    I'd never really given much thought to the complexities of die cut books. Abi's presentation was eye opening. It makes me want to create a die cut book! I'd love to win any of Abi's books. I know my special ed students would be fascinated by them.

  3. This was a great post and YouTube video! I loved seeing all of the different examples of die cut books and hearing Abi’s process for creating her own!

  4. Sally Yorke-Viney

    Abi I loved your course with Arree this term. I learned so much from your analysis of people’s work!

  5. Shannon Chawick

    This was a wonderful blog. Thanks Abi and Myrna for the great tips on due cut books. Happy writing and drawing everyone!

  6. How cute. I’ve never thought about die cuts before. It’s got me thinking!!!!! I’d love to be considered in the giveaway. Either book looks great. Animals go vroom! Would be my pic 😀. Thanks for doing this video.

  7. Erin De Bruin

    I would love to win Animals Go Vroom! Children love the anticipation created by die cut windows and I know my students would love this book.

  8. This is another fun way of creating books for children that they will enjoy reading short, precise and suspenseful. I always enjoy the page turns. Abi is such a crafted instructor and writer to get inspiration from. I also learned a lot from taking Arree and Abi's Crafting Picture books course. Thanks Myrna and SA. More power to you all!

  9. P.s. When creating die cuts books, do you also have to provide the illustrations with the texts? Thanks.

    1. Hi Alicia! You would only need to provide proper illustrations if you plan on illustrating the book. But you should make a dummy to figure out how your concept would work.

  10. Danielle Ward-Hynes

    Thank you for sharing your journey! I’m looking forward to reading these books with my kids.

  11. Pamela Carthorn

    One of my favorite books as a kid was a die cut. And I enjoyed reading them with my grandchildren today!

  12. I love the guessing game aspect of your new book, Abi. I've ordered a copy but would love to win a copy too. 😁

  13. Thank you for this blog post! I've already preordered Animals Go Vroom, and am eagerly awaiting my copy. I'd love to win Soaked!

  14. I thoroughly enjoyed taking the Crafting PB Stories class this past Term with Abj and Arree! There was a lot to digest, the live workshops really help to clarify. Appreciate your insights and efforts, Abi!

  15. Both of those books look amazing! Would love to be able to create a children's book that looks that professional one day.

    1. Thanks, Adriana! I always make a little mini dummy for my stories in progress so I can get the page turns and pacing right, but it was especially important to make one for this book. Nothing quite like seeing the die-cuts in action to make sure everything's working like you imagine.

    1. Tristann Graves

      I shared on twitter:

      Abi Cushman shows how to use die-cuts in picture books and board books. Abi is teaching workshops for two of Arree's courses: Crafting Picture Book Stories and Making Picture Book Dummies. Book giveaway included! Let's go VROOM!!— Tristann Graves (@kb7vbz) July 17, 2021

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