Now Available!

9 Degrees North: ABCs of North Ghana is now available to order!

This beautiful book is an amazing 48 pages and Hard Cover and can be ordered on  the official Tools for Schools Africa Foundation’s website here:


The book is priced at $20 per copy.

However, they have an amazing offer for $30 you’ll get a copy of the book, PLUS send a copy to the students of Ghana PLUS SEND a Soccer ball over!

Some of the Ghanaian artists who were featured in the book also have their work available on the website.

We sincerely thank everyone for their participation and for their support and hope this book will be a wonderful source of provision, inspiration and education for not only for the students of Ghana, but anyone who reads through it!


-Mike Boldt



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Please judge this book by it’s Cover!

I’ll say it again, please judge this book by it’s cover. It’s absolutely amazing and I can say that as I’ve already spent many many times looking through it! In the previous post I talked about the extra artists we had and at the same time I realized I had completely forgotten about the cover and title page to this book. The two artists who I had asked to complete each the respective assignments actually knew each other and decided they would work together on both so that the feel was the same! This book has brought out a number of pleasant surprises, and this is one of my favorites!

Kristin Labriola and Rachel Tiep-Daniels were the collaborators on this cover and the title page. I had the privilege of participating in both the Brownstones to Red Dirt charity art drive AND the Art Blocks for Ghana project (which was organized in part by Rachel!). That was the common ground that I had with Kristin and Rachel before asking them to participate.

Kristin’s Bio: is currently a Marketing & Production Coordinator at Kimochis. In the past has worked as a Development Associate, Assistant to Chris Wedge and Lisa Fragner and an Animation Coordinator at Blue Sky Studios, as well as Development Production Assistant at Blue Sky Studios of 20th Century Fox.

Rachel’s Bio: I am a Visual Development Artist/Designer for Feature Animation. I am currently living in New York City and working remotely for Dreamworks Animation SKG.. I have shared my 12 year career between Blue Sky Studios and Dreamworks Animation. My background is in Architecture and Animation. My love for both helps drive and inspire my career as a Set Designer and 3d Artist. Credits:Ice Age, Sharktale, Kung Fu Panda, Monsters Vs Aliens, Shrek the Musical, Puss n’ Boots and Rio(2011)

As of RIGHT NOW, the book is finished and in hand. 1000 copies are already on a ship making the long trek to the waiting hands in Ghana already! It’s very exciting.

Tools for Schools Africa really went all out on the printing of this book. It’s not only a Hard Cover, but 48 pages long with beautiful artwork throughout and a huge appendix at the back! As great as the images look on this blog, it’s something entirely different and special to hold it in person.

I shall be updating this blog again soon with information on how you can support Tools for Schools Africa and the children of Ghana by picking up a copy of this incredible book. I cannot wait to ship these out!


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ABCs for North Ghana extras!

At one point I started to worry about how I was going to fill the final spots for the artists in this book. I had a number of subjects and topics that still needed to be completed and no one to do it. Little did I know that I would soon have a surplus and not wanting to turn any away Marilyn and I figured out a way to get it all in.

One was an Appendix. Now this book features a 8 page appendix that can be used as a teacher’s resource with piles of extra information and really great photos by Marilyn and her team themselves on each of the different subjects in the book.

We also wanted to feature some Ghanaian artists themselves! So here are a few samples of pieces by the 3 featured Ghanaian artists who allowed us to show their INCREDIBLE work in this book:

Ben Reynoldswas another artist who had expressed interest in participating in any way he could! His drawings and style of artwork is so wonderful I could have sprinkled it throughout the entire book and appendix if he had the time! Here’s his wonderful pic for the copyright page and his Bio: He has worked across North America in a variety of capacities including: character design (an animated series for FOX), art direction (games on multiple platforms) and design (for clients such as Sony, Ubisoft and McDonalds). He is currently working as a Creative Manager for Beeline Interactive (the mobile division of Capcom), providing art direction and guiding the creative vision of all Beeline titles. Together they have released multiple top 10 games on the iOS platform (ie. “Monster Pet Shop”, “Zombie Cafe”).

Ben is passionate about what he does and is constantly seeking the tools and skills to produce the best work possible. He lives with his wife Lauren in the vast frozen tundra of Toronto, Canada (in an igloo).

This book has been a real privilege to work on, and seeing these pieces in the book confirm it over and over.


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Letter A – Africa

We started out this blog posting the letter Z first and how funny that the last page of artwork and subject was for the letter A. Africa. Amazing is probably not a proper descriptive word for that continent in that it does not nearly do it justice. There is so much we don’t know about Africa and although this book’s main intention is to help with the education of the children (and others) in Ghana, we also hope that the book will be informative and interesting for those who pick it up here in North America and other places around the world!

Aiden Sugano was literally dropped into this. One of the artists who had to withdraw came to my aid and found her replacement herself, and she couldn’t have done better. Aiden’s piece just blew me away the first time I saw it and I believe it’s the perfect way for a this book to start. A bit more on Aiden: I am a visual development artist working for Blue Sky Studios and recently graduated from San Jose State.  Before Blue Sky Studios, I worked at Trion Worlds, Inc. as a concept designer for video games.

I love that Ghana is the source of light in this. Just perfect for this book!


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Letter F – Football (and Fun and Fantastic)

I grew up being not very good at a sport I called Soccer. I also grew up and found out it was basically the most popular sport in the world. Now that my kids play it I see why. It’s easily picked up and playable almost anywhere as long as you have a ball and something to kick it with. Marilyn informed me that Ghana is HUGE into Football. Their national team has had success and they are some very popular heroes for the kids there who will play with rolled up plastic bags if no ball is available.

Like John, I met Eliza Wheeler last summer at a children’s book conference where she had WON the portfolio showcase. Her work is very descriptive and I love the image she created for this subject. The National team in the clouds is exactly how I’m sure the kids playing see themselves!

Eliza’s Bio: I grew up in Northern Wisconsin in a family of teachers, musicians, and artists. Drawing was my favorite form of play as a child, my emotional outlet as a teen, and is my escape as an adult. Some of the strongest influences on my creativity have been the wild Wisconsin seasons, canoeing the Brule River, picking blueberries with my Grandmother, and digging through the snow with my brothers.

Stay tuned,


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Letter H – Hip Hip Horray for Hippos

So it’s been more than a while since this site has been updated, but the ABC’s of North Ghana project is FAR from dead. In fact it’s totally complete and I’m holding the book RIGHT NOW! I’ve been a bit tied up with work and have not been able to update much the last few (or many) months, but with out rambling any more, I’ll carry on with the final few pages of previews!

Another reason for this project taking a bit longer was that a few artists had to withdraw and I had to find replacements.  John Deininger is ONE of those artists who I was fortunate to have met last summer and even more happy to have him accept the invitation to participate. Here’s John’s Bio:
I’m a freelance illustrator/designer/concept artist living in Seattle with my best friend Jana, three cats, and the rain. I’m currently working on a wide variety of illustration projects, and also developing several rockin’ picture books for kids (check out my portfolio for a sneak-peak).

John was tasked with H is for Hippo, which I thought was a perfect match for his very energetic and loose style. I love hippos, but those teeth are a bit scary.  Also PLEASE PLEASE check out John’s concept work on his blog for this image. It’s just fantastic: CLICK HERE!

More to come right away!


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Letter N – Ahhh Nuts

“Ahh nuts”.  Actually the last thing that went through my mind when Amanda Woodward sent in her final piece for her page of nuts being processed into Shea Butter.  It’s just incredible and well worth the wait.  In case you didn’t see her concept sketches (all of which I loved), you can see them by clicking here.  And here is her final image!

I love the colors and style of this one.  Beautiful work Amanda!

Stay tuned (3 left!!!)


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