Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Book Spine Poem

Book Spine Poems -- a brilliant idea, right? Travis Jonker from 100 Scope Notes is looking for a few good book spine poems to celebrate National Poetry Month.  You can read all about it here and here.

So below, my humble contribution to this month's celebration:

Can you tell I'm a librarian? ;-)

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Picture Book Watch | April Edition

And we're back!  Here are a few great titles due out next month!

By Tiffany Strelitz Haber ; Illustrated by Matthew Cordell
Philomel, 2013

A new book from Tiffany Strelitz Haber, author of the adorable The Monster Who Lost His Mean (Henry Holt, 2012) and illustrated by the always amazing Matthew Cordell.  I love his illustration style: sketchy line ink drawings, natural, spontaneous and fresh.  And funny too!  Check out this great piece by Jules Danielson about Matthew and his amazing book Hello! Hello! (Disney Hyperion, 2012)

By Emily Gravett
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Children, 2012

From the über-talented Emily Gravett, a book about Cedric, a little dragon who wants to be read the same bedtime story, again, again and again.  Emily creates the most original books, both in terms of story and design.  I've been a fan since her debut picture book Wolves (Simon & Schuster, 2006). You can learn more about her unique books in this neat piece published by The Guardian.  

By Bob Staake
Schwartz & Wade, 2013
The first time I saw this cover, I was immediately hooked -- such beautiful colors and design.  And once I learned about the story I realized this is one of those not-to-be-missed books. Bob Staake tells a powerful story of friendship between a lonely boy and a bluebird -- in a wordless format, rendered entirely in shades of grey and blue.  There is a website with lots of great information about the making of the book. In a way it reminded me of another favorite book of mine, How to Heal a Broken Wing by Bob Graham (Candlewick, 2008)

By Eliza Wheeler
Nancy Paulsen Books, 2013
There's something magical about this cover, isn't there?  A sneak peak at some of the interior art from the author's blog makes me long for more!  This is Eliza Wheeler's debut picture book as author/illustrator, and it promises to be special: the story of Miss Maple, a diminutive woman with a deep love for lost seeds.  Eliza won the SCBWI 2010 Los Angeles International Conference Mentorship Award AND the SCBWI 2011 Los Angeles International Conference Portfolio Grand Prize -- her artwork is stunning! 
Look for these books at your library or at your favorite bookstore!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Working on Book 2 | Beatrice and Bear | Story Development

I decided to do some posts about my second picture book, which is due to be published spring 2014.  I can't share a lot right now, as I'm still working on the final paintings, but I thought it would be fun to talk about story development, art supplies, illustration processes, etc.  I'm doing a better job this time documenting the whole process from idea to final book, and felt these would make good topics for blog posts.

Little Dog Lost is a based on a true story, so in the case of my first book, story development was based on research and intended audience (aimed at very young children.)  It sold as part of a two-book deal, the second book to be determined, a project that would interest both the publisher and me.

I find that all of my story ideas begin with a drawing or a painting. Even Little Dog Lost began with an illustration created for Illustration Friday.  So for the second book, I went back through some of my sketches and illustrations and found one in particular that I felt had a strong narrative quality, that "told a story."  I did a few more sketches based on this idea and shared them with my editor Nancy Paulsen and art director Cecilia Yung.  Once I got the okay to proceed, the next step was to write the manuscript and create a thumbnail storyboard.  Writing the story for me is a combination of words and sketches, both very much connected. But at this point, it's important to focus on the text.  Again my agent Teresa Kietlinski was a fantastic critique partner -- I sent her my first draft of the manuscript and she wrote back with some very good insights and ideas which helped me develop the story.  Once I had a good manuscript, it was time to create the thumbnail storyboard, using a template with all 32 pages ready for sketching.  I went through many of these storyboard templates, drawing and re-drawing pages, cutting and moving around sequences, etc. The goal at this point is to determine the story's pacing and the best places for page turns.  It all has to fit within 32 pages, and you want to tell it in a way that is balanced, keeps momentum, and creates interest in what's going to happen next.

I shared the manuscript and storyboard with Nancy and Cecilia, and was ready to move on to the next step: creating the dummy.  Now quick sketches become more detailed and developed.  The initial dummy is the first time seeing words and illustrations together, as they would appear in the final book, but it is still very much a work in progress.  Writing a book is truly a collaborative effort and the feedback I received from both Nancy and Cecilia helped me develop a much stronger, tighter second dummy.

And I'm now at the final art stage, working on the illustrations.  On my next post, I'll talk about some of my favorite art supplies for creating the illustrations.  Needless to say, I'm CRAZY about art supplies!