Monday, October 7, 2019

How to Start First Grade

  Four and a half days without the internet is probably enough to make you want to write a blog post or something when it comes back on, right?  The sheer gratitude of  having  a connection can be an inspiration.
  The weather is turning cooler, kids have already been back at school for a while spreading new virulent strains, and recently the nice people at Random House granted me permission to show some of the final illustrations from my latest book,  a 32 page leveled reader featuring a first grader who struggles to come to terms with his waning popularity when a new girl comes to  school. The title is How to Start First Grade, and it is scheduled for release on 6/9/20.
 I really enjoyed the playground chalk art scenes, drawing kids yelling at each other, (anger is so much fun) and the challenging scenes which required me to draw the backs of kid's heads.
 I have a strong aversion to looking at my work after it is finished. I'm sure I'm not alone in that feeling. I think enough time has passed since I finished these in July and August, that I can look at them; even if it's through slightly parted fingers. 
A postscript: after I wrote this, the electricity went out for a few hours.  But now I'm back, and with a little luck I may actually get a blog post out for Monday morning.

Cover. The blackboard is obsolete, but the bulletin board lives on.
Steve and family and Dad the waiter getting fortified for the first day of school.

All of his friends are happy to see him again.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Good Kid inTraining

  I'm finally taking time to blog about my work again. The holiday season was super busy, mostly with this book. Please visit me on Instagram for more frequent posts. 
  My illustration has usually been geared to a younger audience, but in November I was asked to illustrate a middle grade novel, for One Elm, a new division of Red Chair PressIt's 121 pages with 17 interior illustrations in black and white.
  I've had experience drawing pre-teen girls, for the Period Book and a few others for Bloomsbury.  So illustrating for the 9-13 age group seemed like visiting old friends, except with bikes, boogers and frogs this time, and bunnies to even it all out!  Boys can't be entirely gross, after all. It's a story about how difficult it is for a fourth grade boy named Roosevelt to be good no matter how hard he tries, and ultimately, the lessons he learns about the value of friendship.
  The first step was to create some character sketches, based on their personalities and emotional tenor in the manuscript and a bit of direction ( Roosevelt is white and has glasses, for example).

 The art director suggested that Spaghetti Eddie could look like Eddie Haskell from Leave it to Beaver. Sounded good to me. I tried to keep him from looking older than the other kids, though.

"You look beautiful today, Mrs. Cleaver."

   I did a couple of  tiny thumbnail sketches for the cover.
          A captured frog jumps out of his mouth.

                             Wreaking havoc with rabbits.

                    They chose the second one.  So I went to final art, first as black and white.

Type layout was overlayed to make sure the positioning of the art would be accurate. Adjustments were made on the back cover text to  give the art more space.

Color applied digitally.
Detail of houses (click on picture to enlarge).
Roosevelt's dog has accidentally knocked over Mrs. Crabapple's rabbit hutch. Guess whose fault it is.

                                               Here are a few of the interior illustrations:

Fun with tater tots

Fun with imaginary boogers. Mozart's booger is chewing gum. Who could have done that?

It's impossible to stay out of trouble, no matter how much you want that new bike. Tell that to Principal Esposito.

                                                    That's all for now until the book release!
                                                               Thanks for visiting!