Sunday, April 14, 2019

Illustrate a children's book

Here are some insights about illustrating a children's book based on a recent collaboration with Kathy Sager.  She has already published one children's book and runs a licenced day care from her home so she is the children's story expert, and I am the art expert.

My style of art does not lend itself to cartoon figures, and the biggest insight occurred when people liked the photo-realist animal images.

They felt that when children saw the raccoon in the book and maybe later saw a raccoon on TV or out the window they would recognize and relate better to the real animal.

I do not have children of my own and so did casual research by standing in the grocery store aisle or at the library looking at children's books.  I discovered that many books have pages of only one or two images against a simple coloured background, which I wondered if kids find boring.  Not much to look at while Mom is reading the story.  I decided to go for a more complex detail, with shapes that fit together like puzzle pieces. 

I really appreciated how Kathy created a story that had a problem: two sisters want to plant their garden but the winter snow is still on the ground because the warm sun has not returned.

And then the story has a way to solve the problem: their Mother tells them the legend of how Mother Reindeer flies to the sun on Winter Solstice to bring back its warmth. 

And then the problem is solved:  
the sisters dance in the returning sunlight,

and Mothers and Fathers 
take care of their children in the warm new day. 

One of my favorite suggestions was that children like to find recurring creatures, and also that it is interesting to have more than one story happening--one in the words and a second "back story" that unfolds only in the pictures. 

I am a Goddess Grandmother to Zyla, who is called Bug 
by her closest big people.  
And so Bug came into the story,

 and got to go for quite a ride!

She certainly made a fashion statement,

and had her own story to tell about her adventures.  

Of course there is lots more to learn as this storybook 
about Mother Reindeer 
begins to travel toward publication. 
So stay tuned, the Journey Oracle is on a whole new journey.