I’m so excited that my latest picture book, I Didn’t Stand Up by Lucy Falcone and published by Clockwise Press, is finally coming out on January 7th! In anticipation of that, I wanted to talk a bit about the book and also share some of my process.
This book came into my life at a time when I really needed a project of my own to work on. My editor, Christie Harkin, contacted me last spring and as soon as I read the manuscript I knew I wanted to illustrate it. I was immediately flooded with ideas and imagery for the book. I loved how the text was simple enough that it didn’t dictate exactly what the illustrations should be. There was lots room for me to play and tell more of the story. I also really loved that the story covered an important topic in a way that didn’t pander to children. Lucy Falcone did a great job of that. I was really excited to be invited to contribute to this book and it’s my hope that lots of children will read it and be positively influenced to stand up when the opportunities arise.
There is so much planning that goes into illustrating a children’s book. In this case, it started with doing research and formulating a concept. I read as many articles as I could and I reached out to the people around me. I spoke to my friends, my colleagues, and the school teachers that I know, and I also put out a call on Facebook asking people to share their experiences of being bullied and /or being a bully. The response was overwhelming. It seems that pretty much everyone has been in one of those positions, and often they’ve been in both. I’m very grateful to everyone who shared their experiences and perspectives with me.
I like to work out the pacing for the story before doing the individual sketches. I did several initial storyboards for this book and when I was happy with one of them, I sent it to my editor so she could see what I envisioned. My editor was amazing and essential in the early development of this book. Her feedback gave me a lot to think about and in the end made my images better, which made the whole book stronger.
Although I am fortunate to have many brilliant creative people in my life who are happy to let me bounce ideas off of them, I need to acknowledge one of those people in particular. My friend, Jason Mathis, gave me very valuable feedback in the early stages that shaped my ideas for this book. Thank you, Jason!
Here are some of the early story boards:
Once the storyboard was finalized, I got to work on the sketches. Again, I had wonderful conversations with my editor that made my illustrations better. When the sketches were approved, I started working on the final art.
I want to talk more about some of the conceptual things in this book and have chosen a few spreads that I want to share in more detail, but I’ll save those for another post as this one is already quite long.
Thanks for reading!