Sometimes, I draw.
These are in-progress illustrations for children’s book manuscripts I’ve written. Drawing helps me think out what’s happening in the text. Even if I’m not ultimately the one who illustrates the books, sketching gives me a way to make sure that what I’m writing will have a good visual presence on the page.
PICTURE BOOKS (Manuscripts, that is)
BIG PETE & LITTLE PETE
Big Pete and Little Pete live on a colorful mountain in the middle of the sea. Everything is cheery and bright—the sea glass, the shore birds, even the Petes’ cherry red knee socks! But when a mysterious storm blows through, everything turns stone gray. Now it’s up to this grandpa and grandson—and their tandem bicycle—to bring the color back.
I just finished revising this manuscript and am beginning to work on the images. I love, love, love using cut paper, and I’m working on making a stop-motion animation trailer for this book. The sketch of Little Pete came out essentially right the first time. He needs a little finessing—like, why are his femurs so long? And why is the flesh pooling at his knees?—but he looks pretty much how I envisioned he would. Big Pete, on the other hand. Man, it took 84 tries to get him right. Yes, 84. For real.
Here’s the tandem bike.
And here’s Little Pete, with his soon-to-be-fixed, abnormally long femurs.
And here’s Big Pete. His head looks sharp as a cactus, but you can tell he’s a softy.
And, finally, Humperdink! He’s the first colorful thing Little Pete finds after the big storm, and he gets to ride around in the bicycle basket. He’s kind of a composite of all of my kitties (see below). I have a thing for redheads.
DELILAH & THE DESPERATELY DULL DAY
Delilah is having a totally rotten day on the ranch—the sky is gray, the horses are glum…even Delilah’s pigtails droop. Everything’s dull without Granddaddy. But when Delilah finds his old lasso, she discovers that she can rope the clouds…and, maybe, the gloomy day away.
Bristle’s wool is scratchy and stiff. You can’t spin it. You can’t knit it. You certainly can’t make a sweater with it. It isn’t good for anything. So he thinks.
Foggy is a very big bear with even bigger dreams: to be a famous roller skater! He has just one problem: he farts when he’s nervous. And thing biggest thing that makes Foggy nervous is his tiny boss, the circus ringmaster.
OTHER FUN THINGS (Or, CATS)
Lots of people are crazy about their animals, but my sister and I are the only ones I know of who have developed full-blown personalities—complete with voices!—for our pets. I realize that this behavior would probably be deemed questionable by mental health professionals, but I honestly don’t care. It’s fun, and it sure beats talking to yourself. I mean, if my cats existed as muppets, it would almost be normal. For the record, immediate family members and close friends have feigned worry over this, but they totally talk to the animals. I haven’t figured out a way to turn these characters into a book yet, so they mainly exist as a series of one-offs. Like personalized cartoons. Sometimes Seppe and Monkie write lunch notes to my husband. Sometimes, they text my friends. Seppe has a twangy, lispy voice and is incredibly outgoing. Like if Big Bird and Sponge Bob and an auction barker had a cat together, it would sound like Seppe. Monk has a soothing, Midwestern, high-pitched style that is somewhere between a mourning dove coo and my Grandpa Schlaifer. They’re both dead now, but that doesn’t stop them from communicating! Puh-lease. Our two living cats, Gus and Roman, also speak. Gus rolls his Rs perpetually, even if he’s not saying an R, so its like he’s speaking through an old fan at all times. Roman’s still a kitten, so all he says is MEEP! He’s like the Road Runner crossed with a cheese biscuit. We call him Fluffy Butter Feet.
Seppe & Monkie
Gus & Roman
A Passover lunch note to Arny.