Posts Tagged ‘children’s books’

BIG, from Little Pickle Press, is available at the press website (http://littlepicklepress.com) and on Amazon in hardcover and Kindle versions. This is excellent news if you have a Kindle Fire (and I do).

As all of you with even a nodding acquaintance with my blog know, we’re big people around here. There’s the House Leroy, of course, whose nickname is “Big.” There’s The Boy, who is 6’4″. There were my uncles, all over six feet. And now there are my nephews–6’4″ and 6’8″–who by chance are visiting and cooking for me. Since they’re marvelous cooks, that explains why we’re big in other ways, too). We know big. We do it well.

Which is why I was particularly pleased to run across BIG, a new Little Pickle Press book written by written Coleen Paratore and illustrated by Clare Fennell. BIG that takes the idea of bigness–something about which I thought I knew just about everything there is to know–and expands it in intriguing, and thought-provoking, ways. I was even more pleased to score Clare Fennell’s email address, and have the chance to chat with her a little bit about her work style.

Being big is a subject that’s central to the lives of many children. You’re a mom. Is it something that comes up a lot at your house?
Being big is a massive issue in our house; my younger girl is quite small for her age (she was born prematurely) and other children often refer to her as “little.” She hates it and insists she’s a ‘BIG’ girl. And she is! She also hates it when her older sister gets to do stuff that she can’t, like staying up late, sleepovers or being able to ride her bike without stabilisers (training wheels) etc.

I notice that a lot of these illustrations include measuring tools–rulers, drafting paper, and so forth. Was this intentional? And if so, can you expand on that a bit? In a book that basically defines bigness in terms that have nothing to do with physical measurements, what role do those measuring tool textures fill?
Hmm, I guess you can look at them as literal measuring tools. I particularly like textures like text books, graph paper and newspapers, and use them a lot. The more textures the better!

I think we wanted to use them here to show how being “BIG” isn’t necessarily a size thing right at the beginning of the book, even though that’s what people think. Then I liked the theme running through the book.

Speaking of textures: How do you get your collage textures? I see painted paper, printed paper (the drafting paper), and paper textures that involve words and various images. Do you create those textures as well, or do you seek out already-printed paper textures for your work? And if so, where do you like to look?

I think the answer is where don’t I look! I am constantly looking and collecting stuff. I have three boxes labeled “Patterns, Textures, Colours” to keep them all in, and a cupboard full of fabrics. I love going to haberdashery departments and vintage clothing stalls! I go through all magazines before they are recycled and rip out anything I can use–be it a nice area of colour, water texture, skin texture–anything!

I also do a lot of painting colours on brown parcel paper (I like the texture it produces) and on old newspaper. I’ve used old bits of clothing–I’ve also photographed some of my old stuffed toys (for the pattern) and photographed my furniture for wood textures, photographed rocks, plants etc.

How did you find Little Pickle Press? (Or, how did they find you?)
They found me! It was so lovely to be approached like that. I think they saw my work on Children’s Illustrators.com and then on my blog. They liked the mixed media feel of my work. Hooray!!

Your work looks very traditional. How does PhotoShop factor in? Do you collage your work there, or do you develop images, print them out, and then integrate them into your collages?

Well, I don’t have any hard and fast rules, I’m always experimenting. Mainly I collage and paint the individual bits by hand on paper. For BIG, I made all the  characters first, then scanned them in and used Photoshop to finish the collage electronically. Finally I added background textures,  shadows, and so forth, also in Photoshop.

I love collage because it gives me the flexibility to change and move things around. Photoshop is just an extension of this for me. Sometimes I create a pattern in Photoshop, print it out, and then collage it, but not often.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with readers?

When I was eighteen I wrote to Quentin Blake (it was pen and paper in those days) And he replied!!

He sent me loads of press clippings because I was doing an essay about him (no internet!) His work has always inspired me, even though it’s completely different to mine. I have always enjoyed how much movement and character he can bring to his images.

I trained in illustration at university. After I graduated I continued buying children’s books because I loved them. I stumbled into greetings card work after graduating and ended up staying there. It was an amazing grounding into art and design on a professional level, but my heart has always been in children’s books. I just didn’t have the confidence…

After I had our girls, I spent hours reading lovely children’s books with them … wishing. One day a very good friend of mine said, “Just try it; what have you got to lose?” So I dusted off my sketchbook and started! I guess it shows what you can do if you put your mind to it. It’s the best job in the world, AND I get to be here with our children after school and in the holidays too. One day I hope to write a children’s  book as well….well, that’s the plan!!

Thanks so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to share with us, Clare.

And if you, Gentle Readers (or Savage Readers–we’re equal-opportunity around here, what with the Magic Dog’s penchant for biting UPS men, gas men, Fed-ex men, mail men, cops, and random strangers) would like to read more about BIG, Little Pickle Press, and the nice people who make these things possible, you can download lesson plans at the Little Pickle Press website here. Click here for the BIG lesson plan. And of course you’ll want to buy a copy of this beautiful book, or download a Kindle version of the book by clicking here.

BIG is printed on recycled papers with soy inks in North America (since the folks at Little Pickle Press are all Big People and Understand About Saving Our Planet).  For more of the story behind the story in BIG continue the book tour tomorrow–here’s a full set of the blog stops:

Tour Stops 2012

·  9/17 Carrots Are Orange

·  9/18 Shonell Bacon

·  9/19 Brit Mum

·  9/20 Spoiled Yoga

· 9/21 Capability Mom

Here’s a quick reference list of helpful links for BIG, and for Little Pickle Press:

Picture Book

Kindle e-book

Video trailer

Little Pickle Press website

Little Pickle Press blog

Little Pickle Press on Facebook

Little Pickle Press on Twitter

Little Pickle Press on Pinterest

BIG Lesson Plan Only

Free lesson plans

LPP Blog Book Tour Schedule

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What Does It Mean To Be Safe? Written by Rana DiOrio, Illustrated by Sandra Salsbury

Welcome! Welcome to the usual suspects, as well to those of you who are participating in Little Pickle Press’ blog tour for What Does It Mean To Be Safe? by Rana DiOrio.

Today we talk to illustrator Sandra Salsbury, whose lively illustrations bring D’Orio’s text to life. Salsbury studied illustration at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, CA. She received her BFA in December 2006 and her MFA in August 2009. She currently resides in Mountain View, CA with her two cats, Gypsy and Winston. “I am, however, not a crazy cat lady,” she adds. When she’s not illustrating or teaching art classes (she combines teaching and illustrating careers) she likes hiking and doing yoga.

Self portrait

She stops in for a quick conversation today. Enjoy the pictures, and feel free to weigh in with your comments and questions.

BodieP: A book like What Does It Mean To Be Safe has a serious message for kids. How is illustrating a book with a message like this different from illustrating a kids’ book primarily designed to entertain?
Sandra: As an illustrator, I don’t really feel like I should approach the two types that differently. Even though What Does It Mean To Be Safe? has a serious message, it still has to be entertaining in some regard so that children will want to read it. As the illustrator, it was really my job to bring that entertainment factor into the story. I need to create characters to follow and a narrative that goes along with the message.

BodieP: How do you think illustrations help to shape the reading experience?
Sandra: In the case of What Does It Mean To Be Safe?  the illustrations add a story element to the book. If you just read the manuscript, it’s a list of ways to be safe. I think the written aspect of the book has an extremely important message, but it’s not a story. The illustrations add a layer of meaning to the text. The book then doesn’t just tell you how to be safe, it also shows children following the message of the book.

BodieP: I notice on your website that you work in a variety of media. Which is your favorite?
Sandra: Definitely watercolor. I love the clean, crisp quality of the colors and the level of detail that one can achieve with it. I also find it much easier to mix the exact colors I want. It’s also an extremely portable media and very easy to clean up.

One of Sandra's illustrations. To see more visit her website.

BodieP: Illustration is one of those jobs that seem like they’d be a lot of fun (at least from the outside, looking in). it’s easy to think of it as a license to doodle all day. What’s it really like? Can you walk us through a typical project?
Once we officially started working on the What Does It Mean To Be Safe?  I had the manuscript, but we didn’t have an overall story for the book. I would say that this was the biggest challenge and probably the aspect that took the most time. Before I could even start working on the sketches, we had to decide what was going on in each page. Who would the characters be? What are they doing? Once that was decided, we moved on to rough sketches, and then more defined sketches, then final drawings, and then changes to the final drawings. From the very beginning scribbles to the final painting, pages may go through a dozen variations, each which had an approval process. Once the final paintings were done, I took them to a scanner and they were sent to the designer to create the layout of the book. The whole process took about 4.5 months.

BodieP: Are you a “pure” illustrator, or is that one of multiple hats you wear? Care to share what the others might be?
Sandra: Unfortunately, I am not able to work as an illustrator full time. I would like to make the transition one day, but I am not sure when that point will be. I have been working with children for about 10 years now. I teach art at a local community art school and I also work in the school districts in my area.

BodieP: How does technology affect the work you do? (For example, do you use a computer in your creative process? Does it factor into the editing of your images? Do you deliver mounted illustrations or scans?)
Sandra: The biggest role that technology plays in my work is communication. I am able to send scans of my sketches to my art director and hear back from her in the same day. Even the same hour, sometimes. I can’t imagine how long this process would have been if I had to mail things back and forth!  As for my actual work, the internet is great for reference images, but beyond that, I don’t use the computer in my work very much. I will occasionally touch up images in Photoshop, but nothing major.

BodieP: Do you think technology has improved or harmed the world for designers?
Sandra: Technology has definitely improved things for artists, if not for all the programs that are now available, then for the ease of communication. There was once a time when illustrators basically needed to live in New York. Now publishing companies can work with people anywhere in the world.

BodieP: You’re an illustrator. That’s something many people dream of doing. If you had to offer advice to those who would like to get into the field, what would you suggest?
Sandra: Learn how to market yourself. This is by far the biggest challenge for me, and one that I haven’t overcome yet. It doesn’t matter how beautiful your work is if no one ever sees it. Drawing and painting is only 50% of your job. You also need to manage your website, contact publishers, go to conferences, send mailers, negotiate contracts, and so on.

BodieP: I notice you have your work divided into illustrations, sketches, and fine art. How do you differentiate among them?
Sandra: My illustrations are finished pieces that have a narrative element to them. Most of them are based on a story or text or some sort. My sketches are basically my doodles. I don’t want to paint a full narrative piece every time I sit down to paint. Sometimes I just want to draw something silly, and that sort of falls in the sketches category. My fine art section contains figure, portrait, and landscape studies.

If you’d like to email Sandra about her work you can do so here. If you’d like to see more of her work, you can do that here. To order a copy of What Does It Mean to be Safe? visit Little Pickle Press online, or find them on Amazon. Note that there is a free shipping code (BBTSAFE) that you can use at checkout.That will also get you a free TerraSkin (tree-free paper) poster to go with the book.

Tomorrow the blog tour catches up with Pat Bean and Maggie. You won’t want to miss that. For the rest of the tour stops visit Little Pickle Press online.

My very favorite illustration in all of What Does It Mean To Be Safe?

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