I'm really excited about children's book I am currently illustrating for Sylvan Dell Publishing, and written by Sherry North. It's called "Champ's Story: Dogs Get Cancer Too!"
When the folks at Sylvan Dell offered me the project, I skimmed the manuscript and admittedly I was a little disheartened. Having lost both my parents to cancer at a young age, I was not so sure I wanted this theme to creep back into my life in the form of a story about a little boy whose pet gets sick and has to endure chemotherapy treatments. I really had to think about it and pray about it and search my heart about whether this book was a good match for me. For those who don't know, children's books generally take anywhere from 6 months to a year to illustrate. They are all-consuming, at least for me, because I pour my heart and my passion into them. After sitting with my thoughts awhile, it began to become clear to me that the book was Divinely offered to me for a reason. I have great empathy for anyone going through such a difficult illness, whether they themselves or a loved one. I also sweetly love my dog, Sunshine, and could easily imagine how I would feel if I had to watch her endure treatments for cancer. It is my life experience, I believe, that is guiding me as lovingly I create each illustration for this book. I hope that the end result will touch many lives and help many children understand cancer and deal with their own treatments for the disease.
Here is a dramatic scene from the book Champ's Story: Dogs Get Cancer Too!".
Sylvan Dell Publishing has been wonderful to work for. They have given me quite a bit of creative freedom in how I have chosen to illustrate the book. It has been fun mixing media - watercolor, gouache, oil pastel, pastel pencil, and touches of colored pencil - to achieve the look I want. I like how I've been able to bring a softness to the illustrations through the mix of media. It's like getting paid to try something new with my art!
In other news, if your New Year's resolution for 2010 is to a better illustrator, please read my latest column in the SCBWI-IL's e-newsletter The Prairie Wind, appropriately titled "Your New Year’s Resolution: Become a Better Illustrator". I lay out a few tips, accompanied by examples from my latest children's book "Little Black Ant on Park Street", written by Janet Halfmann and published by Soundprints Publishing.