Need to figure out the best way to share these. I’ve been spending more time scanning and posting than I have on the actual challenge. At any rate, #bookeveryfriday.
Last week when I was working on the sea turtle story, this line popped into my head:
Bogberry blue, bogberry green
Bogberry biggest one you’ve ever seen.
My brain tried to run with the rhyme, but I knew I was going to want to use it as a starter for this week. So, I fought hard to keep from carrying on and when I finally sat down to start the challenge on Friday I let it all out. I wrote about three pages (not realizing until about halfway through the second page that I was cribbing from “Peas Porridge Hot”) and then started on a storyboard. Here it is:
It was at the top of the second page where the characters and setting took shape. I see the protagonists being three characters who live in a swamp. Maybe a bayou? They’re definitely part of North American mythology. Maybe these guys use human artifacts for tools like the Borrowers do–and I only just realized I drew one of the characters with a tail in one panel. That’s all stuff to figure out. For now, I’m liking the dynamic between the characters and am particularly fond of the pacing in these three spreads.
And this sketch, a direct reference to Roy McKie, pleases me.
Alright, that’s the second #bookeveryfriday.
I must be excited for this challenge, I was up at 4:30 this morning. I didn’t let myself out of bed, though, it’s the first day of summer and I knew I’d want to be well rested for the afternoon.
Here’s a peek at what I made in the morning.
And here’s what I helped make in the afternoon.
I tried to take a nap in that tent but it didn’t happen. Then home, then dinner, then back to the drawing table.
Not as complete as the sea turtle story but I think it qualifies for a legit #bookeveryfriday. Usual scan and post coming in the next couple of days.
So, why this challenge? For fun, really. But also because I’m trying to break out of a bad habit.
I let ideas sit in my mind too long. Far too long. I work and rework these ideas in my mind until I get to where I see a finished book. It’s a book with a proper beginning, middle and end, with catchy refrains, delightful page turns and unexpected twists. It’s a book with a snazzy cover, a cute dedication and maybe even a hidden reference to classic kid lit. But it’s only in my mind. And then, instead of being a welcome and exciting creative experience, the prospect of getting the story, this picture book that’s already finished, out onto paper becomes a tedious chore.
In order to Marie Kondo my brain space (spark joy!), I’ve committed myself to getting a number of those stories out and onto paper this year and have made headway on a few titles. Still, my progress has been unreliable and I realized I need to do something important: change my outlook and remind myself that making books is fun. And that’s why this challenge.
So, on the morning I decided to go with this I saw a post on my Instagram feed that was tagged #worldseaturtleday and I thought, “I like turtles.”
I started with a sketch.
It’s always gotten me down that seagulls, scavengers that can and will eat anything, feast on turtle hatchlings. I remember watching nature documentaries as a kid and feeling a sense of gross injustice as the little turtles scrambled desperately for the water while seagulls sauntered lazily along the beach and picked them off. In this drawing, the protagonist is telling the seagull to lay off the turtles.
That led to this:
There was a lot I liked about this, but it wasn’t feeling right. So, I switched it up.
I would actually like to read a non-fiction story about the sea turtle life cycle from a turtle’s eye view and I really liked the two two-page spreads of the turtles coming out of the sand but I wasn’t so sure I wanted to write that book. At least not during this challenge. I stopped again and went back to the idea of a human protagonist, two protagonists, actually. Two penpals. I worked this time directly in a little book I cut and folded out of copy paper.
It took me the remainder of the day to draw the story. I mapped it out on the fly and had a couple stops and starts while I tried to balance the idea that while wildlife conservation is complicated and often disheartening, it’s not impossible and can have a happy ending. I wrote the story as pictures and only jotted down a few lines. Most of the text was in my head, it wasn’t until I scanned the drawings that I forced myself to put those ideas to paper. It feels a bit like filler, but I needed to start somewhere.
All that’s left is to share it with you. Here it is:
I set myself a challenge to see if I could make a book in a day. I mean, I figured I could, I wanted to see if I could have fun making a book in a day.
I did. It took a better part of the day and it’s going to take me a while yet to scan the pages but once I do, I’ll post it here.
A couple months back I very nearly started a kids lit review blog. It wasn’t born of an academic or altruistic inspiration, it was just a vehicle to tear apart The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend. A little background: I’m not motivated to start a blog for every book I don’t like. In fact, there are very few books I don’t like. At worst a book does nothing for me–I can see its merits but they don’t resonate with me. But somehow Beekle just got under my skin.From time to time, I will run across a book I really don’t like. I always check myself when I do. Is it sour grapes? Is the author telling a story I want to tell better than I could? Is it sweet pickles? Do I actually really like the book but I feel like I’m not supposed to? Nah, my distaste was legit–I just didn’t like Beekle (I will grant, though, that the Caldecott and related press that kept Beekle in my eye longer than it would have normally intensified my feelings).
Anyway, I wrote my review, opened a blog on Tumblr and was about to pull the trigger when Tara Lazar updated her blog with a post about dealing with bad reviews. Although Ms. Lazar’s post might have been titled “How to Deal with Unaccountably Vindictive Jerks”, it raised in my mind some questions about the purpose of reviews. What’s our responsibility as producer-consumers of kids lit? To cheer new publications unquestioningly? Once a book is on the shelves, does a one-star rating do anything except maybe provide some fun reading? Do reviews raise academic discussion or is it preaching to the converted? Or is it all just noise?
I don’t know the answer to those questions, but Tara Lazar’s post reminded me of something. I don’t like making noise for the sake of making noise and I don’t want to be that jerk that craps on something someone clearly cared enough to see through to publication. And as fun as bad reviews are to write, they’re not where I want to focus my energy.
But I do still have an itch to write reviews. Vintage Children’s Books My Kid Loves has all my childhood favorites covered and The Picture Book Review handles everything else. Excellently, I might add. Seven Impossible Things is just about perfect. Being an independent, I see where small titles could use a shout out, so starting next week I’m going to use this space to review and promote self-published, independent or small press titles.
I’m still going to tag it The Book Jerk because I like that name.
Jerrold "Meng" Connors is an author/illustrator making fun things for kids.
Need to figure out the best way to share these. I’ve...
Last week when I was working on the sea turtle story, this...
I must be excited for this challenge, I was up at 4:30 this...
© 2016 Jerrold Connors