Thursday, February 12, 2009

Good News from the Coretta Scott King Award Committee!

Okay, I admit, it's been a while since my last update, Oct. '08 in fact, but rest assured my pencils and paintbrushes have not been resting on their laurels! I recently finished a project for Random House, Who Will I Be, Lord?, set for an Oct. '09 pub date. It's a little different than most of my previous books, but more about it later. I'm also busy working on a couple other projects that will appear on bookshelves in 2010. But the real "giant" (hint, hint) news that I'm happy to report, is that I received the Coretta Scott King Award Honor for Before John Was A Giant! The call came early Monday morning Jan. 26th and I'm a little embarrassed to say that I was still in bed when a very enthusiastic Coretta Scott King Award committee announced the news over the phone.

Oh no, maybe I'm still sleeping and this is all a dream...The Coretta Scott King Award was given to Floyd Cooper for The Blacker The Berry. Kadir Nelson: We Are the Ship and Jerry Pinkney: The Moon Over Star were also given honors and Shadra Strickland won the John Steptoe New Talent Award for Bird. I'm so honored to be included with such talented people! The video for the announcements can be seen here - awards video. And if you're interested, here's a video of the ALA Committees calling the various award winners. View award calls here. - pretty cool.
In addition, Before John Was a Jazz Giant was also named an ALA Notable book for 2009.

Nobody's Family Is Going To Change

Barbara Grzeslo the designer of The Baby On The Way, my first picture book, recently asked me to illustrate the cover of Louise Fitzhugh's Nobody's Family Is Going To Change, a book that was written in the early 70's that the publisher wanted to give a fresh look to.Fitzhugh is most well known as the author of Harriet the Spy. If you're a fan of This American Life like I am, there's a really good episode based on the idea behind the book. Here's what they have to say about it. "On the surface, it sounds like a rather menacing title for a kids' book. But in fact, the story is about how kids can finally find peace if they stop hoping that their parents will ever be any different. The question is, though: is it true? Does anyone's family ever change?"
These are a few different versions of the sketch that was chosen for the cover as well as an early version of the final art.My sketches start with really rough thumbnails like the one above.

Once elements are established in the drawing I photocopy the sketch and make refinements to the photocopy with pencil and paint.

I usually make more than one copy so I can try different things and compare.

The publisher was worried that the art would be too blue so they asked me to give dimension to the buildings in the background as a way of getting rid of some of the blue.

And the final.