Once you are a published author you get a lot of questions and requests for advice from people who want to publish a children’s book. Most of the time I give them a couple of suggestions but mostly I tell them to join the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).
A local friend and client of mine who had helped me out on a few occasions told me he had friend who had written a book. He said she wanted to take me to lunch and ask my advice. I didn’t want to say no so we set a date.
Julia Pinckney was not local to my area but her job had her travel to many places. She was in town from North Carolina. We chatted for a bit about books and she asked if I d look at her manuscript. I told her I would make no promises but would give her my honest opinion. I read Am I BIG Enough? And was surprised at its simplicity and sweetness. I was also blown away by her idea of having a hand every few pages that a reader of the appropriate age could see that they were “big enough” too. She said she he’d talked child psychologists and others to get the size right.
I did something I never do, I told her I’d help her put together a dummy with some sample illustrations and make an introduction to Schiffer Publishing. I said that if Schiffer liked the book I would do the illustrations. I was finishing up Do Not Open The Box! and had time to fit it in with another book I was working on.
Schiffer, unsurprisingly to me, said yes. The illustrations are very simple so it did not take long to finish. Early on I was working on a realistic hand illustration. I was not happy, it looked odd. My wife Melanie was running an art museum based pre-school at the time and I saw some colorful hand prints on a craft. I suggested we do that inside the book instead, making them in many bright colors.
It was also great to have a pre-school book in my catalog. Often times at a book festival a family would come up looking for books that are good for different age kids. I now had one for the very young and soon I’d have a middle-grade. That’s the next story.