A door hanger every kid needs when they check this out of the library!
Archive for the ‘The Book That Eats People’ Category
Every once in awhile I pull out one of my old books and talk about it. At bus stops. Restaurants. The grocery store. Here on my blog…
The Book That Eats People was my first real, grown-up, kids book. (and of course it was the 2012 picture book of the year in North Carolina via the Children’s Book Awards) It was also the oddest manuscript I had been offered, so of course, I took it! I had just turned down two picture books in the previous months because I didn’t take to their stories and was pretty sure I would never actually be hired to illustrate a book, when this came in. I can never thank Abigail Samon, who was at Tricycle Press at the time, enough for the opportunity for my first book to be such a cool one. And a controversial one at times. It’s an odd book and as happens when you have a book that eats people, it scares some people. But as long as you run fast you don’t have much to worry about.
Below are some samples from early art in the book. (click to see them larger)
On my new website (some day soon!) I will have sections on each of my books that features some early art and design. But for now, here’s some early imagery from The Book That Eats People.
This is a close-up of a fairytale image that is used on the page that explains what the book isn’t! The type is FPO.
This is a development painting that was an early attempt to understand how to make an ongoing collage style work. This image is not in the final book. And the type on the page is FPO.
There was recently a rather spirited discussion about The Book That Eats People on a social media site. So I thought I would say a few quick words about why I like the book. Even though it eats people. I have not discussed this with the author. I have no idea if he shares any of my POV. But I excitedly accepted that manuscript after turning down a book or two in the previous months for a reason.
While I agree that the book isn’t for everyone (few books are, even classics are often banned) I know from experience that there are many, many kids who love it. And I think the book has an even more important role for kids. Let me explain why I like it so much.
Foe one, it’s funny. And not just HA-HA funny. It presents a wild sense of imagination as you look through it. The book is personified in myriad ways on and in the pages. It breaks the wall between reader and active participant. Of documentary and biography.
And one thing always strikes me when I read the book at events and even with my daughter. Kids are immediately intrigued by it. At a time when 90% of kids lit seems to be headed down the safe and narrow, when the licensed brands are taking over more and more market, it’s refreshing for kids to approach something that presents a big question right away. Not that losing ones mittens or hat or counting sheep or having wonderful, magical, wizardly adventures and discovering the magic that is in you can’t sometimes be great. And we have those books by the barrel full don’t we? But this books asks kids to critically think about what they are hearing (being read to by an authority figure most of the time) and reading.
Not that kids have to make an explicit effort to do that. But inherently, because of the very name of the book, they start to decide on whether or not a book CAN eat people. And I think this is incredibly important. We are asked to consume and read a ton of material in our life and it would be to everyone’s benefit if we all brought more critical thinking to what we read and hear. And why not start with a kids book? Do I want every kids book to be like this? No. And as a parent I know each kid is different. So for some younger kids, this may be too much. Though I think parents would be surprised what their kids are able to take in and handle. I know I was time and time again with my daughter.
And while books, as far as I know, can’t actually eat people, what is written in books is responsible for killing people everyday. So books are dangerous aren’t they? At least what’s written in them is.
The Book That Eats People is a book that not only lets kids go on a silly, imaginary, fantastical adventure (with a badly behaved book – and who isn’t badly behaved sometimes, even if we don’t eat people) and can begin a discussion about what is real and what isn’t. Just don’t read the book without washing your hands first. And don’t snack while reading it. Really.
The Book That Eats People got a nice call-out on the New York Times Motherlode blog as a ‘Classic picture book that fills you with dread.’
FUN dread that is. From the Blog:
“You’re advised at the end to lock it up, although the hopelessness of the situation is clear. The book always escapes. The rest of us get a lot of fun out of planting it in each other’s beds, but my youngest child won’t sleep with it in the room with him, and sometimes has to come out and observe that you’ve placed it under a large stack of Harry Potter books, or locked it in the dog crate (where I find it, periodically).”
That’s a great use for the the Harry Potter tomes once you’ve digested them. I mean read them. So Check it out. Gretchen Rubin covers a lot of great books.
Here’s me making another push for a great Halloween book that isn’t JUST a Halloween book; The Book That Eats People. It may not, at first bite, be a book that is thought of as a Halloween book. But the highly imaginative story within a story is perfect for a silly-scary read. And it’s not just about candy and tricking and treating.
No pumpkins, no witches…but nothing better captures the mood of Halloween than The Book That Eats People.
I don’t have a favorite Halloween picture book. My daughter and I like The Haunted Hamburger by David LaRochelle. And I like reading Julia Donaldson’s Room on the Broom (Illustrated by Axel Scheffler). Where’s my Mummy by Carolyn Crimi and John Manders is also a good read for those Halloween bed times. Lately my daughter has taken a liking to a couple of different History of Monsters type books. Some of them are definitely not picture books, but she loves the ‘historical’ aspects of them. The Essential Worldwide Monster Guide by Linda Ashman and David Small was a book my daughter had no interest in the first night it was read, but ended up as the book of choice (BOC) for about two weeks after that. She claims it needed to be read with a certain style. Whatever it was, I know it well by now. It’s a small-word-count book that examines creatures from different cultures. It stays simple and sharp and offers lots of jumping-off points to discuss other things.
And it’s almost time to watch It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. That’s the best part of Halloween for me. Well, that and the left over candy.
The book LOVES to fly. But it insists on sitting in the captain’s seat.
Just a quick note about how much fun it was to visit North Carolina. I want to thank all the students who voted for the book and the wonderful librarians who spend so much time and effort in support of reading in the schools. I heard so many wonderful stories about how The Book That Eats People is never shelved because it just keeps going right back out. And for some kids their love of this highly imaginative book may be just the thing to get them looking for their next book and their next.
It was also nice to meet the author of the book, John Perry. Most often when I illustrate a picture book I never meet the author of the book. Usually a publisher combines the author and illustrator ‘team’ to create the book and the illustrator and author may never even talk.
In North Carolina John Perry and I co-signed many copies of the book together for the first time. In the past when we have signed books at school and libraries we’ve been separated by about, oh, 2,500 miles. But for the first time in North Carolina, copies of the book have both of our scribbling in them.
Thanks to everyone involved for making it such a pleasant visit. And those butter cookies are really good!
Here are some samples from the dead-but-not-forgotten directory of my back-up hard drives.
To celebrate The Book That Eats People being named picture book of the year (or is it century?) in North Carolina and the fact that I will be in North Carolina later in the week to give a presentation, arm wrestle author John Perry and accept the prize of a 75 pound lama (I don’t make these things up!) here are some early pages from The Book That Eats People.
The copy was still changing a bit as I prepared this first book dummy. I was looking to tie together the collage and hand painted elements. Originally I was exploring a more collage oriented look. But working with my great editor at Tricycle Press and their art staff it morphed and changed, as most projects do. Check out the final book here on Amazon and order 10 copies. They make great gifts. For people who aren’t too scared.
So, aren’t you readers lucky, to get to see a bunch of my mistakes. Wait…why am I doing this? Actually it’s always interesting to see how a project grows and changes. At least when I do projects that’s what I call the process…maybe ‘mess’ is a better description?! For the editors and art directors reading this – hire me and I’ll make a mess of things. Great PR…I need to stop now…
Posted in kids books, Personal Appearance, picture books, Random House, The Book That Eats People, Tricycle Press, tagged John Perry, Random House, The Book That Eats People on September 13, 2012 | 3 Comments »
The Dogwoods won’t be blooming but I will be in North Carolina in October.
The Book That Eats People won the picture book of the year award there. So obviously it didn’t eat all the kids who picked up a copy. (BTW it’s a GREAT Halloween book if you want a scary book without trick-or-treating)
I’ll be speaking at the NCCBA event but I won’t be doing my famous mime routine titled: Child being eaten by book. I’ve retired that part of my show.
This will also be the first meeting between author of The Book That Eats People, John Perry and I. I’m not sure what will happen. I’m a little nervous. I mean, if he has books that eat people, what’s that say about his appetites? I’ve read stories about him, seen his picture (here), did the usual criminal background checks…he seems OK. He often emails me telling me that he beats me in arm wrestling all the time. But as I have never met him, I wonder who he is arm wrestling?
And did you know that North Carolina’s state dog is the Plott Hound? They are said to be hardworking, tenacious and loyal. Happy to hunt bear and wild boar. They are also one of only two known dog breeds that can write their name. And as far as I know, The Book That Eats People has never eaten a Plott Hound.
Ok…maybe I made up the ‘write their name’ part.
John Perry (the author) mentioned to me how proud he is that this book does so well when kids get to vote. And it certainly does. It loves kids. In fact, it loves anyone with chocolate chip cookie bits on their fingers!
Posted in 3 Little Aliens, Book Signing, Book Store, books, Candlewick Press, Earthling!, graphic novels, So you want to catch bigfoot?, The Book That Eats People, The Three Little Aliens and the Big Bad Robot on April 13, 2012 | 2 Comments »
I got to watch rain dance across the open fields on my way down to Salem last night for a book signing. I’d like to thank the Morningside Elmentary school for being such a great host. I had a ton of fun meeting creative kids and talking about ‘drawing’ stories.
I was also really excited to be talking to kids about Earthling! for the first time (Thanks to Chronicle Books for some early support for Earthling!) as well as signing favorite copies of The Three Little Aliens and the Big Bad Robot, The Book That Eats People and So You Want To Catch Bigfoot.
Thank you to the staff and parents and students who came out to celebrate books, illustration and storytelling. I saw some wonderful student books in progress and was excited to see so many students creating original tales of monsters, aliens, penguins and lemons!