This was the first book I ever published, and it never was meant to be anything more than something for a teenager to make a little money from – certainly not a planned start to a career that has lasted 25 years. And it happened because I wasn’t doing my job very well.
My father has always worked at home. When I was young and still living at home, my sister, Rebecca, my Mother and I would occasionally do “separations” and other mechanical artwork for my father’s book projects. We were working at the time on the Big Green Drawing Book (one of an innovative series of how-to-draw books my father created starting in 1968), and I was making some sketches for a section of the book on how to draw various dinosaurs. The first drawings I showed him were a little off the style of the rest of the book, but instead of rejecting them outright, he suggested, if I wanted to, I could do a few more sketches, do a little design work, and submit a whole separate book to the publisher. My father gave us some money then for the work we did for him. So this was also, in a way, a suggestion for me to start earning my own money – in other words, not his money. I said, “OK”.
Not long after, I sent a book “dummy” off to John Keller at Little, Brown & Co., who was my father’s long time editor and the publisher of the Drawing Book series. I did not think much of it as I remember. It was my book, but kind of my father’s as well. It took most of the pressure off I think. Anyway, John bought it. I was 18 years old. Next year I went off to art school.
It wasn’t until later that my father told me if John didn’t think it would sell, he wouldn’t buy it. It didn’t matter whose son I was or if the other drawing books sold a million copies. I’m not sure if that means the book was that good or not, but it is still in print over 20 years later.
“Budding artists who cut their teeth on Ed Emberley’s books are sure to enjoy this one” – School Library Journal
“Showing the good influence of his famous father, Ed Emberley, Michael has concocted an amusing and instructive book, a boon for those who adore prehistoric creatures”– Publisher’s Weekly
“Doodling dinosaur fans who have trouble completing their sketches, will find these step-by-step lessons helpful. (an) appealing book.” —Booklist, (starred review)