I was busy before Christmas finishing up final art for the sequel to my book, Miss Brooks Loves Books, (but I don’t), written by Barbara Bottner. it’s due out in late spring/fall of this year (2014) I believe. This new book is titled: Miss Brooks Story Nook, (where tales are told and ogres are welcome.) Below is my current comp, or proposed idea for the jacket design. You like? You can see the publisher’s comp at the bottom. I moved things around back the way I originally laid out the cover. It may or may not stay this way. I tried to include the yellow ochre color they proposed for the entire background. I thought it made the book look too young, kind of nursery rhyme-esque. And I moved Miss Brooks (in pirate hat) back up near her name in the title. I also rearranged the subtitle so it read more clearly (to me), and high-lighted the word STORY, not just because the book is all bout story telling, but because a single color font looked less appealing. A judgement call. This is the rough (below) sent back to me by the publisher’s designer for the jacket. Ideas are always rough at this point. The text would still not be final so this would be kept loose until the story was absolutely finished. The design I sent in response (below) tries to reflect the short, but complex story, which includes different elements of fantasy mixed with reality. Not always so easy to illustrate, or design.
I thought this design combined the various key characters in the book: Missy, at the top, is the main character of both books, but the titles do not reflect that, so it’s a tricky design solution to work out so the reader doesn’t expect the whole book to be about Miss Brooks, the next figure down, on the left, who is more the catalyst of the stories. She encourages Missy, a reluctant reader and story teller, to find a book she loves as a gateway to a love of reading, and encourage her to practice story telling, to encourage a love of stories as, among other things, a form of empowerment.
Next, on the right below is Billy, Missy’s nemesis, the bully next door, and the focus of her story. You can see he is different in my original version, and in the publisher’s version. I used the Billy I thought represented the character as I saw him. But the author and publisher saw him as a lot more benign. (A benign serial abuser…) So a different Billy was cut and pasted in for their comp. I in turn cut and pasted a counter proposal. He’s deranged here, which I think is closer to his character, and funnier, than just sticking his tongue out.
And below him, on the left, is Graciala, the snake charming ogre next door in Missy’s story she makes up in Story Nook. She has no description in the story, the look’s all me.
In fact all the characters are my imagined look. The Missy character is based on a small girl named Violet, all grown up now, who never took her hat off, even in bed at night. She is the daughter of good friends of mine who own the wonderful Reading Reptile book store in Kansas City. Violet’s mother Deb, is one part of Miss Brooks, and the other part is an editor, and an old friend of mine, Liz. I’m not telling the inspiration for Graciela… I submit this, along with the rest of the finished color art for the book. The cover is always the last thing done.
This (below) is the final color jacket art I submitted with the design above.This is (below) the Publisher’s comp, at the printed proof stage. I’ve marked it up with comments. The publisher, by contract, has the last say on the jacker design. It’s an almost universal business practice we illustrators learn to live with. It’s not unusual for the publishing house designer and the designer /illustrator of the book to disagree on jacker design. In the end no one is right. It’s opinion. And again, my design. It’s got a happy kid in a cool hat, a woman in a pirate hat, an ogre reading a book, and a deranged boy. What’s not to like???? Who wouldn’t pick this book up to see what it’s about? And that’s the whole idea behind jacket design: intrigue the reader/buyer to pick the book up and have a look.