Monday, August 25, 2008

Introducing Cat & Mouse & Myself

I'm launching this blog the day before my new book is officially released. At least I think it'll be available in stores on August 26th. It's called Cat & Mouse and, yes, it's about a cat and a mouse. The latter is a relative of the two stars of my last book, Pip & Squeak, and the former is a kind of hybrid of my two cats, Buzz and Pistachio. The text is also a hybrid: I took three nursery rhymes and edited and rearranged them so they would read like a story.

Initially, I only wanted to take the rhyme "Hickory, Dickory, Dock" and stretch it out into a 32-page picture book. It was to be set in an antique shop and the illustrations were to be filled with old objects and visual and verbal puns. But after years of tinkering, I just couldn't pull it off. I showed it to my editor and art director at Greenwillow Books and they suggested I extend it with some other rhymes. We also decided that the myriad knick-knacks were too distracting, so I paired down my sketches to their key elements. 

Once I shored up the pacing of the book - which had expanded to 40 pages - I made careful pencil drawings to guide me as I prepared the illustrations. This way I could avoid making time consuming corrections or changes later on in the process. And, at last, I made the final art with ink and acrylic paint on Fabriano Artistico Extra White 300lb hot press watercolor paper - a smooth, durable paper that doesn't curl or blister the way Bristol board can when it's saturated with water (I found this out the hard way a few books ago). I also hand-lettered the text with ink and my father's old lithographer's graver on separate sheets of scratchboard.

I'll post more about what went into making Cat & Mouse (among other topics), but for now I hope you'll take a look at the finished product and let me know what you think.