We are so proud and pleased that My Big Barefoot Book of Wonderful Words is finally here! This great big beauty took more than three years to develop — far longer than the typical Barefoot Books title. What took us so long, you ask? Come along and we’ll show you how we created this complex book!
Since we started without a text in hand, our first job was to decide what kinds of scenes and themes we wanted to see in the book. I drew tiny rough thumbnails of potential scenes on a stack of index cards, which I used to lay the book out spread by spread. Once we had the layout nailed, I wrote the narrative text and a list of words for each spread. Tessa and I enjoyed many lively discussions about which words ought to be found where!
Once the text was finalized, we sent it over to illustrator Sophie Fatus for her to create pencil sketches of the entire book. We did not send along my thumbnails, because we didn’t want to interfere with Sophie’s creative process. It came as no surprise to us that Sophie basically nailed them on the first try, but we were amazed all the same how closely the roughs resembled the thumbnails that Sophie had never seen!
We went through several rounds of revisions to the rough illustrations. Some needed almost no changes (like the cross-section of the house), and others needed tweaks, like adjusting the placement of artwork to make room for text, or revising illustrations to be more clear to young readers. The clothing spread only needed one tweak — changing the twins from a pair of girls to a boy and girl pair.
Once we had Sophie’s pencil sketches looking exactly right, we approved her to paint the book! As if her job was not big enough, we asked Sophie to paint the entire book on two layers. That means that the backgrounds were painted separately from the people and objects. We did this so that we can easily have the artwork animated if we decide to create a digital version of MBBBWW one day.
Finally, our brilliant freelance designer Katie Jennings took Sophie’s final artwork and painstakingly combined the backgrounds and characters, and added the text. And voila!
We hope you enjoyed this glimpse inside the Creative Cauldron! If you could be a children’s book author, illustrator, designer or editor, which would you choose?
–Kate DePalma, Senior Editor
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