I know it’s been a while, but I thought I’d finally publish my speech from the Geisel Award Ceremony at the ALA Convention in June. Here it is, along with a few pics for good measure.
Thanks, first off, to my wonderful wife, Janae. She made the trip out here nigh unto nine months pregnant, despite my protests. Janae insisted on coming, stating that this was the Oscars of children’s books. “The Geisel is the biggest award you’re ever going to get,” she said, “so, you’d better let me come!” I’m glad she’s here, and I love her for it, but I still worry that she’ll go into labor in the middle of my speech.
Congratulations to David Adler, Jonathan Fenske, Kevin Henkes, and Steven Savage. Your talents inspire me. I’m still uncertain whether I’ve done anything that warrants Dr. Seuss’ likeness on the cover. All the same, it’s a joy to be here.
I’ve always loved film, illustration, and writing. In second grade, I wanted to be Arnold Lobel. In fourth, I wrote a letter to Chris Van Allsburg telling him how much I idolized him. In middle school, I geeked out on C.S. Lewis and Tolkien. In high school, I wanted to be like Peter Weir and Stephen Spielberg. Later, I discovered Mary Blair and Lane Smith, William Steig and Quentin Blake—artists I’d neglected as a child. I realize now that what I wanted all along was to tell a story—to share the power of make believe with other people. So, maybe I just wanted to be a combination of LeVar Burton and Mr. Rogers.
I’m not there yet as an artist, though if my wife’s prophecies hold true, I may have already peaked. This might be my Orson Welles/Citizen Kane moment. Still, I relish the idea of creating books that evoke wonder, that speak to kids where they are, and that say something meaningful (though not necessarily seriousful). I hope the future will let me make things that stand the test of time, even if I never get another gold sticker.
Thank you to the Geisel Committee, to Denise Cronin and Kate Renner at Viking, and to my agent, Minju Chang. And here’s to all the kids out there like Mo Jackson, who have huge dreams and are just waiting for their big break. Keep moving forward, and magical things will happen.
I’m going to draw more consistently in my sketchbook. I’m already drawing a ton every day, but usually it’s for client work, and I haven’t been sketching for the pure enjoyment of it. I’m going to keep one sketchbook and one drawing tool at my desk until I fill the book. I’m hoping that by getting rid of choices and only using one book and one medium, I’ll get into sketching more quickly and increase my creative output. Here’s a page from today.
The sequel to Don’t Throw It to Mo! comes out Tuesday, so I thought I’d share a quick sketch from the new book. In this sketch for the cover, Mo was right handed, but as the illustration process continued, I thought it’d be great to switch things up a bit and have him be a lefty.
So Mo’s a lefty throughout the book. In some ways, the leftie thing was a bit of a bummer, because I wanted Mo to be facing right, and the only way for him to do that if he was left handed would be for his back to face the viewer. So, in the final cover he’s facing left.
In the coming weeks, I hope to post more often (even though I have two books due in March, which is making me crazy), and I’ll show some more preliminary work for Mo.
I created these a while back while I was working on a project for Snowbird Ski Resort (their site redesign is nice, by the way). None of these made the final cut, but I thought they looked pretty cool, and I ran across them again today.
My son likes to sit at the kitchen counter a lot. He watches my wife cook there. He likes to draw there. It might just be his favorite hangout spot.
I’ve been experimenting with using fountain pen and marker on watercolor paper. It’s been pretty fun. The color is really vibrant, but obviously the texture and subtleties of watercolor aren’t there. Still, it’s quick, and it’s not messy.
I made a series of illustrations recently for ilearn4fun. This story was about a turkey who eats stuff. That’s pretty much the entire plot. Anyway, here are a couple of images from that. I wanted to create a flat, Eric Carle-esque look.
Oh, and Benjamin is French. Hence, the awesome bowtie. (I also included a little history and made Benjamin look a tad like Benjamin Franklin.)