Received an ARC (advance reader copy) for SHE LOVED BASEBALL: THE EFFA MANLEY STORY, a book I illustrated for HarperCollins. It will publish later this year, in October.
My editor, the art director and designers were meticulous with details and color reproduction. I've seen at least 5 color proofs of the cover over the past year, and I had to make several detail changes caught by copy editors (thank God for copy editors!). And I'm happy, the cover sings!— er, in the spirit of baseball, the cover hits a home run!
My dedication reads: For five extraordinary women who changed my life: Tamera D-T (my wife), Sharon T. (my mom), Dorothy B. (my mother-in-law), Autumn S. and Jheris T. (my daughters). Of course, there are other women who influenced me, and now I feel bad that I didn't name them, my aunts Eleanora and Polly. My grandmother Hazel. So many others.
The above is my favorite spread. It's a bustling Harlem street scene. When I was a kid, I loved studying illustrations in books. And my favorite scenes provided many faces to study. Here, in addition to illustrating the author's words, I wanted to provide the reader with many opportunities to wonder about the other people illustrated. Who are they? Where are they going? What are they thinking? Doing? I think about each person I illustrate even if they aren't a part of the storyline. Hopefully this isn't distracting.
If I had an opportunity to do one illustration over, it would be the image below. I don't know, the guy with the cheesy smile is just plain goofy. Early on in my career, an editor told me that I needed to make my characters look happy, to make them smile. I took her advice too seriously, I think, and I tend to make my people look all smiley. Even when it's not necessary. Anyway...
If I didn't mention before, this book has already been selected by the Junior Library Guild. What an honor! And the author, Audrey Vernick, what a treat it has been to work with her. Anytime I had questions, she was there, volunteering to go over-and-beyond to get a piece of information for me.
Last but not least, I want to thank my editor, Kristin Daly Rens. Publishing is a competitive business. Kristin could have selected any of numerous illustrators for this project. But she selected me. I appreciate that.