I'd like to tell you all about the children's book I've been working on. It is
called the Animal's Santa, and it tells the story of a snowshoe rabbit that is
very sceptical about Santa. His older brother knows that the forest animals are
receiving presents on Christmas morning, and he wants his little brother to join
in the fun of Christmas. He is pretty sure that Santa is leaving the presents,
but he just doesn't have any proof. My story is how he traps Santa.
I set my story in North America, in the north of Canada, because it seemed
possible that the animal's story could take place there. The animals that live
in the North woods are somewhat reclusive and mysterious. There is an Artic Fox
vixen, Raven twins, a Porcupine and the Snowshoe Hare brothers. A Polar Bear,
Moose and Badger also make appearances when the animals describe who they think
Santa might be.
I've worked on my book for many months now, and its beginning to have a momentum
of its own. I start with a dummy, or cartoon version that is 32 pages, the same
length as the book will be, so I can refer to it, but I always wait for that
moment when the story starts rolling along. The sketches serve as a road map,
but I try not to let them get in the way of new ideas that crop up.
When I lived in Boston as an art student and a young mother, I spent many days
at the Peabody Museum at Harvard. My young daughter and I spent hours looking at
the taxidermied animal specimens that had been collected from all over the
world. The museum also has an extensive collection of Native American arts and
crafts, and it cast a spell on me. I was very intrigued with the porcupine quill
work. One of the reasons I set my book in North America was so I could paint
quill work in the borders. I didn't copy any of the quill work from the museum,
but tried to imagine the forest family in my book as an undiscovered native
people, with their own esthetic. Most of the materials I used are typical of the
materials used by First Peoples.
Today I'll be working on my book's jacket. My editor and I have been giving a
lot of thought on what the title should be. We both love "Who is the Animal's
Santa?" But it takes up a lot of room on the jacket, and restricts the art. The
publisher is afraid there will be confusion about the title, and people won't
remember the title. So right now the title is "The Animal's Santa" I show the
question being asked in the body language of the main character, "Little Snow".
I just received my authors copies of "Cinders", about three weeks before the
publisher’s release. I am just thrilled with the way it is presented. It is a
wintery fairy tale, and there are subtle sparkles on the jacket, and on the
display type. Marikka, a very talented designer at G.P.Putnam's Sons (Penguin)
created an extraordinary jacket. Not wanting "Cinders" to look like one of the
more commercial offerings, she added copper foil to embellish my name, which is
a bold choice when paired with the ombre pink and white lettering of the display
type. The effect is very nuanced and ethereal, and represents the kind of
subtlety that children can appreciate when they are exposed to it. As electronic
games and movies become more available, children's books are becoming more
defined. They seem to have the potential to fully realize the human imagination
in a very personal and intimate way.
I am looking out my window into a beautiful early fall landscape, but even more
real to me at this moment, is the winter palace peopled by gorgeous poultry in
their finery, and my north woods tribe of animals, in their snowy woods. Maybe
now is the time for you to realize a complex world of your own making. It's an
exercise puzzle in creativity and discovery that leads to unexpected places.