HANK HAS AN EGG by Rebecca Dudley - GIVEAWAY!

Some of my favorite books when I was a child had 3-dimensional, photographed artwork. You don't see that many these days, mostly (I think) because they are so much work! HANK FINDS AN EGG by Rebecca Dudley is no exception. And this sweet story, so sculpturally done, is taking the kidlit world by storm. Rebecca stopped by to talk about her new book.

Q. Rebecca, How did you get into building three dimensional stories? (And is there a more technically appropriate term for what you do?)
A. Ha! I would love to find a term that describes what I do! I am a model maker, doll artist, sculptor, photographer and story-maker.

Q. What was your path to publication?
A. My husband and I lived in Seattle for six years and we loved the Maurice Sendak version of The Nutcracker performed by the Pacific Northwest Ballet. Our first Christmas back in Chicago John was really missing Seattle so I staged The Nutcracker for him with my stuffed animals. I guess that was the beginning of my adult work with miniature scenery.
      But I am an architect and I have always loved making models. In 2003 I started building and photographing dioramas to make calendars for my friends and family. I built the scenes on my dining room table. In 2004 I let the scenery take over my architecture studio and by 2007 I had a story, made a mock up of a book and I had a great meeting with an editor at a big publishing house. For about three years I tried to edit the story to please that editor but we didn't seem to have the same vision for my work. After those three years I had so much pent up energy for making new stories I felt like I was going to burst. I started my blog, made two self-published books and found my current publisher.

Q. How did this sweet story come to you? (Hank especially.)
A. I was given the book 'The Wild Swans' by Kihachiro Kawamoto and Tadasu Lizawa when I was very little and I really studied the figures they made for their scenes. All the dolls’ faces were made from a fine knitted fabric. I am sure that was where I got the idea for Hank's face.
      Hank is one part early 20th century cartoons and one part my father. Hank and my dad share an unselfconscious curiosity about the world.
      I build stories based on a single image I have in my mind. In the case of ‘Hank Finds an Egg’ the story began as soon as I made Hank and I knew I wanted to give him something small to care for. I imagined him holding an egg. The story grew around this single image. I have found that one strong image, inspired by a character, is all I need to begin a story.

Q. I have to know - did you cut out every single leaf for that forest floor? How much time did it take to set up these scenes?
A. Building the scenery is the most time consuming part. It takes a few weeks. It takes less time now than it used to because I keep all my scenery; Once I make a tree, I never have to build that tree again. I move branches around, but the hard part is done and I can use it over and over again. I have a huge miniature tree collection. Setting the scene up goes pretty quickly and can be done in a few days.

Q. Can you share a little more about your method?
A. For me it is all about working with a character I am excited to spend time with. The great thing about working with a character that actually exists, physically, is that you can literally spend time with them, happily oblivious to what may evolve into a story. You can get to know them just by being around them. I was so pleased with the way Hank turned out that I had him accompany me around my house. I saw the way light affected him. Hank, on a sunny day looked so different from how he looked on a cloudy day. When it rained I noticed he is not a run-outside-in-the-rain kind of character, rather he is a lets-look-at-the-rain-through-the-window kind of character.

Q. Is this your first trade picture book?
A. Yes. I made two self-published books previously, just to prove that my work could be a book. The gutter always poses a problem in photographic books. Do you let the image bleed to the gutter? Can you have a facing image that also bleeds to the gutter? When does this create visual confusion? I made the self-published books to prove that the “gutter problem” was not an insurmountable obstacle.

Q. Did I read that you will be teaching folks how to build dioramas?
A. I do craft events at libraries. I love helping children make their own scenes. I thought it would be great to show pictures of the kids making dioramas on a blog. But it is hard to get everyone to agree to have their pictures, or even their dioramas, shown on the web. I understand the need for privacy but I still take pictures so kids can see the finished result is not always a beautiful diorama; Sometimes the final result is a beautiful picture. You can almost always find a beautiful moment in a diorama that a child has given up on. They get really excited to see how their vision can be realized with light and photography.

Q. How else are you celebrating the release of HANK FINDS AN EGG?
A. I had a big party for all the people who helped me with the book last summer. I feel so lucky to have great friends who help me with compositions and graphics and story structure. And making book #2 is a celebration as well. I learned so much while making book #1 and it is great to put these lessons to use book #2. I cannot think of a better way to celebrate than to make another book!

I can't wait to see it! Thanks so much for stopping by, Rebecca!!

Rebecca has kindly agreed to give one free, signed copy of HANK FINDS AN EGG to one of my lucky commenters. (Must live in the US or Canada to win.) Enter below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Liz Wong said...

This books looks adorable and I bet my son would love it too. Great little interview!

apple blossom said...

looks like a good book I'd share it with my nieces and nephews thanks