You know I’m a fan of David Ezra Stein (Caldecott Honor winner for INTERRUPTING CHICKEN), who I interviewed a while back for BECAUSE AMELIA SMILED
Q. David - Congratulations on I’M MY OWN DOG! You seem to be constantly playing with your illustration methods. How did you come up with this lovely style of thick and thin lines and vibrant color washes?
A. Thanks, Elizabeth! The art for a book stems from my explorations as an artist in my daily life, as well as what I’ve been doing in previous books. It’s very wonky. Maybe I’m excited about putting two colors next to each other, or about a certain order of layering crayon with pencil or paint. When I have a book I’m going to the final art on, I am looking for the best way to tell the new story with pictures. This usually means sitting down with all my art supplies around, and for lack of a better term, messing around. It takes a lot of courage to make room for this messing, and I can easily become discouraged and want to give up. But I keep on going, and after a while (usually a month or so) I use the right kind of line on the right paper, and the right colors, and it’s like a door opens into the world of the book.
Q. Truly, how do you know when you’ve ‘hit it’ on a style? Does something click for you? (I ask this because I’m currently trying to switch up how I work.)
A. I get this warm feeling in my gut when something is working well. During my messing around, I look at the paper and I think, “Well, that looks like something!” Sometimes I have been working a long time, and feel like it’s not going well. Then I go out and do something else for a while, and come back. My eyes hit the work, and I know. Either it’s there or it isn’t. But I usually feel like it’s not as bad as I thought, in fact maybe it’s great!
Q. Was this story inspired by a dog you know?
A. Well, the look of the dog is based on my cousin Madelyn’s Boston Terrier. I had chosen a bulldog for the role, but I wasn’t happy with his coloring. Not graphic enough. I was procrastinating on FaceBook and saw photos of my cousin’s dog taking a walk. He has a beautiful black and white coat. I decided to use his coloring. Thanks, cuz!
The story itself comes from, I think, a basic human quandary of wanting independence but needing to have companionship in life. Kids feel this as they begin to socialize, and also as they interact with their immediate family.
Q. How long does it take you to complete a picture book?
A. Once it is in the docket and it’s the main thing I’m working on, under a year. But I have taken up to 13 years (Because Amelia Smiled), or as a little as a month (I did a book called Tim & Sam for Hooked on Phonics in a month, from text to finished art.)
Q. What’s the most wonderful thing about being a full-time children’s book creator?
A. The possibilities of exploring funny ideas and making art. You never know what will come along out of the ether, that can be captured on paper. That sense of discovery is what keeps me ticking along.
Wishing you much continued success!!
David Ezra Stein is the creator of many award-winning picture books, including Interrupting Chicken, which was awarded a Caldecott Honor, Because Amelia Smiled, and Dinosaur Kisses. He lives with his family in Kew Gardens, New York.
Candlewick has kindly agreed to send a free copy of I’M MY OWN DOG to one of my lucky followers. Must live in the US/Canada to win - enter below.
VISIT THE OTHER BLOGS ON THE BLOG TOUR FOR I'M MY OWN DOG:
11/3/2014 - Smart Books for Smart Kids
11/4/2014 - Read Now, Sleep Later
11/5/2014 - Cracking the Cover
11/6/2014 - Elizabeth Dulemba's blog
11/7/2014 - The Fourth Musketeer
11/8/2014 - Picture Book Palooza
11/9/2014 - Randomly Reading
11/10/2014 - Children's Corner
11/11/2014 - Flowering Minds
11/12/2014 - Teach Mentor Texts
11/13/2014 - KidLit Frenzy
11/14/2014 - Literacy Toolbox
I'M MY OWN DOG. Copyright © 2014 by David Ezra Stein. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.