Smile Cry - sneak peek

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Way, way back when I first decided to reconnect with illustrating (end of 2013--eons ago!), I began the 52-Week Illustration Challenge, which is still going strong in its third year (directed by the gorgeous Nicky Johnston for 2016).

A major part of the joy of the Challenge was in meeting some incredible people, and one of those was Jess Racklyeft.

When I signed contract for a really unusual style of picture book, Smile Cry, I opened an illustrator opportunity to the Challenge group, and we were inundated with stunning work, with three finalists. Jess ended up securing the contract and it has been an absolute joy to work with her on this picture book--a book that has a special place in my heart.

Here are the two images Jess did for the Challenge competition (to fit the text I provided entrants):

Could they be any more adorable??

Of course, like all books, these images have since gone through an even greater transformation and I'm just thrilled with how the book has turned out. It's actually two books in one--Smile begins in one direction and Cry begins in the other direction, with a double-page-spread meeting in the middle.

One thing we wanted to do, to differentiate the two emotional (and opposite) states, was to commit to a set colour palette for either side of the book. For Smile, we wanted to go for a slightly warmer colour palette and for Cry, a slightly cooler one.

Here you'll see the colour palettes Jess worked on, and they just work so very well with the emotional components of the book, and its adorable characters.

I also wanted to give you a peek at the storyboard Jess first provided for the book. I loved all of her ideas! but some of them did develop over time, to provide a nice visual balance through the story. This is really important when it comes to picture books--sometimes close-ups, sometimes full scenes, sometimes vignettes and of course, that all-important white space that rests the eye.

I hope you enjoyed this sneak peek at the work that's gone into my latest book - with the amazing Jess. It's due for release this March, so I'll be revealing the cover(s) very soon! Watch this space!

In the meantime, here is the official book blurb:

A fun, flip-over picture book for children that reads from both front and back, Smile Cry is an innovative picture book for young kids, showcasing the full emotional range of their formative years.

Readers follow three adorable characters - piglet, bunny and cat - as they react emotionally to a variety of events and circumstances from everyday life. From an 'ate all the pies' smile to an 'ice-cream plopping down cry'; from a 'cosy under blanket smile' to a 'need a band-aid quick cry', children will empathise with the tear-jerking calamity of a popped balloon or lost toy, or feel the smiley warmth of a being tickled.

It's the little things that touch the hearts of children the most, and Smile Cry typifies both the small joys and challenges that are the essence of childhood. Younger kids will respond to the soft whimsical illustrations, while older readers will learn more about the range of their emotions - how it's possible to cry with happiness and also smile with trepidation.

The clever 'flip book' format means that the Smile story reads from front to back, while the Cry story reads from back to front, with both delicious narratives meeting in the middle.

A heartfelt picture book that will be treasured for years, Smile Cry is perfect for ages 3 and upwards.

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