I am happy to welcome author Liz Lime to Frog on a Blog. In her book That Day in September and other Rhymes for the Times (Words In The Works, LLC, 2014), each of Liz’s poems highlights a social issue or a significant historical event, or perhaps a more personal concern. Liz hopes her book will appeal to children and adults. She says, “I feel rhymes are a fun way to teach children history lessons. When children are old enough they can ask their parents questions about the rhymes and illustrations, but until that time, they can just enjoy sharing special time with their parents as they read together.” (That Day In September)
One unique feature of the book is that it showcases 16 illustrators. In the article below, Liz speaks about her decision to use more than one illustrator and the meticulous process of matching each illustrator to a rhyme. Her enthusiasm for picture book art and artists, shines brightly through her words.
20 Rhymes and 16 Illustrators!
By Liz Lime
At the time I was thinking about illustrators for That Day in September, Rhymes for the Times, I went to Portfolio Solutions, LLC, and there were all these brilliantly talented picture book artists. It was suggested to me by a professional in the children’s book publishing field that perhaps the illustrations should be rendered by the same artist for a more consistent look. A consistent look throughout the book was exactly what I didn’t want! I wanted a surprise on every page, and each thought-provoking illustration accomplished that goal for me. My only regret is that I didn’t have enough rhymes to suit every artist in the agency!
The process of matching artist to rhyme did take a while, I must say. The artists’ own schedules played a large role in the final decision as previously contracted work had to be taken into consideration before they could commit to my book. There were many other artists that would have contributed beautiful works to the rhymes, but some of them just weren’t available for any number of reasons when I began the art-style-to-rhyme selection process. Since they are all freelance artists, their schedules change on a daily basis.
Lynne Avril, for example is the illustrator of Harper Collins’ GreenWillow imprint’s hugely successful young Amelia Bedelia books, among many others, so Lynne was always booked up. I had faith though, and sure enough when Lynne got a tiny break in her schedule, she took on Little Girls. I couldn’t imagine any other than Lynne’s delightful characters for that particular rhyme, and I don’t think I’ll get much argument about that.
Not all the rhymes were that easy to match to an illustrator’s style, That Day in September was without doubt the toughest one for me. The subject matter is so sensitive and affected every American so deeply that I just had to get it right. For me, there was no room for error. The characters had to be relatable, but I felt that children should be able to distance themselves if they felt the need to do so. Winifred Barnum Newman’s elf-like creatures from her bestselling book Gumwrappers and Goggles, were perfect! Winifred is a much-published illustrator of children’s books with a string of titles attached to her name so I knew she had the experience to carry it off. There’s poignancy to Wini’s work that delicately tells the rhyme’s story, and that’s a quality that only her vast experience as an artist, sculptor and children’s book illustrator could have translated so well for our young readers.
Ten in a Chair was a much easier match up as I had long been a fan of Cary Pillo’s illustrated monkeys. The expressions on the monkeys’ faces are just hilarious. Cary has captured the right blend of motion, emotion, action and reaction – this illustration always makes me smile, and again, this is where an illustrator’s experience comes to the fore. Cary is a professional, seasoned artist with countless books to her credit; her work can also be seen in children’s magazines as well as textbooks. It’s amazing to me that with ten monkeys to illustrate, Cary was able to capture a different expression on each face; brilliant and funny!
As you can see, I have a wild appreciation for illustrators and could go on about every single one of the artists in my book. But my editor said 600 words was enough for now!