BECOMING BEAUTIFUL by Tarang Rawat

becoming beautiful

Please welcome author Tarang Rawat to Frog on a Blog! Tarang’s on an important mission to inspire and empower girls to be strong, independent, and confident–through her book Becoming Beautiful. Read on to see how you can help!

Are you a parent of a lovely little girl who often spends hours in front of the mirror disapproving of her face or figure? Do you try to find confidence in your child’s smile, but see it fading away every day? And wonder who stole it? Where did it go?

Well, your daughter is not alone. Statistics show that negative body image and low self-esteem is a growing epidemic in our society. Children today are exposed to fake and unrealistic standards of physical beauty. Influenced by popular television shows, celebrity culture, social media, and peer pressure, our young girls often embrace an unnatural image of beauty from a very young age. And when they compare themselves to those unrealistic standards, they feel inadequate and imperfect. If young girls are dissatisfied with the way they look, they are bound to develop negative body image and low self-esteem, which is detrimental to their growth and success in life.

If we let the status quo be, we run the risk of leaving behind a generation of girls that are completely unaware of their potential and self-worth.

I strongly believe that every girl deserves to know that she’s beautiful, and through my book, Becoming Beautiful, I want to help girls see their true beauty. Becoming Beautiful is an inspirational children’s book written for girls, aged 4-9, who find it difficult to recognize and accept their true, awesome self.

With Becoming Beautiful, I describe a beautiful tale celebrating girl power, embracing your true self, and recognizing your inherent beauty. Becoming Beautiful is here to make girls feel incredible as they truly are.

finalized becoming beautiful

To fund the production, design, and printing of my book, I am running a Kickstarter campaign from February 13th to March 13th and am seeking community support to make this book a reality.

The book trailer and pre-order of the book are now available on www.becomingbeautiful.us.

Becoming Beautiful is on a mission to empower young girls to love their bodies and themselves. When a girl feels more confident in her body, she will be more assertive, perform better physically and academically, and she will say ‘yes’ to more opportunities.

More than a book, it’s a message that needs to be shared with parents and adults, so we can raise a generation of strong, independent girls who are proud of themselves.

Support this campaign and give your daughter the gifts of confidence, self-worth, and happiness.

tarang's pic.

Tarang Rawat

About the Author: 

Tarang Rawat had an early affair with writing. Sadly, the romance ended, leaving behind splatters of dark poetry, which never saw the light of day. While other things caught her attention, they could not keep it for long. However, she found other venues of engagement; from designing clothes for models to designing system for companies, she’s worn many hats and balanced many cups.
As fate would have it, old lovers crossed paths again, and the romance rekindled. They picked up where they left off, a more candid affair this time.

Inspiring Young Readers with Facts and Fiction by Henry Herz

Please welcome picture book author Henry Herz back to Frog on a Blog. You may remember the interview I did with Henry last year. Or you may be familiar with one of his wonderful books. Just this year, three new picture books were published, and I recently discovered another is set to be published in February. Henry is on a roll! Henry’s stopped in today to talk a little about how Rudyard Kipling and the amazing diversity of the animal kingdom helped influence one of his latest books, How the Squid Got Two Long Arms, and how they can inspire your writing too, so that you can entertain and educate kids.

Rudyard Kipling is perhaps best known for his JUST SO STORIES, a compilation of delightful fictional explanations for why many animals are the way they are. Some of its short stories include: How the Whale Got His Throat, How the Camel Got His Hump, How the Rhinoceros Got His Skin, How the Leopard Got His Spots, and How the Elephant Got His Trunk.

Kipling

Kipling deserves credit not only for his impressive creativity, but also his mastery of language and humor. Here’s the glorious opening passage of How the Whale Got His Throat. “On the sea, once upon a time, O my Best Beloved, there was a Whale, and he ate fishes. He ate the starfish and the garfish, and the crab and the dab, and the plaice and the dace, and the skate and his mate, and the mackereel and the pickereel, and the really truly twirly-whirly eel. All the fishes he could find in all the sea he ate with his mouth—so! Till at last there was only one small fish left in all the sea, and he was a small ‘Stute Fish, and he swam a little behind the Whale’s right ear, so as to be out of harm’s way. Then the Whale stood up on his tail and said, ‘I’m hungry.’ And the small ‘Stute Fish said in a small ‘stute voice, ‘Noble and generous Cetacean, have you ever tasted Man?’”

I’ve been a fan of the JUST SO STORIES since my mom read them to me when I was a young child. I’m frequently amazed at the diversity of life on Earth. So, when I learned that two of a squid’s arms were longer than the others (don’t ask me why), I decided to write a picture book offering a “creative” explanation for that development. And I wanted to employ alliteration and lyrical language to evoke (and honor) Kipling.

The second influence in the writing of my book was one of my all-time favorites – the immensely talented Jon Klassen’s Caldecott-winning picture book, THIS IS NOT MY HAT, in which a little fish steals a big fish’s hat, and gets his comeuppance in the end. I liked the theme of “do unto others”, and I especially loved the irony of the unreliable narrator. To me, few things ring so true and are as funny as people’s ability to deceive themselves. Thus, with an admiring mashup of Kipling and Klassen, HOW THE SQUID GOT TWO LONG ARMS was, er, spawned.

Squid

Now, Kipling’s comic premise, the idea that an animal’s features that are modified after is birth (e.g., clipping a bird’s feathers) could somehow be genetically passed to its offspring has been discredited by Mendelian genetics. Although it did gain its own label: Larmarkism, after Jean-Baptiste Lamarck. Your immediate response should be: “Who cares? These are FICTIONAL tales.” And you’d be right. But I’d add that fact can be stranger than fiction. Here are a few crazy animal traits that evolved over time. These critters clearly all deserve their own Just So Story too. Go home Darwin, you’re drunk! 🙂

Mole

The Star-Nosed Mole (Condylura cristata)

With impressive digging claws and a face only a mother could love, the star-nosed mole’s claim to fame is the 22 appendages surrounding its nose. They are not olfactory, but rather touch organs that help the functionally blind mole find food. The journal Nature rates it the fastest-eating mammal, taking as little as 120 milliseconds to detect something, decide if it’s edible, and eat it. That is even faster than I can eat Boston crème pie.

Seadragon

The Leafy Seadragon (Phycodurus eques)

This master of disguise looks like something right out of a high fantasy novel. When not simply drifting, movement is achieved by the small, nearly transparent pectoral and dorsal fins. Its leafy protrusions do not aid in propulsion. Their only purpose is camouflage. It’s built for stealth, not speed. As if that’s not enough, they can change color to further blend in with seaweed. Now you see me, now you don’t.

Anteater

The Giant Anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla)

This seven-foot long, 90-lb. pin-striped mammal is a walking vacuum cleaner. While its huge bushy tail is impressive, its foot-long snout is what makes it a fuzzy terror to ants and termites alike. Technically, it’s the tongue that shoots 18 inches out of the snout that gives insects nightmares. The anteater has poor eyesight, but a sense of smell 40 times more powerful than humans. That, combined with huge digging claws make mincemeat out of anthills or termite mounds. Adding insult to injury, the anteater doesn’t even produce its own stomach acid. Its digestion is aided by the formic acid provided by its prey. Now, that’s just lazy.

Mother Nature gives us authors so much material with which to work. I hope these wonders of the natural world with exaggerated features increase your appetite for how fiction and non-fiction are both terrific ways to entertain kids and inspire them to learn.

Henry Herz Henry Herz has an engineering Bachelors from Cornell, an engineering Masters from George Washington U., and a national security studies Masters from Georgetown, none of which helps him write fantasy and science fiction for children. He is represented by Deborah Warren of East/West Literary Agency. Henry is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI). He participates in literature panels at a variety of conventions, including San Diego Comic-Con and WonderCon. Henry reviews children’s books for the San Francisco Book Review and the San Diego Book Review.

For more about Henry and his books, please visit his Website.

Book Review: ALMA AND HOW SHE GOT HER NAME: A teacher and writer’s perspective by Laura Roettiger

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I spent most of my teaching career at a school with a population of over 90% Latinx. When I heard about Alma and How She Got Her Name, by Juana Martinez-Neal, it was especially interesting to me because I miss my Chicago students and imagined them hearing the book. Lucky for me, I have a wonderful group of students here in Colorado to read to, coming from a variety of ethnicities.

The basic premise of Alma, is she thinks her name is too long, until her father explains to her how she got the name Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela. It’s a lovely story celebrating family, tradition, and being proud of who you are.

I can turn any book into a lesson and an activity after years of teaching. With Alma, the teaching extension wrote itself. When I first told them there would be homework, they protested, but when I explained what it would be, the energy in the room shifted to enthusiasm. The children were given a graphic organizer and sent home with the task of asking their parents about the origin story of their names.

story of your name graphic

As the children returned with their homework, I learned one of them is named after a WWE wrestler that his father likes and another is named for an NFL player. One is named for a Disney character, and another is named for a character in a movie her mom liked. The stories of aunts, uncles, grandparents were also shared on the page and in class. Many of them didn’t know these stories before the assignment and that is a tribute to Juana Martinez-Neal and her inspiring story.

As a picture book writer, I’ve been studying different aspects of craft and I believe this book is a perfect example of heart. Julie Hedlund, founder of the picture book challenge 12×12, talks about how heart is so important in picture books. I find it hard to define heart, but easy to find examples. The illustrations, also the work of Juana Martinez-Neal, are unique and match the story perfectly, complete with sepia toned drawings that look like old photographs.

This book earns 5 stars from me because its simple message is full of heart and it created a wonderful family project for my students. I’m sure many families would find this to be inspirational.

Laura R

Laura Roettiger is the author of the picture book Aliana Reaches for the Moon (Eifrig Publishing, 2019) She has enjoyed working with children ever since she was no longer considered a child herself. She was a reading specialist and elementary teacher in Chicago, IL before moving to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado where she worked in Environmental Education and is now a mentor for reading and writing at a STEM school. Her superpower is encouraging curiosity in children and letting them know she believes in them. Laura has three children of her own, all of whom were led by curiosity and creativity into STEM-related professions. Laura is also a part of #PictureBookBuzz, a group of authors with books being released in 2019.

Find Laura on Twitter @ljrwritenow and at her website LauraRoettigerBooks.com.

The Inspiration Behind DEREK THE FLYING DODO by Vanee Apoolingum

Please welcome author Vanee Apoolingum to Frog on a Blog. Vanee stopped by to share a little about the inspiration behind her new book DEREK THE FLYING DODO.

DEREK THE FLYING DODO is my first children’s book that has just been published! It is an exciting adventure story for 5-7 year olds about friendship, having the courage to be different, and never giving up on your dreams. Since my book has been published, two questions that I have been asked regularly is why did I do it, and what was my inspiration?

Derek cover

So why did I decide to publish a book? Well, since having my two sons, bedtime reading has always been a precious moment in our day. We all get to wind down and lose ourselves in wonderful and magical children’s books and stories we make up together.

Picture books such as Spinderella, Hello Mr Dodo!, Little Dinosaur’s Big Adventure, and Marmaduke the Very Different Dragon have all got important messages about friendship and having the courage to be different. All the illustrations in these picture books are vibrant and colourful and are great at drawing in young readers! In addition, the adventures that the characters share in those books are truly magical. Just over a year ago my boys said I should write one of our stories down, so I decided, why not.

Inspiration has come from past and present experiences, which have shaped my story one way or another. Whilst I have been living in London for over 17 years, I was born and brought up on the paradise island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. The Dodo was native to this island and famous for its inability to fly (as well as being extinct!). It has always fascinated me, but growing up, there were hardly any children’s books about this bird. So naturally, when I first decided to write a book, I wanted to base my main character on the Dodo. Even though there are now some picture books on the dodo, the theme has generally been around extinction of the bird or the fact that it can’t fly.

However, I wanted to bring a little bit of magic and fantasy to my readers – hence making Derek the Dodo fly!

flying dodo

The locations in my book were also heavily influenced by my upbringing in Mauritius. Growing up, I was incredibly lucky to be surrounded by Mauritius’ natural beauty. The luscious white sandy beaches, crystal blue water, dense rainforest, and some of the most beautiful botanical gardens gave me the perfect inspiration when writing my book. I was immediately drawn to my childhood memories, all the places I spent so much time in and where some of my best memories still are. Mark Twain very rightfully summed it up when he said “Mauritius was made first and then heaven, heaven being copied after Mauritius”!

Mauritius illo

The themes of friendship, having the courage to be different, and dreaming the impossible were influenced by my 6 year old who was assessed as Gifted a few years ago. When he first started school, he was very different to his peers and struggled to connect to other children. However, he always knew he was different and very readily and strongly embraced that.

So there you have it, why I wrote my book and what my inspiration was. My hope now is that children reading my book will be transported into this magical story and share the thrilling ride with this wonderfully unique Dodo, and, just for a little bit, dream that the impossible can happen!

Vanee A photo

Vanee Apoolingum was born and raised on the paradise island of Mauritius. Growing up in exotic surroundings plus childhood stories about the flightless dodo provided her with the inspiration for Derek the Flying Dodo.

For the past 17 years she has swapped warmer climates for the milder (and wetter) weather of London. In her very limited spare time, thanks to her two young boys, she enjoys reading, writing and baking with her children.

Book Review MAXIMILLIAN VILLAINOUS: A Teacher And Writer’s Perspective by Laura Roettiger

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Everything about the book Maximillian Villainous (Running Press Kids, 2018) made me know it was going to be a hit at school. To be honest, I was excited to find this book at the library and I knew my enthusiasm would add to their interest. The title alone captured the imagination of the children who wanted to know more about this villainous monster. But wait, Max isn’t a villain! And right away, the author had us engaging with the main character.

The class of second and third graders may not know about the rule of three, expertly employed by author Margaret Chiu Greanias, but they sure appreciated the way it was woven into the story. The three tasks for Max: “1. Steal something 2. Make someone cry 3. Gain fame by being devious” are cleverly highlighted in the illustrations so that children focused on the list. We even compared it to the classroom rules, which was fun and another way to interact with the story. Of course, the students explained the tasks were the opposite of what they should be, demonstrating that the author and illustrator did a great job engaging the readers early in the story.

As a picture book writer, I’ve been studying different aspects of craft and I know how important page turns are. This book is a model of page turns done well. I’d like to mention two excellent examples. The first that attracted attention (read children needed to chime in with their predictions) involved the bunnies digging in the Sandman’s stash of magic sleeping dust. Many of the children knew what would come next. The other is when Max has an idea, complete with the villainous “Mua-ha-Ha!” This was definitely the class’s favorite part of the book (read everyone was making the sound and believed Max was turning into a villain like the rest of his family.) Well played, Margaret!

The illustrations (by Lesley Breen Withrow) in Maximillian Villainous are fantastic. They are colorful, full of wonderful detail, but not too busy, and whimsical, matching the tone of the story. Even the way the Illustrations were laid out on the pages and the use of signs and notes created a high level of interest for the children and for me.

This book definitely earns 5 stars from me because it’s got humor and heart on every page. Additionally, it allowed for a fun reading lesson learning about problem and solution in a story where they weren’t as obvious as in many books. This helped me know what the children understood and which ones needed more help. It is more proof that picture books are excellent vehicles for learning.

Laura R

Laura Roettiger is the author of the picture book Aliana Reaches for the Moon (Eifrig Publishing, 2019) She has enjoyed working with children ever since she was no longer considered a child herself. She was a reading specialist and elementary teacher in Chicago, IL before moving to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado where she worked in Environmental Education and is now a mentor for reading and writing at a STEM school. Her superpower is encouraging curiosity in children and letting them know she believes in them. Laura has three children of her own, all of whom were led by curiosity and creativity into STEM-related professions. Laura is also a part of #PictureBookBuzz, a group of authors with books being released in 2019.

Find Laura on Twitter @ljrwritenow and at her website LauraRoettigerBooks.com.

Top 5 Books For Kids to Learn ABC’s by Ilham Alam

ABC imageParents, have the past few weeks been hectic because your kids are going back to school? You may even be feeling emotional because your little one is starting preschool or kindergarten for the first time. Do they know their ABC’s? Is there a way you can help them learn? Of course! ABC picture books! 

Author and mom Ilham Alam has stopped by today to share her favorite books for helping kids learn the alphabet. Read on for a great selection of ABC concept books!

Top 5 Books for Kids to Learn ABC’s

By Ilham Alam

September is finally here, which brings with it cooler temperatures, apple cider and apple picking, harvest and pumpkin farms, and leaves of red and gold. It also brings the back-to-school season with kids back in their classrooms, many of them for the very first time.

As a parent/guardian, how can you best prepare and help your child succeed during Kindergarten? By ensuring that their learning in the classroom is reinforced at home, if your child is not already familiar with their basics like ABC’s by the time they reach JK.

Here are the Top 5 books for kids to learn their alphabets. I have read all of these books with my oldest son, who’s off to Kindergarten this year. We both enjoyed these books for various reasons and are recommending them to you:

Dinosaur A-Z: For Kids Who Really Love Dinosaurs

Dino ABC

This book has photo-realistic pictures of 26 of these prehistoric and majestic creatures, complete with short facts about each of the dinos written in the first-person and meant to make your child laugh along while they learn. I credit this book for teaching my son his alphabets, including the correct order of the letters. In addition, the book spells out the pronunciation of each of the long names phonetically, ensuring that your child begins to connect the letters with sounds. We have had this book for a year and my son still requests to read this a few times a week as it’s not only taught him fun dino facts thus encouraging his passion, but also, he has learned his alphabets and beginning reading skills using the now-familiar words. I cannot recommend this enough and this book is our favourite of the bunch.

Dr.Seuss’s ABC

Seuss ABC

Who doesn’t love the silly rhymes found in Dr. Seuss’s iconic books? This ABC book is no exception and has illustrations featuring many of Dr. Seuss’s familiar characters. The text goes full throttle right from the beginning in fast-moving, foot-tapping, finger-snapping rhymes. What I liked about this was that it also introduces big and little letters to your child, so that visually your child can see where and why big and little letters are used.

Elmo’s ABC Book

Elmo ABC

This ABC book features another iconic children’s character: Elmo from Sesame Street. The book cover is a bright blue making our fuzzy red monster stand out, thus attracting your child’s eye and inviting them to read it. Inside, we meet Elmo and his friends as he tries to figure out what his favourite letter of the alphabet is. Elmo is having a hard time deciding because there is something to love about each letter. For example, he loves the letter ‘B’ as Elmo loves cute babies. Keep reading to discover what Elmo’s favourite letter is. This book stood out for me because it helps to introduce kids to everyday words corresponding to each letter.

Chicka Chicka ABC by Bill Martin Jr and John Archambault

Chicka ABC

I am sure you have heard of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom? This is the alphabet version which begins,

A told B, B told C/

I will meet you on top of the coconut tree 

This is another fantastic way for your kids to learn their alphabets as it turns it into a catchy song, which is a great way for your kids to remember and get comfortable with a new concept. And I found it unique that bright colours like orange and hot-pink are the dominant colours used here. You can also put on a YouTube video of the Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Alphabet song and dance along to it as well, to further help with the memorization of the alphabets. 

Eating the Alphabet: Fruits & Vegetables from A to Z by Lois Ehlert

Eat Alphabet

This is a different type of alphabet book as each of the alphabet pages have colorful, painting-like pictures of different foods corresponding to each letter. It is a good book for kids to learn of the many different types of food. This could even inspire your little one to try new foods, which is what my son and I like about it. However, this does not have fun rhymes like the other ones listed here.


Thank you, Ilham, for the terrific list of ABC books that are sure to help any child learn the alphabet and have fun at the same time!


Ilham Alam

Ilham Alam

Ilham is a Student Advisor by day and a writer and Children’s Book Author by night. She has her upcoming picture book, Wonder Walk, releasing later this year, to be published by Iguana Books. An avid children’s lit book reader and traveler, she has documented her adventures on her book review and family travel blog, Story Mummy: www.storymummy.com.

Once Upon a Time…in History….by Lisa Olson

 “It’s easy to get sucked up into the enormity of life and not think you could ever make a difference. That’s what I like all my books to say. YOU ARE IMPORTANT!!!” ~Lisa Olson

 

 

 

 

I love this quote by Lisa Gammon Olson, author of the American Herstory series! Lisa contacted me recently about her picture book series and I could tell (even through e-mail correspondence) that she’s very passionate about what she wants young readers to take away from her books. I asked Lisa to tell us more about the books and the messages they impart.

My American Herstory Series started where every story starts…with a Once Upon a Time…a small snippet of time from our past, as seen through the eyes of one young girl.  

Working as a secretary in a small rural elementary school has given me a glimpse into the inner workings of a child’s heart and mind.  I see their need for acceptance, for praise and to feel valued as an integral part of the daily school routine.

My father taught 9th grade World Geography and American History. My three sisters and I grew up immersed in daily discussions of current and historical events, interconnected and tightly woven together, todays, tomorrows and yesterdays… sewn together in the colorful patchwork quilt of life.  I’ve always been amazed at the tenacity of the human spirit and the will to survive and even thrive in harsh conditions throughout history.

So, in wanting to validate every child’s sense of belonging, coupled with a passion for history, Dust Flowers, came to life.  The first book in this historical fiction series takes place during one of the most difficult periods in American history, the Dust Bowl Era. Imagine being a child, watching your parents struggle to farm during a decade long drought, besieged with daily black blizzards of swirling dust and not having ever felt a drop of rain in your entire lifetime.  What could one small girl do in the enormity of a drought?  Every act, no matter how small, can change someone’s life for the better. Growing a flower and bringing a smile to her mother’s sad face promises something even more precious…hope!

Pic1

Illustration from DUST FLOWERS by Lisa Olson, illustrated by Kyle Olson, published by Eifrig Publishing

Children need to know that everything they do in life will affect someone or something, either positively or negatively, depending on their actions.  In the second book, Sewing the Magic In, a young girl living in 1912 learns her own impact and importance.  She’ll find out how her seemingly tedious work in the costume department plays a part in bringing the magic of the circus to life.

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Even the orphan train riders in the third book, The Cheese Song, can find hope and promise in a situation far out of their control.  Each of us has a part to play on this earth and we soon find out we are all dependent upon the actions and kindness of others. Lessons learned from the past, hopefully, help us to grow and evolve in the future.

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Illustration from THE CHEESE SONG by Lisa Olson, illustrated by Lauren Rutledge, published by Eifrig Publishing

While the American Herstory series starts with “Once upon a time”…every book ends with a message of hope, love and the pursuit of the American dream, and they live, as we all should… “Hope”fully ever after.

Lisa Gammon Olson is an author for Eifrig Publishing.  She lives in Coon Valley, WI, where she is the secretary at the Coon Valley Elementary School….a job she adores!  She believes the most important skill we can ever teach our children is “How to be Kind.”  Any kindness we do, no matter how small, has the power to change someone’s life.  Growing up in northern Wisconsin has instilled in her the wonder of nature… sparkling lakes, endless forests and trails littered with pine needles and possibilities.  Preserving our planet and populating it with human beings who are Respectful, Responsible and Kind seems like an awesome idea.

Learn more about Lisa and her books at http://lisagammonolson.com 

Hope. Kindness. Tenacity of the human spirit. What wonderful messages for all of us to take into the New Year!

How “The Aviator Owls and Mina’s Garden” Came to Life

MinaFlowersCover

Aviator Owl Books co-founder Sarah Porcher is a young woman who has impressed me greatly with her creativity, generosity, ambition, and seemingly boundless energy. She first appeared on Frog on a Blog last summer and shared how she started Aviator Owl Books. She also said that the goal of Aviator Owl Books is to “inspire and educate children through print books, eBooks, online games, and apps”. And as if that isn’t enough, Sarah and her co-founder Chris Bill support charitable causes, such as First Book and the Make-a-Wish Foundation, through their book sales. You can read my interview with Sarah by clicking here.

Sarah is back to take us through her fascinating illustration process for her new book The Aviator Owls and Mina’s Garden. (As a writer, not an illustrator, I’m always intrigued by the art techniques that illustrators use for their books.) Take it away, Sarah! 

Hi everyone! I’m so happy to be able to share some of my illustration techniques for our new book The Aviator Owls and Mina’s Garden! I’ll start with a brief introduction. My name is Sarah and I’m co-founder of Aviator Owl Books Inc. where I write and illustrate the books under the pen name S. A. Porcher. Today I’m going to talk a little bit about how I illustrated our newest book The Aviator Owls and Mina’s Garden, which is to be launched April 24 (2015). 

So let’s get started! First, if you’ve seen any of our books before you’ll know that we have two different illustration styles: one using flat designs and vectors, and one with a digital painting technique. For any book with Aviator Owl characters, I use vector illustrations, so this post will be about that process.

I begin all of my illustrations with simple sketches on plain printer paper. I prefer to use ballpoint pens, but occasionally I’ll use pencil. The Aviator Owls were born on paper in 2009, so the basic character sketches have been finished for a long time. That made the illustration process for this book a little more streamlined.

After the character sketches are complete, I’ll sketch out extremely rough layouts for every spread in the book. And by “extremely rough” I mean that the only person on the planet who can understand them is me. Then I will organize them into a storyboard just to get a sense of the storyline. After this I have two options: 1. I scan in the rough layouts and add each one to a spread in Adobe InDesign (InDesign is my best friend) or 2. I use my Wacom Bamboo tablet and the pencil tool in InDesign to sketch the storyboard in by hand, using the physical sketches as a guide. Having the spreads in InDesign helps me a lot because as I fill in the illustrations I can scroll down and remind myself where I’m going next.

Storyboard

Storyboard

Rough Spread

Rough Spread

Next up is starting a spread. I don’t start at any one in particular, I just sort of randomly choose. Now, because I have been working with the Aviator Owls for a long time, I am usually able to adjust them in Illustrator without having to refine my sketches too much. With a new book with new characters, at this point in the process I would have to pull out a pen and paper and sketch out a much more refined spread to use as a guide. But not the owls. Usually at this point they tell me where they want to go (It’s quite nice. I barely do anything at this point)!

I open Illustrator and start a new document, which I will save immediately as “Mina’s Garden”. Then I’ll open any document that has the owls I already designed and copy them into the new document. I work in layers in Illustrator, so I’ll use the same document for the entire book, but every new page will be on a different layer. The tool I probably use the most is the pen tool, and I’ll create (using my Wacom tablet) all of the vectors that are needed for the page.

Mina Duplicates

Mina Duplicates in Illustrator

I pop over to Photoshop and start a new document with the correct dimensions for the book (Aviator Owl Books are all 8.5” x 8.5”) and copy in everything I need. I do touch-ups in Photoshop and then save the document. Unlike in Illustrator, in Photoshop every spread gets its own document. I try to keep these as organized as possible. Every book gets its own folder, and the Illustrator, InDesign and Photoshop documents are all dropped there. The Photoshop documents are named “MinaBook01” through “MinaBook14” so I can find it all later.

Spread in Photoshop

Spread in Photoshop

Then it’s into InDesign. Command + D lets me place the Photoshop documents into InDesign. This entire process – from Illustrator to InDesign can take several weeks – sometimes months – depending on the complexity of the book, the number of new characters/objects, and, of course, my schedule (I am still a full-time college student). I am generally a very impatient person, so as soon as I finish a spread in Photoshop, it goes into InDesign. Spread by spread, the rough sketches in InDesign turn into the Photoshop images.

Spread in InDesign

Spread in InDesign

When I’m coming close to the end of the illustrations, I’ll start to fill in text. At this point it’s easy because I’ll have been working on the manuscript since the illustrations began. I’ll use the text tool in InDesign and write directly on top of the images. If something doesn’t fit well, or the text seems too out of place or “just three pixels too far to the left” (yes, I am that kind of person), I’ll go back into Photoshop and adjust the image to better incorporate the text.

Multiple Spreads

Multiple Spreads

When it’s close to its final stage, I’ll export a low-res file and send it to the other co-founder of AO Books so he can look over it and bring a new perspective. Out of the entire process I think this is one of the most important parts. I am just one human, and after looking at the same project for several weeks it becomes very easy for me to miss things. Usually Chris will look over it and send back comments and we’ll go over them together. This back-and-forth will go on for as long as it’s needed. When it’s complete I’ll add the “book” information – ISBN (which I purchase from Bowker), the cover page, the pages dedicated to the charity we’re supporting through that book (for Mina’s book it is DIG), and then we send it out to CreateSpace for a proof copy.

DIG Logo

Click the Logo to learn more about DIG.

And that in a nutshell (okay, a very big nutshell) is my illustration process for vector illustrations. I hope you enjoyed learning about how I illustrate, but if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to ask them here, or contact me at saporcher050@gmail.com. And for more information on Aviator Owl Books, be sure to check out our website at aviatorowl.com where you can find free printable activities, all the books, and news about The Aviator Owls and Mina’s Garden, due out April 24th, 2015.

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