I suppose it is well known that our children’s book community is generous. But last week topped it all.
This story begins April Fool’s Day, 1992, on my first trip to meet the editors in New York. I had an appointment with Lucia Monfried, editor of Dutton Children’s books. She met me at the elevator, holding the dummy I’d mailed to her for What Shall I Dream?
“We’d love to publish your text,” she said.
A generous offer, for sure, but I’d hoped she’d be interested in my illustrations as well. We walked to her office and she leafed through my portfolio. She stopped at a piece for a board book idea. She liked that, too, and eventually bought two board books and the aforementioned text. What a day.
But like Julie P. wrote in last week’s BATT post, many hands go into making the cookies. I should back up here to note the generosity that got me to that editor’s desk: primarily the generosity of Keith Baker, Seattle author and illustrator, who taught a most wonderful class in Children’s Book Illustration at the School of Visual Concepts in Seattle. That’s where I learned to make dummy books and put together a portfolio.
I wouldn’t have been ready for New York without the unending encouragement and discernment of our critique group, as well. I had met Julie Paschkis and Margaret Chodos-Irvine in Keith’s class. In those first years I attended all the SCBWI presentations I could find — and the generosity of the authors and illustrators who offered ideas and shared their skills also played a role.
Editor Monfried selected illustrator Judith Byron Schachner of Swarthmore, PA for What Shall I Dream? This was before Judy made her big hit with the hilarious Skippy Jon Jones picture book series.
What Shall I Dream? came out in 1996. The illustrations were beautiful and full of humor and wonder.
Fast forward to present times. Judy Schachner and I are facebook friends. Lately she has been posting images from her many books. One day that included art from What Shall I Dream? I commented how much I loved it.
This week a fat yellow envelope arrived, full of original art from What Shall I Dream? Way more than I could have dreamed. How amazing to see in person the heart and thought and skill that went into these vivid watercolors.
I love the pencil sketch on tissue paper that she sent along, too, of the cover in its planning stages.
Mostly I am struck by her wonderful generosity. Thank you, Judy. I will treasure this gift.