I recently illustrated the cover of a special insert that SLJ publishes with their magazine. The concept was book series that schools use, in their libraries for instance. The art director, Mark Tuchman, wanted a space theme and since I like drawing astronauts, I had no problem with that.
First up is the original thumbnail of the image. This was one of those rare gigs where one is enough. Often I send a few sketch ideas, but in this case I didn’t need to.
The sketch gets tightened up if SLJ likes it, which they did.
I like to place it in the layout to see how it works. It was especially important in this case since the cover has that odd drop-down title.
After the sketch is approved, I ink up the final art and scan it in.
Then color is added in Photoshop and it’s done.
Once I sent the art to Mark, he placed it in a layout and worked on the color for the additional parts of the cover. This is pretty close to how it looked printed.
And lastly, they liked the image so much that they ended up asking for an additional astronaut for the interior as well.
A small slew of reviews showed up today for Everything Goes, and I thought I’d share them with you. The reason for this is threefold. If you’ve read the book and you like it, then you can nod your head and know that you were cool back when. If you’ve not seen it yet, you can safely go get it now that you know it’s liked by the establishment. And if you read it but didn’t like it, you can see here clearly how wrong you are. So there.
School Library Journal
As they travel from their suburban home through busy city streets to pick up Mom at the train station, Henry and his dad observe bikes, cars and vans, motorcycles, RVs, service vehicles, and finally trains. This oversize book’s double-page cartoons bustle with visual pep. Following the busy street scenes, Dad explains a type of vehicle in depth. Henry learns basically how a motor works and what amenities an RV offers. There’s a continuing game for readers to find a bird wearing a hat. Fun and learning are ideally balanced in this engaging trek that will be revisited umpteen times before every tidbit of labeling, conversation, and oddity is discovered in this wealth of urban wheels.–Gay Lynn Van Vleck, Henrico County Library, Glen Allen, VA
With pages crammed full of enough bumper-to-bumper street scenes to make even the most traffic- hardened commuter claustrophobic, this cheerful picture book takes a boy and his father on a crosstown trek to pick up Mom. The boy gapes out the window at all the different sorts of cars, trucks, buses, RVs, bikes, motorcycles, trams, and trains crowding the streets of a bustling city, asking Dad all about what goes into getting around. The street scenes alternate with close-ups that provide cartoony schematics that label different parts of each class of vehicle, and Dad pleasantly explains how things like car batteries and subway systems work. The bubblelike cars and Weeble-shaped people that populate Biggs’ Scarry-like compositions lend the book a kind of retro timelessness. It is busy as all get-out, but kids will be rewarded for lingering over the pages with oodles of minijokes and side stories, and they will learn enough about what is on the other side of the car window to jabber away through even the longest car rides.
— Ian Chipman
And my favorite one:
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
First, the short description of the opening title in Biggs’ new Everything Goes series: a little boy and his dad leave their quiet suburban home and step into their sedan for a trip into the city.
Creeping through the insanely congested streets, the father and son converse about the types of vehicles; they pick Mom up at the train station and drive home. Now, what the fun is all about: Biggs cleverly directs the zany cartoon traffic so that each spread features a particular type of vehicle—e.g., truck, motorcycle, train, RV—in an eye-boggling array of iterations. Several models get a double-page spread cutaway-diagram treatment, with important parts (brake lever, gas tank, exhaust pipe) and goofy extras (nice socks, Miss Kitty) duly labeled. Numbers from one to one hundred are hidden within the deliciously jammed compositions; also a multitude of birds sporting hats are hidden, Waldo-style, in plain view. If this level of intricacy in the artwork isn’t sufficient, viewers can try to correlate ads with businesses throughout the book or carefully inspect motorists and pedestrians for visual gags: the panicky White Rabbit rushing for the subway, the health-food vendor with no business, the tentacled alien on the trolley. Still not enough? How about a double foldout of about a half-mile of cityscape? Once you embark on this wild interactive journey, don’t expect to get home for quite a while.