Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Next Big Thing - A Global Blog Tour!

The Next Big Thing blog tour began in Australia and has wound it's way all around the world to Northern Colorado. It's a great way to discover authors and illustrators that you might not be familiar with and what their latest book is about. Each author, or in my case, illustrator, answers ten questions and tags two more authors who will continue the tour. So this week it's my turn to talk about my next big thing, Dino Tracks.

Thank you Nancy Oswald for tagging me! Now on to the question and answer part of the blog.

What is the working title of your next book?

Dino Tracks, written by Rhonda Lucas Donald and illustrated by me.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I'm the illustrator of Dino Tracks so that question really belongs to Rhonda, the author. But for my part when I got the manuscript and read through it I fell in love with it. Then my next realization was I knew absolutely nothing about dinosaurs or their trackways. So I started researching. Then I discovered that illustrators who specialize in paleo-art are the best artists in the world. I was extremely intimidated and hoped I could get up to speed with dinosaur art before the publisher realized they made a huge mistake by giving me this very cool story to illustrate.

What genre does your book fall under?

Dino Tracks is a children's picture book, approximately for ages four and up. It can be sung to the tune of "Over the River and Through the Woods" which is pretty amazing considering all the scientific information it contains. It will come out this fall, 2013. Click on the illustrations to see the full image.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

My first thought is Godzilla, but I'm pretty sure he's technically a mutant lizard and now we know that dinosaurs evolved from birds. Probably Pixar should do an animated version of Dino Tracks. That would be good.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Step back in time, following dinosaur tracks around the world, to discover clues to the movement and behavior of these ancient creatures.

Who is publishing your book?

Sylvan Dell Publishing is the publisher. They specialize in picture books that inspire reading and integrate science, math and geography. At the end of each story is a Creative Minds educational section with teaching activities and interactive quizzes.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

Illustrating Dino Tracks took about eight months total. I did work on other projects at the time but it was still fairly time consuming, mainly because of research. Sylvan Dell has all their books verified by experts; in this case it was Jeffrey A. Wilson, a paleontology expert at the University of Michigan. They took my roughs to him which he corrected so I could make revisions before going to final artwork. Then he checked them again at the end. So there's different stages and sometimes you wait a while between stages. Also I went to the Morrison Natural History Museum specifically to see their baby Stegosaurus trackways and was blown away by their exhibits. They have a very hands on policy and it's an entirely different experience when you can get up close and personal, touching and handling the dinosaur bones and tracks. And Matthew Mossbrucker, the museum director let us go back into their lab where he was excavating a new Apatosaurus discovery (which they named Kevin). Illustrating a children's book involves more than just drawing.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I can think of a couple of books; one is Tracks in the Sand by Loreen Leedy. It's not about dinosaurs, but sea turtles. It's beautifully illustrated and by following the tracks you discover a lot about the life of the sea turtle. A second is book is Time Flies by Eric Rohmann. This received a Caldecott Honor Medal and is a wordless picture book. On a stormy night a bird flies into the dinosaur hall of a museum. As we follow the bird, time unravels and the dinosaurs come to life. Both of these books are amazing!

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Ok, another question for the author... but from my perspective, Rhonda's words were truly inspiring to draw from. She's such a visual writer that images popped into my head as soon as I read through her manuscript. Plus she doesn't talk to down to her audience of young kids, but gives a lot facts in a fun and memorable way. I'm really looking forward to the book release this fall so it can get into the hands of readers and singers too for that matter. I had the tune of "Over the River and Through the Woods" running through my head the entire time I was working on it.

What else about the book might pique the reader's interest? 

I know kids love dinosaurs but I think it's very empowering for them to realize they can actually explore tracks made millions of years ago to make new discoveries about animals and the evolution of prehistoric earth. Reading about dinosaurs is just the beginning.

Also, I don't know if I should be telling you this, and I won't give any details, but I know for a fact there's already a sequel in the works!

And I'm very excited to introduce you to Shennen Bersani an amazing illustrator that will tell you about one of her latest books, Shark Baby. We'll find out more on her blog on June 20.

So tag, you're it, Shennen!

And last but not least will be Darcy Pattison's blog on June 27 where we'll find out more about her and her latest picture book, Desert Baths.

Thanks for stopping by and reading The Next Big Thing Blog tour. Your support means a lot!


Rhonda Lucas Donald said...

This is terrific, Cathy! I can't believe you were intimidated by the project at first. Now it's your turn to wow! Illustrator/intimidator—a powerful combo!

Cathy Morrison said...

Thanks Rhonda, I appreciate all the research you did ahead of time which I couldn't have done without.

I'm going to get started on Dino Treasures soon and am really excited about getting my head back in that time and place.