Sunday, March 9, 2008

How the Journey Began...

In 1998, I was teaching third grade in Hyannis East Elementary School on Cape Cod. I was taking my class on field trips around the Cape, and was looking for books which would enhance their experience. Not finding much, I began collecting material about the area, and taking
photographs of the Cape. Inspired by a children’s book illustration class I was taking at RISD, I decided to follow her life-long create a children’s book.

My sister Heather, an art director took some of my paintings and notes, and designed a format for the book which would be interesting and appealing to children of all ages. Because the book uses the alphabet, the littlest children like to point out the letters, and to find the birds which I paint into the images. Older children and adults delight in recognizing the places they’ve visited and learning the “instant expert” facts which are included on every page.

Once we had a good mock-up of the book, we started looking for publishers. A local Cape Cod publisher agreed to take a risk with this unknown author and illustrator on a regional book, and Journey Around Cape Cod and the Islands from A to Z was born. His risk paid off...people loved the book. It came to the attention of our current publisher, Commonwealth Editions in Beverly MA. They requested that I create Journey Around Boston from A to Z. I did, and it became an instant hit, making the bestseller list on The Boston Globe many times. To date, there are over 100,000 copies sold!

After having my first child, and illness within our family, I worked with Heather more extensively to research and write the books Journey Around New York from A to Z and The Cape Cod Cookbook, and the series grew!

For each book, the journey begins with an outline of all the places, themes, locations and ideas I would like to include in the book. Once the alliterative sentences which form the framework for the book are created, the sites are visited, photographed, and I can begin creating the illustrations. Once I finish the paintings, Heather designs the books and prepares them to send to the publisher.

Now, with 8 titles in the series, the journey has continued to include San Francisco, Washington DC, Chicago, and Philadelphia. And now, Journey Around Nantucket is on the way this summer!

Children, parents and teachers often ask me about how I create the series. I frequently visit schools and conferences to present our journey. I encourage children to take journeys of their own, and follow their dreams. I hope you will too!