Released in September, Little Melba and her Big Trombone, is the story of Melba Liston, a little-known but trailblazing jazz musician who broke racial and gender barriers to become a famed trombonist and arranger. We asked illustrator Frank Morrison to take us behind the scenes for creating the art work used in Little Melba and her Big Trombone.
After reading the manuscript for Little Melba and her Big Trombone, I immediately searched for references that could help me bring the story to life. This included clothing from the time period and a trombone, which I have never painted before. I was fortunate enough to find a CD by Melba titled, “Melba Liston and her Bones” as well. After gathering all of my materials my studio begins to sound like a jazz session as I begin reading.
We are sad to share the news that illustrator Sonia Lynn Sadler has passed away. Sadler is the illustrator of, among other titles, Seeds of Change, for which she won the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent in 2011.
Sonia was a passionate and immensely talented artist as well as a cheerful and kind person. She worked in many different types of media, as a fine artist, a designer, and an illustrator. Her words and artwork speak for themselves: here are a few quotes from Sonia from an interview she did with Education Insider in 2011:
1.) Zilombo is very ancient, a mythical creature older than dinosaurs, an incredible mixture of many beasts.
2.) Every time she hatches out of her mudball, she looks different and has evolved a new animal skill, usually to help her catch things to eat. When she hatches in England she can collapse her skeleton like a rat does and squeeze through the tiniest holes after her prey!
3.) She’s got teeth like a crocodile, skin like a hippo, a leap like a frog and swivel eyes like a chameleon. She’s got sharp talons, curled into leopard claws. She has the low jutting forehead of an ape and her nose is pulled forward into a muzzle, like a dog. She has rusty orange hair, that sticks up in a crest on her head Mohawk style, then bristles down her back like a lion’s mane.
We’re so excited about the upcoming release of our new YA historical fantasyHammer of Witches! In this post, Tu Books Editorial Director Stacy Whitman discusses how she and the designer came up with the final cover:
Historical fantasy can be tough to market. You have to show that, despite being steeped in research and history, this is an exciting, awesome book. It should look different from all the contemporary books out there, but not old-fashioned. Because of the fantasy element, a photographic cover just couldn’t do this book justice, but for YA, illustration can be tough because you don’t want the illustration to make the book look like it’s for a younger audience. We needed an illustrator whose art had a more mature look, whose sensibility tended more toward something you’d see in the adult market than the middle grade market—and we found that illustrator in Andrew Mar.
Because the cover is illustrated, there’s a lot more leeway in terms of what we can pick to show. So we get to see an important moment in the story: a character moment where the main character, Baltasar, meets one of his primary companions throughout the book, Jinni (who is a half-genie). We know there’s magic happening–she’s floating, after all!–and we get to see how the author envisioned these characters rather than having to find a model whose looks fit the character or a stock photo that’s not quite right. We can also see that this is a historical setting from the view out the window, the characters’ clothing, and the items on the table. We even get some nice detailing in Jinni’s dress, and I love the expression on her face compared to Baltasar’s!
One of our upcoming books that I’m most excited about is a new middle grade novel in verse called Etched in Clay, out this January. Etched in Clay, by Andrea Cheng, explores the life of Dave the Potter, an enslaved man from South Carolina who learned how to read and write. Dave is famous for inscribing his own poetry and thoughts on the pottery that he made – a very daring thing in light of the harsh anti-literacy laws for slaves in place at the time.
Author and artist Andrea Cheng used woodcuts to create the delicate spot art for Etched in Clay. Here’s how she did them:
Tonight is the Opening Reception for the Society of Illustrators Original Art Exhibit and we are proud to announce that two of our illustrators, Beth Lo and R. Gregory Christie, will have art from their Spring 2012 titles on display in the show. Below, Beth Lo shares a few shots of how her unique illustrations from Auntie Yang’s Great Soybean Picnic came to life, from a simple sketch to a ceramic plate.