Category Archives: Art and Book Design

An inside look at picture book illustrations, cover artwork, and book design.

Behind the Cover of REBEL SEOUL

Pacific Rim meets Korean dramas in Rebel Seoul, the electrifying new sci-fi thriller out this September from the Tu Books imprint of LEE & LOW BOOKS. When Jaewon is recruited into the most lucrative weapons development division in Neo Seoul, he’s eager to claim his best shot at military glory. His objective is simple: report on Tera, the test subject in the government’s supersoldier project. But when he becomes Tera’s partner and starts to fall for her, Jaewon begins to question his loyalty to an oppressive regime. He must decide where he stands: with the people, or the totalitarian government that claims to end all war.

We asked Tu Books editor and publisher Stacy Whitman to take us through the process of bringing the cover of Rebel Seoul to life:

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Illustrator Elisa Chavarri Takes Us Behind the Art of Rainbow Weaver/Tejedora del arcoíris

Released last fall from LEE & LOW BOOKS, Rainbow Weaver/Tejedora del arcoíris is a beautiful story of recycling, conservation, and family tradition. Ixchel wants to follow in the long tradition of weaving on backstrap looms, just as her mother, grandmother, and most Mayan women have done for more than two thousand years. But Ixchel’s mother is too busy preparing her weavings for the market. Ixchel first tries weaving with a variety of materials, but then she  notices the colorful plastic bags littering her neighborhood and suddenly has an idea that ends up benefitting everyone.

We asked illustrator Elisa Chavarri to take us behind the scenes of her art process bringing Rainbow Weaver to life: Continue reading

Judging Books by Their Covers

Today we are pleased to share this guest post from LGuest Bloggeribrarian and Diversity Coordinator Laura Reiko Simeon on the power of book covers.

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Illustrator Jessica Lanan Takes Us Behind the Art of The Story I’ll Tell

Released last fall from LEE & LOW BOOKS, The Story I’ll Tell is the story i'll tella gentle and moving story of adoption and parental love that is sure to touch the hearts of readers everywhere, no matter how they came to be a family. It has received starred reviews from Booklist and Publishers Weekly, which called it “an unabashed love letter, one that many families will treasure.” 

We asked illustrator Jessica Lanan to take us behind the scenes of her art process bringing The Story I’ll Tell to life: Continue reading

Author/Illustrator Lulu Delacre Takes Us Behind the Art of ¡Olinguito, de la A a la Z!

Alto, allá arriba en los Andes brilla un bosque bordado de bromelias…
High up in the Andes blooms a brilliant forest embroidered with bromeliads . . .

Set to be released this spring, ¡Olinguito, de la A a la Z! / Olinguito, from A to Z! : Descubriendo el bosque nublado / Unveiling the Cloud Forest takes readers into the magical world of a cloud forest in the Andes of Ecuador. We discover the bounty of plants, animals, and other organisms that live there as we help a zoologist look for the elusive olinguito, the first new mammal species identified in the Americas since 1978. It has received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, and Kirkus Reviews, which called it “a breath of fresh air in the too-often-contrived world of bilingual books.” Continue reading

Cover Design 101: A sense of mystery

Now that we’ve revealed the cover for the amazing Perfect Liars by Kimberly Reid (coming in May!), let’s talk about the cover design process. As with Ink and Ashes last year by Valynne Maetani, Perfect Liars is a YA mystery title. How do you give a book that mysterious air you need? How do you tell readers, “This book is for YOU!”?

The challenge in all YA book design is to create a cover that looks like it belongs in the YA section, but doesn’t look too much like the rest of the YA section. And to do that, you need a good designer. We found that designer in Liz Casal, who’s also designed covers for Little, Brown and Soho Press. Looking at her portfolio, we knew she was just the designer for the job. Continue reading

Digital Illustration Up Close: Behind the Art of Amazing Places

christy haleReleased this month, Amazing Places is a collection of original poems hand-picked by acclaimed anthologist Lee Bennett Hopkins that celebrates some of the amazingly diverse places in our nation. It has received starred reviews from Kirkus Reviews and Publishers Weekly, which calls it “a broadly appealing testament to the American landscape and people.” Continue reading

Illustrator Shadra Strickland Takes Us Behind the Art of Sunday Shopping

shadra stricklandSunday Shopping, our new spring title released this month, is a whimsical and fun-filled story of a young girl and her grandmother who use their big imaginations to go “shopping” through the Sunday paper. We asked illustrator Shadra Strickland to take us behind the scenes for creating the art work used in Sunday Shopping. Continue reading

Cover Reveal: Ink and Ashes

Ink and Ashes by Valynne E. Maetani is Tu Books’ first New Visions Award winner. Seventeen-year-old Claire Takata discovers a secret about her deceased father that should have remained a secret.

The New Visions Award, modeled after LEE & LOW’s successful New Voices Award, is for unpublished writers of color who write science-fiction, fantasy, and mystery YA or middle grade novels.

Ink and Ashes is set to be released Spring 2015!

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Illustrator Frank Morrison takes us behind the art of Little Melba and Her Big Trombone

SONY DSCReleased in September, Little Melba and her Big Tromboneis 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. 

Illustration Process

  1. 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.
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