Christy Ottaviano at Macmillan/Ottaviano has bought North American rights, in a two-book deal, to Gilbert Ford’s first illustrated middle grade novel, Kindred Spirits, in which a lonely girl helps her fake psychic mother con widows out of their inheritances, while keeping her own real psychic abilities and ghost best friend a secret. Publication is planned for winter 2020; Carrie Hannigan at Hannigan Salky Getzler brokered the deal.
I illustrated an 80 page chapter book for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt called ITCH! Everything You Didn’t Want to Know About What Makes You Scratch by Anita Sanchez. It is considered a “grossology” science book for 2nd grade-6th grade. But most of my adult friends enjoy reading it, too so there’s something for everyone in it.
Because the subject matter was a little challenging (bedbugs and lice!), I talked with the librarians at The Clinton Hill Library, asking their advice on how I should illustrate it before I began. They gave me health science books on the birds and the bees and Where did I Come From, which I remember reading when I was a kid. It turns out, the only way to tackle sensitive or particularly gross subject matter is through humor.
Anita Sanchez had already written the informative and accessible text, so my job was to make it whimsical, scientific, and FUNNY. I took inspiration from silly symphony cartoons I remember watching on the Disney Chanel when I was a kid. I found vintage ephemera to photograph, trying to give off the illusion of science projects, insect boxes, and bulletin boards with data, old slides, and film reels.
The follow-up book, called Rotten!, will be out next year, and it is 116 pages about all things that decompose. Some of the images can be solved with humor, and some of them are more serious and must be portrayed with reverence. I look forward to sharing that next January!
Below are some of the images from the book ITCH! without the text.
I will be reading and signing HOW THE COOKIE CRUMBLED at Greenlight Bookstores on Saturday, March 31st. Drop by for a story and a chocolate chip cookie!
I will begin in Fort Greene at 11:30 AM
686 Fulton Street
Then I will be at the Lefferts Gardens store at 1:30 PM
632 Flatbush Ave