ITCH! Everything You Didn’t Want to Know About What Makes You Scratch

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.