One Very Possible Purple Elephant Before Breakfast

h1 October 10th, 2011 by jules

I admit, given today’s post, that I’m feeling rather sentimental and nostalgic, if one can be nostalgic after blogging for just a little over five short years.

You see, when 7-Imp was first born and back when I was blogging with my best bud forever, Eisha Prather, our interview with author/illustrator Jarrett J. Krosoczka (back when our images were disturbingly and fearfully small) was really one of our first interviews. Eisha and I were—and still are—fans of Jarrett’s books (especially Punk Farm — I’m sorry, but does it get any cooler than that book?). And, ever since then, he’s been a friend to 7-Imp and has visited on many occasions, which always makes all the little imps here at 7-Imp happy. (Okay, it’s just me, but I can pretend there are little imps at blaine.org that drive the action, can’t I?) I’m happy to say he’s visiting again today.

And Jarrett’s got a brand-new book out—Ollie the Purple Elephant, to be released tomorrow by Knopf—and I immediately fell for the friendly purple protagonist, as well as the serious Scooby-Doo vibe the plot is sportin’. Ollie, a lone purple elephant, finds himself living with the loving McLaughlin family. But when Ginger, the family cat, conspires with the downstairs neighbor, Mr. Puddlebottom—Ollie puts a crimp in their style for different reasons—he finds himself travelling with the circus and wondering if he’ll ever see his beloved new family again. Throw in some crime-fighting, and you’ve got one boisterous tale. “With bright, friendly acrylic art that recalls Krosoczka’s earlier work,” writes Publishers Weeky, “…the author offers a fast-paced and surreal tale with twists aplenty.”

Jarrett’s here to talk about Ollie and how, truly, it is a special book for him in more ways than one, but first, I must note that he has a few other reasons to be extra-jubilant these days:

Jarrett is happily celebrating ten years of writing and illustrating books for children. In honor, the Worcester Art Museum in Massachusetts—where the young Jarrett once took art classes—presents the exhibit “Monkey Boy to Lunch Lady: 10 Years of Jarrett J. Krosoczka,” running from October 11 to November 13, 2011. How much do I wish right about now that I could snap my fingers and be up in Mass for that? A lot, but, sadly, I do not possess such magic. But if you’re anywhere near there, I’d highly suggest going. And if you’re not, a sketchbook in celebration of Jarrett’s career and the exhibit is available at this link — with every bit of the proceeds going towards the Joseph and Shirley Krosoczka Memorial Youth Scholarships at the Worcester Art Museum. (Two images from the sketchbook are included below in this post.) Jarrett created this scholarship in honor of his grandparents, and it provides tuition to classes at the Museum to children in unique familial situations. (Jarrett himself was raised by his grandparents, who supported and encouraged his career in art.)

The sketchbook includes a decade’s worth of sketches, and it was “visually curated” by designer John Lind with essays from Jarrett on the creative process behind each book he’s penned and illustrated in his career. Photos of events, such as book tour stops, and field notes are also included, along with an introduction by radio host and art educator Mark Lynch. (As I type this, an eBook edition is available, and the print edition will be purchasable very soon.)

Jarrett will also present on the “Business of Children’s Books” on October 22nd at the Museum. Here is more information.

Also worth noting is that tomorrow, to celebrate the book’s publication, Jarrett will conduct a special storytime for the book — live readings will happen every hour on the hour. Here is more information.

And here’s Jarrett to tell us all about Ollie:

Jarrett: I came up with the idea for Ollie on the flight back from my honeymoon, when my newly-minted wife suggested I draw an elephant.

We started our life together, and I penned a story about an elephant searching for his place in this world, started designing the characters and low and behold — we learned we were expecting our first child!


(A page from the sketchbook in honor of Jarrett’s upcoming exhibit —
click on the image to see the text that accompanies it)


(Another page from the sketchbook — click to enlarge)

I designed a baby room with a circus theme, using all of the characters from Ollie.


Baby’s room before furniture

Knopf picked up the book!


Cover sketch
(Click to enlarge)



The book’s cover color sketch
(Click to enlarge each)


The cover-painting process
(Click to enlarge)


Final jacket
(Click to enlarge)


Final cover

Zoe was born!

Draft after draft, the story changed dramatically.


JJK’s studio wall during the time of Ollie
(Click to enlarge)

The book is about to be published, and my daughter just assumes Ollie has always been there. He’s greeted her every morning.


An Ollie sighting in her room

I named the monkey in the book “Zoe” before we knew we were going to have a girl.


“Zoe signed the dedication page for her preschool.”

* * *

Thanks to Jarrett for sharing. Here are some more early sketches and final spreads from the book. Enjoy.


An early sketch of when the McLaughlins meet Ollie
(Click to enlarge)


Later sketch for same spread
(Click to enlarge)



Final illustrations
(Click on second image to see spread in its entirety)


Early sketch of Ollie living with the McLaughlin family
(Click to enlarge)



Final illustrations
(Click on second image to see spread in its entirety)


Early sketch of the Mr. Puddlebottom/Ginger conspiracy


Final illustration
(Click to enlarge)

* * * * * * *

OLLIE THE PURPLE ELEPHANT. Text copyright © 2011 by Jarrett J. Krosoczka. Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers, New York. All images reproduced by permission of Jarrett J. Krosoczka.

* * * * * * *


“Faces by Zoe”


Zoe (and below is also Zoe, drawing)

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6 comments to “One Very Possible Purple Elephant Before Breakfast”

  1. too cute. our little girl named our pet elephant “puppy” … lol, and she loves to draw like her momma. our little boy LOVES punk farm!! fun book!


  2. Love Ollie! And congrats to Jarrett on 10 years of amazing art! 🙂


  3. My first PB is coming out in a year, and I love the whole hands-on process. So cool to get a peek into other people’s workings.


  4. Congratulations, Jarrett and family!

    A purple elephant in a tutu makes me very happy.
    As does the cat, though it sounds like she’s up to no good… 😉


  5. Great characters. Ollie is fantastic! Congratulations to Jarrett!!


  6. […] Jarrett J. Krosoczka (October 10, 2011) on Ollie the Purple Elephant (Knopf, October 2011): “I came up with the idea for Ollie on […]


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