What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Morning,
Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Brian Biggs

h1 March 16th, 2012 by jules

“YES! Brownie drives back home.”
(Early sketch and final art)

(Click second image to embiggen)

This morning over at Kirkus, I write about the new chapter book for very young readers, Sadie and Ratz, by one of my favorite authors for older people, Sonya Hartnett (interviewed here at 7-Imp in 2007, during the 7-Imp era in which images were tragically small).

Just as soon as I finished this book, I turned around to write about it, because—as I note over at Kirkus—all chapter books for young children should be this good. The link is here this morning, if you’re so inclined to go read about it.

* * *

Last week at Kirkus, I wrote about Cynthia Rylant’s and Brian Biggs’ Brownie & Pearl series (eight books published by Beach Lane Books), seeing as how I was feeling very all-caps about the fact that I’d never seen it (“WHERE HAS THIS SERIES BEEN ALL MY LIFE ANYWAY?” is how that went.) Yep. I was late in getting to it, and I think it’s such a great series in many ways for young children.

I featured Brian Biggs fairly recently here at 7-Imp, but now he’s back, ’cause I just gotta show some early sketches and final art (note: the final art is sans text) from this series. Here’s what Brian had to tell me about some of the early sketches you’ll see below:

When I first read the manuscripts, it was not clear that Brownie and Pearl were a girl and a cat. I thought, in fact, that they were both cats. So, imagine my surprise when I sent a batch of character sketches to my agent and he calls me up and says, “erm, um, Brownie is a girl.”

So, ha ha. You know.

Brian Biggs. He makes me laugh. (Also, show young fans of this series the early cat sketches below, explaining that Biggs initially had Brownie in mind as a cat, and you’ll get lots of loud, happy laughs. I know this for a fact.)

And I really love Brian’t art. Let’s get right to it then…

Brownie and Pearl, the two-cats version

“Brownie try-outs”


Sketches below from Book One, Brownie & Pearl Step Out, 2009:


(Cover sketch)


Sketches below from Book Two, Brownie & Pearl Get Dolled Up, 2010:


(Cover sketch)


Sketches and final illustrations below from latest book,
Brownie & Pearl Go For a Spin, February 2012:


“She parks her car. Pearl doesn’t want to get out.”
(Click to enlarge)

“Brownie has an idea. She runs inside.”
(Click to enlarge)

“Soon she is back. She has treats. Pearl is so happy.”
(Click to enlarge)

* * * * * * *

BROWNIE & PEARL GO FOR A SPIN. Copyright © 2012 by Cynthia Rylant. Illustration copyright © 2012 by Brian Biggs. Published by Beach Lane Books, New York. All images posted with permission of Brian Biggs.

6 comments to “What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Morning,
Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Brian Biggs”

  1. Hahaha. Um. Brownie would also have been a perfectly reasonable cat… it’s just not a name you normally associate with a girl, not really. Unless she liked brownies? I think it’s cute that confusion ensued, and the books are adorable either way.

  2. Three things I love about Brownie & Pearl:

    1. That each installment has a useful colloquialism in the title (Take a Dip, Grab a Bite, Go For a Spin, etc.).

    2. Girl with Cat Name, Cat with Girl Name. YES.

    3. In “Hit the Hay,” the phrase “happy little bed balls” and the adorable accompanying picture.

    3a. Genius + Genius = WIN

  3. Heading to my local bookstore this morning to pick iup these books. My students are going to love them. Where have I been? Other early reader series by Rylant are much loved and Biggs’ characterizations are delightful.

  4. Thank you for this background and the sketches. This is a series I truly love. I buy mulitple copies for the library and recommend it frequently to kids and parents. It’s great for cat lovers, of course, and it’s also a good choice for people looking for something girl-y that doesn’t seem to entirely negate feminism.

  5. Wonderful-Thank you. I have a block print series I want to make it into a picture book. I loved your drawings. There are cats that go for walks. I had two. GirlyGurl a black & white cat & Kiki a grey stripped, volunteer cat who continued in the paw steps of GirlyGurl. Lovely book. My adult women friends will want to enjoy this book too!!Such delightful fun!

  6. Hello, Brian, Brownie, Pearl, and friends!

    Cats make me happy. Thank you. 🙂

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