What I’m Up To at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week,
Featuring Stephanie Graegin

h1 May 31st, 2013 by jules


This morning over at Kirkus, I write about two shy girls in two new picture books. That link is here today.

* * *

Today illustrator Stephanie Graegin is visiting 7-Imp, since last week (here at Kirkus) I wrote about Emily Jenkins’ newest picture book, Water in the Park: A Book About Water and the Times of the Day, released recently by Schwartz & Wade Books and illustrated by Stephanie. Stephanie also shares some sketches here, as well as sketches and art from Liz Garton Scanlon’s Happy Birthday, Bunny!, her debut illustrated title released by Beach Lane Books in January of this year. She also shares a couple of personal pieces. (Pictured above is a piece she created for Steven Malk, her agent at Writers House.)

I thank her for sharing.

* * *

Stephanie: Emily Jenkins was inspired to write Water in the Park after having lived across from Prospect Park and being able to witness the daily cycles and rituals that take place there on hot summer days. I was thrilled to be asked to illustrate a book that takes place in my own neighborhood.

My own designs are based mainly upon on aspects of two Brooklyn Parks I live nearby, Prospect Park and Fort Greene Park. While working on the sketches, I made a rough map of my picture book park to keep the location of everything consistent throughout the park. It was fun to be working on a book where visiting a park anytime was “research.” I went to many playgrounds around Brooklyn to gather ideas.

I loved adding a wide variety of people to the park, making up little side stories about them and tracking them throughout their day in the book. I get a kick out of adding lots of little details that you may not notice right away. Which each sketch revision, I found myself adding more and more people to the background of the park. The most challenging spread was the 10 a.m. playground scene, with 160 some people on the page. I tried it with less people, but it looked too empty, as Brooklyn parks are quite crowded in the summer.

I draw in pencil and scan those drawings into the computer, along with watercolor swatches, ink swatches, pencil textures and patterns that I make. Everything is layered, pieced together and colored in Photoshop.

Water in the Park: Sketches

“Very early thumbnail sketches of the first two spreads in the book.”
(Click to enlarge)

“An early sketch of the playground scene.”
(Click to enlarge)

“A later sketch of the same spread, with a new composition and lots of people added.”
(Click to enlarge)

Sketches that became part of the final artwork.
(Click each to enlarge)

Water in the Park: Final Art

“On very hot days, as the sun rises, an orange glow shines in the water of the pond. Just before six o’clock, turtles settle on rocks. They warm their turtle shells in the light.
Good morning, park!”

(Click to enlarge spread)

“By seven o’clock, two babies have come to the park. One has a bagel in a brown paper bag. The other has a plastic box of apple pieces. The babies want drinks from the water fountain. They point their baby fingers and jump.
Their grown-ups lift them. Up and up.”

(Click to enlarge)

“It is seven o’clock. A stripey cat creeps from beneath a bush and laps a quiet puddle. Tup tup. Tup tup. And now the dogs come.
Rouw! Rouw! Rouw! Time for an evening swim.”

(Click to enlarge)

(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)


Happy Birthday, Bunny!


Happy, Birthday Bunny!, written by Liz Garton Scanlon (Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster, Jan 2013), is my first picture book. The book was originally titled Happy Birthday, Baby! but morphed into Happy Birthday, Bunny!, as I thought it would be more fun to draw a critter party with a wide variety of animals in attendance.

“Early thumbnails of spreads.”
(Click to enlarge)

Sketch that became part of the final artwork.
(Click to enlarge)

“Thumbnails of jacket ideas. The final cover ended up being
a combination of the two at the top.”

(Click to enlarge)

Final art
(Click each spread to enlarge)


Personal Pieces


(Click to enlarge)

(Click to enlarge)

I’m currently working on the final artwork for another picture book for Schwartz & Wade.

This September, a picture book for Little, Brown—You Were the First, written by Patricia MacLachlan—will be out.

* * * * * * *

WATER IN THE PARK: A BOOK ABOUT WATER & THE TIMES OF THE DAY. Copyright © 2013 by Emily Jenkins. Illustrations © 2013 by Stephanie Graegin. Published by Schwartz & Wade Books, New York. Spreads reproduced with permission of the publisher. All other images here are reproduced with permission of Stephanie Graegin.

Leave a Comment

Should you have trouble posting, please contact sevenimp_blaine@blaine.org. Thanks.