What I’m Up To at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Dave Coverly

h1 August 30th, 2013 by jules

“Michael collected words.”
Dave Coverly: “This idea was one of the earliest I had, before the book was even finished being written, so I spent some time trying to find the perfect page. It was almost impossible not to have a word behind him that wasn’t totally ill-suited to a children’s book; the pages that were okay were also, um, boring. Then there was the whole copyright issue. So I decided simply to make my own page by eliminating boring/redundant words but keeping them all in alphabetical order, which was still a boring headache! I finally found a way to entertain myself—and, hopefully, a few kids—by creating a fake page full of real AND fake definitions. This all has nothing to do with the book, just a fun little surprise if anyone takes the time to read the definitions.”


This morning over at Kirkus, I write about Jeanette Winter’s Henri’s Scissors. That column is here.

* * *

Last week, I wrote here about Jim Tobin’s The Very Inappropriate Word (Christy Ottaviano Books/Henry Holt, August 2013), illustrated by Dave Coverly.

Both Dave and Jim are pictured here. (Jim’s the pointy one. Hoo boy, I wonder if Dave just uttered a very inappropriate word. In fact, I’m finding it hard RIGHT NOW to avoid cursing, ’cause I do love a good, creative swear.) Dave says this is the author photo they wanted to use that was nixed by the publisher.

Dave is sharing some art and early sketches from the book today. He works on 90lb Arches, using Rotring Rapidograph technical pens, and he then drops in watercolor. Ditto for the the hand-lettering on the cover, he says.

Let’s get to it. I thank Dave for sharing images today.

Early cover ideas
(Click each to enlarge)

Final art from the book
(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)

Final art (without text):
“When everybody was off the bus, Michael’s sister said,
‘Michael! That is a very inappropriate word!'”

Above: More final art from the book



Dave: “You can see [above] from the sketch that we changed the ‘old words that new words surpassed.’ I think Jim just liked the new one better, as do I.”

Dave: “[Above] is something that made it into the advance copy but was fortunately caught and changed before the book went to print. Can you spot it?”

Dave: “[Above] is also a change from sketch to final, as Jim thought of the last minute change from ‘spying’ to ‘words stuck together’ in order to play off the following ‘words to cut in half.’ The latter, with the sawhorse, also sparked a minor debate, as ‘words to cut in half’ is clunkier than ‘words cut in half,’ but more accurate. The debate wasn’t really between people, though — more of an internal debate on Jim’s part.
But you gotta sweat the small stuff in these books! Especially a book ABOUT words.”

* * * * * * *

THE VERY INAPPROPRIATE WORD. Copyright © 2013 by Jim Tobin. Illustrations copyright © 2013 by Dave Coverly. Published by Christy Ottaviano Books/Henry Holt, New York. All images here used with permission of Dave Coverly.

6 comments to “What I’m Up To at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Dave Coverly”

  1. For those who were trying to spot the error on the cube page, for the record, here is the piece of final art below. Dave says that the cube in the early art is not actually a cube. (See how it’s four rows down, but three rows across — but the final is four rows down and four rows across?)

    I didn’t catch this. I had to ask Dave!

  2. Excellent!

  3. A word nerd book. PERFECT.

  4. I love Michael’s ears. 🙂

  5. Dave Coverly is my favorite cartoonist! Jim Tobin’s writing so funny – what a great team!

  6. The word should be wat.

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