A ‘Rather Dryly Witty Fellow’
Shares Some Art and Dummy Images

h1 December 19th, 2013 by jules

Early dummy image for the cover of Little Santa
(Click to enlarge)

Final art: “And you know the rest of the story.”
(Click to enlarge)

Last week at Kirkus, I chatted here with author-illustrator Jon Agee about a few things, including his newest picture book, Little Santa (Dial, October 2013). Today, I’m following up with some art from the book, as well as some dummy images Jon sent along (which he explains in the Q&A, but I’ll be sure to put captions below each of those images).

Jon also talked in one response about picture book publishing in the early ’80s “when publishing was a quieter, slower, leaner business, and the editorial staff still held reign over sales and marketing. I was a complete unknown, and yet I could meet face-to-face with editors, like Frances Foster and Margaret McElderry. Or receive inspiring rejection letters from Walter Lorraine and Gordon Lish.” He shares below one of those rejection letters. It’s from Walter Lorraine.


Early dummy image
(Click to enlarge)

Early dummy image, the version where Santa
“gets caught in a blizzard and camps out in a cave”

(Click to enlarge)

Early dummy image, the version in which Santa is an only child
(Click to enlarge)

The inspiring rejection letter from editor Walter Lorraine, 1981
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Final art from the book:


“Santa dug the reindeer out of the snow. ‘G-g-gosh!’ said the reindeer.
‘What are you doing out here?’ Santa told the reindeer about his family.
‘Hop on my back,’ said the reindeer. ‘We’ll look for help.'”

(Click to enlarge)

(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)

“‘Look, everybody!’ said Santa. ‘These are my new friends!’
‘Welcome,’ said Santa’s family.”

(Click to enlarge)

Final cover

* * * * * * *

LITTLE SANTA. Copyright © 2013 by Jon Agee. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Dial Books for Young Readers. Other images reproduced by permission of Jon Agee.

4 comments to “A ‘Rather Dryly Witty Fellow’
Shares Some Art and Dummy Images”

  1. My agent (Elena at Pippin Properties) gave me a copy of this book last week. It’s classic Agee who is an author I’ve enjoyed (really really enjoyed) ever since my daughters were little. I remember my first reading of The Incredible Painting of Felix Clouseau. When the kids wanted to read together, it was always one that I chose for the stack. I think it’s the “dry wit” that grabs me. Can one say that a book is “gently trenchant” or “humorously mordant?” Those are the two words that come to mind that make Jon’s books appealing to me, a grown-up. I’m sure it’s not lost on children who observe the contrast between things as they are and things as we’d like them to be.
    I think Little Santa will be an evergreen picture book.

  2. I like those descriptions, Rob. And I agree about how children will see it, too. One of the things I love about Agee’s books is that he doesn’t talk down to them as if they’re incapable of understanding that kind of thing.

  3. Fantastic. Thanks for this post, Jules. And thanks to Jon Agee, for sharing that hilarious rejection letter (among other things)!

  4. I am so glad Jon Agee saved that rejection letter. It reminds me of Ursula Nordstrom’s and makes me yearn for the older days days of publishing.

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