7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #631: Featuring Tadgh Bentley

h1 March 24th, 2019 by jules


Today, author-illustrator Tadgh Bentley visits to talk about his new picture book, written by Jon Stahl, and to talk us through a bit of the process of having created the illustrations for it. The book, Dragons Eat Noodles on Tuesdays (Scholastic, March 2019), is the engaging story of a blue monster, his little yellow friend, and their attempts to tell a story. These attempts involve a dragon, a cowardly knight, and a brave damsel. As Tadgh explains below, this is the first book written by someone else that he’s illustrated. I thank him for visiting to tell us more about it. Let’s get right to it.

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Tadgh: Thanks, Jules, for the chance to share some of the work that went into Dragons Eat Noodles on Tuesdays. This is my first book that I have illustrated for another writer, so it was a really interesting experience and felt like quite a responsibility.

The book is about the storytelling endeavors of two monsters. What struck me first about Jon Stahl’s story was the humor. It felt like exactly the kind of humor I enjoy. I also really liked how the book was about crafting a story; Jon has got some valuable tips to young writers in here!

I was hooked straight away so spent time working with my agent on a dummy for submission. That version of the text was pretty different (it did have a scene with a flying chipmunk that got edited out; I am still a little disappointed about it), and it was also pretty different visually to how the book turned out.


A spread from the original dummy that went out on submission
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After the book got picked up by Scholastic, it was back to the drawing board to work out what the characters would look like and to nail down an overall style. We were pretty set on the main characters of the story being monsters pretty early on. Their personalities come shining through with their dialogue, so it was a case of trying to visually capture who they were. The monsters went through many different designs …


Early character design
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… including a short spell as a bear and a rabbit …


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… before eventually settling on these guys:


A final spread from the book: “You? How can you help me?”
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One of the next challenges was to think about what the stories-within-the-story would look like. The book involves our two main characters exchanging stories and arguing over the rules of storytelling. The first story that is told begins with the line “once upon a time.” I used that as a prompt to think about what these story segments might look like. I had lots of different versions of that first page:


Sample sketches
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In the end, we chose not to have any kind of story panel and, instead, focus on the blue monster so that all of the attention is kept on him for his introduction.


The book’s opening illustration
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Even though none of them made it into the final book, working on those early spreads was super useful in terms of developing ideas for the final look of the story sequences that did appear in the final book:


“Boy finds toy. Boy loses toy. …”
A story sequence for one of the stories-within-the-story that made it into the book

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The real star of the show is Dennis, our noodle-loving dragon. My main challenge with him was making him look sufficiently dragon-y, as opposed to dinosaur-y. (Turns out wings and horns are key.)


Dennis’s design
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I wanted to make his entrance to the story as dramatic as possible by emphasizing his size. These spreads were a lot of fun to plan. I don’t want to give too much of the story away, but this is one of my favorites:


A final spread
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Most of my work is done digitally. Everything starts out in my sketchbook, which is usually a mixture of words and random scribbles.


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But as soon as I am working on final pieces (or even just exploring and developing), I’m working on the computer. It does make me feel like a bit of a cheat/fraud (that and the fact that I never went to art school — eek!), but the advantages of being able to make changes so easily, combined with all of the funky and unexpected things that can happen when you can mess around with a drawing and have the ability to hit undo, are too great to ignore.


Sketch work for my next picture book project, Bounce
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This is my fifth picture book. My fourth and most recent, Little Penguin Stays Awake [pictured below], came out last October.


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There are two more Little Penguin books — Little Penguin Gets the Hiccups and Little Penguin and the Lollipop — as well as Samson, my story about a fine-dining piranha. Currently, I am working on a chapter book series about two amateur sleuths (Dino Detective and her brother, Awesome Possum); a picture book about bouncy castles; and my second I Can Read book for my Little Penguin series. So, things are busy — but in a wonderful way.

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All images used by permission of Tadgh Bentley.

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

Thanks again to Tadgh!

I’m getting ready to take my daughters and their friend roller-skating, so that will have to be my kicks 1 to 7 today. I have a feeling I’ll feel like I’m in 7th grade again.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

7 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #631: Featuring Tadgh Bentley”

  1. I think a lot of kids are going to relate to Dennis the noodle loving dragon.
    Jules, I was to rollover skate. Have oodles of fun.
    My kicks:
    1. Seeing Michelle Obama on Tuesday.
    2. Seeing her with my oldest grandgirl.
    3. Seeing the world premiere of the Oregon Symphony playing the score of Coraline as the movie played above them.
    4. Seeing it with oldest grandgirl (one of her very favorite movies)
    5. Poetry lessons to third and fourth graders this week.
    6. Sunshine.
    7. Book club at my house tonight with Chuck making us meatballs and spaghetti.
    Have a great week.

  2. What an adorable and scary noodle-eating dragon! What a great book about imagination and storytelling.

    Jules – hope you are having a blast roller skating!

    Jone – so stoked you got to see Michelle Obama, and with your oldest grand-girl to boot! What a great week!

    My kicks this week are all rolled into a paragraph: Had a 3 day trial for an innocent client. Lots of obstacles and issues came up, including the DA withholding evidence until we were in middle of things. It was nervewracking and exhausting and thank goodness the jury got it right and found my client Not Guilty of all 3 counts. Relieved, exhausted, mad, but mainly super happy for my client. Grateful to be able to chill out a bit with Daisy now. Also, watching “Splash” is a great way to relax after a hard week. Forgot how sweet that movie is, and it was terrific fun.

    Oh, and my copy of Sweety is arriving on Tuesday!! Yay!

    Have a great week Imps!

  3. Hi! Fascinating process – so glad Tadgh shared it. LOVE the dragon.

    Nice Kicks! Hope you had fun rollerskating Jules. Love Rachel and Jones’ too.
    My kicks involve gradual healing from something else after spending a week in bed with a bad cold/flu first.
    See you all next week.

  4. Jone, ooh! Obama AND Coraline. Good week, that one.

    Rachel: Roller-skating was fun. I managed not to fall on the rink but fell on my ass on the carpeted floor next to it. Ouch. Could be worse, I guess. I LOVE YOUR KICK. Go, YOU! Love that you’ll have your own Sweety too.

    Allison: You need a BREAK. Glad you are feeling better, but take it easy.

    Have a great week, you all!

  5. Hello Imps! Hello Tadgh Bentley! Hello ADORABLE NOODLE-EATING DRAGON! You deserve to eat noodles every single day if you please! Noodles are delicious. 🙂

    Jules: I hope you all had a wonderful time rollerskating.

    Jone: That’s a list of great kicks and lovely shared moments.

    Rachel: Congratulations to all. Wow.

    Allison: Glad you are feeling better.

    My kicks from the last week:
    1) Filming
    2) Preparedness
    3) Shared joy
    4) Glad
    5) Supporting
    6) Supported
    7) Trying

  6. FILMING! Break a leg!

  7. LW – hooray for filming!!!!! Break a leg!

    And thanks y’all. Feeling really relieved it worked out the right way. I still feel like I could sleep for a week.

    Jules – glad you had fun. Falling on the carpet is way better than falling in the rink!

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