Welcoming Elijah

h1 January 16th, 2020 by jules


“Inside, the boy heard the tale of the Israelites leaving Egypt.
Outside, the kitten heard leaves whispering in the trees.
Still the boy waited. Still the kitten waited.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


 

Today, illustrator Susan Gal visits to share some work-in-process images and final art from her illustrations for Lesléa Newman’s Welcoming Elijah: A Passover Tale with a Tail, coming to shelves from Charlesbridge at the end of this month.

It’s the first night of Passover, and a family welcomes their friends and family to a Seder. From inside the house, a young boy spots a kitten outdoors. A compassionate story unfolds, one of the traditions of a Jewish holiday, happening indoors, and a small stray kitten, doing his best to survive outside. How the boy and the kitten meet — and how the kitten finds a home and a name — is the heart of this story. Appended are an author’s note, providing more information about Passover, and a list of some traditional rituals of a Seder.

Newman’s writing is spare, rhythmic, and lyrical. Gal’s illustrations — rendered with ink, charcoal, and digital collage — feature warm, cozy indoor scenes and outdoor sidewalk scenes that accentuate the kitten’s solitude, as well as his diminutive size. (He’s a brilliant, and fluffy, white dot in the inky-blue dark.) Gal plays with light and shadows in beguiling ways.

I thank Susan for visiting and sharing these images today. Let’s get to it.

* * *

Susan: You’ll notice that some of the spreads went thru some serious revisions from rough to final art. I also thought it might be fun to include some jacket roughs. The jacket art is always a struggle — the story has to be thoughtfully communicated and then everyone has to approve it.

I included a collection of sketches too. You’ll notice one of the sketches is done in blue pencil with black outline. This is how I create my sketches — on newsprint with blue pencil. Then I refine them in ink and scan them. The black and white sketches are the scanned sketches. Then I drop the black and white sketch into the layout and start to compose and color it digitally. This book has tight sketches in color, because I wanted to convince the editor and art director that the book should be rendered with a limited palette of yellow, blue, red, black, and white. Going to the effort of creating tight color roughs paid off. The editor and art director agreed that the book would look best with a limited palette to emphasize the contrast of indoor and outdoor night scenes.

Here are the sketches:

 


(Click to enlarge)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 

Here’s a spread with color rough and final art:

 


(Click to enlarge)


 


Final spread: “Inside, it was warm.
Outside, it was windy.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


 

This is another spread with two rough color versions and then final art:

 


(Click to enlarge)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 


Final spread: “Inside, the boy waited for the Seder to start.
Outside, the kitten waited for the moon to rise.
Tonight would be different from all other nights.
The boy knew this. The kitten did, too.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


 

Another spread with rough and final art:

 


(Click to enlarge)


 


Final spread: “Inside, the boy washed his hands.
Outside, the kitten cleaned its paws.
Still the boy waited.
Still the kitten waited.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


 

Another spread with rough and final art:

 


(Click to enlarge)


 


Final spread: “Inside, the boy dipped parsley into salt water.
Outside, the kitten chewed a wet blade of grass.
Inside, the boy broke the middle matzo in half.
Outside, the kitten split a twig in two.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


 

And here are the roughs and final art for the jacket:

 


(Click to enlarge)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 


Final jacket
(Click to enlarge)


 

* * * * * * *

WELCOMING ELIJAH: A PASSOVER TALE WITH A TAIL. Text copyright © 2020 by Lesléa Newman. Illustrations copyright © 2020 by Susan Gal and reproduced by permission of the publisher, Charlesbridge, Watertown, MA. All other images reproduced by permission of Susan Gal.





Leave a Comment


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