7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #710: Featuring Jaime Zollars

h1 September 27th, 2020 by jules


Dragons, anyone?

Jaime Zollars’s The Truth About Dragons (Little, Brown, September 2020) is, at heart, a friendship story. More specifically, it’s about the ways in which we perceive others. “The stories about dragons are true,” we read on the first spread: They are a danger. But this is not a book for rushing through; look closely as you turn each page. You’ll see dragons … in mismatched socks. Dragons in the cafeteria. Dragons in a library. Dragons in music class. And, if you look even closer, you’ll see dragons who have turned—or are turning—into classmates. Could it be the first day of school?

And that’s really what the story asks—that we each look closely at those around us in order to really see one another. And in order to really see one another, we look past our fears. It also reminds us that others may see us, in our worst moments, as dragons too. And, as the School Library Journal review points out, it’s also a story about how “sometimes problems appear bigger than they really are and that they can usually be solved.”

Zollars pulls this off without a heavy hand. Pay close attention to her opening and closing spreads to see the parallels, and when you get a copy of this one in your hands, check out the endpapers (dramatic close-ups of dragon tails). The text here is spare and alliterative (“sometimes they challenge and pick and provoke, and nettle and needle and pester and poke”), and the palette features rich purples, blues, and earth tones.

Jaime sent some process images and final art below, and I thank her for sharing.


Jaime: “This is the very first stabs at putting this story into boxes.
These are the first two thumbnail dummies, side by side. The final book has many differences but a few very similar spreads.”

(Click image to enlarge)


Jaime: “These are some of my second roughs on various little pieces of paper.
These are a bit bigger than the thumbnails but still quite small.”

(Click image to enlarge)


Jaime: “This is a second rough sketch, followed by a final sketch, the final drawing, and then the final with digital color added! You can see some changes along the way.”
(Click image to enlarge)


Jaime: “A drawing on my desk of the opening page [the title page spread].”
(Click image to enlarge)


A final spread from the book (sans text):
“Dragons roam wild, have terribly sharp teeth, and hunt day and night.”

(Click image to enlarge)


A final spread from the book (sans text):
“… is that their socks don’t always match.”

(Click image to enlarge)


(Click cover to enlarge)


THE TRUTH ABOUT DRAGONS. Copyright © 2020 by Jaime Zollars. Published by Little, Brown and Company, New York. All images here reproduced by permission of Jaime Zollars.

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’s Kicks * * *

1) Getting past an unusually busy work week on top of coursework for some classes I’m taking—and managing to get it all done.

2) Operating in the home of Langston Hughes, one of the most important figures of The Harlem Renaissance, the i, Too Arts Collective, founded by author Renée Watson, served as a home for underrepresented writers, poets, and musicians. After losing their lease, they gathered to say goodbye to their space and to pay homage to Langston’s memory. This wonderful short film below (Vimeo link is here) was released just last week. It was directed by Kenneth Sousie and shot by Kenneth Sousie and Catherine Chojnowski:



3) I wrote this past week about Jashar Awan’s new picture book, and when he shared that on Instagram, I noticed he created this image with one of his own characters at the Mad Tea Party. KITTY!



4) My current favorite song:



5) Infinity Train.

6) A special drawing of my cat that came in the mail.

7) All next month, the Horn Book plans to celebrate (virtually) the 2020 Boston Globe-Horn Books winners. (I chaired that committee, and I loved working with my fellow judges.) I’m loooking forward to that!

What are YOUR kicks this week?

6 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #710: Featuring Jaime Zollars”

  1. Jules, I really enjoyed this post. It’s really magical to see rough sketches form into finished pieces. Jamie, thank you for generously sharing so much of your process. I especially enjoyed seeing your early thumbnail sketches and how your story evolved. Truly wonderful.

  2. Good morning, Imps! Hope you are all having a good weekend.

    Hello to Jaime and the dragons! I love seeing the process, so thank you for sharing that series of images.

    Jashar and Jules: The cat is my favorite character (naturally) from your post about the book, and cats would most definitely enjoy the Mad Tea Party!

    Jules: Have you seen the various artists who specialize in painting pets as if they were royalty? Adorable. Congrats on getting everything done – I had no doubt you would, and always will – and I hope this coming week is less busy for you so you can breathe.

    Hi Annelouise!

    My kicks from the past week:
    1) Safe
    2) Secure
    3) Steady
    4) Shifted
    5) Settled
    6) Skilled
    7) Sense

  3. Love seeing the process from early sketches to finished work. Really love that dragon with mismatched socks.

    Jules – congrats on getting through a busy week and getting everything done! That is always such a great feeling. Yay for the drawing of your cat!

    Little Willow – your first two kicks are my favorite this week – love the alliteration!

    My kicks:
    1) Starting the day with energizing yoga.
    2) Socially distant hikes with a friend yesterday.
    3) While hiking, saw a dog that from a distance looked like Cheyenne (my soul dog and best dog ever). Obviously not her, but it is always good to know she dwells in my heart, and her memories still come so easily. Plus got to make friends with Malachi, another good dog.
    4) Finding a good RBG playlist on Spotify.
    5) Making a no-sugar banana bread in a bundt pan. Came out surprisingly good.
    6) A friend stopping by for socially distant coffee this morning.
    7) Enola Holmes. Good escapist fun, and I already want a sequel.
    7.5) Snuggles with Daisy. As the weather turns chillier, she is more than happy to snuggle on the sofa.

    Have a good week Imps!

  4. Rachel: I love alliteration. I hope the encounter with the dog doppelganger brought good memories. Hugs to Daisy!

  5. Hi, Annelouise!

    Little Willow: I don’t think I’ve specifically seen that, though I’ve seen similar things. And thanks for your confidence in me! I like your sibilant kicks.

    Rachel: We watched Enola last night. Did you notice that Millie Bobby Brown produced it too? Rock on. I love your third kick. Hugs to Daisy. Always.

    Have a good week, you all!

  6. I love the black cat Jashar Awan added to the Madhatter’s Tea Party! Minor stroke of genius.

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