An Alphabet Adventure Before Breakfast

h1 December 8th, 2020 by jules


Lucky for me, things are coming up very Julie today at 7-Imp.

Author Julie Larios and author-illustrator Julie Paschkis (both language lovers) visit today to talk briefly about their newest picture book, Eek!: A Noisy Journey from A to Z (Peachtree, September 2020).

I reviewed this one for the Horn Book, and I don’t think that review will publish till later. But in summary: This is a mighty entertaining alphabet adventure. It is wordless, with the exception of some onomatopoeia and animal sounds. The adventure begins with a sneezing mouse (A is for “achoo”) and ends with that mouse falling asleep safely (Z is for “ZzZzZ”) — and in between there are buzzing bees, chirping birds, a cat, a dog who likes to chase cats, a raccoon on a bike, a pig in a sleek car, a harrumph’ing alligator, a bike accident, some tears but much joy, a parade, a lion (with a mane just right for snuggling mice), and much more.

I always love to see Julie Paschkis’s work (and I love it when she collaborates with Larios), and here we are treated to all kinds of beguiling patterns (primarily in the animals’ clothing), as we watch the creatures move across the pages. Her palette here is bright; the action takes place on spreads with solidly-colored backgrounds to help readers focus their eye on the bustling action. Find a child eager for a story and let them narrate the action here. They will have a ball naming all the animals and performing all the sounds printed on the page (“sis-boom-bah”) — and don’t be surprised if repeated reads are requested.

If the Horn Book posts my review online later, I will edit this post to link to it. In the meantime, here are Julie and Julie below! Paschkis shares some process images, too, from the creation of this one. I thank them both for sharing.

Oh! And head to these blog posts if you want to read more about the book — Paschkis’s post about the book (with lots more art) and Larios’s post here.

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Julie Larios: This book was born one evening when I was puzzled (my standard muse for writing) and intrigued by how hard-wired children’s brains are for language. We even have words for sounds — a kind of synesthesia. So, I made up an alphabet of 26 playful, slightly wacky, unrelated sounds. Julie Paschkis saw the possibilities and shaped my alphabet (with a few changes to serve the narrative) into an A-Z story of a little mouse on a journey. It was hard work; getting wackiness under control is never easy! Then she illustrated it with all the charm and energy that is quintessentially hers.

Julie Paschkis: Here a few images from when we were working with a random collection of sounds:



Here is an outline of the story when a lot of the plot was in place — but not all …



Here are swatches, working out the background colors:



Here is the evolution of one page: “GRRR” …






Final spread
(Click to enlarge)


Here are a couple more final spreads …


(Click spread to enlarge)


(Click spread to enlarge)


(Click cover to enlarge)


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EEK!: A NOISY JOURNEY FROM A TO Z. Text copyright © 2020 by Julie Larios. Illustrations copyright © 2020 by Julie Paschkis. Final spreads reproduced by permission of the publisher, Peachtree, Atlanta. All other images reproduced by permission of Julie Paschkis.

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