The story I’m about to write is about the peculiar life of a loving mother bear who adopted a small, but very smart bunny and how the two of them adapt and learn from each other. It is indeed a true story — my very own.
There are many ways to tell a story. For me as an artist and illustrator the best way is by sketching ideas into my sketch book. Words come later, and sometimes they don’t come at all. Ideally, the visual is so strong that not a single sentence has to be written in order for the story to unfold.
Or, sometimes just one single word or phrase is necessary to guide the viewer along those invisible lines that suddenly (or eventually) turn into a totally new experience.
Just think of some of the all-time best-selling children’s book, like The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, first published in 1969 — the simple story of a caterpillar eating her way through all kind of food, before pupating and emerging as a butterfly! The small, robust picture-book stands out because of its distinctive collage illustrations that were innovative at the time of publication, real ‘eaten’ holes in the pages, and simple text around educational themes – counting, the days of the week, foods, and a butterfly’s life stages. Almost 50 million copies of this book have been sold around the world!
Where the Wild Things Are by the American writer and illustrator Maurice Sendak is another great example of how a complex topic or emotion, can be tackled by the limited use of only 338 words on 40 pages! I personally adore Sendak’s illustrations even more after having learnt a little bit more about the making — apparently shortly before starting the illustrations, Sendak realized he did not know how to draw horses and without further ado changed the wild horses to the more ambiguous “Wild Things”, a term inspired by the Yiddish expression “vilde chaya” (“wild animals”), used to indicate boisterous children.
Ever since I was a child I adored books, in fact many of them are still crowding my bookshelf, and I have grown my collection even more since I had my own children. One of their favorite books has always been “Der Hase mit der roten Nase” (The hare with the red nose) by Helme Heine, first published in 1988.
Unfortunately entirely written for the German market, it’s a lovely, simple story about a unique hare with a red nose and one blue ear. When the fox doesn’t recognise him as such, he realizes how lucky he is and loves being different.
The whole story is written as a poem:
Once upon a time there was a hare with a red nose and a blue ear. This happens quite rarely.
The German “hare” rhymes with “nose”, and “ear” with “happens … rarely”. Probably the book couldn’t be published world-wide because those carefully chosen words that rhyme simply don’t allow for an appropriate translation.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed viewing a small selection of my own ideas for a children’s book. Another book I have already written and illustrated together with my daughter Sami you can view here.
I’m always open for licensing and/or a cooperation of any kind. Or maybe you already have the corresponding story in your mind? In either case, please get in touch with me!