Jenny S Burke and I have been talking about books and writing for several years, and I wanted to share with you this very creative lady’s latest blog post in which she talks about what went into the making of her children’s book Winter’s Child.
Over to Jenny:
‘Once upon a time, there was a fierce winter. Snow drifts towered above me like white storm waves . . . cold, soft mountains I could tunnel into or slide down.
I was a young child when my family drove from the east coast to northern North Dakota. We gathered with relatives at my grandfather’s farm for Christmas.
There were no kids near my age, so I explored this new world on my own. “Winter’s Child”, my new book, has roots in this experience.
“She played in deep snowdrifts as tall as her head,
And flew down the hills on her small wooden sled.
She built snow castles with icicle towers.
She played all alone for hours and hours.”
We built an enormous igloo from blocks of packed snow. A cold snow bench wrapped around the inner wall; snow sconces held candles. I “helped”.
A dozen relatives crowded close on the circular bench while a blanket covered the entrance. Candlelight added flickering shadows.
Within this primitive cave, I felt connected to generations of family and to our world.
The sea called to me. I grew up and moved to the south to become a marine biologist. But I missed the snow.
One day, I folded a piece of paper and cut out a fanciful snowflake with leaping dolphins. A story grew in my mind.
I wrote the fairy tale but needed more fantasy flakes to complete the book.
Years later, I had designed and drawn many pen-and-ink flakes.
Now I realized that this story needed to be in rhyme,
like an ancient tale shared by firelight.
I soon learned that if one line
can’t properly rhyme with the next line,
you need to start over with a whole new stanza. Yay.
Finally, the long story-poem was finished! I field-tested “Winter’s Child” with children and adults and adjusted a few pages.
What size should the book be?
7.5 inch wide X 9.25 inch high allows for generous margins, with room for illustration and text on each page.
The 14 point font is easy on the eyes.
Next, the illustrations! A chance to experiment and gnash my teeth in frustration.
The fanciful flakes looked lost on a page;
they needed frames to hold them.
I drew boxes, printed the book,
and studied the empty frame above each poem.
What would capture the essence?
I wanted stylized pix with a feel of
stained glass windows.
I pencil-sketched a picture in each framed box
and began to draw, but . . .
How do you draw the Wind?
How do you draw a T. rex cloud that’s shifting apart?
I removed cloud limbs, made marshmallow teeth, and made the cloud more fluffy in humorous contrast to the dangerous, sharp-edged predator.
I drew simple flakes for background snow.
Now the poem and pix were finished.
Even better: the very last word of the poem-story is . . . “end”! 🙂
At last, the cover! Mariah and Wind are playing amongst the bare trees.
One ancient tree wraps around the spine, connecting the covers.
“Winter’s Child” is an upbeat, original fairytale
in rhyming verse with fanciful illustrations.
It’s a story of the power of friendships,
which truly do change the world.
I hope you enjoy this book as much as it challenged me
to properly complete my “once upon a time.”
Thanks to all who helped. Thanks for stopping by!
About Jenny S Burke:
J. S. Burke is an author, artist, and scientist. She’s worked as a marine biologist,
studying creatures of the dark abyss and diving on coral reefs.
Her stories blend imagination with real science and author experiences.
She lives with her family, rescue companions, and dragons!
The award-winning Dragon Dreamer series grew from her years at sea,
a fascination with the alien, intelligent octopuses, and a love of dragons.
Burke has worked as manager of a marine research program and has five published marine research papers. She has degrees in Math, Science,
Marine Science, and Education. Burke has been certified to teach High School Math, H.S. Science, Middle Grades (all subjects), and Gifted students.
You can contact Jenny at: http://www.jennysburke.com/blog/creating-winters-child