Happy Friday! You know what happens every Friday at Watch. Connect. Read. Yep! That's right! A children's literature advocate drops by to finish my sentences. Today's special guest is author-illustator David Biedrzycki. I wrote the words in red, and he wrote the words in black. Thank you, David!
Me and My Dragon was inspired by the four dogs I had when growing up. They were all mutts. Some of them were not very nice to strangers but they were all very loyal to me. We did a lot of things together like the boy and the dragon do. We flew kites, went camping, and I even took one of them trick or treating with me.
I wanted the dragon to act like a puppy trapped in a dragon’s body. He chases after the mailman, rides shotgun in the car and like any other pet, he needs his check up and shots. But in the end he’s just a pet who is your best friend.
The Ace Lacewing series was my first attempt to write my own children’s book. Years ago while researching for a number of non–fiction books I was illustrating I found a lacewing specimen. I did a very detailed drawing of it. Afterwards, for fun, I did a drawing of the lacewing with a fedora and a trench coat on. Ace Lacewing Bug Detective was born. All the research I did beforehand made it easy for me to create characters based on bugs to populate Motham City, where Ace lives. Then, I read every detective story I could get my hands on to inspire the dialogue.
Jerry Pallotta and I have worked together on several books. He was the person most responsible for introducing me to children’s book industry. Most children’s book author and illustrator never meet each other, but Jerry and I worked closely together to produce books like Dory Story and Who Will Guide My Sleigh Tonight ? before we even approached a publisher.
He was also instrumental in helping me developing a program for school visits. He introduced me to teachers and librarians who bring authors into their schools. I learned a lot by watching Jerry interact with students and teachers.
My studio has no brushes, paints, canvases or easels. I do my work entirely on the computer. Except for sketches that I do in my journal and on my office idea wall, I don’t use paper or pencils either. My studio is also in my house. Working at home has it’s benefits and disadvantages. One advantage is I could work anytime I want to, which is usually everyday. Because of the amount of hours I put into each book and the amount of travel I do, if I had an office outside the house I would never be home,. One disadvantage however is, I’m always home when I’m not traveling. Sometimes when you’re an author / illustrator you feel as if you’re on an island when creating. I enjoy interacting with people when I develop a story because I love getting feedback. So I meet with my editors sometime just to brainstorm.
Whenever I visit an elementary school it’s a happy day for me. I appreciate the privilege and honor it is to be asked to inspire students. I enjoy bringing the students behind the scenes and showing them how my books are created. I want students to see the entire process no matter what grade level they are. I keep it simple and fast moving and most of all fun. I show them that a story starts with an idea and how I take an idea and make it work in the story I want to tell. Also, the different ways a story could be told and the revisions necessary to make it happen. I show them how I create my art using the computer. I bring a laptop, a graphic tablet and projector with me and I create with simple shapes a very three -dimensional looking beetle. I’ve been very fortunate to have been invited to visit schools all over the country including Guam and schools in Europe, Asia and India.
Picture books are an art form. They are the perfect medium to tell a story. The combination of art and text when done correctly are like a beautiful symphony . The page turn acts as the means to create suspense, drama and humor. A great picture book is something you want to read over and over just like an old song you never grow sick of hearing.
Reading is my escape. Movies could be very powerful but there is still nothing like having printed words paint a picture in your mind. Time is nonexistent when I’m engrossed in a good story. I like to study the ways different authors tell a story.
Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about my new book Breaking News: Bear Alert. It’s different than any other story I’ve ever written. It’s the first book in a series of humorous Breaking News events that take place in a small town.