Author-illustrator Patrick McDonnell.

Happy Friday, friends! As you know, every Friday an author or an illustrator drops by to finish my sentences. Caldecott Honor illustrator Patrick McDonnell is this week's special guest. Hooray! We chatted about Louie, Amelie, school libraries, and picture books. I wrote the words in red, and he wrote the words in black. Thank you, Patrick! 

Here are three things you should know about Little Louie...
  • In an early version, he was a rabbit.
  • He has a sister named Little Louise
  • My middle name is Luigi.
Illustration Credit: Patrick McDonnell 

The idea for A Perfectly Messed-Up Story came from my sketchbook.  I’ve always been fascinated by the way drawing can be so ‘alive’ on the page, for example Ernest Shepard’s Winnie the Pooh art.  When I started on A Perfectly Messed Up Story, I was playing with the idea of a character who had self-awareness about being in a book.  In my sketches, he complained about my messy ink smears.  When I drew Louie complaining about a blob of jelly, I knew I had a book.

If you visited my studio my dog Amelie would insist that you play ball with her.

When the 2012 Caldecott Committee called it was very early in the morning and it just so happened that I was in the hospital (for a minor procedure) and a nurse was taking my blood pressure.  True story.

School libraries were a favorite place for me when I was a kid.  I always looked forward to library day.  I recall reading a series of biographies of famous people.  New inspiration every week.   

Picture books are comforting portals to other worlds and to our inner selves.

Reading is essential.

Click here to download the guide. 

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about Louie’s journey.  I intended for A Perfectly Messed-Up Story to be a funny, interactive book.  But underneath the fun there is a message of “loving what is.”  That life is what you think and make of it and we should embrace it, jelly stains and all.  

I am giving away 5 (yes, 5) copies of A Perfectly Messed-Up Story

Rules for the Giveaway 

1. It will run from 11/21 to 11:59 p.m. on 11/24. 

2. You must be at least 13. 

3. If you win, please pay it forward. 

Borrow A Perfectly Messed-Up Story from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops. 


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