Soaked by Abi Cushman

Hello, Abi Cushman! Congratulations on your debut picture book, ​SOAKED!​ I read it in the Philadelphia Airport, during a flight from Philadelphia to Amsterdam, in a café in Amsterdam, and aloud in the Bilderberg Hotel Jan Luyken. I L.O.V.E it! It is a blast to read aloud and is perfect for storytime. I’m looking forward to sharing it during my 2020 Books I Love presentation.

Abi Cushman: Hooray! Thanks, Mr. Schu. I am so excited to be here and to share the cover of​ SOAKED!​ with all the Watch. Connect. Read. fans. Thank you for having me! 

What planted the seed for ​Soaked!​

Abi Cushman: In August of 2017, I was eight months pregnant with my son and went out for a walk one afternoon with my husband and daughter. We were about a mile away from home when we felt the first few drops. The drops quickly escalated into a torrential rainstorm. I told my husband to run home with our daughter, and I’d just waddle back. And what I realized on my soggy walk home was that once I was completely soaked, the rain was actually quite pleasant.

Here’s a selfie we took when we got home:

Later that evening, I wrote this in my sketchbook:

Please take us through the process of creating the illustrations for ​Soaked! 

Abi Cushman: On a technical level, the process went like this:

First, I did a lot of rough sketches of a soaked bear, trying to figure out the character and expressions. 

Next, I did some brain-dumping and thumbnails to work out the story and later developed that into a sketch dummy. 

For the final art, I drew all the characters and some of the scenery with a mechanical pencil on computer paper. I scanned those into Adobe Photoshop and adjusted the levels to make the outlines nice and dark. 

Then I applied the color with a Wacom Cintiq tablet. I also kept most of the characters on their own layer/group in Photoshop so that I could move them around if necessary. And after building up the colors and details, I arrived at the final art! 

On an emotional level, the illustration process went like this:

“Haha! Look at that sad bear in the rain. Huzzah! Everything is awesome! Now onto the next spread!”

“Huh. I don’t actually know how to draw umbrellas. Or puddles. Or mooses. Yes, I’m adding an ‘s’ to the already-plural form of moose because I’m beginning to panic.”

Six months of drawing and redrawing umbrellas, puddles and moose(s) later, I completed my transformation into the soaked bear. 

(But a soaked bear who can draw umbrellas.) 

Please finish the following sentence starters:

​Soaked​’s endpapers ​definitely do not have anyone hiding under the jacket flaps.

I hope ​Soaked! ​makes you want to hula-hoop in the rain. Or at least in a cave. With a bear, a badger, a bunny, and a moose, who are all also hula-hooping.

​Picture books are tiny bundles of entertainment that you can enjoy in five minutes but have the potential to stick with you for a lifetime.

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me if mother wombats are called “mombats.” No, they’re not.

Look for ​Soaked! on July 14, 2020.

Drip. Drip. Drip.

Bear is wet.
Bear’s ice cream cone is wet.
And, no, Bear does ​not​ want to try hula hooping. Well, maybe just once.
Just for a moment.

Splish! Splash! Sploosh! Wheeeeeeee!
Sometimes life’s more fun when you’re soaked!


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