The Adventure Is Now by Jess Redman

Happy Tuesday! How lucky am I that Jess Redman and Matt Rockefeller stopped by to finish my sentences? We discussed The Adventure Is Now's cover, Cassie Gonzales' cover design, Milton P. Greene, Henry David Thoreau, and more. I wrote the words in purple, Matt wrote the words in black, and Jess wrote the words in green. Thank you, Matt and Jess! 

The Adventure Is Now’s cover illustration was an amazing opportunity to do something different from the other Jess Redman covers I Illustrated and from my other illustration work in general. While there are elements of humor and fantasy in all her stories, I felt The Adventure Is Now had a more playful, adventurous tone and I sought to reflect that on the cover by featuring many lush details and whimsical critters! The story really takes place in two worlds that merge over the course of the narrative, so I chose to convey that sense of standing on the brink of the unknown both in terms of where Milton and the other kids go, but also in terms of the characters’ emotional arcs. Milton stands on the precipice of a profound journey of personal growth, and the reader is about to take it with him!

The designer is Cassie Gonzales. She was wonderful and very helpful to work with throughout the process of making the cover. She also completely nailed the type treatment!

The covers for The Miraculous and Quintessence were wonderfully rewarding to work on. I feel so lucky to be a part of these stories. Both books crackle with a special magic and give me incredible feelings of warm nostalgia and endless possibility- qualities I always seek to bring to my own work as an illustrator. For each cover, I gave special attention to light and color in an attempt to capture the feeling of wonder I found within the pages. I love to use a sense of place to draw readers into the stories. Hopefully that’s the case for the Adventure is Now as well!

Jess Redman’s stories have been some of my favorites to read from my time of making middle grade covers. One of the best parts of the cover process, for me, is reading the manuscript (finished or unfinished) before diving into sketches, and each and every Jess Redman story has been a real treat. She creates a perfect blend of our own reality with just the right touch of fantasy for her stories to be transportive without losing a sense of her characters’ rich inner worlds. It’s a difficult balance to pull off, but somehow she does it every time. I can’t wait to read whatever comes next!

The Adventure Is Now
tells the story
of 12-year-old Milton P. Greene who has been having the Most Totally, Terribly, Horribly, Heinously Rotten Year of All Time. His parents are splitting up, his best friend has abandoned him, and he really doesn’t want to talk about the Bird Brain Incident. The only good part of Milton’s life right now is playing his favorite video game, Isle of Wild, and becoming someone else—Sea Hawk, the brave and brilliant explorer.

Then Milton gets the latest rotten news—he has to spend the summer with his ecologist uncle on the electricity-free, billion-mile-away Lone Island. But things take a turn for the awesome when he befriends a tree-climbing girl named Fig and finds a mysterious field guide full of fantastical creatures and cryptic clues. Milton realizes this is his chance to become a brave and brilliant explorer just like Sea Hawk. This is his chance to have an adventure of his own.

Maybe, just maybe, this will turn out to be The Most Seriously, Supremely, Unexpectedly, Astonishingly Spectaculous Summer of All Time.

Matt Rockefeller’s illustrations are phenomenal. Seriously. Matt has illustrated all of my book covers so far, and every one of them has left me awestruck. They are truly works of art.

Matt has this incredible ability to transport you not just into a single scene but into the world that scene is part of. You know that the edge of the page is only the beginning. With color and light, he’s able to pull out and amplify the themes and tone of the story in a truly magical way.

Matt also weaves in special details from the story. In this cover, he included Milton’s HandHeld, his neon green binoculars, the just-out-of-sight flora and fauna, and the waterlogged canoe. He perfectly captured Milton’s hesitancy as he stands on the edge of a great adventure, wondering if he dares to plunge in.

I know I’m especially lucky to have Matt working on my covers because he’s been busy with lots of other amazing projects. Recently, he illustrated Poesy the Monster Slayer and continued work on the 5 Worlds series. His solo graphic novel is also coming soon, and I can’t wait!

Did you know The Adventure Is Now will include an illustrated field guide?

You can see some of the field guide creatures in Matt’s cover illustration—the waving tentacles of a Push-Pull Centopus, the upside-down face of a Beautimous Lemallaby, the magenta tail feathers of a Tone-Deaf Warbler.

And did you know that the field guide contains clues that Milton and his new friends must solve if they want to save the island from a truly horrendous fate?

Readers can follow along with these clues, figuring out Milton’s path through the jungle and ways to deal with the not-always-welcoming wildlife he encounters like the subterranean-dwelling EarthWorm Pachyderm, the practically-invisible UnderCover Cat, and the thorn-shooting Enmity Amity Tree.

Adventure really and truly is now! Milton’s adventure is a big one. Not many of us will get the chance to discover never-before-seen creatures on a nearly-deserted island in the smack-dab center of the Atlantic Ocean. But Milton’s big adventure is made up of many small ones—like going somewhere new, making a friend, being in the moment, marveling at nature, speaking the truth.

The title of the story was inspired by a journal entry from Henry David Thoreau that says, “Now or never! You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.” I hope readers come away from Milton’s story ready to ask questions, seek out adventure, and explore the world around them.

Look for The Adventure Is Now on May 4, 2021. 

Macmillan's Description: A fun-filled, action-packed middle grade novel about a boy who learns about protecting the environment, finding real friends, and living in the now while spending the summer on a remote island.

Sometimes it's hard to be Milton P. Greene. He says all the wrong things, his family is falling apart, and everyone at school avoids him because of the very embarrassing Bird Brain Incident. But when Milton plays his video game Isle of Wild, he becomes someone else—Sea Hawk, the brave and brilliant naturalist explorer who conquers danger at every turn.

Then Milton’s parents ship him off to the remote Lone Island for the summer, where his uncle Evan is an environmentalist researcher. The island is chock-full of spectaculous species, and Milton realizes this is his chance to become the brave and brilliant naturalist he’s always wanted to be—and even meet some fellow explorers!

But as it turns out, the future of the Lone Island is in some pretty serious peril, and the only thing that can save it is a field guide full of cryptic clues. If Milton and his unexpected new friends are going to protect the island, they’ll have to trust each other, discover new truths, and embark on a wild and wondrous adventure all their own.

The Adventure is Now is a dazzling, fun-filled story from Jess Redman.


Popular Posts