Friday, September 18, 2009

While I'm at it, here's the New York Times Travel cover that will be published this Sunday, 9/20/09, together with the sketches. It's having to do with devotees of Wagner's Ring series... much like trekkies or Star Wars fans....

The first review of Sophie has come out; here it is;


Written by Sarah Weeks
Illustrated by Robert Neubecker
(Beach Lane Books; ISBN 9781416986867; November 2009; Fall catalog pg. 271)

Straight shooter Sophie Peterman gives readers the lowdown on babies: They are your “worst nightmare.” With a cocked eyebrow and a clear, authoritative voice she lists reasons why you can’t trust a baby. They leak, they smell, they swallow (and eventually return!) your favorite marble, they rummage in your drawers and they devour your hidden Halloween candy. While not the first book about a disgruntled older child and the arrival of a cooing, burping bundle, this effort finds success through Sophie’s fresh voice. Never whiny or petulant, she deftly delivers deadpan observations that evoke smiles. Neubecker’s vivid artwork pops as he uses his bright palette and unique perspectives to create facial expressions that perfectly capture Sophie’s annoyance, her mother’s frustration and the baby’s clear-eyed joy. Oversize, all-caps, hand-lettered portions of narration add emphasis and allow Sophie’s voice and the artwork to seamlessly merge. When Sophie finally warns that you can go from hating baby to liking baby, she offers truly touching anecdotes that make her transition believable: Upon hearing a tiny voice call out, “Soapy!” to her, she just melted. Readers will too.
(Picture book. 4-8)

Wow. How great is that. Never would have happened, of course, without Sarah's wonderful manuscript- having spent the last few years cleaning up baby poop and getting barfed on, I jumped on this as soon as my wonderful editor, Andrea Welch, offered it. Also much thanks has to go to Lauren Rille, my art director, who put me through five sets of sketches. I would do it again tomorrow. Her type and design is as good as it gets! Go buy this book!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Summer stuff

Too many Monsters; A Halloween Counting Book is nearly done- here's a sneak preview. It's been a busy month. I did an entire issue of In Character magazine- a small journal put out by the Templeton Foundation (Sir John invented international mutual funds) that devotes an entire issue to a single virtue- in this case, wisdom. It's a collection of terrific essays by notable scholars. We liked it so much, we subscribed. I'm showing a wise doctor looking "inside" a patient. I usually draw my wife, Dr. Ruth, in these situations, although I gave her a haircut here. The piece was written by one Dr. Groopman .
The last drawing was for Slate- about Twitter and how an influential (irate) Twitterer can slam a product or service...

While I was looking up Dr. Groopman, it occurred to me how lucky I am to be able to work with such extraordinary people. Back when Slate was owned by Microsoft, we'd have these semi- lavish weekend retreats at resorts in Washington State. I volunteered to drive from the Seattle airport deep into the interior mountains of Washington (mountain driving is one of my acquired skills)- anyway, I had Emily Yoffe, her husband John, their young daughter , and Robert Wright in my car. The conversation was so interesting that I missed the turn and drove us all the way to Canada, where the Canadians politely turned us around. We drove through mountain passes and an avalanche that crossed the road. Arriving hours late, Mike Kinsley asked me what kept us. Always nervous in the great scholar's presence, I told him that my main goal was to keep the car between the white line and the yellow line, and not to miss a word. He was horrified.