Jeff Mack is sharing his most recent project with us on the Last Draft blog. To see more of his wonderful illustrations and find out about his children's books, stop by his website, too.
What is the working title of your book?
"The Things I Can Do" (by Jeff Mack)
Where did the idea come from for the book?
I was visiting a school to talk with kids about how to make books. A first-grader showed me a book he made about a squirrel who told jokes. He was extremely proud of his book regardless of the fact that none of his drawings looked anything like squirrels and none of his jokes made any sense. It was actually a really entertaining book, and I let him know how much fun I had reading it.
Later, I had an idea for a story in which a young first-person narrator makes his own book about all the things he thinks he can do. But his book is sort of a disaster. From his illustrations, it's clear to the reader that he can't really do any of the things he says he can. It's all about situations where failure and success overlap in funny and surprising ways.
What genre does your book fall under?
Picture book / fictional autobiography
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
No stars or professional actors could do it. Only an amateur could.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
It's a book about me, and the things (I think) I can do (but really can't).
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
This book will be published by Roaring Brook in Spring 2013.
How long did it take you to write the first draft?
It took me about 15 minutes to write it. It took me several years to illustrate it.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I could compare it to Harold and the Purple Crayon if that book was illustrated by Henrik Drescher. But this book is really more like all of the hand-made books that kids send me after I visit their schools to talk about making books. It's wild, clumsy, and full of ideas.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I am inspired by all the ambitious and creative kids who push against the limitations of their abilities in an attempt to create what's in their imaginations. I suppose it's similar for adults, too.
What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
I illustrated the entire book using only those materials found in a five-year-old's art kid: crayons, construction paper, glue sticks, and some random household objects. While I was scanning the collages, I got bubble gum stuck in my scanner. Yuck!
Thank you, Jeff, for a great post. I can't wait to see "The Things I Can Do" when it comes out this year!