Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Illustrator Keika Yamaguchi

Presenting Keika Yamaguchi and her latest book Puddle Pug written by Kim Norman and illustrated by Keika Yamaguchi.  Sterling 2014. Recommended for grades K-3.

I had the good fortune to meet Keika at Sunday's Once Upon a Time Bookstore's Educators' Night (September 21, 2014). Keika  kindly shared the process that led to her illustrations for Puddle Pug.

Keika, it turns out, did not like to draw as a child and her parents would do the drawing for her school assignments. She began formal art instruction in middle school and is a graduate of the Art Center College of Design. Keika also interned at Disney.

Before beginning any project, Keika jots down ideas or scribbles some thumbnail sketches. Then she likes to play-literally!  For Puddle Pug she actually played with mud and grass and leaves to experience the main character's experience and accurately illustrate Percy's world,  his physical movements and expressions. She passed around her preliminary sketches and drafts,  including a mock up of the book.

About the book: Percy is an adorable dog who loves puddles. He's found several he likes even
recording their location on a map.  Still he is unable to find just  the right one ... until one day, he hears a lot of splashing next door. Peering through the fence he finds the perfect puddle. It's " ...cool, brown water ... squishy, swishy mud..." There's just one (very large) problem: this puddle belongs to Mama pig and her piglets and she's not too keen on sharing ... until Petunia, the "too tiny" piglet goes missing and Percy comes to the rescue.  Author Kim Norman's story includes frequent alliteration and repetition ("...the too-tiny pig .,, in the too-tiny puddle ...) which becomes rhythmic in parts of the story. Inventive word choice ("...thick as turtle stew puddles..."), and Keika's lively illustrations, make this story very engaging and a great read aloud.

For more information on Keika Yamaguchi and her books, visit her website, Keika's House.com

Thanks to the folks at Once Upon a Time Bookstore  for a wonderful evening and for everything they do for teachers and librarians. We also heard from Nicole Dufort from Random House. She turned me on to a few books which I will share with you later. I staggered out with two very heavy bags of books, posters, bookmarks, a bag or two of popcorn, and a rather large, but lightweight, Captain Underpants display! Who could ask for more?

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