The e-Book Cover Design Awards now have gold star winners as well as the overall winner. These gold stars were applied retroactively to the January contest, and Shakespeare's Complete Paragon earned a gold star! The site then held a design contest for badges for the winners, and my gold star now comes with a badge:
No, I didn't win...
But I was a little nervous as I scrolled through the January, 2013 entries. Joel Friedlander of The Book Designer had added his commentary on the design of many of the covers, and he didn't hold back when he thought a cover didn't work for whatever reason. In most cases, he offers suggestions for improvement, but learning that one's design just doesn't work can still sting a little.
Fortunately, Friedlander had good things to say about my entry of Shakespeare's Complete Paragon: “The author is also the artist who created these amazing and beautiful paintings of animals, here collected from various other books. A beautiful and arresting cover that combines great illustration with custom lettering for a unique effect.”
My illustrations aren't exactly paintings, but I'll take it.
The latest article on Teach with Picture Books features Shakespeare's Zoo! The post, Animal Attraction: Exploring Animals with Picture Books, outlines 10 different ways to use animals to keep students engaged in the classroom, each with picture book examples. Read the original post for how to use these resources specifically.
1. Fantastic Fables - Creative Writing - Grades 2 and up
Yo, Aesop! Get a Load of These Fables
Squids Will Be Squids
2. Peerless Predators - Argumentative Essay/Research - Grades 4 and up
Top 10 Worst Killer Animals You Wouldn't Want to Meet
Nature's Deadliest Predators
3. Crazy Critters - Creative Writing/Art - Grades 2 and up
Animals that Ought to Be: Poems about Imaginary Pets
Cock-a-Doodle-Moo: A Mixed Up Menagerie
4. Beasts of Burden - Creative Writing/Research - Grades 3 and up
Animals that Changed the World
Tales of Famous Animals
Do Animals Work Together?
5. Creature Comparisons - Poetry/Figurative Language - Grades 3 and up
Shakespeare's Zoo (Volume 1)
6. Pack Behavior - Analytic Essay/Novel Extension - Grades 5 and up
Be the Pack Leader
Scruffy: A Wolf Finds His Place in the Pack
Face to Face with Wolves
7. Feathered Friends - Poetry/Research - Grades 5 and up
8. Who's to Choose When It Comes to Zoos? - Argumentative Essay/Research - Grades 6 and up
The One and Only Ivan
9. Animal Allies - Art/Research - Grades 5 and up
Once a Wolf: How Wildlife Biologists Fought to Bring Back the Gray Wolf
10. Home Sweet Home - Creative Writing - Grades 2 and up
The Salamander Room
Not Inside This House!
The e-books are ready! Kindle versions and the universal epub file type as well. Remember that Shakespeare's Complete Paragon is the combination of the 42 illustrations found in the other two books.
I've just submitted the last of the files for review before being officially published. The e-book versions are available now, and the print versions should be ready by February, but as far as I can tell, I can get out from behind this computer and, you know, sleep... or eat... or go for a walk. It's been a while.
Just finished designing the back cover of Shakespeare's Zoo, and I think I love it. It's going to be hard to top for Shakespeare's Menagerie. Also, what do I put for the text on the back of the second book? The same thing? Maybe a reference to the fact that it's the second in a series? I don't know. This wasn't in the original plan.
So, it turns out, if you want to make a full-color book with a ton of pages, it's expensive to produce. So expensive, that if I were to price it in a range that would allow anyone to want to buy it, I would get negative royalties (insert sad trombone sound here).
So, the illustrations have been divided up, and I'm publishing two books! I tried to divide them evenly, so as not to get too many quotations from one source in each book, separated birds and bugs, etc... But now that I've been working with and formatting the two different sets of illustrations, there's definitely one book I like better. I won't tell you which one.
I got on a roll, and decided I wanted to be done today. So I'm done. Today. Not with the whole thing; I've got a lot of formatting and detail work ahead of me, but all of the art is done. All of it. Forty-two animals, painstakingly rendered. I'm exhausted. This is the very last one: