June 7, 2016
A Story Circle by Diane Gonzalez Bertrand, illustrated by Wendy Martin
A storm causes flooding and damages a grade school. When classes begin again, the classroom had been cleaned up and restored. There are even new bookshelves but there’s a big problem. The shelves are empty. The story books are gone, damaged and destroyed by the flood waters.
During circle time, the clever teacher tells a story that brings a variety of images to mind for her students. One by one, she allows the students to tell their stories as well. When the are done the children want to be able to remember their stories so the teacher gets out paper and art supplies and the children get busy. When they are done, they have created a shelf full of books, stories and pictures, for their classroom.
Today, instead of simply writing about the book myself, we have a special treat. Wendy Martin, the illustrator of this book, is a friend of mine. I invited her to come by as part of her blog tour for the book. She has agreed to share something of her illustration process with us.
SueBE: What made you want to illustrate The Story Circle?
Wendy: Piñata Books have always been on my list of dream publishers. I was so thrilled to be contacted to work with them.
SueBE: There are so many things that you could have painted for some of these illustrations. How do you decide what to depict?
Wendy: The best way I can describe my process here is that the characters talk to me. I had to get to know each child, what made them tick, before I could illustrate the story they were telling. In fact, I even gave them names while creating their personalities and stories. They don’t have names in the book text.
SueBE: Which is your favorite illustration and why?
Wendy: That’s like asking me to pick my favorite child. I think the section of the book with all the imagination and portraying of the children’s tales is my favorite section of the book.
SueBE: What would you want to tell young readers about illustrating this book?
Wendy: A: One of the hardest parts of being a children’s book illustrator (for me, at least) is making sure the characters themselves retain a coherent look. It’s easy to make a single illustration, but drawing and painting each individual multiple times takes a special type of skill. If you want to illustrate children’s books or any other kind of sequential art, practice drawing the same character over and over again from many different perspectives.
Sue here: Wendy, thank you for joining us!
Take a look a this book and it is obvious that Wendy sees her characters and individuals. Each of them has a distinct personality and interests.
My favorite illustration was the glass bottom boat but I also loved the story about using goats to mow the lawn. My dad always threatened to do that — but then he’d had a goat named Martha Washington when he was a kid. I always assumed this threat was a “Dad thing.”
For those of you who would like a copy of The Story Circle, you can find it book on
Publisher’s website: https://artepublicopress.com/product/the-story-circle-el-circulo-de-cuentos/