Anne’s books cover such a wide range of topics. It’s lovely to see the variety of artistic styles applied to her work — whether by herself, or by others. Visit Anne’s book page, and you’ll see the categories at-a-glance.
8. Let’s look at other collaborations. . .
Here’s a charming selection of illustrations from Bernice Lum. This title is another Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out book :
Anne Rockwell: I think it is overall charming! It’s a rather humanized hamster, don’t you think?
Joy Chu: It’s certainly an adorable hamster. For this book, the hamster has to be rendered likeable for us (the reader), so we are sympathetic to it. I think the “humanization” is a good thing.
I do note that that the hamster’s happy-closed eyes echos the little girl’s. I like it when we see its eyes wide-open, too. Kids really respond to eyeballs that move, and look around — the way they do, I think!
Overall, the book makes the subject of caring for hamsters really come alive. I love Bernice’s use of “action lines” to spice up the drawings. Everything really moves . . . the book is purely factual, and yet not all step-by-step textbook-like in the least.
Joy Chu: Collaborations can take on different methodologies. For Whoo Whoo Goes the Train, you rendered the drawings. Vanessa van der Baan colorized the illustrations.
Anne Rockwell: When Vanessa van der Baan agreed to help me with digitally coloring my line art for Whoo Whoo Goes the Train, I wasn’t sure what it would look like. Some computer art is rather cold and flat for my taste, and from what I’d see of her animation on The Kids Next Door TV show, I doubted that would be her approach.
All the same, when I saw her first piece of sample art — the train going over a bridge with fisherfolk and boats underneath— I was bedazzled! Fortunately our editor at Harper/Collins, Phoebe Yeh, responded as I did, and we were on our way.
Whoo Whoo Goes the Train was to be followed by a sort-of companion book about a visit to the local police station. As I wrote it, the problems I was having with arthritis in my right thumb joint were getting worse, and I’d been told that my only hope was complicated surgery with a lengthy recovery.
By this time, The Kids Next Door had finished all its episodes, and Vanessa had given birth to an adorable little girl. Her commute was horrendous, so it wasn’t at all surprising that she decided to stay home (way out on Long Island) and be a full time mom.
Wonderful Phoebe accepted my idea that Vanessa not simply color, but illustrate the entire book. Well, sort of.
First, Vanessa had to do a book dummy.
For some reason, dummies have always come naturally to me, perhaps because I had drawn a daily comic strip when I was very little on my father’s shirt cardboards.
And I loved Egyptian art in the museum. I suspected that Vanessa’s experience and training in animation would enable her to understand the pacing of a dummy, too. And I was right!
When I saw her dummy for the new book, Vroom Vroom , I was amazed. It ran the gauntlet at Harper and there were only a few miniscule suggestions. So she’s at work on it now. I’d love to read what she has to say at this stage of the game!