Tag Archives: Gallaudet University Press

Stop the Presses…and START HERE!

This may be the first book cover that actually teaches how to letterspell "A B C"  in American Sign Language!

This may be the first book cover that actually teaches how to letterspell “A B C” in American Sign Language! (click to enlarge)

Let’s start with unveiling the cover itself. It features a lenticular!

And it’s going on press this month! I’m so excited!

Why? Because it all began as a list of words on a spread sheet almost five years ago.

The dictionary began as a Word doc, which grew into an Excel spreadsheet. (right-click to enlarge)

Gallaudet University Press lined up a team of illustrators for their upcoming definitive American Sign Language reference (think Merriam-Webster, but for signing), aimed at the pre-school through grade 3 level. It had to be usable for hearing families as well as the deaf and hearing-impaired.

Page 1 from the Dictionary

Page 1 from the Dictionary (click on any image to enlarge)

One of the illustrators already on board was Debbie Tilley. When agent Richard Salzman discovered it was (a) Gallaudet first foray into children’s books and general trade; and (b) they expected Debbie to produce the layouts too, he recommended they contact me to pull it all together for them. It was a dream project for all of us!

Dictionary_p-105_Page_011   Dictionary_p-105_Page_008 Dictionary_p-105_Page_007

 392 pages of full color! It looks like a graphic comic, with over 1,000 word entries, fully illustrated. Plus it includes a DVD featuring a rainbow of children signing. There’s also a special feature on forming sentences.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll guide you on the process. It will be like a diary on the making of a children’s reference classic. . .

Spread from pages 238-239

Spread from pages 238-239 (click to enlarge)

You will witness exclusive behind-the-scenes book making. Stay tuned. That’s why I’ve been away for so long. Been dictionary-ing…

You can pre-order the Dictionary through these links:
Amazon.com
Barnes & Noble
Shop Indie Bookstores

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♫. . . Research While You Sketch . . . ♪

Attention all new children’s book illustrators!

Seeking inspiration?

As you get ready to immerse yourself into your selected picture book story, write yourself a grocery list of what your story needs. This might include:

  • The names of each major character(s)
  • Subsidiary characters
  • The locale of the story
  • Time of year; day

Then turn each item into a new sub-list that will form the basis for your story scavenger hunt.

Example:

LalouImagine this is a main character, illustrated above (art by Debbie Tilley, from The Gallaudet ASL Dictionary for Children, coming 2013. See Debbie’s portfolio here. Check out her bibliography here.)She could be:

  • 5-years-old
  • has older brother who’s deaf (she’s not)
  • is fluent in American Sign Language
  • dances a jig when happy
  • loves movies with animals
  • hates celery
  • wants puppy badly
  • loves doggie-in-window on sight.
  • puppy understands ASL! (how?)

The above list can then be turned into a series of quick character sketches.

Then move on to the next item on your list, and repeat the exercise. Make sketches of each item. And so on.

Case in point:  Check out how artist Peter Brown applied himself to Aaron Reynolds‘ manuscript,  strategizing his approach to Aaron‘s tale, The Creepy Carrots.

Use the melody to “Whistle While You Work,” substituting the title heading at the top of this page for the first line of the lyric, then humming the rest.

You’ll jump start your creative juices as you discover a treasure trove of inspiration. Yeah!