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Thursday, April 9, 2009

7 Questions: An Interview by Julie Everett: Question 1

These are the rough color sketches that were my first attempt at getting my story "The Dot" out of my head and onto paper. If you know the book, you'll see I stuck pretty close to both art and text.

The following is the first question from a Q&A prompted by creative teacher extraordinaire, Julie Everett of Nebraska. I responded while in Bologna, Italy. I'll be sharing the questions and answers in my blog over the next week or so.
So... here goes:

1) Where did you
get the idea for The Dot?

Well, the answer to that one is actually in two parts.

I think the phrase “I can’t draw” - which I have heard countless times – has always surprised me – and has inspired me. My immediate response is “You just haven’t hung out with ME long enough!” I think that is what goes through any teachers or coaches mind when they hear “I can’t....” It just means we have to double up on some creative ways to get there.

So the theme had been brewing for years.

The catalyst for The Dot book was a mark I made in my journal. I make a habit of drawing and writing – as well as reading – before I go to sleep at night. Like many of us do after a long day, I can only get a few sentences read, a few words written or -- the very beginning of a drawing created before I have drifted off into sleep.

This one particular eve --back in 2001- in my 200 year old home in Dedham, MA, I set marker to paper and promptly feel to sleep. My Extra Fine Sanford Sharpie made contact with the white paper and began to drink in, ever so slowly, the ink. When I awoke perhaps an hour or so later, I was startled to see what my marker had left behind. A dot! A big black dot! I set the journal to one side and turned off the lamp.

Well, in the light of day, as the morning sun streamed through the windows falling upon my still-opened journal, I saw the dot.

It struck me that this was no ordinary dot.

It was mighty impressive.

What had started out as an unintentional “mistake” had ended up being a breathtaking dot! I quickly grabbed my marker and wrote “The Dot” above the dot and below I wrote “by Peter H. Reynolds.” I leaned it on my mantle above the fireplace and looked at it as the weeks went by and the story of a brave girl who makes an unexpected dot came in to focus.

The mission had found its story. The Dot was born!

The book was published by Candlewick Press in 2003.


Kelly said...

I just re-read the Dot this weekend, and told this story to a few friends of mine. I think I was on the plane with you when you did some of those early drawings. I'm so lucky to have had you as a major influence in my life! xoxo

Jason Curtis said...

Great story Peter...and such a wonderful book. "The Dot" sits proudly on my bookshelf, right next to my personal favorite, "Ish".

It's amazing what can come out of a "mistake". As I get older (and perhaps even wiser) I've embraced the idea of making mistakes because there is always something to learned from them.

Pam Krambeck said...

Thanks for sharing on your blog...Nebraska educators were touched and inspired to make their marks in the classroom when you visited NETA a few years back.

Thanks for continuing to inspire and share. My daughter is now a student in the education department at Doane and recently worked with kindergarten students who each created their own dots in a creative center in the classroom. Your writings and illustrations continue to inspire and resonate. Thank you!

Jill Greenfelder said...

What a cute story! I love it! Funny how ideas come to us in the strangest ways!! I hope to be a published children's book illustrator like you someday-- I have so many ideas-- just not enough time to get them all on paper :) Your work inspires me!

-- Jill Greenfelder

Sarah Pecorino said...

I really really love this book. A bookseller in Portsmith suggested it to me a few years ago. It has truly inspired me. Whenever I feel like my illustrations are getting too tight and I am losing sight of the feeling of the image I open "The Dot". It sits right next to "Ish". Thanks for the great inspiration!


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