Saturday, June 9, 2012


As I sorted through a basket of organic strawberries the other day, I thought of a strawberry experience from many years ago.  I had signed a contract for a dream book project: Wendy Watson's Mother Goose.  Before this, the books I had illustrated were almost all 32 pages in length.  A few were 48 pages; one or two were 64 pages.  But the Mother Goose would be 150 pages in length, almost all of those pages heavily illustrated.  After signing the contract, I kept putting off the project.  It was going to take so much time...where to to go about it.  Five years went by.  I still hadn't started on the Mother Goose.  
Then one morning I experienced a reckoning:  was this book ever going to come into existence?  Or was I going to allow it to die on the vine?  On top of that, visions of having to return the contractual advance danced through my head.  Of course I was going to illustrate it!  I set up a "schedule of completion."  My quota was one double-page spread per working day.  Five working days a week.  Fifteen weeks total.  I work slowly, and this schedule was going to be impossible for me.  But somehow I had to do it.
It was strawberries that saved the day.  Strawberry shortcake, to be more exact.  Even more exact---strawberry shortcake with homemade biscuits and heavy cream.  Each night of those one hundred and fifty working days, I ate strawberry shortcake for dessert.  As I labored through each double-page spread, I knew that strawberry shortcake was waiting for me when I had finished.  It was the only thing that enabled me to complete that wonderful project.  

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


Strawberries aren't the way they used to be.  
But I still love them.
So I keep buying them and eating them.
Writing and illustrating and publishing books for children isn't the way it used to be, either.  But I still love it all.  Even more than strawberries.  So I keep doing it.