Unleashing the power of a line
Author-illustrator Barney Saltzberg has a special talent for capturing the magic of the creative process, as evidenced in his 2011 picture book, Beautiful Oops. He returns to the subject of creativity in his latest picture book, Andrew Drew and Drew, an exuberant and clever portrait of a boy who loves to draw.
Beginning with “nothing . . . but a line,” Andrew uses his pencil and his imagination to bring the line to life, transforming it into a staircase and then the back of a dinosaur. The line travels across pages and flaps and folds, making several surprising twists and turns. As folded pages are opened, a simple curve becomes the comb on a huge rooster, and a starlit nighttime sky becomes a dark, magical creature.
"There is not a 'correct' way to draw a cat!!! Let your kids find their way."
Children of all ages—especially those with an interest in drawing—will love exploring the pages of Andrew Drew and Drew. Along the way, they just might absorb some of the book’s message about the power of art and the joy of creating it.
Saltzberg, who lives in Los Angeles and is currently touring to promote Andrew Drew and Drew and another recent picture book, Arlo Needs Glasses, answered a few of our questions about how the book came to be.
What was your inspiration for the character of Andrew?
Harold and the Purple Crayon has been a favorite and I wanted to make another book about the creative process after Beautiful Oops.
What are your earliest memories of drawing?
Kindergarten. My parents mounted two of my pictures and hung them in my room. Looking back, it was very validating. My mother bought me lots of sketchbooks that I filled with drawings.
The book is dedicated to your mother, Ruth Schorr Saltzberg, “who encouraged me to use my imagination and a pencil!” Was your mother also an artist? Why do you think she chose to encourage your interest in art?
My mother was a huge fan of art. She dabbled in painting, drawing and sculpture. She saw a talent in me, way before I did. She even sent me to Saturday art classes in primary school (which I loved).
How did the concept for the book originate—the clever use of folded pages and continuing lines?
I'm a huge fan of Emily Gravett. She used flaps in The Odd Egg. I loved the way the unfolding story impacts the rhythm of the story. Andrew seemed like the perfect book to have images appear as the story progresses.
Can you describe the process you used to create the book? Did you start by making a mockup that included all the flaps and folds and overlapping pages?
I had to make a mockup to write this. I came up with the flaps first and drew on each page. None of the drawings were pre-planned. I surprised myself when I saw what was unfolding as I was sketching. It was a lot of fun to see where the pencil would take me.
Did you encounter any problems bringing your vision for the book to life?
This was the hardest book to illustrate even though the drawings are simple. Making everything line up was quite a challenge. My art director, Megan Bennett, is brilliant and very patient!!!
One of the cutest touches in the book is an easel with several different drawings attached. Was this element as difficult to produce as it appears? Did your publisher ever balk at the production cost of elements like that one?
My editor, Cecily Kaiser didn't bat an eye when I showed her the dummy. She wanted the book immediately and kept everything I envisioned.
What advice would you give to the parents of a budding artist?
Expose them to all types of art. Give them lots of paper!!! Don't be judgmental. Let them explore. If the sky they paint is pink with yellow polka dots, that's fine!!!! There is not a "correct" way to draw a cat!!! Let your kids find their way. Everything at school has a right and wrong answer. Making art is time for letting the rules go on vacation.