Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Brixton Brother(s)

On this tour Mac and I have started talking about Mac's forthcoming mystery novel, which I illustrated: The Brixton Brothers #1: The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity. I'll be posting some art from the interiors in the coming weeks, as the book is officially released on October 6.

But yesterday we got word of a great review posted by Betsy Bird at her School Library Journal blog, Fuse#8. She really gets how funny and amazing Mac's novel is, and she posts a cavalcade of videos and supporting links, too. You know, the sort of thing I'd do myself if I weren't so lazy.

Anyway, here's the novel's cover, sans type. Painted in Photoshop on a Wacom, natch. Click to make big.

Another Tour Reminder

Mac Barnett, Jon Scieszka, David Shannon, and I will all be here tomorrow:

*All Four Guys
Crescenta Valley High School
Robot Zot/ Guess Again party!
Crescenta Valley High School Auditorium (entrance on Ramsdale)
2900 Community Avenue, La Crescenta, CA 91214

If you want to find out what all four of us guys are getting up to on the tour, visit our official tour blog, GUYS WITH BOOKS.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Fall Tour Reminder

Hi, just a reminder that Mac Barnett and I will be visiting the Mission Inn Book Conference in Riverside, CA tomorrow, September 26th. Then it's off to Los Angeles to meet up with Jon Scieszka and David Shannon.

If you want to find out what all four of us guys are getting up to on the tour, visit our official tour blog, GUYS WITH BOOKS.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Frequently Asked Questions 4

Where do you get your ideas?

I guess all creative types get this question, to such an extent that it’s become a cliché. Kids don’t know it’s a cliché, though, so I try to answer it as best I can: I get my ideas in the same way you get yours–they’re a product of everything I’ve ever seen and heard and thought and felt. They’re influenced by books I read, things I watch, conversations I’ve had or even just overheard. I think the trick is not in worrying about your next idea so much as just having your arms open to it when it arrives. It’ll come around the mountain when it comes.

I believe there are unspoken questions that people are really asking when they ask “Where do you get your ideas,” however. I think the adults in particular are usually asking, “How come you can write a book and I can’t?”

Usually the answer is simply, “Because I’ve tried and you haven’t.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been approached by people who want to know how they can become a writer for kids too, and I ask,

“What have you written?”

and they answer,

“Nothing yet,”

and I have to tell them

“Well, try writing a little more than that.”

To those who have already tried to write and think they’ve failed, you might be interested to know that I didn’t finish the first story I tried to write either, or even the fifteenth. Maybe that’ll help, I don’t know.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Big Fall Tour

Later this week I leave for the start of a big fall tour, in which Mac Barnett and I (and, at many appearances, Jon Scieszka and David Shannon, too) will be traveling and attending events throughout California and Arizona.

I'll be posting reminders and updates about specific events as their time draws near, but here's an overview of the public appearances:


Mac and I will be visiting the Mission Inn Book Conference in Riverside, CA

*All Four Guys
Crescenta Valley High School
Robot Zot/ Guess Again party!
Crescenta Valley High School Auditorium (entrance on Ramsdale)
2900 Community Avenue, La Crescenta, CA 91214


Mac, Jon, David, and I will visit
9301 Tampa Avenue
Northridge, CA 91324

Mac, Jon, David, and I will visit another
125 West Thousand Oaks Blvd.
Thousand Oaks, CA 91360


Mac, Jon, and I will visit a
Barnes & Noble
6050 El Cerrito Plaza
El Cerrito, CA 94530


Mac and I will visit
Copperfield’s Bookstore
140 Kentucky Street
Petaluma, CA 94952


Mac, Jon, David, and I will visit the
Leroy Haynes Center (sales through Mrs. Nelson’s Bookstore)
233 Baseline Road
La Verne, CA 91750



Mac, Jon, David, and I will have an In-store signing at
7812 Girard Avenue
La Jolla, CA 92037


Mac, Jon, David, and I will take part in
Office Max Day/ A Day Made Better donation
Location: 1844 South 40th Street
San Diego, CA 92113


Mac and I will appear at
Changing Hands Bookstore
6428 South McClintock
Tempe, AZ 85283


Mac and I will appear at
Barnes & Noble
21001 N. Tatum Blvd.
Phoenix, AZ 85050


Mac and I will appear at
University of Arizona WALK (Wildcats Advocating Reading and Literacy) reading
*On the first Saturday of each month, typically 100-150 parents and their young children (2-5 years old) for Storybook Character Hour. *

Mac and I will visit a
5870 East Broadway Blvd.
Tucson, AZ 85711

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Think Your Cover Concept's Approved? Guess Again.

My new book, Guess Again!, written by Mac Barnett, is now on sale. Check out these previous posts to learn more about it.

Finding the right cover for Guess Again! turned out to be more challenging than anyone expected, and a while back I thought I might, on this day, begin a multi-post series describing that process. But I don't think I have the strength. So I'm just dumping nearly every cover sketch I submitted to Mac and our editor in one ungainly post.

We always intended to have some sort of surprise associated with the cover–some funny dissonance between what you thought you were looking at and what you discovered once the cover was opened. So most of these are presented in pairs–cover on the left, inside page on the right.

I welcome questions, as even I have a hard time understanding what some of these were about anymore.

Click to enlarge.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Eliot Calls Our Bluff

You may already be familiar with my book Billy Twitters and His Blue Whale Problem, written by Mac Barnett, in which a boy's parents send away for a blue whale and give it to him as a punishment. Under the book's jacket we printed instructions for how to send away for you own blue whale. Recently Mac Barnett received this letter:

Keep checking your mailbox, Eliot.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Early Work 4

Yet another example of my early work–my first picture book, if you will, dictated and illustrated when I was five. Presented with editorial comments.
Click to enlarge.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Frequently Asked Questions 3

Oh, you’re an author? Would I know any of your books?

Well, that depends. My audience is primarily children. Do you have any children? If you don’t have children then chances are the only kids’ books you can name are Where the Wild Things Are (didn’t write it) and a few by Dr. Seuss (not him). In fact, I dread this question because even if you have children chances are good that you’ve never heard of any of my books, so you’re not going to recognize their titles, and then you’re going to get that embarrassed look on your face like you’ve caught me in a lie, like I’ve just claimed to be an actor when what I really am is a tour guide at Old Tucson and second understudy to Rum Tum Tugger in a community theater production of Cats.

But that’s fine, go ahead and insist that I tell you some of my book titles. Preface this by telling me that you’ll probably know them because you “read everything.” What you undoubtedly mean is that you read a lot, or possibly that you read a significant portion of the bestseller list. I’m pretty sure you don’t actually “read everything” because even if you restricted yourself to mass-market American adult fiction you’d still have to read a novel every thirty-five minutes.

I swear I’m going to start doing this to other people: “Oh wow, you’re an accounts manager for a medical equipment manufacturer? I love medquip manfac! I know all the companies–which one’s yours?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Guess Again!

He steals carrots from the neighbor's yard.
His hair is soft, his teeth are hard.
His floppy ears are long and funny.
Can you guess who? That's right! My

Grandpa Ned.

From Guess Again!, written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Adam Rex. Available September 15th.