of my Children's Novelty Pop-Up Book,
IF I WERE A
All Original Art For SALE!
My novelty pop-up children's book, IF I WERE A HALLOWEEN MONSTER, was published in 1999 by Little, Brown & Company with over 65,000 copies printed. By holding the book cover to one's face and looking through the peepholes into a mirror, different masks pop-up as pages are turned. Parts of the rhyming verses with each illustration are printed in reverse mirror-writing.
When my daughters were little, they loved to dress up as different characters. They especially enjoyed dressing up as little old ladies sipping tea with their pinkies arched, conversing in the best English accents 5 and 9 year-olds from Kentucky could muster. Once they pulled up a couple of chairs in front of a large mirror in our dining room and discovered the fun of seeing themselves as different people. This playtime in the mirror gave me the idea for my book.
Being a visual artist, I felt excited about creating the pictures for my book idea; being an author was a bit more challenging. I knew that it had to have a running thread to connect the illustrations together, I knew that I wanted it to have a rhyming verse, and I knew that I wanted to use onomatopoeia to for kids to have fun while they read. Exactly how to do all that I wasn't sure. Very early in the writing of the book, I made a pact with myself that I would read my verses to my own children to see how they might react. If I received a negative reaction, I would tear up that part of the manuscript and start again. I got a thumbs-down many, many times.
As you can see from the book dummy, the original title of my book was slightly different; the publisher felt that the word "monster" was a better fit than "creature". There were also other changes that the publisher insisted upon. I was told that nine illustrations would keep the total cost of publishing the book down so I sadly chose to eliminate the scarecrow, the alien and the gargoyle. The handwritten text in reverse mirror writing was then nixed as the publisher shared that American consumers make snap judgments and might see the backward lettering as Russian and return it to the book store shelf. I wished this request had not been asked of me as I have always felt that my handwritten script only added to the "spookiness" of the book and did not detract from it. The picture tabs in the book dummy were dropped as "they will become dog-eared and tear off" but, at the same time, I was also encouraged to consider paper engineering to make parts of the illustrations "pop-up". This decision I believe truly added to the visual interest of the final product.
Whenever I was invited to read IF I WERE A HALLOWEEN MONSTER to school groups, I'd always share with them some stories about the problems and mishaps of creating this book. I told them that the coffee stain on the werewolf's menu was real (my toddler son had caused me to spill my coffee cup on my painting and I thought I had wiped up all the spills). I relayed how my oldest daughter had warned me, just as I was packing up the canvases to send to the publisher, that a spider has 8 legs and not just the 6 I had originally painted. I also let them know how many times when I was doing book signings that I would discover that the pop-up noses of the creature masks were glued on upside down!
A "mirror-mask book" was a concept that I thought at the time was quite unique as I had not seen anything like it in bookstores. Creating a book that could be held up to your face and looking into a mirror through peepholes was a challenge in itself. I learned very quickly that a child's eyes are closer together than an adult's eyes which affected the placement of the drilled hole in the book which in turn determined how the illustrations were to be drawn and later painted. I also discovered that my characters had to create more of the story within their environment by their actions or their costumes or they would come off as visually dull. For example, the skeleton became a pirate with a skeleton parrot on his shoulder, the vampire brushed his fangs, and the mummy was trick-or-treating. No mention of these details was in their verses but they add interest to the pictures.
I grew up loving Halloween and shared this love with my own children. For years we decorated our dining room table with my book illustrations, using them as placemats for Halloween parties and October dinners. Twenty years later, my daughters are now elementary school teachers and they share my book with their students. I'm proud to see the tradition continue.
Special Sale Price for Collectors!
COLLECTOR'S PACKAGE INCLUDES:
* The ORIGINAL BOOK DUMMY
* ALL 9 ORIGINAL HANDPAINTED ILLUSTRATIONS
* A PERSONALIZED, SIGNED COPY OF IF I WERE A HALLOWEEN MONSTER