Following Clues with Jane Dyer

IMG_1897With many picture book projects, the author and illustrator never meet — or even communicate with each other.

And that was how it was with THE HOUSE THAT’S YOUR HOME. I didn’t share any notes with Jane about what I’d had in mind as I wrote. Jane was sent the text and then it was left entirely up to her. (Which, as far as I’m concerned, is the way it should always be.)

When I found myself one rainy day in the same town as Jane a couple of years ago, we met up.

She took me into her studio (a huge honor) and showed me the work in progress. I got to see some of her illustrative process, and many of the things that inspired her paintings for this book. I got to see her thumbnails of the book, all laid out. It was hugely meaningful to me.

Jane at her drawing table working on the thumbnails of the book

Jane at her drawing table working on the thumbnails of the book

What Jane didn’t know was that while I wrote THE HOUSE THAT’S YOUR HOME, I’d been thinking about the classic children’s books of the 50’s (that golden age in children’s publishing, and Ursula Nordstrom). How incredible then, to see right there, lined up beside her drawing table, those very books—classics from the 1950s.

To discover that we had quite independently been following the same vision—as if we had both been following clues, as if in some way the book already existed and we together found it—we felt we’d stumbled into some kind of mystery, that the ground we were standing on was sacred.

As a publisher once said to me, one plus one equals more than two.

I am so honored to have worked with Jane on this book. And so grateful. It was—all of it—a gift. And best of all? I have a new friend.

Jane and I sitting on the porch of the "mini house" they have on the farm

Two friends sitting together on the porch of the “mini house” Jane has on her farm

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