It was extremely exciting to see the roughs of the illustrations come through by e-mail. I was so very excited to see that Chantal had captured the heart of Slow Down Sarah!, and also done a wonderful job of creating the rural environment. I couldn’t wait to see them in full colour!
In the middle of all this excitement, Chantal and I also discovered two bloopers which gave us cause for a giggle and a chat, and highlighted the importance of clearly understanding the text. An author and an illustrator may be looking at the same thing with two entirely different perspectives. And of course, this can change the whole meaning of the book.
The first instance was nothing more than the difference between country and city lifestyle and knowledge. At one point in the book, Sarah happens along past a farmer who has been mustering his cattle for hours. To someone who lives in the country, the word ‘mustering’ automatically conjures up images of rounding up cattle from paddocks by horseback, so I did not take the time to explain that to Chantal. This is the rough that came through for this spread:
The farmer was rounding up the cattle alright… just not by horseback. Any wonder it had taken hours! It was very humorous when we discovered our misunderstanding.
The second one arose in a spread where Sarah is helping her Dad, who has broken his leg and can’t walk. He tells her to ride and get help. I was imagining her riding off to get her Mum to call the ambulance and direct them to the yards where she had left Dad. Chantal evidently thought that Sarah was even more courageous than I had imagined her to be, because she created the images with Sarah doubling her Dad to get help:
They were great illustrations and I was really sorry not to be using them, but we decided that the story would work better if Sarah went off by herself to get help. Chantal graciously agreed to re-do the illustrations, and we then realised we could use these as examples to share with you. If you are working with either an author or an illustrator, make sure anything ambiguous is clearly explained and discussed, and your illustration notes are very specific… though a giggle is always good!