I’ve had good luck following the advice: if you can’t find something you want – make it. This is how my first children’s book, ABC Dream, came to be. I was in need of a special gift for my growing number of friends who were becoming new parents. My standards were high: it had to be arrestingly beautiful, mesmerizing, unique, and engage both child and parent. I looked far and wide for the perfect alphabet book, not finding the right fit. So I began drawing ABC Dream, letter by letter, creature by creature. I included images and concepts for kids of various ages, but I thought often about how to create a world the parents would want to visit again and again. I wondered, can I draw an alphabet book that is enchanting rather than obvious? A world that gives parents an escape from the stresses and reawakens their sense of wonder?
As I continued to draw and ask these questions, the book became intricately detailed, with nature teeming on every page, and the words slowly disappeared. It became a picture book, a place for parent and child to quietly discover and dream. Since so many friends were expecting children, I didn’t have time to send ABC Dream out to publishers. I printed a few hundred copies myself. Three years later a new color edition is coming out with Random House Children’s.
I think its important that we ask ourselves when we are writing and illustrating: where do we want to take the reader? What kind of journey will it be? Quiet or loud? Fast or slow? In a sense, we give a gift to readers every time they take our book off the shelf, so its important for us to know what the gift is. Is it big and flashy, or is it a tiny wonder that they tuck under their pillow? Is it available everywhere, or is there only one in the whole wide world?
Kim Krans is an artist and musician originally from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. She is the creator of The Wild Unknown, a website that sells beautiful handmade objects such as her prints, calendars, and intricately illustrated tarot deck. Kim and her husband, Jonny, have their own band, Family Band. They live in Portland, Oregon. You can visit Kim at kimkrans.com.
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