TERESA BONNADIO: A Vrooming Kidlit Senior Designer
The rhyme and rhythm of Sharon Chriscoe’s text immediately brought out the essence of a classic nighttime read. We were all captivated by the little race car character and how the story follows him from the end of his race day through his nightly routine and on into dreamland. When searching for an illustrator, we knew it would be important to find someone who could bring the character to life in a way that felt human, and we also wanted someone who could capture the dreamy, magical light of the nighttime atmosphere.
How did Dave's portfolio come to your attention and why did you think his work would marry well with Sharon's manuscript?
Finding Dave is an example of how I tend to fall down rabbit holes when looking for picture book illustrators. I really like the search and discovery process. I came across his work on Dribbble, which is a social media site for illustrators and designers. Although at the time he didn’t have examples of anthropomorphized machinery in his portfolio, he had everything we were looking for that we could pick out in various pieces of his: amazing machinery, cute character designs (with irresistible eyes!), and a dreamy nightscape. We had faith that with art direction he would be able to bring all of those things together in one book—and he did!
Explain what factors came to play when you were deciding how to juxtapose Sharon's text with Dave's illustrations?
Working with Sharon’s editor at the time, Marlo Scrimizzi, we figured out most text placement in the early stages of development and kept fluid during rough sketches. With rhyming text there are some limitations to layout because certain lines need to stay together. But I like to create opportunities for the text to really mingle with the art, like on the aerial view of the winding road, and I’m fortunate that the team liked it. That particular spread changed a lot from thumbnail to final sketch. Initially Dave interpreted it as two separate pages--one just a regular view of Race Car coming towards the wash and one of Race Car going through the wash. In order to establish a better transition, and vary the perspective so we could see more of the world Race Car lived in, I suggested that he show a birds-eye view of where he was going from and to. Dave took that direction and delivered it better than we ever could have imagined. I added the text on the curve of the road to help keep the motion moving forward.
What about Dave's work ethic made the process of creating this book easier to accomplish?
Dave is a real pro and dynamite with character development, bringing out emotional variety and personality to all of them. (Fun fact: it was his idea to have Race Car have “2” painted on his side. Brilliant!) Going into this project we knew the challenge was going to be working more on backgrounds and scenery, though, since this was one of his first picture books. He ended up doing a great job building up scenes. He was a great collaborator, an efficient problem-solver, and flexible to art direction, which helped us bring out the best in the book as a whole.
Can you tell us, where are you in the planning process for RACE CAR DREAMS's companion, BULLDOZER DREAMS?
BULLDOZER DREAMS has kicked into gear. We are anxiously awaiting the sketches from the incredibly talented John Joven. The book will feel similar in style to RACE CAR DREAMS, but John definitely has his own voice and has added his own artistic twist and flare to the project that has helped distinguish them.
After a day at the track of zipping and zooming, a race car is tired and ready for bed. He washes his rims, fills his tummy with oil, and chooses a book that is all about speed. All toasty and warm, he drifts off to sleep, he shifts into gear . . . and dreams of the race!
RACE CAR DREAMS is a delightful, bedtime tale written by Sharon Chriscoe, illustrated by Dave Mottram and published by Running Press Kids (September 2016).