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Martha by Susan Meddaugh

Upper right corner of page 6

Here’s a glimpse at what came out of a FedEx box I found on my desk this morning: nine pages of watercolor from Susan Meddaugh, plus nine more in black and white with word balloon text. Such a good way to start the week!

Susan (or rather Martha) has written an article about the transition from her books like Martha Speaks to cartoons for PBS. This will be in the March 2012 Horn Book Magazine special issue on media. I’ve read drafts of most of the March articles and it’s going to be a phenomenal issue, but the Martha piece—all in comic strip form—is the one I’m most invested in. Susan sent us sketches several weeks ago, then we had to find just the right typeface for the non-word-balloon text, edit that text, and print it on overlays so Susan could judge the space in the final art. Seeing those sketched ideas transformed into full color this morning seemed like magic, but of course Susan has been sweating over them for a while. She probably wishes Martha hadn’t written QUITE so much for us.

Next, I’ll scan all eighteen pages, straighten them and crop out the paint tests along the edges, import them into InDesign and drop in the typeset copy. By this time tomorrow (it’s busy this week or I would drop everything and just do this!), we’ll have it looking almost finished and ready to send back to the author. And Susan.

Sometimes it’s hard to wait three months between working on something like this and getting to talk about it with Magazine subscribers. So when you get your March issue (of course I like to think you ALL subscribe!), look for this piece and let us know what you think of it.

Lolly Robinson About Lolly Robinson

Lolly Robinson is the creative director for The Horn Book, Inc. She has degrees in studio art and children's literature and teaches children's literature at Harvard University's Graduate School of Education. She has served on the Caldecott and Boston Globe-Horn Book Award committees and blogs for Calling Caldecott and Lolly's Classroom on this site.

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