Peas in a Pod is the latest quirky offering from talented writer/illustrator team, Tania McCartney and Tina Snerling.
Tania and Tina have created a harmony of colour and words, and they’re visiting today with their great tips on Picture Book Collaboration.
ABOUT PEAS IN A POD
Pippa, Pia, Poppy, Polly and Peg are very cute little quintuplets who do everything the same … eat, sleep, cry and sit … everything. But one day the girls decide that they don’t like being the same.
It’s about finding your place in the world, and even though well meaning people (parents in this case) might encourage you to conform in order to fit in, it’s okay to be different. People are not the same, even when they look quite similar as in the case of Pippa, Pia, Poppy, Polly and Peg.
We are generally encouraged to conform because it suits someone else, but it’s not always the best thing for us as individuals, and that’s one of the reasons why I can see adults really loving Peas in a Pod too.
I love the gentle humour in the text and the way the vibrant illustrations lead young readers through the story, encouraging them make a stand, to be who they are, to be who they want to be.
I like the way the text doesn’t talk down to the reader, and the author uses some more complex words that add interest and inspire the reader to explore vocabulary. The illustrator’s use of colour and action tell a story that wonderfully complements the text.
Peas in a Pod is for readers aged 3-7. It is published by EK Books, and Teachers Notes are available.
Tania McCartney’s Five Tips on Collaborating with an Illustrator
Authors and illustrators don’t always have the opportunity to work in close collaboration, so I feel really fortunate to be able to work with Tina directly on our books. I think it brings a seamlessness, a cohesion and that extra special something to the work we produce. If you’re going to have the privilege of working closely with an illustrator, lucky you! Here are my tips on how to make the collaboration shine.
- Be willing to give your illustrator creative licence. Don’t be too precious about your text or how things should look. I’ve many times changed my text to suit the creative ideas of an illustrator—and the book has been all the better for it. I’ve also been more than delighted with illustrator interpretation—which is almost always even better than what I had in my head.
- Ensure open communication. While creative licence is good, illustrations also need to reflect story meaning and nuance. Most of the time, an illustrator will reflect text really well but occasionally something might be missed or misinterpreted. Or, as in my point above, it might even be improved upon! So communicate openly and well—and don’t be afraid to speak up if something needs tweaking.
- Tweaking, especially if illustrations are hand-rendered, is no mean feat. It can take hours or even days to redo something, so this is why keeping on top of communications is key and why you should only insist on changes if they’re absolutely central to the story. You could also ask your illustrator to show you images as they go along, to save on the possibility of any changes down the track. Once illos are complete, changing things at whim or for personal preference is just not on—it’s too much to ask of any illustrator.
- If you haven’t worked with this illustrator before, consider asking them for drafts so you can agree on a certain characterisation or scene. As you work with them more and as the book unfolds, you’ll more than likely find no need for any type of draft. Things become sort of organic.
- Give feedback and encouragement. It’s difficult for an illustrator to know they’re on track or that you’re liking their work if you say nothing. All illustrators want their authors to love their work! so giving feedback is a great way to open the dialogue and encourage a wonderful collaborative experience.
Tina Snerling’s Five Tips on Collaborating with an Author
1. Communication, communication, communication. This is key to a smooth and enjoyable collaboration. I understand many other illustrators communicate directly with their Editor/Publisher, but my daily communication is with the Author until our Editor becomes involved once drafts are completed. Tania and I can email up to 50 times a day discussing illustrations for a page!
2. Be open to feedback. This is a given for any Illustrator, but also an important point to remember when working with an Author as they may not always agree with your interpretation.
3. Understand your Authors own style. Having worked with Tania on numerous collaborations, I understand her style, and what my illustrations can do to enhance her words. If you are embarking on a new Author/Illustrator relationship, research the Author and understand their style to ensure your illustrations represent the Authors work in a way you both love.
4. Get a comprehensive understanding of the Authors intentions. As an Illustrator, it is my responsibility to portray the unwritten word, by discussing the manuscript in detail first with the Author, you can gain a deeper understanding of their words – this in turn ensures you represent the book cohesively.
5. Don’t be afraid to add your own flair. I love to take Tania’s words and add my own personal touches. Sometimes I can interpret the Author’s words in a way the Author may not have imagined, but they love it all the same – that is the magic of working in a collaboration!
OTHER BOOKS BY TANIA AND TINA