“Peep. Cheep?”


Today’s post comes from some trial work I was doing this week on my day off. It is a simple illustration using my new wild pen and some text from a possible story.  

I was reminiscing about some of the books I read many years ago as a child. There were large, full-page illustrations in chapter books. Each usually had a snippet of text from the story underneath. They gave a hint of what the story was about and created interest without giving away the plot of the whole book.

In the more expensive books, these would be found on full-color pages printed on special paper and inserted into the book. You could easily spot them because the paper was smoother and stood out against the rougher text pages. And if you wanted to, which I did, you could look at each of those pictures and read each piece of text to get an idea of what the book might be about.

And if those pages convinced me to check a book out of the library, they became “reading goal markers” for me. I would eagerly read to get to the next beautifully illustrated special page. 

Somewhere in my garage, I have a box of books with some reprints of children’s classics illustrated by N.C. Wyeth which I purchased as an adult. “Treasure Island” by Robert Louis Stevenson was perhaps my favorite. The illustration of “One more step, Mr. Hands, said I, and I’ll blow your brains out” was one of my favorites then and now. Who could resist discovering more about those words or the illustration that went with them?

It is doubtful that my work will every be as good as the classic illustrators I admire so much, but hopefully this little illustration will capture your imagination and cause you to wonder what “Peep. Cheep?” might mean. Of course, if you are a regular reader, you have probably already guessed from the pose and the innocently hopeful expression.

You know, I really do need to build those bookcases I’ve been saying I’m going to build!

Each post shares a glimpse into my journey as a writer and illustrator. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated! 

The New Ink Pen

“What are you doing?” asked Gracie.

”I’m trying out the new pen I got for Christmas.”

“That’s Pearl, isn’t it?”

“Yes, it’s a drippy and messy pen sometimes. Sort of the way Pearl can be. Even though it’s not perfect all of the time, it still makes beautiful lines. You just have to know how to look at them.”

“Messy but beautiful, just like with Pearl,” Gracie said with delight. “But who are the baby chicks? We don’t have any baby chicks here any more.”

“I know. Pearl wants to be a Momma Hen more than just about anything these days. She misses having Blanche at her side. She would like to have some baby chicks that look like her. So I made this drawing.”

“It’s like you’ve said before. Drawing lets you do things you would never be able to do any other way.”

“And that is how you and I will dance in the streets of Paris even if we never get to travel there together. But that is many drawings from now. I still would like to really go to Paris with you, Gracie.”

“Is there a reason why you did this drawing without any bright and pretty color? Besides Pearl being mostly white, I mean.”

“You and I both love pictures. And our readers love pictures too. But books with pictures in color are very expensive to print. So all of our books with color have to be short. No more than sixty-four pages. But it’s going to take more than sixty-four pages to tell some of the stories we want to tell.”

“So these books with black-and-white pictures mean more adventures?”

“Exactly right.”

“Even though you didn’t stay inside the lines all of the time?”

“For me it’s harder to go outside of the lines than to stay inside the lines.”

Gracie laughed, and we smiled together. It didn’t make much sense to either of us, but it didn’t matter.

“What kind of more adventures?” she asked.

“Adventures like Amelia flying to the moon and back. Adventures like you dancing at the Paris Opera Ballet. Adventures like maybe even Pearl having her own little family.”

“And some baby chicks wearing little tutus would be very nice. Can you draw that too?”

She nudged me with her head to make sure I was listening.

“That would make both Pearl and you happy, wouldn’t it? Yes, I can do that. But it will all take some time. A drawing that shows how much I love you takes time to get just right.”

“We can wait.”

“You know, Gracie, this really is A Most Wondrous Place just like you have always said.”

Gracie’s Ballet Ornaments (Christmas-Time Or Any-Time!)

This weekend, we will be decorating for Christmas. We are a little late this year, so we may need to leave everything up a little extra long after the Christmas season is over!

We designed some printable pages to share with everyone who would like to decorate along with us. So far, there are two pages. One is in full color, and the other is in black and white outline, so you can color them any way you’d like. You can use these for garlands, ornaments, gift tags or anything else you might imagine.

And don’t think that these are just for kids! (We know some of you adults like to color and decorate too!) So, it’s time to get out those coloring pencils and crayons and markers and get ready to decorate!

Gracie has been fascinated by fancy glitter, so whether you use the full color ornaments or color your own black and white outline ornaments, you can add lots of beautiful glitter to their ballet tutus if you would like! (Regular glitter makes Gracie sneeze, and so we are using glitter glue.)

Gracie is hoping we will be able to leave them up year-round since these aren’t particularly “Christmasy.” Unless you add your own Christmas elements, they really can be used any time during the year too! (Some of our readers don’t celebrate Christmas so we wanted to start with these which can be used just because they are fun!)

Click this link for Gracie’s Black and White Ballet Ornaments!

Click this link for Gracie’s Color Ballet Ornaments!

These will both download through Dropbox, but you do not need to have a Dropbox account to access them!

We are using cardstock paper for ours. Both of these will print out as full letter-sized pages with generously sized drawings for those who may not be quite the best at staying inside the lines. (Don’t worry, some of my chickens have a hard time staying inside the lines too!)

We hope to have more designs to share with you soon! Happy Decorating!