PenguinArt by Kate Garchinsky

Tag: Charlesbridge

Written by Laurence Pringle, Illustrated by Kate Garchinsky. Boyds Mills Press 2017.

Earlier this year I completed the illustrations for The Secret Life of the Red Fox, written by my mentor and friend, Laurence Pringle. It’s something like his one hundred and seventeenth book. I have some catching up to do!

Imagine my joy when I was offered the job to illustrate his next “Secret Life” book—The Secret Life of the Little Brown Bat. Seriously. First foxes, now bats? How much cooler can this job get? Last week I received the completed manuscript, and today I opened an envelope from Larry full of bat reference. He made great copies of other illustrators’ renderings of bats of different species. This is as helpful as watching someone else solve a very complex math problem right before you do one yourself. It’s not about copying, it’s about technique, and the artist’s eye.

See, bats aren’t very photogenic.  They are extremely difficult to photograph without some seriously advanced camera equipment—especially little brown bats. Why? Think about it. They’re little. They’re brown. And they are bats—the worlds’ only flying mammals. There’s really nothing else like them. They move fast enough to snatch mosquitos and moths from the air in the dark. I can barely get a sharp photo of a slow-moving pigeon in full daylight! So looking at other artists’ renderings of bats saves me a lot of guesswork. That doesn’t mean I won’t try to photograph them though!

Little brown bat

Another challenge bats pose is their creepy reputation. My job is to make young readers love them, despite any “ew” factor displayed by skeeved-out parents. Little brown bats need our love. They’re on a fast path to extinction due to a deadly fungal outbreak called white-nose syndrome. It’s an upsetting situation if you care about bats. If you don’t, though, then why would you do anything to help save them? Why help an animal that creepy creature like a bat?

My job is to show what’s endearing and important about little brown bats. My mission is to make everyone say, “awwwww!!!” when they see my illustrations of Otis, the main character in the story. The book will be a narrative non-fiction picture book for grades 1-4, but as with the Red Fox book, I’m not thinking about age. I’m thinking about the beauty and quirkiness of the animal when I draw it.

Osprey Growth Chart for Belle's Journey

Osprey Growth Chart for Belle’s Journey

Earlier I asked you, “how much cooler than this job get?” Well. In addition to foxes and bats, I have another project: Belle’s Journey, written by my ornithologist friend, Rob Bierregaard. I have lots of pictures to go through after 5 days sketching and photographing the ospreys of Martha’s Vineyard, the subject and setting of Rob’s book. Belle will be another narrative non-fiction book, but for middle-grade readers. It’s 19 chapters long and packed full of raptor action. How much joy can I stand?

Tag: Charlesbridge

2015 was a really good year. The best, really. How do I mean?

In January I received the Eckelberry Fellowship. In March I signed my first children’s book illustration contract. In May I got married, and traveled to Costa Rica and drew birds. In November I signed my second picture book contract! These books will be my first-ever books in print. If you know me, you know this is a dream come true—times two.

The books are:

The Secret Life of the Red Fox, written by Laurence Pringle, will be published by Boyds Mills Press in spring 2017.

Belle’s Journey, written by Rob Bierregaard, will be published by Charlesbridge in spring 2018.

I’ve been working on sketches for Red Fox, which I will post here shortly (after I complete the final edits). I want to take you through the whole process. I hope you’ll join me on my journey to publication.

Team Red Fox: Tim Gillner, Kate Garchinsky, Laurence Pringle, and Mary Colgan at Boyds Mills Press

Team Red Fox: Tim Gillner, Kate Garchinsky, Laurence Pringle, and Mary Colgan at Boyds Mills Press <3