I personally have always enjoyed a good back story. Almost as much as the story itself. I have read many author biographies to glean their inspirations and to see their processes. Thus, I thought some of you might be interested in seeing this.

For my upcoming book, the new series illustrator/designer (the magnificent David Schiedt) was kind enough to ask my opinion of what the cover should "say". Having worked with Mr. Schiedt before on our collaborated picture book, Drinking Fountain Joe, I knew David painstakingly sketches and sketches and sketches until he finds the character he wants. I trust him and when he sends me really, really rough sketches I try hard to envision the end "product". No matter how hard I try, I never see it as good as he does it! This challenge for Mr. Schiedt was particularly difficult because he had never illustrated a chapter book before and he was taking the series over mid-stream. He wanted it to have his own individual stamp and look nothing like the previously illustrated works of Gabe. That is what I wanted too. It was time to introduce Gabe to the world in a newly minted way. Gabe himself was taking over the reigns. The books would be from his perspective not only in the writing style, but illustrations "taken from his sketchbooks".

I thought of a cover where Gabe is central and six to eight items from the action within were surrounding him in bubbles. Mr. Schiedt gave it a try and although it was 100% better than anything I could have done, it wasn't quite right. Fortunately for me Mr. Schiedt is a very nice and patient man.

He drew some sketches and some cover treatments that neither of us were totally wild about, then we asked the opinion of some kids and teachers and librarians who are familiar with the character Gabriel Peter and his stories in the previous two books and they weren't wild about them either. DEADLINES and COMMITMENTS looming, what were we to do?

Back to the drawing board (while I was crazily editing my work too and wanting to make this the very best book possible.The cover below was sent to me after a discussion about the element of action and trying to get into the famous Guinness World Book of Records.

I liked it a lot, but after a conversation Mr. Scheidt was still not totally satisfied that it conveyed Gabe correctly in the scene.

Then he sent this one. I was in love with the cover and the idea.

After deliberation about incorporating action and something that indicates what is within the covers of the book we came upon this idea. The main idea was to capture attention, particularly by the reluctant chapter book reader. What would do it? What is popular and stays true to the series?

SO many questions. My answers were, comics, sketchy drawing style and TONS OF ACTION! What do you think of how the cover looks now?