One Day I Went Rambling
by Kelly Bennett, illustrated by Terri Murphy, Bright Sky Press, 2012
Zane knows how to ramble. He knows how to turn everyday objects like hubcaps and paper bags into stars and shields in his imagination. At first his friends don’t understand, but soon more and more of them are rambling right along with Zane. This is a great picture book to share with your younger friends. They’ll love the rhythm of the words and the imaginative pictures, and they’ll beg you to go rambling with them! I bet you’ll find amazing treasures on your own ramble!
Kelly and Terri offered to stop by my blog to answer a couple questions.
Hi, Kelly! Hi Terri! I’m glad you could take time out of your rambles to stop by!
I love this book! I have always been one to turn found treasures into something else, so I know exactly how Zane feels. When I was very young a long time ago, our neighborhood gang created spaceships from fallen trees. My own children brought home objects that held some magic for them and never wanted to get rid of these finds.
I’m guessing the text came first as it does with many picture books, but, obviously, there’s some of each of you in this story. When you started working on this, did you each think of specific objects you or your children found while out rambling?
Kelly: Serendipity! That’s how I describe this whole amazing experience. I never met Terri, or even spoke with her until after our first book together, Dance, Y’all, Dance (Bright Sky Press, 2009) was a fait accompli. The whole experience of working with Lucy and Ellen at BSP was fabulous, so I knew I wanted to do more books with them; and, after seeing her imaginative, detailed, humor-filled illustrations for Dance, I wanted to work with Terri. So I sent them the manuscript. I had been working on some version of One Day I Went Rambling for at least 10 years—just ask my critique partners…. It’s been One Day I Went Roamin’(in the wild west); Exploring (the world); Wandering (rural setting); there’s even a “weather” version (indoors). And prior to finding its home at Bright Sky Press, other publishers had expressed interest in publishing Rambling, but it never panned out (2 went out of business). Can you say fate? BSP was definitely the right publisher for this story and Terri was first choice—and the absolutely right choice—of illustrator! She got it! Terri gets me, maybe precisely because we are kindred spirit—both ramblers.
Terri: A few years ago I started rambling with a camera, shooting extreme close-ups of patterns in nature…the veins in leaves, feathers, butterfly wings, ice crystals…without really knowing why other than I like discovery. In sketching out One Day I Went Rambling, I realized I was a lot like Zane finding extraordinary things….and got the idea to incorporate these textures into the art via photoshop. Sometimes they are bold as in the word “Rambling” on the cover, and sometimes more subtle. Like Zane’s pet chameleon, it’s another hide-and-seek game built into the book!
I love the fancy print used for the found items. How did you come up with this idea?
Kelly: Totally Terri (with maybe a sprinkling of Ellen Cregan and Lucy Chambers). My only input, design-wise, was to say WOW! and WONDERFUL!
Terri: The main character Zane boldly declares what his re-imagined object is as soon as he finds it. I sought to reward his spontaneity with words of color and size and fanciful flight, and let it stand apart from the rest of the text. It then became a design element I had to work with.
I’m always fascinated by how authors and illustrators work together without necessarily meeting. Did you have a lot of illustrator notes in the manuscript, Kelly? For example, did you specify that it was a brown paper bag used for the warrior’s shield or did Terri figure that out? Did the text need to be revised after seeing the illustrations? How do you work together?
Kelly: So funny! Aside from a brief overview note—what I think of as catalogue copy—introducing the story, and an ending art note about Zane and his friend’s final creation (since it is not mentioned in the text), the warrior’s shield scene you singled out, Cindy, is the only scene for which I made illustration notes on the Rambling manuscript. Because people are always curious about it, I’ll share that portion of the manuscript:
I went right on rambling
and found a smooth, brown vest. [a grocery sack]
A mighty warrior’s shield.
“Hey that’s cool!” called Jess.
I’m proud and pleased that I didn’t have to explain or describe anything else. Terri has a gift for being able to interpret and translate words into pictures and then fly with it! (The downside of this is that I didn’t have any excuse to visit Terri and “discuss” the story with her.)
For non-illustrator picture book authors, this to-make-or-not-to-make art notes dilemma is huge! Definitely, absolutely, no doubt about it, the hardest part about submitting a picture book manuscript is not being able to “explain” our illustration vision. The urge to submit copious illustration notes is strong. But, it is also a huge no-no. Not only are illustration notes distracting, and will pull a reader out of your story and make it feel choppy and longer, they also raise a “red flag” that a writer hasn’t done his/her job properly. (And the need for them ought to prompt writers to ask: Am I trying to tell the illustrator how to do his/her job?) After the premise and basic story for One Day I Went Rambling was set, I spent hours, days, months, years choosing the best words to conjure the mind-images I envisioned and convey them: first for my agent, then my editor, and then for the illustrator. But, playing with words and sounds, finding just the right ones to describe what we want readers to see and feel and taste and touch, that’s what writers do. It’s our job and our joy.
Terri: The wonderful thing about working with Kelly is she fashions her stories to suggest scenes without insisting on them. Notice how she never says where any action is taking place in this book but trusts the illustrator to know where the story should go.
What are each of you working on next?
Kelly: Watch out! Vampire Baby, a picture book, published by Candlewick Press, is coming in 2013!
Terri: I’m finishing up a huge project for the Illinois Library Association summer reading program in 2013, then hope to take some time this summer to work on a picture book dummy for a story I wrote, and to find new and inventive ways to ramble!
Kelly and Terri, thanks so much for visiting. I love what I’ve learned from your answers! Enjoy your rambles!
Anyone who comments on this post will be entered to win prizes from Kelly and Terri’s blog tour that include an original illustration from the book, autographed copies of the book, and more. See more information here: http://terrimurphy.typepad.com/mermaid_waves/2012/05/l.html
Kelly and Terri and One Day I Went Rambling are featured on other blogs noted here: http://terrimurphy.typepad.com/mermaid_waves/
To purchase the book, look here or visit your local bookstore: www.brightskypress.com/infostore/ca.cart.asp?sAction=DisplayDetails&pid=219
And links to Kelly’s and Terri’s own blogs are here: