I am so excited to welcome illustratorDebbie Ridpath Ohi to the blog today to share a first look at her newest picture book with Michael Ian Black, I'M WORRIED.
Here's a quick summary of the story:
Potato is worried. About everything.
Because anything might happen.
When he tells his friends, he expects them to comfort him by saying that everything will be okay. Except they don’t. Because it might not be, and that’s okay too. Still, there’s one thing they can promise for sure: no matter what happens…they will always be by his side.
I invited Debbie to finish my sentences. After reading her responses, scroll down for a look at the cover and more.
DEBBIE FINISHES MY SENTENCES:
When I first read the manuscript for I'm Worried... I thought: how timely, given what is happening in the world these days.
I so identify with Potato sometimes, worrying about things that are often out of my control. And like Potato (and the Flamingo in I'M SAD), I feel very lucky to have friends and family who support me, no matter what.
Working with Michael Ian Black... has been such a joy. Not only do I love his writing, but he has been so supportive of me and my work. Check out what he said about me on Late Night With Seth Meyers and during our Facebook Live Event at The New York Times. Michael and I had a chance to hang out during our I'M SAD book tour, and I was so impressed by how much he cared about young readers, and how well he connected with them.
The illustrations for the story... were a TON of fun to do.
I especially enjoyed working on the spread that showed a bunch of things that Potato was worried about....like french fries! Michael helped me brainstorm ideas for this spread. I also added some stuff that I tend to worry about, like squirrels (those familiar with Where Are My Books? and Sam and Eva? will already be aware of my squirrel obsession).
I had wonderful guidance from my art director, Laurent Linn, as well as my editor, Justin Chanda. Don't you love Laurent's awesome jacket design?
I also got a kick out how Laurent formatted the copyright text:
(note the two worried Potato eyes)
One thing I hope readers will take from this story is... that sometimes it's ok to be worried, that there isn't always an easy fix, and that it can help to talk about your worries with supportive friends.
I also love Michael's dedication at the front of the book:
"For the worriers. Take a breath.
Right now, in this moment, you are fine.
And this moment is all that matters."
One thing I sometimes worry about is... the chewing noise I hear sometimes in my office walls. Something's moved in, I think, getting settled as the weather gets colder. I'm pretty sure it's a squirrel!
And just like that we have a COVER!
Okay. Let's take a closer look at this cover.
Like the other entries in The I'm Books series, we've got our character from and center framed by some big, bold, unavoidable words. Am I the only one that actually feels the the words are watching me? Poor Potato!
We've all been worrying a lot lately. So much so that I'd be a lot of us are feeling weighed down by our worries. It looks like Potato feeling that weight as well. Just look at those letters sagging beneath Potato's trembling body.
The full jacket actually frames the bigger picture really well.
See that? Potato's surrounded by friends. Just like us. We can worry, but we need not worry alone.
Our friends have really been feeling some feelings front and center in this series. I love looking at the covers lined up together. And when taken like this it actually looks like Potato is coming forward to confide in us, the readers, about those worries. What a connection to the story!
Debbie was actually kind enough to share a couple of spreads from the book for you to share with your readers. Enjoy!
Thanks, Debbie (and Michael)! And thanks, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers!
I'M WORRIED will publish in June of 2019 from Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.