When I first saw a very, very early version of Adrian Simcox Does NOT Have a Horse, I fell in love with the book. It is such a beautiful book. Today, I welcome Marcy Campbell and Corrine Luyken to Kid Lit Frenzy. Thank you Marcy and Corrine for sharing about your collaboration for this book specifically, what was the hardest concept to get across in both text and art.
Corinna: When I first read Marcy’s manuscript, I loved the story’s themes of compassion and empathy and appreciated how the book addressed class in an indirect but honest way. I also loved that it had no art notes! Because Marcy never dictated whether the horse should be shown, she left a great deal of room for me to imagine my own way into the story.
Early on, I thought that if I was going to show the horse, it could be hidden in the environment around Adrian. Marcy’s original text said the horse was “golden with a white mane,” and I tried using a porch light to be the horse’s eye and the peeling paint on the side of his house to make a horse silhouette. But once I started drawing golden grasses and fences, I realized that I could use negative space and patterns to make a horse! By using negative space, the horse could simultaneously exist and not exist, depending on how you looked at it. Which seemed perfect.
Marcy: Once Corinna decided to use negative space to create the horse, she asked whether the horse could be “white with a golden mane” instead, and I agreed. An imaginary horse could be any color at all, as far as I was concerned, and I loved Corinna’s idea!
There were other small tweaks to the text throughout, but I would say the trickiest spots to get right, in both text and illustration, were the first and last spreads. In the first spread, we felt that we needed to establish Adrian as a dreamer, but our original text and illustration left a bit too much room for interpretation. (It’s a lunch room scene, and Adrian is sitting by himself, but initially, it wasn’t clear why.) We altered the text and illustration to make quite clear that Adrian is lost in his imagination.
At the end of the book, our editor thought we might need another line to explicitly show Chloe’s change of heart. I liked the last line as it was and suggested we accomplish this goal via the art, with Chloe somehow creating an imaginary horse of her own. Corinna ran with that idea, and the end result is quite wonderful, with the two children joining together to create a horse out of negative space. The end papers are beautiful as well, two horses touching heads, symbolizing the “meeting of the minds” that has occurred over the course of the book.
BOOK DESCRIPTION: A classic in the making, this heartwarming story about empathy and imagination is one that families will treasure for years to come.
Adrian Simcox tells anyone who will listen that he has a horse--the best and most beautiful horse anywhere.
But Chloe does NOT believe him. Adrian Simcox lives in a tiny house. Where would he keep a horse? He has holes in his shoes. How would he pay for a horse?
The more Adrian talks about his horse, the angrier Chloe gets. But when she calls him out at school and even complains about him to her mom, Chloe doesn't get the vindication she craves. She gets something far more important.
Written with tenderness and poignancy and gorgeously illustrated, this book will show readers that kindness is always rewarding, understanding is sweeter than judgment, and friendship is the best gift one can give.
About the author: Marcy Campbell lives in Ohio with her family and menagerie of rescued pets. Her writing for adults has been published widely in journals and magazines, including Salon. She grew up on a farm filled with cows, chickens, cats, and dogs, but she never had a horse. Adrian Simcox Does NOT Have a Horse is her debut picture book. You can visit her at www.marcycampbell.com.
About the illustrator: Corinna Luyken grew up in different cities along the West Coast, and after studying at Middlebury College, she settled in Washington State, where she draws inspiration from nature, her family, and the human form. Her debut picture book, The Book of Mistakes, received four starred reviews and has been praised by Entertainment Weekly, The Wall Street Journal, Nerdy Book Club, and more.
Check out the other stops in the blog tour...
August 6 – Lost in Storyland – Personal Story + Q&A
August 7 – The Readathon – Review
August 8 – Happily Ever Elephants – Review
August 9 – Read. Learn. Repeat – Review
August 10 – Kid Lit Frenzy – Author & Illustrator Guest Post
August 13 – Here Wee Read – Review
August 14 – DoodleMom – Review + Interactive Moodboard
August 15 – Eastern Sunset Reads – Review
August 16 – Critter Lit – Interview
August 17 – Unleashing Readers – Dual Review + Teacher’s Tools for Navigation