Sunday, June 16, 2019

THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY: Pencil's Perfect Picture by Jodi McKay (As Told by Jodi McKay)

“A playful tale for anyone who has ever wanted to create something ‘just right.’”

This quote from the jacket of PENCIL’S PERFECT PICTURE completely captures the essence of the book. It’s a fun story with creative characters, bright colors, and a touch of humor, but it also addresses a deeper topic of striving for perfection and the expectations we place on ourselves to be, act, create “perfectly”. The book didn’t start out that way though.

When I first sat down to write PENCIL, it was going to be a continuation of sorts from my first book, WHERE ARE THE WORDS? which ends with the characters asking for Pencil to draw them the perfect pictures for the story they just wrote. My editor at Albert Whitman & Co. liked the story and picked it up, but with a few changes that I think took it to the next level. She suggested that I have Pencil draw a picture for someone special, his dad. This added heart to the story and it became relatable to kids who often draw pictures for the special people in their lives.

Blending that emotion in to the story made me think about my son’s art and how his approach to drawing has evolved over the years. He used to be so carefree, drawing and presenting me with his latest creation that may have taken some explanation, but I loved nevertheless. Now, he erases more, scribbles out ideas, or hits the restart button repeatedly and I can’t imagine where he came up with his standard of perfection. Doesn’t he know that all of his artwork is perfect to me?

While I hope this book is entertaining and the character’s distinct personalities produce a few laughs, what I really want is for kids (and adults!) to know that what they do is enough, that art isn’t perfect, that there really isn’t anything that is perfect. I want them to create for the sake of creating and have fun using their imaginations without pressure or expectations.

Drawing, coloring, painting, sculpting, making is so beneficial for childhood development. For more information on why go to: The Importance of Art in Childhood Development
For fun craft or drawing ideas to do with your kids go to: Crafts For Kids

Photo credit: Riley W.

Bio: Jodi McKay lives in Michigan with her husband, son, and two furry friends. She is the PAL coordinator for SCBWI-MI, and is active in several online writing groups. She has two books published by Albert Whitman & Co., WHERE ARE THE WORDS? (2016) and the forthcoming picture book, PENCIL’S PERFECT PICTURE (May, 2019). Jodi is represented by Linda Epstein of Emerald City Literary Agency.
Want to chat with Jodi? You can find her here:
Instagram- jodimckay1


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  1. So nice to see you here, Natasha! I actually have a new blog that is more current :)