While looking at my grand-daughter's books with her it occurred to me that here, at three years old, she can identify images which bear little resemblance to the actual creatures portrayed: whale, giraffe, ostrich, etc. At the zoo she recognizes the elephant, tiger, giraffe, etc. Why, I wondered, do children's books have such simplified renderings of animals? She may not be able to read the names, but she knows a giraffe is a giraffe. Her father is an avid birder and can barely wait to take her birding, so why not an alphabet book with realistic pictures of birds? Thus, "The A to Z Book of Birds: An ABC for Young Bird Lovers"-she will know her birds before she knows her alphabet. I'm sure my grand-daughter is not the only three-year-old genius out there. This book is designed to be useful from age three to well beyond learning the alphabet, when the text, informative and entertaining, will continue to teach and the paintings a guide to identification in the field.
Starting with the necessity of needing to find the birds to fit from a to z then painting the birds I researched as I went along and started writing the text for individual birds while still painting. I had an idea for the cover and sketched it out before finding the references to paint. The design and layout of the book was fairly routine once the format was established even though each page required it's own particular arrangement. This method was carried over for, 'The A to Z of weeds and other useful plants" the next book in the series and both followed the, picture on left hand page facing associated text on the right hand page, a pretty standard format I had used first with, "Magic Faces, Caras Magicas" a collection of my Mexican mask paintings. Researching and writing my fiction is much the same in respect to how one digests the information gathered and the creative process of making the expression of the knowledge gained one's own.
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