We are so excited to announce the latest museum children's book project from The Children's Museum Guild! This year the Guild is working with author John Skewes to launch a new book—Larry Gets Lost at the Museum. Larry Gets Lost is a series that takes Larry, an adorable puppy, on adventures in cities and places around the US...and The Children's Museum is his next stop! This is the first guest blog post from author John Skewes as he takes his own journey in the creation of Larry Gets Lost at the Museum. Follow along as we get closer to the book's completion in late August!
It's said that you shouldn't judge a book by its cover. But a good cover is like a welcome mat in from of your house. If people don't like your cover they may never open your book to see what's inside it. The cover is very important and it's one of the first things a children's book author will do.
When the Children's Museum talked to me about doing Larry Gets Lost at the Museum I did a sample cover to help sell the idea of the book. We knew this wouldn't be the final cover but you have to start somewhere.
At this time I had never been to Indianapolis and I’d never seen the Museum (I live in Seattle). So I searched Google Images and found this photo.
This was the sample cover I did.
They told me this cover could use some work, but it was good enough for a start and they hired me to do the book. That's when the real research started.
I flew out to Indianapolis and took hundreds of photos of the museum. I had to photograph everything I could find at the museum because I was only in Indiana for a short while before going back home to write the book. When I was back home I would only have my photos for reference.
The most famous view of the museum is the dinosaurs breaking through the wall of the Dinosphere exhibit on the corner of Illinois Street and 30th Street. So that was good candidate for the cover image. I took lots of photos but there was a problem. Since it was Halloween the dinosaurs had witch hats on so I couldn't see exactly what their heads looked like. Stuff like this happens all the time. Sometimes I have to research a book in the winter when there are no leaves on the trees and add the leaves when I draw it. Back to Google Images.
But there was another problem. I had just finished another Larry book called Larry Gets Lost in Prehistoric Times. It was already done and headed to the printer, and it was going to come out at the very same time as Larry Gets Lost at the Museum. This is what that cover looked like.
It would be way too confusing to have two books with such similar covers come out at the same time, so I tried changing the colors to see if it helped. Also, the shapes weren't working well with the title. So I tried some more. And more.
It just didn't seem to be working and it still seemed like two dinosaur covers might be a problem. Fortunately there's another large icon at the museum that always catches your attention—Dale Chihuly’s Fireworks of Glass, the 43 foot glass tower in the middle of the museum.
And the minute I did it I knew this was the right cover. After securing Chihuly’s permission to use the image, we had ourselves a cover.
So that's the story of the outside of the book. Now all I need to do is fill all the pages inside the cover.