Sunday, December 20, 2009

A FROG FOR CHRISTMAS?


Last year about this time, Border Press reviewed the text and illustrations for a children’s book entitled THE BEAST BEEZLEBUFO, which I had written and Benjamin Blanchard (I call him “Ben German”) of Lafayette, Louisiana had illustrated. For a year, a whole lot of dickering with a program that would accommodate the color illustrations and cover transpired, and, finally, a few days ago, the printer informed us that a proof will arrive next week. For Ben’s sake, I’m hoping it’ll be delivered by Tuesday, at the latest, because I think the first proof will make a great Christmas gift for both of us.

My collaborator Ben, a young man in his twenties who now lives in Sedona, Arizona, is a certified raw foodist. He spent a summer training for certification with Tree of Life in Patagonia, Arizona and worked with this organization after he graduated from his schooling. I’ve known Ben since he was a baby and have watched him go through various stages of drawing and painting, an interest in film, and, finally, raw food preparation, at which he still works. However, he also seems to have found his niche as a children’s book illustrator. For many years, Ben and I have shared a love of Peanuts and the antics of Charlie Brown, a passion that often inspires me to include Charlie in my sermons. Ben’s mother, Janet Faulk (author of ROAD HOME),has provided Charlie Brown books for Ben since he was a toddler and has nurtured his passion for drawing and cartooning.

We’re holding our breaths that the proof of THE BEAST BEEZLEBUFO will properly showcase Ben’s art in the final printing. The book is actually a poem that I wrote for my grandson, Joel, 6, who lives in arid southern California. Joel has a passion for reptiles, and I thought he’d be fascinated with the story of this giant prehistoric devil toad that was discovered in Africa over a year ago. Perhaps I’ll be able to show the proof to him at Christmas. THE BEAST BEEZLEBUFO is a short poem, and the story of its history and size inspired Ben to do some wonderfully-whimsical drawings for THE BEAST BEEZLEBUFO. Last year before Ben left for Arizona, we discussed details of the poem and illustrations that would go into the book over a cup of coffee at a Starbucks cafĂ© in Broussard, Louisiana. We spent three hours sparking each other’s imagination. I love working with a young artist who has esoteric tastes in art and literature. Ben’s now doing illustrations for a long poem about the moon that he wrote, a copy of which his mother shared with me a few days ago. It’s delightful!

The droll illustration shown above is a copy of one of the pages in THE BEAST BEEZLEBUFO. Our hope is that the book will be available at Amazon.com by the 15th of January. It will also be listed at borderpressbooks.com.
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