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This week was the release of my new book, HOGG, HOGG, & HOG. Creating those three pigs and working on this book was so much fun. I’m very thankful to my editor David Gale, at Simon and Schuster, for giving me the opportunity to illustrate one of my own manuscripts.

Of course, like every story, there is always a backstory of how it all came to be.  (If you want some giggles on the ‘hows’, just take a look at my ‘Inspirations’ for some of my other books.) As I mentioned in my previous post, these Big City Swine actually started out as ducks. OINK was QUACK. However, while my editor loved the story and loved the art, he asked if I could change the ducks to another animal. (Oh, duck.) Yeah. It happens. But, you know what they say … sometimes, change is good.  The thing was … nothing sounded quite as funny as QUACK, which I felt was essential to the book’s read-aloud humor. I tried ‘humanizing’ a couple of chickens, then cats, dogs, but none really worked as well as those bald duck heads. (I really loved those ducks.) Then my husband said …OINK! Yup. Pigs were definitely it! (And, I do have a history with pigs too.) Here are some of the original duck sketches: (The ducks on the ends, were great inspiration to Duck who appears in HHH.)

While each of the ducks had a specific ‘look,’ the pigs really allowed me to develop more distinct and individual personalities for the three characters. This was especially true of ‘Hog’, who gobbles his way through the book eating one fast food goodie after another, and also wearing it on his chinny-chin-chin.

The ducks’ office digs of grays, blues and bright yellows changed to the pig palette of  purples and browns.  (Mud, maybe?) I thank my art director, Lucy Cummins for suggesting I try a darker palette. I did loads of color sketches with the pigs being pink, but unfortunately, that did not work AT ALL!  What-to-do-what-to-do? … Didn’t know. I did know the pigs were the right substitute for the ducks, but how to get them to work as well visually? I had no clue! Then, my good friend — the fabulously talented and clever, Diane Goode, suggested – why not treat the pigs just as I had been doing with the ducks: Keep them white and define them with a variety of pinks, which was totally the answer. The pigs ‘popped’ on their new palette, in fact, they popped right out of the page. Super advice. A huge thanks to Diane for sharing her insight with a pic book illustration novice.

Interested in a bit more ‘backstory’ on these pigs and the concept? Here’s an interview I did discussing the beginnings of HOGG, HOGG, & HOG.

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I was looking at Bedhead the other day and realized that it was 10 years ago when my story of the ultimate bad hair day first hit the bookshelves. That’s 70 in dog years! It’s hard to believe that so much time has passed but it sure has. And although more than 520 weeks have passed I can’t help but laugh every time I look at Jack E. Davis’ wonderful illustrations. He did such a great job of capturing Oliver’s fear and frustration in taming his mane. All that wild and curly hair really fills the pages with red and orange mayhem. Thanks Jack!

Looking at the pages of Bedhead also got me thinking about my inspiration for the book. Namely my son Jamie. He’s got the classic bedhead syndrome. Yep, he’s a ‘sweathead’. Sweats through his head when he sleeps. It’s the perfect scenario for daily bedheads in all shapes and sizes. One day it was a bunch of scrunchy knots. Next day, a spiky rain forest. Another time, a swirly brown tornado. Another day another bedhead. Literary inspiration was always just a morning away. Full disclosure: I get my share of bedheads too! Mine are of the ‘bird’s nest with wild crooked spikes’ variety. So, I guess you could say the condition is hereditary. Sorry, Jamie!

And then when I tried to think about how my mind works (there’s a scary thought) coming up with all my stories and characters I thought I’d use math to explain it (an even scarier thought). Result: Inspiration Equation! You can see the one for Bedhead at margiepalatini.com.

And for taming those bedheads don’t for get Bedhead hair products. (Shameless advertising plug for Oliver’s consumer doppelganger!) I’ve tried it and it works great. (Shameless testimonial!)

I’ve also had lots of laughs seeing how fans of Bedhead like to take bad hair days to the extreme. So many schools have had “Bedhead Days” when I’ve come to visit that I’ve just about lost count of all the original ways kids have found to create crazy coiffures (love that alliteration!).

So I said to myself, “Margie.”

I say that to myself often.

I said, “Margie you should do something special for Bedhead’s 10th birthday.”

So who am I to argue with myself! A great idea is a great idea!

That’s why I’m having a contest in honor of Oliver and all the artistic, literary lovin’ bedheads everywhere, just go to my fan page at http://tinyurl.com/289hfsu for all the details. Grand prize includes a Skype Video School Visit!

Let the drawing (and lots more bedheads) begin!

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I can’t believe I haven’t posted since whenever I last posted! (Uh, okay.  Yes I do.) Well, you know … what can I say? Summer. Things to do. Having fun. Playing golf – which is sort of having fun. Working on new projects, etc. etc. blah blah blah.  But, now it’s back to the blog – (which I’m so not good at), but did want to share and celebrate the 15th birthday (cannot even believe it has been fifteen years!!) of my very first picture book, PIGGIE PIE! Yup.  This is the year.  This is the month.  Most gratefully, Gritch is still going strong – thanks to all the fans of those clever piggies.

Some of you may know the ‘story behind the story’ of Piggie Pie, since I’ve told it at several conferences and such, but for those who don’t, the true story is that Piggie Pie baked in an attic for fifteen years before it was published.  (Hmm,  so, actually, Piggie Pie! is really thirty years old – which, you’re right — can’t be possible since I’m only 35 myself.)

I hear chuckles.  (Don’t you know it’s not nice to laugh at an old lady?)

Okay.  I’m not 35, but the manuscript did sit boxed away in my attic for fifteen years, mainly due to the fact the rejection letters said it was “… not funny…”  “… kids won’t get it …”   “… it’s way too sophisticated …”  “… you shouldn’t write picture books …”

(Gee.  Sounds like what I just heard two weeks ago.)

Due to my serious lack of organizational skills, (i.e. never knowing where I put anything), I never did find whatever it was I was looking for in the attic those many years ago, but I did find the manuscript for Piggie Pie.

Was it fate?  Was it destiny?  Was it just dumb luck?  (Oops. Sorry. Those are lines from Moosetache.)

I went downstairs and read Piggie Pie to my then three year old, who thought it was pretty darn funny. You know, when you’ve gone through childbirth, nothing can really intimidate you anymore — not even the prospect of an editor’s rejection — so I decided to try again and see if there was a publisher that had a taste for Piggie Pie.

Illustrator Howard Fine was a friend, and I asked him if he wanted to collaborate on a picture book. (At the time we didn’t have a clue that was a ‘no-no’.)  Like innocents Judy and Mickey putting on a play, we said, “Let’s make a dummy!”  Howard had the opportunity of an interview with the art director at Clarion, who saw it, loved it, shared it with Editorial, and that’s how it all started.  We were flabbergasted and verklempt when it got such great starred reviews and won so many awards.

Here are some of Howard’s original black and white sketches from the dummy.  Many of the original sketches remained unchanged in finished art, but as so often happens in the process of a book becoming a book, there were several spreads where the illustrations and text changed totally.  Gritch originally wore glasses, Old MacDonald was not disguised piggies, and Howard had not yet imagined Wolf’s ‘Gritchburger’.  It was our editor’s brilliant idea for the non-text spread where the piggies disguise themselves in the barn, one of my favorites.

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Hilda Mae Heifer and friends made their musical stage debut in the “Books Alive” production of BOO HOO MOO.  The spring ‘tour’ brought the presentation to Houston area schools.  How fun to have one of my books come to life on the stage!

My friends, Kate Feiffer and Diane Goode have their own theatrical debut of MY MOM IS TRYING TO RUIN MY LIFE with the Vineyard Players.  If you’re in Martha’s Vineyard (lucky you), catch the performances which are running through June 19.  I hear it’s great fun! 

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My friend, Katie Davis always has some great content to chew — and burp.

Check out her Brain Burps!

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The Yankton Public Library in Yankton, South Dakota kicked off their summer reading program with ‘NO BITING, LOUISE!’ and some real LIVE alligators!

That’s ‘Chomper’ getting petted by a young reader with help from his mom.

‘Louise’ likes it!

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I’m excited to learn that LOUSY ROTTEN STINKIN’ GRAPES has been nominated for Vermont’s Red Clover Award and Maine’s Chickadee Award. Thanks readers in Vermont and Maine!

Barry Moser’s illustrations are fabulous!

(I love Bear.)

Plan "DELTA"

More "planning"

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