May 19, 2011

For immediate release! 

If you live in Chicago and want to attend an amazing book release, go to the Chase Auditorium this Sunday the 22nd of May at 1 pm. 

Anywhere at Once is a novel written by 106 2nd through 8th grade students, in 25 classes in 12 schools throughout the great city of Chicago. It's an epic story that recounts the fantastic adventures of Sam, Ophelia, and a certain learned lizard, Professor Stephen Scalious. And it was illustrated by Ms. Laura Park and myself.

Here is a larger version of the cover, and a short story of how Laura and I came to be involved:

I've been volunteering at 826chi for a few years now, and I would have to say it is one of my top three favorite things about the entire city of Chicago. Everyone there is amazing, and the kids who go there are often times brilliant beyond reason. 

About two months ago I was asked if I could illustrate a crazy story that was written by 106 second to eighth grade students. One long story, written by 106 students. Wow. They wanted me to do ten interior illustrations and the cover. The whole book was due in a little over a week. I said yes. How could I say no to something so bonkers?

I sat down the next day and started to read the massive 200-something page manuscript and quickly realized that there would be no logical way to illustrate the book with only ten images. Each student tilted the story on it's ear, and deserved to be showcased as much as the last. The book needed over a hundred illustrations. 

I met with the editor and told her. She agreed that it made more sense, but that it still needed to be done in the same amount of time. I pictured myself drawing that many images in a week, and I really thought I could do it. 

After the first day, finishing 17 drawings, I realized I never could do it. On top of that I was packing up my apartment, and leaving Chicago for the summer. Over 80 illustrations to go, and I had to pack up my place. I was in a panic. 

My downstairs neighbor called and asked how everything was going, and I told her I was in it thick, and couldn't even tell her what I talked myself into doing for 826. Somehow she got it out of me. I thought she was going to laugh, and tell me good luck. But to my good fortune my downstairs neighbor asked if she could help, and also to my good fortune my downstairs neighbor was the magical Laura Park

So together we sat down, and over two crazy days illustrated the whole book. 

It was one of those projects where you are so tired that you see stars, and the stars start to talk to you. 

But when it was over, not only were we happy to finish, but we were so excited that all of the students would have had a fitting image for their amazing part of the tale. We were also both really happy that we finally had finished a collaborative project before we both left living in the same building. It was a great farewell to 1216 Rockwell. 

If you are in Chicago and want to get the book, I highly recommend heading over to 826chi/the Boring Store. 

1331 North Milwaukee Avenue
Between Hermitage Avenue & Paulina Street
(773) 772-8108

If you live outside of Chicago you can order it here.

My daughter is one of the authors in this book. Great job on the illustrations and book cover! Thanks to you and Laura Park, each author had an illustration for their portion of the story. That's absolutely wonderful!

Nellie B.

Hey Nellie! I'm so glad you and your daughter like it. I can' wait to see the book in person.

Aaron Renier

Hey Aaron - sounds like a great project. Just ordered - can't wait to see how it turned out.


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