3.21.2017

WE ARE THE DINOSAURS


WE ARE THE DINOSAURS by Laurie Berkner and illustrated by some guy called Ben Clanton is now in stores!

ABOUT THE BOOK:


Not familiar with the song? Or haven't seen the new music video for it? Check it out below!



I had oodles of fun illustrating this book! There are few things I enjoy drawing more than dinosaurs. Here are some of the first character drawings I made when brainstorming how the book would look:


Ernesto I think is my favorite. I like Ted a lot too but unfortunately Ted was cut from the book. I have the tendency despite my minimal style to want to introduce more characters in a book than what can reasonable fit in 32 or 40 pages (typical picture book length).


While I love to draw dinosaurs, illustrating this book proved to be a bit of a challenge (in a good way). I have illustrated other people's words before (the MAX books by Wiley Blevins and the Jasper John Dooley series by Caroline Anderson) but WE ARE THE DINOSAURS is a song that millions of people know and it has been around for 20 years now so there wasn't really a chance I could request changes to the wording to make it easier to illustrate. Also, the song doesn't have a clear story narrative. It involves lots of marching and romping and eating and sleeping and that sort of awesomeness, but the song lyrics are a bit light on plot. so it was up to me (and Laurie with the addition of the speech bubbles) to create one through the illustrations.

I wanted to stay true to the tone of the tune and what ended up coming to me was this group/troop of adventurous young dinos. I ended up pitching a number of different storylines to my editors at S&S and Laurie. We ended up going with one that centers around an expedition our young dino explorers make to check out a big mountain (which might just turn out to actually be a volcano). It was suggested that speech bubbles might help flesh out the story as well, which also meant the names I had made for the characters got to be in the book.

These are some of the first sketches I made for the book:




One of the other challenges I had when making this book was drawing more backgrounds than I typically do. Admittedly they are still very simple backgrounds!




And these are some of the final illustrations:



I think the illustration above of the dinos stomping and making the earth flat is my favorite in the book. I also particularly enjoyed painting the sunset images for the end of the book and also the endpapers (a map which changes at the end).

REVIEWS OF THE BOOK:

"Popular children’s musician Berkner (The Story of My Feelings) brings another of her songs to the picture book crowd with this vibrant adaptation. Berkner’s lyrics provide a rowdy framework for the story—“We are the dinosaurs,/ marching, marching./ We are the dinosaurs—/ whaddaya think of that?”—and Clanton’s (Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea) zippy cartoons create a parallel visual adventure that brings Berkner’s words to life.... Berkner’s fans and newcomers alike should find much to enjoy about in these boisterous, independent-minded dinosaurs’ adventure." (Publishers Weekly, January 2017)

"The lyrics to Berkner's 1997 dinosaur marching song are kitted out with a plotline, dialogue, additional sound effects, and big, very simply drawn prehistoric scenes...young audiences will have no trouble chiming in as they march about and roar in chorus." (Booklist, March 2017)

I will soon be illustrating another Laurie Berkner song! The next song happens to feature something I enjoy drawing even more than dinosaurs (yes, hard to believe) . . . monsters! Any Laurie Berkner fans know which song I'm talking about?

You can get the WE ARE THE DINOSAURS BOOK at your local bookstore or at one of these links:






PLUS, here are some coloring pages from scenes in the book:




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