Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Giants at the Grocery by Fred Koehler

So my daughter and I unrolled a yarn as I was getting her to bed several months ago that went something like this: A pair of young giants are sent to the grocery store to buy sprinkles to finish their mother's cake. But things go quickly awry when the giants get there at the same time as a giggling little girl. Because young giants are particularly terrified of giggly little girls. And so they had to get that little girl to leave. By any ridiculous means imaginable.

As my daughter fell asleep, I thought about the concept. It was simple. It followed all of the rules of a successful picture book. It left an endless canvas for illustration. So I wrote it down. And then I spent the next two months working on the concept illustration.

I shifted how I wrote and drew based on feedback from the SCBWI conferences I've attended, with debts of gratitude owed to illustrators like Dan Santat, Janeen Mason, Loren Long, Paul Zelinsky, all my friends at Pixel Shavings, and editors like Katherine Jacobs and Stephanie Owens Lurie.

I worked tighter, pushed the perspective, paid attention to where the text would go and what would get lost in the gutter.

More interesting detail.

Better reference material, like this grocery storefront from the 1950's.

Particular focus on the page turn, drawing your eye to what happens next.

I'll take this concept to the next SCBWI conference, send out queries, and cross my fingers. And if that's where it ends, it's okay. We're each born with a billion ideas in our heads and a lifetime to explore them. More will certainly come.

Check back next week for something fabulous from Sheralyn Barnes.



  1. Thanks so much for sharing this, Fred! Especially love the perspective you've chosen.

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  3. This is such a wonderful piece Fred. I like the background story to the story.

  4. Great piece. I concur the perspective is wonderful. Thank you for sharing the story behind the work. I love reading stuff like that.

  5. Fred! I'm honored to be included in such august company! Thanks for the shout-out, and I'll look forward to seeing you in Orlando in June, right? You'll be in the Picture Book Intensive? Hope so!
    P.S. LOVE this story! What fun! - Janeen