Digging through some old papers recently I found my original sketch for the illustration that became–in more capable hands than mine–the frontispiece for The Charlatan’s Boy. I thought you might find it interesting. Here’s a scan of my drawing (you can click on any of the images below for a more detailed look, by the way):

Not bad for an amateur, I don’t think, but not good enough for our purposes. Though I have harbored hopes of illustrating my own books, the picture you see above is really as good as I can do. So I sent this drawing to Abe Goolsby (who also illustrated The Bark of the Bog Owl, though not the other Wilderking books), and within a few days, Abe had sent me this:

I told Abe it looked great, but could he make the boy uglier–maybe with longer hair in the back, in the hairstyle the young people call a “mullet”–and change the cat from a bobcat to a panther? He came back with this:

I told Abe, “Yow! That’s too ugly.” So he went back to the original ugly boy, put the whole thing on scratchboard, and gave us this frontispiece, which I am very, very proud of:

The moral of the story: leave the illustration to illustrators.

Bonus Illustration Tutorial: If any of you are aspiring children’s book illustrators, you absolutely have to know how to draw a penguin. Here’s a link to illustrator Oliver Jeffers’ tutorial, “How to draw…penguins.” The first step is “Borrow a penguin.” The advice gets more practical, but still funny.