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Our Beloved Children’s Book Publisher Schwartz and Wade Turns 5!

June 22, 2011

You may have noticed something different here at Random Acts of Reading  this week, some of our favorite characters have taken over our header, to help us celebrate Five Years of Schwartz and Wade Books, the magnificent collaboration between Anne Schwartz and Lee Wade and all of their marvelous authors and illustrators. Join us in paying tribute to them, and get a glimpse into how they make the magic happen! Here they are:

Yes, we are celebrating our fifth anniversary of publishing books at Random House, and while it’s been a challenge, as well as a ton of work, it’s also been fascinating and exciting and challenging and just plain fun.  We’re older and our brains are a little less nimble, but hopefully we’re also wiser. The time has flown.

 We thought it might be interesting to let you in on how we make books here, and so we’ve collected lots of visuals, along with anecdotes that will hopefully give you a peek into the process of making books at Schwartz & Wade. 



Who says writing and editing a picture book is a breeze?  Here are a couple of pages with suggestions from an early draft of ELIZABETH, QUEEN OF THE SEAS, due out in Fall 2012.  It’s written by the acclaimed, bestselling adult nonfiction writer, Lynne Cox (her  newest book is coming this Fall) and illustrated by the equally incredible Brian Floca:

FROM SKETCH TO FINAL BOOK—it’s a long and winding road.

Here are some very early sketches for HOW ROCKET LEARNED TO READ by Tad Hills, along with some of our comments, both editorial and design:


And here are how the finals turned out:

And here are some sketches from Tad’s DUCK & GOOSE. When we saw his character drawings, we asked Tad if he’d mind making our feathered friends younger:

And here is the final artwork from Tad:

It’s interesting to see Nancy Carpenter’s early images for 11 EXPERIMENTS THAT FAILED, written by Jenny Offill, because it gives us a window into her process. Nancy draws the pictures on paper, then scans those into her computer and adds collage elements to create the finals.  She keeps it all very rough up until the last step:

And here are some finals from Nancy:

We love this pencil sketch done on tracing paper and taped to a board by Sue Heap for HOW TO GET A JOB, BY ME THE BOSS, written by Sally Lloyd Jones.  Sally and Sue are old friends, and have collaborated on three books in this series:

Here’s the finish:

Check out these sketches from John Hendrix…and his breathtaking finished images for A BOY CALLED DICKENS, written by Deborah Hopkinson. John used graphite in the images to make the city look particularly gritty. It was a new technique for him.

How cute are Brian Karas’s sketches for CLEVER JACK TAKES THE CAKE, written by Candy Fleming?!  And see how it all evolved from a series of spots to a double-page spread in the final?:

Here’s a sketch by Leo and Diane Dillon for Pat McKissack’s moving storybook, NEVER FORGOTTEN.  The Dillons like to create very tight sketches, so that there are no surprises for any of us when the finished art is done.

And here’s the final art—pretty similar, right?

Sometimes (okay, not very often) an illustrator—in this case, Red Nose Studios—builds his illustration, and then photographs it.  Meet the McTiver sisters from HERE COMES THE GARBAGE BARGE; we like to think of them as Schwartz & Wade.

Alma “Anne Schwartz” McTiver

Ida “Lee Wade” McTiver

And here’s how they look in the final illustration:


There are always nice surprises when finished art comes into our office.  In NEVILLE by Norton Juster, illustrator G. Brian Karas’s use of color was a revelation to us: As the story of a new-kid-in-town unfolds, the boy’s loneliness disappears and friendships are made; to reflect this, Brian changed his monochromatic palette to a much brighter one over the course of the story.


It’s always fun to use a different image on the paper-over-board cover, under the book’s jacket.  Check out what we did for Candy Fleming’s THE GREAT AND ONLY BARNUM:

Here is the front jacket:                                    


This is the front cover that you only see if you take the jacket off of the book:

And when we received the jacket image from Sophie Blackall for April Stevens’s EDWIN SPEAKS UP, about a baby whose seemingly meaningless babble is actually very revealing, we decided it would be fun to play that up….

Here is the front jacket:                                     

This is the front cover that you only see if you take the jacket off of the book:

When Jeanette Winter sends us a new idea, along with the manuscript she includes a tiny 5” x 5” dummy. Not much changes from this dummy to the final book, except for the jacket. Here’s the one she made for KALI’S SONG along with the final jacket, due out in Spring 2012.

Finally, here is a sneak peek at a collaborative piece of artwork created by Giselle Potter, Kevin Hawkes, Tad Hills, Sue Heap, G. Brian Karas, LeUyen Pham, Nancy Carpenter, Karen Katz and Paul O. Zelinsky in honor of our 5th year anniversary.  We are so happy with it.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. June 22, 2011 8:13 am

    Oh my gosh, I love all those sketches!

  2. June 22, 2011 10:47 am

    Thank you for letting us see inside your world of book-making. Your books are beautiful.

  3. June 22, 2011 7:07 pm

    This is awesome!

  4. Vegas Demilo permalink
    November 23, 2011 1:07 am

    This was wonderful to see!
    Thank you for sharing! 😀


  1. We Share Our Favorite Schwartz & Wade Books « Random Acts of Reading

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