Book Cover Process

I created the book cover for The Littlest Voyageur by Margi Preus. (Margaret Ferguson Books, Holiday House, March, 2020) This historical fiction middle grade chapter book is about a squirrel who travels with a group of men (voyageurs) traveling by canoe from Montreal, Canada to the trading post at Grand Portage.

When I first started planning the composition for the cover, I drew lots of thumbnails. These are tiny line and shape drawings. They are a great way to plan quick designs without spending a lot of time in the initial stage. And since book covers are often shown as thumbnails on handheld devices and on shopping sites, the image and title should read as a small image as well as a full book cover.

Next, I drew larger rough sketches. One of the struggles with this cover was how to highlight the main character, the squirrel, who also happens to be the smallest character. In addition, it was important to include the canoe and the men paddling. After drawing many versions and trying various angles, these were the five sketches I sent to Holiday House.

So which one did they pick? None of them! Well actually, it was a combination of two of them. They wanted #5 with the squirrel facing the viewer like in #3. Which makes so much sense, I’m not sure why I didn’t think of it! But that is why there are editors, art directors, and designers to give suggestions that can make it be the best cover it can possibly be.

After they approved the final sketch, I started painting. I liked the idea of having the red squirrel contrast against the light blue sky. So even though he is small, he would read as the most important character on the cover.

I hope you like it. Click on the title if you want to preorder a copy of the book, The Littlest Voyageur on Amazon or you can request that your local library acquire it for their collection and read it for free!

Published by Cheryl Pilgrim

I am a writer/illustrator. My debut author/illustrator book is Big and Little: A Story of Opposites. (Holiday House, 2019) My Illustrated books are The Littlest Voyageur by Margi Preus (Holiday House, 2010) and Hound Dawg by Patricia Vermillion (TCU Press).

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