this point in the story, the butterflies who have so gently landed on
young John Farrington, begin to speak to him. A thousand voices
are asking him where their "green place" is. They're
asking for help.
one is probably my favorite. Whenever I read a manuscript for the
first time, there is usually one passage where an image immediately pops
into my head, and comes through the book making process unchanged.
For this book, this was that painting. I knew it was a going to be
a little scarier than most children's book illustrations, but I was ready
to fight for it's inclusion. I really wanted the reader to feel a
little apprehension to mirror the emotional state of John himself at
this point in the story. After showing the dummy to my editor,
Michael Stearns, and explaining the sketch to him, I waited for him to
reject it and instead he said he loved it, because he wanted the
book to be a little edgier in places. The only thing that
surprised him was when I told him it was going to be all blues and
violets. He hesitated for a moment---he had imagined reds and
oranges---and then he trusted me to do it the way I saw it.
this was probably the longest painting in the book. It just takes forever
to paint that many butterflies. After finishing this one, I worked
on two paintings where there were hardly any in the picture because I
was so sick of painting them.