Millbrook Monday: An Illustrator’s Secrets

Admit it–we’ve all wondered about illustrators from time to time. What makes them tick? How do they turn a few words in a manuscript (and, if they’re lucky, some vague notes from an editor) into a fully-formed scene? How do they do justice to a book that’s both science-based and full of imaginative whimsy? What are their favorite ice cream flavors?

Alas, Millbrook editorial director Carol Hinz neglected to ask that last question when she interviewed T.S Spookytooth, illustrator of Bone by Bone: Comparing Animal Skeletons. But while his ice cream preferences remain a mystery, he does reveal plenty of tidbits about his work. 

With help from T.S Spookytooth’s wacky yet revealing illustrations, 
Bone by Bone shows how human skeletons are like—and unlike—those of other animals.

Q: How did you create the illustrations in Bone by Bone?
They were all painted in acrylics by hand–a hand with bones in it, I should point out. Then they were finished off with a computer, which had no bones, but thankfully it didn’t complain about this fact.

Q: What’s the most surprising thing you learned about animal bones while working on this book?
That a whale has a floating hip bone. It seems like it plays no real part in the overall skeletal structure, but no doubt it does!

Q: Do you have a favorite page in the book? Which one?
Yes, I am quite partial tothe one with [the picture of] all the children melting. It is gloriously icky and oozy, and it was real fun trying to visualize children minus their bones. Something everyone should attempt at least once.

Q: What animal was the most difficult to illustrate?

Probably the jellyfish, as there are so many weird and wonderful varieties and they have a wonderful glow-in-the-dark element to them, which was a challenge to visualize. I hope I achieved it.

To find out if the jellyfish illustration is up to snuff, check out Bone by Bone: Comparing Animal Skeletons on the Lerner website.