WAZDOT? Inspiration and book process

Having writers block? Want to get rid of it forever?  There’s a simple solution. Have a kid. Case in point my new book WAZDOT?  It was inspired by my daughter Lily.

This is Lily around the time I wrote WAZDOT?


Her first three words were DaDa, MaMa, and Wa-Dot?

translation: What’s that?
language: Baby babble.

At the time she was just beginning to make associations between words and objects. She would point at something and say, “Wa-Dot?”  I would tell her what she was pointing at then she would point at something else and say “Wa-Dot?”  It struck me what an amazing point in time it must be for her. It got me thinking about all of the discoveries she was making each day and how new and wonderfully strange it all must seem. Sort of like an alien exploring earth for the first time. *BLAZOINK* (that’s the sound my brain makes when inspiration strikes). She went down for her nap and by the time she woke up the first rough thumbnail sketches were done. It doesn’t look like much but at this point I just want to get the idea out of my head and onto paper.


These are samples from sketch dummy V.1 which was acquired by the fine folks at Disney/Hyperion.


This is the first color sketch of the main character Blip that was sent to publisher with the dummy V.1


With WAZDOT? I wanted to do something fun with object identification.  In the book there are three different views for each of the objects Blip discovers on his adventure, an obscured view, a silhouette of the object, and a full view of the object on the page turn. His curiosity leads him from one object to the next until ultimately he discovers where he has landed.

This is what it looks like in the book.

wazdot? sample 2

wazdot? sample

This book went through three different versions of the dummy before arriving at the version that the final illustrations would be based on.  WAZDOT? was  a collaboration with my amazing editor at Disney/Hyperion, Kevin Lewis. I learned tons about simplification from Kevin.  This was very important being that this book is intended for the smallest of small fries.  Everything needed to be distilled down to the most essential elements.

This is my favorite sketch from dummy V.2 that didn’t make it into dummy V.3.


When we got to dummy V.4 everything was working great and it was on to finals.

Here is a sketch from the approved dummy V.4


And here is the final. Not much changes at this point. If it did I would most likely get fired.


Yes, when you have a kid  you sign up for eighteen years of emotional turmoil, sleeplessness, and possible financial ruin.  All that is a small price to pay for the overwhelming joy, and the peace of mind you will gain knowing that you will never run out of ideas for picture books.

Head over to my WAZDOT? book page to  order a copy, read reviews , watch the trailer, or download fun activities to use in the classroom or at home.

This is Lily now.


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