640 – Kenny and the Dragon

Kenny And The Dragon

Dustjacket for Kenny & the Dragon,
Colored pencil and acryla gouache on Bristol board
Collection of the artist

When the Spiderwick Chronicles were doing phenomenally well, I was given this amazing opportunity to illustrate classics. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, etc. I thought back on some of the classics that I loved reading as a kid and one that came to mind was The Reluctant Dragon by Kenneth Graham and I loved that story. It’s such a great little story and I loved the themes in it. I loved the idea of a misunderstood monster. That’s something I can absolutely relate to as a kid and sometimes still to this day.

I was off and running trying to figure out ways to retell the story. I thought about perhaps retelling it in the 1940s or the 1950s, and it wasn’t until my manager, Ellen Goldsmith-Vein suggested that I think about Kenneth Graham’s other classic book, The Wind in the Willows and figure out a way to combine the two. That was such an amazing lightbulb moment. I’m very thankful for her for coming up for that idea, but basically the idea of woodland creatures who now have a fantastic creature living among them was an amazing concept and idea. Once I had that, off I went.