670 – Spiderwick Chronicles

Spiderwick Chronicles

Her whole body began to tremble,
interior illustration from The Spiderwick Chronicles: Lucinda’s Secret,
Ink and watercolor on Bristol board
Collection of the artist

One of my big philosophies in making books for children is "Backwards to go forwards." I always look backwards to the things that I loved as a kid, to the stories that were told before I was even alive, and think about what I can learn from those books and stories, to create new stories for children, today.

I loved old fairy tales. Not just the stories within them, but the way the book felt in my hand, the way the pictures looked when they were laying next to the text. Spiderwick is in someways a celebration of turn-of-the-century fairy tales and books drawn by the likes of Arthur Rackham or Edmund Dulac or even Henry Justice Ford, who illustrated all of Andrew Lang’s books.

Looking at all those books, I was so inspired to try to recapture some of that magic that I felt had endured over a century. That said, The Spiderwick Chronicles were primarily illustrated in crow quill, dip pens and watercolor. Very traditional mediums meant to evoke a bygone era of children’s publishing. The twist being, of course, these were modern day kids dealing with fairies and trolls and goblins.