In progress: Illustrations for The Story of a Piece of Paper

Apropos of nothing, here are some of the illustrations I’ve been drawing for a children’s book called The Story of a Piece of Paper.

Story of a Piece of Paper, page 3

As you can see, this story has a paper rabbit in it. So I’ve gotten quite good at rabbits. Here’s another one.

The Story of a Piece of Paper, page 4

The reason I’m drawing these right now instead of, say, finishing the Sprawl mosaic, is that our kids’ birthdays are coming up in just over a month. And this is a story we made up together.

Our older daughter Katya, who is almost five, asked me a few months ago to make up a story about a piece of paper. Yes, that was her chosen theme: “Mommy, can you tell me a new story? Make one up yourself. What about? Oh, just a piece of paper.”

So I made up a story on the spot – with the girls’ help, of course – and they were quite pleased with it. So pleased, in fact, that they kept requesting that same story again and again. I personally didn’t think the story was all that great. But clearly I have a poor grasp on what literature appeals to children.

Since then, I have had to make up several different stories about a piece of paper. Variations on the theme of a piece of paper are now our family storytelling tradition. If we decide to get a family crest one day, we will have to put a piece of paper on the escutcheon. A4 rampant.

Or, more likely, the girls will abandon their fascination with this practice in a few months, losing interest as thoroughly as only a five- and a three- year old can.

But I still want to give them a birthday present of an actual physical illustrated copy of the first Story of a Piece of Paper we made up together. I want to see the look in Katya’s eyes when she realizes that characters from her imagination can be made into a real book. I hope that understanding she can create something new in the world that hadn’t been there before would be empowering and encourage her to keep trying her hand at creating things.

The only way I know of printing a one-off copy of a book is to use a photo-book printing service (Blurb is one I really like, and I’ve also used Mpix before) and they all have a 20-page minimum because of the way the soft pages are bound together. The Story of a Piece of Paper can’t be stretched to fill 20 pages. For this reason, and also because a sturdier book is likely to survive longer – even though our kids are no longer babies – I decided to print this as a board book.

After searching for board book printing services – there doesn’t seem to be too many of these – I’m going with Pint Size Productions for this project. They only have one size option (5.6″ x 5.6″) and an invariable number of pages, but these restrictions are fine for what I need. I also found a company that sells blank board books with printable adhesive pages, which is much cheaper but as we don’t have a really great printer, I won’t go this route for now.

Pint Size Productions states their turnaround time is 4-6 weeks, so I better go finish illustrating these spreads, because I’m starting to cut it kind of close. I’m not really worried though, I totally got this.

I got this one

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