Author & Illustrator

Emmaline and the Bunny

In Ida B, I wrote about the childhood I wished I’d had. In the book, I gave Ida B everything good I could think of: an apple orchard with trees that talk, hills and fields, a babbling brook.

In real life, though, I didn’t grow up with any of those things. I grew up in a city, with a small yard and lots of concrete.

So after I finished Ida B, I thought to myself, What if I wrote a story about a kid who grew up like I did, without the woods and the meadow, the rabbits and all the wild creatures that surround me now?

Then I wrote a story about Emmaline, who lives in a very tidy town named Neatasapin. In Neatasapin, the grass has been covered with concrete, the children must never be messy, and all the wild animals have been sent away because they’re too untidy.

Emmaline wants a bunny, though, a wild one to hop and hang around with. The story is about how she finds her bunny, and how she transforms her town into a safe place for wild creatures and messy kids.

When I was done writing the story, I sent it to my editor, Steve Geck.

“Nice, Katherine,” he said. “Now we need pictures.”

But we couldn’t find an illustrator who could make pictures that were just right.

Then Steve Geck, who knows I have degrees in painting and art, said to me, “Katherine, why don’t you do the illustrations for Emmaline?”

Now, Steve Geck did not know that, since I was little, I had dreamed of illustrating a book. His offer was very flattering. It was very exciting. It was wonderful.

So I said, “No.”

I said “No” because illustration is a special kind of art, and I don’t have a degree in it. I said “No” because I had never illustrated a book before. I said “No” because I was afraid I would mess it up.

“Give it a try,” Steve Geck insisted. “I know you can do it.”

“I’ll try,” I told him.

I went to the library and got ten books, kids’ books that had photos in them, about rabbits. That night, I drew rabbits. The next day, I drew rabbits. All weekend, I drew rabbits.

And at first my drawings were really, really…..not so good.

They looked like this:

First Drawings

But I kept at it, and they got better. I tried all kinds of media, too: pencil, charcoal, pen, conte crayon, crayon, watercolor.



These are not bunnies, though. They are rabbits. I went back to work.



Finally, I drew Emmaline’s bunny, with a notch missing from its right ear.

Emmaline's Bunny

Emmaline’s bunny

With watercolors, I gave the bunny a brown coat and a white belly, dark eyes and a small smile.

Emmaline in color

Then I made Emmaline, her parents, the baby, the Old One, the hawk, and even Orson Oliphant. I was happy.

I sent the illustrations to Steve Geck. He was happy, too.

“Nice, Katherine,” he said.

He did not say, however, “I told you so.”

You can see all the illustrations for Emmaline, the bunny, the hawk, and Orson Oliphant flying away in Emmaline and the Bunny.