The eagerly anticipated sequel to Celia and the Fairies
When nine-year-old Paul explores the hole dug for his backyard swimming pool, he discovers a box containing a ring--a ring that turns out to be magical. Moments later, a mysterious boy shows up demanding the ring; luckily, Paul's trusty dog, Clem, scares him away. To keep the ring safe, Paul hides it in his pillow case, where, to his horror, it's discovered by his mother, who loans it to his Aunt Vicky. Things get even stranger when Vicky, a nonswimmer, falls into the now finished pool and discovers that her greatest secret wish has been granted--she can swim! As the ring gets passed around and wishes are made, a wild series of talents and circumstances threaten to turn their lives upside down forever. But Jasmine, a fairy of the woods, has an idea--and if everyone cooperates, she just might be able to put an end to the shenanigans and return their lives to normal. Wildly original and full of vibrant, chaotic imagination, Secrets of the Magic Ring
is proof of the old adage "Be careful what you wish for."
Karen McQuestion Interviews Illustrator Vincent Desjardins Karen McQuestion:
True confession--before I knew for sure that you'd be doing the artwork for my book, I secretly stalked your website and blog and was so impressed! The examples of your work show very diverse styles. How did you become so versatile?
Vincent Desjardins: I think in order to compete in today's competitive illustration market, an illustrator needs to be adaptable. But actually I think any versatility that I may have achieved is probably due to my career-long search for a style. I'd heard over and over again how important it is to develop a personal style and worried that my work was too all over the map.
I've been doing my work digitally for over 20 years, where it's much easier to explore and take risks. If you make a mistake you can "undo" it, and you can save multiple versions of the same image. There are so many different illustrators that have influenced me that I often find myself creating challenges to see if I can do something in their style.
KM: When my editor told me you were available to do the illustrations for Secrets of the Magic Ring, I was over-the-moon thrilled. How did you prepare for the project?
VD: First off, I read the manuscript straight through. Then I went back over it for a second pass and underlined all of the passages that I felt had visual potential. When your editor forwarded me one of your emails where you said you were a fan of N.M. Bodecker, the illustrator of Edward Eager's books, I checked out all of his books so I could study the illustrations. Bodecker has a wonderful style. He was especially good at using patterns and stylizing things like trees and plants.
KM: With publishers tightening their belts, fewer middle-grade books are now illustrated. What are your thoughts on this?
VD: Of course, this is something that directly affects my profession, so as an illustrator it makes me sad. As an avid reader of children's middle-grade fiction, it also saddens me, especially when I browse the books in our library's children's classics section and I see the beautiful pen-and-ink illustrations that filled so many of the books from the 1940s, '50s, and '60s.
I know that when I was a child, I would always go for the books that had pictures in them. When starting a book, I would look at all of the pictures first because then I found it fun to search for the accompanying text while I was reading. When I would get to the text that was being illustrated, I would always go back and forth between the picture and the text to see how the artist interpreted the author's words. I still do that.
KM: Do you draw from memory?
VD: Not entirely. I usually do a rough layout sketch of where I want the figures placed, and then I use various types of guides to help me flesh things out. For example, I will often search for images of plants and animals to use as drawing aids. Sometimes I will even search for things like women's hairstyles. For the dog, Clem, in Secrets of the Magic Ring, I looked at photographs of a breed of dog called an otterhound. For filling in simple background details--for example, the objects you might see in a laundry room--I usually just use my imagination and memory.
A Look Inside Secrets of the Magic Ring
Click on thumbnails for larger images
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|"Not so fast," Grammy said, entering the clearing. ||Celia and Paul sat in the shade of the Triple Trees eating a picnic lunch. ||So this is what it felt like to fly. ||The fairy girl, Jasmine, watched the party and puzzled over the turn of events. |