John Himmelman's Stories' Stories
by Julia Hoban
Pictures by John Himmelman
Possibly another fencepost? Sometimes it takes a while to get the character down. Not so here. Just a few pages into the manuscript, I knew this cat. I sent a sketch to my editor, Sally Doherty, and I believe she happily agreed.
Buzby's polite and sweet as can be, but not so good at getting the job done. He ends up working in a hotel, where his clumsy failures mount. What I liked about him was his unflappable eagerness to please.
I was familiar with Lillian Hoban's (Julia's mother) work, having worked in the children's book section of at the Commack Public Library in NY. Her "Frances" books were very popular. I believe this is an early one for Julia. As was typical of a lot of children's book collaborations, we never met, nor spoke with one another. Although I believe a letter or two may have been sent.
I generally shy away from drawing buildings, let along a block-full of them, but I was pleased with how the picture on the left came out. If you look in the bus windows, you'll see a little duck. I like drawing ducks - there's an comical over-seriousness to them.
I also enjoyed putting Buzby in various costumes. I tried to show him wearing them with pride.
A lot going on in this picture. Do you know what the biggest challenge was? Coming up with the paintings on the walls. That always takes quite a bit more thought than one may think in looking at them. It has to fit in their world, but, unless it's a photo, should look like what a painting would look like in their world, so the style would be a little different from how the characters and background are drawn.
Again, he looks proud to be in his uniform, as he should! The sequel Buzby to the Rescue will follow in a few years.
Oh, and one more thing! Look at Buzby right there in this 3-book collection (with CD) sandwiched between 2 shining stars of children's literature! I mentioned Lillian Hoban earlier. Arnold Lobel's Frog and Toad books are what inspired me to illustrate children's books. Having Buzby join them in the collection brings me a whole heap of happiness!
Dedication (from Julia - I didn't get one):
For Benjamin Bunny-bun