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Middle-Grade Chapter Book Illustrations

Darien and the Lost Paints of Telinoria
By Jeanna Kunce, art by Craig Kunce

My wife and I collaborated on this middle grade chapter book. She wrote it while I designed and illustrated the cover, plus thirty black-and-white illustrations for the inside text pages. We self-published this hardcover book and were delighted when our distributor sold it into Barnes & Noble stores. B&N bought the book based on the cover illustration and after reading only the first chapter. It was released nationwide with in-store placement.

We chose to focus the text illustrations on what the main character was doing in addition to other minor, yet interesting, parts of the story. We thought this would connect the reader to the smaller details of the story, as well as help move the younger readers along through the text. I pitched my wife on the concept of either zooming in closely or panning out to a distant silhouette for the text drawings. I thought it would allow the reader to create their own interpretation of parts of the story—further connecting them to the story line. For example, there is purposely no detailed drawing of any living dragon. We showed a chained talon, a scarred eye, an attacking silhouette, a diving dragon, and a close up of a scale—but no complete dragon.

 

Reviews

First-time author Jeanna Kunce creates a thoughtfully developed universe with medieval and fantastical elements . . . . Craig Kunce’s delicately etched b&w illustrations help add to the magic of a fantasy starring a heroine empowered to do the right thing. —Publishers Weekly

With obvious nods to Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and C. S. Lewis’s “The Chronicles of Narnia,” this slim volume is a quick read and suspenseful start to a fantasy series. Readers may appreciate Darien’s workaholic and preoccupied parents. They may also relate to underlying themes of racism and bullying. Black-and-white illustrations interspersed throughout help move the story along. A strong debut with a confident female protagonist. —School Library Journal