Cover Art by Greg Ruth for “A Pirate’s Guide to First Grade”

One of the ruling ideas behind this blog is to document the working life of a writer. I try to skip the boring parts, of which there are many. But one thing that is never dull is when I first glimpse finished art for a book. About four years after I completed the manuscript for A Pirate’s Guide to First Grade (Feiwel & Friends, Fall, 2010), along comes the final cover art by the astonishingly talented, Greg Ruth. Obviously, art director Rich Deas hasn’t done his part of it yet, settling on a typeface and other design elements. So let me get this out of the way right now: Rich, my name should be bigger! I’m thinking GIANT TYPE, maybe orange neon, maybe with those sparkly bits they used on The Rainbow Fish. Definitely embossed. And, um, can there be fireworks included? Like instead of the letter “L,” there’d be actual bottle rockets? Which kids can light off. I’m just brainstorming here, typing out loud.

That said, take a gander at this:

I wrote the story right around the time Pirates were “hot,” and Jean Feiwel wasn’t sure if it could make it in the cluttered marketplace. She held onto it, and waited. I finally wrote to her and asked, “So . . . ?”

Jean decided to take it — after all, she liked it — and bide her time, determined to pair it with an illustrator who could do something fresh and original with it. She found Greg Ruth. And I was like, “Who?”

I looked up some of Greg’s work, here and here and, amazingly, here, and was blown away. Lucky me, lucky book. Impressively, Jean and Liz decided to let Greg stretch out his illustrations across 48 pages, rather than the traditional 32. Here’s another piece of finished art that will appear in our book, when — “Arrrr!” — the pirate-obsessed boy wakes up for the first day of school. Note: Be sure to click on the art to see it in full glorious detail.


Shiver me timbers, what a slobberin’ moist mornin’!

Me great scurvy dog slurped me kisser

when I was tryin’ t’ get me winks!

To read an interview with Greg, click here. And don’t miss Greg’s new book, Our Enduring Spirit (HarperCollins, Fall, 2009), where he illustrates President Obama’s inaugural address.

One comment

  1. Bill says:

    Can’t wait to see it, the kids love pirate stories in THE PIT and it gives me a chance to talk like a pirate which I enjoy!

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