Greg Ruth, illustrator of A Pirate’s Guide to First Grade, recently shared a piece of art that never made it into the book.
Don’t you love it? The thick brushstroke of blue, the off-kilter headlong forward whoosh of the whole thing. How can something that great not make it into a book? What else is in Greg’s garbage pail? Can you imagine having that much talent?
I should note that to their great credit, the folks at Feiwel & Friends expanded the book beyond the industry standard of 32 pages, going to the expense of a full 48 pages. Very rare, these days. I believe they reached this decision when Greg’s artwork came in, and sometime after they picked themselves up from the floor. When you look at Greg’s illustrations — his first true picture book for children — you can understand why they felt compelled to give him the scope and space his work deserved. Something special was happening.
I wonder if the sample above was an abandoned cover concept, since it conveys a similar energy to that of the final cover art (see masthead, up top). I’ll have to ask Greg about it. And if true, I can understand the wisdom of moving from 1950’s-styled wagon to a yellow school bus. (POSTSCRIPT: Greg confirmed that my speculations were correct.)
Here’s an early sketch that Greg also shared, another scene that didn’t make it into the book:
For more on deleted scenes from a writer’s perspective, here’s a few blasts from the past: