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From the Sketchbook:
Connie McLennan

This CBC series features illustrators sharing their creative process and providing a gossamer of context for their art. Our featured artist is Connie McLennan, who has illustrated 14 picture books, including The Forest in the Trees, the first picture book she’s written.

“I considered this book off-and-on for 13 years before writing and submitting a manuscript in August 2018. The publisher fast-tracked it for release in September of 2019 and asked for cover art ASAP—a challenge with interior images not yet begun. I decided to show the animals that might appeal most to children.”

“After weeks of research for the writing, illustrations developed more easily than I expected, beginning with roughs that were somewhere between thumbnails and preliminary sketches. Some went through several iterations, but other than refining the details, many layouts remained largely as I first imagined them. Goals included varying the point of view and allowing plenty of space for several translations of the cumulative text, which becomes longer on each spread, and the publisher’s e-book format.”

“Simple words and illustrations are inadequate to convey the hushed, primeval, other-worldly quality that inspired Stephen Spielberg and George Lucas to shoot scenes for E.T., Star Wars, and Jurassic Park in the coast redwood forest. Only 10% of Americans have seen an ancient redwood up close, and more people have climbed Mt. Everest than ascended into the canopy. At best, I hoped to give children a glimpse of its unexpected wonders.”


Connie McLennan

A Northern California native, McLennan majored in journalism, studied illustration at San Francisco’s Academy of Art, and spent years as a freelance advertising illustrator before venturing into children’s publishing. She illustrated for Highlights and Scholastic magazines and various textbook publishers, illustrated 13 picture books, sold over 100 oil paintings, and then became a paralegal before returning to children’s books.  More of Connie McLennan’s breathtaking artwork can be found in The Forest in the Trees

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