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Finding the Illustrator for Daniel Boone’s Great Escape

In most cases when an author writes a picture book, they have very little contact with the illustrator. Some publishers actually prefer it this way, keeping the two roles completely separate and not allowing the different mediums to influence each other. In the case of my earlier picture books I’ve not had the pleasure to meet Ronald Himler, who illustrated The Legend of Blue Jacket or Roxie Munro who did such a wonderful job with the art for Texas Rangers: Legendary Lawmen.

In the case of Daniel Boone’s Great Escape, not only was I fortunate enough to meet illustrator Ard Hoyt, we have developed a very close friendship. Ard and I first met years before this collaboration at the Children’s Literature Festival in Warrensburg, Missouri. It was the first time at the festival for both of us, and being new and as I jokingly say, shunned by the other authors, we naturally gravitated toward each other. One night, while sitting around and shooting the breeze, we were talking about the influences on our work. Ard mentioned that he idolized Stephen Kellogg as an artist and Kellogg’s work was the reason he became an illustrator.

ard_hoytMy ears pricked up and I began to suspect that I had found a potential artist for my story about Boone. I’d always seen the story as a “Kellogg” type of tale and I casually mentioned the story to Ard and was delighted to find that he was a major history buff as well. I asked him, if I ever found a publisher for Daniel Boone’s Great Escape, would he be interested in illustrating it? Ard replied with an enthusiastic yes.

But you have to understand something: Ard is one of the finest, nicest, most talented and humble men you will ever meet. Emphasis on the nice. And at these conferences where writers are outnumbered by artists 10 to 1, every author has a picture book and is looking for an illustrator. Not knowing Ard as well then as I do now, I suspected he was just being polite and really had no interest in Boone, me or any of my projects.

So imagine my surprise when I returned home after the festival and a couple of days later Ard emailed me a very early Boone drawing. His email asked if this was what I was looking for. I was overjoyed.

BooneRenderingA few months later I sold Daniel Boone’s Great Escape to Walker & Company and suggested Ard as the artist. They were as thrilled to work with Ard as I was. Now the book is a reality but more importantly we have become fast friends. I couldn’t have written a better story if I tried.

Download the Reading Guide for Daniel Boone’s Great Escape

Read about Michael’s experiences in researching and writing Daniel Boone’s Great Escape on the KAHT Points of Interest blog.

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