The other day I ran across DK The Ultimate Peter Rabbit: A Visual Guide to the World of Beatrix Potter in the children's section of the library. My daughter really liked the Peter Rabbit story and I picked it up thinking it might be something we'd look at together.
Most of the DK books are great and this one is no exception. I've read about 30 pages and I'm fascinated by her life already. It makes me want to live in a farmhouse surrounded by animals. Here's a few highlights that I jotted down today:
Peter Rabbit began as letters written to her friend's son to cheer him up. "My Dear Noel, I don't know what to write to you, so I shall tell you a story about four little rabbits whose names were -- Flopsy, Mospy, Cottontail, and Peter."
After selling a few of her drawings, Potter decided to borrow the letters back from Noel and make a book with 41 illustrations. She had 250 copies printed in time for Christmas of 1901. [She self published before self publishing was cool!]
The following year, a publisher became interested in her book. There's a couple things I loved about this story. First that she wrote the publisher to warn them that her dad might be coming along to inspect her contract: "I think it is better to mention beforehand that he is sometimes a little difficult; I can of course do what I like about the book being 36." And second, that Potter not only wrote and illustrated the book but also was involved in the cover design, typeface, paper, and size of the book. She wanted her books to be small, "to fit children's hands, not to impress grown-ups."
I didn't intend to choose an artist to study this month but artists keep finding me anyway. Maybe you've noticed I kinda like to draw animals. I never have before, that's an interest that has come up for me this year. As I continue to work on building a story into my drawings I think Beatrix Potter is great role model.