Erik Brooks

Erik Brooks has illustrated, as well as written, a number of books for children, including Polar Opposites and The Practically Perfect Pajamas. He, his wife and daughter, and their dog, Max, live in north central Washington State.


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Q & A

A conversation with Erik Brooks
 
What made you decide to illustrate this book?
 
The early frustrations and subsequent revelations of Jason, the main character, appealed to me right away. I loved his personality and the idea of illustrating his transformation. Honestly enough, I can really struggle with drawing people. However, I also love it when I succeed. Finding those subtle expressions and gestures that ultimately show a story is very satisfying. This book felt just right for that kind of experience because it is so much about Jason’s emotional roller coaster and his ultimate triumph.
 
What are the differences between illustrating a purely fictional book and a book like this, with both fictional and non-fictional elements?
 
In either case, I strive to show the reader something extra about the story: setting details, dramatic actions, character expressions, etc. This main objective doesn’t change. With pure fiction, there is a wonderful expanse. Anything seems possible (when exploring the story) and there is endless opportunity to create your vision. With fictional and non-fictional elements involved, there is just a bit more grounding. Part of the story is true, and thusly everything feels held to a definable standard. Two visions are required and the challenge lies in helping the reader distinguish fact from fiction. With this particular story, contrasting events took on added importance. Historic events were illustrated in subtly different textures from those of the modern day.
 
What is your illustration process like?
 
Quiet and contemplative: Silent, expansive chaos. But, the main characters are always a good place to start. Early sketches emerge right away in the margins of the manuscript, and on pages of my sketchbooks. I tape up numerous favorites on the wall above my drawing table and consider…then I start to pick apart my favorite scenes and do rough thumbnail drawings. Louder and industrious: A more frantic and inspired chaos ensues when I inevitably get sucked into a certain gesture or facial expression more than I should. True industry begins with the production stage for final artwork. I get totally enraptured in this phase, and time, ink, charcoal, and colored pencils truly fly!
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books
by the author

Who Has This Tail?

Laura Hulbert; illustrations by Erik Brooks
Henry Holt and Co.

Short and fuzzy, long and scaled: no matter their size and shape, tails aren't just hanging around—they’re useful! This fun, informative book invites readers...


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Book
Who Has These Feet?

Laura Hulbert; illustrations by Erik Brooks
Henry Holt and Co.

In a lively guessing game format, find out why the feet of tree frogs, and those of eight other animals, are perfectly adapted to their habitats. Illustrated...


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Book
Cat Diaries

Betsy Byars, Betsy Duffey, Laurie Myers; illustrations by Erik Brooks
Henry Holt and Co.

At the annual gathering of the MEOW society, cats of all kinds convene to share their stories and those of their ancestors. Chico, the smallest cat in the...


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Book eBook
Boo's Surprise
Boo's Dinosaur
Betsy Byars; illustrations by Erik Brooks
Henry Holt and Co.

“A dinosaur! A new dinosaur!” Boo shouted. “This dinosaur left me a big surprise.” Boo is excited to receive a giant egg—and to find out what’s inside! Her...


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Book eBook
Did Fleming Rescue Churchill?

James Cross Giblin; illustrations by Erik Brooks
Henry Holt and Co.

Jason is stuck with the most boring subject for a research paper— Alexander Fleming, the scientist who invented penicillin. Then he comes across the story...


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eBook
Dog Diaries

Betsy Byars, Betsy Duffey, Laurie Myers; illustrations by Erik Brooks
Henry Holt and Co.

What do dogs really think about their two-legged companions? It is the first annual meeting of the WOOF Society. Dogs of different backgrounds and breeds...


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Book
Boo's Dinosaur
Boo's Dinosaur
Betsy Byars; illustrations by Erik Brooks
Henry Holt and Co.

An early chapter book from Newbery Medal winner Betsy Byars When Boo brings home a dinosaur that only she can see, her brother Sammy, doesn’t want to...


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Book
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