Today is a very important day. Today, Uni the Unicorn comes out!
I know I've mentioned this before, but one the big bummers of working in publishing is that you have to wait a loooooooooong time before you can really spill the beans and share a project. I finished the art for this book last November, and since then I've been going crazy because honestly, I love this book. And that's not the babbling of an ego-maniac, either! A book is a group effort, with the illustrator, writer, art director, designer, editor, and MANY others working together. It's just very rare and special when everyone is on the same exact page throughout the process. So, so, SO very rare and special!
I knew I wanted to illustrate this book as soon as I read the text. This is kinda (usually) how it works: my agent will send me a text, that's just the words of the book, and I'll read through it and think about it, and talk to her about it, and try and decide if it's something that's right for me to illustrate. This process did not happen on Uni. I got an email with the text attached to it, I read it, and I immediately called my agent and said "GET ME THAT BOOK! GET IT! I WANT IT!!!" That was in December of 2012. Feels like a billion years ago!
The process usually continues like this: I get in touch with the editor and receive art notes (written notes about what image should be on what page) and then start sketches. For Uni, I got to make the art notes myself, which was so fun and awesome, and I almost can't believe that a total kid's book rock star super pro like Amy would trust me enough to do that, but she did!
So much of the book is about Uni's wishing, and thinking, and dreaming about having a little girl for a friend. I tried to show those ideas, but the way a child would experience them. Like when you are 6 years old and obsessed with having a bunny and all you draw is bunnies for months on end.
You know that feeling. That's the feeling that Uni has!
I'd also like to point out that Uni is not specifically a boy or a girl...there is no pronoun ever used to describe how Uni is feeling or what Uni is doing! I've read a few reviews that describe Uni as a "she" and I find it odd...I was always thinking of Uni as this magical, genderless creature!
Thinking of Uni as just Uni was helpful to the book overall I think, because let's be honest: a book about a unicorn? That could have ended up completey pink and fluffy and rainbow sprinkles and cotton candy looking (which I have nothing against, by the by). I think it's much more interesting as is though, since it never quite veers into completely "girl" territory. It could have easilly been a story about a little boy and a velociraptor, if you switched out a few words.
But yeah, there are some rainbows in there too, because c'mon, how could you NOT have rainbows in a book about unicorns?!