Trinka Hakes Noble has agreed to participate in our Holiday Book Giveaway Extravaganza with her latest beautiful book THE LEGEND OF SEA GLASS, illustrated by Doris Ettlinger.
All you have to do to get in the running is to leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know the other things you did to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you. Check back to discover the winner.
Long, long ago there was a time when men did not venture into the deep ocean waters. It was believed that the world was flat and to sail beyond the horizon meant falling off the edge of the earth. So even though they were drawn to and fascinated by the ocean, men feared it. And as men lived their lives above the water, far beyond their view and in the ocean’s deepest depths lived mysterious and magical sea creatures, half girl and half fish. These shy, gentle creatures were called mermaids and much loved by the ocean. And when men finally overcame their fear and ventured out to sea, risking disaster and even death, it was the mermaids who came to their rescue. Written by award-winning author Trinka Hakes Noble, this original legend explains the origin of sea glass, attributing it to the tears of mermaids, weeping for lives lost at sea. Available on Amazon.
The journey of The Legend of Sea Glass began at a book signing, actually, a very bad book signing.
I was scheduled to do a book signing in the lovely seaside village of Cape May, New Jersey for my book, The Legend of the Cape May Diamond, illustrated by E. B. Lewis and published by Sleeping Bear Press. The signing was at a charming shop called The Whale’s Tale, and E. B. Lewis was coming too. I was very excited!
The Whale’s Tale did everything right. They advertised. They contacted all the local elementary schools and public libraries. They put notices in the local newspapers. They had a very attractive poster designed and printed, which they place all around town. They sent out notices and emails to their costumer base. They had everything set up. They couldn’t have done more to make this a successful book signing. However, the day of the signing, it rained. I mean it really rained buckets and buckets! The streets and roadways were flooded. Roads were closed. Power lines were down. It was a miserable day. Somehow, E. B. and I made it through the storm, were at The Whales Tale on time, ready to sign books for the afternoon, and do a children’s presentation as well. Only one kid and two adults showed up. It was a very unsuccessful signing, and a very long afternoon.
However, at this disappointing book signing, something wonderful happened. The owner of The Whale’s Tale handed me a small blurb and said, “You ought to write a book about this.” It was only four or five sentences long, less than 100 words, and it was a sort of legend about how sea glass came to be. I took it, thanked her and didn’t think too much about it. Later that night, I read it and my writers heart was captivated. I began to see an enchanted story of a magical journey as these beautiful gems traveled the world’s oceans, carried by timeless currents and tides, until they are tossed up on sandy beaches, waiting to be found.
What started as a disappointing book signing turned into the start of a new book! It reminded me of a saying I once heard from my friend and fellow children’s book writer, Kay Winters. We were at a conference, having dinner with other children’s book authors. The conversation was turning into a grip session about the business and children’s book publishing in general, when Kay said, “But remember, way leads to way.” I remember thinking, ‘What a wise saying.’ And that is exactly what happened at that Cape May book signing…way led to way. But now, I had to write it!
Writing a legend is a challenge because traditionally, legends are spoken and not written. So I had to find a way, a storyteller’s voice, so it would sound like the spoken word, like an elder was telling the legend, passing it on to the next generation. Also, legends are very old. But before I could tell the legend, I had to ground it in time, and give it a reason for coming into existence. So I had to start the story before the legend came into being. I also wanted to somehow bring the legend into modern times so children today could identify with it. And I needed a certain language that would not only tell the story, but also give it a magical and other world quality. Oh, yeah, and I had to get it published! (cont.)
So, I wrote a synopsis of the story, which was about a page long. Then I pitched it to my editor and the editor-in-chief at Sleeping Bear Press. Now, Sleeping Bear Press is renowned for publishing legends, so I was nervous. But what I learned at this meeting was that the editor-in-chief was an avid sea glass collector! She grew up on Prince Edward Island in Canada, and had hunted sea glass all her life. Again, I thought about that wise saying…way leads to way. Within two weeks, I had a contract. So, I did more research on sea glass, and started writing the book.
At that time, I didn’t have any idea who the illustrator would be, but when I learned that the talented artist, Doris Ettlinger would be the illustrator, I was thrilled! We had done a book together titled The Orange Shoes several years earlier, so I knew her work, and was very confident she would paint the magical underwater scenes my story needed, which she did.
So, the completion of the journey of The Legend of Sea Glass came full circle right back to where it started. Last summer, Doris and I did several very successful book signings at The Whale’s Tale down in Cape May, New Jersey. And the weather was perfect; a warm, sunny Jersey Shore day, with lots of vacationing beach goers lining up to have their copies of The Legend of Sea Glass signed by both of us! It was a perfect book signing!
Trinka Hakes Noble is an author and illustrator of 33 published children’s books. She graduated from Michigan State University in 1967 with a BA in fine arts, then taught art in Michigan, Virginia and Rhode Island. After moving to New Jersey in 1972, she pursued the study of children’s book writing and illustrating in New York City at Parsons School of Design, the New School University, Caldecott medalist Uri Shulevitz’s Greenwich Village Workshop, and most recently at New York University. A member of the Rutgers University Council on Children’s Literature, she was awarded Outstanding Woman 2002 in Arts and Letters in the state of New Jersey for her lifetime work in children’s books.
Trinka lives in a circa 1780 house in the historic Jockey Hollow area of Bernardsville, New Jersey.
The Legend of Sea Glass – illustrator’s perspective
I was delighted to get the call from Sleeping Bear Press asking me to illustrate Trinka’s story. I love her writing, and since the publication of our previous book, The Orange Shoes (2007), we have become friends.
Because the story takes place in the ocean, my first stop was the American Museum of Natural History’s Hall of the Oceans. I photographed the dioramas of sea life from different points of view. Next I created a board on Pinterest where I collected mermaid and underwater images. 19th century mermaid paintings are a bit too sexy for a children’s book, but the water, rocks and hair accessories were helpful. On Instagram I followed photographers whose subjects are swimmers under water.
With each book project I have to hone my watercolor technique to meet the challenges of the setting. In A Book for Black-Eyed Susan (by Judy Young) I focused on dramatic western skies to match the emotions of each spread. For S is for Sea Glass (by Richard Michelson) I worked on beaches and waves. For The Legend of Sea Glass I played with a much looser technique to capture a world under the surface.
The second spread of the book introduces the mermaids as shy, mysterious creatures. (I made a point of making the mermaids ethnically diverse.)
For this scene I looked at pictures of underwater grottos. I was afraid that transferring the photoshopped sketch to watercolor paper would tighten it up, so I printed a lighter version on Arches hot press watercolor paper.
After applying transparent washes, I used colored pencils (Verithin and Derwent Studio) to sharpen edges and enhance the color where things got murky.
For the stormy night scene, I splashed dark, wet washes onto gessoed illustration board, spritzed water, spattered more paint, and let it all flow. When dry, I added the sinking ship and the mermaids rushing to the rescue. I lifted the dark blue paint from the youngest mermaid and her sister, and painted them with flesh tones and fish tones.
I didn’t want to paint shells or sea weed bikini tops on the mermaids because I felt it would call more attention to their breasts than nipples would. So I used artfully placed arms and flowing hair to keep things decorous.
In this spread – The Wave – the youngest mermaid tried to help one of the sailors. I used a glazing technique to set off the white crest of the wave and the figures. Then I dropped in heavier, darker colors, gave it a spritz of water and let it all flow. My goal was to make the wave very threatening. (I have recurring dreams of giant waves, so I was tapping into something primal here.)
The story begins with peoples’ belief that the oceans were filled with sea monsters, making it too dangerous a place to sail ones boat. I sketched monsters that appeared on old maps and imagined some of my own. For the final art I added some actual sea creatures, including prehistoric monsters. The art director and editor decided this image would make a great endpaper.
To see recent work from my studio, follow Doris Ettlinger Studio on Instagram or Facebook. I teach monthly Saturday watercolor workshops on a variety of subjects and techniques at my home/studio in Hampton, NJ. Email is on my website http://dorisettlinger.com/.
Trinka, thanks for sharing your book and journey with us. And Doris Thank you for taking the time to share your process on creating the artwork for this book. Your illustrations are always gorgeous. Have a happy holiday.