Illustrator's pictures bring books to life
Mark Fearing's "Dilly Dally Daisy" released this week
A picture is worth a thousand words.
Unless the picture is drawn by Mark Fearing, in which case the value skyrockets. The West Linn author/illustrator released yet another picture book this week, titled Dilly Dally Daisy.
It looks at all the things kids do on their way to getting stuff done, Fearing said. I was inspired by my daughter and her friend because of their tendency to dilly-dally on the way to swim team practice. They are on the Cascadia Swimming swim team based here in West Linn. But of course, I, too, am very good at dilly-dallying.
Fearing has dedicated the book to the girls, who are students at Sunset Elementary in West Linn.
In a synopsis of the book, Fearing explains that Daisy Marsha Martin, the main character in Dilly Dally Daisy, is always late. For good reasons, of course. Shes busy saving the world, or teaching her stuffed animals to dance, or finding the perfect shirt to wear. But if Daisy is late one more time, then its no more mermaid swim class for her. This is the perfect story for fans of everyday silliness and for every kid who has been told to stop dawdling.
Fearing said he has loved to write and draw since he was child. He took up the profession in earnest when he moved to West Linn, transitioning from a job with Walt Disney Television. He said he is inspired by everyday life including daughter Lilys dilly-dallying.
Unlike other writing professionals, Fearing doesnt follow a strict work schedule. Especially in summer, his schedule is dictated by Lilys activities. He catches pockets of creative time early in the morning and late at night, when the house is quieter.
I am a night owl, he said. If it was completely up to me, Id work from 9:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. Im comfortable with those hours.
Fearing said he is usually working on three to five projects at a time, which explains the over-abundance of material he has released recently.
In April, he released Tommy Cant Stop, which he illustrated for author and Broadway dancer Tim Federle. Fearing illustrates Tommy with a mop of blond hair and googly eyes. His boundless energy can be tracked by a series of dashed lines flitting around the apartment. The story bounces along with tireless Tommy, whose family cant keep up. Finally, his sister comes up with a brilliant idea: Could tap dancing harness his energy?
You can see more of Tommys antics online at markfearing.com/picture_books_tommy_cant_stop.html.
Fearing enjoys visiting school classrooms, where he can witness the everyday life of children firsthand. He spends time in classrooms in West Linn and Lake Oswego and in the communities of Astoria, Napa and Warrenton.
Its important to hear and see what kids are doing. How they talk to each other, he said. My readers are first through fifth or sixth grade. Im really inspired by the classroom visits. I call it a lovely chaos. If I am telling a story about a dog, they have stories to tell about dogs. They all want to share.
Inspiration from classroom visits has spawned Book Reports, a series of animated shorts he created for Dreamworks Television, completing every detail of production including writing, illustration, casting the voice talent, editing, music additions and more, himself.
Set in a second-grade classroom, Book Reports can be viewed at mfearing.wordpress.com/animation/ or by visiting Dreamworks Online and YouTube.
Fearing isnt steering away from print media in favor of animation; hes just branching out.
I believe younger reader books are as important and popular now than ever before, he said. No doubt video games and media are an influence. They are part of their culture, he said. But books, especially picture books, have a little bit more. Picture books have a scale in size. They are a great fit of form and function. And they are a great entertainment value, too. Think how many times a parent will read the same book to a child over and over and over again!
Fearing has four more picture books under contract, with publishing dates throughout the next two years.
So that he can enjoy summer with daughter Lily and his wife, Karen Eppinger, Fearing does not have book signings or other events on the calendar at this time. Learn more about his works online at markfearing.com