My Homage To Sendak

In my new book, Ally-saurus & the Very Bossy Monster, I illustrate Ally's love of all things dinosaur by drawing imaginary dinosaur spikes, claws, and tail over Ally's black and white image using pink crayon (just as I did in the first book, Ally-saurus & the First Day of School).

In this new story, Ally and her friends must contend with a rather bossy girl named Maddie who insists Ally and company play monsters with her.  As with Ally's dino-persona, I illustrate Maddie's imaginary monster persona using a crayon line around her image-in this case, green .

While still writing the book-long before my first sketch-I pictured Maddie's imaginary monster looking like one of the Wild Things in Maurice Sendak's classic, Where the Wild Things Are.

As a self-taught illustrator, my formal training consisted of buying a lot of books and staring at the illustrations until I unlocked their secrets.  Included in that collection was a used copy of The Art of Maurice Sendak I read that book over and over again, finding the chapter on Where the Wild Things Are particularly insightful.  Among other things, it contains a pop-out copy of the  original book dummy, titled, Where the Wild Horses Are.  Sendak only changed it to "wild things" after he realized he couldn't draw horses (thank God!).  

 As I began my preliminary sketches for the second Ally-saurus adventure, I decided to stick with my original idea of Maddie's imaginary monster echoing Sendak's Wild Things as a silent homage to the children's book legend.  After dozens of sketches I finally hit on a combination of Wild Thing characteristics that seemed to suit Maddie perfectly.  

Like many of the Wild Things, Maddie's imaginary monster would have horns. It would also have long hair like the duck-footed Wild Thing, the fur, feet, and paws of the bear/gnome Wild Thing, with a tail as long as the striped Wild Thing but shaped like the bull-faced Wild Thing.  To top it all off, Maddie's imaginary monster would have a crown-like Max's! 


In studying The Art of Maurice SendakI also learned that Sendak gradually expanded the size of the  illustrations in Where the Wild Things Are to symbolize Max's deeper absorption into his own imagination.  The illustrations then reverse course, gradually growing smaller as Max begins to miss his home. This symbolizes the fading of Max's imaginary world as he returns to the real one.  

As part of my homage to Sendak, I worked this technique into Ally-saurus & the Very Bossy Monster,  once again through Maddie.  As her bossy behavior continues unchecked, I illustrate Maddie's growing self-absorption by expanding her imaginary monster world, including bubbling pools of ooze, haunted trees, and slugs.  At the same time, I greatly increase the size of her crown and horns.  

  Then, when Ally-saurus finally finds her voice and stands up for her friends (and herself), Maddie's  imaginary monster world quickly shrinks, as do her crown and horns.  

Both the look of Maddie's monster persona, as well as the technique of manipulating  the size of her crown, etc. worked perfectly for the story. Had they not, my silent tribute to Mr. Sendak would have had to wait for another book.  This isn't the first time I have honored someone who has influenced my work.  I'll talk about that in an upcoming post.  


On Monday, the book trailer for Ally-saurus & the Very Bossy Monster premiered on KidLitTV along with a wonderful writeup.  


KidLit TV is proud to premiere the book trailer for ALLY-SAURUS & THE VERY BOSSY MONSTER by Richard Torrey, the sequel to the award winning ALLY-SAURUS & THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL! Your kids will love the humor and fun in this book as well as the unique characters and illustrations!

See more by clicking HERE


Below is the brand new book trailer I have created for my book, THE ALMOST TERRIBLE PLAYDATE. It is the first trailer I've ever done for any of my 14 books.

My aim was to produce something simple and straightforward, allowing the children's expressions to help tell the story, precisely as I had done in the creation of the book. 

The book trailer debuted last week on the Mundie Kids blog, which included a wonderful review of the book and has since been featured on KidlitTV.

Hiding Spot Blog Interview

Recently I was interviewed by Sara Grochowski for her wonderful blog, The Hiding Spot (a blog dedicated to books...the best hiding spot I've ever found). 

I'm thrilled to share an interview with talented and very kind Richard Torrey, whose newest picture book, The Almost Terrible Playdate, is in stores now!

Hiding Spot: I feel the plot of the The Almost Terrible Playdate is one that everyone, no matter their age, can relate to. Was there a specific experience that inspired the concept of this book? 

RT: The original idea for this book can be traced back to a day I watched my children and their friends draw with chalk on our driveway. It suddenly dawned on me that child’s play is really a series of negotiations-proposals and counterproposals.  
“What if we do this?” “No, how about we do this?” “I know, how about we do this?”  

What struck me was the fact that these negotiations never seemed to end. As long as the activity was going on, the negotiations continued. In other words, the act of negotiating seemed to be an enjoyable and integral part of the playing experience. I’ve wanted to do a book about the essence of play ever since. I guess you could say this book is a one-act play about playing....

CLICK HERE to read the entire interview.