Like her momma, Yumi, my fiver year old is a chatty little lady. After reading every page in a new book, she will point to the illustration and ask me to make-up dialogue for each character, together we create giggle-some stories within the story.
So, when I came across the illustrations of Vincent Noot, and his crew of Cutes, I knew, Yumi and I HAD TO HAVE THIS BOOK.
The illustrations are meant to be part of a search book aimed at elementary school aged-children, similar to the “Where is Waldo?” books of my time. What impressed me about the illustrations was the spacing between characters. I had tried other “I spy” and “picture search books” for Yumi, but she found them overwhelming. The Cutes, have just the correct amount of spacing between characters and objects to make it a picture search book that allows for interactive searching as well as imaginative “story-telling.”
The detail of the illustrations is engaging, the facial expressions and body language of the characters make it easy to “make-up dialogue”, and thus encourage early literacy. I can see this book working in the classroom as well, as it is adaptable.
The benefits of wordless and mostly wordless picture books are many. Although Vincent Noot’s Cutes books are search books, each page carries a theme and stories within characters, that allow for creative story-telling.
Wordless and nearly wordless pictures books help children:
- understand elements of story structure
- develop visual literacy
- think and write creatively
- develop book handling behavior
You can see why I quickly became a fan of The Cutes, I see a lot of uses and potential in it, both for entertaining and educating.
Unfortunately the book is not out yet, and so I did what any
normal person blogger would do, I hunted Mr. Vincent Noot, down, and he kindly agreed to an interview!
What inspired you to illustrate a picture search book?
I have been drawing since I was 4 years old. During my teenage years I drew a lot of comics. Recently a child day care center in the Netherlands started ordering a lot of cartoon drawings in the same style: board games, illustrations, posters, etc. I began to focus more on children’s material. “Where is Waldo” was one of the first search books. I liked them as a kid, but when I did some research, I found out there was hardly anything like it out there, and that there was a lot lacking in their concept. I felt that with my art style, our focus on kids as characters, and targeting children specifically could be successful.
Who are the Cutes?
It’s a family. With my fiancee (now wife), I made up a family whose last name is “Cute”. All the character names start with a “C”: Carissa, Chaz, Cade, Cammy, and Cindy.
How long does it take you to complete one illustration, from rough sketch to finished product?
Usually around 100 hours. Each page has 300-400 individuals in it.
When you are sketching out your illustrations, do you make-up dialogue for each character, what they could be thinking about or saying?
Before each page, I brainstorm about as many creative, funny things that could happen. For example, I divided the Birthday Party page into section of balloons, ball pit, presents, etc. Children can be very silly. So I think of what they’d do with a balloon, like rubbing it over their hair, letting it go into the air, binding it to their ears, popping it, etc. Sometimes I don’t have a lot of ideas beforehand and make it up during the process of drawing.
Are any of the characters sketches in your book based on real people in your life?
My wife (a brunette) and I (a blond) thought it would be funny to give the father blond and the mother brown hair. We don’t know how many children we will have someday though. Sometimes something funny that happened in our lives, comes back in the drawings. For instance, when I was dating my wife, we both took a bite of the same huge hotdog at the same time. So in the Swimming Pool page, I drew a boy and a girl eating a hotdog at the same time.
Who do you think would enjoy your book?
Children ages 3 and up. Adults could enjoy it too. With 12 pages of things to search for, kids could be entertained for hours. Not only are we gonna make a book, but we are planning on making it a tablet game for the ipad, kindle, and other devices. I guess we will see whether the book or the game will sell better.
Is there a place we can follow your progress?
We have a website, Find The Cutes | En nog een WordPress site we will build an ordering system into it, when it’s finished. We are also on Facebook and Pinterest. I post little images almost daily. These are the links:
Find the Cutes | Facebook Find the Cutes children’s activity book (www.findthecutes.com)
When can we expect your book?
Initially, the goal was to have it finished by the end of the year. But it will probably be a couple of months later. When it’s finished, we will start a campaign on www.kickstarter.com. Anyone will be able to back our project and receive rewards in return.
What is your goal as and author/illustrator?
If we could spread this book throughout the USA and the world, that would be my dream job. I noticed that in the 80′s, “Where is Waldo” sold several millions of copies. I am not saying we will have that much success, but it can become really big. I believe in that. We already planned a sequel, and have other ideas for the Cute family. Just a heads up: the next book will be about holidays.
What advice would you give those looking to self-publish a children’s book?
Make a great product (good storyline, beautiful illustrations, and/or fun activities, and then comes the hardest part: getting your name out there and getting sales. Social media can help, as well as word-to-mouth, and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. I also found this article with some ideas, which we will definitely try: http://www.30daybooks.com/six-powerful-ways-to-market-childrens-books/.
Thank you Vincent Noot, Yumi and I look forward to meeting The Cutes.