My Son, the Children’s Book Illustrator

by Abby on April 27, 2012

Excuse me while I brag for a moment: my 5yo son is an amazing artist. His early work was much like the lumpy Playdoh blobs and smeary finger-paintings of his peers, but in the past year or so his drawings have become incredibly detailed and vibrant. I mean, check out this deep-sea diver:

Deep sea diver, by Miles, age 5

I think his dad and I can take at least partial credit for his budding artistic genius. C. can sketch an Angry Bird and the Celtics logo like nobody’s business, and I was a pretty decent painter until I gave it up in college. It was probably the day my art professor looked at my representational rendering of a fruit bowl and said, “If I ever want to know what we’re painting, I just have to look at your work.” This was not a compliment. She turned on her Birkenstock-shod heel and began to effusively praise the creativity and vision of some dude who brought in a canvas with a torn-off dictionary cover and some twine stapled to it. Fine art – who needs it?

One of my dreams has always been to publish a children’s book. Now I’m thinking, how great would it be if I wrote the story and Miles illustrated it? Actually, it could be a whole family affair – Riley’s pretty good at making up stories, too. Just today he told me one about a ghost and some scary trees, although that may have been a retelling of an episode of Scooby-Doo, I’m not sure.

There is a hilarious essay about writing for children in the May 2012 issue of Reader’s Digest, BTW, one of my favorite magazines. (You should also check out “Five Stupid Internet Reactions” and “The Best & Worst Advice from Moms.”) The piece is called “I’m a Noncelebrity – Buy My Book!” by Mike Reiss, an Emmy-winning writer for The Simpsons and children’s book author. (Best. Career. Ever.) Here’s an excerpt: “Why are celebrities writing kids’ books? Jay Leno earns $32,000,000 a year and owns 460 cars and 89 motorcycles. Why is he horning in on my racket?”

Assuming Miles and I could bust through the celebrity-author glass ceiling and get our book published, maybe we could spin it off into an animated series with the help of our buddy Mike Reiss? It might be about cowboys, since Miles can draw those pretty well:

Cowboy, by Miles, age 5

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Pamela April 27, 2012 at 9:00 am

I love the illustrations! And love your comments about celebrities getting into our turf – I agree – let them stay behind the camera, not the pen! Anyway, maybe your son could help me with my children’s book that I wrote when I was pregnant with MY son (now 30). Wrote it in a university creative writing class – professor thought it was fabulous. But on it sits in the ‘writing drawer.’ How’s your son at painting birds and one nasty cat? :+)


jetts31 April 27, 2012 at 11:39 am

I have one illustrator credit and an unpublished children’s book ( to my name. 2 unpublished books actually. Then I see celebrities writing garbage but publishers only caring about the name on the front and its disheartening but also a driving force to keep me drawing and writing. Tell your son his work is really really good. And tell him to keep drawing and when he finally publishes a book, I want a copy!


Jennifer Fairman April 27, 2012 at 12:34 pm

OMG – speaking as a professional illustrator myself, HE IS TALENTED!!!!


Abby April 27, 2012 at 3:40 pm

Wow, who knew we had so much artistic talent in our midst? You guys HAVE to get your books published. I read a ton of kids’ books and many of them leave me scratching my head wondering how the heck they made the cut.


Kelli April 27, 2012 at 5:55 pm

He IS an amazing artist! Look at those details – wow! 🙂

I don’t get the whole celebrity children’s book trend either. And $32,000,000 a year? holy cow.

You ought to go for it! Maybe we will have books sitting side by side on the Barnes and Noble picture book wall someday – if I ever get around to finishing/submitting something! 🙂


Frume Sarah April 29, 2012 at 12:25 pm

First of all, those are very impressive renderings. I don’t care what your art professor thinks. I know that I am not the only one who appreciates pictures that clearly represent what they are meant to be.

Secondly, that was such a great article in RD. 🙂

I’ll be happy to see an ARC of your joint project!!!


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