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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

What Makes a Portfolio?

Debra and I spent many hours today (in our less-than-healthy states) scanning and copying items from Miss Alaineus: A Vocabulary Disaster. We completely took over the counter at a local copy center and had many customers interested in our work. Most folks have no idea of the thought processes and revisions that contribute to a finished book. We hope children and teachers who check out the portfolio from the Kerlan Collection will discover incredibly interesting things about Debra's process and begin to think of books in new ways.

Some of the many things we reproduced today include...
  • the first draft scrawled on unlined paper
  • a bound later draft with rough sketches included (and a much different subtitle)
  • correspondence between Debra and her editor
  • definitions (from two sources) of all the words she chose to define in the text (like Forest and Sage)
  • skin tone examples and notes for the book's characters (all Crayola markers - she wanted everything used in the book's creation to be things found in a 5th grader's desk)
  • photographs of grocery store aisles and the produce section and then artwork of Sage and her mom at the grocery store
  • versions of the extra credit sentences that appear along each page
  • versions of Sage's Miss Alaineus costume and her Miss Sterious costume as well
  • photos of Debra's daughter posing in the positions Debra would need to create the artwork for Sage
  • information about the flap copy (which she say is the hardest thing to write - and which she always writes herself)
  • a style guide she created for her editor and art director


  1. What a helpful resource this will be to teachers and to students. Thank you both for putting in the hard work of assembling this. Thank you, Debra, for putting in the inspired (and hard) work of creating it.

  2. It's a learning experience for another author/illustrator as well, seeing how someone else creates his/her books. I hope to have the chance to see this portfolio sometime.

  3. So glad you won the right to do this yourself! Bet you two had fun.