Nerdy Book Club Cover Reveal — EGG MARKS THE SPOT by Amy Timberlake, with pictures by Jon Klassen
Amy’s questions for Jon!
1. Where did the cover design come from? I know you collect books, so any inspirations from your collection? Also, I love how much of the story is compressed into that cover! Where did that come from?
This cover was so much fun. When we started this series I had a rough of the first book with a very dark band and light text on top of it. For that book it eventually made sense to go with a lighter band and dark text, but I swore I’d get my dark band some day, and that day has come. The dark band, and the basic template, and even some of the details, are very much borrowed (stolen) from an old edition of “Lord Hornblower” by C.S. Forester that I have. I think it is the handsomest book. I love the design, it’s just so proud of itself. I thought it suited your books in a funny way because they are (increasingly) adventure stories, but they are about these two humble animals instead of a Lord Hornblower, and the contrast between them and this sort of declarative title treatment I think is really fun. You mentioned getting a lot of story into the cover, and I think that comes from old adventure books too. I was a big Hardy Boys kid, and those covers are part of a fine tradition of kind of pulpy adventure books where they choose this really exciting moment to illustrate and throw an amazing title over it and you’re sold. Our picture isn’t exactly high action, but your title points to a search, so the idea of them looking around, adventuring and searching, seemed appropriate (of course Badger is lost in thought mid-search, as he is wont to do).
2. You have such an affinity for trees and the outdoors that I have to ask: Do you camp? Hike? Bike? What’s your ideal outdoor experience?
I was so excited that they were outside, and by a lake, even. Lakes are my favorite. We spent tons of time in and around lakes growing up. There’s a way that trees grow out of rocks by a lake, especially big lakes, where they just look like the toughest things in the world. They’re growing out of ROCKS, and facing these huge winds and storms coming off the water all the time, so they have this leaning thing they do, leaning into the wind. It’s like they’re pushing up against the whole northern hemisphere and winning. There’s a lot of famous Canadian paintings about trees and rocks like that. Also, the backpacks. I am a backpack enthusiast (not to be confused with a backpackING enthusiast – i just really like actual backpacks), and it appears by your illustration notes that you are also. I was very very excited for the backpacks. Also when I was growing up it was sort of a golden age for mountain bike culture and I was in the thick of that for sure. I would do a lot of trail riding in the woods. Southern Ontario’s main geographic feature is the Escarpment, a long high ridge where Lake Ontario used to come up to, and we lived right by it, so the trails would run right along the edge and you could see for miles while you went along it, a lot like our book cover, and sometimes you just had to stop and look, a lot like Badger is doing.
My ideal outdoor experience isn’t too ambitious. I would love a weeks’ long bike trip that involved a mix of forest trails and fire roads and pavement, but I have nothing to prove about sleeping outside. Days outside are the best, but I would plan my route to include a Holiday Inn every 8 hours or so.
Jon’s questions for Amy!
1. Your notes for the camping equipment were very specific and point to a deep knowledge and affection for that whole scene. There seems to be a sympathy for the kind of camper Skunk is, but also, through Badger’s eyes, a judgment is being passed. Are you the type to pack too much and regret it halfway up the hill, or are you more the type that counts the matches in the box before putting it in the bag?
I adore camping gear! Camping gear has all this problem-solving built into it’s design. Maybe you want to take a shower in the middle of the woods and have decent water pressure, or say you want a stove that packs into a deck-of-cards box, weighs 3 ounces, can balance a big pot with assurance, and can boil water in said big pot in 30 seconds flat. Is it possible? Solve it. That’s camping gear! I don’t necessarily buy much of it, but Outside Magazine’s Yearly Gear Guide? Clear the calendar!
As to packing-type? Both? See, both Skunk and Badger are planners. I’m a planner, and you’d think planning would ensure success, and yet, there’s the Cliff Bars I once packed in my luggage to counter that claim. Imagine lots and lots of Cliff Bars — a raccoon-sized bundle of Cliff Bars swaddled tightly in plastic. Cliff Bars are super-dense. It weighed over 10 pounds! Did I eat them all? No — not even close. And really, who would consume a fudge the size of a raccoon? It doesn’t make a jot of sense. And yet, planning was done! Anyway, I tend to make lists. I obviously don’t weigh stuff like Badger does, but I do have an enduring affection for any item that has multiple uses.
2. This installment, to me, felt like you were telling a story to yourself spontaneously as it was going along (my favorite way for a story to feel, you just have no idea what’s coming and your eyes just keep getting wider). Did you have it all planned out before or were there surprises for you as you were writing it?
Thanks for saying that Jon! Yay!
You’re right! There were surprises along the way! I did a lot of drafts and whenever I found a good surprise, I kept the surprise in the story moving into the next draft. I cannot wait to hear what readers think when they find out what happens to Skunk and Badger next. Ha!
Amy Timberlake’s novels for young readers have received a Newbery Honor, an Edgar Award, a Golden Kite Award, and the China Times Best Book Award. She grew up in Hudson, Wisconsin, but now calls Chicago home. She is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College, and holds an MA in English and Creative Writing from the University of Illinois. You can find her walking on Chicago’s Lakefront Trail on cool, crisp fall days.
Jon Klassen is a Canadian-born author-illustrator. His books include I Want My Hat Back; This Is Not My Hat, winner of the Caldecott Medal; and We Found A Hat. He is a member of the Order of Canada in recognition of his contributions to children’s literature. He currently lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two sons.